Cardiac Zack’s Healthy Human Shack (an animatronic horror tale)

Holden Geats makes his scratch snapping pictures of abandoned places, and he’s heard of a new one: a kid-centric educational play place about the human body.  A quick bribe and he’s in, only the singing and dancing animatronics populating the place didn’t exactly get the ‘abandoned’ memo…

Cardiac Zack’s Healthy Human Shack

by

Blaine Arcade

Sometimes it was difficult to get all the animals out of the way. Bugs were the worst of course, too small to shoo and too fast in flight to keep their trails out of the shafts of light coming through any fissures in the ceiling. They weren’t the only ones though: birds, rats, cats, and occasionally frogs tried to ruin it too.

An indoor miniature golf course where the artificial turf now had mountain ranges of artfully-fallen ceiling plaster. A former public park where vines with sunhat leaves had eaten a listing seesaw. The outdoor section of a dilapidated lawn goods store, a flock of plastic herons standing vigilant even though their feathers and eyes had peeled white.

Every shot was devoid of live animals, but there was a big one just behind the lens, and his name was Holden Geats. Snapping pictures was his livelihood, and what renown he had came from his very narrow purview, as he only sold pictures of a world abandoned, of a speculative future Earth where mankind had vanished months or years prior achieved by finding the quiet little places that found themselves for a time unprofitable, suitable for investment only to Mother Nature herself. Continue reading

Jesus has the Wheels

(reading time: 25 minutes)

Jesus has the Wheels

by

Blaine Arcade

It was rare to see such a nice car in Watershed, and even rarer to see one driving with purpose, never stopping once for the driver to swear at their GPS until it got them out of that mosquito-infested and mosquito-invested bog that called itself a town.

Tom knew cars, on account of a few years working as a mechanic, and he couldn’t recall if he’d ever even worked on such a fine piece of machinery. He expected it to drive on by, as nobody sitting in that sort of thing could have any business with him, but it stopped, for the first time in days, at the foot of his gravel driveway. Continue reading

Big-Saw-in-Law

Glassy eyes, gaping mouths, matted fur…  Sports mascots are supposed to be fun, but if you see them in the wrong light you can feel a jolt of fear.  What if they weren’t just a joke?  What if they were as alive as anything else, with their own instincts and hungers?

(reading time: 1 hour, 7 minutes)

Big-Saw-In-Law

by

Blaine Arcade

The Kleinbury High Spinners were up three games that season so far, so morale had improved in the neighborhood. Perhaps enough that he could return uneventfully, which was what Kevin Woods tried that Saturday afternoon. He was never the biggest football fan, more of a baseball guy as he always told people, but his son Matt was on the team. Continue reading

Ad Space

(reading time: 7 minutes)

Ad Space

by

Blaine Arcade

(Legal Disclosure: This work of fiction has been filtered and modified by the United States Ad Plus Council Algorithm, copyright 2036. In compliance with the Corporate Ignorance Prevention Act, all unbranded products and services have been claimed within the text by competitive interests in your area for your convenience.)

A subsidiary of OntheNose Advertising Solutions® was not ready for bad news that day, big or small, but he got it in DigwellTM spades. It started with his Goldenbrowner® toaster, which was supposed to spit out a crispy image of his favorite actress on every HeatzaPizza® slice, but just kept giving him a burned specter, like a lit Ashlesswonder® cigarette positioned just under her face on an old Popcorn Comet Studios® film strip.

He tried calling customer service, but had mistakenly identified his Goldenbrowner® as a ThricecrispyTM thanks to the advertisement on its side. Clever of them to buy up the space on their competitor’s flank, probably owing to some rapid refreshing on a web page by one of the lowly employees during Goldenbrowner®’s attempt to register their paperwork.

The subsidiary then called the correct number, but got an automated response. He gave up and ate the burned horror. It was his own fault, especially given that he’d been doing the same sort of thing professionally for nearly five years now. He was tattooed, head to toe, in advertisements of his own, for everything from Ironsmack® roofing nails to FirmSolutions® gynecological services. As a walking billboard he brought in nearly 200 dollars a day, and all he had to do was leave his Luxuryabound® apartment and walk about downtown, with his rate doubled during rush hour.

There were a few other little tricks to squeeze out extra, like the contacts he put in that looked like SafetravelsTM tires.

They kept him sheltered and fed anyway, but it was the medication that was really doing him in financially. The burned TexasTitan® toast was still better than the six horse pills he had to buck down every morning, and all because of the damn doctor’s terrible SouthernGentleman® penmanship.

It was supposed to be an Organizingqueen® routine procedure, removing a nodule on his HappyFarmsChickens® liver, but surgeons legally had to sign their work these days, given that they’d been declared artists and had to assert their copyright. The signing was done with a CleanScorch® cauterizing pen, but the quack who had his hands inside the subsidiary decided to write so big it crossed both lobes. Now he had scarring impairing liver function.

The real bad DailyNightly© news hit, the big stuff, in the form of a letter. He unwrapped the first advertising StationLarryTM envelope, the second, the third, leaving a pile like Christmas morning on his BigStoneBoysTM countertop. It was from his lawyer. They lost the TailoredSublime® suit. He would receive no financial compensation for the scarring. The judge had ruled it ‘within the practitioner’s creative freedom’ to sign as big as he wanted, coincidentally leaving no room for any others.

The subsidiary was devastated. Forty. Alone. Broke. Alone. A little hope sizzled. If he just had someone to share this with he would be fine, a shoulder to cry on at least, as long as he wasn’t wearing his Seethrough® contacts at the time, seeing as he was contractually barred from weeping with their brand name wrapped around his pupils. It sent the wrong message.

He decided to forget everything and go out, have a NapaValley® drink, meet a good woman. There were plenty of AquariumExperiences® fish in the same Glidin’PoseidonTM boat as him. Women made much more than men as billboards. If she was a C TrophiesforWinners® cup her BeastlyLeather® chest probably made more than he did.

It wasn’t easy to get to his old favorite haunt. The new corner and seam ads had been installed, deliberately designed to make it hard to tell the edge of the Gevault&Sons® sidewalk from the bottom of the nearest UnitedConstructLLC® building. He stubbed his toe several times, and in need of something to curse out, read the ad aloud. Damn, he thought, shouldn’t have given that away for free. Other pedestrians definitely heard him.

When he finally got in and sat down he didn’t know how to proceed. When was the last time he’d had a full honest conversation with someone? There was his mailman the previous month, but he was on a different route now. Plus, there was that old woman at the laundr-

Hi.” She sat down right next to him. Her long red hair was dyed, but there weren’t any GlossyLustTM highlights forming words. She kept it natural, a little something for her since her skin was Homeless-LESS® real estate like his.

Hi,” the subsidiary said back. “Can I buy you a drink?”

I’ll have what you’re having.”

Bad choice. I’m having Kiddypop® soda. Working through a liver thing right now.”

Well I’m working through a life thing, so why don’t you add a little FinallyAlone® vodka to mine?” He ordered the drinks; they came quickly. She let him look at her, quietly, but not as a consumer. With a little work he could mentally peel away the corporate packaging, see the person for what she was. Maybe a little older than him, but younger at heart. Her red hair was like wilted fire; it consumed one shoulder as diluted magma, burned away an ad over her breast.

Then they talked about it. ‘It’ was everything that wasn’t in the EmployJoy® job description. ‘It’ was little sensations and sounds that hadn’t been monopolized yet, things too small to plant a Patriotprinters® flag in. The fizzing in their ArtisanwindowsandallTM glasses. The clink. The way she was holding her DressHeap® shoes since she kept scuffing them on the new seam ads outside.

Do you want to get out of here?” she asked. He knew it had been more than an hour, but had no idea beyond that. The ignorance made him giddy.

Yeah, where do you want to go?” He stood up, pulled on his Foreverforever® jacket. “It could be anywhere! How about the tallest tower in the city? They just let you jump onto the suicide PremierFishingGear® nets now, since they put in a lower one.”

I was thinking we could go to Bro Depot instead,” she said, face sinking as his froze. “They have PowerThrough® electric drills with forty interchangeable bits. One of them is Highsunjewelers® diamond.” Her spiel stopped for a moment. The last part was caught in her throat, but if she didn’t say it she didn’t get paid. “Diamond makes me horny.”

You don’t look horny,” he spat, embarrassment for the both of him reddening his face, giving luster to the LusciousLogosTM logos on his cheeks. “What are you, a targeted ad?”

Yeah,” she admitted. “I tried coming to your FineAmericanWoods® door a few times, but you weren’t answering. You can get in trouble for that you know.”

I knew any knock on my door would be targeted. I didn’t want to be targeted, I wanted to find, like… like sifting for MotherNature® minerals.”

I’m sorry,” she said, meaning it, knowing if she could sound that way about the horny diamond line they’d quintuple her commission. “I told you I was working through a life thing, and I don’t get any breaks.”

The subsidiary left. He made for the tallest tower, practically listening to the whole Get Me High© album in the JenkisonEngineering® elevator on the way up. The SafetyThirst® guardrail on the WilkinsRoofing® roof had been ripped out, but not professionally. The metal was twisted, raw, oxidizing only at the edges while its insides could still scream into the open GlobalHeating&Cooling® air.

He held out his 2ndAmmendmentTM arms, spun, let himself drop. He couldn’t KaiserBreads® roll far without hitting someone else in the MercilessGrip® net. Tens of people were lounging in it, relaxing under the sun’s warmth, waiting for Mental Health Services to arrive and pluck them out.

The subsidiary didn’t want to be grabbed by their HomeRoads® truck’s padded claw, like he was some Toys’B’Fun® stuffed animal inside a MachinesunlimitedLLC® crane MercurialTM carnival WholeFamilyFun® game. He wrestled with the AllNaturalBinds® ropes until he found the edge, falling again, into the second one, for those who were a little more serious about dying.

If he did his obituary would call it a voided contract. He pressed his face down into a square. It was much cooler and quieter down there, but still too high to make out the individual people on the street. They were just a RegionalCatholicServices® mass. Sometimes they lined up in a way that couldn’t be coincidental, QuiteFineStitching® hats spelling out things for the SurveilMail® drones flying by.

There was a sign just below him, positioned for the lowest person in the second net, and for nobody else in the world. He read it.

Life got you down? Try becoming a subsidiary of OntheNose Advertising Solutions®! Make money by just being yourself!

The End©

Rather Spartan

In this thriller/horror short story the Snake War Museum is just one of many, an opportunity for Claire to confront history.  It’s just her, the collection, and the audio guide… at least until she hears her own name in the headphones…

(reading time: 34 minutes)

Rather Spartan

by

Blaine Arcade

If a museum does its job well, its physical location in the world is inconsequential. The best place for the George Washington museum might be his birthplace, Westmoreland County, Virginia, but the best museum would be the one that had his actual shoes, his actual buttons, his actual tools, his actual quills and inks, wherever they were, even if the collection was accidentally shipped to, say, Ulverstone, Tasmania. Continue reading

Blaine’s Short Story Blurbs

Well, they aren’t quite blurbs, given that these stories are, you know, short, but now that we’ve got descriptions for our books and novellas available, it’s time to move onto these.

If you don’t know me, I’m Blaine Arcade, a speculative fiction writing hobbyist, and I write lots of out-there science fiction, fantasy, science fantasy, and some horror.  All of my stories are available here and free to read, so please check them out if you’re interested.  Happy reading!

Jesus has the Wheels

Jesus has come to town in his big black SUV.  He says it’s time for the rapture.  The only problem is that this is white Jesus, and he isn’t so friendly.

Continue reading

I Thought it was the Cat

(reading time: 5 minutes)

I Thought it was the Cat

by

Blaine Arcade

Demoted for a raise. Strange I know, but it’s the only way to put it. They wanted me out of the building after the ‘softball incident’. I won’t go into detail about it other than to say they’re all sore losers.

It was mutual. I get an extra five K a year and I use it to pay the price of being near all our distribution centers on the East coast. Being equidistant from three truck stops in the middle of nowhere puts you, you guessed it, in the forgotten rusty storage shed of nowhere’s overgrown backyard.

No partner. Had one, but they also didn’t care for my gloating after the softball incident. So when I got there, town called Cracklebranch, my roommates were a pair of suitcases. Got a tiny house on the cheap. Couldn’t hear anything at night. No crickets. No birds in the morning either. Continue reading

Regular Romp #23: KLS and KWS: Drop Outs

Regular Romp is an interactive fiction activity over on our Twitch stream where I ask a regular a series of questions before turning their answers and a corruption of their username into a short story.  Stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade if you’d like to participate.

starring

Klskws

(The adolescents and children held in the RVR facility have been there so long that their methods of communication have drifted away from the language practices of the world they were stolen from. At times it can be difficult to catch their meaning, given the preponderance of acronyms in their speech. This record provides helpful notes to clear up the issue.) Continue reading

Regular Romp #22: Killed and Chronicled by Bloodwriter Lee

Regular Romp is an interactive fiction activity over on our Twitch stream where I ask a regular a series of questions before turning their answers and a corruption of their username into a short story.  Stop by twitch.tv/blainearcade if you’d like to participate.

starring

Writerlee

After another simple night’s work, Bloodwriter Lee slid across her roof and landed on the balcony, red-covered book in hand. The life and Times of Augustus Jules was its title. The crisp night air burned in her lungs, and she felt so alive that she couldn’t quite go inside yet. She flicked the volume open to the back and read the final paragraph: Continue reading

Twitch Stream Story: A Wren Landed on the Doorstep

Prompt: A female assassin turns out to be a queen, hired by the royal family that stole the throne from hers.

We got another letter from her,” Arch-Adviser Grackle said nervously, nearly wiping the sweat from his forehead with the envelope. He spoke in hushed tones, because anything louder might get his name written down inside one of those black letters with the gold writing. Continue reading