Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why is slime always green?

There are few things more annoying to me than getting messages of thanks for reviews on Zoetrope, but not getting reciprocation. "Money's not as interesting to me as favors." Anyway, since the one I've gotten so far is pretty rich, I submit an excerpt for your amusement:

"My take on this was that the Thing had sex with Billy, but I wasn’t quite certain. Maybe I just wanted that to be your intention, because it’s an interesting and original way for an extra terrestrial to interact with a human. If that was your intent, you might want to make it a little more explicit--maybe Billy feels his ass tingle, or he wipes some green slime from his dick."

What? Nope. Not even close. Here's the story:


The Thing That Bled Space
By Jonathan Egan


The Thing That Bled Space came out of the night of a distant valley. There was a little town there at the bottom of the mountain range beside the lower hills. The Thing dragged its way across the land to the inviting glow of an old stone tavern, where half the population of the settlement watched it lumber its way through the door and sit down at the bar.

It was great and black, the sort of black that lacks all optic friction, like a mobile void in the room. Its shape could be construed somewhat as having arms and legs; perhaps being a little hairy, but on the other hand perhaps not. There was no depth to its visage, no detail. Its arrival was met only by the sound of the jukebox as it continued to spill its old blues over the crowds’ mute bewilderment. A few onlookers swear, however, that just before Doc Malone finally brought the weight of a whiskey bottle down on top of the Thing’s head they distinctly heard it order a beer.

From his lonely corner of the tavern young Billy watched the Thing not only tear Malone clean in half, but kill at least seven other people as well before the barmaid appeared with a hatchet from the back room. The sound that came from the Thing as she struck it was almost cavernous. It sounded to Billy like a howl bellowed from the dark side of the moon. The poor waitress probably didn’t live long enough to realize she had even connected with the beast. Her arms, still holding the weapon, landed square at Billy’s feet while the rest of her crashed headfirst into the mirror behind the bar.

Rather than run, the rest of the patrons huddled in the back, unable to take their eyes off of the Thing. It looked at them–or at least they felt as if they were being looked at–until satisfied that no more of them were going to attack. Then it silently turned and walked back out the door. Everyone inside remained petrified save Billy who was too fascinated to be frozen. No one tried to stop him as he took off after it.

Billy found the Thing just outside, presumably making its way into the nearby woods. In the darkness of night it was somehow easier to discern. Billy could see now that the Thing was bleeding profusely from its wound. A trail of the sparkling matter culminated in a small puddle at its feet. Billy approached fearlessly, and was just barely able to convince himself that what he saw was a reflection of the starry sky above when the Thing pushed him down through the puddle and into oblivion.

~

Billy was either falling very quickly or watching the entirety of the universe rush up past him. It was hard to tell without any atmosphere. He tried to remember everything he knew about space, but was disappointed to find his knowledge contradictory to his current state.

He was breathing, yes, but breathing what he couldn’t be sure. His blood did not, as he thought it was supposed to, feel like it was boiling. His eyes appeared to be in working order. In fact, aside from a fleeting sensation of cold in his bones he felt perfectly normal.

As the brilliant scenery around him began to distract his flustered brain, Billy felt a calm wash over him. Rather than debate whether it was he or existence itself that was falling he allowed himself to bask in the splendor of the naked galaxies and nebulas abound. Huge streaks of light stretched out around him. He passed hurtling comets, moved deftly through vast fields of floating dead rock. Planets sang to him. Eventually he came by a red dwarf, and it asked him his name.

“Billy,” he told it. The star only laughed and was gone, shooting away into the emptiness that all astral bodies share.

Awestruck by the color and magnitude of the heavens, Billy watched time itself stretch forward and back into infinity. Wave by wave the whole of creation was revealed to him. He was a celestial bird in flight.

Then he landed.

~

Or more accurately, he fell back up.

He was on his feet, which at first he didn’t notice because he couldn’t feel anything. One by one he regained his senses, but everything seemed a little smaller, a little blurrier. Billy was in the woods, and could just barely make out the smoldering light of the small town through the trees. He stared dumbly at it, completely unable to recall its significance or purpose.

The Thing, still beside him though they had clearly ventured further into the trees, regarded Billy now with only mild curiosity, as if he had been at its back for ages. In the darkness the Thing seemed almost to shimmer. Its blood, now indisputably filled with stars, was still streaming down its long arm, but in far less of a cascade. It was holding the wound with its other hand, and aside from this small gesture it didn’t seem to pay the gash any mind.

The Thing made an affectionate sound, almost a purring that Billy didn’t so much hear as he felt pulsating in his veins. Then it leaned back and mightily stretched its protracted limbs. Billy did the same and felt as if a gale were rushing through him, leaving his soul lighter. High above them a breeze likewise set the trees to swaying. Patches of starry sky shone through, and Billy basked in their new brilliance, counting himself among them.

--

Anyway. There are a couple of huge helicopters flying over downtown Lincoln today, and I don't know what their deal is. They have things on the front of them that look like guns. Big fucking guns. If they're going to pace like that they might as well shoot something as far as I'm concerned.

I'm heading up to Pierre this weekend because, frankly, this distance is killin' me and I can't take it. Regardless, this means that I get to spend Monday night watching football at Carey's. This pleases me. Come buy me drinks.

I don't want to go to work. But it's got to be done.