The most Herculean of all tasks

One day long, long again in ancient Greece, Zeus dropped by to visit his son, Heracles. He took the form of a bear or a wombat or a rock or something. Mythologists aren’t quite certain. It was probably a bird, though, so let’s just go with a goose.

“You do far too much sitting around,” honked the Zeus goose. “You need something to do.”

Heracles, a sassy teen at the time, answered with a sigh.

“I’ve got stuff to do,” he said, thumbing down through his Twitter feed on his phone.

“Not enough, apparently.”

“How would you even know. You’re, like, barely even here.”

That really ruffled Zeus’ feathers. Literally, in this case.

“Now see here,” he said, taking a second to preen his feathers before continuing. “Whether you like it or not, I am your father. And when I speak, you will listen.”

Heracles sighed again and looked up from his phone.

“I have created for you thirteen tasks,” Zeus said. He motioned with his wing, and a series of scrolls, each rolled and sealed with a dab of wax, appeared before Heracles. “Each scroll contains one objective you must complete. When you have done so for all of them, you will have become a man in my eyes and may join me in the pantheon of gods.”

The young man scoffed.

“Really, Dad? Scrolls? Can’t you just DM me the list?”

“I don’t even know what that means.”

“You wouldn’t,” Heracles said and returned to his phone.

Mythologists say a lengthy argument continued from here. In the end, this battle of stubborn insistence versus stubborn indifference ended with Heracles reluctantly agreeing to complete the tasks, but only if Zeus promised to delay his curfew to 1 a.m. on weekends and stop randomly checking his Internet browser history.

So, one by one, Heracles tackled the 13 tasks, each more annoying than the last. He had to kill the Nemean Lion, Stymphalian Birds and the hyrda; he had to shovel mountains of dung from Augeas’ nasty stables; and he had to fetch Cerberus back from Uncle Hades, who stole the multi-headed pooch when he and Zeus were heavily embroiled in some kind of disagreement over property.

One after the other, Heracles begrudgingly completed his tasks, only breaking to periodically share his misery with his Instagram followers.

But then he hit No. 13. He unrolled the parchment and read it with disdain.

“Choose an appropriate name for your unborn daughter,” he read. “Ugh.”

Now, Heracles had never even considered having kids, let alone naming one. He first consulted several popular baby-naming sites, but couldn’t find a combination of first and middle names that sounded satisfactory to his ears. For days, he marched around Greece mumbling names to himself. None felt comfortable.

Heracles turned to the gods to aid in his quest, but found their opinions of what constituted a respectable name for a child to be far too varied. All of Apollo’s suggestions seemed pretentious, and Ares’ were all too blunt. Aphrodite’s were a little too … how to put this delicately … risque for Heracles’ liking, and all Hermes offered were ridiculous gag names like Apple Blythe or Pilot Inspector or Blanket. Those who didn’t offer their own awful suggestions turned their noses up at the ones Heracles had been considering. Although he possessed strength to capture the Erymanthian Boar and wits enough to remove the Amazon queen Hippolyta’s girdle, Heracles was incapable of counting the number of times someone answered his suggestions with, “You don’t want to name a child that.”

Heracles was stuck. After whipping through the first twelve tasks like Cetus through a Trireme, it seemed the last would best him. He returned to his father humbled and ashamed.

Zeus, lounging around Mount Olympus in the form of a giraffe, nodded his long neck knowingly.

“I figured that last one might trip you up, son,” he said. “Names can be tough.”

“So what do you suggest?” Heracles asked his father.

Zeus shrugged.

“I don’t,” he said. “I think you just have to go with your heart, regardless of what others think. Besides, in the end, it doesn’t even matter. Regardless of her name, people are going to call the kid whatever the heck they want.”

“Is that why everybody calls me Hercules, Dad?”

Zeus flashed two rows of gigantic teeth and patted his son on the shoulder with his hoof.

“No, son. That’s just ignorance.”

For the first time in forever, father and son laughed together.

Haiku of Horror #52

HAIKU OF HORROR now have their own site. If you, like no one else on earth, find tiny little awful poems terrifying, be sure to check it out. 

As much as I like Keanu, I have trouble seeing Keanu as anything but Ted Theodore Logan. Even when he’s chain-smoking cigarettes while shoving cross-shaped guns into the ugly mugs of hell spawn, I’m just like, “Oh, Ted. Don’t you know befriending Satan could help sell Wyld Stallyns’ image?”

Here’s a poem.

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Flame kisses paper
He slowly inhales heat, smoke
Flicks away ashes

Haiku of Horror #51

HAIKU OF HORROR now have their own site. If you, like no one else on earth, find tiny little awful poems terrifying, be sure to check it out. 

As a teen, I was a big fan of the ’96 adaptation of The Island of Dr. Moreau. I owned it on VHS, back before those were things people purchased as novelties, and watched it on an embarrassingly regular basis. And to think, I used to be a real cinema snoot. Turns out, I was just an idiot.

Here’s a poem.

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Dreams are feral beasts
Caged and tamed, they grow subdued
Becoming like men

Haiku of Horror #50

Never don’t not forget that HAIKU OF HORROR now have their own site. If you, like no one else on earth, find tiny little awful poems terrifying, be sure to check it out. 

The world really does need more Lovecraft adaptations. Good ones, not shitty ones. I feel like the world has plenty of those, mostly directed by people who aren’t Stuart Gordon.

This isn’t one of them. Again, shitty ones, I mean. Yuzna’s segment is insane.

Here’s a poem.

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Words can spur madness
Each word inked a drop of blood
Just like the Bible

Future Stuff #4

Inspiration is hard to come by for those not trained in its detection. So to help with some ideas, I’ve turned to a copy of a 1989 Penguin publication called Future Stuff, purchased for a quarter at my local library.

Contained between this book’s covers are more than 250 then would-be inventions promised for wide consumer release by the year 2000. Some came to be; some … not so came to be.

What follows is the fourth piece inspired by these wonderful devices. It is called …

Microwave Clothes Dryer

Drying your clothes was once a pain;
Punishment to endure.
Through the power of microwaves,
You’ll be troubled no more.
What once would have taken you hours
Now goes by in a song.
Before you can say, “Shit, that’s fast”
You’re folding grandma’s thongs.
Those panties will be dry as bones
And softer than peach fuzz.
You’ll go from dreading every load
To washing just because.
Don’t you worry about those waves.
They’re as harmless as the sea’s.
Our studies show only a few
Will sink into the seams
And those that do will not result
In what you can’t repair.
Perhaps a toenail lost … or two,
Or random tufts of hair.
Minor leakage is expected;
Some dripping from the ears.
Just one in six is affected;
Five of you shouldn’t fear.
Who would fret a little bleeding
From larger nasal pores?
Glucose isn’t in short supply;
You’re always making more.
And should and extra toe or three
Sprout somewhere on your form,
It’d be nothing to get removed
Now lasers are the norm.
Viscous goop oozing from your skin
Will, in time, oxidize.
Think of how much you’ll perceive
With those new compound eyes.
So don’t sweat all the side effects
Listed there on the box.
You’ll be thankful for extra hands
When folding stacks of socks.

For more Future Stuff, click here, here or here. Don’t click here. Trust me. Don’t do it.

Haiku of Horror #49

Never don’t not forget that HAIKU OF HORROR now have their own site. If you, like no one else on earth, find tiny little awful poems terrifying, be sure to check it out.

Nothing like a Fulci zombie movie. Well, except for another Fulci zombie movie. But there’s nothing like the both of them put together. It’s like an aardvark smashed together with a platypus.

Here’s a poem.

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Hell’s gates have opened
Dead roam among the living
Most haven’t noticed

Haiku of Horror #48

Never don’t not forget that HAIKU OF HORROR now have their own site. If you, like no one on earth, find tiny little awful poems terrifying, be sure to check it out.

I was a terrible Boy Scout. Didn’t like camping; couldn’t tie a knot; wasn’t particularly fond of nature’s various monstrosities; didn’t enjoy being repeatedly bullied by my fellow scouts. In other words, this movie was practically biographical. Right down to the murders. Don’t tell my scoutmaster.

Here’s a poem.

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Bark is but a mask
Disguising soft flesh beneath.
Stripped, the tree will bleed.