/ Language: English / Genre:antique

Family Tradition

Edward Lee

Edward Lee and John Pelan have cooked up yet another tasty treat. They will whet your appetite with a delectable trip to the Pacific Northwest in search of the rare Crackjaw Eel. This romp through the woods is flavored with inbred rednecks, sauced with generous helpings of sex, and topped with an ending that’s sure to have food critics raving the world over. Only those with strong stomachs and a taste for heavy spice should attempt this meal. In FAMILY TRADITION, Lee and Pelan show that there are far more terrible things lurking in the rain forests of the Pacific Northwest than amphetamine-crazed rednecks...secrets man was not meant to sample. Indulge yourself and enjoy the sumptuous haute cuisine served up by these two masters of guerilla gastronomic outrage. Not only will you think twice before visiting the woods again, you just might never look at food in quite the same way. From the duo that brought you Goon, Shifters, and the cult favorite Splatterspunk, FAMILY TRADITION is a feast of the senses that is best devoured before it devours you. Enjoy the grub!

Family Tradition

by Edward Lee & John Pelan

Kindle Edition

Necro Publications

2011

— | — | —

Text © 2002 Edward Lee & John Pelan

Cover art © 2011 David G. Barnett

Chapter One

“Boy, are you fuckin’ them worms again?”

Startled by his brother’s voice, Esau Turvog guiltily dropped the bait can he held in one hand and the fistful of nightcrawlers he had in the other. Damn, he thought. He’d been just about to get a nut off when his brother interrupted him.

Esau’s brother Enoch stood in the shop’s doorway; his considerable bulk caused the woodplank flooring to bend. “Quit jerkin’ off with them worms, ’less of course you want to go dig some more up. The first weekend of May’s comin’ up, and we might have folks stopping by for some fishin’. We got a business to run here, ya know?”

Enoch wrinkled his nose in disgust as his younger brother stuffed his sullied cock, still slick with spit and worm slime, back into his filthy jeans. The boy was a damn fine cook, but that was about all. He just wasn’t right, Enoch knew. Never had been. Fucking sheep and cows was one thing—something all natural men partook of once in a while. But fucking worms? Somehow that just didn’t seem normal.

“Aw, Enoch,” Esau complained. “I was just about to have me a big cum.” What Esau did, by the way, was grab a big handful of worms from one of the bait cans in the fridge. Then he’d lay his dick right in that handful and start jerking. He’d squeeze the nightcrawlers so hard some of ’em would bust open as he shucked them back and forth over his tool. Them worms were full of blood, which shined up Esau’s dick nice’n pretty red. And them worms’d wriggle and squirm as he was jerkin’—felt real good. Next best thing to pussy, he thought. Er-shit. Maybe better. Sometimes, when Enoch was off to the shore for supplies, Esau would take a Q-Tip and, inch by inch, shove an entire worm down his peehole. Once he got it all the way in, he’d pinch off the end’a his dick and just let that worm wiggle around in there. It felt damn good, it did. Then he’d jerk off and release the pinch just as he was coming and pump his load out right along with the worm.

But not today. No nut today.

Esau reluctantly picked the nightcrawlers up off the floor, dropped them all back in the can, and replaced the can to the fridge.

“That’s better,” Enoch approved.

“What’cha want me to do now, Enoch?”

Enoch’s bulbous, bearded face scowled its disapproval. His great belly hung forth, stretching the front of his grimy overalls. “Boy, ain’t you got no wits at all? I do the gatherin’ and you do the cookin’. That’s the way it is’n you know that, right?”

Esau’s lower lip drooped. “Uh…yeah.”

“SO GO DO THE COOKIN’, YA IDJIT!” Enoch yelled. “Grandpa Ab ain’t got all year to wait fer your lazy ass!”

Enoch’s shout fairly kicked Esau out of the front of the bait shop. His big work-booted feet carried him off in haste, to the office and then to the stock room behind it.

Well, it wasn’t really a stock room, not by any typical definition.

Here, in other words, the stock was human.

Esau tromped fully into the room and—

««—»»

—the reeking filth-smudged man closed the door behind him. Flies circled around his bushy head; some walked on his grease-sheened face. Jewel, aka Julie C. Atkins, aka Convict Ident # W/F-4-97-98103, could only see him by looking back hard over her shoulder. Why? Because he and an equally filthy man had knocked her unconscious, and when she’d wakened, she’d found herself in this stinking room with her hands nailed to the floor.

“You’re sure a skinny one, ain’t ya?” the drawl commented behind her. Something clattered. Drawers opening, closing? “Shit, goddamn Enoch, always bossin’ me around. Well, fuck. I got time to have me some fun.” The voice got louder. “How’s that sound to you, stringbean?”

Jewel tried to speak but only the coarsest of unintelligible noises came out. Her hands burned as though pierced by white-hot pokers. If she leaned up, the pain redoubled, but it was the only way she could see. And when she could see, twisting her neck back…maybe she shouldn’t have bothered.

The man stood with his back to her, more things clattering as he stood before a filthy counter. From a drawer, he withdrew a short serrated grapefruit knife. “There it is.”

Terror sucked the breath from Jewel’s chest, then she gusted a shriek when he knelt down and hauled her up to hands and knees. Her hands felt as though a tractor had run over them, but as hard as she pulled, she could not unseat them. Rape seemed the next logical event, and she could even surmise the purpose of the short serrated knife chosen over other longer and sharper knives in the drawer. He began to cut off her sherbert-orange prison utilities. The uniform fell away in shreds, and then unbuckling sounds could be heard.

The pain and the horror nearly destroyed her capacity for coherent thought but at least this…rape…she could identify with. His cock felt oddly fat and enslimed when he kneed up closer and penetrated her. The stench of his crotch wafted beneath her, drifted into her straining face: old sweat and spoiled meat. His dick felt carbuncled as it slid to and fro, herpes blisters, with her luck, or knots of syphilis. But contracting social diseases was hardly a legitimate worry right now.

What would happen when he was finished?

Jewel was twenty-seven years old when the great state of Washington had elected to receive her as a penal resident for ninety-nine years with no possibility of parole. Christ, the baby hadn’t even died—it was only a fractured skull and accommodating temporal blot clot. Sure, he’d be totally retarded and epileptic for the rest of his life but she hadn’t killed him. And the whole kidnaping thing had been Dude’s idea anyway. Dude was Jewel’s pimp, and they were both junkies. The bag price of black tar just kept going up ($25 per quarter gram now!) and with both of them monkeying a two-gram-a-day habit, it was just too hard for poor Jewel to find twelve tricks a day every day. The city pigs were just too hot; johns were driving all the way to Tacoma now for their blow-jobs rather than risk having their names in the Seattle papers.

So. The short version? It had been Dude’s idea to snatch the baby from Redmond. That’s where all those rich Bill Gates geeks live. Ponying up a couple hundred grand to get Junior back? That was pocket change to all those rich fucks.

They’d smuggled the kid into their $32-a-night place at the Bush. Dude had gone out to look for some tricks (in truth, he sucked dick better than Jewel) and his only instruction had been that she keep the kid quiet. Fine. Jewel had been spiking for a vein in her foot when the baby started bawling like a full maternity ward; the distraction caused her to infiltrate. The vein collapsed, and the next thing she knew she had a syringe full of heroin and blood about to coagulate. Her only resort was to muscle it quickly into her arm, which cut the high in half and would cause a giant abscess. The little crumb-snatcher had fucked up her fix! So wasn’t it understandable that her momentary rage would urge her to pick the kid off the bed and toss him to the floor? It shut him up, all right. It also cracked his coconut.

The cops and FBI came along shortly thereafter. See, Dude hadn’t really gone out looking for tricks. He’d gone to the police to collect the fifty-grand reward the parents posted for the kid. He’d skated, and Jewel was in the slam for life: The Smith-Clark Correctional Center For Women. According to the rule, male detention officers were never allowed in the main block, so they’d simply transport them out for various work details when they wanted some action. All of the girls—Jewel included—were very cooperative. At least it got them off the block, and most of the DO’s would always slip them some tranks or speed in gratitude.

It wasn’t bad.

But most of the girls were short-timers compared to Jewel. Ninety-nine years? With no parole? Fuck that noise, Jewel concluded. Two DO’s had taken her and four other inmates out to 101 on a brilliant sunny Saturday. Pick Up Squad, they called it. They’d pick up trash along the road while the DO’s smoked and watched over them with shotguns. They were leg-ironed, of course, but when the DO’s got them back into the truck for some partying, they’d generally take the irons off. Jewel had been amazed at the expertise with which she’d sunk the sharpened popsicle stick into both of the DO’s necks during the second round of blow-jobs. They both fell back, blood bubbling from their holes. Five seconds later, all five girls piled out of the back of the truck, and that’s the last Jewel had seen any of them.

For a dumb junkie, at least, she was pretty smart. It wouldn’t be long before there was a state-wide dragnet out on them. And those other stupid slits? Fuck them. They’d be back in stir in less than twenty-four, singing like canaries about how Jewel did all the killing. Shit on ’em. With ninety-nine years, Jewel was not going back.

And she’d been right.

She’d run and run. Through woodlands so dense it was almost impossible to pass without a machete. And as the sun set, she found the shore.

She was standing on the shore of a sizeable lake, and in the middle of the lake—

An island, she noticed.

She grabbed a log and paddled her way across. It took over an hour, and when she got to the other side, she was nearly freezing. But this island looked like an overgrown piece of shit if there ever was one. No roads, no dwellings. It looked uninhabited, which couldn’t have thrilled Jewel more.

She slept for a while in brambles, then later, as the moon drifted high, she stomped her way for the middle of the jungle-like island. Not too long after that, however, she’d been discovered by the two huge reeking men, who seemed to be searching for worms in the moist ground.

Then…

Here Jewel was now, hands nailed to the floor and being clumsily raped from behind by the smaller and stinkier of her captors.

“Here she comes, Skinny,” the veritable ogre huffed. His dirty fingers reached under, pinching her clitoris, his fat hips pounding. “And there she goes—ooo, mama!” The cock continued to feel odd as it released its seed; the dirty hands squeezed her hips as the climax throbbed to its finish.

He popped out; Jewel felt warm sperm run down her leg, as if he’d just uncorked a bottle of it. Then the malodorous bulk behind her asked the strangest question:

“What they feed you skinny bitches up there at girlie prison?”

Jewel collapsed back to her stomach, the pain roaring at her hands. The man pinched the back of her thigh till she squealed. “Huh? What they feed ya?”

Jewel, at this lowest moment of her life, could scarcely comprehend the question.

He punched her right at the small of the back. More air sailed from her lungs. “Be that way, Skinny,” he said. Then he did something stranger than his question. He widely parted her buttocks, then sniffed. Then licked.

She could hear his lips smacking. “Hmm. Peas’n carrots? Meatloaf…with a little more meal than meat?”

Somehow, even through the shivering veil of her horror, her brain registered. He’s…right. Peas and carrots and meatloaf. That had been her last meal, the lunch she’d had in the dining hall just before she’d been taken out on Pick Up Squad.

“Fuck, skinny as you are?” the voice rumbled at her back. He got up again, went back to the counter. “What the fuck good are ya, huh? Like suckin’ a tiny piece’a meat off a toothpick. And I’ll tell ya somethin’ else. For a little bony gal, you sure got yourself one big pussy. Shit, Enoch could park his whole fuckin’ truck in that giant cooze on you.”

Jewel didn’t know what he was talking about and, by now, it clearly didn’t matter. All that mattered was that he was back at the knife drawer. He’d already cut off her clothes.

What would he cut next?

The answer was not long in wait. Another sharp crane of her neck and she saw him take a foot-and-a-half-long ham knife from the drawer.

His reeking girth sat down right on her clenched ass, and with the knife he began sloughing wide sheets of skin off her back. The agony paralyzed her; she shuddered in place, a moth pinned to a cork board at the mercy of the entomologist.

Little mercy here, though.

It was the most deft skill with which he pared all of the skin off her back—a great single sheet. Then he did the same to her buttocks, then her legs.

Jewel quivered as if in low electrocution.

“Now let’s git your tummy,” her foul butcher remarked. All the fight out of her, the man yanked the nails out of her hands and flipped her over, then expertly flensed all the skin from her lower abdomen to her collarbones off in a single sheet.

Just as she was dying on the floor, her mind detected these few final words:

“Looks like it’s shad-row and scallions in crispy sesame rolls tonight…”

— | — | —

Chapter Two

When Sheree emerged from the steaming black-marble bathroom, all she wore was a bright-berry silk charmeuse-wrap. Her long sleek legs took her out through the sumptuous bedroom and across to Ashton’s office—not that he really needed one. He was a chef.

“Ashton,” she cooed. “I’ve got something for you.”

“Huh?”

Ashton, his long hair tied back to a tail behind his head, and his bearded face ever fattening, simply stared down at his lit desk. He was looking at a small, leather-bound book.

“I’ve got something for you…”

Beside him sat a glass of Medoc. He acted as though he’d barely heard her. Whatever it was in the book seized his total attention.

Jesus, Sheree thought. Is this guy a eunuch?

Sheree had been living with Ashton Morrone for three years. He was no stud—-for sure—but at thirty-five Sheree wasn’t getting any younger. Ashton owned what was critically determined to be the best restaurant in Seattle, The Emerald Room, on the waterfront, from which he bagged a cool $250,000 per year. Another $100,000 came from his weekly cable cooking show, Cooking With Ashton, and his culinary success had allowed him to purchase this Alaska Avenue waterfront penthouse. They were nice digs, and Sheree liked nice things.

But she also liked sex on occasion, but that didn’t seem to be terribly forthcoming from Ashton. Now, a hot stiffer in her pocket… Was that too much to ask?

Ashton was Number One executive chef in the city, but he was constantly worried about Number Two catching up to him. Hence, stress.

Hence, no boner.

“The best eel in the world,” Ashton muttered, staring at the book. “That prissy son of a bitch James got twenty pounds of it from some Capitol Lake fisherman in Thurston County and served it at his own joint.” The reviews had been monumental. And Ashton, left in the dust, had been overplayed in the local cuisine scene for the first time.

To Ashton, it was the equivalent of a normal man having his balls cut right out of his scrotum.

“Fuckin’ James—mincing snob,” Ashton muttered, referring to his nemesis, one M. Gerald James, owner of the lakeside Rococo Seafood House. “That motherfucker, he have his own tv show? No! Does he get the best reviews in town and four stars in Michelin’s? No! Then the scumbag gets his hands on twenty pounds of Crackjaw Eel—by total fluke—and he’s the hottest chef in the city!”

Sheree came around and rubbed his shoulders. “Oh, honey. James can’t make hash and eggs without screwing it up. He probably molests little kids. What are you so worried about?”

“I’m worried about that fussy-faced limey cocksucker bringing down my business!” Ashton shouted from the desk. “Don’t you understand anything? How did you feel when Jenna Jameson knocked you out of the porn business? Huh?”

That again. Jesus. Yes, Sheree had worked the higher-level porn circuits in L.A. for ten years, but by the time she was “beat” she was well ready to make her exit. She wanted out—she was damn tired of five indifferent cocks a day five days a week and everyone sweating it out for the wet shot. L.A. gave her the creeps.

She was too old to keep her throne in porn but she still looked great. Last thing she wanted was to pull a Shannon McCuller and wind up doing gang-bang flicks and Rodney Moore cum-shots for a couple hundred bucks a day. Let Jenna Jameson have her reign. She’d get real tired of all those cocks up her ass just as fast as Sheree did. Good luck, blondie.

“That hag?” Sheree replied. “She can have it. I don’t want that shit anymore…. I want you.”

The comment bid a reflexive reach-around pat on her ass as Sheree continued to massage his shoulders. “Don’t you want to see what I brought you?” she asked.

He spun around in his chair.

Sheree let the silk charmeuse-wrap flow off her shoulders and down her legs, like plush shiny liquid. All that remained was her tanned, fine-lined, 36-D brick shit-house body. Nude. In his face.

Ashton winced. “Sheree!” he barked. “Don’t you understand that everything’s not about sex! My career’s going down the drain! I’ve got more important things to worry about than getting it on!”

It was everything she could do not a wrap a tourniquet around his fat neck and twist and twist and twist until his head popped off. But she had to be tactical, didn’t she? Here, she had a beautiful place to live, all the spending money she needed, her own little BMW 318, and this big fat sugar-daddy dolt. That sure as hell beat the daily colon inspections by the likes of Joey Silvera and Peter Fucking North. If she’d kept that up, by now, her anus would be bigger than her mouth, and it would be filled with just as much cum. She thought back to her very last gig; when a bulbous borsh-filled Ron Jeremy had walked in, she knew her career was over.

“I understand, baby,” she assured in a silken whisper, still rubbing his back. “I’m sorry for being so selfish. I know you have a lot on your mind.”

He errantly patted her hand, still riled up. “I gotta get that fucking eel.”

“Well, we’re going tomorrow. I’m sure you and your brother will catch so much eel, you won’t know what to do with it all.”

“You don’t understand,” Ashton said…and Sheree was getting damn sick of being told by this limp-dick fat putz that she didn’t “understand.” But she swallowed the insult as well as her pride, and then remembered that if it weren’t for Ashton she’d still be swallowing a lot of something else.

Ashton stood up from the desk, turned, and took Sheree by the shoulders. “Honey, it’s not just eel. It’s the freshwater Crackjaw eel, the most delectable and the rarest eel in the world. The A. Anguilla Mytilus. It only lives in old deep lakes with variant-low temperatures, and it only eats freshwater mussels and clams. Finding a stockpile of these things could mean an extra hundred grand per year in restaurant profits and a million a year in exports. The Japanese will buy this stuff till their eyes go round.” He sat back down, pointed to the book. “The secret is right here…”

It was a small leather-bound book printed in the late-1950's called Delectable Edibles Of The Pacific Northwest. “Only a hundred copies of this book were ever printed, and look!”

He pointed again, first to a black-and-white photograph of an eel lain out on a cutting board. It was perhaps the most hideous living creature Sheree had ever seen (Ron Jeremy being the only possible exception): the fat, long, snakelike body, with edgy fins running top and bottom. Far worse, though, was the protruded head, with big button eyes and the low-hanging vise-like jaw with which it evidently cracked open the exclusive shells of its prey.

“It’s…beautiful, isn’t it?” Ashton commented, drawing a slow finger across the surface of the old photograph. The next old photo showed a bearded fisherman grinning as he held one of the hideous things up in his arms, and the caption below the photo read: Local fisherman R. B. Brown, displays a rare Crackjaw eel that he caught on the southeast side of Sutherland Lake. Brown contends that the rather unappealing serpent is delicious and running rampant at this corner of the obscure and rarely fished Sutherland.

“See that?” Ashton hotly questioned. “‘The obscure and rarely fished Sutherland?’ Nobody ever goes to that sinkhole—it’s too cold for any decent fishing—and who’s seen this small-press book? No one!”

Sheree ran her hands down the front of Ashton’s fat-layered chest. “Well, we’re going there tomorrow, sugar. And we’re going to catch so much eel—”

“Not just any eel,” Ashton accentuated. His finger tapped the book. “The Crackjaw eel—”

“Yes, sugar, you bet.” Sheree kept running her hands up and down his body, then took a glance to see if anything was happening at his crotch.

Nada.

Eunuch. What’s a girl got to do to get some dick around here! “We’re gonna catch enough eel to fill a warehouse. Then you can just throw your head back and laugh at the mean, nasty M. Gerald James.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Ashton said in a hate-filed daze. “I’ll bury that skinny motherfucker like he never was born. Then I’ll buy him out!”

“There ya go!” Sheree squealed. She dared reach down to Ashton’s crotch. “Baby, you sure you don’t want any—”

He patted her hand. “I’m sorry, darling. I’m just too distracted right now. But I promise…we’ll have a good time once we get to the lake.”

Sheree had little else to do but accept it. “Okay, baby. I’m going to bed now.”

“I’ll be in in a while. Goodnight.”

Sheree walked off naked for the bedroom. That big bucket of lard’s more interested in eel than in me. Oh, well, at least she still had a nice luxurious life, and at least she could still masturbate.

Who knew? Maybe tonight she’d think about getting her asshole cored by Peter North…

— | — | —

Chapter Three

“The crack of dawn for the Crackjaw eel,” Ashton celebrated, rubbing his hands together in the early morning light.

“Hell,” Bob said, rubbing his hands similarly, “even if we don’t catch any, it’ll be great to just get out and see some of God’s Green Earth. The mountains, the trees, the fresh air.” Then he lit a cigarette and coughed. “Plus, I’m dying to break in my new house on wheels. What do you think?”

Ashton put a comradely arm around his brother’s shoulder, and whispered, “Don’t jive me, Bobby. What you’re really dying to break in is that new blonde of yours.”

“Shit, I did that a month ago…and she’s been walking funny ever since!”

Both men brayed laughter, eee-hawing like a couple of…jackasses. Ashton and Bob were twin brothers, forty-three years old, and both looked alike: fat. Close to three hundred pounds apiece. Trimmed beards, long hair pulled back to short stylish ponytails. The only telling them apart was the streak of gray Ashton deliberately dyed into his hair because he thought it looked “entrepreneurial.” And though Ashton was a wealthy man indeed, brother Bobby was wealthier; he was Microsoft’s executive chairman for advanced research projects, and he pulled down low seven figures per annum. Ashton made up for this inequity by reminding Bob that he, Ashton, had had sex with more women in his life. Ashton’s grand total was five, while Bob could boast a tally of four.

So here were the Morrone brothers in a rather large nutshell. Both were unsocialized, both were obese, and both carried egos larger than their belt size. Both, too, were intolerable snobs. But they were rich…so they must be doing something right.

“Yeah, she’s a beaut, all right,” Ashton commented of Bob’s brand new thirty-foot zinc-white Winnebago. The vanity license plate read #4 AT MS, while a glittery bumper sticker read THE LOVE WAGON. “You dog, you,” Ashton added, chuckling. “Hey, let me ask you something. How many times did you stick it to Sheryl last night?”

“It’s Carol,” Bob corrected, “and I gotta admit, even stud-muffins like me can’t be a machine every night. I only bagged her twice. Usually it’s three or four.”

“You dog, you!” Ashton chuckled. “My problem is I wear Sheree out on the first go-round. Gets so she just can’t come anymore.”

“Wow,” Bob said in a hush, impressed.

“Big men like us, we gotta give our bitches a break sometimes, right?”

Bob slapped Ashton on the back. “Damn straight, brother.”

“But I’ll tell ya—last night? I gave her two more pops…just because I felt like it!”

Both men brayed laughter as they meandered toward the Winnebago’s rear. There, hooked via ball hitch, was a brand-new sixteen-foot outboard SeaRay. “Hell, we’re rich men,” Bob pointed out. “We don’t rent boats to go fishing; that would be…” He flicked a pinkie. “…low class. And since I couldn’t fit my sixty-foot yacht on the trailer, I bought this.”

Ashton’s fat face beamed in glee. “This is great! We’ll be hauling those Crackjaw eels in one after another.”

“You sure this lake’s got ’em?”

“Well,,,yeah.” Ashton had previously explained not only his recent embarrassment at the hands of rival restauranteur M. Gerald James but also the overseas marketing potential. “It says so in an old book I found printed in the ’50s.”

Bob didn’t seem as convinced but why be a spoilsport? “Well, hell, even if we don’t find a treasure trove of eel waiting for us…just think of all the poontang we’re gonna have!”

A hard slap to bother Bobby’s back. “Damn straight, brother!”

“We’ll be dippin’ our willies!”

Both men brayed laughter in front of Ashton’s condo building. “Speaking of poontang,” Ashton said, looking at his Cartier diamond-studded watch, “where are the girls?”

Scuffing sounds could be heard, then, as Sheree and Carol lugged heavy suitcases down the steps at the front of the building. “Oh, that’s okay, guys,” Sheree said sarcastically. “We don’t need any help.”

“Yeah,” Carol added. “We’re not really human beings—we’re fucking forklifts!

Ashton and Bob brayed laughter. “We’ll take it from here, girls,” Bob offered. The men took the heavy suitcases and walked them the remaining three feet to the Winnebago.

Ashton winked at Sheree. “Can’t have the two hottest numbers in the city wearing their pretty little selves out, now can we?”

“We sure can’t, good brother,” Bob accentuated. “Just think of all the red-hot lovin’ they’d miss!”

The men barked more laughter. Sheree and Carol exchanged weary glances which said, This is going to be a LONG trip…

««—»»

A long trip indeed. Bob drove while Ashton sat up front next to him; the girls sat facing each other in passenger seats mounted on the vehicle’s sidewalls, their long, pretty legs crossed. Each dressed for a road trip: sneakers and tube tops, Sheree in cut-off jeans and Carol in a short denim skirt. It didn’t take long for them to both get the shared gist. Up front, Bob yakked about his grand job at Microsoft, Ashton yakked about his grand restaurant and tv show, and in between yakking, they both laughed uproariously at their own bad jokes.

“Hey,” Ashton asked. “What do you get when you fuck a bottle of Coke?”

“What?” Bob asked.

“Burpees!”

Ashton and Bob rocked laughter. Bob’s fat face jerked back to Sheree and Carol. “Get it girls? Burpees?”

“Yeah, we got it,” Carol said, and shot a quick frown to Sheree. Sheree leaned forward and mouthed Fat dicks to Carol. Carol snorted a tiny laugh herself.

Behind them the luxury Winnebago stretched deep. A full kitchen, a full bath and shower, a double bed built over the cab and another that could be pulled down in the rear. Not to mention a 200-watt Alpine stereo with a dozen satellite speakers mounted in the walls, and a 27-inch television linked to a dish on the roof. Cases of beer—snob beer: Holsten—had been brought along, and so had a full dozen bottles of Clos du Val 1990 Pinot Noir, which Ashton insisted was “pre-eminent” with freshwater fish. At the very least, Sheree could expect to get a good load on during this very peculiar outing. In the back, Bob had an auxiliary refrigerator hooked up, for all this eel they thought they were going to catch.

They’d taken the ferry from Seattle across to Bainbridge, then cruised up over the Hood Canal, and shortly thereafter found themselves on Route 101, which traced the peninsula around the Olympic Mountain Range. The scenery was beautiful. But as far as Sheree was concerned, better scenery could just as easily be found in National Geographic and it didn’t require her to spend an entire weekend with two overweight nerds. To the left, the mountains loomed, spiring high into dense clouds. To the right: the Strait of San Juan, across which they could see Canada with binoculars after Ashton’s enthused bidding. But then it occurred to Sheree that she had no real reason to want to see Canada. Big deal, she thought. A chunk of land that happens to be another country. Big deal.

The two fat men up front reveled at the rush of scenery, Ashton snapping picture after picture. Eventually, Sheree and Carol settled into their doldrums, sipping beers from foam-rubber sheaths.

“So, Carol,” Sheree asked. “What do you do?”

“I—” She paused over her beer, her breasts thrusting beneath the tight tea-rose-pink tube top. Then she shrugged. “I live off of Bob.”

“Damn straight,” Bob cackled. “Pig-shit rich and a great lay. What woman in her right mind would turn that down?”

Ashton cracked similar laughter.

“What about you?” Carol made the same query to Sheree. “What do you do?”

Ashton’s fat, bearded face shot back over his shoulder, his grin blaring.

“I live off of Ashton,” Sheree admitted. “Because he’s pig-shit rich and a great lay.”

Ashton and Bob, to no surprise, brayed laughter. Sheree and Carol rolled their eyes at each other.

More bad jokes from up front cursed the trip: “Have you heard about the teacher who was fired for being cross-eyed?” “She couldn’t control her pupils.” “What do you give sick birds?” “Tweetment.”

Sheree considered suicide as an alternative to this—Ashton, she knew, was a supreme asshole, but in league with his brother? He was ten assholes. At least the “trip” wouldn’t last forever. Eventually she’d be back at the luxury suite, driving her Bimmer, spending Ashton’s cash where and whenever she saw fit, and even copping a stray lay now and again. Sure, she cheated on Ashton; he was too busy braising rosemary racks of lamb and flambeeing Divers Scallops in Gingered Sesame Sauce to keep a total track of her. She remembered the last guy she’d picked up, at the Four Seas bar in Chinatown. Looked like fuckin’ Gary Oldman with long hair and tattoos, and a pound of potatoes in his pants. That pound turned to two or three once she’d gotten him back to the motel. It was so big even Sheree’s porn-seasoned pussy about exploded when he stuck it all in. She came once a minute for an hour, felt damn near retarded when he was finally finished. Sheree was actually blowing spit-bubbles on the last round, then he pulled out, jerked the rest of it off, and whipped her face with lash after lash of hot cum.

Few and far between, though; Sheree knew she had to be careful in such ventures. She had a lot to lose. Not just three-hundred pounds of fat jackass but the car, the joint, and the cash.

She sighed to herself, then flicked a momentary glance at Carol—long tan legs crossed in the tight denim skirt, tits bulging in the skin-sucking tube-top. Carol’s blond hair shimmered almost perfect white over the cherubic naughty-girl face; Sheree recalled the lezzy scenes she’s done with Savannah and Zoe and Rachel Ryan when she’d been a blonde, and it occurred to her just then that she wouldn’t particularly mind parking her pussy firmly over Carol’s mouth. Just a fleeting fantasy. Up front yet another bad joke resounded: “What do you call a rabbit with fleas all over him?” “What?” “Bugs Bunny!”

The men brayed laughter as Carol and Sheree winced. It was a coincidence, then, when Sheree, after another appraising look at Carol’s impeccable body, thought, I wonder if Carol cheats on Bob… Carol reached forward, tapping Sheree on the knee; she passed Sheree a quickly scrawled note, which read: I cheat on Bob any chance I get. Do you cheat on Ashton?

Sheree took the pen and piece of paper, and wrote FUCK yes!

Carol shrieked in response.

“What’s going on back here?” Ashton asked, his eternally fat face glancing back at them. “You girls having some fun without us?”

Don’t I wish, dick-wad, Sheree thought. “We were just laughing about your great jokes. Tell us another one, honey.”

Ashton grinned in sheer pride. “If you insist. What does a dog do that a man steps into?”

“What?” Carol asked.

“Pants.”

Bob brayed laughter so hard the Winnebago rocked. Carol and Sheree wanted to die.

“I know it’s funny, but don’t laugh too hard, girls,” Ashton said next. “Because, guess what? We’re here.”

««—»»

Bob had taken a narrow and poorly marked road a ways past Port Angeles—Sheree had spied a badly painted wooden sign, which read Sutherland Lake. It was only minutes later that Bob was maneuvering the girthy Winnebago and its laden trailer through heavily wooded roads that seemed more like hiking trails. Fog sifted through the trees, condensation seeping down from the mountains.

“No wonder nobody knows about this place,” Sheree commented. “Who’d drive through all this shit just to fish?”

“And that’s our good fortune, sugarplum,” Ashton replied. (Sheree’s face creased when he said sugarplum.) “The fewer people who know about this spot, the better—for us.

Carol’s mammoth breasts swayed when she leaned up between the two men and peered out the windshield. “This looks—this looks…funky,” she articulated. “Are you sure there’s a lake back here?”

“A big lake, baby,” Bob said. “Why don’t you girls stick with what you know: looking pretty. Let the men do the navigating.”

Sheree yanked Carol back by her tube top…before she could put her hands around Bob’s fat neck. Another minute, though, a crude wooden sign popped up, its enameled letters informing: GREAT FISHIN’ 1 MILE! BAIT SHOP! TAKE THE PULL-FERRY!

“See, schnookems?” Bob countered to Carol. “You saw the sign. Good fishing coming right up.”

“Yeah,” Sheree posed, running a finger across her chin. “But what’s a pull-ferry?”

“We’ll find out soon enough,” Ashton said. “I hope they’ve got a water hook-up for the Winnebago.”

“And electric,” Bob added.

Soon the giant vehicle pulled out onto a long coast road, lining the shore of a broad, spacious lake. “This is it!” Ashton whispered in a hot breath.

Bob: “Yeah, but where’s this bait shop? Where’s the trailer grounds? We need electric to keep the brew cold.”

Then another sign popped up: TRAILERS AND RV’S WELCOME. HOOK-UP CHARGE $5 A DAY. COME ACROSS TO THE SHOP TO PAY.

“What the fuck?” Sheree pondered. “Come across to what?

“They mean come across the lake,” Ashton speculated. “To the island.”

He pointed now, and they could see it: the heavily forested island tiny in the distance, like a fat, green clot floating in the lake. Abruptly, a clearing opened, with water hoses flanked next to electric hook-up. PARK HERE, a sign announced. $5 A DAY FOR ELECTRIC, $5 A DAY FOR WATER. $5 A DAY FOR PARKING. TAKE THE PULL-FERRY ACROSS TO PAY.

“Those five-dollar charges are racking up,” Carol noticed.

Ashton grinned over his shoulder. “Don’t worry, hon. Bobby and I got it covered.”

“I guess that’s the pull-ferry,” Sheree surmised. They parked near a rickety dock and crude gravel boat ramp. A red Ford Explorer sat parked further down. The “pull-ferry” was nothing more than a rowboat connected to a pulley system of thick rope which stretched all the way to the island.

A wooden sign informed: PULL-FERRY FEE $5.

Ashton chuckled to his brother. “Think we can afford it, big guy?”

Bob pulled out a choke-wad of cash. “Aw, gee, I don’t know! I guess we better go back home!”

Sheree frowned at the laughter which was now obligatory.

The Winnebago literally rocked when Ashton and Bob got out; Sheree thought of two cows being pushed off a cattle car. Her eyes, however, felt snagged to Carol’s ass as she climbed out. A big perfect swervy ass filling up that tight denim skirt. Sheeze, Sheree though through a prickly flush. Two pinpoints of heat speared her nipples. If I was a man I’d want to fuck her hard in the dirt… She got out behind Carol, cruxed by the sudden kindle of lust. Sure, in the porn business, Sheree had licked more pussies than the average kindergarten kid had licked lollipops, and so much hair pie had sat on her face she thought she was a fucking park bench. But it was all for the show, all for the camera and the billion-dollar-per-year industry of men jerking off in front on their tv sets. Personally, Sheree wasn’t into women (she was into cock). Her mind drifted back to previous Hollywood boyfriends and suddenly her birth canal grew slickened at the constant recollection of touch, handsome men slapping her down and fucking her hard. Chicks didn’t do it for her.

Her breath felt short when she glanced at Carol again. Suddenly she could think of nothing but eating Carol out and boning her with a 14-inch strap-on. And then receiving the same ministrations. Guess it’s just been too long since I’ve been laid, Sheree deduced. Fuckin’ Ashton, the fat limp-dicked pompous ass. I guess when there’s no Option Number One, Option Number Two doesn’t seem too bad.

It was just a coincidence, of course, but once Sheree’d gotten out of the Winnebago, her muse of lust lingering on Carol…

Carol turned around and smiled.

“Come on, girls!” Bob insisted. “Chop chop.” He irritatingly clapped his hands twice very loudly. “Let’s get across the lake, get our account settled.”

“Yeah,” Ashton hooked on. He, too, clapped his hands. “Plenty of daylight left.”

Sheree and Carol straggled after the two rotund twins. When the four of them stepped onto the row boat, Sheree thought it might actually submerge from the excess of weight. As Ashton and Bob turned the crank, the boat began to creep across the lake’s surface, reeling up rope as it went. It wasn’t much for speed, but Sheree had to admit: the scenery was unbelievable. The lake water was clear and shimmering as Waterford Crystal, and the upcoming island seemed to glow in a variety of fresh, fecund greenery. But they had traversed a third of the way across the lake before—

“Whew!” Bob remarked.

Ashton drew a fat forearm across his brow. “Damn!

Then they both sat down on the boat’s forward seat.

“Sorry, girls,” Bob explained, huffing and puffing and lighting a cigarette. “We’re tuckered out.”

“Yeah,” Ashton followed. He lit a La Corona Whiff petite cigar. “We’re old men compared to you two young racehorses. Hope you don’t mind taking a turn on the crank.”

Oh for God’s sake! Sheree yelled in her mind.

“No biggie, boys,” Carol said, shooting Sheree a knowing grin. “Sheree and I would love to.”

“Besides,” Bob added with a chuckle. “You don’t want us wearing ourselves out, do you?”

“Yeah,” Ashton added. “Then we’d be no good for tonight.”

You’re no good for anything ANY night! Sheree thought.

The two women stood up, got on either side of the handles. They began to crank. But Carol’s frequent grins proved she was going along with the joke. The grin seemed to say This is the price we pay for living with a pair of fat stooges.

Now that Sheree and Carol were on the crank, the boat began to make some headway, in spite of her conclusion that this “pull-ferry” was about six hundred pounds heavier than it should be. Every time Carol rowed down to display her immaculate cleavage, Sheree squeezed her lip between her teeth. Christ, I’m soaking…

The brothers smoked and swapped more bad jokes as Sheree and Carol cranked for all they were worth. The smoke from Ashton’s cigar kept sweeping Sheree’s face, such that she could see herself slapping it right out of her loving boyfriend’s fat mug. She was glazed in sweat by the time they’d cranked to little boat to the ramp on the other side.

“Good job, girls,” Bob complimented, flicking his cigarette butt over the side.

“Yeah,” Ashton said. “You both get an A…for Attractive!

And you get an F, Sheree thought. For FAT.

The boat raised a good six inches when Bob and Ashton stepped off. Carol stepped off next, and grabbed Sheree’s arm to help her off.

“Oh, gross,” Sheree remarked instantly. “Sorry I’m so sweaty.”

“I am too, so don’t worry about it,” Carol assured. Then she leaned to Sheree’s ear and whispered, “Besides, I’d love to lick it all off.”

— | — | —

Chapter Four

“’Fraid you’re right, Esau. This one ain’t worth a ’skeeter off a dead skunk’s ass.” Enoch cast an eye at the skinned girl. She looked like bone scraps, little more.

“Bet she don’t weigh more’n wad of my hock.”

“Bet she don’t.”

Of the two huge men, Enoch was more huge, three inches taller than Esau’s six-foot four, and twenty more pounds than his three hundred. Both had beards they hadn’t trimmed in years, long bushy hair, overalls and workboots. Tried and true rednecks, Northwest style. Esau had dragged the girl’s skinless corpse here to what he and his older brother simply referred to as the “tarp.” It was actually an odd, large gully that existed toward the center of the island, about twenty feet wide, fifty long, and God knew how deep. An ideal place in which to discard scraps like this fairly useless thing from the girlie prison. Several days of hard work had been required to effectively cover the gully; Enoch and Esau had felled a dozen trees over it, providing a sufficient framework over which they had unrolled great sheets of olive-drab tarp. Over that, they’d piled enough branches and leaves that the gully was perfectly camouflaged. It was a minor concern but a concern nonetheless. Not too many folks ventured out to Hartsene Island but on the rare occasions when they did, Enoch didn’t need them to be finding out what they’d been doing out here all these years. Their needs had turned the gully into a giant belly full of bones and human gruel; no doubt hundreds of bodies had been dumped beneath the tarp.

Esau threw back the end piece of tarp—the corpse-pit’s door. “’Bout the only good thing was her skin.” He grabbed the corpse’s stiff feet, dragged it over to the dump-hole. “A skinny gal’s skin is tighter, fries up better, ya know?”

“If you say so,” Enoch replied. “You do the cookin’, I’ll do the procurin’.”

After claiming the girl’s skin for a delectable pile of roe-filed crispy spring rolls, Esau had also trimmed all of the flesh from her face (for headcheese), which left a curious sight: drab lanky mouse-brown hair framing a raw skull traced with tendons. “In ya go, Skinny,” Esau said, and kicked the twiglike body into the hole. He could hear it tumble down to the bottom.

“D’ja fuck her?” Enoch asked.

“Yeah, but it weren’t a good nut,” Esau recalled in disappointment. “Big pussy on her fer such a little thing. I’d rather jerk off with the worms any day.”

“I done told ya ’bout that,” Enoch said in a warning voice. “You leave them worms alone—we need ’em for bait to sell.”

“Aw, Enoch,” ain’t but a half-dozen fishermen came out here last summer. We ain’t gonna make no money.”

“Shut yer booger-hole, boy. They’ll be comin’, just you watch. Bet we make a hunnert dollars at least this season. And that’s a hunnert less that I gotta pinch. Most’a these whores’n hitchhikers I pick up, they ain’t got dick in their wallets. Gettin’ viddles ain’t the problem—it’s gettin’ cash. We got expenses here, like yer blammed satellite dish and yer fancy cookin’ gear’n shit and the danged lecktrick bill. Plus I needs ta put gas in the damn trucks. I cain’t very well pay fer gas with a pot’a yer damn fish stew.”

Esau winced. It’s not fish stew, it’s called booly-base! Damn it!”

“What the fuck ever, boy.”

All Esau did was cook; it was Enoch who served as the supplier. This required frequent drives out to Route 101, to pick up whores at night, and hitchhikers, and bring ’em back ta meet Esau. Whenever he needed a new vehicle, he simply car-jacked one, then painted it a different color, and brought the previous owner or owners back to the island. In fact, about the only real pleasure in Enoch’s life—save for humpin’ what he brought back—was picking out new vehicles whenever he fancied. Right now he had the Nissan Pathfinder island-side and the brand-new Ford Explorer on the other side of the lake. A man had to have somethin’, didn’t he? Esau had his cookin’, Enoch had his trucks. Enoch always made sure to pluck a nice shiny new one with a nice cassette stereo, so’s he could listen to nice music on the long drives back and forth, music like Handsome Dick Manitoba and the Dictators, the Freddie Blassie’s “Pencil-Necked Geek” album, and WCW’s Greatest Hits.

“Pull that there tarp back over the hole, boy. We best be on our way.”

Esau obeyed, unflinching at the waft of corpse-gas when he replaced the flap. He scratched his crotch with one hand, his ass-crack with the other, then loped after Enoch to the Nissan. They drove deeper into the island, toward still more things they had to hide. Just as the gully was camouflaged, so were the sheds, each of which existed for different reasons. The smoke-house, the curing house, the place where they did their marinates. “We still got them two curin’,” Enoch reminded. “Figger we better check on ’em.” What he referred to was the pair of young men he’d picked up on 101, hitching to the point where they said they had relatives. Spunky fellas, they was. Matt’n Mike they said their names was. They fought like reg-ler buggers when Enoch took ’em down with his slapjack. One fella was shaved-headed, with tattoos, and a devil-looking goattee, the other looked like a college boy in a Yankees hat. Enoch had cracked both their noggins with the jack, then cut off their peckers and chewed ’em as jerky on the ride back.

Fresh-cut dick was always a good chew.

Now them two boys was split’n hangin’ in the curin’ house. Esau was cold-smokin’ ’em, he was; the house was filled with fragrant leaves and herbs as they rotted. It was necessary to come out here twice a day ta drain ’em which was fairly simple. Just run a sharp knife down their legs’n let ’em drip.

“How they look?” Enoch asked when Esau come out.

“They’se gettin’ there. Few more days, I’d say.”

All the “houses,” by the way, were as effectively covered with branches’n leaves as the tarp-hole. Damn near impossible to see unless you was lookin’ for ’em. Two of ’em had chimneys: the smoke house’n the hot house. They hung ribs and sausage in the smoke house, and cooked the drums in the hot house. All the pine’n ash out here in the woods made fer great cookin’ fuel. The chimneys puffed away their soot-black smoke into the high trees. Good viddles in there, fer sure!

The fourth shack was were Esau did his marinatin’. One fella Enoch had picked up near Dungeness ’bout three weeks back, he was still alive on account of how regularly Esau fed’n watered him. Several times a year, Esau liked ta corn-feed one, so what they did was they tied a guy up tight in strapping twine, put him in an old canoe, then nail sheets of roofing tin over the canoe. The fella’s head would stick out through a hole at the top, which allowed Esau to pump corn mash down his throat with a bellows. It made the liver real big’n sweet, whiles the rest of him would marinate in his own corny shit’n piss.

The lone head sticking out from the canoe pleaded, “Please! Let me go! Why are you doing this?”

“Quit’cher yammerin’,” Esau said. “It’s feedin’ time.” He filled the bellows from the big can of corn mash, then stuck the nozzle down the kid’s throat and squeezed. The bellows promptly displaced its contents into the kid’s gut. “That should hold ya fer a while, huh?”

When Esau pulled out the bellows, the kid coughed, his eyes bloodshot and nose runny, like he had a cold.

“Damn! Ain’t that some luck!”

“What’s that?” Enoch asked.

Another cough ruffed up.

“He’s done caught hisself a cold!” Esau celebrated. From a big pocket in his overalls, he withdrew a small Tupperware container. “My spinach salad! Grandpa Ab loves it!”

Esau looked at the head sticking out of the hole. He grabbed its throat. “Blow yer nose. Ya hear me?” he ordered. “If ya don’t, I’ll shove yer head down into that boat so’s you’ll drown in your own shit. Ya hear me?”

Desperately, the head nodded. Esau clamped his mouth over the boy’s nose; the boy began blowing.

The boy blew his nose heartily into Esau’s mouth. Long and hard and noisily. At the task’s end, Esau pulled his mouth off the victim’s nose, cheeks stuffed. He spat the lumpy snot into the Tupperware container and sealed it shut.

Esau smacked his lips, pointed to the boy’s wet nose. “You want a hit off this? It’s damn good, fer sure. Nice’n meaty.”

“What’cha gonna do with that bowl’a snot?” Enoch asked.

“I done told ya. My spinach salad. We ain’t got no Feta cheese—snot’s better, anyway.”

“Oh…yeah.”

“Go on. Take a hit.”

Enoch leaned over, covered the boy’s nose with his mouth, into which more bronchital mucus was expelled.

Enoch sucked and swallowed, nodding. “You’re right. That was damn tasty.”

“Told ya,” Esau said with a wink.

««—»»

WELCOME TO HARSTENE ISLAND AND THE BEAUTIFUL TOWN OF HOTH’S LANDING! a wooden sign announced.

“Here we are,” Ashton stated the obvious.

Sheree had never heard of Hartsene Island or Hoth’s Landing. A mud trail led up from the boat ramp to a series of buildings—shacks, really—whose wood-slat walls had long turned gray when the paint had bubbled off.

Higher in the trees, another wooden sign read:

HOTH’S LANDING

POPULATION: 2

“Two?” Carol cited. “There’s only two people on this island?”

“Seems so,” Bob answered, and patted her ass. “What do we care? The fewer people, the better.”

“Yeah,” Ashton agreed. Streaks of sweat trailed down his beige silk shirt from the underarms. “This is perfect. No one else out here fishing? We’re probably the first people here this season. More Crackjaw eel for us.”

You and your fucking Crackjaw eel, Sheree thought in loath. She looked in utter distaste as Ashton’s love-handles rode up and down under the sides of his expensive shirt. The back of his black Armani slacks were riding up his giant ass-crack.

Why don’t you do me a big favor? Have a heart attack.

Yet another wooden sign, over the first dilapidated shack, read BAIT SHOP. COME ON IN!

“Look, there’s another truck,” Carol observed. Parked next to the bait shop was a red Nissan four-by-four, the same odd red as the Ford truck they’d seen on the other side of the lake. Carol peered, as if trying to read small letters. “Isn’t there something…weird about the paint on that truck?”

Bob pinched her ass. “Forget about the truck, sweetcakes. We’re here to—”

“PAAAAAR-TEE!” Ashton shouted. “We’re gonna drink our asses off, get in ON, and catch all KINDS of Crackjaw eel! Anyone care to second the motion?”

“PAAAAAR-TEE!” Bob yelled.

Sheree and Carol traded wearied looks.

Several other buildings—similar shacks—descended into the woods behind the bait shop. Sheree briefly spied a television satellite dish on the back incline of the roof, and a rutted trail leading into the forest. Movement flicked high in the trees; Sheree was almost startled.

A Spotted Owl peered down at her with liquid-crystal eyes.

As the group approached the shop, Bob took note of a red Nissan blazer parked before a well-pump. “What’s this…”

“Huh?” Ashton said.

Bob was peering at the vehicle’s hood. “That’s weird.”

“Huh?” Ashton repeated.

Bob scratched his bearded chin. “This is a brand-new Pathfinder. I bought one a few months ago. But…look at the paint.”

Ashton gave the vehicle a glance. Wide brush-strokes could clearly be detected in the pale-red paint. “Pretty lousy paint job for a brand-new truck.”

“It looks like housepaint,” Bob accentuated.

“Uh-oh!” Ashton exclaimed. “Better get Mako!” He patted his brother on the back. “You’re right, Bobby, the paint on the Nissan’s fucked up. But you know what? Who CARES? It’s time for us to—”

“PAAAR-TEE!” Bob rejoined, raising a fist into the air. Then they both brayed laughter.

“Can you believe this pair of dolts?” Carol whispered to Sheree.

“They’re like that mint commercial,” Sheree whispered. “Two, two, two fat dicks in one.”

They followed Bob and Ashton into the bait shop. “Nice place,” Carol joked. “Just like the Club Med at St. Bart’s.”

Sheree’s nose crinkled at trace odors. “Smells like a meat market in Chinatown.”

“Come on, girls,” Ashton interjected on their sarcasm. “We’re out in the boondocks now. It’s a different life out here.”

Yeah, and a stinkier one, Sheree thought.

“In these parts, men live off the land. No luxuries, no frills.”

Right, Tubby. No frills…just satellite tv.

The bait shop looked like Jed Clampett’s shack in the leader for The Beverly Hillbillies. Bare, stained wood floors and walls, a couple of hand-made chairs, a throw rug that looked rotten. A pair of ancient white-enamel refrigerators occupied one side of the room, the other a long plywood counter and manual cash register that must’ve been fifty years old. A small display of lead weights, spools of trilene fishing line, and rigs and hooks hung off another wall. Magic-Markered signs tacked behind the counter informed: SLUGS, BLOOD WORMS, NIGHTCRAWLERS: ONLY A BUCK A PIECE!

“A dollar for a worm? Carol complained in spite of her complete disinterest.

Bob winked. “Out here’s what we call an isolated market.” Then he whipped out his wad of cash. “But don’t worry, Snuggles. We got it covered.”

“Hey!” Ashton bellowed. “How about some service! You got customers out here!”

Dust shook from the bait shop’s walls at the shout. But then further dust seemed to sift out at a series of slow, heavy thuds. Sheree’s heart jigged when a shadow spilled across the floor—a big shadow. And with the shadow came a…smell.

From an adjoining room, out stepped a massive figure in grimy overalls and giant workboots. Between the full, chest-level beard and the explosion of fuzzed hair, the only actual skin that could be observed were the areas just under the eyes and a frighteningly broad forehead.

But worse than the smell of the man, and his appearance, was the fact that, in one hand, he held a knife.

Sheree, Carol, Ashton, and Bob just stared, unblinking.

Then the overalled man, in a weirdly keening voice, pointed the knife right at Ashton and said, “I know you…”

««—»»

When he awoke, Darren felt as though he lay in a puddle of living muck. Each blink of his eyes brought the recollection back closer. How long he’d been here he couldn’t remember. He knew that he hadn’t been a particularly good person in his life, but he supposed he hadn’t been that bad, either.

Or maybe he was wrong about that last part.

Maybe he’d died, and if so, what other place could this be but hell?

Flowing streams of something like a dream unreeled in his head. He saw himself walking down a highway at night. It was teeming rain, and his car had apparently blown a head gasket. Bright light flashed in his eyes as he trod backward in the sheets of rain with his thumb out.

A red blazer-type truck stopped and picked him up. Thank God! Darren thought. But this exclamation of gratitude was a bit premature. It was a big bulky hairy Northwest redneck who’d picked him up. “Where ya headed, son?” he asked in a soft, kindly voice.

“Port Angeles,” Darren said.

“Aw, well, see, that’s not exactly the same place I’m headed,” the man said.

“Oh?” Darren said. “Well, it’s just a few more miles down 101.”

“Yeah, but, see, we ain’t goin’ there,” he was told. “See, where I’m headed is right down the Hershey Highway,” and that was all that remained of the friendly discourse. A hand the size of a dinner plate choked Darren into prompt unconsciousness. When he came to sometime later, he lay nude and belly-down in the back of the truck and felt as though several pallets of mason blocks sat on his back and legs. The truck wasn’t moving anymore. There was only darkness around him, but he could hear the rain ticking on the truck’s roof and the windshield wipers thunking back and forth.

With each thunk one way, something that felt like several gourds sunk deep into his rectum, and with each thunk back, the gourds pulled out.

“I ain’t much for cunt, fella,” the hot voice grated behind him. “It smells kind’a pissy, ya know? I’d rather have shit on my dick after I come than a bunch’a pissy-smelling cunt juice. When yer done fuckin’ a gal, yer dick looks like it’s got shellac or somethin’ on it, ya know?”

Actually Darren didn’t know. At nineteen, he was a virgin and he never would have guessed that his first sexual experience would be…this.

“But boy-cunt?” the voice continued. “I’ll take it any day. Shit wipes off. But that pissy pussy stink? Haunts ya fer days.”

Each further plunge into Darren’s excretory orifice seemed to squeeze out more of his consciousness. Just as his aggressor was ejaculating into his bowel, Darren passed out again…

…and woke up with his head sticking out of…a canoe.

A canoe covered with sheets of tin. When Darren moved, he felt his body slog in warm sludge which could only be his own excrement. Twine lashed his ankles to a mooring slug while his hands had been tied tightly to the canoe’s seat props. Vague snatches of memory whispered to him like tiny devils, and he remembered some looming, reeking figure sticking a nozzle of some sort into his mouth and pumping warm mush into his stomach. The mush tasted kind of like creamed corn.

I’m tied up in a canoe full of my own shit, the repellent reality came to him, and some redneck’s been pumping mush into my stomach.

All he could think, rather reasonably, was: Why?

And to make matters worse—if they could be worse—Darren was catching a cold, a fact his abductors seemed to revel in when they forced him to blow his nose into their mouths.

Again: Why?

No answer was forthcoming.

Darren could feel worms squirming within the bubble bath of diarrhea in which he lay, and some of the worms, he could feel, were wriggling up into his anus and down his urethra. Little Shit Bugs were crawling all over him.

Darren had always been an inquisitive, calculating person. And even in this fairly hopeless circumstance, his mind, however sluggish now, tried to comprehend these simple if not obvious questions: Why would men force him to blow his nose into their mouths?

Why would men cocoon him in a canoe?

Why would men pump creamed corn into his stomach with a fireplace bellows?

There was one question, though, that would regrettably not occur to him, a far more important question. The question was this:

How long can a human being live, or even stay sane, when trapped for weeks in a canoe full of his own slowly rising waste?

««—»»

“Yeah, yeah, I know you!” the mammoth knife-wielding redneck exclaimed. The knife—a big knife—remained pointed at Ashton’s rapidly paling face.

Bob held his hands up, stammering, “Luh-luh-look, sir. We-we-we’ll give you money, luh-luh-lots of it. Please, just duh-duh-don’t hurt—”

Before Bob could finish pleading for their lives (and pissing his slacks), the rube put the knife down and clapped his hands together so loud, one might think he’d just won the Lotto. His matty beard bloomed into a grin of elation. “You’re Ashton Moronne, ain’t ya?”

“Well, yes, but—” Ashton’s face fell open. “Have we met?

The rube belted a laugh. “Shee-it no, Mr. Morrone! Yeah, like someone like me livin’ on a dang island has met a FAMOUS TV STAR!”

Ashton’s brain started up when he realized he wasn’t going to be murdered. “You mean…you’ve seen my show?”

“Shee-it! Seen it? I’se worship it!” A fat, begrimed hand stuck out, which Ashton shook with some reluctance, then the slovenly redneck continued, “I’m Esau, sir. I’se live out here on the island with my brother Enoch. We run this here bait shop. But I got me a hobby, see? And—and, aw, shee-it, lemme show ya!”

At once, Ashton was being pulled into the next room. Sheree, Bob, and Carol, all looking widely at one another, followed them in. The bait shop’s fetor quickly changed over to luscious aromas. What they’d walked into was a small but complete kitchen. And on the walls hung—

You’ve gotta be shitting me, Sheree thought.

—four different posters of Ashton, from his show Cooking With Ashton. Over the range sat a row of Cooking With Ashton mugs, and above that hung a Cooking With Ashton calender. And from a peg on a closet door depended a Cooking With Ashton apron. Even more astoundingly, a small color television in the corner flickered with Ashton’s fat face—ANever simmer the shallots, sweat them, otherwise they’ll lose their sweetness by the time you add the langoste tails”—which seemed to be from the available set of Cooking With Ashton videos.

Ashton stood impermeably stunned.

Giddily as if meeting Brad Pitt, this filth-flecked Esau character huffed to show more of his devotion. “See, see, Mr. Morrone? I even got the mitt!” and then he donned the official Cooking With Ashton stove mitt.

You’ve gotta be shitting me, Sheree thought again.

“My…goodness,” Ashton remarked. “I’m flattered.”

“Shee-it, Mr. Morrone, I live to watch yer show. See, we got one’a them fancified dish-things in back, gets all the cable shows, and my brother Enoch, he didn’t bitch much ’cos he likes ta watch WCW rasslin’,—Sting and all that Goldberg nonsense—but most other times he’ll bitch like a housewife ’bout spendin’ money on account’a we don’t make much, but anyway, I watch all the cookin’ shows—Great Chefs of the World, Epicurious, Carlo’s Creations, Kinion’s Seafood Wonder Kitchen—and none of ’em ain’t dog-doo compared to yer’s, sir.” The rotund and quite malodorous redneck rambled on, visibly shaking with nervousness. “Ya see, sir, I’m a chef too, just like you—er, well, not like you, on account you’re the finest chef in the whole dang world.”

Ashton flashed his big white teeth. “Well, maybe not the finest in the world. I think maybe Wolfgang Kissler and Andrew Puck might have half a leg up on me,” he admitted with a chuckle.

Esau wouldn’t hear of it. “Those dang idjits? Shee-it, they cain’t flip burgers! They don’t know the difference ’tween julienne leeks and Julie Strain. I could kick both their asses with one hand and whip up an plate’a mocha tartufo with the other!”

Ashton went red in the face honking laughter. Eventually he introduced everyone else and explained that they’d come to fish.

“You want good fishin’, Mr. Morrone,” Esau guaranteed, “well Harstene Lake’s got it. We got shad, we got walleye, we got bull trout, brown trout, and blue trout. We got the bridgelip sucker and the greengill sunfish. Shee-it, Mr. Morrone, we got it all!”

“Well…Esau,” Ashton attempted to pronounce. “That sounds terrific. We’ve got our Winnebago and boat on the other side of the lake, so—”

Ashton’s words stopped short like a cartoon character screeching on brakes. His big nostrils opened when he sniffed. “What’s that you’re cooking? It smells great.”

“Aw, just some mushrooms for a quick duck-savior flan. It’s for my Grandpa. He loves it.” Esau extended his dirty hand toward the butcher block table where a small pile of black shriveled things lay.

Ashton’s eyes narrowed in his bulging face. “Mushrooms? Those look like…Perigord truffles.”

“Yeah,” Esau casually confirmed. “They grow all over the island, big as coffee saucers. But if ya ask me, sir, the Gleba truffle is much better than the Perigord. Same flavor but no sting on the palette.”

“What the fuck are they talking about?” Carol whispered to Sheree.

“Tree fungus,” Sheree informed. “Tastes just like mushrooms from the grocery store but the stuff they’re talking about costs hundreds or dollars per pound, wholesale.”

Carol’s nose skrinshed. “It looks like a pile of shit.”

But Ashton was staring at the indecorous rube, floored by his knowledge.

“I agree,” he admitted. “But I hope you’re sweating them in—”

Esau smiled proud. “Cottonseed oil, never olive.”

Ashton and the rube continued their banter while Bob smoked cigarettes. “We’re gonna take a walk,” Carol announced to no response, then grabbed Sheree’s bare upper arm and guided her out.

“Can you believe that geek bullshit?” Carol said once they were back outside. “They’re in there talking about tree fungus the way most men talk about football and Playboy.

Sheree lifted a nonchalant shoulder. “That shows you where Ashton’s mind is at. All the fat fuck gives a shit about is food.”

“And all Bob cares about is money.”

Sheree snorted a laugh. “Well, I hope Bob gives you more action than Ashton gives me.”

“Don’t make me laugh!” Carol nearly squealed.

For some reason, Sheree felt inclined to confide. “Think you can guess the last time Ashton actually fucked me?”

“I don’t know. A couple weeks?”

“Try eight months. Usually he just asks for blowjobs—”

“Says he’s too tired or stressed out to fuck, right?”

Sheree looked at her friend. “Yeah. How did you know th—”

“Look, look!” Carol suddenly squealed, pointing down over a wooden ramp rail on the side of the bait shop. “See it?”

“What?” Sheree asked.

“Right there! It’s a widget!”

“A…what?

“A widget! Right there! Lean over the rail! It’s right there!”

Flummoxed, Sheree leaned over the wooden rail, peeling her eyes.

“I don’t see anything,” she admitted.

But by then it was to late. Sheree had fallen for it. When she’d leaned over the rail to see the “widget,” Carol pressed her open hand firmly up against Sheree’s crotch, then gave a few slow rubs.

Sheree froze, as much from the shock as from the sudden spark of pleasure. But then she stood back up and looked right at Carol.

“Fooled ya.” Carol shot a vulpine grin. “I just didn’t want you to forget…”

Carol pressed her lips to Sheree’s, drew her tongue out and sucked it. At the same time, a slim hand slid up under Sheree’s haltertop, squeezed a tit like testing a melon for ripeness. Next, her nipple was pinched. Hard.

Sheree gasped.

Carol gave Sheree’s tongue one last firm suck, then their lips parted. “Tonight I’m gonna suck your pussy,” Carol said. “If you’re game.”

Sheree could only look back into Carol’s light-emerald eyes. Her sex twitched at the mere words. “I’ll think I’ll be game and then some,” she promised.

— | — | —

Chapter Five

“Are we still going to do it?”

“Yes.”

“Aren’t you…scared?”

“No.”

“Really?”

“We’re going to do it!” Bess shouted, pumping the oars of the small blow-up raft. Bess sat astern, which might explain why the raft’s bow lifted several inches out of the water.

With my luck, the damn thing’ll sink!

Bess—chestnut hair and beautiful autumn-leaf eyes—weighed 240 pounds. At five-foot one, that was a lot of gal. Her friend—her only friend—Mavis, sat aloft at the puny raft’s bow. Mavis had chestnut hair too, and eyes more caramel-brown than autumn leaf. At 85 pounds, she looked like a skin-covered skeleton in baggy shorts and X-Files t-shirt. Just before Bess had picked her up, she’d posted her suicide note on David Duchovny’s message board. He was just…so dreamy.

“We’re both outcasts!” Bess shrieked in reminder. “We’re both misfits! Nobody at school likes us! I’m fat, you’re skinny! We’re never going to have dates! And we agreed! We’re going to kill ourselves.” Her eyes inadvertently glanced at the Remington pump shotgun on the raft’s vinyl floorboards amid several empty packages of Suzy-Q’s and pork rinds. She’d stolen the shotgun from her father, who was always saying to her at breakfast: “I guess the diet starts tomorrow, huh, honey?” Fuck you, she thought. The shotgun, she knew, housed five rounds. The first she’d discharged into Dear Old Dad’s face right over his plate of syrup-and-butter-drenched Eggo waffles and two glistening breakfast links.

“Enjoy your breakfast, prick!” then WHAM! The Remington 16-gauge round had turned her father’s face into a splat of meat balls and sauce. His brains flew out the back of his head and hung on the wall in curiously colored lumps, and even more spectacular was the way his toupee popped off his head. She’d dug Dad’s keys out of his pants and driven the Caddy straight to Mavis’, but not before snitching those two hot, greasy Jimmy Dean links off Dad’s plate.

Bess and Mavis were best friends. They both hated themselves and hated everyone else who happened to inhabit the earth. Seventeen, juniors at Anthony Eden High in Port Angeles, and virgins—neither of them had been on a date, neither of them attended the junior prom, and neither of them had ever kissed a boy.

Never even close.

Together, they were the Freak Show of Anthony Eden. They were the Girl Nerds. They were the female dorks with whom not even the horniest boy in school would copulate with even if he were drunker than William Holden on a typical day of filming. Bess and Mavis were anathema.

Though they both would’ve loved to kill everyone in school, like those two dweebs in Colorado, Bess deemed it would be too much trouble. Too messy, and too logistically complicated. And what they hated more than everyone who’d ever teased them and tormented them and laughed at them, they simply hated life.

So today, they decided, they would end it.

Bess rowed onward, toward the middle of the lake. Yes, it was best to just kill themselves and get the shit over with.

“fter emptying her fathers’ cranial vault, Bess had had the presence of mind to similarly empty his wallet. Several hundred bucks in cash, not that they’d need much of it. She’d filled the car, bought the raft, and proceeded to the lake.

She could see no other destiny for either of them.

“It’s time,” she said.

Mavis’ skinny face seemed to narrow. “Can’t we…wait a little while?”

“Why?” Bess snapped back. “The world sucks, people suck, our lives suck. I’m ready now.”

“But-but…” Mavis chewed a finger. “Let’s go back home. We can kill ourselves next week.”

Bess looked angrily astonished. “Mavis, are you stupid? We can’t go back home! Hello! I blew my father’s brains out this morning!”

“Well, I-I… I’ve changed my mind!” Mavis admitted, now close to tears. “I don’t want to do it! I still have things to live for.”

Bess’ gargantuan breasts jiggled when she blurted out a laugh. “Like what?”

“Well… The season-finale of The X-Files.

Bess scoffed. “That show’s sucked shit since the third season!”

“It has not!” Mavis defended. “And David Duchovny just keeps getting better and better!”

Bess blurted another laugh so hard the raft bobbed. “That piece of wood couldn’t act his way out of a paperbag, and his name is mud in Hollywood!”

“It is not!”

“Don’t be a ding-dong. When that show goes off the air, he’ll never get work again. Ever since he forced the producers to move the show to L.A., he’s number-one on the black list. When that show’s gone, he won’t be able to get a job at a car wash.”

“Shut up!” Mavis shrieked.

“We agreed! We’re gonna DO it! We’re gonna shoot ourselves in the heads. Our bodies’ll fall out of the raft, and we’ll never be found.”

“But I want to go home!” Mavis bawled.

Exasperated, Bess threw the oars into the water.

“Nooo!” Mavis wailed.

“There! Now you can’t go home. ’Cos you can’t swim, you anorexic little nerd!”

“Better than a big fat BLIMP nerd like you! The back of your neck looks like a pack of hot dogs!”

Bess’ eyes bulged in outrage. “At least I’ve got tits! You look like a boy!”

“And you look like Jabba the Hut!”

Soon the two best friends were scuffling, slapping at one another and pulling each other’s hair. Several times the raft nearly capsized but before that could happen—

ker-SPLASH!

Both girls fell out of the raft.

“I can’t swim! I can’t swim!” Mavis shouted.

Thing was, neither could Bess. But even in her thrashing terror, she found solace in the back of her mind. It was her destiny to come out here to die, and die she would, just under slightly different circumstances.

At least that’s what she thought.

Just as she would begin inhaling water, a giant hand grabbed her hair, pulled her up, and began dragging her to the island.

««—»»

“Well I shore don’t know where my brother Enoch is,” Esau announced, “but you’ll get to meet him soon enough. How long will you’n yer friends be stayin’ at the lake, Mr. Morrone?”

They were back out in the stinky bait shop. “Oh, I don’t know,” Ashton said.

“Couple days, at least,” Bob offered.

“Well that’s just great, Mr. Morrone,” Esau said. “The longer the better. Anything in particular you’re fishin’ for?”

“Uh…”

“The trout’s bitin’ now. That’d be the north end of the lake, on the other side’a the island. East side, you got yer carp and yer pike. And yer catfish you’ll find on the west.”

Aston whipped out his billfold. “Sounds, great, Esau. Now, we owe you for the pull-ferry, parking, electric and water, plus we’ll need some bait. So what’s all that come to?”

“Uh-uh—” Esau scratched his nose. “Usually it’s my brother Enoch who does the calculatin’. Uh—”

Ashton snapped out a crisp hundred-dollar bill. “This should cover it for today, shouldn’t it? You can keep the change.”

Esau audibly gulped. “Why, that’s a might generous of ya, sir!”

“It’s our pleasure.”

“You’ve been very accommodating,” Bob added.

Esau rushed to the refrigerator. “Let me get’cha some bait here real quick. Get’cha some worms, get’cha some slugs—fer catfish, mind ya—get’cha some baby crickets fer trout—” As he rushed along, he dropped the variety of bait into a box.

“Say, Esau,” Ashton asked. “I’ve always heard that eel makes for good bait too.”

“Eel? Oh, sure, and I’m just about ta fix ya up with some,” Esau replied. “The bigger fish like the carp, pike’n muskie, they jump all over eel chunks. And we won’t even charge ya fer the eel. We got all kinds of that junk. South side’a the lake is fulla the damned things.”

Ashton’s brow rose. “Is…that so?”

“Yes sir, see there’s a run-off stream from the mountains, keeps the south side colder. And this funky eel we got out here? It prefers lower temperatures. None of the other fish go near the south side ’cos they’re scared’a the damn things. But, see, the eel don’t eat other fish, all they eat’re zebra mussels, and we got trillions of ’em on the south side.”

“Is…that so?”

“Shore is, Mr. Morrone,” and then Esau grabbed a handful from the fridge and showed them. Three-inch-wide chunks of chopped eel lay bloody in his hand. He dropped it in with the rest of the bait.

“Say, Esau?” Bob asked. “You wouldn’t happen to have any of those eels lying around whole, would you?”

“You kiddin’?” and then Esau opened the second refrigerator, hauled out a big plastic box, and plopped it on the counter. “See? Ugly soms-a-bitches, ain’t they?”

Ashton and Bob’s jaws both dropped instantaneously. What Esau displayed for them was a box containing at least thirty pounds of Crackjaw eel.

««—»»

“Where are those fucking idiots?” Carol said, lighting a Salem. She and Sheree sat on the pier with their feet in the water. “They’ve been in there with that fat rube for half a fucking hour.”

Sheree needed a moment to break from her distraction. All she could think about was Carol’s previous sexual advance, and the promise of more to come. Though she’d never really enjoyed her trysts with women while in the porn business, there was something about Carol that had her sexual engine running red-hot.

“I’m sorry, what did you say?”

“The Blobsy Twins—you know, our boyfriends?” Carol responded. “What the hell’s keeping them?”

“Ashton’s all hard because the redneck kid’s a fan of his show,” Sheree speculated.

“Yeah, but could you smell him? I’ll bet the guy hasn’t taken a shower in month.”

“At least. He smelled worst than the dumpsters at Pike’s Market during the summer.” Sheree looked out onto the lake. “At least we’ve got some scenery.”

“Yeah, it is pretty out here.” Carol spewed a thin stream of smoke from her lips. “But I could sure as hell use a drink.” She jerked an impatient gaze over her shoulder. “Where are those two hams?”

Just as she’d said it, though, Ashton and Bob’s trumpet-loud laughter belted out from the bait shop. “See ya soon, Esau!” “Thanks for everything!”

Sheree and Carol went to meet them by the path. Ashton rushed up and put his arm around both of them. “Girls! You’ll never believe it!”

What? Sheree thought. You eat a lot?

“Yeah,” Bob jumped in. “Ashton was right. The southern end of this lake is teeming with Crackjaw eel!”

Wonderful…

Ashton’s breath gusted on their bare necks as he giddily explained, “That hayseed in there had a whole box of Crackjaw eel! He thinks it’s junk! He cuts it up for bait!”

If he cut you up for bait, he’d have enough to last ten years…

Yeah!” Bob said just as giddily. “This guy’s got no idea what kind of gold mine he’s sitting on.”

“Shit, I’ll bet just the eel he had in that box is worth ten grand alone!” Ashton hugged up against Sheree. “So here’s the plan. We act like we’re just fishing for trout, but what we’ll really be doing is dropping traps in the south end.”

Bob’s face beamed. “Yeah! As long as that rube and his brother don’t catch on, this lake can be our very own cash machine!”

Bob and Ashton did a high-five. “We’re gonna be rich!” Ashton claimed in glee.

Carol frowned and pointed out, “But you guys already are rich.”

Bob and Ashton brayed laughter.

“Honeybunch,” Bob informed. “Money’s like sex. There’s never enough!”

— | — | —

Chapter Six

Back in Seattle, deep in the recesses of The Rococo Seafood House, a slim, debonaire man with dark slicked back hair and a pencil mustache sat anxiously behind the desk in his office. He chain-smoked Gitanes and was on his third snifter of Louis XIII brandy, which cost $500 per bottle.

The man’s name was M. Gerald James, a world-class master chef, three time winner of the James Beard Award, four time-winner of Gourmet magazine’s Five-Star Chef trophy. He’d trained in Brussels, Venice, and Paris, and had once prepared Potage Saint-Germain and Exploding Lobster for the Premier Dung of the People’s Republic of China, and Firecracker Tasmanian Crab Ravioli with Tomally and Buluga Drizzle for Vice-President Al Gore just before he’d been charged with fund-raising fraud. Every Friday night, like clockwork, Governor Gary Locke sent a state police officer to the restaurant to pick up a carry-out order of Deep-Fried Ark Shell Tenders and Cajun Geoduck Fritters. James prepared the order personally.

Does Morrone serve the governor weekly? No! Has the Vice-President of the United Fucking States ever stepped into his restaurant? No! Has Morrone trained the with best chefs of Europe? No!

The source of M. Gerald James’ agitation was an ancient one: professional jealousy. Just as Napoleon was jealous of Hannibal Barca, Lord Byron jealous of Mary Shelley, and Eddie Van Halen jealous of Robert Fripp, M. Gerald James was jealous of Ashton Morrone. For in spite of all of James’ culinary accomplishments, his pride and joy, the Rococo Seafood House, was known as the second-best restaurant in the city.

Goddamn Morrone! The fat pansy! God DAMN him!

It was a professional rivalry, thicker than blood. Every day and every night, his full restaurant notwithstanding, James could barely go minutes without thinking of Morrone, in mental hues painted scarlet by hatred. James had the second-best restaurant in Seattle, but Morrone, with his Emerald Room, had the best.

That critical “assessment” was simply not acceptable.

Rumors had abounded, though, after James’ deepest strike: last summer he’d lucked upon a Thurston County fisherman who’d managed to trap a small supply of the revered Crackjaw eel. When James had served it in his restaurant, the reviews had been out the roof, and Asian investors had been knocking on his door with fists full of dollars.

But, lo, James’ source for the prized mussel-and-clam-eating eel proved to be a fluke. No more Crackjaws were ever caught, and the high James rode on was short-lived.

James was wealthy, but not nearly so as Morrone, who had his Microsoft brother backing him up. Subtle whispers throughout the local culinary community reported back that Morrone was so incensed over James’ small victory that he vowed to find the Crackjaw eel himself, whatever the cost. He’d pay researchers and consultants, recruit zoologists from the college, pay every lake fisherman in the state to go hunting.

And suddenly, James’ sources told him, the ever-corpulent Ashton Morrone was suddenly off on a “fishing” trip, Morrone a man who hadn’t taken a vacation in over a decade.

The bottom of James’ fist ground down against the desk blotter. His face tensed—in hatred. The way he felt now, his ire at high tide, he could’ve stubbed out one of his reeking Gitane cigarettes out in his eye and not feel a thing.

GodDAMN! Where IS she?

After moments, more which seemed like hours, the tiniest rap came at the door.

“Come IN!” M. Gerald James about shouted.

Head bowed and shuffling meekly, in walked the most petite, delectable thing. Short and slim, short-cropped umber hair, and breasts protruding as though ripe Golden Apples had been slipped beneath her blouse. This would be Rochelle, and fine navy stitching over her blouse pocket read: THE EMERALD ROOM

Ministers of war had their spies, but so did ministers of cuisine.

“My dearest Rochelle,” the words etched from James’ mouth like tinders cracking. “I’m told you have some, shall we say, intelligence for me?”

“Yes sir,” the nineteen-year-old girl peeped in response. “Ashton Morrone has gone on a fishing trip with his brother and their two girlfriends.”

James’ fist landed on the desk top as solidly as a twenty-pound railroad hammer. “I already KNOW that! I’m employing you to tell me what I DON’T know!”

The small woman quaked at the sudden uproar. She looked on the verge of tears. James’ had hired her at $250 per week to secure a job as a busgirl at Aston’s restaurant, and to subsequently eavesdrop and snoop around, to keep a close tab on James’ greatest rival.

“I know he’s gone on a FUCKING fishing trip, you stupid girl! I need to know WHERE!”

Rochelle blinked mist from her eyes. “Mr. James…he, I mean, er—”

“WHAT?” James exploded.

“I had to do…some bad things…to get into Morrone’s office…”

James jerked upright behind his desk. “You got into his office? At the restaurant?

“Yes sir. And I had to—” She sniffled, more tears flowing. “I had to do some bad things.”

James couldn’t have cared less about the bad things. “WHAT WAS IN HIS OFFICE?” he rocketed.

“There was a notepad. He’d written ‘Crackjaw eel’ on it, and ‘Delectable Edibles, page 23.’ I’m assuming it was a reference to some book.”

“Let ME do the assuming! What ELSE?”

The girl seemed to shrink at each further rant. “At the bottom of the pad, he’d written the word ‘Sutherland.’”

“Sutherland? What the FUCK is that?”

“I didn’t know,” the girl sobbed. “But then I noticed on the wall was a map of Washington state.”

“You paltry ridiculous BITCH!” James screamed. “So what!”

By now the sensitive girl had nearly backed up into the corner of James’ office and curled up into a fetal position. Her words choked out through more sobs. “On the map I saw a red circle, you know, like it was written in Magic Marker.”

“YES?”

“The circle was drawn around a lake, about thirty miles south of Port Angeles.” The girl wiped her wet eyes. “Sutherland Lake.”

James sat behind the desk as though he were cast in molten iron. Sutherland Lake, the words played in his mind. He stared at little Rochelle. “My girl. My dear, dear girl. You may well have solved the greatest crux of my life.” He opened a drawer, pulled out a handful of $100 bills, then slipped them across the desk to her.

“Here’s a little extra something…to help you out.”

“Thuh-thank you,” and she picked up the bills.

“Sometimes I can be…quite caustic and belligerent,” he confessed. “But that doesn’t mean anything, that’s just me. Do you understand, my dear?”

“I-I think so.”

“You’ve done much for me, and I’m very grateful. And if your intelligence data proves to be true, I will fulfill my promise to you. You do…trust me, don’t you?”

“I… Yes,” she said.

James’ mouth went dry at the excitement. “You know how much I detest Ashton Morrone. He’s a gormandizing faggot. He’s an egotistical globose slob who revels in my total embarrassment and probably voids more shit from his bowels than a typical school of sea cows. If what you’ve done for me leads to his dethroning amongst the city restaurant critics, then I will do for you as I’ve said. I will make you assistant general manager here at a salary of $35,000 per year.”

Rochelle blanched.

Sutherland Lake, Sutherland Lake, James thought. Now—now he knew. The sudden excitement filled his penis with blood, stiffened it out like a ripe tuber.

“And I’ve been fair to you thus far, have I not?” he continued. “I’ve employed you when no others would, yes?”

“Yes,” she agreed.

“I’ve said nothing of your past history of cocaine abuse, which surely would preclude you from respectable employment, yes?”

“Yes.”

“I’ve said nothing of your past criminal activities, your multiple shop-lifting arrests, your check kiting, and then there’s always that old boyfriend of yours who went to prison for car-jacking, right? And that innocent family he murdered? I’ve kept that to myself, have I not?”

“Yes, you have, and I’m very grate—”

James’ held up a hushing hand. “You’ve, uh, you’ve seen to my satisfaction in the past…and now I have to ask you to do so again. You do receive my meaning, don’t you?”

“Yes,” Rochelle groaned. She kicked off her shoes, slipped off her panties, and hiked up her skirt. She walked around James’ desk and immediately slapped him hard across the face.

“Get on the floor, bitch!” she shouted. “Now!”

James pushed his chair out from under the desk. He wore no pants, and his penis was charged up, a furious erection. Oh, God, he whimpered to himself.

“Get on the fucking floor, you fucking piece of shit!

James flopped out of the chair and lay on the floor.

Rochelle stepped over him, her long white legs spiring upward. Where the legs joined, he could se the precious slit and the muff of hair.

Right over his face.

“You’re a bad boy, aren’t you?”

“Yes, yes!” the respectable M. Gerald James pleaded.

“And bad boys get—what?”

“They get, they get…pissed on by mad mommies!”

“That’s right,” Rochelle said.

She placed her hands on her hips, and her legs and stomach tensed. Then she began to urinate directly into James’ face.

The abundant cascade roved across his forehead, his eyes, and then fell directly into his mouth.

James masturbated frenetically as he cried, “Piss on me, Mommy! Piss on me!”

««—»»

Bess, at the very least, had been half-right. She believed it was her destiny to come out here and die. But half-right also meant half wrong, didn’t it?

She’d die out here, all right, but not by her own hand. To girls like Bess, there was solace in suicide. No solace tonight, however. Not for Bess.

As her consciousness returned, she remembered a nightmare. In the nightmare she was drowning in crystal-clear water. Her huge limbs paddled frantically but she simply couldn’t keep her head above the water. Just as her lungs would dispel her final breath, though, someone was saving her. Someone had grabbed her by the hair and was pulling her up. She could breathe again! Was it Mavis who’d saved her? No, it couldn’t be; Mavis couldn’t swim either.

An angel, then. Yes! In the nightmare, it must’ve been an angel who’d saved her from drowning. Once ashore, however, she looked into the angel’s face and thought, Aw, fuck!

It was decidedly not an angel. Instead it was a huge, bearded hillbilly with rotten teeth.

Bess let her memory click back a few more notches.

Aw…fuck…

No, it was not and angel, and it was not a nightmare.

It was all real.

As real as the boat hook from which she hung naked by lashed hands. As real as this long dark barnlike building she now occupied. And as real as—

“Aw, fuck!” she shouted.

Unpleasant scents in the air seemed to meld with other scents that were absolutely savory. Bess heard a crackling: a fire somewhere. High tiny windows afforded the barn’s only light. Among the barn’s bizarre contents (some large metal drums, a large hole in the ground from which fire issued, bushel baskets full of fruit and vegetables, a fireplace bellows, a plastic bucket full of what appeared to be fish filets) was something more bizarre than anything Bess had seen in her life.

A canoe with a man’s head sticking out of it.

The canoe seemed to be covered over with something. Sheets of metal?

“Hey!” Bess shouted to the head. “You there, you…head. What’s going on here?”

The head moved, looked at with an insane glint, and began to babble. But then:

“Bub-buh-Bess?” a voice spoke, and it did not come from the head sticking out of the canoe.

“Mavis!” Bess shouted. “Is that you!”

“Yes!”

“I can’t see you!”

“I’m over here—he tied my hands together and I’m hanging from a hook!”

“Me too,” Bess said. “The redneck who dragged us out of the water.”

A silence ticked by, then, sniffling, she said, “Bess, you’re my best friend! I’m sorry I called you Jabba the Hut!”

“I’m sorry I called you an anorexic nerd,” Bess confessed. “And I’m sorry I said Duchovny sucks. He actually wasn’t bad in Playing God.

“It’s all my fault! I feel so bad! We would’ve killed ourselves just like we planned if I hadn’t chickened out.”

“No, it’s my fault. If I hadn’t started fighting, we never would’ve fallen out of the damn raft.”

“What are we going to do!” Mavis shrieked. “Who was that man? And what is this place?”

Poor Mavis, Bess thought. The girl was so naive; she couldn’t think past David Duchovny and a fantasy world of alien invasions and government conspiracies. The real world, Bess knew, was full of perverts, rapists, and murderers, and she had a terrible feeling that all of the above applied to the bearded man who’d dragged them from the lake.

“What is this? A barn or something?”

“I think so,” Bess replied.

“And what are all those baskets and things? Apples and vegetables, it looks like. And what’s that fire for in the hole? What are those big metal drums?”

“I don’t know, Mavis. Get a hold of yourself. We have to think of a way to get out of here before that bearded guy with the rotten teeth comes back.”

As the afternoon had drawn on, the light from the high windows moved slowly toward the back of the barn or whatever this place was. Bess squinted, and in the most dolorous increments she noticed something familiar against the rear wall.

An old gas stove.

It was then that the most abhorrent realization occurred to her. This place was more than a barn and more than a psychopath’s den.

It’s a kitchen, she realized, and that’s when the door swung open.

««—»»

“—still cain’t believe it!” Esau enthused as he followed his big brother into the cookery. “Ashton Morrone, the world’s greatest chef! Fishin’ in our lake!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Enoch grumbled. “I hope you charged ’em fer parking and hookups n’ all.”

“Oh, shore! N’fact, Mr. Morrone hisself gave me a brand-new hunnert-dollar bill!”

That perked old Enoch up. Older and wiser, Enoch was bereft of his brother’s youthful enthusiasms. Money’s what they needed. Propane weren’t free, and neither was gas fer the trucks and that blammed server fee for the fancy satellite tv. And considering Grandpa Ab’s appetite, Enoch was drivin’ to town three times a week fer the things Esau needed for the viddles. Spices and flour and condiments, bottle after bottle of olive oil and canola oil and sesame oil, and every other kind of blammed friggin’ oil, couple pounds’a butter’a week, couple pounds’a lard—all on account’a ’cos Grandpa Ab liked Esau’s fancy cookin’. Sure, Grandpa Ab was worth it, and he deserved to have what he wanted. It’s just that it’d be a whole lot cheaper’n simpler if Grandpa could get by on canned store-brand spaghetti like Enoch and Esau generally did.

“Well that’s good about the hunnert, boy,” Enoch approved and closed the door behind him. Esau set down six stacked homemade pie crusts on one’a the tables, then turned on the propane tank fer the stove. He began to boil a large pot of water. “One’a the gals I hauled out’a the lake had a couple hunnert on her too,” Enoch continued. “But that city chef and his friends—just you make sure to squeeze as much cash out of ’em as you can. Fuck, we’se gotta make a livin’ too, ya know. Fancy big city chef, you’d guess he had money.”

“Oh, they’se richer’n shit. You should see the boat they got, and one’a them big Winnebago things like a house on wheels! Dang straight they’se rich. Wouldn’t expect the finest chef in the world ta be poor, now would ya?”

“What’s them there pie crusts for?” Enoch asked.

“It’s been a while since I fixed Grandpa Ab up some cobbler. It’s his favorite.”

“Hmm,” Enoch grunted.

“Gimme a sec,” Esau said, “whiles I pump another bellyful into our friend here.” He approached the canoe and the ludicrous insane head that seemed to sit atop it. The head babbled incoherently as Esau filled the bellows from the bucket of his spicy cornmash. “Shee-it, the fella’s got some spunk. This is his fourth week, ain’t?”

“Yeah,” Enoch grunted.

“Usually they up’n die after three. Bet his liver’s big as a basketball by now—it’ll make the best pate on toast points fer Grandpa Ab. See, Enoch, that’s how the Frenchys do it, they tie a farm-raised goose to a board’n just force-feed it cornmash fer weeks. Makes the liver real big’n sweet. I’se learnt about it on Ashton’s show!”

Enoch frowned. He was sick of listening to Esau’s fancy-cookin’ talk. “Just git on with it, will ya, boy?”

“Here comes lunch, fella,” Esau promised, jamming the nozzle down the canoe-head’s throat. He slowly drained the bellows. “There. That hit the spot?”

The head lolled and babbled, corn mush drooling from his lips.

“See ya fer dinner, buddy!”

“How long’s all this gonna take?” Enoch asked. “Wrasslin’ comes on at 5:05 on TNT, and I don’t wanna miss it. Flair’s grapplin’ DDP fer the title.”

“Aw, not long.” Esau grinned, briskly rubbing his dirty hands together. “Now show me these two splittails ya fetched.”

Enoch walked him over to the first stall.

“Aw, shee-it, Enoch. Ya done brought me another rack’a bones,” Esau complained, appraising the long skinny white thing hanging there. “I seen fatter vanilla beans!”

“Quit’cher belly-achin’ and look in the other stall…”

Esau loped around and stared. “Holy cracklin’ crawdads! That’s what I called a mountain of pork!”

“All that meat’n blubber,” Enoch observed, “I figger she’ll last Grandpa Ab fer a full week.”

“And then some!” Esau elated. “I can do me all kinds of great things with a pig this size!”

The naked girl hung there like a bloated sack full of suet. “And lookit the giant titties on her! Man, I’ll be able to make me the biggest pot-stickers in history!

But when Esau reached forward and squeezed the dough-white bags of flesh, the girl suddenly kicked out with huge legs. “Don’t touch me, you crazy redneck!”

Esau grinned. “And she’s still got some spark left!” He rammed his fist into her mouth, knocked her out cold. “There, that oughta simmer ya down, Fattie.” He kneaded the great flops of her breasts, plied the enormous coaster-sized nipples. “Enoch,” he called out. “Get that toothpick over to the table and make her start eatin’ the fruit.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Enoch groaned.

“Meantimes, I’se’ll get the fat one dressed.”

Enoch took Mavis off her hook. “Fox, is that you?” she warbled. Enoch flipped her over his back like a long noodle, then flopped her onto the prep table. The slam roused her from her delirium and she was screaming. “Eat this fruit,” he said bluntly, “or’ll carve out yer cunt.” He slapped a meaty, callused hand on her throat, squeezed. “Understand?”

Wide-eyed, Mavis nodded rapidly.

One of the bushel baskets was full of apples, pears, and peaches, cut into crisp, neat wedges. Enoch grabbed a handful of wedges and crammed them into Mavis mouth.

“Chew.”

Mavis chewed, vigorously as a chipmunk scarfing seeds.

“Swaller.”

Mavis gulped the first load down.

Enoch spent the next twenty minutes doing the same, force-feeding fresh fruit into the skinny girl’s yap. She chewed and swallowed, chewed and swallowed.

When the bushel was depleted by a third, Mavis, exhausted, released a long exhale, fruit pulp smearing her mouth. “Please, please,” she begged. “No more—”

“More,” Enoch informed her and stuffed more and more fruit into her face. While tending to this fairly tedious chore, he looked around and saw Esau fiddling with the big pot on the stove, adding various spices to the boiling water.

“What’choo doin’? I thought you was gonna prep the fat ’un.”

“I am,” Esau assured. “Need the right combo’a white, cayenne, and crushed red pepper.”

“Fer what?”

“Hot links. You know how Grandpa Ab loves hot links.”

««—»»

Sheree had never come so long and so hard in her life. Each repeated orgasm struck her like a physical blow. Her civilized senses spun away, leaving only the bare, sweaty, sex-needing animal cringing in greedy pleasure.

She lay back in the Winnebago’s floor, her legs raised and widely parted. Carol knelt between them, leaning over like an intent gynecologist, gently revolving her fist within the stretched circumference of Sheree’s vaginal barrel. Simultaneously, Carol’s tongue laved Sheree’s olive-sized clitoris.

Each crush of sensation pin-pointed to an avalanche of spasming pleasure; Carol’s subventions had turned Sheree into an orgasm-machine.

Her legs tensed, her toes flexed toward the ceiling, and off went another one, deep demolition in her cunt. Over the fifteen-year career in porn, she’d been fucked, sucked, prodded and probed and licked and skewered by dildos and stuck up the ass thousands of times. But in all of that, she’d never, ever come like this. In fact, until now, she had no idea that the limits of orgasm could stretch this far.

On her swollen clitoris, she could feel Carol’s sultry whisper: “One more time, one more time, baby…”

And one more time it would be. Carol accelerated her devilish expertise, the velvet buzzsaw running on high as her fist continued to revolve to and fro and back and forth. Sheree always wondered if it was hype or if there really was such a thing as a G-Spot. Well…

Now she knew.

Her back arched, her chest heaving. Her nipples felt like hot rivets. This last and best orgasm felt like something actually spewing out of her. At once she imagined herself as a man, with a great big cock, spurting line after line of sperm into the air.

When it was over, Carol carefully removed her hand. “I guess you liked that, huh?” she coyly remarked at the small sink. She washed off the gleaming shellac of K-Y Jelly and vaginal gloss.

“Oh, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…”

“Don’t tell me that’s the first time you’ve been fisted.”

“This was the first time,” Sheree wheezed. She lay limp on the floor as if beaten down by cudgels. Her pleasure had exhausted her, had wrung all of her energy from her nerves like water from a dishrag. “Christ, that was good.” It was even a major effort just to raise her head and look up.

Carol was drying her hands with a towel, her demin skirt still on but her halter pulled up over her perfect 36 D’s. Once Ashton and Bob had puttered off across the lake in their boat, it had been all of two minutes before Carol had dragged Sheree into the Winnebago, stripped her, and got to sucking her pussy. Carol hadn’t even taken off her own clothes; their lust had lit in an instant. She’d splayed Sheree out and gotten right to work.

Sheree leaned up on her elbows, beads of sweat tickling down her breasts like hot, wet ladybugs. Her hair lay across her face in damp strings. The best orgasms of her life certainly bid reciprocation.

“Let me do you now,” she offered. “Get the K-Y.”

But Carol gave her the strangest expression, a look pregnant with confusion. “I want you to do me, but…”

“But what?”

The expression lengthened. “Jesus Christ. You don’t know—”

Sheree’s forehead creased. “Know what?”

Carol stepped forward. “This,” she said, and then she pulled up her tight denim skirt.

There, staring Sheree in the face, was the very last thing she’d ever expect to find between Carol’s legs: a large uncircumcised cock.

— | — | —

Chapter Seven

When Bess had yet again regained consciousness, the nightmare was not over. Indeed, it was only beginning. Her thoughts pin-wheeled backward, and she remembered when not one but two humongus rednecks had come in to this kitchen of the abyss. The younger one had begun groping her, and that’s when Bess had shouted at him, and after that…

He’d knocked her unconscious with a single blow.

When her eyes flicked open and finally focused, she looked back around. The older and larger maniac had Mavis lain across a table and was smashing what appeared to be chopped fruit into her mouth. Evidently it was a lot of fruit, because Mavis’ ordinarily rack-skinny stomach pushed out like she was six months pregnant.

“Hey, spinach-chin!” Bess yelled. “Leave her alone!”

The man simply glared at her, kept mashing fruit into Mavis’ mouth. But in response to Bess’ objection, his throat rumbled and then he spat.

The wad of phlegm, large as a golf ball, sailed across the air and—

Yuuuck!

—hit Bess right in the eye.

“Pipe down, ya hog,” the man told her. “Looks ta me like you gots more things ta worry ’bout than yer stringbean friend here. Like that gut-cut.”

Bess, as she hung from her hook, didn’t know what he was talking about, but at the same time he’d said it, she finally became aware of the sharp, ripping pain at her mid-abdomen. She looked down at her distended belly and couldn’t help but notice the six-inch-long gash and the blood seeping out of it.

“But don’t’cha worry none, Fattie,” the man added. “My brother Esau shore knows how ta do a gut-cut right. It won’t kill ya…”

Bess gaped at the wound.

“The killin’ comes later,” she was told. “It’ll be nice’n slow.”

Then another man (his brother, she assumed) walked into Bess’ field of vision. He went over to the table, patted Mavis’ bloated abdomen. “Dang,” he exclaimed. “This little twig et dag near half the bushel!”

“She shore did. So’s what I do with her now?”

“Just let her set a spell, digest a bit. Then we’ll be ready.”

“Dag it. I should’a figured I’d miss wrasslin’.”

“You won’t miss much,” the younger one said. Now he was at the fire pit, stoking it with a metal rod. “Go ahead’n fuck her. Might as well have a go, huh? Why waste pussy when it’s there?”

The older one glanced at Mavis’ convulsing white body. “Naw. Shee-it, you know I prefer fellas.”

“Hey, a nut’s a nut, Enoch. Stick it up her ass if ya don’t like gash. Git’cher pecker brown.”

Enoch cast a second glance. “Naw. I’d rather beat off, er poke a sheep. Shee-it. Fuckin’ this here skinny thing’d be like fuckin’ a bone.”

“Suit yerself,” Esau replied. “I’d fuck this big ’un ’cept—shee-it! I’d need ta roll her ’round ina pile’a flour ta find the wet-spot!” He scratched his crotch, eyed poor Mavis on the table. “I guess we’re ready. Enoch, flip her over—”

Enoch did exactly this, while his uncomely brother grabbed a wooden saute spoon. He put Mavis in a headlock, jammed the spoon down her tongue and pressed. In a great urping splatter, Mavis vomited up several plumes of partly digested fruit into one of the pie crusts. He slid across another crust, pressed, then out came more fruit puke. Esau continued the process until Mavis little belly was empty and all the pie crusts filled.

Atop each tin, he lay several circles of uncooked biscuit dough. Then he placed all the crusts on a tray and slid them into the oven.

Shee-it yeah!” Esau celebrated. “Grandpa Ab’s gonna love me! I’se makin’ his favorite dessert! Vomit Cobbler!”

“So what I do with this skinny bitch now?” Enoch asked. “Just kill her?”

“Yeah, might as well. “in’t good fer much else. No meat on her, just like that bitch ya brung me from the girlie prison.” But as Esau loped back to the table, he jerked a gaze. “I thought you said you weren’t gonna fuck her.”

“I dang didn’t,” Enoch assured.

“Then what’s all that blood running down her skinny legs?”

Enoch took a look, and sure enough, streaks of blood were running down the insides of Mavis’ thighs.

“Weren’t me,” Enoch attested.

Esau cracked his hands together loud as a stropping belt. “Hot DAMN!” he yelled. “Is this dang perfect or what? The stringbean bitch is havin’ her period!”

Enoch scratched his beard. “Why’s that perfect?”

Esau’s eyes beamed. He jogged to another bucket, withdrew a still-flopping one- pound lake trout. “It’s Grandpa Ab’s favorite thing in the world! Pussy-poached fish! Hold her down, brother! And spread her legs!”

Enoch wedged the girl’s stick-thin legs apart, while Esau inserted the fish all the way up into her vagina. A wet crunch resounded; the girl flinched. “Dang,” Enoch remarked at the sudden ooze of blood. “This here skinny one was cherry.”

“You don’t say?” Esau replied. “And you just popped it—with a trout!”

It was a hell of a way for a girl to lose her virginity. Once the trout was inserted—and still flopping—Esau pinched the labial lips shut with one hand, and with the other—

“Stop it!” Bess shouted. “You sick redneck FUCKERS!”

—he picked up a heavy-duty hand-grip stapler.

“Stop it! Stop it!” Bess screamed.

Clack! Clack! Clack!

Esau stapled those labial lips shut. Mavis, now stupefied by shock, flinched at each hard, metallic clack.

“Put her back up on the hook,” Esau said. “We’ll let her hang fer a few days, let that fish suck in all that pussy blood. It’ll be poached perfect time she’s dead. Then I’ll serve it up with some linguini and marinara sauce.”

Enoch hoisted Mavis back up, then lay the lash between her wrists over the stall hook. “There ya go, Slim,” he said.

Bess’ senses swam in turmoil. “What the FUCK is wrong with you crazy backwoods psychos!” she screamed from her own hook.

“We’se just providin’ our fine grandpap with the viddles he most likes,” Esau explained. He looked at her. “It ain’t nothin’ personal.”

Nothing personal! They stripped her naked, hung her off a hook, and cut a rent in her abdominal wall! What could be more personal than that?

Bess would find out in a moment more.

As Esau approached, Bess tried again to kick out, but by now, between the sheer horror and the depletion of electrolytes, her efforts were inadequate to say the least. Her big legs just slogged forward, harmlessly.

The bearded grin homed closer, then the dirty hand reached out. Then—

Bess screamed.

—then the hand reached into the cut in her abdomen. It reached in deep, fished around, then began to withdraw.

When the hand withdrew, it pulled with it the long gray-pink ropes of her small intestine, twenty feet and then some. Soon, off of one arm, Esau cradled a veritable roll of Bess’ innards.

Bess just stared, paralyzed and numb from the horror.

Esau tugged a bit more, extracting Bess’ stomach and duodenum. “Yeah, we can make some great haggis out’a that. And with the rest of the gut—”

He raised the great roll of small intestine like a prize.

“Shit sausage! Another one’a Grandpa Ab’s favorites!”

He cut the stomach off with bone shears, then carried the roll, as if carrying garden hose, to another table. Meticulously, then, with small pieces of roast string, he tied crimps into the intestine at eight-inch intervals, setting the stomach aside for later tendings. “Yeah,” he proclaimed. “Ain’t nothin’ like a fat girl’s gut to make the best shit sausage! Hot links here we come!”

Bess watched as the dirty rube slowly fed the roll of her own intestines into the pot of boiling water.

“Twenty minutes and then we’re there! It’s better than bratwurst!”

For whatever reason, Bess had a funny feeling more was in store for her.

And she was right.

Esau, first, dragged over the plastic bucket of fileted fish, then the bushel basket of vegetables. Closer, now, Bess was able to see that the baskets contained peeled and quartered white onions, shallots, potatoes, and wedges of fresh cabbage.

Esau stuffed the fish filets and the vegetables into the deep pit of Bess’ abdominal cavity. When he was finished, Bess’ belly stuck out round as a medicine ball.

“There it is. All full up now, huh? Like a stuffed turkey!”

In spite of the absolute insanity, some segment of Bess’ psyche managed to think: I’ve just been stuffed with fish and veggies….

“Come on, Esau,” the brother complained. “Hurry it up, will ya? I’m gonna miss Big Papa Pump and the Macho Man!”

“We’re all ready. Git the drum, the big one.”

The question as to how long a human being could live without an intestinal tract soon became moot. Bess, all 240 pounds of her, was flopped into a 300-gallon industrial drum. A bucket of salt and a half bucket of black pepper was dumped on her head. “Yes sir-REE!” she heard Esau exclaim above. “We’se gonna pressure-cook the bitch!”

As the last of Bess’ energy ebbed away, the metal lid was placed atop the drum then sealed securely with a hammer. A sensation of revolving, then, as the drum and its still-living contents was rolled several yards and then placed in the fire-pit to cook.

««—»»

“Too bad you didn’t buy a boat with a head, Bobby Boy,” Ashton chuckled. He stood at the bow, peeing a high arc into Lake Sutherland’s still, crystal waters. “You’ve left me no choice but to urinate in public.”

“I also should’ve bought a boat with an ashtray.” Bob, sitting aft, flicked his cigarette butt into the water. “And a garbage can too.” He emptied a bucket full of empty beer bottles over the side.

“Don’t deface God’s Green Earth. Look!” Ashton pointed mockingly to the shore. “There’s an Indian chief crying!”

Ashton and Bob brayed laughter. The laughter echoed across the lake like a cannonade.

Fat, drunk, and obnoxious, the two brothers sat in the brand new 17-foot SeaRay, anchored in the middle of the lake. For the past several hours, they’d been dropping their eel-pots loaded with clusters of Zebra mussels, and so far…

They’d not caught a single Crackjaw eel.

So now they sat waiting—and drinking—hoping to find the right spot.

Ashton wiped sweat off his brow. “Whew! It’s hot—”

“And so am I,” Bob said. “I’m so hot I could pull train at the hot-tub club.”

“Don’t start talking that shit,” Ashton said, lighting up a La Corona. “I’m horny enough as it is.”

“Brother, I need to be held down hard and fucked like a pig, I’m telling you.”

“What are you complaining about? At least you’ve some hot cock waiting for you back at the ’Bago. Is Carol hung?”

Bob nearly inhaled his next sip of beer. “Are you kidding? Every night I feel like I got a french bread stuck up my ass. And when I’m blowing her, I practically need a shoe horn.”

Ashton gritted his teeth, wincing. “Oh, man. Don’t talk like that. It just makes me hornier.”

“I still can’t believe Sheree doesn’t know. When are you gonna tell her you’re gay?”

“Never. She keeps the house clean and I need her. She’s great furniture. No way anyone’ll accuse me of being gay. Arm in arm with a former porn star?

Bob cracked open two more cold bottles of Holsten. “Yeah…but what about sex?”

“I get around it. For all the time she’s been living with me, I think I’ve actually fucked her three times. When she’s hot to trot I give her the old line about being too stressed out from work. I generally just ask her for blow jobs…and I pretend it’s Leonardo DiCaprio.”

“Ha!” Bob belted. “Now that kid’s got an ass I wouldn’t mind getting my beard in!”

“Ha!” Ashton belted.

“Yeah, but you know, a woman’s got her needs,” Bob pointed out.

“Oh, I know she picks up guys behind my back.” Ashton chugged his Holsten. “That’s fine with me. I get what I want out of her, and she gets what she wants out of me. I bought her a Beemer, gave her a credit card. She’s happy. I don’t care if she picks up guys at bars and fucks them in the car. And me? When I need a stiff dick up my ass, or a pair of balls across my nose, I get a room at the Sheraton and call Pauncy’s Escorts.” Ashton tapped cigar ash into the lake. “As long as Sheree’s around when I need her to be seen with me, I’m happy. So what if she’s a gold-digger? Carol’s a gold-digger too, ya know.”

“Tell me about it. Those injections cost a fortune, not to mention the twenty-five grand for total-body electrolysis,” Bob griped. “Her second set of implants cost forty-five K—best plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills. The same guy who does all the movie stars. He also shaved her adam’s apple. No scar at all.”

“You’ve got the best of both worlds. Ain’t no way anyone’ll think you’re gay when you’ve got her arm around you.”

“Damn straight. And, Christ, she’s hung. She tossed my salad like you wouldn’t believe.”

Ashton winced again, errantly rubbed a hand across his crotch. “I told you, don’t talk like that. It’s killing me!”

Bob leaned forward, grinning like an imp. “She’ll handcuff me to the bed on my back, pushes my knees back damn near to my shoulders and butt fucks me so hard it feel like a piston going in and out of my ass. Then she’ll suck her cum out, spit it in her hand, and slap me in the face with it.”

“You bad bitch!” Ashton proclaimed.

“Then she’ll jerk me off onto a dinner plate and make me suck it up!”

“You whore!

“That big hard cock goes so far up my ass it feels like she’s fucking my stomach. You should see her in her biker outfit. The chains, the hat, the whole nine yards. Then she pulls that big cock out of the leather pants and waves it at me, her balls going up and down like yo-yos. Brother, it’s a sweet sight.”

“DAMN you!” Ashton snapped, grinding his teeth in angst. “Fuck it! Who’s going to see? That redneck kid? The FUCK if I care!” Ashton stood up at the bow again only this time he wasn’t pissing into the lake, he was jerking off into it.

“Careful you don’t yank it out,” Bob laughed.

Ashton’s entire face looked squeezed shut as he steadily pumped and pumped each and every of the five inches nature gave him. Images filled his mind like dark, sooty smoke: images of stiff, veined cocks sliding into his tonsils, sweaty balls slapping his chin, and Leonardo DiCaprio belly down and waiting for him. Yeah, I got some Titanic for you, bitch… Ashton’s blubber jiggled beneath the Christian Dior short sleeve shirt as his body tremored, and next his sperm was dribbling into the lake.

“Damn, I swear the lake just went up an inch!” he laughed. He zipped back up, wiped his brow again with his shirt sleeve. The boat rocked when he sat back down.

“Look!” Bob pointed to the shore. “You hit the Indian in the eye!”

“Remember the Little Big Horn? Pay-back’s a bitch!”

Ashton and Bob brayed laughter.

A little later, they grabbed the plastic buoys and pulled up the eel-pots.

All empty.

“Damn it!” Ashton griped. “We’ve been out here for hours and we haven’t caught one damn eel.

“Maybe that dirty redneck kid was jiving us.”

“How could he be jiving us? You saw that box of eel he had in the bait shop.”

“Well then we must be doing something wrong. He said the south side of the lake and—” Bob checked his compass.

“Oops.”

“What?” Ashton asked.

“The bezel was turned around. We’re at the north end of the lake.”

Ashton and Bob both brayed laughter.

“You may be a Microsoft genius and I may be the best chef in the country,” Ashton posed. “But you know what?”

“We don’t know dick about fishing!”

Bob revved up the Evinrude outboard while Ashton fetched more beers from the cooler. The boat picked up speed and began to head for the other side of the lake.

“Hey, Bobby?” Ashton asked, emptying his coffee can full of petite cigar butts over the side. “You think Sheree has any idea that Carol’s really a man?”

— | — | —

Chapter Eight

Carol’s cock marauded Sheree’s vagina, fucking her so hard it felt like a plunger trying to clear a drain. Sheree came three more times during the action which must’ve comprised a world-wide record for sexual positions within the confines of a recreational vehicle.

Carol had come twice herself, the first a warm flood of sperm into Sheree’s sex, the second a last-second pull-out. “Here you go, baby,” Carol whispered, short of breath. The gorgeous uncircumcised cock glistened (Sheree could smell herself on it), the big nuts bunched up tight under the root. “Let me shine up those beautiful tits for you.” The sperm felt hotter this time, jet after jet looping onto Sheree’s tingling breasts. Afterward, the two of them lay back on the floor, absolutely exhausted, as Carol’s slim hand smoothed the semen around on Sheree’s tanned skin like some kind of exotic lotion.

In the afterglow, Carol explained her particular plight. She wasn’t gay nor straight, nor did she consider herself “bisexual.” Instead she referred to herself as a “sensualist.” Any pleasurable sensation she would pursue. She’d always felt more feminine than the opposite; hence, the modifications to her physique. Hormones, implants, permanent hair removal, oro-facial surgery, but unlike many “trannies,” she had no desire whatever to “complete” the process. “I like my cock,” she revealed. “I love sticking it in people.”

And she could “stick” it well. In the tidal wave of sex that accounted for all of Sheree’s adult life, these few hours with Carol had unleashed pleasures that Sheree had never conceived of.

The best lay of my life, she thought, is a beautiful woman…with a cock.

Perhaps some lingering male phermones explained Sheree’s instant attraction, some exuding oxytocins in the sweat. Whatever the reason, it hardly mattered. Carol was one joyride of flesh Sheree hoped to get on again for a long time to come.

Her pussy felt deliciously sore; it felt like a fat tenderloin cored and stuffed. She lay against Carol, their skin sliding over each other’s sweat. Carol’s hand continued to glide idly over the spermy sheen which lacquered Sheree’s breasts.

“So you’re telling me you never thought Ashton might be gay?” Carol asked, and lit a cigarette.

“No, I mean—” Sheree thought about it. “He’s always acted kind of swishy, you know. And he never wants to—”

“Fuck,” Carol finished. Her shining cock began to deflate between the immaculate, tanned legs. “And let me guess. He mainly asks for head?”

“You got that right. But sometimes I’m so horny I’ll even settle for him…but it never happens. It’s always ‘Oh, honey, I’m so sorry but I’m really tired,’ or ‘I’m not in the mood, there’s a rumor that a Times reviewer is coming to the restaurant tomorrow night.’ That sort of thing. Now I know the real reason.”

“I guess I shouldn’t have told you,” Carol confessed. “Should’ve minded my own business.”

“Oh, no, I’m glad you told me Ashton’s gay,” Sheree insisted, then took a drag off Carol’s Salem. “Forewarned is fore-armed. I don’t care. As long as I’m driving my BMW down Fifth Avenue and shopping at Nordstrom’s any time I want.”

“You’ve got the right atittude, and so do I,” Carol clarified. Now her finger dawdled over the slit of Sheree’s sex. “Everything’s a trade-off, and I guarantee you they both know it. They’re both still in the closet so that’s why they need us. You’ve heard them in public—always joking about all the pussy they’ve busted. Christ, if Microsoft ever found out Bob was a hot-tub bottom, they’d fire his fat ass in two seconds. But every time Gates throws an office party, there I am with Bob. Same with Ashton. He’s paranoid that the other chef’s in town think he sucks cock. So that’s why he’s got you. I don’t mind being used as long as I get what I want.”

“Me either,” Sheree concurred. Her mind drifted a moment, back to previous slew of orgasms. “How did you meet Bob?”

Carol giggled. “At The Porthole. It’s a members-only gay club downtown. They got a ‘back room,’ if you know what I mean. The first night I saw Bob, he was back there doing an ass-bang. Had a leather bag pulled over his head and a rubber ball in his mouth, tied down to rings in the floor, spread out like a fat starfish.”

“You’re kidding!” Sheree nearly squealed at the preposterous image.

“Nope. There were ten of us back there that night, and we all helped ourselves and went back for seconds. By the time we were done, we must’ve pumped a quart of cum up his butt.”

“No way!” Sheree squealed.

Yes way. And that’s not all. Not only is Bob a hardcore bottom, he’s also a jizz freak and a half.”

“A jizz freak?

“Oh, yeah. He’s in the back room two, three times a week, blowing twenty guys in a row and swallowing every drop. That’s what he was doing second time I met him, just standing in line and sticking my dick down his throat. I was only about halfway done then but I still looked pretty good. But this guy was a cash machine so I put the make on him hard. After we got together, he sprung for a better set of implants and pays for all of the injections. That’s big money, and I sure can’t afford it. With Bob, I’m made in the shade. And if he ever dumps me…” Carol didn’t finish.

“What?” Sheree asked.

“Well, on one of those blow-job trains he pulled at the club?” Carol snickered. “I had a friend of mine secretly videotape it. So if Fat Boy Bobby ever sends me packing, I’m sending that tape straight to Bill Gates.”

“You’re horrible!” Sheree delightedly shrieked.

Carol grinned. “I know. I can’t help it.”

Eventually, they dragged themselves up naked from the floor. Sheree leaned against the Winnebago’s narrow kitchen counter, looking out the small window. “What’s taking them so long? It’ll be getting dark in an hour.”

Carol pressed up behind her, gently reaching around to cup Sheree’s already worn-out vagina. “Yeah,” Carol said. “In an hour.” A long finger popped in. “We can do a lot in an hour.”

Sheree’s fuse was already re-lit. “I don’t know. You pretty much fucked me out. I feel like I’ve been run over by a city bus.” She hesitated, feeling Carol’s cock grow turgid against her buttocks. “I don’t know if I can do it again.”

Carol quickly turned her around, set her ass up on the counter, and slipped her dick right up into her pussy. “Sure you can,” she said and began fucking her again. She pressed forward, kissed Sheree’s lip, sucked her tongue.

Yeah, Sheree thought in another rising wave of bliss. I think I can…

««—»»

As the darkness of dusk had just begun to stain the horizon, M. Gerald James was maintaining a solid seventy miles per hour down State Route 101 along the glittering Strait of San Juan. Canada could be seen on the other side, and its rising mountains.

Something similarly rising existed between James’ legs, but he couldn’t very well see it now. All he could see instead was the back of Rochelle’s pretty head going up and down. James’ slacks were opened, and Rochelle was sucking his cock as fastidiously as the mouth of a devil ray sucking a five-pound conch out of its shell. James had brought his little “spy” along because…well, in his current state of occupational stress, he needed comfort. And Rochelle, cute little pipsqueak that she was, had recently grown quite accustomed to the eccentric nature of James’ needs.

His foot pressed down on the gas as his heart raced. He pressed Rochelle’s tender mouth all the way down on his cock and then held it there. (A little gagging was good for a girl), and then his hips clenched in the mahogany suede-leather seat as he spent himself right down into her gullet. Even after he’d come, he held her head down, listening to the hoarse sucks of her gags.

It was good for her. Showed her the proper ways of the world, where men were dominant and women provided the wastecans of men’s pleasure.

Eventually he decelerated back down to seventy, and let her up for air.

Rochelle wheezed, a smidgen of semen dangling from her chin. Her mouth opened to rebel but then she thought better of it.

“That was…nice,” James said in a slow breath.

Rochelle kept silent, wiped her mouth off. She sat beside James in the Lincoln’s spacious front seat, dressed quite prettily in white sneakers, white shorts, and a bright white top. Such a prize, delicate and delectable as a vanilla-cream torte. Sweet as confectioner’s sugar. But—

Taking her on this trip? It was proof of his appreciation, wasn’t it?

“Yes, yes,” he exhaled. “You’ll manage my restaurant some day. This I promise…”

“Thank you,” Rochelle peeped.

Sometimes, James actually felt bad about his raging abuse of her… Sometimes. It wasn’t really his fault, though, he deemed.

It was Ashton Morrone’s.

James gripped the Lincoln’s leather-gloved wheel harder as he muttered out his stress: “Best chef in the city… Best restaurant in the city… Five-star reviews in Gourmet and the Michelin guide…”

“Stop it,” Rochelle softly bid.

“Multiple James Beard Awards!”

“Mr. James. Don’t give yourself an ulcer!”

James broke like a piece of dry egg noodle. “I already have an ulcer because of that corpulent faggot! I trained in Paris, goddamn it! At Trievan! That fat shit can’t microwave a Hot Pocket but I’ve cooked delicacies for kings! Why does he get all the great reviews? Why is his restaurant the talk of the town?” James punched the Lincoln’s center console, peeling his knuckles and cracking the Nakamichi CD player. Veins pulsed at his temples.

“What about me!” he shouted. “What about me!

Rochelle stroked his arm, tried to console him. “Mr. James, don’t get so worked up. Everybody knows your restaurant’s better.”

James glared at her. “Everybody? Who? Not the Times, not the Post-Intelligencer! I’ve never even been mentioned in Bon Appetite! I cook Swedish Meringue Cakes and Jamaican Escolar for my diners every night! If someone comes to my restaurant and orders Spiny Lobster Cassolet with Saffron Fouille, I prepare it personally! Why? Because I am in love with the art of cooking! But that fat bastard hires hack cooks to work his kitchen so he can primp his fucking beard on his GODDAMN tv show! And now, the only victory I’ve ever scored against the pompous cocksucker—he’s trying to take that away from me too! Only I can cook the Crackjaw eel to perfection! And now Morrone’s found it!”

“Mr. James, calm down!” Rochelle implored.

“How can I calm down while that-that-that…walrus tries to cash in on my expertise?” His glare froze, flaming with hatred. Without really thinking he—

SMACK!

—landed the back of his fist right across Rochelle’s face. “Ooow!” the girl whined high and loud, pressing her face into her hands.

James gulped, drove in silence for a while. Rochelle sobbed beside him.

“My dear girl,” he attempted. “I’m so terribly sorry. It’s just that Morrone’s got me so upset that I’m not in my right mind.” He consolingly touched her shoulder. “Please forgive me…”

Rochelle’s sobs hitched down. “I think you broke my nose!”

“There, there, let’s see.” James urged her hands away from her face. He quickly bit his lip, stifling an abrupt laugh. Rochelle’s nose had swollen to three times its normal size. “It looks fine,” he promised. “I feel awful about hitting you. I really am sorry.”

Rochelle wiped tears from her eyes, gently touched her nose with a finger. “It hurts! And it feels…really big.”

“Trust me,” James lied. “Your nose is fine. As beautiful as always, just like the rest of you. And, again, I’m very, very sorry.” James kept driving, and casting alternating glances at Rochelle. “I’ve been bad,” he said. “And I need to be punished. You know…”

Rochelle rolled her eyes, muttered “Jesus” under her breath, then hitched her little butt up in the seat and slipped off the smart white shorts.

“I’ve been bad,” James repeated, “real bad. I should never have hit Mommie.” He pulled over onto the shoulder and stopped the big Lincoln. He reached under the seat, then sheepishly handed Rochelle an 16-ounce Pyrex mixing cup.

“I think I’m actually going to enjoy it this time,” Rochelle sniped. Still lifting her ass above the leather seat, she brought the Pyrex cup between her legs and began to pee in it. The tinkle was almost musical, not quite Handel’s Water Music, but musical nonetheless. Rochelle filled it up more than halfway—impressive for a girl—and then she actually grinned.

“Jamesey’s been a bad, bad boy!” she yelled, huge-nosed. “Jamesey hit Mommy, and that’s bad!

“Yes, yes,” James blubbered from his seat. “I’m bad! I’m bad!”

“So Jamesey’s going to be punished! Jamesey’s gonna drink Mommy’s piss!” and with that, Rochelle leaned up and began to empty the amber cup into James’ mouth. Eyes shut, he gulped and gulped and gulped, urine overflowing from his mouth. Gulp, gulp, gulp—recompense for a bad boy. Soon James’ belly was full of heat, and his black-satin St. Moritz shirt was drenched.

“God, that was fun,” Rochelle muttered under her breath.

Ahhhh, James thought, slack and sated now behind the wheel. Rochelle pulled her shorts back on, then continued to inspect her bulbous nose with a finger.

Who knows? James thought. I may very well marry her someday.

But such a venture existed only in the future. James had, first, to deal with the present. He had to deal with—

Ashton FUCKING Morrone, he thought.

That fat, mincing queer has FUCKED with me long enough!

I’m going to overturn his cart!

I’m going to paint his wagon!

James’ teeth slowly ground back and forth in the delicious vision.

I’m going to KILL that limp-wristed behemoth homo…

Just a bit deeper under the Lincoln’s seat, where James had kept the Pyrex cup of his perverted pleasure, was another object.

A small .22 revolver.

««—»»

“I don’t know about you,” Carol proclaimed, “but I’m shit-faced!”

Sheree lounged opposite her, her bare feet propped up on the Winnebago’s small kitchen table. “Then I must be double shit-faced.”

The two of them had sufficiently plowed through half a case of beer and two snifters each of Ashton’s prized bottle of 1977 Gers Armagnac white brandy. Giggling, Carol had brought the bottle level back up with tap water.

With some difficulty, Sheree got up, looked out the window. Full dark had settled over the lake. A full moon glowed over the water.

“You see them?” Carol asked.

“No. I don’t know where those two fat peckerheads are. They should’ve been back by now, though.”

“Who cares? All that matters is that they’re not back. And that means it’s time for us to have some fun. I’ve got some Bebo.”

“Some…what?”

Carol was rummaging in her purse on the bed, her gorgeous breasts swaying in the tank top. “It’s the latest designer acid,” she said. “You’ve done acid, haven’t you?”

“Well, no. When I was in L.A., I was too busy doing coke,” she admitted, remembering all the hard producers’ cocks she’d sniffed lines off of.

“You’ve gotta try some Bebo. I’ve only got two tabs left.” Carol displayed the small strip of paper. On the paper were two scarlet ink-prints of what appeared to be the head of a bald baby with enormous ears and a third eye in the middle of its forehead. “It’s pretty mild, so don’t worry,” Carol added. “You’re game, right?”

What the fuck? Sheree thought. “Sure. I just lick it, right?”

“No, put it on your tongue and swallow the whole thing. But not here…” Carol got up, led Sheree by the hand to the RV’s narrow metal door. “We’re not going to drop acid in this dork-box.”

“Where are we going to do it?”

Carol opened the door. “On the lake.”

Sheree, however drunkenly, followed her new friend out to the shore. The entirety of the earth sounded pin-prick silent. Moonlight floated in ripples on the water; across the lake, the island’s trees looked like crags of mountains.

“Help me,” Carol asked. “The boat’s on the other side now.” Sheree got behind the crank on this end, grabbed the crank-handle, and began turning it, Carol cranking from the other side. In a matter of minutes, the “pull-ferry” arrived and they both stepped on.

They began cranking in the other direction, dragging the old rowboat back across the lake. Sheree took inadvertent glances over her shoulder. “Aren’t you…a little worried about them?”

“Bob and Ashton?” Carol chuckled. “They’re big boys, they can take care of themselves.”

All of a sudden, the night and its tranquil surroundings began to bother Sheree a little. Sure, Ashton was a self-aggrandizing fat dick, but she supposed she cared about him, his gayness notwithstanding. “Well…”

“You’re drunk, Sheree. Makes you a little paranoid. Don’t worry.

By now they’d hauled the rowboat to the middle of the placid lake. They stopped. The boat just sat there under the bright moonlight.

“They’re probably drunk too,” Carol added. “They’ll be back in a few hours and have hangovers tomorrow.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right…”

They sat facing each other in the boat. The boat, riding on the water, gently rose and fell. Sheree at once felt lulled.

“Here ya go.” Carol passed her the tiny snippet of paper. Sheree took it between her fingers.

“Put it face-side down on your tongue, then swallow the whole thing.”

Sheree shrugged, did it, and watched Carol repeat the process. Neither of them noticed, though, that as they sat there, the lake’s mild current was slowly drawing the boat toward the island’s shore.

“Feel it yet?”

“Nuh…no,” Carol said, still buzzed from all the alcohol. She lay back on her elbows.

“Doesn’t take long. Goes straight to the brain…”

Sheree was gazing up at the stars, smiling and breathing in the crisp, clean air. But then she momentarily flinched at an abrupt sensation.

Carol’s bare foot was rubbing up and down over the crotch of Sheree’s cut-offs.

Sheree sighed.

“One thing I forgot to tell you about Bebo,” Carol commented. “It makes you horny.”

Ordinarily, considering all the sexual activity the day had brought, even Sheree would’ve objected. But…

Sheree sighed again. Sensations slithered up to her breasts like warm phantom hands.

Soon the stars turned into fine white lines whenever she moved her head. She was trailing already. She moved her hand from right to left in front of her face, and saw a thousand fluttering duplicates like some surreal card trick.

The moon gazed back at her, an animate face.

All the while Carol’s foot kept pressing against her crotch.

It wasn’t long before the night and its moonlight was caressing them, and it wasn’t long, either, before each of them had stripped off their meager garments like dropping handkerchiefs to the boat’s floor. Sheree’s skin felt coolly ablaze. They embraced, kissing and sucking tongues. Sheree cradled the warm sac of Carol’s balls which felt big as starfruit. Carol’s finger went right up Sheree’s ass.

Dimensions seemed to stray, sound seemed to echo. Now the gentle lap of the water against the boat’s hull sounded like hands clapping, and the distant moonlight beamed on them like fluorescent tubes. They lay nude in the bottom of the boat. Sheree on top, in the position often referred to as A69.” Carol’s tongue delved deep into Sheree’s pussy, while Sheree jerked the abundant foreskin of Carol’s cock back and forth over the gorged shaft. Eventually she stuck it all down her throat like a South Beach coed in a Kielbasa swallowing contest.

Sheree was winning the contest.

Carol sucked the tender pink meat of Sheree’s sex like warm taffy. Sheree came in her friend’s face twice, her legs widely spread as if sitting on the seat of a Harley panhead. When the sensations of sheer sucking became too painful, Sheree moved her rump off, concentrating on Carol’s long, night-stick-thick cock.

“Jerk it,” came her friend’s feminine plea. “Jerk it right off!”

By now, Sheree’s mouth tinged with the salt-taste of pre-ejaculatory ooze. Her woman’s intuition told her just the right time to slip off her mouth, and then she jerked the fleshy pole back and forth. Carol’s legs vised and she moaned like a low horn.

Sheree watched the loops of semen shot high into the air, but on acid, each plume looked like jettisons of white, liquid phosphorous. Fluid flares which blew out of the swelled piss-slit, flew over the boat’s side, and landed in the lake water.

“Fuck,” Carol softly gasped.

Sheree gleefully played with the deflating dick as it slowly gave up its turgidity. The great foreskin fascinated her. She squeezed the softening meat, watched a final pearl of sperm appear at the slit, and licked it off.

When Sheree glanced up the slope of Carol’s perfect female body—perfect save for the cock she was still licking—it looked like Carol’s eyes and open mouth were bright flashlight beams.

“God, that was good,” Carol slurred.

When Sheree raised back up, her mouth drooped. The lake, now, looked kaleidoscopic, the moon a long white bar smeared across the sky. She could see silver-orange waves of heat waft off of Carol’s taut body. Then, squatting, she glanced at her own vagina and saw something that looked like eggshell-white light beaming from a bald, wet tart.

“Christ,” she remarked. “This is good acid.”

Next she was standing upright in the wobbly boat, vising each nipple between thumb and forefinger. The most minute magenta sparks seemed to shoot out.

“Yeah, damn good acid.”

“Be careful!” Carol warned. The boat began to rock as Sheree continued to stand, maintaining her footing.

Sheree heard a flitting sound, like baseball card running through the sprockets of a bicycle wheel, as she roved her gaze ahead of her. A great bulk seemed to stand before her. “What’s that?” she half shrieked.

Carol looked behind her. “How do you like that? While we were fucking around, the boat drifted all the way over to the island.”

Sheree saw traces of sparkles seem to crawl up the old wood pilings. The dock shimmered as if made of dark gold.

They both put their clothes back on, then Carol took Sheree’s hand and helped her off the boat. “Come on,” she said through a glowing grin. “Let’s check this place out…”

««—»»

Ashton’s head throbbed like a beating heart on the verge of infarction. When his eyes pried open, at first, all he saw was black.

Then the black was pierced with pinpricks of light: stars.

“Bobby, Bobby!” he shouted, stumbling across the deck to jostle hid brother. One thing he stumbled over was the high white bucket full of several dozen empty Holsten bottles. “We passed out! Bobby! Wake up!”

Eventually, Bobby did. His eyes spread on the sky. “Aw, man. It’s nighttime.”

“Damn right it is!” Ashton bellowed. “Come on! Shag ass! We gotta get back to the Winnebago! The girls’ll be pissed!”

At least they’d dropped anchor, they hadn’t drifted far. Ashton hauled it up and turned on the deck lights. Bob staggered rearward, started the big Evinrude motor.

“Head on back,” Ashton advised.

“Wait a minute,” Bob reminded. “We still have traps in the water, don’t we?”

Ashton thought about it. “Yeah, but—shit we haven’t caught anything all day. Fuck the traps. Let’s get back to the girls.”

Bob sucked on his cottonmouth. He spat, then emptied the bucket of beer bottles over the side. “What’s five minutes? We might as well check the traps.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.” Ashton snapped on a flashlight, roved its bright beam across the water. They’d used empty gallon milk bottles for buoys, and there one bobbed just over the side of the boat.

Ashton grabbed it, pulled up the long wet rope. Feels heavy,” he said.

“Don’t say that!” Bob declared. “It’s bad luck!”

Ashton hoisted the dripping trap out of the water, slammed it on deck.

Bob flicked his own flashlight down.

“Jesus Christ in a whorehouse,” Ashton muttered.

The boxlike wire trap was full of Crackjaw eel.

— | — | —

Chapter Nine

“Come on,” Carol urged. Once on the island, they ran away from the pier toward the bait shop, two sprites in the night.

No lights on in the bait shop. Before them the darkness stood, blocked with shapes that were more buildings beyond. The moon continued to hover over them, a limed face.

“What are we doing?” Sheree inquired.

“Just snooping around,” Carol replied. “What the fuck?”

Still high on LSD, Sheree followed. The dark forms around her seemed to percolate, to swell. Anything Carol said back to her seemed to slide out of her mouth like a balloon of faintly glowing oil and wrap around Sheree’s face. Sheree inhaled the liquid words into her nostrils, like gas.

God, I’m fucked up, Sheree thought, wobbling onward.

They stepped across dirt and rocks, hiked over driftwood and washed up pilings. Sheree had no idea what the purpose of this excursion was, and didn’t particularly care. Every step she took forward brought a motion of surrealistic trails. Her footfalls ground up and displayed vaguely exploding shapes before her eyes. The sound of her own huffing breath, too, exuded a shape: like sperm in a pool, she thought.

The darkness was dark light; the moon seemed amplified a hundredfold. As her breasts rode up and down beneath her haltertop, the fabric felt like coarse tongues trying to lick out milk, and the crotch of her shorts was a rough finger.

“Holy shit,” Carol whispered.

Next thing Sheree knew, they were at another shack, deeper into the woods behind the bait shop. Carol was gazing into a lit window.

“He’s…jerking off…with worms.”

With WHAT? Sheree thought. She stuck her face right up to the shack’s window, and what she saw….

The redneck from the bait shop—Esau, she thought his name was. He was lyng back on a stained bare mattress. The foot of the bed pointed toward the window, affording Sheree and Carol about as direct a view as one could want—er, that is if one could ever want such a view. GrrrrrrrrOSS! Sheree thought.

Esau lay naked save for his workboots, his great belly spread like a jumbo white beach ball half deflated. Raisin-sized moles dotted his body along with smudges of dirt, but even grosser and more bizarre was the fact Esau seemed to completely lack body hair. The bottom of his gut rolled down so low that it almost prevented masturbation. Almost. The dirty hairless scrotum bounded below his pumping hand. Not much dick, either, at least by what they could see. But Carol was right about one thing—

He is! Sheree thought in a perverse shriek. He’s jerking off…with worms!

Indeed. It was not vaseline or spit in Esau’s palm, it was a fistful of live bloodworms that he squeezed around his cock as his hand shucked manically up and down. At one point, he stopped, lifted off his hand, and as he did so, the mashed worms on his cock fell in a bloody clump between his rotund legs. Esau reached aside to a coffee can on the floor, lifted out a fresh handful, and was back at it.

Sheree tugged Carol away from the window. “We’re not really seeing this, are we?” she whispered. “It’s the acid, right?”

“No,” Carol whispered back. “Bebo just makes you see trails and colors. Never any heavy hallucinations.”

Sheree felt stifled. “But—”

“Believe it.” Carol giggled. “That fat redneck in there is whacking off with a handful of worms.”

Sheree thought she’d seen it all.

Until they went back to the window.

“Holy shit!” Carl whispered. “Look! He’s only got—”

Oh, GRRRROSS!

Esau, in his lustful angst, had now brought his knees back to his belly, fat jiggling as his hips fidgeted, his buttocks spread, and it was thanks to this gesture that Sheree and Carol noticed three things. One: Esau clearly was not in the habit of using toilet paper. Two: Only one testicle occupied his scrotum, but it was as large as a kiwi fruit. And Three:

Sheree almost threw up when her eyes deciphered the rest. Esau held his cock with his right hand, and very dextrously with his left he was feeding a long, single bloodworm into his urethra with what appeared to be a Q-Tip.

“Oh, man,” Sheree moaned.

Carol grinned over at her. “Isn’t this the freakiest thing you’ve ever seen?”

Once the worm had been pushed in completely, Esau pinched off his glans with left thumb and index finger while his right hand continued to mash the worms back and forth over his penis. Now he was really fidgeting, and through the wall, they could hear him heatedly exclaiming: “Ooo-yeah, baby! Sable! Sable! Gorgeous George! Ooo-yeah!

A lucky hunch, perhaps, or the LSD had made her precognitive, but as Sheree turned, she caught Carol about to erupt laughter. Only a single chirp escaped, however, before Sheree clamped her hand over her friend’s mouth.

“Shhhh!” she whispered. “He’ll hear you!”

They slipped their faces back to the window, and Sheree thought again, Oh, man…

It was bad enough to see a hairless, mole-spotted 300-pound man masturbate with his knees pulled back and his shit-smeared ass-crack showing. It was bad enough, too, to see his masturbate with worms and worse yet to see him force a worm down his piss-slit.

But then Esau came.

Sheree felt like a zombie staring as she watched Esau release the tip of his dick. Several spurts of semen pumped out and landed on his belly. Along with the worm.

Then Esau plucked up the worm and ate it. Yes sir. He just dropped it into his mouth, chewed, shallowed. Licked his fingers, too.

Sheree and Carol both blanched. They sat down against the shack under the window. Sheree leaned forward to—

“Don’t throw up!” Carol ordered in a whisper. “He’ll hear it and come out here!”

Sheree choked it back, light-headed. The acid only made it worse.

A door slammed.

Sheree and Carol sat rigid, hugging each other. What if he had heard them? What would he do?

Oh, God, oh God—

The moon shown down like a spotlight. Esau, now re-attired in his overalls, had exited the shack. He stood with his back to them. If he turned…

“Ooo-eee! What a beautiful night,” Esau said, looking up at the moon. He reached back, dug his fingers deep into the ass of the overalls, scratching. “Guess I better go check on Grandpa Ab’s breakfast.”

Then he walked away into the woods, whistling.

Sheree and Carol both let out long breaths. “Christ, I almost pissed myself,” Carol said.

“I—” Sheree frowned, at once noticing the damp warmth soaking her cutoffs.

“Come on!” Carol got up, rushed forward.

“Where are you going?” Sheree followed her around. Carol was going into the shack!

“Are you nuts?” By the time she caught up, Carol was already inside. As might be expected, the shack stunk. No running water, and the bathroom was simply a seatless chair set over a hole in the floor. Sheree glanced inadvertently at the can of worms by the mattress, then felt her stomach convulse. “We can’t come in here! He could come back!”

“You heard him. He said he was going to see his grandfather or something.”

That’s right, Sheree remembered. Esau had mentioned a grandfather. Grandpa Ab? “But didn’t he also say something…about breakfast?”

««—»»

“Hey, Skinny?” Esau greeted, holding up an oil lantern. Mavis remained on her hook, in shock. When Esau bit down hard on one of her nearly breastless nipples, she flinched.

“Good gal. Yer still alive. Cain’t have ya dyin’ just yet.” He patted her stapled vagina. “Gonna let that fish in there cook just right.” Menstrual blood dripped slowly from the gaps in the staples, crusted the pubic hair. “Oh, and thanks fer the cobbler fillin’. Grandpa Ab loved it. He done et six cobblers in one sittin’.”

Just for the hell of it, then, he bit her again, on the side of the ribs this time. She flinched once more and peeped out a scratch of a scream.

“Spunky little dickens! I like that in a gal! Hail, if’n it weren’t fer yer pussy bein’ stapled shut, I’se might give ya the high, hard one!”

He turned around, then leaned over the giant metal drum sitting over the fire pit. The coals glowed bright-orange, tinting Esau’s grinning face. He sniffed at the trace steam leaking from the drum’s rim. “Ummmm-MM that smells good! We’ll let Fattie cook in their till tomorrah, let all that blubber melt down into a nice rich stock. Then the meat just falls off the bone!”

Next, Esau walked over to the canoe, and touched the head sticking out of it. The head just lolled there. “Dang, ya finally died, fella. Looks like it’s pate on toast fer Grandpa’s breakfast. Cain’t wait ta see that liver on ya, bet it’s huge.

Esau set the oil lamp on a table, then grabbed a hammer and with its claw began to pull out the roofing nails which he’d used to tack the tin sheets over the canoe. “Dang!” he remarked when he’d pried off all the tin. The canoe was full up with corn-flecked diarrhea. The stench rose like the miasma over an open sewer but this did not afflict Esau in the least; to him, the stench was just another culinary aroma. The body simply lay there, submerged in shit save for the oval of its face. Esau used his knife to cut the nylon twine lashing the boy’s wrists to the front seat prop. Then he pulled the boy out on to the ground.

“Hot damn!” Esau excitedly exclaimed. The boy’s belly looked pregnant. This internal protuberance would be the liver, swollen to four or five times its normal size from weeks of force-feeding. A delicacy. Most would be used for pate, while the ends he would grill over soaked cherrywood. The trimmings would make a delectable wurst.

The boy’s body dripped liquefied shit as Esau hoisted him up and placed him on the cutting table; Esau’s arms came away slick brown. He next cut the ankle lashes. All manner of bugs and worms churned over the boy’s excrement-shellacked skin, but that was no matter. The skin would all be trimmed off. The thighs, of course, would serve as roasts; the belly, bacon; the rest rough-chopped for bouillabaisse. But first…

“Let’s get that big, sweet liver out’cha,” Esau said to himself. He went to the counter, for a paring knife. Cutting out the liver required some finesse. “Grandpa Ab’s gonna shit!

But when Esau turned back toward the table, the boy was sitting upright.

“Well don’t that beat all? The dead kid ain’t dead!”

The boy’s wild face looked at Esau and said: “Nab-bluh-glab-noob-plap!”

Esau burst laughter.

“Flup-loopsie-groo-moobuh-lops!”

“I hear ya, buddy,” Esau guffawed at the boy’s insane babble. “Life’s a bitch, huh? Well, take my word fer it, it’s ’bout ta git worse.” After four weeks in the canoe, certainly the boy would not be a threat. Weak, insane. Esau would simply cut his throat and bleed him out, then get to work but before he could—

In a feeble gesture, the boy swung his arm as if to strike a blow. “Floop!” he shrieked. Esau honked laughter but only for a moment. Even though the blow had missed, the motion sent a splat of ammonia-rich diarrhea sailing through the air, and this splat landed directly across Esau’s eyes.

“Aw, good GAWD!” At once, Esau dropped the knife, fell to his knees. His eyes burned like tear gas. He tried rubbing them, tried blinking the shit out of them, but that just made it worse. He was helpless, blind.

Meanwhile, Darren—the nineteen-year-old boy who’d been sitting in his own shit for the last month—continued to babble insanely and got up from the table. His skinny legs wobbled but he was still able to walk. He began to walk toward the door.

“Help me PLEASE!” a shriek ripped through the shack. It was Mavis, surfaced from her shock and flopping intently on the hook. “Help me please I’m BEGGING you!”

Darren looked at her. “Gar-hoob-lee?”

“Please don’t leave me here!”

Darren, even in his quite understandable clinical psychosis, must have summoned tiny remaining speck of coherence. His shit-covered feet carried him over to the stall, and then he wrapped his arms around the girl’s hips and with considerable difficulty was able to raise her up the necessary several inches for her to lift the lash between her wrists off the hook.

“Bloom-oop-duh-lie!” Darren celebrated.

“Thank you thank you!” Mavis shrieked once her feet touched the ground. She ran out the door.

Darren shrugged. “Zoo-lee-doop,” he said and then staggered out himself.

««—»»

“Look at all this stuff,” Carol remarked in amazement. Sheree stood nervously behind her in Esau’s filthy shack while her friend rummaged through an old termite-ridden dresser.

Carol held up a fat titleless book; it cover seemed to be some kind of lizard skin.

“Big deal,” Sheree said. “An old book.”

“Yeah? It’s written in Arabic. Why would that redneck moron have a book that’s written in Arabic?”

Sheree moaned wearily. “I don’t know—”

Carol clunked the book down, then picked up some other things from the drawer. “Look at this. It’s money but—”

Sheree’s eyes flicked to the drawer, which was lined with old coins and some bills.

“This money’s, like, real old.” Carol held up a worn silver dollar with the face of William Jennings Byran. The date read 1873. Several two-dollar notes displayed Jefferson’s face but had dates from the 1840's. Several dull gold coins in ten- and twenty-dollar denominations lay in the drawer.

“Big deal,” Sheree insisted. “So he’s a coin collector—”

“That hayseed? You got to be kidding.”

“Then maybe it’s his grandfather’s.”

“Sheree, some of these coins are much older than his grandfather can possibly be. This stuff must’ve been passed down from his family for generations.”

“Fine. Now let’s get out of here. He could be back any minute. And didn’t he say he had a brother?”

Carol gave it a sudden thought. “You’re right. Go wait by the door and keep an ear out. If you hear anything, whistle.”

“Carol!”

“Just go. I’ll only be another minute.”

Shaking her head, Sheree went out, stood at the front door. The acid was still streaming in her head, disorienting her. She felt as though she were standing on a trampoline as she tried to maintain her attention. She couldn’t imagine why Carol insisted on searching the shack; perhaps the LSD had brought out a kleptomaniacal impulse. Or maybe she was just a snoop. It was in a woman’s nature to snoop, she supposed…even if the woman had a penis.

Before she could further speculate, she thought she heard something. The faintest sound? Or just some aural glitch from the LSD?

Rapid tiny crunches…

Then Sheree froze, her eyes blooming. Carol had told her to whistle if she heard anything, but there was no time. That’s how fast it happened.

That’s how fast the figure appeared.

Sheree remained planted in shock as what she first thought must be a wraith emerged from the woods. A ghost, yes, like a death-camp ghost—that’s what it looked like: a tall, skeletally thin girl with short brown hair. Completely naked. Her wrists were tied together, her hands covering her pubis. The insides of her skinny white legs were smeared with blood, and her eyes, though wide, looked dead.

The figure, fast as a sprite, ran wildly past Sheree, muttering, “Fox! Fox! They put a fish in my vagina!”

And then she was gone.

Was…that…REAL? Sheree wondered. She blinked hard, sucked in deep, deep breaths. It seemed real. But—

At the same moment, slightly louder yet slower noises drifted toward her. It was now perplexion that paralyzed more than fear.

Another shape drifted from the darkness.

A shining brown man, with a belly sticking out like a soccer ball. He walked as if palsied, skinny legs struggling to support the disproportionate weight of the abdomen, and he, too, was naked. And—

WHEW! Sheree thought.

If this was a hallucination, it was a damn stinky one. This brown man smelled worse than a sewer. Oddly, only his face was white—blanched white—like the skin of the girl who’d just jogged by. The rest of his body seemed smeared with…

Is it…shit? Sheree wondered.

It was a shit-covered man!

He stopped in his tracks at Sheree’s presence. He looked right at her.

“Brab-nab-lee-gab,” he said.

Then he hobbled away.

Sheree silently stared after him.

When Carol grabbed her arm, Sheree almost screamed out loud. “Did I just hear a voice out here?” Carol asked.

“Uh…”

“Sheree? What’s wrong? You look like you just saw a ghost.”

Sheree slowly shook her head. “You don’t want to know what I just saw.”

“Not the redneck’s brother!” came Carol’s fierce whisper.

“No. No, I don’t think so.”

“What, then?”

Sheree steeled herself for what she was about to let pass her lips. “I saw a naked skinny girl who said there was a fish in her vagina.”

Carol gawped back.

“Then,” Sheree continued, “I saw…a shit-covered man.”

“A shit-covered man?

“Yes. Yes.”

Carol’s bulging breasts jiggled beneath her tight top as she chuckled. “Wow, I guess the acid was stronger than I thought.”

“It’s not the acid,” Sheree declared. “I really did see it.”

Carol could barely contain her laughter. “A girl with a fish in her pussy and a shit-covered man? Oh, Sheree, that’s rich!”

“But, but, but—”

“You’re fucked up,” Carol insisted and grabbed her arm. “Come on. I need to show you this.”

— | — | —

Chapter Ten

Not one, not two, not three—

It was four 20-gallon coolers Ashton and Bob brought back to the Winnebago.

Coolers full of big fat live jumpin’ Crackjaw eel. Some of them were a yard long and over five pounds apiece; they could be easily cleaned, fileted, vacuumed-packed and frozen for import to Japan at five dollars per six-ounce portion. What they’d caught in a few hours, in other words, equated to thousands.

Just in a few hours.

“We’re gonna buy this fuckin’ lake,” Ashton said. “Or make some kind of deal with those crackers. This lake might as well be full of gold.”

But Bob wasn’t paying much attention. He was looking out the Winnebago’s small window. “I’m worried. It’s almost midnight. Where are the girls?”

“They’re probably out walking in the woods somewhere,” Ashton suggested. “Probably talking girl-talk.” Ashton pulled open the fridge. “Beer?”

“Naw, no thanks.” Bob glanced seriously at his brother. “Ashton, I’m really worried—”

“Well stop worrying, and have a beer.” Ashton thrust a Holsten into his brother’s hand. Then he huffed and puffed, dragging the one of the coolers of eel toward the auxiliary refrigerator in the back of the vehicle.

“Hey, Ashton, I think they went over to the island.”

Ashton frowned. “What?”

“The girls. They must’ve gone over to the island. ’Cos that cable-boat thing isn’t at the pier on this side. It’s over there.”

“So? They’re going for a nature walk.” Ashton giggled. “Maybe they’re making whoopie.”

Bob’s lips pursed as if he’d just sucked a lemon wedge. “It’s too late for them to be walking around this place. I’m taking the boat over.”

Ashton grinned wide. “Hey, they’re consenting adults, and if Carol’s cock is as big as you say, I think Sheree’s pussy might have some interest in it.”

Bob wasn’t digging this avenue of the conversation. “You coming?”

“I’ve got to load all this eel into the fridge. Gotta keep these puppies cool.”

“Fine.”

“Hey, what are you all pissed about? I don’t give a shit what Sheree does. If Carol’s fucking her brains out in the woods, that’s cool with me.”

“Well, it’s not cool with me,” Bob sniped. “And that’s not what’s happening anyway.”

Ashton raised a bushy brow. “Relax, will you? They’ll be back any minute.”

Bob, his face slightly pinkened now, grabbed his beer and stormed out of the RV. Moments later, Ashton heard the SeaRay’s motor start up; then the boat chugged across the lake, its spotlight beaming ahead.

He needs to lighten up, Ashton thought, hoisting the first cooler into the back fridge.

««—»»

“Dang it, boy!” Enoch bellowed in the oil-lamp-lit cooking shack. He smacked his brother hard on the back of the head as Esau was trying to rinse his eyes from the water pump.

“I’se sorry, Enoch!” the younger one pleaded. “He bushwhacked me!”

“What? A kid who’s been tied up in a tub’a shit fer the last month? And that skinny l’il twig of a girl?”

“The fella threw shit in my eyes, Enoch! It burns! I couldn’t see fer awhiles!”

Enoch smacked Esau in the back of the head again. “Quit’cher whinin’, boy. Git on yer feet. We gotta fetch ’em both back. If Grandpa Ab finds out about this, there’ll be some high and might hell ta pay, and you’ll be the one payin’ it.”

“Eeee-OOOW!” Esau shrieked when Enoch grabbed him by the hair, twisted hard, and pulled him up from the pump. He dragged him back outside, into the night.

“And I’ll tell ya somethin’ else, ya dumb-ass,” Enoch added. “Them two rich bitches you was talkin’ ’bout, I seen ’em earlier comin’ onto the island. Didn’t matter none—till you lost the skinny girl and the kid in the canoe. If the rich bitches see ’em, they could talk. So you know what that means.”

Esau looked up dumbfounded. “You mean we gotta kill ’em?”

“Damn straight, and it’s yer fault, A-hole. Can you ’magin’ what’d happen if they saw that kid from the canoe’n then went and tolt their boyfriends? They’d have the cops out here. Then we’d be ruined and Grandpa Ab’d die. The family tradition would end.”

Esau’s throat went dry. Even he realized the totality of the implication. “If, uh, if we gotta kill the girls, then don’t that mean we also gotta kill—”

“That’s right. The two rich brothers, too.”

“Enoch!” Esau wailed. “We cain’t kill Ashton Morrone! He’s a master chef! He’s a tv star! He’s my hero!”

“Fuck him. He’s dead’n gutted. All of ’em are. We cain’t risk any of ’em seein’ what got out here tonight.”

“Ah, dog-gone!” Esau complained.

Enoch gave him another smack to the head. “And don’t’cha forget what I tolt ya. It all your fault. Yer in charge of the kitchen, but I’se in charge of ever-thing else.” Enoch glared his disapproval. “So’s now we split up, that’ll double our chances. You take south, I’ll take north. If we don’t have this whole fucked up mess fixed up by mornin’, you ain’t gonna be worth more than dead dog’s snot.” Lastly, for effect, he kicked Esau hard in the ass.

The stupid boy ran off into the trees.

“Dang boy’s got gopher shit fer a brain,” Enoch muttered. He emptied his nostrils onto the ground, then stalked off for the hunt.

««—»»

“See?” Carol said. There was a small white marker light by the pier, which Carol used to show what she’d found. Newspaper clippings. “Look how old they are.”

LOCH NESS OF THE NORTHWEST? one headline read from the National Enquirer. The article went on to read:

“It was big,” says long-time fisherman Barnabas Marsh, “like a giant jellyfish or a whale with tentacles.” Last week Marsh was fishing at an obscure lake near Port Angeles, Washington, when he spotted the giant “shape” in the water. “It looked like a giant shadow running under my boat. It must’ve been a hundred feet long.” A “Loch Ness Monster” in America? “Whatever it was,” Marsh says, “I’ll never go fishing there again!”

Sheree rolled her eyes. “It’s a tabloid article, Carol,” she complained. “What’s the big deal?”

“Look at the date. It’s from 1961. “nd you know they’re talking about this lake.”

“It doesn’t name the lake,” Sheree countered.

“Well then why would that redneck kid have the article? Here, check this one out.”

DISAPPEARANCES BAFFLE LOCAL POLICE read another headline, this one from The Port Angeles Examiner. The article went on to relate that some twenty people, mostly hunters and fishermen, had disappeared over a five-year period in vicinity to…Sutherland Lake. The date of the article was 1946.

“I still don’t see what the big deal is,” Sheree attested.

“Okay, but what did that redneck kid say his name was?”

“Isaiah? No, Esau. Something like that.”

“Right, and he’s gotta be—what?—in his mid-twenties at the most?”

“I guess.”

“So he couldn’t possibly have been alive when either of those articles were written, right?”

“Right.”

“Okay, so read the third one now.” Carol began to walk toward the woods. “I’ll be right back.”

“Where are you going?”

“I have to—you know.”

“What?”

“I have to poop!” Carol whispered back.

Carol traipsed away behind some trees; Sheree turned back to the marker light and unfolded the piece of paper that Carol had secreted from Esau’s foul shack, this one (thinner and more yellowed than the others) was from something called The Juan de Fuca Reporter. But it wasn’t an article, it was an advertisement.

NEW FISHING SPOT!

Come to Sutherland Lake for fine fishing!

Bait Shop open now at southeast tip of

Harstene Island! Live bait and riggings

and hooks! Ask for Enoch or Esau,

your friendly proprietors!

Sheree’s eyes narrowed in suspicion but then they shot wide when she checked the top of page for the date, which was May 25, 1857.

««—»»

Though Carol appeared to be a woman, it was a man-sized shit she took in the woods. Holy Moly, she thought with a light, girly chuckle. She’d hiked up her tight denim skirt and squatted, unloosing from her bowels a two-foot-long piece of stool fat as Polish sausage. Her dick, nearly as wide, swung limp between her pretty legs, the snout-like foreskin brushing the forest ground. She frowned at a series of gassy farts—very unfeminine!—and could actually feel the warmth of the great defecation rise up to her bottom.

Her penis did a little jig, and her big balls swayed, when her sphincter squeezed off the last of the loaf. “Damn,” she whispered next, still squatting. “What am I gonna wipe myself with?”

She scolded herself for not thinking of this first but, after all, this was the first time she’d ever crapped in the Great Outdoors. She looked around for a leaf or something…

—when the large, malodorous hand clamped over her mouth.

Carol fainted at once.

“I gots somethin’ you can wipe with, honey,” Esau’s foul breath gusted into her ear. His free hand slid up her ass-crack, taking with it some of her fecal remains, which he then smeared over her face. The rest he sucked off his already dirty fingers.

Mmm, he thought. Steak’n taters last night..

He threw her over his shoulder and carried her off.

««—»»

Sheree didn’t know what to think about the 140-year-old advertisement. But before she could ponder all of the possibilities, a bright light roved across her face.

A boat motoring toward the dock.

“Sheree?” Bob’s voice called out. “Is that you?”

‘Yes!” She jumped up, waving. “Hurry!”

As Bob pulled the SeaRay up, Sheree turned toward the woods. Where was Carol?

“Carol? Hurry up!” Jesus Christ, how long does it take to shit in the woods?

Bob had shut the engine down, tied the SeaRay to the pier with its moorings. He was off the boat and hurrying as best he could toward Sheree.

“We were worried,” he explained, working up a mighty sweat from the ten-yard jog. “What are you doing over here on the island?”

“We—” Sheree stalled. We were fucking our brains out, and the rowboat drifted over, would’ve been the truth but, of course, she couldn’t say that. “We just felt like…walking around. But—” Sheree excitedly held up the old newspaper clippings. “Look what we found. This is some really weird.”

“Where’s Carol?” Bob cut her off.

“She’s—” Sheree pointed feebly behind her. “She’s—you know.”

“No I don’t know,” Bob replied. His voice was stern.

“She’s using the, uh, only ladies’ room available right now.”

“Oh.” He looked seriously at her, through a drunken gaze. “Are you fucking her?”

“Why—oh, Bob! Of course not! Don’t be ridiculous!” Sheree lied. “You men, you’re so jealous.” God, I lie so easy, she thought. She wagged the news-clippings. “But, look. Look what we found in—”

“Where is she?” Bob interrupted again. “This is fucked up. Me and Ashton are out on the boat all goddamn day working our asses off, and you two are fooling around over here when it’s past midnight.” He tromped off toward the woods.

“Bob, for God’s sake,” she pleaded, following him. “We weren’t fooling around!” At least that much, by Sheree’s definition, wasn’t a lie. We fucked and sucked each other until we couldn’t come any more. That’s a bit more than fooling around.

Carol!”

No response.

“All right,” Bob demanded. “Where is she?”

“She should be…right here,” Sheree said and pointed.

Behind the trees, the area of space into which she pointed, however, revealed no sign of Carol. Well, there was one sign. An impressive pile of shit sitting there in the moonlight.

Still steaming.

««—»»

“So’s don’t ya see?” Esau was explaining. “What we’se doin’ out here ain’t that bad, not really. Just mindin’ our own beeswax and takin’ care of our Grandpa. It’s a family tradition.”

It was during these words that the hot blond big-tit city bitch named Carol was regaining her consciousness, the smear of her own shit marking her face.

Esau was holding a carving fork to her throat.

“Don’t’cha scream, now, else I’se’ll have ta dig out yer throat. Ya hear me?”

Somehow, Carol’s pain and terror allowed her to nod the affirmative. As if crucified, she’d been nailed by the hands to a wall in a reeking wood shack. Dim oil lamps cast feeble light about the slat-wood walls. Her clothes remained on but she had a grim feeling that wouldn’t be the case for long.

Esau’s gaze ran down her body like slow drool. “Lord Almighty, I say you are one sure-fire hot gal! Hotter than the lid on a pot-bellied stove!” The boy’s lust left him side-tracked. He had to remember this was serious business. “Now like I was sayin’, shore, we pluck a few folks here, a few folks there, but them’s the ways of the world. We take care of our Grandpa by providin’ him with the best viddles we can—that’s how I learnt ta cook real fancy-like. But right now me and my brother Enoch, see, we got a problem. And I need ta know ’bout anything you might’a seed.”

Tears turned Carol’s mascara into black eyes. “I-I-I don’t know what you mean!”

“I need ta know if you seen anything…kinda weird tonight. Since you been on the island.”

“I-I-I,” Carol repeated. “Wait a minute! I didn’t see it myself but—”

“Yeah?”

Carol erupted into more tears. “You’d never believe it!”

“Try me, cutie.”

“Well-well-well, it was Sheree. She said she saw…” but then the rest of her sentence dissolved into more blubbering terror.

Esau nicked her throat with the carving fork. “Tell me, blondie, else I’ll dig out yer adam’s apple like it’s a meatball.”

“Sheree said she saw a-a-a shit-covered man and a skinny girl who said she had a fish in her pussy!” Carol unreeled in one long horror-stricken breath.

Esau’s stare held down at what she’d said, his mouth cocked open. “Okay, sweetie, that’s fine, that’s just dandy. But what I need ta know now…is where? Where did yer friend see the shit-covered man’n the skinny girl?”

“Right in front of your shack!” Carol answered.

Esau released a sigh of relief. Now he knew where to look! And they couldn’t be far, could they? ‘S’shame ta have ta kill this bitch now, he thought, but I ain’t got no time ta fuck around. He was about jam the carving fork straight into her throat but then something rather obvious occurred to even Esau’s dim mind. “Now wait just one minute there, girlie. How do you know where my shack is?”

Carol’s pretty mouth open, then closed. She gulped.

Esau exerted a tad more force behind the fork. “Tell me the truth,” he lied, “and I’ll let’cha live. Lie to me, and I dig out’cher whole neck. I’ll dig yer eyeballs out’n eat ’em like plums.”

Carol was sobbing full force now, shuddering against the nails in her palms. “We were just walking around, I swear! Then we looked in your window and-and we saw you.”

Esau raised a high brow indeed. “Saw me? Saw me doin’ what? Don’t lie!”

“We saw you muh-muh-masturbating!” Carol admitted.

Esau cocked his head. “Huh?”

“Jerking off! With…the worms!”

Esau smiled, nodding. Just like a couple of bitches, wasn’t it? Sneakin’ around at night? Peepin’ in a fella’s winder? “Well, honey, I’se thank ya fer bein’ honest…’cos I ain’t. I’m gonna kill ya, all right, but not just yet. I’se gonna have ta give you good fuckin’ first.”

Snot glistened beneath Carol’s nose as she sobbed uncontrollably. Esau dropped his overalls, sporting half a hard-on. The single kiwi-fruit-sized testicle swung from the strange hairless scrotum. The penis itself, however, was even stranger. It was white as wax, covered with bumps, its outer skin splotched with dark-purple dots like the skin of a squid’s mantle. Only the corona appeared normal. When he touched it, it sprang to full turgidity.

Bewildered, Carol’s face paled when she saw it.

“Now let’s have a look-see at this pussy on ya,” Esau enthused. “Bet’choo got a real purdy one, huh, like a big hot peach pie!”

The hell…

It was no peach pie that greeted Esau’s gaze when he shoved up Carol’s denim skirt. It was a big dick.

“You gots ta be shittin’ me!” he managed some bewilderment of his own. “A chick with a dick!” Along with Esau’s bewilderment, of course, came more than a smidgen of jealousy, for Carol’s penis was twice the size of his.

“I know what you are!” he wailed. “You’re like them people on Springer! Homo dudes foolin’ with their bodies ta look like bitches so’s they can trick straight guys!”

Esau hoisted his overalls back up, and from a pocket produced a pair of chicken shears. “Yeah, let’s just cut that hog right off. Balls too. Ain’t right fer you ta have a pecker.” He frowned at it once more. “’Specially one that big.”

When Carol saw the shears she belted out a high-pitched and very feminine scream, then fainted dead away.

Hmm, Esau thought. Now that it was time to get down to business, he hesitated. Maybe there was something better to do with it.

“Come ta think of it, honey, maybe we’ll just wait a spell…”

««—»»

“The goddamn hell,” Ashton muttered. He’d stowed the rest of the eel in the rear refrigerator, had another beer, another glass of wine, and another cigar. It was 1 a.m. now, by his Cartier watch. “Where the hell are they?” He peered frowning out the Winnebago’s side window. Across the moonlit lake, he could see Bob’s SeaRay tied up to the pier at the island.

“What in God’s name are they doing over there?”

A sudden rap on the door startled him. If everyone’s over on the island, he deduced, who could that be at the door?

Ashton yanked open the door.

“Hi, Mr. Morrone…”

Ashton peered strangely at the pert, pretty girl in the doorway. A brunette in a white top and neat white shorts. She looked familiar…

“You’re one of the bus-girls at my restaurant, aren’t you?”

“Rochelle,” the girl said.

“What on earth are you doing here?”

“Well, the assistant manager, Mr. Curwen, he lost your cell-phone number so he sent me out. He needs to know which day that wedding party is renting the banquet room. He says you forgot to tell him.”

Ashton’s face creased up in irritation. “Oh, for God’s sake. Come in.” He let her into the lit RV. “It’s Saturday, I told him repeatedly. But I appreciate your trouble, Michelle.”

“Rochelle.”

“Er, yes. I appreciate your coming all this way. That’s a long drive. Would you like something to drink?”

“No, thank you.”

Ashton grabbed himself what was probably his eighteenth beer of the day. But when he turned, he stared at her. Now that she stood in the light, he noticed—

“My God, girl. You nose is as big as an Alaskan strawberry! What happened?”

“Oh, damn!” Rochelle exclaimed, then began sobbing. “I knew it!”

Her being here was odd enough, and her query about the banquet was just as odd. But then, through his dull inebriation, something even odder occurred to Ashton.

I didn’t tell anyone I was coming here…

“Roseanne?”

“It’s Rochelle,” she sobbed, holding her swollen nose.

“Whatever.” Ashton fingered his beard. “How did you know I was coming here? I know I told Curwen that I was going on a fishing trip with my brother. But I never said where.”

Rochelle stopped sobbing, now wearing a look of anxiety. Her hand dropped from her swollen red nose. “I, er, uh…”

“She did it for me, Morrone,” another voice announced.

You!” Ashton exclaimed.

It was his arch-rival who’d just stepped into the RV:

M. Gerald James.

“My, but don’t we look fat today, hmm, Ashton?”

“What the hell are you doing here, you fussy snoot?” Ashton railed.

James smiled primly. “Topped three-hundred on the scale yet? Must be all those Big Macs, for certainly you don’t eat in that latrine you call a restaurant. I wouldn’t eat in that slop shop…with your mother’s mouth.”

“Those are fighting words, James!” Ashton exploded. His man-tits swung back and forth under his shirt as he lunged forward until—

click!

James produced a small .22 revolver and cocked it.

Ashton’s bravado came to an abrupt halt. “Are you out of your mind! What’s the meaning of this? Why are you here?”

James ran a finger down the line of his thin mustache. “Oh, I was just a bit curious, my fine, corpulent friend. How’s the fishing out here?”

Ashton stood fat and pouting.

“How’s the trout biting, and the walleye? Caught any shad, caught any…Crackjaw eel? Hmm?”

“So that’s what this is all about!” Ashton snapped. “Well, I’m happy to tell you that you’ve wasted your time. There’s no eel in this lake!”

“Oh?” James said. “And those rather large coolers I saw you and your ridiculously obese brother dragging in? I suppose they were full of catfish?” James pulled open the rear refrigerator. He looked in, paused, and then took on an expression as though he’d just found the real Shroud of Turin.

“My God…

Live eel were squirming in the coolers, hundreds of them.

“Let’s make a deal, James,” Ashton bid. “We’ll split the wealth. We tell no one else about this lake, and split the proceeds fifty-fifty.”

James brow arched. “A generous offer, I must say… All right, you’ve got a deal—” and then James promptly fired three shots right into Ashton’s massive chest. The bullets smacked—PAP! PAP! PAP!—and shoved Ashton to the front of the RV; the vehicle rocked when he landed flat on his back. He flopped like a gaffed salmon, then lay still.

“You killed him!” Rochelle shrieked, holding her bulbous nose.

“Of course I did!” James snapped back. “And he deserved it! He’s a fat vagabond masquerading as a chef. His very existence defames the culinary arts! Well, now I’ve ended that disgraceful existence.” James chuckled down at Ashton’s limp body. “I should get the James Beard Award for this.”

“What are we gonna do!” Rochelle continued shrieking. Her rising blood-pressure only seemed to increase the swelling of her nose.

“We’ll take the eel and return to Seattle,” James answered simply.

“Well then let’s go! Let’s do it now! We have to get out of here!”

“But what’s the hurry, my darling? No one knows we’re here. But keep in mind, there are still a few people who know about this lake and what it contains.” James smiled nefariously. “Ashton’s rotund brother, and the two women. They’re obviously over on the island.” The smile widened. “So we’ll have to take care of them, too.”

— | — | —

Chapter Eleven

Bob had retrieved two flashlights from the SeaRay, and now he and Sheree stalked through the woods, bright beams roving to and fro.

Bob was nearly in tears.

“This is crazy! Where could she be?”

“Don’t worry,” Sheree tried to console. “We’ll find her. We… Well, we were both pretty fucked up.” She declined to tell him about the “Bebo” LSD. “We, uh, drank a lot. She’s probably still buzzed. I’ll bet she just wandered off.”

Bob didn’t seem convinced.

“What are all these shacks?” he queried. “They’re covered with brush. It’s almost like they’re hidden out here in the woods.”

“I don’t know,” Sheree said, but she had to admit, something about the row of long shacks disturbed her. Many of them were windowless, or only had windows high up toward the roof. And, from somewhere, she thought she smelled—

Barbeque?

“You don’t think Carol…”

“No, Bob, I’m sure she didn’t go into any of those shacks,” Sheree retorted. “I told you, she’s drunk. She just wandered off in the wrong direction.”

“Yeah but…” Bob sniffed. “Is it me, or do I smell some damn good barbeque?”

“I smell it too,” Sheree admitted, walking on. “It’s probably a smokehouse or something. That fat redneck kid, he said he was a chef. Ashton’s his hero.”

“Fuckin’ Ashton,” Bob muttered. “I knew that coming out here was a dumbass thing to do. He got his goddamn eel but…I lost Carol!”

Bob began to blubber outright; Sheree patted his shoulder. “Stop worrying. We’ll find her.”

They walked on. Their footsteps crunched. Sheree could see the dual beams of their flashlights cutting into the darkness ahead. But suddenly—

A louder crunch resounded, then a noise as if Bob—or someone—had grunted oof!

—and all at once, Sheree could no longer see the dual beams of their flashlights sprouting ahead. There was only the single beam of her own.

Stricken, she glanced madly around, aiming the light. There was no sign of Bob anywhere!

“Bob!”

No reply.

Jesus Christ! He was standing right next to me a second ago!

Her light whipped all around. “Bob! Where are you?”

But there was no Bob—anywhere.

First Carol and now Bob? she fretted. Now she was genuinely scared. The acid still buzzed through her system, making every leafy rustle fraught with terrifying significance.

“To hell with this,” she whispered under her breath. She began to run back to the pier as fast as her sneakered feet would permit. “Gotta get back across the lake! Gotta get Ashton!”

But when she got back to the pier…the pull-ferry boat was gone.

««—»»

“That’s a good, fine girl,” James complimented. “I’d do it myself, of course, if it weren’t for this blasted bad disc in my back.”

Upon instruction, Rochelle had cranked the pull-ferry back ashore, whereupon she and James had gotten into the boat, and now she was, with more than a little exertion, cranking in the opposite direction, toward the island. James sat anxiously in the stern as she worked the crank. Just three more people to kill, he thought, wringing his hands, and the secret will be all mine! But killing that bulbous fraud Ashton had been the best. Just recollecting the murder of his rival produced a throbbing erection in his pants.

The scenery didn’t help.

Oh, dear. What a sight!

Rochelle’s petite bottom jutted out as she continued cranking the boat across the water. James couldn’t stand the moon-lit vision, and in the next moment he’d released his boner from the front of his pants.

“God, my nose hurts,” Rochelle muttered, cranking. Her back to him, she couldn’t see what he was doing. But then she glanced over her shoulder. “Oh, for God’s sake!”

“I can’t help myself, sweetheart,” James confessed, masturbating openly. His balls flopped up and down as he jerked the shaft. “Your beauty sets me ablaze.” His pulse rose; sweat broke out on his brow. He looked sheepishly at Rochelle. “Please, hon. I’ll only need a minute. You don’t mind stepping out of those shorts, do you?”

Rochelle sighed, her shoulders slumping. She let go of the crank, then slid the white shorts off. “Such a fine, wonderful girl,” James said to himself. He squeezed drool out of his cock, rubbed it around the glans. Next he was on his feet, knees wobbling, and he was parking his wet dick into Rochelle’s vagina from behind.

“Now,” James breathed. “Keep cranking…”

Not a happy camper, Rochelle got back on the crank; all James need do was stand there grasping her hips. As her upper-body went up and down, her lower body fell into a sufficient sexual rhythm.

“Yes, yes,” James muttered his pleasure. He began to stroke back now, amplifying the union of their genitals.

“Be careful, Mr. James!” she shot over her shoulder. “You’ll tip the boat over!”

James didn’t hear her. “Okay, my darling little thing! Now!”

“Now what?” she griped.

“You know,” James pleaded like a child.

Rochelle couldn’t have frowned with more disdain. As James’ penis continued to slide back and forth, Rochelle began to urinate.

Yes, yes! Now the hot flood poured back on James; his pleasure stung. “Keep cranking, Mommy!” he wheezed. “Keep cranking!”

Rochelle kept cranking and pissing. Urine gushed from the slit of her sex, either pouring off of James’ balls into the bottom of the boat or soaking James’ pants.

Closer, closer. James’ hips pounded her rump. And when he thought again of that fat stooge Morrone lying dead, James shuddered and went rigid, rising on his tiptoes. At the moment of his orgasm’s first spasm, he pulled a trifle too hard on her hips and—

WHACK!

—Rochelle’s hand slipped off the crank, and the crank flew up and hit her square…in the nose.

When she collapsed forward, James remained standing, his climax, regrettably, not yet complete. Rochelle, in dire pain, squealed on the boat’s floor, her hands clasped to her face. “It hit me right in the nose!” she shrieked, blood trickling.

Blast! James thought. Her and her goddamn nose again, and right in the middle of my—

Primal instinct compelled James to jerk off the rest. Thin jets of semen landed on Rochelle’s back. Ahhhh, ahhhh, he thought. Good Mommy, good Mommy…

Shorts off, face bloody, cringing in pain, and lying in her own urine, Rochelle cried like a baby. Her fingers daintily touched her nose. “It feels like a rotten tomato now!” she wailed.

Spent now, James exhaled, greedily stroking the final sensations out of his softening penis, which he eventually put back into his pants. He licked his hand, tasting the girl’s ambrosial urine.

“It hurts so much!

When she turned around in the moonlight, James had to chuckle. Her nose, indeed, looked like a squashed tomato. “There, there, dear. It’ll be all right,” he said.

“No it won’t!” she rebelled, tears streaming. “It’s ruined!

“Once we’re done with our chores on the island,” he reminded her, patting the little gun in his belt, “this veritable treasure trove of Crackjaw eel will make me rich. I’ll buy you a new nose! And anything else you want. On this, you have my word.” Then James finally leaned over to help her up and—

“Whoa!” he shouted.

—his knees buckled and he fell overboard.

At the sound of the splash, Rochelle reclaimed her composure; this might prove a bit more serious than her nose. “Mr. James!” she cried out, looking over the edge of the boat. The lake barely rippled. She’d heard the splash but nothing else after that. “Mr. J—”

««—»»

“—ames!” M. Gerald James was able to hear beneath the water. Bubbles exploded from his mouth; something felt wrapped around him. He couldn’t see, and that was probably a good thing. He seemed to be cocooned in writhing snakes a foot thick, and pressed against an expanse that was like a cool wall of slime. The wall seemed to heave back and forth. James was blind beneath the treacherous water, and he was about to drown. Suddenly it was not blood that coursed through his veins but sheer electric terror, and just as suddenly, all the things he loved—cooking, being pissed on, Crackjaw eel, and committing murder—faded into nihility. All that remained was his life, which was now being clutched away by some—

Thing! James managed to think.

Whatever it was around him felt huge, more than a match for the thin debonaire pencil-mustached master chef. Nevertheless, within the moment before he knew the last of his breath would expel from his lungs and leave him to inhale lake water, a final superhuman burst of strength ensued. His legs pumped in the water as effectively as the back fin of a dolphin.

And suddenly, in spite of the stout snakelike thing girded about his waist, James propelled upward in the dragging water. Higher, higher, fighting to the last fiber of his living being, until his hands broke the surface, and he’d grabbed the edge of the boat, and then—

««—»»

—Mr. James hauled himself upward. Rochelle rejoiced…in spite of her smashed nose.

“Help me!” James wailed.

The side of the boat began to dip as Rochelle’s employer tried to climb back aboard. Something seemed to be holding him back, but Rochelle couldn’t imagine what.

“Help me!”

Bottomless, nose throbbing, and damp with urine, Rochelle bravely reached out. She grabbed James’ outstretched arm and pulled.

But the harder she pulled, the further the edge of the boat began to tip toward the water.

I’ll…sink the boat, she realized.

Something, indeed, was trying to pull back, something very strong and clearly much stronger than she.

Rochelle—

“Noooo!” James shouted.

—let go of James’ arm, if only for the common sense of self-preservation.

During the bizarre tug-of-war, James had managed to haul himself up to the boat to the point of his waist, but when Rochelle let go, he snapped back down, clinging to the edge now only by his hands.

“Help me, please!” his wet, manic face begged.

“Fuck you!” she shouted back. “It’ll tip the boat over!”

Rochelle then appropriately cowered in the stern, watching and shivering. In the final moments between the time her employer became her former employer, James regained a few precious inches, tipping the boat again as struggled to climb upward, and it was then that Rochelle, in the clean moonlight, was able to get a glimpse of the thing that had a hold of James.

It looked like a shiny, slick elephant’s truck that was wrapped around his waist.

Then the trunk abruptly tightened and—

“ARRRRRRRRG!” came James’ muffled scream.

—the entirety of his gastro-intestinal tract exploded from his mouth and landed in the boat. A final constriction quickly broke James’ back like a piece of dry spaghetti; a reflexive response caused his teeth to gnash which bit off the connective innards.

James body was pulled back down into the lake, leaving his guts in the boat.

Then—silence.

Rochelle shivered from the fetal position she taken up in the stern. She was sucking her thumb she was so scared. From the water, something long emerged, rising. It seemed to look down on her, and it was not an elephant trunk.

It slapped down wetly onto the floor of the boat, then it slithered about Rochelle’s waist. For one horrible moment she was able to see the vast thing that the appendage was connected to, then in one quick flex, it constricted, and, just like James, it squeezed all of her gastric organs out of her mouth.

Rochelle didn’t have time to scream; she scarcely even had time to feel pain, before the thing lifted her up and then pulled her down into the water.

The last sensation she detected before death’s inevitable embrace was her flesh being sucked off her bones like beef strips off a skewer.

««—»»

When Bob regained consciousness, he quickly realized he was still alive, then just as quickly wished he were dead. He could see nothing but black, but he could smell.

Oh, could he smell.

He smelled the devil’s toilet.

One whiff of the caustic, evil odor and he thought his head might explode like a firecracker in a hard-boiled egg. Any inhalation he took felt like death seeping through his lungs and into his blood.

He seemed to roll over logs of slime. Anything he reached out and grabbed was pestiferous. But as he tried to crawl toward what he sensed was upward, his hand landed on something that felt familiar.

His flashlight.

He snapped it on, roved it around—

And screamed.

What he’d fallen in was a corpse-pit, an endless one. His sanity snapped. A mindless swipe of the light showed him a cavern of slick skeletons and moldering corpses, descending down into a chasm whose depth he could not calculate.

And since humans needed oxygen to live, he was forced to continue breathing. The pit was hot and humid. Nameless bugs and worms crawled on his hands each time he tried to crawl away. The only problem was…there didn’t seem to be anything to crawl away from.

Then the flashlight slipped from his hand, clunked away into foul darkness. Bob lay stranded in utter black again.

Until…

Was it a hallucination? As his hand sunk in warm corpse-meat and rot-slick bones, his eyes seemed to detect the most minute variation in the darkness.

Starlight and…the moon.

Yes! he thought, crawling upward more rapidly over the mountain of human kindling. Above him, he could see it.

He could see the opening.

It was like a flap of some sort, the same ingress, no doubt, through which he’d fallen. It was an opening back to life!

Flesh squeezed between his fingers like warm shit; faces slid off of skulls. Yet onward Bob travailed, back up toward the exit from this warren of Lucifer’s bowels.

A few more minutes of crawling upward, then a few more seconds. Bob thought that if he took one more breath he would simply die.

His desperate hand jutted out through the opening; his hand, suddenly, felt cool.

Then another hand grabbed it.

Sheree! he thought. She found me, and she’s pulling me out!

Bob, then, was pulled out. He was pulled all the way out of the hole in the tarp and timber-frame that his near-300-pound body had busted through when he’d inadvertently stepped on it.

“Sheree!” he shrieked in glee when he’d been dragged all of the way from the corpse-dump.

“Shee-it,” came a reply. “Lookit this, would’ja?”

It was not Sheree who’d pulled Bob out. It was Enoch.

««—»»

Hurry the fuck UP! Sheree thought, watching the pull-ferry crank on her side slowly revolve. Fuckin’’ Ashton. He’s so fat it’s like hauling a barge!

But then the crank stopped.

It stopped dead. Sheree just stared at it for an incalculable passage of time. Did she hear a distant splash? Then another?

Sheree didn’t know how much time transpired before she took the crank herself and began to turn it. The resistance seemed slight. And when she’d cranked the boat all the way back to the pier, she quickly played the beam of her flashlight over the boat.

Ashton was not in the boat.

At first she didn’t know what she was looking at. At first…she thought the boat was empty.

But it wasn’t quite empty, was it?

No.

The boat contained two piles of human innards.

— | — | —

Chapter Twelve

Esau had found Darren wandering around the north shore, babbling inanely, of course, and still covered with shit. “Got’cha, fella!” Esau had exclaimed upon the capture. “Fun time’s over!”

“Frab-blab-yoo-hlab!” Darren objected.

Esau drew his buck knife cleanly through the tendons behind each of Darren’s knees, and that put an end to any further jaunts. The fact that the boy was still enslimed in his own fecal matter didn’t faze Esau in the least. His hands were used to fecal matter. He merely flipped the boy over his back and tromped back to the prep shack.

“There ya go, Fattie,” Enoch was saying, having just dragged Bob into the shack too.

“Hey, brother!” Esau greeted. “Lookit what I found!” He flopped Darren down onto a wood table; speckles of shit flew off of him at the impact.

“Ya found him,” Enoch grunted approval. “But what about that skinny girl?”

“Ain’t found her yet, Enoch. But I’se kin tell ya, she cain’t get far.”

“You better hope so, boy.”

Esau grinned. “Did’ja find my surprise?”

“Say what?”

“The surprise I left for ya! A right purdy blondie, she is.” Then Esau turned up one of the oil lamps, illuminating the corner of the shack.

There hung Carol, blanked-faced in her compounded horror, her big tits pushing out her top.

Enoch scowled. “Aw, boy, ya dang know I don’t wanna fuck gals.”

Esau proudly walked over to the wall, flipped up Carol’s denim skirt.

“Look like a gal to you?” he asked.

Enoch’s gaze peeled. “Ya don’t say? Dang!”

“All fer you, my good brother! Take a look at that dick on this bitch!”

Enoch was taking a look, all right, and giving his crotch a rub ta boot. “And not a hair on it,” he remarked.

“No, sir. She—er he, er whatever—ain’t even got a hair in her ass-crack. Not a single one! I’se looked!”

“Shee-it, I gots ta have me some of this,” Enoch informed, unbuckling the shoulder straps of his overalls.

“And I see you done fetched Bob,” Esau said, noticing the obese, unconscious man on the table.

“The fat dumbass stepped on the blammed tarp we got coverin’ the pit. I hauled him out, brung his fat ass here.” Enoch hocked on the dirt floor. “Take care’a that skinny kid while I put the blocks to this big-tit bitch with a cock.”

It didn’t take him long. From the place which she’d been efficiently nailed to the wall, Enoch pushed Carol’s knees back to her shoulders.

Meanwhile, Esau walked not to Darren but to Bob, inquisitive at the newest capture. He slammed the man’s head repeatedly against the tabletop. The warning was redundant, however; their captive was obviously not in any condition to go anywhere. Blood streamed down the side of his face from a cut on his head, the cut centered in the midst of a rapidly swelling lump the size of a halved pear. Close to the same time, Carol revived, twisting and struggling to pull free of the nails which affixed her hands to the wall, squirming in a desperate effort to see if Bob was, in fact, still alive.

“Bob!” she screamed. “Bob!”

Enoch licked the side of her face as she struggled. His breath stank as though he’d been eating roadkill.

Carol began to sob again as she felt her knees being pushed farther back, blood welling slowly from her ruined hands. It was useless to try to pull free; the slightest motion filled her with nauseating waves of pain.

Enoch spit in his palm and lubricated his organ. Carol felt pressure, then a blinding, rending pain as he forced himself into her, so startled by the pain was she that both bowel and bladder voided simultaneously.

“Damn!” roared Enoch as he pulled out with a wet squishing sound. “Lookit that, that nasty he-bitch just shit and pissed all over me!”

“Dang, she shore shits a lot,” Esau said, plying Bob’s face like fresh sourdough. “That’s what she was doin’ when I’se caught her—takin’ a big shit in the woods. She left a dang pile, she did.”

To emphasize his complaints, Enoch ran his hand up the crack of Carol’s ass, brushing her flaccid cock and balls aside.

Carol tried to wrench her head back, but he’d grabbed a handful of hair and twisted it around his hand so that she was unable to move. The stench of her own shit made her retch as he wiped his hand off in her long blond hair. “I don’t like this he-bitch,” Enoch complained next. “I’ll fuck that fat ’un there on the table. Meantime—” his eyes flicked toward Carol. “Cut this one’s peter off.”

Esau amusedly shook his head. “Ya know, Enoch, I was thinkin’ ’bout that earlier. Thought maybe it’d be better to cut it out instead’a cuttin’ it off. I’se got cookin’ ta do, and there ain’t nothin’ better than a whole set of a guy’s works on the grill. Ya cut the whole thing out from the root. Watch me.”

Enoch had little interest in watching his brother’s skills. Instead he yanked Bob’s slacks off, spread his fat, log-like legs, and sunk his genitals right deep up Bob’s back-end.

“Yeah, there ya go,” Enoch grunted, humping on the table. The table bowed.

Bob regained consciousness a rather hasty fashion, screaming like a truck horn.

“Sorry, fella,” Esau sniggered at Carol, “but my Grandpa likes a wiener roast just like anyone,” and he drew a sharp boning knife very quickly up Carol’s perineum, two fast swipes upward at an angle, one side, then the next. A few more slices along the top and around the scrotum, and he was removing the entirety of Carol’s very male genitalia from the base of the root. Carol gargled her horror, flipped and flopped against the bare wood wall, feet kicking madly. The blood flooded from her newly carved groin.

“That’s it,” Esau said with pride, holding up the cleanly severed works. “Think I’ll marinate it in some yakisoba sauce fer an hour or so.” He tossed the cock and balls into a plastic bucket..

“And those big ol’ titties?” he celebrated. “They’ll come in handy later!”

Enoch’s big body remained atop of Bob’s back, pumping and pumping, while Bob was puking and puking. “Yeah, boy, I’se kin tell ya had it up the ass before. Guess yer one’a them queer-boy city faggots, huh? Yeah…” Enoch pumped harder and harder, then buckled and came. And he came, it should be added, in considerable volume. “Cain’t help the last part, Tubby,” he said through a chuckle. “See, I’se a little different.”

By now, of course, it didn’t matter much to Bob; he was already unconscious again and suffering from horrendous internal bleeding. So the revelation was moot.

When Enoch withdrew his “cock” from Bob’s rectal vault, this same withdrawal pulled something out along with it: most of Bob’s large intestine.

It lay there between his spread legs like a fat coil of dark dough. The reason that Enoch had been able to yank out Bob’s lower g.i. tract with his penis was fairly simple when one calculated the most obvious point: Enoch’s “cock” was a bit more than that.

It was a tentacle, red-tipped and complete with suckers. Several feet long in its excited state. In this case, it was a diminutive egress in the tip from which Enoch pissed and ejaculated. And just as Esau had only one testicle, Enoch had none. His spermatic ducts were internal, just like that of an octopus.

Both brothers, in other words, were genetic freaks, in varying stages of evolution. Esau had something more semblant of a dick—however lumpen—Enoch had something a bit more close to his chromosomal home.

A tentacle.

“I say, dang! That there was a good cum!” Enoch exclaimed. He stuffed his penile appendage back into his stained overalls. “That pretty much takes care of these two.”

Carol now hung dead by her impaled hands. And Bob lay belly-down, just as dead.

“Yes sir!” Enoch continued. “This was more fun than that them three little bitches came through here on spring break last year. Hell, that little redhead lasted almost a week. I still think she would’ve hung on a while longer if you didn’t keep sticking your whole hand up her.

“I know, I know, A retorted his brother. “It just feels really cool when you got your whole arm up their pussies and you can feel around all that squishy stuff inside. Shit, you flex your fingers around up in there an you can even pull some stuff out.”

Enoch recalled the three girls somewhat wistfully. They’d gotten off the old highway by mistake and were driving around half-stoned looking for somewhere to buy beer when they’d come over to the bait shop. Two of them had died almost immediately under the brothers’ ministrations. But that redhead?

They’d stuck ten-penny nails through her tits’n twisted ’em like handles, they did. Blood squirted out like water from a fuckin’ faucet.

“But the fun’s over fer now,” Enoch reminded. “You find that stringbean gal with the trout cookin’ in her cunt, and ya also fetch that other chick. They’se both still on the island. Me? I’ll go ashore and take care’a the cook.”

Esau winced. “He ain’t a cook, Enoch. He’s a Master Chef.

“Whatever.” Enoch was about to leave. He pointed down to Darren who scrabbled on the ground with his cut knees. “Ya better take care’a that ’un there. Don’t want him gittin’ out again.”

“In a jiffy,” Esau said. His boning knife flashed, and in all of two seconds, he had slit open the shit-covered boy’s belly open—

“Jab-nab-hoo-glap…”

—and expertly removed the twenty-pound distended liver, snipping off the hepatic veins like strands of wet vermicelli yarn.

“Braaaaaa-lab,” Darren uttered and died. Blood filled up the hole in his gut like a punch bowl full of Cherry Smash.

Esau flopped the liver down on the table. “Sliced Foi Gras stuffed with scallions and buttered shad roe! I think I’ll hang him in the smoker, after marinating in his shit the skin ought to have a real nice tang to it!”

Enoch shook his head. “I dunno, I was sorta hoping you might be able to barbeque some ribsY”

“Enoch, that’s so common! We didn’t feed this boy special for a month just to barbeque ribs! Hell, all that corn-fed shit tenderizes meat better than Adolph’s. Just wait’ll he’s been in the smoker for a spell, I’ll make some Angels on Horseback with some breast slices wrapped around some oysters and salmonberry chutney on the side—it’ll be mighty fine. I just wish that we could keep Mr. Morrone alive to appreciate all I’ve learned watching his showY”

“I’ll bring him back in one piece, but you know we can’t let him go. Hell, we don’t wanna have to move again. Remember Grandpa telling us ’bout all the trials and tribulations he had before he settled in here?”

Esau looked at Darren’s shit-smeared corpse with visions of setting out a feast that even the master chef would be astounded by. Feeling a burst of inspiration, he took a large cleaver off the shelf and with two deft strokes severed Darren’s head.

“What’d you that fer?” Enoch seemed genuinely puzzled by the decapitation.

“It’s like you said, you do the procurin’ and I do the cookin’.” With that Esau seized a five-pound sledge hammer off the shelf and with a single downward blow cracked the cranium open as easy as splitting a breadfruit. “You hurry and find Mr. Morrone, I’ll fix us up some brain souffle for a snack!”

— | — | —

Chapter Thirteen

His chest was wet and sticky; had he puked on himself? Gingerly he touched his chest and almost screamed at the sudden pain. It felt like his whole body was one massive hematoma. Ashton Morrone sat still, trying to remember what had happened to him. All he knew for sure was that he hurt like hell and that he had to piss. Standing up seemed like an enormously painful undertaking; Ashton just wasn’t ready for such an endeavor, so he simply relaxed and let his bladder empty, feeling the warm flow pool underneath him, soaking his slacks.

As the tart smell of his piss reached his nostrils, memory flooded back. He’d been shot, and he should be dead… Galvanized to action by the realization that he was perhaps critically injured Ashton stood up and clutched at his breast. The book tumbled out from his inner pocket, embedded in the thick leather were two tiny bullets. The third had gone completely and penetrated his skin. Touching it ever so gently he could see it just under his skin, an angry black spot in the midst of a circle of burned and bruised tissue. Ashton laughed in spite of the ripples of pain that his chortling sent roiling through him.

The book on crackjaw eels had saved him! That and his own ample girth, a thinner man’s breastbone would’ve cracked like an eggshell.

That effete, mincing bastard had actually tried to kill him for the fucking eels! Why, when he got back to Seattle, he’d own the son-of-a-bitch!

Fuckin’ James, and that turncoat bitch!

Stopping only to take a cleaver from the cutlery drawer, Ashton stumbled into the night, wincing with every step. He’d find that redneck kid and tell him what happened. After all, he was the guy’s hero, Isiah or whatever his name was wouldn’t take kindly to a murder attempt on his culinary idol. Ashton grinned just thinking about what those two rednecks might do to James when they caught up with him!

He chuckled as he envisioned his rival bent over a tree stump and being made to not only squeal like a pig as the two brothers cornholed him into oblivion, but to go through a repertoire of barnyard noises that would astound Old Macdonald.

««—»»

She touched herself between the legs and felt a fishtail, a fishtail slick with blood. Mavis tried to remember how this had happened. Was it the cigarette smoking man who did this to her? Was it Krychek? Those two men, they had to be aliens, no human beings could do the horrible things that they did. She’d always known that the X-Files were real. What better way to lull the public’s suspicions than to present the truth wrapped up as fiction on a TV show? Now she and Bess had stumbled on to part of the ghastly truth and there was no Fox Mulder to help her out. Hell, even Skinner would do at this point.

The thicket of ferns made a good hiding place. If she just waited, Mulder or someone would come for her. If only her vagina weren’t so sore so that she could take the staples out and remove the fish. It was so swollen now that it wasn’t even possible to tell where exactly the staples were, and even the slightest movement made her hurt so much that it was all she could do to keep from screaming. Mavis sat in the dark, reflexively brushing her legs to keep away the ants and no-see-ums that were drawn by the tasty odor of fish and vaginal blood.

The crack of the first twig almost startled her into yelping. It sounded like it was only a few feet away, then a rustle and crackling as something large moved through the dry brush: a bear, or worse, one the two monsters that had stapled a fish inside her? Mavis shivered as something with way too many legs crawled purposefully up her leg and became entangled in her bloodied pubic hair. The sounds were nearer, almost in front of her; she squirmed ever so slightly as the creature exploring her ruined pubes began to try and win free of its entanglement. The tiny legs were all apparently equipped with hook-like feet; either that or it was biting frantically.

Another twig snapped, this one sounding like a small firecracker and suddenly a huge frame hove into view. The man was no more than a dozen feet away, and he was sniffing the air like a dog, slowly turning back and forth as though to catch an elusive scent.

“I can smell you’re around here somewhere’s, ain’t no mistaking the smell of bloody pussy n’ fresh trout!” The monster chuckled and seemed to look right through the foliage directly at her.

Fox! Fox! came her insane plea. Where are you?

You just sit tight, I’ll be back for you soon enough. Right now I’ve gotta find me a master chef!”

Without another word he turned and headed off the way he’d come. Mavis shuddered and reached down to remove what turned out to be the biggest millipede she’d ever seen from its bloody nest in her pubic hair. Not daring to make any other movement, she sat in the darkness wishing that someone would come for her, someone to rescue her.

At this point, even the Lone Gunmen would be okay…

««—»»

Sheree fought the urge to gag, the miasma rising from the boat almost knocked her over. She just couldn’t get in the boat with that stuff in there. Sheree had seen some disgusting things in her time—you didn’t do all those porno loops without seeing some pretty scatological acts performed a time or two—but this was different, these were intestines and stomachs surmounted by a black cloud of buzzing flies and gnats. Sheree turned away from the sight. There had to be another way off the island besides trying to swim in the chill lake water. The lingering buzz of the Bebo acid seemed to give everything a sharp edge of clarity; if only her thoughts would quit running together so quickly, maybe she could figure out what to do.

Sherre gingerly made her way along the shoreline, looking back over her shoulder to ensure that whatever had left the steaming piles of viscera in the boat wasn’t following her. The fear-charged adrenaline in her system seemed to kick the acid into a second wave of hallucinogenic bliss: the forest wasn’t that bad, the clouds of gnats buzzing about seemed to give off pleasant little sparks of energy as she half-heartedly tried to brush them away. The splashes from the lake that had seemed so ominous a short time ago seemed friendly and inviting. Why, if the lake weren’t so cold she’d go for a swim.

The thought of floating in water seemed stimulating somehow. Sheree imagined herself lying in a warm pool as Carol held her legs spread apart and thrust her cock into her. Sheree closed her eyes momentarily, letting her hand drop to her crotch and…

SPPPLLAAAATTT!

She fell face first into a shallow pool of mud. The impact jarred her back to a harsh reality. Carol was gone. Bob was gone. There was a skinny girl with a fish in her pussy running around. Worse, there was a madman covered in shit running amok on the island. She had to get the hell out of here and find the police or a ranger or somebody… The acid buzz had receded a bit, washed away by the cool lake-mud that covered her from head to toe. She struggled to her feet, wiping grayish-brown mud out of her eyes.

There it was.

Bobbing in the lake like a yellow cork.

A raft.

Thannnk God!

It was only about twenty feet from the shore. One would have to row it, but that was infinitely preferable to ferrying across the lake in the company of the two piles of innards and the buzzing hosts of predatory insects. Sheree looked around for a long stick to drag the raft to the shore. There was a long branch on the ground, just the thing. Sheree bent to pull the branch loose from the underbrush, reaching for it with both hands. Stifling a scream she fell back into the mud as the branch writhed in her hands as a flat triangular head turned to regard her balefully from two yellow, ophidian eyes.

Fuck!

The snake was apparently no happier to see Sheree than she was to see it. It slithered quickly through the bushes, leaving its new-found acquaintance shuddering in the mud.

Sheree looked back toward the raft and its promise of freedom, or if not freedom, at least escape from this mad realm of tree-branches turning into snakes, hillbilly chefs, beautiful women with huge cocks, and shit-covered lunatics. It was all just too much. Gritting her teeth against the chill of the water, Sheree waded out toward the raft. Things brushed against her legs, things that she couldn’t quite make out in the murky water, but things that somehow didn’t feel quite right… The water was shallow enough here that she didn’t actually have to swim to the boat—she could pretty much wade to it in the chest-deep water.

Grabbing the raft was elating. Here was the way out! Just as quickly as her hopes had risen they sank as she looked into the raft and saw that somewhere along the line the oars had disappeared. All that was in the raft were some empty packages of Hostess Suzy-Q’s, pork rinds and…

A shotgun!

First the raft, now a weapon! Maybe there really was a God.

But now she was faced with a serious choice. Get in the raft and go, or—

Sheree grabbed the shotgun, waded ashore, and set off back toward the shacks.

I’m gonna find out just what the FUCK is going on!

— | — | —

Chapter Fourteen

Esau licked the traces of brain-cream off his fingers and reached for the container of mace. Nodding to Darren he remarked, “Can’t make a good souffle without a touch of mace ya know? Ya can have your salt, pepper, even some garlic and coriander, but without a touch of mace it just ain’t right.”

Darren’s crushed head was quite beyond showing any degree of appreciation for the culinary arts being demonstrated by Esau.

Esau loved having someone to talk to as he cooked, even if that someone was a crushed head. He continuedY “The other thing that’s important is ya need some lard. Fortunately we got that girl with the big titties there, I’ll scoop some of that suet outta her boobs and we’ll be all set.” Esau was enjoying himself thoroughly; this was almost like having your own cooking show, just like Mr. Morrone. Helping himself to a big glass of cooking sherry, he toasted Carol’s corpse dangling from the wall and bowed expansively. To no one in particular he continued his monologue.

“A bit of the bubbly, and now we get our suet, the fresher the better.” He squeezed one of Carol’s large breasts. “This’ll do perfectly!” Making a deep incision, Esau began scooping out yellowish fatty tissue, but first out came the implants. “Yeah, a city gal,” he remarked, then chuckled when he remembered what he’d carved out of her groin. “Er, sorta!” He tossed the strange plastic bags aside. “Sure don’t want none’a that siller-cone in my recipes.”

Kneading the fatty tissue into the mix, he chuckled again. Just maybe Mr. Morrone could be persuaded to stay around for a while and give some private lessons. After all, it wasn’t like he was ever going to get to go back to Seattle and resume doing his show. Enoch would find him soon and bring him back, and then, Esau was struck with inspirationY No need to give Grandpa everything. Why, there was enough here so that Mr. Morrone could have a generous sampling of several different delicacies! A chance to actually cook for the greatest chef in the world! Esau was so excited by the prospect that he figured he’d better take a short break with the worms. There was plenty of time to get a good nut off while the souffle set.

««—»»

        3Ashton slogged through the woods, cleaver at the ready. Each breath came as a struggle. His chest felt as though a soccer team had run practice drills on it. Only a red hate made him conscious and mobile. Steal his eels would he? Put a spy in his restaurant would he? Shoot him? When he found M. Gerald James he’d dice him into pieces small enough to make mince pies. James and that duplicitous little whore, Roseanne or whatever her name. Fueled by rage Ashton felt more alive than he had in years. Why, he might even condescend to let Sheree fuck him when they got home.

A sound—something large was moving through the woods just off to his right. Ashton gripped the handle of the cleaver so tightly that his pudgy knuckles whitened. The sound came again, branches snapping as something big moved through them, drawing closer. A bear? Where there bears out here? He’d been so obsessed with the Crackjaw eel that he hadn’t bothered to ask the brothers about the fauna that lived around the lake… Whatever it was making the noise, it sounded like the cleaver would be seriously overmatched.

“There you are!” Enoch hove into view, brushing some twigs out of his beard.

“So you must be Enoch, I’m certainly glad to see you.” Ashton dropped the cleaver and trotted forward to greet the big man. Why, in no time he’d have the brothers combing the area for that bastard James…

Enoch flashed a friendly grin and just as quickly sent a fist the size of a small ham crashing into Ashton’s jaw. Ashton had only a second to register the fact that now something hurt worse than his chest before the lights went out.

Enoch surveyed the prone chef and extracted a roll of duct tape from his overalls. “That guy on TV is right, this stuff is the handyman’s secret weapon, alright. We’ll have you all fixed up here in no time.” In seconds he had Ashton’s wrists and ankles lashed firmly together.

Then, with no more effort than a normal man would expend picking up a kitten, he hoisted Ashton’s bulk over his shoulder and set off toward the shacks.

««—»»

Sheree heard a man’s voice emanating from the shack. From her extended experience in porno she could tell what he was doing before she opened the door. The grunts of ecstasy were unmistakable; someone was humping someone else’s brains out and thoroughly enjoying it. The reality of what she saw was far different from the mental picture of one of the brothers slamming the ham to some local redneck girl.

What she saw made her think that the acid had kicked in again and that the previous buzz had just been a warm-up for a hellaciously bad trip…

Esau stood there with his overalls down to ankles gripping a massive cock that looked like it was the home to every venereal disease known to man. His other hand was filled with a writhing mass of nightcrawlers that he was jamming furiously over his swollen and misshapen manhood. Hanging from the wall was Carol, a red ruin between her legs where just a short time ago had been that lovely cock that had filled Sheree with so much pleasure. A table was covered with a spread of exotic foods that wouldnt' look out of place in Ashton’s restaurant. There on the floor was a mangled, shit-smeared corpse…

The man that I saw running through the woods?

Esau stared at her for a moment, seemingly unembarrassed by the circumstances. “You just hold on there sweetcakes, I get so excited when I cook up a spread like this that I’ll be able to get another nut off in just a minute. You and I can have some fun before Enoch and your boyfriend get back!”

Sheree fought to keep from gagging as she looked at the monster’s worm-enslimed tool. She’d come here for help only to find this, this nightmare… Almost involuntarily she raised the shotgun and squeezed the triggers…

The twin blast caught Esau squarely in the gut, sending him crashing into the wall. Esau screamed, slid down the wall, and shot out a stream of cum. But as the shotgun’s report had sent Esau sailing, before he’d hit the wall, he’d bumped into something.

A…drum of some sort.

Sheree tried to focus her eyes.

Yes, it was a big metal drum—about four feet high and three feet wide—and it seemed to have been placed on a metal rack above a pit full of red embers.

A cooking pit.

When the shotgun’s blast had sent Esau traveling toward the wall, he’d bumped against the drum and knocked it over.

THHH-WUNK

The drum landed on its side, and its wide metal lid popped off—

SSSSSSSSS-LURSHHH

—and out poured a flood of steaming yellow-white slop. A rather delectable aroma like pork and vegetables filled the shack, but then Sheree peered closer.

Something else had fallen out of the keg too.

A pressure-cooked corpse.

Sheree shuddered and fell to her knees as the contents of her stomach erupted to merge with the slop, cum, blood, and shit staining the floor.

Esau struggled to his feet making a strange keening soundY

“Grandpa, help me! Help me!” Esau staggered past Sheree, holding ropy intestines cupped in his hands as he lurched out of ther shack toward the lake.

"WHAT THE FUCK!!!” Enoch dropped Ashton as his brother staggered past him screaming for his Grandpa. Enoch couldn’t imagine what had happened. He’d left Esau twenty minutes earlier happily making a brain souffle and now here he was on his knees by the lake trying to keep his innards from spilling out onto the ground.

“Grandpa, HELP ME!” Esau was screeching like a banshee and desperately trying to tuck his intestines back into their proper place.

Sheree peered out the door, paralyzed by the enormity of what she’d done. There was Ashton lying on the ground with the other brother, the bigger one effectively blocking any chance of her escape, and if she did get past him, where could she go? She watched as the man that she’d shot screamed to the lake as though he expected the lake to answer him…

But then it did, answer him that is…

The waters slowly parted as something from the depths of the lake ponderously pushed its way to the surface. She couldn’t tell what it was at first, taking the translucence to be another manifestation of the LSD. Then she realized that the vast shimmering shape that blocked out the skyline was some sort of creature.

Mountainous and studded with all manner of partially digested foodstuffs including trout, a spotted owl, several crackjaw eel and the remnants of M. Gerald James and his assistant, the thing loomed over the screaming figure of Esau.

Sheree sensed that what she saw was hideously old, old and unclean with innumerable millennia of foulness. The monstrosity shifted and wavered as she watched a chimerical, constant metamorphosis; sometimes it seemed a writhing mass of polyps and tentacles, while at others it sprouted heads both human and animal and looked over the scene in front of it with a hundred pairs of diverse eyes. One tenticular appendage shot forth and encircled Esau, drawing him almost gently into its mass.

Sheree was aware that Enoch was watching her closely, escape no longer a remote possibility.

“Grandpa Ab’s taking Esau home. He’ll make me another brother soon, but he’s gotta have the right kind of female. Can’t be one that’ll die on us right away, like them others. C’mere, cutie. Let’s see what he thinks of you!" Enoch grabbed Sheree by the hair, dragging her to the lake’s edge. Somehow through her shock, Sheree noticed that Enoch had sprouted an extra set of limbs: his thick arms were now surmounted by a pair of clacking pincers set on the ends of whiplike tentacles. The transformed redneck roughly stripped her clothes off, the razorblade sharp pincers slicing away her top as though it were tissue-paper, allowing her breasts to bob free.

The foulness in the lake shifted again, a thousand multi-faceted inhuman eyes stared at her nakedness, unwinking, calculating, and assessing… An organ formed in the shifting flesh, an organ that despite its huge size and grotesque malformation was unmistakable. A huge throbbing penis.

“Hoo-wheee! Looks like Grandpa Ab finds you acceptable! He just needs to reach up in your snatch an’ fix hisself up an egg! He’ll have me a new little brother in no time! You outta be honored! Grandpa Ab ain’t seen fit to fuck a human woman in over five-hunnert years!”

Sheree was beyond screaming as the thing took her. Tendrils as strong as wire cable entwined around her ankles and wrists, lifting her spreadeagled into the night air. The monstrous organ thrust into her, probing deeply into her uterus. The thing inside her felt as though it was coring her like a piece of fruit. The pain and feeling of being violated on a much deeper level than mere physicality was overwhelming. Sheree had had more yards of cock in her than she could readily count, but nothing could have prepared her for this. The thing shimmered again, taking on the profile of a fierce-looking old man, the grotesque penis jutting from his forehead. Had the pain not been so intense, she would’ve laughed.

Looking over her shoulder, she could see Enoch gazing upward at the spectacle. “Don’t’choo worry, honeypie. Yer fat boyfriend here’ll be able ta cook fer Grandpa Ab even beter than Esau. And as fer you? I’ll’se take good care of ya while’s yer makin’ me a new brother!”

Sheree puked again, plumes of vomit ejecting into the lake, as she felt the slender tip of the tentacle shoved up her cunt narrowing, narrowing, until it was thin as thread.

The thread carefully manipulated its way up her cervical canal, through her left fallopian tube, and then blew its hot watery sperm into her ovary.

Remarkably, in spite of the horror of what was happening, Sheree came…

“And now fer this fat ’un here,” Enoch went on, looking down at the hog-tied Ashton. “With Esau gone, we’ll need ourselfs someone to continue cookin’ up them fine viddle fer Grandpa Ab.” Enoch guffawed into the night. “Don’t worry, fat boy. I ain’t gonna kill ya—"

Enoch’s cleaver flashed in moonlight, as its sharp edge was drawn quickly and expertly through the meat of Ashton’s calf muscles. To the bone.

Ashton bellowed, convulsing in the dirt.

“That’ll do ya, tubby,” Enoch informed. “You’ll never walk again, but you’ll still be able ta cook up a dandy meal!”

Sheree, still aloft over the lake, was no longer able to recognize what was happening down below. Her tongue hung out and her thighs clenched as the eons-old tentacle continued to draw in and out of her vaginal canal, bidding one orgasm after the next.

— | — | —

Epilogue

In spite of a number of potential complications, all was soon set back to rights at the obscure town of Hoth’s Landing, located at the even more obscure site of Harstene Island. The strange disappearances of the Morrone brothers were duly reported to the police, and so were the disappearances of Seattlites M. Gerald James, Rochelle Pillman, Carol Rood, and Sheree Hart.

None of them, in fact, would ever be seen or heard from again.

Eventually—and intra-police-departmental rivalries notwithstanding—a Lincoln Town Car registered to one M. Gerald James, and a Winnebago registered to one Robert Morrone, would be suspiciously discovered abandoned amid flanks of trees along the Route 101 corridor, near the town of Port Angeles. Traces of blood, in fact, would be found in the Winnebago, and traces of human urine in the Lincoln. And though police would conclude that the disapearances of the above could probably be attributed to “foul play,” they would always remember an auxiliary discovery in the Winnebago:

Several coolers full of dead Crackjaw eel.

««—»»

It was a Clallum County police officer who’d been driving his cruiser on routine traffic patrol past the sedate town of Dungeness who, in stark broad daylight, had spied the naked, emaciated girl wandering down the road. The officer’s name was Sergeant Michael Murtz, a twelve-year veteran with one valor medal, several commodations, and first on the list for deputy chief. He rolled down his window, pulled over onto the graveled shoulder, and stopped.

Holy Mmmmmoly!

Murtz had seen a lot of funky stuff in his career. But…this?

“Fox!” the skinny, naked girl seemed to shriek in glee. “Thank God, you’ve found me!“

Murtz just stared.

“There’s a fish in my pussy, Fox! Get it out!”

Murtz stared all the more.

She looked nearly breastless standing there. She smelled…bad.

“They put my friend Bess into a big drum and cooked her, Fox!” she squealed. “They stuffed vegetables in her stomach and made me eat fruit and throw up!”

Great, Mertz thought. A Crazy. And it was just his luck. He was off at four, and headed to his best friend’s bachelor party.

They were going to have strippers who did a bit more than strip.

Great, he thought again. I miss out on ALL the good stuff.

“Let me get you to a hospital, miss,” he said and grudgingly got out of the car and put the stinky naked girl in the back. He drove off back toward the county med center in Joyce.

“Don't take me back to the J. Edgar Hoover Building, Fox!” she raved. “The Smoking Man will be waiting! And the Washington Field office? Forget it!””

Murtz let out a long, frustrated sigh.

“They were these two big fat redneck men! They put the fish in my pussy and made me vomit into pie tins!”

Murtz couldn’t help but shake his head.

This would be hours processing and writing up. By the time he got to the party, the whores would be long gone.

Sometimes duty called in strange ways.

“Just simmer down, miss,” he said. “I’ll have you to the hospital real soon.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you, Fox! Then you can call Scully! She can get this fish out of my pussy!”

Whatever you say…

He headed back out toward 101. But then—

“Fox, the Smoking Man isn’t really your father, is he?”

—he got an idea.

Fuck, he thought. A Crazy?

“You’re my hero, Fox!” she gushed. “You saved me!”

Murtz pulled over onto the shoulder and stopped. He got out, dragged the stinky girl from the car, then propped her up in front of him, his hand braced under her jaw.

“Fuh-Fox? What are you doing?”

Murtz fired one semi-jacketed wadcutter from his .357 service revolver directly into the center of her forehead.

His heels jumped of the ground at the bang—the first time he’d discharged his gun in the line of duty. The girl’s brains launched out the back of her head in a fascinating arc of chunky pale-red mush.

Then her body collapsed down into a weedy ravine.

Who’s gonna miss one dead Crazy?

Murtz reholstered his service piece; he stalked back to the car. He didn’t notice that she’d landed spread-legged in the ravine, nor did he notice the tail of a Rainbow Trout sticking out from between metal staples in her labia.

The constable drove off. No paperwork now, huh? he thought.

Now he’d get to the bachelor party early.

— | — | —

About the Author

Edward Lee has had more than 40 books published in the horror and suspense field, including CITY INFERNAL, THE GOLEM, and BLACK TRAIN. His movie, HEADER was released on DVD by Synapse Films, in June, 2009. Recent releases include the stories, “You Are My Everything” and “The Cyesologniac,” the Lovecraftian novella “Trolley No. 1852,” and the hardcore novel HAUNTER OF THE THRESHOLD. Currently, Lee is working on HEADER 3. Lee lives in Florida. Visit him online at:

http://www.edwardleeonline.com