I’m scrubbing away with a green scratchy, trying to sand down the basketball-sized bubble of mold in my shower (though my sanity and will to live are assaulted much less frequently than when I was married, being a freewheeling bachelor Man Child poses certain health risks to my immune system. I feel the tradeoff is worth it). Suddenly the mold begins boiling, making gross, eighties-monsters noises like GLORP and BLOOSH. A tiny, slime-covered head erupts from its surface, trailing strings of viscous mucus behind it, like a baby Xenomorph from Aliens. I stumble backwards, my eyes widening, palms slapping against the tiled wall behind me. The mold-being continues to grow, quickly forming into none other than…TAYLOR SWIFT???? She levels her ice-queen eyes at me and says, “Offer me your organs, speck!” I whisper, “But Taylor, I love your stuff; I hum ‘Style’ on a regular basis. I still like to sing along to ‘Love Story.’ For God’s sake—” She cuts me off with: “DO NOT INVOKE YOUR MEANINGLESS SHEEP-DEITY IN MY PRESENCE! PAY OBEISANCE TO THE DARK LORD MAMMON—GOD OF PAIN AND SUFFERING!” She begins laughing, her eyes glow red, and nasty, barb-tipped mold-vines begin creeping out from the pores in her skin and reach toward me. I freak the hell out, and scrabble out of my bathroom. Betrayed by my one true love! Taylor HOW COULD YOU!!! That’s what I’m thinking as I swing my door open and run through the San Francisco suburbs, my bent arms pistoning by my sides. I look back and see the roof to my apartment burst open in a scatter of shingles, and Taylor rising through the opening on giant, spidery limbs made of mold that extend from her torso to the ground, roughly twenty feet below. She throws back her head and bays at the moon, then begins stalking toward me on her hideous mold-legs. It doesn’t take long for her to catch up; she’s able to cover ten yards with a single, ponderous step. Her spindly-legged shadow falls across me and I glance over my shoulder. She’s backlit and silhouetted. Her features are erased due to the moon, but by some trick of the lighting, her teeth remain visible; those perfect pearly whites shine down at me, highlighting the fact that I’m about to die. She spears one of her twenty-foot-tall spider-mold-legs through my calf, and a red bolt of pain courses through my body. “AAAHHHH!!!” I scream and fall, my shaking fingers clutching at the pouring wound in my leg. I spread red-drenched fingers up at her in a pleading gesture. “No Taylor! PLEASE!!!” She chuckles, and says in a two-toned, undeniably demonic voice: “KEEP BEGGING, INSECT. YOUR FEAR IS THE PSYCHIC EQUIVALENT OF A 1998 PETRUS POMEROL! SUCH SWEETNESS! TANG OF OAK COMBINED WITH NEW MOWN GRASS AND INFANT’S BLOOD! AHAHAHAHAHA!!!!” No options left. I reach in my pocket and open my eReader to Echo. Magic flash. The kick-ass opening riff from Ozzy’s “Crazy Train” begins slicing through the air. Taylor rears back, looking left and right, puzzled. The giant clomps of metallic footsteps echo through the streets. I look over my shoulder and my jaw drops. Parting the trees of Golden Gate Park is a thirty foot-tall mech that resembles Voltron, but is totally Metal. It’s got Viking horns and robotic skulls for hands. Jets of fire spew skywards from two pipes that are mounted on its shoulders. Taylor takes a step back, her eyes widening. Metal-tron puts its skull-hands together, then draws them apart. A beam of light appears between them, then instantiates into the most badass Metal guitar ever; 3-D reliefs of dinosaurs, barbarians, enchanted weaponry—the works, basically—are carved all across its surface. (if this were a movie, the camera would zoom in on the guitar and slowly pan up its length, focusing on the eldritch light that danced across its surface, as well as the multiple layers of cool-ass circuitry folding across it and locking into Attack Position). Metal-tron begins wailing on the axe, sending the most beautiful, heart-stirring strains of electric riffs ripping through the air. Taylor clutches her ears and shrinks into herself, screeching out dissonant ugliness. Metal-tron is having none of it; he points the neck of his guitar at Taylor and strums even faster, his pick sparking and flickering as it dances across the glowing strings of his otherwordly instrument. A blast of red and black light—I see tiny skulls within this outpouring of energy—streams out from the the tip of the guitar and envelops Taylor, who bursts into flames. She screams louder, Metal-tron pours it on, then the pop princess disappears in a flutter of bats. Metal-tron stops playing, gives me double metal-horns with his hands, then tromps away into the night.
Has Tadolf Switler emerged from a bubble of filth and chased you through the neighborhood on demonic spider-legs? Not a problem. Right now I’m in the middle of reworking Echo 1, trying to get all my noob mistakes out. If you refrain from buying it due to my amateurish writing style, a product of my first ventures into fiction, then I totally understand, and I’ll announce when I re-upload an updated version. If you buy it anyways, then many thanks! Get Echo Vol. 1 on Kindle here: Vol. 1 on Kindle. Vol. 2 on Kindle here: Vol.2 on Kindle Vol. 3 on Kindle here: Vol. 3 on Kindle