IT’S IN THE MUD by GK Murphy
Mini Mike sat at the bar, sipping from his glass of the hard stuff in Lucy’s Bar, a hangout he frequented most weekend nights, somewhere to go to get drunk fast and chew the fat with locals in his hometown, Workington in West Cumbria. A couple of hours before, Mini had wrapped up his set on the stage, so now he was in the process of blowing his earnings and sorting out bookings for the coming week. Two hundred quid for two hours’ singing would always be the greatest pay-out known to mere mortals like him, but his happy-go-lucky talent was currently on the brink of collapse due to the dreaded drink and easy drugs. Deep down, deep inside—he knew—simply KNEW—his time would come, because this determined 35 year old was a never-say-die, and he knew—simply KNEW—that bitch known as karma would give him the lucky break he so deserved.
But he had one problem. He despised himself more than anybody else he’d ever met—except ONE—and this man, if you could call IT a man—was the subject of current conversation with Tyrone Payne—who was the barman at Lucy’s Bar, and was just about to shut up shop this Friday night. Basically, Mini had to sling his hook…
“It’s about that time, Mini,” Tyrone said as he polished a grubby pint glass, “But it’s a warm night, you’re hardly drunk, and your car is in the parking lot waiting for you, but whilst you’re still sober enough to drive, I’d quit the shorts whilst you’re still ahead.” Most of this was said in jest. Tyrone didn’t have a vindictive bone in his body.
However, for vindictiveness Mini was known for in certain circles. A bitter streak appeared when he was intoxicated—many had noticed this, yes indeed, albeit nobody had ever brought it to the singer’s attention. It could have been the booze to blame, or the drugs he smoked, because either of these might have sometimes may have served to power-drive his sour moods.
Slurring, Mini leant forward on the bar and focused his blurry eyes on the smirking barman Tyrone, and he spat the words, “You see, I’ve dodged Evil all my life, Tyrone… But me and Little Lucifer are going to rendezvous in the bowels of the Big City, under the Big City lights, in a darkened alley… and me and Little Lucifer are going to have a little knife-fight, when I—yes, I fucking mean ME—will rip that evil little motherfucker a new arsehole, and when the knife goes in, it’s staying in, it isn’t going anywhere—it’s going in the front and coming out the back. I’ll be the all-new Superior Evil-in-Chief and newly-appointed and freshly ordained King of Hell, once I’ve conquered that corrupt betrayer of all things kindly and decent in the world. I’ll make the Big Man in the sky so very happy. I’ll secure my place amongst the best in the Hereafter… see if I don’t, Tyrone!”
Tyrone felt silent and when he did speak it was in a flat hush.
“I hear a lot of strange activity occurs around Dent Hill this time of year,” he said, smirking, yet with what appeared a perverse turn of mouth as he spoke, as he continued, “You might be interested in such activity. Devil worship… but you have to go on the right nights. Sometimes nothing happens there… except for the wind in the trees, and gusts in the long grass on the hill itself.”
This fascinated Mini. He fell silent for a moment as he regarded the barman for what seemed aeons.
Finally, Mini said, “Will they be there tonight?”
“There’s a distinct possibility.”
Mini grinned broadly at Tyrone. He lifted his glass and drained the final dregs of vodka before slamming it down on the mahogany counter with gusto.
Tyrone quipped, “You feel up for a battle?”
The bar was quiet for this time of night. Middle-aged, big-busted and blond Lucy (the bar owner) appeared from the back room. She looked at Mini in a peculiar manner. She smiled and said, “Who are you talking to, Mini?”
“Tyrone… ” he said.
“Ha, you’re drunk,” Lucy chuckled, “Tyrone was a lovely man… just a shame he died in that frigging car collision three years ago… such a lovely man.”
Mini’s eyes widened and he belched loudly, one deep from within the gut. “I’m off to Dent Hill… I’ll see you here next Wednesday at seven o clock for the gig!”
Within twenty minutes, Mini’s car was parked at the foot of Dent Hill and Mini was out and traversing the incline towards the top. It was an almighty walk. To reach the top, or even halfway, would take the best part of two hours. But there were fields, plenty of room for black masses and dirty deeds.
He paused in the darkness and looked around, but his eyes identified nothing that moved in the nearest quarter.
“Who the fuck is that?” he said, jittery now, “Look, I’m sorry about what I said earlier, I didn’t mean it, I wouldn’t mess with you… you know that!”
He was weeping now and scared, his repentance shone like a beacon in the dark.
“I’m sorry… ” he sobbed, and then saw it.
A man made of mud, six feet tall or over, with black soil or clay forming its entire being. Yet, most noticeable were its eyes, or quite frankly, the creature’s lack of them. This monster of soil and muck merely had two indents in its face which looked like they had been formed from two thumbs pressed into its face, where the eyes ought to have been. It was a frightening vision to behold and Mini turned and began to run down the hill back towards his parked car, groaning as his bladder burst and he soiled the back of his trousers and the back of his thigh.
Looking back, he saw the clay man was chasing him. It was an abomination built of the earth’s crust and the essence of Dent Hill.
Thank God, the car door was open and not locked, and the key was still in the ignition. Don’t fail me now, he thought, once inside the car, turning the key and starting it up first time. Blessed be, his famous jerky driving did not qualify here and the car sailed into the darkness down the small leafy lane beneath lower Dent Hill. If he stuck to it as best he could it would lead him onto a main road and back into town.
The light in the cab was dim.
Turning to his left passenger seat, Mini gasped when he saw the terrible thing sitting next to him, and it simply beggared belief—and Mini quite understandably screamed in terror as he slammed on the brakes, prompting the car to jerk to a sharp halt.
A muddy paw covered Mini’s face. The salty muck entered his mouth and delved deep into his throat as the clay monster set about to blind the eyes, block and obstruct breathing through the nostril cavities, as it tried to choke the young singer.
Was this the result of insulting Evil?
Mini begged silently for release yet recognised his certain demise. The mud diluted his blood with grain and salt. It thickened and solidified in his bladder and gut, until eventually his entire body was occupied by the mud-creature.
The last voice he heard was Tyrone’s. “Your final gig is tonight in Hell… ” He added with a wry chuckle, “… from this point on, who knows which direction your career will take? At least it’s a warmer climate than the North West. So, tell me again, what were you saying about a little knife-fight?”
Somewhere, there was laughter. It came from beneath the ground. It came from a million sources…
Now available from Rogue Planet Press: Lovecraftiana Candlemas 2020

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