ACRA/MISC: Tales from the Gutterground #1: The Runaway Chaotic, Sporadic, Traumatic, Make-it-Up-As-You-Go-Along-Story Game (Part I)

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at
Sun Jan 28 13:58:05 PST 2007

<<WARNING:  The issue is kind of tame.  It does have profanity and 
violence, but it's not quite as sick and disturbing as I was hoping it 
would be.  Just doesn't have it.  I do think though that next issue will 
probably be sick and disturbing.  But this issue?  Rather tame.  Still, 
just to be on the safe side you probably shouldn't read this unless 
you're over the age of 85.  Enjoy!>>

                    T A L E S
                     F R O M

                      T H E
  G   U   T   T   E   R   G   R   O   U   N   D

                 N U M B E R    #1

The Runaway Chaotic, Sporadic, Traumatic, 
Make-it-Up-As-You-Go-Along-Story Game   PART ONE

I:  The Rabbit Hole


Once there was a girl who chased a great white grasshopper through the 
great green grass of the world.  She ran fast, but the grasshopper 
hopped even faster.

And as she chased, she tripped.

And as she tripped, she fell.

She fell.

And fell.

The grass turned grey.

The grass turned black.

When she woke, she wondered where she was.

She was in the grasshopper's dream.


II:  The Tea Party

Rose Paige looked down at what she wrote.  Great White Grasshoppers, she 
thought to herself.  What did that mean?  It reminded her of something 
she had written when she was a little kid.  Silly gibberish.  It didn't 
really matter though.  She still had like 20 pages of journal entries to 
fill up.  And they were due tomorrow.  What to write.  What to write.

On a bus.  Yep.  Writing her journal.  Descriptions.

It's dark, she wrote.  Rose observed that it wasn't very easy to write a 
journal in the dark.  She had a penlight.  But still -- very difficult. 
  Especially on a moving bus.

The bus is creeping along like a cripple crawling through concrete. 
That was good, Rose thought.  That would be a good first line for a 
novel.  Although it probably should be in the past tense.  Boom Boxes 
blasting 50 cent and Kelly Clarkson.  Bass clarinet and trombone cases 
smacking into each other as they sail through the aisle.   Outside the 
bus, thousands of snowflakes from the sky kamakazied into the window, 
which was probably the reason the bus didn't seem to be actually moving 
anywhere.  And noise, noise, noise from all the people on the bus.  God, 
she just wanted to go home.

They were coming back from the world's worst football game.  Her Blue 
Valley Hawks got a 40-0 spanking from Arch-rival Winter Ridge.  Not that 
she was too heartbroken by it since she had little use for the jocks. 
Still, it was embarrassing.  If that wasn't enough, one of the 
cheerleaders fell breaking her ankle and had to be taken to the 
hospital.  Because the team couldn't score, the band didn't really get 
to play anything.  Well they played 'Taps' at the end, which was 
probably in bad taste.  And now they were heading back home -- caught in 
a blizzard.  The band was sharing a bus with the cheerleaders.  The 
football players were on another bus.

Rose occasionally glanced at those seated near her.  In one of the seats 
a drummer (named Steve, or at least that's what she thought his name 
was) was groping, or poking one of cheerleaders (Rose wasn't sure of the 
cheerleader's name).  The cheerleader would giggle, occasionally 
shrieking, "Stop it.  No. Don't do that.  I mean it.  I'll tell.  I'm 
telling," and giggle some more.  Mostly, a lot of giggling.  God, what a 

What was that like?  Having some boy feel you?  She glanced at another 
seat where some thin boy with black hair sat alone reading some book. 
Still more giggling from the cheerleader.  Not in public.  She would 
never have it done to her in public.  Gross.  People had no shame.

The boy reading the book was Stan.  It was hard to tell what he was 
reading.  Some type of Dungeons and Dragon type book.  It looked like 
something called 'Elogg the Barbarian' or 'Flogg the Barbarian'.  He was 
a trumpet player and cute in a sort of geeky way.  Girlfriend?  She 
didn't think he had one.  Ever had one?  She had never seen him even 
flirt with any girl.  It wouldn't have surprised her if he were gay. 
Christ.  16.  She was sixteen and she had never been with anyone. 
Embarrassing.  Embarrassing.  God, she was lame.  It wasn't that she was 
ugly.  She was average looking.  Maybe above average looking.  No.  No 
boys ever asked her out.  Well, that wasn't completely true.  A couple 
had, but they weren't the type she was interesting in.  Love was such a 
joke.  This was just depressing.  She should think of something else. 
Nineteen more pages to fill.

Blah, blah, blah.

"Shh!  Everyone!  Let's.  Settle.  Down.  A 'little' too loud.  We don't 
want Salty to stop the bus.  Oh, I know.  He's such a grouch.  But -- 
he's the bus driver.  A little lower.  Perfect.  Thanks."  The voice 
came from Mrs. Harmony.  She was this short 30-something teacher who was 
playing chaperon to this crowd of unruly band members and cheerleaders. 
  She was the type of teacher who desperately wanted to fit in with the 
kids.  To be one of them.  To be the 'cool teacher'.  The teacher that 
'Gets it.'  It was kind of sad, Rose thought.  Why couldn't teachers 
just accept the fact that they would never ever be cool again.  Was that 
fact too horrible?  Mrs. Harmony had that expression on her face.  The 
'Let's do something fun' expression.  God.  Christ.  Hopefully, not 
another sing-along.

"You know what would be fun?"  That's how it always starts.  "I played 
this game back in college.  Of course there were Jell-O shots involved 
back then, but -- It's a fun game!  Really!  You see -- in this game one 
person starts a sentence, but they don't finish it and the next person 
finishes it and starts another unfinished sentence and so on and so on." 
  There were a couple of sarcastic "That sounds fun," in the background 
and someone else shouted, "The point?  How you win this game?"

"Well, this isn't really a game in which people win or lose.  It's just 
-- you know -- fun!  Some rules though.  No naughty words, or naughty 
anything for that matter.  Let's keep this G-rated."  A few snickers in 
the back.  "And, you know, try to keep it short.  Let's see how long we 
can keep it going before Salty tells us all to shut up."  Mrs. Harmony 
smiled.  "Okay?  Okay, I'll start and then Robby will go next and we'll 
sort of go counter clockwise around the bus."  Mrs. Harmony made some 
gestures.  "Okay?"

"Okay."  Mrs. Harmony paused for second.  "How should I start this? 
Hmm.  Okay, here it goes.  There was this bus full of school children 
driving in a blizzard..."  Wow, where do you get your original ideas 
from, Mrs. Harmony?  Rose rolled her eyes.  "When all of a sudden...."

"When all of a sudden, a kid pulled out a gun from his jacket and 
interrupted Mrs. Harmony's thrilling story," said a kid who had pulled a 
gun from his jacket interrupting Mrs. Harmony's story.  It was Stan. 
Book-nerd-Stan.  He had stopped reading Flogg the Barbarian and was now 
pointing a gun at Mrs. Harmony.  And the strange thing was that it could 
be easily seen.  It was no longer dark.  And no one, but Rose seemed to 
notice that daylight was engulfing the bus.  Stan who never ever said a 
word was now the only one talking.  And everyone was listening.

"Stan was sick of everything.  Sick of being called a loser.  Sick of 
being called a fag.  Sick of being..."

"Stan, please..." Mrs. Harmony said making calming gestures with her hands.

"No, shut up, Mrs. Harmony.  Shut the fuck up.  Look, you've got a 
choice.  You can either hear my story or you can hear the sound this gun 
makes when it blows your fucking head away.  Got it?  Now sit the fuck 
down!"  Mrs. Harmony sat down.

Rose felt frozen.  She wanted to be invisible.  What the hell was Stan 

This was insane.  This shouldn't be happening.  School shootings happen 
to other people.  To other schools.  And here she was staring at some 
kid she knew.  Full of rage.  Holding up a gun.

No.  Stan wouldn't shoot anyone.  This was just a cry for attention. 
This would end peacefully.  No one would die.  Yes.

Rose looked at her journal.  Maybe she should write something down. 
Tell her parents that she loved them.

Then again -- maybe she should just stay frozen.  And no one would 
notice her.  And it would all end.

"Okay.  Where was I?  Fuck!  Oh, yeah.  Sick of it.  Sick of it all. 
Being a loser sucks.  Being pathetic sucks.  So I bought myself a gun. 
No one laughs at people with guns.  People just seem to treat you better 
when you point a gun to their heads.  It's funny.  I don't want to die. 
  I don't want to kill anyone.  I want to get away.  Get away from here. 
  From school.  From my parents.  From the stress.  I want this bus to 
go all the way to South America.  Yeah, South America.  All the way.  I 
want to ransom all of you for like 10 million dollars.  And then I want 
to fuck beautiful women.  I want to do tons of drugs.  Maybe even become 
a Colombian Drug Lord."

"But --- But you can't -- You can't go to Colombia, Stan!  There's the 
-- The Panama Canal!"  Mrs. Harmony pointed out on the verge of tears.

"Oh, right.  The Panama Canal.  Well.  Then, I guess we'll just drive to 
Panama.  Look, that's my plan.  I don't want to kill anyone.  I don't 
want this to end in a pool of blood.  I just want 10 million dollars.  I 
guess it's up to society.  Maybe society doesn't think any of your lives 
are worth 10 million.  And if that's true -- then they will be killing 
you.  Not me!"  Stan turned slightly facing the front of the bus. 
"Okay, Salty.  Did you hear what I said?  We're going to take this bus 
to Panama!"

"The hell with that.  Fuck this shit," Salty muttered to himself. 
Suddenly, brakes were slammed and the bus skidded to a stop.  Stan lost 
his footing.  Salty leaped out of his seat and pulled a shotgun from his 
trenchcoat and fired it at Stan.  Blood started gushing out of Stan's 
chest as he lay on the bus aisle writhing in pain.  Various kids started 
to scream.

"Whoahhh!  That was totally badass, Salty!!" shouted someone from the 
back of the bus.

Salty grunted in agreement with that assessment.  "Okay.  Mrs. Harmony. 
  I want you to hand over that gun."  Mrs. Harmony still deep in shock 
over everything that had been happening complied with Salty's request.

"Okay, kids," Salty said speaking to everyone on the bus.  "We're all 
going to Disneyland!"

Mrs. Harmony looked incredibly dumbfounded.  "What are you talking 
about?  We need to get to a hospital!  Stan's bleeding to death!"

"Tough shit," Salty said lighting up a big cigar.  "I've been planning 
this trip for a long time.  This is beyond you, Mrs. Harmony.  We're 
going to Disneyland.  You see -- something very big is going to happen 

Rose looked at Stan's bloodied body.  This wasn't right.  Was Stan going 
to die?  Did he deserve to die?  Why did he did he do this?  Why did 
Salty do this?  Why were Stan and Salty acting totally nuts?  Why was 
this happening?  Where was this all going to end?

"Beneath the Tea Cup Ride, he's been frozen."  Salty let out a little 
chuckle as he puffed on his cigar.  "For all these years.  You know who? 
  Yep.  Disney.  Walt 'Fucking' Disney.  Scientists have been working on 
Disney's body since 1966 and in fifteen more minutes he will rise once 
again.  And he shall bring a New Age.  A Disney Age.  He shall transform 
the world into one endless Disney World.  One giant all devouring 
amusement park.  The Small World shall become the World.  I know.  You 
kids probably think it sounds like a fucking blast.  Rollercoasters 
everywhere.  But you know?  There will be lines for these roller 
coasters.  Long ass lines.  Filled with millions of people.  And there 
will be the unfortunate souls who have to dress up like talking animals. 
  No.  It won't be a utopia -- just another gaudy filled lie.  But -- 
I'm going to stop it.  For you see, I understand my brother's mind for I 
am -- *Salt Disney*, Walt's less successful brother!!"

This was a bad dream.  That must be it.  She was probably late for 
school.  The alarm didn't go off and now she's late for school stuck in 
a stupid dream that she can't seem to wake out of.   That has to be it. 
  Because this can't be happening.  This just can't be happening.

"Yeah.  You've never heard of me.  Did some animation work on Dumbo and 
Fantasia, but I wasn't really cut out for that sort of thing.  I was 
always in his shadow.  So I quit.  Changed my last name.  Fell into the 
shadows.  Became a bus driver."

Pinch yourself.  That's what they always tell you in the movies and TV 
programs.  If you pinch yourself and it doesn't hurt you're dreaming. 
And so Rose pinched herself.  So hard that she drew blood.  And it hurt. 
  It hurt like hell.  She sucked the blood off her fingers.  Tasted like 
real blood.  Maybe it was dream pain.  Maybe she only thought she was 
feeling pain.  And she looked at Stan's body.  He must be dead.  It was 
weird looking at a dead body.  One minute you're alive.  And then you're 
dead.  And where do you go after that?

"But I always knew that eventually we'd have to face down each other. 
Me and my brother.  Mano-a-Mano.  You see there's a bomb strapped to 
this bus.  A nuclear bomb.  It's going to blow away Disneyland right off 
the face of this Earth.  Won't kill him though.  Will hurt him.  And 
because I have this magic ring," Salty glanced at his hand and a gold 
ring that was on his finger, "Which protects me from harm I'll have to 
finish him off.  So we'll battle each other in the smoldering crater of 
Disneyland with samurai swords."  Salty made a slight gesture over 
towards his samurai sword, which was next to his driver's seat.  "And 
then one of us will die.  The other will live.  I'm not quite sure what 
I'll do if I live.  Probably do some TV interviews.  Maybe go on 
Letterman.  Who knows?"

Maybe this was real, Rose thought to herself.  But all this talk about 
nuclear bombs and Walt Disney was obviously just crazy talk.  Salty had 
lost it.  Eventually the cops or someone would stop him before the bus 
reached Disneyland or wherever they were going and everyone would be 
safe.  Just have to hang in there.

"And kids, I am sorry that you're going to have to die.  I know it's not 
fair.  But sometimes in life you have to kill people to make the world a 
better place.  Sometimes you just have to blow up Disneyland with a 
nuclear bomb.  Yep.  Just the way it is.  But I will give you kids a 
choice.  I can shoot you here, or we can wait till we get to Disneyland 
and you can die in the bomb explosion.  What do you think?  Raise your 
hand if you want to die here."  No one on the bus raised their hand. 
Everyone was still.  A faint whimpering could be heard from some of the 
kids.  "No one?  Well, guess you're all going to have to wait till we 
get to Disneyland to meet your maker."  Salty laughed to himself. 
"Sorry.  Shouldn't laugh.  This really isn't funny.  This is horrible. 
And I'm a horrible person.  I'm sorry.  Let's get this over with.  Let's 
go to Disneyland.  Let's end this."

Salty made his way back to the driver's seat.  Salty shifted back into 
drive and then he started to shift it to other gears as he started to 
push the accelerator harder with his foot.  Salty looked down at his 
watch.  "Damn.  Late.  Need to shift this baby into hyperdrive."  Salty 
pushed down on a red button.  The bus started to shake.

Rose felt herself being pressed against her seat.  It felt like someone 
had attached a rocket to the bus.  The bus kept getting faster and 
faster.  She couldn't seem to move.  She glanced at her window.  She 
could see colorful streaks of light pass by her.  The bus was starting 
to look more reddish.  And the voices she heard on the bus -- the 
screams were becoming distorted.

It was getting hotter.  The bus was getting hotter and hotter.  She 
glanced at her window.  Was the glass starting to melt?  And as she 
looked at the whole bus everything started to burn.  She watched 
students combusting into balls of fire.  Why wasn't she burning?

Everything was so red.  Red.  Red.  Red!

Burning.  Everything was on fire.  Hotter and hotter.

And she heard some dark and horrible voice breaking through the 
distorted screams.  The voice like a mountain sized lawnmower mowing 
down cities full of people.  A grating, screaming voice.  A voice that 
could only be formed in Hell.


And it said it over and over again.  Who was it calling?  Everything was 
burning down.  No one could be alive anymore.  And she got out of her 
seat to see who was driving the bus.  It wasn't Salty anymore.  It was 
some ghastly creature that for some reason reminded her of Charon from 
Greek Mythology.  Was it ferrying everyone to Hades?

The Bus was falling apart.  Breaking up.  Everything was fire. 
Everything was red.

No more was it a bus.  The B, U, and S went there separate ways.   And 
they were all red.

It was freezing and burning.  Was she in hell?  Why was she here?  She 
wanted to go to sleep, but the voice kept waking her up.  And up and up.

Everything was Red.  Everything was Skin.  Everything was Letters.

And then she fell.

NEXT:  The Caterpillar

Notes from the Gutterground...

Well, what can I say about all this.

This was originally supposed to be Guttertrash #26, but for a variety of 
reasons I decided it would be a better idea to just start my own series.

One of the reasons being that it would have been an incredibly long 
story seeing how this is part one of what will probably be a nine part 
story line.  I suppose once this storyline is over if other people want 
to write stories for Tales from the Gutterground they can do that.

Guttertrash of course was an anthology of superhero type stories set in 
different universes that were self contained in each issue.  Tales from 
the Gutterground will be a complete bastardization of that.  There won't 
be any kinds of limits for this series, it will be whatever I feel like 
or whatever another writer for this series feels like.

As for this storyline, well, it's kind of my homage to all those crazy 
cascade type stories.  I'm not really sure if this will make sense by 
the time it's all over or if it will all just dissolve into an 
unreadable mess that destroys the minds of anyone who tries to 
understand it.

It's also kind of a modern day Alice in Wonderland.  And perhaps an 
exploration of the whole Damsel in Distress archetype in heroic fiction. 

I think part of me also wants to write the ultimate Internet story.  A 
story that combines all of the stuff you can find in Internet fiction. 
The cascades, the Mary Sues, The Fourth Wall breakage, the injokes, the 
bad grammar and spelling, the porn, the fanfiction, and everything else 
and distill it all into one glorious mess.  But it probably won't be the 
ultimate Internet story.

I'd like to get at least an issue of these every month and maybe more 
than one.  The next issue will hopefully be out in February.

Arthur "Runaway, runaway" Spitzer

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