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Chapter 7

     The Story The Authors
Janice, meanwhile, was in a real pickle. Philip Welsh
She stood inside the building trying to remember where she was supposed to go. She closed her eyes tightly and tried to recall the last message she had recieved. "The house next door...abandoned. Go to the attic. Climb out the northwesternmost dormer window in the attic and it's an easy jump to the widow's-watch of the house where Tiki and Demetrius are being held. Tiki's the one they want, and they'll torture Demetrius to get her to talk. They'll torture you, too. Beware. Beware especially of the Iron Sausage." Janice ran out of the building to the house next door. Franticall she ran to the attic. She climbed out the northwesternmost dormer window and jumped to the widow's watch of the house where Tiki and Demetrius were being held. The house was silent and smelled of musty lint and and burning gunpowder. Janice searched the upstairs but could find no sign of Tiki and Demetrius. She looked at her watch - 12:05. Surely one of them had lost a limb by now. Janice chewed her lip against the panic that was quelling in her stomach. She slowly crept downstairs. Then she suddenly realized she'd been in this house before! cuddles
It had been a dream. A house. Climbing, climbing. The stairwell whirled round and round, spun higher and higher, something in her -- she was dreaming -- remembered them climbing up inside the giant chambered nautilus in Dr. Doolittle -- oh and you knew it all so well because these were the same dream-stairs you ran down when you were being chased, a great black batlike threat hard at your heels, rising over you, falling across you like the shadow cast by the infinite wing of the Roc, you descending ever more manically, not even daring to scream for fear that to do anything other than run-run-run would cost you the fraction of a nanosecond which was the only thing in this world and the other that you had on the beast, and you knew if you lost that infinitesimal edge on it, the thing would swoop down on you and ghather you in the dark folds of its being and you would never be seen again. She shuddered. Philip Welsh
Two flights up, in what once was the attic, a heavily cowled figure shows us his back as he leans forward and holds his thumb down on the START button of the Iron Sausage.
The infernal machine sputters, shudders, shakes and coughs into life, belching thick, oily black smoke into the dark rafters. The effort it expends in awakening causes books and fluid-filled erlenmeyer flasks to vibrate from their shelves onto the floor, respectively thumping and shattering. The cowled figure does not even seem to notice, so intent is he on the needle's antics inside the gauge marked Heliocorporectomaic Factor per 1000j/intuit. query.
Inside their cages, however, suspended in mid-air from the roof-beams, Demetrius and Tiki did notice. With initial alarm followed by a grinding, intenesely visceral feeling of primal terror. As if a coelocanth were churning in each of their guts, chewing and turning, its cold sharp scales leaving carnage in their wake as it turned. Their eyes met across the thirty feet of air that separated them, and in that meeting they shared a horrified thought: That Thing is meant for us. We are meant for its bucking iron gullet. This is as arranged as an Indian wedding, or a sacrifice. Thus far in their captivity not a single word had been spoken to them; twice a day they were served TV dinners which appeared to have been sitting in a freezer somewhere since the early 1970s; twice a day their litter-boxes were emptied; once since they'd been there (and who could tell how long that had been in the monochromatic dayless-nightlessness of the laboratory) they'd been taken from their cages, one at a time, down a tile lined hallway to a shower where each had been allowed to bathe in private; all of things had been performed by the same mute, cowled, unblinking, inscrutable Asian men in their rustling jumpsuits of horsehair.
Philip Welsh
Suddenly a telephone began to sound persistently in the near distance. An answering machine snapped into life and a voice came floating out of the enveloping gloom. "Hello there Iím calling only a few specially selected folks in this neighbourhood with a valuable offer from Coronersí Life and Casualty. Did you know you can get life insurance with no physical and that no one will come to your house and with a premium that will never go up? Pick up your phone now for the offer of a life time! Donít wait, you may never have such a chance again! Pick up the phone now! The heavily cowled figure withdrew a thumb from the START button of the Iron Sausage and listened intently. Ignacious
The Iron Sausage came to a slow grinding halt. Tiki and Demetrius were only somewhat temporarily relieved. The cowled figure was just reaching for the phone when a tall, lanky, dark figure appeared behind him and whipped him mercilessly with a cat o' nine tails. The cowled figure wailed and returned to the Iron Sausage. He pressed the start button and the machine roared to life again. "Damn you Tabitha!" the tall figure scowled and Tiki immediately recognized the voice of MTV's Kurt Loder. "Haven't I warned you time and again about telemarketers?" Tabitha nodded and whimpered. Kurt Loder stepped out of the shadows and approached the hanging prisons of Tiki and Demetrius. "Well, your friend is late." he said matter of factly. "So let's have your arm, Demetrius." Demetrius shrank back in his cage but three dark, heavily cowled figures snuck up behind him and chopped off his arm through the bars of his cage. Demetrius screamed in pain and horror as blood gushed from his ragged stump. One of the cowled figures tossed the severed arm into the Iron Sausage and it ground it up bones and all into a pulpy mass of meat. cuddles
The phone rang again. The cowled figure tore the handset from its cradle. "Hello? What the hell do you people want want? Have I what? Huh? Ten free hours a month? Four cents a minute, anywhere in the world, all day Sunday? Well, sign me up right now! That's a deal I can't refuse!"
He drew the hood back from his head. It really was Kurt Loder, the former MTV VJ. The station still used its digitized audio amd beta footage d-banks of him to reconstruct new news updates (often one syllable at a time), but the man of flesh and blood had long ago been fired for his uncompromising three-hundred-dollar-a-day heroin habit, his propensity for sodomizing young boys, and his incurably nefarious nyuck-nyuck-nyuck-nyuck-nyuck chortle. Now, nearly a decade since he'd left the public eye to devote his considerable energies to world domination and the constant demands of a part-time Administrative Assistant position at NAMBLA headquarters in scenic downtown West Bumfuck, South Dakota. He'd aged a bit, especially around the eyes, into which he was forced to inject his multiple daily fixes, having systematically collapsed every other vein in his body; his skin had gone a subtle but permanant urine-yellow from chronic jaundice, receding gums had lengthened his teeth into the snaggly chompers of an old possum, but otherwise he was still the same dashing, charming, neo-Promethean Kurt we'll all grown up with, an afternoon hero, a true role model, reliably sandwiched between Monkees reruns and Wheel of Fortune, then again an hour later between The New, New Scooby Doo Mystery Hour featuring Scoob's Sleuthing Young Nephew Doggy Doo and "All My New Daddies: A Boy Comes of Age in NAMBLA" on the ABC Afterschool Special. Our Kurt.
In her cage, however, Kiki felt none of this. The minute Demetrius had had his arm removed and had begun to scream her name in agony, blood pumping from his stump and across the room in ragged jets, a pilot-light in her had gone out; she'd fallen to floor of her cage and curled into a fetal position, knees drawn to her chin and hands over her ears, trying to drown out the twin cacaphony of Demetrius' shrieks and the horrid churning of the Iron Sausage, which now began to advance across the floor of the attic towards Demetrius' cage, as if to assert that under the right circumstances, even a thing of iron and bronze may be enough inspired by the smell of blood as to seek out its source.
All in the room were so absorbed with this, even the sentry failed to observe the door at the far end of the converted attic opening, and the shadow-dimmed figure of Janice slipping into the room.
Philip Welsh
"Am I late?" squeaked Janice in voice that sounded small and weary even in Morse Code. Still no one seemed to notice her. Kurt Loder bellowed abuse into the cold unhearing ear of the telemarketer who had long ago had both eardrums punctured for just this sort of situation. It had worked out for him. His commissions had nearly tripled once he was no longer able to hear. Kiki simply babbled and drooled. Demetrius howled like a babboon in rut. The sentries had decided that now was a good time for a quick smoke break whilst Kurt was otherwise occupied Only the Iron Sausage moved. It wheezed and shuddered across the dusty attic floor like an asthmatic dachsund farting out acrid black puffs of smoke. It inched it's way towards Demetrius's cage and lapped at the broadening pool of blood underneath with a curious fly like vacuum attachment. Janice caught her breath. Demetrius's cage was suspended thirty feet in the air, the Iron Sausage was only about six feet long. Demetrius was safe for the time being so she could turn her attention to dealing with Kurt Loder first as he was bellowing certain derogatory remarks as to the true birth origins of telemarketers into the dripping mouthpiece of the telephone. but Janice had thought too soon. A whirring noise rose through the otherworldly clanking of The Iron Sausage and suddenly there emerged long metal claws from within it not unlike those of Spiderman's archnemesis Dr. Octopus. With more laborious wheezing the Iron Sausage lifted its shining steel talons towards its intended prize none
"Down! Down, Boy!", roared Kurt swinging the phone heavily onto the Sausage's battered back. "There'll be plenty of time for that later. He must remain alive at least until Janice arrives. Here play with one of these." he said indicating towards one of the recently rearrived sentries. The sentry wailed the wail of the damned and beat a hasty retreat down the attic stairwell with the shuddering clomp of the Iron Sausage close behind. "I always told you that smoking was bad for your health" sneered Kurt as a ghastly and maniacal giggle bubbled out from between the yellowed pustuals that constituted his lips these days. Lanark
The Iron Sausage chased the sentry until the sentry managed to outrun him.He struggled to crawl, exhausted, to a corner and, to lick his wounds. Angry but all the while thinking to himself, "Mistreat me now and see hell later, old man." But lingering behind the unspoken threat was a pain so deep that even the Sausage could not comprehend it's reality. As horrible as his existance was the thought of rejection by Kurt cut like a dirty knife. No child understands rejection by his father. Lynne Mordecai
The Iron Sausage paused on the ground floor of the abandoned building unsure of what to do. Its new toy had gotten away from it and it had no direction now. The Iron Sausage understood rejection too. It was hungry and lonely and wanted nothing more than to play scamper about like a large black metal puppy. It didn't really mean to injure anybody, it was just that whenever it played with anyone parts of them would be inevitably get scattered about and they'd stop playing. The Iron Sausage found this sort of depressing in its own unfeeling machinelike way. It huffed and shuddered as quietly as it couold manage towards the front door thinking it might find the sentry on the other side. It paused, gathered a pregnant pause and flung the door back so violently that the doorknob imbedded itself in the wall. No sentry. A street. Vast blue ceiling. other buildings. The Sausage had never been outside on its own before. Then it saw it. Parked in front of the building next door, motor still running and little grey puffs of exaust percolating from its laboring motor, Janice's taxi. Something stirred deep within the crackling circuitry of the Iron Sausages guts. It began to feel something strange. The Iron Sausage began to understand love Lanark
Love Love Love Love If the Iron Sausage had had eyes little Brady Bunch twinkles would be dancing in them. It marveled at the chassis on the taxi, the solid constuction. This was definitely a machine built for speed who kept her motor clean, if you know what I'm saying. The shining chrome and rattling purr of her motor awakened an odd sort of insect lust in the Sausage. It rattled and shook even more than usual. But how to approach this vision of steely beauty, this yellow metal Venus. The Iron Sausage decided to try acting nonchalant and see if the taxi would notice it. It would be hard not to. They were the only things on the street. the Sausage gathered up its courage and began to approximate as best it could a suantering gait past the taxi while trying to spritely whistle the intro to "Crazy Train" that it dimly remembered from Kurt's video days. It was a hideous keaning noise rather like an out of tune calliope being splintered by machine gun fire. The taxi remained aloof. Lanark
The Iron Sausage began to extend -- slowly, like a woman unfastening her garters and peeeeeeeeeeeeeling down her stockings, one, by, one -- its various utility tentacles. This is who I am, it seemed to say. Love me. My band-saw tentacle. My polyrhythmic wisdom tooth extractor. My electric flensing-knife. My holographic projector. My automatic banana-peel dispenser...
It wasn't until the banana-peel dispenser that something in the taxi seemed to stir. Its windows may have only cracked the barest hint of a smile, but inside it was thinking: Automatic banana-peel dispenser? Automatic banana-peel dispenser! Why didn't I come with one of those? I thought I had all the extras and options. Power everything. Airbags. Ejector seat. But automatic banana-peel dispenser -- wow. I want one....
Philip Welsh
Just then the Sausageís digital phone tentacle sounded and as programmed, the Sausage answered. It wasnít a telemarketer this time it was "an internationally respected national polling organisation". As the minimum wage representative on the line fidgeted in his tiny cubicle in front of the aging, dirt stained monitor, he struck the connection box on the floor with his heavy boot. He was just about to confirm the information appearing in the call display window when the screen went blank. This was accompanied by a wisp of smoke curling around his pant leg and a weak "electrical smell". The screen sparked and went blank again. Little did he know that he had triggered a shower of unintended algorithmic computer signals which instantaneously entered the Iron Sausage, triggering itís carefully shielded doomsday self-destruct program. Four seconds later the Iron Sausage blew up like a weenie in the microwave. Ignacious
It was just too much for Janice's taxi. The taxi had witnessed its own Daddy and Mommy (respectively, a cherry-red 1958 Edsel and an early test-model of the standard 1960s CitroŽn, if you must know) junked in a brutal manner befitting a spent Dodge Dart with 287,000 miles on it -- it had never gotten over this gruesome sight and in the ensuing years had masqueraded as a police cruiser, ever fearful of discovery. It had taken the loving, tender, all-seeing gaze of the Iron Sausage to really see the taxi for what it was, a proper Checker Cab, a bit old-fashioned it's true, but graceful in its lines, steady and accommodating and eminently roadworthy. And now it was gone. Never to be loved. Never. A long, hard sigh expressing purest futility escaped from the taxi's muffler; it shimmered in the air before settling back down into its former shape of a police cruiser with a resounding, metallic cludddd which said that something in its heart had broken as completely as poor Humpty when he fell off his wall.
Back upstairs, however, things were going quite differently without the Iron Sausage.
Philip Welsh
Kurt surveyed the scene before him with a grim mute satisfaction. Demetrius whimpering in a pool of his own congealing blood. Kiki in her cage, hair askew, garments rent and softly swaying back and forth to the lilting rhythm of the cracked rendition of "You Give Love A Bad Name" that slid from between her numb lips like a piece of rancid calf's liver. This was the sort of moment he lived for, blood, screams, insanity, all the pain and suffering his nefarious soul could summon and still twice the entertainment value of a Poison video. If only Janice would appear and complete the scene. He'd be able to finish his dastardly work and still have time to catch both episodes of Simpson's reruns at five and five thirty just before Frasier. He started pacing distractedly. "Just like a woman to be late" he mumbled," Can't even be bothered to show up on time when lives are at stake and the fate of the world is in the balance. harumph, women." Kurt decided he may as well divest Demetrius of another appendage just to kill some time. Janice, for her part and ever the optimist, dicided that now was her chance. Lanark
Kurt surveyed the scene before him with a grim mute satisfaction. Demetrius whimpering in a pool of his own congealing blood. Kiki in her cage, hair askew, garments rent and softly swaying back and forth to the lilting rhythm of the cracked rendition of "You Give Love A Bad Name" that slid from between her numb lips like a piece of rancid calf's liver. This was the sort of moment he lived for, blood, screams, insanity, all the pain and suffering his nefarious soul could summon and still twice the entertainment value of a Poison video. If only Janice would appear and complete the scene. He'd be able to finish his dastardly work and still have time to catch both episodes of Simpson's reruns at five and five thirty just before Frasier. He started pacing distractedly. "Just like a woman to be late" he mumbled," Can't even be bothered to show up on time when lives are at stake and the fate of the world is in the balance. harumph, women." Kurt decided he may as well divest Demetrius of another appendage just to kill some time. Janice, for her part and ever the optimist, dicided that now was her chance. Lanark
Stepping from the shadows, she sang out the lines she'd been revising and rehearsing for the past fifteen minutes. "Yo, Rogaine Boy! Who won the Top 100 Videos of 1984 Countdown?"
Before he heard her voice, Kurt, unable to find a lacky to divest Demetrius of another limb (they were all downstairs sobbing over the smoking remains of the Iron Sausage, chanting "Our Bog is Dood, Our Bog is Dood"), picked up the nearest available grapefruit knife and wearily began to trudge across the room toward the dripping cage. When Janice's challenge rang out sharp and clarion across the preternaturally silent room, his head rotated 197 degrees on his neck until she came into focus. "Who dares to mock ME?" he boomed. "To challenge me, creator of the heavens and the earth, giver of scales to the many-colored fishes of all the seas, lakes, rivers and ponds of this green earth, provider of breath-sweetening chewing-gum to the halitotic and the socially inept? What fool risks the seven times seven hundred and seventy-seven Hells of my impeccable wrath?"
Philip Welsh
He continued in this fashion for some minutes:
"I wrote the Book of Love, did I not?
"I am the Lizard King, am I not?
"I maketh the magpie lie with the gecko, do I not?
"In rainbow-colored Keebler inflatability, is it not?
"Fraught with the terrors and night-sweats of the disgruntled Kings of Tyrus rotting away in their filthy banquet-halls for all time beneath the shifting sands of the Gobi Desert, do they not?
"In quadraphonic stereo, is it not?
"Spinning and spinning and spinning across the starry waterbed of the Pleiades like a land-starfish on too much crystal methedrine, have I not?
"From the mountains to the prairies to the oceans white with foam, are they not?
"Just as we represent the Lollipop Guild, do we not?
"So too do the Taco Bells of this earth, yea, and all the Wendy's franchises and understocked ACE Hardware stores of this world and the next, stand as testaments to MY power and MY glory and MY interest-free mortgage policy, may they not?
"For I am the LORD, and that last -- slice -- of -- Pizza -- is -- MINE!"
From their opposite corners, Janice and Kurt Loder, legs and lungs and hearts pumping, converged upon the open pizza box on the card table in the center of the room.
Philip Welsh
Tiki stood up in her cage. She was starving and hadn't even noticed the pizza before. She did not know how much more torture she could endure. Demetrius was nearly dead from loss of blood. Kurt had wrestled the pizza box away from Janice but before he could escape with it, Janice had picked up Demetrius' severed arm and began beating Kurt about the head with it. Kurt dropped the pizza box just out of Tiki's reach. She stretched her arm between the bars, pressing her shoulder against the metal, but she could only scratch the corner with her chewed fingernail. Janice continued to beat the self-absorbed Kurt Loder until he ceased to move. She dropped Demetrius' badly damaged arm, seeing that Demetrius wasn't going to need it anymore anyway, and ran to free Tiki from her prison. Tiki immediately ate all the pizza. Janice wanted some pizza too but she kept silent. She knew that Tiki needed it more than herself. "Did you save any for me?" the two women heard a familiar voice eminating from a dark corner of the attic. They squinted into the dark to see who it was. Out of the shadows stepped Bitzy Bootleg. cuddles
Bitzy taught Janice and Tiki everything they knew about self-mutilation. But they learned how to hurt others all on their own. Janice raised Demetrius' arm above her head to show Tiki, but the blood dripped on to her face so she laid it by her side.. jean
...But Demetrius' groans tore Bitsy from such reveries. She looked around; except for Dr. Smack, all the players were there. And who was this fuck lying unconscious on the floor?
A clumsy scrabbling noise and the cry of roobee-roobee-rooooo announced the arrival of Bitsy faithful sleuth-dog Scooby Doo. He came out from behind her, wagging his tail, and proceeded to sniff along the floor, following the trail of pizza-crumbs in hopes of a pot of delicious, nutritious Scooby-Snacksô at its end. Instead, his nose led him to the prone figure of Kurt Loder.
Scoob, that rascal, began to lick to former MTV VJ's face with long, forceful lips and loud smacking noises, causing much chortling among the reunited friends -- even Demetrius found reason to giggle (reopening the wound where his arm had been and resulting in the loss of still more blood, poor boy) -- and to all who watched, Kurt Loder's face seemed to shift and waver, to stretch and mutate... "Plasticman?" gasped Bitsy. "Plasticman, shmasticman," said Janice, bending over him. "Let's find out who our mad VJ really is." She ran her glittering titanium fingers down under his collars, seemingly searching for something. What in God's name is she doing? wondered the others. And then she found the catch, and as Tiki and Bitsy and Demetrius looked on in astonishment, she peeled the pneumatic Kurt Loder mask over his head and there lay -- "Dr. Smack!" exclaimed the others in unison.
Philip Welsh
A Flicker of consciousness appeared in Dr Smack's face and he struggled to speak. Janice had really whacked him hard with that severed limb. The trio of women and their dog leaned closely down to Dr Smack's face to hear what he had to say. To hear what possible explanation, confession or plea he might make. His breath rattled his lungs as they filled with fluid, his voice a rasp. And thusly Dr. Smack did speak," And I would have gotten away with it if it hadn't of been for you meddling kids!" and then promptly lapsed into a coma. Lanark
And so having solved the mystery and disposed of the villain, our three heroines left attic and caught the bus for the train station. "You know," Bitzy pondered as their bus lurched along the boulevard. "We never did find out why Doc Smack did it." Not that it mattered now, for they had set fire to the old house on their way out and now they were intent on finding a reputable surgeon to fix Janice's voice box which Dr. Smack had mutilated. "He was a sick man," Tiki said. "That's all there was to it." cuddles

The End
October 15, 1998