Archive for the ‘Vatsy and Bruno’ Category

Vatsy and Bruno in: The Great Freak Detective (Part 3)

14 May

The Great Freak detective’s office was like the trophy room of a garbage collector. The absolute best of the stuff, like the broken pocketwatch nailed to the wall or the plaster bust with the number 8 on it, hinted at mysteries solved, dangers conquered, nemeses bested. Stuff like the bin bag full of dead ants and the glass bottles of urine hinted that the case of “where have this guy’s marbles gone” was one that remained perpetually unsolved.

The detective himself was usually the biggest mystery in the room. Whatever lay under that wide-brimmed hat, inside that tattered overcoat, was between him and whatever god or man had created him; the only available data was the smell of rotten apples and the suspicion, shared privately by those that dealt with him, that the two foxgloved hands that sometimes snaked out of the sleeves were not his only pair. I could add from my own private notes that whatever he was, he was not entirely vulnerable to battle-axes.

He leaned back to the chair’s outer limits. “May I deduce, in addition, that you were fighting gangsters?”

“No,” I said, “it was a pack of pastry chefs, actually. They held me at pipette-point and I guess I kind of panicked.”

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Vatsy and Bruno in: The Great Freak Detective (Part 2)

20 Apr

My question had a profound effect on their ranks; namely, each of them shot glances at the others to figure out how they were responding. I guess it was too much to hope that just one of these knuckleheads had the agency and self-assertiveness of a kid selling lemonade. I took another crack at it:

“I repeat: where are Vatsy and Bruno?”

“We can’t talk about that,” volunteered one. “The bosses told us not to!”

I’m going to go ahead and get a few apologies out of the way. Firstly, I would like to apologize for being perpetually two steps ahead of every slack-jawed dead-eyed spit-spraying stubbleclown in every gang on every street of this entire goddamn city. Secondly, I’d like to apologize for maybe getting a little worked up about that sometimes.

“Really,” I said. “Gosh. They told you not to. Wish I’d thought of that. If I’d known you were going to stonewall me, I would have broken the door down and threatened you with an axe.”

The machine guns hiccupped upwards again, and I noticed that my axe had tensed back that crucial few degrees. Slowly, visibly, with some small difficulty, I relaxed the necessary muscles. This really was not the time to let my muscles do the talking—because the moment they did, I would instantly stop liking where the conversation was going.

“You said you were just here to talk!” stammered a thug.

“I did say that, yes,” I said. “But to be fair, that was before I was close enough to kill any of you. Just tell me what I want to know so I can pull my business out of your business, alright?”

The guns rattled, their eyes darted, and I played the light up and down the edge of my axe-blade to make it clear which way was the right way to play this. And though none of them could see it, I was sweating like a pig in a slaughterhouse.

“Come on,” I said. “It’s not like I’m giving you a choice.”

The only reason I was still alive was because they very currently thought that in the time it took for their fingers to crook back and launch fistfuls of lead at my brain, I could kill a statistically significant percentage of them—and speaking as the city’s foremost expert in axe murder, that was howling nonsense. The only reason they hadn’t already figured that out was that every single one of them was very currently too scared to.

“I’m waiting,” I added. “But my patience does have a limit.”

If one of them grew a spine I would die pretty much instantly.

“We can’t tell you anything!” said the one in the middle of their little half-circle. “Doc will kill us!”

“Maybe he will,” I said. “But if you don’t talk, I’ll kill you for sure.”

Frankly, that line is awesome. It’s clear and logical and hits right to the point, and it has never steered me wrong before. So I don’t think it was at all reasonable for the gang to glance at each other and agree, in chorus, “No, he’ll definitely kill us,” and “He’ll kill us real bad, for sure…”

“Right,” I said. “I agreed to that. I said maybe he’ll kill you.”

“He will! He will absolutely kill us all.”

“Okay, so even if he will kill all of you…I mean, if you don’t give me what I want I’ll kill a few of you as well. Right? So really, you’re just putting off…”

“Oh!” burst the middle one. “You just said ‘a few of us’!”


“Yeah,” I said. “Well, a few of you, or maybe all of you.”

“And now you just said maybe.”

“Okay, you’re dying for sure,” I said, and that’s more or less when things went bad for me.

I’d like to think that if I’d had time, I would have apologized the moment I saw his eyes widen. But it’s pretty difficult to draw that conclusion from the available data, i.e., my entire lifespan. Apologize to the monkey with the gun and quietly back out empty-handed? Maybe if he had another ten IQ points I could muster the grace. Anyway, all I can really say is what I did do, which was realize that in about one second he was going to snap out of it and squeeze the trigger. That was not enough time to reset this conversation. That was not enough time to apologize. That was about enough time to piss myself.

So instead, I pointed at him, which I figured would delay him for about half a second as his monkey brain screamed at him to fire and what he had going for him for his higher brain tried to figure out, why the hell is she pointing at me? Yeah. Half a second’s delay.

Maybe he should have thought about it a little harder and realized I was pointing to make everyone else look at him and away from me. And to buy that extra half second to swing my axe straight down into his gunbarrel.

Everyone crapped themselves simultaneously as his machine gun went off into the floorboards. I was already flying through the air into the middle of their half-circle before his first casing hit the ground.

By now all of gunmen were panicking, several of them were shooting, and none of them were pointing there guns at me—just at the empty space where I was last time they’d checked. That was a neat trick, but not the kind of advantage you store in a larder and pass on to your grandkids—it’s the kind of thing that saves your life for about one second if you’re lucky.

Good thing I’m not lucky. I’m good.

One roundhouse swing put to the grave any doubts about my killing stroke and knocked the two middle gunmen into the same grave. They spun off, gurgling and spraying; the blood was still flying one way when I spun the axe around and sent it back the other. Four dead, two swings, and now I had some room to breathe.

And now the two bloodsoaked, panicking survivors had readjusted their aim. The two farthest away from me, exactly opposite on either side. This was, in bowling, what you call a “split.”

What, exactly, did I have planned for this part? Simple. I didn’t plan this at all. And now I was probably going to die.

Was it an accident that as I went to dodge, I stepped in some blood and started to slip? Oh yeah, absolutely. But it wasn’t an accident that I kept slipping, until I’d dropped back-first into the dogpile of blood and corpses and body parts and scattered guns—under their line of fire that lit up the room for exactly one second.

My slide backwards was not graceful or controlled. It was practically headfirst onto a pile of bodies, brass casings, and gunframes all scattered over hardwood. When I hit, my first thought was, “I’m not getting up anytime soon,” and it came about three fuzzy seconds after impact.

So when the time came that I was able to groan and pull myself up, I knew I’d won.

Dear god of melee bounties, they’d actually shot each other—and the sad thing was this was not even the third time I’d seen that happen. The kind of dumb SOBs you get in moonshine gangs have never heard the word “trigger discipline.” Of course, if they’d cared about what was behind their target enough to hold their fire, I could have taken them both apart, so evidently this just hadn’t been their day.

So whose day was it? I was sweaty, bloody, bruised, my ears were ringing, and I didn’t know a damn thing about where Vatsy and Bruno were. The fact that I survived this very stupid adventure was just consolation prize.

The only six gangsters I could find were all dead…which meant I was going to have to do this the hard way.

“I deduce,” said the Great Freak Detective, feet up on his desk, “that you have recently been in some sort of combat.”

“Shut the fuck up,” I said.


Vatsy and Bruno in: The Great Freak Detective (Part 1)

12 Apr

Two blows to the lock would’ve been enough to warn everyone inside to drop their girlie magazines, take a knee, and point whatever they had at the widening crack in their safehouse door. I needed three to break it.

It’s a good thing I’m a pessimist, or when I put my boot to the splintering remains and pushed my way inside, I would’ve been surprised to see six machine guns pointed in my direction—and being of a sensitive disposition, I don’t know if I could have handled the shock.

“Hi,” I said, tightening my grip on my battle-axe. “Let’s talk.”


To understand me, you really need to understand where I come from. There’s a whole range of experiences and circumstances and family history you need to get before you can understand my decision to become an axe murderer.

We might as well start with the event I most regret, and the one I’ve made sure dozens regret even more: my own birth.

Let your mind’s eye fall on a small prairie bedroom about twenty years ago. A professional midwife, never letting the beatific smile fall from her aching face, hands me over to the rest of our brood. They take me into their arms to hug, sing to, and shield me from the rocks people are chucking through the windows. I am generally cooed at and admired for a while. When he sobers up, my father comes in and formally names me after my great-great-grandfather, to much applause and celebration. Someone checks under the blanket and announces proudly that I am a girl. If anyone draws any sort of connection between these data points, it remains unvoiced—possibly because all of them, including my father, my mother, my two brothers, my grandma, my aunt, and my litter of assorted cousins, were named the exact same thing.

At this point, I think it’s safe to brag that I am our family’s first axe murderer.

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Vatsy and Bruno: An Update

09 Nov

My last essay of the quarter got polished off tonight, which left not so much time for finishing the Pig Girl update and something so much time for explaining the Vatsy and Bruno situation. Specifically, why it’s taken longer than I thought to make a hard copy of the thing.

I was reading through the demo copy I received, and the thing’s full of a dozen printing errors. These aren’t errors with the CreateSpace printing, per se, so much as errors in the .pdf version I wrangled into their desired format. Launching it as is is would make my skin crawl, and the process of going through and cajoling the formatting back into line is a time-consuming and irritating one. Combine this with the fact that just about every class went into crunch time the last couple of weeks and you get a recipe for the work not getting done.

I want to get this thing out there, though, and I think I’ve just about got all the glitches worked out. I’m going to make a final couple of passes tomorrow and Wednesday, and with any luck, Amazon won’t make me order another proof copy to make sure the formatting’s not borked. Either way, I’ll try to get the dead tree up as soon as I’ve got the time.

Don’t forget: if you don’t mind reading things the normal way, off a glowing happy fun times computer box, you can get a free .pdf or money-cost Kindle version right here.


A Few Answers Regarding Vatsy and Bruno: Deadly Ink

13 Oct

As y’alls saw yesterday, I’ve been working on getting the print version of Vatsy and Bruno in order. As such, I thought I’d go through and answer a few recurring questions I’ve been getting in comment threads and in communiques.

How the hell did you get a paper version of it–did you save some publisher’s only son from a terrible cart accident? Or did he just lose a bet?

I’m publishing it through Amazon CreateSpace, a sort of self-publishing service that prints on demand and gives me a cut of the profits. So, no, I didn’t farm this out to regular publishers. I’m not sure I actually could, seeing as a.) it falls a bit short of the length they’d be looking for and b.) there’s a draft of it available free online.

Self-published? So it’s a crappy, badly-bound bogroll of a print job, right?

Hail naw. I’m holding my proof copy right now, and let me tell you, this thing is smexy. It looks like a book you’d pull off a shelf at Barnes and Noble–glossy cover, thick paper, ISBN and all. People who’ve examined it were pretty stunned when I told them it was self-published.

Trust me: this thing exceeds the maximum threshold of frigidity permitted by academic institutions.

How much is it gonna cost?

The volume itself costs ten bucks, which is as low as I could drive the price without actually taking a hit every time someone buys a copy. There may or may not be attached shipping costs.

I secretly suspect it’s gonna suck. Well, not so secretly, since I’ve actually just made my skepticism explicit. What if I don’t want to risk my ten dollars?

No worries! You can read the thing for free right here. If you like it, you can maybe think about buying a print version to keep around and brag to friends about how indie your reading list is.

Is there any difference between the print, pdf, and Kindle versions?

Not really. I might have fixed a few typos along the way, but other than that, they’re identical.

About that. The Kindle version had a weird indenting thing going on, which I’m assuming is a direct result of you being a backbirthed toad. That’s not gonna crop up in the print version, is it?

I have no goddamned idea what was up with the occasional mis-identing on the Kindle, but that’s not present in the proof copy I received, so no, that’s not gonna crop up in the print version.

I sense that you’re  disproportionately proud of how many words you’ve strung together. How long is your book in print form?

In print form, the thing weighs in at about 311 pages. The typeface is a bit on the large side, but I wanted to make sure it’d be easily legible.

When will this be available for purchase?

Not entirely sure, but it should be within the week, unless I grievously underestimate the Amazon Bureaucracy.

If you have any other questions, feel free to ask them below.


What’s This Then

12 Oct

Why, what is this strange parcel that’s arrived in the mail? Best call for the bomb dogs, and the drug-sniffers, if they’re handy.

Why, it appears to be a book of some sort. Perhaps a book that will, within the week, be available for purchase? Stranger things have happened!

(Also: as manly as the lavender sheets in the background are, I should point out that this was not, in fact, my dorm room)


Vatsy and Bruno on the Kindle

07 Sep

You can now buy Vatsy and Bruno on the American Kindle store for 99 cents and the UK store for 74p.

It comes with this sporty, different version of the cover. I gotta be honest, I think I kinda like it better.

Anyway, you can buy it off the American store here:

And the UK store:


Guess What Just Got Finished?

04 Sep

This did.

If you:

  • Liked Vatsy and Bruno and want to read a proper, edited version of it
  • Didn’t read Vatsy and Bruno because you were too far behind and had no idea what it is
  • Have no idea what Vatsy and Bruno was, but enjoy reading the things that I write

Then now is your chance to read my painstakingly polished magnum opus Vatsy and Bruno: A Tale in Three Acts, to be published soon as Vatsy and Bruno: Deadly Ink on the Kindle. I’m working on hooking up a dead tree version of it; if you’re into that sort of thing, feel free to give ‘er a download it just to see whether you want to pay money for the physical book.

If you read it and like it, and know a friend/cohort/gaming buddy/internet correspondent/disgraced former children’s show host that probably also would, feel free to pass it along. If you read a bit and don’t like it, start warning communities of impetuous youngsters about it, thus driving them to try it out of curiosity and free a demonic serial killer from his thousand-year prison.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to collapse into a pile of cooling ashes, because I am burnt.


Don’t Tease Me, Bro

28 Aug

I’m going to be turning early for a morning Spoiler Warning recording session, so the D&D post won’t be up until late afternoon tomorrow. In the meantime, I’ve got two things of some importance to bring up:

Firstly, the teaser I teased in the tease at the top.

In all seriousness, I’ve got no idea when this will be done. I was about to start storyboarding with Jibar this coming week, and after that, drawing the pages will probably take up my doodling time slot (so, it won’t interfere with any other content I have in the pipes, just to be clear). I was just working on a concept, and started working on it past the point of concept doodle, and then suddenly I had something that I might as well just pseudo-polish and throw out there. The smart thing might very well have been to hold onto this until the project was nearly done.

Screw that. I like working, buil-ding a mys-ter-y, not so much the holding it in.

The other thing relates to Vatsy and Bruno. It’s still very close to done, but I’ve decided to give it another week to let some more peer edits come in. I’ve spent a year and a half on this thing, it’s worth spending another 7-to-10 days.

Now, the thing I have to ask you: If you commented on Vatsy and Bruno at any time during its writing, you’re eligible to be put on the acknowledgments page. If you’re eligible, and it sounds like something you’d be into, respond below and I’ll stick you in there. Be sure to mention whether you’d like your real name, username, or both.


Covering Myself

28 Jul

Yesterday’s optimism was misplaced; my service to the state is not yet concluded. As it should by all estimates terminate at some point tomorrow, July 28th, I’ll get my content in on that day–might even try to go for two posts at once. In the meantime, you need not leave empty-handed.

I’ve been saving this, but I think I’ve got an 85% complete draft of the Vatsy and Bruno cover completed. I’m pretty damn sure this is what the final product will look like–perhaps there’ll be a few props moved around, Vatsy’s head altered a bit– so if you don’t want the surprise ruined for you, don’t open the fold.

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