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Hey there, witches and werewolves and non-racial spooks! In the spirit of the season, I’ve written a piece of horror noir for the enjoyment of anyone who appreciates casual swearing and violence. And that’s everybody! It’s titled RUINOUS INTENT, and if you like it, share it. I’m not just writing things so they can get spit into the infinity crevasse of the internet. Am I?
A flick of the wrist and the cigarette butt landed perfectly on the crest of its brothers’ remains. The bishop sweat his way into my office, past the surly junk shooter who had appointed herself my secretary. His religion hat scraped the ceiling’s thin layer of mold and fungus to which I had so carefully tended over decades. I gargled whiskey and decided whether to spit it in his eyes or his mouth before remembering my stomach needed it more than him.
“A man of god came to visit,” I said, “And he came with good news. Or he didn’t, and I tied the end of his lower intestine to a bannister before pushing him from a seventh story window.”
He removed his god hat and dusted off the mold, which had begun to eat a hole through.
“Respect, boy,” he said, “I’ve come to this fetid pile of fungal indecency in good faith.”
“There’s no good faith here,” I muttered.
“Oh, and I know why,” he said, “I know who you are and what you are and why you are. And all those chickens have come to roost, boy.”
“Call me boy again,” I said, caressing the hilt of the knife stabbed into the mahogany of my desk mostly for show, but also for convenience, “And the only chicken you’ll be seeing is the one whose prolapsed anus I’ll be forcing down your-”
“Enough! Enough. I didn’t come here so as to whip our dicks at each other like it’s a contest, Mr. Viscuzzo.”
“Fair. I hold the belt, anyway.”
“Knowing the way your kind work, I figured I’d best show you the carrot before the stick.”
“You don’t have anything I want.”
My eyes narrowed to take in every detail of the man. Grease and sweat permeated his pale skin. A thin mustache held flecks of white. He fidgeted, uncomfortable in the polyester robes given to his rank. The higher in the church, the nicer your vestments. I’d heard rumors the Pope’s underwear was hewn from the carcass of a baby seal.
“The Black Bible,” he said, “The holy text of the sect of Christianity comprised solely of… your people. Even in the darkest depths, His hand reaches for you.”
“I’ll take His wrist and break it,” I growled, “Matters of damnation are very, very serious. If you are not prepared to honor your offer, I will do a great deal of general violence to you. If I need be more specific, I will use your spinal cord to clean the dingleberries from my underpubis.”
“Or you could wipe properly. Lord knows, you’re likely going side to side.”
“They are metaphorical dingleberries. Now, the point of things.”
“There is a pure soul in hell.”
The slouch I’d perfected through years of practiced non-chalance straightened.
“You are to leave now. My secretary will take down your information if her arms haven’t rot from gangrene.”
“Be wary, Caul Viscuzzo. I would say God bless you, but that won’t be any God where you’re going.”
“I’d say go fuck yourself, but that’s all you can do.”
“You kiss your mother with that mouth?”
“I eat your mother’s pussy with this mouth.”
“Whatever you say, I am going to turn back on you and add an insinuation about your sexuality or lack thereof. Away with ye, I must steel myself with drink.”
He walked out, and his quarreling with the toothless junkie whose name I had yet to remember or ask brought the only happiness I’d have that day.
In a city where hobos lived and loved and shat upon any surface capable of supporting their weight for more than two minutes, the steps of Saint Saul were disconcertingly unoccupied. I pushed the rotting door, etched with “Bev (hearts) Maiden.”
The smell of dry goat blood wafted from the old pentagram in the center of the room. I sat cross-legged in the middle of the symbol and concentrated on all the bad things in the world. Starving children, urban blight, man’s inhumanity towards man, and a steak cooked well done. Nose blood trickled into a pool at my feet, coalescing into a crude effigy of a dog having sex with a crucifix. Doughy human flesh sloughed to give way to scale and cartilage. Small nubs of black bone pierced forehead flesh. I was home.
The church door gave way to a changed world, a world smelling of piss and eggs. Red skies shone over a city which jutted from rock as if a mockery to man’s civilization. Skolts soared majestically above, at least as majestically as a thing resembling a fanged anus could. The low moan of the damned hung in my eardrums, like Brian Eno recorded in a gas chamber. The first place to go would be Bar Crud, the preferred hangout of lowlifes, scum, and my ex.
Bovilaxx the Blakk stood by the door, a skittering mass of zits and rotflesh. Five of his eight eyes sized me up before allowing entrance.
“It’s not a good idea,” his lower mouth said, the upper mouth adding “She’s moved on, dating a real rough tosser by the name of Shartan the Ninth of the Furious.”
“First, I am not intimidated by anyone whose name begins with shart. Second, this isn’t about her.”
“Oh, it’s always about her,” the upper mouth said, “Woman is the downfall of man.”
“You’re projecting,” the lower mouth said, “I’m sure he’s an emotionally capable adult who has control over his thoughts and feelings.”
We paused, then laughed and laughed and laughed until I ripped Bovilaxx’s upper mouth from his pusmound of a body and forced it down his remaining gullet.
Sadistica Malicambion sat at the end of the bar, flexing leathery wings, angling teardrop breasts until they achieved maximum jut. Auburn hair framed a pair of perfect horns on a perfect face. Her forked tongue tasted the air and our eyes met. My face contorted with a combination of sexual frustration, anger, and an emotion somewhere between fear and horniness that I had yet to classify. Phobophilia? I’d write Merriam-Webster once I returned to the earthly plane.
The table laid bare save for an outstretched claw housing the burning soul of a drunk driver, cursed forever aflame. Her hips seesawed as she approached, ass lapping itself with every step. I repeatedly punched the head of my penis, which responded by draining the blood from my arms.
“If it isn’t this guy!” she said, “Do you want to eat my pussy while my boyfriend fucks me in the ass? If you’re lucky, he’ll cum a honeycomb of Africanized bees onto your face.”
“Like Grace Kelly you are. Sadie, how is life as an unbearable she-beast trapped forever in a pit of scum and torment? It’s a rhetorical question, as I don’t actually care how you’ve been or how wretched your existence continues to be.”
“Oh Colic, you’re so adorable when you act like you aren’t engorged with blood. Tell me, when’s the last time the little guy saw action?”
I might as well have had a coffin wrapped around my dick.
“I do okay for myself,” I lied.
“Nice try, coffindick.” She knew me too well.
“As much as I’d love to let you emotionally rake me over coals-”
“Remember when you’d let me do that physically?”
“I’m here for work.”
She toyed with the necklace which hoisted a writing maggot above her cleavage.
“Ha! Errand boy for monkeys. Your father’s disappointment compounds with every day you insist on spending in the rotting maw of humanity.”
“As opposed to this rotting maw? Sulfur irritates my sinuses. There’s not enough Claritin in the pit.”
“Tell me your job so I can tell how you’ll fail.”
“There’s a pure soul in hell.”
Her wings twitched and I had my first lead. I grabbed her wrist and applied enough pressure for it to be considered threatening but not enough for her to gain sadomasochistic pleasure.
“You know what’s going on, and you’re going to tell me because it is in your own self-interest and that is the only reason you do anything.”
She spit a wad of acid onto my cheek and pulled away her limb.
“You’re a traitor to your people, which would make me wet if I weren’t already being railed by a creature of infinite darkness who’ll pour the remains of your soul into a mold for his cockarmor.”
She left, and I reclined in my chair. If I followed her, she would doubtless lead me to the entity in question. However, she knew me well enough to know that I’d follow her and I knew her well enough to know she knew me well enough to follow her. My next actions would have to be careful and deliberate, which is how I became blind drunk.
“You’re not my friend!” I yelled as the bouncer’s tentacles coiled around my throat “None of you are my friends!”
“This might be hell,” the bartender said, “But that doesn’t mean we don’t have appointed biological waste disposal areas.” The massive slug of a bouncer oozed out of Bar Crud and threw me against the vertebrae-styled brazier of a street torch. My inebriation inhibited the usually cat-like reflexes I depended on in situations like this, but It also gave me the numbness to absorb a direct blow to the spinal cord. Ultimately, a wash.
“I’m aloooone in the woooooorld,” I moaned as I rolled in gutterscum, “Nobody looooves meeeeeee.” A passerby implored me to clean up my act and threw me the flayed skin of a Catholic who violated fasting directives before Vatican II and also murdered a man with a shovel. The latter was what damned him, but the former hadn’t helped. Above me materialized a trio of demons, their leader covering his horns and pustules with a fedora.
“Your hat,” I said, “Your hat makes you look like a pile of vaginas.”
“Yeah, this is Viscous,” a demon said, “He gypped me out of a gypsy’s soul once.” The vagina pile kicked my side, dislodging a parasite which had spent the better part of a decade building an elegant summer home in my gallbladder, and hoisted me by the neck.
“I am Shartan the Ninth of the Furious,” he intoned in a way that was terrifying yet desperate to be terrifying, “You’ve come for the soul.”
“If you’re going to tip your vagina hat as such, I might as well too,” I coughed, “I came to ask you one question, and then I’ll leave: from an unbiased, expert palette, how does my dick taste?” He slammed my head into the ground with the force of a being who knew, deep down, he may have had an answer.
“Would you say more or less like a pineapple dipped in battery acid?” I said as he tore my arm free and sucked marrow from the loose bone.
“Like, if you were Michelin, would you give my dick two stars or three?” I wheezed while his associates gnawed away flesh, important flesh that I used to keep my internal organs where they belong instead of traipsing about the place like common harbor prostitutes.
They dragged me to the Fields of Uggae, giving a decent twenty minutes to inquire whether my dick had an umami flavor to it before they severed my tongue and threw it in a ditch full of members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir who had committed arson (of which there are a surprising amount). Rows of inverted crucifixes pockmarked the landscape. Shartan picked steel thorns from the roses which grew beneath the crosses. His henchmen held my limbs while thorns passed through my palms and feet, a laugh of blood and bile escaping from the scarred hole of my mouth.
“I would ask for your last words, but we took care of that,” Shartan said. I gestured towards a patch of direct where I had inscribed YOUR NAME IS SHARTAN IT STARTS WITH SHART A SHART IS A SHIT AND A FART YOU ARE A LAUGHABLE ENTITY AHAHA AHAHA SERIOUSLY WHAT DOES MY DICK TAS. Though the last phrase was incomplete, it carried the message well enough. He roared and stamped the text gone, then jammed a dagger into the shaft of my penis and hacked away.
“Sadistica will eat well tonight, then we’ll know how it tastes,” he growled as he walked away. Resigning myself to having gone out on a great note, I let the blood flow into my eyes. Through the crimson, the world grew darker.
SON, a voice rang through existence. Spittle flew from my mouth as I tried to make a witty remark without a tongue.
WELL, YOU’RE IN A BAD WAY, it said, LET ME GET THAT FOR YOU, LITTLE BUG. Darkness poured into my mouth and flesh gave way to flesh. The cross disappeared into an encroaching black void.
“Can’t say I’m not grateful for the save, old man,” I said as confidently as possible when faced with the sum of all nightmares, “I’ll be on my way, give my regards to the giant pusspider I suspect is my stepmother.” I rotated my newly sewn shoulder joints and gave a peek downwards to make sure everything was restored to specifications.
I REMEMBER WHEN I WOULD STEP INTO MY FATHER’S HOUSE AND NOT PAY RESPECTS, the infinite shadow said, OH WAIT I DON’T BECAUSE THERE WAS NO EXISTENCE BEFORE ME.
“Okay, sure, sorry, what’s up dad? You non-consensually impregnate any humans lately?”
YOU ARE HERE FOR THE SOUL, he said, changing the subject.
“Yeah, yeah. I’ve been hired to get it back topside.”
WHY SHOULD I ALLOW THIS?
“It… it upsets the balance.”
THERE HAS NEVER BEEN A BALANCE. HEAVEN DOES WHAT IT LIKES, HELL DOES WHAT IT MUST.
“Still, it doesn’t belong here. And the demon who has it, he… he’s with that girl, that girl I told you about.”
SADISTICA? THE SUCCUBUS? YOU’RE NOT DATING ANYMORE?
“No! She cheated on me! I mean, yeah, I cheated on her first. But there’s no monogamy in a foxhole or in hell. I think that’s the metaphor.”
VENGEANCE! the shadows roared, THAT IS A PERFECTLY APPROPRIATE MOTIVATION.
“Great! I’ll just be on my way then.”
A sword of black obsidian ending in a flat point appeared.
“This isn’t going to cause some kind of apocalyptic reckoning when I take it back to Earth, will it?”
MAYBE, MAYBE NOT. WE ALL HAVE TO HAVE FUN SOMEHOW. MINE COMES FROM PLANTING SEEDS OF DOUBT. TOODLES.
The shadows withdrew. I walked from the fields at a confident, brisk pace before loping away as fast as my dumb, fat legs could take me. After prying the location of Shartan’s domicile from a series of informants by pointing at my sword and yelling “This is shiny and will cut you,” I stood before a tower of bone and gristle. Entering would be a delicate operation requiring both suave and stealth, which is why I kicked in the door and stabbed everything that looked sentient. When I reached the top floor, blood and pus and bile coated every bit of me and entrails flowed from my pockets like so many chocolate coins at a bar mitzvah.
Sadistica lay before a hookah-like device whose center contained my quarry. The pure soul, a mass of golden light in the vaguest shape of its past life, encased in a bubble of glass. Sadie’s glazed eyes regarded me with the same disgust they always had, when she hissed I saw the remnants of my severed genitalia’s foreskin between her teeth.
“You’re a junkie!” I said, “Do you know what this means? I’m officially doing better than you! I win, you crazy dickmonster.” I pulled the soul from its housing.
“Viscous, you are the worrrrst,” she slurred, “My boyfriend is going to beat you uuuuuuuup.”
“Honey, do you think this hat makes me look like a pile of vaginas?” Shartan said as he entered the chamber, stupid fedora atop his head. Our eyes locked and I raised my sword. He glanced at an axe hanging from the wall and my muscles tensed. I leapt as he extended his grip. A clang of metal, and his limb fell to the floor.
“Where did you get the soul!?!” I shouted as he cried and bled like so many pubescent girls had done before him.
“You’re supposed to be-”
“I’m supposed to be sipping hot chocolate next to a roaring fire with a loyal pup at my feet, but instead my life is a morass of shit. Now tell me where you got the soul and we can negotiate how many limbs you have when I leave.”
The priest walked into his office, and for how surprised he was to see me sitting in his chair you’d think he was married to the cushion’s ass crease.
“Viscuzzo! Viscuzzo. I take it you were successful.”
“Yep! Had a great time. What a pleasant place hell is. Roomy, too. You don’t have to worry about the dead walking the earth, certainly.”
“Do you… have it?”
I held aloft the Chinese take-out bag containing the pure soul.
“And the Black Bible?” I asked.
The bishop pulled a tome from his shelves. We made the exchange. I laid the book on his desk.
“Do you want to read the book now?” the bishop asked, “To verify its authenticity?”
“Why would I have to do that, father? Have you not acted in good faith? Why don’t you go ahead and read it to me? I never had a decent father figure, I’ll get a real kick out of it.”
He backed away as I approached him.
“There needn’t, this needn’t happen,” he muttered. I unsheathed my sword and pressed it to his throat as a tiny stream of holy urine raced down his leg.
“I had a talk with Shartan,” I said, “He was very eager to keep his appendages. Now, I don’t know exactly why you had this soul nor why you thought hell would be a good place to hide it, but I have my disgusting presumptions. Instead of asking you to explain and letting whatever grand fucked thing you did weigh on my consciousness, I am simply going to ask you to open the book and then I am going to walk out of here.”
“I won’t, you can’t make me.”
“This sword eats the souls of those it slaughters,” I lied, pulling from the fantasy fiction of my youth, puberty, and adulthood, “Unless you want to spend eternity in a chunk of obsidian, you will open that book.”
Resigning himself, he flipped open the cover. Nothing happened.
“Huh, that was a let down,” I said, “I was expecting some kind of betrayal. You didn’t think this through very well, did you?” Then the floor cracked open and the burning souls of a thousand sinners laughed with delight as they dragged him into the depths of the underworld. Sam Raimi would be proud.
Back in my office, past the addict using a spoon to liquify heroin and eat oatmeal at the same time, I pondered the glass bauble.
“What do I do with you?”
The golden amorphous light gently bumped its head against the glass. I took my sword and smashed its hilt against the bubble until it cracked and shattered. The soul touched a warm tendril to my forehead, then floated out the window and into the aether. I slumped in my chair and lit a cigarette.