's 2018 Horror Write-off:

An Arm and Some Legs, Redux: I Couldn’t Think of Anything Better to Name It

Submitted by Centipedal/Jackson Gilbert

Nancy of the City Slickers was on the prowl. After the note was discovered at the yard, the City Slickers went on high alert. Any and all anomalous animal accounts were to be thoroughly investigated. Out of the seven they had received since the Spiders, four were just cats and dogs with mange. Another one was a bear that had escaped from some rich guy’s house. About a week ago, Nancy had personally torched a swarm of mutant pigeons constantly vomiting chunky black goo (which was another thing they had to look out for). Finally, there was today’s message. Somebody had seen a bigass snake through an abandoned factory window. Like, really big. Train big.

Nancy drove one of the Slickers’ big black vans up to the supposed snake pen. The factory was actually kind of small, compared to the unused lot it was next to. She kicked open the door and walked in, flashlight at the ready. Immediately, she saw something big and scaly. Nancy rushed to the side, up the walkway to her left. It carried her above the main floor, and she managed to creep up to a catwalk directly over what she saw.

Nancy had trouble making the creature out. She thought she saw a long, scaly thing strewn across the floor, one section ending at the door. She couldn’t find where the other end was. She also couldn’t see the part near the door, but the rest of the body on the floor was clear. It had large irregular armored patches of scale, with small spines poking out from the middle of each one. She could barely see the Serpent’s coils hanging around the catwalks. The monster was actually smaller than the report made it out to be. It was only small-car-big, and not subway-train-big.

The Snake’s body slowly shifted about, before settling back down. Apparently she hadn’t spooked it that bad. Nancy fingered the gun by her hip. Thank god she was sneaky enough to slip it past the bosses. Honestly, though. What kind of monster-hunting organization doesn’t allow guns? Personally, Nancy thought it was a test. That you were supposed to cheat and sneak them out, and only then were you worthy of a weapon. Everybody else? They were just pussies.

She slowly aimed the gun at the creature’s body. Hopefully, she’d scare it enough that she could find the head. Just as she turned the safety off, the warehouse doors slammed open. For the briefest moment, she could see the thick, short skull of the Serpent. Then, the glare eclipsed it. And a figure bathed in light strided in.

It looked like a normal man, for the most part. She thought she could see some weirdness with his skin, but other than that he was your average tank-topped citizen. The only weird thing was the head. He was wearing a patchy, rubbery-looking mask that bore a mild resemblance to a hammerhead shark- it had a wide, short head, and a mess of teeth all around its mouth. Everywhere that wasn’t covered by the mask bore blue, shark-like tattoos. The creature looked looked at the Snake, opened its jaws, and spoke.

“So. You have the stuff?” It had a rough, somehow spiky voice.

“Ahhh, yessss. I alwaysssssss havvvvvve it.” The Snake spoke like a typical cartoon snake, if someone applied the qualities of the “S” to every letter.

“Great. We can make this quiet and short. Neither the Great Shark or the Lion can hear of this, understand?”

“Offff courssssssse. We’rrrrrre innn the sammmme boaaat.”

“Okay. Now do it.” The man-fish pulled up its sleeve.

The Snake seemed to smile in an oddly human way, before opening its jaws and clamping down on the Shark’s arm. The Shark convulsed, and then it went completely still. Something had changed in it. And then, it’s head- the entire skull- started squirming. The ends of the skull twisted a full 360 degrees before suddenly snapping back. And it looked directly at Nancy with a wide, toothy grin.

She stumbled back- and slammed into a coil of Serpent behind her. A spine on it jabbed a full three inches into her back. A flash of pain raced through her, but was quickly replaced with another surge of pleasure. She gasped, and staggered forward. Her muscles spasmed, sending her over the catwalk’s rail and right in between the Shark and the Serpent.

She felt her ribs and arm crack- and a second later, heal. Nancy had somehow managed to keep ahold of her gun, and she quickly aimed it at the monster Snake. She fired twice, hitting the body square. One shot managed to pierce, while the other just bounced off of an armored patch. The Shark grabbed her neck from behind and threw her through a high-up window. She smashed through, landing on the pavement outside.

Unfortunately, she had lost the healing qualities, and she felt things crack. Her gun slided out of her grasp, and the doors to the warehouse slammed open. The Shark strided out and blurred. It’s body, now tinged grey, was suddenly replaced by a much larger creature.

The Shark was much more shark-y this time around. Its head was similar to a hammerhead shark, albeit with a few differences. For example, it had a series of nostrils across the front of the skull, and a couple of eyestalks on each elongated side. It also had millions of two-inch-long teeth all around its body. It had several fins on the underside that it propped itself up with. They started rapidly moving, somehow allowing the fish to waddle around. The Shark’s tail was curled under it, for some reason.

Nancy propped herself up, absent-mindedly pulling a shard of glass out of her skin. She cracked her knuckles and winced as blood leaked from in between the knuckles. Damn pieces of glass. Good thing it isn’t a vampire. They had a series problem with those things a while back. Apparently they were some species of helminth that induced an epigenetic shift, causing a medicine-resistant hemophilia.

She didn’t really understand how they- ah, shit. She realized that she had just been standing there for a second. She really needed to stop trailing off like that. In that time, the Shark had waddled a little closer.

“My colleague fought one of your buddies a while back. The Spider, I think it was called? Anyway, she squashed it like a bug.” She gave a devilish smile, which quickly faded.

The Shark’s pupils dilated and its nostrils flared, as it said, “Ooh. Could you say that again? I really like the pitch. Mmm. Yeah. Wait wait, stop moving. The way the ultraviolet light reflects off of you… Ohhh. What’s that taste?”

Nancy shivered. She recognized that tone of voice in some… choice encounters with others. She didn’t get those encounters much anymore. Not since the facial reconstruction. Not since that thing in the sewers. Not since Andr- Goddamnit. In the time she had reminisced, the Shark had shifted onto its back fin.

It launched forward, propelling itself with its tail. Nancy dodged, but was scraped by its toothy skin. It landed on the ground and spun around before launching again.

“OH, YOU SMELL SO GOOD!” It screamed as it flew past her. When it landed on the ground, it desperately lapped up some blood that she had dripped. She could see its denticles and teeth extend by a couple centimeters.

“The fuck?!” Okay then. Might as well be a vampire.

It was then that the Snake ambushed her. The creature wrapped around her, spikes piercing all over. Oddly enough, the wrap was less of a crushing attack and more of a tight hug. Whatever was in the spikes (venom, maybe?) was constantly rejuvenating her, filling her lungs with air and repairing any cracked bones. It was a pretty lackluster attack, if it was one at all.


“Sssssorrrry. I donnnnn’t liiiike ssssseeeeeing otherrrrsssss hurrrt. I’mmmm afraaaaiiiid weee miiiight havvve to challlllk thissssss downnnn to proffffessssssionallll diffferencccccesssss.” Nancy started to fade into a happy, dreamlike state. That explains why the Shark and this guy met.

“NO! GIVE!” The Shark slammed sideways into the Python, and was pierced by its spikes. At the same time, the Python began to bleed.

“YEAH! I SAW THAT! GIVE ME ANOTHER LOOK!” The Shark bit the Snake and tore a huge chunk off of it.

“WOW, THAT’S GOOD!” It eyed the Python’s head. “I WONDER WHAT THAT FEELS LIKE.”

It’s jaws clamped onto the Snake’s skull, and seconds later, it exploded in the Shark’s mouth with a shower of blue blood. Nancy felt the creature go limp around her. It slowly unraveled, and she climbed out.

“OH NO. DON’T THINK I FORGOT ABOUT YOU!” The Shark leaped in front of her and bared its blue-stained jaws. Then it looked up.

“HEY, BITCH! WHAT’RE YOU UP THERE FOR?! ARE YOU TOO SCARED OF ME!?” The Shark’s smile grew wider, seconds before a massive shape slammed into it from above.

“The Eagle orders you to cease and desist, or Her knight shall be forced to act!” The flier’s voice was neither masculine or feminine, but was deep and stately. It was filled with authority. It took a second for Nancy to notice that she had heard the voice only after the creature landed.

Nancy decided to take the opportunity to get out of there. She grabbed her gun, then dashed straight to the car. She was about a foot or two away when a shape landed atop the roof, caving it in. A second later, a scream of wind blended in with a crunch of metal.

She saw some kind of metal avian for a second, before it blurred grey(er) and became humanoid. It took the shape of a man in a metal suit, with a slightly avian helmet. The helmet had small bulges where eyes would be, and over the lower part of a beak-like jut was a cruel hook. From chinks in the armor, metal feathers peeked out.

“Madame, were you at all harmed by these uncouth beasts?” The beak of the helmet started moving a second before the voice started. It also moved far too fast for the slow words.

“Jesus Christ, of course I was harmed! It was a giant shark! And a giant snake! Wait- who the hell are you? Um, I mean, what the hell are you? Oh, and shouldn’t you be more worried by the Shark?” Nancy was rather flustered by the condition of the Slicker’s van.

“Do not worry about the Berserker of the Sea. That split cannot trouble this reality any longer. To do so would be a violation of the accords, and only the deeply suicidal and certain… things hold the accords in such disregard.”

Nancy was about to ask if the creature was like the Shark, Snake, and Spiders before she realized that she hadn’t heard any noise behind her for a while. She turned around, and saw a pulpy mass of flesh, from which a mass of cartilage extended.

“It is a shame that some of my brethren are such… miscreants. It is worse that Falcons like me must enforce such strict rules.”

“Oh. So I guess you’re related to the Spiders then. Say, you wouldn’t happen to know anything about a party, would you? I think it might involve some of these, uh, ‘miscreants.’”

“I’m afraid I do not know too much about this. However, my Queen might. Please, come attend her court. I require you for debriefing.”

“Uh, actually, some of my bosses-” The Falcon cut her off.

“Do not resist. I shall be forced to treat it as further obstruction of the law, and must regretfully respond with due force.”

“Oh. You’re one of those assholes. Whatever. I agree.”

“Excellent. Brace yourself.” The creature shifted into an avian form, then took off.

“Brace myself? What do you mean- Oh holy fuck!” Nancy felt a pair of claws on her back before she zoomed away.

She could barely catch a view of the city before she felt herself tumble onto a concrete floor. She managed to stand up, and was faced with a court of Birds. It was an odd sight, actually: there was a purple carpet, a golden throne, and numerous golden ornaments set upon a long, beautiful table. However, the floor was a rough, unfinished wood, probably from a building with suspended construction. It was a beautiful sight, due to the fact that there weren’t any walls. In fact, Nancy could see all of downtown from here.

Ah, yep, there’s the shipping yard, the really big factory that was filled with chunky sludge, the rhizocephalans apartment, that old abandoned TV studio that never stopped broadcasting, the muppet butcher shop, and the bridge where all those toothless vagrants lived! Actually, they needed to check a few of those out sometime. Except for the factory. Nancy was pretty sure that was just a giant Vermin.

She was shook out of her reminiscing by a strong gale. Apparently, being high up with no walls had a few downsides. Surprisingly, none of the Birds around her seemed to be affected. She met eyes with the one on a throne, a robed figure with an ornate eagle mask and a crown, and it spoke.

“It appears you have had an encounter with the Maned One’s and the Great Lord’s servants. I do beg your pardon; the Squamata were once ours, but no longer. Now, I do trust you won’t tell your organization about our encounter, yes?” Somehow, its voice was even more regal than the Falcon’s.

“Listen, uh, whatever business you guys have going on, I don’t wanna mess with it. Can… can you just let me go?” Nancy was honestly getting kind of sick of monsters.

“Child, this might be a lucrative opportunity for you. We know where the Maned’s Affair shall be located. If you performed a few tasks, we could relay this information to you.”

“What would you have me do?”

“Simple. Just periodically relay information about your Organization to us. And we will give you the location.”

“What? No? Are you kidding me? I’m… I’m not gonna do that!” Like she was going to sell out for some monsters. Who did they think she was, that one guy who tried to bomb the statue on Pendulum Square? And then that big thing came out, the swingy clock freak. And then the guy was all “I wanna be your servant!” and about two-hundred people were retconned out of reality, and it was just a whole thing. And for whatever reason, only the Slickers and that cult remembered it. Ooh, the cult, what were they up to- Wait, she’s speaking again, what’s she saying?

“...shalln’t obtain your desires.” Damn, that sounded long-winded. Agree? Yeah, let’s agree.

“Ok, fine. Your passionate speech has convinced me to agree with you in the subject of….?”

“Being our Agent in your Organization?” Nancy detected a hint of- or, rather, a lot of- exasperation in her voice.

“Yeah, that. So, uh, your lackey totaled my ride. Can I… Oh my God where am I?!” Nancy found herself right in front of the Slicker’s HQ, a squat building that looked like it should’ve been shut down for asbestos in the 70’s. In her hand was an address. Huh. Up on the north side of town. A.. mansion, right?

Nancy pocketed the paper before walking in. Not an unusual mission, all-in-all. Well, no injuries though! But, on the other hand… she had no injuries, and thus had to do paperwork. Nancy briefly considered smashing her skull against the wall, but walked in anyway. Bureaucracy was better than the ICU, right?

It turns out that there were a few months until the party, so the Slickers had time to prepare. Any and all paranormal activities were to be declined to minimize loss of personnel. They decided to actually give people firearms training. And, most importantly, the guys at the top decided to roll out a new weapon. Something black, chunky, and quivering. And about to hatch. Nancy, meanwhile, found a note on her fridge. The little index card read “You owe us.” and was punctuated with a smiley face.