Fame by Alex S. Johnson

There’s a microphone, and then another. I find myself behind a podium in a hall that is decorated with posters of luminous worms and crawling creatures from the Id. A small crowd gathers. Among them are a few I recognize and many I don’t. A few are carrying books with titles like Humongous Tit Monster and Savage Ass Lice. I discern from the muttering among the Boschian grotesques that there is discontent in the ranks. But with whom? I pinch myself again to ensure that it’s all real and not some crazy dream. Someone offers me a large hunk of hair, the size of a small dog. What am I to do with this snarled mass? She shrugs her shoulders. I nod, trying to assimilate the new information. “Thanks,” I say. “You’re welcome.” Her eyes are like whirlpools of blazing jelly. It’s hard to determine her tone. Is she being sarcastic or is this a genuine token of affection. I take the hair and stuff it into my shirt pocket.

The microphone snaps and screams. “Hot mic,” I say as it transforms in my hands into a timber rattler. Horrified, I toss the mic into the crowd. It lands squarely on the girl’s bald patch and eats its way into her skull.

“Traitor!” she screams. I look around, trying to find the target of her rage. “Heretic!” I realize that she’s pointing directly at me. I feel something scrape my shins. Looking down, I see an army of robot toys with leveled knife attachments.

“Let’s not jump to any hasty conclusions,” says someone behind the girl. The robot toys fall on him and he is borne away protesting. “The man didn’t do anything!” “No?” screams the girl. “Then I suppose my hair just yanked itself out and got replaced by a snake! And this bastard had nothing to do with it!”

“What did he do?” asks another voice, which is immediately muted.

“He’s trying to steal our fans!”


“Yes!” says a kid, about 25. He has worms streaming out of his eye sockets. His clothes are shredded and he smells of moonshine from five yards away. “He tried to segregate me!”

“Segregationist!” The crowd grows louder and angrier.

“Look,” I say, attempting calm. “You called me out here to this press conference to ask me questions. I tried to answer them as best I could. Then my microphone turned into a snake. I suppose it happens sometimes.”


“Shit talker!”

“You–literary person!”

I can’t help but smile as the crowd shrinks. The longer I look at them, the smaller they get. From this altitude they resemble oddly shaped insects. It’s difficult to hear their tinny, helium-laced voices. Finally there is silence.

So much for fame.


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