“A house I pass on the way to work has this sculpture in its yard. Its about 8 feet tall.”
“HELLO NEIGHBOR STEVE, I WOULD LIKE TO INVITE YOU TO BARBEQUE ON THE EVE OF THE BLOOD MOON. I FEEL WE GOT OFF TO A BAD START.”
“NEIGHBOR STEVE, DO YOU NOT WISH TO PARTAKE OF THE UNCLEAN FLESH-MEATS OF PIGS AND THE POLLUTED ESSENCES OF TOMATO? PERHAPS YOU ARE A CAROLINA STYLE MAN, NEIGHBOR STEVE?”
“PUT THE GUN AWAY NEIGHBOR STEVE, YOU KNOW I SHALL ONLY RISE AGAIN WITH THE DAWNING OF THE MOON. WE HAVE BEEN THROUGH THIS MANY TIMES.”
“LOOK AT THIS PICTURE MY SON DREW OF YOU AND CHILD TIMMY, YOUR SON. ARE THEY NOT THE PICTURE OF PACT-MATES? THIS COULD BE YOU AND ME, NEIGHBOR STEVE.”
“YOU MISSED THE UNHOLY NEXUS OF POWER THAT IS THE KEY TO MY CORPOREAL FORM, NEIGHBOR STEVE. YOU WILL NEED TO RELOAD NOW, SO I WILL GO INSIDE TO MY HELL-WIFE AND PUT YOU DOWN AS A SOLID ‘MAYBE’.“
I have the feeling that the families get along great except for Steve. Like, the wives are baking (questionable) brownies together, the kids are playing together, Antler Guy occasionally takes Son and Timmy to school (no car, just carries them in huge swinging strides through a nexus of ungoldly sights in a swirling netherworld shortcut. Sometimes they stop for McDonalds). Hell-wife gave them a potted Audrey Jr., Steve’s wife (who I now christen Sharon) gave them a begonia.
One time Steve tries throwing holy water but all Antler Guy does is thank him, saying that no, Antler Guy isn’t Catholic but it’s the thought that counts, he is so kind to water his creeping deathshade vines regardless.
For Christmas Antler Guy gives Steve a case of ammunition. To be funny/sarcastically mean Steve gets Antler Guy the world’s most hideous Christmas sweater, singing light-up reindeer included. He immediately regrets it because not only does Antler Guy love it and wears it for several months, it will never need batteries because Antler Guy powers it with his own eldritch aura.
When they come back from a holiday to Hawaii, Steve is horrified to find out Sharon bought them matching Hawaiian shirts. He is even more horrified that his wife means it that if he doesn’t wear it he will forever sleep on the couch.
I want to expand on this, since I see it’s still passing around and the ideas have grown in my brainmeats.
What drives Steve up the wall and down the other side is how… normal… everyone treats the Abominations. (Yes, that is their last name. No, it is not a joke. Son was asked his last name for the standardized testing at school, had a quick conference with Timmy, and decided that Son Abomination sounded good, “Since my dad calls your dad the Abomination anyway and we can paint it on your mailbox just like the Henderson’s did theirs!”. Antler Guy agreed and did a lovely rendition of it for the mailbox, with only a few glyphs of soul-rending terror added to keep up to snuff.)
The Great Plant Exchange went beautifully, though the Audrey Jr. (named Aubergine for the lovely shade of purple poison that drips from her fangs) is on a diet at the moment. She was in cahoots with the cat and the dog to get into the good people food and ate two frozen turkeys all herself. Now she’s restricted to the hallway table to answer the phone and the door. (Steve actually likes her, and keeps slipping her hotdogs when Sharon isn’t looking. Their door-to-door salesman rates have dropped dramatically since she changed abodes.) Hell-wife has almost gotten the begonia to bloom and say it’s first words.
The homeowner’s association just loves the Abominations. All paperwork stamped and dotted, in on time and in triplicate. Antler Guy likes filing, says it reminds him of his old job. There is a resident who spent 20 years as a lawyer and they have long, animated conversations about all sorts of things that make Steve swear to never need legal counsel.
Hell-wife joined the PTA and spearheaded a committee to fundraise in the fall with a haunted house. It was a county-wide hit, though the claims that a particularly rowdy group had been deliberately lost in a timeslip to the Outer Doors Of Chaos was firmly rebuffed. Most young people nowadays, it was agreed, just couldn’t appreciate flute music.
Antler Guy really does try to connect with Steve. The surprise birthday party was perhaps a bit much, given that most participants do not have the ability to suddenly materialize in front of the guest of honor to give them a hug. Sharon assured them that Steve normally screams on his birthday, and the remains of the cake were heartily enjoyed by all. (A plate was saved for Steve once he came down from the treehouse.)
After the Hawaii trip (which was a present for his birthday) and the Matching Shirt Ultimatum (which was Sharon’s attempt at patching things up with Antler Guy, he really was sad about the birthday screaming), Steve finally grabs his courage in both hands (plus the shotgun, which let’s face it is about as useful as a teddybear at the moment but it does comfort him) and confronts Antler Guy, about why such a group of……Abominations could possibly come to his quiet slice of suburban bliss.
“……BUT NEIGHBOR STEVE, WE HAVE ALWAYS BEEN HERE.”
“No no no, I read it in a book! Don’t you have to be invited or something?!”
“WELL YES, TO THE HUMAN WORLD. BUT THIS IS NOT THE HUMAN WORLD AS YOUR THREE-DIMENSIONAL BRAIN PERCEIVES IT.”
“What the hell does that mean?!!”
“DID YOU NOT KNOW, NEIGHBOR STEVE? LEGALLY SPEAKING, ALL OF THE VASTNESS OF HUMAN SUBURBIA IS, IN FACT, A PART OF HELL.”
“THE FLAMINGOES ARE THE BOUNDARY MARKERS. IT WAS DECIDED THAT THE FLAMING SKULLS WERE TOO KITSCHY FOR MODERN TIMES.”
Reblogging cause I kind of want more of this….
Since you asked nicely ^_^
Antler Guy, as one may have noticed, is a calm sort of fellow. In the face of human atrocities he displays a curious Zen sort of state of mind. Timmy asks Son if he’d ever seen his dad angry, and Son hasn’t. (When asked, Timmy says that yeah his dad gets mad, but it’s like the Fitz-Simmon’s chihuahua down the street- mostly high-pitched noise and occasionally TV remote chewing. Sharon replaces the poor thing every 3 months or so.) When pressed (gently, at the monthly book club, and with many cups of tea and at least one daiquiri), Hellwife admits that this comes from serving many years at his old job.
After the revelation of the nature of his neighborhood, Steve has not been overtly mean to Antler Guy. Not yet in the realm of friends, but vastly better than before. No more holy water, no more shotgun blasts. (Still the occasional jumpscare, but Antler Guy really can’t help that part.) They even occasionally share news over the fence as Antler Guy trains the creeping deathshade vines in proper oral hygiene, and Steve waters his lawn (and occasionally slips a goldfish cracker to a deathshade vine that looks particularly adorable. Aubergine has trained him well.)
Which is how Antler Guy learns about the peeping tom that’s been plaguing the adjacent streets. Apparently the pervert has been getting bolder, and rattling doors. He almost broke into one apartment, whose occupants were a single mother and her daughter, Mildred. Millie, a shy girl who is a great horror fan and firm friends with Timmy and Son, had missed school because of it.
Steve knew because Sharon had told him, on her way to deliver a tuna casserole and a double batch of brownies to the pair. (Sharon has been dubbed the unoffical mob boss of the Mother’s Mafia. She is quite pleased with this title.) He tells her to wait, confers briefly with Aubergine, and sends her along with, “Only as a loan, you know, but Auby wants to stretch her roots and she’d probably like getting all ribboned and curled anyway. Little girls still do that, right?” She has strict orders to bite anyone that makes Millie or her mother cry. (Steve is dubbed the official neighborhood marshmallow for this. The bookclub buys him a jar of marshmallow fluff in commemoration.)
He turns to look at Antler Guy, and freezes, much as a chihuahua will when faced with a hungry hellhound.
“You….you alright there buddy?”
“Uh, yeah, I guess not. Did you, uh, know you’re kinda fuzzing at the edges, there?”
“Right. Um. Well.”
Steven makes a very ungraceful exit when space starts bending around Antler Guy’s still, unmoving form.
When Steve sees a shadowy form in his back yard when he gets up to pee that night, there’s no hesitation. He grabs the shotgun from the cabinet and peeks out the back door window.
Just in time to see a nebulous form of soul-wrenching terror engulf the man reaching for the door handle. A sliver of moonlight reveals a very familiar eyesocket. After a moment (and a sincere prayer of thanks that he had already peed, cause otherwise he’d have done it then and there) Steve opens the door. The nebulous form freezes, reality bending around the edges.
“Nice night for it, huh?”
“Guy won’t scare anymore litttle girls, will he?”
“Good. G’night then. Oh, and if Hellwife has an extra Audrey Jr. that needs a home, let me know. Millie likes Aubergine a lot but Augy’s just too big for the apartment. Dunno if they come in miniatures though.”
̢̢̻̥̹̣̞͉̘͇͚͍̖̯̘͚͔̗̩͓͐ͮ͂͂̀̚͘͠Y̜̞͇̳̗̬͎̰̙̜̩̪͎̞̙̠̔͂̌̃́̀O͇̺̲͙͍̬̳̘͈̱̜̝͔̖̊ͥ̿ͫͤͫͫͩ͋̓̃ͦ̈̄͢͟Ū̢͖̲̦̠̤͎̙͉̦͖̖͓͍̺̺ͪͯ͐͆͆ͭͯ͗ͦ̄̅̌̈̃̾ͭ̋ͧ͢͢͠͡.̶̸̞͓̞̹̗̻̣͈͕̠̬̦ͫ̆ͤͬͨͦ͒͂ͨ̿ͩͪ͘͞.ͧ͛̒̂̂͗ͨ̌͆ͥͭ͒̉͘͜͏̙͖̰̝̙̲͓̙͕͍̥̳̩́͠.̶̷̮͎̱̼̬͖̰͎͚͙̥̓͋͋ͦ̓̓ͯ͆͛̏ͫ̅ͯ.̨̧̙̤̳̮̺̙͖̞͔̗͎͍̑̆ͮ͐ͩͦ̌̽̾̏͘͠.̹̖͕̮͕̞̰͍͚͖̌ͪ̃̐̐̌̌̅̉͑ͧͪͪͬ̓͐́͛̿͘͞ ….NEIGHBOR STEVE.”
There are no more peeping reports. Millie brings back Aubergine and spends an entire afternoon teaching Steve the particulars of Augy’s new “hairstyle” (a gravity-defying mass of teased tendrils, ribbons, and barrettes) in between games of tag and hide-and-seek with Timmy and Son.
When Antler Guy and Hellwife present her and her mother Beatrice with a tiny Audrey Jr. (”pOOr ThinG Is a ruNT And wOn’T geT MorE Than A FooT taLL, BEa, aNd NeeDS a New FRiEnD”, assures Hellwife), both mother and child burst out crying. Millie names it Bella, after Bella Lugosi, and shows it to the excited group of boys (Steve and Augy included).
IT GOT SO MUCH BETTER!!!!
Life in a subdivision partly populated with eldritch and possibly magical (officially classified as “extra-dimensional”, for even when faced with the physics-defying nature of their new co-habitating citizens the government cannot bring itself to acknowledge them as “magic wielding hell-beasts”, as some high-ranking staff members initially suggested) goes on fairly normally.
Sure, there are a few hiccoughs. The creeping deathshade vines get a stern talking to about appropriate afternoon snacks (”NOT the Fitz-Simmon’s chihuahua, I don’t care how much he has it coming or what he excreted where, now spit it out!”), Aubergine sheds all her leaves at once and snowballs the house (but does helps sweep up afterwards), and moonrise is a good time to watch the night-gaunts fly by (but on moondark it’s best to stay inside, no matter how prettily they glow. They’re somewhat similar to fireflies, and don’t always check to see if their partner glows as well. It wouldn’t be as much of a problem if they didn’t dive mid-coitus and drop just above the ground.)
While the neighborhood in general is accepting of the Abominations, when things get to be a bit much they tend to come to Steve. Since meeting Beatrice and Millie (and the formation of the Terrifying Triad known as Millie, Son, and Timmy) Steve is the adult human male most comfortable dealing with Antler Guy on the whole street. (Sharon as U.M.B. is widely held to have, well, steel-whatever-the-hell-she-wants, and Timmy is known to run over to Antler Guy and ask for rides through “that wobbly grey place, you know, the one with the REALLY BIG alligators?”. Still, the courtesies must be observed.)
So when a writhing sparking ball of snarling terror and teeth takes up residence in the Manzo’s tool-shed, and when Animal Control refuses to come (the street is banned due to a run-in with the deathshade vines), Steve is called. Having heard the description, Steve brings Antler Guy.
When they get there, Mr. Manzo is forcibly holding the door shut. Unholy yowling is coming from inside. At a gesture from Antler Guy, Mr. Manzo leaps away, and the doors blast open.
A 150 pound ball of whimpering, flaming something hits Steve and knocks him on his ass. The whimpering, flaming something proceeds to slobber all over Steve, his shirt, his pants, and a decent portion of grass in between distressed yelps.
“NEIGHBOR STEVE, ARE YOU IN DISTRESS?”
“GAAACKLEARGHSPLUH- DOWN boy, HEEL, that’s a good- Antler Guy, what is this?!”
“I BELIEVE IT IS A HELLHOUND, NEIGHBOR STEVE.”
“Good grief, I didn’t know they came this big and…..and….. Guy?”
“YES NEIGHBOR STEVE?”
“Is he supposed to be…..skinless?”
“YES NEIGHBOR STEVE. THIS VARIETY WAS BRED TO BE LAP DOGS. THEIR FLAME IS MOSTLY WITHOUT HEAT, AND THEY HAVE NO SKIN FOR THOSE WHO ARE ALLERGIC.”
“YES NEIGHBOR STEVE.” Antler Guy lays a hand on the hellhound, who tries to burrow further into Steve with little success. “HE APPEARS TO HAVE BEEN RECENTLY WEANED. IT WILL TAKE TIME FOR HIM TO GROW TO HIS FULL SIZE.”
“THE SMALL BREEDS GROW MORE SLOWLY.”
A vile hissing emanates from the shed. (Mr. Manzo has long since fled for the safety of his kitchen.) As Steve attempts to calm the frantic hell-puppy, Antler Guy investigates. He reaches one long hand in behind the riding lawnmower and….. winces.
“Yeah- I’m right here, uh, doggie, not going anywhere- Guy?”
“I APPEAR TO HAVE AN…. ATTACHMENT.”
Steve is awed at the tiny ball of white fluff attached to one long, thin finger. He didn’t know that Antler Guy’s fingers COULD be bitten, much less by a tiny kitten.
Which is how Steve and Sharon got Clifford (”Aww c’mon Sharon, how could I pass that one up?”), and Antler Guy and Hellwife get Fluffy (”NEIGHBOR STEVE ASSURES ME IT IS A TRADITIONAL TITLE.”)
This might be the most amazing thing that ever crossed my tumblr dash
OMIGOSH I’m in love.
I LOVE EVERY BIT OF THIS
This is like the stoplight post. It is Tumblr legend, and I feel I must reblog it for those fortunate few who get to experience it for the first time.
We need more of Antler Guy and Neighbour Steve
So one day Son comes home from school and goes straight to his room without speaking. Hell Wife and Sharon confer over tea and scones, and it’s revealed that Timmy is also shut away in his room.
Neither mother can get a word out of the boys, and after a quick word with Steve (who is busy trying to train Clifford to stop slobbering on his shoes), the mothers go to Antler Guy for advise, since he has a good relationship with both boys.
Antler Guy listens attentively to the women.
“I WILL TAKE CARE OF THIS. THE TWO OF YOU SHOULD ATTEND YOUR BOOK CLUB.”
Sharon is dubious, but Hell Wife assures her that Antler will fix things.
When the women are gone, Antler Guy waves his long, spindly fingers, and the two boys appear before him. Both look sullen and teary eyed.
Antler Guy observes them silently.
“They pushed Timmy,” Son explains in a small voice. “I told them to leave him alone but… They called me…”
Antler waits silently.
“Freak,” Timmy supplies in a whisper.
Antler Guy looks between the two boys, then lifts one in each vine-writhed arm.
He takes the two boys to the ether, showing them various hellish sights including a homunculous type creature that has a cold and sprays acid every time it sneezes, a cat that’s twice the height of Antler and picks Timmy up by the neck like a kitten.
Both boys have a great time and return home in high spirits.
Steve goes out into the garden to find out what happened. (He’s been defeated by Clifford and decides he’ll just get new shows and hide them).
“I MUST LEAVE FOR AN HOUR OR TWO,” Antler Guy tell Steve after a brief explanation.
Steve looks puzzled. “It’s getting pretty late, Guy,” he points out.
Antler Guy merely inclines his head and stalks into the night in long, surprisingly graceful strides.
The next day, Steve listens to Timmy babbling about how the boys who had been mean to him and Son the previous day had left them alone.
Timmy stops and looks baffled. “Actually, any time we looked at them they ran away.”
Steve has suspicions of where Antler Guy had gone on his late night stroll.
(Ohmigosh, someone added, I’m so excited! :D)
Time passes, as time does (which for Earth is generally somewhat faster than The Dimension That Smells Of Shrimp, and slower That One Wibbley Place With Murderous Flying Potato Crisps- Timmy was allowed to select human-dialect names, and Antler Guy refuses to change them. He says they are far more pleasant than the terms he used to use.)
Fluffy remains on the small side. This in no way impedes her rule of the neighborhood. In order of preference, her resting places include the top of Antler Guy’s head, Hellwife’s ample lap, and wherever else she damn well pleases. (The deathshade vines have a healthy respect for her, all of Clifford’s six-foot-plus frame is terrified of her, and she actively conspires with Aubergine. The prior pets of Steve and Sharon, Mr. Paws- a mild mannered netutered tom of advanced years- and Puggles- his nearly as elderly pug cohort- are ignored with royal disdain. Which suits them fine, they’d much rather be made much of by Aubergine, and relax in the gentle, soothing warmth of Clifford’s flames.)
Within short order, her routine is established. The neighborhood, and neighbors, know better than to mess with the White Puffball of Doom (one of Timmy’s better efforts) on her daily patrols. In return, her rule is moderately benevolent.
So when she goes missing, literally no one has any idea where she has gone.
It starts with Antler Guy striding through the neighborhood, making a peculiar call somewhat akin to a humpback whale with a headcold. When that produces no results, he starts asking. Very earnestly. Very. Earnestly. He even folds himself up enough to take tea with Mrs. Giotto, the resident cat lady. He emerges with a delightful recipe for snickerdoodles, but no information.
Steve knows something is wrong when he starts getting texts at work. By the end of shift, he’s inundated with calls, texts, voicemails, and a singing telegram sent by one particularly frazzled neighbor, whose message was only “HELP.” His boss is not pleased.
He almost expects it when Antler Guy materializes as soon as he shuts his car door. He still almost craps himself.
“Hi Guy, what’s up-”
“FLUFFY. FLUFFY IS MISSING.”
“Really? Have you tried looking in Mr. Manz-”
“Oh, ok, well, let’s try-”
“FLuffY Is MissINg!”
“Well yes, Guy just told me-”
They decide to move the confabulation into Sharon’s kitchen. (A quick phone call to Beatrice assures that a) the sleepover of the Triad is going smoothly, b) the news of Fluffy’s disappearance hasn’t made it there yet, and c) it won’t until further news is secured.) Sharon has called on her information network to no avail, Hellwife has questioned every plant in a five block radius, and Antler Guy is distraught. Apparently he cannot feel Fluffy, which means she is either dead or out of his range. (”AND SHE WOULD NOT BE SO UNCARING AS TO NOT RETURN HOME IF DEAD, SHE IS A VERY LOVING MAMMAL.”)
Steve is quiet. Steve is thinking. Steve….has an idea.
“Exactly what constitutes your range?”
“ALL OF THE ENVIRONS OF HELL, NEIGHBOR STEVE.”
“So……when we run out of flamingos, right?”
Clifford is supplied with a squeaky sorta-looks-like-a-mouse-don’t-ask-so-many-questions toy belonging to Fluffy. The direction he doesn’t want to go is the way they head. They decide that cramming Antler Guy into Steve’s Prius would be unhelpful, sunroof or not, so up on Antler Guy’s shoulders Steve goes. (Steve has always wanted to try it, in his heart of hearts. Its everything Timmy described and more.)
They set out, following the cringing hellhound. Even cringing and following the scent of the Feared Fluffy Thing, Clifford has some speed. (It helps that both Steve and Sharon explained the situation, via Aubergine.) In the space of perhaps an hour and a half, they hit the end of Antler Guy’s range.
Literally. If Steve hadn’t had a deathgrip on Antler Guy’s horn’s he’d have gone flying.
“NEIGHBOR STEVE, I CAN GO NO FARTHER.”
“Ugh, kinda got that Guy….”
Steve slithers off and looks at Antler Guy. He’s pushing at the air like there’s a forcefield. (There isn’t. Steve checks, just to be safe.) So, after a short conversation with Clifford, Antler Guy waits next to the last flamingo as Steve rides his big, red, skinless flaming dog onwards. (Steve had wanted to try this since he first read the Clifford books.) (Well, something close to it anyway.)
It is a measure of the surrealness of his day to day life that he isn’t surprised by the gate guarded by gun-toting gentlemen. Nor by the flurry of activity he and his dog raise by jumping it. A short, balding fellow in a Very Important Labcoat comes out of the concrete building and gives shrill orders to “apprehend that vile extra-planar sympathizer and his hideous creature”. As Clifford starts drooling green flames as he snarls, no one seems particularly interested in following his orders.
Luckily, a man riding a walking nightmare and then a hellhound garners attention. Specifically, a shitton to social media attention (and no few memes). And the government, unsurprisingly, monitors the areas inhabited by its extra-planar citizens very closely. So before the standoff gets beyond the tense stage and into the itchy trigger finger stage, a swarm of black SUV’s hit the scene.
Steve sits serene upon his noble steed as the wave of black suits descend. In record time the labcoat is escorted away, the guards are pacified, and an ominously growling cat carrier is presented to Steve. Clifford lets out a tremulous “BOOF?”, to which the carrier “Mrowls?”. Steve opens the carrier (the guards, as one, flinch- some of their compatriots are still in medical from trying to get the damn thing IN the carrier), and Fluffy walks out, dignified as the queen she is. She kneads Clifford’s head (without claws, for once), and settles in.
They make a strange parade returning, the dog and the biggest, shiniest, and most ominous of the SUV’s. (Strangely, all pictures taken of the cavalcade go mysteriously missing.) Antler Guy doesn’t care- as soon as he’s in range, Fluffy jumps to his head and purrs ferociously.
When the suits try to talk to him, he brushes them off, preferring to murmur in hair-raising tongues to his cat, who is still purring fit to split and is trying to groom his antlers. Steve sighs.
“What do you guys need? They’ll be busy for a while.”
“Well Mr. Anderson, we would like to offer our condolences at this unfortunate occurrence, and tender our assurances that it will never happen again.”
“We would also like to ascertain Mr……?”
“Antler Guy Abomination.”
“Antler Guy Abomination. That’s what my son named him.”
“Technically he named him Antler Guy when he first saw him.”
“Abomination came later, when Son needed a name for that standardized testing stuff.”
“…..your son attends school with his offspring?”
“Yep. They’re at a sleepover right now. Sharon’s probably baking brownies with Hellwife. They’re both stress bakers.”
The suits have a whispered conference. Two short phone calls later, the suit with the shiniest pair of sunglasses has an offer for Steve.
Steve’s official title is Extra-Planar Liaison. Sharon calls it Neighbor Herding. Steve doesn’t care about the title. He gets twice his previous salary plus full benefits to ensure the smoothness of Antler Guy’s “integration in the fabric of human society”, which means all the things he was doing, plus field trips into other planes of reality. (Fluffy is fond of the gigantic mother cat; Clifford tries to eat the homunculi’s acid snot and regrets it immediately).