You may say that size doesn't matter -- these guys disagree!
Short Story. "The Dragon Slayer." A tale of love and cartoons. Dragons and slayers. And maybe a little devil too.
The Dragon Slayer
"A Cartoon Story"
By John Pirillo
Most kids his age were out zapping flowers and angry birds, tweaking Mario's mustache, or daring a Halo jump on their game machines or handhelds. But him? No, not really. He was too busy trying to make a living as a part time janitor, servicing the needs of three different girlfriends, only two of whom were real, and none of which were the one he was in love with. Or at least that's what he thought when they weren't around. However, when they were around, his intellect fell into his pants, along with all other working parts of his brain.
He wasn't depraved or a horn dog, turnt, bopping, slung up, nor was he a juanish kind of person seeking relationship after relationship. He just happened to be the kind of guy that certain girls were attracted to. In this case two real ones and the other...a cartoon. Not a piece of paper, or TV one that he had to read or watch...though he did do that...a lot...but a real, living breathing cartoon that just happened to be the sexiest girl alive, hotter than a stick of dynamite, and able to blow his mind in a single bound. In other words, she was perfect. For him. He should know. Because he had made her. Or at least she had made him think so at first, until he really got to know her, and then everything went turnaround drone hellfire ballistic.
Cartoon was the Princess of a world of cartoons. Of course, to themselves, they were as real as he was to his fellow planetary humans, but they to us were of a race of light and substance that only someone like Albert Einstein or Steven Hawking would or could understand.
"Earth base to Johnny. Come in."
His mind fell from heaven to heaven. Thoughts raced from the past to the present where Cartoon sat opposite him in Denny's sipping at a huge milkshake, sucking it down like it was caught in an oceanic whirlpool. "Hi." He said.
She twinkled at him. Literally. Not so as anyone else could see it. She'd gotten better at hiding her cartoonish nature. What with Lady Clairol, lots of pancake carefully applied, and a heavy generation of non-see through clothing so her neon nature wasn't so readily visible, though she had to be careful about how she bent or turned, or parts of her clothing would flash someone if happened to be looking that way.
He had to smile because he'd seen lots of people shake their heads after such a thing, wondering if they'd just lost their mind for a moment. He didn't care. She was a good person, even if a bit showy. He grinned.
"What you grinning about?"
"Oh."She brightened. Literally.
I frantically made the tune it down gesture and she dimmed, but not before half the place had lit up like a Christmas Candle. People began to turn to look our way, but since she was back to normal, they all began assuming it was just a truck or car that had swung past the huge glass windows of our restaurant. And to help things out, a huge Raley's Supermarket truck swung past, its huge headlights on high, lighting the interior of the restaurant up even brighter still.
I sighed with relief, and then gave her a scalding look.
She giggled like a school girl caught with her hand in a bag of cookies.
I shook my head. No use. I could never stay mad at her.
"Okay. Okay. I'm not mad." I muttered angrily.
She slipped a bronzed hand over mine. It was holding a fork with which I had been eating a blackberry pie mounded with vanilla ice cream. Whole reason I came to Denny's. Didn't really like much else they ruined. They used to be a high quality restaurant, but these days they were just the fast food of sit downs.
"You've got to come off high alert sometime, Johnny." She teased me, squeezing my hand warmly.
I sighed. She was right. When I wasn't busy trying to protect her from visibility to the whole world, I was turning into some kind of comic book freak. And I don't mean just reading comic books all the time and holing up in my bathroom or bedroom. No, the real thing. A comic book freak. Able to bound three stories one day without breaking a sweat, stretching my right hand out for candy a mile away, turning invisible, manifesting a wicked sword, turning translucent, firing up and blasting away. You name it. Whatever comic book I held, I became the hero of it, or a reasonable fact simile.
Unfortunately, the reverse was also true. When I had a comic book, its villains would sometimes come to life and I would have to fight them. Not only to save the world, but my usual suspects...namely me, and anyone close to me.
"Johnny!" She scalded again.
I snapped from my thoughts. It had been a rough week for both of us, but on me, it was showing. On her...well, she just absorbed it like a sponge and brightened up anyway. She couldn't help it, it was her nature. Just like it was mine to worry. A lot.
"The Zombie King." I started.
She put a finger to my lips. Shook her head.
"He's not here."
Again she shook her head. "You don't have any comic books on you."
"I didn't last time he showed up in that Burger King with the huge slide that zombies kept spiraling around and popping out of, terrorizing the kids and parents there."
"What about the time they invaded that shopping mall? Was that also a fluke?"
"You had been in Barnes and Noble. Read a comic book."
I sighed in exasperation. "It doesn't even matter which one I read anymore. That bastard keeps on coming. He's like an Ever Ready battery, takes a beating and keeps on ticking."
"It's a dumb commercial with what they call an Energizer Bunny..."
She clapped her hands together. "I know him."
I gave her a look of dismay.
"What! That's impossible!"
She touched herself.
"Loud and clear." I acknowledged, knowing I was sitting across from Missus Impossibility herself.
"Anyway, there are commercials..."
"Oh, those funny things where men make love to their cars and trucks?"
I gave her a suspicious look. "They..."
She shook her head. "No they don't exist in my world."
I let out a breath of relief. "Anyway, there's this battery that is so powerful, that when this mechanical bunny uses it, he just keeps on working when all the other battery run toys stop."
"Sort of like you and me, sweetie." She pointed out.
I gave her a look that portrayed absolute hopelessness. She giggled and smiled. Game over. I was caught back into the dragnet of her love.
"Anything else for you two lovebirds?"
We looked up and Candy, a sweet-faced waitress, about forty years old, with three kids, a mortgage and working on a college degree to become a doctor, stood there her pad out to take orders.
"Nah." I responded.
I looked at Cartoon. She eyed the carousel menu which showed a flaming piece of gooey chocolate fudge cake, heaped with vanilla ice-cream. "One of those." I pointed at the object of her affection.
"On it." Candy said, and then bounced off like she usually did. I watched her walk off, until Cartoon grabbed my chin and turned me back to her.
"Is that how you treat your Queen?"
"You're not my princess!" I snapped back at her, angry for her intrusion on my thoughts.
She gave me a sharp look. "That's not what you tell me when..."
I put a finger to her lips. "I was just admiring how much energy that woman has after taking care of three kids, going to college three times, studying all day, and basically sleeping a few hours and that's it."
"Because I'm starting to fit into that same groove." I shrugged her hand from my face, and then scrubbed my eyes with a finger. They felt like sandpaper.
She gave me a gentle look, took my hand and kissed it. "I love you, Johnny."
"Ditto." I replied.
That was when all hell broke loose. When hadn't it lately?
We both jerked away from each other and looked towards the source of the commotion. It was a huge man. He had thrown his plate down on the floor, shattering it. Candy came running to pick it up. "I'll have this cleaned up in a minute, sir." She said warmly, not realizing he had done it on purpose.
The man said nothing as she worked, but he slowly turned his head and fixed his eyes on us. His eyes lit up like embers from a hot fire.
"Oh crap!" I muttered, angry at myself at that moment.
I looked at Cartoon. "It's the Devil."
"There's not such thing." She reminded me.
"Not in your world maybe, but here, he's got free rein most of the time."
"But he's not a cartoon."She insisted. Then she gave me a sharp look. "Where is it?"
I sighed and gave it up. A crumpled newspaper sheet with a page of cartoon strips.
"Johnny!" She sighed. "When will you learn?"
The man smiled at us, and his teeth were long and jagged. The back of him twitched and then a long tail with a sharp dagger like point came into view. He looked at Candy on the floor and smiled.
"Cartoon Man to the rescue." I said with a smirk, jumped up from my table, grabbed a salt shaker and ran at the Devil.
As I did his clothing burst into flames.
Candy screamed as the heat struck her. Customers knocked over tables and scrambled to all corners of the diner to get away from the impossibility standing in their midst. As I ran I grabbed more salt shakers.
By the time I reached the Devil, he had shaken off all resemblance to a mortal man, and assumed one of his more demonic forms. All teeth, claws, sharp tail and burnished red skin with glowing red eyes.
"You are mine, Johnny!" He screamed at me.
"Eat this!" I yelled at him, then twisted a bottle of salt's top off and flung it, then the next and the next, faster and faster, until my hands and arms swung like windmill blades.
The Devil screamed as the salt struck him, and began to hiss as if water had struck him. I didn't stop flinging. I stretched one hand out like gooey plastic and grabbed another salt shaker, hurtled to my free hand and kept tossing, until the Devil was impinged in a dozen places of his body by salt shakers and spilling salt.
"Arrrgh!" He screamed over and over, and then he exploded, hurtling chunks of fuming, stinky substance all over the diner.
People screamed in disgust as the matter hammered at them.
They weren't as close as me. It was Hammer Time for me.
When the smoke cleared, which was after a long and silent twenty seconds, Candy told me that later. Everyone came out from beneath their tables and from their hiding places and slowly began to clap as I stood there, a dripping monument to salted Devil. I blushed. I never liked the attention. And it usually didn't last. For some strange reason everyone always forgot what happened within ten minutes of every episode like this.
Cartoon told me it was the nature of our minds to shut off and shut down when faced with the impossible. I just think it was God's Grace looking out for me and everyone else, though I couldn't understand the part where He let all those monsters loose. Or maybe He didn't. It's too existential for my mind to handle, so I usually switch off. With a mind as big as a god's, I can't even begin to imagine how they think, or would think...though there are plenty of humans around who would like to tell you they do. You think?
Cartoon came over and slipped her hand into mine, gooey as it was.
"Let's go home. I feel all glowy after this." She said in that splendid warm voice of hers that blew away all my hormones and turned me into a tornado of love.
I looked into her bottomless eyes. Really, they were bottomless. A cartoon thing.
Hell might cloud my day once in awhile, but when I looked into those wonderful eyes of hers hell didn't have a chance.
"Come here, Dragon Slayer!" She said with a promising smile.
Who am I to argue with a Princess?
Hells a Poppin
"A to Hell and Back Story"
By John Pirillo
Weed's history is not so great. He joined the Marines in 2010. A high school grad with no desire to excel in anything, somehow he had managed to at least pass with a score high enough to bag him a gig with the Marines. But that wasn't good enough. He had to be the top rifleman in his squad, and the best man in martial arts, the only person to survive (a phone) combat scenario that no one could possibly win, but he had.
So for his efforts he had been awarded a stake in another job. Going to hell and back. Yeah. War's hell, but some wars are in hell, or with hell. And that was his best window of opportunity yet. With just a knife, wide open eyes, and a lot of luck. Luck does count! With luck he had managed to kill three demons that had over run their platoon on a mission in Afghanistan.
The natives had screamed all night about demons coming, and not one of the Americans had bought it then, so instead they bought it later.
Gunfire. Grenades. Rocket launches. Hellfire missiles. None of it worked. The demons were smarter and better armed. Invincible in their stealth mode. They could move invisibly through the ranks and decimate them.
He had seen Jenks, his Captain, a likable fellow with two kids back in Arkansas, a stake in a reasonable farm to retire to, and yet he had been the first one to buy it. He had awakened to the scream, thrown himself out the pup tent, a small hotdog shaped slip of a tube of cloth they all rigged beneath the dirt so they could remain hidden from probing eyes.
He had seen Jenks stabbing at something in the air, and blood spurting, but nothing visible. Jenks had stopped screaming when his head exploded, squashed like a watermelon by a vise like force invisible to the eyes.
Hammer had been next. He was the wise cracking machine gunner of the group. Never missed. This time his weapon was useless. Bullets spun out of the gun at over a thousand rounds a second and everyone struck. Blood spurted in a thousand directions, but in a few moments he was hanging upside down by the hot flaming tube of his gun, his guts ripped out.
Joyce had been last. She had run out in skivvies and had both legs torn off before she could even raise a grenade to toss.
He had been lucky. Luck had been with him.
He had torn through the frigid night, racing like a pig with the butcher after him, and it was. With ten sets of claws, a thousand teeth and an appetite for extreme death and violence. Though at the time he had thought it was some kind of special weapons force that had invaded their platoon. Someone sent in from the crazies running the local wars, but bought from China or Russia.
When it caught up with him, its breath was fetid and hot.
He whipped round, saw nothing and was ready to keep running when he felt two clawed hands grab him by his waist and raise him slowly. He did a stupid thing. He pepper sprayed it. It worked!
It coughed and threw him down. Sounded like a mountain lion going to the bathroom with multiple hemorrhoids. But it was there.
He kicked up a footfall of sand with his boots and for a brief second he saw something that almost stopped his heart, which would have been a blessing at the time, because it was racing so hard it was likely to stop on its own accord anyway.
It was straight from hell. Literally. It stood over ten feet tall. It had teeth by the dozens protruding from its lower jaw over its lips and eyes that were slanted like an Orientals. In fact it was orange all over with a green fur that bristled with shades of red and orange. Its whole being exuded some kind of darkness that etched a line around it. A kind of outline of evil.
He had reacted, not from instinct, but from sheer disgust.
He had thrown his knife. The one his father had given him. The silver one. For Christmas
The knife struck the demon in its chest as it was fading from view and it roared horribly. So hard and furiously that he was blasted from his feet. He rolled over and came up to his feet, scrambling for his second blade. If one could do that.
He threw it.
It was also silver. The second one his father had given him for his birthday. He'd said. "You growing like a weed, son. One day you might have need of a week trimmer. Picker. Something to stop wild things."
Weed had never asked what his father meant, even though he had given him this strange look, as if he were seeing something not there. His family was like that. Some called t hem voodoos, people struck by local magic and cursed. Others called them occultists or psychics. He just called them family.
The demon, for he could tell that now. As it died its form became more and more visible and more and more disgusting to look at. Its blood shot forth from where the two knives had struck over its heart and showered the ground. It spun around and two more demons were marked and visible by the blood.
They had been rushing Weed without him realizing it.
He was dead for sure.
But when the first demon's blood struck them, a funny thing happened. Not ha-ha, but creepy strange. Like Twilight Zone, Lovecraft and Outer Limits Stephen King kind of strange.
They caught on fire.
All three demons exploded in a geyser of blood and fire, which shot straight up towards the cloudless sky, a Vesuvius of grossness and evil that showered back down and struck the desert floor, spearing it with body parts and ichor.
He just stood there, wiping the crap off his face, grinning. Laughing.
He had lived through the worst nightmare of his life.
He walked through the smoking remains and retrieved his two knives.
He kissed them both, ignoring the ichor on them, then wiped them clean on the back of his combat fatigues and sat down. He thrust the small black box hinged to his belt in front of him, keyed in a code, then activated it. A gentle beeping came from it.
Satellites overhead spun and turned, snaking slowly around to sip the binary data flowing into their hungry throats.
Ten days later he was back at Nellis, with the rest of the survivors of that night. Not from his platoon, but the others, who had also been on similar missions. He never learned their names. A very tough older man stood up from the midst of them; walked to the front of the room they were seated in silently and turned to eye them.
"Life is tough."
"Yo." They all answered.
"And then you die."
Everyone was silent. They knew what he meant, but were not going to agree with it.
"Last night you saw something, didn't you?"
Everyone was silent. Where was this going?
"Something that just should not have been."
Everyone nodded, but still remained silent.
"Something that shouldn't be on our planet."
Weed got tired of it. He stood up, scratched his ten day old beard. No one had a chance to shower or shave yet, and it was starting to get to him. "Sir, I don't mean to rattle your cage or anything, but these men are bone tired. Shit-faced with death and ready to drop. Will you just say it?"
The tall man turned to face Weed, his face stern as a block of ice. "Your name, Marine."
"Your real name."
Everyone broke into laughter.
The tall man listened a moment, then raised a hand for silence. Everyone got a frightened look on their faces as he scowled at Weed.
Weed didn't care. He'd seen all his friends murdered in front of his eyes, limbs torn off, guts ripped out, and necks broken. What more could anyone do to him now?
Everyone rose to leave.
The tall man pointed at Weed. "You. Here!"
Weed waited until the others had left, all looking back at him, fearful for what might happen. Though none knew each other, there was a deep bond between them.
"Sir." Weed saluted.
The tall man broke into a grin. "I'm no sir. Sarge will do."
"Sarge, sir!" Weed said with a returning grin.
"Sit here." The Tall Man pointed to a chair near him.
Weed nodded and slumped into the chair, feeling his fatigue rolling over him like a wave again. His eyes fought to stay open as the Tall Man spoke.
"I need you."
"Everyone needs someone, sir."
"Not for what I need you."
Weed's eyes continued to close.
"I'm going to hell and I need you to go with me."
Weed woke up and barked with laughter. "Hell, Sarge, I've just come back from there."
The Tall Man's smile vanished. "No. You haven't."
Then he told Weed what he knew.
Weed's eyes no longer threatened to sew themselves shut. He felt adrenaline rushing through his system, his hair standing up on the back of his neck, and his mouth drier than the Iraqi desert. "Damn!"
"And then some."
Weed shook his head, then stood up and offered his hand. "If it will save more souls from going through what I saw ten nights ago....?"
The Tall Man rose and took his hand. It was warm and firm. Like the grip of a long lost friend.
"Then I'm in. Sarge."
Sarge smiled. "Now go get cleaned up, then chow down. We've got a lot of work to do before we go to hell."
"Yes, Sarge. I'm sure we do." Weed laughed. "I'm sure we do."
Weed walked out of the meeting room, an ominous and foreboding feeling gripping his heart. He had the feeling that he had just chosen to step into the biggest stack of doo doo any Marine could ever step into.
John Pirillo"Writing fuels the heart and soul!" Science Fiction, Fantasy and Adventure Tales to Take Your Breath Away!