Suggested Audio Candy
 John Carpenter “Fallen”
 John Carpenter “Domain”
I’m out of my head right now. There have been too many strange anomalies for my liking; now would be the ideal time for an intermission. I know only too well that The Tall Man is looming large, indeed, he has now revealed himself to me in no uncertain terms. However, nobody knows the lay of the land like the architect of one’s own dreamscapes, and I take comfort from the fact that I can put a little space between he and I through relocation from time to time. Nothing has been quite like how it has seemed thus far and I have no doubt that will continue as I embrace the bizarre once again. I get the feeling that all my exploits up until now will be relevant when navigating the next turn of my sleep induced labyrinth. I’m ready for it; come what may.
A corn dog vendor; that kind of makes sense. We all have to eat right? It’s all about the fuel and what better way to feed one’s resilience than by tucking into a Bratwurst? Being as how I am currently dreaming this scenario, it is likely that I will not be in possession of the correct currency to purchase said Weiner. Dog in a bucket; fuck it! I’m a fast runner, granted I possess the getaway sticks of a newborn fawn, but a quick smash and grab isn’t out of the question here if my acquisition is snubbed.
The vendor looks most approachable, almost familiar, as though we have already been formally introduced. We haven’t or, at least, it’s been a while since I last tucked into a savory dog. However, this would appear a welcome distraction having just been given the old V.I.P. treatment at my own burial. To hell with any calories or saturated fats; I’m sure I will be needing such fuel once a certain someone hears the word on the street. I just pray that the vendor isn’t the gossiping kind.
“Ginsberg’s Doghouse – Packing the mutt back into meat” My, what a catchy slogan. How can I resist one of this man’s culinary delights? I may just take two you know; one for the road as I’m assured that a lengthy one lay ahead. I make my way over to my pusher; rustling about in my pocket for a donation. 75 cents, three jelly beans, and a burst sachet of soy sauce; barely enough for the bun it would seem. Hope he’s feeling charitable.
“Thanks. It’s been a slow day so far”
“Rough with the smooth huh?”
“Yeah these babies are going to spoil if I don’t offload them soon. Nobody appreciates a good, honestly made, Weiner nowadays”
“You wish to purchase one of my dogs?”
“Little light on funds”
“What you got?”
“I see. Looks like I won’t be purchasing that winning lotto ticket after all. It’s rollover this week you know”
“Don’t mention it buddy. Here…take this one on the house. Just tell your friends”
“No mustard!..Doesn’t matter”
“Force of habit I’m afraid. Don’t worry, I’ll rustle you up another”
“Do you know of The Tall Man?”
“What about ketchup?”
“Just a little thanks. Did you get my question?”
“Watch out. It’s hot”
“The Tall Man. You know him?”
“Listen very closely my friend. I’m only going to say this once and it could land me in trouble so I’d appreciate if you get the fat out of your ears and listen, capiche?”
“Eat your dog”
“Is that it?”
“What do you want from me? I’m a hot dog salesman, not the oracle”
“A little perspective would be nice”
“Perspective? You hear that? He wants perspective”
“Please don’t do that”
“Speak about me in third person”
“Unless you haven’t noticed, there’s a bit of a queue forming behind you”
This fresh intelligence is a little disconcerting if I’m honest. Company seems to love misery in my phantasm and I haven’t met a solitary soul yet who’d make for a decent badminton partner. Between pernickety priests, traumatized dolls, and kinky ice cream vendors; not a single one of them could be regarded as orderly. Then of course there’s The Tall Man himself. Should I about-face and look up into those flared nostrils then I will likely suffer an instant cardiac arrest. While it may be common knowledge that death during slumber need not signal the end, I don’t fancy taking my chances where he who will be obeyed is concerned.
“Oh looky, it’s a tasty treat
Served up fresh and ready to eat
I wish to get my laughing gear
inside that bun and taste that meat”
Hell’s bells. I know that rhyme only too well. Where the jester is involved, trouble isn’t historically far behind her.
“Step aside Sir. You’ve got your dog. Please recycle”
“Wait. I feel duty bound to inform you that this harlequin has a rather unusual payment method”
“That’s what I thought mister. Fine! Suit yourself. Your Weiners make me gassy by the way”
Perhaps that parting shot was a tad harsh; but I’ve had it with riddle me this and riddle me that. They’re all just figments anyway; the real meat in the bun is The Tall Man and, should these charlatans wish to waste their time leaping through each other’s ass hoops, then I shall simply finish my bite and move on.
“Unsatisfied customer Mr Vendor?
That simply will not do
There’s just no pleasing certain folk
My heart goes out to you”
Now I am well and truly grossed out and, given the sights I have soaked in recently, that’s saying something. I haven’t worked up the spunk to turn and face the jester as yet but she appears to have taken matters into her own hands and her outstretched palm currently houses a freshly plucked and still-beating heart plus surrounding gristle. Hold on; I would know those aortic valves anywhere. Cheeky little pilgrim has only gone and embezzled my organ. This just will not do.
Now that is admittedly peculiar. I’ve heard the phrase “man after my own heart” but this just phlebotamizes the pistons. No prankster; just my own familiar reflection. Looking rather dashing I might add, if a dash off-color, and grasping a piece of kit which I’m fairly convinced operates more effectively within one’s chest.
“Have a heart”
Yes, that’s probably what I would have said. Well I guess it would be rude to leave my doppelgänger hanging after such a kind donation. I snatch the bloody token but, before there is chance to pocket my thumping organ, things return swiftly back to the FUBAR setting. Dagnabbit, I still haven’t digested my Weiner dog. No rest for the wicked it seems. The peddler has all but packed up his inventory while I’ve been having my heart to heart and it doesn’t appear that there’s any space on his rickshaw for my shapely thighs.
“Why the sudden commotion sir?”
“They’re coming. Can’t you hear? Little bastards are bad for business”
Did he just say little? That would suggest the rowdy rabble to be vertically challenged would it not? Hell’s bells; it’s The Tall Man’s minions. A quick glance over my shoulder confirms my worst fears as an unruly mob of hooded terrors are heading my way and this bunch would make mince meat of the Oompa Loompas. Every last one of these deceased ankle-biters has been reanimated and brainwashed by their master; with the sole instruction being to wreak havoc and snag themselves a trophy. Unless these little bleeders are partial to sausage meat; it would appear that I am the prize they seek. Time to make haste in precisely the opposite direction before they get their grubby paws on me and deliver me to evil.
The stats speak for themselves and it would appear these cretins would be easily thwarted given the fact that they stand less than two foot from gravel and take several steps to each of my lurching strides. However, I once made the mistake of underestimating worker ants and it cost me a blancmange during an otherwise innocuous picnic. These pack-hunters are not to be taken lightly and I think it’s time to vacate my halfway house and find a new spot to hang in.
God I wish I exercised. If I ever get out of this mess I’m going to purchase a pedometer and cut down on the carbohydrates. For now, I shall have to bank on adrenaline to see me through and I have just enough in reserves to establish an insurmountable lead. Or so I thought. Turns out they’ve had upgrades, either that or they’re wearing Nike Air Max under their cloaks, as they’re gaining ground at an alarming speed. Quick thinking appears to be my strong suit and I have already learned that I am the architect of my own phantasm so that leaves only one possible outcome. Creation. I never did nab myself that ice cream.
There it is. I’ve never been so consoled by those soothing chimes. The scent of freshly whipped gelato has rarely been so enticing. However, there will be no time to stop for a cornet and, instead, this will be my bargaining tool. There has to be two dozen minions in hot pursuit and I just hope Billy has enough cones in his freezer to appease their demands. It’s a shame as it would have been an ideal palate cleanser after my Bratwurst. I shall have to enjoy its second coming via way of acid reflux and thank my lucky stars for remaining one step ahead of the game. I hope he’s ready for the sudden rush of custom; judging by the fact that he is self-bound and gagged and slapping his own ass cheek with his ice cream scoop, I would suggest the answer to that poser is a resounding no.
It is working. His profits will likely soar after this influx of trade and, meanwhile, I’m making my getaway like O.J. It’s my phantasm so it’s obvious I’m going to kit myself up with Air Max too. Gotta love these shock absorbers. If it’s not working out I can always conjure up a trampete or some circus stilts but for now, these will do just fine. I don’t wish to be facetious but fuck you Tall Man. I am the master of my own destiny and you’re just another suit to me. Is that the best you’ve got? A gaggle of dwarven heathens with a penchant for sorbet. It must grow tiresome being second best.
Oh dear. I may have been a little hasty with my jibes. It would appear that The Tall Man is unimpressed by my buoyancy and called upon the sentinels to track the runner. I count three, flying in formation, and advancing at an astonishing velocity, primed to obliterate on site. What do I do now? Where do I dash to? Forward? Eventually fatigue will get the better of me and I’ll be ripped to ribbons before I can run the gauntlet. I need an out and fast; before these spiteful fuck balls bore me a new orifice. Think Keeper think. What would be the most serene sanctuary imaginable right now? That’s right, I’m taking it to church. Three blocks to the nearest missionary and it is here that I last received communion, courtesy of Father Martin and the almighty himself. I’ll be secure there; for the time being at least. But I must make haste as the spheres are storming with purpose.
Kudos to adrenaline for providing me the stamina to catch up with the rickshaw. As I pass the wheezing vendor I offer a salute, more out of consolation than anything else as I have just jumped up the food chain and it is now he who is about to feel cold chrome to the reverse of his cranium, not I. Holy grounds are now barely ten yards from my coordinates and I can almost smell the moldy oak pews from here. And there’s the guttural scream, just as forecast, that would have been me had it not been for some decidedly brisk thinking. I open the large wooden doors and my timing really couldn’t be better as it looks like the service is just about to start. Forgive me if I don’t bow my head just now.
Truly, Really, Clearly, Sincerely,
Keeper of the Crimson Quill
Copyright: Crimson Quill: Savage Vault Enterprises 2015