THE NIGHTLY CHILL
2019.11.26
By Steve Arviso

I’ve Got a Receipt (Act One).


FIGHT THE DAWN!

As the sunlit sanity of the waking world burns the night to ash,
embrace the unbound madness of your wildest dreams,
laugh into the endless abyss of your darkest fantasies,
and rage against the coming dawn.

The Nightly Chill is the unstable experience of the mind and madness of Steve Arviso (@AmoralCrackpot). Mon-Fri. Ish.


CONSISTENTLY INCONSISTENT

  • PULPBUSTERS
  • I’VE GOT A RECEIPT (ACT ONE)
  • THE MIXTAPE

Tonight, read the collected first act of I’VE GOT A RECEIPT!, an absurd tale of consumerism and cosmic horror. Tomorrow night, chill with ACT TWO!


VIRAL LOAD PODCAST

Explore the weirder, more unsettling corners of diseases that plague us with comedian Andrew Pupa and Brett Bayles!


WE ARE THE LOST

The Nightly Chill wants to show some love to a variety of cool shit from local and other independent artists, performers, and assorted creative types!

If you have a show you want to promote, especially if it’s located in SoCal, let’s get your poster and links! Got a cool short film you made for no money, or a song your band is trying to get out there to more peeps? Let’s embed that YouTube video and link new listeners to where they can support you!

Hit us up if you make:

  • Art
  • Comics
  • Music, audio dramas
  • Genre fiction, poetry, films, etc!

The weirder, the better!

We are The Lost. And together, we’ll make sure the world sees and hears us.


PULPBUSTERS

Chill with original audio projects such as Adena’s lil’ audio love note to the (great) granddaddy of pulp vigilantes, The Shadow. Or with Steve’s original short-form audio drama, Where Stars Collide!

Listen now on Spotify or sub to the PulpBusters audio feed using the links below.


I’VE GOT A RECEIPT – ACT ONE

The collected first act of an absurd tale of consumerism and cosmic horror.

ACT ONE.

SCENE 1. CRUSHED VELVET LINGERIE.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
It never occurred to Cassie that an ancient evil slumbered beneath the local mall. So, imagine her surprise when she found exactly that sometime last Tuesday.

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DEPRESSING AMBIENCE OF A CRAMPED SWEATBOX OF AN APARTMENT WITH TACKY, OUT-OF-DATE DECOR.

CASSIE OPENS A BAG, PULLS OUT AND HOLDS UP OVERSIZED, CRUSHED VELVET LINGERIE.

CASSIE
What the shit is this?

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
Cassie sat in the living room of the one-bedroom apartment her mother shared with Cassie’s younger sister, holding up oversized lingerie. The lingerie looked like crushed velvet, but felt like a mistake. Her mother and sister, meanwhile, looked on at this like two ham-faced potato people. One with a blank look of disinterest. The other slightly more sunken and dusty, with a blank look of confusion.

MOM
(Whining.)
You don’t like it.
(Turns to SISTER, still whining.)
She doesn’t like it.

SISTER
I told you she wouldn’t like it.

CASSIE
Explain.

MOM
Well, Sweetie. Your sister and I know how down you’ve been ever since you broke up with What’s-his-face.

CASSIE
(Correcting MOM.)
Jordan.
(Lying to herself.)
And we didn’t break up.
(Lying harder, sadder.)
We’re just…on a break.

MOM
Honey, you know I usually support you and your sister’s delusions. But maybe it’s time to accept that Jordan’s not coming back.

CASSIE
(Even she doesn’t buy it.)
But, he might?

SISTER
Was Jordan the one that moved to Oregon to grow pot?

MOM
No, Sweetie. Jordan’s the one who wandered off to smoke pot by the railroad tracks and be one with nature.

CASSIE
That was Duncan.

SISTER
Wait. So, which one was Jordan?

CASSIE
He moved to Texas to start a gourmet hot dog food truck.

SISTER
Makes sense.

MOM
(Sassy.)
Cassie-Honey. It’s time for you to bait that hook and catch you another fish.

SISTER
(Gung-ho.)
Yeah! That’s why we got you a few things to make you feel sexy again!

CASSIE
(Deeply concerned.)
Oh, no. You mean there’s more?

MOM EXCITEDLY HOLDS UP SOME VOUCHERS.

MOM
(Squealing.)
Mother-Daughters Day at the spa!

CASSIE
(Nonplussed.)
Huh. That’s…not a terrible gift, actually.

SISTER
Right?

CASSIE
But, why is this lingerie so big? There’s no way it’d ever–
(Cuts herself off.)
Wait.
(Turns to SISTER.)
Was this yours?

SISTER
Mom found it in our closet. She said it wouldn’t do me any good.

CASSIE
Sounds like Mom.

MOM
Look. If you don’t like it, you can exchange it at the Boulder Holders down at The Garden. I still have the receipt.

CASSIE
The Garden? I thought they closed that hellhole years ago.

SISTER
Right?

MOM
Hellhole? You two used to love that mall.

CASSIE
What? No, we didn’t.

MOM
Both of you used to beg me to drop you off there every morning during the summer.

SISTER
We didn’t have air conditioning!

CASSIE
Yeah. It was either this sweatbox, or middle-aged managers leering at us.

MOM
That’s awful!

SISTER
(Shrugging.)
Life’s full of difficult choices.

CASSIE
You taught us that, Mom.

MOM
Are you telling me you chose being grossly uncomfortable just so you wouldn’t be hot all day at home?

SISTER
Every time.

CASSIE
At least we weren’t hot.

SISTER
Not until we got home.

MOM
(Defeated. Annoyed.)
Yeah, yeah. You want the receipt, or not?

SCENE 2. THE GARDEN

SOUNDSCAPE: THE LONELY SOUNDS OF A DEAD MALL’S PARKING LOT.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
Twenty minutes later, Cassie navigated her husk of a car to a rolling stop in the mostly empty lot outside of a squatish, mall-shaped building.

CASSIE’S HOOPTY ROLLS, COUGHS TO A STOP.

NARRATOR
(V.O.) (CONT’D)
Her sister, meanwhile, looked out her window to the rickety pick-up truck idling mere inches away, with nobody behind the wheel.

AN EVEN OLDER HOOPTY OF A PICK-UP TRUCK IDLES BESIDE THEM. UP, UNDER.

SISTER
Well, that’s weird.

CASSIE
That somebody would leave their car running while they go shopping?

SISTER
No. It’s weird that you parked next to the only other car here.

CASSIE
It makes me feel safe.

SISTER
What, are you afraid someone’s going to pop out from behind all this nothing?

CASSIE SITS THERE FOR A MOMENT, KILLS ENGINE.

CASSIE
(Uncomfortably calm, composed.)
Less talking, more walking.

SCENE 3. THE GARDEN II

SOUNDSCAPE: THE GENERAL EMPTINESS OF A MODERN DAY MALL, BUT WITH THE HAUNTING ECHOES OF A FOUL, SINISTER PRAYER.

NARRATOR
(V.O)
For what little it’s worth, The Garden was the sort of place that should have gone out of business during the Clinton Administration, plowed, and turned into yet another lot of overpriced, low-quality condos and shops marketed towards Millennials who will never afford them.

And yet, here it was. A four-screen, second-run movie theater dillydallying at one end. A vacant, two-story nothing at the other. And somewhere between this was a sparsely populated food court, a furniture store holding the world’s longest going out of business sale, and a fountain that had not been in active use for several years, yet hadn’t been cleaned in even longer.

Fortunately, this unsightly mess of utter economic failure had the benefit of distracting Cassie and her sister from the faint and utterly haunting echoes of some foul and sinister prayer.

CASSIE AND SISTER WALK THROUGH THE MALL. UP, UNDER.

CASSIE
Okay. Is it just me, or is this place a lot bigger on the inside?

SISTER
I dunno. But it definitely smells like pee.

CASSIE
It always smelled like pee.

SISTER
Oh, right.

CASSIE
How is this place still open? Half the shops are closed.

SISTER
Yeah. And the other half are just a bunch of kiosks selling phone cases and little helicopters.

A CHEAP REMOTE-CONTROLLED HELICOPTER ZIPS BY.

CASSIE
Didn’t there used to be a carousel in here?

SISTER
(Matter-of-fact. Unsettling so.)
Oh, that? They had to get rid of it after some homeless guy hung himself on it.

CASSIE
(Confused concern.)
Wait. What?

SISTER
(Ignoring Cassie. Pointing.)
Found Boulder Holders!

SCENE 4. I’VE GOT A RECEIPT

SOUNDSCAPE: THE UNCOMFORTABLE AURA OF A WOMEN’S LINGERIE STORE THAT ONLY EMPLOYS UNCOMFORTABLE MIDDLE-AGED MEN.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
The most fascinating thing about Boulder Holders isn’t the fact that it proudly confesses to have the biggest selection of crushed velvet sexual goods in the state of California. Nor is it the way the stores are designed to look like the cluttered, unkempt changing rooms of your local low-rent strip joint.

Unfortunately, the most fascinating thing about a female-owned and -centric business like Boulder Holders is that it hired Peter Badabing, a grotesque schlub of a middle-aged man, to manage their location at The Garden. Because while Peter was never formally charged with any crime, his twenty-year habit of looking up girls’ skirts as they rode the mall’s only functioning escalator is, at the very least, a conflict of interest.

And while the mall’s usual lack of foot-traffic meant Peter rarely came in contact with Boulder Holders clientele, that meant little to Cassie and her sister as Peter stood behind the register, holding up their oversized crushed velvet lingerie in his sweaty, fleshy hands.

PETER
I’m sorry, but we can’t take this back.

CASSIE
(Snippy.)
Are you kidding me?

PETER
(Matter-of-fact.)
No, I am not.

CASSIE
But, I have a receipt.

PETER
Sorry. But we don’t accept returns once the product has been worn.

CASSIE
What? I never wore this.

PETER
(Shaking his head.)
Not you.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
It was at his point that Peter gestured to Cassie’s sister, who, for one reason or another, was currently preoccupied by a rather busty mannequin.

CASSIE
Goddammit.

SISTER
Sorry, Cass.

CASSIE
Wait. How did you even know she wore it?

PETER
I just know.

CASSIE & SISTER
Ew.

PETER
Look. I’ll give you fifty bucks for it–

SISTER
(Sold.)
Fifty bucks?

PETER
(CONT’D)
–if you agree to not ask anymore questions.

CASSIE
This is ridiculous.

SISTER
Deal!

CASSIE
What? You’re fine with this?

SISTER
(Shrugging.)
Fifty bucks is fifty bucks.

CASSIE
(Sighing. Frustrated.)
Ugh. Fine. Whatever.

SISTER
Sweet. Fifty bucks.

CASSIE
But you deal with this guy. I’ve gotta pee.

CASSIE STORMS OFF.

SISTER
Fine by me.
(To PETER. Flirty.)
So. Peter the Manager.

PETER
Key holder, technically. But it’s functionally the same job.

SISTER
Is that right?

PETER
More, or less.

SISTER
Neat.

PETER
Except for the fact that I don’t get any of the pay.

SISTER
That sucks–

PETER
Or benefits.

SISTER
(Okay.)
Huh.

PETER
Yeah.

UNCOMFORTABLE SILENCE.

SISTER
(Changing the subject.)
Well…
(Flirty.)
Peter the Key-Holder. You maybe wanna see more, or less?

PETER
Of what?

SISTER
Of me. More or less of me. Because you said–

PETER
I don’t follow.

SISTER
I’m flirting with you, Peter.

PETER
Oh. I get it.

SISTER
(Puzzles this.)
Do you?

SCENE 5. COFFEE-2-GO

SOUNDSCAPE: THE MOIST ECHOING OF A LABYRINTHIAN NETWORK OF WHOLLY IMPOSSIBLE CORRIDORS.

CASSIE SCUTTLES UP, DOWN, ALL ABOUT THE CORRIDORS. UP, UNDER.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
As her sister made yet another poor life decision in a series of such things, Cassie found herself awkwardly, but quickly scuttling down a series of ever twisting, stretching, and, at times, she would have sworn, writhing corridors. And then, the concrete beneath her feet pimpled and crawled.

CASSIE STOPS IN HER TRACKS.

CASSIE
(Mild concern)
Huh. That can’t be good.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
Normally, the Earth moving in such a way that it felt as if it had briefly but surely transformed into a caravan of mighty Amazonian army ants nipping at the soles of her flats might have been cause for alarm. But Cassie dismissed such things as tinkle madness, scuttled around yet another corner, then to a dead stop.

SCUTTLING BRIEFLY CONTINUES, CEASES. AGAIN.

CASSIE
Oh, god-dammit.

THE BUZZING AND FLICKERING OF FLUORESCENT LIGHTS.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
Just as the turn before this one–and the one before that–this hallway looked the same as all the others. A single fluorescent tube flickering and buzzing overhead. The air thick, heavy with the moisture of a thousand flushes left to fester in a concrete tube with no windows and no doors.

In her thus far fruitless endeavor to find somewhere more appropriate to relieve her bladder of urine, Cassie had followed a sign through a door nestled between what used to be a discount Hawaiian jewelry shop and a gold-for-cash place. But rather than finding an actual toilet, she merely found a series of maintenance corridors that were most certainly used as toilets. Possibly by other desperate lost souls who lacked the testicular fortitude and muscle-control to make it to the end of this pee-pee scented labyrinth.

And then there was the issue of Cassie turning left several times in a row, yet somehow failing to go in a circle.

CASSIE
Okay. You know what? Screw it. I’m just gonna go right here.

CASSIE DUCKS, SQUATS BEHIND A PAIR OF VENDING MACHINES.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
But just as Cassie squatted down between a pair of vending machines, a group of mall employees piled out from the once super-secret door located behind the Coffee-2-Go.

SUPER-SECRET DOOR OPENS. A YOUNG WOMAN AND A MAN STEP OUT.

YOUNG WOMAN
So I go behind the escalator, and all I see him doing is crying.

MAN
That’s somehow more gross.

YOUNG WOMAN AND MAN STOP IN THEIR TRACKS.

YOUNG WOMAN
Oh, my God. Is that woman peeing behind those vending machines?

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
With her leggings still wrapped around one ankle, Cassie pigeon-toed her way between the puzzled man and gawky teen, straight through the Coffee-2-Go, and beyond.

CASSIE
(Fleeing, waddling.)
Sorry Not Sorry!

SUPER-SECRET DOOR CLOSES.

SILENCE. THEN…

SOUNDSCAPE: THE DISTANT, UNHOLY HUMMING OF A FOUL, SINISTER PRAYER SOMEWHERE DEEP IN THE VOID OF A MASSIVE TORCH-LIT CAVERN BENEATH A LOCAL MALL.

NARRATOR
(V.O.)
The Coffee-2-Go led to a well-worn dirt path cutting through a swerving, dipping, curving swath of nothingness that seemed to stretch forever in all directions. The path was lit every few feet by a dark, cold fire, housed in the leather-bound remains of a large creature’s skull. And the darkness hummed with the dull roar of distant praying.

CASSIE HOBBLES DOWN THE PATH, FUMBLES WITH LEGGINGS.

NARRATOR
(V.O.) (CONT’D.)
Cassie fumbled with her leggings where the path met nothing, and stared into the deep and endless abyss.

CASSIE
(Annoyed. Inconvenienced.)
Aw, shit.

END ACT ONE

TO BE CONTINUED…

READ IT ALL NOW!


THE MIXTAPE

Tracks I’m currently chillin’ with. Tonight, other nights. Follow the Playlist on YouTube to keep up with all the changes.

Rubber Ball (2017) – Cage the Elephant


GRAND GHOULISH – THE E-BOOK!

Originally serialized in the digital pages of The Nightly Chill, Steve Arviso’s Grand Ghoulish collects the completed absurd twisted romance between a photographer, a housewife, and her husband–a surgeon who enjoys getting a little blood on his hands!

Read it for FREE in the back issues of The Nightly Chill, or directly support The Nightly Chill and other works by purchasing a copy of the e-book!


SUBSCRIBE FOR THAT WALK-OF-SHAME FEELING EVERY MORNING AFTER!


If you enjoy The Nightly Chill and would like to support my work, please consider supporting it via Patreon for as little as $1 a month.



YOU ARE NOT ALONE

THE NIGHTLY CHILL
Steve Arviso
2019

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