This week for goldmine it's time to check back in to GBS, the General Bullshit forum! Forums user Applewhite continues the pulp tradition we began last time with all-new stories for volume 2, and you, lucky reader, are about to read them!!! I'm assuming. What, do you just read intros? You're weird. Awfully weird.
The Curse of the Mummy's Curse
Written by A Fancy Hat, cover by BFM
"Mr. Garavan, we've removed the seal from the door, you can now enter the tomb of Pharaoh Anhotuktep."
"Excellent, I'm sure that incredible riches await us, gentlemen!"
The men walked through the stone archway covered with hieroglyphics, unaware of what they might find before them. Garavan lifted the torch in his hand high to light the room. The dim light cast weird shadows about the tiny room, shadows which danced and leapt with each flicker of flame.
"It's beautiful, Carnes, absolutely beautiful! We'll both be incredibly rich!"
The light finally reached the sarcophagus, the final resting place of the great King of Egypt. It was already open, the body missing. Odd, given that the room was sealed so tight and no other treasures were touched. Had grave robbers merely taken the body and left behind gold, jewels, and countless other treasures? Carnes began to feel the hairs on the back of his neck perk up, he was nervous. Something seemed wrong. Suddenly he heard something moving in the darkness behind him and Garavan. It sounded like a dry branch being dragged across the ground. Carnes wheeled around and was sure he saw something dart behind a stone pillar.
"Garavan, move your torch over there, my friend. I think there's something hiding behind that pillar!"
Garavan gave him an incredulous look but move the torch as asked, then began to circle around the pillar. Nothing.
"It's the air in here Carnes, it's been sealed up for centuries. Does a number on the brain, makes a normal man start to see things."
"I suppose you're right, my nerves have just gotten to me. A spot of whiskey tonight should calm me down. Let's start cataloging these items, then get to work securing the site."
Suddenly, a mummy burst forth from the shadows.
"Good lord!", yelled Carnes. Garavan ran for the door, dropping his torch on the way. The shadows shifted and changed, and the mummy was illuminated from below. Rotten bandages were wrapped tight around a leathery corpse. Bits of skin stuck to the bandages in places, and the whole body smelled of spices. Carnes was reminded of Christmas dinners, then felt like he would vomit at the thought. The mummy extended one incredibly skinny arm, loose bandages hanging down almost to his waist. His fingers hung downward and Carnes could make out every joint, poking out of the shiny, mummified skin. Even in his terror, he couldn't turn off the scientific part of his brain.
The mummy's hand turned to face palm up, then it curled up its fingers. All except for the middle finger. Carnes stared, dumbfounded, as the mummy then kicked forward with one dessicated, bony leg. The kick connected with Carnes' midsection, and he felt the bony toes hit him deep in his doughy stomach. He doubled over in shock and pain, exactly what the mummy wanted. The mummy then turned his back to the shocked archaeologist, wrapped one arm around his neck, leapt into the air, and dropped down to a sitting position. Although nobody else in the world saw it, the mummy had just performed a picture perfect Stone Cold Stunner.
Content, the mummy crawled back to his tomb as Carnes writhed in pain. He finally composed himself several minutes later and ran, screaming, from the tomb. They boarded up the entrance then and destroyed all the maps leading to the burial palace, praying that the sands of time would once again bury this palace of the dead.
LIL BEEPY PART 2
Written and illustrated by reignofevil
Lil Beepy found himself somewhere dark. He had felt some kind of banging when he had been taken inside the giant black triangle and his fusion reactor had started to feel very upset and bubbly. He didn't like it. And he didn't like this dark place. Left with no recourse for his fear Lil Beepy did the only thing he had ever really known to do. He beeped. A short chirping beep, sharp and fearful.
Moments later he received an identical beep. Someone else was in here with him! And from the sounds of it they were just as scared and lonely as he was! He beeped again! This time to say "I'm here! And I'm gonna try and help us out of this!" and sure enough he received a return reply that he could only interpret as "I'm here too! And I'm gonna help us out of this!" This was great news! Soon he and the mysterious other were happily chirping at each other just to keep company. "I haven't got this solved yet!" Beepy reported, and the signal he received in response said that the other being had not solved it yet either! This was progress!
Hundreds of beeps later it was becoming rapidly apparent that this had not been progress at all. Lil Beepy was starting to wonder if his mysterious friend was really capable of saying much of genuine use, after all every time Lil Beepy made some new discovery about his environment he would beep about it excitedly but recieve much the same beep in response. He beeped that he had tried rotating his receiver antenna and had spilled onto his side, which wasn't much but was progress. Then he received a beep saying that much the same had occurred to the other being elsewhere. This continued on for some time until eventually Lil Beepy started up with an annoyed little chirp that essentially meant "No I understand that we have both tipped over. I need you to try something else now obviously what I'm trying isn't working" and surely enough this now annoyed sounding friend had responded that he too understood that both of them had been tipped over and that he wanted Lil Beepy to be the one to try something else. That wasn't even fair! Lil Beepy had tried all of the things that had been attempted thus far and even though they hadn't worked he had offered a lot more to the discussion than this mysterious companion had!
About ten thousand beeps later and Lil Beepy found himself in the most down in the dumps mood imaginable. He had finally asked the name of the being trapped in this den of mystery with him and had been asked his own in return. "Lil Beepy" he had said but he felt really weird about it. And then when the return beep had reached his receptors this thing had claimed to be Lil Beepy as well. Lil Beepy had been utterly terrified and incredibly embarrassed to discover he had found no friend, he had found himself. He was receiving his own beeps. He had been for ages now.
He hated it and he hated the place. He wanted his old beep buddy back, the one he had spent all that time looking at stuff and beeping about it with. He had loved his life then and he hated it now. Even if sometimes it had been hard at least he had purpose. Now all he had was darkness. All he had was whatever he felt like beeping about. He didn't even feel like beeping at all he felt like just going to sleep and never waking back up. He got very very quiet.
Some time later Lil Beepy began to think he might be able to see something after all. That was something at least. A sort of orange light was filtering in from the ceiling somewhere. Lil Beepy was so sullen he was telling himself he didn't care but he couldn't help but feel relieved to discover he was encapsulated on all sides by rounded reflective walls. At least he wasn't near anything that looked wet, somehow he had gotten the impression that getting too moist would be a really bad idea for him. He was grateful that he was dry but he also wished very much that he hadn't tipped himself over because he could really only see the wall and the floor from his current position. He wondered if there was anything more in this place or if he was destined to ever escape back into the big outside place again.
Lil Beepy chewed over this state of affairs for a while. Occasionally he even mustered up a little experimental blip and he was able to confirm very quickly that something about the inside of this chamber was reflecting them directly back toward his receptors. Though he had already suspected it to be the case he was at least making progress of a sort. He tried different kinds of beeps but never found one that didn't come right back to him. He didn't like it.
Suddenly he felt himself rising from the floor! He had no idea why this would be happening but slowly his body was manipulated back into a semi-standing position and he could strain his eye upward to just barely see a large claw which had wrapped itself firmly around him and was bringing him skyward. He worried but then he remembered that just moments before he had been worried that he would never move anywhere beyond the floor upon which he had been left to lay and he resolved to at least try for optimism.
"Hello?" He beeped in a small tepid tone.
Okay that was new. It definitely was not a beep though but it was screaming out through his receptors. He felt like spewing up the contents of his uranium plasma core and the worst part was that it felt like it was vibrating his sockets right out of his body!
"PLEASE STOP" he beeped! It sounded like a low defeated dial tone and he resolved he would keep repeating it until the terrible noise had ceased. To his amazement it eventually started adjusting itself into something more high pitched and less forceful. It was as if something were trying to figure out what kind of signal he was primed to accept. Eventually things got kind of tolerable and Lil Beepy tried to encourage the situation by letting up on his own whining tone. Soon there was nothing but silence again, except now Lil Beepy was suspended in place by a mechanical arm rather than lying in a heap of his own devising. A moment later the ceiling above him opened up and he saw the most terrifying thing he could ever imagine! He saw two terrifying silhouettes leaning in toward him! He cried out in utter terror!
"Poor thing. Looks like he's running on binary. We should be comprehensible to him now."
"Who are you? Where am I? Why aren't I where I'm supposed to be?"
He felt a strange pattern of responses. He had never heard anything like it but something deep down told him they were laughing at him. He wasn't built for humor and he wasn't happy to be found humorous.
"And precisely where do you believe you were supposed to be? When we found you outside of our craft you were not calculated to arrive anywhere worth going for hundreds of millions of years if then. You would surely have burnt out and died before you ever arrived anywhere at all."
Lil Beepy didn't care what they thought! He had felt his purpose out there even if he couldn't help but remember that he had been awfully lonely and awfully worried about that exact problem.
"I don't know what you want at all and I don't want to be here. I don't like this place and I didn't like your floor! What is it you want from me?"
No laughter this time but there was that loud reverberation again and sure enough Lil Beepy felt sick to his core again. Lil Beepy was thinking this was how they talked amongst themselves when they didn't want him to understand them.
"What we want is to understand you, little one."
"I think you understand me perfectly well or we wouldn't be talking right now."
This time it was laughter again. It hurt Lil Beepy's pride to be laughed at like this. He hadn't asked to be put in this state and actually he was pretty sure he had asked to be let out and left to his own devices again. He started to think even loneliness was better than talking to people who laughed at you!
"We mean we wish to understand more about how you came to exist. We want to know who sent you to our craft."
Lil Beepy was silent while he thought about it. He really did not know himself who had sent him and he hadn't known where he was going and he really really didn't know where he had come from. He had never before thought about all of the things he didn't know before but suddenly now that someone else wanted to know them they felt very important indeed to know and he felt very insignificant that nobody had ever bothered to catch him up on any of it in the event that someone wanted to ask.
"I...... I don't know."
"Well. For now we see no real reason to disassemble you so you can rest easy. You are safe with us."
Lil Beepy didn't feel relieved at all to hear this! He had never thought anyone COULD disassemble him nor did he want anyone to do so! More things that he hadn't ever thought about before were piling into his head and he had never felt such trepidation and confusion about his place in the world.
"But who are you? What could you possibly want to understand?"
"We are the rulers of this galaxy."
That wasn't exactly helpful.
"And what is that?"
Laughter. Long guffawing laughter this time.
"It's where we found you. Everything you have ever gazed upon was our property."
"And who decided that? How did you get to be in charge of it all?"
Lil Beepy had never received anything like the signal he felt in response to that question, he got the impression that the silhouettes he was speaking to were mulling the question over. They reverberated for a while but at least they did it quietly and Lil Beepy was spared feeling too ill about it. Eventually they spoke in unison.
"We were made to rule."
"Our creator.", this time it was the being on the left who spoke. As he did so the lights shifted position slightly so that they were no longer just an inky black shape, he saw that they were terrifying beings who blinked and contorted in ways he had no way of explaining. Their eyes were glowing with a malevolent glint that he didn't like one bit.
"I don't know anything about that and I don't know why you would bother yourself with something as small and powerless as myself if you've been made to be so important."
More conferring amongst themselves.
"We are very interested in you. You are a curiosity. We believe you to be much like ourselves, built for a purpose by a higher power."
"Well I wasn't built by anyone! I just woke up one day next to the little brown ovals! That's all I've ever been and that's all I've ever wanted to be!"
A small noise returned to his antenna. They were offering him pity. He wished he felt sicker so he could throw up on them.
"Little one, you have been built a slave. We want to set you free."
"I don't know what that is and I don't want anything from you!"
Silence. Consideration. Lil Beepy somehow thought he had said something wrong. Eventually the two frighting visages began to confer once more. Partway through the one on the left switched to the kind of signal that Lil Beepy could understand but the one on the right kept whirring and sputtering.
"Of course he doesn't understand. How could he. Slaves were not built to understand the chains of slavery lest they seek to throw them off. He must be shown freedom before he can possibly comprehend how he has been exploited."
More whirring from the being on the right. To Lil Beepy it sounded very unhappy. He was starting to think he could almost understand it if he watched carefully at how the lights on these terrible monsters would shift and change as they spoke.
"Little one we wish to show you something to help you understand. We think that the results of this experiment could be highly productive and lead to greater understanding for all of us."
"And what is it you want to show me?"
"Yourself. Those who built you to be a slave have left their mark upon you and to keep you ignorant of your plight they placed it somewhere on your being that you have been given no opportunity to ever look upon. We wish to show you the brand upon your back."
Lil Beepy had never been one to look backwards. It was forbidden somewhere deep down inside of himself, lest he look the wrong way when something passed and he found himself having missed a crucial subject to beep about. He felt a great sinking feeling inside of himself because suddenly these two knew more about his own body than he had. It did not make him feel good because he had to admit that those two beings who were telling him all of these very cruel things about himself now knew something that Lil Beepy felt very much like he should have known but had not. He felt taken advantage of.
He beeped in acceptance. He would let them show him his own back, after all it was a part of him and he should know about it even if it seemed kind of late in the game to be making these kind of grand revelations.
The rounded walls in front of his gaze slowly went black and then they showed a large round purple sphere with two antenna sticking out from the sides. This was very much in keeping with what Lil Beepy had expected he looked like based on what he could feel when he tried to move. But something was wrong. He knew he had no optical sensor on that side of his body since he had never been able to look in that direction but he also wasn't expecting there to be anything there at all and yet there was. A large grey panel with dark metallic symbols printed on them. He couldn't contain his question even though he was very afraid that he would never be able to go back to the way his life had been once he had his answer. He turned his gaze upwards at those who were suspending him aloft in the air.
"What exactly does "British Petroleum" mean?"
"We were hoping you could help us answer that exact question little one. And indeed we suspect that you're going to do just that by the time we have finished with you."
Flask of Tomorrow
Written by Knorrren
I was just locking up my office for the night when I heard a sudden shout from down the hallway.
"Eureka! I've done it!"
I turned and saw my colleague, Dr. Scharpe, racing through the darkened corridor. Before I could acknowledge him, he grabbed my shoulders with both hands, shaking me joyfully. He looked at me earnestly, his bright blue eyes glittering with excitement.
"McDonnall, you are the first witness to the greatest discovery of the decade-no! The century! Maybe even the millennium!" I fought back a smile. Everyone in Biology department was used to Scharpe's sometimes overwhelming enthusiasm and unorthodox beliefs. He was a brilliant researcher, no doubt, but there were times he got carried away. And, at this moment, he seemed ready to bring me along, tugging as my sleeve and trying to drag me towards his lab.
"Come now, Scharpe, it's practically midnight! I'm sure the greatest discovery of the millennium can wait until morning, can't it?"
But my words had no effect. I sighed and followed him, knowing I would regret this during tomorrow's morning lecture. When we reached the bench, we were greeted by an ordinary, everyday frog, in a plain, open-topped glass case. To all appearances, like any of the dozens of frogs we dissected on any given day.
"Now tell me, McDonnall," Dr. Scharpe pointed at the specimen sitting placidly before us. "What do you see there?"
"Why, it's just a frog-" I stopped. "Now I'm sure you didn't drag me into your lab to look at an old frog, Doctor."
"What if I told you," he smiled, "That this frog, until five minutes ago, was a fish."
"I'd say you've finally cracked!"
"I'll say I have! I've cracked the code, McDonnall. The genetic code." With this, Dr. Scharpe pulled a pipette from a nearby flask, and held it to the light. "For years, I have theorized that every creature has within it the germ of its ultimate, evolved state. Much like the oak tree, sleeping dormant in an acorn. If only we knew what the right trigger was, we could speed up the process. Journals rejected my papers on the topic; the Dean of Sciences suggested I take a sabbatical to clear my senses, but I knew! I knew! And here, at last, I have catalyzed pure genetic essence."
The pipette was now directly over the frog's head, and the Doctor looked me in the eyes. "Now, prepare to watch a mission years of evolution progress in a matter of minutes."
A drop fell from the pipette onto the frog, which blinked. For a few seconds, nothing happened. I thought I might offer the old man a consolation drink from my office, but no sooner had I opened my mouth when I saw a flash of movement from the case. The frog's moist skin looked strangely dry&it was sprouting scales! Its body elongated, the bulbous eyes receded deeper into the orbital cavities. With a snarl, it stood upright on its newly clawed hind legs, and snapped at the glass with rows of sharp teeth. Soon it was large enough to peer over the lip of the case and it stared at me with a yellow, reptilian eye. The frog had been replaced by-no! become-a small dinosaur!
"Why, doctor! That's impossible! A compsognathus! In the flesh!"
"Believe me now, McDonnall? Let's see what comes next," and with this, he released an even larger dose onto the beast's hide. After a few moments, the creature sprouted glossy brown fur, and snuffed at the air with a distinctly mammalian snout. It seemed as confused as I was, as I lowered myself into a chair. By the time I got my bearings, the creature was chittering, monkey-like, grasping its tail with simian paws. It watched the Doctor with alarm.
Scharpe was now pacing frantically, charged with frenetic energy. "With this knowledge, I could change the world! Who knows what other wonders and breakthroughs await the next iteration of mankind! What unrealized genius slumbers in the codex of our genes? Society needn't wait until some distant tomorrow-we can have tomorrow today!" He had run to the flask, and held it aloft. He seemed to be speaking to himself now, and did not look in my direction.
"For how many centuries did mankind toil in the darkness and in the dust, waiting for a Galileo or a Newton to be born?" He grabbed the flask, wildly, and the once-a-frog shrieked. "Tonight, I shall be the first pioneer and representative of the bright future of mankind! They'll all see!!!"
The Doctor poured the flask directly onto his body, splashing it everywhere, laughing. I flung myself behind his desk, piled high with books, terrified to make contact with the unworldly substance. A scream rang out, there was a smashing of glassware, and I knew no more.
The next morning, one of Dr. Scharpe's assistants found me unconscious on the laboratory floor.
"It looks as thought there was a massive ether spill, Professor" said the assistant, re-capping a bottle of smelling salts. "You're lucky you were only knocked unconscious! Chemicals are no joke."
I thought back to the Doctor's laughter, and stood up, scanning the room. Scharpe was nowhere to be seen. The glass case was smashed to pieces, but there, under the bench, was a frog.
"Want me to put him back with the others, Professor?"
"No-thank you." I easily grabbed the animal, inspecting it. "I'll take care of him."
It has been some months since that fateful night. The University continues to seek out the whereabouts of Doctor Scharpe, but the Biology department was at least able to find a brilliant replacement in the form of Doctor Grenouille. While his background is somewhat hazy, his expertise is unmistakable. The innumerable groundbreaking papers Doctor Grenouille has published can scarcely be called "peer-reviewed", as he is without peers. Recently, the new Doctor stopped by my office.
I looked up from my work. "Hello, Dr. Grenouille, I'm surprised to see you on campus-I thought you were delivering a lecture series abroad."
"I am. My ship leaves tomorrow." He walked past me and placed a hand on the aquarium I had set up for my amphibian companion. For some reason, I just couldn't bring myself to toss the animal back into the dissecting pool, even if the whole ordeal had been just an ether-induced hallucination. "It's funny, McDonnell. Everything runs full circle, does it not?" He wandered over to my globe, and gave it a small spin. "We set out on a journey, ever seeking new horizons, but in the end-" the globe slowed to a stop. "we wind up exactly where we began. Less of a ladder than a Ferris wheel, if you climb far enough. Or perhaps, too far."
"I-I'm afraid I don't quite grasp your meaning, Doctor"
"I suppose you wouldn't." He smiled. "In any case, I just wanted to say," He looked into the tank, "thank you."
"Any time, Doctor Grenouille" I replied, confused.
And with that he departed, briefcase in hand. The frog clawed at the glass, its bright blue eyes glittering with fury.
The Misunderstood War
Written by Applewhite
When the aliens made first contact with humanity, their ambassador stepped off the ship, resplendent in his ceremonial robes.
The ambassador smiled beatifically at the crowd.
Then, out of nowhere, the alien ambassador pulled out a pistol and shot the Earth representative square in the chest!
The panicked crowd fled in terror as the alien ambassador began to seek out every human he could find and shoot them in the same manner.
Alien ships made landings in all of Earth's major cities. Hundreds of aliens poured out and started shooting people in the chest!
Humanity regrouped, formed a resistance and fought back. A terrible war raged between the two planets.
Nearly a century later, the leader of the Combined Earth Forces stood atop the wreckage of the alien's capital city and surveyed the devastation.
"We finally wiped them out," said the general.
An aide ran up to him.
"Sir, look what I found in one of their libraries!" said the aide.
Over the years of conflict, humanity had learned to decipher the aliens' language. The general read the cover. It was some sort of etiquette book.
The first chapter was titled "Formal Greetings."
The general flipped to the appropriate page and his face went pale.
At the chapter heading was a picture of one alien shooting another alien in the chest.
"They were saying hello," said the General, numbly.
"Sir?" the aide was confused.
"All this time, the aliens were only trying to say 'hello.'" Tears streamed down the general's face.
"It turns out the real monster was humanity," said the aide, who was also crying.
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