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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

"Abs Killstrong": A SCATTERED TOGETHER Preview

Here's a quick preview of one of the new stories contained within Scattered Together, "Abs Killstrong." Are you ready for the beginning of a comedic fantasy epic? Dig in!


Abs Killstrong



The setting sun burnt the horizon and lit the sky on fire as Abs Kill­strong, perched on the side of Mount Bigpointything, looked out at the rolling purple hills and laughed. An army of miniature demon-werewolves was advancing on him. Behind him was rock. Lots of rock. Millennia old rock. Ablaze. Not the grass or the trees or any­thing like that. This mountain had none of the sort. The stone itself burned. It was working with the demons. The sweat dripped down his shirtless, toned chest. His long blonde hair, dangerously close to getting singed, whipped around in the wind. His loins remained snug in his pants.
“I need to find a way to stop these damn werewolves,” said Abs, looking towards the heavens.
Off in the distance, he saw a group of birds flying his way. He swung his bow around his incredibly thick neck and prepared to strike. He leapt into the air and plucked one of them out of the sky, by its beak. A minute later when he landed, he pulled an arrow out of the quiver on his back, “attached” the bird to it by jamming it down the fowl's throat, turned around to set the creature on fire, turned back around to the approaching horde, aimed and threw the flaming bird-arrow at his attackers.
The projectile impaled one of the demon-werewolves between the eyes, killing him instantly. His lifeless body ignited causing the other beasts to become distracted and come over to check on their fallen friend. They all lit up too.
“Success!” yelled Abs. “Take that, you hellions!”
The miniature demon-werewolves looked up at him and returned to their chase.
“Oh, right. Demons like fire.”
He was out of arrows, having only brought the one on this journey, but looked for more birds. If he threw them hard enough they’d be just as good as arrows. But the birds had wised up and moved on.
Abs looked at his feet. The one section of the mountain that wasn’t on fire, and the spot he had fortunately decided to stand on, was now getting smaller by the second. He looked over the edge. The werewolves had stopped at the base – unable to get a good footing – and waited for him to jump.
“Guess it’s time to call in the big guns,” he said, looking into the sun. “Here boy!”
Four giant paws fell from the clouds, attached to an equally giant dog. He was headed right for Abs on the mountainside.
“No, you idiot! Don’t land on me! The ground! Land on the ground.”
The dog, Sergei, panicked.
“Okay,” he said. “I can do this.”
Sergei shifted his weight around, but nothing seemed to change his course.
“Your wings!” shouted Abs. “Use your wings!”
“Riiight,” said Sergei, finally remembering he had those. His wings were glorious. The large white feathers caught the air and he swooped down, dove for the werewolves and swallowed the lot of them in one gulp.
“Atta Boy!”


(O|O)

Abs tied Sergei up outside of castle Urknotgudenuff on his way to meet with the king. Thousands of peasants and commoners clawed at the entrance in an attempt to air a grievance or two, but the guards wouldn’t let anyone in without an appointment.
King Harrison Primich of Fantasmaland waited for Abs Killstrong in his throne room. On his left, sat his wife, Queen Adele Boohringer, formerly of Colds Natch, and on his right was a map displaying an incredibly complex and treacherous route to another castle. The map was entitled “Abs Killstrong’s Next Quest.”
Abs entered and was greeted by the king.
“Abs! Good to see you,” he said.
“You’ve summoned me, my liege?” asked Abs.
“Yes, follow me,” said King Harrison, walking back to his throne.
Abs followed and noticed the map with his name on it. A servant ran into the room carrying a chair for Abs to sit on. He placed it down, gave the hero a big – yet nervous – smile and left as quickly as he came.
Abs sat down and said, “What’s with this map you got over there?”
“Oh, that old thing?” the king responded. “That’s why I called you here.”
“You need help folding it or something?”
“No. Well, I suppose eventually.”
“He’s never been too good at that,” said a not in the least bit surprisingly bitter queen.
“Yes... Anyway, I need you to fetch something for me.”
Abs shuddered and said, “Don’t say ‘fetch’ too loud. Sergei has excellent hearing.”
“Ah, quite right.”
“So, what’s this thing you need me to procure?”
“I’m sending you on a quest for...” said the king, pausing for dramatic effect. “...a special wardrobe.”
“Uh huh,” said Abs. “Why? What’s in it? Is it important? What kind of ‘special’ are we talking about here?”
“Oh, I mustn’t say. It’s far too precious. I’ve already said too much. If a word of this got out...”
“Go on.”
“My mother-in-law would kill me. It being a gift from her and all.”
“Say no more, your highness. If you need it returned. I’ll find it and do just that.”
“Thank you, Abs. Now hurry. Take the map with you. We can’t have any evidence of this meeting left around here,” the king said, touching his nose.
Abs panicked, “Shit! Do I have a booger?”


(O|O)

Abs and his semi-faithful companion, Sergei, hit up the armory for some much needed supplies – a sword, more than one arrow and a fancy satchel – and left Fantasmaland on their way east. They followed the dotted line on the map and came upon their first hurdle. It wasn’t so much like a hurdle, but more a large flat expanse of burning sand. The Deathly Desert of Deathliness stretched out in front of them.
“How about a lift, old friend,” said Abs to his giant puppy. “We’d be able to traverse this in no time if I rode on your back and your mighty paws bounded across the dunes.”
“I don’t know, Abs. My back’s a little sore.”
“Oh.”
“Yeah. And I don’t really want singed pads either. They’re delicate.”
“But you’re gigantic!”
“And so is your disease-riddled mother.”
“True. But you also have wings.”
“I think I pulled something earlier.”
“Really? I’m going to have to walk this?”
“Yes, and by yourself too. I’m allergic to sand.”
“No you’re not. You play in a sandbox on a regular basis.”
Sergei looked across the desert and watched as the winds began to pick up.
“Well, I just don’t want to do it. I have better things to do.”
“You’re not coming at all?”
“I don’t want sand in my face.”
“Neither do I.”
“You should have thought of that before agreeing to this quest.”
“Could you at least launch me a few hundred miles?”
“I guess.”
Sergei bit a lock of Abs’ hair and flung him across more than half of the desert. Abs bounced, rolled and then slid the rest of the way. On his face. He stood up, dusted himself off and turned back to wave thanks to his friend.
On his left, he noticed a little shack and walked over. The door magically opened on its own, like there was some sort of sensor or something absurd like that.
Inside sat an old man wearing a wizard’s hat. He was asleep in his chair; teetering on its back two legs.
“Good day, kind wizard!” bellowed Abs.
The wizard startled awake as his chair fell to the ground. He, however, remained exactly where he had been resting. He then righted the chair, with his mind, and positioned it beneath him.
“My...” said the sorcerer, looking Abs over and then over again. “You, uh, seem to be missing a face.”
“So, you noticed.”
“Can’t say it’s not noticeable.”
“Are you one that notices things?”
“I’ve been known to notice a few noticeables in my day.”
“Nifty! What’s your name, wise sage?”
“Petals the Magnifican’t.”
“Huh.”
“You don’t like it?”
“It’s... different. I wasn’t expecting that. Thought it might have been something more wizardly. Like, I don’t know. Wiz Ardo?”
“That does have a nice ring to it. Do you mind?”
“Not at all. It’s what I do.”
“You give people better names?”
“No! I help people.”
“Oh. Well then, thank you.”
“You’re welcome, Wiz Ardo.”
“Now that that’s out of the way, is there something I could help you with, my muscular adventurer?”
“I... would like my face back.”
“I was afraid you’d say that. I’m not the best at faces. Fantastic Fred: The Faceman. Now he’s good at faces.”
“And where might I find Fantastic?”
“The last I saw of him he was getting eaten by that bear the other day.”
“Oh.”
“Went for the face first.”
“Ah.”
“Then skipped the body and went for the groin,” said Wiz Ardo, gritting his teeth and shaking his head violently.
“That’s all I –”
“And then it had sex with him.”
“Okay! I get it. His soul has gone to a better place.”
“Perhaps, but his body is no more than a hundred yards to the west. Right by that dune with the red and white markings.”
“Oh. Why does it have...” began Abs, stopping to reconsider his line of questioning and come up with a better one. “How is his life­less body going to make me pretty again?”
“He could still be alive,” said a hopeful yet, at the same time, doubtful Wiz Ardo.
“You haven’t checked on him?”
“No. Why would I?”
“Human decency?”
“He’s my competition. It’ll be good for business if he dies.”
“But you don’t do faces. How is he your rival?”
“Oh, I do faces.”
“But you won’t do mine?”
“No.”
Abs drew his sword and pointed it right at the middle of Wiz Ardo’s neck.
“Whoa! Easy there, muscles. I don’t think you’d like my work.”
“Explain before I turn you into a kabob and roast you for lunch.”
“It’s five in the afternoon.”
“I’m a late sleeper.”
“Okay, okay. Hold your horses. When someone asks for a new face I just turn their old one into a butt.”
“Wouldn’t they notice?”
“I also cast a spell on them so that they see a normal face when they look in the mirror, but everyone else sees the assface.”
“That’s evil!”
“And that’s why I didn’t want to do that to you. You gave me such a wonderful new name. I just couldn’t curse you like that.”
“Then I thank you, although I don’t approve. I will let you live for your kindness to me though.”
“I do appreciate that.”
“So, this Faceman? You think he’s still alive?”
“Could be. He is a magician after all. Would you like me to take you to him?”
“If you don’t mind. Before we leave, could I trouble you for some bandages? My face, or what’s left of it, is still leaking everywhere.”
“Yes, I had noticed that.”

Wiz Ardo and Abs Killstrong reached the red and white streaked dune and found what remained of Fantastic Fred. They approached him slowly trying not to disturb too much of the sand around him.
“Who’s that?” yelled Fantastic Fred: The Faceman. “I can’t see so you better tell me who you are. I’ve literally got sand in my face.”
“Hello!” answered Abs. “My name is Abs Killstrong and I’ve come here to seek your expertise.”
Wiz coughed, standing beside Abs.
“Who was that?” asked Fantastic Fred.
“Oh, that?” said Abs. “That’s just my good buddy, Wiz Ardo.”
“Speak,” commanded Fred.
“Hi, Fantastic Fred.”
“You’re not Wiz Ardo. You’re Petals the Magnifican’t.”
“I gave him a new name,” said a proud Abs.
“But he’s a shitty wizard.”
“That’s a little harsh,” said Abs.
Wiz Ardo stood there, silent.
“Fine,” said Fred. “He’s a shitty friend, person, whatever.”
Abs shook his head. “I’d say that’s even more so. Look –”
“Nice, jackass.”
“Sorry. Sorry. My fault. What has he done to bother you so?”
“Why don’t you ask him?”
Abs looked down at Wiz Ardo with a furrowed brow.
“Enlighten me, Petals.”
“I, uh, might have made the bear appear that destroyedhisshopatehisfaceandhadsexwithhim.”
“You made the bear?” asked Abs.
Wiz Ardo nodded.
“Why would you do that?”
“He’s been getting more customers than me. And I thought his shack was ugly.”
“See!” said Fred. “He’s a tool.”
“Your mother didn’t seem to mind me being a tool,” said Wiz Ardo.
“Alright,” said Abs. “Alright. Let’s not get carried away. Gentle faceless, groinless and anally violated wizard, would you be able to adorn my head with a new face?”
“I suppose.”
“Thank you. Hey. Why didn’t you give yourself a new face?”
“Excellent question. For you see, I was cursed many a decade ago. I can no longer use my magic on myself.”
“Good thing I’m not you, ” said Abs.

Fantastic Fred: The Faceman created a new face for Abs that was not at all dissimilar to the original one that remained on a vast stretch of sand a few yards from where they stood at this very moment.
“How do I look?” Abs asked Wiz Ardo.
“Pretty good. If I were a wench I’d do you.”
“Not sure that’s the response I wanted, but I’ll take it. Thank you, Fantastic Fred. This face feels perfect.”
“You’re welcome, kind warrior. I’m glad my last deed was a good one.”
“Before you, um, go,” said Abs, “do you know who cursed you?”
“Sadly,” whimpered Fred, “I... do... not.”
Wiz Ardo whistled while slowly creeping backwards.
“You... dick...”
With his last bit of strength, Fred lifted his finger and turned Wiz Ardo’s face into a butt. Wiz Ardo fell to his knees and felt his new features. He tried to scream, but the only sound that escaped was an epic fart. His whole head had been replaced by a butt. He quickly suffocated – due to only being able to exhale – and died.
“Now... I... can... ... die... ... ... in... ... ... ... peace,” said Fantastic Fred.
Abs looked at each of the two dead wizards, shook his head, turned and continued eastwards.

(O|O)

Hours later, Abs stopped at a small tavern, pulled the map out of his satchel and made sure he was still on the right path. He was.
Realizing he hadn’t had anything to drink in quite some time, Abs pulled up a stool at the bar and looked over the list of ales that had been scratched into the wood in front of him. He raised his head, indicating that he had made his decision and flagged down the bar­tender.
“The name’s Lester Mole. What can I get for you?” asked the bartender.
“I’d like a pint, my good man.”
“A pint of what?”
“Booze.”
“What kind?”
“Uh...”
“Do you need another minute?”
“No. No. I’m good. Uh. Uh. Surprise me!”
“Right. One pint of surprise booze coming up.”
Lester walked over to a couple of jugs that looked a little less than sanitary and began mixing. He poured the brew into a mug and topped it off with the contents of a vile that he kept in his pocket.
“What’s that you got there?” asked Abs.
“This?” said Lester Mole. “Oh, nothing. Just gives the alcohol a little extra kick.”
“Niiice.”
Lester brought the drink over to Abs and asked, “Would you like me to start a tab for you?”
Abs took a swig. “Sounds fine. Say, do you have any rooms available? It’s getting late and I’ve been traveling for quite some time.”
“We do.”
“Excellent. I’d like to rent one for the night.”
“That can be arranged. Where are you coming from?”
“I’m on a quest for King Primich of Fantasmaland. Don’t tell anyone. Especially not his mother-in-law.”
“Interesting.”
“I suppose. You want to know something interesting? This isn’t even the same face I started the day with.”
“You’ve met Fantastic Fred. How’s he doing?”
“Been better.”
“That’s a shame.”
“Tell me about it. To have your privates eaten by a bear must be rough.”
“That does sound painful.”
“And then it had sex with him.”
“Really?” asked an intrigued Lester.
“Yeah. And then he died. Hey, this is really good. What was that stuff you put in it at the end? I need to get some for home.”
“That stuff? Oh, you don’t want that.”
“Sure I do,” said Abs as he took another sip. “This is the best drink I’ve ever had.”
“Okay. It’s called Essence of Innocence by Orphan Soul.”
“That’s a funny name.”
Abs spun around on his stool, drunk off his ass. Lester ignored him and walked over to the opposite end of the bar to draw up a tab and figure out which room to give his new customer.
Abs leaned back against the counter and began repeating the bar­tender’s name over and over again.
“Lester Mole. Lester Mole. LesterMole. LesterMole. LesterMoleLesterMole. LesterMoleLesterMole. Lester Molester Mole... LesterMolester... Molester...”
Abs sobered up and shot to his feet. The name. The orphan souls. The incredible taste of pure innocence. He turned around and pointed at Lester.
“You sick bastard!”
“Something wrong?”
“How could you do that to children?”
“They... didn’t mind?”
“Liar!”
“They were orphans. Not like anyone’s going to miss them.”
“You killed them too?”
“I had to.”
“Who said?”
“Me?”
“Come over here.”
Lester, against his better judgment, walked over to Abs.
“Yes?”
Abs grabbed him by the shirt, pulled him to about an inch from his face and said, “For some reason I’m going to let you live.”
“Thank you kind –”
“BUT! You’re not going to charge me for this drink and I’m going to be staying here tonight for free. Plus, I expect an orphan-meat-free breakfast in the morning. And waffles. Strawberry waffles. Lots of them.”
“No problem, sir. You can take the honeymoon suite. It hasn’t been used in ages.”
“Why not?”
“Don’t have too many recently married couples coming to a place like this.”
“I see your point.”
Abs released Lester and made his way upstairs to go to sleep. He stopped before entering his room and called down to Lester.
“Of course it goes without saying that you’re not going to hurt another child again, right?”
“Right. Of course. I wouldn’t think of it.”
“Good,” said Abs, pulling an arrow out of his quiver. “And just to make sure.”
Abs hurled the arrow into Lester’s crotch. He turned, walked into his room and slammed the door.

Abs woke several hours later as the morning sun came in through the window, blinding him completely. He rolled over and met face-to-face with a ghostly figure lying next to him.
“Oh! Hello, young lass. Can I help you?”
“You’re handsome,” said Hagitha, the ghost of a former barmaid.
“Why, thank you, kind ghost. And yes, you are correct. But I need to be on my way. Much to do. I’m on a quest,” he said proudly, getting up out of bed, naked.
“Ooooo, neat. What kind of quest?”
“I can’t tell you. It’s a secret.”
“Fine. Well, then where are you going?”
“Hmm, you know. I never did check to see where this mystical wardrobe is.”
Abs pulled out the map – where from, no one knows – and unfolded it carefully making sure not to tear it – it was a nice map after all.
“Oh. Poop.”
“That bad?” asked the ghost.
“Mightily. It appears that King Guy X. Acute has the item I desire over in Deathtown. None of that sounds good.”
“No,” agreed Hagitha. “Fancy a shag before you go? I haven’t had one since Lester ‘accidentally’ killed me during one last year.”
“Uh, no. I’m good. But I must be going. A lot of ground to cover,” he said, still examining the map, but really trying to figure out a way to fold it back up. “Aw yeah! I get to go through a kitten factory. Maybe I can keep one. Hey, wait. Did you just say Lester killed you?”
“That he did.”
“That guy needs to be stopped. Now!”
Abs put his underwear on, grabbed his sword and ran out to vanquish this Lester character once and for all.

Lester was standing behind the bar, holding an infant when Abs burst through the wall of the honeymoon suite, bounded over the railing on the second floor and landed on top of the counter staring at the top of Lester’s head.
“You!”
“You seem well rested,” Lester said, now facing his attacker.
“Must die.”
Lester began panicking and said, “Whoa, wait. Why? You already got me in the crotch for the orphan thing.”
“What’s that you’re holding?”
“Another orphan.”
“WHAT?”
“Another orphan.”
Abs became more enraged.
“So, still with the orphans and you kill your barmaids during incredibly rough sex?”
“Who told you that?”
“I did, sweetie!” called Hagitha from upstairs.
“Crap.”
“Prepare to die, scum! And where are my waffles?”
Lester pointed at the end of the bar.
“No orphan parts of any kind?”
“None at all,” said Lester.
“Thanks,” said Abs as he swung his sword, lopping off Lester’s head. “Crap! Falling baby!”
Abs threw his sword to the side and dove for the child that the headless body of Lester carelessly dropped, catching it moments before hitting the floor.
“That was a close one, baby. Hey, do you like waffles?”

____________________

So, what do you think? Want to see how it ends? Find out in Scattered Together, out this Friday at midnight (GMT).