"The Meal" is sort of a prose poem. It's another one of those cases where "the voices made me do it." I like its simplicity, but I've been too lazy thus far to explore this character. But I wouldn't discount its appearance in a future tale.
A stiff breeze blew sand across the road. The wind was rising now. Upon the hill. The ancient Victorian, its wood white with recent paint, hedges trimmed, windows clean and sparkling, path immaculately mowed, driveway raked lovingly with gravel, stood silently on the hill. Nothing was out of place. Yet the palm trees were swishing back and forth in the wind, and the sun had long since been covered. The clouds were moving fast now, the air heavy with sea water and the promise of rain. The Victorian seemed to groan to itself in the gathering wind. Its street was empty of life, save for the field mice resting fitfully in the attic of the house across the street. That house was newer. Built in the 60's after Carla ravaged Galveston. The Victorian hated the house. Hated its more modern styling, the way its owners had let it run to ruin. It was already beginning to rot and stink up the Victorian's block. The Victorian was incensed it was even allowed to exist. With the breeze coming stronger now, thunder in the distance, the Victorian knew it was time. It could feel water moving across the ground some distance away, hear the breaking of waves against the seawall. Yes, it was time.
Momma was a college term paper for my ethics class. Yup, that's right, a term paper. Hard to believe, I know, but after a serious argument with my professor regarding Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics and the ramifications of living by one's own understanding of "what is right for man," I cleared writing this tale with him. I got an A in the class and he couldn't stop talking about it… Download Episode
Welcome to the Fiends Collection. This episode is just an introduction to the collection, a little bit about me as well as a bit of an apology to my current audience. Episode
A long time ago, in a suburb far far away, there was an elementary school called Greenwood Forest Elementary. It served children between kindergarten and 5th grade with great teachers, horrid bullies, and spoiled children. Well, I was spoiled. So were a lot of my classmates. Trust me, you know who you are.
In this suburb that seems so far away to me now, I remember the bell would ring in the late afternoon and all of us tykes, in all our different age groups, would practically run through the playground's various metal webs, bars, barrels, and contraptions, through the copse of too tall pines, and to that mystical van covered with pictures of various ice cream bars, sandwiches and tasty candy treats.
The music was loud, but not earsplitting. I don't remember what the ice-cream vendor looked like, but I know this– I wasn't afraid of this man. He always made sure we had the right change. He was always patient and somehow managed to keep order with all those children begging to part ways with their coin for a sugar high.
In those days, I walked fearless, except for the fear of bullies, of course, through the neighborhood and back to my home. I never heard the music of the ice cream man except outside that elementary school. After 5th grade, when I moved on to the middle school, I never partook of the confectionary wonders of that brilliantly colored van.
I am a couple of months shy of 39 now. I have no children of my own, but I like kids. I always have–except when I was one of them. All that aside however, I was sitting here and working on my horror novella when I heard music. Caliope. A music box wound to an insane volume or an organ grinder being played by a gorilla the size of king kong.
Those bells. I heard those bells and for no reason I can think of, my skin erupted into goose pimples and a shiver ran through my bones. And still the bells grew louder. I was frozen to my chair, unable to really do anything except cock my head toward my front door as the bells grew louder still.
Adrenaline coursing through frozen veins, I managed to get up from my chair, open the front door and peer out. A large econoline van, modified with a facade overhang, made its way down my street toward the cul-de-sac, those bells piercing the afternoon air and shocking the singing birds to silence. The van was white, covered in decals. The windows were tinted. I stood there agape as the van passed by.
The van continued down the street and I was riveted in place as the vision of a twisted faced madman, absurdly large canines jutting from swollen, grey lips filled my mind. A small curl of blood dripped from one of the yellowed, cannibal teeth to stain the lapel of the white jumpsuit. With dead eyes, the ghoulish thing surveyed the empty lawns, heart hammering in its unnatural chest as it waited for its next morsel to bounce out from a front door and come running into its waiting, taloned arms.
How many children's body parts were in the refridgerated cases in the back of the van, beneath the colorful wrappers of sugary, frozen joy? How many girls and boys had felt the terrible zip of those sharpened claws down their sturnem as they were eviscerated for his pleasure? How many parents wondered were their children had gone, not even remembering the cheerful kaliope music that accompanied their child's disappearance?
The imaginary ghoul trolled through my neighborhood, those bells shrieking to children to come, visit, and stay a while. Maybe forever. I felt fear in a way I haven't experienced for a very long time. It was the fear of losing the last of my childhood. The last innocent memories I have left.
Here I am, childless, and I've been briefed to death about the lurkers, the pedophiles, the child molesters, the child murderers, the lost boys, and all the other horrors in the world that now conspire with the media to make every shadow seem as though it's wielding a knife or gun. Every man who smiles at a child, me for instance, might be some kind of sex criminal. Or violent offender. Better check the pervert registry! They could be on your street!
There are some of us who carry sticks when we go walking after dark. We say they're to ward off mean dogs or the pack of coyotes that supposedly haunt The Woodlands. I've seen us carrying them. I've seen the cans of mace tied to hands, dangling from clenched fists. I have watched the expression of a young woman change from casual disinterest to nervous fear when I've said hello.
The fear. The terror. The panic. The distrust.
We horror writers, we entertain you with it. We scare the hell out of you with it. You come to read our literature or watch our mmovies because you like those fears. You like those fears because they are so absurdly implausible when compared to the news we see and read every night. Who should be afraid of reptillian alien monsters when we know from the paper that the truly scary monsters are your neighbors, the strange kid on the block, or the fucking ice cream man driving down the street.
I think my innocence is finally dead. I've know it was for a long time, but I think I have just now accepted it. Once and for all. To think, all it took was to have that last memory taken away from me. And strangely enough, it was all due to the sinister profile of that econoline van and its tinted windows. That, ladies and gentlemen, is all it takes to put the final stake in the heart of a childhood. That is too fucking scary.
Okay, so I have to write this. Richard Cartwright on twitter wondered aloud if a certain creature from Scott Sigler's Ancestor would BBQ well. This got me to thinking: what horror movie monsters would be the most fun to consume? What would be the worst? In no particular order, here's my take.
Now I don't know about you, but roadkill, even when it's fresh, is not my idea of good cuisine. First off, I like my meat to be cooked before it falls off the bone. Secondly, any flesh you can literally dip french bread into before consuming is just a huge turn off. Zombie pate? That's a little sick and wrong even for me. So while their stomachs are growling for your juicy bits, I don't recommend following their example. Besides, when was the last time those things took a bath??
Monster from Cloverfield
Ah, this might be an entry into the sushi collection. Although we never get too good of a look at the monster, it definitely seems amphibian in nature. If they ever manage to blast the damned thing into bits or kill it outright, we'd have to fly in an entire legion of cajun cooks to properly season those frog legs. But man, think of the sales in Japan and Louisiana alone! Here in Texas, they'd be considered exquisite cuisine. I can just imagine Southern debutantes serving them as appetizers, noses in the air, chortling about how they're enjoying the creature that ate NYC.
Now lets make a distinction here. There are two types of “gremlins.” There's the cute, furry Mogwi before they eat after midnight, and then the lizard (the true gremlins) thing that run around causing mayhem, mischief and general violence.
Now the Mogwi look as though they'd taste like fresh Chinchilla, or hamster. But the idea of eating something that talks and is friendly kind of puts a damper on the whole thing. So for me, I'll take a pass on the furry, cute and friendly Mogwi. Although they'd probably be tasty.
Green, reptile gremlins on the other hand… Well, they'd prolly be like eating alligator. As with the creature from Cloverfield, you just fly in a cajun cook, season that sucker, and make gumbo. As Terry Pratchett once said, cajun cooks can make mud taste good.
Shark from Jaws
Now this is a no brainer. Get a few sushi chefs together or simply export this puppy to Japan. I can't even imagine how big a bowl of shark fin soup you could make from the carcass. Of course, you'd have to get to it before Roy Scheider blew it to kingdom come. But hey, as long as we're playing with reality anyway, I'd love to see that thing at the fresh seafood market!
Plant Monster from The Ruins
I'm not a vegetarian by any means, but I do like some vegetables that have “meat” on 'em. Green peppers, broccoli, jalapenos and the like. I don't remember seeing much of this creature except for its leaves and vines which might make an excellent salad. Plus, the fact it consumes protein is a big plus. Not only will you get your vitamins, but after the thing has consumed a small village or two, it should be more protein intense than a freakin' smoothie. Cooking instructions: Boil well! Do not saute!
And finally, to wrap up this discussion, let's consider the Alien. If you haven't seen this terrible, horrible creature, then you've not only been living under a rock, you've been living in the earth's mantle. The alien is the true horror from my youth. Just the commercials scared the shit out of me when I was 9.
That said, I don't recommend eating this monstrosity, whether it be in its egg form, face-hugger, or full-blown monster. Reason? Man, talk about acid reflux! If just the blood from this thing is enough to melt a ship's superstructure, I can't even imagine what that would do in the stomach. It'd be like eating bags and bags of spicy, heavily-salted pork rinds and washing it down with a Mr. Pibb and two gallons of Chunkey Munkey. Definitely not recommended. Not to mention this small logistical problem: what do you cook that thing in?
In closing, I'd like to hear from folk. What are the other horror movie monsters you'd consider eating? Which ones do you think are completely inedible and why? Let me know. I'm interested.
From Cory Doctorow, author of Little Brother, comes this. Essentially, the article points out that the Obama administration, along with other corporate interests, are trying to ensure that a world-wide copyright treaty fails. Basically, the idea is that media that can be presented in digital form (via text-to-speech, audio only, etc) for the blind and otherwise reading-disabled, should be shared across borders more easily. Now, in doing this, of course, the big media giants have to give up some rights in the long-term. What do they have to give up? Control. It's amazing to me that while we watch the traditional media (newspapers, book publishers, and magazines) go out of business at an alarming rate, these corporate idiots (are you listening, RIAA? You scum sucking maggots) continue to eschew any change in their revenue models or move with the technology. Either they have Drooling Idiot Executives (DIE) running the businesses who are in their f'ing 60-80s, or they just can't figure out how to game the system. I bought 5 books yesterday from Amazon. Two of 'em were POD (print on demand) books, and four out of five were free podcasts (like my own work). I gave the authors some love. They create content I like. They deserve to get paid. I do exactly the same thing with music. And I love indie artists (regardless of media type) because they are doing what they love for the promise of very little money. I too am in that mold. It's why I'm involved in open-source. It's why I LOATHE all things microsoft. It's why I give my stuff away for free (of course, that's all it's worth). I don't have dreams of making a whole lot of cash in this life. Things like my own happiness and ideals are much more important to me. So the corporations are scared to death of people like us, the free content creators. They want to say we suck, because we don't have their approval and because if we give our stuff away, it must not be worth anything. The signal to noise ratio is very small on the net. This is very true. And there's going to be a lot of crap out there. But you know what? When I go into a bookstore (rarely happens, these days) or a traditional media outlet or listen to the radio (nearly NEVER happens), all I see and hear is crap, crap, crap. The music industry spends its budget on marketing one hit wonders. The book people find some person they think is going to be good on author photos and writes general audience, accessible, meaningless shit and then spend all their money on them. And microsoft keeps churning out the same damned os with copied eye candy, and the same damned product over and over again that gets more bloated and useless with every release. And people keep buying this crap! So for me, the signal to noise ratio in the world in general is very damned small. But since I discovered the world of podcast fiction, and the content creators out there who have succeeded in not only gathering large followings, but are also making money doing it, I've realized we've opened up a new world of possibilities. I'm not against making money. I hope one day to make enough money off of donations and people buying POD or DTP versions of my work that I can one day quit working for Drooling Idiot Executives. But I'm always going to provide the podcasts for free. Always. I think I'm also going to provide the e-book versions for free as well. But you're more than welcome to buy the kindle versions or apps through the iTunes app store. 😀 So retweet, blog, or email the stuff at the top. This is important. Whether you agree or disagree with the problem of world-wide copyright, and the ability for the disabled to get easier access to digital media, please make sure others get hold of this. Discuss it. Figure out where you stand. And let the Obama administration and our idiot Congress KNOW where you stand on it. Cheers.