The Happy Valley: Miss Deeds

20813823_10211778341267441_520477543_nFor Octavia Anton Deeds it started with the dreams, the ones in which she was drowning. Every night they took her to the shore of a secluded reservoir that was once part of her town. The water had just thawed, not to refreeze until the next winter. The bracing cold did not stop her from wading in up over her head and swimming along the bottom. Through the murk she could barely see the seaweed strangled stumps of trees and algae covered foundations that were once her neighbors’ houses. She sensed the large lethargic forms of fish, the bass and bluegill, bullhead and trout that were her neighbors now. They knew well enough to leave her alone for she had as much of a right to be there as they did. Deeds swam out past the ruins of the mills and the old train station. They were grim reminders of a town that once bustled and was hub to all points leading north. They were remnants of a life above land that had not seen the sunlight in a quarter of a century.

She picked up speed parting the seaweed that threatened to strangle her. Gliding along the bottom at a depth of thirty feet, she had no idea how long she had been down there. Had it been five minutes, ten minutes, or an hour? The thought of breathing had not entered her mind. She had more important matters to concern herself with.

The church loomed in the gloom, fully erect from foundation to steeple. The spindly tip thrust upward like an accusatory finger that threatened to slice the surface of the water and the heavens above. She circled around gripping with her fingertips to find a way in on the unforgiving exterior. The stone thrummed with the contact of her skin. It was far colder than the water on the bottom of the lake. She found the slab of door and pried it open a crack. It scraped, dragged, and jarred sending tremors along the lake bed; mirroring the thunder that rumbled far overhead. Unaware of the gathering storm clouds that roiled with electricity, Octavia Deeds squeezed herself through the narrow gap in the door and bodily shoved it shut behind her before the water could claim the space. The air inside was deceptively dry.  The sodden fabric of her nightgown clung to her skin and her stocking feet slogged on the flagstone floor leaving splattered footprints as she made her way to the front. Water ran in runnels trailing off her body. The splattering echoed through the silence that entombed the sanctuary. The sound rushed up the windowless walls to the lofty vaulted ceiling sounding like a waterfall. The interior was devoid of furniture save a singular baptismal font. The raised dais rose over ten feet high with a circumference just as wide. A chiseled staircase spiraled to the top. She reached a steadying hand out as she warily wound her way up. Her fingertips only skimmed the shockingly cold and sheer surface.  She felt the padding of her flesh tingle up through the lines of her palm and jolt up her skin in a current. Though she had only made contact for seconds, it did not take long for the odd sensation to intensify. A cold burn seared up her arm and in a knee jerk reaction she wrenched it away.  Her gasp reverberated sounding like a gale force wind. Despite the lingering pain that radiated something else caught her attention as she crested the top of the well and peered into the water below. All she saw was black, but somewhere beyond the shadows of the dark primordial waters she caught sight of a swirling chaotic myriad of an unfathomable depth.  The underground sea held the seed of creation itself. It was there They called out to her; the timeless ones that cultivated this life and many others. They were vengeful Gods that had every intention to take it all away. Their summoning song started as a low dull rumble barely below the edge of hearing. She watched the surface swell and tremble with the vibrato. She could almost see the surface breathe. Within the shadows of the shadows, she caught a glimpse of her reflection. Wet and matted hair clung to the sides of her face. Her skin took on a blue gray hue and her lips were swollen as if she as if she never made it inside. Instead she floated face down in the water, dead and suspended between the surface and floor. The fish would eventually gather the nerve to swoop in for a closer look and inevitably a nibble. She shuddered at the thought but pushed it out her mind because she knew it was impossible to drown. She squinted and lowered her forehead closer to the pool. She could not see beyond her own reflection. The depths and secrets the water held were unknowable. The wellspring was a mouth of an underground sea. She could almost make out the meaning within the wordless wailing of the Timeless Ones.

Her reflection changed as her head drew closer. The shape of her face grew out of proportion and her hair had disappeared.  Her eyes, which were already large, widened and spread further apart; growing lidless. Her nose receded into her skull and all that remained were two narrow slits that rested upon a gaping lip-less mouth. New teeth tore from her gums and grew to sharpened serrated points; row sprang up behind row after row. She attempted to curse as the pain filled her mouth but it only came out in a gurgle for she was incapable of forming the words. She attempted to reach up and feel her face to see if there really had been a change to her physiognomy and not just a trick of her eyes and the way the shadows played upon the surface water. Her fingertips, hands and arms no longer felt right, as if they were no longer her own. Her knees buckled and ankles gave out and her legs dangled unable to support her weight. The sharp edge of the stone retaining wall that contained the water bore into her midsection and forced her forehead mere millimeters from the water. All of her blood rushed to the top of her head. It ran cold as panic blossomed and filled her mind when she found out she couldn’t move. She had a brief vision of the shore of the reservoir where her journey started so many times before. It seemed so far away. She forced the image from her mind and the wave of panic receded. That wasn’t where she wanted to be anyway. It was then she realized she was falling.

Octavia Deeds had always woken up damp and shaken; she always fell into the well but she never found the bottom. It was as much of a second nature as falling asleep but this time it was different. Her mouth gaped open in a silent scream as the primordial waters filled her lungs. There was an instant in mid fall when she could have sworn that the ground above started to shake, as if the church finally crumbled under the weight of the lake. A torrent of water poured in above her head as she sank below the surface of the underground sea.  The primordial water wound its way through her veins and stopped when it reached her heart.

She snapped awake, gasping, soaked, and shaken. Her eyes shot open as she jolted up in bed. Cold wracked her limbs.  Her breath came in short stunted gasps. Breathing was a foreign concept. She tried to gain control over herself and wondered how long she stopped. The dream must have only lasted a minute, or she hoped. It was dream; she tried to convince herself as she pried at the sodden bed linens that intertwined her.   Her hands throbbed with a cold burn. It was a dream. She tasted blood. Her gums ached and she ran the tip of her tongue across her teeth and was relieved to find they were her own. A chill racked her body and she pulled her covers closer. They drew little comfort.

“In through the nose and out through the mouth,” she muttered reminding herself how to breathe. Counting the seconds between every breath she slowly gained her composure.  Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth and her lungs and nasal passages were parched as if she expunged all the water from her body through her pores. Sher let out a dry cough. With new resolve she extracted herself from the bed. Her center of gravity was off as she wobbled in search of something to drink. She stopped when she caught her reflection in the mirror and remembered how she looked when she fell into the well. Were her eyes always that far apart, her mouth that wide, and her teeth that large?

 

The day was awash in a steely gray and freezing rain pelted the windows when Deeds decided to dress for the weather and venture outside. She hadn’t quite recovered from her dream and doubted if she ever will. The lake was at the end of the road whether she wanted it to be there or not. She still felt the need to see it for herself.  There were only a few roads that her small town claimed and only a few houses that lined her road. A growing number of them were abandoned.   For a few of the inhabitants that remained it looked as if upkeep was no longer a concern. Her next door neighbor was outside hanging up wet clothes as if oblivious to the inclement weather.  Deeds stopped dead in her tracks and stared. Had her face always looked like that? She wondered. They were after all related. Her cousin returned her gaze with a knowing look.  “Are you going to the water?” she asked pinning up the other corner of a bed sheet.

“What no!… Umm- yes.” Deeds blurted out, stuttered, and paused. She was a terrible liar. “How did you know?” There was panic and paranoia in her voice.

“You were heading in that direction, I just assumed that is where you are going,” she replied with a shrug. “The water is real low.” It was not an uncommon occurrence for the water level to fluctuate; it was after all a reservoir. But not in the early springtime and the banks were supposed to swell with the last the snow melt.

“How do you know?”

“Go see for yourself that’s what I did. There was one hell of a storm last night too. I swear the thunder shook the ground. Odd, for this time of year isn’t it.”

As all the color drained from her face, Deeds broke her gaze and turned away from her cousin. She quickened her pace to where the road ended in dirt. There were no signs of life at the last house before the lake and it appeared as if it had been that way for a while. The view of the water was obstructed by a meadow. The grass that grew rampant and wild and just as tall as she was.  She plodded through the field to find the shore following a trampled path that many had taken before her.  As she passed the grasses rustled in the wind and sheets of pelting sleet; they whispered to her in a language she could not understand. The ground grew more saturated with every step. No matter the time of year, the spring-fed water was always cold. Parting the last of the grass she stopped at the water’s edge. Her neighbor was right. The water was low.  The elongated shore was clotted with thick mud, and brown caked rocks, and tree stumps.  It stretched out toward the middle of the lake. She could not see the water at all as she strained to peer over the drop off. Past the point by the old train bridge she strained to see the steeple stretching upward. It wasn’t there. She had a vague recollection that the church had collapsed on top her when she fell into the well. Was that why the water was so low? She wondered and looked upwards into the freezing rain for answers.  Heavy wet pellets smacked her in the face. Octavia Deeds grumbled not bothering to wipe the water out her eyes.  It was the third time she had gotten wet that day.

She trudged home with her hands shoved in her pockets staring at the ground. Her pace quickened like a march into battle.  “No,” she mumbled to herself, lost in thought and shook her head. “It wasn’t there in the first place, that’s why I didn’t see it. It never existed. It wasn’t me, it was a dream!”

Her last outburst caught the attention of her neighbor as she was finishing up with her laundry, determined to see the task through to the end. “You’re right,” Deeds acknowledged her, her voice laden with regret. “I’ve never seen the water like that before.”

“It wasn’t like that yesterday.”

“I swear. I had nothing to do with it.” Deeds shook her head and turned her back on her cousin and quickened her pace home.

Her neighbor stared after her with a growing look of bewilderment on her face as she bent down to retrieve her empty laundry basket.

 

Deeds didn’t know where the rest of her neighbors went; she always assumed they left, and moved on to seek opportunity elsewhere. She empathized greatly and often wished she could do the same. With no new blood, the town was dying and she didn’t want to die with it. Where had all her neighbors gone?  She wondered as she lay awake until the small hours of the morning.  Deeds fought off sleep as long as she could terrified of what she would find on the other side. She knew They would be waiting. She tossed and turned and pulled her blanket up to her chin only to kick the bedding off again when the heat grew unbearable. Her skin felt dry and prickly her sheets were scratchy and starchy. She picked at the invisible insects as she watched the popcorn spackle ceiling ripple. Her fingers still burned with a cold dull throb and her gums still ached from the morning before. Deeds never really did get the taste of blood out of her mouth. She knew as soon as she drifted off to sleep she’d find her way back to the reservoir shore and make the nightly pilgrimage to the church. She was afraid of what she would find at the bottom of the well at the bottom of the lake. What she did know though was that she wanted to be as far away from the church as possible. She made up her mind that night amid the swirling chaos of her mind; it was time to leave home. Sleep came all at once.

Diary of a Third-Shift Zombie

Haunt season has begun, and will occupy a good number of my nights and weekends for the next couple months. With adding that to my day job, I don’t know how much free time I will have allocated to write very much of anything. That’s okay – I like being a monster. In the meantime, I have decided to post on this here blog not one, but two, unpublished stories from the gas station saga: Diary of a Third-Shift Zombie.

The Argument

The standard procedure in case of a tornado was to kill the gas lines and take cover in the bathroom. Strong winds blew the doors open and it was rainy as hell, but that was just about it for the weather. Sadly, I had no choice but to continue cleaning the store.

There was quite a build up to the point when the storm actually hit. Customers came in telling me there were 74 mph winds in Indiana. Then it was upgraded to 85. It was only a matter of time before a tornado was heading straight for us. The sirens rang out as the storm picked up considerably. Kill the gas lines run for the bathroom, I thought about my escape plan hoping that I could enact upon it for I really did not feel like working that night. However, amid all the chaos a couple walked in. “How much is it for the 88 octane?” the man asked without even a greeting and acting as if Mother Nature had no intention of baring down upon us that very moment.

“Are these things fresh?” his wife interrupted shouting from over by the roller grill.

“$3.65” I said pretending not to hear her, choosing to take care of one customer at a time. I read off the giant sign in the front of the store that depicted the current gas prices.
“I said, are these fresh?” she asked again this time with conviction.

“Yes they are fresh!” I exclaimed.

“How fresh?” She asked incredulously questioning my integrity.

“I just put them on the roller grill like a half hour ago.”

“88 octane?” her husband asked again from the counter.

“$3.65,” I answered as calmly as I possibly could motioning toward the sign outside. I could almost see it rock as the winds picked up.

“And if I wanted to fill that blazer out there how much would that cost?”

Do I look like a calculator? I wanted to say but kept my mouth shut.  There was a good chance the store could blow away at any second. Please, take me with you I plead to the gale outside for I really didn’t feel like doing the math.

“How much is it?” His wife interrupted again seemingly satisfied with my answer regarding the quality of the overly processed meat products.

“Two dollars for two.” I let out an exasperated sigh for the roller grill was also littered with various signs depicting the prices of each individual item.

“What if I just wanted one?”

“$1.45”

“How much is it to fill up the blazer out front?” Her husband asked again slower and louder for better comprehension.

Oh God. The math. “Um-” My mind churned grasping at any number that would pop into my head. I had no idea how many gallons his blazer held. All I could think about was killing the gas lines and take cover in the bathroom. Even if there was wasn’t a tornado I was tempted to do it anyway. The sooner I got those two out of the store the better. I started to say a number, any number, “Thirr-”

“A dollar forty five? That’s ridiculous!” She interrupted again, there was a hint of outrage in her voice. “I’m hungry. Is the Burger King down the road open?”

Before we could even start the transaction, he turned to his wife to scold her, “we are not going to Burger King.”

“I’m the one that is driving.”

“How many times have I told you not to interrupt me while I’m talking.”

Tornado sirens wailed again competing with the bickering as it ensued. My only two customers paid no attention as the first of the rain began to fall. The lights flickered and the machinery beeped to combat the brownout. The door alarm chirped as the side door swung open in the strong wind. Kill the bathroom and take cover in the gas lines, I thought to myself over and over. Then in a brief moment of zen I closed my eyes and silently prayed to be spirited far away from this place on the wings of the tornado. I never got my wish and business continued as usual.

Clean Hands

The icing on the package of glazed donuts clung perilously to the plastic in tiny creases right at the bar code. It was a struggle, a battle of wits and will as I tried to cash my customer out. I flattened the wrapper, flipped the thing over, and tried and tried at every angle. “I hope your hands are clean.” I heard the lady say faintly with a deprecatory tone in her voice.

“Excuse me?” I asked politely as I finally succeeded in ringing out her item.

“I said, I hope your hands are clean.” She repeated a little louder with a little more attitude.

“Don’t worry, Mam. My hands are clean.” On that note she left in a huff and I was grateful to see her go. Some customers rubbed me the wrong way. Chances were by the way she was dressed she was a nurse and would probably assault the package with an arsenal of antibacterial as soon as she got into work just to be safe.

The hours passed and I commenced with my shift. I still fumed over her remark. Where does she get off telling me how to do my job? Does she think I don’t know how to wash my hands? Is being a cashier is just so beneath her? “Wash my hands,” I grumbled aloud alone while I scrubbed down the cappuccino machine. Half of my job involved cleaning up after people. “I hope your hands are clean,” I repeated imitating her condescending voice and the way she seemed to look down her nose at me. Her thin lips twisted in a sneer. Then I could no longer hold back the rage. I retorted back too little too late all the things I could have said to her face if it wasn’t against company policy. “No lady my hands aren’t clean. They are absolutely filthy. I’m a fucking bio-hazard! I’ve been wallowing around ass deep digging through all of the trashcans. I’ve cleaned the mens’ room toilet without gloves on. Scraping shit off the inside of the toilet seat with my fingernails. I’ve even rubbed one off and touched every single one of these damned donuts in this godforsaken store! That’s right. I said masturbated! I’ve even- ” My litany was cut short for at that moment I realized a customer walked in and I wondered how much he heard.

 

 

 

Dark Days on the Dixie Highway: Diary of a Third Shift Zombie- Chapter Outlines

I have compiled two years of stories, numerous notes, and journal entries of working third shift as a customer service representative at a gas station. They are harsh and harrowing and often humorous tales of a rather dark time in my life. Not just because of the lack of sunlight. There are tornadoes, packs of roving children, dead babies, bowel movements, demanding customers, bitchy bosses, a million pennies, and some pretty horrifying holidays. My short-lived career of a CSR tested my wits and will, the fortitude of my character, my moral compass, as well as my mettle as a writer.

Once assembled into one large file, I began the laborious process of rereading, elaborating, categorizing, and organizing these narratives into something that vaguely resembles a book. So far I have ten chapters broken down into over sixty odd and various entries. Some stories span pages upon pages while others are mere sentences long. There are also bits and pieces of a musical I entertained the notion of composing while working there. What I have down so far is not set in stone. I am sure a lot of it will be moved around, combined, or even cut out.

I was often told that my early morning facebook rants after a long and loathsome shift should be turned into a book. So, I am doing just that. I hope to finish, format, work on a cover, and shop around for a publisher sometime in the near future. With another published book under my belt I plan to sell the hell out of it and move on with my life to far more grand and glorious adventures.

Intro: How To Be Subhuman

Chapter One: Sin and Cigarettes
I got the Job and Touchdown Jesus Burned
The Root of All Evil
Gratuitous Violence

Chapter Two: Bad Weather
The Argument
Night of the Twister
Below Zero

Chapter Three: The Lost Children
Lord of the Flies
Lord of the Flies pt 2
Gone Girls
The Lost Boys
The Baby, the Drugs, and the Lost Hotdog

Chapter Four: Loose Change
Sesame Street
The Time Traveler
Country Crock
Silver Certificate
300 Pennies

Chapter Five: Customer Service Superstar
Clean Hands
Customer Service Superstar
The Customer is Always Right
The Tailbone of America
(excerpts from The Tailbone of America: The Musical)
Midol, Ohio
What Boulevard
“911 whats your Emergency”
“Do I look like a Fucking Restaurant”
The Payout

Chapter Six: Degenerates
Cops
Drug Problem
Barn Door
Drunk Muscles
Hookers
Below the Belt
A Stripper in Need
Bondage Guy
The Blunt

Chapter Seven: Endless Shit Parade
“If it looks like shit, clean it. If it is shit, wear gloves.”
Another Bag of Piss

Chapter Eight: “Happy” Holiday
A Christmas Dirge
Happy New Year
The Easter Fetus
God Bless Baby
Big Toasty
Kilt Lifter
All Holidays are Drinking Holidays

Chapter Nine: Major Malfunction
Crappachino
Ketchup
Log Jam

Chapter Ten: Darker Days
Rope-A-Roni
Robberies
Bad Reasoning
Sweet Merciful Explosions
Punch Drunk
Gas Station Horror Story
Beervalaches and Bitch Tornadoes
Random Song Lyrics
The Deathwish
Dark Night of the Soul
No Week Notice

BOILERTOWN: The Most Foul Stench Imaginable.

Photo by Larry Combs

Photo by Larry Combs

This excerpt is taken from the chapter “I Need More Guns.” In which Fenmore LeMerde gets a heavy dose of foreshadowing.

Enveloped in the warm metallic tones of brass, copper, and gold his new best friend Orby blinked slow and methodically charging on a stand next to Fenmore LeMerde’s head. The red light kept rhythm with his soft snoring as he slumped over his desk. “I need more guns,” he mumbled and flexed his trigger finger. It was a rare occurrence that the heir to Boilertown slept. When he did it was for an indeterminate amount of time and there was no waking him up. “More-” This time the air was different, it carried a heavy acrid odor. “What-” Suddenly roused, he picked his head off the work desk. Then he heard it. A voice called out down the hall. “Hey! Who’s there?” Fenmore LeMerde shouted. It was the first time in a very long time that heard a voice that was not his own. But after a spell he began to wonder. He could barely make out the words. It was like an echo before he even spoke. He woke up Orby and wound his way out of the study. Sound swept strangely through the sprawling halls of LeMerde Manor. He held his breath and listened just to make sure he wasn’t the one who caused the echo. Following the voice he walked past numerous doors to tightly packed quarters. “Hello?” He asked when he heard a very familiar person. Himself. “What?” He put his hand on the door knob hesitant to enter. By the tone of his voice there was no doubt he would find himself in a frantic situation.

“Good bye LeMerde” He heard himself say from inside the room.
“Me?” Fenmore LeMerde called out to the other Fenmore LeMerde.
“Good bye LeMerde” He repeated those words over and over until it sounded like he gave up hope.
“All those lives lost.” He heard a woman say in a far away voice. Her anguish was palpable.
“No… Noooooooo,” Just then a third person growled in a low animalistic and angry voice.“Baaaad Gretttaaaahhhhh.”
“Whats going on?” Quite confused the corporeal Fenmore LeMerde asked from the hallway. “Who’s with you- me?” As if in answer a very noxious odor wafted up from below. Very deep down below as if the smoldering caldera that Boilertown was built upon belched up something foul. The incendiary air burned his nostrils and made him cough. He burst through the door fearing the worst.

BOILERTOWN: Chapter Outlines

Photo by Larry Combs

Photo by Larry Combs

Here are the chapter outlines, the titles in bold are the finished ones. There a couple titles missing however for they are just to pivotal to the plot to divulge just yet.

CHAPTER OUTLINES

Prologue: The Life, The Death, and The Shit
Chapter One: Dinosaurs in the Sewers
Chapter Two: “I Need More Guns”
Chapter Three: The Unexpected Houseguest
Chapter Four: In Absentia
Chapter Five: The Only Way Out is Down
Chapter Six: The Rats of Boilertown
Chapter Seven: Poltergeist
With the addition of Greta Scot to the household strange occurrences happen more frequently. Stuff goes missing-important stuff. Ms Marlybone looses touch with Mr. Talitee, goes on a rampage, and knocks everyone out- including herself. Shit gets really crazy. Greta Scot hates Orby and in a fit of rage she smashes Fenmore LeMerde’s friend and exposes a gooey surprise.

Chapter Nine: Greta Goes Home
Chapter Ten: Many Surprises
Chapter Eleven: A Cautionary Tale
Chapter Twelve: The Lost City of Caldera
Chapter Thirteen: IMMORTALITY

BOILERTOWN: Character Bios

Photo by Larry Combs

Photo by Larry Combs

Character Bios in Order of Appearance

Fenmore LeVie (P.E. Fenmore) – Inventor, eccentric, philanthropist, and humanist from the mid-nineteenth century who built himself a time machine out of a claw-foot bathtub. One of the first excursions he took was to the very end of the world to see how it all went down. The vision haunted him since and he vowed to do everything is his power to stop it. Through use of his time machine and an indeterminate amount of machinery and manpower he succeeded in capping the intense geothermal heat of a supervolcano before it’s eruption and by harnessing the hydroelectricity of the neighboring ocean he created an immense boiler system the likes of which the world had never seen before. Giant spires erected around the perimeter of the island power a force field to keep the air breathable and the encroaching atmosphere at bay. The remaining populace of the dying planet flocked to the last holdout of civilization and Boilertown was born. As his dreams of prolonging life on earth came into fruition he proclaimed himself leader and called himself Benevolent Dictator of Boilertown Fenmore LeVie, for he was indeed a giver of life. He was never really fond of first name anyway. Naturally with this new title he had taken to wearing white or beige tones. Fenmore LeVie could not have accomplished all of this on his own.

Willoughby– Willoughby is his assistant and a primary operator of the claw-foot time machine. It his duty to travel to the destination first and set the moment up to fall into its proper place in the future: Everything from mining the ore to form the pipes to decimating entire herds of dinosaurs to create more fossil fuels. The youngest in the Fenmore line referred to Willoughby as his butler, but he’s so much more than that he’s a time butler. Unfortunately traveling so much through time has done terrible things to Willoughby’s appearance. It has left him looking brittle, bedraggled, and sometimes barely corporeal. Most of his exposed skin is covered in sores from the onset of radiation poisoning. He is rarely seen in person, he usually flits about in and out of time sometimes in multiple places at once. Willoughby has been known to shove or body slam people to get them where they need to go. He has surprising strength for such an ethereal looking guy.

Fenmore LeMort- Conditions deteriorated considerably as Boilertown passed down from from one Fenmore to the next. LeVie’s progeny was everything the Benevolent Dictator was not. In fact he dropped the name Fenmore, for he was never really fond of his surname to begin with and just called himself LeMort. The Death. Systematically he destroys everything that Fenmore LeVie built. He starts by hijacking the time machine as well as its operator Willoughby. He travels throughout time harvesting people to help with the upkeep of Boilertown. Fraught with earthquakes, a failing shield, fireballs falling out of the sky, a whole ring of supervolcanoes about to explode, and time is about to fold in on itself these desperate times call for desperate measures. Through a grave new technology in the in the Fenmore family name these people undergo a shocking transformation and are reduced to soulless husks. Fleshy-byproducts that move about autonomously as if controlled by an outside force. Rumors circulated that these people were collected for a more sinister purpose other than indentured servitude. A handful of denizens that remained intact fled underground to the Boilertown’s expansive sewer system to escape the clutches of the lecherous LeMort. Their fate is a mystery. The last thing LeMort takes from Fenmore LeVie is his life and then he just disappears. Only one man remains in Boilertown with conscious thought and his body and soul intact.

Fenmore LeMerde– He is the unfortunate heir to Boilertown. Unfortunate in the purest sense of the word for LeMort gave him the title meaning “The Shit,” for not only was he left with the bitter end of of a thriving empire but it also means unwanted. There is a certain resilience his character and he even came to referring to himself as “THE Shit” As a child when things started to go downhill Fenmore LeVie packed him up in the claw-foot time machine and spirited him away to the Fenmore Manor in the mid-nineteenth century. Years later he was bludgeoned by his beloved butler Willoughby and brought back home. His grandfather may very well be dead, his father LeMort missing, and most likely guilty of the foul crime. Boilertown is in utter collapse and time is in ruin. Due to the indeterminate amount of time spent alone in his new home his age is unknown. Though he says he’s been there fifteen years with no one to talk to other than what he refers to as the Peons and they don’t respond to speech or violence. As time passes he grows to hate these beings more than anything for they exist as a constant reminder that he is truly alone. He has committed unspeakable acts as a means of survival. His only friend is a rescued robotic orb he named Orby. Despite seemingly insurmountable odds he is bound and determined to escape and look good while doing it. Somehow through all of this he acquired an impressive wardrobe -some say a time machine was involved. He is brash and when he first encounters Ms Marlybone he’s downright boorish. He is incredibly agile and never falls. Guns and gadgets are his reason for living.

Ms Marlybone – Magdalene Angelica Marlybone would like to think of herself as a right and proper Victorian lady but there is something rather otherworldly about her. For starters she’s always carrying around with her an antique oak box. It’s contents are very similar to that of Fenmore LeMerde friend Orby. Except her constant companion actually answers back. It’s a glowing red ruby with powerful capabilities. It came from a fallen meteorite when the earth was in its infancy. It used to be much larger but over the years its shiny sheer surface has been chipped away and passed through many hands, used for scientific breakthroughs and experiments and so on. In search of a new handler, the ruby was on a traveling exhibit that passed through little Maggie’s town. When she first saw the gem in person it spoke to her saying IMMORTALITY. MR. TALITEE is how her child mind registered it and her friend now had a name. As she grew older, her link with Mr.Talitee appeared to give her preternatural abilities such as sharpened intuition and heightened dexterity, sometimes it seems that her brain isn’t even on this plane but tuned into something far larger than what any of us on earth could imagine. She’s immune to most illness and has an increased threshold for pain. Perhaps Mr. Taltiee was right after all with that very first word he spoke to her and Ms Marlybone was on her way to becoming immortal. In the meantime she’s not particularly dying to find out. Protecting the special space rock became her sole purpose in life, she was trained in every manner of self defense and martial arts and a whole manner of weapons. Though mostly she is her own weapon. She was hired to work with P.E. Fenmore on a new life prolonging technology, unfortunately Willoughby got in the way and she was forcefully spirited away into Boilertown. She may very well be a skillfully trained killing machine with a veritable space alien living in her head but nothing prepares her for what she encounters in her horrible new home. She takes to wearing a Victorian Mourning dress as she grieves her loss of civility.

Greta Scot- Her past is a mystery and her name is made up. She was born in the sewers among the survivors that fled underground. She never saw the light of day. As a child a great tragedy befell her fellow sewer dwellers. Orphaned at an early age a pair of giant sewer rats took her in and raised her as one of their own. As she grew up she lost any semblance of humanity, relying solely on her animalistic instincts to survive. As far as morals are concerned, she’s fairly certain that they are some form of mushroom. She eats whatever creature she can find for there is a surprising amount of life underground being so close to a supervolcano. Rats grow to the size of dimetrodons and there are also dinosaurs down there too. Much like her diet she is an opportunist with her weapons as well, using whatever tools and bones left behind in her childhood home.  She lives in a well fortified sewer den with a stockpile of belongings from her former life. Her skin and hair would have have been pale almost translucent for spending her entire life underground except for the layer of decades worth of  reddish- brown sewer grime. Bathing is out of the question for she has to mask her scent. Greta Scot dresses in the  hide of her fellow giant sewer rats that she lovingly called her parents and sports one of their skulls as a helmet when she goes out hunting. Greta Scot’s life revolves around finding her next meal. In the wake of the death of her parents, they left behind two baby giant sewer rats. Being a good mother and raising them in a good home has taken up most of her time. Life was good in the sewer until Ms Marlybone and Fenmore LeMerde came traipsing in there with their big guns and tranquilizers and dragged her up to the surface. She sorely lacks communication skills but obviously knows a lot more about the current situation than what she is letting on to her new housemates. But then there would not be much of a story.

Boilertown: Blood and Shit.

(Photo by Larry Combs)

(Photo by Larry Combs)

In my perilous quest to finish The Boilertown Saga here is an excerpt from the chapter called “The Rats of Boilertown,” in which Fenmore LeMerde engages Greta Scot in hand to hand combat in order to extract his much needed answers from her. He gets more than what he bargains for.

Greta Scot’s eyes darted this way and that scanning to see if Ms Marlybone was out there somewhere armed with the tranquilizer gun. Then she crouched down low and tilted her head sideways sizing up her sparring partner. Fenmore LeMerde was a formidable opponent exceedingly agile and efficient. Proficient in causing the greatest amount of damage with the least amount of effort. He said so himself he never falls. All those years Greta Scot spent alone in the sewer had left her lean yet sturdily built. She relied on the pure animal instinct to survive. Her fighting style mimicked that of her adoptive parents the Giant Sewer Rats with gnashing teeth and slashing claws. She was grounded soundly on sturdy legs and was somehow capable of taking down monsters much larger than herself. Fenmore LeMerde remembered his first chance encounter with the sewerling and how he and Ms Marlybone interrupted her dinnertime. He hoped she understood this was only a game. Simply speaking to her was getting him absolutely nowhere. So he tried to communicate with her through something she was bound to understand: violence. No guns and no orbs. This is hand to hand combat, he told himself and hoped the look in his eyes conveyed the fact that he wasn’t about to kill her. For a brief second he wondered if he was in over his head. This is Boilertown everything is over my head. Fenmore LeMerde exhaled slowly and took the first swing proving he wasn’t opposed to hitting a girl. She dodged the blow and ducked down low, put all of her weight on the balls of her feet, tilted sideways and aimed her shoulder at his ribcage with the full intention to knock him off kilter. But he recovered too quickly from his misplaced punch, took a swift step back, and put his shoulder to hers to counteract the blow. The impact jarred them both but what he didn’t expect was a sound kick to the Steam Baron’s shin by the sewerling’s heel. He must have lost his touch he thought as the sharp pain shot up to his knee. He vowed to never let that happened again. Taking a step back to regain his momentum, he landed a hard punch to her nose in hopes to remind her of the scratches she previously inflicted to his cheek. Hard enough to make her take him seriously. She growled baring her teeth and shook away the pain. The sewerling flexed her forearms as if preparing to rip him apart. No guns, no orbs, hand to hand combat. No guns- He wished he had a weapon for at that moment she lunged forward and brought all of her weight down hard on Fenmore LeMerde’s boot. Half punching half clawing she then landed a couple powerful swipes, gripped her opponent by the lapels of his waistcoat, and brought his head down to meet hers in a vicious headbutt. Their foreheads smacked together. His brain rattled. He stepped back for a slight reprieve, surely she could not have gone unscathed by such a blow. He blinked away the pain and sized the sewerling up. She fights like a – whats that thing called again? A bison. He thought in a moment of clarity and neatly dodged her following swings. Greta Scot fought dirty and did not know when to quit. She used all of her weight and momentum for the majority of her blows and this he knew he could use against her. He took a step back and expertly blocked the next swipe of her raking claws. He then grabbed her by the wrist and forced her hand back  towards her. Unfortunately, her other hand landed hard at his jaw. He bit his lip tasting blood and somehow managed ignore his impulse to incur further damage. Her got her right where he wanted her. Holding her own arm bent tightly at the elbow with her forearm pressed against her windpipe. Fenmore LeMerde had both of her arms this time as he shoved her bodily up against the wall. “Tell me, Greta,” He said breathlessly and slowly for clarity. “What is happening here?” he asked. “How is this all going to end?” After all the effort, he wasn’t sure if the sewerling was even going to answer. It surprised him greatly that she did. Greta Scot spit the blood out her mouth as it ran down from her broken nose. The sewerling swallowed hard and manged to mutter one coherent word. “Shit,” she said.
“Shit?” Fenmore LeMerde was momentarily taken aback at her utterance. He moved his head to wipe away the blood from his busted lip onto his lapels unwilling to take his eyes or arms off of the rat girl. “What did you call me?” his voice dipped dangerously low as he pressed harder on her arm.
Greta Scot grinned toothily and let out a stifled giggle. “Shit,” she said again and snapped her teeth close to Fenmore LeMerde’s nose.
Before matters could escalate further Ms Marlybone entered the room pausing in the doorway and cleared her throat. The sewerling’s face fell at the thought of going back to sleep. Sure enough the next words out of the Spiritualist’s mouth were, “do I have to knock the two of you out?”
Fenmore LeMerde sighed and let go of Greta Scot who both sneered and looked guilty at the same time. “No.” he added brusquely as they both turned to face her, bloodied and bruised from putting up a good fight. “I was questioning her- it seems she learned new word.”
“Shit,” Greta Scot said again under her breath and smirked.
Ms Marlybone crossed her arms and raised her eyebrows cautiously regarding the sewerling. “Well,” she said at last. “She didn’t learn it from me.”