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Short Stories 365/336 | N.S. Beranek

“Beef Elvis” by Dorian Bridges from Glitterwolf: Halloween (October, 2014). Edited by Matt Cresswell.

I was not expecting to find any pure humor in this collection, but boy am I glad this made it in.

This. Is. Hysterical.

Perhaps you have a friend who loves to complain about everything? I’m talking about someone who has elevated complaining to an art form—a performance art form—and made schadenfreude respectable?

Think Simon Cowell.

It’s more than fifty years in the future and all the worst aspects of our modern culture are not only extant, they’ve been multiplied a hundredfold. Auto-tuned songs have become songs sung via lab-created vocal chords (the squick-worthy Beef Elvis of the title), and every last thing has been commercialized, even outer space. Vampire Zed is doomed to witness all of it. Worse, he’s witnessing it alone, without his audience and romantic partner, John. John could also throw a class-A snit, which entertained Zed. But half a century ago John decided he couldn’t deal anymore, and slipped off into self-induced torpor.

John had been asleep since the year 2013. Gangnam style had been the final straw. When he and Zed were in the gloomy depths of a club on New Year’s Eve, Zed could see him slowly losing it, getting drunker and drunker as he ranted endlessly about the music, the outfits, Jagerbombs and the smoking ban.  At 11:45 a kid in a neon t-shirt declaring “YOLO!” had spilled John’s drink, and John had headbutted him in the face. Zed managed to drag him out of sight of the bouncers, but just then, they started playing Gangnam Style. And all around them, people started doing the dance. That was when John lost it.      

The story is funny when it’s just Zed wandering along beneath a dark thought bubble, but it’s even better when John wakes up.

“How long was I asleep for? Is that awful man dead yet?”

It’s non-stop funny. Lest you think it isn’t also frightening, and question why it’s in this issue, let me assure you it is very frightening. Or do you think our Duck Dynasty, Koch Brothers, Kardashian, Amazon, Sara Palin, Mama June and Duggar family-addled culture is quaint?