Guest Ranting Bastard writes:here.
For all of you young ‘uns who don’t know my name, I’m old Bug. I used to get outs on the road a lot when I was a young ‘un myself. Me and lady Tick, and we seen some fucked up stuff out there. These days my eyes ain’t so good and I’m a bit stiff of leg, so I just sits around this here old camp fire and I tells about what me and good lady Tick saw back in those days. Let me tell you kids, there was some crazy shit in this busted old world. Still is, but it’s not so busted as it was. I mean we’s got power now and we don’t live in tents anymore and some of you kids can even read and write and suchlike.
Now I ain’t got much book learnin’ in me ‘cos there weren’t much call for it back in my day, and I swears a lot, but as I was sayin’ there’s scarier shit in what I’m about to tell yous now than a few dirty words. Just don’t any of you young ‘uns be cussin’ around my good lady Tick ‘cos she’ll know where yous got it from then old Bug here gets it in the neck.
We was blastin’ along the cracked and wasted highway some ways north of these parts on our wind-sailors. Now I’ve shown you our old wind-sailors, they’re those three wheeled thingummies with them big ass sails on ‘em. Made a man feel free as the wind bein’ blown down to parts unknown on one of those babies.
It was a strong wind that morning which me and my good lady Tick were mighty grateful for but not as much as we was starvin’. I can remember Tick askin’ me when was the last time we ate.
Man she was somethin’ back in her day, I can tell you. I was just about as ugly then as I am now, what with my extra thumb and all. As you can see I gots me an extra thumb on my left hand. No biggie, unless you also happen to grow up in a tent village by the sea full of a bunch of superstitious drop-kicks who take every little thing as some kind of bad omen. They tend to blame the deformed guy for everythin’ and more.
Somethin’ goes missin’, point at thumb guy ‘cos it must have been him.
Crop fails. Can’t be that radiation shit or the acid rain, must have been thumb guy.
Old Felix the Coot falls down the shit pit and nearly kills himself, you guessed it, thumb guy. Well actually I did do that last one but that don’t matter ‘cos you gets my point.
It’s always about the thumb, so growin’ up with that shit it’s good to take your chances out on the wide open road roaming amongst the ruins. Especially if you got a girl like my good lady Tick.
She’s mighty smart still and did I mention what a looker she used to be back in those days? Way prettier than a seven fingered, bung eyed old mutant like old Bug here. She was tough too. All them other guys was scared of her after she shot Twitcher in the leg and he couldn’t walk proper anymore. She says he was tryin’ to grab her hooters and he said she was fixin’ to rob his tent. Probably a little bit of the former and a little bit of the latter.
Hell of a girl to have by your side ‘cos of her smarts and what she could do with a bow or a knife, and she even had tatts and shit even though they gone a bit droopy now, but don’t be tellin’ her otherwise she’ll kick my ass. Never minded the thumb either. Quite liked it actually for a number of reasons but that’s our private shit so stop your snickerin’.
But anyways, back to some of the weirdest shit we ever did come to see out in those blasted wastes, and we seen a lot of weird shit.
Tick was all yellin at me like, “We ain’t eaten since we shot all of those giant rats back on that old abandoned farm and I’m starved.”
And I told her right back that those rats had been fuckin’ terrible, shoutin’ over the howling wind “What I would’ve done for a decent hunk o’ dog.”
You’re thinkin’ too small baby,” she hollered back from her wind-sailor cruisin’ alongside mine, “We need to find ourselves some more cow. Pity every gunned up roadkill in all this busted world thinks the same and there ain’t exactly oodles up for the grabs. So when you get’s a cow that’s all special like and when you get’s dog you get’s dog. Life’s a fucker.”
She I told yous she was smart.
"Hey,” I said, rememberin’ somethin’, “There’s meant to be some kind of settlement ‘round these parts somewhere.”
“So that crazy old bastard we found in the shed with those fucked up mouse ears on his head told us last week.”
Tick always talked sense to me.
“Yeah, and he told us glowin’ monkeys were eatin’ his brains to stop him gettin’ messages from god too. Crazy old fucker.”
But sure enough, about half a day or so later we came out of a pass and there was a town sittin’ clear as morning down the bottom of the valley. Somewhere near the middle was somethin’ that made the both of us do a double take, even Tick and she didn’t usually bat an eyelid at nothin’.
It was some kind of sign or totem pole or somethin’. Crazy lookin’ head with a bright red mouth, a big red nose and this fucked up lookin’ pointy hat with little dots on it. Smilin’ like a man wearin’ pants with no pockets, all sittin’ on top of this big ass pole with some weird thing underneath it lookin’ like a big plastic hunk o’ bread with mad plastic green shit in it.
Weird enough it were made of plastic and all, ‘cos we didn’t see much o’ that stuff but that weren’t the damndest thing. Now we seen a lot of weird shit. Once we met an old lady who lived in a cave and done ate her own foot off.
No, I’m not yankin’ yer crank and you at the back get your damned hand out of your pants.
But yeah, this thing was lit up. With ‘lectricity. Which meant it was pre-war stuff, and these freaks had power. Which meant they had to be gettin’ the juice from somewhere, which probably meant more crazy pre-war tech. All sorts of crazy shit.
Me and Tick had only come across a place with ‘lectricity and other head botherin’ pre-war crap once before that point and we got chased away by some crazies with armour and helmets and guns and shit before we could gets ourselves a decent look-see.
But even though Tick’s always been smarter than me neither of us was really known for our learnin’, so we sailed on down into that valley anyhows.
First thing we came across on the outskirts o’ town was a big old rusty tin shack so we has a look-see inside and sure enough we found a crazy old bastard with lots o’ cats, which if you was askin’ me back in those days was a waste of perfectly decent food keepin’ ‘em all as pets like that. But we were dealin’ with a crazy old bastard in a rusty tin shacks. You always find crazy old bastards in rusty tin shacks. Must be in the rules or some such thing. Hell, I live in a rusty tin shack. Go figure. Mind you I gots ‘lectricity now and my good lady Tick, not a bunch o’ god damned cats shittin’ all over the floor.
So of course before I could say anythin’, Tick bursts in their brandishin’ here cross-bow and demands to know what in the fuck is goin’ on ‘round these parts. The old bastard hissed and spat at us and ranted and raved about a Great Evil or somethin’. We tolds him we was goin’ to check it out for ourselves anyways.
As my good lady Tick said at the time, “Never listen to a crazy old bastard in a rusty tin shack.”
He told us it was our funerals and had a good old cackle to himself about it which scared up all the cats some so we just told him whatevers and headed on into the town.
All the other dwellin’s were just as fucked up and dirty as the crazy old bastards rusty tin shack, and there wasn’t nobody in the streets. It was real quiet ‘cept for the sound o’ folks twitchin’ their curtains to get a look-see at the strangers on their patch. That should of put us off right on the then-there, but nobody was comin’ out guns blazin’ so we just kept on towards that big fucked up building with the totem pole thingummy I was tellin’ yous about.
Somewhere’s behind us we could hear the crazy old bastard in the rusty tin shack hollerin’ somethin’ about us both bein’ doomed and all o’ them damned cats meowing, but we didn’t pay him no mind.
So we’s up at this weird ass place’s front doors now, and it’s fucked up ‘cos apart from the ‘lectricity we can see inside that the place is really clean like, and hardly anything was clean back in those days, specially not all the other dwellings in that place.
The door weren’t locked, so we went on in. There was this one fella moppin’ the floor and keepin’ his eyes to the ground, who must’ve been the one keepin’ the place so shiny and all, wearin’ some fucked up stripy clothes with a pointy little hat like the one on the big ass head outside. Then there was a girl in this short little dress with a ponytail and an apron standin’ by the counter at the end o’ the room. She weren’t makin’ eye contact neither and look scared o’ somethin’ but we weren’t askin’.
Behind the counter there was this dude in the same kind o’ get up as mop guy, but he didn’t have the hat and he had a tie on. And if’n he weren’t the ugliest motherfucker I ever did see in all o’ this busted old world. Had a really ratty little moustache, greasy ass hair and he was a spotty little son of a bitch too. He had beady little rat eyes that meant business and was starin’ us both down, so I patted Tick on the arm and warned her to be keepin’ her bow to herself ‘til we’d figured what the fuck was goin’ on.
So ratty squints at us and smiles with his nasty ass little yellow teeth and asks me,
"Can I help you sir?”
Which weirds me out ‘cos I don’t have no clues about what I’m need help with in the first fuckin’ place.
“What with? I’m all fine and sweet here.”
He gave us this mean little laugh like he was knowin’ somethin’ we didn’t and said,
“Perhaps sir and madame would like to try one of our outstanding burgers.”
“Food sir. O’Clownie’s has been commited to Excellence in Customer Service, and the Delivery of Excellence, and Excellence in Food Based Excellence since before the war.”
“Before the war?,” I gasped at him, ‘cos any fool was knowin’ that the war chewed up just about anythin’ civilised good and well.
“Our motto here at O’Clownie’s is Excellence, Excellence, Excellence with Optional Silly Fries.”
“With Excellence?” asked Tick, who I could tell was startin’ to get mad.
“We’re committed to keeping this branch open until the Great Coming Of The Regional Manager. I’m Colin, the Branch Manager. Welcome to O’Clownie’s and I hope you enjoy your O’Clownie’s customer experience.”
He did the ratty grin and the creepy giggle again. Ugly fucker. Mop guy just kept on moppin’ like we weren’t there and then the girlie came over to us and sat us down at a plastic table. We noticed then that for some fucked up reason she was wearin’ wheels on her feet.
“Can I take your order please?”
Tick and I looked at one another. We were half wonderin’ whether we’d eaten some bad ‘shrooms or somethin’.
“I guess we’ll have one o’ those there… burger things.”
“Two burgers!” she squealed and scribbled down somethin’ or other on a little notepad thingy.
“And would you like fries with that?”
“Guess so,” said Tick as I nodded. If it’s good enough for my good lady Tick, then I’m supposin’ it’s good enough for me.
“Fries are off!” yelled that creepy little Colin fucker all of a sudden.
The chick with wheels on her feet jumped and looked scared but mop guy just kept on moppin’. He seemed a bit addled in the brain. Probably livin’ in a rusty tin shed now.
"Why no fries? Whatever they are,” snapped Tick, none too comfortable and as I said before, gettin’ all mad and shit.
Creepy ass Colin blew air through his ratty yellow teeth and smiled at us, narrowing his eyes.
“We use the oil to run the generator. So no fries but O’Clownie’s otherwise stays open to deliver excellence to customers until the Great Coming of the Regional Manager.”
Roller chickie rolled on through a door goin’ out the back, on her way thumpin’ some weird lookin’ piece o’ pre-war tech in the corner. It rumbled some and started playin’ music of all the damndest things. Some crazy song goin’,
“Yummy yummy yummy I got love in my tummy and it feels like I’m lovin’ you…”
Couple o’minutes later and she comes back out again, blank look in her eyes and thumps down a platter with two bun type things on it full o’ meat, lookin’ for all the world like the bun type thing on the totem pole thingy outside.
Me and my good lady Tick weren’t about to turn down hot food, so we went right on ahead and tucked in. Pretty nourishin’ stuff, if a little weird tastin’. Kind of like dog but sweeter and not as chewy.
“So what is this place?” I called out with a mouth full o’ burger.
“I told you sir,” smiled Colin, “It’s an O’Clownie’s, and we’re committed to…”
“Excellence an’ shit. We know,” snapped Tick impatiently, “But why’s this place still here, and why’s there not a soul outside on the streets. I’d be thinkin’ that with ‘lectricity goin’ this town’d be boomin’.”
“This crazy old bastard in a rusty tin shack on the edge o’ town yelled somethin’ about us all bein’ doomed, but you know crazy old bastards in tin shacks an’ all…”
But I didn’t get to finish what I was sayin’ on account of mop guy smashin’ both Tick an’ myself across the back o’ the skulls with his mop. Which while we’re talkin’ about it turned out to be a big fuck off old metal bar.
When we came to, both me and my good lady Tick were tied down to a table out the back o’ the place, starin’ up at that big old pole with the burger and the head, which I’m guessin’ must have been O’Clownie himself, the very guy. There was dried blood on the table beneath us, and a bucket underneath that, which had got to be a bad fuckin’ sign indeed for the both of us.
Lookin’ to the side, we spied no other than creepy-ass Colin himself, but he was sittin’ on a throne, done up with a red nose and a big wig and a hat like fuckin’ O’Clownie himself, surrounded by girls with the little dresses and aprons with wheels on their feets. All in all it had to be one of the most plain fucked up things we ever did see in the whole of the big bad busted old world.
“Congratulations, you’re both the new Employees Of The Month!” he cried and blew on a crazy ass little paper whistle. All the roller girls let off these banger things which showered bits o’ coloured string all over the place.
Beyond the circle on the ground ‘round the big ass totem pole and all the ‘lectric lights ‘round the edge of it, we could see villagers lurking in the shadows. The started clappin’ and chantin’ at us.
“Employee Of The Month! Employee Of The Month! Employee Of The Month! Employee Of The Month!”
As I told yous kids, this was some pretty fucked up shit here.
"What d’you mean? We ain’t your fuckin’ emp-loy-ees or whatever the fuck, we only just blew into this fuckin’ mad ass damned town!” I yelled out, strainin’ against the ropes.
Colin threw back his head and cackled like a crazy man.
“Everybody is a part of the extended O’Clownie’s Family! Even road scum like you two. That’s the O’Clownie’s way! And we like you so much we’ve made you both Employees Of The Month!”
“Employee Of The Month! Employee Of The Month!” chanted the villagers.
“I don’t wanna know,” groaned Tick.
“Oh yes you do. An Employee Of The Month is one so very dedicated to the delivery of Food Based Excellence in a Customer Focused Environment, that they achieve the ultimate goal.”
“I don’t wanna know either,” I also groaned, lookin’ sideways beyond Tick to see mop guy standin’ there with a big ass shiny knife with O’Clownie’s head on the hilt, which is somethin’ I didn’t wanna fuckin’ see.
“You lucky people get to become O’Clownie’s burgers, the ultimate accolade in Food Based Excellence. And with every passing sacrifice, the Great Coming of the Regional Manager edges ever closer. O’Clownie’s thanks you, Employees Of The Month!”
“Employee Of The Month! Employee Of The Month! Employee Of The Month!”
Mop guy lifted that big ass motherfucker of a blade over his scabby little head and began to shuffle towards us smilin’ like a dog with two dicks.
"Psssssssssst!” hissed Tick, “You’ve got an extra fuckin’ thumb dickhead, use it.”
You see kids, pay no mind if you get shit for havin’ extra mutie bits ‘cos as y’all are about to seem, they come in handy sometimes.
I hooked the extra thumb on my left hand around one o’ the ropes bindin’ us to the table and began to work on it. Lucky it always seems like guys with big ass sacrificial type blades like a bit o’ the old ceremony and take a long time about stabbin’ folk to death with ‘em, as I managed to work a loop loose from Tick’s arm, knowin’ what she had in mind.
And I was right, ‘cos she whipped out her cross-bow, smashed it into the side of mop guy’s ugly-ass face, and shot Colin in the head with one slick and sexy-ass move. Damn it all I loves my good lady Tick.
Colin tipped backwards off his throne and he looked mighty surprised, though I’m supposin’ anybody does if’ve they’ve got a cross bow bolt all stickin’ outta their eye socket.
All the roller girls went bat shit crazy and ran around in every sundry direction amongst a whole heap o’ screamin’ villagers.
Needless to say we ran to our land-sailors and got the fuck outta dodge before you could say “Can I take your order please?”
So that kids, is one of the most sheer fucked up things me and my good lady Tick ever did see in all of our travels through those bad old wastes. One of the damndest things in this busted old world that’s maybe these days not so busted as it used to be back then.
So, don’t you be worryin’ if you got any extra thumbs ‘cos they might be of use if you’re about to me murderised by clowns, don’t tell my good lady Tick I’ve been tellin’ y’all cuss words and you at the back, stop doin’ that to the kid next to you or so help me I’ll tell your ma and pa.
Oh yeah, and don’t believe everything you hear from crazy old bastards in rusty tin shacks.