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Freddy Barnett's

And Then Things Got Weird….

Milwaukee Crime Scene (Shark Fin Soup)

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The Milwaukee chief of police, William ‘Boulder Balls Bill’ Sagamore, had just shown up. “I hate hot weather. You must be agent Bernie. Whoa! It’s much too early for those blinding shorts.  ” Boulder Balls walked toward the shoreline, “Sure smells ripe. With this hot weather we’ve been getting ’em ripe.”

Two more “ripples” offshore distracted agent Bernie. The waters of Lake Michigan sure looked inviting this morning.

Had it not been for the tattooed body parts strewn along the banks, kids would have been swimming in the toxic muck from the Milwaukee within a few hours.

“Torsos! I hate headless, armless, legless, genital-less, ass-less hairless torsos,” Chief Big Balls Bill grumbled on. “It looks just like the stuffed derma my Aunt Minnie used to cook — but not as smelly or pale. I mean the bodies aren’t as smelly or as pale. And, look! They took all these guy’s belly buttons!” Belly-buttonless.

Doctor Green spat from his tobacco-stained teeth, “No face, no prints, no belly buttons =  no service. We’re gonna have to get some DNA. By the way, Bernie, your friend T.K. messaged me that belly buttons are a prized snack among New Guinea’s Hotat tribe.”

________________

Another pattern of killings. Bernie had also been following a string of decapitated animals that would take him eastward.

Reports of mysterious animal deaths were being noticed by news organizations across the U.S. Bernie hoped that the cannibal killings wouldn’t be linked to his big hungry kitty. 

Each of Bomba’s latest victims was larger than the previous. The cat was leaving his old “can opener,” Bernie, gifts strewn across the U.S. Thanks, Bomba. I miss you, too. What Bernie and the two local detectives found on that muggy Milwaukee night was the ruination of a very large snow-white bird. There were feathers and wing bones strewn across the alley. The head was missing as was the bottom half of the poor animal. Bernie’s partner, Frankie had picked up a piece of evidence that he held outward on a stick.

“Check it out, buddy boy. Some angel lost his halo. That’s nutty.” Frankie held out a golden ring that was about a foot in diameter and pulsed with light.

“Ooowee, this place stinks!” A powerful smell forced Bernie to move back toward the curb. Bernie could barely breathe as it burned his lungs. The smell came from Bomba’s acidic urine. The big kitty had not only marked his territory, but also etched Bernie’s, radioactive luminescing name into the alley’s brick wall.

 

 

Halloween Fun for the Entire (Manson) Family.

Frankenshark (A Halloween Tale from Bug House)

 

cartoon castle demon102(Based on a true story)

DURBAN, South Africa

August 17, 1959

On the Eastern horizon, distant flashes of a storm illuminated the hot August sky, a hint of the unspeakable horror about to visit sleepy little Durban. As the night progressed, vicious bolts of lightning lashed out far and low across night’s black shroud. Crackling branches of electricity reached out blindly, like the thin, pale, twisted arms of a bloated parasite in search of a fresh host.  

At 1 a.m., the tendrils of that far off storm, quietly receded with the tide. 

The night hung silent and heavy. Sticky, like drying blood. (yuk.)

A Bull Shark’s lifeless body, lay wrapped in filthy linen before a group of three “mad” (disgruntled) scientists at the Durban Aquarium. Because of the late hour, the tired, and still “very upset” group of academics, placed the cold eight-foot  corpse (that the foul smelling, grotesque, one-eyed fisherman affectionately called “Willie,” into an old bathtub for later observation. 

Renfeld

At 3 a.m., Left alone in the laboratory, was Daucina Renfeld, the new assistant from Tavenui, Fiji. Ms. Renfeld was an “odd rough skinned woman” with a deformity of the spine that resembled a sharp hump on her back. While closing up that night, she slipped on fish guts and fell, accidentally knocking her “combination hair dryer / portable radio” into the Willie’s tub. Sparks shot out, immediately swallowed up by total darkness. The young lab assistant lay motionless where she had hit her forehead on the worn porcelain edge. Blood dripped from the small wound, into the foul water.

Strong and silent, a dark new power suddenly surged, pumping its way through dead wires, into the shark’s waiting heart. 

When the lights flickered back to life—so… did… WILLIE!!!!

Cold, slow, weak at first, the heart began to take on speed and power. Thump. Thump. Thump.

On the morning of August 15, Ms. Renfeld had vanished. She was never seen or heard from again. Willie, on the other hand, was found swimming happily in the new “Predators of the Sea” tank. The three scientists, who had left before the power failure, could not figure out how their 105-pound assistant had moved nearly 300 pounds of a once-dead shark into the new tank all by herself, or why she would suddenly disappear. 

The night before, when the smelly carcass first appeared on an old wooden cart in their doorway with the hideous dark fisherman, the scientists were certain that Willie was a “DUD” (dead upon delivery). Somehow, through some mysterious cosmic blunder, the creature was alive. Swimming. Hungry.

That week, the three mad disgruntled scientists left their jobs at the Durban Aquarium, driven even more mad by the perplexing mystery of Willie, and further budget cuts.

Three months later

By December, “Willie” had grown huge. He was doing well at the Durban Aquarium. Too well. He was eating everything in the aquarium tank, including the other sharks. Once the prized pregnant female Dusky Shark had fallen victim to Willie’s huge appetite, the curators finally decided that it was time to get rid of the beast. 

The other aquariums did not did not want wanton Willie — “Wild Bill” as he was being called these days. Returning him to the ocean was not an option. Letting a vicious, blood thirsty Bull Shark loose upon the swimming public would be dangerous, and wasn’t worth the risk.

The decision was made. 

There would be no “FREE WILLIE” this time.

The gruesome Willie, who had become a favorite of visitors, would have to be disposed of.

Quietly.

The deed was done in the middle of the night, when death does its best, most stealthy handiwork.

After hours of wrangling, Willie was finally caught on a triple hook and “humanely” clubbed to death. He was then mercifully cut up into smaller chunks and stuffed into a reeking dumpster.

Early morning visitors wanted an explanation for the sudden disappearance of their favorite fish. So the aquarium’s manager, Mr. Cabebe told the families that Willie was found floating dead early that morning. Cabebe had also delicately let slip that “Willie now sleeps with the coffee grounds” — in the smelly dumpster. 

Hundreds of Durban school children gathered around the outside alleyway of the aquarium. In a great outpouring of sorrow, they shed gallons of salty tears into the dumpster while they said their farewells over the ripe trash bags full of the lovable scoundrel.

Ms. Renfeld returned that night and stole the brine soaked bags. From the laboratory, she also took the curator’s favorite “pet”…a jar labeled ‘the Brain’. This was “the Brain” which used to sit quietly and patiently upon a shelf, not far from Willie’s tub.

 In that jar, beneath a milky white fluid, rested the brain of a blood-crazed 25-foot-long Great White Shark who’d been named Abby. This demented Great White had eaten a Priest during an early morning Baptismal at Bloody Murder Beach only a week before.

That shark, was caught and  killed. Abby’s body was mounted in the aquarium’s entrance and her brain was removed for study. 

Somewhere in California’s Red Triangle, in the dead of night, high up on a hill an electric light can be seen flickering through the shuttered window of the ex-assistant, Renfeld.

She stands hunched over a rusty bathtub filled with cold sea water. Beneath Renfield’s bloody lab coat, numerous scars cover her back. “Love bites” from that night, over one year ago, at the Durban Aquarium. 

She use to weigh under 105 pounds, but now she has ballooned up to almost 175.

Ms. Renfeld drinks another glass of salt-water as blood oozes from her cut finger and drips into the foul tub of sashimi below.

“I am the bride of Frankenshark!!!”

The pups would need their father soon.

“The Brain” had been installed, and the chunks of Willie were all sewn up.

The combination hair dryer / radio was poised in her other hand…ready to drop.

The room went black.

“Come to mama….Come to mama,” she repeated.

Thump. Thump. Thump.

#

Note: The basis for this story is true. There was a real bull shark named Willie who was brought DEAD to the Durban Aquarium, in August of 1959. Some hours later, he did come back to life in a small observation tank. Willie was the aquarium’s top star attraction until he began to eat nearly all of his tank mates, including the pregnant Dusky Shark. 

And yes, “They” did murder him and chop him up in secret.

May he rest in pieces.

Frankenshark is dead.

At least that’s what THEY would like us to believe.

__________________

It’s (all) Who You Know — (from BugHouse -YA stories for Halloween)


It’s (all) Who You Know

When I saw my first school, the Hamilton House, it looked so lonely on the barren dunes of Far Rockaway. I never got to eat my lunch that day because my mom had come back to fetch me so soon. Her frantic walk was framed by the tranquil Atlantic behind her.

Dressed in black, the head teacher, ‘flinty’ Mrs. Hamilton, towered behind me. As my mom, approached, Mrs. Hamilton tightened her ironwood claws into my tiny shoulders.

 

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My mom had questions: “Are you Mrs.Hamilton? Why did you call? Is my son okay? Where’s the young teacher that I talked to yesterday?”

“I’m Hamilton. It’s my school,” she said unhooking me. “Your boy is fine, but there is a problem. He borrrrrrres easily.”

“Really,” said my mom.

To prove Mrs. Hamilton’s point, I interrupted the conversation, “What’s that, mommy?” I asked, pointing to a stone statue that stood in the sandy path, knee high to my mom.

Mrs. Hamilton raised a long talon, “Pagans dumped that thing in my yard. That blasphemy is going into the trash, today.”

 

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“Ooooh, I like him,” my mom said. “This a statue of the Greek god of the sea, Freddy. His name is Poseidon. He looks very old.”

“Is he friendly?” I asked.

“You want to be his friend,” my mom said. “Mr. Poseidon can turn angry in a snap! Mom snapped her fingers. “He brings vengeance upon his enemies with great storms.”

“He’s ugly,” said Ms. Hamilton.

The sound of a large wave, pounding the shore, caught our attention. A strong breeze buffeted us with sand. Ms. Hamilton’s tight hair bun remained steadfast. It began to drizzle. Grasping her cane, Mrs. Hamilton said, “Please come inside, it seems that the weather is changing. What a world.”

As we entered the old house, Mrs. Hamilton  pointed to a painting on the wall. “That a picture my dead husband Dorian. It makes him look so old.” We followed her down the hall. “This morning, I gave little Freddy some time in our arts and crafts room to see if he had a creative streak.”

She’d locked me in the spare classroom, alone, because I kicked her in the shins — I was certain it was her. I was sure she was Dorothy’s Wicked Witch.

“He destroyed the room with three gallons of red paint meant for the outside. Come here, dearies.” She opened the door to the windowless art room.

My mom’s eyes widened and took in the panorama. “It looks like someone was murdered here,” she said, while I was thinking, more blood.

“We’ll never get this cleaned up! Your son may end up a housepainter like…ahem, that German feller with the little mustache. Look at this mess. I thought it over and well,” Mrs. Hamilton  said scratching the hairy mole on her chin, “You’ll have to find young Freddy another school. I think that he may be a danger to the other children.”

My mother looked around. There were no other children. “Where are the others?” Mom was staring at an old straw broom against a tall stack of red splattered boxes, labeled ‘Gingerbread Cookies.’

Nervous, my mom turned to me. “Freddy, tell your teacher that you’re sorry. Do it now.”

“Mommy! She hit me!” I lied, rubbing make-believe  tears.

“ Is that true, Freddy?” My mom stared at the harridan.

Before I could lie to my own mother, again, Ms. Hamilton said,“For such a little gentleman, Freddy tells very tall tales.” Then, adding an evil eye, she continued, “He’s got some imagination, I’m saying.”

“Are you calling my boy a liar? Just a few moments ago you called him a little Hitler!”

I kept my lip zipped as I was already in enough trouble.

“Let’s go.” Suddenly, my mother grabbed my hand and marched me away from the school, no doubt saving me from becoming one of Mrs. Hamilton’s gingerbread cookies. We were about to pass Poseidon when an idea struck me. I turned back to Mrs. Hamilton and said, “My mom says that you should be friendly to the statue!”

“If you sinners like that awful thing so much, take it home with you!”

My mom picked Poseidon up and held him in her arms like a newborn. “C’mon, Freddy.” She propelled us home, away from the Beach. She looked worried.

“Mommy, what’s wrong?”

Wind and rain had been building since we’d started walking. By the time we reached the tall brick stairway that led up to our house the rain began to sweep horizontally. The tall pine tree in front was rocking wildly. Mom rushed me up the stairs and into the hallway as the sky began to turn black. She turned to secure the potted plants, slipped on the top step, and cut open her ankle.

The wicked witch did this! I thought. Angry, I shook my stuffed dog at the lightning.

My mom had forgotten about my decorating and fibbing. She was in pain when she pushed me into my room. “Play your records, Freddy. I’ll be right back” She held back tears as she closed my door. At my bedroom window, I saw the churning clouds and, hidden within, the bearded face of Poseidon.

I ran to the front hall and hugged the statue. There and then I promised the god my prized Patti Page record, “How Much is that Doggy in the Window?” if  he would help my mommy. I’d played the record two-thousand times and had already moved on to hipper music, ‘Davy, Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier.’

Poseidon must have been a Patti Paige fan, because ten minutes later the sea god had washed the Hamilton School into the grey Atlantic wielding a mighty hurricane that bore my mom’s name, Claire.

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The next morning, the record, along with my record player, were gone from my room. The floor was wet and sandy. “Mommy!” I yelled, a little frightened. I calmed after recalling what I’d done.

My dad, tired, had returned from his business trip to find that the storm had washed our pine tree, westward into Jamaica Bay. After lunch, mom told dad about my mischief at the School and our hurricane adventure. Dad paused, stood up tall, removed the smelly cigar from his mouth and, looking down, told me that he was proud I’d learned a very important life lesson that he himself used in business.

“Lesson?” I asked, having no idea what a lesson was, or life was, or business was.

“When you need something done right, young man,” my dad said with a wink, “you must always, always go straight to the top.”

Freddy Deutsch, Age 4

Far Rockaway Beach, 1954

The Tragic Life and Death of Igorrina

The Tragic Life and Death of Igorrina  

 

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“I’m bored,” said young Mina, who sat with her face in her hands.

“Me too. Can we go now?” asked the whiny, childish 20-year-old Jonathan while plunking on his dreadfully-out-of-tune guitar.

“Oh, children. I thought that you were enjoying our picnic,” said the very adult and reprehensi… I mean, responsible Countess Elizabeth. 

“There’s hardly anything left of Nic to pick on,” moaned Mina.

“You kids these days,” Elizabeth continued. “Let me tell you a story about patience. There was once a lonely little girl named Igorrina who lived just down the road in the haunted forest.”

“Is there any other kind of forest?” asked Mina.

“No. Now listen, my children of the night. Igorinna, who couldn’t even find a friend to play Toe Tag with, was convinced that there was nothing in her future. So, not giving a damn,  she always took her futen time doing things. She was never in a big hurry to go…anywhere. 

One day, Igorinna decided that she’d had enough of this world. She tied the end of a rope around the neck that connected her useless head to her nondescript body and the other end of the rope to a young spruce tree, determined to stay there until either death took her away or her dream-boy Prince Charmin’ arrived on his white steed to rescue her from her misery. Even the local wolves, lynx, and bears found Igorinna uninteresting and unappetizing. Poor Igorrina spent most of her life tied to that spruce tree in Hoia-Baciu Forest, watching the bats and ghosts fly by in the evening, while protected only by vicious badgers who lived in the dens that circled her. 

Why did they protect her? The badgers didn’t care for Igorrina, but were curious to see what might happen to her in the end. They kept her minimally fed with worms, grubs, and insects. Over time, Igorrina had begun to grow old and ugly while tied to the same branch of that same tree for forty-five years until …”

“Until what, Countess?” asked Jonathan. “A handsome woodsman came along?”

“Fah!” said Uncle Vlad.

“A knight in shining armor?” asked Mina.

“Fat futin’ chance!” said Elizabeth. “You children can be so gruesome.”

“Of course! The handsome prince!” said Granny Lupta Axe.

“No vay,” said Vlad. “Prince Charmin’, the ass vipe, never showed up.”

Elizabeth continued. “So, sad Igorrina sat, leaning against the tree trunk until, you know, one lovely grey day the spruce finally grew tall enough…tall enough to slowly pull Igorrina up by her neck and hang her.”

“No guano! That is so cool,” said Jonathan.

“Talk about patience!” said Mina.

“You kids should see her,” said Elizabeth. “Igorrina can wear a choker, a string of pearls, a locket, and ten necklaces…all at once!”

Vlad’s eyes seemed to catch fire. His mustache bristled. “Fute patience!” He pounded the table. “I vant all of the wisitors and tourists out of my castle! Now!”

“Boldizsár, I Came to Kick Your Bony Ass.” — from Bughouse (Halloween 2017)

Art by Anita Benson Bradley!

Boldizsár, I Came to Kick Your Bony Ass.” 

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Because of Laszlo’s large skeletal bald head, which appeared on the covers of all his novels, Laszlo Toth was easily recognized by his legions of fans. Though Laszlo became famous by writing about the supernatural, he based his novels on fact and prided himself on being a rational man.

Laszlo did believe in science and while studying genetics for his new novel, became involved with the a group called BlameYourAncestors.com. Within two weeks after sending their headquarters a DNA sample he discovered he was 87% Hungarian and, apparently, 13 percent cheese, citing a few stray genetic threads to Luxembourg, Switzerland and four other cheesy countries.

Thanks to BlameYourAncestors he was also able to narrow his search back his Hungarian family, the Tóths.

Anita's bald family copy

With a little bit of digging, he discovered a recent family portrait. The Tóths all looked ‘polished,’ like Laszlo. Cueballs. Melon heads. The men, women and children all suffered from a severe form of early male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia).

Laszlo sent more money to expand the DNA search and finally received the results that he’d been hoping for. The ‘bald problem’ that plagued his life was traced back to a   singular   human   monster.

Count Oszkár Tóth ruled 16th century Walachia and was buried at the Tóth Citadel churchyard in Ploiești.

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The Count once possessed long flowing locks that  made him look like a golden hero on the cover of a bodice-ripping romance novel. The vain Oszkár combed his proud mane day and night. One evening he summoned his magic golden comb — Yeah, right, Give me a break — only to find out that the comb had been stolen.

Oszkár’s mother, Cynthia, told her son that she had seen a well known local magician, Madik, running away from the castle and into the Nagyon Sotet (Very Dark) Forest carrying a shiny yellow object in his hand.

After apprehending Madik, Laszlo ordered the Magician to be burned at the stake. At the Barbeque, Laszlo, himself, was cursed by the magician’s wife, a powerful witch named Eegahd.

The next morning, as Oszkár combed, his glorious mane shed. The hair that made him such a ‘wench magnet’ fell to the ground.

As a result of the Eegahd’s curse, all of Count Oszkár’s children, male and female, became bald as well; that is until in October 31, 1712, when the entire clan were tortured, murdered, dismembered, and turned into a savory paprika goulash by a nomadic Gibors.

Only one Tóth escaped the massacre, the youngest noble in line, Boldizsár, who continued to selfishly spread the Tóth family curse throughout the western world.

“The Bastard!” Thoughts of revenge pushed their tendrils in into Laszlo’s rational mind. Online, he  hired úr Harker, a Hungarian scholar, to help him  track down Boldizsár’s resting place. That is when Laszlo  made the first irrational decision since his seventh marriage, to visit his cursed ancestor’s crypt and ‘kick his bony ass to Hell.’

The following October, before the frost set in, Laszlo made his trip, alone, to Walachia.

Unfazed by local superstition, Laszlo arrived ten minutes before midnight at Tóth Citadel in Ploiești., in the woods outside of Ploiești. He quietly drove his rent-a-car around the back to the cemetery, parked and opened the trunk and removed a new Road Rager Crowbar.

Laszlo found the rusty cemetery gate open, and by the light of the full moon, jimmied his way into the Tóth Mausoleum. Once inside, he lit his lantern, shooed away the vermin and began to go to work. He located the Count and slid the heavy lid off Boldizsár’s stone coffin.

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Jubilant, he dragged the Count’s loosely connected skeleton outside among the gravestones.

MIDNIGHT

Laszlo kicked Boldizsár’s bony ass all over the churchyard until he could kick no more. After a short rest and a drink from his flask, Laszlo dragged the broken parts back inside the mausoleum, dumped them back inside the coffin and took a cellphone photos —  one of the inscription on the wall above:

Lehet, hogy meghalt, de még mindig halott.’  

Balthizar 2

The author, satisfied with the bony ass kicking, didn’t review the inscription until he arrived back home in the states:

‘Lehet, hogy meghalt, Laszlo, de még mindig halott.’

Translation: 

“I may be dead, Laszlo, but you’re still bald.”

Shark Week is Upon us…and it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

https://www.amazon.com/Bloody-Good-True-Shark-Stories-ebook/dp/B00DU48RTY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8Cover Bloody Good 2013https://www.amazon.com/Bloody-Good-True-Shark-Stories-ebook/dp/B00DU48RTY/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Deep, Delicate, Fruity, Peppery and Elegant.

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REBIRTH

And hallelujah, Bernie Benedict was to be reborn.

A voice called him ‘apotheothenai’ during his dream. It meant that Bernie had become one of “the apotheosized ones, reborn as a god” just as Hercules and Dionysus had done before him.

Artemis had his body and soul expedited through the River Styx where it went through its final upgrade. Upon Bernie’s golden cart, were his accolades, a God Certificate, a custom monogrammed bathrobe, an official and uncomfortable  golden head wreath along with a fifty-dollar meal credit coupon for the Thank ME,  It’s Friday’s restaurant, inside the Olympus Mall.

After being boinked to death by the goddess Artemis, Bernie now resembled Cary Grant and was fully registered as an “unclassified god.”

He was assigned the new name, Cupcaecius and was given a temporary number by Zeus, until a new position on Olympus was created.

Cupcaecius #6753XB had become the newest addition to the great Pantheon on Mount Olympus, after the induction of Salsalius #6754XB, who’d been named “The God of Tacos.”

Cupcaecius emerged from the Styx coffee bar wearing his new bathrobe and holding a steaming cup of Dauna, the shark goddess’, premium blend, Warp-Speed-Get-The-Fuck-Outta-My-Way-Asshole coffee — a product of the blood-soaked island of Kupiao, Fiji.

______________________

A few hours later, Bernie found himself back in his earthly hotel room, watching The God Channel, back in Cleveland at the Flamingo Arms Hotel. The sun was up. Artemis was gone, but her intoxicating scent lingered on his lips; deep, delicate, fruity, peppery and elegant.

Bernie could only remember a few sexy seconds about his date night with the now devirginized Artemis on the moon — Whoa! — vowing that he’d never get that drunk again.

The next afternoon, Artemis and Bomba the Kitty God drove Bernie back up to Mount Olympus to buy more clothing. Still groggy, in his robe, he appeared to be like any other brain-dead god who’d ever been dragged through Olympus Mall. Artemis helped him find a few god-in-training outfits, comprising of a handsome selection of suits and day and evening wear imported from London’s Savile Row. No more blinding Bermuda shorts for the ex Bolsa Chico Surf Patrol Chief. He was now a god and was expected to dress accordingly.

Bernie, despite feeling drained of all bodily fluids, felt more fit than he’d ever felt when he was a lowly human bug.

The next morning, he would pack for a trip down to Earth, where all fucked-out and all reborn-n’-shit, he would join the other love of his life-death-life, Dauna, the shark goddess, at JFK Airport… where, if she saw his ruined chastity trap, there would be some ‘splainin’ to dooooooo.’

Next stop: The Battle Royale of the Shark Gods, on New Year’s Eve, in Jamaica Bay, in Fuckin’ New Yawk.

Love among the Thorns of Peonari Castle

JPEG Final Tragic Mountain LARGE FLATTENED copy

“Groan.”

“Vhat the fote????” Said Vlad.

“Grooooaaaannn…” said a voice from within the crowd of the newly ‘evolved’ Hell’s Angles architect/bikers.

“Grooooaaaannn!”

Vlad’s eyes, full of venom, scanned his new army for the source of the interruption. “Such impudence! Who…?”

“Grooooaaaannn…” said the walking-dead-as-a-walking-doornail wretched maidservant Penelope as she began to shamble between the motorcycles, through the thorns and down the moonlit hill.

Curious about the zombie’s motives, the crowd watched her in silence.

“Mwoooooohhhhh annnnhhh,” groaned piteous Penelope, continuing her trademark shamble.

“What did she say?” asked Chester. “Where is the unfortunate creature headed, Your Highness?”

The Countess Bathory answered, “Penelope is telling us that through these thorns (sniff), brambles, and poison ivy (sniff) is the path…to true love. She was always the optimist, that poor, poor shell of a woman.”

Penelope’s heartbreaking groans faded as she headed deeper into the dense brush. “Mnnnnnungph…!”

“Jeez, she smells,” said one of the newly badass-ed motorcyclists.

Which was a good thing, because…

Downwind, at Poenari Castle, Huthbert Grieves, Vlad’s downcast moping zombie butler, who had bravely remained behind to defend the castle, had caught a scent of something he hadn’t dreamt about for nearly two hundred years. His neck creaked as he looked up toward the ridge outside. No, not smell like  brains. What was that? He sniffed the air and inhelled a smell as sweet and familiar as dead flowers. “P-P-P-P-P…It’sssss herrrrrrr!” He dropped his serving tray and shambled toward the cold moonlight streaming through the window.

Huthbert’s first smile in centuries cracked the parchment skin around his dusty mouth. Her name, buried in his desiccated heart, rumbled and found its way out of his papery lungs and across the lolling stub that was once his tongue. The sound, seeking life, broke to the surface. “Peh-Pehnelllllopeeeee…”

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