Dryekoff.

I glanced at the clock and groaned.

9:30.

Time for bed.

I don’t want to go to bed.

The usual arguing with my inner self.

I slowly strolled to my bedroom, continuing this silent arguing as I turned off the lights in the hallway before entering my bedroom. To get to my bed I had to squeeze past the large speakers, the amplifiers, drum kit and four guys that stood in my way near the middle of the bedroom.

Yes, there was a rock band in my bedroom.

“Going to sleep, dude?” asked the drummer.

“Yes,” I replied, “and I would very much appreciate a quiet night for once so I can sleep.”

“But we gotta practice!” complained the guitarist.

“Look, you guys had all day to practice!” I shot back. “Why do it now when I have to sleep? I gotta be up early!”

The four guys stood silently as if my words finally got to them. Then slowly, one by one, the four guys left my bedroom, grumbling.

Finally.

I turned off the lights and rested my head on the pillow. Just when I felt myself drift away to sleep, the four guys dashed back into my bedroom, turned on the amps and let loose with a deafening jam that shook me awake.

“Waugh!” I screamed as I sat up. Abruptly the band stopped playing and stared at me with mischievous grins.

“So, what do you think?” asked the bassist.

“I think it’s too late!” I yelled. “Can’t you guys wait until morning when I’m not here?”

“But we’re busy in the morning!” the singer yelled back.

“DOING WHAT?”

“SLEEPING!” the four guys yelled.

“GET OUT!” I screamed. “ALL OF YOU!”

“But-”

“NO BUTS! OUT!” I screamed. Abruptly the band quickly left my bedroom and I closed the door behind them. For good measure I locked it, too.

Finally.

I collapsed on my bed and a few minutes later felt myself beginning to drift away to sleep. Suddenly the door was kicked open as the band rushed back into my bedroom and began jamming with the volume on full blast. Once again I sat up and screamed at them to stop and they did, only to resume playing when I was nearly asleep.

And this went on all night.

Needless to say I didn’t get much sleep, no thanks to these guys who call themselves Dryekoff.

The band name is a play on the words “dry cough”, the most annoying part of getting sick. Long after the other symptoms have cleared, the dry cough lingers, staying quiet during the day but getting worse at night, especially when you’re trying to sleep.

And now you know the rest of the story.

Green mulch.

I was working outside in the garden department when I saw a spaceship land in the parking lot. A small green man stepped out and walked up to me, his hand held up in greeting.

“Greetings,” he said. “I am Aaga from the planet Qylxzy. Do you have any green mulch here?”

“I’m sorry?” I asked. “Did you say, green mulch?”

“Correct.”

“Sorry, we do not carry green mulch. We do carry mulch in red, brown and black, and we do have cypress mulch, but we do not carry any green mulch.”

“You make this difficult,” Aaga snarled as he pulled out a tiny phaser gun. “Prepare to be annihilated.”

“With that tiny thing?” I laughed.

Aaga fired his phaser at a shelf of merchandise along the wall, which promptly disappeared. “Something funny?” he asked as he pointed the phaser at my chest.

Now I knew Aaga meant business. After some quick brainstorming, I came up with an idea. “I’ll be right back,” I said.

I grabbed a bag of cypress mulch and took it inside to the paint department where I took a can of green spray paint. Then I went outside behind the store and spread the mulch out on the pavement before painting it green. After a few minutes, I put the mulch back in its original bag and carried it back to the garden department where Aaga was waiting.

“Here you are,” I grinned as I handed over the green mulch.

“Oh, this is great!” Aaga beamed as he examined the bag. “I’d like 99 more, please.”

I gulped in shock. Recovering my composure, I said, “I’m sorry, but this is all we have.”

Aaga once again aimed his phaser at my chest and repeated, “I said, I’d like 99 more, PLEASE.”

Now I really had to think fast. Grabbing a floor jack, I towed a pallet of cypress mulch outside behind the store before heading back to the paint department to grab cans and cans of green paint. Then I went to the rental department and borrowed their portable cement mixer. Once back outside, I poured the paint inside the mixer before adding the mulch. Slowly I filled the bags with green mulch and several long hours later, finally finished the task. Sweating and panting, I pulled the pallet of green mulch back to the garden department where Aaga was still waiting. When he saw the green mulch, he beamed and said, “Excellent! I’ll take it.”

After paying for the green mulch and loading it in his spaceship, Aaga took off, waving at me as he disappeared into the sky. I stood silently, sweating and panting with spots of green paint all over my clothes, but I felt good for going above and beyond to provide the excellent customer service even aliens from other planets deserve.

A few hours later, five small spaceships landed in the parking lot. Aaga had returned, accompanied by four small green men. He led them up to me, where they all stood before me while smiling.

“These are my neighbors,” Aaga explained, “They like my green mulch so much that they want some too!”

I fainted.

Fiddlecow.

[An old story from years ago, back when I dared to mix fiction with the surreal. If you don’t like it, I’ll understand.]

Kreyen and Merkins stepped out of the Elevator of Slow Motion onto the Floating Floor. On the ceiling were “Wet Ceiling” signs. Merkins hailed a doctor with shaving cream all over his head.

“Hello, Merkins,” he said, “What are you here?”

The word FOR sailed out of his right ear.

“I’m here to pick up Kreyen’s father. He is recovered, has he not?”

The doctor flipped through his clipboard and sprayed shaving cream on one page. The word YES sailed out of his left ear.

“This way please.” the doctor said.

The trio lay down and rolled to Kreyen’s father’s room. They saw him shining flashlights around the room.

“Father!” yelled Kreyen.

“Son!” yelled the flashlights before singing a song about how the M’s are printed on M&M’s candy.

“How are you feeling?”

“Very good. The team of miniature schnauzers all wagged their tails and fed me Certain.”

“MEDICINE!” howled the schnauzers.

“Let’s go. Shall we take the bus?”

“Yes.”

Everyone walked home, heel after heel.

The ghost hunters.

Our first night. Steve and I arrived earlier this afternoon at Galilee, the abandoned retirement community rumored to be haunted by ghosts and poltergeists. We found our way into one of the apartments, which, to our surprise, was still fully furnished. We set up our gear in the bedroom which had two beds. All that was left to do was wait until dusk and watch for any signs of paranormal activity. To help us wait, we decided to take a nap.

A few hours later, it was beginning to get dark. As the sunlight faded, we could hear noises, noises of scratching, tapping and the occasional whisper. Steve and I held our breaths, hoping we weren’t spotted by the ghosts. Suddenly Steve’s bed began to swell as if it was being inflated. He tried to hang on but the mattress took on a round shape as it became so large that it began pressing up on the ceiling. Finally, the mattress exploded with a loud bang as Steve fell to the floor. He sat up in a daze, trying to figure out what has just happened.

“Bummer with the inflatable mattress, huh Steve?” I said.

After a long pause, Steve’s reply filled me with terror.

“Ian, I don’t think my mattress was inflatable.”

One unfortunate night at the bar.

It was a very rough day at work. Instead of working 8 hours, I put in 12. Countless deadlines, aggravated clients and misguided negotiations boosted my stress levels beyond tolerable levels. By the end of the day, though, everything jelled and worked themselves out to everyone’s satisfaction. But my nerves were still shot.

On the way home I stopped at a bar for a drink. The mood here was festive as a live band played its string of contemporary hits. I sat at the counter and saw dozens of bottles on the shelf along the mirrored wall behind the counter where the bartenders worked. Curiously, there were also lit candles along the bottom of the shelf.

A bartender walked up to me and placed a coaster on the counter in front of me. “What can I get you?” she smiled.

“I’d like a Bloody Mary, please.” I replied.

The bartender leaned forward and said, “I’m sorry, it’s really loud in here. What did you say you wanted?”

“Bloody Mary,” I repeated.

“One more time?”

“Bloody Mary!” I shouted.

Suddenly the candles behind the bartender began to float as bottles began to fall off the shelf. The entire bar fell silent as the lights began flickering. All eyes were focused on the mirrored wall that was now trembling and shaking to the point where it almost looked ready to break. Suddenly a ghostly woman with deathly pale skin and long black hair leapt out from the mirror with her hands trained on my throat.

As I lay on the floor weakened by the attack, I could see the bartender take a piece of chalk and draw a diagonal line over four short vertical lines on the chalkboard behind the counter.

“That’s the fifth time tonight,” she announced. “Now taking bets for number six.”

Ian’s weird situation.

Ian stood by the window in the hallway, trying to assess the morning’s traumatic events.

​Let me get this straight. I’m on the 89th floor of a hospital where the doctors and nurses dress in black. My dad’s here because he had a stroke. The doctor taking care of him went to medical school for 50 years, yet he himself is 45 years old.

​Then it gets weirder. The nurses take my dad apart like a robot and the doctor takes the head and cracks it open like an egg. Out comes the brain, being the tangled mess it is. Then he unravels the brain so it’s one long slimy strand and right away he sees the cause of the stroke, a single rubber band clamped tightly to cut off circulation. He cuts off the rubber band, throws all the body parts into a box and attaches the box to a machine that will shake it vigorously. Then, with a loud P-TOO sound, out flies my dad in one piece and he lands on the bed, fast asleep. And all that’s left to do is wait for him to wake up before he can go home?

“Ian?” his mother called from down the hall. “Let’s go. Your father’s awake now.”

WHAT IS GOING ON???

The Exorcism of ‘Arking Lot, Part 666.

The lightning roared, the thunder flashed and the zombie choir screeched as I screamed at the unexpected sight of a hideous looking creature who was, in turn, screaming at me. Then I got a better look at the creature upon the next flash of lightning and judging from its religious attire, concluded it was nothing more than a decrepit priest.

“I know what you’re after and I won’t let you have it!” the priest shrieked as he pressed down on the book I was trying to remove from the pulpit. “Begone!” He raised his arm and some unseen assistants appeared from nowhere to lift me off my feet, carried me a few feet away from the pulpit and then dropped me on the floor.

I was not going to let this lame spectacle deter me from my mission, so I stood up before approaching the pulpit to make another attempt to apprehend the book.

“Stop!” the priest screamed. “Leave now or I shall summon the mighty Gummy Worm to devour you alive!”

“Excuse me,” I replied after a stunned silence, “did you say gummy worm?”

“That I did! The very Gummy Worm that lives beneath this floor while ruling the realm of evil that was once ‘Arking Lot!”

“This I gotta see,” I said while taking a seat.

“You’ll be sorrrrrrry!” the priest sang. After seeing me still seated and making no attempt to leave the church, he began thumbing through the pages of the big book before arriving at the desired incantation. Then he cleared his throat and began:

Gamma!
Gimme!
Go Moe!
Goo Moo!

I couldn’t help chuckling to myself.

What kind of incantation was that?

I looked at the priest and saw his eyes closed as if concentrating on something. The entire church fell silent, including the thunder outside. The quiet was nerve-wracking beyond belief as if to indicate a premonition of something dreadful about to happen.

Suddenly there was a rumbling noise that shook the church as the floor began to rise in front of the pulpit. My eyes widened with horror at the sight of a growing mound that caused the floor to break open and expose the concrete foundation and dirt underneath. The dirt quickly disappeared into a large hole that was now exposed, and my pulse quickened. Perhaps my decision to undertake this mission wasn’t such a good idea after all. Meanwhile the priest was laughing maniacally as he hung on the pulpit. Gradually the rumbling subsided, and all there was to do now was wait for the worm to emerge.

Ptu.

Out of the hole flew a small red-green gummy worm that landed at my feet. I could feel my fear and tension melt away as I surveyed this supposed ruler of ‘Arking Lot. I leaned forward to pick it up.

Don’t touch that!” the priest screamed. “It’s going to eat you alive!

“What, this little thing?” I countered before popping it in my mouth. I chewed it slowly to savor its sweet, fruity flavor before swallowing.

The priest was aghast. “You ate it!

“And it was delicious,” I smiled.

“Just for that, I will have you face the wrath of the Four Gummy Spiders!”

Four small gummy spiders swiftly dropped down from the ceiling and landed on the floor. “Oh, please,” I sighed as I walked around the room to each spider, picked it up and ate it. Turning back to the priest, I asked, “So what else do you have?”

You ate the spiders too!

“And I’m ready for more,” I countered.

“Fine,” the priest sneered. “No one can get past my fierce Gummy Bears!”

Suddenly a door hidden in the wall next to me slid open, revealing two small gummy bears on the floor, standing side by side. Seconds later they were gone after I too devoured them. Confidently I began walking towards the pulpit as I watched the priest frantically thumb through the pages of his book in search of another incantation.

“It’s over,” I said.

“No,” the priest replied, “it’s just beginning.”

Suddenly the floor began to rumble. Lightning and thunder raged outside, the zombie choir began screeching as the rumbling became louder and more violent. All the while the priest began sweating and his skin was tensed to the point where I could see his veins. He bared his teeth and widened his eyes as if undergoing some transformation. Then the rumbling died down and there was an eerie quiet in the church as the priest stood staring at me.

Poot.

The priest let out a small fart before he dropped dead, falling backwards to the floor. Then the interior of the church collapsed and disappeared to reveal a meadow surrounded by trees on a glorious morning. The sun was rising, birds flew by and deer appeared along with antelopes. Butterflies flew along with the bees as they caroused among the colorful flowers that bloomed all over the ground. I could sense that my mission was accomplished at long last.

And then I heard a voice.

“WHIPPED CREAM! YUCK!”

In the distance I could see the gladiator, still convulsing with disgust as he ran towards the horizon to collide with the rising sun.

The End