Mantula Part Two: Something Else

Gagged on pop culture, polluted by 

depression, comes Mantula!

A special fiction series!

Mantula-2

It might have been all of two seconds or maybe it was less than that. One look at those beady little black eyes and that seething dark carapace and I scrambled off. It seemed so alien, so ghastly, that I could barely think straight. Stumbling backwards, I made for the end of the sidewalk. I flopped and scrambled, scrambled and flopped, but I got there eventually. I tried to will myself back to my crappy little apartment, hoping I would wake up there in a sweaty haze of dementia, but I knew it wouldn’t happen. I could tell I wasn’t asleep. Everything felt too real, too conscious, for a dream to explain. And that realization made me feel even worse.

It’s funny. I hate my crappy little apartment. It’s nothing more than a tomb. I drink my Crown there. I sleep there. I don’t have a life there. I rarely ever leave. At some point I’d have to, I know. The money will run out soon. Maybe in a month, maybe less, and I’d have to do something. I figured I had two choices: either get a job… or do something else. A third option crossed my mind too. I could take my last fifty bucks, drive to the casino, and try and turn it into five hundred. Anything is possible.

At the end of the sidewalk was a street. I flopped and scrambled across it. There I got a good look at my location. I wasn’t far from my place. The red rocks of Sedona didn’t look bigger through my eight eyes, but they did look farther away. My apartment, situated in the slum section of Cottonwood, might as well have been on the moon. I’d never make the fifteen mile hike down State Route 89A. Looking above me, through the haze of humidity and hundred-degree air, I got a good look at Coffee Pot Rock, one of the city’s more popular red rock landmarks. I knew then where to go. I even knew how to get up there. I’d taken my son there once years ago and stressed the whole time that he might slip and fall.

Being a tarantula, being me in a tarantula, cinched the deal. I’d go for choice number two; I’d do something else, and jump from the coffee spout-shaped tip of that famous rock. With any luck I’d splat all over the back of a privileged trustafarian out hiking without a care in the world. I flopped and scrambled, scrambled and flopped, and headed up the street.

All kinds of cars drove by. Pink Jeeps, luxury sedans, expensive SUVs, the toys of the rich, they all rumbled past me. I considered camping out in the roadway and just letting one of them pop me like a furry black balloon. It would be over in the blink of an eye. I’d be a greasy hot pancake on the roadway, picked at by crows, and then gone. But the idea of Coffee Pot Rock appealed to me. I didn’t want to go out in an average way. Who wants that?

Most of the hike went by in something of a blur. I thought of my boy. And I thought of Batman. It’s funny, considering my weird day, but I found myself laughing a bit. My insides didn’t seem capable of laughter as we know the function, but in my head, I started cracking up. I could see my son standing over me. The hot winds mussed up his long brown hair as he pointed and laughed. Like always, he wore his black Batman t-shirt that was two sizes too big.

He’d shout. “Look at you, Dad! You’re a man and a tarantula in one. A mantula!”

I’d try to answer in my best Batman Begins voice. “I am Mantula!” We’d both laugh.

The little fantasy got me to the end of the street and well into the shrubbery and bushes at the base of the rock. I started climbing then. Getting there was far easier than expected. As an arachnid, the climb was easy peasy. I thought I’d stumble and fall, but I didn’t, not even once. I found these little claws at the ends of my ugly legs. They came out as soon I started the ascent. With those things I barely noticed I’d become vertical. I may as well be on the street. But I didn’t focus on it, nor did I think about my destination, just my son’s laughter.

It followed high atop Coffee Pot Rock. The sky had turned a pinkish color by the time I got to the edge. It took some maneuvering, through crags, cracks, and other obstacles. I had to hide from a hawk of some sort at one point, but I made it. I was at the edge. All of Sedona spread out beneath me. I could see everything, all the precious red rocks and the tourist dollars they represented, all the hungry men and women begging for those dollars and all the happiness they have that I never will.

CoffepotRock-1
Doug jumps from Coffee Pot Rock without much prior thought.

I take one last look at my furry stick legs, checking to be sure they hadn’t turned back to my human ones, and see only the nastiness. I spring from the edge without another thought. It could be I’ll fall like a rock, explode like a spidery water
melon when I hit bottom, and wake up in my crappy little apartment.
Or I’ll see heaven, or hell, or whatever comes after this.

The setting sun catches me for a moment. Wind cradles my eight legs and I feel swept away in its grip. It feels like a lover’s silky embrace. And I am falling.

Mantula will return.

 

Mantula Part One: Meet Doug

Gagged on pop culture, polluted by 

depression, comes Mantula!

A special fiction series!

Mantula-1

I’ve woken up inside the body of something I cannot identify; only I know it isn’t what I fell asleep in. Falling asleep isn’t exactly accurate I suppose. I passed out. But I know I didn’t look like this, or feel like this. Everything is crazy and distorted, junked up with multiple facets – like looking through a kaleidoscope or something crazy like that.

I want to puke; only I can’t. My mouth isn’t what it used to be. It doesn’t seem to work the same way.

Whenever I try to move I see a flash of black furry sticks, but it’s all loopy. I’m looking at two of them, but on twenty different television sets. And I cannot close my eyes. I know I was human once. I was a guy in a bad way, like a lot of dudes I know. Life had me in a chokehold. And I wasn’t fighting back anymore.

Crown Royal made it all better. It really did. I stopped seeing my little boy with it. He’s there every other time though. Every single time I close my eyes he is there waving at me as the car drives off.

But now I can’t close my damn eyes, so I won’t see him again until all this is sorted out. I don’t even have a headache. But I can’t walk either. Every time I try to move I see those furry sticks. They feel light and powerful at the same time, like cords of aluminum, but they couldn’t belong to me, could they?

I have to focus; have to make a move here. It takes a few minutes, but I’m able to sort of shift all the televisions into a single concentrated image. I can see better like this, but I have to focus hard on it, more than I’ve concentrated in a long time.

I’m on a sidewalk somewhere, near a couple of warehouse-sized blue dumpsters, and it’s hot and humid as hell out. Luckily I’m in the shadow of the dumpsters and not baking out in the direct light. Trash is scattered all over the place. Up ahead I see a shattered rear-view mirror sitting on the asphalt next to the dumpster. I flop and scramble, flop and scramble, scramble and flop, then drag myself across the concrete. It’s not easy. The legs are everywhere and really hard to wrap a thought around. Not like my own legs, which I could operate without thinking, without caring. These things weren’t the same. As I squirmed closer, I realized how big that rear-view mirror looked.

Only it wasn’t any more gigantic than a regular mirror. It was me that had a problem. I was a hell of a lot smaller than I was the last time I looked.

These legs began to make sense.

Sure enough, once I got to the shattered glass and got a good look into a shard of it, I got my confirmation. I wasn’t the same man I used to be. Hell, I wasn’t a man at all. I’d become a tarantula, all furry and covered in nastiness, but still me on the inside. By the way my gross little body covered much of the rear-view mirror, I could tell I was a big one too. At least as big as a grown man’s hand.

The whole thing kind of pissed me off.

Doug will return in future installments.

 

Earth can(not) be saved – by ROM

Dear ROM: Spaceknight,

rom-1I fear the Dire Wraiths have returned once again.

You left our verdant world at a time ripe with tragedy and conflict. Challenger exploded, Reagan sat in office, and the Middle East waged war when you left our world for the depths of space.

But the conflicts and tragedy continued – are worse, in fact, than they were in the turbulent 80’s. You remember the Contra scandal? The Chernobyl incident? We’ve had more of that. Much more.

There you sit with the Earth woman Brandy Clark on far-off Galador, surrounded by an army of Spaceknight protectors, after you yourself shed your plandanium armor in order to repopulate your world – and you think the vile shape-changers are banished beyond reach. But they’ve returned.

There can be no other reason for Earth’s recent spate of profound, imbecilic repetition.

Turn your Analyzer on Donald Sterling and you will see a Wraith that looks oddly like V. Stiviano. Send them both to Limbo before their next interview.

States within our American government still flounder and debate the rights of gay couples and whether they can legally marry.

This can only be the work of Wraithkind.

Use the Neutralizer to discern the cause of this stale debate. Let it dial back the clock to see where it began. You’ll find a Wraith at the helm, squirming like a hooked fish under the weapon’s ruby-red beam, ashamed at having it’s plot to slow Earth’s social progress, if not reverse it, foiled. You may find Tammy Faye Bakker imprinted there. Send those debaters to Limbo without further ado.

That same Wraithling is likely the root of Selfies. Who else but a Wraith could start this disturbingly narcissistic trend?

Use your Universal Translator to decipher Lolspeak and emoticons. Learn of the Wraith plot to dumbify our culture, yanking humanity back to the use of prehistoric pictograms. Marvel at the ease to which they accomplish their plot. Then throw them screaming to Limbo.

Without you, ROM, our planet is doomed. Please return.

Love,

Nerdling

OUT NOW: ‘Talk Jock Twits: A Quirky Novella’

 

“Talk Jock Twits” takes a trippy, frank look at the odd little world of AM conservative talk radio. In TJT, younBookCoverPreview TJT-1g writer Josh White finds himself immersed in the seedy occupation with little training, or common sense, to guide him. He’s soon in too deep, however. He’s become addicted to the small town fame, the local love, and finds his inner narcissist to powerful to resist. Check out an excerpt below!

“AM radio stations are foggy territories full of lies, deceit, pot, oral sex and tiny-ass paychecks. White entered the world thanks to a newspaper. It was as if it were part of some preconceived plan set forth eons ago by the decision of a tadpole to go left into the murky brown goo rather than right into the murky green goo. From that moment events gathered, went left three times, right once, a good marriage in the seventeenth century, all leading to that moment when White opened the door to the radio station and made the bell tinkle to announce his arrival.”

– Talk Jock Twits by Patrick Whitehurst

Talk Jock Twits is available now on Amazon.com. Click here to order.

 

BOOK NEWS: ‘Talk Jock Twits’ coming soon.

 

Small town writer Josh White thinks he’s on the road to notoriety and, better yet, popularity when he begins working for a local talk radio station in Trapper, Arizona. Instead he finds himself immersed in a seedy underworld of drugs, sex and backstabbing bastards. Welcome to the world of Talk Jock Twits.Talk Jock Twit

My upcoming novella “Talk Jock Twits” started back in the 1990s when I worked for a small AM station in Williams, Arizona. After drowning in the job for a few years, doing everything from running baseball games at night to hosting a short-lived weekend talk show, I bowed out of the biz and resolved to never again work in the odd little field. But I never forgot it. A decade later I unearthed some of my notes, sort of a journal that described those days of radio craziness, and started fleshing out what would become this little novella.

So, while some of the experiences are real, the story itself is not. While the characters on based on real life people, some of whom I still know and call friends, their names and actions have been altered. A few people might still get pissed off about it, however, since I write cynically. But this is a fiction novel. Some may call me an ass for writing it. Some may think it’s a terrible example of a regal occupation.

But for those suffering from the scars of talk jock bloodshed, call it therapy.

 

When Pollen speaks…

Let me just take a moment to sit on your fine old couch Pollen-1and put my feet up, figuratively speaking of course. It’s been a great war so far, right? And you’ve done your part like a champ. But it’s not easy. It may look easy, but this crap leaves me tired. From all reports it’s working. We’ve got him nailed. Have you seen the reports? It’s like a wish list from Amazon – everything you could ever desire. All you can hope for. You got anything to drink? I like those Cactus Coolers. Don’t tell me what’s in them for God’s sake, but give me at least two of those bad boys. They’re so damn good. I like to slam the first one and then suck on the second like a babe to a nip.
This is a comfortable couch by the way. I like it when they get old and lumpy. Makes them more comfortable. When they’re new they feel like slabs of wood. That’s not a good way to relax. But this one? Man, I feel like a king on this puppy. Don’t mind my barbed body. It won’t leave a lasting impression.
Those reports. You’ve seen them, right? He can’t even blow his nose. His head feels like it’s full of cotton. Yeah yeah, I know, we thought we were getting ahead last year when we heard all that the first time. Then he got better. He outlasted us. Plain and simple. But check out page three. Hey, you got any food? I’ve got a thing for cheese sticks these days. The pepper jack ones are da bomb. What about salami? You got any of that?
No? Shoot. That’s all right.
Read the rest of Pollen’s rant here.

Geektastic thoughts on bad comic books

It was embarrassing back when zits were common. But only a little. Zits were worse, and there was no way to hide the little bastards. They always returned for encore performances. Comic books could be hidden, in mere seconds if neeNFL_Superpro_Vol_1_8d be. That way chicks would only see the Black Sabbath posters. There would be no question to the coolness.

It’s not like comic books are that lame. They’re only a little lame and monumentally amazing. And I was reading them, Marvel titles mostly, for a very long time, longer than the zit parade stuck around – and that juvenile time might have been better spent chasing budding young girls, but that’s debatable and not the point. Maybe the time would have been better spent reading Lovecraft and Tolstoy, as some of my friends did, or Anne McAffrey and Kurt Vonnegut, as other friends did. Instead of reading classic Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, pouring over John Byrne and Steve Ditko, Ann Nocenti, Chris Claremont and Todd McFarlane, I should have been sucking in the crap found on the horny, learned trails blazed by America’s Road Scholars.

Click here to read the rest on Patrick’s Literary Turns blog.

 

REVIEW: Author and Artist R.E. Lieske

REVIEW: Author and Artist R.E. Lieske

LiteratureEve's Tarot, like art, continues to transform and evolve. Those who say either medium is dead have only themselves to blame. You’re not looking in the right place.

Take storybooks for adults, small works of literature the size of a long novel chapter and mixed with captivating fine art, like the astounding work of artist and writer R.E. Lieske. If you’ve not heard of the idea, give it a shot.

Click the link above to read more of Patrick’s review!