Paul “Deadeye” Dick
Somewhere in Southern West Germany, October 1973
We were lost and neither one of us wanted to admit it. But that’s what happens when you have two doctors in a car. Since receiving our Doctorates in Journalism at Arkham’s famous Miskatonic University, we had ridden high, hanging ten, on the crest of an awesomely prosperous wave. Our work depicting the Vietnam War, counter-culture, cults, and political animals of the last decade (the last two had a lot in common in our opinion) was a sensation. But though our journalistic work for Rolling Stone Magazine and other publications was renowned, so was our appetite for destruction, drugs, and hedonism.
And though these appetites knew no bounds, our pockets did. We were still professionals, however, and knew that we had to accept any assignment that came our way to fund our next altered state of being. Thus was the lot of a guerrilla gonzo journalist. Strike fast. Strike hard. Deliver the truth. Deliver that deadline. Then disappear back into the deep, dark jungles of the drugged subconscious.
And so we ended up here in rural Southern West Germany, nominally to cover some hazy, human-interest piece on an Oktoberfest-style event in a friendly, tourist trap mill town called Freundreich. I had been far too out of it to drive as I’d taken a little too much of “the glowy stuff” that Hunter had stolen from the dorm of that douche, Herbert West.
“The glowy stuff” was some kind of adrenochrome extract mixed with a bunch of other high-priced chemical special effects that stimulated “The Third Eye” of the pineal gland. It came on in waves like a cross of Mescaline and Methedrine. More than once I thought I’d turned into a goddamn reptile. I also felt we were being pursued by the giant spectral entity of some ancient, alien intent.
This bat-winged squid beast blanketed the night sky above us and followed our car, hankering to suck our souls through our assholes with its crazy, drinking straw tentacles the size of tree trunks.
“Jesus, crying in heaven, what the deuce is that thing?” Hunter spat in hushed tones.
My writing partner and long-time friend, Dr Hunter P. Lovecraft, was a man of many letters. Some of which were letters banning him from different countries and others restraining orders from political figures he had savaged . . .
Writing by himself, Hunter had penned many stories of weird fiction dealing with sleeping ancient alien entities that wanted to take over the earth from us humans, when they were awoken by their subhuman cults. In Hunter P. Lovecraft’s stories, Humanity was insignificant in the grand scheme of the universe. Sometimes Hunter got confused between these stories and reality, especially when he took a little too many drugs.
My name is Dr. Duke Raoul Gonzalez, or “Gonzo” for short, and together my friend and I had explored and wrote about our adventures and experiences within the dark heart of the American Dream. Now we were lost in the heart of a European nightmare.
Hunter too had seen the spectral, bat-winged, squid-like creature. But it may have been the influence of shared hysteria and his stories combined with the blotter acid he had not long eaten.
To his credit he got it together enough and managed to take an emergency evasive manoeuvre off-road, away from the thing. This, however, quickly became a wrong turn, through a wood that seemed to move with us on stubby legs, and then ending over a fog-covered bridge. The sign we passed said, “Willkommen Zu Insmund.”
Welcome to Insmund. Welcome to hell. No sympathy for these poor devils . . .
We had known the terror of watching Scooby-Doo on the wrong kind of mushroom and mind-set and had seen way too many Roger Corman-Vincent Price movies to not know a creepy place when we saw one. Without the full team of Fred, Daphne, and Velma, of course, we said “screw this” and backed out of town fast. Brace for the G’s of the 180 turn. Fast heel toe.
But as we reached what we thought was the entrance to town, we found the road and the bridge we came in on had gone and our red Cadillac nearly fell off the cliff. We had no choice now but to carry on as wayward sons and try to break on through to the other side of the benighted town.
Insmund seemed drained of life and color in the fog. It looked for all the world like we had walked straight into an old RKO horror movie. With our Acapulco shirts and fly hook fishing hats, we were the only brightly colored things in the place.
Our car battery breathed its last and we headed gingerly through the cloying grey mist on foot. Murphy’s Law decreed that as soon as we were on foot it would start to rain like a bastard in the town. Hunter was being a bastard too . . .
“Jesus, God man your eyes look messed up. You took too much of that goddamn stuff. It’s started to do some freaky ass crap to you . . . ”
“Wha’ I have pink eye or something? What’s wrong with my eyes, man? You’re freakin’ me the hell out, I think I’m getting the Fear . . . ” Fingers of insanity and fear clawed at me again. And I bit them off as best I could.
“You fiend, your eyes have had a divorce and went on separate vacations to the sides of your head, and your mouth has turned vertical, pull yourself together ya two-bit Yugg, you’re a man, you’re an American goddammit,” barked Hunter.
As we progressed deeper into town we heard sounds of movement amid the fog and visibility started to clear some. Soon enough we saw shambling forms lurching in the mist. We called out to them for directions but they scurried indoors and slammed them shut as we passed.
People are strange when you’re a stranger at the best of times. But these assholes were downright inhospitable. Faces appeared out of the rain at windows, staring at us with weird-shaped desolate eyes set in grey-pallored, tapered faces. We broke into a run . . . our shadows grew German expressionistic and Scooby-Doo-like in their proportions as we passed buildings whose angles were not right by any earthly standards.
Insmund had once been a beautiful and picturesque fishing town. However God had decided to turn his back and wipe his ass with this place long ago. It was now a living skidmark upon the world.
The place stank of rack’n’ruin. It stank of dead fish, seaweed, and that deep, dank, cloying, stagnant smell of an uncleaned drain that had been left for far too long. We reached what looked like a town square and saw the piss yellow glow of a neon sign amidst the purgatorial grey. A sign in the distance said, “Kieme Mensch Hotel.”
The Kieme Mensch Hotel was a rundown piece of crap flop house if ever we saw one, but seemed like as good a place as any to get directions to get out of town or, if worst came to the worst, someplace to hole up until daylight.
Things looked up as an eerie beauty on the main desk greeted us as we entered. She had that roundish Bette Davis or Carole Lombard kind of face.
She was beautiful and cherub-cheeked but haunting and austere, like her face wasn’t real but a perfect waxwork copy. Her blond hair looked like golden, crinkly seaweed framing, black, unblinking, doll-like eyes that were maybe too big for a face with a wide, thick-lipped, fixed smile spread across it.
Her figure was certainly very inviting in the tight-fitting but otherwise Amish full-length dress she wore. She didn’t seem to walk but glide behind the front desk counter. She had a key in her hand and her head was cocked congenially to the side.
“Hi there, Miss? Dr. Hunter P. Lovecraft and Dr. Duke R. Gonzalez, we need directions out of town and maybe a bed for the night. Our car battery has given out too, is there a good garage in town?”
Always been amazed how my friend Hunter can string a whole sentence like that together and appear totally straight, while being completely out of his tits. I on the other hand was experiencing myself vicariously like I was watching a nature program of myself. I was flicking my tongue like a lizard and hankering for raw man flesh. I wanted to eat a human then climb inside the abandoned skin and wear it as a leotard with mask to become man once more.
Then I got pissed I couldn’t turn the nature program over to the porn channel where the lady behind the counter was getting it on with me. Wait . . . she’s looking at me . . . Did she hear me think that? What was that sound of little children laughing? Why won’t the little bastards answer that ringing phone?
“Willkommen und guten Abend mein Herren. I am Helga. You are ze American gentlemen guests are you not? Your room has been pre-booked and paid for you. Do not worry about a zing, your car will be attended to . . . ” Her eyes were hypnotic.
Hunter and I trundled upstairs to bed like good little boys at Christmas waiting for Santa, obeying Helga’s commands. As we rounded the next flight up, a pale yellow flash split the air in front of us and we didn’t notice we were suddenly heading downstairs until we reached an open cellar door and realized it was too late to turn back as the stairs behind us had disappeared into a dark void.
Helga was there waiting in the chamber in front of us with a whole bunch of other people chanting Ia! Ia! Cthulhu Ph’tagn! over and over again. The place was underlit by the cyan glow of an underground lake. The shimmering water reflections cast huge shadows upon the back walls. She was wearing that same eerie but beatific smile and very little else apart from a golden ceremonial crown that looked like a stylised octopus. Her breasts were truly a thing of beauty but as Hunter pointed out —
“Great freakin’ tits! But where are her Southern Territories? She’s a Goddamn Calamari!”
Gone was her form-fitting dress revealing why she seemed to glide about behind the counter. From the hips down, she had no legs nor feet. She had myriad tentacles in their place instead.
This may have unhinged a normal man, who would never trust another woman in a floor-length dress again, his life ruined forever as this revelation pierced the flimsy safety bubble of his sanity and pushed him into the laughing mouth of madness. But Hunter and I were made of sterner stuff. We had surrendered our normalcy and sanity to the proper authorities long ago. We saw the tentacles as only a hiccup to our bedding the otherwise fair Helga. Now we would have to plan with military precision, and possibly with maps, how we could go about it. The naked guys that she had with her though were not invited. Already too many tentacles were there without a wienerfest being added to the mix as well.
This didn’t seem to be an issue, however, as they started to rip their ill-fitting greying skin off, including their redundant junk. What disturbed us now was this revealed the squamous second skin of the batrachian fishmen beneath. Their wide, blubbery-lipped mouths and hooked teeth were slaked by ragged, warty tongues.
They drooled uncontrollably as they eyed us for the main course. Hunter of course took the lead. Behind his tinted glasses his eyes seemed to spark in the dark with the silvery fire of righteous fury.
One giant fishman looked like it was going to set upon us, a look of mayhem in his eye. Unfazed, Hunter clenched his cigarette holder between his snarling teeth at a forty-five degree angle, like Burgess Meredith in that Batman TV show.
“Okay, you insidious fishmonger window bastards! Cease and desist all movement towards us and do not look at me in that tone of voice! — Do You Hear Me!?!”
Little green men could hear Hunter on Mars . . . His voice rose in timber to match Moses commanding back the Red Sea. For someone who hated authority, Hunter had one of the most authoritative voices I have ever heard. He missed his calling as a leader of men.
“You may well be giant Orcas . . . But I am freakin’ Ahab! Visit violence upon us and you’ll be messing with an expert in the ancient and deadly martial art of Barista!”
He took a coffee flask out his jacket, popping the top. He stressed the “Barista” in hushed mystic tones emphasizing the last “a” as “aaaaaaaa” and waved his hands in circles with the flask spilling steaming coffee and then snap-kicked his leg up to brow height athletically in a free-form kata to indicate he meant business.
I had seen the damage of this self-created martial art of “Barista” and it wasn’t pretty.
Stage 1 — Distraction. Consisted of catching someone off guard with comments or actions designed to annoy or confuse.
Stage 2 — Blind. Disable. Debilitate. Smack or splash the opponent in the face, very fast, with a preferably hot beverage like boiling black coffee or disable by other means.
Stage 3 & 4 — Bring The Pain. As the opponent is blinded and burning from the coffee assault, kick and/or punch them in the balls, stomach, and face. Hit them with any available object at hand that would inflict more damage.
Stage 5 — Bow and Retreat. Bow low. Regain your equilibrium in salute to your defeated enemy. Then exit fast. Especially if opponent is still getting back up or you hear cop sirens approach your position.
There were many variations to the art, such as using cold alcoholic drinks in bottles or drinking glasses, and every country had its own variant. It was known in Scotland as “Stitch That!” or “Fa-Kyu!”
Maybe they didn’t understand English, maybe they wanted to call Hunter’s bluff, but I think it was more that they had gotten specially “undressed” for dinner and they wanted to eat. Three of them came bounding at us and Hunter sprang into action, delivering what could only be described as athletic hyper-energized hell upon them with fists, feet, head, and coffee flask.
“Nein, Nein, Nicht jetzt ihr Idioten!” Helga reprimanded the fishmen. It wasn’t time.
Hunter had laced the coffee with premium whiskey and this burned and blinded the fishmen as much as the boiling hot beverage did. But that was only a fraction of the pain that Hunter was visiting upon them. He was as a man possessed.
He stabbed one in the eye with his cigarette holder. Breaking off another’s teeth, using them as makeshift knives. Punching with brass knuckles and kicking with his hobnail, metal toecap army boots. Headbutting and catching their flesh with the fish hooks he wore in his fishing hat. And rodeo-riding another one into a stone column knocking it out. All the while shouting out a battle cry –
“Rue the day you screwed with a Doctor of Journalism!”
During the melee, Hunter shouted out to me to make “The Call” and threw me the field radio he had in the cargo pocket of the voluminous combat jacket he wore. I swear to God that thing’s plethora of pockets were actually pocket dimensions containing anything we needed however useless it may seem on the surface. It was gifted to Hunter by the Yogi Soth Oth in India who had had it especially made for him.
“Which one of you bastards is next?” Hunter said standing triumphant with one foot on a downed enemy fishman. He relit the cigarette in his cigarette holder.
Tentacles erupted out from the water on all sides as Helga lifted a golden ceremonial sceptre above her head and said something gargly and unpronounceable. The tentacles had the horrible smoothed, ribbed feel of sea worms rather than the suckered surface of octopus tentacles. They exuded some horrific slime that started to paralyze our struggling, and as we lapsed into unconsciousness we prayed we had bought enough time for “The Call” to take effect.
When we regained consciousness, maybe an hour or two had passed. Tied up like Christmas Turkeys, ready to be carved up and sacrificed to their Pagan god. With a headful of drugs, a bellyful of booze, and a heart full of hatred now for fishmen, this was no situation to be in. I demanded to talk to the American consulate and got smacked in the face by a talking man-fish. He sounded like he was gargling something in German. I do not know what he said but I deemed it not complimentary. He had the right hook of Mohammed Ali and Hunter had left a fishing hook through its lip when he head-butted him earlier. Helga, still with her fixed smile, took on a brand new malevolence in her eyes as her eyebrows arched in insanity-laced indignation as she gloated.
“Soon our master will come from the depths and we shall all feast together on you — body, mind, and soul. Then energized by the feast we will begin copulating and our spawn shall swarm across the world and take back what is rightfully Great Cthulhu’s. You have no hope. You are out-classed. Out-manned, and how you American’s say? ‘Out-gunned.’” She grinned, her eyes going real big and totally black.
Hunter and I felt the tell-tale rumbling in our bellies before she did. Hunter distracted her with some of his grade-A goading.
“Oh yeah? Outgunned? Just like we were in World War II, huh? When are you Nazi-types going to learn? Americans are never out-gunned!!!” Hunter grinned back.
The underground chamber was shook by the power of torpedo explosions as a submarine somewhere opened fire. More explosions above us and U.S. Marines descended on drop ropes opening fire on Helga and the fishmen. “The Call” had been made to local stationed US armed forces and now they arrived and then some. But where was that patriotic armed forces tune coming from? It sounded like a full on marching band.
I looked over at Hunter for answers and his face was like a little boy at one of the best fireworks displays ever. His grin was infectious and I started to laugh my ass off. God bless this man who could turn the darkest situation into something positive. And God bless the United States of America! Wait . . . Why is everything suddenly getting really bright?
“Ja, I concur . . . Failure to act to stimuli after so long. He has lapsed into Catatonia. He is quite gone. Complete psychotic break,” a voice said from the light.
The light disappeared from my eyes and I could see it was a pocket torch held by someone who looked a lot like Helga except she had legs, wasn’t naked, and wore a doctor’s coat and spectacles. Damn, she still looked hot though . . .
“Ach Du Lieber Gott. He also has an erection,” said Dr. Helga looking away.
“I am surprised he is still capable after all the drugs he has taken over the years. But I suppose it was only a matter of time until his mind fractured under their onslaught.”
Another doctor’s voice was talking, this one an American. His voice seemed vaguely familiar. It was mid-toned, husky but warbly, and breathless. It had a strange, cold, sibilance to it. I couldn’t open my mouth to argue with them as I wore a bit and muzzle, or move as I was held down with leather restraints. Jesus Christ, I was in a mental institution. What had they done with Hunter?
“Let’s begin with some Electroshock therapy and see where we go from there.”
“Ja, I concur. We have had a quite high success rate with natural psychotic breakdowns but I have never tried the procedure on one who has taken so many drugs that he has brought one on himself. But let us try it.” Helga spoke to the voice.
“I’m glad you brought me in on this Dr. Hillfer, although it is very unorthodox. I was at Miskatonic University with him you know and we knew each other quite well.”
He was at Miskatonic with me? Who the hell could this asshole be? And what had they done with Hunter? I wasn’t insane. I wasn’t catatonic. I could think clearly. I just couldn’t speak.
They pushed me down the corridor on the gurney and as I passed a reflective surface I finally saw Hunter stare at me. Hunter was me all along. Oh my Christ no. What had I done to myself. I had gone psychotic. No wait. Scratch that. I knew only too well what I had done . . . I wanted to cry and howl. But I was a living statue, trapped in the prison of my own flesh.
“Ach dammit — it’s my beeper. Could you continue on with the patient, Dr. West?”
“Of course, Dr. Hillfer. Mr. Lovecraft is in good hands I assure you.”
Mr. Lovecraft? I’m a Doctor of Journalism dammit and demand to be called thus.
I then realized who the other voice was as I heard his name and his face came into view. Herbert goddamn West. The one person I would never want to lay a hand on me in a medical capacity or otherwise. As his pallid face and eyes watched her go, he slowly looked down on me.
“Don’t worry Hunter you’ll hardly feel a thing. I hope you don’t die during this but then since you’ve already taken some of my reagent, death may not be an issue. It will be interesting to see what happens next. But let’s give you a little booster shot shall we?” He smiled wanly, producing a small bottle of green-glowing liquid. He filled his syringe with it and buried the needle in my arm.
“Rest assured Hunter. Alive or dead you will be of immense use to me . . . ”
My mind raced out to grab the edges of conscious reality and failed as I slipped again into cold, howling darkness . . .
PAUL “DEADEYE” DICK is a one-eyed “Jack of All Trades,” an artist/writer from Fife, Scotland. His photorealistic, part-painted 2D art features on numerous Yellow Mama, A Shot of Ink, and Black Petals stories. These include his own Dick Dice hardboiled SF/Noir tales, as well as Anne Stickel’s Horror/Fantasy book Next Stop: Napper’s Holler and Cindy Rosmus’ Death Takes a Snowday. His Dick Dice Novella “Snake Eyes” — co-written by Tara Fox Hall — is available on Barnes & Noble and Amazon just now. Like a Ronin Samurai of old, Paul’s available for any paid freelance work. You can contact him at: Deadeye_Samurai@Yahoo.co.uk