By: Keith Helinski
For Joshua Moffitt, who would've enjoyed this Vonnegut/Lovecraftian-hybrid of a beast.
Once upon a time there was a fella name Ron. Poor, poor Ron. The last time we had seen poor, poor Ron – he was stuck in line between a Team Edward fan and a Team Jacob fan while buying a Twilight DVD for his girlfriend. Ron is still poor and poor, being dragged to stuff he doesn't like (just this past weekend, he was forced to go to the screening of the third Fifty Shades of Grey film with his girlfriend – poor, poor, Ron). This tale doesn't involve Ron or his girlfriend. This tale involves Ron's not so poor brother, Ben.
Benjamin Benny Ben goes by just Ben. He was named after the Michael Jackson song, 'Ben.' He hates that song, and Michael Jackson. He also doesn't care for his poor brother Ron, and Ron's girlfriend. Ron doesn't have much of a personality. Ben doesn't either, though Ben thinks he does.
Ben Benny Benjamin loves WWF. No, not the World Wildlife Fund. He loves WWE, which is referred to as World Wrestling Entertainment. It was once called the World Wrestling Federation, but the World Wildlife Fund sued the World Wrestling Federation for the WWF name. The World Wildlife Fund won the battle, so the World Wrestling Federation had to change its name to the World Wrestling Entertainment. Ben still calls the World Wrestling Entertainment the World Wrestling Federation. He used to be a moderator (mod for short) on a wrestling fan forum called NoDQ, which used to be called The Mayhem, after it was originally called WWFWCW. The World Wrestling Federation, before it was the World Wrestling Entertainment, sued the WWFWCW for using its name without legal authorization. The circle of life as we know it. Ben doesn't mod NoDQ anymore, for NoDQ fan forum no longer exists (but the site exists). Instead, he does weekly podcasts on YouTube called THE MAIN EVENT. He has a whole whopping 14 weekly viewers on his weekly podcast. 13 of the viewers are his co-workers at his employer, Dime-a-Dozen. The 14th viewer is Ron, poor, poor Ron. Ben doesn't care much for Ron, but poor, poor Ron sure does enjoy Ben's podcast. It is Ron's only escape from the clutches of his girlfriend's world. Ron doesn't watch WWE, aka WWF. It's not part of Ron's scheduled TV time (his girlfriend controls the TV). Ron gets away with watching Ben's THE MAIN EVENT while hiding in the bathroom.
Benny Benjamin Ben enjoys collecting Pop! Funko figures (don't you dare call them toys around his presence, much like don't you dare call graphic novels, comics around him either). Ben has five china cabinets, just to keep up with his collection. He never takes them out of the box, as they would lose its value. He is a regular at the local Game Stop, which he will spend hours glaring at every single Pop! Funko figure, making mental notes in his head of what he owns and doesn't own. Mind you, he has three Stranger Things Sheriff Jim Hopper (512), 6 Kill Bill Gogo Yubari (71), and 10 Macho Man Randy Savage (10). A friend from work came over once and asked Ben if he could spare a Macho Man. The friend also did a tasteless impression of Macho Man grabbing a Slim Jim. That was the last time that friend was over Ben's house. The friend didn't get a Macho Man Pop! Funko either.
Among Ben's hobbies (which isn't much, too be honest, TBH for short), Ben really digs getting loot crates in the mail. Not only does he dig it, but each time he gets a loot crate in the mail, he Facebook's live himself opening the loot crate. Never-mind that majority of the monthly subscribed loot crates are dollar store junk (and replica Pop! Funko figures). Never-mind that each time Ben opens a loot crate (and Facebook's live himself opening the loot crate), he always looks disappointed afterwards. Never-mind Ben, um, never-mind!
In the mail today arrives yet another loot crate. But this one is very unique. Unlike majority of so-called loot crates that are made out of cheap cardboard – this was an actual metal crate. And it's small. Certainly wouldn't hold a handful of dollar store items and a few Pop! Funko figures (never toys). Its sender reads Providence, Rhode Island, USA, North America, Earth, and Milky Way. Ben wouldn't be getting his hands on this loot crate for another week, though. The loot crate that was meant for Ben was accidentally shipped to a neighbor across from Ben. The neighbor's name is irrelevant because as soon as the neighbor opened the loot crate and discovered its contents, the nameless neighbor died. The nameless neighbor lived alone, and wasn't discovered until a month later. The discovery spawned an investigation. No foul play was found. The loot crate also didn't cause the nameless neighbor to die. That's silly, considering it's just a crate – a loot crate. The nameless neighbor simply had a heart attack after he opened the loot crate that wasn't meant for him. The loot crate sat at the nameless neighbor's house for another week before it finally reached its designated home: Ben.
Like clockwork, Ben got his live Facebook feed working. He has 14 followers (the same followers that follow his THE MAIN EVENT podcast). He plays Metallica 'The Call of Ktulu' on his Spotify account. He then handles the loot crate carefully, as if it is the Holy Grail, or the Ark of the Covenant, or a crate that consists of a Mogwai. named Gizmo. The 4 by 4 by 4 metal loot crate, weighing half of a pound, has a simple lock that you can unlock by lifting the lock up, unlocking the lock. With luck, Ben unlocks the lock and opens the loot crate. As he does this, he talks to the Facebook feed, giving the 14 viewers something to chew.
"Okay guys, this is the second loot crate of the month. I wasn't expecting this, but hey – the more the loot crates - the better! Not familiar with the packaging. It's not an anime loot crate, or a Star Wars loot crate, or a DC loot crate, or a Marvel loot crate, or a WWF loot crate. Maybe it's a new loot crate, like a horror movie loot crate."
Ben doesn't open the loot crate immediately – he still talks to the Facebook live feed and guesses what could be in the loot crate. He could just as well open the metal loot crate and unveil the mystery once and for all. Instead, he continues to guess. This is one of Ben's infamous traits. It keeps the 14 followers enticed. Ben doesn't know this micro-size fact, in which majority of the 14 followers find annoying – they all scream at the screen, 'just open the fucking box!' They never directly tell Ben this, though.
"Maybe it's a The Conjuring loot crate with a small Annabelle doll. It would be sweet if it was the original Annabelle, a Raggedy Ann doll, instead of that crappy version they have in the movie. Did you know…""
Ben rambles for a bit. He rambles about the inaccuracy of The Conjuring films to its inspired story counterparts. He tends to do this once he finds a topic worth flapping his jaw about. He thinks that this gives him a personality. It doesn't. It just makes him very annoying, as most know-it-alls are. As he rambles on, 13 of the 14 viewers on his Facebook live feed go about their daily lives. They keep Ben's live feed on their personal electronic device (whether it is a phone, a computer, or a TV screen), but they are pre-occupied with more important stuff in their lives. 13 of the 14 viewers do this quite often. They never directly tell Ben this, though. The only viewer that is watching Ben's Facebook live feed is poor, poor Ron. Poor, poor Ron is sitting, uncomfortably, on the toilet in his bathroom. He has the volume real low, and the door is locked. This would be strangely suspicious under normal circumstances, but poor, poor Ron doesn't live a normal life. Being whipped is love, and love is being whipped. The circle of life, as poor, poor Ron sees it.
After some time, Ben stops rambling and finally opens the metal loot crate. He eyeballs what is inside the metal loot crate. A dumbfounded look surfaces on the dumbfounded dipshit's face.
He reaches inside the metal loot box and pulls out a slimy, green Beanie Baby. But it isn't a Beanie Baby. There is no TY label. And it's too slimy and ugly to be any resemblance of a Beanie Baby. The appearance is what would happen if you blended a man, an octopus, and a squid together. An infinite amount of tentacles are attached to the mouth.
"What the fuck?" is the only thing Ben can utter. And he didn't say it out loud. He whispers it.
Ben stares at this bizarre plush doll (never a toy). Ben then tries to think where he has seen the likeness of it before. As Ben is possessed (and obsessed) with his brain's wheels turning (and turning) ever so slowly, attempting to crack the case – Ben doesn't notice the tentacles attached to the mouth of the small octopus/squid man move slightly.
Poor, poor Ron also doesn't notice. By now, his girlfriend pounds the bathroom door. The jig was up for poor, poor Ron. He turns off his phone.
Ben's Facebook live feed is now down to 13 viewers. But none of the 13 viewers were viewing the live feed. Ben was all by himself. He still talks to the live feed, as if people were watching him. They weren't.
"I can't place where I've seen this guy from. I am trying to think. Maybe a monster from a Tora film."
He means Guillermo del Toro.
"Or a creature from Studio Ghib…Gib…Studio Ghilbia."
He means Studio Ghibli.
The little slimy plush's mouth moves. Its voice is faint – almost a whisper that even dogs wouldn't be able to pick up. Ben doesn't notice the voice, the quiet but effective call…
After some time, the little slimy plush repulses Ben. Not because of it being slimy, or ugly. Of course, Ben doesn't notice any of the hobbit-size octopus/squid man's strange little quirks no plush figure (never a toy) would do. Ben is still occupied trying to figure out what it is.
If there is something Ben can't figure out, or doesn't know right away, or has no answers for – he immediately becomes distressed and rules it out as of any significant importance to him. He does the same thing when it comes to politics, philosophy, and even the opposite sex. If he doesn't understand, he doesn't want anything to do with it. That's why WWF (WWE), Pop! Funko figures (never toys), and loot crates is his preferred fancy in life. He can easily understand these facets.
He puts the little ugly dude back in the little metal loot crate. He proceeds to walk out of the house. The Facebook live feed is still live, not that there is anyone watching it, despite the 13 viewer's icon lit up.
Ben takes the loot crate and throws it in the garbage can in front of the house. Luckily, it's garbage day tomorrow.
It starts to rain. Ben runs inside as if the wet watery liquid rain is acid rain. Luckily for Ben, it isn't. Unluckily for us, it isn't. But that doesn't stop Ben from running to the house. Luckily, this is the last time we see Benjamin Benny Ben that goes by just Ben. Unluckily, this isn't the last time we see the little ugly slimy green plush.
Ben, of course, doesn't notice the garbage can in front of his house is knocked over. The loot crate falls out of the garbage can. The loot crate lands in the curb of the street. The wet watery liquid rain creates a little stream along the curb. The little stream grows bigger, and grabs hold of the loot crate. The loot crate drifts away, passing houses. No one notices, because no one is outside. It is raining, after all.
The stream (and the loot crate) flows directly into Clinton River, which resides half a mile away from Ben's house. The loot crate submerges into the river. It floats for a little bit, then sinks. A faint voice, a whisper, a call can be heard. Within an hour, the rain stops. Drip, drip, drip can be heard from the water off the trees drip, drip, dripping onto the ground. A few bubbles appear in the river randomly named Clinton. No one sees it, though, because no one is outside. The bubbles increase to a lot of bubbles. The water in the river begins to turn into waves. The waves intensify into violent surges. No one sees it, of course, because no one is outside.
A dark shadow appears underneath the water. It rises up. All of a sudden, a monstrous huge green octopus-man figure appears, increasing in height, width, and dimension. It rises out of the water. It is the slimy green plush (never a toy) that upsized itself, considerably. Its infinite tentacles attached to its mouth move in all different directions. If this were a scene in a movie, the audience would say, out loud, 'whoa!' If a person saw this in real life, they would shit their pants. But, no one sees it because no one is outside to see it.
The monstrous huge green octopus-man opens its mouth and starts to say with an ear piecing volume for all to hear:
"…R'lyeh," I hear again. This is the fourth time I've heard the word as I am writing. But it's always at a faint whisper.
"What the fuck?" I say out loud. Everyone is asleep. Its 3 A.M., the best time to get some writing done. I love it this time of night. Half of the world is asleep. It's quiet, except the music I have playing in the background. Tool's 'Ænima' is currently playing. Maynard James Keenan is screaming about taking a vacation from this shit. I don't blame him any. While he takes a vacation from this shit, I am starting to freak out a little bit.
I get up from my desk and look outside to the backyard. I then open the door and go outside for a few. I can hear the wind make sweet love to the palm trees: 'CHHHHHHHHH…wastin' away again….CHHHHHHHHH.' At least, that's what it sounds like to me. A few dogs nearby start barking. Then they stop. Everything else is peaceful, quiet, relaxing. The very definition of tranquility. And no, that wasn't a cheap reference to 'Wastin' Away.'
I go back inside, lock the door, and sit back at my desk. By now, 'Ænima' is over and Tool's 'Schism" starts playing.
I stare at my computer monitor and re-read what I've written. Should I keep the reference of Metallica's 'The Call of Ktulu' in the story, I ask myself. Hmm…I stare at the screen for a few seconds, and finally decide to keep it in. Fuck it, I say to myself! It's a cheap reference, but it works. I then add a few finishing touches, proof read it several times (but knowing I will still miss one or ten simple mistakes – the joys of writing!) 'Schism' concludes with Maynard James Keenan screaming about knowing the pieces will fit.
I debate with myself between Amazon or Fiction Press, Fiction Press or Amazon. The story is good, I think. But it touches upon other people's work. Whatever. I go on Fiction Press, upload the story, and publish it. I then get an email confirming that the story is published.
"R'lyeh!" This time, it wasn't a whisper. It was a full-blown shout consisting of a million voices at once – and it came from somewhere far, but loud enough to be heard. My computer turns off. The power is out.
"Oh great,' I say to myself. I check my phone, turning on my mobile data. No Internet source on my phone. I can hear thunder outside. I look out the window and I see a lightning strike nearby. Thunder rumbles a few seconds afterwards. A separate rumble can be heard from a distance.
I really start to freak out. The family is still asleep. How could they sleep through this?
I am still looking outside. Another lightning bolt flashes the night sky. With it came a brief image of a huge, monstrous creature standing above my house, looking down at me. I also saw very briefly a monstrous creature standing above a house next to my house. But that's got to be my pure imagination, right?
Before I could register what I was seeing, I hear a huge explosion outside. I am so scared; yet, I can not look away. I am possessed (and obsessed) over what I was seeing. My eyes are glued to the window looking out the backyard; I didn't even notice that half of my house is torn apart
I've read my share of dark and bleak stories about horrors and death, as well as writing my own share of gruesome tales. Never occurred to me while writing those stories, how to completely convey what goes through a character's head before they ultimately meet their demise. They didn't know. But I, the writer playing God, knew when they would die.
I didn't quite register that I was about to die. I also didn't put two and two together that I am the cause of the end of the fucking world. I just thought it would be cool to write homage for both Kurt Vonnegut and H.P. Lovecraft. Hell, so many writers throughout the year's written stories; honoring H.P. Lovecraft. Movies, TV shows, authors owe their success to H.P. Lovecraft. I doubt they knew with each Lovecraftian story written, it was just another piece to the puzzle to call the great ones, the ancient ones, the elders.
A huge hand crashes into the window and grabs hold of me. I felt like I was in a simulator ride at Universal Studios. But what was in front of me wasn't a screen. It was a big, fucking, green, monster. It was a Cthulhu. But not just any Cthulhu – the Cthulhu.
"R'lyeh!" it says to me.
I wish I could come up with something real creative to say. "This is the end, my friend," or impersonate Mickey and say, "see you real soon," or a Bruce Willis/Arnold Schwarzenegger one-liner. Instead, ultimately, the last thing I say before I die is "oh fuck!"
The big, fucking, green monster raises his hand to his mouth. Contrary to what I wrote, the tentacles attached to his mouth stay in one fixed position. The big, fucking, green monster opens its big, fucking, green mouth and places me inside. I feel a sharp pain all around my body. The last thing I hear is a loud CRUNCH.
K.H., February 13, 2018.