's 2013 Horror Write-off:

" Something Bolted This Way Comes "

Submitted by Andrew Howard

In the relatively medium sized town of Hollendale, a story is told. Guess who's telling it? Me. If you're wondering who I am, it's not really important. I highly doubt you care. Now, on with the story. It was a cold, chilly and all around definitely not anything resembling nice sort of day. It was Friday, effectively the first day of my weekend. College has some really weird scheduling when you've got the minimum class hours. It wasn't long until Thanksgiving break, where I could finally take time off from my oh so painfull twelve hour week. Yeah, I'm lazy. Bite me. I was walking around the neighborhood near my house, admiring the beautiful autumn scenery. Cold, yes, but very nice to look at. With no particular place to be, I deciding to wander down an alley behind a row of houses. Somewhere close to the middle of the alley was a small shed, black and crumbling after being set on fire some time back. No one was sure how it got started. For some reason however, I felt an insatiable urge to go inside the charred ruins and explore. Bad mistake. Or at least it would be eventually. On the inside of the shed, besides a large pile of charred junk, I found what appeared to be a strange door. It looked to be built from solid iron, and was not so much as singed, despite the structure around it being burnt to a crisp. Without really thinking about it, I reached for the handle, and turned it downwards. Expecting it to simply lead to the other side of the burnt shed, I was surprised to see what looked like a bottomless darkness. Staring into it with the sort of expression that might be seen on someone who had just found a baby in their cupboard, I was about to close the door when I felt something jam itself forcefully into my back, pushing me into the bottomless darkness below.

I woke up an undetermined time later. Now that I look back on it, I was surprised the fall hadn't killed me, or givin me a concussion, or anything. It just sort of dropped me into this strange place. Oh, yeah, the strange place. Right. When I came to, the first thing I noticed was that I was lying in what looked to be a bed of sand. A sort of reddish orange sand, a rusty colored sand. Next, I looked up. The sky above me looked... Well, I wouldn't call it normal. Certain parts of the sky were a calm sky blue, like skies usually are. Other parts, however, were a desaturated red, similar to the color of the sand I was lying in, but paler. But the strangest part was where the two met. It was a large arrangement of red and blue sky pieces, with square chunks of red sky overlaying the more common blue sky. It was almost like someone covering up a hole in the wall with bolted on sheet metal, but it was the wrong color. I had something of an idea of what kind of place I was in, seeing as it had a very metallic theme to it. Like a rusty, bolted up Alice in Wonderland. The fond childhood memory only lasted so long, however, before I noticed something not too far off in the distance. It appeared to be a small town, from what I could see. Having nowhere else to go, and not really sure how to get back to my world (or if I even could), I set off towards the settlement. Before doing that, however, I checked my pockets. Showing up unconscious is a great excuse for someone to steal all your crap. Or put something else in along with it. Looking around in my pockets, I found exactly what I had on me when I fell in. Cell Phone, Keychain, Keys, Wallet, Miniature Flashlight (It gets really dark at night where I live), and a pocket knife. Everything was in order, contrary to what I thought would be the case. I set off.

Observing the land around me as I walked towards my destination, I saw what appeared to be a rusty desert. Rusty sands flowed away far into the horizon, where they met with patchwork skies, entangling together in a strangely beautiful way. The landscape was dotted with dozens of small shapes. Some were bent and crooked, sharp deathly things sticking up from the sand, whilst others were smooth and round, highly reflective, as if they had only recently come to rest. Like a giant, sparsely populated scrap yard, the desert seemingly continued on forever.

After walking for what I'd guess to be around ten minutes, I finally made my way to the town. As I expected, all of the buildings were built from metal. Some were old and rusted, whilst other were shiny, reflective, and new. Yet more were simply somewhere in between. The range of metals used in the construction was just as variable as the condition. Iron, copper, bronze, steel, tin, zinc, and surprisingly enough, what I guessed to be cobalt. Turns out chemistry class really did come in handy. The buildings were held together with bolts, rivets, welds, clamps, and... Duct tape? No, really. Duct tape. I guess even in the land of metal, duct tape solves all problems. I started to walk further forward, only to run face first into something that I was too stupid to notice. I fell back into the sands and looked up, only to see what looked to be a sign. It was made of copper, with steel pipes for posts, and written on its surface in what appeared to be burn marks was... Something. The text on the sign appeared to be some sort of glyphs, all of them humorously fitting with the theme of this place. Tin cans, gears, nuts, bolts, pipes, welding torches, and many more. They seemed like they were organised into some pattern. Probably a language, because really, what would you put on a sign? I couldn't read them, however. I shrugged it off, got back up, and walked farther into town, this time keeping an eye out for any sneaky ninja signs.

Further into town, things seemed very... Town... Ish. You know what I mean. There were all sorts of buildings. They all looked like the kinds of buildings you'd find in a regular old town; bakeries, libraries, butcher shops, stores, car washes, that stuff. One problem: There wasn't a single sign of anything, living or not. The town was empty. The shops were empty and the streets were empty. Entirely empty. Or so I thought. Without warning, I heard something start clanking and roaring, like a big machine starting up. I panicked, and ran into one of the shops, jumping behind a counter. Looking outside, I saw the source of the noise walking down the street. It was a large thing, I'd guess around eight to ten feet tall. In the very center there was a large metal disc, about a foot thick and four feet in diameter. Reaching down from the disc were four legs, arranged in a cross pattern at what you could say were the corners. Circles don't really have corners, but you get what I mean. Now here's the strange part (stranger than circles with corners, anyway); Two of the legs, the front left and back left, were made of flesh. The right legs were mechanical like the disc, but the left legs were fleshy and flexible. The machine legs bent on hinges, and were capped off with four triangles sticking off in the same cross pattern, like bird toes. The flesh legs were the same, but with what appeared to be human fingers instead of metal toes. Hanging off the very front of the disc was what appeared to be a human head. At least, it looked like that from my side. Without warning, the thing stopped in the middle of the street, right in front of the store I was hiding in. It slowly turned its head towards me, and not really thinking straight, I stood as still as I could. I figured if I moved, I might make myself more noticeable. Not something I wanted to do. So I stood as still as I could, trying not to blink. In contrast to its right set of legs, the right side of the creatures face (the one I saw before it looked at me) was made of regular old flesh. It looked like a human face, except the lower half of it was disturbingly desolate. No gaping maw full of sharp fangs, no ghastly grimace, not even a soft smile. It was nothing, just smooth flesh.

The other side, once again in contrast to its other set of legs, was reminiscent of a solid metal mask, cold and emotionless, in deep disagreement with the scowl on the right side. The lower half was equally as blank as the fleshy counterpart, and inside the perfectly round eye was what appeared to be a light. As in, a light bulb. Dim, yet consistent. Draping down from the right side of the head was a full arrangement of hair, dark red in color, long enough to reach the shoulders had this head been attached to something not so alien. On the metal side, a mass of wires instead, some with colorful plastic sheathings, others bare, imitating the hair on the organic side. Soon enough, the creature turned its head back to where it was going, and started walking again. Once it was far enough away, I popped out of cover. Had it seen me, and just not given a rats rump? Or did I slip by undetected? I still don't know even as I write this down. Considering that I had no other place to go, I decided to follow the stomping machine beast down the street. For some reason that I can't quite recall, I decided at that point to give it a name. Maybe attempting to make it more familiar gave me more comfort in this strange foreign place, I don't know, but a name it received none the wiser. I called it Sir Cumference. Get it? Because it's a pun on- Yeah, I'm a nerd. Whatever.

I followed Sir Cumference down the street, occasionally jumping behind metal street lamps when it looked behind itself, until it reached its destination. It was a massive building, at least twice as tall as anything around it. The exterior looked like someone had patched together a church, a meeting hall, and a warehouse, except it was made of metal, as you probably knew. Sir Cumference pushed on the massive doors on the front of the building, opening them far more easily than I thought was possible. It stomped on inside, doors closing behind it. I carefully walked up to the door and looked inside the massive window on it. What I saw inside was... Startling.

The entire room seemed to be on a downwards incline, like a church sanctum or a college lecture room. Standing around inside were hundreds upon hundreds of things. Things like Sir Cumference. Well, not quite. They all had different shapes and sizes. Some looked to be roughly humanoid in shape, whilst others were as strange as one might imagine. I saw at least one that looked like a giant pile of rusty metal pipes. They all had... Enhancements too. Some were almost entirely metallic, sometimes rusted, sometimes fresh. Others were mostly fleshy, with only a few metal parts here and there. The rest were all the ranges in between, much like the town itself. They were all looking away from me (thank goodness), paying attention to something at the far side of the room. Standing on what appeared to be a stage was another machine beast. It was hard to tell, but from the waist up she looked relatively human. She had a human looking head, with long black hair that looked to be tied in a ponytail. She was wearing what looked to be a deep blue long sleeved shirt. Further down... Well... She had the biggest pair of tits I had ever seen. No, really, I'm not kidding. It was freaky. She also seemed to be rather thick in the midsection, and had wide hips. That's where the familiarity ends, however. Below her hips, she seemed to be composed of a tower of gears, slowy rotating in place beneath her torso. They didn't seem to be connected to anything, and they also didn't seem to be doing anything. The owner of the gears, meanwhile, seemed to be addressing all the other machine beasts standing around. About something. I couldn't hear from outside. I didn't think I would be able to understand even if I could. After sitting there for another five minutes, wondering why I cared, and why I didn't just get up and walk away, I watched as all the machine beasts started to move. I quickly moved away from the door, and hid behind the wall of the building, watching the entrance.

As suspected, the machine beasts started leaving the building, piling out in masses. I saw one particular machine beast that looked almost entirely humanoid, a curiosity in such a diverse group. Unlike the others, it seemed to stop for a moment, then sharply turn its head towards me. I stood still behind the wall, hoping that the same trick that worked on Sir Cumference worked on this one as well. For a moment it simply stared at me, and I began to wonder if it was actually trying to figure out what the hell I was. Soon enough, one of the other machine beast walked by and tapped it on the shoulder, getting its attention. It walked off with the others, still curiously eyeing me. I was nervous. Had it seen me? It was the first one to notice me besides Sir Cumference. The implications were strange.

Yet another link from the chain of stupid hit me clean in the face, and I soon decided to go explore inside the building. All of the machine beasts had left, gone as soon as they arrived. Although suddenly the street around the building seemed a whole lot livelier. I figured it wasn't in my best interest to stick around outside. I quickly went over to the door, and without a word, pushed on it. It swung inwards rather easily, despite being at least twelve feet tall. I was suprised I could move it. I walked into the now empty church, lecture room, warehouse thing, looking about. The room was entirely featureless except for the stairs leading down to the stage in the middle. The walls, ceiling and floor were all a pale yellow in color, like the foam on a latte. Wow, that's the first thing I think of? Geeze... Anyway, as I walked down to the stage at the back of the room, I wondered where the one machine beast giving the speech had gone. I didn't see her leave the building alongside the hoards of beasts before her, but she didn't seem to be present. I walked up to the stage, and climbed on. It was the same color as the rest of the building, and suprisingly enough, not made of metal. More like some weird yellow concrete. Or maybe just painted yellow. I can't really remember. Besides this newfound curiosity, the room wasn't interesting in the slightest, so that's when I turned to leave.

Right behind me, like they always are in horror stories, was exactly who I wasn't expecting. It was the busty woman in the blue shirt. Much like Sir Cumference before, I decided to give her a nickname. Still not sure why. I briefly considered calling her Booby Lady before realising that not only was that an incredibly stupid nickname, but it had also been taken before. I quickly settled on The Mistress instead, seeing as she seemed to have some authority over the others of her kind. Now that I had a closer look, I realised that she didn't look as human as I thought. The first thing that stood out was her eyes; they were a deep, dreamy blue. As in, entirely. They were all sclera, and all blue. They also seemed to be scowling at me. Her face, similar to Sir Cumference, was entirely mouthless. However, in place of a mouth, were four perfectly round holes, two on each side of her face about where a mouth would end if it were there. They seemed to be lightly emitting steam, or some kind of pale vapor. Her arms were crossed over her chest, and I saw that she had not quite the right amount of fingers. She had seven, two thumbs on each side of the hand, another five fingers in between. Of course, she still had those gears beneath her hips. They were slowly turning, occasionally stopping and then turning in the other direction. It was almost mesmerising.

My attention snapped back to The Mistress when she grabbed me under the shoulders and lifted me up. I flailed in surprise and kicked her in the stomach, causing her to bend forward and clutch it, letting me loose in the process. I jumped to my feet and ran, trying to get to the exit. Soon after, I heard a sound far too similar to a dump truck revving up, and I knew it must be her. Mostly because she was the only one in the room with me. I looked behind me to see The Mistress following behind me, somehow gliding on the pillar of gears that made up the lower half of her form. She was moving a whole lot faster than I was despite, and I repeat, not even having legs, to the point where she almost pinned me against the wall. I rolled forward, leaving her to slam into the concrete at absurd speed. She hit the wall fast enough to drive her face at least two inches into it, before pulling her head out of the stone in a rather cartoonish fashion. I figured she didn't find it very funny, so I kept running until I made it to the door, and pushed it open to get outside. I jumped down the steps, and turned back to where I came from before, bolting down the street like a cat struck by a hose. The other machine beasts who were now doing things in the town all quickly noticed me. Soon, the sound of a hundred motors started revving up. The machine beasts seemed like they were panicking. I bet people from my world would freak out if they saw a kid made of tin cans running down the street.

Soon, that characteristic roar from The Mistress ripped through the air like a thunder clap, as if she was commanding the others. I kept running, not really interested in what she was yelling about. Plans changed, however, as I was soon overtaken and grabbed by something massive. The hand that had entrapped me turned to face its owner. It was a humoungous machine beast. In the middle of its solid metal face were three eyes, aranged in a triangle. All three were bright beacons, making it hard to make out the rest of the titanic creature, but I could see attached to its head what looked to be hose tubes, leading down behind its back. The furry arm that it gripped me in was occasionally patched up with bolted on strips of metal. It had at least eight arms, four on each side, and it had crawler treads in place of legs. It at least made slightly more sense than The Mistress. I didn't have too much time to think about that, however, seeing as how another machine beast interrupted my studies. It quickly climbed up the titans arm, and before I could get a good look at it, I was hit with a burst of gas. Some kind of anesthetic, because I pretty much just blacked out.

Later on I came to inside a dark room. Great. This is where all the horror stories start. Dark rooms. Well either that or falling down holes. Heh. Not being able to see, I looked into my pockets, and to my surprise, all my stuff was still there. I figured they'd confiscate it, or something. I grabbed my Mini-Flashlight, and turned it on. The room was surprisingly barren... Except for at least three skeletons. Two of them looked to be human, whilst the third looked like... Something. A buffalo, maybe? I couldn't tell. Looking upwards, I saw that the room had no ceiling. It seemed to be like a giant cardboard box, open at the top, except made of, well, take a guess. The metal itself was surprisingly regimented in appearance, with only one material being used, and properly measured bolts holding the structure together. Compared to the scrounged together town, this place looked like a professionally built facility. I didn't have much time to think about it, though. In a bright flash of light, the box room I was in was suddenly flooded with bright beams. The entire area had just been lit up like a candle, except minus the fire. For some reason, I couldn't shake the feeling of a metal made Aperture Laboratories. My nerdiness resurfaces, unsurprisingly. Without warning, a large metal claw descended from the bright lights above, and grabbed me around the waist, lifting me up.

I tried to struggle free, but the grip was too tight. I looked around from my new position, and my suspicions were frighteningly confirmed: besides the box I was in, there were hundreds of others, each seemingly filled with different things. Some were filled with different types of metals, whilst others were loaded with what appeared to be bodies. All the boxes seemed to be suspended far above a solid steel floor. Acrophobia has never been so justified. Pretty soon, the mechanical grip holding me moved itself over to a wall by means of some unseen ceiling rail. I tried my best to put away my flashlight, then get a look around. Directly behind me, or so I could tell, was a door attached directly to the wall. Farther off, in even increments, were more doors on the wall, extending around the entire room. The room itself I estimated to be about the size of six basketball courts. Which is weird, because I don't play basketball. Or any sport for that matter. I had other things to worry about, however. Down from the ceiling descended a number of dangerous looking implements; blades, drills, drivers, clamps, the whole show. The clamp gripping around my waist let go, only to drop me into four smaller clamps that fastened around my arms and legs. I felt a rough downward tug on the back of my shirt, followed by a tearing noise, probably one of the blades tearing my shirt in half. That's disturbing. What came up next was even worse. I felt a searing, horrid pain in my back as something was forcefully drilled into the top bone of my spine. After that went all the way in, another one got drilled into the bone below that. Then another one, then another one, the drilling just kept going, the insane pain never stopping. Except, you know, eventually it did. Just sort of hanging there in pain, something extremely wrong with my spine, I couldn't even think. It didn't occur to me then that the door above me had burst open, or that I was being lifted to safety. After having the clamps removed and being pulled into the door, I just kind of flopped onto the floor, spine shattering pain still wracking my bones. After a moment, I noticed that my rescuer was currently leaning over me.

I didn't really have the strength at the moment to try to get the hell out of there, so I just kind of sat there, staring my visitor in the face. Sharp teeth. A big mouth of sharp teeth is what first caught my eye, but upon closer inspection, I realized they were painted onto a featureless face, like the other machine beasts I had seen. Up above that, a relatively regular face, with a regular, healthy looking human eye on the right (the faces right, not my right), and a bolted on piece of metal on the left. Its expression, from what I could tell with just one eye to give it to me, was of concern, but that creepy paint mouth made it look more like it was gonna eat me. Not a happy thought. Further down, its body looked to be relatively human in the torso, vaguely male-ish too. He seemed to have a few metal rings shoved into his body at certain points, like a gauge in a persons earlobe, except they were showing off his organs, and they were also less disgusting. His arms and legs seemed to be built entirely out of metal pipes, with hinges where the elbows and knees ought to be, and at the end of them, fleshy hands and metal feet. The hands looked relatively normal, but the feet more resembled metallic wolf paws. Look, I don't judge, I swear.

After a while of me just lying on the floor and staring, the machine beast reached down a hand, apparently trying to help me up. Deciding not to be rude (For some weird reason), I reached towards his hand and grabbed it. He pulled me up with an astounding sort of strength, nearly ripping my arm out of its socket. Damn, after all the crap that happened earlier, he's gonna tear my arms off too? But after that, he seemed perfectly calm. Maybe he just doesn't realize how strong he is? I dunno... Considering this one was so nice to me (well, compared to the others trying to murder me), I decided to name him Buddy. A friendly face in a dangerous world. Well, not literally a friendly face, but you get the idea. Pretty soon, Buddy turned around and walked away, down the hallway leading away from the big mutilation room. With no where else to go, and nothing else to do, I decided to follow him. After looking at his back (Not his butt, I swear) for a while, I noticed something unusual. Unless I was mistaken, he was that one machine beast from earlier. The one that kept staring at me when I hid behind a building. I briefly wondered if he thought I was weird, and then I realized that, by his standards, I looked like some kind of weird fleshy monster. Well, I guess standards is a relative term... But I'm rambling.

Eventually, after following Buddy down a twisting maze of halls and doors, we arrived in what looked to be... A garden? Like one of those cool gardens where all the topiary is cut into specific shapes, except instead of topiary, it was bolted together scrap metal. Maybe, like, a statue garden? Regardless, all the forms were unfamiliar, like some weird alien creatures. Which made perfect sense, I guess. Nothing ever does in this place, but you know. Meanwhile, over on the other side of the garden, Buddy had somehow managed to move all the way over there without me seeing, and had started to beckon me over. That seems to be a thing he can do really well; move from place to place without anyone noticing. It would be creepy if he wasn't so nice. Well, no, it's still pretty creepy. I carefully moved over to where Buddy was, and caught up to him. He turned around and looked out of the garden, into what appeared to be city streets. I looked over his shoulder, and saw... Well, nothing out of the ordinary. For this place, anyway. There were a few machine beasts wandering around, each one entirely different. Buddy quickly ran across the street, ducking into the alley way between two buildings. I carefully followed, trying not to catch the attention of the machine beasts moving about. I jumped into the alley behind Buddy. Quickly, he started to climb up the side of one of the buildings. I suppose he expected me to follow. Hopefully, I didn't end up getting tetanus. I tried my best to climb up the uneven scrap metal siding, eventually making my way to the top, with a little help from Buddy. After that, Buddy started running to the other side of the roof top, and jumped over the next alley way onto the next building. Great. Fantastic. Parkour. I'm not exactly a physically active person. This was gonna be hell in a hand basket.

After jumping and climbing my way past at least twenty buildings, and nearly having a heart attack in the meantime, I came to a realization: I'm a damn nerd. All I need now is the glasses. I practically fell over after climbing to the top of the last building. Meanwhile, Buddy was looking over the edge of the roof. After catching my breath, I followed him over, and looked down for myself. It was then that I realized that we were about eleven stories up in the air. Holy crap, how did I manage this? I smiled a little bit after thinking about my accomplishment. Meanwhile, down on the ground, machine beasts of all shapes and sizes scurried about on the streets, doing... Things, I guess. Buddy seemed to intently stare, occasionally moving his head, as if searching for a specific someone. After a while, he got up and moved back to the center of the roof. There was a door leading down into the building, which he proceeded to open and walk into. I followed suit, closing the door behind me. Buddy seemed cautious, looking around whenever we came into a hallway, checking for people. We quietly moved from place to place, occasionally ducking into a back hall or two when a machine beast came near. The place we were in was vaguely similar to a hospital, with copper and tin floor tiles, steel wall panels, and steel ceilings. There were lights every distance or so, iluminating the place like a lantern. Every now and again, against my better judgement, I checked into nearby rooms. My suspicions seemed to be confirmed, seeing as how the rooms looked like rooms for patients. Thankfully, any inhabitants I saw were fast... Asleep? Shut off? I dunno how it works with these things. They all seemed somewhat more fleshy than the average machine beast, but they still had the tell tale metal metal pieces occasionally built into their bodies. At least one of them almost reminded me of myself, but she had what appeared to be a total absence of eyes. Creepy. Eventually, Buddy and I reached a very large door, labeled in big red metal-glyphs, like the ones on the sign outside. I had no idea what it said, but it was obviously pretty important. Well, either that, or they always write things in red paint. Wouldn't be the weirdest thing here. Buddy grabbed the handle, and rather loudly pulled the door clean open, almost like he broke it off its lock. He briefly looked around, and if it weren't for the paint on his face, I thought I could almost see him blushing, like he was embarrassed. D'aw, that's kind of adorable. Quickly after that, he walked inside and beckoned me in after him. I followed him inside, and he grabbed the door and shut it, probably hoping that no one noticed the broken lock. He walked farther down into the hallway behind the door, looking around like he was searching for something. The hall was lined with all sorts of doors, each with more metal-glyphs on their faces. Eventually, he spotted what he was looking for, as he went over to one of the doors and opened it. He waved me in, and then came in after, shutting the door behind him. The room we were in looked to be some kind of laboratory, filled with assorted science-esc devices. Most of it seemed to be electronics related, but I saw at least a few flasks, and a large stack of petri dishes. I wonder if the bacteria in this world is just as mechanical as its people... Buddy directed my attention to a device on the far side of the room. It looked to be a doorway. Oh, great. So it's a sci-fi film now? Seriously. Straight out of a B-Movie. It had tubes, and pipes, and wires, everything. There looked to be a large panel next to it, filled with buttons and levers and knobs. However, things took a turn for the worst.

As Buddy and I looked at the machine, I felt something put a hand on my shoulder. A seven fingered hand. Buddy and I spun around, and came faces to... Chest with a familiar... Not exactly friend. The Mistress was behind us, with a look in her eyes somewhere between severe annoyance and utter hatred. Clearly, we were in trouble. Buddy jumped back, and moved into a rather fierce looking stance, whilst I stood there like an idiot. The Mistress picked me up by the neck, almost choking the life out of me, lifting me off the ground and holding me away from her, just far enough so that I couldn't kick her in the gut like I did last time. Buddy charged over, headbutting her in the belly, causing her to drop me as she fell backwards. She landed on the floor with a resounding whump, shaking a few of the nearby desks. Buddy pulled back a fist and looked like he was about to smash her face in, but she grabbed the appendage and forcefully pushed him off, propelling him high into the room.

Snapping to attention, I braced myself and caught him as he flew back to me. He was lighter than I expected. The Mistress suddenly got off her rump, and charged the two of us, that characteristic roar of hers starting up. Buddy jumped out of the way, and I held onto his arms, moving with him. When we landed, I let go, and slid back, preparing to fight for myself. I quickly looked around and grabbed the nearest thing that I figured would make a good blunt instrument. Buddy was a lot stronger than I was, and the Mistress took a concrete wall to the face without a scratch, so I figured I'd need some help in order to match up. I found a metal pipe, apparantly some kind of metal vial (Why would you make a vial out of metal? I guess these people are limited on their materials.), and grabbed it, holding it like a baseball bat.

The Mistress charged us again. Buddy jumped straight upwards, whilst I stood my ground and swung my metal pipe directly down into her face. It was less impressive than I had hoped, and The Mistress just kept going, taking a metal pipe to the face like a champ. She barreled into me, knocking the both of us into a shelf. I was pinned against the shelf under her impressive strength (And weight.), dropping the pipe in the process. Besides what looked to be a red line running down her face, she was entirely unharmed, and looked as pissed as ever. She grabbed me by the midsection, hoisting me up above her head. I kicked her in the face, but it wasn't very effective. Buddy, apparently having grabbed onto the ceiling, finally dropped down. He gave her a good solid stomp in the mug, dropping her onto the floor, letting me go in the process. How many times has that happened? I think three or so... Buddy quickly jumped off again, just as the Mistress herself rapidly crawled backwards, before hopping back onto her column of gears. In the mean time, I scavenged the pipe I dropped back into my hands, and quickly threw it at The Mistress, trying to jam it into her stomach. Buddy dropped down right after the pipe went past, dashing after it.

The pipe struck The Mistress directly in the gut, knocking her forward, where Buddy punched her in the face, knocking her backwards. She stood standing for a few seconds before falling onto her back, making a resounding thud and knocking every small thing over. After catching my breath for a few seconds, I cautiously walked over to her form, inspecting her to see what kind of damage had been done, and more importantly, how long it would take her to shake it off. Her blue eyes were closed, she seemed to be breathing fine (I wasn't looking at her tits or anything! I swear!), and the column of gears underneath her was still very slowly rotating. I figured she was just unconscious, and I didn't want to be around when she stopped being so and started being infuriated. Luckily, Buddy had solved my problem.

I heard a dense "wumming" sound and a heavy clank behind me, and turned around to see Buddy playing with that panel I saw earlier. well, not exactly playing, I guess, just more along the lines of working it. Inside the door frame I looked at earlier, was a door. It looked to be built from solid iron, and was not so much as singed. I had a strange sense of Dejavu before realising that this was the door to the burnt down shed. I almost cried. Nah, I cried. Only a little bit, though. Buddy was sitting next to the control panel, with a look in his eye of accomplishment. I carefully walked over to the door. Without really thinking about it (And getting another sense of Dejavu), I reached for the handle, and turned it downwards. Sure as sparks, I looked into it and saw the burnt shed, and beyond that, the alley. I really was going to go home. I looked over to Buddy, and he looked back.

Despite the fact that I highly doubt either of us could understand the other, I decided I'd talk to him for a little bit.

"You're gonna be okay, aren't you?"

Buddy turned towards me and started making some kind of sound, which sounded way too much like... A can opener. I couldn't hold back laughter. A can opener punched the hell out of a dump truck. Oh, that's rich! After a while, I recovered, and looked up to Buddy, who looked either annoyed or embarrassed, probably both.

"Sorry about that. I have no idea what you're saying."

I figured he wouldn't know what I was saying either, but surprise surprise, he started nodding his head, before he lifted his arms up in a shrug. He then looked over at The Mistress, and made a few more can opener sounds, looking back to me with a look in his eye as if to say he'd be okay.

"Good to know, I suppose. This door will really send me back?"

Buddy nodded, before putting up his hand in a thumbs up.

"Thank you. Well, I guess this is goodbye?"

Buddy looked downward at his metal wolf paws, and clasped his hands together, with a sad look in his eye. I walked over to him and wrapped my arms around him. He seemed briefly shocked, but then he pulled his arms out of mine and hugged me back. Nice to know he really was a friend. We eventually let go of each other, and I stepped back to the door.

"Maybe I'll come back and visit you, eh Buddy?"

His eyes lit up (Not literally, but you get what I mean), and he seemed surprised. He moved his face in such a way that, if not for the lack of a real mouth, would probably indicate a warm smile. I smiled back, and then turned towards the door. I walked through the frame, and closed the door behind me. Sure enough, I was back.

Pretty nice story, eh? Nah, it was terrible. You don't have to tell me twice. Although I bet you're still looking for an epilogue.

After getting back home, I went to check in with Mom, Dad, and Little Bro. It seems I had only been gone two hours, although they were worried about me regardless. I briefly considered just telling them that I had gotten lost over in another neighborhood, but then I remembered something that might let a tale like mine hold water. I told them the entire story. Little bro seemed entertained, whilst Mom and Dad were more sceptical. Just as they were about to brush off my story as some fancy excuse, I turned around and showed them the bolts in my spine.

They belived me after that, you bet they did. As soon as we could, we checked in with a physician. Seemingly enough, the bolts wouldn't cause any problems, and would just stay there forever. They couldn't be removed, because they had somehow been drilled in my spine, and attempting to take them out would almost be guaranteed to paralyse me. How did they get in in the first place? I dunno. It basically just meant I couldn't wear anything more revealing than a one piece swimsuit ever again. Oh, boo hoo, how horrible. (Sarcasm. That was sarcasm.) We decided not to inform anyone else of how the bolts came to be, and decided to simply brush it off. After that, I went back to my usual life, which basically consisted of sitting on this computer, drawing pictures, and occasionally doing other stuff. At the time of this writing, I haven't gone back to the patchwork world, although I have plans to go there pretty soon. I hope Buddy is okay. I still have less answers than I have questions. What were those people? Demons? Aliens? Demonic Aliens? Something else entirely? Yeah, probably that last one, but I still wasn't sure what. Where did they all come from? Have they always been there? What did they all do? Well, I suppose I'll try to figure out all those answers another time. Although I did figure out one last thing before I left. When I was hugging Buddy, I felt a something in his back. A bunch of bolts drilled into his spine, exactly like mine.

Happy Thanksgiving! Be careful of burnt down sheds!