Friday, 30 October 2015

Me Only

Ed crouches by the ravine, glaring at his reflection. The reflection in the water is warped and burbled by the fast running water.
Look at what you’ve done, says the tangle of weeds beside the water, rustling with each syllable.
Momma won’t be pleased says the Dark Ed in the water Not with sad, Lonely Eddie
“Leave momma out of this,” says Ed, “What she don’t know won’t harm her.”
But she’s so ashamed, Eddie the Dark Ed teases, making the weeds snicker. The trees sway back and forth mockingly,
“No. I don’t want it, Ed is a good boy.”
Eddie’s no good, Eddie’s all alone. The Lonely One . . . says the Dark Ed. You’re Lonely, and Just One, and you deserve no better. You’ll be alone forever.
“I didn’t mean to . . .” sobs Ed,
But you did. That kind girl. Now she’s dead rustles the weeds.
“I’m sorry. I said I was sorry! Didn’t I?!”
Perhaps . . .we should leave . . . the trees groan in unison
Leave the Lonely One alone . . . whispers the ravine, rushing vibrantly,
Like he deserves says the Dark Ed.
“No, NO! Please don’t leave me!”
Ed can’t be trusted! sneers the weeds
“Please, I’ll do anything . . .”
Will he now? says the Dark Ed . . . we will see.
THIS . . . WAY . . . creaks the little bridge. Ed is confused, but to keep the world on his side, he nods and heads to the bridge.
Follow the streetlights hum the fireflies, as they bother him down the path. Ed looks to the street beyond.
“We’re going to the girl’s house. The one from the druggist’s.”
The sky above doesn’t respond. As he steps onto the street, a mailbox suddenly screams WAIT!
Ed jumps back off the road. He walks over to the mailbox.
“Why?”
It’s not time yet . . . says the mailbox.
“I don’t like this,” says Ed, “I don’t like it at all.”
You will do as your told . . . says the mailbox, it’s lip clanging loudly as it speaks, What would you be without us? NOTHING. That’s what. Lonely little Ed and his lonely, old momma . . .
Ed is upset about them talking about his momma like that, but he bites his tongue.
Now, come here! sings the empty glass on the porch. Ed does as he’s told. He steps up to the door.
Come inside . . . says the door, with a suave demeanour.
“I don’t want to,” says Ed.
There is a scream in the distance, making Ed flinch,
I SAID COME INSIDE roars the door as it swings wide open.
Ed slowly creeps inside and the door slams shut. The house is silent.
“I don’t like it here.” Says Ed.
Here is where you wait says the door with a chuckle.
“I don’t like it here . . .” Ed whimpers to himself. As he waits, it starts to get darker, and the clock ticks mockingly
“Please, can I leave?”
NO! Roars the comfy sofa,
“But I hate it, I hate listening to you!” yells Ed.
You need us . . . flickers the light,
What would Lonely Eddie do without us? teases the Dark Ed in the hall mirror, You’re nothing without us.
And you’d be all alone . . . taunts the door.
“You know what? I don’t need you.”
All lies, you couldn’t last, Lonely Ed! The world screams.
Ed puts his hands to his head
“No! NO! I can do this alone. Me, alone, on my own. Me, Only Me! So all of you . . . SILENCE!!!
As Ed looks around the room had fallen deathly silent. Then he hears a scrambling at the door. He says to himself,
“I can do this on my own . . .”

Monster Bash, Tier 3: Final Match

  “G’day everyone, how are you all goin’? Good? I hope so . . . We have had some god-damned amazing fights in this arena, now. Battles have been waged; blood has been spilled and champions have risen from the ashes! . . . and now we come to the pointy end of this competition.” I say, adjusting my headphones as I walk towards a whiteboard with a contest bracket drawn on it, which looked like this:


 Tier 1   Tier 2  *Tier 3*  WINNER

WEREWOLF┐                        |
        ├WEREWOLF┐               |
GHOST───┘        │               |
                 ├─DEMON──┐      |
ZOMBIE──┐        │        │      |
        ├─DEMON──┘        │      |
DEMON───┘                 │      |
                          ├─ ??? |
VAMPIRE─┐                 │      |
        ├─HUMAN──┐        │      |
HUMAN───┘        │        │      |
                 ├─WITCH──┘      |
TROLL───┐        │               |
        ├─WITCH──┘               |
WITCH───┘                        |


  “Now this . . . uh this . . .” I stammer and start laughing. “The hell is this? What am I meant to do with this? What?” I stop as someone is talking into my ear. “Yes, I know it’s live, doesn’t change the fact that I don’t know what to do with this . . . okay, look, ladies and gentlemen if you’ve missed the previous fights, they’re in the blog archives, you should check them out.”
I pause for a moment as my headphones keep talking at me.
  “Pfft, no fuck off, I am not recapping the whole lot of matches, that would defeat the . . . you know what?” I take my headphones off and throw them over the fence. “We'll do it live, fuck it. Ladies and gentlemen, this evening, I am proud to announce that I am once again joined by the stunning Miss Jayalaw. Are you excited to be here?”
“Maybe not excited, but I am curious to see who will win. Both the contenders have fought through quite a bit and given their hundred and ten percent, but it’s going to be hard to go back to trick or treating and candy after this.”
  “Especially for our losers,” I say, sitting down on an Esky behind the desk. “But we have one hell of a fight this evening. So, I have to ask, which of our two monsters are you backing this evening? Will you make a call on the final fight?”
“Technically witches aren’t monsters, but I see what you mean. I do hope Melissa wins because she has been through a lot at this point.”
  “But not Carver? She did rip off her fucking hand, come on . . .”
“Ah good point,” Jayalaw admitted. “At this point I’m going to sit back and watch . . . are you drunk?”
  “Psh . . . barely. But I am looking forward to celebrating later," I say, tapping my 'seat'. "And y’know what? You're right. It’s all come down to this, I don't want to spoil the surprise by trying to analyse this to pieces. Let's just wait and see what happens. Oh, and here come our contestants now!”
On the left side near trees, On the other side of the field, three stagehands entered with summoning materials. They set up the pentagram as one of them chanted. As the ritual was complete, the candles each became a fireball that merged in the centre of the symbol to become Carver, the red-skinned, yellow-eyed woman with horns and a tail. Her right hand was replaced with a hook, and she wore a burnt bikini.
  “In this corner, Rkk’lugh O’ash’sh kss-Ra, a demon also known as ‘Carver’. In her first round, she lost her hand, only to smash her opponent’s brain, and in her second round she tore her opponent up and shoved her hook through his face! She’s a devilish beast, give it up for The Demon!”
On the right side near the church, a short woman was lead through the gate by two stage hands, one holding each arm. She was wearing a black, draping dress and a wide-brimmed hat, and had a pair of handcuffs on her wrists. One of the stagehands unlocked the cuffs and they both left to leave her standing, solemnly, with her head bowed.
  "And in this corner, Melissa Maitland. In her first match, she faced off against a powerful troll, and despite being outclassed in size, she used her ingenuity and ripped off his head. And in her second match, although there was a close call near the end, but she managed to snap his neck. She’s one Magical Mistress, give it up for The Witch!"
I jump up and scream. “Without further ado, Tonight is our final match! it’s Sorceress versus Succubus, who will win? Let’s get ready to RUMBLE! Three . . . two . . . one, FIGHT!”

Carver began by walking down the path towards her prey. with a flick of her left hand, her talons sparked and ignited, and flames crawled up her fingers to rest in her palm.
Meanwhile, Melissa just began dancing. She started by humming and slowly stamping her feet. She lowered her hands and stamped faster, singing wordlessly as she spun in a circle, and the demon watched this, smirking. As Melissa spun, the sky grew dark and the stars disappeared behind clouds. She stamped faster and faster, clapped her hands, then jumped forward held up her hands and whistled long and low. Instantly, there was a rumble of thunder, and rain began falling down, and the demon’s smile dropped.
The flames in her hand fizzled and spat as rain fell. Before it could douse it entirely, the demon growled, and the flame burst much larger and brighter. The rain fell and sizzled, but it was hot enough to stay lit. She thrusts her hand forward and sends a bolt of fire at the witch. Melissa throws her hands in front of her face, as she does, raindrops around her collect into a wobbling blanket of water. The fire extinguished as it hit the water. Then Melissa dropped her hands and the water splashed to the ground.
  “You pathetic maggot!” screamed the demon as she ran forward. She threw a fireball, and Melissa countered it with another swipe of water, which turned into steam. But Carver closed the distance between them and swung her leg. She kicked Melissa in the face, making her double back. Melissa grabs more water and smacks it into the demon, but Carver grabs her by the front of the shirt, lifts her from the ground and raises her hook to swipe.
Melissa slaps her in the face and throws out both arms. A sudden and quick gust of wind grabs the witch and she flies up into the air.
  “Don’t flee from me, human!” yells the Demon, and she throws up both hands, sending a spurt of flame high up into the air. The fire encompasses the witch’s body and she screams. As she swipes at her burning clothes, she drops out of the sky, smoking.
She hits the ground heavily, and collapses onto her back. She cries out in pain. The rain extinguishes the last of the fire, but she grabs her leg. It wasn’t broken, but she winced as she kneeled to stand up again.
  “You are weak and pathetic,” said the demon. “I tore off my own hand, and I am still standing. you twist your ankle, and you look ready to cry.”
Through gritted teeth, Melissa pointed towards the demon with her hand, and spoke in a strange tongue. In a flash, lightning cracked loudly. striking just behind her. Carver jumped and hissed. Melissa continued to speak, and swirled her hand as though casting a whip. Again, lightning struck, Carver dove aside, and the lightning struck where she had just been standing.
  “You can keep casting your magic at me all you like,” said Carver. “But you know, the moment I get my hands on you, I’ll rip your pretty tongue out.”
Melissa held her hand forward and clenched the air in front of her, then pulled down. As she did, Carver stumbled, but soon regained her footing. Melissa tried to magically grapple her again, by throwing her hand to the side. She managed to pull Carver over, but she quickly got back on her feet.
  “I think you’re growing weak, mage,” said the demon. She flicked her talons and they burst into a flame, which she quickly flared brighter as the raindrops sizzled around it, so that it wouldn’t be extinguished. “and I am growing impatient . . .” She reared her arm back so she could shoot the fire, when Melissa swung both arms around her and with a rushing sound, the ground in front of her was scooped up and she threw the dirt and mud at the demon.
The mud splattered her from head to toe, and she stood there for a moment, looking bewildered. Her hand had been extinguished, and she stood there, spitting dirt out of her mouth as Melissa gestured around her, gathering water with her hands, and she collected it all into the ditch she’d carved into the ground in front of her, until there was an oddly-shaped puddle.
The rain washed the dirt off of the demon’s face, and she looked at the witch, who was breathing heavily, exhausted. The demon looked at the puddle, and began to laugh.
  “Give up, human,” said the demon, smiling cruelly. “You might as well come here and let me kill you. Do you honestly think this little moat is going to stop me?”
The demon stepped into the shallow puddle and marched towards her pray. Melissa took a breath and spoke, which surprised the demon.
  “It’s not a moat, it’s a ‘fossa’.” said Melissa. “Also known as a murder-hole . . . or drowning-pit.”
Melissa once more held up her hand to grapple the demon, then she plunged her hand down, and the demon was thrown face-first into the puddle.
Melissa crouched there, catching her breath as the demon struggled. The water around her splashed as she thrashed with her hands and tail. She even tried to throw fire, causing the water to burble and let off bursts of steam. Melissa stayed there, holding her down with her magic. She didn’t even flinch as lightning struck in the distance.
Carver continued to fight and thrash for her life, digging at the mud with her hook, kicking her feet, but after the first minute, bubbles floated around her head, then her movements slowed considerably. The thrashes turned into light slaps at the surface, then she fell limp. Even after she stopped moving, Melissa kept holding her down.

A bell rang and I jumped up.
  “We have a winner!” I scream, running over, my suit soaking in the falling rain. “And not just any winner, the winner. The ultimate champion! This is incredible. Melissa Maitland, how does it feel?”
  “Is she dead?” asked Melissa.
  “I think so,” I say, kneeling down. “Either way, we’d call that a T.K.O . . . woo! That was pretty intense. But you’ve won! You’re Monster Supreme 2015. You are the ultimate monster. How does it feel?”
  “I think I need to lie down,” says Melissa. “I twisted my ankle.”
  “Oh yes, of course, of course. we’ll get the medic over here soon. But, ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the Witch!”
Everyone claps as we hear the ambulance driving up, in the distance.
  “Yes, you saw it here first. We put eight monsters in the ring, and in the end, only one was left. And that answers our question: Who is the ultimate monster? I’m proud to say, without a doubt, that the Monster Supreme for 2015 is the witch.”
  “I want to give a shout-out to the folks who own Horton-Meier Cemetery, for lending us their grounds for this arena - don’t worry Glen, we’ll clean this up soon. I want to thank the Tsukiyama family for their generosity. I want to give a great, big thank you to all of our contenders who participated. And finally, I want to thank you all for joining us, it’s been a pleasure. Goodnight, everybody!”
With a sigh, I throw the microphone into the puddle, and walk off the page.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

Cheap Halloween Decorating Ideas!

I was looking up some ideas for posts that I could do for Halloween, for my countdown, and there were quite a few suggestions about economic ways of celebrating the scary season. Cheap Halloween Costumes, Cheap Recipes, Cheap Celebrations , etcetera.
It seems like everybody likes to celebrate, but these people don't want to lay down their hard-earned cash just to spook their family and friends.

So, I've got a couple of ideas for Halloween Decorations which you can achieve on a budget, but will still manage to scare the bejeesus out of your friends, neighbours and any trick-or-treaters that come around!
I have three little decoration ideas that you can pull off yourself. But before I start, a couple of little  but first, I need to get you in on some "Cent-Saving Suggestions":
  • D.I.Y. or Die: Never buy anything store-made. Anyone can write "Happy Halloween" on a banner; anyone can make spooky paper cutouts to stick on their windows & anyone can bake a cake with a spider drawn in the icing. Saving time is wasting money, but if you want to go to the effort to decorate, then don't skimp on time by spending money, or it will become a budgetary burden.
  • Recycle: Have you ever been walking through your house at night, and caught sight of a shadow flicking past that made you jump? Have you ever had to get something out of the cupboard and felt uneasy about the weird-looking stains on the shelf? Your house already has the capacity to be terrifying. Look around for what materials and scary things you already possess, and use them to your advantage.
  • Creativity is Free: If you have a talent for craft or drawing or art in any way, or if you have a flair for make-up or putting on a creepy voice, then employ that creativity. After all, if you - for example - know how to draw a realistic pair of eyes, then all you need to do is draw eyes on several pieces of A4 paper and stick them in your windows. Already, you've made your house a little creepier, and it only cost you a pen and a piece of paper. So, use your own talents, and you can reduce your budget tenfold.
Alright, those are just a few tips. Now, here are a few ways that you can decorate your house this Halloween, that is guaranteed to bring on the screams! I use this to decorate my home, and I always enjoy the looks of fear on everyone's faces.

The Door of Doom!!!
Why go the the trouble of outfitting your whole house with fake cobwebs and carved pumpkins if all anyone will see is the front door? Don't waste time on the small stuff, go straight for the throat and outfit your door to look like the entrance to something a great deal more terrifying than a suburban home.

You Will Need:
  • 1 large axe
  • Paint (preferably quick-drying), whichever colour(s) you have
  • Paint Brushes
  • Drop Cloth (I use an old bedsheet)
  • Double-sided sticky tape
Optional:
  • Measuring Tape
  • 1 box cutter, or scissors
  • Lighter or Matches
  • Stapler
  • Pens and Pencils
Method:
  1. You may want to start by planning your design. Maybe draw yourself an outline, but I find that a more organic look is best. Use your axe on your front door, so as to cut some nice gouges in the wood. Remember though, you're not chopping it down! Just a cut here and there to add some unsettling disorder to your front entry. Perhaps take a few swings at the banister or mailbox to mix things up.
    • Caution: Be careful with your axe, you don't want to hurt yourself.
  2. After you've created some nice dynamic damage to the front, you will want to get some paint on your paintbrush, and use it to write a message on your door. You could perhaps draw something, like a smiley face, or a cross. Personally, I like to go for the short but effective: YOU WILL ALL DIE.
    • Note: If you're concerned about getting paint on the ground, lay down your drop cloth before preparing your paint.
  3. This is where you can get creative. That alone will do, but you might want to burn some of the wood and paint with some matches to get an unsettling look and smell. or, for something simple but effective, you could use an old knife or hatchet, gouge it into the wood and leave it there, sticking out. That's one of my favourites!
This is a great way to meet, great and trick-or-treat your guests. If you want to make it even spookier, you may want to put on some eerie music, or sounds in the background. My trick is, I put on a horror movie and turn the sound up really loud . . .

Bag of Tricks
One of my favourite money-saving tricks, is to find something cheap that you can use all over the place, to cover the whole house in creepy. Some people buy bags of "cobwebs" for this very reason. But you can recycle all kinds of things around your home to make several things at once.

You Will Need:
  • Several large, black garbage bags.
  • Twine or sticky tape
  • Gloves (I use gardening gloves
Method:
  1. First, put on your gloves, then find some spare material around your house, anything you can find to fill them up. Laundry, pillows and blankets work well, but also, don't be squeamish about using actual rubbish and compost to fill your bags. I tend to have a lot of old meat and empty clothes in my basement that I can fill them with.
    • Note: Something that often terrifies people, but which is sorely underutilized, is smell. After all, a werewolf wouldn't be as scary if he smelled like fairy floss. We're scared by sour, rotten, burnt and unusual smells. So, why not use that to your advantage.
  2. Next, for that extra touch, feel free to put some aromatics into the bag. I find that milk works best, especially if you do this ahead of time, to allow the bags time to go sour. But, you may just go for eggs or cheese if you don't have any meat around, but this step is optional.
  3. Now, tie up your bags with your twine. This is where you might want to get creative, with some clever arrangements of bags and tying, you can even make what looks like a make-shift body bag,
  4. Lastly, move your bags into place, around the front of your house, near the garden, behind the doors and wherever you think would be the most unsettling.
For something a little extra, you might want to try putting a possum or a neighbour's cat inside, to give people an extra scare!

Dope on a Rope
People always find death very unsettling, so why not rub it in their faces with this fun and creepy hanging house decoration? It's guaranteed to put anyone at unease if they ring your doorbell, but it's really cheap to make and incredibly simple, anyone can do it!

You Will Need:
  • A set of clothes you're not using
  • A long rope or chain (at least 5 metres)
Optional
  • A counterweight (I sometimes use a pillowcase full of bricks)
  • Knife
Method:
  1. First, you'll need to get yourself something to fill your clothes. I find the cheapest method is to get some clothes which are already filled. To save time and effort, I sometimes wait until Halloween itself, and get the help from anyone that comes by.
    • Note: You may need a knife for this part. Just remember, the larger the victim, the heavier the corpse; pick someone easy to carry.
  2. Once you've got what you need, you just need to tie the rope around their neck. You may want to go the extra mile and tie a noose, but any old knot will do, just make sure they won't slip.
  3. Finally, tie the other end to the edge of your roof or in a nearby tree. If there's nothing to secure the other end of the rope to from your roof, you may need a counter-weight, just tie the rope to it and place it just over the apex of the roof.
    • Note: Be careful as you lower it into place, you don't want to break something.
This one is so quick and easy, you may want to make more than one. It's a clever trick to just do this a few times throughout the night. As long as you have enough supplies, you can make dozens of these and turn your home into a real horrorshow!

- - -

Anyway, those are my decorating tips. So, as you see, you don't need to break the bank to make your house spooky. I find that I we everything we need to scare your friends, neighbours and guests within the walls of your very own home. With just a little ingenuity, you too could turn your Halloween into one your neighbours will never forget!

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Monster Bash, Tier 2: Semi-Final #2

“Welcome back, once again, were we are at the last match before the final showdown,” I say, as I walk down the steps of the church, heading for the commentator’s desk. “We’ve seen a lot of fights here at the Horton-Meier Cemetery and Church, and it’s been brought to my attention that this is a concern for a lot of parents. So, I feel it is my duty to remind everyone watching that this is, first of all, not suitable for children. But more importantly, these are monsters. In the real world, fighting is wrong.”
I walk up to the commentators desk, where a gorgeous, young woman is waiting.
  “As is tradition now, here at Monster Bash, I am joined by Jayalaw to comment on the night’s proceedings. Jayalaw, last night, you expressed some concern at seeing a human fighting against a witch. Can I ask what prompted that?”
“Well, it’s that under ordinary circumstances something like this would appear in The Hunger Games, which was against violence performed for the sake of fun. I feel a bit queasy at the thought of two humans fighting to the death, since witches technically are human and the stigma against them is high.”
  “Yes, some stories make witches into inhuman creatures, but as is the case in history, and in tonight’s show, she’s just a regular person. Although most of those Salem witches were just spinsters or crazy cat ladies; and our witch is quite talented.”
  “On that note, if you have a black cat, keep them safe on Halloween because people are crazy and might kill them! This is a public service announcement for cat lovers out there.”
  “Indeed. I’ve seen some crazies that think they’re Satanic. But what do you think of tonight’s match?”
  “Reminds me of the American political debates going on, where a man tries to cut down an extraordinary woman. I may need a drink to watch this. Is there an open bar for the commentators?”
  “No, but I’ve got an Esky in the back of my car. Perhaps we’ll celebrate our finalists after tonight’s match-up . . . Oh, and speak of the devil, Here come our contestants now!”
Near the copse of trees, a concerned-looking black man with long daggy hair, wearing an open shirt with a singlet and a pair of jeans walks towards the field, with two stagehands holding each arm. They walk him inside the graveyard, stand him a few metres away from the fence, then they left and shut the gate behind them.
  “In this corner, Jerome Ratray. This mighty stud, shrugged off that life-sucking slug, but will this budding thug stand tall, or shed more blood? give it up for our Human!”
On the right side near the church, a short woman wearing was lead through the gate with a stagehands on each arm. She was wearing a black, draping dress and a wide-brimmed hat, and wasn't very muscular. She nodded grimly as the stagehands walked away, closing the gate behind them.
  "And in this corner, Melissa Maitland. This doll stole the gold from a fearsome troll, so, can she maintain control, or will her head roll? Give it up for the Witch!"
I jump up and scream. “Without further ado, it’s Man versus Mage, who will win? Let’s get ready to RUMBLE! Three . . . two . . . one, FIGHT!”

Immediately, Jerome ran off to the side and into the small thicket of trees.
  “Come get me!” he screamed, running into the dark of the trees.
Melissa sighed and arched her hands above her head, like a ballet dancer. She spoke quietly, her lips moving almost soundlessly as she closed her eyes, when a wind picked up around her and, her black dress and hat whipping around her wildly, she was lifted from the ground. She flew up over the trees then, in the air, began to turn. She spun one revolution, then another and another, faster and faster, As she did, the trees began to sway. Loose leaves  and twigs began twisting around in the swirling wind, then dust and dirt, then branches. The whirlwind was building and building into a small tornado.
Within the trees, Jerome was bracing himself against a tree as dirt and branches whipped around him. But when he gained a firm enough footing, he burst from the edge of the trees and ran towards the church. As she was still spinning, it took Melissa a while to notice that Jerome had fled, and when she finally did, he had run inside the church.
Melissa stopped spinning and the gust dissipated, shaking her head a little, she drifted down to the ground and landed deftly on the grass below. she knelt down and circled her arms around her in what looked like a yoga exercise. Then she thrust both hands towards the church. The whole house shuddered with a sudden concussive shockwave, and all of the windows shattered. Melissa then began walking towards the church, and as she did, she gestured her hands in the air, and simultaneously the shattered glass all lifted up off of the ground.
She chanted under her breath, and summoned the shards quickly towards her, they collected in a large, floating sphere above her open, left palm. With her right hand, she began to make a flicking gesture, and with each gesticulation, one shard of glass shot at the church, whistling through the air and either penetrating the wood like a knife, or shattering explosively on impact.
After a few moments, Jerome ran out of the church, but he stopped just outside the doorway. He grabbed the wooden door with both hands and pulled, ripping it off its hinges. Then, he ran down the steps and towards Melissa, holding up the door as a shield.
She was confused at first, but as he gained ground on her, she thrust both hands forward and sent every shard at him, pointiest edge first.
A few stray shards hit his hands, or the edges of his legs, making Jerome swear loudly, but he kept running towards her.  Melissa curled her fingers, and grabbed the door with her magic. She raised her hands, ripping the door up out of Jerome’s grasp, but then he just sprinted forward. Before she could react, he punched her in the face.
Melissa screamed as knuckles and glass crunched into her cheekbone. She was knocked onto her side, landing awkwardly on her forearm. She attempted to regain her bearings and stop her ears from ringing, but two powerful hands grasped her throat. And Jerome groaned loudly, his teeth clenched, muscles flexing and eyes wide with determination.
Melissa couldn’t breathe, she twisted but couldn’t move under his weight.
  “All your little tricks,” Jerome groaned through clenched teeth. “All your power . . . but when I get my hands on you, you’re just a little girl . . .”
Melissa’s eyes were turning red as she tried to breathe. She reached out a hand and grabbed one of his arms, then struggled to speak. She spat and frothed at the mouth as she spoke in an unknown language.
There was a sudden flash of light and lightning pierced the sky. It struck Jerome on the head, making him scream. He leapt off, his head steaming as sweat evaporated from his forehead. Melissa turned over, coughing and spluttering. She couldn’t stand, so she knelt back, wheezing. Jerome looked shaken, but still standing, and he looked furious. He yelled out and began to run towards her, but Melissa swept her arm.
The door suddenly swung up from the ground and collided with Jerome, glass-first, crashing into him like a speeding truck. He rolled and struck a headstone with his shoulder as he hit the dirt.
Before he could get up, Melissa held out a shaking hand, clenched her fist and quickly spun her hand around. There was an unsettling crack as Jerome’s head twisted around.

  “We have a winner!” I cry, running over. “That was amazing! Using a shield? I didn’t see that coming. But looks like manpower can’t quite overcome a witch’s willpower!”
As I got to Melissa I knelt down and held out the microphone to the crouching girl.
  “You did very well at the end, there. We were all on the edge of our seats, but you’re okay now, you’ve won! How does it feel?”
She was breathing heavily, and she looked up, sadly, and all she said, in a hoarse, croaky voice was.
  “. . . he tried to kill me.
  “Well, you tried to kill each other, can’t blame him for that, I guess. Although my co-host admits that ‘little girl’ remark was uncalled for.” She nodded slowly, then stared off into space, catching her breath. “Uh . . . okay. Medic? Uh, I think we should get a medic to make sure she doesn’t have any brain damage. But either way, that was amazing. We have both of our semi-finalists! Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for the Witch!”
The stagehands all looked on, with concerned expressions on their faces.
  “That was that, but it’s not over until the last man’s left standing. Although, in this case, seems we have two ladies vying for the final spot of Monster Supreme. We’ve had a good time so far, but we still have ONE! . . . FINAL! . . . FIGHT! Come back soon, where we will finally face off our last two contenders to discover which is the master monster. Until then, stay safe, everybody!”

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Monster Bash, Tier 2: Semi-Final #1

Good evening, and welcome back to Monster Bash 2015! For those of you who missed out on the first four matches, well, we had an epic clash so far, we saw match-ups of:
Werewolf versus Ghost; Zombie versus Demon; Vampire versus Human & finally, Troll versus Witch.
They were a fascinating set of matches, some with more interesting results than others. But, right now, we will continue the fight, shaving down the numbers until we're left with just one champion. Who will it be? Let's head down the arena to see!

- - -

  "Thank you, Matt, and welcome back to Horton-Meier Churchyard, where we've done a little bit of reconstruction, renovation and lawn care, so that we could have a clean slate for our next round of fighting," I say, walking alongside the Church to head towards the commentator's desk, where there were those same two unimportant characters alongside a gorgeous, young woman. "Yet again, I am joined by the inimitable Jayalaw, to comment on tonight's match-up. You're looking radiant as ever, my dear."
“Thank you so much,” she responded. “The first tier was quite brutal, and some victories were unexpected. How will the second tier be organized?”
  “I’m glad you asked. Purely and simply, we’re matching up the winners of Round One and Two to fight in our first semi-final match, and tomorrow night, we match up the winners of Round Three and Four-”
“-Rounds Three and Four?” she repeated. “You mean the human will be facing the witch? That’s going to be a bit messy. They technically are both human and have suffered a few injuries already.”
  “Don’t worry, they know what they signed up for. But, it does mean that tonight we’ll be seeing our first champions face off, the Werewolf and the Demon. They too have their fair share of bruises, but they’re ready to go at it. Do you have any thoughts on tonight’s pairing?”
  “As for tonight’s pairing, my money’s on the demon Carver because she is crafty. She’ll also have more years of experience under her belt.”
  “Ah, true. y’know most of them - supernaturally or otherwise - look around the same age, it’s easy to forget that the vampire is . . . well, was over a hundred.”
“But undercut by arrogance.”
  “Indeed. But, now that you mention it, I think that too could be a point in Gareth’s favour tonight. More often than not, demons can be shown to possess that self-satisfied hubris. Even in her fight against the zombie, her self-confidence got her badly scarred. If she hasn’t learned from that mistake, then the Werewolf’s superior strength could be the upperhand that decides this match. But I have to admit, I’m with you on this one, demon all the way. What can I say, fire plus fur? Equals toast. Oh, and here come our contestants now!”
The gates on the left side, next to the trees, were opened by two stagehands just in time for a large truck to reverse into the yard. The stagehands opened up the doors and Gareth jumped out, his wrists tied up with heavy chains that lead back into the truck. He was wearing ripped jeans, shredded from his earlier fight, and a singlet.
  “Come on, let’s go!” he said, hopping up and down impatiently.
  “In this corner, Gareth Donahue. He’s proves his might against a ghastly wight, but will the wolf-man win the fight? Give it up for the Werewolf!”
The commentators all clapped as three stagehands walked into the arena with their ritual supplies. They drew the bloody symbol, lit the candles and recited the incantation, just as they had before. The chanter threw up his hands as the candles exploded in a firey tornado that filled the pentagram with flame, then extinguished to reveal Carver, the red-skinned, yellow-eyed demon. On her right arm, her hand was missing, but in its place she had been given a metal hook.
  “And facing up against him in this corner, the demon named ‘Carver’. She easily disposed of her decomposed woes, but suppose, will this devil overcome her latest foe? Give it up for the Demon!”
I stand up and announce. “It’s Fido versus Fiend, who will win? Let’s get ready to RUMBLE! Three . . . two . . . one, FIGHT!”

Gareth and Carver together made towards the middle of the arena. Garth walked with a confident swagger, but the demon was more careful as she made her way towards her opponent. After a moment, Gareth stopped.
  "Wait a minute . . ." he said, and he scanned the ground before picking up a small rock. He aimed and pegged the rock. Carver easily deflected it by swiping at it with her hook hand, making a sharp, metallic ringing.
  "Have you already resorted to throwing stones?" asked Carver.
 "No, love," said Gareth, flexing his muscles and straining his veins. "I just wanted to know you were solid this time . . ."
Gareth's singlet ripped to expose his bandaged ribs underneath, then fur and muscles grew and tore through the gauze. Bones cracked and snapped into place as Gareth became the Werewolf, and growled, hungrily, as it stared down the demon. Then, the werewolf ran forward on its hind legs.
The werewolf stood tall to swipe its claw. As it did, Carver swiftly kicked him in the ribs. The werewolf winced, but was otherwise unaffected. He swiped his claw and sent the demon flying. She hit the front of the church, and collapsed onto the steps like a ragdoll. But, the demon was more durable than she looked. She climbed to her feet and crouched in an aggressive stance with claws held out in front of her, eyes glowing orange. The werewolf began to advance, but fire burst forth from the demon's hands, Catching the Werewolf's stomach with the flame, the creature yelped and jumped back, cradling the singed hair with a paw. The demon ran forward and leapt over the werewolf's head, twisting in the air. She landed by gouging her hook into the werewolf's shoulderblade. The werewolf twisted to try to grab at her, but couldn't reach its arms around its back. Instead, the werewolf tucked and rolled, slamming its back into the dirt. Then the werewolf quickly rolled and twisted to stand up, but as it did so Carver's hook-hand shredded through the muscle of his back, gouging an inch-deep cut down to his waist.
All of the werewolf's hair stood on end as it yelped in pain.
  "You stupid animal," said Carver, looking a little bruised as she got to her feet. "You did that to yourself!"
Mouth slavering and ears flat against its head, the werewolf snarled viciously.
Carver just gritted her teeth and threw another ball of fire at the werewolf. This time, the werewolf jumped high over her head. It landed on the roof of the church and hid from the fire.
  "Pathetic, snivelling little dog-man," said Carver, as she backed away from the church until she could see the werewolf. It was standing on the roof, holding the cross on top to steady itself as it patted at the still-sizzling embers of its fur. "Escape is not available to us, beast. Fight, or die."
The werewolf was breathing heavily, blood dripping down its arm. It pumped up its chest, arched its head back and howled at the sky. Then, looking more confident, it took a running jump and leapt off the roof towards the demon, fangs bared, headfirst.
As the werewolf hit the demon, sinking its teeth into her, Carver swung her right arm upwards and the two tumbled heavily along the ground. When they stopped, the werewolf was on top of the demon, but he had fallen limp. The furry beast lifted off the ground, but not under his own power. The demon was lifting him up by his head as she got to her feet. Standing up, it became clear that her right arm, with the prosthetic hook, had been shoved into the werewolf's mouth. And, judging by both the angle, and the werewolf's limp body, the hook had penetrated his brain. As the demon glared, disgusted, at the corpse attached to her hook, the werewolf began to shrink. Deflating, like a slowly shrinking balloon, or an uncontracting muscle, the werewolf shrank back down into the natural form of the human it truly was.
As the wolf once more became the man, Gareth, Carver grabbed his jaw with her left hand, dislodged her hook from his skull and dropped the body, lifelessly, to the ground.

A bell sounded and the commentators all cheered.
  "We have a winner!" I cry, running forward. "That was an outstanding clash, my dear. A real . . . oh, wow."  I stop, wiping my eyes for a second as I catch the scent of burning hair. "That is what I call a pungent pong, ugh . . . well, uh, Carver, how are you doing this evening?"
  "I think this new hook was quite useful."
  "Yeah, they're pretty handy, aren't they?" I asked.
The demon just glared at me for the pun.
  "Okay . . . well, congratulations! I think the werewolf made a fatal mistake there, by using just his size and muscles, he forgot that he had the mind of a beast. I think that what turned the tides of this match was relying on animal instinct rather than tactics."
  "Of course," said the demon.
  ". . . yeah. Anyway, ladies and gentlemen, give it up for our first Finalist, the Demon!" The stagehands clap as the demon nods, then walks away.
"But, that was just the first semi-final, tomorrow, come back for our penultimate match, where we will see which of our remaining champions will survive for the final round. Thank you, you've been watching Monster Bash, 2015!"

Monday, 26 October 2015

Santacide

Have you ever seen The Nightmare Before Christmas? I absolutely hate that movie. I know, it's a cult classic, it's beloved by millions and has it's own franchise and my own girlfriend adores it . . . but I hate it, passionately.
I admit that my disgust at the film comes from a sense of severe disappointment moreso than the degree of the badness. I am self-aware enough to admit that while the movie is bad, it is not irredeemably terrible. The reason I hate it is because, firstly, it was the first blu-ray I ever bought and I hated that experience immensely; but also, the cult status of the film lead me to believe that the film was astoundingly good. However, it was not. The music is bland and the lyrics are lame, and the story is insubstantial, a thin plot being thickened out by incessant singing.
The characters look interesting, and that makes for good merchandising, but the movie is unwatchable to me. It does have one good idea though, an interesting one, of adding horror elements to the otherwise cheery and bubbly season of Christmas.
That's what drew me to the movie in the first place, it's such a great juxtaposition. Comfort, warmth, joy and gifts with insecurity, cold, sadness and loss. But The Nightmare Before Christmas is not the only story to have made this thematic choice, of adding horror to Yuletide. So, I figured I could investigate this phenomenon of Evil Santas.
The Word of the Day is: ‘HOLIDAY’

Holiday /holǝday/ n. 1. A day on which ordinary business is stopped, often in memory of some event, person, religious feast, etcetera. 2. (often pl.) A break from work often involving a trip away from home; vacation. ♦adj. 3. Relating to or suited to a holiday: A holiday frame of mind. ♦v.i. 4. To take a holiday: She will holiday on the Gold Coast.

What is unusual, to me, is that one of the first horror slasher movies ever made was Black Christmas, a horror movie with a killer dressed up as Santa Claus. Most confusing of all is that this wasn’t a Christmas movie . . . but it also wasn’t a Halloween movie. The film was first released in 1974 and it was in cinemas in October for Canadian audiences, but it was first shown to Americans in December. So, It wasn’t either of these holidays, but it was a little bit of both.
There were more Santa Slashers, in the form of Christmas Evil and Silent Night, Deadly Night, the latter of which garnered controversy by concerned parents and teachers who believed that lovable Santa should not be depicted as a serial killer; they forced the filmmakers to pull an ad campaign depicting Santa wielding an axe, and it was also widely protested and condemned.
In spite of, or perhaps because of, this controversy, Silent Night became a franchise with four sequels and a reboot.

But also, I know of a few even in my own experiences. Round the Twist, a show based on the books by Paul Jennings, featured an episode called “Santa Claws” based around a short story of the same name, wherein ‘Santa’ is actually a kind of genie creature with chimney-climbing claws which provides wishes with unfortunate consequences.
Then there’s my favourite, The Hogfather, a novel by Terry Pratchett where someone tries to assassinate the Discworld version of Father Christmas, and so Death takes his place, they also made a great miniseries based on it
Also there was an episode of the Tales from the Crypt called “And All Through the House” featuring an escaped mental patient wearing a Santa suit and wielding an axe (I think people like giving Santa an axe because the colour red makes people think of firemen).
And do I even need to mention the Robot Santa Claus from Futurama? It seems like people are really attracted to the idea of an evil Santa . . . but why?
Well, I could point out the Santa/Satan connection, with that anagram often the subject of comedy, but there are more relevant connections. In many traditions, Santa Claus is accompanied by a companion known as the Krampus. The Krampus was a devil-like creature with horns and cloven hooves that carried a sack. Santa makes his list, checks it twice, if you’re nice he gives you gifts; but, if you’re naughty, you would be visited by the Krampus, who would either give you coal, rocks or switches, or if you were truly bad, he would kidnap you and take you home to eat you for Christmas dinner. Then there's the Knut Goat, a creature in some parts of Europe said to go around and buck naughty kids. Then there's Black Pete, a racist caricature that would kidnap naughty kids, and force them to become future versions of Black Pete.

So, why are there all these horror elements sneaking into Christmas? Well, I’m not certain, but if you ask me, it’s evidence of the Pagan origins of Christmas. Despite what Kirk Cameron would like you to believe, Christmas has little, to nothing, to do with Christianity. It was an entirely Pagan celebration of the winter harvest. In fact, when you look at the History of both Christmas and Halloween,they are in fact very similar festivals.
Halloween takes its origins from Samhain, a Gaelic winter festival to celebrate a bountiful harvest. Meanwhile, Christmas takes its origins from Saturnalia, a Roman winter festival, which celebrated Saturn, a god of agriculture, and gift-giving to enjoy the plentiful yeild. And both festivals were held before the Winter Solstice, when farming would be more difficult, they were celebrated with animal sacrifices and prayed to gods of the agriculture.

So, in several ways, I guess you could say that Christmas and Halloween are basically the same holiday. In a matter of speaking at least . . . so, is it really such a stretch to suggest that Old Nick and St. Nick are the same person? If you do a little research, you’ll start to unravel this mystery yourself.

I’m the Absurd Word Nerd, and until next time, I hope you’re preparing for a Merry Halloween.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Grash

In my lounge chair I sat sinking,
With my mind a race of thinking,
And I stared at space unblinking,
Just as I had done before.

Deep inside the velvet lining,
Sitting thinking, so confining,
Almost felt that I was hiding,
From the shadows on the floor.

From the fireplace shadows leaping,
With each flicker light came creeping,
Through my mind it came in seeping,
And my thoughts became distracted.

And I sit there disbelieving,
At what both my eyes perceiving,
Together all the shadows weaving,
All within a womb compacted.

The shadows all together formed,
To make a black cocoon of thorns,
And from it, unknown devil’s born,
My heart was thumping faster.

From shadows it had been revealed,
And on the rug I watched him kneel,
I scarcely could believe it real,
Here stood an evil caster.

Unusual was the beast I saw,
From each black arm hung thrashing claw,
And jagged teeth poked from his jaw,
In whole he looked disgusting.

He stared at me with gleaming eyes,
And then he spoke, to my surprise,
With voice that sounded very wise,
And yet did not seem trusting.

“My name is Grash, so do not fear,
There is a reason I am here,
I am a soul misfortune seer,
And I’m here to tell bad news.

I’ve seen your death, seen with my sight,
I’ve seen it’s going to be tonight,
But only if things don’t go right,
You still have time to choose.

Because you know, your fate can change,
It is no longer prearranged,
I think to you it may seem strange,
But now I’ve let you know.

So watch your back, and watch your front,
I have more matters to confront,”
So with a most inhuman grunt,
He turned around to go.

Toward the fire with a crash,
He leapt amongst the wood and ash,
And that’s the last I saw of Grash,
It happened all so fast.

I think of all of what he said,
‘If I’m not careful I’ll be dead’,
So many thoughts go through my head,
‘This night could be my last.’

I lean, to stand up from my chair,
When something makes me stop right there,
I run my fingers through my hair,
“Could this cause what he said?”

I see the rug upon the floor,
It looks more slippery than before,
If I stand, and it slips some more,
I’d fall and bang my head.

I stand and jump the rug’s floor space,
To something else before my face,
I look up to the great bookcase,
It’s bigger than before.

If I’m not careful, it could fall,
It is so heavy, and I’m so small,
It’d hit me head to foot and all,
And squash me in the floor.

From the bookcase, I jump clear,
When above me I see more to fear,
Above me was the chandelier,
Right above my head.

It may have been stuck to the roof,
But say it isn’t falling-proof
If it swung hard and then broke loose,
It’d cut me down to shreds.

It’s an unlikely circumstance,
But I don’t dare to take a chance,
I do not take a second glance,
Away from there I leap.

But one thing I forget to do,
Is watch where I am jumping to
Toward the fire, before I knew,
I fell into the heap.

The flames come burning through my skin,
I scream and flail, I toss and spin,
Right then I knew I could not win,
I knew I would be killed.

Before I died, I swear I saw,
Those gleaming eyes I saw before,
He smiled with his tooth-filled jaw,
His prophecy fulfilled.

I see his truth, I see his lies,
I’m seeing right through his disguise,
He makes me think to realize,
He caused it all along.

He caused my fear and second-guessing,
He caused my worry, and my stressing,
And then what makes it so depressing,
Is in the end he won.

He laughs out loud, in evil glee,
And begins to fade in front of me,
Till the only thing left I could see,
Are the gleaming eyes of Grash.

Then after all the flames went cold,
And all was left was ash and coal,
Forever had been locked my soul,
Amongst the dirt and ash.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Are you Afraid of the Freaky Tales to Give you Goosebumps?

According to about twelve thousand Buzzfeed articles, I am a 90s kid. 1991, in fact, so I was born at the beginning of an era which a whole lot of people think 'sucked'. Now, it did suck in a few ways, but with the benefit of nostalgia we can look back on these crappy, crappy times with a sense of child-like wonder and joy at the plasticky commercialism, the over-enthusiastic children's programming and embarrassing pop music that is only listened to on mp3 players with headphones on and dialled down to the lowest volume.

One of the many things which I look back on with a mixture of ironic and unironic admiration is a series of books written under the name of R.L. Stine, the awesome Goosebumps series. An anthology horror series, these books were actually written by a wide variety of ghost writers (I mean writers that were paid but uncredited, not literally ghosts, as much as I wish it were otherwise). But I didn't know that at the time, and these were actually some of the first proper stories I ever read.
I mean, the first book I ever owned and read was "Ten on a Train", a cut-out book. But Goosebumps were the first novelas, and the first books that I ever consciously read, for fun, and helped to develop me into the reader and writer that I am today. My first one was #50, Calling All Creeps, and I remember reading it in the car while we drove from Queensland to New South Wales to visit family, late at night with just star-studded night and empty paddocks out the windows as I read with the car's interior cabin light.
When I grew older, I actually frequented market stalls and garage sales hunting down old books, and I actually managed to gather my own collection of all 62 of the original, classic Goosebumps books. This was partially because many people sold bundles of them for about $5, but also because I do enjoy the atmosphere of these stories. Some of them really are dreadfully written, but I like the creepy vibe of reading this spooky tales.

In fact, I remember that Goosebumps was really big, back in the day. I remember, even in Australia, there were promotional deals with Pizza Hut and other fast-food chains, because I remember getting served ice-cream with weird spoons that reacted to the cold, and when you put it in your ice-cream the bright neon green plastic turned into a dark, forest green.
I also remember watching some of the TV show during the month when we were given a free trial of Foxtel, as well as owning a Goosebumps board game. It was really crappy, because it had three "minigames", a ferris-wheel, a slide and a bridge with a monster, but they were made out of cardboard, and you had to physically spin the wheel and monster around or roll plastic skulls down the slide, and it took a long time to assemble, and although it was sturdy cardboard, after a few games with it, the cardboard began to peel and fall apart.

So, why am I talking about Goosebumps? Well, two reasons. Firstly, because it's Halloween and recently someone has decided to pay a lot of money to make a Goosebumps movie . . . it looks really stupid; maybe they're trying to market this to other Buzzfeed 90s Kids, but both my Beloved and I think this looks ridiculous.
But the second reason is, I think that Goosebumps is really influential. It was the Twilight of its day, many of these stories were poorly written even if they had an interesting story to tell, but nonetheless kids clung to them because it was a niche market, nobody was really exploiting the Horror for Kids audience.
In fact, according to Stine himself, the series was originally aimed towards young girls, with female protagonists and adding comedy elements so as not to scare the little ones, but after recieving fanmail from both boys and girls equally, the publisher broadened their marketing demographic

But what I find fascinating is how ever since that time, there have actually been an awful lot of TV shows and books in the genre of "Children's Horror Anthology". I was first introduced to the concept with Goosebumps, but even before that time, there were several scary compilations for kids.
I've mentioned Scary Tales to Tell in the Dark before now, a series by Alvin Schwartz, it was written in 1981 and was a collection of scary campfire stories; also, there was a book written in 1990 called Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids by Jamie Rix, which I never read but I saw the television show, a series of cautionary, morality tales for kiddies which included horror elements. And after Goosebumps, first written in 1992, there were a few copycats like the parody Gooflumps by "R.U. Slime"; in 1994 there was Graveyard School by "Tom B. Stone", a series which was like Goosebumps, except that every story utilized a single setting, like Bone Chillers by Betsy Haynes in 1997. Even R.L. Stine himself created his own spin-off an earlier teen franchise Fear Street, as Ghosts of Fear Street for younger readers.

But that's just the books . . . television is much more widespread, and even I encountered a few more of those Children's Horror Anthologies. I already mention that Grizzly Tales became a TV show, and I saw the Goosebumps show; but there was also Freaky Stories, a show based around urban legends, I remember being freaked out by the Mexican Dog story.
But other than that, I also know about some American/Canadian shows, because of my girlfriend, such as Are You Afraid of the Dark, and The Nightmare Room.

So, why am I talking about all these shows? Well, because I find it fascinating that one, single genre, even something as specific as that, can not only have so many iterations but also that it had a rise in popularity. And with this new movie coming out, I wonder whether the popularity of the children's horror anthology will once more peak. But more than any of that, what really intrigues me is why the genre became popular in the first place. After all, it was horror.
Horror always struggles in the adult market, because much of it is considered poorly written, and even when it is it is usually R-rated, and most such severe content ratings perform poorly at the box office.

So, why is horror such a blast with kids? Why do kids love dressing up as monsters on Halloween, besides the candy? Is it because it's a way to feel better about feeling scared? A safe way of feeling unsafe? Is it because we flaunt our safety, by using fear as enjoyment?

I think it relates back to what I said at the beginning of this countdown . . . I think it's about that anxiety and adrenaline. We find it exciting, because fear is a manipulator and a great motivator. It's enticing, even for kids, we crave that feeling, because while it can make us weak, it can also drive us to do great things.
I guess that's what people mean when they say the only thing to fear is fear itself. Because when we are afraid of our own fear, we put ourselves as a severe disadvantage.

I'm the Absurd Word Nerd, and what scary nostalgic shows or books did you like as a kid? Leave a comment and let me know, and until tomorrow night, don't worry; you have nothing to be afraid of.

Friday, 23 October 2015

Monster Bash, Tier 1: Troll vs. Witch

  “Goooood evening, faithful fans, and welcome back to Monster Bash! Last night we saw another exciting fight, but there’s one more Round for Tier One of this competition, before we move onto Semi-Finals next week,” I say, and I quickly start heading over to the commentator’s table. The two unimportant characters are still adjusting papers uselessly, but I walk up to a beautiful young woman waiting with her own microphone.
  “Thank you for joining me again, Jayalaw. We’ve had an exciting few fights, but now we’re at the last fight of Round One, and I think this one is going to be a little unusual. Troll versus Witch, what are your thoughts?”
“My bets are on the witch,” Jaya said. “Because one thing about magic is that it is variable; you can do so many things with it. A troll can rely on his or her brute force and durability, but those can only carry you so far. A witch has more options at her disposal; the only thing that might stop her is a conscience, or an oath to do no harm. In some traditions like Wicca, the actions a Wiccan takes comes back to them threefold.”
  “Luckily for tonight’s contender, this witch is no mere pagan. A sorceress and student in sorcery and witchcraft, she will give out troll a run for his money. However, trolls are not without their own brand of magic, and they are known for being tricky. So, while I think the witch is more powerful, I think our troll may have a trick or two up his sleeve. And witchcraft isn’t compatible with trolleri, so I can’t even offer an opinion either way. There are too many variables for me to decide. Crafty witch plus devious troll equals I have no idea what will happen tonight.”
“As long as he isn’t an Internet troll, I think she’ll be fine,” Jaya snarks.
  “Haha, yes,” I say, chuckling. “Those internet fiends can spit acid, and since they’re spineless and gutless they’re pretty flexible. They can shapeshift into the ugliest thing they can imagine, and don’t even get me started on the flame wars. Luckily for us, this troll is a nature guardian with botanical magic, and not a loner with an inferiority complex. Oh, and speak of the devil, here are our competitors!”
On the left side, near the trees, a flat-panel truck backed towards the gate as two stagehands opened the gate, the suspension straining with the weight of its cargo. Standing on the back of the truck was a two-storey tall, forest-green monster. Its legs were brown and covered with bark, and it wore a loin cloth fashioned from some unidentifiable animal skin. Its back was covered in twigs, leaves and moss. The trolls face and hands were oversized, and he had a large, beak-like nose, an underbite filled with sharp, little teeth and small, yellow, beady eyes. He stepped off the back of the truck, making the ground shake as he did. Then the truck drove off and they shut the gate.
  "In this corner, from the Taynish National Nature Reserve, a young troll guardian known only as Gremby. Standing seven-point-sixteen metres tall, and a skilled master of trolleri, he is our heaviest competitor, weighing in at over two tonnes!"
On the right side near the church, a short woman wearing handcuffes was lead through the gate by two stage hands, one holding each arm.
She was wearing a black, draping dress and a wide-brimmed hat, and wasn't very muscular. One of the stagehands unlocked the cuffs and the two of them left and locked the gate behind them.
  "And in this corner, Melissa Maitland, at just nineteen years old, she is our youngest competitor. By day, an art student with an interest in history; by night, a self-trained sorceress and mistress of the dark arts. Now, let's get started!"
I jump up and scream. “It’s Beauty versus Beast, who will win? Let’s get ready to RUMBLE! Three . . . two . . . one, FIGHT!”

The troll makes his way down the path, but immediately, Melissa holds out both hands, chanting quickly under her breath and lifts her hands. The closest six headstones lift from the ground and come to float around her. The organizes them to float beside her like an enormous, morbid, stone deck of cards.
She starts throwing them at the troll's head as she moves forward, advancing. Gremby raises an arm and the headstones crack, against him. He grimaces from the pain, but keeps heading forward. When Melissa throws her sixth headstone, Gremby lowers his arm, weeping some kind of sap.
  "You're nae the only one that can use magic, witch," says the troll in a deep, crackling voice with a slight Scottish accent. He holds out his injured arm, and branches burst out of and from his skin, they grow at amazing speed, closing the four-metre distance between them and wrapping around her. The crooked limb bends and twists to bring the girl in front of his face, then the branch tightens and Melissa groans with pain. Clenching her teeth she looks up at the sky and speaks in a strange tongue. There's a rumble of thunder, then a flash of light as lightning strikes. It connects with the troll's shoulder, boils the sap in an instant and the whole limb explodes. Melissa falls safely to the ground as twigs fell around her.
With a roar, the troll smacks at the ground with his remaining arm, slamming his fist to crush the witch. But Melissa rolls to the side, then deftly runs up his arm and onto his shoulder. She grabs both sides of his head and pulls.
  "Oi!" growls the troll. he swipes around his head, and the witch goes flying. She lands awkwardly on the grass, and cries out in pain. "Tryin' to rip mah head off?! You despicable sack of meat . . ."
The troll places his hand on the ground, sending a pulse of energy into the ground. The grass surrounding Melissa flutters, then grows from blades of grass into fern-like fronds which curl around her arms and legs, then knot together. The troll makes his way towards her, menacingly. Melissa was quite rattled, but shaking herself off, she uses her magic to pull herself out of the ground, the monster blades of grass falling limp the instant they are separated from their roots. She takes three steps back, a deep breath, then thrusts both hands in the direction of the advancing troll. The troll stumbles back a fraction, then presses onwards, gritting his teeth. Melissa closes her eyes to concentrate, trying to push and lift, but the troll was too heavy. She dropped her arms and opened her eyes, glancing around desperately. Then, she turned and ran towards the gate.
  "Where are yeh goin'?" asked Gremby, and as he spoke, green vines began to grow from his left shoulder to replace his missing arm. "I'm not done with yer yet . . ."
The witch grabbed the fence, and began fiddling with the padlock on the chain that held the gate shut.
  "You can't run, lass. I'm comin' fer you."
She muttered something which unclasped the padlock, but she didn't open the gate, instead, she grabbed the loose chain, turned around and threw it at the troll. It landed on his arm, but gesturing with her hands, she manipulated the metre-and-a-half long chain to snake along his shoulder and wrap around his neck. The troll grabbed at the chain, but as soon as Melissa clapped her hands together, the chain pulled tight. Then, she twisted both clasped hands, and the two ends twisted, and there was a creaking, cracking sound as the loop of the chain knotted tighter. Breathing heavily, Melissa gestured three more times, as though miming tightening a socket wrench. Each time the chain twisted again, tightening the loop even further, cracking and cracking. The troll collapsed to its knees, his beady eyes bulging, he couldn't speak.
Then, with a cheeky grin, Melissa spun a pirouette like a ballerina. As she did, the trolls neck twisted, and she dislocated his head with a wet crunch.
The head fell to the ground with a thud, and the body slumped backwards.

  "Oh my GOD! We have a winner!" I screamed, running up to the gate. "That was absolutely excellent. A real twist at the end, I thought you were really fleeing for your life . . . but you were really just getting your hands on that chain, there. How does it feel to have won?"
  ". . . good," says Melissa, nodding, still catching her breath.
  "You're a girl of very few words. Is there anything else you'd like to add?"
  "Couldn't talk . . . I was concentrating," she says, nodding.
  "Well, folks, there you have it. When I saw the size of that troll, I thought he had it. But lo and behold, the little girl did it. Ladies and Gentleman, put your hands together for tonight's winner, the Witch!"
A few people applauded as a few stagehands approached the troll's corpse, trying to figure out how to move the two-tonne mass.
  "Well, there you have it. That is the end of Tier One of Monster Bash, out of Eight we have four champions. We'll return after a short break to clean up this mess, but don't go away. We will not be done until we find our Monster Supreme. Our remaining winners will face off, one by one, until only one is left standing Who will survive this morbid clash, who will survive this creature clash? Come back next time to find out. Until then, goodnight everybody."

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Monster Bash, Tier 1: Vampire vs. Human

  "Wow, that looks atrocious . . . no really, I can't draw humans for shit, can't we get a professional artist or something to do these match cards?" I ask, frowning as I talk into my headset and glance up at the illustration. "Too late? I mean, can't we . . . wait now? We're live right now . . . ? HELLO! and good evening, monster fans!"
I quickly compose myself and smile.
"Welcome back to Tier one of Monster Bash. Last night, we saw a quick and dirty match, but there’s more to come. Who will win tonight’s fight? Stick around to find out,” I say, adjusting my suit as I lean against the fence. “Now, it has come to my attention that some viewers are a little upset that we are being disrespectful to these grounds, but let me assure you, first of all, that Horton-Meier was made fully aware of the content and extent of what Monster Bash entails, and willingly offered the grounds, fully informed. Second of all, know that we here at Monster Bash Conglomerated are not heartless, and part of our contract included a restoration of these grounds, not only of any damage we inflict, but also a renovation of the pre-existing site. When we leave here, it will be as peaceful and pristine as the day they first opened their gates”
I stand up and adjust my headphones as I once more approach the commentator’s desk.
 “Yet again, I am joined by the lovely Miss Jayalaw, to help us comment on this evening’s proceedings. Now, Jaya, with media these days portraying vampires as sparkling juggernauts, it may seem like vampire is the obvious choice. But I am going against type this evening, and I think I’m backing mankind. What do you think of tonight’s competition?”
 “Human beings can be quite nasty,” Jaya replied. “Though I do hope that he knows what he’s getting into. Vampires can be killed in numerous ways, but the favored choice is a wooden stake through the heart. Wood does happen to be everywhere, even in the pencils we use. So theoretically, the human would just have to get close enough to the vampire to destroy them, unless he’s allowed to use a bow and arrow.”
 “Well, none of the contestants are allowed to bring a weapon onto the field, but there’s a reason we picked a graveyard instead of a boxing ring,” I say, looking out upon the churchyard. “If it’s a case of a one, two, punch, then it’s not much of a fair fight, because it’s not a realistic setting for any of these creatures to occupy. And vampires, although fast, they’re really fragile, so I think that if our human plays smart until he can fashion himself a club or a stake, then it’s game over. Of course, that’s a really big ‘if’.”
“It’s a shame that people weren’t buried with sharp sticks, although a human digging for one would be desecrating remains. Would garlic be considered a weapon? In theory, could the human bide his time until dawn hits? If so, then the vampire would either have to forfeit or burst into flames.”
 “I sense a little trepidation on your part. I don’t think it will be that hard for our man. With trees, crumbling gravestones, the vestments in the church, I think there’s plenty he could use to defend himself. Vampire’s greatest defense is that we can’t tell them apart from humans. But walking into this arena, our guy is ready to fight. And hey, Hitler, Napalm, Clowns. . . I think mankind really is the greatest monster in this fight. Oh, and here come our contestants!”
Over at the fence by the tree line, was a tall, pale-skinned man in a straight jacket and a muzzle, but he walked calmly, and casually, glancing around and standing tall, his slicked, black hair shining greasily in the moonlight. He was being lead from behind, a stagehand holding the buckles on the spine of the jacket. After entering the field, the stagehand unbuckled the straight jacket and the muzzle and the two of them ran back and closed the gate behind them.
In one swift motion, the vampire threw his arms back, and the straight jacket slipped off of his body onto the ground in front of him to reveal a white shirt and matching pinstripe vest and trousers. He casually removed the muzzle the way a rockstar would remove their sunglasses.
 “In this corner, we have Samuel Bergstein, originally a bank teller, he was bitten by a vampire at the age of twenty-nine, and is our oldest and wisest competitor having walked this earth for one hundred and fourteen years.”
On the other side near the church, a black man with long daggy hair, wearing an open shirt with a singlet and a pair of jeans walks towards the field, with two stagehands holding each arm. They walk him inside the graveyard, stand him a few metres away from the fence and shut the gate behind them. The man looked a little anxious, but hopped on the spot and flexed his muscles, which were well-toned and athletic.
 “And against him, we have Jerome Ratray, he is thirty-six years old and standing at six feet - or one-point-eight metres - and weighing in at one hundred and ninety pounds - or ninety kilos - he is an electrician and in his spare time an amateur kick-boxer. Alrighty then!”
I stand up and scream “It’s Predator versus Prey, who will win? Let’s get ready to RUMBLE! Three . . . two . . . one, FIGHT!”

Jerome starts jogging down the centre path, and the vampire, Samuel, chuckles as he begins to swagger towards his opponent.
 “How old are you?” asked Samuel. Jerome doesn’t answer, instead he stops in the middle of the path and puts up his fists, waiting for the vampire to meet him half way.
“That’s right, thirty-six . . . so young. I hope you’ve lived a good life, because it’s going to end, tonight.”
Jerome didn’t respond, he was focussed, breathing steadily, fists clenched.
 “Do you have any idea how many people I’ve killed in my lifetime?” asked Samuel, but again, Jerome doesn’t answer. “I’m talking to you, son. Do you know how to speak?”
 “I ain’t here to talk,” said Jerome coldly.
 “So he does have a tongue,” says Samuel with a chuckle. “Why so stoic? I want to enjoy this, savour the moment, because it won’t last too long otherwise.”
 “You tryin’ to scare me, sucker?” asked Jerome. “I didn’t come here for compellin’ conversation, I came here to kick yer ass. Vampires are only dangerous because they look like us, we don’t see ‘em comin’. Well, I see you sucker . . . you ready to dance?”
Jerome took two steps forward and threw his fist. The vampire dodged left with amazing speed, but it was a fake-out, Jerome swung a right hook and got him in the neck. Samuel stumbled back, but Jerome advanced quickly, almost hopping forward, since he was so light on his feet. He swung three more powerful punches, left-left-right, twice in the kidney, once in the forehead. Samuel fell onto his back, and scrambled backwards.
 “No, come on, keep on talkin’!” taunted Jerome. “Weren’t you sayin’ somethin’ about how very old you are?”
Samuel clambered to his feet, then leapt through the air. Jerome stepped aside and watched as he flew overhead, landing in front of the church.
 “You want to play rough, do you?” asked the vampire.
 “I ain’t playin’, sucker,” said Jerome. “I’m gonna kill you.”
Samuel lept up and grabbed onto the edge of the roof, placing his feet flat on the wall as he hung from the church, then using all the force in his legs, he dove at his prey. He tackled him around the waist, and the force sent them both sprawling back. The vampire quickly got to his feet and kicked Jerome in the head. Jerome grabbed his ankle to stop him doing it again, but he jumped away, with a speed that whipped his foot out of Jerome’s grip. Samuel landed on top of the church, and sat on his haunches, looking down at Jerome as he got back up.
 “There, isn’t that better? Doesn’t it feel more natural, to have you at my feet, and me standing above you.”
 “Sounds to me like you’re hiding, because you know if you were standin’ down here, I’d rip yer head off.”
 “Such a savage beast . . . how do you manage to even tie your shoes?”
 “Seriously, how are you plannin’ on winnin’ from all the way up there?” asked Jerome, sounding frustrated. “What are you waitin’ for, old age? Stop hidin’ like a scared, little mouse and fight me!”
Samuel sighed, then leapt off the roof. He landed a metre in front of Jerome, but immediately tucked into a somersault, rolled forward and kicked with both feet into his chest.
He jumped up as Jerome stumbled back, and ran forward with inhuman speed. He crouched low and jabbed with a suckerpunch at full speed, that knocked the air out of Jerome, causing him to lose more ground, stumbling back. Then Samuel jumped to his feet with an uppercut, he was moving fast, to keep ahead of his opponent. Jerome managed to batter it away, with both hands, and tried to regain his composure; so instead Samuel changed the uppercut into a powerful slap that echoed like a thunderclap. He swung his other hand to try to slap him again, trying to knock him silly, but Jerome grabbed his fingers, squeezing the spindly fingers tight, and through clenched, bloody teeth he growled and gave Samuel a headbutt. The vampire was knocked back, but Jerome had a tight grip on his hand, he pulled him back and repaid the favour with a suckerpunch of his own, straight to the stomach. Samuel doubled over, and Jerome kneed him in the face, then swung a punch at his face, then another. Samuel let out a pained cry, as blood started dripping from his nose and mouth. But Jerome kept advancing. He swung an uppercut at his opponent’s chin that made a heavy sound, and knocked him onto his back.
Jerome stood there for a moment, sweating and breathing heavily. He was exhausted and he stopped to catch his breath, but then he looked over at the church and walked past Samuel. The vampire was a bloody mess, and he tried to look around, he groaned as he sat up. he cradled his face with a shaking hand and he rolled onto his feet.
Behind him, the human grabbed the wooden railing of the steps leading into the church and yelled out as he ripped it off, and brandished the makeshift club in his hand.
One end had two nails sticking out, which he elected as the business end, and he walked back towards his opponent to finish him off. Taking a running swing at the hunched figure, he knocked Samuel over again, the nails ripping two wounds into his side.
 “No, stop!” yelled out the vampire, but Jerome swung downwards, and Samuel wailed in pain. As he lifted the bludgeon to swing again, Samuel got to his feet. Mid-arch, Samuel swiped at the piece of wood at astounding speed, and snapped it in half. Then he grabbed Jerome’s fist and dove forward, sinking his fangs into Jerome’s shoulder, to drink the blood.
 “Argh! Get off me!” screamed Jerome. He used his free hand to punch the vampire in the head, throwing him off and in the process gouging deep cuts where the teeth ripped through. Seeing the snapped splinter in his hand, he angrily shoved it into the vampire’s chest. Immediately Samuel went limp. He fell onto his knees and looked up at Jerome, then at the makeshift stake in his chest. He was bleeding heavily, cold blood pooling on the ground around him.
 “You got me,” he said, looking back up, “I think . . . I think I’m finally dying.”
 “Mate . . .” said Jerome, shaking his head. “You talk too much.”
After a few seconds, the vampire slumped to the side, then finally Jerome sat on the ground, breathing heavily.

 “Ladies and gentlemen, that was amazing, I think we have a winner!” I yell, running forward. “I knew it! Mankind, all the way! I think . . . what?”
I stop and put a hand to my headphones as the operators talk to me.
“Okay, I’ll check. Jerome? How are you feelin’, man?” I say walking closer. “Can we get a medic, here?!”
 “That sucked,” said Jerome, wiping the sweat from his brow.
 “We’re not done yet, man. There may be a technical knock-out here.”
 “What?” said Jerome, he looked a little woozy as he looked up.
 “You’ve been bitten. If you turn, that’s T.K.O., Vampire wins.”
 “Vam . . . what? Vampire’s dead,” said Jerome. Once more, an ambulance comes flying through the gate and stops short, and two nurses come out of the back.
 “Yes, the vampire’s dead. You will come back next tier. But if you turn, then you come back to fight as a Vampire,” I say. “Can we get some help here, please?”
A nurse straps his arm with a blood pressure bracelet and the other other checks his temperature, then puts a stethoscope to his chest. After a tense few seconds, the nurse shakes her head.
 “No, he’s gonna be fine,” she says. “Don’t worry, you’re still human.”
 “All-RIGHTY then!” I yell out. “That was touch and go for a second there, scary stuff, but it’s official! We have tonight’s champion! Please everyone, congratulate, the Human!”
The nurses both clap as I walk back towards the desk.
 “That was pretty exciting, but there’s one more round for tier one. Come back tomorrow night, for some more, amazing action!”

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Monster Bash, Tier 1: Zombie vs. Demon

“Good evening, sports fans, and welcome back to tier one of Monster Bash. Last night’s round saw some incredible action, but who will win tonight’s conflict? Stick around to find out,” I say, as I walk towards the commentator’s desk. “We have a beautiful arena here at Horton-Meier Churchyard, which has been graciously offered to us for these fights. They have a magnificently maintained churchyard, and an Anzac Memorial for those who died during their service, I have to say, my heart goes out to those poor souls . . . ‘lest we forget’.”
I approach the desk where two unimportant characters are looking busy alongside a gorgeous, young woman.
“Once more, I’m joined by Jayalaw at the sidelines to comment on tonight’s fight. Jaya, tonight we see a zombie facing off against a demon . . . I’ve got to say, this one seems like a Curb Stomp battle, does the walking dead stand a chance against this hellspawn?”
“Depends on the type of walking dead,” she responded. “As well as the malevolence and strength of the demon. Most people characterize zombies as walking carnivores or brainwashed slaves for Caribbean magicians, but some in pop culture know how to think. Not all demons are necessarily evil, per se, and quite a few can be benevolent. It’s a real toss up because the interpretations vary widely.”
 “Well, that seems as good a time as any to check our profiles. Let me see here . . .” I reach down and snatch a few papers from one of the two-dimensional side-characters. The nameless cutout doesn’t even speak. “Hmm . . . well, there’s good news and bad news for our zombie contender. Apparently he’s classed as a ‘Romero’, which is to say, he’s a bit of a shambler. Aggressive, nonetheless, but speed will not be in his favour. However, our demon is looking like she’s on a lesser rung of demon hierarchy. A bit of a lesser, barely above an imp, with only a few lashings of dark magic. Ooh, wait . . . hellfire. I dunno, I’m still leaning towards the demon.”
 “Shamblers seem to be resistant to pain, and can only be killed with beheading or a direct shot to the skull. So our demon can’t play with her opponent based on that sort of immunity.”
 “Y’know, you have a fair point. Perhaps I’m being unfair. But y’know, I think the real decider here is whether or not the zombie bite is going to work in his favour. This demon is flesh and blood, So, if she can get turned by the zombie, that’s a T.K.O., that’s out. I guess we’ll just have to find out. Oh, and here come our competitors now!”
On the left side, near the trees, two stage hands were walking a zombie towards the gate. He had green saggy skin and a metal bucket on his head, as well as a wire lasso, much like a dog-catcher would use, tied his neck which they were using to lead him into the churchyard. As they closed the gate behind them, one of the stagehands approached and quickly removed the bucket. The zombie immediately snarled and dove for him, but the stagehand sprinted and the one holding the lasso pole held firm.
 “Ooh, he’s a vicious one! In this corner, we have Donald Vanderbilt, says he used to be a shop assistant, but was bitten and infected over ten years ago. Died at the age of thirty-three, and since then has managed to infect seventeen more people. So watch out, we’ve got a biter.”
On the other side of the field, three stagehands entered with a book, and a small tray. One used a medical bag filled with donated blood to draw a symbol, while another chanted from a book. The third arranged and lit candles as well as several bones, herbs and other small items. The chanting stagehand cried out and the candles seemed to explode with flame and became a firewhirl. In the centre, a red-skinned woman with horns and a spear-tipped tail appeared, with yellow eyes, black hair and nails, and cloaked in what looked like a black and charred bikini.
 “And, showing that she knows how to make an entrance, in this corner, we have . . . uh, Rkk’lugh O’ash’sh kss-Ra? But, she also goes by the name ‘Carver’. Hellspawn of the Fifth Circle for eighty-six years, Sla’ankin underling and a practitioner of infernal arts. I don’t think I understood half of that, and I wrote it. But okay . . .” I stand up and scream “It’s Creep versus Corpse, who will win? Let’s get ready to RUMBLE! Three . . . two . . . one, FIGHT!”

The zombie began shuffling forwards, and Carver chuckled.
 “What folly is this?” she said, looking at the commentators. Then, shaking her head, she strolled along the path towards the zombie. “Alright, let’s bring this to an end . . .”
Carver moved within five metres of the zombie, then stopped. The zombie kept shuffling forwards, and after three seconds it was one metre closer.
 “This is a farce,” said Carver, she took one step back and raised a clawed hand. Her eyes flashed orange as fire ignited from her nails and spread into her palm. Then she punched forward, and a stream of fire burst forth from her hand, and hit the zombie’s feet. She motioned her hand up and down, covering the zombie with flames and smoke. It screamed hoarsely as the flames hit its face. Then Carver dropped her hand and shrugged, looking away from the black smoke.
 “Does this make me champion?” she asked.
Suddenly, a burning zombie leapt out of the smoke and, still smouldering, grabbed her right wrist with both hands, and dug its teeth into her fingers. The demon screamed in pain, her inhuman voice shredding eardrums, a sound like angry nails on a chalkboard.
Swiftly, she punched the zombie in the face and threw him off her, sending him flying into the fence.
 “You festering MAGGOT!” she shrieked, looking at her hand. Rich, red and black blood spilled from her knuckles, “What have you done to me?! Corrupted blood . . .”
Her hand seemed to twitch and rot as she looked at it. Carver frowned angrily as she held her infected hand in front of her face and grabbed her own wrist with her other hand. She took three deep breaths, then clenching her teeth she twisted sharply, crack! The bone snapped. Then, digging her claws into the flesh, the demon ripped the loose, rotten hand off of her arm and dropped it in the dirt beside her. Tears of blood fell from her eyes as she looked at the bleeding, rendered stump of her wrist, then looked through the smoke at the smoking zombie, staggering to its feet. She leapt over the fire and marched towards the shambling corpse.
“Come on, try it one more time!” she roared. “Show me those teeth, I want to see your HUNGER!”
As she came within three metres, the zombie lashed again, but this time, she was ready, she stepped back, and kicked high at the side of his head. A bone cracked, and the zombie fell onto the ground once more. Then, seething with rage, the demon took two steps towards its face, raised a leg high, and slammed it into the zombies head. The decayed head split like a meat watermelon, the zombie’s body  twitched a few times before falling still.

A bell sounded, and I came running forward.
  "Ladies and gentlemen, we have tonight's champion," I cry as I step around the rotting hand and over to the dead zombie. "That was a lot closer than I was expecting. My stomach dropped when he bit your hand there, Carver, but you pulled through in the end. I mean . . . ripping off your own hand? Wow. How does it feel to have won tonight?"
  "That was revolting," said Carver. "But I am proven victorious. What can you offer me for my hand?"
  "If you need medical help, there's an ambulance on standby. And before your next fight, I'm sure the stagehands can patch you up, and we'll need to check the rulebook about finding you a prosthetic or something so you're not handicapped next fight."
Carver started to look a little woozy as more blood spilled from her wrist.
  "Okay, let's double-time that ambulance, guys!" I say, stepping away. "She's been a real trooper this evening, ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for the Demon!"
Everyone applauds, but the clapping is drowned out by the sound of the ambulance as it crashes through the gate.
  "Come back tomorrow for Round Three! It's going to be a good one, trust me!"