Edgar Stokes is a Sanitation Engineer (read: garbage man) who has lived his entire life in & around the glorious city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A short, stocky man of mixed English & Polish descent, Edgar has always been haunted by two critical issues:
1) His stature, making him a target of Bullies growing up
2) The fact that girls didn't like him
The first he resolved in brutal fashion, pummeling the bigger kids with wild abandon. In later years this would escalate to bar brawls & rough street fights. While not always on top, no one walked away from a fight with Edgar Stokes unmarked. The second proved more confounding...he wasn't bad looking...was he? He had a quick sense of humor, girls laughed...but that's it. First base? Once. Second & beyond? Not a chance.
Edgar had a good job (Union Job, in fact, never mind the details). He bought a fancy motorcycle (Vincent Black Shadow, & the goddamn thing is more a bitch than any girlfriend he's likely to have)...goes to Biker rallies in his off time...why can't he get chicks?
That question gnawed at him, ate him up inside. Years went by, the same problem remained. Women thought he was funny, sure. Didn't seem to think he was at all bad looking. But then they shied away, almost repulsed. For the life of him, he couldn't figure it out. His useless friends were no help. Edgar threw himself into the things he knew: Fighting, Drinking, Riding, & taking out the trash.
Until one day, clearing out a rat filled alley downtown, he lifted a dumpster lid to find a dead girl in the back. Pretty, half-clothed, not long dead...need to call the cops! But a dark part of him said, "You need to call the cops...later." Victimless crime, right?
He didn't quite follow through...lost his nerve, came to his senses. But he did take a taste.
That is when all his troubles began...
So, you might be wondering: How does one continue holding a job & the like when your face looks like a badger crossed with a hairless mole-rat?
Well, Union Strong, Baby! As a card carrying member of the Pittsburgh Sanitation Engineers Union, I only have to worry about a performance review once per year. I run my truck alone (which is kinda how I got into this mess, but still), & with my gloves & respirator on, I can just barely pass.
Helps that no one looks at the humble Garbage Man.
"Just taking out the trash, ma'am. Nothing to see here."
Also, I live alone (always have), & my lease is good. I pay my bills, never miss a payment, don't really go to the Saloon anymore...yeah.
That's how you do it. Movies on demand, Pornhub, Groceries delivered...
It's not exactly the High Life, but I'll take it.
I can go riding at night with a motorcycle helmet. Thick gloves help a bit, but the damn talons poke through...bought some oversized Welders Gloves & popped some Wine Corks on the tips...looks weird, but it works.
Other than that? A long grey scarf, hat, & my riding leathers.
As long as no one looks hard enough, it'll pass. Won't get me any dates, but nothing new there.
At least, till around this time next year. Can't show up in Pete's office wearing a respirator. On the deadline then...have that long to find a cure or at least some answers...but where do I look?
Wish I knew...
Who are these fucking clowns? This son of a bitch called himself "The Talent," looked like the sleazy guy behind the counter at the Fat Cobra to me. Approached me on the job even...the last few times I could call it a dream or an acid trip...not this time. I was done with the east end route anyway, so sure I can take a...job? Contract? Still don't quite get it all. Promise me what? A better complexion? A *really* good dentist? A sexy-yet-blind girlfriend (Toxic Avenger, love that flick)?
Nope. Just a vague "You will get what you desire."
Anyway, this goddamn guy can open a normal ass door to anywhere. Anywhere.
We pick up my stuff & go. To a class room. A few states away, mind.
I'm not the only one there, either. There's this weird little girl with ghosts or some shit coming out of her ears (Smells kinda familiar too. Huh), a frosty blonde who looks a bit off, some other little kid (it is a school I guess? Also seems familiar...which is weird: I hate kids!), some fucking hobo & another working class stiff like myself.
Mind you, I have my work kit on, so no need to panic the kiddies. Still, this guy, Bill, he seems right enough. Some kinda telephone installer. We talk about Unions a bit, because that shits important. One of the kids pipes up about me doing things I only half recall doing, & then the motherfucking hobo starts to blather about the terrible sins in his book.
Yeah. It was about as fun as it sounds.
After the "Talent" brings blondie in (cute, but c learly frigid & way out of my class, even before my...skin condition), he says something about a contest to win the old batmobile.
Ok, fine. That seems straight enough, why not. I change to my Biker Leathers while the others go out. Little ghost girl makes it about half way to the sign up, just out in the open as pretty as you please, before the normies lose it. Hard Pass for ol' Edgar Stokes. As the movie goes:
"Wait till they get a load of me."
Nope. I'm out.
Eyes open. Wide awake. No more talk of "Dreams" no more bullshitting myself about what's going on.
At least some of the weird shit that's been going on has been a message: If I can make twelve of these "Contracts," these sick little games, then they'll tell me the truth. About what I am. About what I am becoming.
And make no mistake, True Believers: I am becoming something.
It takes hold a little more every day. Sometimes obvious, the corded sinew spreading across my forearms & hands, the slow replacement as the last of my pearly whites fall out to be replaced by hooked, alligator-like fangs...that, & my mind is slipping. Well, kind of. Some days I feel sharper than ever. But...I also see things diffrently. I feel diffrent, & not just because of the obvious. I can feel myself changing deep inside.
I used to have Nightmares...now those dreams aren't so bad. Kinda nice, in fact.
My nose was always sharp (strange in my line of work, I know), but now...now it's like a dog. I know things that normal folks go around never knowing. It's like suddenly seeing a bunch of new colors that no one even has names for.
What does it mean? Well, it means I need to hold out for a year doing these crazy Jobs & hope they hold their part of the bargain. Not much else I can do really, at least, not without risking a cage, freak show, or dissection table.
We all have to go sometime right? I mean, no one gets out alive, so on & so forth.
I'm not sure if it's my new good looks or a change in dietary habits, but I am not actually bothered by the fact that some people might need to die, & old Uncle Edgar might just have to be the one to do the deed.
Not saying I've gone all Springheel Jack, mind you. It's not like I'm planning on going Ed Gein on the good folk of Pittsburgh (doubt those little morsels would last long enough to make something out of anyway in this house, to be honest). Just saying, if the chips are down, I'll do what needs to be done.
Does that make me a bad (worse) person? Well, I seem to have left "Person" a ways behind, so it's probably a moot point. I don't think so, anyway. I mean, I saved those kids, right? Saved some city in Nevada? I even saved the plant guy from zombie death.
Mainly, I saved those folks by ending a whole lot of other folks.
So...yeah. Not sure where I'm going here beyond "Don't Cry for me Argentina." Making it clear in my own head, I guess. Because in these wierd little jobs hesitation can mean an untimely end, & that is one event I am not planning on. If I intended to roll over at the first sign of trouble I would have just hung myself in the bathroom when I started to grow a snout.
Predictable. What is it with a month? Some kinda lottery or something?
Again, I was ready. I guess this sort of work sharpens you a bit. I mean, I felt ready when the time came. Monthly lunar cycle? I'm pretty sure I ain't some kinda Wolfman, what with the goddamned hooves coming in, but what do I know?
Not a whole fucking lot beyond good Sanitation practices.
So this time, we go down to Ol' Mexico. That's fine...little further South of the Border than I like, but hey: Edgar Stokes can Gringo with the best of them. Have to find some missing Professor or something.
Have a team, because of course I do. Ready? We have:
-Firecrotch: Some beardy redneck with like, flames shooting out of him. Yup. *Actual Flames.* Like, out of his hands & eyes. Note to self: Don't ask how he yanks his pud.
-ADHD Kid: Yeah, the same one I saw before. What is it with these goddamn kids?
-Snake Eyes: Some soldier looking dude whose mama had a thing for scales & forked tongues I guess.
-A Fucking Biker Zombie: Yes, that's right - A FUCKING BIKER ZOMBIE
Who also eats people. Like, 7ft tall...shit, why did they drag me along if they have Biker Zombies?
Anyway, we track down some corpses, find a temple...yadda-yadda-yadda. Mix it up a bit, Firecrotch handles hisself pretty well, so does Snake.
The kid & the zombie though...they're trouble. Don't think I'll go out of my way to keep them alive in the future. I mean, I am a team player...but I'll pick my own team, thanks.
Oh, I totally looted a statue of some primordial death god. I'm going to put it on my coffee table.
I like films...even sit in front of the boob-tube from time to time. Never was into video games much: Mama Stokes didn't raise no basement dwelling nerds.
"If yinz ain't anything better to do, go chop wood."
I chopped a lot of wood back then.
Still, this one was like that: Like a video game, or a B-Movie. Lots of FX, but not a lot going on upstairs. Kind of a blur really, might've all been in my head.
So, I was, like, escorted to heaven by gay angels or someshit. Right there I knew something was off because: 1) Edgar don't swing that way, & 2) Edgar probably doesn't have an appointment with the pearly gates. So it's a dream, right? Seemed so, with some jawing about Vikings or English or what the fuck ever. Then we zoooommed down to the real (?) world...& like...got appointed leaders of a village or something. Well, I think it was a old timey village. Sometimes it was a town, somtimes it had like, a big army or something. Anyway, things kind of blurred around then, & I guess a few weeks went by? Then a Viking (Without a Horned Hat, which is just a travesty) pops into my tent & says, in perfect American because you know: Video Games..."By the way, the Duke or Baron or something kinda has us surrounded & outnumbered."
Well. That escalated pretty quick.
So, I gather the troops (was there someone else? I don't even know anymore), & we go out to see a big army & some asshole in gold & carrying a fancy sword. He's all, "I challenge you to Trial by Combat!"
Oh. Okay. I feel my twisted muzzle stretch into a smile.
One Trial by Combat, coming right up!
Besides, what do I know about leading an army? Much better to tear apart some mouthy asshole. Which I did, mind you, in less time than it took to write about it. Kept his fancy sword too...then we fought, won, got on a ship, fought, won, fought some more, won...did someone put this game on Easy Mode? Did I mention there was a Bear?
Anyway, I woke up on my couch. Still have the Ducal Sword though, so that's pretty neat. Think I'll hang it from a wire over my toilet.
That's what Ol' Fox Moulder would always say right? Like, Aliens or some shit. Well, as it turns out, the real world is a lot stranger than fiction. A whole metric shit-ton stranger, in fact.
So, here's the deal: There are these people who want weird shit done, or just want to fuck with your head. They round up a gang of misfit mother fuckers like yours truly to go handle whatever it is that needs doing. These yahoos call themselves "Contractors" or sometimes "High Rollers" or "The Chosen" even, if they feel real pretentious.
I call all of 'em crazy as a shithouse rat, but hey, someone has to be, am I right?
Anyway, these sons o' bitches round up the usual suspects & set them loose like the God damned Light Brigade; it get's even weirder too - all of these nutjobs also have the dubious honor of being freak shows.
Just like me.
It's not always clear, the "how" & the "why" of what makes them a freak, mind. But it's always there. Some of them even seem bent on doing this kinda work...like doing it makes them more freaky or some bullshit.
Fuck all that. I just want some answers goddamnit! Maybe a...cure? Shit, look at me! How the fuck am I gonna cure this shit? I've seen some crazy shit, sure, but I ain't seen a plastic surgeon that's gonna help me out y'know?
I'd settle with answers & just getting out of this bullshit alive I think.
If the "Truth" is out there, it can mind it's own fucking business!
I am a way more a fan of "A Galaxy Far, Far, Away" than "Boldy Go Where None Have Gone Before."
Yeah, I also read a lot of comic books at Loyd's Comics...heh, Old Man Loyd: "Yinz kids git the Hell out unless yinz buyin' somethin'!!"
What a riot.
My point is, I'd rather a lot of this stuff stay Far, FAR away rather than up in my business. I mean, I can be bold. Bold as Fuck, even. But this whole "Mirror Dimension" shit? "Chrisis of Infinite Earths" insanity? Let Superman or the God damn Avengers handle that horseshit: No Supes, you say? Then maybe...just maybe...
LEAVE IT THE FUCK ALONE THEN!
That's what Uncle Edgar says, anyway. Why even bother? What the fuck does it matter that this piece of shit here is more important than that piece of shit over there??
For realz, who cares? Are you seriously saying you can frog hop across the God Damned multiverse but you need to bring the Murder Circus into town to get (& here's the Punchline, kids)
A FUCKING WORTHLESS DOOHICKEY DOWN THE FUCKING STREET?!?
Bullshit! I could have been killed!
Shit, I'm STILL mad about it...who do they think they are? Contractors DO need a Union apparently...but not costume wearing scabs like those assholes. I'd start one even...don't laugh! If it wasn't just the thought of my ugly mug on posters, I would totally, like, bust this shit open with Organized Labor. I mean, if Ol' Pete can run the Sanitation Union in the 'Burgh, I could do it right? I'm likable, right? Sensible?
I only lose my shit, like...some of the time. Better than most of these clowns I work with.
But yeah...paralell fucking worlds out there, & no fucking Union!
Shit is getting serious now...not just the Contracts, but at home. Takes a lot of work to pass for normal now...changes are coming faster.
I can't take a flight this way...time to call in the Big Guns: Federal Express.
Which really isn't so bad. I'm pretty bendy, & my heart beats only twice a minute or so. No worries. Show up to a ragtag bunch outside of a barn. Some slip of a girl threatens me, so I return the favor: should have ended her then & there, but hey: Team Player, remember?
So, this time we need to work with a bunch of Mad Scientists. Don't like that at all. I ain't ending up in a cell or on an operating table, thank you.
Doc in charge has some kinda crazy doohickey, going to zap us to the spot we're going.
Who is us? Lemme tell ya:
-Teenage Tarzan: Smells like a zoo, looks kinda pasty. Not too sharp
-Princess Emo-Pants: Another kid dressed for a Comic Con who was apparently raised by Nazis
-Miss "I can't keep my Goddamn mouth shut" Rich Girl: Another Fucking Kid
-Firecrotch: Must have a thing for kids. More power to him, becuase Uncle Edgar most certainly does not.
So...the job? Yeah, less said about the details the better. Here's some highlights:
1) I hate this "Poof" shit. Star Wars > Star Trek. Do not beam me up.
2) Kids are way more trouble than their worth, & will definitely get you killed in the long run. Pro Tip: Get a Dog.
3) Always keep your eye on the ball. Remember why you're here, & stay focused. If the team your sent with can't do that, don't feel bad leaving them behind.
Other than that, easy win for Ol' Edgar Stokes. Breeze really, even took my time chatting up the locals, doing the tourist thing. Unburdened my sins to the Bug God even. What? I went to Catholic school, & Confession is good for the soul.
Didn't help though. Still going home alone in the world. Another fucking win. Another lonely night.
Funny how being a freakish, corpse-eating monster makes you more scared of normal people than you ever were before when you were also a normal person.
I mean, in my rowdy days I thought nothing of brawls & bar fights. Someone gave me attitude, threw shade over the fact I was short? I lit that motherfucker up. You'd think the fact that I can snap a femur in my teeth or push in nails with my hands would make that even more the case.
See, when your part of the herd, even a rascaly upstart buck, your still protetced by the herd. A lion can single out one wildebeast. But a herd of them? Not a chance.
I can feel, deep in my bones, that if I get outed I am done.
No one will be out to rescue Uncle Edgar. So, that means an abundance of caution. Wasn't always my strong point, but it sure is hell becoming it. Raise "Looking out for Numero Uno" to the top of the fucking list. Because no one else will. The Normals will in fact make it their business to end you...& they can do it. Maybe not in the ones & twos...but they have all the bodies they need. All the time in the world. This is how you survive:
1) Don't get seen for what you are
2) Leave no trace if you can help it
3) Avoid any fights you can, & stack the odds if you can't
4) Bail out if it looks like you could get discovered
5) If you DO get cornered, every Monster for themselves
Rules to keep living by.
Here we go.
Twelve Months. The last one is coming up...the loonies in charge of the loonie bin have promised I'll get my answers next time out. Problem is, it's my annual performance review this week...I miss that, I'm out of the Union.
Out of a job.
Hell, I've had a job since I was 15 years old! What kind of man doesn't work for a living? Scrubs, Losers & Yahoos, that's the kind.
I've been a Sanitation Engineer for 14 years now. You may not think that's a big deal, but it is. Being the Garbage Man becomes who you are. Wacko College types tell you your job isn't who you are, like: you have the right to respect & a living because of your Liberal Arts Degree & Bachelor in Philosophy. Never mind the mountains of debt you brought on yourself, yadda-yadda-yadda.
Lemme tell you this, True Believer: Your Job IS who you are. Read an obitiuary (Hey, I need to stay on top of those, like: Required Reading y'know?) & what do they say: So-in-So was So Many Years Old, did Such-and-Such for a Living & might mention some family maybe.
You are your job. Me, I was a Trash Man. Damn fine one too. But by the end of today, when I stop feeling sorry for myself & get the nerve to call up Ol' Pete, I won't be one any longer. This apartment? That I got myself years ago? Gone. Most of my shit too. All gone.
Time to hit the road, Mr. Stokes.
Because when I find out why I got stuck with this ugly mug, there probably won't be any going back.
The others have all left now...except me. Staying behind wasn't an easy choice, no sir: this place isn't right somehow...Chuck says everyone & their brother fancies themselves some kinda Monster Hunter here.
Wonderful. Took the wrong step in the Twilight Zone, for sure.
Still, the Ghouls have depleted this boneyard long ago. Chuck & I talked about it; half will go with him, half will go with me.
Not all Ol' Chuck & I talked about either. Told me how he did it also, his magic trick for getting the kind of fugly that I came across naturally. Good to know? Seems like it can give a lifeline to the dying if you don't mind...the side effects. I also read the Cardigan journal, as well as some notes on some crazy book "Cult of the Ghouls" or whatever. Seems Ghouls have always lived near folks, on the edges of society, eating the dead. Sometimes even swapping out youngins on the way, changeling style. Funny that, Ghould kids look just like Normal kids...until they get a bit longer in the tooth anyway.
Is that what happened to me? I was always a Ghoul & never knew it? Would explain a lot, what with givin' ladies the creeps all this time. Book also says that the kids raised by Ghouls also usually become Ghouls, & some people just turn into Ghouls by doin' as Ghouls do.
That last bit also makes a lot of sense.
Not all I learned from the notes either..."Let the duplicitous knave not be afaid to dine wholly on his enemy, so that he may, after fully consuming his flesh, partake in his wives & concubines in the flesh & likeness."
Exit Edgar Stokes, make way for John Cardigan.
So, lurking in the ruins of a burned buidling subsisting off cooked librarians & dragon meat can get you thinking.
Dragon Meat, by the way? Spicy. Especially the heart & liver.
So, what was I saying? Oh yeah! Deep Thoughts...so, the Cat Man almost got burned up, right? Well - what if he'd died? I mean, other than the obvious, coughing up hairballs for weeks? Well, I imagine he'd be forgotten, left behind.
Funny thing about Ghouls. While the "You are what you Eat" thing falls a bit short, we do remember who our meals were. It's different for all of us, usually dream-like, images & feelings...kinda like dropping acid & taking a nap. I've gotten pretty good at it; better than most (who said dropping all that acid as a kid will ruin your life?). More like a Lucid Dream, I can take the memories out for a walk, go where I want to go with 'em.
Now, why does this matter?
'Cause if one of my Contractor buddies ended up dead, & then I ate 'em, I could learn the "How" & the "Why."
So what, right? Still dead, & now ate up on top of it. Well, in the spirit of Collective Labor, I am thinking that if said Meat Bag was a Union Contractor, paying dues & abiding by the tenets mutually agreed on, then maybe, just maybe...some Ghouls might go out to settle some scores on the his or her behalf.
That could mean seeing that Widows & Orphans get taken care of. That the garden gets watered, or the dog finds a new home.
It could mean we go out & eat some folks.
Either way, I like the idea. A man needs to work; can't just gibber in a hole all day.
That was a good time, that last bit. The rest ran off with Fluffy the Strega-Dog, & I was left with a pile of dead bodies.
Oh no...whatever shall we do?
Well, funny thing about that: all of them were a bit fresh for me. Normally, I'd bury them or prop them up in a crypt (you know, holding a paper or sitting on a broken toilet - I love Gallows Humor)...figured we'd need leaving soon though. Be that as it may, when there is only one food that really hits the spot, you can get a bit...obsessive.
Comes over you sometimes, ingrained fear of starvation. All Ghouls seem to get it. So, when you eat, you gorge. When you don't need to eat - you cache for later.
Even when you know your not coming back.
So, a lot of those bodies went into the ductwork, hidden under the bed, stuffed in closets...even cut one to pieces & stuffed it under a couch. You won't find bodies in the cooler on my watch; no sir.
Need to leave them out to age right.
Anyway, the rest were dealing with the dog. Reckon they forgot all about the promise to cut him loose from his keeper already. Bunch'a Mayflies, these Contractors - Out of sight, out of mind.
I reckon I remember though. Another check on a long list of my fellow Monsters enslaved & such. Given the chance, I mean to do something about it, but Mama Stokes didn't raise no fool (she totally did, who am I kidding?)...
I'll remember. When the time is right, these would be "Masters" will find there are no "Servants."
Just a gang of angry Monsters.
After the bit with the Squids I made my way back to Ohio. The "Foreman" on site made it clear I could go just about anywhere but it'd be a one way ticket. I have a lot riding on the place with Jules at the moment, so my Ghoul buddies back in Philly will have to wait.
Brings us back to the Portal question. The Higher Ups can just twinkle their toes at places, bring everyone there in a blink. I've never met a "Blue Collar" that can do anything like it, guess it's above our paygrade. Seem finicky about beaming up anyone whose not part of the official crew also. High Rollers only, no Red Shirts allowed.
Alright then, so me & Jules need our own. I ain't really to up on my Bippity-Boppity-Boo so I ain't really sure where to start on that...still, when you only sleep about an hour a day, you need to stay busy. Paper says 51 people were eaten alive in & around Columbus, Ohio: Jules backyard, even. Though of course Jules has no idea - bless his heart. Somethings would have to jump up & bite him in the ass before he noticed sometimes.
Looking into things, I can say this ain't no bears. Something was killing people, something that ain't from around here. Not sure exactly what it is besides mean & hungry. Then it all stopped. About the same time some folks robbed that old Indian Mound.
I seen enough movies that digging up an Indian Graveyard does'nt sound like something that needs doing. Still, may not have a choice in the matter. If'n these things are right cozy in Columbus, that's a near miss on my current set up. Gonna have to see whose the better monster I reckon.
Hope that's me.
The times I went to Philly to see Aunt Flo, I always slipped away to go there. It's unreal, a giant boneyard built in the American Heartland...abandoned. Some tweakers, but mostly weeds, statues, crypts & the dead.
We'd catch crawdad in Cobb's Creek, smoke ciggies tucked away in the headstones, throw empty bottles of Mickeys at the Crypts...
Well, sorry kiddos: Edgar is back in town, & is taking his playground back.
Thousands are buried here. Alone & abandoned. That's the beauty of it: no one own it. Not even the city.
Buying a derelict property is one thing, but how do you buy something that no one owns? Sounds simple, but it ain't, apparently. Especially when it's a fucking gigantic graveyard. Can't just bulldoze it. Can't sell it. Just leave it to the wild to reclaim.
The wild, & the Ghouls.
My little pack of Ghouls followed my lead, & I led them straight & true to the Promised Land. Some digging, & we'll be in buisness. No worries there - digging is what we do best.
Gonna have to get power down here, maybe put a pool table in the old Post building. Used Jules money to outfit an abandoned garage for when I want to be on my own...next I think I'll try to open things up a bit: Midian - "Where the Monsters live."
That shouldn't just be us Ghouls. Any ol' Monster who ain't a bag of dicks should be able to at least be safe from the Normals here. That's the plan,m anyway. If they do turn out to be dicks, we'll just eat 'em after all. No loss (for us anyway).
Need to take some more bounties...though I do owe Slick pretty big for his Portal (Obviously never read Amber, Ol' Slick: a portal to anywhere? Fuck an A!!).
Big plans, you betcha. Just need time, & that's something I've got.
I wonder sometimes...
If you were on the down & out, nowhere to go, no kin to call your own, what is rock bottom?
Beyond the obvious, dead-in-a-ditch option, course.
I mean, what would folks be willing to do to belong. To have prospects? To never die?
Well, maybe not "never" but at least live for a long ass time. Well past the point you were tired of it.
To not get sick.
That's the easiest angle, that there: hit up the Tech Mogul whose got the terminal Big "C" & make him a Devil's Deal.
After all, what's your life worth, Mr Billionaire?
Problem is, I fucking hate those people. They don't deserve to be like us. Just the idea gets me riled. A Rich Ghoul, fattened up like a pig.
So if not them, with all that money & power...who then?
I think the down & out. People who got no illusions about life being a fucking box 'o chocalates. People who have been hardened, have become hopeless.
Not too many though: Even ol' Moriah could run dry over a long enough time...no home is forever, they say.
Huh...funny, that. Why turn anyone if food could get scarce? Why would you share? Especially with folks who got nothing to give anymore beyond themselves?
I'm thinking it's a drive to see me & mine thrive...from what I can tell, Ghouls have been around as long as Humans have. Haven't seen many though. Are we dying out?
So much I don't know. Need to track down some of those musty old books, learn a bit more about it all.
Even so, I think I will give a handful of the locals a chance.
I've been causing some trouble of late.
Our Alien, Pod People, Invasion of the Bodysnatchers types; seem t'have gone to ground, yeah?
Well, time to shake them up a bit, says Uncle Edgar.
Bill is running the Wanted Posters (my idea, by the way, what would these chumps do without me, meep?), means we wait for hits, right?
I don't think so.
I didn't get as far as I have in this whole "High Roller" business by sitting on my hands - as Old Grampa Stokes used to say: "A Man's gotta work."
So, my trial run as Lil' Timmy Donner was a success. Time to up the game.
I've been haunting the Zanesville area wearing bits of our old pal Martin. Glad I took his head. Sometimes his brother too.
Hit those fancy doorbells, lookin' all scared...
"Are you my daaaadddy?"
*Incoherent laughter & gibberish*
Hah, meep! Heh...sometimes I kill myself.
Anyway, this isn't just about casing a ruckus for it's own sake. Figure these alien sons of bitches haven't had a taste of good ol' Gothic Horror East Coat Style - I'm talking Edgar Allen Poe, here, yeah? Keep 'em off balance. Keep 'em guessing. Sooner or later, they'll make a mistake.
When they do, Ol' Uncle Edgar will be waiting for them, Jaggers out & ready to "Do unto others" as they done did unto those poor brats in Zaneville.
Won't stop with them though. Once I crack open some ribs...get to that "Tell Tale Heart," meep...
"Quoth the Raven; Nevermore."
Things change as you get older...not just the hairline & the rigors of taking a shit, mind, but real change - time makes you a different person.
Sure, I know that better than most.
Thing is, when the Foreman came along & said "Go get the Pod Person" I was like, hell yeah, Dog Will Hunt, let's go-go-go!
When I found out there was more of 'em, even saw what they could do to people, I was all in for Truth, Justice & the American Way - just get me a cape, call me "Trash Man" I'll sort those that need it, yeah?
Problem is, once I get back into the ol' routine of lookin' out for me & mine, I started to think about it.
Slick? Jules? All Mouth, no Action. Shouldn't suprise me - couple rich fucks like that ain't got skin in the game. More than that, they may look like normal types, but that shit is only skin deep - both those son's-a-bitches would blow up an orphanage for one of these Jobs the Foremen throw. Not sure I would...probably not, anyway.
They're not my people, right? What do I care what happens to them, especially when their own clearly don't give a flying fuck?
Way I see it, I have Steel Head, a place in the 'Burgh, ol' Midian...in the unlikely event I find someone I do like enough to keep around, I got means, yeah?
Who cares if the world is fucked? Even if all umpteen billion people are dead tomorrow...it's not like we'd starve, right?
Not to mention that your Ol' Uncle Edgar knows there is "other worlds than these."
Think I'm just gonna mind my own beeswax. They'll get no help from me.
"If I was a Rich man...na na na na na na na na!"
Shit, can't get that tune out of my head.
Think something is up with me...the fam says I've been away for like, a month or more...I got a call from Jules on my phone, but I don't remember it. Or in fact, much of anything else. Something I ate? I mean - shit, could be - Some-One even...am I possessed now? Gonna spin my head around like Ghost-Girl?
"If I were a biddy-biddy meep Rich yiddle-diddle-diddle man!"
Damn it. More of an AC/DC, Rockabilly guy right? What the fuck is up with these Show Tunes?
Anyway, when I did come back to my senses, I was in ol' Mexico again.
With none other than:
Ayla "Why doesn't anyone like me?" Murder-Princess: Not the best way to come out of a fugue, knowing this piece of work has your six, lemme tell ya. Not that she wasn't helpful, flying around & murdering everyone in sight, but you just can't count on her to do a lot else - plus she talks to fucking much.
Sucat "Mickey's-4-Life" Irish: This guy ain't bad, beyond looking like he jumped out of a "House of Pain" video. We worked together before. Guess what? He knows, like, magic tricks! Like actual magic, not just drinking games. Taught me some of them in exchange for a bit of work - that was classy, Irish is alright in my book, meep.
Speaking of magic, we had to get up in the business of my old pal Mictla to shut some things down - meant people had to die. People who were just people. I had to swing the axe too, because everyone else was chicken shit.
Not happy about that - I mean, Mama Stokes didn't raise no psycho killer, but it was that or watch half of Mexico get killed. Looks like these "Jobs" the Foremans put us up to are goona have higher stakes. Not sure how I feel about that.
"Lord who made the lion and the lamb
You decreed I should be what I am
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan?
If I were a wealthy man"
So, went out & got some advice from a professional first - you wanna do that before messing with electrical lines. It's not the voltage that gets you; it's the amps, meep.
Comcast guy put in a landline (old fashioned, you betcha) & cable...but the lines I plan onm running, I'll need to do on my own - you know, on account of the fact that I don't want people knowing where they're going, right?
Figure the Fam won't get any more brain dead watching cable, y'know? Besides, I need to keep on top of things - only so much you can do with Burner Phones, & I ain't about to start sending WiFi signals from six feet under.
"What lays below, stays below."
That, & it'll mean I can get the Fam to sit around in the Warrens & catch a Steelers game every now & again. If'n I didn't know they'd just up & eat it, I'd even break out the ol' Pigskin for a night game or two up in the Ramble.
Gettin' downright cozy up in this ol' Boneyard, meep, starting to feel like home. Got some candles & lanterns brought in for late night reading, some dining tables set up if we need face time - just need to work on the security a bit more. Things are going South quick up top, & even though we do have exit strategies sorted out, I really don't know if they'd stick to the plan, especially Daryll.
Still, you can lead a Ghoul to the grave, but you can't make him eat; that's what I always say. If they wanna stick around after I bug out - well, they won't starve.
Now...we don't need Dogs, 'cause we already have that covered...cameras or whatever would just give us away...thinking we need some more of this "Ooky Spooky" action I'm always seein' on the Job - I got some Gods of Death that live here now, right?
About time they started paying the rent.
So here we are, in my own little corner of the world, when I got to thinking.
After Slick used his Portal shenanigans, I know that things can be done with the whole "Other Worlds Than These" biz. If I were to guess, I'd say I've been in at least Five "Twilight Zones" so far. Crisis of Infinite Earths & all that jazz.
Time travel too, since I grew up in the 80's & am pretty sure I'm only 36 - meep - though that last bit is hard to nail down, with my good looks & all.
So, why rock the boat? This place is as good as any other place - alien whatevers ain't a problem for us, am I right?
Well, hold on to your underpants, True Believers: Ol' Uncle Edgar is about to get seriously weird.
Way I see it, people - Hell, let's be honest - Things like me are few & far between. Even if they have sharp bits, or howl at the moon or whatever; they're gonna get rubbed out by all the hairless mutant monkeys. I'm repeating myself here, I know somewhere on this damn thing I already talked about it, but stick with me alright?
I figured when I moved the Family to this shithole as opposed to that other shithole, I was on the right track. For them, I was too - but not for the little bastards I left behind on that boat, or that gal who turned into some kinda werewolf on the camera a few years back - reckon she has been dissected already. So staying in the safe, suburb world may be best for the ones I done brought over, but isn't really working for my plans. Man has gotta work, they say.
This Ghoul plans to save the ones that need saving. Come what may. Yeah, like Ghoul Jesus or whatever.
Also, as I am as honest as they come: I'm fucking bored of this place. If I have to sit in on one more jawing session with Slick & Beardy McBeardface, there's gonna be blood, meep.
So, I put the word out, & the same Observer guy who sent me on to these places showed eventually - get this: no deals, no frills. Me & mine, the whole damn warren - poof!
Back to the place I am originally from.
He was glad to do it. Even relieved to do it. Makes me wonder what is going on over there that they want Edgar Stokes out of the picture...but it ain't my problem anymore, is it?
I've said before; I got nothing against most of these moldy old Gods that keep popping up; feelings probably not mutual, in that us Contractors are always bein' sent to get up in there buisness - but for the record: I don't mind them none. Folks gotta eat, after all. I know that better than most, meep.
Speaking of a light snack, I got a taste of this last one - not enough to go join the Moonies, mind, but a taste even so. I can feel it crawl under my skin a bit, even see it some times. Freaked Mickey out a bit, lemme tell ya. Still, I don't think I can get Cancer? Far as we know, Ghouls don't get sick - s'pose time will tell.
Seems to have done a few things already...that thing could come back from almost anything - by the way that tail stab patched up, it may be that I can too - though a downside, seems the new blood taking hold has cost me the fireproofing I got after gobbling up that dragon. Best watch out for flames then. At least I still got my Lucky Dragon tooth, along with the skull & goblet. Priorities, right?
In other news, I ran out of skin for hanging out with the locals. Shame. The Fam ain't good for conversation much, so it was good to go shoot the shit by the barrel. All good things, though. Used up a trinket to fix up lil' Maria's face - shouldn't have, that shit could come back on us, but I said to myself: "Self, there's more in the world than living to survive another day."
Guess we'll wait & see if I regret that. If I do, though, I won't be goin' down easy.
You can bet your lilly white ass on THAT, True Believers.
Soft underbelly of the world is easy to see from below, y'get me?
They took my Goddamn Bike!
Leaving it in Hell - that I can stand. I can imagine a bunch of sexy succubi Hell's Angel chicks riding it around through the afterlife, all Metal-like, meep.
The Cops though? No fucking WAY am I letting the Cops still my Indian Superchief.
So I slipped back after the job to case the impound. Cameras, fences, guard - the usual shit. If I wasn't who I am & hadn't been up to what I've been about the last few years, that'd be a problem. As it turned out, it kinda was a problem after all - kinda.
So, I pinged the cameras with ball bearings first, then hopped the fence, & rolled a car through the gates - this got our rent-a-cop's attention, which I was like: fine, put the ol' Stokes Spooktacular on him, he'll be on his way.
Caught me so off guard I started laughing, meeping.
So, of course, I got shot.
Just a little bit shot, still itched like a son of bitch later though. A quick bitch slap of our shooter & he took a walk. Break in to the garage & found my bike...yeah, about that, meep meep meep...
THOSE SONSABITCHES SCRATCHED MY BIKE!!!
Also took it for a joyride, the little shits! Made some notes or whatever!
It was time for the Action Movie ending for these assholes.
As the cop sirens wailed, Ol' Edgar Stokes lit out of that garage with the fires of hell behind him! Great Balls of Fire, you better believe it - don't ever fuck with my Bike.