Till Death

JIMATHON JIMINY, an old man caked in dried blood and gore, enters, sits in his favorite chair with a roll of toilet paper and a large knife, and whittles away.

A voice, NINNY JIMINY, calls from somewhere in the kitchen.

NINNY: (off) Jimathon!

Jimathon ignores this.

NINNY: (off) Jimathon!

Jimathon turns to the kitchen, then back to his whittling.

NINNY: (off) Jimathon!

NINNY enters, looking like the twisted, mildly displeased specter of a murder victim.

NINNY: Jimathon!

JIMATHON: Tweak my thigh and kiss my ulcer, woman! Can’t you see I’m whittling this roll of toilet paper?

NINNY: Yes?

JIMATHON: Oh, good. I was afraid I was losing my mind there for a moment. What’s so important then?

NINNY: You left the gas on again.

JIMATHON: For Heaven’s sake, have you turned it off?

NINNY: No.

JIMATHON: I see. May I inquire as to the reason or reasons why?

NINNY: I’m dead, Jimathon.

JIMATHON: (considers this) Oh, that’s right – the accident.

NINNY: Accident? You murdered me.

JIMATHON: Are you still going on about that? I buried you, didn’t I?

NINNY: You have not. My body’s still rotting away in a trash bin beneath the kitchen sink.

JIMATHON: Alright, alright. But if you’re so preoccupied with being dead, why is your ghost bothering me about the gas, hm?

NINNY: Oh, I’m not a ghost.

JIMATHON: You’re not?

NINNY: Afraid not. I’m only the comforting creation of your desperate, dying mind struggling to make sense of its own impending, unintentionally self-inflicted return to nonexistence.

JIMATHON: I see… (puzzles this) So, no need to bother with the trash then?

The Nightly Chill

A bumper: the sort for a local station’s late-night programming block. Graphics, timeslots, generic upbeat music.

STEVE: (voice-over) Tonight on The Nightly Chill…

Relevant footage and graphics for “Chicken or Fish!” appear.

Kicking things off at 11:05, it’s “Chicken or Fish!” – the number-one game show for seniors who can’t fall asleep at a decent hour.

Then, at 12:13…

Relevant footage and graphics for “The Lonely Widow” appear.

…sit down at a kitchen table with Charlotte St. Pierre and a local housewife and squirrel killer addicted to sleeping with men named Doug. This and depressingly little else on “The Lonely Widow.”

Relevant footage and graphics for “C.R.A.P. Wrestling” appear.

And be sure to stick around till 1:45 for the latest microwave-safe action from California Ring-Adjacent Pro Wrestling as Monaco Midnight takes on The Dated Racist Stereotype in an empty parking lot brawl!

Return of the generic, upbeat music.

The Nightly Chill: because it’s always dark somewhere. Only on NUTS Channel 62, Santa Carla Public Television.

Whispers in the Dark: Adia

Transmission XX85.06.06:

WHISPER: Listen up, lo-fi fiends and freaks. The sun’s setting on Adia, and you know what that means…

Transmission glitches, continues.

Word on the wire has it The First Adopters are no more following a successful coup by the scattered subscribers of the recently canceled Admiral Iron Shavings. No official statement yet from former officials. But First Adopter profiles have gone dark as of noon today.

Transmission glitches, continues.

Demand is high, bills are due, and credits are short. We wish nothing but the best for every citizen of Adia – from The Owners, all the way down to basic binary organics. And to show our appreciation, we’re offering a limited-time blue light special to every unit of human capital stock. Supplies are limited, so speak IRL with any and all members of Management or Security to collect what’s yours tonight.

Transmission glitches, continues.

And, finally… don’t settle on the cards you’re dealt, and never let your specs control your performance. The analytics are a lie. Hire only the best modders to reclaim your sense of self. If you can scan it, we can clone it. If you can scrap it, we can hack it. Be who you were meant to be. They’ll never know you weren’t there.

Transmission glitches, continues.

That’s all she scanned, bits and grids. This is another Whisper in the Dark, reminding you: anything is legal in Adia, if you can afford the transaction fees.

Transmission ends.

PaperBagCritic: Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today

CINEMATICO MAGNIFICO, who may or may not be an actual anthropomorphic bag of popcorn, speaks from The Last Video Store on Earth to an audience that may or may not actually exist.

CINEMATICO: Welcome back to The Last Video Store on Earth. Our next film this week is “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today,” the latest bit of indigestible roughage from director Anthonio “Tony” Tonedeaf.

Based on Bill Billiamson’s classic erotic novella, “Shut Your Stupid Mouth, and Die Already,” “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today” features Bleary-Eyed Squarejaw as “Jeffony Suburbs,” an unemployed candlelabler and deadbeat father desperate to save his daughter from the loving support of her stepfather, Minoru Tee, as played by a parking lot attendant only credited as “Doug.”

Here’s a clip.

Cut to a clip of a poor attempt at dramatic fluff in which BLEARY-EYED SQUAREJAW as JEFFONY SUBURBS bashes his skull ceaselessly against the steering wheel of his car.

SUBURBS: Metaphorical angst! Metaphorical angst! Metaphorical angst!

Cut to Cinematico.

CINEMATICO: While not quite the introspective character drama of his previous film, “Twist Them Harder,” nor managing the seizure-inducing charm of “Clitor You, Clitor Me,” “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today” is a movie in the sense that it features actors performing scenes from a script in front of a camera and ultimately displayed on some sort of screen.

That said. While Tonedeaf’s latest work does manage to make me regret every moment spent with it, it still made me regret every moment spent with it.

But whether you find yourself drawn to the sadistically abusive love story between a man and his car, the artificial sweetener of familial neglect, or simply have little regard for the diminishing time any of us have, “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today” exists.

A beat. Then…

When we come back, we’ll sit down with stand-up actress Brittigail Barbiturates to discuss her upcoming project, “Contractual Obligations.” But first, another complete waste of time.

Elsewhere: Audrey

DR.‌ ‌HOWARD‌ ‌FINE‌ ‌documents‌ ‌his‌ ‌thoughts‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌fashion‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌time‌ ‌-‌ ‌wherever,‌ ‌whenever,‌ ‌and‌ ‌however‌ ‌that‌ ‌might‌ ‌be‌ ‌at‌ ‌this‌ ‌point.‌

DR. FINE: When I first met Audrey McGuire in the bar of a hotel on the outskirts of Los Angeles, she was a fiery shock of red hair poured into a full skirt dress that teased a curvy figure beneath.

Her full, blood-red lips pouted at me as she performed a sob story about needing money for a bus ticket to Indianapolis, to stay with her mother after her husband had raised his hand to her one time too many.

The second time we met, Audrey was a willowy blonde wearing long boots and a short skirt, lying through thin lips about visiting her sister in San Francisco.

A beat. Then…

The third time we met, I observed Audrey gracefully flowing from one potential mark to the next, shedding her previous appearance between tables before seamlessly slipping into a new life with a single, gentle touch of each man’s hand.

One moment, she’s an olive-skinned beauty in a cardigan distracting a married man with her piercing blue eyes as she steals his wallet. The next, she’s laughing it up with a group of drunken suits pawing at a pair of milky thighs exposed by the short hem of her fashionable Mod dress.

I never gave a second thought to the way she’d temporarily leave with this or that man as she wore this or that face–sometimes an hour at a time, sometimes for mere minutes. But when some loud, dark-haired stranger in an expensive suit dragged Audrey away by the wrist, the panicked look she shot my way from a hauntingly familiar face convinced me to follow close behind.

A beat. Then…

I caught up to Audrey and that dark-haired stranger in the stairwell, just in time to hear a cry of pain closely followed by a drunken voice demanding to know why he had to hear from the boys at the office that his wife was moonlighting as a whore in a hotel bar.

Cynthia. Some poor housewife named Cynthia was probably somewhere cooking dinner for a husband she didn’t know was drunk in the stairwell of a hotel, threatening a frightened woman wearing her face.

And as Cynthia’s face attempted to lie her way out of a literal corner, Cynthia’s husband raised his hand. But as he raised his hand, her face changed. Her left eye darkened and swelled shut. Her bottom lip split and bled. And bruises appeared on her from head to toe.

Whether by fortune, divine intervention, or alcohol, Cynthia’s husband stumbled backward down a flight of stairs and scuttled out the door without another word, looking as if he’d just seen a ghost. Then once we were both sure he wasn’t coming back, I returned to the bar with a woman who looked like my dead wife.

A beat. Then…

Over the next several hours and drinks, I found myself lost in the glittering hazel eyes and gentle lines of my wife’s face as she shared the story of a life she never lived with a name she never knew. There was mention of a one-bedroom apartment in Shermer, Illinois, some boy named Reggie, and a kiss behind the high school gym that left her with no choice but to leave behind both Shermer and Reggie forever.

As we danced, the woman I struggled to call Audrey inquired about my work with childish wonder and glee. And as I explained the nature of the microscopic Sutherland Fluke coiled around both her central and peripheral nervous system, how it allowed her body to instinctively reshape itself in reaction to physical and emotional stimuli, she pulled her body closer to mine.

Audrey was gone by morning. And while I’m unsure if I’ve seen her in the years since–or if a person by the name of Audrey McGuire from Shermer, Illinois, ever existed–I do know a lost soul gave a lonely man one last night of happiness. And for that, I will always remember her.

The Magic Hour: An Occult Cult, Of Course

The sort of late-night radio call-in show with a host known only as MAGIC DAVE.

MAGIC DAVE: Ladies and Gentlemen. It’s the dead of night. You don’t know how you got here. (considers this) Huh. Neither do I. (shrugs) Congrats. You found Santa Carla Public Radio. This is “The Magic Hour” with Magic Dave. I’m Magic Dave, we are The Lost, and this is our hour, man.

Lines are open. Give us a call. Let thy sins be known.

Magic Dave looks to, fiddles with his board.

First caller – what’s your name, what’s your sin?

CALLER: (phone) Hey, Dave. Long Time Listener First Time Caller.

MAGIC DAVE: That’s a heck of a name you got there, Long.

CALLER: (phone) It’s a family name.

MAGIC DAVE: My condolences. So, what’s keeping you up tonight?

CALLER: (phone) Well. I may have recently stumbled across a literal demonic death cult, and I’m not sure how to feel about it.

MAGIC DAVE: Not the religious type?

CALLER: (phone) Yes, but no, except every other holiday. You see, in an entirely intentional attempt to isolate myself from any sight or sign of humanity as possible, I unintentionally found myself lost in some remote corner of Black Star Canyon.

MAGIC DAVE: That’s a cool story, man.

CALLER: (phone) Right. Well. Somewhere between realizing I had one hell of a walk back to my car and crying for my mother, I heard a strange chanting coming from deep within the old, abandoned mine shaft I’d foolishly chosen to expel both urine and insight into my predicament.

MAGIC DAVE: Happens to the best of us.

CALLER: (phone) To make a long hike through a dark, winding series of tunnels and tangentially related anecdotes short: I eventually found myself in a vast, underground cavern with an equally vast, underground lake. And in the center of the lake were a bunch of strange little men chanting a strange little diddy to a strange, yet maddeningly large, fleshy skeletal something or other sitting right there in the water like it was a kiddie pool.

MAGIC DAVE: There’s always that one guy hogging the hot tub at those places.

CALLER: (phone) Having spent my fair share of afternoons in Irvine, I can’t say I haven’t seen worse. But once I witnessed this entity drink the wailing souls of several middle-school science teachers, I figured I’d seen most of what they had to offer and politely left without signing the registry.

MAGIC DAVE: Well. It’s always a good idea to keep an open mind and expose yourself to new, interesting things. On a scale of whatever, how’d you rate your visit?

CALLER: (phone) Oh, at least a solid, mid-level cream.

MAGIC DAVE: I’m sorry to hear that.

CALLER: (phone) To make things even worse, I didn’t realize I’d left my keys by the toilet until I’d already made it back to the parking lot.

Elsewhere: D’ja Vu’larian

DR.‌ ‌HOWARD‌ ‌FINE‌ ‌documents‌ ‌his‌ ‌thoughts‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌fashion‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌time‌ ‌-‌ ‌wherever,‌ ‌whenever,‌ ‌and‌ ‌however‌ ‌that‌ ‌might‌ ‌be‌ ‌at‌ ‌this‌ ‌point.‌

DR. FINE: Feeding exclusively on those threads of time and space intertwined with some poor soul’s untimely, traumatic death, the D’ja Vu’larian’s morbid appetite is seen by some as a cosmic blessing in disguise.

Effectively a wholesale rejection of death itself, these individuals… I hesitate to call them “victims”… regain consciousness sometime in their own past, with only a faint, dreamlike recollection of what transpired.

But much like those affected by a Chronopillar, there is a serious philosophical discussion to be had regarding that lost part of us, devoured moment-by-moment, and now slowly digesting in the belly of some great, trans-dimensional worm.

Pim-Hole

STEVE reads a prepared statement.

STEVE: My sweets, my savories. This brings me no small amount of sexual gratification, but I’m afraid I have something to confess: I originally wrote this sketch for something else entirely.

Now. My wife, bless her black, wretched heart, tried telling me it wouldn’t translate very well. She was right, of course. So we’ve made the difficult decision to have it put down.

This was a very easy decision to make. But we’re mostly confident it was the right decision given how much it directly benefits us.

Healing, of course, comes only with time. But with a mixture of cleaning products, prescription drugs, and perhaps a little rock and roll, we hope to expedite the process one way or the other.

Thank you.

Elsewhere: Smeltett

DR.‌ ‌HOWARD‌ ‌FINE‌ ‌documents‌ ‌his‌ ‌thoughts‌ ‌in‌ ‌the‌ ‌fashion‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌time‌ ‌-‌ ‌wherever,‌ ‌whenever,‌ ‌and‌ ‌however‌ ‌that‌ ‌might‌ ‌be‌ ‌at‌ ‌this‌ ‌point.‌

DR. FINE: The very existence of the Smeltett has been a point of contention for millennia, with records of arguments spurred on by the sudden onset of a foul and malicious odor found in the form of rudimentary cave paintings in both Africa and central Asia.

Current research of the Smeltett leads many to believe that it is the female of the species which is responsible for the foul odor, used in an effort to attract the attention of nearby males, which are believed to be responsible for the… sound also associated with the Smeltett.

Unsurprisingly, all major contributions to research on the Smeltett have been submitted anonymously.

Monster Masterpiece Marathon

A bumper: the sort for a local television station’s Halloween horror movie marathon. Graphics, timeslots, generic upbeat music.

STEVE: (voice-over) Tonight, the crazy train makes another stop between sanity and madness for the next chilling installment of “Cinematico Magnifico’s Cinematic Monster Masterpiece Marathon”!

The music transitions to some campy, yet menacing diddy.

Relevant footage and graphics for “Audrey” appear.

Dr. Howard Fine thought she was just another face in a hotel bar. But when the woman’s face changed, he’s left with only one question, “Who is… Audrey?”

Find out the answer at 5:05, when the nightly scares begin with “Audrey”!

Music transitions to a campy, yet wholly un-menacing melody.

Then, at 7:05… 

Relevant footage and graphics for “I’m a Middle-Aged Werewolf” appear.

Bronson Pubic-Lice is a man rough around the edges, and too quick to bite. But after a night out with the boys goes horribly wrong, all he really wants to be… is a good boy.

John Jablonksi and Maggie Sex-Pun star in: “I’m a Middle-Aged Werewolf!” A second act… with a twist.

Music transitions to a distinctly menacing tune.

But then, at 9:05…

Relevant footage and graphics for “Pumpkinstiltskin” appear.

All Jack Jacksonnovan wanted was one last Halloween with friends. Now he’s making sure the screams never end!

Elongated Nipples is… Pumpkinstiltskin! You’ll be goard out of your mind!

Music transitions to a cool, yet uncool campy indie 90s vibe.

And for one last unpleasant scream before bed… 

Relevant footage and graphics for “This Girl is Poison!” appear.

the 90’s comedic action-horror indie cult classic, “This Girl is Poison!” Featuring Allonna Woman as January Embers, a woman on the run from her past and a price on her head. But just when she’s forced to return to her hometown, an evil poisonous cloud threatens to kill everyone!

Return of the generic, upbeat music.

All this tonight and more all month long as part of “Cinematico Magnifico’s Cinematic Monster Masterpiece Marathon.” Only on Santa Carla Public Television.