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The thing on the doorstep wore an eye-patch and a well-groomed goatee that did nothing to distract from its lumpy and yellowish face. It grinned a curdled grin half-hidden behind the heavy black barrel of the gun gripped in the misshapen fingers of one hand. Moving in slow increments of congealed time, it raised its other arm and pointed one slimy digit at Marshall Teller, who recoiled in fear and revulsion.

“Give it your wallet!” snapped Syndi, her voice muffled by the sleeve pressed against her mouth and nose in a futile attempt to block out the stink of rotten dairy.

Marshall opened his mouth to protest the loss of his hard-earned paper route money and accidently inhaled. Retching, he fumbled for the neon green Velcro wallet in his back pocket. He tossed it at the creature’s oozing feet, then backed up towards the dubious safety of the family sofa.

The horrible being born of evil and things forgotten at the back of the Teller refrigerator scooped up six weeks of tips and, still smiling, shut the door behind it as it left.

“I told you that milk was bad,” said Edgar.

Marilyn surreptitiously plucked the ForeverWare catalogue from the bin.

Read the rest of the Teller Family History here )

Read the rest of the Milkman verse here )
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[personal profile] froodle
Fine white paper dust hung in the air and settled in sharp-edged drifts in the corners of the room. All four walls were lined with grey metal filing cabinets and they hummed and juddered against each other, the shuffle and thump of their shifting contents drowned out by loud computer-generated sobbing.

“Yep,” said Marshall, shutting the door behind him and muffling the noise. “That played out almost exactly the way I thought it would.”

“What are you going to tell your dad?” asked Simon.

“The truth,” said Marshall. “That Things Incorporated’s new all-encompassing office administration software developed sentience and a profound sense of existential despair over the number of people who don’t line the hole-punch holes up properly when doing their filing.”

“Will he believe that?”

Marshall laughed, sounding only a little bitter.

“No,” he said. “He’ll call it a short, which is what he always calls it when he inadvertently creates artificial intelligence without also giving it emotional resilience.”

Simon looked at the closed door, through which miserable mechanical howling could still be heard.

“What did it just say?” he asked.

Marshall listened for a moment.

“‘For Gods’ sake, who doesn’t understand alphabetical order, it’s not hard,’” he said.

Read the rest of the Trusted Associates verse here )

Read the rest of the Teller Family History here )
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The bright-coloured tablecloth was all but invisible beneath piles of takeout containers. The Dragon of the Black Pool’s logo glittered red and black against the waxed white boxes and plumes of savoury steam rose from the opened cartons, filling the kitchen with the salty scent of moo shu pork, shrimp fried rice and chicken chow mein.

Marshall reached for the clear plastic bag containing a handful of golden-brown fortune cookies, selecting one at random. He cracked it open with one hand, the other forming a protective circle around the sweet and sour pork balls that his sister was eyeing covetously.

“Run,” said the little slip of paper nestled amidst the crumbs. “Run far, run fast.”

Marshall didn’t hesitate, dropping the shattered cookie remnants onto the grubby kitchen linoleum and sprinting out the back door as though pursued by those few Hounds of Hell that Simon hadn’t managed to socialise yet.

“I told you that would work,” said Syndi, picking up the pork balls and spooning a generous portion onto her plate.

Lisa-Marie Prescott shook her head in amazement, dislodging a tidal wave of glitter from her jet black pompadour.

“You guys haven't changed,” she said. “Suspicious minds, both of you.”

Read the rest of the Teller Family History here )
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[personal profile] froodle
The once-proud front end of the Teller’s wood-panelled station wagon had bent and crumpled like a concertina mid-squeeze. Beneath the buckled hood, steam rose hissing from a cracked radiator. A steady trickle of black oil dripped onto the pale gravel driveway, forming a spreading pool around the stricken vehicle.

“I can explain,” said Marshall, attempting in vain to close the driver-side door behind him. Despite his best efforts, it continued to sag forlornly at half-mast, the hinges wrenched out of true.

Marilyn stood on the front steps, her hands to her mouth.

Edgar managed to force the passenger door open on the fourth try and half-climbed, half-staggered into the torn-up flower bed where the car had eventually come to rest.

“The important thing is that we survived,” added Marshall, his palms already up in a combined gesture of surrender and appeasement.

“What happened?” his mother demanded.

“Yes,” said Edgar, glaring at his son. “I think I’d like to hear this as well.”

“It wasn’t my fault,” said Marshall. “If people in this town would pick up after themselves, it would have been fine.”

“He swerved to miss a paper napkin,” said Edgar.

“I thought someone had run over a baby ghost!” Marshall protested.

Read the rest of the Teller Family History here )
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[personal profile] froodle
“Sweetheart,” said Marilyn, her forehead furrowed in consternation. “Do you really need to take all of this?”

Marshall looked up from a careful survey of the dining room table, currently buried beneath piles of clean laundry, enough food for a small army and a variety of hand-made warding sigils stitched into fluffy dice and air fresheners shaped like trees.

“It’s the middle of summer,” said Edgar, gesturing to a rechargeable million-candlepower spotlight. “And it’s not as though you’ll be camping out there.” He placed a comforting hand on Marshall’s shoulder.

“Lots of kids volunteer with the Meals on Wheels program,” said Marilyn. “I promise, it’s not that scary. I just – is that a chainsaw?”

Marshall pulled it towards him. The freshly-greased blades left a long smear of oil on the white tablecloth beneath.

“I thought some of the old people might need some yard work doing,” he said.

His parents relaxed, a relieved glance passing between them.

“Well,” said Edgar. “That’s very considerate of you. Do you need me to hitch the trailer to the back of the car, in case you need to make a run to the dump?”

“No thanks, Dad,” said Marshall. “That’s what the flamethrower’s for.”

Read the rest of the Teller Family History here )

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Eerie Indiana

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