The brilliant scientist, Portage McPeeve, does not want to take over the world.
He’s discovered a way to travel the stars, using them as gateways into other realities. With his Gateway Manipulator, he hopes to rule all the worlds of the multi-verse with an iron fist. However, when his beloved kitten becomes lost through the machine, he does not hesitate to cast plans for multi-world domination aside; instead, he follows her through the cosmos – encountering zombies, higher education for Supers, Greek gods, and killer ninjas along the way.
Will Portage find Mrs. Bumblefrost before it’s too late?
The scientist, Doctor Portage McPeeve, made the final adjustments on the machine, and the glowing sphere crackled once more to life. “Ready?” he asked his minion.
Snap Decision dutifully nodded her head, her glasses reflecting electric fire.
Soon the sphere stabilized to a round orb that shone softly against the laboratory’s fluorescent lighting. The link between worlds had been established. Peering through the portal, they gazed into another world.
Frank sorted through the contents of his cart and made his selection with care.
“Now this one,” he said, holding up an over-ripe tomato, his hand protected by a clear, plastic glove. “This here fruit has just the right amount of juice to make a nice splatter pattern when it hits.” He squeezed slightly; the spotted skin broke and juice dripped onto his cart. “It’s just the right size to fit nice and snug in the palm of your hand, excellent for throwing… just the right weight.”
“But how does it smell?” asked his customer.
The salesman, a slightly pudgy man about forty-ish in appearance, leaned over to sniff the leaking red globe. He made a face, then made another when he smiled. “Putrid,” he said.
“I’ll take it.”
Frank’s swarthy mug grinned wider as the middle-aged man dropped a few gold coins into the vendor’s palm. Ever since vampires had made a comeback in literature, followed by the big screen, business had been booming.
“You know,” said the man, examining the rotten fruit appreciatively, “I remember when vampires used to be scary.”
“They were sort of creepy and ancient looking, with big fangs, pale skin, and…” The man pondered. “They were actual monsters.”
“They don’t make ‘em like they used to,” agreed Frank.
“And not a single one sparkled!”
“I really think the sparkling is what puts it over the top for me,” said the man. “That, and they can walk about in daylight-”
“Actually,” said Frank, “in ‘Dracula,’ the first big vampire book, the vampires could walk around during the day.” The vendor didn’t make a habit of correcting his customers – it was bad for business, but some things he just couldn’t let go.
The man looked doubtful. A stray breeze blew the hair on top of his head, turning his comb-over into a flapping monstrosity. “I don’t know,” he said. “You sure about that?”
“Yeah,” said Frank. “Yeah, I’ve read it a few times. Scary book and all that. Did you know that Dracula is a heroic figure in Romania? But after Stoker got through with him…” He shrugged, grabbed some bananas, and handed them to the man. “Here, have some on me.” It may have been poor business to correct his customer, no matter how easy going, but he wanted to make up for it. Besides, rotten bananas never sold well.
The man took the gift and turned away.
“Hey, don’t rush off,” Frank called. “I have some old apricots that’ll knock your socks off!
The younger man paused and turned, seemed to consider, shook his head, and headed off in the direction of the Global Starlight Theater. The movie theater had been used for live shows in the Twenties, but now the once elegant wooden stage sported only a medium height rectangular screen on a small metal stand. On most weekdays and nights, they showed black and white films. Classics were terrible for Frank’s business, so then he would wheel his rotten produce cart to the nearby park.
The local Parks and Recreation department allowed local musicians and bands to play every weeknight, but the best business was conducted during the Poetry Slams. Those were the nights that paid for his ongoing education at the community college.
But, of course, that was before Phyllis.
Frank pushed his cart around the corner, into the space set aside for venders.
“Hey, there, Frank!” called the elderly woman from Frank’s favorite spot, the one directly across from the stage. Phyllis leaned across her cart, holding a bunch of bananas in gnarled, wrinkled hands. “Need any help?”
The elderly man checked his scowl and replaced it with a grin. Hopefully she bought it, since she was irritating enough when she tried to be personable.
She returned the smile, thin lips pulled back from her teeth in an inviting and thoroughly unattractive manner. “How ya’ doin’, ya’ ol’ coot!”
Frank laughed, a habit he’d been forced to develop whenever she made obnoxious, insulting familiarities; one he found himself resenting more and more each time they crossed paths. Wasn’t it enough to steal his customers and compete for the same spots that he counted upon to make his living? She expected him to be happy about it too! As if they were friends instead of rivals.
Still, Frank put on his game face; he was a consumate professional. He could stand it if she could. In a business such as theirs – especially in a business such as theirs – you kept the cordialities going until the fruit went flying, and then – with luck – it didn’t fly at you. Frank had made more than a pretty penny over the years following this philosophy, and he wasn’t about to sacrifice his business ethic on the alter of a personal grudge.
He parked his cart adjacent to the one Phyllis now manned – or womaned?… He could never quite figure out when he was crossing the line of political correctness, especially when it came to the weaker sex -or was it? His head ached just thinking about it, and it ached more from being forced into the second best spot at the Poetry Slam. Damn that Phyllis!
Today’s performance promised to be a humdinger though. The local talent was awful, the Poet performers some of the most recently converted undead. Sunlight sparkled on their pale skin and reflected in their sunken eyes; their hair mirrored the colors of the rainbow. Business was already booming in anticipation of the big performance, mercifully silencing Phyllis. A gangly woman with hair the color of an avacado mounted the stage; her slinky black dress clinging to her lank form. The customers finished making their purchases and seated themselves on the ground before her. Several clutched their brown sacks of putrescent produce, sadistic glee evident on their faces.
“Quite a crowd today; huh, Frank?” asked Phyllis, turning to face her competitor.
“Hello, hello… Is this thing on?” spoke the pale woman onstage. She tapped the microphone and was rewarded with the loud crackle of static.
Frank observed many of the audience members tossing rotten fruit from one hand to another. He thought the complimentary plastic gloves he gave with each purchase would give him an edge, but Phyllis seemed unphased. “Yup,” he responded, “Quite the crowd.”
“I always wonder why the performers don’t skeedaddle when they see an audience like this,” mused Phyllis. “I mean, they’ve got to know what’s coming; am I right?”
“I suppose,” answered Frank. He continued gazing at the audience, reluctant to face that infernal woman once more.
“You know,” said Phyllis, and something in her tone made Frank turn and stare. “You know the city is revising their vendor licensing system.”
Frank watched her carefully. “No, I wasn’t aware of that.”
“Yup, ol’ timer,” she said, smiling wide. “Now they only allow one vendor per event.”
“I’ll have to be sure to renew my license in time to grab a good spot.”
“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about it so much,” said Phyllis. “I’ve already gotten licenses for upcoming events for the next six months.”
“Six months, I see,” said Frank. “And which events did you reserve space for?”
“Poetry Slams,” she said; the smugness in her tone was unmistakable. “And several upcoming movie releases that are sure to be good for business. You’ve got to think ahead, you know.”
“I do,” said Frank. Steam did not shoot from his ears, though his blood temperature quickly shot past the boiling point. “I’m thinking ahead right now.”
“OK, folks, thanks for coming,” stated the woman onstage. “I’d like to start with one of my favorite poems, a sonnet I composed myself called, ‘Blood sausage.’ She began reading from a small electronic device in a low, grating monotone. “I think that I shall never see-” she began.
The audience hummed with anticipation. They couldn’t wait to take out their frustrations on a fresh victim. As the noise increased, Frank motioned for Phyllis to walk behind the nearby pavillion, obstructing their view of the stage and muffling their conversation from the audience.
“Well, what do you want, Frank?” asked Phyllis, hands on hips, all pretense of conviviality gone. “I’m not selling you any of my licenses, if that’s what you want. I got ‘em first, fair and square.”
“That’s not what I want,” said Frank, his grin widening his face much farther than was natural. Phyllis backed against the wall. With superhuman speed he pinned her against the plaster, covering her mouth with long, thin fingers. His features grew colder, craggier; his teeth lengthened so his sharp incisors overlapped his lips.
She struggled against him as he sunk jagged teeth into her neck. Soon her body went limp, and Frank pulled back to wipe her life’s blood from his lips.
No one witnessed their transaction of words and blood except for a small black cat. The creature paused in its travels to gaze at them with bright, emerald eyes. Then it picked at some produce beneath the carts. The poet’s audience was in full swing now, booing and hissing at the top of their lungs, hurling fruit and the occassional rock with reckless abandon.
Frank smiled. The rocks might hurt, but he didn’t mind the undead poets feeling some pain. They were a disgrace to monsters everywhere.
**All episodes listed here.
**Look for the next exciting installment of Pinholes next Tuesday, same cat-time, same cat-channel… uh, blog. I mean, blog.