Featured Fiction
// Iain Angus


Gecko-Man crept slowly between cacti. The night had cooled. The stars twinkled bravely as the new moon hid in the shadow of the earth. Gecko-Man remained blissfully ignorant of everything but the small blister beetle he stalked between the cacti. It had the head of an ant and a long, thin body more reminiscent of a wasp than a beetle. Gecko-man pounced. He caught it in his hands, shoved it in his mouth, and crunched victoriously, then squealed and spat, clawing at his mouth and tongue.

“Oh Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! What the fuck?” The spitting slowed, then stopped.

“Beetles again. For Christ's sake, can’t you at least eat normal food? Would it fucking kill you to hunt a cheeseburger?” the figure yelled into the night.

The creature that had moments ago been stalking now rose and looked around the desert.

“Ahh, Christ, not again.”

Torn dirty jeans hung from his legs in tatters, and what remained of his shirt shifted gentle in the cool desert breeze.

He looked around and brushed dirt from his torn jeans. In the distance, a coyote howled into the moonless night. A hoot owl drifted soundlessly overhead in search of mice or lizards. Stan ducked involuntarily, then cursed himself. With one last look around, he started west.

• • •

“Look, Victoria, not just anyone becomes a member of the peyote hunters.” Greg was a typical spoiled Beverly Hills kid: big, blond, and dumb.

“Go fuck yourself, Greg. I’m not sucking your dick.”
“You wanna be a peyote hunter?” Greg unzipped his jeans.

“If you pull that out I’ma bite if off.”

“Look Vicki, I don’t make the rules. What kind of society would we be if we just went around breaking the rules whenever we saw fit?” Greg fell back onto the old sofa. Victoria had often wondered what had dragged it out here. It certainly wasn’t Greg or any of his lazy little gang.

“You habitually take mescaline and trip out with the cacti; that is breaking not only the rules, but the law, so you can stuff your little initiation wet dream. My brother said I can be in so I’m in. Besides, you want me to tell him you tried to get me to give you head?

“Uhm, no that’s ok. I was just kidding, you’re in.” Greg smiled that big toothy smile of his. A smile that Vicki knew had landed him a boat load of pussy. It's not landing this pussy, she thought.

The desert was dark, a coyote howled in the distance. The small fire Greg had started when they arrived was dying.

“So how about a hit then?” Greg almost beamed at the prospect of getting high. Victoria pulled a vial out of her pocket and threw it at him.

“It’s liquid,” he said.

“Yep, best stuff in town, mi amigo. Daniel said to take it easy with it.”

Daniel had wanted to come, mainly because he thought Greg was a douche, but also to look after his little sister on her first trip. He had tried to talk her out of it, but she was having none of it. She had promised Daniel she wouldn’t touch anything harder than pot until her sixteenth birthday; well, that was today, and she had been dying to get chemically high, to join the peyote hunters. She had spent enough time up here in the hills babysitting these idiots; it was finally her time to get fucked up and behave like an ass.

“How are we supposed to take this? You got any sugar cubes?” asked Greg.

“No, there should be a dipstick inside. Daniel said a couple of licks should do it.” Greg uncapped it and drew out the dipstick and sucked it clean. Replacing the top, he tossed it to Vicki; she almost dropped it. He palms were slick with sweat, her heart was racing. She couldn’t wipe the smile from her face. She unscrewed the cap and pulled out the dipstick. The coyote howled again as she sucked it clean. Greg moaned as she did.

“Man, you’re killing me,” he said. She licked her lips pulled the stick and sucked it again.

“I thought Dan said to take it easy.”

“Relax, Greg-o, I plan on getting right fucked up, but I’m not stupid.”

She capped the vial and buried it in her pocket.

• • •

The coyote howled a second time as Stan stopped for a rest. He sat down on an outcrop of stone and stared up at the sky. How long had he been up here, he wondered. He wasn’t hungry or thirsty, not comparatively anyway. He looked at his arms but it was hard to tell in the dark whether he was burned or not. They didn’t feel sore. Maybe not even a day or two. His teeth felt furry, though, and he cringed thinking about beetles. Nasty things.

He sighed deeply as he stood. He had no idea how deep in the hills he was, or if he was walking the right way. Not that it mattered – he would wander out eventually – but the wrong way could mean a two-day walk. Daily would be out of food and water by now, and the bananas on top of the fridge would certainly have gone off. He hated throwing out food. It happened too often; Gecko-man refused to eat anything besides bugs. At least he didn’t lack for protein; again, he shuddered at the thought of bugs.

He continued west, his thoughts on Dr. Veracruz. She always got so angry with him after one of his episodes. She was right of course, had he taken his meds as prescribed he would be home right now watching Two and a Half Men. Another sigh – the show simply wasn’t the same without Charlie.

He had been lonely. He always got lonely. His meds left him nervous and self-conscious. He never left the house. Just sat with Daily and watched TV until his eyes melted and dripped out of his head. He yearned for companionship, and eventually that drove him to skip his meds.

The first couple of days were always the best. His confidence returned, and he’d hit the town. Meet a girl, go for dinner and drinks or to the movies; inevitably, though, he’d end up somewhere in the desert eating bugs. Why couldn’t his alter-ego be some suave, debonair, crystal-drinking womanizer instead of Gecko-man; bug-eating idiot.

//Iain Angus, writer
//Graphics by Desiree Wallace

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