Archive | Skwibby fiction

Doug the neurotic invents a corollary on his daily commute

Revenge of the chickenOkay, I’ll admit it. I’m freaking out.

I ate at Wendy’s last night, and then I’m reading the paper today — yeah, like I do everyday on the bus — and so I’m reading the paper, and what do I see? Bird Flu! There was another breakout of bird flu in a freakin’ chicken farm in Canada!

Yeah, I know you can’t catch bird flu from a Spicy Chicken Sandwich, but still. I’m just saying that it’s a sign. It’s just a matter of time. That or the polar bears. Where the hell are they going to go when the last of the polar icecaps melt? The motherfuckers are either going to drown or head south and look for a little protein in Doug form. Spicy Doug Sandwich. Did you know the polar bear is the biggest land predator in the world? Yeah, and they aren’t going to catch bird flu. Not to mention the terrorists. If they don’t get me than for sure some crypto-Nazi is going to rendition me to somewhere where water-boarding is like foreplay.

Holy shit! It says here that some of the people working with the chickens caught Bird Flu. Oh God, I don’t want to catch BIRD FLU.

Why the hell is everyone looking so calm? Look at that dude. He’s just listening to his iPod, pretending that we’re not all about to die from an anthrax attack. It says we will right here on page three.

The bus is awfully slow today. I wonder if that’s because the driver is working with the terrorists, or maybe he has the beginnings of BIRD FLU and it’s slowing him down? All these stories keep saying it’s only a matter of time until the virus leaps from poultry to humans. Just like the terrorists. They’re going to do another big attack.


They haven’t, have they? Maybe if the media is really covering a story like this, that reduces the chances of the thing actually happening. What if there is some sort of inverse relationship to disaster and the amount of fear churned up by the media: the more ink and airtime devoted, the less likely there will be a disaster?

Oh shit. What if there was some kind of OTHER relationship, like a corollary to Murphy’s Law? What is that? Anything that can go, will go wrong. No, that’s Microsoft’s motto. Anything that can go wrong, will.

Like, my bus is late. It can be late, so it is late. I’m going to have to run to catch my transfer. Bastards.

What if there’s some kind of corollary to Murphy’s Law? Anything that can go wrong, will, unless the media gives it saturation coverage … in which case, something else will go even more horribly wrong. Not bad. Call it Doug’s Corollary.

Finally, the bus is at my stop. Come on lady, move. I got to run.

Wait! If that is true, what is worse than BIRD FLU?

Dashing now. I’m still fast. Not young enough to fight off BIRD FLU, but still quick.

Oh my God. Ohmygodohmygod, EBOLA is worse than BIRD FLU!

Oh God, I’m going to catch some new strain of EBOLA and bleed out from they eye sockets and shit! It’s going to wipe me out like a —


The End

Alltop is a busload of fun. Photo by Mark Lorch. Originally published in 2007, so you can see how it’s the specific fears that change, not the general tone of the media.

Henry’s long ride with death


Henry rode with Death his entire life, but it never really cramped his style.

For the most part, other people couldn’t see Death, hanging on his coat-tails wherever he went, and whatever he did. It was usually the very old and the terminally ill, and Henry learned not to frequent hospitals and old folk’s homes after a (bad) decision to entertain his grandmother and all her friends in the Gentle Repose Rest Home. (There was nothing gentle or restful about the walker-enabled slow stampede away from the Henry’s constant companion.) In the early 70s, Henry had an intense relationship with a sensual hippy who was into transcendental meditation and tantric sex. The latter, especially, seemed to help her pierce the veil, and during an hour-long climax she spotted Death, hanging around in their bedroom.

“He looks bored,” Jenny had said.

“Yes. I think Death is bored much of the time. You’d think there would be a more efficient way to do it.”

“To do what?” she’d asked, and then adjusted her position a bit. “There. That’ll keep it going.”

“Well, everyone has their own Death. I can see them all.”

“Oh, me too?”

“Everyone. Your’s looks more bored than mine.”

“Hmm. Let’s ignore them, then.”

But for the most part, human beings were unable to see Death, hovering around them at all times. For Henry, it made the world seem a bit crowded. For every person, there was a dark doppelganger. A cloaked figure with that signature scythe.

It always seemed a bit cliché to him, that Death would represent itself in such a hackneyed way, and one day, Henry asked his Death about it. This would have been years before the incident.

“So, what’s with the scythe. Why do you all have them?”

Death was speechless. It had never realized that Henry could see it. “You’re aware of me? Like, my physical presence?”

“Sure,” Henry said. “I can see all you guys. Or whatever. It’s hard to tell with those cloaks and masks.”

“It’s not a mask! It’s my face, man.”

“Oh. Sorry. Well, what is the deal? Why the outfits.”

“We thought it would be helpful branding. You know, so when you’re supposed to see us, you know what’s about to happen. That way we get fewer ghosts. Most people become ghosts because they don’t see us coming, or the just don’t believe it’s us.”

“So what happens after?” Henry, like all humans, always wondered.

“I can’t tell you that! Who says anything happens?” Death said.

“Fair enough. You’ve got to keep the mystery alive. All part of the brand, right?”

“I suppose so. You have no idea what happens to me if I tell you anything about what happens after.”


“It makes me seem like a pussycat. Now, let’s go back to me pretending you don’t see me, okay?”

“So you did know?”

“Of course. I was there when you were doing your tantric thing with Jenny, you know.”

“Right. I wonder whatever happened to Jenny?”

“Died of a heroin overdose in 1977.”

“Bummer,” Henry said. “She was one of the good ones.”

Death was non-committal.

After that conversation, Henry got back to the job of living his life. After Jenny he’d met and married Diane, and they’d had two kids. He worked in a large corporation, building a career that eventually led to upper management. He was the kind of boss that everyone liked, even the shareholders. He had a joy in living, in engaging with people, helping them when he could, that was infectious. He lived every moment as fully as he could

Then one day Death spoke to him again. He was at the carnival with his kids — it was a spur of the moment kind of thing. He’d taken the afternoon off from work, and pulled his son and daughter out of school, and they’d spent hours riding the rides, playing the games. The rollercoaster looked too scary for the children, so Henry said he’d ride it first, to show them it was okay. That’s when Death said:

“I’m really not suppose to do this, but I have to warn you not to get onto that rollercoaster.”

“Oh?” Henry said.

“Yes. Because, you know, there are many times when you could die and this is most assuredly one of them. Definitely one of them.”

“So you’re saying I’ll die if I get on the rollercoaster?”

“Well, all the probabilities say that. I don’t make the final decision,” Death said, and then added. “Shit, I’m really not supposed to tell you that.”

“But you have an impact.”

“Of course. I have some impact. In fact, I’m the guy who pulls the trigger, so to speak.”

“So it is up to you?”

“Ultimately. But I have to have really good reasons to not . . . follow orders.”

“Understood,” Henry said. “Now, let’s go show my kids there’s nothing to be afraid of.”

The End

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Alltop laughs at death. Photograph via Twisted Vintage.

A Traditional ‘Christmas’ at the Tundra Household

Roast turkey with skull & crossbonesDr. Maximilian Tundra was heading home again for the holidays, dread clutching his heart like an iron fist. He’d managed to avoid Thanksgiving, but there was no escape from The Feast.

The Feast, as it was known amongst Clan Tundra, was a toxic stew of carbs, fats, and pharmaceuticals that had a tendency to drive the family bonkers.

Not that they weren’t certifiable to begin with.

Dr. Tundra’s sister, Eugenie, was a brilliant “installation” artist, who was nevertheless, seriously bi-polar. His younger twin brothers, Xavier and Xenophon, had never really recovered from their childhood “incident” — as the family called it — following a plane crash in the Andes. His Da, Dr. Halvard Hemming Tundra, seemed perfectly normal; of course, the Great Danger of attending the Feast was that Dr. H. H. Tundra didn’t attend, and that he sent his doppelganger, Mr. Angry McBucktooth in his stead. His Mum, Beatrice Pelagia Tundra (nee Sweeney) was in denial, but otherwise safe to be around.

And that was just the nuclear family. Getting the extended clan together required a number of court orders, insurance waivers and to be on the safe side, Da usually hired off-duty members of the SWAT to patrol the grounds.

Perhaps it was for that reason, or perhaps it was the family’s iconoclastic nature, but The Feast was never celebrated on Christmas. It always happened on the Solstice.

The darkest day of the year. Of course, it also marked the start of days getting brighter and brighter. The rebirth of the sun, his Da called it. But when it came to the holiday, his family and The Feast, Dr. Tundra was definitely a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy.

The policeman checked his ID, and waved him past the checkpoint, a set of gates loomed ahead, which would let him into the Tundra compound. A high fence, razor wire atop, surrounded the area. Guards and German shepherds patrolled the grounds, checking the fenceline for weak points.

It would do no good. It never did.

He parked, put on his flak jacket and entered the Tundra mansion. The smell of roasting turkey and peyote stuffing filled the house, and Dr. Tundra shuddered.

An outside observer would wonder if that was a shudder of anticipation, excitement, or perhaps the thrill of visceral familiarity that we get when we return to our childhood places.

But no, it was dread.

Alltop freebases its turkey. The reasons why festive feasting can cause family fracases.. Thanks to ckirkman for the turkey pic. Originally published December 2005.

One of the Magi Explains About the Myrrh

Melchior had a sense of directionEveryone keeps giving me shit about my gift to Jesus the Son of God and the Messiah, King of Kings.

“Isn’t myrrh basically perfume for mummies?” these ass-clowns keep asking me. “Is that an appropriate gift for a BABY?”

Look, first off you have to realize that I planned to bring gold.

But Caspar called dibs on that. Fair enough, I thought, he is the “Keeper of the Treasure” or whatever those freaky Chaldeans call him. I don’t know. Those people have some weird habits. Every heard of doing the Chaldean Donkey? But they have lots of gold, and Caspar is wealthier than Croesus.

So I thought, no problem. I’ll give Him some nice Frankinsense. That stuff rocks. I would wear it every day if it didn’t make me smell like a Babylonian prostitute. But then I found out that bastard Balthazar already had a pearl-encrusted, gilt box filled with the stuff.

“WTF Balthazar? I was going to give The Messiah Frankinsense.” He just flipped me off. That Balthazar is an Indo-Parthian twat, and a show-off to boot. Pearl-encrusted, my ass. We said one gift.

I was happy to represent though. I mean, of the three magi sent from The East, I was the only one who was a real magi. I went to Zoroastrian High, did my undergraduate degree at Azura University and my doctorate at the prestigious Zoroaster School at the University of the Great Whore of Babylon (a party college, but the program is well respected.) Without me those tools, who are kings and members of the high caste, but who never finished their basic studies, wouldn’t have even found Bethlehem. I mean, they couldn’t even identify their own asses, let alone the Star.

Myrrh, for those in the know, is one of the most holy of essential oils, which is why those decadent Egyptians use it for their mummification rituals. And yes, it’s a little bitter, but really, I have to object to the freakin’ hymn:

Myrrh is mine, its bitter perfume
Breathes a life of gathering gloom;
Sorrowing, sighing, bleeding, dying,
Sealed in the stone cold tomb.

It’s about salvation, not just death and dying. It’s meant to represent that he was going to help us rise above death again. AND it’s got freakin medicinal values. Suck on that gold!

But I must admit, I probably shouldn’t have given it to him in a Lamb’s Bladder. That was taking the symbolism too far.

Alltop loves a good lamb’s bladder cup. Originally published in 2010.

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