“Meat Brain”: An Odd Tale Of Cosmic Horror

Chapter 1

Janus was annoyed to realize there was only a cups worth of coffee left in the serving pots. She was waiting tables during the graveyard shift by herself and her coworker had neglected to put on a new pot before going home for the night. She sighed and started to set up a filter when she heard the bell ring, signaling the arrival of a customer.

“Just a minute, hon,” she said sweetly enough.

A tan, muscular, dark-haired man in a cut-off button-up shirt and zubaz shorts stepped through the door. He had somebody flung over his shoulder. The large man was covered from head to foot with purple stains, his clothing was torn and he seemed…off somehow. The figure hanging limply from his shoulder appeared to be a pale, thin bespeckled man in his thirties with mousy brown hair. An odor of rotten fish wafted off of them.

“What’s wrong with your friend?” she asked, wondering if she was going to have to call emergency services.

“Oh, him?” The large man replied, looking mildly puzzled, “He’s fine, him and those goofy nerds he hangs out with were doing some weird science stuff and now he’s tired, is there a bathroom where I can wash this stuff off?” He asked.

“The restroom is in the back, down the hall to the right,” She replied.

“Okay, I’m just going to leave my roommate here.” He said as he tucked the limp man’s body into a booth. He whistled and headed off towards the men’s room.

Janus went over to take a look at the man in the booth, his eyes were open but they seemed to see nothing. A thin line of drool was forming at the corner of his mouth. “Must be drunk” she thought to herself. She put down a couple of empty water glasses on the table, poured a drink for both men, and headed over to check on her other customer.

Albert was a regular, he always came in at 2 a.m. to order the Oreo pie and several cups of coffee. He was a middle-aged portly man with a preference for brown off-the-rack suits. Usually he was busy writing something or other in his notebooks, about what Janus had no idea but he seemed harmless enough so she never gave it any mind.

“Can I get you more coffee, hon?” She asked.

“What? Oh yes, please, I’m almost done with this cup”. She poured him the last bit of coffee in the pot, leaned down, and whispered to Albert-

“There’s something odd about those guys.”

Albert took a sip of coffee, grimaced a little at its bitterness, and responded “Oh, I’m sorry, I was going over some notes, hadn’t even noticed them.”

Janus figured he must have missed the stink coming off the men because Albert was a heavy smoker, she continued-

“Maybe I’m being paranoid but it’s only you and me in this restaurant, maybe keep an eye on them, just in case.”

There was the sudden sound of footsteps coming towards them and Janus snapped back to attention. She grabbed a couple of menus. The muscular man seated himself opposite his companion. His skin and most of his clothes were dyed a deep purple color.

“Can I get you anything to drink tonight, coffee? Soda?” She asked.

The man ordered a diet cola and went to look at the menu. His companion gurgled and curled up into the fetal position.

“Is he going to have anything to drink?” She asked as the thin man started muttering to himself. The muscular man glanced at him and in a loud voice said-

“Hey Mikey, you want something to drink?” His companion waved his hand aimlessly and continued hugging his knees. The large man went back to his menu and said “naw, water’s fine, could I get a 6-egg vegetable omelet? Had to miss my last meal time, damn monster ate all my protein bars, how am I supposed to keep muscle synthesis going when I don’t get my protein on time?” Janus had no idea what to say so she nodded nervously. He looked over at Mikey and said-

“Just get him toast, all he ever eats is carbs.” Janus nodded, took their menus, and left. Albert watched her head for the kitchen and looked back at the strange man. He gathered up his notebook and walked to the booth. The muscular man noticed his approach and looked at him quizzically.

“Yeah?” He said. Albert composed himself and asked-

“Excuse me, you were attacked by a monster?”

The muscular man looked slightly annoyed and said-

“Yeah, the monster ate my protein bars, I had to kick his ass.”

“Ah, right” Albert responded. “My name is Albert, I run a website called Paranormal Jelly, I was curious if I could write down your story and post it for my readers?”

The muscle-bound man looked confused and replied-

“Website?! What’s a website?!”

Albert smiled amicably and replied-

“Websites are found on the internet, they’re like a personal newspaper or book that multiple people can post on in a digital format.”

The man looked at Albert blankly and replied-

“What’s an internet?”

Albert was surprised by this response, the internet had been discussed widely in print and on television for the last couple years. Albert guessed this man’s ignorance probably resulted from watching nothing but action movies and fitness tapes. Still, he’d encountered far worse in his efforts to gather interesting content and was unperturbed by the muscular man’s response. Albert continued-

“It doesn’t matter, I’m just interested in writing down and sharing the story of your encounter with this…monster, if that’s all right.”

Janus came back with the diet cola, set it on the table, gave Albert a quick glance, and headed back to start the coffee machine. The large man took a long sip of the diet cola and said-

“Why not? Don’t got anything to do until dinner.”

Albert grinned and dragged the chair from his table over to the booth. He grabbed his coffee cup, set his notebook on the table, brought out a couple of blue ballpoint pens from his pocket, and said-

“If it’s alright I would prefer to use your real name on the site, although I understand if you would prefer a pseudonym.” The muscular man looked at him blankly. Albert elaborated-

“You know, a pretend name to hide your identity?”

The man had a sudden look of apprehension and said-

“Oh, you mean like a superhero name. Nah, those are for geeks and nerds, my name’s Alonso”.

Albert started to write, he gestured towards Mikey and said-

“Should I give him a pseudonym? I’m assuming he’s a part of your story but he seems rather out of it.” Mikey responded to this inquiry by continuing to drool.

“I guess,” replied Alonso.

“So let’s get into what happened tonight,” said Albert as he uncapped a pen. The story told by the meat head in the diner that night was one of the strangest Albert would ever hear.

Chapter 2

Alonso began recounting his story-

“The whole thing started this morning. I was going to go to the gym but Mikey said he’d pay me $100 and buy dinner if I helped him move a bunch of heavy equipment. I figured hey, easy money. I carried a bunch of big machines and weird bat-octopus statues into the back of a trailer and we drove out to a grimy little house in the middle of nowhere, then we-“

“Wait, bat-octopus statues?” Albert asked, Alonso nodded and continued-

“Yeah, these things were like 3 feet tall and made of stone, kind of moldy-smelling.”

Albert scribbled furiously. He wished he had his tape recorder, his wrist would hurt in the morning but hopefully this story would be worth it. Albert drank the rest of his coffee and asked-

“When you say the middle of nowhere do you know the specific location?”

Alonso took a piece of paper from his shorts. It was stained dark purple and appeared moist to the touch. He looked it over for a second,  turned to Albert, and said-

“Mikey put the address of that dump on this piece of paper.” He took another look at it. “It’s a place called Davenport, there’s nothing out there, it’s just some patches of woods about a half-hour drive from Spokane.”

Albert wrote this down and said, “thanks, my readers are going to want as many specifics as possible.” Alonso shrugged his shoulders, Albert continued- “So anyway, this house where you were making the delivery, describe it.” Alonso was about to answer when Janus came over with a large, steaming vegetable omelet and a plate of toast. She set down the dishes, looked at Albert, and said-

“Looks like you’re all getting along, need more coffee, Albert?”

He nodded and she headed off to grab a pot. Alonso started wolfing down mouthfuls of omelet. Albert realized it would be at least a couple of minutes before Alonso was up to talking so he excused himself to hit the restroom and smoke a cigarette.

Albert had just gone out the front door when Mikey let out a low groan. Alonso looked at him and said-

“I told you not to hang out with those weirdos, but you didn’t listen to me, I said that professor guy was a creep but no, you’re just so smart and I’m the dumb guy, right?” Mikey sat up and stared out the window. Alonso took another huge bite and said “Just eat your toast, Mikey”. Mikey didn’t respond.

Albert lit a menthol cigarette and stood by the door of the diner, watching the smoke disappear into the night air. He was quite happy with the way things had turned out tonight, it didn’t matter if the story was true or not, so long as it might be interesting,  that was all most of his readers seemed to care about. He had written outrageous tales about alien abductions, telekinesis, spontaneous human combustion, and other things of that sort. He hoped that someday he might get a TV deal out of his work or at least make a lot of money on the convention circuit.

When he’d finished his cigarette he came back into the diner and sat in his seat. Alonso was cleaning up with a napkin and Mikey was chewing on a jelly packet. Albert uncapped his pen and said-

“So you were going to describe the house to me?” Alonso stretched, he seemed more relaxed than before. He took a sip of soda and said-

“The house was run down, it had these junker vehicles in front and a couple of the windows were broken. I had to lug all the equipment and the statues up to the second floor. The staircase was so rickety I thought I’d fall through. Really dusty, played hell on my sinuses.” He rubbed his nose at this and continued.

“So I got all this stuff upstairs, the place was damp, it smelled really bad, I think it was an abandoned house. That professor guy and his assistant were chatting about…I didn’t know what most of the words meant, bunch of nerd stuff.”

Albert perked up at this- “professor?”

Alonso nodded and replied-

“Yeah, professor Miller, really weird looking guy, bony like a skeleton, he kept going on and on about…port holes? Don’t know, creepy dude.”

Mikey bit through the jelly packet. Grape-flavored goo sprayed out, most of which landed on Albert’s notebook. Albert wiped the jelly off with Mikey’s unused napkin and went back to writing. Alonso continued-

“So they had me arrange those goofy statues. They start wiring the equipment up. One of the guys is freaking out about something in a book and they all start arguing with each other. I didn’t know what they were talking about so I just zoned out. I was so bored I put on my Walk-Man to listen to some Ozzy for maybe half an hour.”

Alonso finished his soda, Mikey had taken to licking the remains of the smeared jelly off the table. Alonso continued-

“The professor was yelling at the other guys. I figured I had time to put in some cardio for the day so I went for a run up and down the driveway for a while. When I got back I was hungry, I grabbed a couple Power Bars and drank a bottle of water. By this point the professor was yelling at Mikey about the “port hole” or whatever. I was tired so I went out to the truck to take a nap.”

Albert finished writing his notes. Alonso sat there silently, staring into his empty glass of soda with an expression of aggravation. Albert turned to him and asked-

“So then what happened?” Alonso looked at him and said-

“Then I ran into the damn monster.”

Chapter 3

Alonso ordered a refill of diet cola and resumed his story-

“When I woke up it was nighttime. I was starving, figured a couple of Power Bars would tide me over ’til dinner. The house was dark and the light switches didn’t work. I headed back to the truck to grab my flashlight, climbed the stairs, one of the steps broke under my foot. I barely caught myself on the rail in time.”

Janus came over and set the refill of diet cola on the table, Albert motioned to his coffee cup and said-

“Do you think you could top me off, Janus? I’d also enjoy another piece of Oreo pie”, she nodded and said-

“You know we always got extra pie for you, Albert, all you have to do is ask”. she left to grab the pie and coffee. Alonso had finished half his refill already. Mikey was staring up at the whirring ceiling fan. Alonso scratched his head and said-

“I got to the top of the stairs, even with the flashlight it was hard to move around without knocking into stuff. The house smelled even worse than before, like this one time the power went out and some hamburger in the fridge went bad. I bumped into something on the floor and nearly tripped, it was Mikey.”

Alonso stopped and looked at Mikey pointedly, Mikey didn’t seem to notice, Alonso kept talking-

“I told Mikey I wanted to head out to get dinner and he just lay there on the floor, saying nothing. I headed off to the room where they had me move all that stuff earlier. The smell got worse and I started noticing a noise like an opossum tearing through a garbage can.”

Alonso stopped talking, a look of discomfort crossed his face, he turned to Albert and said-

“I have to go to the bathroom, it’s all the caffeine in these things,” He said, motioning to his soda, “really dehydrates you, ‘scuse me for a second.”

Alonso got up and headed for the restroom. Janus brought Albert his pie and coffee. She looked at Mikey and said-

“Well, at least you’re awake, you going to eat your toast, hon?” Mikey responded with a single, guttural word-


Janus paused a second and responded-

“What was that, hon?” Mikey ignored her and started eating a sugar packet, paper and all. She sighed and turned to Albert. He grinned and shook his head. Mikey was several sandwiches short of a picnic. Janus frowned slightly, nodded, and headed off to fold some silverware. Albert started in on his pie, it was quite delicious.

Alonso returned to the table. He looked disapprovingly at Albert’s dessert but decided not to say anything about it. The only people who ever took his nutritional advice were those who hired him as a personal trainer, and that wasn’t even a given half the time. Alonso cleared his throat and looked at Albert. The chubby man set aside his frosting-encrusted fork and grabbed his pen. Alonso continued his story-

“So I found my way to the room and it was a mess. The equipment and statues had been thrown around. I didn’t see the professor or that other guy, I don’t know if they ran from the house or what. The smell was overpowering, I looked in the corner and found out what was causing the noise. There was this…thing”

“The monster?” Asked Albert. Alonso nodded. “What did it look like?” Albert asked as he reached for his coffee cup. Alonso furrowed his brow and rested his chin on the palm of his hand. After a moment of contemplation, he replied-

“It looked like a moray eel, at least in the face. The body was about 9 ft long, had at least 3 or 4 pairs of legs, really long limbs, dark greyish-blue skin. I was just going to grab Mikey and get the hell out of there when I realized it had been rummaging through my gym bag, it was eating my food! I was starving and this ugly, stinking eel monster was chowing down on my Power Bars!”

Alonso became visibly angry, his nostrils flared and he gritted his teeth. He punched his fist into his open palm and seethed for a few moments before regaining his composure. Albert took a couple bites of Oreo pie. Alonso continued his story.

“I was so angry I couldn’t think straight. I lifted one of the bat-octopus statues and threw it at the thing. It got hit hard enough that it screamed in pain, it sounded like a squealing tire. The statue started glowing with this bright purple light, it seemed like it was burning the creature. I grabbed the closest blunt object and just started beating the crap out of the thing. The light was so bright it was almost blinding but I was just so mad, I kept hitting it and hitting it. When I punched it in the eye it exploded all over me, that’s why I was such a mess when I came in here-“

“Hold on a minute,” said Albert. The ink had run out in his pen and he had to switch over to the other one. “That’s what I get for using cheap disposable ballpoints,” He thought to himself. Albert stuffed the empty pen into his pocket and uncapped the second one. “Sorry about that,” he said. Alonso recounted the end of his tale.

Chapter 4

“So this eel thing tried to bite me. I kept punching it and then the statue melted. A bright purple light burst from the ground and enormous tentacles came out of the glowing spot, they grabbed the monster and pulled it into the light. The tentacles tried to get me too but I fell backward and rolled away.”

Alonso finished his refill and resumed talking-

“I got up, ran out of the room, and grabbed Mikey. One of the tentacles came after us but I got to the stairway just in time. I headed out of the house, threw Mikey in the truck, and just kept driving as fast as I could until I came across this diner.”

Albert scribbled all this down furiously. He was already thinking of how he would stitch together a graphic to go with the article. Perhaps he would embellish the story a little, whatever it took to get people to mass-email the article to their friends and coworkers. Janus came to the table and asked-

“Can I get either of you anything else?” Alonso shook his head. Janus replied, “all right, I’ll bring your bill.” She headed for the register, inwardly relieved the odd pair would be leaving soon. Upon paying Albert closed his notebook and got up to leave. He shook hands with Alonso and headed for the door. Janus brought the check over to the booth. Alonso pushed the bill at Mikey, Mikey drooled.

The bill ended up being paid for with a smelly, purple-stained $20 bill. Alonso managed to get Mikey to his feet and directed him to the door. Some of the words he said rather loudly to Mikey would not have been appropriate had children been present, but the restaurant was empty. Janus went to wipe the jelly stains off the table when the bell at the door rang.

A dozen tall, dark individuals in long, black robes entered the diner. They had strange white symbols emblazoned on the sides of their vestments and wore their hoods pulled so far forward she couldn’t see their faces. Janus hesitated for a moment, but then put on her brightest smile and said-

“Hello there, out for a late-night meal?” They said nothing. She continued- “Well, seat yourselves and I’ll be right over.”

One of the hooded figures approached her. He stood a few feet from her, completely silent. She tensed up, fear filling her belly. He turned his dark gaze to the corner and pointed his long, bony finger at the coffee pots on the burner. Janus was puzzled for a second and then responded-

“Are you saying you want some coffee, hon?” The figure nodded, turned around, and pointed at each of his associates. Janus replied-

“All of you want to order coffee?” The figure nodded. He turned to the front counter and pointed to a large picture of a dessert on the wall. She looked and said-

“So you’re saying you all want coffee and a piece of Oreo pie?”

The hooded figures all nodded at once in unison. They sat themselves down at a few booths and Janus went to start the coffee.

If you’d like to purchase the rest of my short story collection and help support this website tap the link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0B64DJRN7/ref=cm_sw_r_apan_K8N3SZNAYC8BPP4P30TW

Published by Zwahk Muchoney

I'm an eclectic author who hails from the city of Seattle.

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