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…And Then Things Got Weird….

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murder

From my novel BATS ^^ö^^: Jonathan’s Ride to Poenary Castle, Transylvania

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Poenari Castle’s broken silhouette passed hundreds of feet above Jonathan, framed by the rising moon and the black branches reaching out in “velcome.” The handsome laid back, mellow, and easygoing smasher-of-heads-against-breakwaters-and-pavement ex-lifeguard peered through the glass, breathless. The rain, thick as plasma, began to block his view from the taxi.

Despite the increasingly narrow passages, looming mountains and biblical weather, he texted Mina another time.

Bună ziua! (Good evening!) I am now in Romania near Poenari Castle. Up until now there has been no actual Wi-Fi. Earlier the driver, who wears a black  mask, told me about a free service called Si-Fi that has to do with antennas placed on, of all things, bats! I am well. In fact, I am even cooler than I was last month…and that’s pretty cool!

Cele mai bune urări (Best wishes),

Jonathan

The driver looked into the rear-view mirror and wondered, Is my passenger still…alive? He turned his head 360 degrees around, then another 180 degrees toward Jonathan and asked, “Are you there…sir? Let it be known, young sir, that breathing can attract a variety of…undesirables.” In the Prince’s hemorrhaging neck of the woods, breathing was regarded as overrated.

A long exhalation of foul human breath rushed from the backseat.

What the heaven has this human been eating? Plants? “Look, young sir!” said the driver. “Ve’re almost home! Ve’ll get you some real food.”

“I’m on a vegetarian diet, sir. I no longer eat anything with a face.”

Oy. Vun of those! The driver thought. “No problem young man! You can alvays rip the face off first.”

“Driver? Do you know where I can find a Mr. Karoly Tepesthe? He has some money put aside for me.”

The driver only belched.

“You didn’t eat him, did you?” Jonathan joked.

“No. I didn’t, sir. Haven’t you heard about Mr. Tepesthe’s terrible accident?”

“Oh, no. No, I haven’t.”

“Apparently Karoly was on his way home from the bank after he withdrew a million dolari in cash, tripped, and stumbled onto a very sharp twenty-foot pole—sorry, of course you couldn’t have heard. It doesn’t happen until tomorrow.”

In Enemy Territory – BATS ^^Ö^^ — Chapter 1

In Enemy Territory

Čachtice, Slovakia (Formerly Hungary)

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BATS ^^Ö^^ — OPENING CHAPTER — In Enemy Territory

Čachtice, Slovakia (Formerly Hungary)

Inside his melon-sized head, the tour bus driver could hear the voice of Boris Karloff:

“Even your bus is dead, Kimo.”

Please! Anywhere but here. Not in front of creepy Čachtice Castle, thought the ‘Type-A-Tours’ the driver with the name tag: ‘Aloha, My name is Kimo.’

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced. “We may be here awhile, so you can get out of the bus, walk around a little and stretch if you like.”

Bats and huge fanged moths — the kind that would happily eat your shorts—with you in them — were attracted to the lights within the bus and began pounding themselves against the windows. Anyone who was about to ‘go outside and stretch’ quickly gave up on the foolish idea.

“Look, driver!” Someone stood and pointed out of the right side of the bus. Kimo couldn’t see anything, at first.

“It’s a lady!” said a British woman in back.

Oh, boy…and she has dogs!” said her son. Four shadows trotted from the parked Bats Mobile and took their places behind the Countess. They held baskets in their mouths.

Sure enough, a tall beautiful woman was approaching the bus from the car. She was bathed in moonlight. She wore a bouffant hairdo and a checkered blue homemakers dress straight out of the 1950s. The lovely redhead waved at the unnerved Kimo through the closed door. She held up a pitcher of an ice-cold beverage and a stack of Dixie Cups. He relaxed.

“Oh goody, goody!” a child in the front seat squealed. “The nice lady brought us Kool-Aid!”

What the tourists thought was rain, started to hit the windows. The drops were plague tears. The sound of the wind was a sickening wheeze.

“Let her in, driver! Her clothes are getting soaked” a man from Ireland called out. Soaked? All of the men were suddenly interested. “It must be the lady of the house.”

I hope it isn’t the lady of the house, thought Kimo. The Bloody Countess, Elizabeth Bathory once lived here. That was centuries ago. Still, it is Čachtice!

The canines stood guard in shadows behind their mistress. Kimo opened the glass door—Oh, what the hell—with a hiss. “The dogs will have to stay outside.” The tall beauty, a very well-put-together June Cleaverhe thought, stepped up into the bus taking a wide stance in front in of the passengers. The “nice lady,” wet, was a great deal “nicer” than most had expected. She captured everyone’s complete attention despite their age, sex, race, nationality, or even in the case of Mrs. Bernstein in the back, species.

“Hi, everyone! I’m June Cleaver!” Elizabeth Bathory, The Bloody Countess lied.

Kimo was taken back. June Cleaver?  Cleaver….

Her audience was riveted on the icy pitcher of sky blue liquid that she displayed.

“I brought you some refreshments while you are waiting to be rescued,” said the beguiling housewife. “I’ve got dozens of our best local Batina’s cookies and something to quench your thirst. Here! Pass them back. Thank you. If it’s all right with Mr. Kimo, maybe I could teach you nice folks a little bit about our local cuisine.”

The tired driver nodded, stared out the bus window into the tears and moaning thunder, and decided that he didn’t like the size of those dogs. They were very well behaved and they were all wearing white kerchiefs. No, those are bibs! June Cleaver…June Cleaver. The name was making him nervous.

“We’re proud of our Fritz Haarmann cutlery,” said June. “Mr. Haarmann was originally a meat salesman, but he now manufactures his fine cutlery products in Transylvania.” She smiled at the man sitting in front of her. “Are you from Germany? Then you would certainly appreciate the craftsmanship on these knives. I mean, just look at this beautiful cleeeeeeeeaver!” The big bald German didn’t understand one word. He smiled up at her chilled boobs. She stared at the reflection of the blade on his shiny head as she raised her arm. “Just feel this edge!”

Soon, Mrs. Cleaver/Elizabeth was doing the backstroke up and down the blood-filled center aisle of the bus as her good doggies dragged piles of tourist parts into the Countess’ tear-flooded front yard. Elizabeth’s housekeeper, Penelope, disposed of the bus with an explosion fueled by bat guano.

Elizabeth’s family, leaning against her shiny Bats Mobile, applauded. All of this took five minutes.

*****

After clean-up, the Countess Elizabeth Bathory emerged from Čachtice’ main gate and walked toward her loving family, ready for action.

“How’s it hangin’ troops?” she asked.

“From the rafters, baby!” said Elizabeth’s slobbering main squeeze, Vlad, who was busy aurally undressing her with a combination of suggestive squeaks and smutty echolocational chirps.

“Get a tomb, you two!” said her embarrassed daughter, the willowy Mina.

Shark Stories Review

Shark Stories — a bloody good read!

  • By Ray Pace, Honolulu Fine Arts Examiner

Author Fred Barnett

SHARK STORIES is not the typical book one encounters at the school book fair, say next to the ones about dinosaurs and the solar system. For that matter, neither is the book’s author Fred Barnett the sort who might monotone on about dorsal fins and the like at the same function.

No, Virginia, this is not your typical National Geographic offering on sharks and Fred Barnett just might be channeling both cartoonist Gary Larson and gonzo-journalist Hunter S. Thompson.

His publisher describes him thusly:

“Fred Barnett has been a professional underwater videographer, joke writer, performer and musician, wood carver (hellotiki.net), music and marine science instructor, and a cartoonist for the Garden Island Newspaper in Hawaii. Mr. Barnett’s previous works include two videos, Hawaiian Reef Fish Madness and Hanauma: A Day at the Bay, two music albums and one CD, Souvenirs, with Wiki Waki Woo, and two books, The Complete Humu and Silly Songs of the South Seas. His first full-length novel, Shark Fin Soup–A Tale of Shark Gods, Cannibals, Mad Cows, and Endless Love, he promises, will be completed and released at some point in the 21st century. Mr. Barnett claims his “real life’s purpose,” as revealed through recurrent dreams, is to feed his two cats. He was born in New York and raised in the sunny state of California. He currently resides in Kailua, Hawaii, with his wife, Jan-Joy Sax, and their two cats, Maui and Felicity.”

The publisher’s description of the book is perhaps a bit more modest:
“A rollicking adventure through time and the seven seas! Hundreds of fascinating TRUE facts and TRUE stories about our most famous denizens of the deep. “Fisherman arrested: Used wife as Shark Bait!” “Aussie Loses Same Leg Twice!” “Mako Attacks Fisherman On Beach!’ “Mom Eaten in Front Of Husband, Son and Six-Year-Old Quadruplets!” “Killer Arrested After “Monster” Spits out Murder Victims Arm.”

Imagine all of that for 10 bucks, plus a Bud Spindt cover illustration!

Who says we’re in a recession?

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Honolulu Fine Arts Examiner

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