August 31, 2009

Yah Za

by Luc Reid

This story is a new addition to the "Eyeball of Power" series that began with "Something Was Different" and continued with "A Cage in a Pit in Another Universe."

By the way, please raise a glass of cheap, sparkling white wine with me to celebrate: this is my 100th story on the Daily Cabal!

It had been a rough day so far, even not counting waking up in another universe (with a hangover). He'd been chased by ostrich-mounted police, imprisoned in a rusty iron cage hung in a void, and made his escape with a mostly-crazy skinny guy who, it turned out, could use a lighter to ignite a torrent of fire breath that could melt iron. The skinny guy had swallowed an Eye of Power, whatever that was. Now it was Andy and the skinny guy hiding in an abandoned house with only three-foot ceilings.

"Crab people don't live around here no more," the skinny guy commented, crawling through the mouse droppings to slump gratefully onto a filthy cushion. "Nobody want a house you can't stand up in."

"I should get back to my universe," Andy said.

The skinny guy's eyes lit up. "Yah mother, you can get us out of this scum-scrape world?"

Andy shook his head. "I don't even know how I got here in the first place." He had confused, drunken memories of his brother-in-law's lab equipment and the ouija board, but it definitely didn't amount to a mental schematic. "What about that Eye of Power? Can it get us out?"

The skinny guy blew a dismissive raspberry. "Just one Eye of Power's no good for much nothin', ma slacka. Breathe a little fire, see a little heat in the dark ... that's about it. I need to find me just a second one."

"Why, what's two do?"

"Make you into a lava troll! Oh, the little ostriches gonna run like baby chicks when I come stomping down the street with the hellfire, ma slacka!"

Andy was sucking on that news and debating the ethics of breaking out of unjust imprisonment with a potential "lava troll" when he heard a shriek--kind of a little girl shriek--that was surprisingly familiar. It was followed by the now-unmistakable sound of ostriches running. He scrambled over to the empty front doorway and looked out. Sure enough, there was his brother-in-law Henry, fleeing two ostrich-mounted police and shrieking like Little Orphan Annie in a woodchipper. As Henry sprinted by, Andy snagged him by the ankle, tripping him hard onto the slightly rubbery street. Andy pulled hard, dragging Henry inside. A moment later, the ostriches barrelled past. Henry looked up.

"Andy?" said Henry in bewilderment.

"Yah za, ma slacka," Andy said. "You're just the guy I most wanted to talk to."

July 26, 2007

A Cage in a Pit in Another Universe

by Luc Reid

"What you in for?" said the skeletal guy from his rusty, spherical cage a few yards away.

"I paid for smokes with money from another universe," said Andy from his own cage. He shifted, trying to get comfortable, which was impossible. The cage was too short to stand up in, too curved to sit in, and lying down made the bars cut into him. Squatting was bearable for short periods. He tried that again. Belatedly, he remembered his manners. "What about you?"

"I ate an Eyeball of Power."


"Yah za, it wasn't bad," said the skeletal guy. "Kinda savory. You know, ma slacka, you sound brainburnt to me."

Andy looked out across the wide, dank pit, crisscrossed by girders from which dozens of cages like his hung by tangles of thick chain. "If that means crazy, then yeah, probably. You know how long we're supposed to be here?"

The skeletal guy smiled, revealing a mouth almost devoid of teeth. "What you mean? How long before we die?"

"They have to let us out sometime, right?"

"How come?"

Andy didn't have a good answer to that. His legs were beginning to ache, so he tried sitting again, but the cage forced him into a slump, then into lying down against the rough bars.

"You want a cigarette?" Andy said.

The skeletal guy laughed mirthlessly. "Yah za, what we gonna do with those?"

Andy shrugged, took out a cigarette, and cupped his hand around the end while he flicked his lighter.

"Yah my long-suffering mama!" said the skeletal guy. "You got fire?"

Andy flicked sparks from his lighter in the guy's direction as he took a deep drag on his Millboro, which tasted awful. "Yeah," he said. "So?"

"I told you," said the skeletal guy. "I ate an Eyeball of Power! We just gotta swing these cages closer, ma slacka, and we'll be flying outta here in no time!"

Andy had no idea what eating an eyeball had to do with his lighter, but he damned sure didn't have anything better to do. Clamping his cigarette firmly in one side of his mouth and squinting, he stood up as much as he could, his back pressed against the bars, and leaned first one way, then the other. The skeletal guy began to do the same.

Hell, even if the guy turned out to be crazy, at least Andy'd made a friend.

May 2, 2007

Something Was Different

by Luc Reid

Something was different; Andy wasn't exactly sure what. There were some different smells, maybe.

Andy rubbed heavily at his eyes. He had a headache, and he realized after a minute that he had been sleeping on the couch in his clothes. He probably shouldn't have done that. He also probably shouldn't have snuck into his brother-in-law's physics lab last night and randomly connected equipment to a ouija board, but what the hell: he'd been really drunk at the time.

He patted himself down for a cigarette, squinting at the somehow-different wallpaper. Nothing. He stumbled down the stairs and into the somehow-different street, spotted the neighborhood store a couple of doors down from where he expected, and shambled over to it.

Inside the different smells were stronger, and he thought now that the air felt a little different on his eyeballs. Hangover.

"Give me a pack of Marlboros," he said to the short, dark-skinned guy behind the counter. He uncrumpled a twenty from his pocket and laid it on the counter.

"You mean Millboros?" said the store guy. Fucking foreigners couldn't even get brand names right.

"Right there--" said Andy. "Not where your hand is, to the left. The hard pack. Thank you."

The store guy slid the cigarettes across the counter, took the twenty, and gave Andy back a fifteen and some change.

Andy stared at the fifteen. "What the fuck is this?" he said.

"It's a fifteen dollar bill, ma slacka," said the store guy. He began to slide the twenty into the cash register and looked at it. "What the fuck is this?" He made a face. "Oh, this suit is ugly! This ain't no money!"

Andy had to admit, Andrew Jackson was not the prettiest president, but he didn't like where the conversation was going. He looked around him, really paying attention for the first time since he'd woken up. There was a jar of tiny fangs on a shelf near him. Further down, the boxes of cereal were cylindrical, and they were whispering. Andy turned and ran out the door and into the street, pursued closely by the store guy.

"Hey, stop! Thief!" yelled the store guy.

"Halt, in the name of the Vizier!" cried an authoritative voice. Andy didn't even turn to look; he just kept running.

Idiot. Nobody can outrun ostrich-mounted police.