Friday, 24 February 2012

HEAD SHOT by Cindy Rosmus

TKnC is pleased to welcome Yellow Mama Editor, Cindy with something a little bit different...




HEAD SHOT


Donna Santullo, her name was.
          Julie’s best client. And she was Donna’s favorite “beautician” at Clippers. She’d requested Julie for the final styling. Before the Great Dirt Nap.
          “No,” Julie told the mortician. “I can’t do it.”
          “Mami . . .” Gil was a sweaty mess. “You got to. Or they’ll know.”
          That it was him who he killed her.
          Right outside her house, with her key in the door. After she’d won two grand in St. Jude’s 50/50, he’d plugged her in the head. He needed crack bad, and she wouldn’t give up her purse.
          That red spangly one under Julie’s bed.  With the gun in it. He should’ve chucked both in the bay, but was too scared.
          “Bastard,” she’d called him, once. The first time he’d marked up her face with that cheap ring.  “Fucking evil coward.” Always preying on the weak.
           How could you? she almost screamed. But had to keep quiet. Coward or not, she was terrified of him.
           Inside the red purse, Donna’s perfume had spilled. Tabu, maybe. After two showers, Gil still stunk from it. To Julie, anyway.
          “Call him back,” he said, meaning the mortician. “Please,Mamita. Say you changed your mind.” When he touched her arm, she cringed. Before this, she’d lived for his touch. In spite of that ring.
         “How could you?” she whispered.
         “She made me do it!” he said. “She wouldn’t give me her purse.”
          Sure. It was all her fault. A seventy-year-old in a spangled pantsuit. For not letting a crackhead grab her winnings.
          What would Julie have done?  To save her own life?
          Donna had been down-to-earth. A great tipper, and good friend. Always there to dry Julie’s tears, and to Donna, she cried plenty.
         “Dump that asshole!” Antoinette, the owner told Julie, when she came in bruised, or broke. The other hairdressers smirked.
         "She will,” Donna said, “when she’s ready.” She squeezed Julie’s hand.  “When she runs out of love.”
         Donna knew all about love. She was married to a great guy, an ex-cop who’d quit drinking for her. He’d changed, for her! Who could blame him? She’d had a warm smile, and blue eyes that actually sparkled.
         Picturing those eyes and smile sewn shut was too much for Julie. “I . . . just . . . can’t!” she’d said, and hung up on the mortician.
         “Baby . . .” Gil’s grip was tighter. “Call him back.”
          But she wouldn’t.
          She took the beating, instead.
*     *     *
         Marisa, the “new kid,” was supposed to go in Julie’s place.
         But . . . “‘No!’” Antoinette quoted Marisa, over the phone. “‘Please, not me! I can’t touch anything dead!’”
         Julie said nothing.
        “Can’t even stuff a turkey,” Antoinette added. “So how can she ‘do the dead’? Jeez.”
        Cringing, Julie knew what was coming. Gil’s smile said he did, too.
        “I can’t leave the shop,” Antoinette said. “And first viewing’s at two. So you’ve got to do it, Jules. I mean, like now.”
        Against Julie’s bruised cheek, her cell was sweaty.
        “You’z two were real close. She even asked for you, way back. Said, ‘Antoinette, if anything happens to me—I mean bad—and I die, I don’t want nobody doin’ my hair but Julie.’”
        From under the bed, Julie could smell that purse. Tabu, and gunpowder.
       “Makeup’s already on, so just the hair needs doing,” Antoinette said. “I figured you’d want to do it. Unless . . .”
       Was she on to Gil? Or was Julie just being paranoid?
       “Something . . .” She heard Antoinette smile. “Or someone—won’t let you.”
       Did she know?
       “I’ll hurry,” Julie told her.
*     *     *
        Lots of times she’d “done the dead.” Till now, it was no big deal.
        Sure, their faces were cold, and hard, but Julie got fifty bucks for a fast set and styling. And not even the whole head, as only the front and sides were seen.
            While Julie worked, she talked to them. Especially if she knew them in life.
            “It’s okay, Annie,” she’d told her downstairs neighbor. “You won’t hear screaming and fighting no more.” Gil had called Annie “that nosy old bat.”
            But with Donna, it would be different.
            “She’s in there,” the mortician told Julie, meaning the viewing room. It was too late to do it downstairs.
            As she edged inside, her guts felt like hot soup. Gil, she thought.
            In the distance, Donna lay in a fancy casket. The room felt ice-cold, though the heat was on. Zillions of flowers, there were, like at a queen’s wake. The stench was overpowering—lilies, chrysanthemums, and thatundersmell . . . That no-matter-how-pretty-they-did-you-up-you-were-still-deadsmell.
            It’s a job, Julie told herself.  She was your friend. She wants you here.
It wasn’t Julie’s fault. She didn’t kill her. Had no clue that Gil would, though she knew he’d get his crack money from somebody.
Up close, Donna looked like an angel, with straight, graying hair. Next week she would have come in for a coloring.
            “Donna,” Julie whispered, “I’m sor—”
            “Thank you,” the guy said, and she screamed.
            She hadn’t seen him, standing amongst the flowers. “I’m sorry,” he said. He looked like she’d taken an axe to his heart. “I’m Vince. Donna’s husband.”
            Julie tried to calm down.  He looked like an older, neater version ofColumbo, that TV detective. Ex-cop, she remembered. And her guard was back up.
            “Thanks for coming,” he said. “She always liked how you did her hair.”
            Julie couldn’t meet his eyes. She thought of how Donna’s were sewn shut. “S’ the least I can do,” she murmured.
            “You made her look younger. Not like an old bat.”
            “She wasn’t an old bat!” Julie smiled over at the casket. “She was due for a color. Sorry I can’t do it.”
            “‘S’not my job, man.’” Vince sounded so much like Gil, she looked at him.
            “She told me all about you,” he said then.
            Julie self-consciously touched her cheek, looked away again.
           “You wanna sit down?” she said. “Till I’m done?”
*     *     *
            While she worked, she felt his eyes on her back. Like she would trip up, if he stared hard enough. Maybe poke out Donna’s eye, from nervousness.
            She couldn’t tell where the bullet had struck Donna.  Or if it was still inside the head. Guns were Gil’s thing, not Julie’s.
            But when a chunk of hair came out, Julie gasped.
            “What’s wrong?” Vince asked, from the first row.
            “Nothing,” she said, but something was. More and more hair was coming out of Donna’s head. This had never happened, with any corpse.
            She slipped the hair into her shirt pocket. As more hair came out, she added it to the rest. So much was coming out, she suddenly stopped working.
            “It’s okay,” Vince said, from right behind her. She jumped. “Gimme.” He reached into her pocket and pulled out Donna’s hair. As he slipped it, tenderly, into his own pocket, Julie began to cry.
            “C’mon outside.” He took her arm. “I need a smoke. You?”
            “I don’t . . . smoke!” Julie sobbed.
            “I’ll teach you.”
            She nodded. Somehow, that made sense. More than anything else in her life, right now. And the smell of this place was making her sick.
            Outside, the morticians eyed them, curiously. The first viewing wasn’t far off. They tossed their own cigarettes on the ground and went back inside.
            “It’s trauma,” Vince said, lighting up.
            “What?” Julie recalled how smug Gil had looked when she’d left.
            “‘Head’ trauma. That’s why her hair’s falling out.” He handed her the smokes, but she waved them away. “Bullet moved around, never came out. Shook things up. Like scrambling an egg.”
            She felt like puking. This was his wife, that he loved, he was talking about.
            If it were Gil, how would she feel?
            Maybe . . . glad?
            “A .22 LR. With a suppressor. That’s what he used.”
     In her mind, Gil was sprawled on the sidewalk, his curly hair sticky with blood. “Who?” she said, nervously.
            “The killer.”
            She pictured Gil in that casket inside, eyes sewn shut. No more evil glare.
            “Followed her home from St. Jude’s,” Vince said. “They had a bazaar going on.”
            “I know,” Julie said.
            And that foul mouth. . . . Gil had the prettiest lips, but it ended there. 
            No more “Gimme money, you fucking bitch!”
            “She won a bundle.” Vince tossed his cigarette away.
           Julie nodded.  Gil’s hands, entwined with black rosaries, were folded on his chest.
           Helpless. Unable to beat her again. With that ring.
           It would be so easy.
          She smiled. “Two thousand,” she said, “one hundred and two dollars.”
          Vince fingered his wife’s hairs in his pocket. Like they were ashes, he flicked them into the air.
          The wind brought them back.


BIO:
Cindy is a Jersey girl who works in New York City & who talks like Anybody’s from West Side Story. She works out 5-6 days a week, so needs no excuse to drink or do whatever the hell she wants. She loves peanut butter, blood-rare meat, Jack Daniels, and Starbucks coffee (though not usually in the same meal). She’s been published in the usual places, such as Hardboiled, A Twist of Noir, Beat to a Pulp, Out of the Gutter,Mysterical-E, Media Virus, and The New Flesh. She is the editor of the ezine, Yellow Mama. And she’s still a Gemini and a Christian.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

MEXICAN SOUVENIRS by Eric Beetner


TK'n'C welcomes top writer, Eric Beetner, with this nasty offering, which the faint of heart need not read (and who shouldn't be here anyway)...


Mexican Souvenirs


Ryan could swear that girl was flirting with him.

Must be the heat. Ten days in Mexico and not a single girl had given him a second look. Every damn one of his frat buddies stayed so knee deep in pussy they’d run out of condoms by the fifth day. Ryan still had three Trojans making rings in the leather of his wallet.

But, the Mexican beauty waiting for a security check to board same flight back to Chicago, she gave him the eyes.

It could’ve been he was horny, or frustrated with killing time in the hotel bar every time he saw a coat hanger on the hotel room door. It clouded his judgement more than usual. He believed a girl that hot could see something in him.

The guys gave him shit for leaving early.

“It’s spring break, dude! What’re you doing?”

“I got midterms to study for.”

“But... spring fucking break.” Spencer let out his patented I’m-here-to-party yell, “Yeefuckinhaw!”

Kris, the sensible one, put a hand on Ryan’s shoulder.  “You don’t bail out of Cancun to go study. It’s like fucking your sister, it’s just not done.”

“I already changed my flight.”

They all knew. They’d seen him strike out night after night in a south-of-the-border replay of every weekend since Freshman year. Seth, the engineering major, liked saying Ryan was a chick magnet whose polarity had been reversed.

In the closest thing he had to smooth move, Ryan dragged his duffle bag up the long, unmoving line to a drink vendor behind where the girl sat on her suitcase. He nearly tripped over a woman breast feeding her baby. She recoiled from the impending collision and the baby pulled free, exposing her boob and the engorged nipple leaking milk. Ryan apologized and hoped like hell the girl hadn’t seen.

He ordered a horchata and tried to act casual as he slowly turned to spy on her from a new vantage point. She was gone. Shit. Probably went to the hotel to fuck anyone wearing a Rho Delta Omega shirt. Anyone but him, that is.

Ryan turned back to the counter and jumped when he discovered her standing next to him.

“Hola,” she said.

“Hi there,” he said. “I mean, hola.” 

“You’re American?” Damn cute accent. She didn’t need any help, though. Thin, dark hair, green eyes, full breasts. Put this girl on a tourist poster and Cancun would be sold out for a year.

“Yeah, American. What about you?” IdiotKeep it together.

She laughed. “Carmelina.” She held out a hand. Ryan shook it.

“Ryan.”

“Come with me,” she said.

He obeyed. Carmelina picked up her purse, took his hand. In his head Ryan began composing his letter to Penthouse Forum: I used to think this kind of thing didn’t really happen...

She led him away from the security line. He worried about losing his place in the glacially moving line of frustrated passengers. Screw it, give his seat away. Midterms can wait.

Carmelina threw looks over her shoulder, smiling in a coy SeƱorita way that made Ryan erect already. He tried to keep calm, not seem too eager. 

She scanned the terminal left, then right. No one paid attention. She pulled him into the restroom.

Ryan’s heart sped up to a dangerous pace. Giggling, she brought him to the stall farthest from the door. He heard a toilet flush from another stall. She put a finger to her lips, “Shhhh.” He couldn’t help the goofy grin plastered on his face.

She pulled him in and kissed him, locking the door behind his back. Ryan dropped his duffle on the floor, unconcerned about the sanitation of a Mexican airport bathroom.

She turned him around, away from the door and broke their kiss. “It’s okay?”

His grin was back. His erection never left. “Yes. Okay. Yes.”

She moved in for another kiss. She ran a hand down his shirt, ending on his belt. She unfastened it like an expert safe cracker; one-handed, eyes closed.

Feeling behind, Ryan latched a hand onto her left breast. He knew he was squeezing too hard.

She playfully bit his lip and spun his body around, his face inches away from the white tile walls. She was in control and that was fine by Ryan. He let her lead wherever she wanted to go.

His pants were quickly down around his knees, boxer shorts with them. He heard a snap like rubber. She even brought her own condoms!

A click of something metallic confused him for a second but whatever this girl was in to, count him in.

A cold knife blade came to rest against his neck. 

“Stay still,” she said.

He felt pain but not from the knife. His asshole was being opened and something shoved in – needless to say – against his will.

His reflexes ignored the knife, Ryan spun his head to look behind him.

Carmelita was wearing one surgical glove. The gloved hand came out of her purse with a small, but not small enough, plastic-wrapped bundle of white. He saw an open container of Vaseline on the tank of the toilet. When had she gotten that out?

She dipped the plastic in the lubricant and it disappeared up his ass to join the one already in there.

When he started to scream, the knife bit in. “Stay quiet,” she ordered.

She forced the package inside him, deeper than he thought possible. To his horror she was making room for a third delivery.

Once the bundles were inside his rectum she removed the knife, stripped off the latex glove and stepped back.

Gently, Ryan turned around. His erection was long gone and he’d never needed a shit more in his life.

She spoke and suddenly the accent wasn’t so charming. “There are three associates with me on the plane. You fuck with us and you die. Once we get to O’Hare we’ll do this in reverse. You’re good to me and I’ll even hold your balls when I do it. Try anything stupid and I’ll rip them off. Understand?”

Ryan nodded. He understood he’d been an idiot to think a girl like Carmelita would give him a second look. 

He got back in the security line, feeling her stares on his back, his cheeks clamped shut and wondering what the hell he was gonna tell the guys when they got back. 

Spring fucking break. Yeefuckinhaw.



Bio:
Eric Beetner is the author of Dig Two Graves and Split Decision, co-author (with JB Kohl) of One Too Many Blows To The Head and Borrowed Trouble. His award-winning short fiction has appeared in Pulp Ink, D*cked, Off The Record, Grimm Tales, Discount Noir, Murder In The Wind and the upcoming Million Writers Award: best new online voices. For more visit ericbeetner.blogspot.com

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

BATTLE FOR THE LAUGHING CITY by Richard Godwin

Richard returns with a remarkable revisit to the brilliantly bizarre... Laughing City...


Battle for the Laughing City


I fed them on heads and severed limbs. And I starved them of the meat they craved as the battle drew near. I had a supplier at the Ravaged Depot, a storehouse for the mutilated corpses of renegades. He’d hand me the meat, lumps of flesh on ice housed in plastic. I’d slice them open and the bags would hiss and I’d let my army work its fangs into it. I wanted them savage and ravenous when the time came. I catered to their primal desire for murder and knew by their eyes that these men were the most extreme band of killers anyone had gathered together in the name of a military unit. 


Ever since I blew his father’s brains out Simeon Baw had threatened revenge against me. He was a spoilt daddy’s boy and I took his rumblings as seriously as I did the threat of a broken nose from a pansy. He’d made a lot of money and ripped a lot of people off. Now he’d crawled out of the sewer smelling of shit and he’d set up his army with the intention of removing me. But I was ahead of him. I was going to take the Laughing City. First I was going to crush his army and hang every head of every man who served him from the ravaged poles that lined Tryton Avenue. 


It had been named after the new chemical weapon developed by Panacea Drugs. The renegades had got hold of it and been dropping it from the sky. It caused instant madness and genital mutations. As a result we had a new breed of mutant on our hands. The side effect of Tryton was it gave those who survived it extreme physical strength. Monsters with ambiguous genders strolled the streets looking for food. 


I saw one that morning as I met with my army. He ripped the head off a passing citizen, tearing it from the neck bone and crunching the skull in his mouth like a piece of chicken. The poles of Tryton Avenue were placed there as motifs of conquest. They resembled Roman spears and stood in the ground pointing towards the Laughing City.


I met my men in a charred field beyond the town and told them what to do.


‘We’re taking the Laughing City’, I said, ‘but first I have an old enemy who wants a fight.’


I looked at them.


They were as hungry as sharks for blood and as indifferent to who they fought.


‘Simeon Baw has an army and I want it destroyed’, I said.  ‘I’ve worked too many jobs for too many users and now I want my time, we’re taking over.’


Bertolino was my captain. He was a renegade mercenary who’d killed more men than you could count. He was adept with all weapons. He stood there as the distant sun caught the scars on his face and said, ‘Do you want us to capture him?’


‘No. Kill him, decimate his men, burn their bodies and we go to the Laughing City.’


We headed out to the quarters owned my Baw, passing the house he used to breed a race of warriors. They held prostitutes with the right DNA he’d investigated for his purposes and the women were routinely fucked by his breeders, mutants with oversized genitals breeding replicants for his army.  The surgery his women needed made any efforts by me to maim someone look lame. 


I could hear one of them screaming as we headed down the street in our weapons carrier.


Rape and imprisonment were justified methods to Baw.


We passed office after office bearing the Baw name. He had the money all right. I doubted his expertise when it came to organising soldiers.


We searched all afternoon for him and found out he’d gone. He’d taken his men up to the Laughing City before us. And so we headed after him.


The laughter was insane now. I could taste Baw’s blood in my mouth as we landed. There’d been a few changes since the last time. A supernova had imploded near the Laughing City and Crystallus Carvex, the android warrior who’d invaded many towns, had passed through the event horizon to another galaxy. It was rumoured there were now two of him and he was operating a stealth campaign from his new star, Duplex Android, and waging war in the parallel universe we inhabited. So as far as I was concerned he was parallel to me and if I saw him I’d burn his fucking body.


The Laughing City was full of fighting factions, most of them mercenaries from other planets who in passing through had got addicted to Drip 02. They’d fucked a few whores and started hallucinating. They hung on for the drug and the illusion they were taking over a planet, one of the side effects of addiction. In reality they were having fights in bars and lying in the shit stained streets while they dreamed of glories. Panacea Drugs had improved Drip 02. Now it not only gave you the most extreme hallucinations known to man or mutant it also left you with a ravenous hunger for raw meat. The addicts would routinely eat the tourists. I saw 
one attacked by a rabid band of them as they set their rotten fangs in their flesh and stripped them to the bone. Hence the shit stained streets.


And then there was the laughter. It was at maximum volume all the time and sounded like Bedlam. A cacophony of wails and shrieks, guffaws and chuckles broke across the frozen wind that hissed at you as you stepped out of your vehicle. It was impossible to shut out. Even if you plugged in your personal music console the laughter was programmed to override it. Within the chortling, snickering, giggling howls of merriment we passed into the Laughing City.


The Silver Crows and Lizard Dogs were out. I saw a Crow rip the head off a dog who wandered about showering the place with blood.


I had a building I owned which housed weapons. We headed there through the burning streets. Mercury rained from the sky and what little vegetation remained blazed in the smoke filled neon air. Mutant plants blazed like Roman Candles in the ravaged landscape, like some last hope of growth burning in a deranged world. The air was sulphurous, as light refused to yield to darkness and every shape and person had a spectral glow to them as if they were walking underwater in a floodlit swimming pool.


We got to my building and took what we needed. We armed ourselves to the teeth. I watched my men walk out with every conceivable method of killing at their disposal. They had rocket launchers, flame throwers and snibe shots. These were metallium guns that fired a small deadly hole in the target that released an acid that could burn through a man’s flesh in two seconds. They had multi shots, which fired so many rounds they could take out an army.  They had razor knives and the incendiary golf balls I’d designed. Throw one of them at someone after you pull the pin and they’ll lose their head, which is what I guess it takes to play golf in the first place.


We headed out into the carnival streets where the Silver Cows were chewing on the Lizard Dogs’ flesh as they scattered and came again at them, mouths open and fangs dripping. Fragments of fur and meat lay scattered everywhere.


And the laughter was obsessive, incessant, like the manic roar of a madman at your shoulder. It sounded like the pathological ecstasies of the deranged. 


Down at the River Ha Ha’s end, where the stewed foetuses floated and bobbed, Baw’s army was assembling to take over. We saw them walk towards the citadel which was ruined by the explosions that rocked the Laughing City. We passed along the edge of the water with the sight of the bloated heads lying on the black surface. And we followed them to the citadel.


The Mayor of the Laughing City, an obese pervert with two heads, was eating fruit from a fork held to his mouth by a mutant prostitute as she squirted milk from one of her tits into his other mouth as we entered the decaying building. Baw’s army got there before us and we heard the rapid gunfire as they opened up. 


By the time we got there the Mayor was splattered all over the ceiling and the whore’s tits had exploded. Nipples and skin lay embedded in the chandelier that swung above our heads dripping blood. The Laughing City’s slogan loomed over us in neon: ‘No breeding, just whores’. It was part of the promotion of the city as a hot spot for tourists.  They’d pass through, fuck the women and leave, taking new diseases with them.


Baw’s army saw us and opened fire. I launched several golf bombs in their direction.


Limbs and heads flew through the air. They moved in, throwing fire, and we retreated to the back of the citadel where the skins of rival politicians stretched across the walls like some tapestry of hate. Whores ran out of rooms clutching at their mutant bodies. The citadel had been turned into a brothel.


They came after us and I let rip with one of the bigger bombs. We sheltered against the fire as the blast halved his army. Then we fired round after round on them. I found Baw hiding in a room and I scalped him, running my knife around his head as he stared at me with dazed eyes. I blew his head off and stuck his scalp to the wall of skin.


I took my men to the nearest Fuck House and they ate and cavorted with the women.


As we sat there I received news that Crystallus Carvex had landed.


He wanted a war and I was ready for him. 




BIO:
Richard Godwin is the author of the critically acclaimed novel, Apostle Rising.
His renowned series of author interviews, 'Chin Wag at the Slaughterhouse', are on his blog here.