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Extreme Deviations of Horror
By John Bruni, Garry Bushell, Ramsey Campbell, Randy Chandler, Tim Curran, Ralph Greco Jr, C.J. Henderson, Z.F. Kilgore, Sean Logan, Graham Masterton, Angel Leigh McCoy, C. Dennis Moore, Stefan Pearson, Brian Rosenberger, Jeffrey Thomas, Cheryl Mullenax
Comet PressCopyright © 2009 Comet Press
All rights reserved.
IN THE TOWN of Winterhaven, fishing was a way of life. The first word out of an infant's mouth was more likely to be bass instead of mama. Most children learned how to bait a hook before they were taught to tie their shoes. Men didn't discuss who would win the Superbowl or the World Series; they didn't care. The bottom line was who would capture the Bass Master Classic and walk off with the coveted Angler of the Year award. In a town where TV fishing host Bill Dance was regarded as a Saint and the local reverend spoke more of Jonah than Jesus in his sermons, Silas McGee was a fisherman among fishermen. And that's what caused Lester Wilkes to break more fishing poles than any five men in angler history.
Lester was a damn good fisherman. He could coax fish to bite when everyone else was already microwaving their fishsticks at home. He could seduce them with little more than spit and a paper clip. He was good.
Silas was a legend. He looked the part. He had more wrinkles than a fat lady had stretch marks and walked like the fat lady was riding piggyback. His face was so pale from walking hunched over one wondered if Silas ever saw the sky. The beard didn't help. It reached to his navel and was the color of a well-used toilet bowl. Ancient as he was, he could be seen everyday with his brown bag of medicinals (as he liked to call the 40 ouncer), his rods and his can of bait, fishing to his heart's content. When the day was done, he left with the bottle empty and his stringer full.
Lester had an unhealthy distrust and dislike for Silas. Distrust because Lester distrusted anything older than he was, even though he was almost 27. Lester still partied as hard as he did in high school. Dislike because Silas was a better fisherman. Not that Lester would ever admit to it. And there was another reason too.
As a little minnow, Lester had caught Silas with his dirty overalls around his ankles, masturbating with a fish. Lester was about 13 and was no stranger to masturbation. He milked the walleye himself. But to see this old hillbilly with a fish on his dick saying, "Bite it, bite it." with his eyes rolled back in his head was something else all together. When Silas realized he was being watched he turned to Lester and said, "Maybe you'd like to give your mouth a try, boy?" Lester lit out of there faster than a fart at a baked bean buffet.
As an adult, Lester had avoided Silas. Lester complained that Silas always smelled like he had just stepped in dog shit and had taken the extra effort to ensure both shoes got equal amounts. Hygiene was not a priority. Not that it was a high priority with Lester either. If some lady was kind enough, dumb enough, or drunk enough to spread her legs on Lester's face, he wouldn't wash for days, instead letting the smell sit on his mustache so he could savor his conquest long after the battle was over.
Lester usually saw Silas' mug in the Winterhaven Gazette, in the Catch of the Week feature. That damn goon face every week. He thought the paper should carry an advisory. Warning — Extreme Ugliness may result in a loss of appetite. Even if someone was reported missing or got caught desecrating one of the local graveyards, or someone found a ten-inch mushroom, Silas and his lunatic grin always took center stage.
There's no way in hell that increased sales, Lester swore.
Lester remembered last summer, when he had nailed a fifteen-pound large mouth. Damned if he wasn't excited. He figured on being a lock for the Catch of the Week. No telling what kind of pussy he'd get being a celebrity. All smiles, he brought the fish to be weighed and the first thing the photographer said was "That's the biggest fish I've seen all week except for the one Silas brought in this morning. Now that was a whopper!"
Lester shook his head, muttered something about carp fucker and smacked the photographer in the head with the bass. It was enough to make a man take up quilting.
Their paths had last crossed two weeks ago. Lester had taken the boat out, hoping to try a few holes in preparation for the upcoming walleye tournament. He had hoped to try a different kind of hole the night before without any luck. He took Mary Ellen out to eat. Slopped the hog but no pork was pulled.
He had been hung over as hell. The lake was anything but calm, causing Lester to heave his morning breakfast of Doritos, cold pizza, and PBR into the water. Who should be there, but Silas with his $5.99 orange lifejacket and that rusted piece of shit he called a boat.
Lester steered well clear of the old man and started casting. To pass the time, he thought about all the pussy he didn't get last night. That started him thinking about all the beaver he hadn't tongued, fingered and banged over the years, which was a lot. Getting depressed, he imagined Silas was a modern day Noah but instead of gathering animals, he collected turds. Big turds, small turds, cornfilled, stinky feces of all imaginable geometric shapes. He imagined Silas's boat full of shit and still seeking more poop. Even when the boat began sinking, his quest for dung continued. With each turd, the boat sank a little more. Finally Silas noticed and panicked. There's too much shit.
Lester imagined himself sliding his boat up against Silas's, yanking his pants down and taking the crap of a lifetime, a gorilla shit, we're talking poop measured in pounds, right on to the steamy mound that was Silas's boat, sending that fish-sodomizing bastard into whatever watery hell would have him.
Splashing woke Lester from his daydream. Maybe Silas's damn boat had sprung a leak. No such luck. Silas had caught another fish, about his seventh in the last hour. He put it on the stringer, took another hit from his bag, scratched his crotch, and re-baited the hook.
Lester, using a big fat night crawler imported from Texas, had caught nothing except for moss and the sniffles.
Super pissed, Lester yelled out, "Whatcha using for bait, Silas?"
Silas lowered the bag, sneered, and replied, "Taint none of your damn business, boy."
With that, the fisherman reeled in his line, gunned the Mercury outboard and sputtered off across the lake, muttering as he went. After landing the remains of a tennis shoe, Lester returned to town to see if he could find out where the damned fish were biting. He was greeted with the best news of the day.
Apparently, Jerome Hickey had finally gotten tired of his fat wife and his equally obese kids and left them. No one had seen or heard from Jerome in the past ten days.
Lester thought Jerome was about as useful as a bleeding hemorrhoid. He was the type of guy who would smell his fingers after wiping his ass. Lester had knocked his front teeth out a few years ago in a heated argument over which color of Roostertail, white or yellow, was more effective for trout. Lester had screwed Jerome's wife Martha too. Sweat meat.
Meat was the word for Martha, all 240 pounds of her. For a cow, she sure did have a tight pussy. She had a little Hitler Mustache on her snatch. Lester always gave her a Sieg Heil salute when she dropped her drawers. And could she suck peter? With such force, it would make your asshole cringe. Lester planned to go over and comfort her when he had time.
Jerome had been one of the odds on favorite to win the walleye tournament and the five hundred dollars that went along with it. With him out of the picture, Lester was thinking of ways to spend the prize money. Maybe treat Martha to a meal at Big Don's Barbecue — We pork it and you fork it.
Days passed. There was still no sign of Jerome. With the tournament a few days away, Lester was talking to P.J., his best friend and beer-drinking buddy. The first time they had met in grade school, P.J. was charging people a dollar to smell his finger. There was quite a line. P.J. said he had fingered Rosie Lee Marshall, every male fifth grader's jerk off fantasy, at last night's school carnival and had yet to wash his hand. Lester was skeptical but stink was still stink. Opportunities like this didn't arrive every day. Sure enough, there was a distinctive odor. A few months later in detention hall, P.J. revealed that he had stuck his finger in a can of tuna before arriving at school. He had cleared almost thirty bucks.
They were at P.J.'s combo junkyard and used car lot, plenty drunk, and talking about the usual, fishing, fucking, and fighting, when Lester mentioned his meeting on the lake with Silas.
"Don't surprise me none. He's a sneaky bastard," said P.J.
"I don't know what he was casting but it was working."
"Yeah, for a man who looks as if he's older than Methuselah he sure as hell has brought in some biggun's. Surprised he ain't had a stroke yet, bringing some of them in," replied Lester.
"That Silas, he's a living breakfast. Flakes, fruits, and nuts all in one bowl," snickered P.J.
At that both men broke out laughing. Wiping tears from his eyes, P.J. said, "Yeah I sure as hell wish I knew what the old geezer was using for bait."
"So do I," agreed Lester, his face as contorted as a question mark.
Later that evening, after being rejected by Martha, the blond clerk at the gas station, two teenagers walking home (damn dykes), and after downing a few more beers and flexing the five knuckle shuffle while watching a rerun of Baywatch, Lester had an idea.
Under the camouflage of night, Lester drove his pick-up to Silas' shack in the woods. Not taking any chances, he parked out of sight and staggered the rest of the way, stopping to answer nature's call once as he went.
Silas wasn't poor, but you couldn't tell that by his living conditions. His home was a log cabin that looked more like a log pile. In his yard were the remains of five cars. It was like a demolition derby and all the cars had come there to die. An outhouse stood near the shack. Judging from the grunts coming from within, the king was on his throne, thought Lester. With that bit of information, drunk on courage and cheap beer, he headed for the shack. The door already opened, he entered.
Inside he saw a couch that had seen better days, the remains of a chair that had seen much better days and a broken television with an axe firmly embedded in the screen that would never see the light of day again. Trophies of fish decorated the walls. Bass, catfish, walleye, bluegill, the place looked like a mounted aquarium. It smelled of beer, fish, and urine. It was like a garbage can with windows and the windows were closed. Damn, it stank.
He moved into the kitchen. More fish decorated the walls. On the stove were some fresh bluegill, fried in cracker crumbs and another type of meat. His stomach growling, Lester sampled it. The fish was delicious and the meat mouth watering. Kind of like squirrel but less gamey. Was that a fucking hair? It was. More than one. Didn't affect the taste, Lester thought as he swallowed.
Lester opened the refrigerator and found it empty, except for what looked like potato salad gone mutant, a jar of pickles and some baloney. He wondered what Silas did with all of his catch. Surely, it had to be here somewhere. He moved towards the window and tripped. He looked down and saw a handle. The entrance to the cellar.
Descending the narrow staircase, Lester looked around and saw poles, reels, and tackle boxes galore. On a small worktable, among the knives, saws, and hammers were lures by the hundreds, poppers, jigs, spoons, spinners, crankbaits, and buzzbaits. Odd the lures looked as if they had not been used in quite some time. Rust covered the once glistening hooks. Pondering this, Lester saw an icebox in the corner of the cellar.
"So that's where the old man keeps his catch. He wouldn't mind if I borrowed some, would he. No sir," Lester said.
Lester opened the freezer. Among the packs of frozen fish and other meats was what remained of Jerome Hickey. His left arm was filleted to the bone. His right hand was missing three fingers.
Bile rising, Lester turned to puke. He looked into the worm eaten, maggot infested face of Wally "Whiskers" Malone who had disappeared months earlier. Scanning the room he saw bones and parts and pieces that caused him to gag. Hanging in a corner looked to be a skinned deer. But deer didn't wear Hanes underwear. Screaming "Jesus on a crutch", Lester rushed upstairs and into Silas' murderous glare.
Instead of liquor or a fishing pole, Silas was holding an axe.
"So ya done gone and discovered my secret, did ya. Too bad, ya won't live to tell anyone. Usually, I like to use eight-pound Trilene monofilament to choke 'em. Sneak up all quiet like and snap. Just like crappie on a jig. But for a sneaky, gopher-cheeked peep thief like you, Betsy will do. Betsy meet dead boy."
With the grace of a fly fisherman trying to catch a stubborn trout, Silas lifted the axe, lunged forward and fell down, gasping for breath.
Clutching his chest, Silas looked up into Lester's saucer wide eyes and whispered, "Shit. And I'm outta toilet paper too." Lester seized the opportunity. He kicked the fallen fisherman in the head once, twice, three times because it felt good.
Lester, regaining his composure, left as fast as his drunk-ass feet could carry him, staggering like a three-legged Daddy Longlegs back to his truck.
Lester reported his findings to the Sheriff Schlagsteiner who wrote him up on a public intoxication charge and put his ass in jail. The following morning, a hung over Lester explained what had happened. Skeptical at first, the sheriff agreed to check things out. An investigation was conducted. The coroner concluded that Silas really could've used a bath and that he died of heart failure. Four corpses, sixteen skeletons, including one horse skeleton, and an assortment of fingernails were found on Silas' property.
In wake of the grisly findings, Winterhaven's tourist population flourished.
P.J. sold authentic fishhooks from the insane killer's very own tackle box made of human bone. At least, he said they were authentic. Needless to say, he made a killing.
Widow Martha and her fatherless children became media darlings. In fact, Kirstie Alley was rumored to play Martha in Lifetime movie of the week. The walleye tournament was postponed and Silas made the front page for one last time. For once, Lester stole the spotlight. Everybody loved a hero. Although his sex life didn't improve much, Lester did receive a free Roland Martin signature series rod and reel courtesy of the local bait and tackle store, a free membership to B.A.S.S., ten spin-n-glow triple teasers and a set of Baywatch Season one DVDs.
Lester graced the cover of the Winterhaven Gazette several more times that year for winning four fishing tournaments and for breaking one county fishing record. A lot of people commented on the pictures, saying he looked fat. Lester shrugged it off, saying the camera always added at least fifteen pounds. He didn't care. He was famous. In fact, his breaking the state record for striped bass even eclipsed the disappearance of little Amanda Southern and little Ricky Jameson for the headline in that week's paper.CHAPTER 2
IT WAS A FILTHY JOB but Frank was in no position to turn it down. When your life is in the toilet, you do what you can to stay afloat and keep your hand off the handle. Some days you have to fight the unforgiving urge to flush it all away and send the whole wretched mess spiraling down the tubes, yourself with it.
But this was not one of those days. So Frank pulled on the black rubber knee-boots, stomped his feet a couple of times to imprint his humanity, and stared grimly into the sludge-filled swimming pool.
Even after the electric pump had siphoned the stagnant brown water out of the pool and ejaculated it into the patch of woods on the other side of the backyard's chain-link fence, the sludge-encrusted pool still reeked of floodwater and bottom-rot.
Frank stretched the elastic band of the blue surgical mask behind his head and positioned the mask over his nose and mouth. It wouldn't keep all the bacteria or moist spores out of his airway, but at least it would cut down on the stench. The instructions printed on the box warned that facial hair would prevent a proper face-seal. No way was he going to shave his close-cropped battleship-gray beard for a three-day job. He would take his chances with whatever-the-fuck-kind of bugs that might be hiding in that shit-brown sludge, waiting to set up housekeeping in his body's susceptible cells.
"Come on in, boys," he said to microscopic culprits. "Make yourselves at home, if you can pay the freight. But I warn you, this old abode is way past fixer-upper, and I reserve the right to evict your ass without notice."
Christ. Talking to microbes now. "I could use a drink," he said — to himself, not to the lurking nasties.
But he knew he couldn't take that first one. Not if he wanted to get this job done and get paid three days from now. One drink would lead to the next, and by the third one, he would slide into Take-This-Job-And -Shove-It mode, load his wheelbarrow and shovel into the back of his rattletrap GMC pickup and boogie on down the road. But he wouldn't get far on an empty tank, and he didn't have enough scratch to buy a six-pack or a pint of vodka anyway, so fuck it, get in there and get it done, bro. Stop whining and hop to.
Excerpted from Vile Things by John Bruni, Garry Bushell, Ramsey Campbell, Randy Chandler, Tim Curran, Ralph Greco Jr, C.J. Henderson, Z.F. Kilgore, Sean Logan, Graham Masterton, Angel Leigh McCoy, C. Dennis Moore, Stefan Pearson, Brian Rosenberger, Jeffrey Thomas, Cheryl Mullenax. Copyright © 2009 Comet Press. Excerpted by permission of Comet Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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