Ray thought Steve was losing it a bit—bumping people off just because they’d quit his stupid, mookish metal band, and things like that... But he knew there were certain people who deserved it... He took his time selecting his first prey. While walking home one evening from the local convenience store where he’d purchased some Skittles ans a can of iced tea, he saw a little black and white cat standing in the road, huddled like a puffball—for a moment he thought maybe it was a little skunk—and Ray was suddenly reminded of something so painful he’d almost blocked it from his memory...
For about three years in a row, when he’d been twelve, thirteen and fourteen, his neighbors, the Alexanders, had gone on long vacations—four weeks, always centering on the Summer Solstice, which made ray think they must be in some weird Pagan cult—leaving Ray in charge of feeding their outdoor cat, whom they’d never even bothered to name, but whom Ray called Tommy, after the Primus song. They paid him well—twenty dollars a week—the first $40 before they left, the other $40 when they returned—just to walk across the driveway and put a scoop of catfood into Tommy’s bowl, fill his water dish from the hose, water the plants and grass, check the mail... It was a sweet deal.
Tommy was the most amazing cat—chasing birds and lizards and mice all over, climbing trees—he even chased dogs, sending the Briggs’s big cowardly dobermans running scared.
Then one day Tommy went missing...
Ray worried and prayed, and finally Tommy emerged from the bushes after four sleepless days, but he was never the same. Skinny, weak, constantly puking foamy bile, sleeping almost all the time...
Ray’s mother put him in a basket and she and Ray got in her Buick and brought him to the nearest vet, where they told him Tommy had most likely eaten a poisoned mouse. “People leave out poisoned-food mouse bait... The stray cats find the dead mice, and eat them, and get poisoned also...” the lady told him. “Will he be okay?” Ray had asked. “Will he get better. Thereupon the lady told him she was sorry, but the doctor had already euthanized him. “What?” Ray said, his body feeling hot and cold suddenly at the same time. He felt like his skin was suffocating. “I didn’t even get to see him again!.... God, FUCK YOU!” he screamed, the tears already gushing down his face, and he ran from that place, and ran home, and searched the entire area around his and the Alexanders’s houses with a flashlight until he found the poison rat traps, all around that old witch Ms. Hudges’s house. He’d thrown them all away, all that he could find, thinking “What else can I do?”
When the Alexanders had got home, he’d had to tell them what had happened. Of course, they acted as if he were to blame somehow, and refused to pay him the second half—even going so far as to demand the other $40 back. He’d told them to go fuck themselves. They’d moved away not long after, screeching off in their enormous U-Haul truck as if the entire neighborhood, and Ray in particular, were a bunch of evil witches, instead of knocking that Hudges crone on her ass like they ought to. He’d cried for weeks, sometime irrationally searching the neighborhood at night with a flashlight, whistling and calling Tommy, thinking maybe the sick cat had been some weird doppelganger, and Tommy would come back to him... Finally some part of him had just sealed it all away.
And he’d never thought about it consciously again until now. He stood there, holding his Circle-K bag, looking at the cat. For a second he thought “It’s really him!“ but the black-and-white markings were different, and this cat was obviously smaller, younger. He took a step forward, slowly, said “Hey there, buddy!“ in a high hushed voice—But the cat darted into a gutter tunnel under the nearest driveway.
Ray sighed, started walking homeward again.
He popped open his iced tea, took a swig, stopped again, turned around. The cat had popped up out of the tunnel, was crouched in the gravel driveway, watching him again. He smiled.
He realized what he could do. What he was going to do.
Steve was playing a video-game called Templar Arab-Slayer on his Z-Com 9000-bit system, when his mom peeked in, told him, “Raymond is here.”
“Okay... It’s Ray, mom,” Steve corrected her, slashing a virtual camel jockey's turbaned head off with the enormous flaming Sword of Damocles... “I’d never be friends with someone named Raymond.”
She swished off, and Ray came in.
“Hey, man, I need to borrow your nine.”
Steve looked up, paused the game.
“Gotta waste some old bag... Neighbor... She killed my cat, years ago...”
“Shit... Fuckin’ bitch.”
“Yeah—A real creepy old cunt... Former kindergarten teacher, I believe. She already died a few year ago, but I’ma go back, waste her ass, and take Tommy the cat into the safety of a rat-poisonless future present.”
“Oh yeah, they banned that shit, huh?“
“Yeah, finally... hard to believe there was a time when arsenic was legal, and THC wasn’t...”
Steve got the 9mm Glock from his duffel bag, unzipped the case, slid the clip out, put the unloaded piece and its magazine back in, zipped up, and handed it to Ray.
“Pop her in the cunt for me.“
“Will do... Gotta stand back though—This witch had the syph for sure... big bags under her eyes—psycho bug eyes...”
Steve laughed. “Yeah... Thank God most of these old syph lepers are dying off... The more of them we go back and prune away the better... Keep their filth out of our nice clean future/now....”
Ray nodded, slipping the 9 into his backpack.
Ms. Hudges was putting nineteen $25 checks into little white envelopes and addressing them to all the abortion clinics in the city—something she did every year, just after her pension check was deposited. Her little yappy lapdog, Prudence—a grey, half-blind, bulging-eyed thing with patchy fur on its over-large, rat-eared head, gave a shrill bark, demanding more “Mighty Dog”, but he’d already had his table-spoon for the day.
“Hst!” Ms. Hudges hissed, and went back to addressing the envelopes in her shaky, loopy, oldfashioned cursive.
Outside in the yard, Ray materialized, and set his stop-watch for fifteen minutes. Phaze back generally occurred after 27 minutes on a quarter-gram opal trip, so he pulled on his gloves and spent the extra time walking around the yard—he wanted to disappear the moment after he plugged her, in case some Johnny Do-Gooder citizenly neighbor type came busting in to her impossible rescue—just picking up whatever rat-poison traps he could find with his flashlight. When his watch beeped, he went to the door. He had the handful of traps in his hand, meaning to flush them in the bitch’s toilet after he greased her—Then he had an idea. Why finish her so slowly? Why not give her a death which was imbued with justice?
A loud knock at the door made Prudence bark again, loudly. She growled at the door, looking not very intimidating with the sky-blue silk ribbon tied around her neck, almost choking her. She shook her head as if wet, trying vainly to loosen the thing, whose bows also continuously rubbed against her ears, irritatingly.
“Hssst!”—Ms Hudges spat, snapping her clawlike fingers, snarling at the dog—“Shut it!”
She got up slowly, hunched to the door, and peered through the peep hole. Seeing Ray’s lightly pimpled, spectacled, innocent-looking young face smiling in the yellow porch-light, she said “Hmmpf!” and unlocked the door. “Who is it?” she hissed at the boy. “What, are you selling something?”
“Well?” She stared at him with a puckered frown. She had cataracted, pale amber eyes—like pools of frozen piss. “Spit it out, sonny! What is it?”
“Your death, madam,” Ray said, his smile widening to a grin, as he shoved the door inward, knocking the hag down onto the carpet. She glared up at him, seated there on her bony ass. “Ow!” she shrilled, as Ray stepped in, slamming and locking the door behind him. He pulled the 9 out of his backpack, leveled it at her face. Then he tossed the handful of little plastic disks full of poisoned peanut-butter at the old woman, who stared at his face with the most intense vicious fury, sucking in hissing breaths, her white hair standing out in a mass of frizz...
“You think it’s funny poisoning animals, you wretch?” he asked her. “Well, you’ve got a choice now, bitch: eat all of those, or get a face full of led.”
She whimpered, clawed up one of the traps, inserted it into her puckering, lipless mouth. She attempted to chew the plastic disk, could not. She spit it out.
“I can’t!” she said, that weird putrid frown wrinkling her face. She looked like she was sucking on a lemon.
“Open them, then, and eat their contents.”
“But, I’ll... I’ll die!”
“The gun, then,” he said, indifferently, almost wanting to do it... He could already feel the crackleback vibes electrifying the tiny hairs on his scrotum...
She hooked her long, grimy-edged nails under the top edge of the thing, snapped it off, and started licking out the peanut-butter... But the time she’d consumed them all, Ray was starting to crackle into phaze-back. The old woman was starting to gag and vomit, her innards revolting against the toxins, but it was too late.
When he got back to the present, he already had installed in his brain the bizarre new memories of learning that the old crazy neighbor lady had killed herself one night by eating rat poison.
Next he decided to rescue Tommy from the day before the Alexanders had left on their last vacation. It had been a few days before she’s eaten the poison mouse, but Ray didn’t want to risk it. Maybe he’d be negating a few memories—or, creating alternate ones, any way—but he’s always have the old ones. And he realized that his past self would still have to endure the pain of Tommy disappearing—and that he, his present self, would still always remember how awful that experience at the vet had been. But to have Tommy here, alive, saved from that horrible cruel death, was be something could not wait to do.
He zipped back to the summer of 2034, found Tommy sleeping on his blue and white Navaho blanket on the Alexanders’s porch, which Ray’d given him two years before, sat petting him until he felt the crackle-back starting, and picked Tommy up. The half-wild cat immediately sank his claws into Ray’s chest, his long nails hooking right through the thick wool blanket—but Ray held him close, letting the bluish electric energy flow into him, and Ray and the cat appeared together on the porch—the chair, throw rugs, potted plants, and all the Alexanders’s other things disappearing. Tommy hissed and slashed Ray’s arm, jumped down, and ran into the bushes.
“Well, you’ll thank me later,” Ray said, laughing.
Acid Crazy Death Cult (1)Acid Crazy Death Cult
by Paul Henson
© copyright 2016
“I traveled far and wide
Through many different times”
“Time is on my side”
—The Rolling Stones
Datura (scopolamine, atropine, hyoscyamine)
Salvia (salvinorins, divinorins)
Opium (morphine, codeine, papaverine, thebaine, noscapine)
Tobacco (nicotine, cynaide)
Licorice (glycyrhyzin, anethole)
Hops (xanthohumol, humulene, myrcene, myrcenol, linalool, prenylnaringenin)
Yage (harmine, harmaline)
Frankincense (phellandrenes, boswellic acid)
Myrrh (methylphenols, pinenes, limonenes, sesquiterpenes, phenylpropenes)
Opal (silicon dioxide, water)
Lunch hour was over, and the students of Stephen Hawking High School were settling back into their seats, still muttering with recess chatter. The big TV in the