She Was Only A Clown Chapters 17 and 18

SHE WAS ONLY A CLOWN is a special serialized novella presented in weekly installments every Saturday. Click here to read chapter 1, click here to read chapter 2, click here to read chapter 3, click here to read chapter 4, click here to read chapter 5, click here to read chapters 6 an 7, click here to read chapters 8 and 9, click here to read chapters 10 and 11, click here to read chapters 12 thru 14 and click here to read chapters 15 and 16. 


Chapter 17

Elwood was no longer inside the barn. For that he was thankful. But the feeling was fleeting, for only several moments later he realized he was no longer inside of his body.

His consciousness was traveling. He couldn’t see. He couldn’t even feel, but he was cognizant of a vast sense of distance and time passing. Washing over him, through him. This went on for what felt like aeons. Lifetimes. The lifetimes of entire universes.

And then everything stopped.

Somehow this state of stasis was even more dreadful than the nightmare in the barn, than the Nelson brothers, than the endless non-corporeal travel.

Was this death? Had the thing in the barn finally tired of Elwood’s defiance and ended his life?

No. Elwood was not dead. He knew this because even without a body or senses, he could feel… it.

It was still with him. It had brought him here to this outer blackness. To…

…Its realm.

A pinpoint of light appeared in the distant darkness. And then Elwood was rushing toward it. It grew impossibly large, impossibly fast and so bright Elwood believed his eyeballs would melt from the sheer brilliance of it until he remembered that he had no eyeballs because he had no body.

And then in the next instant, he hung suspended in space above a planet. It wasn’t like any planet he’d ever seen in school science books or even in science fiction shows on television.

This planet was black, the same black that formed the semi-fleshy body of the entity in the barn. At least that was Elwood’s first impression. As titanic, planet-wide tendrils roiled and whipped, Elwood realized that the actual world was underneath. Brilliant green patterns coursed across the tendrils like huge storms.

Then, after a time, maybe years, maybe centuries or millennia once there was nothing left below, the tendrils unwound and swam through the aether with the grace of some gelatinous sea creature, leaving nothing but crumbled debris in its writhing wake. A life ender. A planet eater. 

This is what I am.

The voice was everywhere. It consumed the entire vacuum of space. Elwood would have thought the voice was inside his mind if he’d had a mind to be inside of.

And then Elwood was hovering above another planet. This one much large than the last. This one contained a civilization far more advanced than Earth. Its gaseous oceans glowed a bright pink and enormous artificial formations enveloped the entire world, shifting slowly, each mega-structure a smaller part of a gargantuan whole.

Many space vehicles buzzed from the planet’s surface to various platforms and doorways in the mega-structure. Some flew out beyond the planet on some space voyage unbeknownst to Elwood’s disembodied consciousness.

And there, yes there, above even those monolithic, cyclopean formations was It. The entity. Hungry for a new planet to consume.

The vehicles passed right through its knot of blackness as it writhed out there in invisible silence. Elwood imagined he was able to see what the inhabitants of the planet were not.

The creature, the thing, occupied a dimension beyond real space. Its black tendrils snaking down through the cracks and crevices of the mega-structure, down into the vehicles and even onto the surface of the planet itself.

The tips of the tendrils touched the minds of some of the humanoid creatures busying themselves with various tasks all across the gigantic world.

This is where I live. In the minds. In the darkest corners of their being. This is where I speak to them.

Like you’re speaking to me now?” Elwood responded, not understanding how he was able to communicate without a mouth, or even a brain for that matter.

Yes, but you, you Elwood, are special. You are one of the chosen.

With that, Elwood’s consciousness drilled down to the planet’s surface where huge iridescent purple forests dominated the landscape and vast oceans of pink gas flowed with deafening waves hundreds of feet tall breaking on artificial energy dams built to keep the noxious fumes out of the impossibly huge cities with buildings that twisted up into spires so tall Elwood was not able to see their tops from this new vantage point.

All manner of alien species busied themselves on the streets. This planet was clearly some kind of intergalactic hub. Some sort of megatropolis. And here, where the entity had plopped Elwood’s disembodied consciousness down was one of its tendrils.

This tendril was attached to the back of the neck of one of the alien beings which inhabited the planet. It seemed that the predominent species was a tall, slender yellowish creature with skinny limbs and large hands and feet. Their heads were covered with thick red fur that travled down their backs.

This was by no means the only species packed onto to the huge sidewalks, scurrying into the buildings and running across the glass-like streets, but there were more “yellows” than any other aliens.

The tendril connected to one such yellow who stood, dejected in an alley jutting off from the main throuroughfare.

Elwood could hear the entity speaking to the yellow through the psychic tendril. He could not decipher the alien language, but whatever the entity was saying was making the yellow more upset. It shuddered and cried, putting its head in its hands, shaking back and forth.

And then, as if coming to terms with its fate, the creature stood upright and pressed a series of buttons on a device attached to its wrist.

Instantly the form of the yellow changed. It was no longer a tall, slender alien, but now was hunched and gnarled. While still bipedal, it now resembled an insectoid porcupine with many spindly limbs jutting off from a shelled carapace. Strangely, there was greenish fluid leaking from decayed fracture points all over its new body.

The bug-thing staggered from out of the alley onto the packed sidewalk.

Mass chaos ensued.


Chapter 18

The original inhabitants of this planet were infected with a highly contagious virus brought to the planet by the yellow settlers. The entity was speaking directly to Elwood, narrating the insanity exploding on the streets below.

The crustaceans were sentient, albeit on the low end of the scale, similar to Earth’s primate species. They inhabited large swaths of nutrient and resource rich land near the gaseous coast lines. The yellows tried to systematically exterminate the species to make room for their mega structures as they teraformed the planet to be a natural gas refinement hub of their intergalactic empire.

Only the very poisons they used to eradicate the crustaceans mutated them into creatures like the one you see below. The green fluid leaking from its body is a symptom of a hideous disease that afflicts the bodies of the yellows which causes them slow, violent excruciating deaths.

The crustacean plague nearly wiped out the imported population of the planet and delayed plans for the gas refinery for hundreds of years until they were able to get the plague controlled and eventually eliminated.

The denizens of this planet have not seen a crustacean in nearly three centuries.

As the entity explained the strange history of the giant gas planet to Elwood, a wave of panic spread out over the alien population below. The crowd flared outward, opening like a flower trying to escape the yellow masquerading as a diseased crustacean. As they did this, many citizens were caught unaware, minding their own business, walking down the sidewalk, suddenly finding themselves trampled and crushed under a frothing mob.

Within seconds the panic reached the outer edges of the first city block. Aliens screeched and screamed, sending the message across thousands about the crustacean sighting. Waves of creatures stomped their fellow pedestrians and ran into the streets causing the blue-energy powered hover vehicles to smash into one another and mow down still more pedestrians.

In less than a minute blood flowed freely across the smooth glass streets and howls of pain and panic rang out for miles.

This, the entity explained, is the creature the people on this planet fear the most. It is the one thing that can illicit a reaction of panic and terror any time, anywhere in the world. This is the face of true fear.

As the yellow aliens and the other species ran, stomped, flailed and died all around the crustacean, a small group of brave aliens circled the thing. They each held small metallic objects in their hands. Elwood reasoned that these aliens were the police, or what passed for police on the planet.

Before any of the aliens could fire their weapons, the tendril attached to the back of the crustacean’s head, seemingly visible only to Elwood from his disembodied, omnipotent point of view, sprouted many protrusions out of the body of the crustacean the same way it had done with the clown girl’s body back on Earth.

Elwood was beginning to understand why he was being shown this scene.

The tentacle limbs darted out, skewering, slashing and mutilating the aliens with much the same precision and violent sadism as they had the Nelson brothers.

As these aliens lay dying, translucent tubers emerged from the tendrils sucking up a weird glowing energy that wafted off of the murdered bodies like steam from a pot of hot stew.

More tubers sprang forth from the larger tendril attached to the crustacean’s head and began to vacuum up the glowing energies rising up from the bodies of the trampled and mangled corpses strewn throughout the city block.

Feeding, Elwood reasoned. The entity fed off the suffering and dying life energies of its victims.

As the diseased crustacean loped off, chasing the crowd of thousands, causing much more chaos and mayhem, Elwood’s consciousness floated upward as the entity changed his perspective once more.

Now he was high enough that he could see thousands and thousands of tendrils snaking down onto the planet’s surface, attached to other alien creatures wreaking similar havoc on a global scale. Even the citizens working on the vast refinery scaffolding that encased and orbited the planet were not immune to the entity’s puppet strings.

Space craft smashed into mega structures, causing massive explosions resulting in giant plumes of alien life energy to seep out into space, only to be sucked up by endless tubers snaking from the tendrils attached to the entity’s invisible body hovering, looming, leering over the impossible scene.

Elwood was witnessing the planet’s death. A helpless specter. A paralyzed god. Seeing all, able to affect none of it.

Time stretched onward, days, weeks, months, the chaos never abating. The entity growing larger and stronger with each terrified, pain-filled death until virtually the only life left alive on the planet, were the creatures whom the entity had used to instigate the world-wide genocide.

Elwood’s perspective was rushed back down to the surface. By this time, he’d become accustomed to being hurtled about like he was some film camera on an expensive Hollywood film set.

He was back in the city square. Back with the original crustacean who had started all of the bloodshed.

The tendril attached to its head pulled away and slithered back up into space.

The crustacean was surrounded by the dead. Heaps of bodies as far as the eye could see. Rivers of blood flowed so deep the ornate glass streets were no longer visible.

There, on top of it all, the crustacean pressed several buttons on its wrist. The hologram disappeared. The yellow alien hung its head, exhausted.

It knelt there, head in hands and sobbed.

Elwood imagined that whatever awful truths the entity had whispered into its ear were as bad or worse than the ones it had made Elwood endure back on earth in the barn as it impersonated his dead uncle.

Before he’s able to follow this thought through, the yellow alien begins to change again. But this time, it did not morph with the aid of its holographic technology.

It screamed in agony as its limbs began to fuse to its sides and its whole body began to stretch upward toward the sky.

Great rips and gashes tore open along its length and opened wide. There, inside them, were glowing green eyes. It’s skin turned from vibrant yellow to the deep, empty yawning black that Elwood could now only associate with dread.

In seconds, the yellow alien was no more. In its place rose a long tentacle spiraling up into space to meet with the host body. Across the planet, thousands of other tentacles did the same.

They are the chosen, Elwood. The entity cooed, like an adoring father. They are my children. They will live forever through me because of their duty and sacrifice. They remain within me. They ARE me. We are one in the same.

As you shall be.

And then Elwood was back inside the barn. Back in front of dead uncle Jeff.

And he knew what he had to do.

***

Be back here next Saturday, November 25th, for chapter 19! 

Kevin Strange’s Weird Movie Recommendation: Gantz: 0


Gantz: 0 is an incredibly well animated CGI Japanese action movie which tells the story of a group of dead teenagers who wake up inside a violent game where they are made to fight grotesque and frightening monsters, or else face death all over again.

According to its Wikipedia page, this weird ass flick was directed by Yasushi Kawamura, produced by Digital Frontier, written by Tsutomu Kuroiwa and based on the manga series Gantz, which was written and illustrated by Hiroya Oku. It was released in Japan by Toho on October 14, 2016.

Now I don’t know what any of that means because I don’t read manga and, aside from a few exceptions (like these ultra violent anime movies) I hate anime. But I do know cool fucking movies when I see them and MAN this is a cool ass flick!

So what’s so cool about Gantz: 0? Well, for starters this flick just throws you right into the madness. It opens with a hot Japanese chick and some flowy haired dude wearing skin tight leather costumes that would give The Matrix a run for its money in terms of ridiculousness. They have these bizarre blue-light weapons and they’re wasting cool ass monsters left and right until the flowy haired dude takes on what I assume is the big bad, dying in the process. The girl mourns his death as they’re both teleported away from the city streets.

Boom, just like that, we’re in. Then we cut to another flowy haired dude (there are a lot of flowy haired dudes in this flick, which is fine because there are enough hot chicks and monsters to balance it out) who gets savagely murdered by a knife wielding maniac at a subway station.

Our new flowy haired dude then wakes up in a room with a giant black ball and several other dudes who all seem to have a WAY better idea of what’s going on than our new dead dude (or us as audience members who don’t watch anime or read manga, for that matter.)

This small team is then transported to another city where they are tasked with eliminating every monster inside some arbitrary perimeter inside an allotted amount of time. They are each equipped with a different badass weapon for the job. Of course our flowy-haired dead guy has no idea how they work. Essentially they’re some kind of sonic weapon that has a slight delay after they’re triggered and then a small cooling-down period giving each shot tension as we don’t know if the shots hit or miss for a second or two after they’re fired.

So then the monsters show up and HOLY FUCKING SHIT ARE THESE MONSTERS COOL AS FUCK!

We get everything from winged demon looking things to goblins, ghouls, zombies, lovecraftian tentacle terrors, bipedal creatures, doglike beasts, insectoid creepy crawlers. You name it. And this CGI is top-knotch as an animation style. These things might look cartoony and goofy in a live-action movie, but since everything in the film is CGI, the monsters just look super fucking badass.

So our dead peeps slaughter these monsters and then run into another team of players. It is then explained that each monster kill is worth points. Anyone who scores 100 points in the game can choose between resurrecting a dead teammate, taking a weapon upgrade or they can leave the game.

And so for the next 90 or so minutes we just follow these motherfuckers as they kill crazier and crazier monsters. At one point they engage with the final boss of the level who appears first as a tiny old man and then in increasingly deadlier and larger forms, over and over again each time they kill it. The whole batshit crazy thing culminates with tons of dead players, monsters, decapitations, eviscerations, mutilations and even a giant mech!

Fundamentally this kind of movie is for weird fat white guys who jack off to anime girls with big dicks, but with all of the insane monsters, mechs and cool weapons flying about, I think horror and sci-fi lovers can also find something to appreciate here.

Last I checked this was available to watch on netflix, so it ain’t gonna cost you anything extra to check it out if you’ve got a subscription.

I give Gantz: 0 a solid 4 out of 5 Strangeheads for super-gory monster action.

How To Make Horror Fiction Cool Again (Or How I Got Blocked On Facebook By Joe Lansdale)


This past week, renowned author Joe Lansdale blocked me on social media. He blocked me because I took exception to a post of his denigrating prayer while the bodies of the Texas church shooting victims still lay in the morgue.

Mr. Lansdale also used this opportune time as families of the victims still stood in shock at what had happened to call for stricter gun control. Never mind that the perpetrator of the shooting had obtained these guns either totally illegally or because of a clerical error at the US Air force after being dishonorably discharged for abusing his own ex-wife and son.

Nevermind that the person who stopped the shooting before the perpetrator was finished murdering everyone in the church was an ex-NRA instructor and expert marksman who shot him at least twice and chased him off the church property.

In short, Mr. Lansdale was just being your average horror novelist on social media in the current year. And when pressed to defend his beliefs and statements after having spent years getting rich and famous off of gun violence, he saw fit to shut down and silence the conversation rather than let the marketplace of free ideas decide if he was right or wrong.

Look, Joe Lansdale is one of my favorite authors. He is a powerhouse storyteller and has inspired me and my writing for years. Also, I’m no Christian. I’m a staunch atheist. But there is a time and a place to debate the practicalities and effectiveness of religious prayer (you might be surprised where I fall on that particular topic.) And that time ain’t while the blood is still drying on the church floor.

Furthermore, before abruptly ending the conversation and blocking me, Mr. Lansdale made the audacious claim that he writes ultra-violent shoot-em-up fiction AS CAUTIONARY TALES because we live in violent times!

This is akin to the Notorious BIG or Snoop Dogg claiming that they didn’t glorify gang culture. That their music, videos and lifestyle were merely a reflection of the rough and tumble streets in which they grew up. These excuses were always tongue in cheek as they pushed the gang bang aesthetic further and further and shoveled boatloads of cash into their bank accounts in the process.

As a final nail in the coffin, Mr. Lansdale then admitted to being a gun owner himself. Now I don’t know or care where he lives or if this analogy literally applies to him or not, but calling for gun control as a celebrity is exactly the same to me as a celebrity who calls for open borders or lax immigration laws while living behind gated all-white communities protected by armed guards.

In other words, Mr. Lansdale is virtue signalling to his liberal masters (while I have to imagine alienating a large portion of his audience) doing his best to claim some kind of moral high ground while ignoring blocking and refusing to participate in discussions about his blatant hypocrisy.

And Joe Lansdale is not alone. Not only is he not alone in his sanctimonious liberal virtue signalling, he’s not alone in having blocked me on social media for calling him out and trying to make him explain his public positions on social matters. Positions which serve to do nothing except keep his head safe in this era of SJW witch hunting.

For such a bold writer willing to take so many chances in his fiction, in the real world he capitulates immediately to the most trendy and popular talking points of his compatriots. It’s almost like his publishing contracts and money train are at stake?

In our brief exchange, I compared Mr. Lansdale to Alice Cooper in the 90s. After decades of taunting and fanning the flames of the Satanic Panic and getting rich doing so, Mr. Cooper retired to liberal land where he played golf and conveniently claimed to be a Christian. Claimed he was only playing a character on the Tee-Vee.

It’s no coincidence that rock music and heavy metal fell off in the late 90s and has never recovered. As such, horror fiction has fallen off due in no small part to the great authors of the genre from the 80s and 90s like Joe Lansdale pulling an Alice Cooper, trying to have it both ways capitalizing on the culture while trying to act morally superior to it.

If we ever want to make horror fiction cool again, we have to start ruffling some feathers. Live the goddamn gimmick, man. You want to scare people? Shock people? Piss people off? Get people talking? We have to start taking cultural risks again. Dare to be unpopular with trendy mainstream cultural values.

Especially those of us who write bizarro and hardcore horror. We expect readers to take our fiction seriously as truly provocative when the majority of us are triggered by the lamest little incidents online? When we fall all over ourselves to virtue signal to whatever new trendy activist hashtag pops up next week?

Nah, son.

Show kids that breaking the conditioning of our oppressive liberal masters and screaming outside the lines, that we will NOT do what they fucking tell us not only has value and significance, but is cool as fuck to do.

If we’re ever going to make horror cool again, we have to start living the lifestyle. Fuck the system. Raise hell.