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Flash Fantastic!

No. 8June 2004

By Michael A. Arnzen

While I'm grading lab papers, a problem student in my bio class strolls into my office hours and drops down into a chair beside my desk. "I'm losing it, Doc," he says, slapping an arm over his head to clutch the ear on the opposite side of it, looking something like a monkey. "I can't keep my shit together. And I don't know what to do." I decide not to respond to his offensive cursing. I slowly set down my pen and look him in the eye. "Did you try researching the problem in the library yet?"

"No," he says and for a moment and I think I see a teardrop spill out of his right eye. "Just the internet." "Well then..."

He turns away as if wincing in pain and I realize that droplet was no tear -- it was a bright bead of blood, trickling down his cheek, spilling from a deep burgandy portion of matted blonde hair. He squeezes the monkey arm over his head more tightly and a plate in his skull audibly buckles. "I know," he says with an exasperated huff and a roll of his good eye. "Go to the library." "Yes," I say, returning to my paper. "Quickly. The deadline is looming" "Thanks, Doc." He picks up his bag and moves toward my door.

"Oh, and Jimmy..."


He turns around and I see a cluster of yellow matter on his shoulder, lumpy as grits. I wonder if his manners are in there, somewhere. "Don't forget to knock next time."

His eyes search the air, seeking the memory.

"Now please shut the door."

He obeys. I lean back in the silence of my office and wonder how the rest of the class is doing with their experiments and whether or not I need to give more detailed directions next time.

-- Michael Arnzen is the author of 100 Jolts: Shockingly Short Stories (Raw Dog Screaming Press, April 2004) and Gorelets: Unpleasant Poems (Fairwood Press, Oct 2003). Visit for more information about this Bram Stoker Award winning author.

by Kevin James Miller

“Cold, Rollin? Here, let me get you another blanket. There we go. And let me freshen up that hot chocolate for you. Here, we will sit and listen to the snows and the winds together.

Strange to think of the Vargorians having invaded more than ten years ago, isn't it? Did I tell you that I had relatives in both Paris and Miami? Yes-both wiped out in the first wave of attacks.

No, thank you, you're too kind, but maybe a little more hot chocolate and another blanket, Rollin?

No, it's no bother. You're my guest, after all.

Do you miss it? Being National Security Advisor E.B. Rollin?

Your legs still look a little cold. Wait, I have a comforter over here. I'll just tuck it around you and-OK, there we go.

Anyway, the war. It must have been odd, for our side, running it from London, from Tokyo, from Moscow, and of course, the White House, where you were. All those leaders all co-operating all over the world to defend the planet.

It was even weirder being on that U.N. team, like I was, the team that swept into the Vargorian command ship, after all the fighting was over.

It was especially interesting talking to Tenka-Voo.

Oops, you almost spat up your hot chocolate there, Rollin.

Yes, the old Vargorian was still alive when my team found him.

The Vargorians contacted the English, the Japanese, and the Russians before they invaded. And Washington, of course.

So it's true all over the universe. Everybody has to eat.

And the Vargorians ate toxic wastes. Just the sort of toxic wastes we have more than enough of on this planet.

I think it's time for another blanket, Rollin. What? Too warm? Oh, you don't want to tell me, do you?

The way I figure it, if the stock markets hadn't crashed in America, Japan, London, Russia, all in the week before the Vargorians contacted the governments of Earth, maybe all of you would have listened. Maybe all of you would have found your humanity, and let those poor bastards from beyond the stars feed, and go back home. No harm, no foul.

But instead, the way we pieced it together with Tenka-Voo, all of you decided that since the world’s economies were shot and dead, maybe we would forget about it if our attentions were diverted with fighting bug-eyed monsters from outer space.

And we did. We forget about how all of you had ruined everything.

There were thirteen others on that U.N. team with me, Rollin. Sometimes I wonder what the rest of them are doing now.

And us? You and me, right now, listening to the snows and the wind?

Well, I have another blanket to give you, and this one I'm going to hold over you face, hard, for a good long while.”

By Barry Baldwin

The inspector contemplated the pile of chains heaped on the ground, as dark and sinister as the surrounding buildings. He lit a pungent Shinsei cigarette.

“How could they escape from a ton of iron like this? Godzilla himself would have been hard pressed to break such fetters.”

His subordinate was saying nothing. Tsumbo de oshi - deaf and dumb.

Chimbo, thought the inspector, monko. He had good reason to summon up the two grossest anatomical terms in the Japanese vocabulary. But they did nothing to help.

“Who was in charge of this business?” The inspector asked his quiet partner.

“Yoshi Kamo.”

Yoshi Kamo. He was the smallest man on the force, as tiny as the inspector was immense, and the biggest nuisance. “Drive me back to the office, fetch him to me there, then make yourself scarce.”


When Kamo stood before him, watchful but confident, the inspector said without preamble, “You released those women.”

“Hai .” A lengthening pause suggested that his superior was waiting for this clipped affirmative to be decorated with a shamefaced Simata! - I have made a mistake. Well, his superior was in for a disappointment.

“Why?” The inspector asked.

Yoshi Kamo stirred. “They were not only Sumo wrestlers, but also deviants.”

“An interesting antithesis,” observed the inspector impassively, “coming from one such as yourself. It is known that you entertain a poor opinion of this new feature of life in our nation.”

“I consider them to be a dishonor to our people. An affront to order and morality, yes...”

The inspector raised a hand to abort the diatribe. If Yoshi Kamo were not stopped, he would launch into his celebrated lament for Mishima, the Japanese novelist and warrior who had a few years ago famously committed seppuku in protest against modern decadence.

“Yes, I’m familiar with all this, but why do you say they were also deviants?”

“Because there were no men in the bar where we rounded them up. And when we attempted to bind them together, they giggled...”

“All Japanese girls giggle.”

“But these cheered and shouted ‘Awri, Awri’ , to make my men go more quickly. And some even moved closer together and kissed each other. Masochists. They wanted the chains. That was not to be tolerated.”

“So, where are they now?” The inspector already knew he would not welcome the answer.

“Ito and I herded them into that disused police laundry where, as you know, discreet interrogations are conducted. We shot them, not without difficulty, and rendered them down in the boilers, which still work most efficiently. They will make high-quality grease, for domestic use as well as wrestlers. Most expensive in the supermarkets. Our wives will be very pleased. It is, of course, expected that you, Inspector, would be entitled to the largest share.”

“Logical and clean. The sadist must deny pleasure to the masochist. And they were fat in life, hence what better then, that they should be fat in death?” Yoshi Kamo, surprised by his superior’s understanding, bowed more deeply than usual and left. The inspector frowned as he picked up the telephone, punched in some confidential numbers, and arranged with the city’s top yakusa, who owed him many favors, for the killing of Yoshi Kamo.

Partly because, despite his great size, he was a vegetarian. For him, a matter of simple taste rather than complex morality. After all, he had often read that the gaijin Hitler did not eat meat, drink or even smoke. But mainly, because his favorite wrestler had been among the victims.

Only the previous week, he had composed an account of her latest - her last, as it had turned out - triumph in the newspaper Asahi . Under a pseudonym, naturally, he had evoked the erotic poetry in motion of both yokozuna coming together in migi-yotsu, or ‘right-hand inside holds.’ It was Mariko’s favourite grip. Mariko and Yasu had been lovers for quite some time. He had thought that no one knew. Neither was married, and they had been careful. But now, he wondered about Yoshi Kamo. The man missed very little. Had he somehow divined the affair? Was this knowledge, abetted by some dark desires of his own, the unadmitted impulse behind the slaughter in the laundry?

Well, it was no matter now. The inspector doubted that for all his alertness, Yoshi Kamo had even the faintest inkling that his superior officer was booked into the most expensive private clinic in Bangkok to surgically complete his transformation from man to woman. It would not be long before his career change would be as drastic as his body, from inspector of police to madam in charge of Tokyo’s most illustrious house of geishas. His pension would be amplified by funds from grateful businessmen and indebted yakusas .

He pondered, not for long, then jotted down some ideograms which engendered a summarising haiku:

Inside Every
Fat Man A Fat Woman Is
Trying To Get Out.

Almost worthy of Basho, greatest exponent of the form. He would print it, under his own name, in the police newsletter with his resignation. The liquidation of Yoshi Kamo and the avenging of Mariko the Sumo wrestler were acts positive in themselves but too quiet to be of more than limited validity. It was time that he/she came out into open embodiment and support of the twin virtues of female and fat.

By Derek Lee McPhatter

A beast, fiercer than all that came before, terrorized the people of the plains. The Children of the Four were not prepared for the cunning of this creature and its insatiable appetite for carnage. It hunted not for food, but for pleasure. A beast of destruction. A creature of chaos. Descending upon their villages, day and night. Unpredictable and undeniably terrible as the days of fear became weeks and finally months.

A plague. Nothing less than a plague.

Before these troubled times, the Children of the Four, for all their love of peace, for all their propensity towards virtue, seldom gave thanks for their fortune. Their lands were among the most fertile in the realm. Their men were always hearty and healthy. And the women? The women were rumored to be the most impressive, most ravishing…There were many reasons to envy these privileged folk.

And perhaps it was envy that brought this terror here. Indeed, some in the village thought this was so: “It is our neighbors of the Mountain. They are jealous once again and have sent this creature to kill us.” Many voiced this opinion (for the mountain folk were indeed an aggressive and disagreeable sort.) But some did not. Some of the older, nearly discarded folk dismissed this talk of war. They said it was an “otherworldly brute.” And there was only one source for such an unearthly evil:

The very heart of hell itself, the Shadowed Chasms.

And while the rest of the villagers spoke of a new warpath the older ones prayed.

They prayed and they prayed and they prayed. “For to stop the spawn from the heart of hell immortal champions must be called forth from eternity.”

They prayed day and night. They sang the old songs, some nearly forgotten. They danced the old dances and prayed even more.

On the high hill, just after dusk it appeared: that fierce and feral beast. It heard their prayers and songs. It saw their dances and grew angry. The beast roared. Longer and louder than ever before it howled at them with piercing rage and charged. The monster tore through these once-peaceful plains, galloping on haunches of blistered muscle, snarling as the sky grew darker.

From the north: She came. With the cold of the cruelest winters and a scepter of purest ice she appeared. She came with snow, wild and wondrous shawls of broken white. Her breath was beyond blue and her eyes the unrelenting frozen gaze of a goddess awakened. She came from the north upon the beast.

From the South: He came. With wings of flame and pillars of death-black smoke he descended. His eyes were the fiery passions from the hearts of a thousand suns combined. Blazing hammers rested on the titan’s scalded shoulders. At his feet, a river of searing red sizzled and crackled as the singed air around him melted into haze. He came from the south upon the beast.

From the east: She came, diving through clouds of gathering unrest. Her voice was the coarse whisper of a distant storm gone mad. The swelling plumes of deepest gray behind her, with a song swifter than the rush of the raging rivers, she shrieked the shrill cry of an unhinged spirit. From the east she came upon the beast.

From the west: He came. The earth opening itself at his command, he appeared on tumbling boulders of browns and blacks and greens. His arms were the limbs of the mightiest of trees, rough and rippled, grasping at the darkened sky above. His body held the strength of forbidden and forgotten ages past. His call was the channeled challenge of a giant grown from the dawn of time. From the west he came upon the beast.

The people cowered in awe as the Four came down upon the plains. If the creature had known fear, it would have run (as it should have). Yet, it stood its ground, growling and grunting as the Four drew closer.

Piercing shards of ice fell from the sky.

Flames erupted into blazes.

Raging winds rushed and ravaged.

And the Earth shook, grumbling and trembling, ripping and reforming itself as the battle continued.

The people stood now, silent as the four champions from heaven bore down upon the beast with their powers supreme.

They watched the beast struggle and snarl—resisting.

Struggle and suffer and finally die.

Back down it went to the Shadowed Chasms.

Then back east went the wind. Back west went the earth. Back south went the flames and back north went the cold.

Back to the heavens went the Four Eternals, scarcely to be prayed to or danced for again.

THIS ISSUE OF FLASH FANTASTIC -- "Research Subjects" is ©2004 by Michael A. Arnzen.  "Long After The War" is ©2004 by Kevin James Miller.  "Big Girls Don't Cry" is ©2004 by Barry Baldwin.   "The Four Eternals" is ©2004 by Derek Lee McPhatter.  All contents of Flash Fantastic edited by Patty G. Henderson.  Final formatting and additional graphics by Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Crazed Fanboy dotcom and Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.

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