AOH :: PLANET04.TXT|
Planet Magazine #4
PLANET MAGAZINE #4 (Text-Only Version)
Wild SF, Fantasy, Horror, Humor, Poetry -- Online Vol. I.
Inside this Pulitzre-Prize* Winning Zine:
Science Fiction by Andrew G. McCann. Horror by Jeff
Gilbert, Mark Monlux. Poetry by Romeo Esparrago, Martin
Burwell. Humor by Biedermeier X. Leeuwenhoek.
(* The Pulitzre-Prize is self-awarded annually to the best
on-line publication named Planet Magazine. It was created
in honor of Pulitzre the Goateed, the former Overdrol of
the Planet Angts and occasional writer of what he called
WHAT IS PLANET MAGAZINE?
Planet Magazine is a free quarterly of science fiction,
fantasy, horror, poetry, and humor written by beginning or
little-known writers, whom we hope to encourage in their
pursuit of the perfect story. There could be other reasons
we're doing this, of course, motivations that are obscure
and uncomfortable; instincts linked perhaps to primal,
nonreasoning urges regarding power and procreation -- the
very same forces, no doubt, that brought down the
Atlanteans and their alabaster-towered oceanic empire. And
the Dark Gods laffed.
Anyway, Planet is nationally distributed in electronic form
(text and full-color versions) via American Online,
CompuServe, eWorld, New York Mac Users Group (NYMUG) BBS,
and Cthulhu knows where else; there are a couple dozen
printouts of each issue floating around, as well. Feel
free to pass this magazine along electronically or as a
single printout, as long as you don't charge for it or
alter it in any way. We welcome submissions (details
below). Planet does not carry any advertising or offer a
subscription service (but it can always be found every
third month in certain locations; see below). Letters to
the editor are welcome and are likely to be printed. Send
questions or comments to PlanetMag@aol.com.
Planet Magazine as a whole, including all text, design, and
illustrations, is copyright (c) 1994 by Andrew G. McCann.
However, all individual stories and poems in this magazine
are copyright (c) 1994 by their respective authors or
artists, who have granted Planet Magazine the right to use
these works for this issue in both electronic and printed
forms. All people and events portrayed in this magazine
are entirely fictitious and bear no resemblance to actual
people or events. This publication has been registered
with the Copyright Office of the U.S. Library of Congress.
You may freely distribute this magazine electronically on a
noncommercial, nonprofit basis to anyone and print one copy
for your personal use, but you may not alter or excerpt
Planet in any way without direct permission from the
publisher (PlanetMag@aol.com). Planet Magazine is
published by Cranberry Street Press, Brooklyn, N.Y., Andrew
G. McCann, publisher.
EDITORIALS AND LETTERS:
GUEST EDITORIAL TIRADE:
THE DIRTY, BIG SECRET
Didja ever notice how everyone wears clothes? Didja ever
wonder where they get them? Well, where they get them
doesn't matter; don't worry about it. The point is this:
Clothes are not a one-time cost. They're not worn just
once, and then discarded. (Excepting the paper-dress craze
of the 1960s -- Ed.) All of those clothes you see people
wearing every day have to eventually be cleaned. That's
right! Every single article of clothing that every single
person on this, our planet-under-alien-siege-that-we-call-
"Terra" has to, at some point, be washed and dried. But
that's not my message here.
My message is this: Who so "kindly" provides all of these
cleaning services? That's right, the appliance, detergent,
and drycleaning companies. HOWEVER, who owns these
"necessary" companies -- WITHOUT exception? That's right
again: the government of a certain "SECOND planet from
Sol." Moroever, who supplies all of the "needed" detergent
and drycleaning fluids -- specifically, perchloroethylene -
which can NOT be manufactured by any technology known on
Earth this century, and which occurs naturally only in the
torrid Swamps of Venus. AND, finally, who receives the
proceeds from these sales, the cash upon which a certain
non"Terran" war effort depends?
I think you now see where this is leading. But for those
of you who just WON'T see, repeat a catchy little phrase
after me: Free Earth! Free Earth! Wear Your Clothes
Covered with Dirth! Or maybe: Who Cares About the Health
Boards/Down with the Venusian Overlords. OK, gotta "run."
Can't stay in one "place" for too long.
Biedermeier X. Leeuwenhoek
Sharing Our Wares:
A "Special" Editorial for Our Treasured Readers
So many people have come up to us in the cyber-saloons to
ask, "Now that you've successfully completed a year of
publishing your Planet Magazine, sometimes garnering tens
upon ones of readers, shouldn't you start charging for it?
Please?" Upon reflection, we couldn't agree more, and now
we are offering our readers the opportunity to hack up $30,
no $60, cash, for each issue of this "zineware" -- no, make
that $85 for each story of every issue, retroactive -- so
that we at Planet Magazine can have the money to buy a
PowerMac PowerBook 9991 (with skulljack and pituitary-ware)
and a Snuffmaster Pro tonguepad. Come to think of it, how
about making it $165 per issue -- better yet, $250 per
story per issue -- as we also need to buy the Mystenstein 4-
D and Power Rangers vs. Flying Barney Assault CD-ROM games.
To give you some background, we note that we seriously
considered various other payment plans that would benefit
readers before we finally settled on the zineware concept -
which, as we said, comes to a meager cover price of $550
per word, for which the reader is repaid billions of times
over, at the very least. For your consideration, we list a
smattering of the "ware" concepts that we weighed (hey
kids, invent your own!) and subsequently trashed over an
intense 10-minute period:
Airware: The reader sends us some air; seemed pointless.
Bearware: Too dangerous.
Careware: Too "nice."
Dareware: We don't want to get involved in any hijinks.
Earware: We can't "Gogh" with that idea.
Fairware: We like carnivals, but this's too inconvenient.
Gereware: Got any Cindyware?
Hairware: We're already wigged out.
Irware: Doesn't work with Terran computer systems.
Jeerware: We get too much of that already.
Kirware: I'd rather have a draft.
Leerware: Depends who it is.
Mareware: Too much like deerware, which is everyware.
Nearware: Incompatible with our farware.
O'Hareware:Planely, we don't need this.
Pearware: Only if from Tom & David's Orchard & Software.
Queerware: No. Not that there's anything wrong with it!
Rareware: Maybe, as long as it's rare because it's good.
Searware: Ouch, no thanks.
Tearware: No. We already use ripware and sobware.
Uareware: Can't be used in non-ammonia atmospheres.
Veerware: We already do this, without any 'ware.
Wareware: Too redundant, not to mention repetitious.
Xareware: Works only with the Xarian's picto-language.
Zaireware: No. Rhodesia-ware didn't work well, either.
So, there you have it. Just more evidence of how hard we
work to please you (raises moist eyes mournfully toward
heaven, reminiscent of Warner E. Sallman's painting "Head
of Christ," with no disrespect meant toward anyone's
religion, human or alien). So, again, please send in your
scamware fee of a pittancely $780 per letter, including
punctuation. Is that really so much to ask? No, of course
As an aside, we'd like to sorrowfully mention that,
tragically, our high expenses mean that we still will not
be able to afford to pay the struggling writers who
contribute so faithfully (starts chopping onions) to make
this zeen what it is... (double-clicks on sound files
labeled "Bawl," "Wracking Choke," and "Sniffles"). Sorry,
we...we can't talk about it anymore.
With Endurance, Boldness, and Vision, I remain,
Andrew G. McCann, Editor
P.S. If you fall for this, and actually send money, please
use only e-credits and the following address in the
Galactic Data Core: planetmag@zines_sf_fantasy_humor_
_t rump. *
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
(New Policy: Letters will be edited to make them longer
and harder to understand.)
Dear Editor: Just a word of congratulations on the
outstanding mag you are producing. I've been sending it
along to the Channel 14 BBS in my town (414/453-0545 FC
system) where it is getting downloaded a bit. I also edit
a DOCmaker mag, Sci Fi Tattler, and have been getting very
little correspondence from readers. Have you guys been
getting a lot of response? I hope so, since it is a heck
of a good mag.
[Editor's Note: Thanks Tim. Your zine is excellent, which
of course I never told you until you sent your e-mail. I
think that people are more likely to write in to a
publication when they're exercised about something. And if
people think that's a cynical view, well, they would think
that, wouldn't they? Anyway, I rather enjoy writing fake
letters for our fake letters column. You might try that.
(To find Sci Fi Tattler on AOL, go to the Science Fiction
& Fantasy Forum. The keyword is SCIENCE FICTION; the path
is Science Fiction & Fantasy: The Science Fiction
Libraries: Member & Club Magazines.)]
Dear Editor: I found Planet 3 on AOL and enjoyed seeing
it. A friend is thinking of getting into electronic
publishing and wanted to see what's being done. Yours is
one of the best!
Dear Editor: I know that you are awaiting my answer to
your recent missive. Please do not fear. I am very
excited in anticipation of the reply which I know I will be
composing to you before very much more time has elapsed.
Here's the problem... Ever since I incorporated myself and
registered all identifications of myself (past, present,
and future) for copyright purposes, I must first consult
with my attorneys before I can send out any of my
trademarked thoughts, comments, ideas, etc. You see, since
there will undoubtedly be a presidential library named
after me, it is very important that all of my public and
private utterances be catalogued, filed, and sold to the
highest bidder when the price is right. I cannot
frivolously "give it away" as they say. I am sure you
appreciate the delicacy of my position and the potential
legal imbroglio we could both be in if I do not get legal
approval before I answer. I want you to know, however,
that I hold you in the highest regard, and I wish you all
the best luck in the world in all your endeavors. You are a
very special human being whose worth cannot be minimized.
Regards and cheers.
Quentin de la Pascalito con Fumare (for Mr. David
P.S. This form letter was sent in lieu of a personal
response, since Mr. Leibowitz has no knowledge of the
correspondent, nor does he wish to.
[Editor's Clarification: The preceding is an actual letter
from a fake person, as well as a fake letter from an actual
person, whereas the following are fake letters from fake
people, albeit written by an actual person.]
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR-WITHIN-THE-EDITOR
Dear Editor: I dream of a world someday where everyone has
a number instead of a name. Ha! Just kidding. You'd
actually have to have a combo of numbers AND letters, like
license plates,* otherwise, the "names" would get
ridiculously long and difficult to memorize -- "Hi,
234,449,226, how are you?" "Oh, fine, 235,992,011; thanks
for asking. See you at the on-line VR arcade tonight."
THEN where would we all be? With kindest regards,
* Of course, we'd have to disallow all-alpha "vanity"
names; otherwise, Mr. 3,550,344,402, for example, could
register the name "Bob," defeating my whole purpose of
architecting a new social order. On the other hand, I
suppose I'd have to permit "Bob1," for instance, wouldn't
I? And that's none too different, I suppose. Listen, let
me think this through again and then get back to you.
Meantime, please, whatever you do, don't publish this
letter. (Hey, I hope you didn't get bored while you were
reading about my idea and skip that last sentence there.
Just kidding again!)
Your Ladyship: I beseech you to not feel any obligation to
respond to my messages. It's not that you haven't been
helpful, it's just that, well, you're quite frankly a boar.
And it's been particularly difficult at the various balls
I've held this year (such as the St. Pancreas' Purging Day
Fete). The reason: Your tusks keep catching in the yards
of silk and taffeta that comprise all the princesslings'
gowns. Much tearing, followed by many tears. This can't go
on. Yours, nonetheless,
Sir Amic "Chip" Mugg
Dear Editing Unit: Yes, we do currently have an opening at
our office; unfortunately, we are using it as a door just
now and don't foresee that situation changing at any time
in the near or distant future. In the very distant future,
however, around about the year 3414, we do intend to
convert this doorway into a high-paying administrative job
in the Bzorgian City bureaucracy on the dark side of
Mercury (a bit cooler there, I believe). One drawback to
this position, I must tell you, would be the requirement
that applicants demonstrate the ability to breathe in a
vacuum and to withstand the Sun's coronal temperature of
about 1 million degrees Kelvin, or whatever -- all without
a space suit of any kind. Sorry about this, but the
Bzorgian race, which of course has the long-term contract
to run Mercury Mining Inc., insists on these capabilities,
and there's really very little we can do about it.
Nonetheless, I'm sure you can do it if you just show a
little backbone and apply yourself. There you go.
All the best,
Prof. Ken Tankerous
Research Chief, UGI Mining Division
Dear Editor: I've long been known for my uncanny ability
to forecast trends: Witness my prediction of last summer,
that silicon-based AIs -- from a future so far off that the
very stuff of the universe has decayed into molecular
oatmeal -would be seen on every runway from Paris to the
Blue-Egg Trellises of Andromeda. So here's The Concept for
1995: Exhaustion! I predict that tout la monde will be on
the brink of collapse this spring. Those Pretty Young
Things of Tribeca and Tokyo will be called The Walking
Skels, spilling hot coffee on themselves at 3 a.m. in some
chic spot with no name and a door buzzer. Everyone from
supermodels to environmentally conscious movie stars will
be appearing in ads and at openings with black circles
under their eyes and a tendency to burst into tears.
OK, so what's the concept behind the concept? Simple:
When you're breaking down physically, not to mention
mentally, you're telling people: "Yo, I care enough to
burn the candle at both ends. By spending all my time in a
spiritual quest to become all things to myself, both
emotionally and financially, I'm telling people that I am
'wired' in every way, that I'm in the moment, and that my
money is working for me. Because this is a world of
opportunities, and if you're not No. 1, you're not even in
the game." You heard it here first.
Mac N. Tosh, President
Digital Fragrances, Inc.
Dear Editor: Hi! I'm Ted, 'n' this is my wife, Gina. We
live in Palisades Park and were just tapping into the 'Net
to look for the nail-care and carwax forums. We found the
Espresso Forum, where we met Tomas and Marte, who were
surfin' in to post their "Ode to Tompkins Square." As
American citizens and rightful consumers of on-line
services, we're worried that the end result of activity
such as ours will be a huge datapit of electronic blather
(such as your publication) that accelerates entropy, and
thereby the destruction of the universe.
R. "Ted" Founder
President, Lost-Our-Lease Inc.
Chairman, Going-Out-of-Business & Sons
Dear Seeker: Nay, I have not "passed beyond," for I still
live electronically to guide you in your Life's Quest.
Follow me, and I will show you The Way! By the way, now,
for only a $49.95 introductory price, you get three, free
ritual ceremonies (observer status) and a special offically
printed I.D. card that gets you free electronic paycheck
deposit in The Semiautomatic Church of Exalted Cronies'
bank account. Gazing Intensely,
Cult Leader, Small-Arms Dealer and Swiss Confectioner *
by Andrew G. McCann
Just before midnight on a Saturday, a young astronomer in
Puerto Rico became the first to spot the small object
sputtering toward the sun. It came in past Pluto, riding a
spark that moved clearly against the millions of hard,
bright stars behind it. Within two hours of e-mailing his
colleagues at various universities and institutions, the
young astronomer became temporarily famous, his news
roaring around the globe in a vast electronic exhalation.
As the next few days passed, everyone but infants and the
infirm became engrossed by the progress of what was now
clearly an interstellar vehicle, steadily moving toward the
big, blue egg called Earth.
The first messages from the visitor were transmitted soon
after its bronzey, boomerang-shaped ship popped and fizzled
into a steady, tight orbit around the moon.
"Greetings, Earthlings. I come in peace," the hissing
voice said on every radio, TV, cellular phone, and karaoke
machine in the world. "Perhaps you wonder why I can
communicate with you, particularly in English?" the visitor
said with a slurping sound. "Well, have you ever seen
those movies where the alien learns your language by
watching broadcasts that, over time, have left Earth and
radiated in long waves to places beyond your galaxy? Well,
this time it really happened." There was a sharp intake of
breath and saliva: "Humorous, isn't it?"
The next day, a small black lozenge popped out of the
creature's ship and made a rapid, arcing descent into the
wispy atmosphere of the luminescent planet. Every
available camera in working condition was trained on the
lander as it dropped with a long, smokey tail. The
visitor, guided by jet interceptors, landed on the broad
expanse of Wright Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.
Newscasters beyond the distant chainlink fences surrounding
the air field droned over the casually stunning footage:
Telephoto lenses showed a jerky, humanoid figure taller and
broader than a man, but with a tiny head. It stood,
shimmering in the heat waves from its lander, in a padded
white-and-black suit. The suit was covered with nauseating
symbols that reflected no known cultural cues,
hallucinatory images designed by something with a vastly
different brain structure. Cameras zoomed in swervingly on
its dark visage: A white tongue was partly extended like a
phosphorescent half-moon against a twilight sky.
As it began walking along the tarmac toward the control
tower, its double-jointed arms and legs swung stiffly, like
a tele-operated scarecrow. A dozen military personnel in
safe suits slowly approached the creature, gathering around
On the evening news, video stills released by the Joint
Chiefs of Staff showed close-ups of the creature as it sat
on a metal folding chair, against a white wall, in a
classified location. It's face was like a small Balinese
demon mask: ridged cheekbones, thick, extremely broad lips,
a deep-blue complexion. It wore a helmet that looked more
like a bejeweled turban -- or perhaps it was formed of
living, pinkgold tissue. It's eyes were yellow, round,
with no pupils; the lids slid together vertically in a
bellows-like rhythm. The mouth was fixed in a rigid
grimace, like a figure 8 on its side, with light-green
fangs bared permanently. Perhaps its most disturbing
feature (although the debate on alt.astrobeast.ugly.sucker
was endless) was a constant hissing, sucking sound, like
someone inhaling the last of a cherry shake through a big
"Astrobeast," as the media had dubbed the creature, was put
before the journalists of the world after being interviewed
by the military in a sterile chamber. The thirst for
information was overwhelming, and so the government held
the press conference in an aircraft hangar, with the alien
standing behind a plywood lectern.
J. Quincy Publick of The New York Post-Times asked the
first question: "Y'know, your English really is quite
good. And you seem to have a sense of humor; many people
have laughed at your comments." He paused, awaiting a
"Funny is funny," the alien said. "I see your youth, their
eyes like television screens, hollow and full of empty
interactions. They crave 40 ouncers, junk food,
convertibles, ever-higher expectations. What good is a
stable job? It has no ethical, spiritual basis for anyone.
But they don't want that; they want to be rock stars, no?"
The creature turned to the reporter, fixed him with a
distant look. "And how is working for a newspaper any
different than operating a drill press? And what good is
operating a drill press?"
The reporter, uneasy amid the stifled guffaws of his
colleagues, said nothing. Yet he felt the cold hand of
meaninglessness brush along his spine. And an internal
silence bloomed for him at that moment, for a seed of dread
had found fertile soil.
Another journalist spoke up: "Can we ask... that is, has
it been cleared... Why are you here?"
Like a blue-faced owl, the visitor's wide gaze swept the
room. "Just passing through."
Another reporter: "Well, where are you from?"
The questions now began piling up. "Any more of your
kind?" "Yes, but not here." "Do you have any Space Wisdom
or something for us?" "Perhaps."
The vast room fell silent.
"But ask yourselves this: Would you know it? For aren't
all of you like participants in an enormous telephonic
conference call, each in his windowless cubicle, trying to
describe some outside reality? All those voices traveling
over simple, twisted copper wires, while the air beyond
your habitats remains forever undisturbed by a pure,
"You mean, like the story of the Elephant and the Blind
Men?" called out one journalist.
"Yes, but this is an elephant with nine dimensions."
An Air Force lieutenant strode toward the lectern and
raised his hands. "OK, ladies and gentleman, we've got
time for one more question."
Sam Donaldson was quickest off the mark: "What will you do
now that you're free?"
"I'm not free yet," it said.
The journalists shuffled out, oddly subdued despite being
part of a historic news conference. "More like
Astrobummer," one reporter mumbled as he walked out.
It was only 11 hours later that J. Quincy, who never filed
his story, decided to disappear. And so he left, forever
from the life that he had known and forever from this
story. He was only the first.
Months passed. Astrobeast moved from nation to nation,
holding press conferences, answering the media's hungry
questions, and visiting privately with eager politicians,
intellectuals, and artists. Always his comments left in
their wake an uneasiness and despondency, and a cult of
despair arose spontaneously in various cities around the
globe. Some governments banned him, but his words and
stories were compiled and distributed exponentially via
photocopies and the Internet. One favorite: "Even in the
interactions with your computers you crave only Doom."
It was on a Saturday that the Dyings began. People of all
cultures already had stopped breeding, as relationships
broke apart and individuals withdrew more and more into
themselves. Reprint sales for Sartre and Camus and Plath
and Strieber skyrocketed, while others just turned to drugs
and alcohol. The alien's autobiography remained at No. 1.
Astrobeast had been reading from his book, "Entropy is
All," in a vast auditorium outside Moscow: "...For your
globe is literally exposed from every angle -- indeed, from
hyperspatial and interdimensional angles that you are not
aware of. 'Entropy is the final taker,' my race says. Be
glad for that, as something unlooked for could destroy you
at any moment, in any place. Thus, there is no protection
from the forces of ennervation and degradation. Know and
accept that your defenses, whether military or
philosophical, are the equivalent of brandishing a kitchen
match at an oncoming thermo-nuclear warhead." His tiny
eyes took in the assembly. "I will add that there are those
who have blamed me for the troubles you face in many
locales. But I say, you only act upon what is already deep
At the end of the reading, the people filed out,
frightened. And the killings, of others or themselves,
began; like a forest fire leaping from tree to tree, crowns
exploding, trunks falling, it spread unchecked.
Twelve days later, somewhere way out in the Oort Cloud's
left field, a behemoth appeared, a ship blacker than black
and quieter than a poisoned desert. The One Who Pilots sat
in the shadows of the Chair of Command; his long, gray
forelimb reached up and out and tapped the side of his
charcoal-red quickhelmet, sending a telepathic quickclone
to the creature his people called The Locator, but whom he
privately thought of as The Eater of Minds.
"Is it complete?" asked The One's mental agent.
"Yessss," said The Eater. "They did little damage to the
planet before the end, and now there are only a few left.
Final cleansing will be easy."
"We will enter planetary orbit within 15 minutes. Please
vacate the system before then." The One paused. "We ask
again, formally: Do you require payment?"
"No, I am quite, quite full. I found a tap root here, a
veritable artery of the will; I won't need to feed again
for some time," said The Eater. "So there is no need for
the robotic interface. We are partners, and I would like
to speak to you directly to express my solidarity and
"No," said The One. "We will contact you in the usual way
regarding any further expansion needs we may have." The
One Who Pilots rapidly unlinked from his quickhelmet, but
not before destroying his electronic simulacrum that had
interfaced with the beast.
Moments later, a small ship shot away from the moon's
orbit, away from Earth and straight out of the galactic
plane. Trailing a fang-shaped nuclear flame, Astrobeast's
ship soon merged with the cold, bright stars. *
(Story copyright (c) 1994 by Andrew G. McCann, and based on
an illustration copyright (c) 1994 by Romeo Esparrago.)
TWO WEREWOLVES, A SIX-PAK & ELVIS
by Jeff Gilbert
"The moon, when its full, makes people change, makes 'em do
things no folk would rightfully do, even if they had a lick
of sense. When you look up into the sky, black as Hell
itself, tell me you don't feel that moon shinin' right
through your soul. It's the Devil's searchlight; it'll
find you, you can bet on it. You may be able to hide
things you don't want no one to know about, but you can't
hide from the moon. It knows that dark side, that human
side. It knows who you really are. The moon, when it's
full, makes people change. And God help you when it does."
--An old proverb I just made up
"Some nights the wolves are silent and the moon howls."
--Bathroom graffiti in the Blue Moon Tavern
"Listen...the children of the night...what music they
--A heroin addict with nifty dental work
* * *
Of course, the moon was full...
"Elvis is King, man!"
Two werewolves - one grey with dirty streaks of white, the
other, a thick furry brown - reclined on fallen pine in a
clearing deep inside the cavernous foothills behind the old
Miller farm. They were drinking night-warm beer from cans
and listening to an oldies station barely coming through on
a portable AM radio. Elvis was singing, his silky tenor
crackling like an old drive-in movie speaker. The wind had
picked up, making the tree branches sway rhythmically as if
in time to the swooning ballad. The moon lit the clearing
like a 7-Eleven parking lot.
"Gimme a friggin' break," griped the grey werewolf. "Elvis
ain't shit. That fat fuck couldn't touch Chuck Berry.
Chuck Berry invented rock and roll."
The brown werewolf, a devout Elvis fanatic, took exception
to this remark and turned his attention from the radio,
pointed ears flattening against his head, indicating he was
less than pleased with the King of Rock and Roll being
referred to as a fat fuck.
"What the hell are you talking about? There is no way Chuck
Berry even comes close to Elvis. I can't believe you say
shit like that." The brown werewolf leapt to his hind
haunches and struck a practiced Las Vegas Elvis pose. He
began singing and dancing around the grey werewolf.
"Ain't nothin' but a hound dog..."
The grey werewolf hated being called a hound dog. Hound
dogs had fleas. He didn't. A few wood ticks, maybe. But
no goddamn fleas.
"Knock that shit off," he growled.
"What's your problem, man? I thought you dug Elvis."
"Elvis can kiss my hairy butt - Chuck Berry would have been
the real King of Rock and Roll if he were white."
"What? You've got to be kidding!" The brown werewolf
laughed like the MGM lion. The full-throated yowl could
easily have been mistaken for a pre-attack snarl. "That is
the stupidest thing I've ever heard you say."
"At least Chuck Berry could play his freakin' guitar.
Elvis just pretended to play, shakin' his sorry ass all
around; shit, I bet he never even learned how to play the
damned thing. Chuck could write songs, too, man. Name one
stinkin' song Elvis Goddamned Presley wrote."
"Oh, brother," moaned the brown werewolf, shaking his head
and taking another greedy swig of beer. "You just don't
know what you're talkin' about." He crooned out the rest of
the song, a duet with Elvis in an impressive baritone.
Perfect pitch was unusual among brown werewolves.
"That was The King, I said the King of Rock and Roll
wrapping up another set of the best oldies, right here on
KWLF 1590!" The brown werewolf mimicked the late night DJ
(No, it wasn't Wolfman Jack. That'd be too obvious.) as
the song ended. All at once the night's silence was cracked
by the sparking piano chords of Jerry Lee Lewis. "All
right! The Killer!" he snorted loudly as "Great Balls 'A
Fire" came blaring out of the rattling speakers.
The grey werewolf guzzled the beer he was holding in one
vicious gulp, belched loudly, and tossed the can in the
bushes. "Little Richard can play the pants off Jerry
Lee," baited the grey werewolf.
"I don't believe this," the brown werewolf said, clapping
his head and rolling his yellow eyes. "Would you give it a
rest already? Geez."
The grey werewolf continued. "See, Jerry Lee's got that
honky tonk shit down pretty good for a white boy, but
Little Richard's got soul!" Now it was his turn to dance.
The grey werewolf jumped up and started pounding the keys
on an imaginary piano, shouting at the top of his lungs.
The brown werewolf joined in and started singing over the
top of the grey werewolf's howling. "Goodness, gracious,
great balls a ' fire..."
The two werewolves were making a helluva lot of noise. And
they hadn't even killed anyone yet.
* * *
"Those goddamned throw rugs are at it again," grumbled
Sheriff Harding as he stepped out on his covered porch, his
evening calm ravaged by the clamor wafting through the
forest. The worn planks sagged painfully under Harding's
considerable girth as he listened to the din.
(Fortunately, one of the perks of being Sheriff meant foot
chases through backyards and alleys were left up to
subordinates.) It was well past dusk and he didn't need any
caterwauling werewolves keeping him up all night. Bad
enough they had the whole town on edge, baying and howling
until two, sometimes three in the morning. But The
Untouchables was on HBO tonight and, by God, he was going
to watch Capone undisturbed if it killed him. Or them.
Suddenly in the mood for a little hunting, Harding called
the precinct to send over a car. He hung up the phone,
strapped on an oiled .38, confirmed the loaded clip in his
rifle mounted next to a Charles Bronson Death Wish movie
poster he picked up for two bucks at a swap meet, and
stepped out into the misting night.
"Figures," he mumbled, looking up. "Full fucking moon."
* * *
The grey werewolf reached into the carton for another beer,
but there were none.
"Sonofabitch," he snapped, kicking the empty box into the
woods. "We're out of beer! I thought you said we had
"We did, except you've been sitting there suckin' 'em down
like a freakin' vampire. Tell you what, though," he
smiled, "you fly, I'll buy!"
"Oh, right, smart guy; you're gonna have to come along,
too. You're gonna need more batteries and I don't wanna
listen to you bitch and moan when you can't get King Elvis
on the radio. Let's go."
The two werewolves began their descent from the black
foothills, taking a shortcut through the Miller farm. They
passed by five shit-greased pigs, screeching and snorting,
huddling against the shadowed corner of their fouled pen,
trying their terrified best to keep out of werewolf reach.
"Hey, good lookin'...we'll be back to pick you up later!"
the brown werewolf chortled, eyeing the largest porker.
"Hey, isn't that Elvis?" the grey werewolf cracked.
The horses shifted restlessly in their stalls and a
neighborhood dog began barking wildly, having caught their
scent in the chilly October air. "Friggin' flea bag -
let's hurry it up before the whole goddamned kennel is on
"Ain't nuthin' but a hound dog..." sang the brown werewolf
* * *
They came out of the woods, just ahead of the off ramp of I
5. An exiting Pontiac nearly clipped the brown werewolf.
"You dickwad!" He howled sharply, sounding like a dog that
had been swatted off the couch with a rolled up newspaper.
"How do people like that get a driver's license? Maniac! I
oughta bite you a new asshole!"
"Cool it," said the grey werewolf. "There's a 7-Eleven.
With the gift of grace and speed befitting two lycanthropes
in their prime, they were across the road in seconds,
closing in on the store entrance. A portly minimum-wager
with wide black sideburns and duck-tail hair held in place
with 40weight was standing behind the counter, picking his
nose and restocking Camel Filters when the thirsty beasts
kicked open the glass doors bannered with Budweiser Case
"Take care of the schmuck; I'll get the beer," barked the
The brown werewolf vaulted over the counter and sunk his
yellowed teeth deep into the startled clerk's throat,
tapping a vermilion geyser that spattered the cigarette
rack, Beef Jerky, twelve cartons of unpacked Winstons, the
Slurpee machine - and just about everywhere a severed main
artery could spray.
"Fuck...a bleeder!" marveled the brown werewolf, smacking
his chops. "Tasty!"
With fatted neck gristle stuck between his ruby-stained
fangs, the brown werewolf leaped back across the counter
and stalked the aisles for AA Energizers - the one with the
pink bunny on the package - and dental floss. He padded to
the front of the store and, with his teeth, ripped open a
carton of Kotex he snagged on Aisle 3, tossing a few
tampons into the black red pool Mr. 7-Eleven's mangled
head was floating in.
"For those heavy flow kills..."
The grey werewolf, hairy arms loaded with four cases of Bud
Lite and a large bag of pork rinds, came around the corner
and was greeted by a glassy puddle of brain goo and blood.
"Oh, that's just wonderful," he sneered. "You're all
covered in that shit; now you're gonna stink like a
The brown werewolf stood with chunks of human hair matted
to his own, glaring at the grey werewolf. "What the fuck
is that?" he asked, pointing at the blue and silver-cartons
the grey werewolf was holding.
"It's beer, asshole. Whaddaya think it is?"
"I can't believe you. We hike all the way into this hick
town for some brew, and you grab Lite beer! Fuckin'
"Hey, Bud Lite's a damn good beer. And I don't get as full
"Don't gimme that crap. I want real beer. Lose the piss
water and get some Rainier!"
"They don't have any Rainier in this dump. How 'bout I get
you a Coors Silver Bullet?"
"Ha, ha, asswipe. I suppose you think that's hilarious?"
* * *
They were arguing again. Loudly. Their heated "taste
great/less filling" debate was momentarily interrupted by a
late-night customer who had pulled up to the twenty-four
hour convenience store for a carton of milk and cereal.
The man walked through the door, rubbing his drowsy eyes
against the bright store lighting.
"Excuse me...could you tell me where you keep the Lucky
The two werewolves stopped and turned to the customer.
"Aisle 2," said the brown werewolf.
"Thanks," yawned the customer.
* * *
A call on the police radio brought Sheriff Harding and
Deputy Nightstick (that's what Harding called the new night
patrol officer), to the disturbance in minutes. Nightstick
swung the squad car towards the store entrance and hit the
"Oh, great. Just fuckin' great," groaned the grey
werewolf. "You're bitching about my choice of beer, and the
cops show up."
"Me? Hey pal, it was your idea to come here in the first
place!" the brown werewolf snapped.
Harding and Nightstick had their weapons drawn as they
rushed through the door.
"This is not good," said the brown werewolf, stepping back
"I've been waitin' to do this for a long time," Harding
smiled, cocking his rifle and taking aim at the grey
werewolf's head. "Kiss your long-haired ass good-bye, you
The grey werewolf growled, his narrowing eyes turning the
color of a full vein. He threw the beer on the floor and
charged like a pit bull after a paperboy, crashing into a
Lay's Potato Chip display - the only thing standing between
the Sheriff and a firsthand introduction to a fully pissed
Harding fired and missed, the shot taking out a fluorescent
full moon lighting fixture over a rack of Halloween candy.
Two strides away from a midnight snack, the grey werewolf
suddenly slipped on an oil slick of blood and brain and
momentarily lost his balance. Twenty years as a law
enforcer reminded Harding that sometimes you don't get a
second shot. And sometimes you do. He quickly cocked the
rifle and pulled the trigger again. A white detonation
went off inside the grey werewolf's head, throwing the
stunned creature into the beer cooler, splattering the
glass doors with wolf hair and pieces of snout and teeth.
Half his skull was sheared off by the force of the blast.
Frozen like a deer in headlights, the brown werewolf
shrugged sheepishly and yipped. He was tagged by
Nightstick who dropped the smelly creature like a ten point
buck with an clean shot to the right temple.
The store reeked of foaming beer and McNugget-sized bits of
particulate matter. And dead werewolf.
Both police officers surveyed the damage like proud army
generals. "Mighty fine shootin' there, Nightstick."
"Thanks, Sheriff. Didn't do too bad yourself." Nightstick
scraped still-oozing wolf brains off his shoes with a box
"Yep, even the Rifleman couldn't have bagged that flea
hotel the way I did."
"The Rifleman?" asked Nightstick.
Harding gave Nightstick one of those Sheriff looks. "Well,
that may have been a little before your time, son, but the
Rifleman could blow the eyebrows off a moose turd in mid
"Yeah, well maybe, I suppose. 'Cept Dirty Harry coulda
bagged that woolly sucker with way more style."
"What the hell you talkin' about, dipstick? You tellin' me
Dirty Harry is a better shot than the Rifleman?"
"That's right," said Nightstick. "I seen Magnum Force six
times! I know what I'm talkin' about."
"You ain't telling me shit, son. I'll show you some real
Harding had Nightstick place a box of Cheezits (the one he
used to scrape werewolf goop off his shoes with) on his
head and ordered him to stand at the end of Aisle 3, next
to the Pennzoil and Leggs.
"Now, whatever you do, don't move," he warned, sizing up
his stationary target. Nightstick stood stock still,
balancing the snacks with concentrated effort. Harding
squinted to focus. He quickly dropped to one knee and
fired his pistol straight into the face of Deputy
Nightstick, sending Cheezits and bloody flesh in a colorful
burst all over the Otis Spunkmeyer cookie rack.
Sheriff Harding got up, slowly, and looked at what used to
be Nightstick's face on Aisle 4. And 5. Harding rubbed
his chin and sighed. "Maybe it was the Virginian." *
(Story copyright (c) 1994 by Hairball Press.)
[Editor's Note: "Two Werewolves" is the title story from
Jeff Gilbert's book of the same name, published by Hairball
Press in Seattle. The story is also currently being
adapted into comic book form by Harris Publications of New
York, and is due for release in 1995. The book is
available for $10 from Jeff Gilbert, 2318 2nd Ave., Suite
591, Seattle, WA 98121.]
DON, DEATH & VIRTUE
by Mark Monlux
Don was eating hash browns and gravy at Mable's all night
cafe. Mable's was a place in town whose history was built
on the reputation of the college students. But the college
students only ate there half of the year before they would
go off to their coffee houses. Truckers ate at Mable's.
They gave the place credibility. The myth about trucker's
restaurants was one of the reasons Don was eating at
Mable's. The other reason was that somebody had told him
that the hash browns were excellent.
Halfway through his second mouthful, Don began to regret
his order. This wasn't turning out to be the culinary
delight he had anticipated. Ketchup was not helping. The
gravy might actually be sludge from the refrigerator drip
pan, which somehow found its way over a pan and onto his
hash browns. Perhaps accomplished by a series of small
black holes. He ordered a chili burger. Don continued to
eat his hash browns. He was big on life and was willing to
take what life tossed him. If it was his fate that he was
hungry and the food sitting in front of him could be
mistaken for industrial waste, so be it. He sat there and
ate. Don could not help but let a little of his food slide
down the wrong tube when Death walked through the door.
Don was struggling to cough, all the while thinking,
"Great, Death is here to take me. I'm going to choke." He
looked around hoping that some trucker would do the
Heimlich maneuver on him. No such luck, the place was
Man chokes to death in restaurant. Don thought, I don't
need this. Death was grinning at him.
"Hi, Don," Death greeted. "What's that?" He pointed to
"Hash browns and gravy," Don squeaked, finally clearing his
throat. "Try some."
"Do you mind if I sit down?" Death asked.
"Go away." Don said. "I deny you. You don't exist. I
don't ever want to see you again."
Death sat down.
"Hey," Don said, "Didn't you hear me? I said shove off."
"Listen, Don," Death said. "Don't give me grief, Okay? I
want to rest a bit before leaving."
"You don't exist," Don whispered. The hash browns had lost
all their appeal; he shoveled them around his plate.
"Will you stop with the denial stage already?" Death asked.
"I'll tell you something," Death said. "You can't deny me
because I am real. You may try to ignore me but you can't.
You may try to escape me, but eventually I will find you.
I am with you always. I'm as common as mold on month-old
bread. Regardless of time or distance, I reign
everywhere." Death looked pleased, and continued: "After
looking at me for a while, some people find that I have
Don thought of bathrooms and razor blades.
"Some people look forward to seeing me," Death said. "They
see me and they say, 'Hi, Death. How's tricks?' 'Time for
departure Mr. Death? Fine by me.'" Death leaned back. "I
picked up this old lady today. She said to me, 'Oh, it is
you, Mr. Collector.' I thought that was cute. Don't you
think that was cute?" Death asked.
"Huh." Don said, about to have kittens. In his mind he
was scrambling like mad to find a way to elude death. He
was turning over plans of skeletal dismemberment when
Virtue walked through the door.
"Hi guys," Virtue beamed. "What's up?"
"An old lady called me 'Mr. Collector' today," Death said.
"These hash browns are visiting diplomats from Venus, and I
just ate half their delegation," Don said. Death looked at
the hash browns, so did Virtue. Don looked at the door,
wondering if now would be a good time to run for it. "Have
a seat," he said.
"Thanks." Virtue said. He sat down carefully, minding his
wings. "Nice day." The waitress came out with the chili
"Your order, sir," she said. She didn't notice Death. She
might have seen Virtue. Don wasn't sure. He did not know
how far the waitress's memories went back. "Are you done
with this?" she asked, as she bent to pick up the hash
"Yes," he replied. As the waitress left the table Virtue
said, "There goes all communication with Venus."
Don smiled. He was beginning to feel better, and his
attention went back to his chili burger. His appetite was
back and he dug in with his fork. The chili burger was
much better than the hash browns. He was very hungry and
content in shoveling food down his throat. Remembering his
company, he looked up. Death was eating French fries;
Virtue had a piece of pie. Both had coffee. Don looked
down. Such sights are not for mortal men.
Looking at his plate he saw that a feather had landed in
his chili. Don felt a little queasy. Feathers reminded
him of chickens. He had more knowledge than he cared to
admit about chickens. He had been raised on a chicken
ranch. He had lived with chicken, ate chicken, smelled
chickens, hauled and fed chickens. All without a thought
of complaint. That was until the great chicken massacre of
'74. His participation that summer saw him in more blood
and chicken guts than in all of his childhood years
combined. When he slept he dreamt of what he did all day
long. Slowly walking along, snapping chicken necks with
both hands. At the end of that summer, some four-thousand,
six-hundred-odd chickens later, he found that the smell of
chicken cooking made him nauseous. He could not eat
chicken without getting ill. He wouldn't eat fish because
the smell reminded him of chicken. He looked at the
feather on his plate and then at Virtue. The feather had
fallen from one of Virtue's wings. Don wasn't feeling good
He glanced at Death. He was curious as to how anyone could
eat without lips. It was a mistake. Looking at Death's
mouth reminded him of the chicken farm. He drank some
water; that seemed to help.
Don picked the feather from his food. He didn't want to be
rude and leave something gross on the table. He folded it
in a napkin. It still looked obvious, just like his
sister's gum during Thanksgiving dinner. He stuffed the
napkin into his pocket.
Now that his plate was tidy (nothing here to remind him of
poultry), he finished off the last of his chili burger.
Death was wiping up the last of his French fries. Virtue
was putting some sugar into his coffee.
"Sugar and spice and everything nice," Death cackled.
"Pebbles and snails and puppy dog tails," said Virtue.
Don watched as the two apparitions had a fit of giggles.
"I don't get it," he said. "What's the joke?"
"Death was kidding me about women," Virtue said. He tried
to say more, but ol' skull-face started to snicker, and
Virtue broke into laughter.
"A girl's stolen virtue?" Don asked. He was beginning to
get the joke. "That type of thing?" This brought more
laughter. Don was laughing now, too. Virtue was leaking
tears, and Death was holding his own ribs.
Virtue raised his cup and toasted, "Death holds all men
Death toasted back, "Virtue is its own reward." Another
wave of lunacy gripped them. After it had settled, Virtue
straightened his feathers. Don wiped the tears from his
eyes. Death brushed some crumbs off his cloak.
"Well," Death said, "I guess it's finally time to go."
Don's food did a small flip in his stomach and lay there
like a brick. His heart pounded, sweat broke out. He had
that odd feeling that his body was doing everything
necessary for running, yet was refusing to move. His
thoughts were cold, white, and empty. He heard Death stand
up. He could not see. Somebody had closed his eyes so
tightly they seem to cut off the world.
At any moment, Don thought, at any moment I'm going to feel
his icy grip on my shoulder. He waited for the moment.
Nothing happened; he opened his eyes. There was Death with
his hand on Virtue's shoulder. Virtue didn't look so good.
His skin was pale. He looked like he was sweating.
"Ngrgh," Virtue said. The words were not coming out right.
"There has to be a mistake," he finally said.
"No mistake," Death said. "You are dead, as in: kicked the
bucket, pushing daisies, out the door feet-first, bought
the farm, tits up, caught a bullet, growing frost. You're
a card-carrying member of the dearly deceased."
"I can't be dead, I'm Virtue," Virtue said.
"Well, Virtue is dead," Death said.
"I'm not an old lady with a heart condition!" Virtue
yelled. "I demand to know how I can be dead."
"Christ," Death swore. "Why the hell does everybody have
to go through the denial stage? Listen Virtue, you have
been stepped on, stolen, lost, found, bruised, tested,
invested, borrowed, gained, shifted, and parted. There is
more wear on you than a Henry Ford tire. You can hardly be
recognized for what you are. It is not your nature to
notice yourself, so you could not see that you were dying.
Now you are dead, and it's the happy hunting grounds for
"Wait a moment," Don said, "Virtue is right. He can't die,
regardless of how much wear he has. There is still virtue
in the world, so he must exist."
"Well," Virtue said. "I really don't cover the whole
"Huh?" Don was puzzled.
"I only cover Chicago, record companies, major burger
chains, and the Paris, Colorado, High School Marching
Band," Virtue said.
"What he means," Death said, "is that he was demoted."
"I don't understand," Don said.
"The world got to be a big place," Virtue said. "Now there
are several virtues, and between the lot of us we do pretty
"Well, you're dead," Death said.
"What about Chicago? What about..." Virtue was saying,
when Death cut him off.
"You've been demoted again," Death said.
"Nuts," Virtue said. "What do I have now?"
"You are now responsible for one person," Death said.
"One?" Virtue asked.
"One," Death replied.
"Well, who is it?"
"Him," Death said. He was pointing at Don.
Once again, Don wasn't feeling so good. It would be a
little much for anybody to have the Grim Reaper point his
finger at you, then to find out you couldn't recognize your
own virtue. His head hurt.
Don looked at Virtue, and asked, "Where have you been?"
"Oh, just out wandering around with a marching band,"
"Good, you're dead now," Death said. "No more wandering
around for you." He started Virtue toward the door.
"He can't die," Don cried, "he is my virtue."
"My, but the lad is bright," Death said sarcastically.
"My, but he is quick." As Death led Virtue out of Mable's,
he called back, "I'll be seeing you."
Don sat quietly. Death had left a tip of two coins. Don
thought of bathrooms and razor blades. It was a while
before he smiled, remembering a feather in a napkin. *
(Story and illustration copyright (c) 1994 by Mark
I AM ALARENA THE ASWANG
by Romeo Esparrago
i am an aswang
i have come
from the depths
of tropic heat
i am an aswang
i am one who has
swallowed a black chick
from the mouth
of a dying other
i am an aswang
i am one who can
cleave my body in two
and float my upper half
in the darkness of the night
i am an aswang
i am one whose tongue
to an infinite length
and a thread-like thinness
i am an aswang
i am one who feeds
on the innards of babies
of pregnant women
of over-eager men
i am an aswang
i am one that suckles
on the voided discharge
of the sick
i am an aswang
i am one you need to fear
for i am far more beautiful
far more cunning
and far more deadlier than you
i am an aswang
i am named alarena
and i hate
what i am
and i am an aswang *
(Poem and illustration copyright (c) 1994 by Romeo
by Martin Burwell
for a moment
by something beyond gravity's
The world stops
catching the news
once upon a time is back
once upon a time
(Poem copyright (c) 1994 by Martin Burwell.)
THE MEANING OF LOST SOCKS
by Biedermeier X. Leeuwenhoek
Abstract: From the Proceedings of the 49th Convention of
the American Datatician Society Meeting, Akron Hilton,
Akron, Ohio. November 1994.
Excerpt from author's remarks, Professor Bingham S.
Tewksbury: "We of the ADS are pleased to announce that the
mystery of where lost socks go has been quantitatively
pinpointed subsequent to a lengthy and rigorous double-
blind study.... We believe that the results, shown in the
accompanying [table], contain no surprises, and in fact
conform quite closely to what is called 'common sense.'"
Lost Socks: Where Do They Go?
Percentage Lost Explanation
26% Left in Washer
25% Left in Dryer
21% Dropped, to/from laundry
14% Stuck, through static,
to corner of fitted sheet
or article of clothing
13% One sock thrown out because
other is "missing"
Note: Margin of error plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Source: ADS *
(Story copyright (c) 1994 by Andrew G. McCann.)
Circulation as of 12/94: 36 Spewzillion Fictionburgers
Editor & Publisher
Andrew G. McCann (PlanetMag@aol.com)
Doug Houston (DCHouston@aol.com)
Cover illustration by
Romeo Esparrago (RomeDome@aol.com)
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Martin Burwell ("Quicksilver") is essentially a working
musician/music director. He is also a poet, who has been
published in literary magazines around the country, and a
visual artist represented in several galleries and private
Romeo "Rome Dome" Esparrago ("I am Alarena the Aswang")
lives in Sacramento, California and has played miniature
golf with Konen the Barbarian and Biedermeier X.
Leeuewenhoek. If you'd like to send greetings, get on the
Internet Highway, and exit at email@example.com.
Jeff Gilbert ("Two Werewolves") lives in Seattle and is
regionally known for borrowing beer change. Some of the
more famous people he's hit up for drinking funds include
Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Candlebox, and assorted
members of Pearl Jam. He is also the West Coast Editor for
Guitar World magazine. When he's sober, that is.
Biedermeier X. Leeuwenhoek ("The Meaning of Lost Socks") is
former Chairman of Self-Nuking Projects Inc. of Ohio. He
is wanted by the Venusian Overlords (never you mind why).
Andrew G. McCann ("Astrobeast") is a writer and editor in
New York City.
Mark Monlux ("Don, Death & Virtue") is a freelance computer
illustrator living in Tacoma, Washington. A perpetually
happy and optimistic morning person, he occassionally
writes stories from his life that take on mythic
proportions and also makes an odd stab at horror. He can
be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or just MMonlux for
AOL subscribers. *
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