The Curse of Old McBoaty
by Norton McClure
I had always hoped that the day I found out I was going to be a father would be an amazingly special day the way boys often dream of such things from their youth. I envisioned music from unseen musicians, slow-motion leaps through the air with birds fluttering around my head, the smell of pomegranate or various citrus fruits subtly combining with the natural flora of the field I was leaping through, and of course, casually rolling down a grassy hill with my soulmate while harps of gold and silver soared through the skies above. Glory, splendor and the pure existential happiness that only such an occasion could supply would permeate the fibers and essence of my being. If I said to you that the opposite of all these things is what I actually got, it would be closer to the truth. Well, almost.
It’s difficult to explain because, well, time travel makes no sense. You see, the day I was told I was going to have twins wasn’t actually the day I realized that I was going to have twins. Pirate twins, to be more specific. I hadn’t yet been stuck in the past, lived for hundreds of years as a ghost, haunted and stalked dozens of innocent people, and so on. I’ll start by giving you some background, otherwise you’ll never understand the deal I struck with Arzkriel, King of Demons.
Gerty, her real name was Gertrudinnia, and I were in the Andronican mafia group called Spectroscopy. I know what you’re thinking, and I was impressed with that name too. We practically owned the Sea of Andronica. Gerty worked in accounting, and I was a collections agent. One day, she requested an asset retrieval on a yacht that was anchored off the coast, and when I delivered on that request by dropping the dismembered left thumbs of the heads of the Shermble family into a bag on her desk, it was instant love. She and I were inseparable after that.
I think it was at one-hundred and twelfth annual AndroniCon that we decided to get married. Or was it before that? Never mind. Now, don’t get AndroniCon confused with AdroidiCon, the one where androids ironically cosplay as humans. We were across town at AndroniCon. I was dressed as my favorite cosplay alter-ego, Yahn from Galaxy Five, and she was dressed as a blood-sucking Garfnargle. We staged scenes all over the Con of Yahn violently defeating the Garfnargle, but I surprised her on the last one when I let her defeat me. When my reanimated corpse came to life, I rose onto one knee and produced the golden ring I’d been hiding inside the nether regions of my leotard.
Gerty let out the bone-chilling cry of Garfnargle acceptance, “GRRLLOOWWGGGG-G-G-NK!”
A cosplayer dressed as a Crantoclear Priest stepped forward in his elaborate, flowing black-and-gold gown. His cerulean crown was twice the height of his head, and nearly three times as wide. He was a pleasant fellow named Philibert who happened to be an actual ordained minister. He married us on the spot, and since Gerty and I were both fluent in Crantocleanese, we understood every word of the ceremony.
Now, mafia rules don’t explicitly forbid marriages within the organization, however, it is extremely frowned upon because most mafia members are all part of the same family. If Gerty and I were related, it could’ve only been second or third cousins… at most. But we were in love, and we didn’t care about that part of it. We kept our marriage a secret from the bosses, and since mafia bosses, in general, don’t run in the same circles as your average cosplayers, the odds were slim they’d ever hear about it.
A few months into our secret marriage, I was called out on an assignment to investigate reports that the Andronican Leviathan had reappeared after it’s century of banishment. Why would a collections agent be sent to chase the Leviathan? Well, I’ll tell you. It’d broken into one of the boss’s lake houses and stolen something precious, and when I say, ‘broken into’, I mean completely obliterated. The Leviathan is an enormous sea monster. You didn’t expect it to just knock on the door politely, did you?
The Sword of Hizrathophel was a family heirloom that was said to hold great magical powers. According to legends, that sword was the only thing capable of actually killing the great beast that had captured it. Naturally, that’s what the Leviathan took because otherwise this story would be too short. No one could be certain what the sword looked like except for the boss, and all he could say was that it looked “piratey”.
I was dispatched on a gloomy September morning into the depths of the Sea of Andronica. I was wearing armored deep-sea gear and wielded a golden harpoon that had been gifted to me by my maternal grandmother. She always said she’d used it to catch “the big one,” but nobody ever really knew what that meant. She was crazy.
I searched the sea floor for hours until I finally found what I was looking for: the hulking mass of shimmery scales that was wrapped around itself, curled up as if fast asleep. I swam as carefully as I could so as not to make too many vibrations in the water, but it was no use. The Leviathan sensed me coming and grabbed me with one of its giant fins and pinned me to the deck of an old, sunken pirate ship.
It looked me straight in the eye and said, “tonight, the sword shall be reunited with the hand that once wielded it, and HE shall return!”
Of course, all I heard was, “blaagggg, gaaarb braaggg globb glibb blobb gggreebb glub!” because we were underwater and the translation software on my armored suit couldn’t decipher Leviathan-speak.
I watched in dread as the Leviathan’s tongue shot out and grabbed the sword from the sand nearby and threw it into the wreckage of the boat underneath me. For the first few moments, nothing happened. Then, for the next few moments, nothing happened.
“Just give it a minute,” the Leviathan probably said to me. I really couldn’t tell. So, we waited.
Four hours later, my suit’s air was running out and I was starting to pass out. I managed to free my arms from underneath the Leviathan’s grip and waved them frantically in the air. I pointed to my helmet and made the choking sign around my neck. The sea monster clearly thought I was asking him to help me take my helmet off, so he did. Water rushed into my suit and I felt much heavier than I had moments earlier.
“Better?” the monster asked. I found I could understand him better without the helmet on. I gave him a thumbs up.
“Sorry for the delay,” he continued, “this shouldn’t be taking so long. On the first night of fall, the sword was supposed to be reunited with the pirate captain’s hand and he’d come back to life to take revenge on the land-mortals. I don’t know why it’s not working!”
First night of FALL? I thought to myself.
I waved my hands at him and used sign language to communicate. I told him that he was two weeks early. Fortunately, the Leviathan understood my Andronican-mafia hybrid sign language. I had to modify it, however, to remove some of the hand gestures. I’m not a barbarian.
“Two weeks?” He exclaimed. “Dang. Well, this is awkward, but I’m gonna need you to stick around a little longer, k? Ya know, just in case I need to offer a sacrifice or something.”
Seeing as how I had no other choice, I sank my body into an internal meditative state and recirculated and recycled the air in my cells. The guys in the office all laughed when I told them I was learning how to do that. Well, look who’s laughing now! Not me, of course. I’m trapped underwater with the Leviathan.
One night, two weeks later, I watched as a strange greenish glow began to emanate from below the wreckage. The monster had been asleep for nearly two weeks, and he just looked so peaceful that I didn’t want to wake him. Poor guy. He was just tuckered out from all the pillaging and plundering he’d done.
A strange figure emerged from underneath me. He was ethereal and wispy in the currents of the water, but every school-aged child from Andronica to New New Second Earth knew who he was: Old McBoaty. The pirate held the sword in his hand, and now that I got a good look at it, I noticed that it indeed was a very piratey sword. It was old and beaten up, and the blade had a slight curve to it. Old McBoaty himself looked like a good match for the weapon: old and beaten up. He wore a long, tattered, brown coat and a ragged tricorne hat. I nodded and gave him a thumbs-up for style.
He looked directly at me and a green glow filled his eyes. After studying my face for a few moments, his head fell backward, and he roared with laughter. It was an absolutely horrible sound. The best way I can describe it would be like if you crossed a crying bobcat with a constipated toucan. It was dreadful.
“You will be togetharr with her again,” he said to me in a grumbly pirate accent. Then, he lifted the sword high above his head and he flew above the surface of the water until he was out of sight.
I raised my fists and pounded on the Leviathan, but he didn’t budge. If Old McBoaty was free, I needed to get back to land quickly to find Gerty. She wouldn’t be safe. I pounded on the Leviathan as hard as I could for three full days until an idea occurred to me. I summoned all the air I could find still recycling within my body and pressed my lips together. I let out short, staccato bursts of sound that rippled through the water. Echolocating dolphins quickly answered my call and rushed to my aid. They swarmed the Leviathan until it woke and chased the dolphins away. I shed what was left of my water-logged suit and swam for the shore.
By the time I found Gerty, I realized I’d been underwater for nearly a month. To me, it looked like the apocalypse had happened to Andronica while I was away. The sun was shining brightly, birds sang in the air and vendors on the streets were passing out free ice cream cones and balloon animals. Gerty was sitting on the grass in a newly constructed public park with a bunch of hippies who were making necklaces and bracelets by weaving wildflowers together. It was a horrible sight. What was she doing? Where was my dirty, crime-infested city? Where were the mafias and drug cartels? Why was everyone smiling and waving at me like we were friends? We’re not friends!
“McBoaty,” I grumbled to myself.
I pulled Gerty aside and she looked happy and joyful until she saw my bloated face and body that’d learned to live under the sea for so long.
“John?” she asked. She was very confused.
“Yes!” I cried. “It’s me! I’m alive!”
“But, how?” she asked. “How are you still alive? You’ve been underwater for weeks! We saw you go under!”
“My love for you has kept me alive these many days.”
Her face shifted and I knew something was wrong. Her gaze went to her feet and she couldn’t look at me.
“Things are different now,” she said.
“I’ve noticed,” I told her, “this place looks disgustingly happy.”
“No, that’s not it. You were gone a long time, John. I met someone and we fell in love.”
“No!” I cried. “I’m here now, and everything can go back to the way it was!”
“It can’t,” she said. “The mafia is gone now. Everyone is happy! Here, take one of these bracelets…”
I want to hate it, but when she grazes my wrist to put the atrocious thing on me, I silently vow to never take it off.
“Let’s start over, Gerty,” I pleaded. “I love you, and…”
“No, John, you don’t understand!”
“Then help me understand,” I told her. “I don’t care if we’re in the mafia or not! The ghost of Old McBoaty told me we were supposed to be together!”
“But John,” she said again, “I’m pregnant with pirate twins! Old McBoaty is the father!”
My head is spinning. “But, Gerty,” I said, “that’s impossible! Old McBoaty’s been dead for two-hundred years!”
Gerty shrugged and ran back to the hippies she’d been sitting with who were now holding hands and dancing in a circle to what appeared to be homemade acoustic instruments. Horrifying.
I ran back to my house and find it exactly the way I left it on the inside. The outside had been voluntarily maintained by some kind of flower-loving beatniks, I assumed, but the inside had remained untouched. It was filthy and dangerous, just the way I liked it. The kind of place that’d make you want to get a tetanus shot just from walking inside. It was glorious.
I rummaged through my belongings until I found the sword I was looking for. It wasn’t as piratey as Old McBoaty’s, but it was close enough. Hey, if I was going to fight a sword-wielding ghost pirate, I’d need something to fight with. He had the Sword of Hizrathophel, so I named my sword Betty. It seemed appropriate at the time. I muttered some incantations over it to imbue it with anti-specter magic, too. I also found and old hanging lantern, put a candle inside and waited until nightfall. When the sun set and the moon was full, I was going to go ghost hunting.
Since graveyards are super creepy, I decided to go there first in my search for Old McBoaty. I carefully tread amongst the headstones with the lantern in my left hand and Betty in my right. The wind wasn’t especially strong that night, but when it blew it seemed to carry a voice and inhuman laughter in it.
“Old McBoaty!” I called out. “Show yourself!”
The horrible feline-bird laughter rang through the air.
“I’m not afraid of you!”
Old Mcboaty materialized behind me, and with a quick swish of his sword, knocked the lantern from my hand.
“It has to happen this way, John,” Old McBoaty told me. “Lay down yarr swarrd.”
“Lay down my what?”
Old Mcboaty didn’t respond that time. He sighed, drew the Sword of Hizrathophel and began swinging it wildly. Betty was ready for his games, and we dueled for what seemed like two whole minutes. I hadn’t practiced sword fighting since my college days, but I felt pretty good about myself. I held my ground and fought back well until he finally out-maneuvered me and threw Betty to the ground.
“Be still, John,” he said in a low growl. “And remember…”
He plunged the Sword of Hizrathophel into my chest.
“Old McBoaty had a farm…”
My eyes closed and I remembered no more.
When I awoke my head was throbbing horribly. The air smelled like salt and the sun was very, very hot, but not hot in a good way like when you leave a glass of milk on the counter for the afternoon and it turns into a milkshake. Hot like a baked potato right out of the oven that gets tossed in your undergarments kind of hot. I was lying down on something hard and splintery, but not splintery in a good way like when you break away from your rebel faction to form your own rebellion-within-a-rebellion-type-thing. Splintery, like when your dad tells you not to walk on top of the scrap lumber without shoes kind of splintery.
I tried to stand but was so disoriented that I just fell over. The world felt like it was moving back-and-forth underneath my feet. When I finally realized that I was on an old wooden pirate ship, I thought I was having a weird dream like when the puppets from the kids’ shows take over the government and things actually get better. This was no dream. I was on a pirate ship in the middle of the Sea of Andronica.
The smells and feelings of that sea are unforgettable and undeniable. It’s the scent of fish carcasses that even the carrion creatures won’t touch. It’s the smells of unrecycled plastics that formed the great Andonican Islands where only the superrich get to visit. It’s that certain queasy feeling you get deep down in your gut from all the defunct nuclear reactors that got dropped into the sea. It’s the air of home.
When I was able to stand and get my bearings, I was not wearing my own clothes and I had no sword stuck into my chest. I was wearing what looked like old sailing clothes and my own sword, Betty, was strapped to a belt on my waist. As I looked all around, I couldn’t see land in any direction, and the boat I was on was definitely old-fashioned. How did I get here? Where in Andronica am I? Who undressed me and put new clothes on me, and did they notice the embarrassing tattoo of Flouncy the Dinosaur on my left hip?
“Old McBoaty…” I grumbled to myself.
Suddenly, without warning and instantaneously, a loud pop, crackle, sizzle and cloud of smoke happened right in front of me, but not the good pop, crackle, sizzle and cloud of smoke like when you try to fry an entire package of bacon at the same time in one frying pan. It was the pop, crackle, sizzle and cloud of smoke of something terrible.
As I stood gazing at the dissipating cloud, a thing with the general form of a man emerged from the smoke and stood on the deck of the ship. He had the head of a man with a long, pointed nose and rams’ horns curling out of his temples. His skin was pinkish like someone with a fresh sunburn that you just wanted to jab with your index finger real hard. He wore a tan tweed jacket, slacks and a shirt and tie. All the patterns on his outfit were mismatched and different colors. I’m normally a fan of pattern mixing, but this was too much. Strike one.
“Stacey John Shmirklemann!” the demon exclaimed. “Welcome! To! Your! Cuuuuuurrrrrse!”
He sounded like a game show announcer. I’ve never crossed a game show host and let them live. They disgust me more than people who use papyrus or comic sans fonts. Strike two.
“Wait,” he began again, “your real name is Stacey? That can’t be right. Let me check my notes…”
“It’s right,” I told him, “and if you ever call me that again I will destroy you with a vengeance that’ll turn your horns into butterfly wings.” I drew Betty from her scabbard and pointed her at the demon. I hadn’t gone by the name of Stacey Shmirklemann since high school. When everyone was reinventing themselves in college, I’d changed my name to John Fireblade, but this demon knew my true identity.
“Whoa, whoa! Put that thing away before you get us both double-cursed!”
“Elaborate, demon, or face my steel!” I tried to make myself sound more nobler than usual. I’d never faced off against a demon before, so I wasn’t totally sure how to carry myself.
“First off, the name’s Arzkriel, King of Demons. Nice to meet you,” he said. “Secondly, calm it down. You’ve been cursed by that sword,” he pointed at Betty.
“Hah!” I said. “This is Betty! She didn’t curse me!”
“Betty, huh? Never heard the Sword of Hizrathophel called that before, but whatever. You’re cursed. You’ve been touched by the blade and sent back in time about, oh I dunno, maybe four hundred years.”
I breathed in deeply. Yes, the plastic smell was slightly less rotten than usual, and the radioactivity did feel a bit higher. He wasn’t joking.
“So, time travel is my curse?” I asked.
“No!” he Arzkriel laughed. “That’d be too easy. You see, that’s my sword. You work for me now. THAT is your curse.”
“I’ll never work for you!”
“Fool!” He shouted and laughed, and his body grew to a monstrous size until he towered high above me. “You will never again see the light of day!”
I smirked and pointed to the sun in the sky.
Arzkriel sighed and returned to his normal size.
We spent the next several hours going over the terms of my curse, but I won’t bore you with all the haggling that went on. Basically, I agreed to work for Arzkriel for a few hundred years and then he’d help me return to my own time so that I could be with Gertrudinnia again. All I had to do was haunt the Sea of Andronica from my pirate ship, use Betty, which I found out actually was the Sword of Hizrathophel from a different timeline, and demonize innocent seafarers. Easy, right? Well, I told you, time travel is weird.
I spent the next few hundred years sailing from port to port creating demon-pirate hybrids out of innocent bystanders and men who purposefully wore soul patches instead of full beards. I missed my Gerty. It took a few years for me to recognize the pattern, but one night when I was terrorizing a small town, someone called me a name I hadn’t heard or thought about in a long time: Old McBoaty.
The town of Milleniana was comprised of people in their twenties and thirties who were either baristas, glass-blowers, workers in the pumpkin spice factory, or all the above. None of them could be trusted, and each person I found seemed to be more self-absorbed than the next. Disgusting. I was busy smashing tables at an open-air vegan pita cafe when I must’ve forced one of the morons to drop their phone. When the guy saw me, he only made weird sounds like he’d forgotten how to interact with another person.
“Old!” he shouted when he saw my face.
“Mck…” he gasped and coughed.
“Boateeeee!” he yelled when he finally noticed my flying pirate ship in the sky above our heads. Did I mention I learned how to make the boat fly? Well, I did. Also, the boat’s name is now The Duchess of Cleveland.
Onlookers were recording the encounter on their cell phones instead of running away like any intelligent person would’ve done, and when they all uploaded their videos of me onto their social media accounts, the name Old McBoaty was born.
It hit me like a sack of dried-up figs. I was Old McBoaty. I was the ghost of legend who’d been terrorizing Andronica for centuries. I was the one who’d destroyed Spectroscopy and turned my town into a peace-loving society of hipsters and hacky sack enthusiasts. I was the one who sent me back in time to become Old McBoaty.
My head was swimming and I’d nearly let some of the baristas escape when I finally snapped out of it. Fortunately, the onlookers were all waiting for their moms to come pick them up, so they didn’t run away. For good measure, I tipped over their vats of flavored coffees and replaced them with regular, normal coffee. But I couldn’t linger too long. I realized that I was Old McBoaty now, and something needed to be done about that.
Arzkriel’s army was growing. Every time I demonized someone, they were transported to the demon’s realm for conditioning. I don’t know exactly what he did to them, but I’d heard it involved training videos of why something called ‘digital currency’ was incredibly unnecessary.
Something was tickling at the back of my mind. When I used Betty to scratch at it, a voice came to me from long ago. Also, it hurt a lot. Don’t scratch your head with a sword.
“Be still, John, and remember: Old McBoaty had a farm…”
Old McBoaty, the first one and not the me one, had said that. Why did he say that? I thought about the words and it reminded me of an old children’s rhyme from the days when humans had farms and actually grew organic food instead of synthesizing it with laser technology. Lasers can do anything you want them to in the future, you’ll see. As the words came to me from somewhere in my memory, I spoke them aloud.
“Old McBoaty had a farm…” I stopped.
Impossible. My entire body felt like it was supercharged with an energy I hadn’t felt since I tried cooking a hotdog by plugging a skewer into a wall outlet. My fingers tingled and my face went numb like when you’re standing in the freezer door in hopes that a pizza magically materializes in front of you. The words had a power of some kind. I didn’t understand what or how or why that could be, but I liked it. It felt good like when you actually find a pizza in the freezer after staring for several minutes and you see it peeking at you from under the bags of peas that have been there for years. It was that kind of good.
Realization hit me like the upset stomach you get when you see the expiration date after you’ve already eaten the gas station burrito. Children’s poetry and nursery rhymes had been banished centuries ago by the Board of Trustees of the Society for a Less Lurid Tomorrow. The SLLT’s must’ve known that this was one of the lost Phrases of Power. When sung in the right variety of pitches, in the right place and by the right number of sugar-infused toddlers, these lost Phrases could unleash chaos. I intended to harness that bedlam.
“Old McBoaty had a farm…” The tingling increased as I added a tune to the words this time.
“E…” Dark clouds gathered suddenly overhead.
“I…” Thunder crackled in the distance.
“E…” The wind blew away the used plastic cups that the baristas were trying to recycle, and environmentalists spontaneously appeared in protest.
“I…” I grabbed Betty from her scabbard and held it high above my head. I wasn’t sure if there was a good reason for it, but I was confident that it probably looked super cool.
“Oooooo!” My voice boomed defiantly, and I held the note longer than normal.
Lightning struck Betty and sent us both flying out into the sea in different directions. The Duchess of Cleveland went into a tailspin and crashed down on top of me and pushed us both down to the bottom of the sea. There at the bottom, I realized this was supposed to happen. I was under the wreckage of the ship where I would be trapped for a thousand years. Okay, not a thousand, but for a long time. It was here that I’d wait until the Leviathan brought the sword to me and I was allowed to rise again. I was a ghost or something now anyway, apparently, so I could stay down here for as long as it took.
Well, you know what happened next. I waited for about two-hundred years at the bottom of the Sea of Andronica until the Stacey John Shmirklemann, A.K.A John Fireblade, of the future arrived. Once resurrected, I went to the surface, destroyed Spectroscopy for the fun of it and caused sunshine and happiness all throughout the land out of pure spite and malice.
What? You’d like to know why I did all that? Two reasons. One: time travel is weird, and I knew deep down in my gut that if I altered the time stream that the universe might possibly implode, and I’d never get to watch my favorite shows again. I’d been waiting for centuries to find out what happened on the latest season of Yahn from Galaxy Five, and I wasn’t going to risk that now. Two: Gerty was in love with Old McBoaty. She loved him and was expecting his children. I am Old McBoaty now, so if I wanted that future for me and Gerty, I had to follow through with what I’d seen before. It was time to ruin the beautiful, trash-filled wasteland of Andronica.
When I saw Gertrudinnia running for her life from my onslaught of destruction, I was in awe. She was beautiful, just like I’d remembered her. She scurried away from the explosions I’d caused the way only a true mafia accountant could do, and my undead heart leaped in my chest. I hurried to her and scooped her up. We spent the next several days together, and I made her fall in love with me all over again. It was mostly because she was shackled to me and I wouldn’t let her leave and she developed a severe case of Stockholm syndrome, but I didn’t care. I had finally been reunited with my Gerty. When she told me she was with child, I already knew it would be the pirate twins I’d been waiting for.
When the time finally came for future John from my past –no, that’s not right– to confront me in the graveyard, I already knew what needed to be done. We fought and it was brilliant. Our swords rang true against each other in the lantern light for a few brief seconds, but I easily outmatched my past self. I had thought before that I’d done well fighting against Old McBoaty, but from this angle I realized I was kind of a weenie. Now that I was Old McBoaty, I’d had years of experience to work with and I used that to throw Betty, other John’s Betty, to the ground. Confident that I was no longer weenie-ish, I stabbed him with Hizrathophel, put his Betty back in his hand and recited the magic words.
“Old McBoaty had a farm…”
In a flash of light, he was gone. I stood alone in the graveyard with the Sword of Hizrathophel in my hand. I felt powerful. I felt amazing. It was like when you’re standing in the shower and hold out your hand and water comes shooting out of your fingertips, and for the briefest moment, you think you have superhuman water powers. I’d done it. I’d completed the cycle and come back to my Gerty. I left the graveyard to go back to her.
As I ran back into town, the emotional high I was swimming in slowly began to ebb. Even though it was night and the sky was dark, something about the heavens above seemed darker than normal. The closer I got to town, the more the air smelled like sulfur and brimstone. The town seemed to glow like it was on fire, but no flames could be seen. Had the people opened that chimichanga-themed disco without me? I told them to wait! The sea itself looked like it was bubbling and boiling. Something was wrong.
I ran to the coastline, and to my surprise, the King of Demons came slowly striding up out of the water to meet me like the exact opposite of what happens in any given Bond movie. He was hideous. He wore salmon-colored slacks and a light green sport coat with a bowtie. Another fashion faux pas. Strike two and a half. I gave him a half-strike credit for the dramatic entrance.
“Arzkriel!” I shouted. “What is the meaning of this?”
“Well done, Old McBoaty. My army is now complete! Now I will conquer all of Andronica!”
“Not so fast, your stinkiness,” I retorted cleverly. “The only army you’re going to have left is the army I rip off your body and beat you over the heady with!” I was feeling pretty good about myself with that comment.
Arzkriel smiled and raised his arms. Out of the sea behind him, the bubbling and boiling of the water’s surface turned into heads bobbing up and down in the water. The Demon King’s army was swimming toward us like there was only one biscuit left on the breakfast buffet. There were hordes of them, and they were all doing the butterfly stroke in perfect unison. The water surged and pulsed with the demon-pirate hybrids as they made their way toward land.
Had I done that? I almost felt a little pride, but after considering the great number of them, I realized I’d never demonized that many people. Even in all the years I’d served Arzkriel, I’d only turned a few hundred, maybe a thousand, into his demon slaves. Where did the rest of these come from?
“Time loop,” Arzkriel said.
“I didn’t say anything,” I responded.
“You were thinking it.”
“Fine!” He shouted, “but I’m telling you anyway.”
“Why?” I demanded.
“Because exposition,” he said, “that’s why! I’m a demon. I live outside of time. Whenever one of you Shmirklemanns showed up, I made a deal with you to demonize the innocent souls of Andronica. Every time you did it, I stored them away. Then, I lived that same scenario over and over and over again.”
“Sounds boring,” I said.
“It was! I’d have done all the work myself but, alas, I cannot wield Hizrathophel on this plane of existence without having a very serious allergy attack. And I already had enough alligator monster servants anyway, so I needed the perfect complement to my horde…”
“Human-demon-pirate hybrids,” we both said simultaneously. Everyone knows they are paired well with alligator monsters.
He stood there like a maniacal carbohydrate enthusiast who’d just eaten the last donut on earth. Arzkriel did a strange dance that might’ve been confused for a mating ritual among lesser species, but I knew exactly what he was doing: challenging me to a dance-off. His arms whirled above his head while his legs did some sort of running-in-place motion. He looked ridiculous. Strike three.
“You’re out,” I muttered.
“What?” he said.
“You. Are. Out.”
“YARRRR OWWWT!” In my rage I stumbled back into pirate slang.
“Impossible!” Arzkriel chuckled. “I’ve never been more IN! I’m like cargo shorts. You can’t get rid of me. Minions, attack!”
The hordes from the sea shambled onto land en masse and surged up the beach. Each of them wielded a sword, axe, hammer, mace or halberd. They had numbers, they had weapons and absolutely no sense of style. I drew Betty from her scabbard once more and prepared to stand my ground.
“I am Old McBoaty! This is my farm! Let’s do this.”
About the Author:
Norton is a lifelong fan of action, adventure and science fiction. He currently lives in northern Alabama with his wonderful wife, two amazing daughters, and one stinky fur ball named Oliver Twist. He works as an analytical chemist by trade and is an independently published author. His debut novel, The Phobos Resurrection, is available now exclusively on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle ebook formats.
You can follow Norton on Facebook and Instagram @nortonmcclurebooks, and on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B07WZVM6BK