You come upon Zep, sitting amongst the ruins of a house. He relates the final hours of the Lies enterprise, as he has best been able to piece it together.
It was the second night after acquiring the house and much of the Lies staff was already dead. Earlier, while he was walking up the front steps, T.C. Alucard stepped on a loose board which collapsed under his weight and broke into three pieces--one of which logged into his chest and heart, killing him instantly. Willy, who had taken on the duty of remodeling the greenhouse into a funeral home for his dead comrades, was busy with T.C.'s body.
Dave, who had moved his Post-Tonal video game inside despite the killings, was trying to top his high score. The Post-Tonal game is very confusing for non-musicians. It has something to do with writing music and fighting the forces of evil who want to make crappy pop music. Dave pushed the five buttons in various rhythms, pulling on the joystick every once in a while for effect. Mattman was watching at his side, being supportive.
"You have to get used to playing to an entire room full of people who don't know or care about you. You gotta start playing for you--because you know it's the right thing to do. Now play that Post-Tonal, Dave, play it!"
After a few minutes, however, Mattman decided he needed a beer and went into the kitchen in search of refreshment.
"Yes!" Dave yelled, and then suddenly his body was digitally rendered on the video game's screen and his Earthly body was instantly pulled into the game. Dave, however, did not notice the change and continued playing.
Mattman walked back into the living room and saw that Dave had abandoned his practice and left the video game running. "Hey Dave," Mattman shouted. "You gotta pull the plug after you're finished playing. This thing just sucks electricity." With that, Mattman pulled the plug and walked out of the room in search of something to do.
A small army of spiders, about the size of a human hand, began to crawl over and around the Post-Tonal video game. They fanned out across the living room floor and headed for the heating vents.
Chris Jungle, Lisa Black, Lenexa and Dan sat in the Chapel claiming if anything else weird happened they would run upstairs to the bedrooms--no one had been killed on the second floor. During a debate (which was often interrupted to stomp on the vast numbers of spiders that had taken up residence in the chapel) about the fundamental differences between artists, musicians, and writers, a knock came on the stained glass window. None of them got up to answer, and the window shimmered brightly for about thirty seconds. Soon after, a huge man wearing rugged outdoor hiking apparel and sporting four large guns took two steps through the window (which remained intact) and gave the group a wide, bully smile.
"Earth," the newcomer said bitterly. "I hate coming to Earth."
"Everybody leave the room," Chris said with a dejected calmness.
"What? Why? Who is this guy, Chris?" Lisa interjected.
"Just a man from my past. You guys need to leave. He's only here for me."
Dan, Lisa and Lenexa got up and shuffled to the kitchen, leaving Chris alone with the massive man.
"Timothy Orsen. How long's it been?" Chris said without looking at the newcomer.
"Twenty years, Chris. Twenty years."
"Last I heard, you were fighting Gor for the right to rule the world."
Timothy shrugged his shoulders. "That's the last anyone ever heard of me. Nobody's written any stories about me since then. I've fought acid insects, endured torture from the Forgozian Mughots, and made love to the most beautiful Drens in the universe--but has anybody read about it? No! All because Aaron decided to give up his boyhood adventure stories."
"Well, if you're here to get even with Aaron, he's already dead. The Hounds of Hell got him."
"I heard, but since I can't kill him, you'll have to do."
"I figured. Although, I hoped you'd be over this jealousy stuff by now."
"Of course I'm not over my jealousy stuff! I'm a one dimensional bounty hunter character. How can I flesh out into something better if no one ever writes about me? And you? How come Aaron suddenly brought you back? What makes you so special?"
"I was his first imaginary friend. It's not my fault he didn't see Star Wars until after he thought of me. Y'know, you still look like a young Harrison Ford--if it makes you feel better. Look at me! I'm black! People call me names for no damn reason!"
"You think it's easy to look like Harrison Ford? People call me a poser. I'm out there fighting battles across the galaxy, and I can't get one damn story written about me. I finally get back to Earth, and it turns out you're a communist. How fair is that?"
"Columnist, not communist. Besides, Aaron gave up writing science fiction. He turned into an opinionated bastard instead."
"And where did that get him?"
"Eaten by the Hounds of Hell."
"So you're gonna kill me."
"Yep. Any special way you want to go?"
"No, just make it quick. I never thought you'd turn to evil like this. I always assumed you were the bounty hunter with a heart of gold."
"What's the point of being good if no one's gonna recognize it?"
Timothy Orsen pulled his full-speed, laser-charged, heat-censored disrupter automatic from his side and aimed it at Chris' head. The trigger was pulled, and Chris quickly melted into a puddle of brown goo. Timothy stepped around in the pool of bubbling matter seeping into the chapel's carpet for good measure. The spiders, now the size of a human head, began to suck the brown goo. Orsen stepped on a few of the spiders that tried to climb up his leg.
"Besides," Timothy said to the puddle. "I'm not evil. I'm politically incorrect."
Timothy Orsen turned around and walked out of the haunted house of Lies through the stained glass window of the chapel--never to be written about again.
Scott Parkinson got out of the stolen '83 Buick carrying a long, thin, canvas bag. He checked an address on a piece of paper and then walked up the creaky steps, careful to step across the hole created when T.C. died a day before. He knocked on the door, but no one answered. He tried the door and found it unlocked.
The front room was deserted except for a large red stain in the middle of the floor. It covered at least an eight by ten foot area. A couple of large spiders were nuzzling in a corner. Scott put his bag down and unzipped the top. Inside were swords, knives and other implements of cutting, most covered with their respective scabbards.
"I knew those fencing lessons would pay off someday," he grumbled, strapping a large sword to his back, two daggers to his shins, a moderate-sized sword to his waist and a two inch knife to the inside of his thigh. In his left hand he held an eight inch serrated hunting knife.
"Where the fuck are you guys?" he asked to the air, walked through the kitchen and then ascended up the steps to the second floor.
Scott came across Dan walking out of the bathroom wearing only a towel.
"Mattman?" Scott asked.
"No, I think he's out somewhere with Willy getting bug spray. But Lisa's here. She's sleeping over there in Nina's room. Hey man, that knife sure is shiny--"
Scott interrupted Dan, pushing the knife into his stomach and slowly pushing the blade up between his ribs and lungs, toward the heart.
"But--" Dan sputtered, spitting blood on Scott, trying to keep his insides from falling out. "I only do the pictures--" Blood coming out of Dan's mouth stopped the conversation as he fainted, fell backwards and collapsed in a sea of blood and guts.
"That's for saying I don't like Buffy in the last issue, you bastards!" Scott screamed into the thin air of the second floor hallway and then entered Nina's room where Lisa was sleeping naked on a double bed. Scott put down his hunting knife on a milk carton box full of CDs and slowly unsheathed his largest sword. He put the tip of the sword in the nape of Lisa's neck, letting the coldness wake her up. Lisa's eyes snapped open but she didn't move.
Scott slid the sword down her body, leaving a small trail of blood as the sword cut her skin ever so slightly.
"Aren't you a little short for a swordsman?" Lisa asked.
"Oh you're so cute. I'm not just a swordsman, I'm a writer. I'm Scott Parkinson!"
"Oh, Scott. I didn't know you were coming through town. I would have put clothes on."
"Actually, it will be much easier to kill you when you're naked. I won't have to cut through the fabric and Wonderbra padding." With that he pulled his sword back for a big swing. Lisa, reflexively, put her arms and hands in front of her body. Scott's swing cut off her hands at the wrists. Blood began shooting like cannons on Scott while Lisa screamed. Loudly. But not coherently.
"Fuck. That's a lot of blood," Scott said, pulling the sword above his head to plunged it through Lisa's chest. Just as he brought the sword down between Lisa's breasts, the hunting knife was pushed through his back and chest, peeking out of Scott's shirt with a gleam of blood.
"Uhgn," Scott said, trying to turn to see who had stabbed him in the back.
"Hello sweetheart," Nina said and then pushed the soon-to-be dead Scott onto the ground.
"Baby," Lisa said, trying not to cry. Scott's sword was sticking up between her breasts like Excaliber in its stone. "Pull it out. I don't want to die with this thing stuck inside me."
"Lisa, you'll die if I pull it out. I can't do that to you. I love you, Lisa." Nina sobbed, her hands around Lisa's shoulders and neck. Lisa's stump arms pushed out blood onto Nina, who drew closer to her friend.
"We're all--" Lisa said, spitting up a bit of blood. "We're all gonna die, Nina. Let me come clean."
Silently, Nina pulled the sword from Lisa's body. Lisa cringed and tried to reach for Nina, but without hands, she just shot more blood onto Nina, soaking her clothes and hair. Nina knelt close, placed her mouth over Lisa's, and breathed in her best friend's last breath.
Nina awoke to the sound of the doorbell. It was after nine at night, and she had been sleeping encircled around the dead corpse of Lisa. Sticky and dried blood crackled and oozed as she pulled herself off of Lisa's stiffened deadness. Little red lines of blood connected Lisa and Nina like cheese from an escaping pizza slice. Oblivious to her gooey physical condition, Nina walked blindly down the stairs and into the front room. She opened the door on three figures dressed fully in black. No part of their body or faces could be seen through the gauzy black clothing they were wrapped in. When they spoke, the veils in front of their faces did not move.
"May we come in?" the second, mid-level, figure asked.
"Sure, why the fuck not? We've been letting in killers all day."
"Good point," the smallest--and third--of the three said, rushing inside and pulling Nina into an embrace. Seconds later Nina fell to the ground, drained of most of her blood.
"Finally," Nina breathed as she fell into the unconsciousness of death.
"Break her neck," the first, and tallest, one said. "No need to increase our numbers. Besides, she is not Steve and has obviously been through too much life to enjoy death."
"Neither is she the Mattman," the shortest of the three said. The three walked through the front room toward the stairs to the upper rooms, barely noticing the body of Lenexa, who was strapped to the upper corner and ceiling of the living room with viscous and gluey white strands of web. Her body had been sucked dry of fluid by the three foot black spider resting on top of its meal.
Meanwhile, Mattman and Willy were sitting in the upstairs bedroom farthest away from the stairs.
"You know, everyone is gonna die, and it's gonna be all Steve's fault," Willy said, well past his seventh Dos Equis of the night.
"Steve? Why Steve?" Mattman had been taking a moderate way towards drunkenness, only through a couple of beers himself.
"He gave us this house. The house of fucking horrors. Cursed bongs, hounds of hell, killer spiders--I mean who else is responsible for the shit we're in, man?"
At that moment, the door opened and the three were standing just inside Mattman's room. The second was upon Willy before he had a chance to speak, draining the young man of blood in seconds. He died still clutching a Dos Equis bottle.
The second grimaced slightly after dropping Willy's body and muttered, "Drinking thins the blood."
"Hi guys," Mattman said, pushing his bottle away. "Just calming down my friend before he died. He thought Steve was behind everything."
The first moved in closer to Mattman. "Where is the Steve? We have not felt his vibrations for days."
"Steve's dead. Shot to pieces in Tijuana. During the day--so he's really dead. Gone. Whatever."
"And what about this mess? There is a smell of death over this house." The first placed a hand on Mattman's chest. "There is death in you."
"I don't know what happened. At first it seemed like fun. I had all of these friends, we were doing this magazine, we got a house, everything seemed to be going great."
The first moved back a bit. "But this house has a power."
"And it drew from my own as well. Even after everyone started dying, I thought I could fix it. But I guess that was impossible."
The third moved closer and whispered, "There are many bits of darkness even we cannot control, Mattman. We told you that--oh so many years ago."
"I know, but I thought I could keep it all together. After a while, though, I knew I was helpless. So I just waited for you to show up. I knew you would."
"And everyone is dead now. What is it you need from us?"
"I need to destroy this house. And I need to die."
The three moved away from Mattman and conferred.
"We have a way. You must move back down to the first floor."
The three and Mattman walked down the stairs, through the kitchen and into the living room. Mattman casually pulled the three foot spider off the carcass of Lenexa, crushed its head and sucked the moisture out of its body. He threw the husk to the ground.
"I never understood why there were spiders," Mattman said with a bit more vigor. "So, whenever you're ready."
The three took Mattman and laid him down on the same spot Aaron was dismantled by the hounds of hell. They began to walk around him. Faster and faster until the three were merely a blur.
And then the blur of the three shot in all directions at once. The three flew through the house and its walls and windows with increasing speed. Soon it was impossible to see the three as they punched holes in the house. It seemed as though the house itself was spontaneously blowing holes through itself. Soon after the house simply could not stand on its own and began to jerkingly fall into itself. The wooden cross at the house's apex fell with the rest of the house, finally sinking on top of the pureed mess of pink flesh and bone that was once Mattman. The three, as they pummelled the house with their supersonic flight, also ripped Mattman apart as he lay. When the destruction was complete, the three slowed down their movements until they were once again merely three figures covered completely in black. The first checked Mattman's puddle of body parts for signs of life--dead or undead.
There were none.
And suddenly the three were gone.
Just then, Zep came walking toward the newly demolished house from a bar downtown, occasionally looking at an address written in magic marker on his wrist. He thought he was merely joining a magazine meeting already in progress. He had stepped out of a similar meeting eight days prior with the intent of picking up some beer and other pharmaceuticals that might break the deadlock on the issue of a theme for the next issue of Lies. As it always was with Zep, his beer and drug run had turned into a week or so of hazy wandering. This eight day absence almost broke the nine and a half day Juárez journey of a year prior. But when Zep reached the rubble that was once the newly christened Lies Mansion, he realized the folly of being away from the gang for too long. He'd missed all the action. Sitting down on the broken steps in front of the house rubble, Zep commiserated with his favorite conversation partner--himself.