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Shotgun Bastards and Other Stories

by Andrea Speed

A collection of tales filled with monsters, be they human or beast, ranging in setting from dystopia to pitch black noir and even general silliness. From the ludicrous to the frighteningly plausible; from deep space to after the end of the world. There are clumsy werewolves and bloody revenge, monster sleep overs and a dieting fad sure to kill your appetite. Whether looking into the past or the future, you're sure to find that stuff gets really weird.

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When the rains came, everyone thought it was blood.

It seemed to fall in fat drops that slid thick and oily down the windows. A general disgust soon gave way to panic when everyone found out why they were crimson. Karenia brevis, the algae that causes red tide.

The panic was stupid. As long as people didn’t drink it, the worst it could do was irritate eyes and lungs, but humanity was in full on panic mode since the start of what some called the “ocean wars.”

If movies had taught us anything, it was that apes were eventually going to rise up and take us over—either prior to or instead of machines—but it didn’t happen. What did happen was something no one had anticipated. Sea life turned against us.


It wasn’t immediately obvious. A few shark attacks here and there, a rise in the number of poisonous jellyfish in Australia, whales taking out sightseeing boats that got too close. It was random occurrences, and no one saw a pattern, except for some marine biologists who were dismissed as hysterical when they pointed out how strangely aggressive sea life was becoming across the globe. It wasn’t until the truly weird shit started happening that humanity started paying attention.

A pod of humpback whales sunk a heavily laden cargo ship in an attack that went on for about an hour. A crab boat was attacked by crabs and killer whales alike. Poisonous jellyfish killed beachgoers by the score in a dramatic and heavily filmed attack. Dolphins even took out a warship in the Florida Keys. No boat that went out on the water ever came back, except in pieces. All submarines were lost.

Sea life declared war on us en masse, and by the time we’d figured it out, it was all over. You could call it a stalemate because we could stay safe on land, and they couldn’t get to us there, but really we had lost. There were some species that could walk on land, and while they were hardly the most fearsome, a group of crabs stripped all the flesh off a toddler’s bones when inattentive parents lost sight of them. They could do damage.

Somehow they were starting to invade inland bodies of water. They were polluting water supplies, clogging sewer systems, making beaches too dangerous to venture near. It was God’s wrath, or global warning, or space aliens.

Some marine biologists did attempt to talk to the creatures, using captive dolphins that already had communication skills. All the dolphins told them was, “Your time is over.” And in spite of precautions, the dolphins killed them.

We killed lots of the water life. There were people still dumping toxic waste into the seas by the ton, making the water so toxic it was unsafe to be downwind of it. But that was the joke. By killing them, we were killing us, and they knew it too. Even if we killed them all, they would still win.

When I first started maintaining the lighthouse, I had no idea what I would be getting into. I saw the red rain coming in, hidden within swollen black butts. When it started falling, I knew it wasn’t the blood they were screaming about on Twitter. It was just an algae bloom that would hurt the fish as much as us if not more. What I couldn’t figure out was how they did it. They couldn’t have. This could not have been a deliberate “terroristic” move by sea creatures. I don’t care how smart dolphins are. Maybe there was a greater intelligence behind it all.

I watched from the top of the lighthouse as the crabs came over the shore in droves. Lobsters too. I’ve never seen so many hard shelled creatures at once. It was a swarm, a drove, thousands upon thousands of them, moving towards the roads, climbing the reefs, piling up around the lighthouse. It was a proper invasion, although it couldn’t last long. Crabs were easy to kill.

But it bothered me the way they were gathering at the lighthouse, piling on top of each other in a growing wave, slowly climbing up the sides. What were they trying to accomplish? Could crabs be said to ever have a goal? That was one of those weird things that came up all the time with this war. If your opponent supposedly had no higher intellect, could they actually be at war with you? All we could say was humans were dying, and the seas were dying, and I suspected we would all die together.

As I write this now, the rain has fallen for twelve hours straight. Newscasters are advising people to stay out of it, to not drink it—duh—and to rinse it off as soon as you get in. Pet deaths and deaths of immune compromised people have been reported. The crabs are almost to the top of the lighthouse now. If I turned it on, there’d be a shadow of a mess of crabs projected on the dark gray water.

I don’t know what the ultimate goal is here. To rid the world of all life? Humans just weren’t killing themselves at a brisk enough pace? This is my best guess.

To the intelligence responsible, may I say fuck you? I hope you choke on the waste of our corpses. I hope some mutated algae from the sea kills you all.

A soft scuttling noise gives way to clacking, like multiple muted castanets. The crabs are inside the lighthouse. Dozens upon dozens of them, choking the stairwell, blocking the door, falling over each other in their haste to fill the room.

Of all the ways I could die, I never would have guessed this.


About the Author

Andrea Speed may or may not exist. She may have been found in a shoe box for a brand that has never existed - Rebus: Picture Success. Or don't. Your call. - in the Dumpster of a co-op in Seattle. Or maybe she's a collection of Twitter bots advertising coffee enemas who somehow combined and gained sentience. Nobody knows for sure or cares. May also be a small, medicinal horse that's the Meryl Streep of stunt corpses.