Subject: X-Dayversions Part 1

From: friday@subgenius.com (IrRev. Friday Jones)

Date: 1998/02/03

Message-ID: <friday-ya02408000R0302982118150001@news.thecia.net>

Newsgroups: alt.slack,alt.friday

 

X-DAYVERSIONS

©1998 by the IrReverend Friday Jones

 

Dave and Jeff had been punching their way along Route 88, over to Route 17,

through the endless rolling hills, winding around the cars abandoned along

the highway.

In the back seat, Tony coughed. When he coughed he coughed up tiny little

pink chunks: not bloody, but clearly little chunks of Tony. In the three

days that Dave and Jeff had known him, he already seemed to be about twenty

pounds thinner. And getting thinner all the time.

³How far is it to this place?² groused Jeff, pushing his greasy hair back

from his forehead. Jeff hadnıt bathed since the end of the world, which

had been about two weeks ago. No more wife, no more working - so who needs

to bathe? The other two men put up with the smell, because at least you

could tell by the smell that he was another human being.

³My cousin Bill Blattroot told me about this a few years ago, just before

he disappeared. About these weird freaks who had some sort of secret

meetings up in Sherman. They said the world was going to end. And they

were right. Iım just hoping that I can get my hands on one of them.²

Preferably one that he could make scream. Dave clenched his fists on the

steering wheel, unable to feel them or the blood that ran down his wrists

from the nail gouges in his palm. He was numb ... numb.

The three men in the battered car crawled along the highway. Almost all of

the cars they passed were burned or broken in some way. Tony pointed out

one with the elongated, burnt shadow of the driver stretching away from the

open door, as though heıd tried to run away from the car before he

incinerated from the inside. Animals roamed along the verges of the

highway, fearless. A snake coiled and prepared to strike at a toad, which

spouted a brief gout of fire from its nostrils and sent the serpent

fleeing. There was something terrible up in the overcast sky, behind the

clouds that never parted and were always bright, something that none of the

men wanted to look at. The world had ended with a bang, and before the

last vibrations died away, they were going to see what was left of Sherman,

New York.

 

***

 

Even before they got to the campground, they saw the Heads. Dave slammed

the car to a stop at the first glimpse of the blue-black pompadour looming

over the trees - a pompadour of hair that would not have looked out of

place on the head of Paul Bunyan. All three of the men sat frozen in the

car, waiting for the Head to turn, waiting for it to come pumping towards

them on its three legs, waiting for the Fire of the Pipe.

But there was nothing.

Dave could see what looked like the top of a second Head behind the first.

Heıd seen the Heads burning through New York City, dancing on the flaming

bridges as they herded the swarms of people to and fro. Wading across to

Manhattan, their Pipes shooting up fountains of pure light that lit up the

land for hundreds of miles around, shining off the Atlantic. But these

Heads just seemed to be - sitting there. Waiting? Resting?

Slowly ... ever so slowly ... Dave turned the key, started the car, and

backed it behind the shelter of a covered bridge. In hushed tones they

conferred, and decided to camp back along the road a ways. If the Heads

hadnıt moved in the morning, they would chance it. At least it showed they

were on the right track, said Jeff, and the others agreed.

In the brush they huddled that night, not like frightened rabbits but like

frightened men. They did not dare to build a fire, and passed around cold

cans of baked beans and peaches. Dave was very careful to put the can of

beans down on the ground, and push it within Jeffıs reach, and then jerk

his hand away before Jeff touched it. It looked weird, but none of the men

even noticed it by now. And then Jeff picked up the can, and a miracle

occurred.

What had been a half-full can of beans turned - in the twinkling of an eye!

- into a can, still labeled beans, but filled halfway with dog food. Cheap

dog food. The gray kind, with chunks of gristle, that you buy for a dog

you donıt like, and still feel guilty when it eats it and looks up at you,

miserable to its guts.

Sullenly, gagging, Jeff took out his own spoon and started eating the dog

food. It could have been a can of beans, or a jar of caviar, or a roast

turkey sandwich. It would still turn to dog food as soon as Jeff touched

it or the container it was in. All of the food the men carried had been

packed in the trunk, and Dave and Tony took turns carrying it when they

switched cars.

Tony coughed out another tiny lump and hurriedly flicked it away into the

darkness; he had felt it squirming in his palm before crushing it.

It was quiet. The dew seemed to be falling hard and wet all around them,

and they slept in the car, mellow in the stink of Jeffıs body and breath.

Every sip of air Dave took in seemed to leave another cold stain on his

heart. The quiet was terrible - not even a cricket or an owl. Although in

the distance, at the Brushwood Folklore Center, there seemed to be a shiver

of noise leaking though the air.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

--

 

Subject: X-Dayversions Part 2

From: friday@subgenius.com (IrRev. Friday Jones)

Date: 1998/02/03

Message-ID: <friday-ya02408000R0302982120120001@news.thecia.net>

Newsgroups: alt.slack,alt.friday

[More Headers]

 

 

 

The Heads were still, one standing on each side of the dirt road. Their

terrible eyes were open, but they did not move. The morning sun gleamed

off their immense, perfect teeth, each one the size of a king-sized pillow.

The Pipes smoked only a little. They werenıt really rocking back and forth

to the vague music that seemed to be coming from the campground; it just

seemed that way.

Dave, Tony and Jeff had left the car behind them and walked up to the

Brushwood place. They didnıt think of the car as protection: they knew

that nothing could protect them from the things that were loose in the

world now. Tony was muttering, very very faintly, to Jesus as they passed

between the giant Heads and went up the road.

There was a low building on their right, with an open front, and blowing

out of it was money. Quite a lot of money. Jeff looked inside and saw

tables literally piled with loose money. He bent and picked up a five

hundred dollar bill, and then dropped it. It was just paper now.

Trees obscured their view over the rest of the campground, but once they

got out of the trees they could see that they were definitely in the right

place. The dirt road under their feet had turned to yellow bricks - bricks

of gold. Ahead of them was an open field, with a terrible light burning

over it. The grass writhed like a cat in heat, every blade seeming to twine

with the next. Shards of tent fabric blew over the writhing greenery. A

praying mantis the size of a small dog sat in a tree and stared over its

shoulder at them. And right in front of them was a pavilion, with

practically its entire roof burned off as though a giant flaming hand had

wrenched it loose. The three men knew those burn marks: the marks of the

people who Went Up that day. But so many of them ... so many ...

They went to the pavilion. The earth was scorched into hundreds of

bowl-shaped depressions, each one presumably where a person had been

standing. Scattered among the seared grasses were cups of Kool-Aid, clear

gelatin capsules, more money, and pipes. Lots of pipes.

Dave went up to the front of the pavilion, where a low stage was strewn

with weird musical instruments. An atonal music still seemed to be humming

in the air, through the balls of his feet, as though the stage had soaked

up music and was releasing it bit by bit. He carefully stepped around a

guitar that was slowly turning itself round and round like a top, and came

to a podium. It was piled with notes, and behind it lay a scorched white

tuxedo. Long, loose locks of gray and brown hair were tumbled around the

stage. Dave picked up a lock of hair absently, maybe because it reminded

him of his motherıs, and started reading the notes on the podium. They

were some sort of a speech - something about an Escape Plan.

He didnıt notice until he went to turn the page that the lock of hair he

had picked up was twining around his fingers, sinking into them, and

already bringing blood from under his nails. His fingers were turning

purple and he couldnıt feel anything, anything as he awkwardly opened his

Swiss Army Knife with the wrong hand and his teeth, and started slashing

away at the predatory strands of hair. They parted reluctantly, and Dave

was left to look at the bloody gashes he had put into his own flesh.

Suddenly he felt cold: he had cut a ragged ³B² into his palm, complete with

quote marks.

³Shit,² said Jeff, followed by ³shit shit SHIT!² He was holding a piece of

paper that looked like a ticket. It was, in fact, labeled Saucer Ticket.

Furthermore, it informed the incredulous Jeff that the Bearer was entitled

to One-Way Trip From A Doomed Planet if redeemed by July 5th, 1998.

Tony was staring up at the pool. He had to stare up because the water had

formed itself into a twisting spire that was held up by - what? The water

flowed, up and down, now a pointing finger, now a unicornıs horn, now a

throbbing penis. It was at least fifty feet high. It was beautiful -

probably the most beautiful thing Tony had seen since the end of the world.

The grass beyond was cut into a pattern of circles within circles, and

lines, and shapes. The water pointed, now at the sun, now at the Heads,

and now at him. He cringed.

 

***

 

³THEY KNEW!!!!!²

Tony and Jeff were sitting, exhausted, in plastic lawn chairs that they had

dragged down from under the gaze of the Heads. They sat in the low

building, watching Dave pace back and forth, kicking up the money in little

flurries like autumn leaves and waving a book full of papers in one

bleeding hand.

³These fuckers KNEW the end was coming and they ESCAPED!² Dave was

literally frothing; heıd bitten his tongue in his anger and didnıt know it,

and he sprayed little pink drops on the page as he read from it. ³?And the

Pleasure Saucers of the Sex Goddesses will be here in just a few short

hours, taking us away to Planet X, while we leave these Pinks behind to

fry in HELL ON EARTH.ı They knew that ... all this ... was going to

happen! They KNEW and they didnıt TELL ANYONE!²

³Who would they tell?² said Tony, whose sides were starting to billow like

a sail in a slack breeze. ³Who would believe them? Lots of people used to

say the world is going to end.²

Dave kicked Tony in the stomach and his foot sank in, sickeningly, as

though into a deflating balloon. He hopped back as Tony clutched himself

and fell out of the chair, writhing. But still alive. His gut had a dent

in it the size of his head, and Dave felt sick just looking at it. But he

kept on trying to say the endless babblings in his mind, tried to spit it

out in words, while trying to forget the noise that had come out of Tony

when he hit him.

³But ... They...² Dave was speechless, and he turned on Jeff where he sat

in his chair, rocking back and forth just a little bit, staring at two

pieces of paper he had picked off the table. ³One,² Jeff mumbled.

³One WHAT?² screamed Dave, not caring if he waked the Heads or anything

else in this damned place.

³One dollar.² Jeff held out the two pieces of paper - one was a pamphlet

that he had been reading. It did indeed say that The World Will End July

5th, 1998, and only the members of the Church of the SubGenius would be

saved. It went on and on, for page upon page, about the Conspiracy and the

End Times and the Superior Mutants and ³Bob² - the man whose face was worn

by the terrible hell-machine Heads, they could all see that.

On the top right hand-corner of the pamphlet was written ?$1.00.ı

The pamphlet was © 1981.

And the other piece of paper was a one dollar bill. Jeff dropped it, and

it fluttered out the door, folded itself neatly into a smart green

butterfly, took wing and floated away.

Jeff swept his arm though the stacks of money, standing up now, and dug up

necklaces! And books! Videotapes! Piles and piles of audio tapes! The

other two men were helping now, finding press releases and marketing plans

and stickers and buttons and CDıs and medals and plates and inflatable

squid and DVDıs and pipes and everywhere money, calculators, coin stackers,

money wrappers, sales lists, mailing lists, membership lists. Dave picked

up this list and read the first page. His lip trembled faintly.

³Eternal Salvation $30 - Or Triple Your Money Back.² It was stamped on the

top of the page.

³Thirty dollars. Thatıs what they were charging. Thirty dollars to escape

the end of the world.²

Tony had just coughed onto the classified ads section of the New York Times

dated July 1st, 1998. Around the twitching specks of his own flesh, he

could see ad after ad that said ³the world ends july 5th 1998 send $30 to

po box 140306 dallas tx 75214 and you will be saved!² There were lots of

the ads, all written differently but all saying basically the same thing,

crammed in with the prayers to St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary and the Great

Spirit.

The men were so intent on what they had discovered that they didnıt even

hear the faint creaking of the roofıs nails being bent, ever so slowly, out

of their seating. Not until the roof itself was torn off, and they all

looked up screaming.

The Heads were there, and their Pipes were twin swords of energy jutting

from their jaws. And above them in the sky, the clouds had parted and they

could finally see what was up there, the thing they hadnıt wanted to look

at.

It was an Eye.

³WELL IF IT ISNıT BIG JEFF TREMAINE!² said the Voice from above, a Voice so

loud that it shook the trees and send the papers flying everywhere and

drove all three men to their knees. ³REMEMBER FOURTH GRADE? REMEMBER

MAKING ME EAT THAT CAN OF DOG FOOD? HOW DO YOU LIKE THE TASTE OF DOG FOOD

NOW, EH BIG JEFF?²

Jeff seemed to cringe inside his skin, shrinking, cowering from the Voice

and the Eye. His voice was the squeak of a mouse in a trap. ³Who ...²

³OH YOU PROBABLY DONıT REMEMBER ME JEFF, BUT I REMEMBERED YOU! ³ And then

another Voice was shattering the sky, bringing blood to their ears.

³TOO BAD YOU PINK BOYS MISSED THE BOAT!² it bellowed, a womanıs voice

grown as loud as a brass band. ³I TRIED TO SELL YOU SALVATION BUT YOU JUST

WERENıT INTERESTED! TOO LATE NOW!²

Dave was clawing at his pockets with his numb fingers, looking for his

wallet. Then he snatched up a fistful of money and waved it at the sky,

tears running down his face. The other men were doing the same, leaping,

pleading, tossing money upwards towards the Eye, weeping in terror as the

Heads bent over the shell of the building, The menıs tiny voices ran

together, sounding like one endless begging.

³Please ... we have the money ... we want to be saved ... please ... weıll

join ... PLEAASEEE!²

But all there was in the sky was laughter. Giant, booming laughter, that

faded away into the distance. Very far away. As far away as the stars.

The Pipes came alight.

Dave, Tony and Jeff screamed. Forever.

 

THE END

© 1997 the IrReverend Friday Jones