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First pages

1

A vociferous crowd flooded into an old, rickety theater in the middle of a ghost town in Arizona. The red-bricked travesty served as a home for an old man named Angus that found it entertaining to hire ridiculous acts to perform on the weekends for no money, and only a promise to be exposed to the top agents in the entertainment business. Of course, his promises meant as much as the dirt he walked on, for he was a lunatic, and spinning a web of lies to deceive people kept him hanging on to life. In truth, he just happened to wander into the place one day, found it empty, and took up residence along with hundreds of rodents. After a while, however, he became bored and then came up with the scheme to hire acts to perform with the notion they had a chance to obtain a real job in show business. People believed him, he could be quite convincing; he practiced daily talking to the rodents and even convinced himself they agreed to share in the profits by helping keep the place clean. They did a terrific job, eating every morsel of food dropped by the patrons, and licking up every drop of soda spilled on the floor. Ah, he was such a cunning, old man. However, he was also an old man with a problem. He stumbled onto a dark secret about the world in his sermons to the rats, and tonight, had something very special planned for his guests.

At the front entrance, an elongated sign with flashing letters welcomed the victims to attend the festivities. The sign read; the Vulgar Bat, a name Angus dedicated to the memory of his deceased mother-in-law. She was always drunk and hounded him every day of his life to get a job, but then one fatal day, she accidently slipped on a banana peel at the top of the Empire State Building. Angus happened to be with her at the time and denied any knowledge of seeing a peel. He claimed she was a huge King Kong fan and wanted to re-enact the finale. It was such a sight, he told the police in tears, a beautiful sight, something he would remember for the rest of his life. The police let him go thinking he in mourning, and good thing too! If they had done blood tests on him, they would have detected high amounts of potassium.

Surprisingly, the theater filled half the seats every show despite the poor conditions. Once an old saloon, the establishment had been through many changes over the years. Angus tried making it a nightclub, a function hall, and a movie theater before turning the place into a live performance auditorium for specialty acts in the tradition of vaudeville. The theater itself never changed, just the function of it. The place seated about five-hundred people, not comfortably and on torn, unstable chairs. Only on one occasion did it fill to capacity, and that was only because Angus advertised a real act, albeit a comedian that had been deceased for 13 years. The crowd was pissed that night, especially when Angus announced the comedian failed to show and as compensation, he gave everyone a free bag of peanuts – he was a cunning, old man.

 

Inside the dark theater, Channon leaned back in his cushioned seat and took a drink of his soda. The bolts gave out on his chair, sending him sprawling backwards. His face immediately went flush, embarrassed to see every person in attendance looking in his direction. “I really hate this place,” Channon whispered to his girlfriend, Kara. She just chuckled at his uneasiness.

“Oh, come on, you asked for it,” she said, nudging his seat. “This is what you get for taking me to a piss-hole place like this, especially on our anniversary.”

“Stop it,” Channon whispered from his knees, struggling to put the bolts back. Every time he slid a bolt in, she rocked the seat, and it popped right out.

“If you feel a nibble on your ass down there, it is just a rat so don’t worry,” She said, smiling.

Channon jammed the bolts into place with his fist. “They really need to renovate this place, especially the prices they charge for admission. And I think a rat pissed in my soda. No wonder why it was free.”

Despite the rancid conditions, Channon really enjoyed attending the theater every Saturday night to see amateur hour. Watching one bad performance after another was enough entertainment to remind him there were people out there worse off than himself. However, when he heard his co-worker Rusty would be performing tonight – this almost made him consider staying home and hanging himself. He really disliked Rusty.

Channon’s eyelids began to close after settling back in his seat, when suddenly a loud crash followed by a scream erupted behind him. The balcony, considered a high-risk (wear a helmet) area, at last had given way to an unlucky guest. A young heavy-set man came crashing through the floor, crushing the person underneath. The unfortunate victim below, a short bald man, had his head impounded into his shoulders.

The bald man immediately went into spasms causing his body to walk down the aisle like a headless zombie. When the man finally collapsed to the floor, everyone clapped thinking it was part of the show. The crowd then went silent, waiting for the man to get up and take a bow. When nothing happened for several minutes, the people just went back to what they were doing before the incident. The heavy-set man, his seating view now having improved, found his box of popcorn on the ground and continued eating as if this were an everyday occurrence.

“This place is getting wackier every week,” Channon whispered.

“Yes,” Kara said. “That definitely topped your chair breaking. Maybe you could fall out of the balcony onto someone’s head.”

Channon smirked in disgust. “It’s too late now, it’s already been done. You have to remember, never repeat the same stunt twice. It just loses something the second time around.”

“Yeh, well, I’m sure you will think of something.”

It had been four years since Channon started dating Kara and he often wondered what she saw in him. He had little money, average looks, and aspired to be nothing more than a dysfunctional recluse – actually, he would be lucky to find a pet monkey willing to come home with him. He considered himself extremely fortunate to be with her. She had everything he ever wanted in a woman. She was beautiful, had a good job, and she had a personality something close to a circus clown. She was the complete package to him.

“When is the show going to start,” Kara said, sipping Channon’s soda and spitting it out immediately after. “You’re right, this does taste like a rat pissed in it.”

Channon glanced over at Kara and winked. She possessed natural beauty with her enchanting blue eyes and long flowing brown hair, but had a tendency to wear too much makeup. Channon, at times, thought her makeup complimented her already beautiful features; however, this evening, the heavy blue eyeliner and shiny pink glossed lips gave her the appearance similar to a kewpie doll. Channon would not have minded, but people kept offering him money to buy her. The low bids certainly did not make him feel good about himself.

Watching the crowd pour into the theater, Channon’s face contorted into a visage of disgust and his hands firmly clenched the sides of his seat when he saw the president of his company stroll by. “Oh no, Stewart Brown is here.”

“Oh, so what, just ignore him,” Kara responded.

Steward Brown was the president of Hellz Puppets, a company that manufactured all types of puppets of the macabre that often showed an extremity of bad taste. Stewart was as much an oddity as his puppets were demented. He was never married, nor had he shown an interest in females or males. He did however have a fetish for puppets and fruit. He was in his early fifties, always donning a suit from the twenties that consisted of a peach colored shirt, a silk tie with diagonal stripes secured with a tiepin, and a black bowler hat. The attire he wore along with his fragile string pale body, large forehead, and thinning gray hair gave him a freakish kind of look. Even the wide brimmed glasses he wore seemed anachronistic somehow belonging to a sixteenth century style that magnified his eyes about five times their normal size.

Seeing Brown here reminded Channon of his miserable job. The company was not too popular with the ‘family value’ crowd. After all, parents did not want their kids playing with dolls that threw up or peed on them. An employee of Hellz Puppets for three years, Channon recruited a variety of shops to sell the puppets. This required him to travel and visit potential prospects, always greeted by the most bizarre individuals in the industry. He gave a slight smile, remembering one prospect insisting he talk to a sock puppet instead of the prospect directly. Channon enjoyed that until orderlies from a mental ward came and took the man's puppet away. What a shame. He found the entire conversation quite entertaining.

The lights slowly dimmed, the curtains withdrew, the show was about to begin. “It's about time,” Kara complained.

In every person's lifetime, there are certain events likely to leave a lasting impression for good or for worse; Channon felt this opening act could permanently scar him for life. A spotlight hit center stage illuminating a chimpanzee dressed in a tuxedo. The animal stood there, head held high, holding a microphone to his lips. Music erupted from the theater speakers. The song was, “My Way” by Frank Sinatra. The animal, lip-synching the words, walked back and forth on stage as if he was the great Sinatra himself. In the final chorus, he pumped his fists up in the air three times before delivering the final words: “Yes...it was my way!”

The crowd cheered in excitement. The chimpanzee stood motionless for a few moments before taking a bow as the curtains closed.

“What the hell was that? Are you kidding me?” Channon’s face went flush.

“I thought he was pretty good,” Kara said.

“I hope it gets better than this.”

There was never an introduction between acts. The audience relied upon reading hand-drawn pamphlets to distinguish the identities of the performers. Once the curtains closed, the next act would have a few moments to get ready before the curtains would open again. The owner claimed this would add more suspense to the anticipation and mystery of the next act, but in reality, everyone knew that the owner was really too cheap to hire someone to introduce the performers.

The curtains opened to a man dressed in a white spandex suit, skipping rope. He skipped for about five minutes before doing somersaults. Then he landed on his head, snapping his neck instantly. The crowd mumbled amongst themselves as the acrobat’s body remained motionless on the stage, quite dead. The curtains closed.

“Things are improving,” Channon said, his face brightening.

“You’re sick,” Kara chided.

Channon’s amber eyes sparkled, and he leaned back in his seat. The chair broke again, sending him backward. The person behind him spilled their popcorn and soda all over him.

Kara laughed and Channon’s lips curled in disgust.

“Very funny,” Channon said. “They really need to fix these chairs.”

“Sorry,” she said with a slight grin. “Are you ok?”

Channon stood up, wiping the popcorn from his black shirt. “Just embarrassed,” he said, taking the seat on the other side of Kara.

The next act took a bit longer to assemble. The curtains finally opened after a fifteen-minute delay.

On stage, a frizzy-blond haired man dressed in a purple suit sat at a piano. He began playing “How Much Is That Doggy in the Window” while barking like a dog. He made it about halfway through the song before his piano exploded. The man’s body parts flew in various directions. Some poor bastard sitting in the front row got drenched in blood.

Next to the man covered in blood was a burly middle-aged man in a white t-shirt and hospital pants. He stood up clapping. Minskee was his name and he loved explosions. “Bravo! Bravo!” he shouted, clapping the entire time.

A couple of hospital orderlies entered the theater, carrying a straitjacket. “Minskee, there you are! Come on, you have to go home.”

Minskee’s eyes widened. “No, you’re not taking me back, I didn’t do it…” Minskee grabbed his balding head with both hands, trying to rip out what little hair he had left. “Ok, ok, I did it, I can’t help myself. I did it. I blew up the piano.”

The men chased him around a bit, finally cornering him and binding him in the jacket. Then they removed him from the premises. Channon felt an uncontrollable surge of elation. Tonight’s entertainment included three deaths and an escaped lunatic with a natural inclination to blow things up – no show in the world could top this.

Channon checked his watch. It was 9:50. According to the pamphlet, there would be one more act - The Rusty and Punchy Show. “Well, all that is left is Rusty so we can go if you want.”

“Don't be a wimp, I'm curious,” Kara said.

“Wake me when it is over,” Channon said, closing his eyes.

The curtains opened for the last act. Rusty, dressed in a brightly colored motley patterned jester costume, sat on a small wooden stool with his puppet Punchy. Each time Rusty moved his head, his three pointed cap ’n bells jingled. Rusty was a short scrawny looking fellow with red curly hair, glasses, and many freckles. The expression on his face was of complete horror. He looked down at his puppet, expecting the doll to do something, and then stared blankly into the crowd.

The puppet reminded Channon of a cartoon vagabond, having a round face, red nose, rosy cheeks, circular black eyes, and a plaid cap on top of curly yellow hair. Punchy’s outfit consisted of tan overalls and a red tie.

“Hi, my name is Rusty,” Rusty began, “and this is my friend, Punchy.” Rusty turned his head toward Punchy.

“Would you like to say hi to the crowd Punchy?” The puppet did not move.

Channon started to feel sick. “Minskee, bring Minskee back. We need him more now than ever.”

“Will you shut up,” Kara whispered harshly, embarrassed by Channon's antics.

Beads of sweat began to pour down Rusty's forehead. “Punchy has an interesting story to tell everyone.” Rusty shook the puppet a bit as if trying to wake the thing up. “Go ahead Punchy, don't be shy. Tell everyone what happened to you today.” Again, the puppet did not move. Rusty tried to speak in a child-like voice, pretending as if the voice emitted from Punchy. He did not even bother disguising his lips. “Why were the suspenders arrested,” Rusty said, and then paused a moment. “For holding up a pair of pants.”

Not a single person laughed. Rusty adjusted his glasses. “Why did the baker rob a bank?” Rusty paused a few moments before delivering the punch line. “Because he needed the dough.”

At this point, the audience started throwing popcorn and soda on stage. The curtains immediately closed and the lights went on, signaling the show was over. The crowd began to filter out. Channon was snoring. Not surprisingly, Kara was asleep as well.

Only one person stood up and cheered - Stewart Brown. He pumped his fists into the air with joy and tears gleaming in his eyes. “Encore, encore, that Punchy was brilliant,” he shouted. “Brilliant!”

***

An hour later, Channon and Kara woke to what appeared to be a woman's scream. Stewart came running out from backstage, both arms outstretched in the air, screaming in a high-pitched voice. “Rusty’s dead and Punchy's gone! Punchy's gone!” Stewart continued to run up the aisle and then dashed out of the theater. His screams could still be heard outside the place.

Channon and Kara went backstage to validate Stewart’s story. It was true. Rusty was lying on the floor with a knife protruding from his back. Punchy was nowhere in sight. Channon could have sworn that he caught a glimpse of a dwarf and a tall man pass by in the shadows, but shook it off as pure fantasy. Another peculiar thing struck him as odd. He saw tiny footprints on the floor, the size of a puppet’s foot.

Angus sauntered into the room with his head lowered. His face appeared ancient, a mask of wrinkled flesh with cloudy eyes, a blind man’s eyes, although those white embers locked onto Channon with little trouble. “At last, I have found you.”

“What do you mean, you found me?” Channon asked. The old man was obviously senile.

“You are the chosen one, the one I have been expecting to save the world.” Angus shuffled over to an iron box with the help of a cane. He opened the box and pulled out a shortened rifle, a weapon that resembled Mare’s Leg from the show Wanted: Dead or Alive. Angus tried to hand the weapon to Channon.

“I don’t want that,” Channon said, shaking his head.

“You must take it,” Angus said. “You must defeat the Gelimon. They have opened a rift in this world, have unbalanced the universe, and it is your task to stop them and set things right.”

“You are a crazy old fool, aren’t you?” Channon was in no mood to humor the man.

“Oh, don’t be mean,” Kara finally spoke. “He reminds me of my grandfather.”

“You must listen to me,” Angus pleaded. “You were the chosen one. It is your destiny to save us all.”

“How was I chosen?” Channon decided to play along after all. “Did God speak to you? Did you have a vision? Did a prophet visit you in the night?”

“No,” Angus replied, shaking his head. “None of those things; you drank the soda with the rat piss. I had given away fifty sodas tonight. One of them contained rat piss. I knew the one that drank the rat piss was the chosen one. You are the chosen one!”

“You son-of-a-bitch, I knew it.” Channon attempted to strangle the man, but Kara held him back.”

“Relax, he is old.” Kara tried to reason with Channon, but his faced boiled over with rage and he almost trampled over her to get to Angus.

Just then, two puppets dressed like clowns fell from the ceiling and tried to wrestle the rifle out of Angus’s hands. Channon hardly believed what he was seeing. Instinctively, he tore the puppets from the old man and threw them to the ground.

“You will never win,” one of the puppets shouted and then leaped into the shadows. Angus worked the lever on the rifle and shot at the remaining one, but the puppet scampered away without injury.

“What the hell was that?” Channon wiped his eyes, and pinched himself. He was convinced this had to be a dream.

“They are defectors,” Angus said. “They help the Gelimon. You must seek the Great Watuka. He will help you build an army of puppets to fight the Gelimon. Beware the Gelimon, they will look like normal people and try to fool you into thinking they are humans. They will be hard to distinguish from the people you encounter, but you must stop them.”

“I’m not shooting any jelly men with your gun. I could kill someone.” Channon looked at Kara. “Come on; let us get out of here.”

“Gelimon! Gelimon! Not Jelly Men! And the gun cannot hurt humans, only the Gelimon.” Angus forced the rifle into Channon’s hand. “It is a remarkable weapon. Each time you cycle the lever it summons a mystical bullet into the chamber. It has no limits to the amount of bullets it can summon. If you shoot a human, you will give them a nice welt. If you shoot a Gelimon, they will turn to mush. You must close the rift and send the Gelimon back. You are the chosen one.”

Angus scuttled out of the room like a giant rat before Channon could give the rifle back. Channon shook his head at the old man, but decided to keep the gun. It was a nice souvenir, after all.

Unbeknownst to Channon and Kara, hiding in the shadows behind them, a malicious plan began forming in the mind of an evil dwarf. The dwarf held Punchy in his hands; the puppets mouth was covered with a cloth. The dwarf watched Channon and Kara leave and then whispered, “The chosen one will die.”

2

Channon tossed and turned in bed unable to overcome a sudden madness, a horrible torment -- the beastly sounds of Kara snoring. He turned and glanced at her, unable to fathom how she could produce something so hideous. The noise she produced rivaled the fiercest of lightning storms, and caused a tremor that knocked him to the floor. He shook his head in frustration, watching her sleeping soundly without a care in the world while he suffered.

He tried pushing, slapping, even peeing on her, but nothing seemed to make her stop. Frustrated, he got out of bed and grabbed the rifle off his bureau. Angus had said it would not harm humans, only Gelimon. Perhaps Kara was a Gelimon? No human could produce such an agonizing sound. The room continued to tremor as he stood there looking at Kara’s leg that had poked out from the sheets. If he aimed for the leg, he would only wound her slightly if the rifle contained real bullets. To add to his troubles, a thunderstorm suddenly erupted and it was like two mating whales calling to each other. Channon glared at Kara. It had to be done. He took aim and fired.

Kara leaped up from the bed screaming, grabbing her leg. The mystical bullet had left a small welt on her smooth, soft limb. “What the hell are you doing? Are you crazy?”

“Ah…Ah…” Channon stumbled over his words unable to come up with something quick to appease her. “It was an accident. I was just admiring the gun and accidently pulled the trigger. Honest mistake.”

The appeasing had no effect on Kara. She grabbed a small lamp from her nightstand, unplugged it, and began whipping him with the cord. “I’ll show you an accident. Good thing there wasn’t real bullets in that thing or I might have lost a leg you son-of-a-bitch.”

Channon did the only thing he could do – he ran. He dashed out to the living room and hid behind the coach. When he heard the bedroom door slam behind him, he knew he was safe. That was close, he thought. If he had stayed in the bedroom, he never would have gotten any sleep. At least he had the couch.

At peace finally, he settled upon the sofa. The cushions were a bit harder than he liked, but at least he only had to deal with the thunder. Thirty minutes passed and his eyelids closed, only to be opened again by a hauntingly familiar voice. No, this cannot be, he thought. The voice was so sinister, so evil. An overwhelming impulse to end his life took hold of him and he fought fiercely to resist the temptation.

“It’s time for the Rusty and Punchy show,” the voice said.

Channon immediately sat up, alarmed that somehow Rusty was still alive and now in his living room. Utter shock slapped him as if someone smashed an iron hammer over his head and bile rose up in his throat. In front of his TV, sitting in a chair, was a ghostly figure of Rusty, holding Punchy, reciting the same stupid jokes he performed in the theater. Channon just watched in horror, the same show over and over again. It was more than anyone no matter how deserving, should have to endure.

***

The alarm clock woke Kara. She rolled out of bed and rubbed around the bruise on her leg. It was already starting to heal and it itched terribly. The sight of the wound angered her, made her contemplate devious plots to get even with Channon. He would pay. She had ways to make him suffer, incomprehensible things, like inviting her mother and father over for breakfast. Oh that would do it, make him sit at the kitchen table and endure their conversation for hours. They always pelted him with questions; loony questions about his job, about his clothes, his hair, nothing was off limits. All he could do was sit, take the beating, and squirm in his seat.

Kara slipped on a dress and entered the living room. Her eyes widened when she noticed Channon on the couch. His skin displayed an unnatural pale-blue color, sat comatose staring blankly at the TV. Kara shook him violently, but he did not respond. Panicking, she dialed 911. “Oh Channon, what is wrong with you? How are you going to answer questions when my parents come over? Damn you, you always manage to escape retribution.”

An ambulance shortly arrived and parked across the street. Kara looked out the living room window and watched the paramedics hack down the front door of the neighbor’s house with an axe. She opened the window and shouted out, “Over here, you idiots!”

Five hours later, Channon and Kara arrived at the hospital. They would have gotten there sooner, but the driver, being only three-feet tall, kept falling out of the vehicle. Apparently, every time they ran over a bump, he flew out the side window causing the ambulance to sputter off into a telephone poll or parked car. After each crash, a taxi brought a replacement driver but it was always someone under three feet, and the person always managed to bounce out the window hitting a bump – hence the massive delay at arriving at the hospital.

The emergency room looked like a scene from a horror movie. People moaned while leaning against walls, sitting in garbage cans, or lying on the floor while bleeding profusely. No one seemed to help or care. Kara entered the emergency room pushing a wheelchair, occupied by the still comatose Channon. Behind the check-in desk, the receptionist was having a conversation with a sock puppet. The woman refused to acknowledge anyone in line. Kara waived her hands in front of the woman’s face, yelled at the top of her lungs, but the woman would not break her conversation with the puppet. Had the world gone insane? Maybe Angus was right and the world had been swung out of balance.

A pair of burly looking orderlies, one of them screaming profanities, pushed a bed with a very small lump covered by a sheet. They had emerged from the swinging doors that led to and from the emergency medical treatment room. They hastily began darting in and out of the room, obviously confused, and repeatedly running over some old man lying on the floor that appeared to have died from excessive waiting.

A middle-age bearded man named Kevin, dressed in a white lab coat, shouted at them to stop. When Kevin questioned them, they responded they were looking for the operating room. The bearded man pulled back the sheets on the stretcher, revealing a Barbie doll.

“What is going on here?” Kevin demanded.

One of the orderlies, dressed in a postal jacket and cap screamed, “Shut up you jerk!”

“Are you crazy man?” Kevin shouted back. “This is a doll. What are you doing?”

The orderly in the cap spotted a Twinkie on the floor and dove at it. He stuffed the pastry in his mouth, licking his lips afterward.

“Who assigned you both to this position? Obviously, you two are not working with a full deck of cards.”

The orderlies just stood there, shaking their heads and screaming obscenities back at him.

A young girl walked by eating a banana. The orderly in the cap snatched it from her hands and stuffed it in his mouth in a single motion. The girl stormed off crying. Frustrated, Kevin told them both to leave. They disappeared back through the doors, once again running over the dead man on the floor.

Kara shook her head in confusion. She noticed Channon still clutched the rifle in his hands and she reached out for it and then hastily pulled back. No, this is madness, she thought. These people have to be real, they can’t be Gelimon. She circled the wheelchair several times to cool down and then continued to observe the people around her.

A police officer with orange spiked hair and a big nose took notice of the body on the floor, and approached Kevin. “Hey, can’t you do something about this?” the officer asked.

Kevin looked down upon the floor. “He’s dead, what do you want me to do?”

“Is this common practice?”

Kevin’s facial expression hardened. “Just push him out of the way or arrest him. You can take him if you want him.”

“He’s dead sir.”

Kevin walked over to an intercom on the wall, pressing the button to activate the device. “Barry, can you come down to the emergency room, we have a situation here.”

“What’s your name officer?”

“Brody,” the officer responded. “Whom did you just call?”

“I called my boss, Barry. I’m going to have to get clearance to get this body out of the way.”

Several minutes passed and a short heavy-set man with a balding head and glasses emerged from a room next to where Kevin pressed the button.

“What’s the problem here?” Barry asked.

“This body is blocking the hallway,” Kevin said.

Barry looked down at the body. “Just push him aside, what’s the issue?”

“But he’s dead sir,” Officer Brody fumed.

“Then he won’t mind waiting like everyone else,” Barry said, rolling his eyes. Saliva dripped from his lips when he noticed an empty Twinkie wrapper on the floor. The wrapper really annoyed him. He was hungry.

“That’s exactly my point sir, why is there a dead body in your waiting room? Shouldn’t you move him? Is this common practice in your facility?”

Barry stomped over to the intercom. “Tim, can you come down to the emergency room please.”

Brody stood in complete disbelief. “Whom did you just call?”

“I called my boss, I have to get clearance to move a dead body.” Barry walked over to stand next to Kevin. Both of them bickered at each other while waiting for Tim.

Again, after several minutes, another man emerged from the same room that Barry had just come out of previously. This man appeared to be in his early forties with grey hair and a glass eye. He wore pink panties and a leather vest. “What’s going on?”

At this point, Brody was ready to arrest them all. The fact that this man was wearing pink panties did not even bother the officer. “I just want you to get this damn body out of here? Are you people nuts? Is this a circus or a hospital?”

Tim swung his arms up and down like a bird and turned to Barry. “Barry, can you tell the officer that I need to get in touch with my boss. And then I’ll have this body out of here in no time.”

“I’m standing right here you idiot!” Officer Brody said haughtily. “I can hear your.”

Tim remained transfixed on Barry. “Barry, can you tell the officer that I can’t move the body until I call my boss.”

The officer left.

The three hospital workers stood there looking at the body, trying to figure out what they should do. Tim finally spoke up. “Kevin, can you tell Barry that the smell is ruining my lunch. Can’t you two do something about him? Put him in a closet or something, I don’t care, just get him out of here.”

Kevin and Barry dragged the body into the men’s room. They took down the man’s pants and put him on a toilet, locking the stall door. The smell in there was rancid.

“That takes care of that,” Barry said. “How many is that?”

Kevin started counting on his left hand. “I think that makes four this week.”

“Well, we better clear out the bodies soon or get more stalls.”

Several hours went by and Kara tried talking to the receptionist again, but was unable to ascertain if the person could actually understand her. Just as Kara was about to go sit down again, a slim nurse with curly blond hair appeared at the desk and escorted Channon and Kara to a small room with lots of towels, a bucket, a mop, and medical supplies. Evidently, the nurse mistook the closet for a waiting room. It only took another two hours before the nurse realized her mistake, finding Channon and Kara by accident, and asking them to register all over again.

Eight hours passed in the waiting room. Kara sniffed the air, noticing a really foul smell. For the first time, she got a good look at the room, noticing that she was actually in the hospital morgue. The nurse had told Kara the registration process in this waiting room would be much faster, but once again, led her astray.

Early the next morning, Kara and Channon found a hospital room with the help of three doctors and two nurses and one janitor; actually, the janitor found the room, but the doctors and nurses came along since they had trouble themselves finding the patient rooms. Channon, propped up upon a bed, blinked his eyes. His bodily functions were slowly coming back to him. Kara sat beside him, holding his hand, hoping he would snap out of this trance so they could get out of this insane asylum. She tried to understand why he went into such a shock. What could have done this to him?

The door to the room opened, and a man in a squeaky wheelchair came rolling in. The man, smoking a cigarette, had short blond hair and sunglasses. Kara was not sure if he was a doctor because of the black tailored suite he wore. Kara found it strange that the man also wore a black leather glove on one hand.

“Good evening,” the man said with a permanently fixed chiseled grin.

“Who are you?” Kara asked.

The man took a puff of his cigarette, his arm shaking the entire time. “I am Dr. Lovestranger.”


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Eric was born in Massachusetts, and still resides there with his wife, two sons, and three cats. He has always been interested in creating imaginary worlds and interesting characters, ever since he was introduced to science fiction and fantasy. Take the Puppet and Run is a complete reversal of what he normally writes, inspired by the likes of Monty Python, Marx Brothers, and Bruce Campbell.

Q. What is the inspiration for the story?
A.
Monty Python, Evil Dead, and the Marx Brothers are probably the heaviest influences on this story. I wanted to write something crazy and funny without restraint. The Wild Wild West also has a big influence.
Q. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from this book?
A.
Bruce Campbell of course since his character Ash from the evil dead inspired the main character.
Q. Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?
A.
Yes. Beware the Gelimon.

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