100 WORD SKITTLE // Lay a Chocolate Egg

Rabbit jumped onto the road and froze in the headlights.

Well, this isn’t strictly true.

He did jump out but then opened up his cute plaid vest. The inside pockets were packed with chocolate eggs—you know, like they were bombs. Rabbit spat on the bitumen and hopped over to the car, all slow and menacing.

“Your carrots or your life!”

Driver doubled over the steering wheel in fits of wheezing laughter. What was this carjacker nonsense?! And Rabbit’s squeaking voice—how could she take that seriously? Driver laughed hard.

Rabbit sighed. He was sick of eating fucking Easter eggs!

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2021

100 WORD SKITTLE // Dungeons & Dudgeons

Maybe if I put the box on that switch over there, it will unlock this treasure chest over here?

Or is it better to draw a red line on the floor? Perhaps around the chest itself?

Do I need to play the right musical notes on my ocarina? Will that open it?

Our lucky ancestors! They just hid keys inside corsets and pantaloons, and didn’t concern themselves with strong passwords, magic runes or occult biometrics. Why must I sift through each and every freaking dungeon with a fine tooth and comb just to claim the Furadore’s mystical hairpin?

Completely unfair!

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2021

SCHEHERAZADE’S 1,001 BYTES // Let’s Knife!

Whilst investigating the case of a missing local fishmonger, a brave captain by the name of Beth Chan uncovered a legend about a cursed, weathered knife circulating throughout Africa. These two things were not at all related, and seeing as the knife sounded more interesting, Beth dropped the fishmonger case and went to Africa instead.

Well, we said Beth went to Africa but actually everything’s quick and easy only in fairytales. Of course, she first needed to investigate which African countries were open for entering from Sápmi, then pass the COVID-19 and serological tests, and fill in a hellscape of official papers and other such bullshit. (We sincerely think it would’ve been easier for Beth to find the missing fishmonger. Moreover, he wasn’t missing at all. He was just sleeping off a three day bender beneath the porch of the Screaming Barnacle.)

Anyway, back to Beth. Once she got into an African country with an unpronounceable name, she began to realise that she needed a bit more to go on than some old fishermen’s tales about a cursed, weathered knife circulating throughout Africa in order to find the cursed, weathered knife that was circulating through Africa. In fact, it could have been anywhere, and Africa was a ridiculously big place. Perhaps Beth ought to have secured herself some kind of mythical treasure map leading to said knife in the first place. This was like leaving for an opera performance without some bladder filtration device strapped inside your pants—she was woefully unprepared.

But Beth was a smart girl and she had a watertight plan. It was as simple as it was genius. If one thing was circulating through Africa and another thing was also circulating through Africa then obviously they would meet somewhere along the way. The odds were fifty-fifty as to whether they would meet or not. So, all Beth had to do was start circulating throughout Africa in order to run into the cursed, weathered knife that was also circulating through Africa. Clever, right?

And so that’s what Beth did. She circulated like a plastic bag in the wind, drifting here and there and everywhere. She flitted across the savannah, dodging the playful swats of lion paws and furry knob catching of giraffe heads. She swooped above the storm water drains of post-apartheid slums and weaved posthaste through the canopies of foreboding jungles. She floated around every nook and cranny and even bypassed a few choice fannies. She and the knife were sure to cross paths at some point. Even if it wasn’t inevitable, she would make it be, no matter what.

Now, back to the missing fishmonger. When he realised that no one was searching for him, he felt deeply insulted. So, he climbed out of the hole beneath the porch, brushed himself off, donned his fisherman’s cap, then curled his mustache and went to Africa. He was going to give that Beth Chan a right old talking to! Fancy calling yourself a ‘brave captain’ and then not following through on the expected heroics that accompany such a title! The bleedin’ cheek of her!

Of course, the fisherman had no idea where in Africa to begin looking. Perhaps if he relied on dumb luck then that might get him somewhere. He’d had dumb luck before, like the time when a great white shark tried to bite him in two but succeeded only in flossing its teeth with him. Who said losing weight and a strict yoga regimen wouldn’t have its benefits? Aye, not the fisherman!

Another thing that would have its benefits is filling you in on the cursed, weathered knife’s backstory. Why was it circulating throughout Africa? Where did it come from and where was it going? Was it circulating for love? Did it have hopes and dreams? Did it have a mother and a father? Was it carrying a gun? No one knew. All that was known was that everything the knife touched turned to sand. (Is this why Africa has an abundance of sand?) Oh, and we guess there was no gun because it would’ve been turned to sand with cute little sand bullets that crumbled amusingly between the eyes of would-be murder victims.

Anyway, we vividly remember that sunny day, the fifteenth of May. Or was it the rainy twenty-first of September? It might even have been Bavaria’s National Cow Milking Day. Whatever. It was a big day in Africa, not Bavaria. It was a day when, as crazy as it sounds, three parallel lines finally crossed. Beth, the fisherman and the cursed, weathered knife would actually meet.

This is how that went down: The fisherman saw Beth and slapped her upside the head with one of his wellies. Her head smacked into a wall, causing it to buckle then collapse in on itself… and a bunch of kittens that happened to be playing harmonicas nearby. Well, that shut them up quite definitively! However, the ghosts of said kittens were quick to take revenge, nudging the cursed, weathered knife onto a new trajectory, thudding it into the unsuspecting fisherman’s back. This, of course, turned him into sand. Let’s just say he’d had better days.

And so the amount of sand in Africa was increased and the amount of kittens playing harmonicas was decreased. Beth, meanwhile, had picked up the knife and was examining it carefully. You’re going to ask why she hadn’t turned into sand as well, aren’t you? Easy-peasy. She had taken one of the ghost kittens and wrapped it around her palm like a handkerchief. Everyone knows that if you touch a cursed, weathered knife circulating throughout Africa with the ghost of a freshly deceased kitten that used to play harmonica that all curses will be absolutely and irrevocably shattered! It’s science, don’t you know? Pure, unadulterated science!

Anyway, Beth returned home with the knife and now uses it in the kitchen when cooking with the fisherman’s widow (who, by the way, is pretty happy that her worthless hubby was never found).

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2021

Covid Diary pp. 33-34

‘Journeys end in lovers meeting.’

Dear Diary,

Why he’s quoting Shakespeare I will never know. Nor do I care to. Never in all my years did it occur to me that I would one day attract an internet stalker—but no matter. The fool clearly doesn’t know who he’s dealing with.

I started streaming late night gameplay because of boredom, the deadly scourge of security guards everywhere. Especially those, like myself, who prefer the evening shifts. I can’t imagine how our predecessors managed to kill the endless hours of tedium before the advent of smartphones and mobile internet. I’ve heard of reading, exercise or gorging until you puke, but even those activities must get old fast, mustn’t they? Hell, if I wasn’t so lazy I’d sooner be masturbating myself into a coma.

Anyway, my current game isn’t very original, but if truth be told I do love the hidden irony of it. In it I am a lycanthrope hunter, and I’m packing some serious heat—a flintlock blunderbuss to be precise. It’s a bugger to reload but boy does it punch through those candy-ass lycans like so much tissue paper! Yes, I admit I hate their sissy guts. They’re nothing like the lycans in real life, and they sure as hell don’t represent me!

And don’t even mention my character’s costume! Purple velvet knickers, high-heeled kinky boots, a lacy corset with an absolutely shameless décolletage, and a tiny calotte with a massive feather. I think everyone should fall dead if only because of the sight of my gaudy outfit. Or puke all over themselves at the very least.

It should be pointed out that this is what my character looks like. Not me. My character. I never show my face in the live stream. What the viewers get to see and hear is raw gameplay with my commentary. That’s it. So, this stalker has fallen in love with whatever idealised version he has of me in his head, a hypersexualised videogame character in a ridiculous, revealing outfit doing over the top, ridiculous things. I have to ask if he has ever met reality at any point in his life.

So, I’ve been streaming for a little while now, and my stalker didn’t start off being a stalker right out of the gate. If anything, he was positively charming and respectful… until the week before last. I quickly grew bored of his purple prose, self-referential jokes and fawning attention. He was clearly fancying us as something of an item—which clearly we were not. We never would be either. I hate liars.

So, you know what I did? I banned him. Even if he was the last man on Earth, I don’t fucking need him. But, of course, the banning was only the beginning of my troubles. The cowardly weasel somehow managed to hijack all my social media accounts and was soon spamming all my online haunts with naked photos where the faces were cropped out. Obviously, these images were meant to be of me. They weren’t but no one but this prick and I knew that.

Well, two can play at that game. Let the hunt begin!

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2021

ABSURDIS EXTREME // Case Study #6,027 [23/04/1998] by B.A. Loney

This is the story of my unfortunate and very short career in Hell. I hadn’t planned on visiting, let alone living there, but life will often throw these little surprises at you. It was so surprising that I forgot to pack some suntan lotion. And, sure, while there’s no actual sun in Hell, the Earth’s molten core may as well be the same thing.

Someone said I was lucky to be leaving the boondocks as they were miles from the nearest telephone or free WiFi—or pretty much anything really. That someone said I’d be moving to a place where hot water in the shower was no problem. That’s right. Hot water in Hell was actually hot, not like the lukewarm piss that dribbled down your face back where I came from. As a connoisseur of bathroom facilities, this was all I needed to clinch the deal.

So, no suntan lotion but plenty of hot water. What could go wrong? Well, plenty as it happens. I hadn’t counted on the natives. Those fucking feral natives! They were… well, strange. And not only because they wore iridium rings in their nostrils and braided chest hair. Nope. It was something else. It was the fact that they wore open business jackets and aviator goggles, but no pants. And they’d fly over you with those huge, leathery wings in the hopes of landing a huge shit on your head. What fucking weirdos!

Also, they were eager wranglers—like they’d been watching too many cowboy movies. I would even say it was their cacoethes (fancy word there). Firstly it scared me, then it became merely rather irritating. Being shat on then lassoed and transported to another postcode in Hell would really put a crimp on anyone’s day. The psychotic bastards just couldn’t help themselves! But I did eventually get used to it—strange as it soundsand even realised that I could turn this to my benefit. That’s right, I eventually figured out that I might be able to use them as free transportation to work and back instead of dialing an Uber. All I had to do was steer them like I was paragliding or something. Sure, they’d probably shit on you the entire way but all I’d need to do is wear a disposable raincoat and hat to compensate for this, and change into my work uniform when I arrived at the office.

Of course, you’re going to ask how any of this concerns science. Well, it has a direct and vital correlation with science! My top priority when I accepted the offer from Hell was not hot water and free transport (even though these tipped me over into saying yes). No, it was the chance to join an unique project where the most talented scientists from throughout time—from Jabir ibn Hayyan to Ortizphine Hunterpin CCCXXV—would study the cellular dehydration and osmoreceptor stimulation of Pompeii worms. Any true intellect would eat their own hat with a side order of fries from envy!

Such a pity that I never made it there. To work, I mean. It turns out that steering a batshit crazy demon just isn’t possible. It’s like trying to wrestle a rabid wolverine towards an anger management class. So, I would spend hours trying to reach my destination, only to end up nosediving into the roof of somebody’s house—all while covered in shit, of course. Can’t forget the shit!

So naturally, I was soon kicked back up to Earth for my constant tardiness. Scientists prefer it if you’re punctual. Bureaucracy is hell, man!

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2021