Excerpts
The Gorelets Omnibus
Michael A. Arnzen
Armadillo Fists
Carlton Mellick III
Anatomy Courses
Blake Butler
Sean Kilpatrick
Doom Magnetic!
William Pauley III
Fill the Grand Canyon
Andersen Prunty

Fiction
Disambiguation
Donna Fleck
Pink Nausea
Gary J. Shipley

Nonfiction
Possibility Spaces
Lance Olsen

 

Chapter 1
Carlton Mellick III


“You’re heavy for a man with no arms or legs,” June said to Tony as she dragged him across the warehouse floor.

Tony didn’t respond. He wasn’t conscious. Blood dribbled from his nose and ears. The four stumps where his arms and legs should have been were limp, dangling from his torso like wet sausages.

June couldn’t feel his heartbeat when she checked for a pulse. But that didn’t mean he was necessarily dead. She’s had a very weak sense of touch ever since she replaced her hands with living armadillos.

“You can’t die on me now,” she said to him, her armadillo hands wrapped around his stumps, gripping him as tightly as they possibly could with such tiny limbs. “Not after all of this.”

The fire was growing around them, curling up the walls, swallowing all of their exits. The whole place could collapse on top of them at any minute. If only he wasn’t so heavy. If only she was just a little stronger. If only she had real hands.

Her armadillo fingers slid off of his stumps and he plopped down onto the concrete. His beer belly wiggled as it fell out of his spandex shirt. There were three charred bullet holes on the side of his stomach.

“Damn these hands,” she said, looking down at the armadillos attached to her wrists.

The armadillos blinked up at her, squirming inside their shells like babies in armored cradles. One of them licked its nose with a long sticky tongue.

The south wall exploded. Flaming bits of wood scattered across the warehouse floor. Then a large man emerged from the fire, dragging a slab of concrete behind him.

“He’s still alive?” June whispered to Tony, as she saw the hulk of a man stomping toward them.

The man’s eyes, as red as the fire around him, were locked on June. He raised the concrete slab over his shoulder like a hammer. The man didn’t appear to be human to June. The red eyes, the spiked iron mask covering his face, the horrible cavernous scars covering his massive chest; he was like a demonic executioner. Even with the long metal stakes impaled between his ribs and stomach, he’s still walking. The black blood leaking down his muscles only made him look more ferocious.

June stepped forward and curled her armadillo hands into balls. Then she raised her fists and got into a boxing stance.

“You want to go again?” she asked the hulk, ash and cinders raining onto her shoulders like snowflakes. “Let’s go. Round two.”

She hopped from side to side, her feet dancing as the fire raged around them. She swung her armadillo fists into the air like boxing gloves, taking a few practice swings before the monstrous man came into her range.

“You know, I’ve never lost a match,” she said in a stuttering voice, talking more to herself than the metal-faced man. “I’m an undefeated champion!”

But as the hulk stomped closer to her, she found herself inching back, away from him. With her eyes focused on the slab of concrete aimed at her head, she didn’t notice the corpse on the ground behind her. She tripped and fell back, landing next to the body. At first, she thought she had tripped over Tony. But it wasn’t him. It was a dead man named Mr. Happy.

The corpse was wearing a bright yellow suit and yellow hat. He had a bullet in his forehead and a smile on his face. June knew she had to get up before the man in the metal mask crushed her skull with his club made of concrete, but she couldn’t look away from Mr. Happy. The smile on his cold dead face unnerved her.

“His name was Mr. Happy for a good reason,” she said to herself. “Even death wouldn’t stop him from smiling.”


Carlton Mellick III is a figurehead in the Bizarro fiction movement and the author of over thirty novels and fiction collections. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where the breweries, bookstores, and strip clubs are the best in the country.