Subterraneans

Flash Fiction Month 2019, Day 27

Challenge #12*: David Bowie Day. Write a story worth at least 100 Bowie Points based on the following scoring system: 1 point for each non-consecutive letter Z, 5 points for each string of song lyrics, 20 points for meeting a specific word count (69, 270, 369, 599, 700), and 10 points for each reference to Bowie’s movies or personas (a labyrinth, goblins, stolen babies, bogs of stench, a magic dance, moving the stars, childhood obsessions, memory loss, one or more men that fall to earth, aliens in disguise, best intentions, unforeseen complications, dying planets, a character with heterochromia, a character that is an avid painter or art collector, glass spiders, lots of drugs, saying goodbye, dramatic departures, black stars, swansong, an alien god with a guitar, five years, a character that is bisexual or LGBTQ, a character that is struggling with mental illness, dead roses, lightning bolts, panic in Detroit). Optionally, the story must also include a character with a distaste for music.

This story is worth 1258 Bowie Points altogether.

“YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!” yelled the wizard, as he crashed through the ceiling of Girth Loinhammer’s subterranean labyrinth.

“Hi Grandalf,” said Girth.

“Hi.” Grandalf the Gay stood up and brushed the dust from his robes.

“Tough day?” asked Sekhmet, once she’d finished her mouthful of black pudding bagel.

He squinted up through the hole he’d just made. “I think the eagles are getting tired of me using them like Uber.”

“Maybe you should…not do that?”

“I try not to take advantage, but I’m old, my knees ache, and I can hitch a ride with an eagle without having to climb downstairs.”

“Still not a great reason to risk having one dump you in the Bogs of Stench.”

“Well,” said Grandalf. “Also some of the wizards I work with turned out to be aliens in disguise. They’ve forged the Glass Spiders of Zozazozaz, communed with the Black Stars of Zazozuziz, and kidnapped the Tigers of Detroit.”

“Is that last one a sports team?” asked Girth.

“Yeah. Detroit’s really freaking out about it.”

“I still don’t see why any of this forced you to break out the eagles,” said Sekhmet.

“Oh, yeah. It’s because doing all that let them summon an alien god that’s now moving the stars, tuning the spheres as a glorious swansong for the dying planets as it ushers in an end to our world.”

A writhing mass of tentacles burst through the hole in the ceiling, exploring every nook and cranny of the room.

“NOPE!” Girth began to scoot backwards towards the throne room door. “NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE!”

He slipped through the door, slammed it behind him, then immediately popped back inside.

“Forgot my sandwich,” he explained, as he nipped over to pick it up. His breakfast claimed once more, be resumed his dramatic departure: “Goodbye! NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE…”

Suddenly, the tentacles found something.

“Hey!” yelled Sekhmet. “That alien god’s got my guitar!”

She made a grab, but it was too late.

“What’s this thing’s name?” she demanded.

“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, I think.”

“Great. In the five years it took you to say that, it stole my breakfast too.”

“I’m surprised you’re not more concerned about the two dozen goblin babies it just stole from that cellar over there.”

“Eh. There’ll always be more goblin babies.” She shuddered. “Anyway, are you going to get rid of this thing or not?”

“Hang on, I’ll try.”

Grandalf the Gay began to perform a magic dance. He shuffled a sorcerly shuffle. He jigged a jinxifying jig. He also did that flossing thing. You know the one. You wouldn’t expect it to have supernatural effects, but Sekhmet definitely noticed a certain number of lightning bolts shooting around the room.

However, not much else happened.

“I think that might have worked better with music,” said Grandalf. “What you have to know about Azozazezuzazazazuzozazizozuzuzuzuzuzuzuzazozezoziz—”

“Can we just call it ‘Azbo’ or something?” snapped Sekhmet.

“That’s probably a wise idea. Anyway, Azbo hates music. If it’s not the sound of nightmare dreams no mortal mind could hold, it might as well be Nickelback.”

“Well that would be great to know if Azbo hadn’t already eaten my guitar.”

“It probably hasn’t eaten it. Not yet, anyway. Most likely it’s just storing it in one of its many mighty orifices.”

Sekhmet made a face. “And somehow that’s way worse.”

She looked around for something—anything–that might drive this creature off. Its slimy tentacles were getting worryingly close. She settled on the salt cellar, still on the table.

“Take that!” she cried, flinging a small amount of salt at it.

The grains hissed as they met the sickly green skin. Suckers flared and quivered, tentacles thrashed. Sekhmet wasn’t sure if Azbo was actually in pain or just affronted by the gesture, but one way or another she had definitely got a response.

Calmly and quietly, Grandalf the Gay tipped over the kitchen table. With some difficulty—and a long “Oooooof” sound—he ducked down behind it.

Azbo shuddered uncontrollably for a moment before detonating in a burst of miscellaneous entrails and goo. It was so gruesome they couldn’t show it on the news.

“Yeah,” said Grandalf, getting slowly to his feet. “That’s why I didn’t do that.”

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can find my work from previous Flash Fiction Months collected in these books:

OCR is Not the Only Font Cover REDESIGN (Barbecued Iguana)Red Herring Cover (Barbecued Iguana design)Bionic Punchline eBook CoverOsiris Likes This Cover

Click any cover to find that book in your choice of format.

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