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Plague Season — from BATS on Amazon. A bat from the Front ^^ö^^ & Back ^^*^^

01 Plague Season for Web

Bats: Chapter 6:

Plague Season 

Two very old granite gargoyles greeted young guitar-slinger Jonathan Tepes as he approached the drawbridge of Poenari Castle, Prince Vlad’s home.

“Vait!” said Wichtoria, the gargoyle on the right.

Opri!” said Wichtor, the gargoyle on the left.

“You should always say ‘vait,’ Wichtor,” said Wichtoria as she strained her long granite neck over the battlement to get a better view of the pale young man in the rapid strobe of the lightning. Jonathan was standing beneath the drawbridge, shielding himself from the cold rain with his guitar case.

“You, down there!” shouted Wichtoria. “Are you here to entertain us? Young vippersnapper, are you…are you the singer James Taylor?”

“What?! Noooo!” said Jonathan.

Rain pummeled the blood-soaked soil and ran in red rivulets toward the moat.

“Maybe you are Jackson Browne then?” asked Wichtoria.

“Yes! You do look very familiar,” said Wichtor. “Are you a wisitor?”

“Wisitor? You mean, visitor? Yes, I am a wisitor!” said Jonathan, looking up at the gargoyles as the rain tapered off.

“I’ve dabbled in songwriting too!” said Wichtoria. “I could sing you some of my songs. Maybe, if you like them, I vill let you record them, Mr. Taylor.”

“Sorry! I only LOOK like James Taylor…before he lost his hair,” said Jonathan. “I’m also mellower!” he shouted while shooing away clouds of gnats, flies, and all manner of pestilence.

“I can’t play guitar with my talons and stony wings,” said Wichtoria. “But I can play a mean blues harp. Maybe we can jam later?”

Wichtor turned toward her sharply. “Enough, Wici!” Then he looked back down on the shivering human. “Young man! Did you park your wehicle in the wisitor parking?”

“Wehicle? Wisitor parking? Why, no!”

Wichtoria said, “If you’re only wisiting, you should never park in the wesidential parking. Parking is wimited. If you need to unload your band equipment, you can—”

“I am a wisitor, I have no wehicle, annnnnd I DO NOT have a band!”

“I am Wichtoria. You can call me Wici. This is Wichtor. He is a ‘sir.’”

“Maybe after your show we can have a drink,” said Wici. The gargoyle winked at young Jonathan. Wichtor shook his stony head in shame.

 “This is not funny,” he said. “It’s freezing and raining!”

“Did you hear that, my little angel? I’m shocked! Did you know that our veather stinks, Wici?”

Poison arrow frogs dropped from the sky onto Jonathan’s shoulders.

“The Prince had me brought here in the taxi. Please!” said Jonathan.

“Oh! So Mr. Big Shot sent for you! Vell then, velcome!” they both said.

“Is it safe here? Everyone down in the village at Poenari seems frightened,” shouted Jonathan. “A woman dressed in black warned me about vampires.”

“Ha! She must have been an oldt vife!” said Wichtor. “Cause that is an oldt vife’s tale! There are no such things as w-w-w-w-wampires!”

“Maybe we should tell our young wisitor about the wampires,” Wichtor whispered into Wici’s ear. “Hey, you! Young man! We do have wampires!”

“What?”

“Only a few,” said Wici trying to calm him.

“No. Don’t make him worry, Wici,” said Wichtor.

“What happened to your accents? The Vs and Ws?”

“Busted! The Vs and Ws were just a setup for the wampire joke,” Wici said. “Actually, we are from Paris, monsieur.”

Something black landed on Jonathan’s collar. “Ow! What the hell just bit me?” he asked, flinging his hands around.

“That was either Cherubino or Angioletto,” said Wici.

“Damn! That was a bat!” screamed Jonathan.

“Transylvanian Mosquitos,” said Wichtor, trying not to drive away his employer’s prospective dinner. “The woods are rotten with…creepies undt crawlies.”

“Can you please lower the bridge?” yelled Jonathan.

Wichtor looked over to Wici and gestured with his talon. “Look at that, Wichtoria! The boy didn’t bring a jacket. Kids these days, I tell ya.”

“Before we can open the bridge, we are required to ask you three questions,” said Wici. “National security. Do you understand?”

“Okay! Please!” Jonathan sneezed loudly.

“Did you hear that, Wichtor? Mr. Taylor, does your mother know that you’re dressed like that? You could catch your life of cold out here. Where’s your sweater?”

“Look! He’s catching pneumonia,” said Wichtor. “Ask him already!”

“Are you listening?” she yelled. “Question number one: Tell me which movie this quote came from: ‘Come…on! Move into the slow lane, you stupid bastard!’”

“The Day of the Driving Dead!”

“Not bad, kid,” said Wichtor, framed by a cloud of descending locusts. “Number two,” Wici continued. “‘Hisssssss…ski.’”

“The Polish Bride of Frankenstein. Too easy,” said Jonathan, teeth chattering.

Lightning struck behind him, pushing him toward the red water of the moat. A hundred pairs of green eyes lit up as the crocodiles waited for him to slip.

“The kid’s good!” Wichtor said to Wici. “For one hundred dolari! Are you listening, young man?”

“Yes, I’m listening! Brrrrrrrr……”

“Well, then you should have listened to your mother!” interrupted Wici. “If you had any brains, the Good Humerus Man would be selling them frozen on a stick. Not even a hat! What they teach you in college? Okay, smarty pants, Wichtor will ask you question number three! Hurry, Wichtor, I think he’s becoming a frozen entrée.”

“Okay! For one hundred dolari,” said Wichtor while the clock from the highest tower clicked. “Identify this famous quote: ‘The bwud is the wife, Mr. Wenfield!’”

“Elmer Fudd as Dwacuwa, 1964! So, where’s my money?”

The two gargoyles looked at each other and shrugged.

“Do you have any cash on you, Wichtor?” asked Wici.

“Do you see pockets here, Wichtoria? The sculptor carved us naked. I have nothing! Nothing! Not even a sock for my schmekel!”

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“Call Me. It’s Mel” — from Shark Fin Soup

Art by Vitaliy Hagen

03 Telepathica Pacifica 02 b 06 flat

“And God Spoke to Moses” — Exodus 33:11

“Are you listening Moe? Stop looking at your tablets. Focus on the flame. Tell your people, I the almighty, will watch over them as long as they keep me entertained. ”

T.K. Betel nut is a living, seven-foot-tall tiki. A curio. A half human stick. On a normal day’s stakeout Agent Betelnut will spend hours standing statue-still while tuned into the latest (mostly) fair and no longer completely ad free, news broadcast by the world’s oldest Wi-Fi: the Telepathica Pacifica Network (TPN).

Thousands of years ago, the TPN was set up as a web of psychic protection for plant life around the globe.

The TPN does not accept monetary donations from even plant-loving humans. Throughout the history of plant systematics, the TPN’s green members have all witnessed friends, relatives, seedlings and saplings chopped or mowed down, and mashed into paper currency for humans.

Today,T.K. was listening to the plant-based network while on a stakeout for his carnivorous friends at Interpol. His assignment was related to the protection of front yards everywhere. Specifically, he was there to protect the prestige of the original Don Featherstone lawn flamingos produced by Union Plastics.

Interpol believed North Korea intended to flood the free world with cut-rate birds. If left unchecked, the commies could ruin lawns everywhere with cheap knock-offs.Until now, the free world’s front yards—the ones blessed by genuine Featherstones—had been worth defending against marauding juvenile delinquents — the ones whose parents never lifted a hand to smack some goddamned manners into the noisy “little bastids.” Yeah, the same “little bastids” who made life a living hell for the half human half log, T.K., by tipping him over in public, just because they thought it was “funny.” Brats.

Waiting. Waiting.

Beneath the hot afternoon sun on a quiet Tuesday, T.K. tilted himself a few more degrees to the east, to help improve the reception on the grassy slope.

Zeus, Leto, Artemis, Dauna & Dumb Ol’ Bernie

Bernie ‘The God Whisperer’ is taking a stroll, minding his own f*cking business, on an unusually warm December night in Cleveland, when this bullsh*t happens >>>>>

10. & 14 WomanWinking

There were bicycle lights approaching him from the corner. An attractive silvery haired couple, dressed in spiffy casual wear, wheeled up to the curb, smiled with perfect teeth and stopped.

“Where in Hades have you been?” the beautiful silver-haired woman said to Bernie as she swiped at him with her freshly manicured nails, tearing the collar of his cheap Hawaiian shirt.

“Hey, What the?”

“Art thou Cupcaecius?” asked her handsome executive-type companion with the obligatory sweater tied around his neck. They both looked as though they’d just ridden off the cover of every other issue of Molten Silver magazine.

“No!” Bernie backed into a rubbish can and fell. Who were these two new gods with a healthy active lifestyle?

Leto pulled her bike onto the pavement and bent down toward a display in the hotel’s gift shop window. “Look, Zeus! It’s a darling car charm. It looks just like Artie’s little car! That’s cute.” Leto looked down at the pathetic human cowering on the sidewalk. “Is that real sapphire?” she asked.

“Are you asking me, m-m-m-ma’am?” Bernie looked up at the the woman wide-eyed. Leto winked at him and whispered. “You can call me Λητώ, or Λατώ.”

“Our daughter—she doesn’t need thou or thou cheap gifts, mortal. You need her!” spoketh Zeus from the bike above.

“Zeus and Leto?” He bowed his head in respect. “Artie, I mean Artemis told me that you’d banished her from Olympus.”

“Human!” Without warning, Leto grabbed Bernie by his nose. “Listen to thy  husband, Waffle of Dung!”

I’ve managed to piss off Zeus and Leto.

Zeus pointed a finger and zapped Bernie’s trap with a tiny lightning bolt. Bernie doubled over onto the pavement then smiled when he’d realized that yet another strand on the human-proof trap had snapped. Only the gods have the power to remove this thing.

Thus spoke Zeus: “Buying my daughter cheap trinkets will not make her more beautiful. It is because of her that ‘things’ become beautiful. That is the generous nature of a goddess.”

“Owwwww,” croaked Bernie as he pulled himself to his feet by grabbing the bricks on the wall. They act like they’ve been smokin’ incense.

Zeus spoketh again: “You’ve seen Artemis improve the luster of a diamond, the scent of a gardenia and the spirit of the untamed sea. How much proof of the divine doth thou needest, Bernie?”

“Your daughter ith, I mean is amazing.”

“Artemis must remain pure,” said Leto. “Junk food! Television! A girl her age should be hunting across the heavens instead of twiddling…thumbs…with you.”

“Twiddling? We haven’t twiddled any thumbs. How old is Artie?” asked Bernie.

“Artie! So, it’s Artie, is it?” Zeus pointed his index and middle fingers at Bernie’s eyes. “Why, I oughta…” 

Leto stopped his cruel hand. “Stop. What my husband should explain to you, you bug, is that the twiddling of thumbs is the way we profess our love on Olympus. If Artemis twiddled with you, we are obliged to spare your miserable life. However, if we find out that you two have twaddled, we will kill you a thousand times in a thousand ways. And to answer your question, our virrrrrgin daughter is five thousand, give or take a hundred years,” said Zeus.

Five thousand years. And no boinky-woinky? Bernie thought.

“What my husband is trying to say is—what did I just hear you think, young man? ‘Boinky-woinky?’”

“Five thousand years?” Bernie asked again.

“Maybe this upstart needs me to sling a bolt of lightning up his κώλος,” said Zeus. 

“No, Zuzu,” said Leto.

“Psssst! Don’t call me that,”  Zeus snapped back. 

She calls her husband, the ruler of Olympus, Zuzu? Thought Bernie, trying not to laugh out loud.

“Lightning! That’s my husband’s solution for everything. So, Bernie, do you know the damage you have done to our daughter with the bad food and her clothes?”

“What did I do to her clothes? I have no control over the goddess. She loves to shop and eat.”

“Our little Artemis is up there, twenty pounds overweight!” she said, pointing. “In your room—right now—not wearing her short tunic.”

“What!”

“She is wearing, thanks to your flea-bag cat, a handful of white downy feathers, placed in three strategic locations, upon splashes of perfumed garlic infused olive oil given to her by your cat, Bomba!”

“For your plebeian amusement, I imagine,” added Zeus.

Her curves oiled and writhing, succulent and wearing a handful of feathers. And no boinky for five thousand years. The two Olympian gods could hear every dirty thought.

“Writhing! You worm! I shall slay you!” said Leto.

Zeus blocked his wife’s right arm from smiting. “I am only going to spare you because Artemis swore to protect you. Our daughter, is pure, Mr. Cake. Purity is what she does.”

“Purity,” added Leto. “Like June Cleaver, Margaret Anderson, Shirley Partridge…”

“This relationship wasn’t my idea,” said Bernie. “I think that you should talk to her pal, Dauna,”

“Who?” asked Leto.

“Dauna, the shark goddess from Kupaio,” said Bernie. “She asked your daughter to watch over me. Have you two met Soapy Puppies, I mean Her Sauciness? She is what you might call a bad influence. Peligro—ow!”

“What dost thou think, Zuzu!” said Leto.

           Bernie switched gears, from suppressing pain to suppressing a major guffaw.

Leto ignored Bernie’s thought and turned to her stylish spouse. “Zuzu, dost thou know of this Dauna?”

“Remember the wedding that we couldn’t go to in Fiji, dearest? The one we sent Artemis to?” 

Leto turned to Bernie. “I wish we could have gone to the pre-wedding party with the mbolo worm buffet. I love worms. We had the nosoi flu at the time, Bernie. You must have heard of Dauna. What do you know about her all-knowing-all-seeing-all-fucking, Zuzie.”

Is Zeus sweating? thought Bernie. Zuzie! Don’t laugh. 

“Oh, yes. You mean Daucina. That Dauna!” said Zeus, “is just your average goddess, dear. A nobody.”

“Oh, I remember,” said Leto. “The oracles spoke of her. ‘The steamy one with a mouth like a pigsty gutter who spoketh offenses from the pools of the god Cess, and a great set of cans.’”

“The poor thing suffers from Tourette Syndrome,” explained Zeus. “She may come on like a gluttonous eater of slack serpents, but she’s harmless. I checked.”

“Thou hast checked thine trollop, Zuzu?” asked the angry Leto.

Bernie was forced to jump in. “Dauna is not a trollop, great goddess! She’s just …uh, friendly. Yeah, that’s it. Friendly.”

Leto added to Bernie’s pain when she flicked her middle finger on Bernie’s forehead. “I don’t likest thou, Sir Smart Ass.”

“Ow! What the…” Bernie felt a lump growing on his temple. “Am I bleeding?”

“No. I’ve just downloaded some information into thine lust filled head,” said Leto. “It’s all that thou needest to know except for—good fashion sense! Your frock! Thou dresseth like a Walmart model. I thought Artemis picked up a suit for you. My heavens, what adolescent California crap aaaaaare you wearing, Bernie? C’mon, Zuzu. Let’s go. We have to meet the Buddhas at seven.”

And they rode off into the night. Zeus calling back, “Remember I want her home by the twenty-second century!”

“And one more thing,” said Leto. “Keep her laughing if thou want to remain healthy. She doth needeth to laugheth.”

“Laughing?” Oh yes, I‘ll keep her fancy tickled. He envisioned Artie’s strong body jerking beneath him in fits of laughter. Ow! Dammit!

“Don’t even think about it, pig!” Leto wheeled back to the curb and smacked him again.

Ow! Dammit, again. Bernie touched the new bump on his head.

Preview: Shark Fin Soup — The 1st Illustration by Vitaliy

This is T.K. Betelnut,  Interpol agent in charge of the TPN

Telepathica Pacifica Network. He’s about to fall in love with a potted plant.

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An Interview with Kālī (from Shark Fin Soup)

New Shark Fin Titled copy

It was 6 p.m. The end of Bernie’s first day at the Interpol office in Los Angeles. He was beat. The agent’s job at the agency was based on his ‘talent.’ Bernie had been hired because he was not only able to see, but also communicate with religious apparitions.

Bernie’s first day on the job ended with a short, unscheduled, but action-packed interview in his office with the Hindu goddess  काली (Kali).

A few minutes earlier, Kali, being her usual sweet self, looked down at Bernie through the splinters of his new desk and grinned her blood covered rack of 14K gold teeth.

“I AM THE GREAT KALI!!!!” She circled the desk and castrated its four legs with a swipe of the four Jambiya  घुमावदार चाकू in her four hands, pinning Bernie to the floor in the middle of the rubble.

“Please, stop, काली!” he pleaded.

“Call me DOOOOOOOOOMMMM, Agent Benedict,” the Goddess of Destruction hissed, “AND you will thank me for beating this lesson into your sappy skull. My गुंडापन Thuggee followers, who number in the millions, still send me sweet little boxes containing their progeny’s still-beating hearts on Saint Jack the Ripper’s Day. I just want you to know that what, I, THE GREAT KALI!!!!, am capable of. What I can do to you…is NOTHING…Mwahahahaha…Nothing, compared to what that Brazen HUSSY Dauna Robinson will do to your maracas before you leave the building TONIGHT! … By the way,” Kali said, while grooming her fluttering eye lashes with her flaming jalapeño tongue, “This is hard for me to ask.”

“What? Anything! Anything! Spare me, oh, great Kali! Your wish is my command, oh fearsome goddess!” said the fetal quivering loogie named Bernie.

“Stand up, Agent Benedict. I was only joshin’ with ya,” Kali said, while brushing the wood dust off of her armored golden sari. “Do you think that you can set me up on a date with your friend, Frankie?”

“The Sumatran?”

Kali softened her voice. “I’m asking you as a friend

.…Or else, Worm!”

 

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?

Arts & Entertainment |

Ray Pace's photo

Honolulu Fine Arts Examiner

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