© 2002-2022 Michael Raven
Below is a snippet from a very cringy story I wrote in serialized style starting back around 2002. Above is an upscaled and modernized version of the cover that I had designed when I still had illusions that I would publish this tripe. Mind you, this is one of the best sections in the some-200 pages I wrote and, while I can see some salvageable elements, it is still pretty awful in my estimation. It is a tale full of not very clever stuff that I thought was clever at the time and includes one thing I have grown to detest as I get older: an evil overlord.
Drifter has a problem — he turns people to ash quite unintentionally when he touches them, he has a wafer-thin evil overlord pursuing him, and can walk through walls. Evil overlord wants to use him to stop a young lady who can keep the apocalypse from occurring — which the evil overlord would find annoying.
In this scene, Evil Overlord sends his minions, Glum and Treacle, to make sure Drifter picks the right side in the global affair.
It’s all very silly.
I am publishing this solely because Tara Caribou dared me to post something awful I had written. As I warned her, I have very little shame. Some light edits are involved. I have a modicum of pride, even if I have no shame. You can throw blunt objects at her if you read the following. I am innocent.
You may want to skip this post.
The scene setup is that Drifter is being woken from a dream of the beach with his lost love. She was complaining about the birds breaking clam shells on the rocks as the tapping begins.
Tap tap tap tappity tap.
Coarse, raspy, having the same effect as fingernails across a chalkboard: “Wakey, wakey, love.” As Drifter came to, he thought the voice sounded much like his ancient, aging kindergarten teacher with a cold.
Another voice faded into his questionable consciousness, this one a deep and very sonorous, bass:
In the dimly lit room, his eyes began to clear. A shadow moved. Then he felt a boney finger tap him in the forehead a number of times.
Tap tap tap tap.
“Wakey!” the voice demanded, a bit perturbed and a tad more insistent than a few moments before.
“Wakey,” the second voice echoed the first, again almost impossibly bass and rich.
Drifter decided not to continue this course of action, deciding at once to be more forthcoming. “Awake.”
Two shadowed figures leapt into the air and fell backwards and bounced like basketballs and continued to bounce erratically and progressively less until all was calm again. Drifter’s eyes had managed to adjust from the dream’s light to the dimly illuminated room by the time the two balls ceased bouncing. Limbs began to unfold from the balls and he could see eyes gathering and reflecting light in his direction, much as cat’s eyes would. The eyes, however, were much larger than what one might expect of cat’s eyes and shaped completely wrong, bulging forth in a batrachianal manner.
One of the ball shapes unfolded into a lanky body while the other remained plump. The same croaking voice drove rusty nails into Drifter’s ears.
“They’s awake, they is…. loverly. Awake. Now we canst talk to the sleeping one, yes we can. Just like our benefactor requires, mate…”
“Aye, awake,” said the deep voice.
And then, after an extended pause:
“Mate,” added the bass voice.
“Yes,” said Drifter, “I am awake. Who or what are you and what does your benefactor require?”
Big, gold medallion eyes peered from the darkness. Drifter could just begin to make out the reedy body of one of his visitors as the eyes consulted the other, plumper, visitor. The frog-like face, after exchanging some invisible and inaudible communication, turned back to intensely stare at him.
“It pleases us to introduce ourselves first, it does.” Grand gestures with weedy arms. “Introductions before conversations are always best so they can knowst with whom they speak, if yer knowin’ what I mean…” The monkey-frog paused and held up a grayish-green hand to his companion to stop him from uttering something. “You understand, luv, dontcha?” the sinewy creature finished. His arm came back to his side.
“Understand, luv?” the other creature echoed.
There was a belch from one of the two and the larger, fatter one began to contemplate its cavernous bellybutton, pulling back the layers and folds of fat or breasts to allow it to peer into the cavernous hole.
Drifter wasn’t sure what to make of the situation. Since his transformation, he had given up any hope for rational explanations to the universe’s unique brand of humor. He had never come across such creatures, nor anything quite as otherworldly as himself since that day in the woods. He knew such things existed, for he could feel them nearby and he held onto the belief that his condition could not possibly be unique. Wiping sleep from his eyes, he told them, “Understood.”
By this point, the larger one had begun to explore the vast pit of its bellybutton with a sharp, boney finger and had managed to extract a very unhealthy looking piece of lint, if that’s what one would call it. The fat one critically examined the find from all possible perspectives as it rested upon its fingernail, hanging precariously and wetly on that razor-sharp talon. Moments later, a tongue flickered out from its broad mouth and the tidbit disappeared. Drifter could hear a contented hum come from the general area of the larger of the two beasts while the more scrawny and vocal of the two began to pace back and forth in front of him, nervously waving its arms in every possible direction
“We have names, have we. You are known as Drifter, but one only hides behind that name, we’s know sooth. We thinks perhaps…. that they…. may call me Treacle, they may. And, if one were to give me mate a name, that name might be Glum, they may say.” Treacle stopped dead still and waited.
“Glum, they may say.”
At this point, the living echo smacked its lips as if enjoying a particularly good morsel of meat, smiling broadly at Drifter. Both stared at Drifter with their bulging eyes and Glum cocked his head to the side like a confused puppy.
“Welcome,” was all Drifter could think of to say.
Treacle resumed his manic pacing, arms waving chaotically. “Premature, premature, luv. Let’s not go wishing Well Coming to us when they not know of what we have come for.”
As the gangly one, continued its pacing back and forth, Drifter realized that he wasn’t quite sure if he should refer to Treacle and Glum as hims or hers – both had pendulous breasts or layers of fat and, while completely naked, their sexual organs were obscured by both the dim light and the copious quantities of bushy pubic hair around the groin region of their bodies. If he had hoped to tell in they were male of female from the hair on their head, he was sadly disappointed due to the fact that they were both completely bald on their green scalps.
“We’ve been sent, one mights say, by a potential benefactor to warn them about the Lairds. The Lairds are onto them, we say and our mutual benefactor would like them to know this….” Again, Treacle paused to accent his point and rested his wrist of a hip in an ugly caricature of Mae West – Come up and see me sometime…
“Lairds,” said Glum.
“What are you trying to tell me, frog-man?” asked Drifter.
“It be known as Treacle, it be! We tell them that the Lairds are after them and they not cry for mercy?” Treacle rushed up within several feet of Drifter and swung its arms at his, coming within inches of making contact. “The Lairds are coming for thee because they are an aberration – an oversight on the part of nature, curse Her.”
It paused momentarily, frozen and then violently animated, screamed at Drifter, “They should not exist!”
Spittle flew from Treacle’s mouth and it was breathing hard and heavy, as if needing to catch its breath.
Finally, the panting quieted and its voice fell back to the original timbre and it resumed its pacing in front of Drifter, pausing after every point it made to let Glum contribute what Glum may. “Our benefactor has decided to take pity on the sin. Our benefactor wishes to absolve them.”
“Absolve them,” the fat one agreed.
Drifter had no idea what this conversation meant, nor what the hell a Laird was, and he almost discounted this whole episode as another dream, less pleasant than the one of when he was happily walking with Julia along the Sound. He inwardly cursed his id for conjuring this and stealing away the more pleasant fantasy with Julia.
“What are you exactly telling me?” he asked.
“The Lairds would have them dead,” replied Treacle. “They would kills them, luv.”
On second thought, I’m not convinced there is much to salvage even in the “best” part. Sheesh.
7 thoughts on “Drifter [fragment]”
Just because YOU don’t like evil overlords doesn’t mean others feel the same… personally, I think this has GREAT potential and I’d happily read all 200 pages. Once again, you’re too hard on yourself. You may cringe, but I can see it, and I enjoyed it. I liked the weird characters. I liked the back story you provided. More, I say, more!
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I dunno. That was the *best* fragment. It goes downhill from there….
To be honest I’ve read worse that’s been published by ‘established ‘ writers (whatever that might mean). I remember reading (or starting to read) something that I wrote when I was much younger before realising (did I laugh or throw up?) that is was like a shite version of Lord of the Rings! I think I burned it!
You never know, there might be something you can use in the future.
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Thanks for the kind words. I’m afraid there was very little to redeem in this text. Pretty much what you see has some promise, and the very beginning, which has almost nothing to do with the rest of the story. Some of the premises I had in mind at the time have seen their iterations and I will probably keep iterating until I get something I like, or die.
I think everyone at some point wrote a bad LOTR novel. Mine own made the worst pulp variation look like fine literature.🤣
I should have burned it, but I think it’s somewhere in a box in storage.
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Ha,ha! Thanks for the smile! We live and learn…or not!
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I sort of love Glum and Treacle. They remind me of the henchmen in Gaiman’s “Neverwhere.” You could plop these strange fellows into any story and they’d be interesting. I want more of them!
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In some ways, they are Gaiman-influenced, with a bit of Renfield (Dracula movies) tossed in for good measure, as well as any small, warped and corrupted creatures out there. But I was definitely influenced by Gaiman during that period, so I may have let that fill in the blanks while I was writing.
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