Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Three Beasts

I dig this little story I wrote a while back - not sure I can ever publish it because of copyright questions on the characters, but I'm putting it here as "fan fiction."

Three Beasts

Cthulhu slapped down its cards with a wet tentacle. “Three queens,” it said in a voice that would have literally melted the brains of any mortal human within a hundred miles.

“Four aces,” rumbled Godzilla from across the table, cracking a toothy, reptilian smile. He really needed this win – he’d been watching the recent movie adaptations of his life, and he wasn’t happy about them. Not at all. Especially not the Roland Emmerich version. That was just trash. Now those old Japanese movies…those he loved. The Americans just couldn’t figure out what to do with him.

“Well shit I’m out,” growled King Kong, throwing his cards down and getting up to pour himself another drink. The huge gorilla wasn’t having much luck tonight. And after the day he’d been having, he really wished he was doing better. He’d woken up in his jungle hideout nursing a serious hangover from eating too many fermented coconuts, and then those natives had chased him around, and he hadn’t really been in the mood for any of it. He’d killed the natives, of course, but that hadn’t really improved his mood.

A doorbell rang, a strange distorted sound that echoed wrongly around the impossible room in which the three of them played.

“Pizza’s here,” said Kong. He shot back his tankard of whiskey and sauntered through the dimensional rift between this room and the human world. The other two heard the door open, then a scream. A minute later, Kong returned through the rift. The pizza box that he’d been cradling in the center of his huge, hairy palm folded outward to fit the non-Euclidian dimensions of the beasts’ poker room, becoming large enough for the three of them to share.

“Pineapple? I hate pineapple. Did they not have anchovies?” asked Cthulhu.

“I hate anchovies,” said Godzilla. “Now if they’d had crickets…”

“They never have crickets,” retorted King Kong. “They’re human. They don’t eat crickets.”

“Although,” said Cthulhu, “Because I’m such a good friend, I have been giving some humans horrific nightmares about killer cows, and trying to incept the idea of eating insects into the human mind. I’ve had limited success.”

“You mean you’ve killed a lot of people in their sleep?” asked Godzilla.

“Hey, it’s a work in progress, ok? Deal the cards.”

Kong chomped down on a slice of slimy, pineapple-infested pizza, gagging at the incongruous flavors.

“The game is five card draw,” said Kong, setting down his pizza and dealing the cards with a hairy paw. “Aces and jokers wild.”

Cthulhu looked at its cards: a queen, two eights, a five, and an ace. Three of a kind. Not bad, but it definitely could be better.

“I bet twelve,” Cthulhu said. It reached its mind into the human world and gave a bus driver nightmare visions of hellish madness. A translucent specter appeared in front of the bus, a gossamer ghost whose face was nothing but swirling, screaming teeth. The driver screamed and swerved the bus, crashing through a guardrail and plunging the bus off a high bridge, killing his eleven passengers. Godzilla and Kong, having watched this happen through a vision that Cthulhu had implanted in both of the other monsters’ heads, nodded.

“Good one,” said Godzilla. “I especially like the teeth.”

Cthulhu nodded at Godzilla. “I give the people what they want.”

Kong squinted at his cards. A five, a four, a three, a two, and a nine. Possible risky straight, but not enough of the same suit for a flush.

“I see your twelve.” Kong took twelve human legs – which used to be attached to the natives that had attacked him while he was hungover this morning – out of his pile, and added them to the pot.

Godzilla’s hand wasn’t great. A two, a five, a jack, a queen, and a king. Still, Godzilla was here to play. It also helped that he had the best poker face in all of the universes. After all, when you always look like you’re about to burn a city to cinders, it’s impossible to tell when you actually mean it.

“Call,” said Godzilla, a puff of smoke wafting out of his reptilian jaw as he said it. He placed the charred heads of twelve Japanese businessmen into the center of the pile. His own pile looked very small, and he’d need a big win soon if he didn’t want to have to go barbeque Osaka again.

Of course he always wanted to barbeque Osaka, so…win-win?

He grabbed a slice of pizza. It was a little underdone. He breathed hot air on it, watching the cheese bubble and brown. Much better. He chomped it down.

“Give me two,” said Cthulhu, giving up the queen and the five. Kong dealt the cards. An ace and a jack. Four of a kind. Excellent.

“Give me three,” said Godzilla, giving up his low cards. Kong dealt Godzilla a joker, a three, and a seven. A pair of kings. Could he bluff his way to a win here? Godzilla looked at the other two. Kong stared back at him, inscrutable, looking a lot like a huge monkey, and not a lot like someone who might be bluffing.

Kong got rid of the nine and dealt himself…a joker. He had his straight. Time to go in for the kill.

“I bet fifty,” began Cthulhu. It reached its mind into a dark nightclub in Portland, Oregon, where a death metal band called Color Out of Your Face happened to be singing about the dread elder gods. Cthulhu twisted the minds of the patrons into a frenzy, initiating a deadly and gruesome brawl. Undead shadows with eyes that glowed an impossible shade of black flew circles around the club, swirling and boiling hatred and fear into the minds of everyone present. Fists and teeth flew in the mosh pit, which became a whirling maelstrom of deadly violence. The guitarist climbed over the drum kit and attacked the drummer, slamming his guitar down on the other’s skull with a crunch. The drummer kicked upward and connected with the guitarist’s crotch. The guitarist howled and gouged out the drummer’s eyes. The lead singer, his eyes wide and unfocused, wrapped a mic cord around a rafter and hanged himself, his legs doing a macabre jig. At the end of the massacre, fifty metalheads, including the band, lay dead and bleeding on the floor, some missing limbs, many missing eyes, several impaled by pool cues or other blunt weapons.

“That was…unusually horrific,” said Godzilla, after watching the carnage unfold.

“You have met me, right?” said Cthulhu.

“Yes. And every day I wonder…”

“What?” Cthulhu’s voice radiated unfathomable danger. This was a creature that could eradicate one’s very existence throughout all of the universes forever, or drive one into an infinite well of eternal madness. Godzilla backed the hell off.

“I wonder how you manage it, cooped up down here in R’lyeh,” he finished.

“I’m dead but dreaming, haven’t you read the stories?”

“Are we one of your dreams?” asked Kong.

“You tell me,” said Cthulhu. “The bet is fifty, gentlemen.”

“Shit, I’ll be right back,” said Godzilla. He was short thirty-five. He warped himself through the portal and deposited himself into the depths of Osaka Bay. These things had to be done properly, of course. He climbed slowly out of the bay, roaring and spitting blue fire, his scaly body towering over the city like a deadly, well, like him. There was no need for metaphor here. Godzilla was the metaphor.

The good citizens of Osaka ran screaming from him in huge and unruly crowds, as they always did, running and crashing cars and shitting themselves in terror. He blew a great gout of sapphire flame through the crowd, aiming it more precisely than he usually did, trying to get the precise number he needed. When he’d cooked thirty-five more Japanese businessmen to a fine char, he stopped. He scooped up his victims, twisted off their heads, discarded the rest, and warped himself back through the portal. He deposited the heads on the card table, where they sat, smoking.

“Call,” said Kong. He counted his bones. He was short ten. “Hang on.” Kong warped himself through the portal and landed in New York City. He ran down the busy streets roaring and beating his chest as traffic crashed around him.

A human woman fell down on the sidewalk in front of him. She screamed and shielded herself, trying to avoid getting trampled by everyone else who was fleeing Kong’s wrath.

She’s so beautiful, thought Kong. He picked her up, cradling her carefully in his hairy paw. Her blond hair cascaded in tangles, and her blouse was askew, revealing the curve of ample bosom. She screamed. He shushed her and stroked her hair with one fingernail.

Something pinged against his fur, stinging him. He looked down and saw human military personnel shooting at him. He roared at them in anger and climbed the nearest skyscraper. Why does this always happen?

Then he remembered. He looked at the woman in his palm. She was so small, so vulnerable, so…she was his weakness. She was always his weakness. The beauty that killed the beast.

He didn’t have time for all of that right now. He had a poker game to win.

He snapped her neck and removed her left leg, then dropped her. Reaching a big hairy paw through a window on the fortieth floor of the skyscraper, he grabbed nine businessmen cowering in a conference room. He dropped them, watching them smash against the sidewalk below in a beautiful abstract expressionist tableau of gore. He climbed down after them and collected their legs, then warped himself back through the portal, depositing his prize on the card table.

“Call,” Kong wheezed. He sat.

“You’re bleeding a little,” said Godzilla.

“Yeah, thanks for noticing,” said Kong, wincing at the stinging pain of a dozen pinpricks from bullets and artillery.

“Straight,” said Kong, confident that this win would be worth the pain.

“Shit,” said Godzilla, “That’s me out.” He threw down his cards and sulked a little. The sight of the sulking dragon monster set the other two giggling a little, which…had to be the most unsettling noise in history. Cthulhu’s laugh, in particular, reverberated horribly through unseen dimensions, stoking the nightmares of the humans that it touched.

Cthulhu looked at Kong. Well, at least, Kong thought Cthulhu was looking at him. It was never easy to tell – Cthulhu’s visage was seriously hard to look at, even for a giant gorilla monster, without suffering severe psychological damage. Kong felt his mind being sucked into a dark and horrifying void populated by mad creatures from beyond the realms of sanity. He shook himself out of it.

“Four eights,” Cthulhu said, slapping its cards down.

“Damn and blast,” said Kong. He grabbed and ate a slice of pizza, chewing unhappily.

“You two out then?” asked Cthulhu.

“Yeah,” said Kong. “I can’t take another beating like that.”

“I mean I’ll happily barbeque Japanese people all day, but it is getting late,” said Godzilla. The giant lizard stood from the table and stretched his long limbs, letting out a dragon’s roar of a yawn and shaking his head to clear it.

“Right, well, same time next week?” asked Cthulhu.

“You bet,” said Kong. He prodded one of his pinprick wounds, wincing. It wasn’t all that serious, but damn if it wasn’t annoying.

The lizard and the gorilla warped themselves through the portal and out of Cthulhu’s realm.

Cthulhu stood from the table and cleaned up the cards, placing the leftover pizza in a mini fridge it had down here for the purpose.

The trappings of the humans who trapped me here, it thought. One day.

Cthulhu opened a hole in spacetime and stared at the swirling stars of the galaxy, willing them to be right.

But they weren’t, not yet.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn. And thus would it ever be.

Until that day, Cthulhu waited. And dreamed.