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  Pile of Nothing: A Pagan Bedtime Story
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LenKen
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Pile of Nothing: A Pagan Bedtime Story
« on: 2004-05-24 20:51:34 »
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Pile of Nothing: A Pagan Bedtime Story


The freak was hitchhiking.  I swung over to the side of the road, casually, as if this were something I encountered every day.
    “Need a lift?” I asked.
    He answered my rhetorical question by jerking the car door open and hopping inside.  He didn’t buckle his seat belt.
    Having no backpack, no shoes, and no hair, he didn’t seem like a hitchhiker.  He just seemed a bit neurotic.
    “Where ya headed, ya mammyjammer?” he asked.
    “Chicago,” I said.
    “What a coincidence.  That’s where I’m goin’.”
    “So, what’s in Chicago for ya?” I asked, not so much to gather information or establish rapport as to merely fill the void.
    “Dunno yet.  Never been there.”
    “Then why ya goin’?”
    “Jus’ to go.”
    “No real reason?”
    “Jus’ wanna see if I can get there in a day.”
    “Why?”
    “Jus’ to say I did it.  Is that OK with you, Mom?”  I may not be the apotheosis of perspicacity, but I could see he didn’t much care for my persistent interrogation.  “Don’t you ever do anything jus’ for the hell of it?”
    To be honest, that was the only reason I myself was going to Chicago—just for the hell of it.  But I didn’t say anything.  I just nodded.
    For a long time, neither of us spoke.
    A few towns later, after we had passed a run-down Baptist church with vines crawling up its walls and enshrouding the cold brick but leaving the stained glass exposed, he said, “Did I tell ya I’m the son of God?”
    “God who?  Godzilla?”  I said, trying to hide my amusement.
    “What?”
    “Oh, nothing.”
    “My name’s Jesus,” he said, smiling.  He extended his left hand, assuming I’d shake it.
    I just grinned.  “My name’s Tom.”  I was lying, of course.  I just figured that would be an apropos appellation—after all, doubting Thomas is one of the few Biblical characters actually worth emulating.
    “Looks like we both got our names from the Bible,” he said.
    I couldn’t help but laugh.
    “But I really am the son of God,” he said, all too seriously.
    I was truly beginning to wonder whether I was taking him to Chicago or merely away from the asylum.
    “I’m a writer,” I said, attempting to change the subject.
    “Oh, what d’ya write?”  I could tell he was uninterested.  That would soon change.
    “Well, I just write the kind of stuff God would write if He were alive today.”
    “What!” he shrieked.
    “God is dead,” I said calmly.
    “What!” he cried again, evidently lacking an extensive vocabulary.
    “Y’know what Nietzsche sa—”
    “I don’t care what Nietzsche said.  I wanna know what you said.”
    “I just said what Nietzsche said: ‘God is dead.’”  I thought it sounded rather poetic.
    “You better shut the fuck up, man.  I could have you destroyed jus’ like that.”  He snapped his fingers.
    “If you have such divine powers, how come I hafta be givin’ you a ride?  I’ll tell you what—why doncha heal some lepers, turn some water into wine, and raise a Christian fundamentalist’s brain from the dead.  If you can do that, I’ll give you some money so you can buy your own goddamn car.”
    His fist was clenched.  A vein was popping out on his forehead.  His eyes were both barrels of a double-barreled shotgun firing simultaneously.  “I will destroy you,” he growled through his teeth.
    “Man, you’re just destroyin’ yourself.  You’re not Jesus—you don’t have any self-control, you don’t look like an underfed hippie, and the only cross you hafta bear is your insanity.”
    That was it.  No more Mr. Insane-but-Not-Frothing-at-the-Mouth Guy.  I’d crossed his line.
    He grabbed me by the throat and started strangling me, while making a bunch of crazy animal noises.
    I kept the steering wheel as steady as I could, considering the circumstances.  I tried keeping my eyes fixed on the road, while flexing my neck as hard as I could.  I tried head-butting him, but he kept dodging my flailing cranium. I spit in his eyes, but that just made him more aggressive.
    He was choking me so violently, my head was whipping around like a tetherball.
    With a madman’s adrenaline surging through his veins, he kept wringing the life out of me.  And he was still bleating those insane animal sounds, screaming them into my ear.
    I finally did what I should’ve done immediately, instantaneously, reflexively—I stomped on the brake pedal.
    Since he wasn’t harnessed in by a seat belt, as I was, he was flung from the car.  He got slashed up pretty badly when he smashed through the windshield, and his neck snapped when he slammed into the pavement.  His limp body rolled of its own momentum and collected into a contorted pile of nothing at the side of the road.
    I can’t believe he called me a mammyjammer.
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