The Black Goat of the Woods, Shub-Niggurath, pranced obscenely through the red-litten clearing, its worshippers copulating frenziedly beneath its myriad udders. Soon, they would seize their obsidian knives and begin to slash at one another in an ecstacy of sanguinary lust. Shub-Niggurath would feast, but would take the best bits home for its Thousand Young. Especially its favorite, Shubbie the 422nd.

The Vermilion Gopher of the Plains, Aug’-Durlett, popped menacingly from one of its myriad holes. A nitid effluent of its malevolence poured forth, blotting out the sun. Traffic on I-70 came to a halt, and there was much rending of metal and spilling of entrails. Aug’-Durlett’s 230 Wives and 1973 Young would eat well tonight in yellow-litten Yah-Squireel.

Hamstur the Unspeakable, Tawny Gerbil of Doom, raced disturbingly upon the shrieking Wheel of Abomination. The slumber of sensitive souls was disrupted across the globe by a myriad ear-piercing squeaks, and even the mighty wizard Fak-bel Knaplung vainly pressed its withered hands to its shockingly hairy organs of audition.

The Ebon Cricket of the Sinister Bamboo Palace, Shrikk the Inaudible, played upon its shockingly malformed limbs a paean of charnel desecration and soul-destroying horror. Dogs throughout east Asia howled in anguish, annoying the just and unjust alike. Yabu Dabi-Tzhoo, Lord of Kay-Na’ein, lept through a foul depiction in stained glass of the Vivisection of the Myriad, and vanished from mortal ken, leaving behind an appalling stench.

Myriads flooded the streets as the Sigil of Unpleasantness, alluded to in the Pleistocene Upchuktic Manuscript, fulminated and was not consumed in the sky above Lichtenstein. Interminable was the wailing and many were the unattractive facial expressions manifested on the green-litten visages of the unhappy Lichtensteiners, for they could feel the fat profits from the tourist trade sublimating from their wallets, retail establishments, and entertainment facilities in the abhorrent effulgence discharged by the Lime-Green Sign.

Much was the inadvertent discharge of bodily fluids and other organic substances as the myriad Calamari of Chaos floated to the surface of the Pacific Ocean, broadcasting their unhallowed and vile thoughts to all within line-of-sight and, after nightfall, those reachable by reflection from the Heaviside layer.

As the human race, insignificant pustule on the acne-scarred backside of Planet Dirt, wailed, moaned, and perished, the Great Old Ones, including Retrievotep, He Who Inexorably Returns, and Nemah-Toad, She Who Burrows Within, began to feed.

And short-lived but heartfelt was the lamentation engendered therefrom.


People don’t go anywhere anymore. It used to be, grandad says, people worked hard for days and days before they had earned enough vacation time to actually go in their rooms and plug themselves in to a virtual national park or amusement park or water park or venusian tuber farm or something. Now we just go out behind the recycling center and stare at some weeds, or throw chunks of plastic at the vehicles on the Superway. If we want to go to an amusement park we have to actually pretend everything. You call that living?
I mean, what can you do with plastic, glaspex, and vegebord? Yesterday, Tim3 is standing on a bit of vegebord shouting “I am Chancellor of Trash!” or some sh*t and so Lefrim shoves him off and says she’s Premier of Trash and waves a block of glaspex in the air. The new kid from Moon 13 pushes her off and says he’s King of the Trash. Dorks!
If I was going to pretend something it would be way faster than that. I would be a unitank pilot, beneath cloud cover on a Chitin-occupied world during the Wars. We’d have to wipe out a Hive. We wouldn’t get out alive. Or maybe….

When I was born, my mother tore me open from neck to gut and peeled my  skin away. My slick and bloody pelt hung from her fingers, and I was  left pink and screaming raw. I was born a seal, and she stripped that  from me. My father, in the next room, waited and paced. Terrified. Full of resolve. Or stupid hope.

Survival is a pure and animal instinct.


My father had loved God until he saw her. On the deck of Staten Island Ferry, he gripped the rails and focused on the pale skin of his knuckles, the iron smell of the sea. My mother’s face broke like a closed fist through the surface of the water. When she opened her eyes he thought, blacker than the waves. She rested a small white hand on the hull and looked at him with a smile that stripped him bare. She knew all the terrible things he had ever thought, and ever would. His heart broke because she wasn’t real. His heart broke because she more real than anything he had believed in.


My mother smoothed my pelt down over her knees, and settled me in her arms. Salt water and blood dripped through the bedclothes, and the iron smell of the sea. She called to my father, her voice like the riptide, and he was helpless.

I looked like him. Shock of ginger hair and a knob of a nose. I made tiny fists like he did when he stood in front of his congregation, spread out as far as the horizon, dipping back over the curve of the earth, their faces as remote as the bottom of the ocean. I was quiet in my mother’s arms, so pink and so new. A lighthouse flare of desperate hope. He still believed in Original Sin. He still believed.

My mother said, “Come closer.” She smiled at him with sharp white teeth.

He took a step, and another. He came close enough to touch me. He put out a delicate finger to brush along the arch of my eyebrow. And when I opened my eyes he saw that they were as black as the space around the navigable stars, and he was lost.

So Jack walks into a bar and he says “I’ve got 5 beans. Who’s with me?”

Nobody says anything at first. But then some guy says “lemme see ‘em.”

Jack shows him the beans and the guy says “You pay for these?”

“These ain’t no ordinary beans,” says Jack “these here are magic beans.” He goes on like this, and pretty soon a few guys go with him.


The next morning we see this giant beanstalk coming out of the ground. Five trunks are braided and they’re covered with throbbing veins that pump water up out of the earth. The dang thing shades half the town. Jack’s mother says she doesn’t know where he is.

So we wait a few days, but nothing happens except mushrooms are coming up everywhere and the corn isn’t growing, what with dense shadow covering most of the arable land north of Jack’s mother’s house.

At first light on the seventh day we start in on the beanstalk. It’s slow going. Then we get the idea of cutting through some of the vein-like things. Water spurts out like blood, and after a while the whole stalk kinda starts to deflate. We also mix up some salt water and squirt it up some of the tubes. Late in the evening a couple of things fall out of the sky. Some kid comes running up a few minutes later to tell us that bean pods 12 feet long are falling on the north side of town. One of them crashed right through the roof of the dentist’s house. We gotta stop he says.

“No way,” I tell him. “You tell Doc Wilson we’ll be over to fix his roof after we’re done here.”

We keep going, and sometime after dark the thing starts to give. Longitudinal fibers are cracking like cannon shot and soon the noise is so steady we are half deaf. Maybe that’s why, it already being dark and all, we don’t realize at first when the stalk comes down.

The ground jumps and a tremendous cloud of dust explodes away from the stricken stalk. Things get quiet, and we feel pretty good until Jimmy the butcher, said “Where you figure it landed?” Don’t really know what to say after that.


The beanstalk took out a good fifth of the town, but I still say it was a small price to pay. And we did get a few tons of beans out of it. But I do wonder what happened to Jack and the others, up above the sky.

The end

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