Art by ~Bluewuwei ∞ Fiction by: R. I. Tuesday
So there I was, standing on my porch holding a dead monster by the tail.
The sun was low in the sky and red. Humid and sweaty, I dragged Diaballein down my front path lined with the twelve carnivorous sunflowers I named after ex-lovers. They snapped and hissed at the corpse I was dragging behind me. Ahh, another evening at the end of the world.
I hissed back and starred them in the mouth. They retreated so I moved on.
I looked back at Diaballein. Its loose scales and jagged claws snagged into the cracked earth. It was too difficult to ignore the gaping hole in its skull. Or the trail of blood and brain matter forming behind us. Diaballein’s brain still pulsated in postmordic rhythm. Tragic.
“God damn, you’re heavy.” I half expected it to talk back; which it didn’t. I yanked harder and continued down my little walkway.
Now, the gate to my white picket fence had been broken for quite some time. I struggled with the rusty latch and had to put Diaballein’s body down to use both hands. I made a mental note to fix the busted thing and forgot about it just as quick.
Gate opened, through the fence, Diaballein’s grave was in sight. Right under my tentacle tree. This was the only solitary grave out of the whole lot of them. All 26 dead monster headstones were strewn about my front yard. Seeing each one, I got a little nostalgic and began to tear up. But only in one eye. I was bringing work home with me.
I couldn’t help it.
I let Diaballein’s body flop to the long decayed, petrified ground at the foot of the grave. I closed my eyes and waited for the earth to swallow us underneath Diaballein’s dead weight; no such luck. With my fingers laced around the shovel, I pretended to say a prayer and kicked the body into the pit. “Here lies Diaballein.” And not a moment too soon. I sighed. I smiled.
I could not help but think about the horrid mess that was my cabin,
Things were looking grim. Sunny side up, however, it only took me forty-seven minutes to fill in the entire grave. Which is eleven minutes than last time. I was coated in a thin exo-skin of sweat and grime from head to toe. The sun was burning hot that evening. I needed a cigarette. And a drink.
I thought I’d fix myself a whiskey.
Turning around to go back inside I smiled at my cabin. My home. The drooping glass windows, hazy with their dirt stains. The mud and motor imprisoned between the logs. I smiled at the zombie-apple tree growing just off to the side. A broken smoke pattern was coming from the chimney; the fire was dying.
I let out a deep sigh and smiled again.
Tucked away at the end of the world. An entire two-days trip from town. Right where no one could find me. I checked the mail. Nothing. I snarled and scoffed at the people who never sent me anything.
The gate was a pain in the ass. Again. As usual. And it made a terrible screaching sound and woke up my demon sunflowers. Again. As usual. They don’t have eyes, the sunflowers, but I could feel them glaring at me. “What?” I glared back and they bowed their heads. “That’s what I thought.”
That day was one of the better days. As far as the sunflowers went, anyway. I examined the various scars on my arms. They get uppity from time to time; (sigh) the bitches.
At my front door, I stopped. I just stood there breathing and wiping sweat from my face and eyes. I took a little me-time with my hand resting on the doorknob. I wasn’t prepared for what was on the other side. I took a few more deep breaths.
“Good-fucking-lord.” I couldn’t tell if I was home or in a slaughter house. My gun was still smoking on the kitchen counter. There was blood on everything I owned.
Monster blood. Of all things.
Most of my afflicted property had already started to dissolve leaving a thin, blue vapor in the air. In three, four hours tops, all of this stuff with be gone. Gone. Eaten away and converted to gas. I had to work quick. I didn’t have the time to refurnish nor did I have the energy. I vowed to clean my entire cabin from floor to ceiling.
But not before whiskey.
I ignored the blood on my cabinets and the eye ball on the counter and poured a good sized glass of whiskey and swallowed it in one abusive gulp. I tossed another log on the dying fire. I poured another whiskey, dragged my rolly and contemplated Diaballein. When it was finished I looked around for an ashtray, paused and laughed hysterically to myself. The place was already a sty.
I flicked the roach and it landed in a small pile of blood which, of course, burst into a horrid purple flame.
I slapped my palm against my forehead. “Okay. Where the fuck is that mop?”
I was armed to the teeth with all the cleaning supplies I owned:
Mop, 1 wooden
Sponge, 1 giant sea
Bucket, 1 5-gallon
Steel wool, 2 jumbo
Gloves, 2 pair vampire skin
Trash bag, 4 all purpose, heavy duty
The floor had a thick coat of blood and mucus to viscous to keep any sort of productive footing on. “Oh, if I slip in this.” My vomit was one of the last things this place needed. My eyes were already starting to water. I opened all the windows to clear the blue acidic vapor out of the air.
The sofa cushions had already dissolved. The sofa however, was intact. Tiny victories. Tiny. Victories. What was left of the cushions I threw out back.
The living room table. Destroyed. Absolutely shattered. It was reduced to nothing but blood soaked splinters. That’s where Diaballein finally crashed and sent wooden shrapnel everywhere. One of the legs did, in fact, survive. As did a single dining room chair. At that point I was holding onto such tiny victories for dear life.
And as far as my bookshelves, my curtains, various knickknacks and a wonderful painting of a mythical creature called a turtle – I didn’t like them anyway. So there. And, I threw all that outback into the pile. My cabin was reduced to a single armchair, a sofa frame, that dining room chair and a side table. I had to refurnish now. Fucking monsters, right?
I filled my bucket with bleach and then put some water in there. The blood soaked up easier than I anticipated. Though it was already starting to form into chuncky little clumps. I dreaded the potential of some sort of A-sexual regeneration.
Blood, bleach and water mixed. It swirled around on the hardwood floors. I had to wring the mop out by hand. That’s why I had two pairs, two pairs, of VAMPIRE SKIN GLOVES on. And even those were already starting to corrode.
I mopped and mopped. Bearing down as hard as I could. The thought occurred to me that I may have been wearing away at the floor. But, screw it. Anything less and I wouldn’t have a floor anymore. So I cleaned even harder. Bearing down. Scrubbing the floors left, right, up, down, sideways and every direction in between. I cleaned and cleaned until the mop handle broke in half.
Then there was spot cleaning to do. So I got down, on my hands and knees, scrubbing those little blotchy stains off the floor and wall and surviving furnishings. The bleach began to form a lather. And, on the wall, one particular blood splash pattern paid a striking resemblance to my late Aunt Genine. Her wiry hair. Her mole. Her other mole. Even the lazy eye she sported so fashionably were all there. You know, it’s odd. They don’t usually make such a mess; the monsters. Then again I don’t usually shoot them. Fourteen times. However, at a staggering coincidence, my late Aunt Genine always made a terrible mess wherever she went.
Still though, I’m not sorry.
“Diaballein, you had it coming.”
The bleach and blood and guts had joined forces and formed a superfunk that was burning my nostrils. Something worse than decomposing flesh. Something even worse than amphibious people. I tilted my head back to take a few non-toxic breaths. There was blood on the ceiling. There would be blood on the ceiling. And, “is that – no. No.” There was no way there was a lung stuck to the – I got a trash bag. And then another because you never can be too careful.
The lung peeled off the wall with a loud squelch. A string of entrail lining like warm peanut butter connected it to the wall. That was the precise reason I had a steel wool. I applied some elbow grease and held back to reflex to vomit and still found myself gagging.
So, okay. No. This place would never really be clean again. But, at the very least, I could make it not dirty. That much, I owed to myself. That much, I owed to my cabin.
I found a stray fang. It went in the bag with the lung. As did the three feet of intestine I found. I’m still shocked I didn’t vomit.
Especially because, when I found another organ – and that’s all I can really say about it. It was an organ. Nothing in the human anatomy was that shade of grey or covered in spikes – So when I found “the organ”, I was too terrified to touch it. Even with both pair of vampire skin gloves on. I poked it with the broken half on the broom handle. A fucking snake slithered out of it. Jesus Christ, how ungodly.
I asked nobody, “how many times will I have to kill today?” who naturally said nothing in response.
I got my gun and shot the snake. And then there was a bullet hole in my floor. This shit was starting to take a toll on me.
The snake went into the trash bag with the spiky organ. And then I heard tapping. With no build. No warning. Rain started to slam against the side of my cabin. “Of course it’s raining.” Of bloody course.
And my rug – I adored that rug. That rug belonged to my late grandfather. A kidney, six teeth and a tentacle were macerating in their own juices on the shag. I picked them all up and tossed them in the organ sack. “Wow.” I had an organ sack. How did I get here in life? What decisions had I made to achieve such a morbid trophy? Could I have seen this coming? Was this at all preventable?
Maybe I could have bleached the stains out of the rug. But, that would leave a series of white amorphous blotches. I rolled up the rug and threw that outside too. I’ve gotten a new rug since. I like it okay I guess.
It was time to give the floors a good twice over.
And then a third.
And, a fourth couldn’t have done any harm. I found an ear, pierced with a tarnished steel hoop at the tip of the cartilage. That, I threw out the open window and when I’d set fire to the pile of living room set and monster bits, I declared the job done.
I sat down in my armchair with a cigarette and a glass of whiskey. Good lord. I had found peace.
There was a knock. It was unsettling. I wrote it off as nothing. And then another one came. ‘Knock’. Just one. A lonely, isolated knock. I blamed it on the wind. Yes. That’s right it was defiantly the wind. And nothing more.
I kept on starring at the wall. My head needed to rest. No time for – ‘knock’. “I need me time.” The wall was in the same speechless condition I’d left it in. The fire crackled again.
I rolled a cigarette. ‘Knock, knock’. That was deliberate. Something was behind that noise. I decided I needed a glass of water. Immediately. The faucet ran until the rust in the pipes settled out. More knocking. Two again.
Back in my chair, I chocked on my first sip when – ‘knock, knock’.
It was starting to get to me; the knocking. All I wanted to do what sit here and listen to the rain beat against my cabin. All I wanted to do was listen to the rhythm of my own thoughts. I would have liked to. It just wasn’t happening. There weren’t usually this many distractions at the end of the world. It’s actually quite peaceful there. But the knocking…I was never going to get to finish a – ‘knock, knock, knock’.
“Okay three?” I stood up. “Don’t do it.” I walked to the door. “Don’t.”
‘Knock’. ‘Knock’. ‘Knock’.
“I’m coming.” I opened the door. “Oh. Shit.”
“Hey, baby.” The corpse of Diaballein was standing in my doorway. Which I will repeat: The corpse of Diaballein was standing. In my door way. Just standing there. Sentient and everything. A living corpse half way between fresh and stale.
It was soaking wet. And covered in fresh, sopping grave mud. It pushed past me and walking into my kitchen. And, of course, it didn’t wipe it’s feet. So it tracked in mud and blood with it. Sludge a color I didn’t know existed dripped from it’s open wounds onto my kitchen floor. I rubbed the bridge of my nose with my thumb and index finger. I sighed again knowing it would do no good.
I was in a state of disbelief. Complete and utter disbelief. All I could manage to do was stand there with my mouth hanging open and contemplate whether or not I was hallucinating. Or, was the monster I killed, but a few hours ago, really going through my kitchen cabinets.
“Um – hey. What are you doing, there?”
Diaballein didn’t turn around to say, “looking for whiskey. I have a terrible headache.”
“I can see that.” No, really, I could. Its brain was exposed. Through the gaping hole in it’s skull. Right where the left horn used to be. You know, where I shot it – speaking of which, where did that horn go? I never found it.
“Here it is.” Diaballein retrieved my whiskey from the ice box and poured itself a glass… Itself. And only itself.
“No, that’s fine. I don’t need one.” Especially not with a zombified inconvenience that had been thrown into my lap. Diaballein stirred its drink. With it’s claw. A nasty lot of dirt and other post modrdic fluid mixed in. Nothing like muddy whiskey and blood and sludge after a hard day in the grave. Right?
“Oh. I’m. I didn’t-” I knew that. I was there. I watched Diaballein not consider me. “Do you want me to pour you one?”
“NO. No, that’s fine. I’ll get it.” So it went and sat on my cushionless couch, while I filled, and I mean filled, a glass with whiskey. It just sat down. Right there on the couch. Never mind the context of this garbage dump of a situation. There weren’t any cushions on the thing. That just wasn’t any sort of acceptable behavior.
“What happened to your cushions?”
“They got dirty.” I sat in my armchair. Diaballein looked at me and I could see the slime making its way into what was left of my sofa. I’ve gotten a new couch since then, too; by the way. I couldn’t help but stare.
Diaballein noticed. “Oh, I’m sorry. Would you like me to sit somewhere else?”
“NO.” For the love of god. “No. There is fine.” It’s jaundiced dead eye scanned the room. We both just kind of sat there. It was quite awkward and uncomfortable in the silence. I glanced around my cabin. There was dirt and blood and slime everywhere… Again.
I’d have to clean… Again.
And I sighed… Again.
Diaballein asked, “what’s wrong?”
What’s wrong? What was wrong? What was –
“You’re dead.” There. I had said it. Everything was out in the open.
“And I killed you.”
“Yep.” Its remaining claws drummed on the table. More sludge splattered about.
This was new. This was a first for me. I’d never conversed with the monsters I’d killed before. At least, well, not after I killed them. It was kind of – who am I kidding? This. Was. Fucking. Awful.
I said, “You seem fine with that.”
“Being dead isn’t so bad.” Drool fell out of one of the holes in Diaballein’s cheek. And no offer to clean up after itself whatsoever. More rude behavior.
“I was talking about me killing you.”
“What about it?”
“You seem fine with it.”
“Oh.” Diaballein lapped up whiskey with its two pronged tongue. “Yeah. That wasn’t your fault.” No.
No. That wasn’t right. It was quite my fault. I shot it. In the horn. Straight through to the brain. And then again in the chest. And then another twelve times.
It was entirely my fault that Diaballein’s teeth were rotting out of its head. I was willing to take credit for that. I was trying to take responsibility for my actions.
“How is it not my fault?”
Diaballein smiled. Its lips peeled off its mandible a little. Falling apart at the seems and uncomfortably happy, Diaballein said, “You didn’t meant to.”
My face went blank. “What?”
“You didn’t mean to. You just over reacted.”
You see, first degree murder can be proven within minutes of a killing. Within minutes of shooting my monster in the side of the face, I was loading all fifteen rounds into my .45. I was even anticipating the very act and salivating over the near future. It was all pretty intentional. I meant it. I meant every last shot.
“It’s okay though. I forgive you” It lapped up the rest of its whiskey. And then the rest of mine. It looked me in the eye. Its dead face closer and closer and closer and closer and closer to mine. Paused. Hesitated.
And. Kissed. Me. Good night.
“Are you coming to bed soon, dear?” I said nothing and after a while Diaballein walked away. With the same decomposing smile, it disappeared into my bedroom and took its place underneath my bed.
I would have remained sitting and paralyzed with disbelief but I could already feel my human flesh corroding. It sizzled and burned on contact with monster saliva. I ran into the kitchen and soaked a rag with rusty water. I washed my mouth out with whiskey and spit into the sink.
My home was covered in dirty monster tracks. The couch was dissolving again.
This would not do.
I marched my bedroom. Chin high and chest puffed out. I meant business. Goddamn it. The carpet had a brown and orange trail of blood leading to the bed. Diaballein’s remaining eye peered out from under my bed frame.
It was childhood all over again.
I could only imagine what terrible stains it was working into the carpet. Perhaps its exposed liver would leave a fashionable imprint next to a stomach acid holes that were inevitably there.
I’ve gotten a new bedroom set since then.
I could hear sobbing. “I know you’re under there.” Oh, fuck. “What’s wrong?” I sighed and swirled the ice cubes in my glass.
“Why did you kill me?”
“I kill monsters. That’s what I do. It my profession. I am a monster killer.”
Diaballein snorted back a helping of mucus and said, “but I was your monster.”
“Yeah. Yeah, you were.” It was awkward. Terrible and full of anxiety. I didn’t really know how to deal with it. They always stayed dead. I just didn’t understand what was happening to me. Or why. I took a sip of whiskey. “Listen,” I said. “I’m not going to kill you again.”
“Please?” I took another sip of whiskey.
“Diaballein.” – – – – – I took another sip of whiskey in vain.
It asked why we couldn’t go back to the way things were. “Remember the good old days? I informed Diaballein that I’d done my best to repress the good old days. “We used to stay up and just talk and talk until the sun rose.”
“Whispering that you were going to eat my soul from under my bed was not talking all night.” There was another terrible silence.
“Can’t I just stay here the night?”
“I can help you clean.”
“No.” No it really couldn’t. “No. You really can’t” Diaballein began to cry. “No.” It cried louder and I shook my head, “No.” I pointed toward the door. “Get out.”
“Listen. It’s the end of the world, you are in my house and I told you to go. So go,” I stood there and kept pointing. Diaballein got up from under the bed and left the room brushing up against my torso. I threw out that shirt too.
I listened to each sloppy step echo down my corridor. Waited for the sound of – the door creaked open. I didn’t hear it shut.
“Goodbye, Diaballein.” The door shut. And stayed shut. “Okay.” I sighed again. I smiled again. I said, “where the fuck is that mop?”