A Collaborative Story


Craig’s contributions are in BOLD TYPE

Paul’s contributions are in REGULAR TYPE

*** *** ***

It was a dark and stormy night…well, it really wasn’t dark. In fact, it was 11:45 am and it wasn’t stormy either. A nice southerly breeze was blowing on a pleasant 75 degree, sunny day. However, since this is going to be a story of intense terror, let’s just pretend it was dark and stormy.

Wally and Herb emerged from their apartment to head down to the local coffee shop.

“Sure is a pleasant and cheerful day!” Said Wally as he put on his sunglasses.

“Absolutely,” agreed Herb. “Perhaps we should just sit outside and enjoy the wonderful weather!”

Both, apparently, had skiped the meeting with the author about what kind of story this was supposed to be. This really pissed the author off.

Anyway, Wally and Herb both needed the chance to unwind. Neither one was at what could be considered high points in their respective lives. Wally had just lost his job and his girlfriend, and didn’t know how he could go on with his life. Herb’s hamster had cancer.

“Isn’t life just wonderful?” Asked Wally happily.

“Absolutely!” said Herb, the more verbose of the two.

Armed with their gourmet coffees and perpetual optimism, the two plopped down outside the coffee shop.

“Ah, such a beautiful day!” said Wally happily.

“You already said that,” said Herb.

“Yes, but it’s just that beautiful. Besides, I said ‘wonderful,’ and I was talking about life. Pay attention to the continuity.”


Birds chirped. Squirrels ran around merrilly. The author misspelled words. Clouds drifted lazily across the bright, sunny sky.

The terror was thick in the air.

Herb said, “This is the sort of day where everything is swell and nothing could possibly go wrong!” The fool.

The two finished their coffees and talked for hours outside the coffee shop. When the conversation had exhausted itself, as conversations tend to do, they decided to walk to the park and swing their cares away at the local playground. The fools.

As they stood up to leave, they walked smack-dab into the air thick with terror. Then they walked through the terror and continued on their happy way. The inconsiderate-to-the-author’s-wishes fools.

Suddenly, Wally shouted, “OH MY GOD! LOOK!”

“What? What?” said Herb.

“Fifty dollars! Right here on the sidewalk! Beneath all this terror!”


Wally picked up the fifty dollars. “Think of all the moon pies we can buy!”

“Yes,” said Herb. “Many moon pies!”


Wally and Herb looked around.

“Did you just hear something?” Asked Wally.

“Yes, something about terriers?”

“Terriers are nice, but I like border collies.”

So, shrugging at the oddity of the disembodied voice, Wally and Herb took the fifty dollars and went to the park.

At the park, the two played on the playground, romped through the wild flowers, and held hands as they strolled around the lake.

“I love you, Herb,” said Wally.

“And I love you,” said Herb.

The two—wha?! Wait, wait, wait…Wally had a girlfriend. Herb has a cancer-ridden hamster. They aren’t gay!

Not that the author has a problem with gay people (read: Please don’t sue me, ACLU and GLAD), but this story hasn’t once brought up Nick!

I know!…

“Of course, I mean that in the most masculine and heterosexual way possible,” said Wally.

“Oh,” said Herb.

“Is there something you need to tell me?”

“Well,” said Herb, “You see, there are some things you should know about m…”

Herb’s confession was abruptly ended as the author seized control of the narrative, sending the clock forward twelve hours and summoning violent, roiling thunderheads. A bolt of sizzling, terrible lightning sliced through the air directly into Herb’s heart. Herb burst into flame. Wally shoved his friend to the ground and rolled him around until the fire was out.

“Are you okay?”

“Surprisingly, yes, I seem to be just fine!” Herb said, standing up and brushing the ash from his unscathed body. “In fact, that pain in my lower back that’s been bothering me this last week is gone!”


“What was that?” Asked Wally.

“Perhaps it was the moon pies of terror,” said Herb.

Both shrugged their shoulders and headed back to their apartment. Once there, Herb took his hamster out of its Hamster Condo ™ and let it hobble around the floor.

Then the cat came out. The wicked, wicked natural-predator-of-hamsters cat. The wicked, wicked cat took one look at the sick, naturally-selected-to-die hamster, licked its wicked, wicked lips, and prepared to pounce.

The wicked, wicked cat leapt into the air and, praising Jesus, laid its paws upon the hamster, curing it of its cancer.

Then the two had a furry little tea party.

“Aaawwww,” said Wally, “Isn’t the wicked, wicked cat just adorable?”

Just then, there was a knock at the door. Wally opened it. Standing there was a filthy woman dressed in an immaculate blue gown. She was holding, in her right hand, a little gold ball. In her left hand was a photograph of an old man on a bicycle. A thick fog was rolling at her feet, and mellow jazz music was playing in the background.

“Hi there!” Said Wally.

“Do not open the door in the west hall.” Said the filthy woman. She handed the gold ball to Wally.

“What’s you name? I’m Wally, and this is…”

“Do not open the door in the west hall.”

Herb stepped forward. “Hi! I’m Herb. And you are?…”

The man on the bicycle will fall, and you will die.”


Suddenly, the door jerked out of Wally’s hand and slammed shut. He opened it again, but the filthy woman and her fog were gone.

“Well, that was certainly something to write home about!” Herb said cheerfully.

“Yes, it was terribly interesting.” Wally shut the door and they turned. They saw, on the opposite wall, the picture of the old man on the bicycle.

“How did that get there?” Asked Herb.

“I have no idea, but it adds so much to the room!”

Herb said, “Say, what was that thing she gave you?”

Wally looked at the object in his hand. “Well, it was a little gold ball, but now it’s a key. Looks like it’s made of ivory.”

“How odd,” said Herb.

As the two stared at the picture, the old man fell off the bicycle. He was then promptly hit in the crotch with a baseball. An asinine narration made a horrible pun and an audience laughed.

“Oh!” Said Wally, whose left arm was tingling, “That’s not a photograph! That’s one of those flat plasma televisions, and it’s showing America’s Funniest Home Videos. Gosh, my left arm feels funny.”

“Perhaps it’s because that’s the hand your holding the ivory…wait, now it’s a silver ball,” said Herb. “You should put it away.”

Wally walked into theh west hall, (they had a very spacious apartment) and tossed the ball into the “Weird things given to us by filthy fog-women” closet.

Off in the distance, a woman’s voice was heard to yell, “D’oh!”

“Say, Wally?”

“Yes, Herb?”

“Do you really think you’ll die now?”

“Maybe of laughter! That old man clip was one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen!”

“I feel bad for the old man, though,” said Herb.

“So do I. Let’s send him a fruit basket!”

“That’s a wonderful idea!” Said Herb. “Where do we keep the fruit baskets?”

“Um, those are also in the west hall.”

Wally and Herb turned back to the west hall. Wally opened the door and went to the end of the room where the fruit basket shelf was located. He selected a very nice basket and handed it to Herb. Then he noticed something he had never seen before. On the wall, behind where the fruit basket had been, was a tiny little door. It had no knob or handle, but it did have a round dent in it.

“Look!” Said Wally. “A tiny, mysterious door!”

“Wow!” Said Herb.

“It has a dent in it. It looks like that little silver ball which used to be an ivory key which started out as a gold ball given to us by a strange filthy woman enshrouded in fog and jazz music would fit right in there!"

“I’ll go get it! What fun!” Said Herb.

“Oh, look! It’s right here in my pocket! How odd and mysterious!” Said Wally, having felt it in his pocket suddenly.

Wally and Herb shrugged, and Herb said, “Well, you put the ball in. I’m going to go to the bathroom.”

Herb left.

Wally put the ball in the door. Weird jazz music-- the same as the filthy fog-woman’s jazz music-- began playing softly, and the door swung open.

Herb, meanwhile, finished peeing and went back to the west hall. Wally was gone. Confused, Herb searched the apartment but found no sign of Wally. He happened to glance at the flatscreen on the wall. It now showed a large, blue room. The room was empty except for a desk. Sitting behind the desk was a man smoking a pipe. Wally suddenly walked into view.

The pipe-smoking man began to speak, but there was no sound.

Just then, the telephone in the apartment began to ring. Herb answered it and heard what he quickly realized was the conversation between Wally and the pipe-smoking man. They were talking about a cat.

“Have you seen my cat?” Asked the pipe-smoking man.

“Was it a wicked, wicked cat?”

“Umm, no…”

“was it a cutesy-wutesy widdle fluffy-wuffy kitty cat with an adorable pink nose, perfect whiskers, and a fluffy tail?”


“And did it like to play with string and catnip in an adorable way?”


“And could you cuddle with it, and snuggle with it, and rub its furry little tummy?” Wally interrupted.


“And did it like to lick milk out of a saucer dish in a way that got milk all over its cute pink nose?”

“Please stop.”

“And did it love to have its ears and chin scratched?” Inquired Wally.

“Please, go away.”

“And did it purr in a way that reminded you of a cute little motorcycle?”

As Wally continued to ask questions about the man’s cat, Herb-who was hanging on every word- squealed at Wally’s description.

“And when the kitty-witty makes a mess on the carpet, is it just too cute to punish?” Wally was asking.

The pipe-smoking man reached into his desk, pulled out a revovler, and shot himself.

Herb was puzzled. He watched Wally staring at the corpse of the pipe-smoking man. Then he heard the beep of his call-waiting, and switched over.

Fog began to roll out of the receiver.

“Hello?” Said Herb.

“I told you not to open the door in the west hall.” Herb recognized the voice as the filthy fog-lady’s. “Now see what you’ve done?”

“I’m terribly sorry.”

“Ha. ‘Sorry’ isn’t going to fix this, is it? You need to learn how to listen!” The Filthy fog-lady snapped.

“Well, the old man fell off the bike, and nobody died, so we figured you were just crazy.”

“No, you tool, I’m mysterious and spooky. Crazy my left foot. Christ. Good-bye!” The line went dead.

On the TV, Wally was searching the blue room for a way out.

In the apartment, the doorbell rang and Herb looked away from the mysterious phone. Herb crossed to the door and opened it slowly. He jumped back suddenly as an old man on a bicycle sped into the room only to crash immediately into a couch. The old man flipped headfirst over the handlebars, and ended up sprawled awkwardly on the floor.

Herb ran over to help, but his foot caught in the bicycle’s spokes, and he fell forward. The bike’s handlebar went through his right eye, punched a hole in the back of the orbit, and lodged firmly in his brain. Herb died instantly of massive neural path disruption. A steel pole piercing your skull causes a lot of neural paths to be disrupted.

The old man got up on shaky feet, gained his balance quickly, and looked around. He picked up the wicked, wicked cat, and put the hamster in his pocket. He left through the door, closing it behind him.

Wally, still in the blue room in the television sat down and, after a long moment, began to cackle madly for no apparent reason whatsoever.


Nick is queer.