Hi, kids! Stephen Romano here.
And WELCOME TO PROJECT 51.
Those of you who know about this already need no introduction, but just in case, here is a link to my initial announcement, and I will also explain what is going on right here in a nutshell: Today is the last day of my 50th year on earth and tomorrow I will turn 51. I wanted to celebrate that transition this year by writing 51 short stories and sharing the experience in some way with our fans here at Eibon Press.
The first round of the sharing happened last month, when I held a contest to see who could come up with the wildest, weirdest ideas for my stories, and I selected 23 of them. See the list of winners here. The other stories will be totally original to me. This is, of course, a “stunt” of sorts, to see if it’s possible to write a book-length collection of short tales in just 24 hours, which brings me to the second part of the sharing aspect: As I write, I will be LIVE TWEETING and UPDATING THIS BLOG as I go, providing a sort of “running journal” of the experience with all of you. I’m not going to be filming myself with a video camera the whole time—because eww, right? Who needs to see my sweaty, ugly mug for 24 fuckin’ hours? But I will be keeping an actual VIDEO JOURNAL, and will share it later for your amusement. Starting at 7pm CT today and during the next 24 hours, I will post a few video entries with you at our You Tube channel, and you will be able to witness the total crumble of my sanity, right here from the Eibon Press headquarters.
I will put the throttle down hard and not stop until these 51 tales have been created, and those tales will become an officially published Eibon book later next year, where I will tell you even more about my twisted thought process in both conceiving and executing this bizarre scheme. THREE of the stories will be posted here for you amusement in their entirety as I work. (BOOKMARK THIS FUCKING BLOG, OKAY?) The rest, you’ll have to pay for the book to read. I have been preparing for this day for months. I am perched here behind my desk in my tiny writing office in my little house in Austin, where have lived since 2006. I have written and co-produced many movies right from this chair. I have made each and every comic book released by Eibon Press right from this chair. I wrote RESURRECTION EXPRESS and created SHOCK FESTIVAL in this room. And now, I will celebrate it all, and put a capper on a long, storied era, by doing this totally insane thing. I am ready.
But one final note before I begin.
I was talking with a dear friend the other day and she said to me, “You’re the only person I know who would ever use his birthday as an excuse to work harder.” Well, she may be right about that… but I guess I’m lucky, because my work happens to be the thing I love most. And I want to say something else to all of you—each and every person who reads this and/or buys our comic books, and also those among you who may be creative professionals. I want to say to you that if my love for the Thing I Do has ever yielded something you’ve found inspiring… please, by all means, let what I’m doing today inspire you, too. It’s not that crazy, really. I’m doing what I love. I’m doing it because I need to. I am grateful for that. I am grateful for my muse. And I am grateful for all of you. Um. Especially if you’ve ever bought anything I made. You literally pay the rent on this shitty house I’m sitting in now. And that’s really fucking important, too.
My muse, by the way is named The Klown Prince Of Darkness.
He gets in the deep and he makes the magic happen.
And he’s totally insane.
So let’s do this.
In FIVE HOURS, officially, the timer starts.
At 7pm in Austin, Texas I will begin writing the first story of PROJECT 51, which is called DISCRIMITIZER.
I will not stop until 7pm tomorrow.
Join me . . .
UPDATE: 7:30 PM!
Okay, so I started an hour early, just to get warmed up and I've written the first four stories as of now. Hey, I MAKE THE FUCKING RULES, okay?
The first four are: DESCRIMITIZER, REPTILICATOR, DUPLICATIONOID and EXPLODOTRON.
Next up is the final story in this five-part series: STABILITRODE.
I had no idea what this five-part series would be about until jus now. I made it all up as I was writing! here's the first paragraph of the first story:
At Mission Control they always tell us not to move too soon. It all comes down to finesse. Which is interesting, seeing as how most people think of us as The Worlds Least Subtle Organization. But that’s how these things work. Even the Biggest Cosmic Thunderfuck on God’s Green Earth starts somewhere, and usually it starts very, very small. And you gotta let it evolve. For example, this riot situation we have today. Its your typical Greenpeace save-the-whales thing gone horribly wrong, were a bunch of basic-bitch Granola crunching idealisticals show up to yell about how nice it would be for everyone to be sweet to one another and hug a tree . . . and then some rifle toting, flag-waving Nazi punkolas start following after them in doublewide pickup trucks, declaring this street the land of the goddamn free, and then some dumbass starts talking shit, and everyone’s voice gets louder, and some guns decide go off in someone’s face, and, yeah, the whole thing escalates pretty fast. Pretty soon everyone’s shooting and scratching each other’s eyes out. A lotta “ordinary citizens” get into the act. There’s even some asshole on a corner with blood all over his face screaming ALL LIVES MATTER while he picks his targets with a bow and arrow from Dick’s Sporting Goods. He gets off just one shot, of course—because what genius actually shows up to a riot waving a bow and arrow around?—before he’s trampled by the Millennials, and obviously it’s on every social media site in five seconds, from twenty different phones. Gotta love how the masses police themselves, these days, huh? But we’re not really allowed to get involved right away on these things. See, it’s all about finesse. There used to be a time when the Organization would just fly in all willy-nilly at the first sign of unrest. It was cleaner that way, some said. Let god sort ‘em out, right? But that’s not long-term thinking. It gets too many innocent people killed too soon. What you really need in these situations is a bit of drama. And then you need escalation. And then you need us. But only in low doses. At first.
Believe me that's just the tip of a very nutty iceberg.
More to come!
1;00 AM. HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
The first story of my birthday really just creeped me the fuck out. I mean, WOW It's something I've had in my head for years called HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? But I was always afraid to actually write the fucking thing. Now I know why. It's really horrifying . . .
That makes Story #13, and I'm still hanging in there. MAN . . . I'm SO TOTALLY CREEPED OUT . . .
I'm not Minna post that one because I think you really ought pay to read that one. BUT here's another one from the current expanding batch which I wrote a little while ago. It's a little something I lie to call . . .
(Please excuse the off typo. This will all be edited later when I have slept for several months and the final book is prepared.)
In world of losers and winners and liars and scumbags and teenage girls filled with rage, her band becomes the Next Big Thing. They explode as the thunder of their generation, loved and admired by everyone younger than them, flaming yellow hellcats in crackling leather with screaming-mad guitars, raging into the night, to the amusement and the adoration and the absolute worship of two hundred thousand screaming fans at a time. Guitar, bass and drums. Power trio with thunder sauce. The cute little psycho-cartoon on the bass drum head shouts their name far and wide, and the whole world bows to it. Pink Gremlin. The road before them is paved with good intentions, of course, the freeway behind them inevitably festooned with chaos and lawsuits, broken groupies, trashed hotel rooms and angry promoters. None of it matters much in the end, however, because in this world rock stars still rule supreme and everyone stands away from the spectacle and wishes they could be just like them. And, like in most bands, there are leaders and followers. In this case, there is just one leader and two followers. The rhythm section are strictly hired guns. It’s really her band, and has been all along. She writes all the songs, of course, and her guitar and her voice are all that matters to most fans. Not to mention her perfect dancer’s body, and her long sparkly pink hair and square chin and sexy fuck-me-now eyes. She’s on more magazine covers than Gwen Stefani ever was. And the songs. Oh, man, the songs. All that lovely innocent pain and the sincerely bitter angst, all that cheerful rebellion and her odd shout-outs to The Runaways. The fans all love the shit out of it when they blast out “Let It Go” full-energy and she gets to the line You’re a chocoletik, megaphonik CHERRY BOMB! They just go nuts for that, in fact. She composed those lyrics years ago when she was starving and confused and in love with being mediocre, and then she brought that mediocrity across a certain threshold and somebody, somewhere, decided she was the Queen of Cool and then everybody else thought it too, and suddenly she was stuck on a tour bus with a bunch of twatty millionaire scream queens, and they were breaking hearts everywhere . . . and of course they still fuck as many young boys as they can these days, but of course she only likes girls and you can tell, tell TELL by the lyrics she writes, which most young boys live in denial about. Lick me there, baby, make me love you, lady, make me really crazy, KILL MY LOVE NOW. And nobody gets it, even though everyone thinks they do. She grabs the nearest pink dildo and rams it up her own twatty twat and makes her love die over and over. She’s tortured by how fake she is, but what can she do? It’s not her fault she’s rich and famous, is it? She’s not much of a substance abuser and she never used to care much for the idea of being a boozer, either, but she takes her first drink of whiskey one night in a bar with her road manager, who is a dyke named Carly who wants her bad, but she won’t fuck the girl and things get out of hand and there’s a lot of glass breaking and hair pulling and the hangover is bad and Carly gets fired, but the whiskey is here to stay. She keeps drinking it. On stage. In her room. On the bus. She starts yelling at people. Her new road manager tells her to straighten up and fly right. She tells the new road manager she can go fuck herself and then fucks the new road manager with a big pink dildo that has the name of her band on it. And this isn’t crazy-fun rock star stuff. Oh no. She’s finding real pain here. It’s amazes her and freaks her out and makes her even crazier. She descends so far into madness with it that there seems to be no soul left in her by the time the red fog clears and the new road manager—who’s name she didn’t even know before all this and still doesn’t know now—is shivering in a fetal knot on the floor and crying that all she wanted was to be loved. They’re all pussies, a cheery little voice in her head says. And then the voice tells her to go even further. The tour goes on for a year and the blood runs thick, in hotel suites, in bondage dungeons, in back rooms with body mod specialists who hack on their own cigarette-infected breath as they carve up the faithful. She goes under the knife in a particularly terrifying place like that, during an alcohol blackout that erases three days from her life. And when she wakes up, it’s all different. Her face, her career, her fame . . . all of it changes. It’s not totally over, mind you. But she’s famous in a whole other way now. She shows her face in public and it scares little children and makes her most devoted fans puke. But she starts writing again. Writing from the pain she now feels because she is a freak and not some pretty blonde with a hot body and marginal talent pretending life is soooo hard. And she records those songs and they still go double platinum, even in a world when the words double platinum are reserved only for people named Taylor Swift. She is a legendary screaming-mad monster now, loved by all the other screaming-mad monsters. A mutilated goddess bound to earth. An angel made to suffer. But she smiles now. And the smile is filled with real joy. She is neither woman nor man. She is a creature made of steel and flesh. She is pink perfection. She has become the namesake of her band. And on her next tour, everyone backs away in reverence at the sight of her. They all cover their eyes because she cannot be seen, lest their eyes be scorched and their tongues gored out and their brains reduced to raspberry sludge. She is a god walking. And she will be immortal, until the end of all the days on earth when mankind forgets that such things ever mattered at all.
3:19: STILL HERE!
Just wrote THE FIRST KILL OF KEVIN STING, which was based on a pitch I made for the new CREEPSHOW TV program. It came out okay, I guess. Had a twist I didn't see coming . . .
I'm 20 stories deep!
Will post two more at least before the end of this thing, and they'll both be from stuff YOU suggested I write.
7:59am . . . I've been updating pretty regularly at Twitter, posting stupid little videos and such. I've been writing pretty much non-stop for hours and feeling a lot of creative fatigue set in, to be honest. So I took a little break, ate something, caught a 20 minute cat nap and took a shower. Then I bashed out this fun little baby, based on Tino Zamora's idea. It came out pretty cool, I think, especally for 7:30 in the morning. It's something I like to call . . .
Even perfect revenge doesn’t replace the music of laughter.
Perfect revenge is only irony refined.
A clever punch-line to a well-constructed joke.
It doesn’t really make the pain go away.
But let’s back up some.
Lets go back to when I was I kid in Dallas in 1988, and there was this really hot summer, and the street was scorching and the kids were playing stickball and the air was filled with that weirdly indefinable inner city sleaze-magic—the kind most people think about when they see movies about New Jersey. But it happens in Texas, too. We have stickball and brownstones just like those guys. We have pockmarked streets scorched by the sun and steamy open manholes that reek of natural gas and fire hydrants that blast off for the amusement of screaming children. And we have street vendors, too. There was this one old taco guy with a nice big push-cart full of carne guisada and pico di gallo and the comforting waft of homemade tortillas, hand rolled by his beautiful daughter Chloe. Everyone loved to talk to her. She was raven haired and dark, smart and sassy and winking. Her lips were like sweet black snakes and her laughter was like beautiful timeless music. That was how the old man described her to me one afternoon. She is the music of my life. Her laughter is our future and the future is here. No one knew the old man’s name, but he was everyone’s grandfather in the ‘hood. And because no inner city shithole is complete without them, there were also these dirty hideous street punks who used to come around all the time, trying to get free tacos. The leader was this big tough skinhead named Julian who liked to recite Mien Kampf while he beat the shit out of people smaller than him. His cronies were mostly Aryan Brotherhood types, all muscle and missing male chromosomes, drooling with hatred for anything Julian told them they should have hatred for. On the same day they all protested outside city hall against black people being allowed to vote, they went out and mugged two little old ladies, totaled their car and dumped their groceries in a Church donation box. Weird. Then they went back to harassing the old man and his daughter at the taco stand. The old man and Chloe were Hispanic of course, and the tacos were great, obviously—and that was all Hispanics were good for, apparently, in the eyes of hideous droolers with no hair. Every day it was a little worse. They messed with the old man’s customers. They pissed in his taco meat. One time they even stole the cart and ran away with it, but it was the end of the day, and there was nothing left to eat. The old man had sold all the meat and he never kept cash on the cart—it was always in a money belt on his hip. So they just trashed the cart and left it in the street, where it got run over and smashed by a big dump truck. The old man tried to get the police to arrest Julian and this thugs but no one would come forward as a witness. The old man’s insurance bought him another cart, though, and he made more tacos and he was back on the street in no time . . . but the punks were back too, led by that big dumb asshole, and the whole thing started all over again.
Only this time, the old man had a shotgun.
Two shots fired in the air and the punks were pretty scared.
They slithered away but Julian vowed revenge of course.
He got the old man’s beautiful daughter on her way home from the market.
Dragged her into a blind alley and raped her until she was nearly dead.
In the hospital, hooked up to all the machines, Chloe actually did die, her lungs crushed, her bones shattered, her last breath choking in her lacerated larynx, holding her father’s hand with broken fingers.
Of course there were no witnesses.
But Julian and his boys never bothered the old man again.
The joke was over and neighborhood shivered in silence.
That’s the problem with street corners in Dallas—or in New Jersey or New York or pretty much anywhere else. Nobody does anything about anything. They all just want to pretend it never happened and move on with their lives. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
Eventually, Julian vanished into nowhere, replaced by some other dumb redneck lunatic spouting Nazi verse to the same airheads, down there on the corner.
The old man kept his eye on the fella, of course.
Eventually, the fella gathered all of Julian’s old gang members around him, and they approached the old man’s taco stand and they asked if it was true—did some asshole trash your cart and kill your daughter? The old man just smiled and said he didn’t want any trouble.
Their new leader—a tall thin bald guy with tattoos on his face and gold teeth, who never even seemed to have a name—smiled back. And he pulled out a thick roll of cash—the kind of cash made by assholes with far bigger fish to fry than knocking over a taco stand—and he yelled: “TACOS FOR EVERYONE!”
And all the punks came running.
The old man served them all.
Every one of those dead-eyed children who had tortured him and gotten away with it.
Everyone one of them who had followed Julian.
The old man was serving them Julian, of course.
There had been no witnesses to that, either.
Even though the shotgun in the blind alley had been so loud on the night after Chloe died, and the old man had screamed with such mad satisfaction, and at least ten people saw him blow the guy’s head off and stuff what was left in the trunk of his car.
Nobody saw a damn thing.
Those were the same people who didn’t come anywhere near the cart when the new asshole declared free murder tacos for the whole ‘hood. They knew better, of course. All the rest of the punks ate heartily. They ate their former Nazi leader.
And the old man smiled.
Knowing all the while that irony was nice, but it was only a grim punchline to a terrible joke, which would never bring back the music of his beautiful daughter’s laughter.
MORE TO COME, kids . . .
This has been a far deeper grind that I could have anticipated, but the challenge has been fun and some good work has happened. I particularly like the following story, which was suggested to me by Steve Garza Jr. and will very definitely win one of the big prizes. This is the final story I will post publicly during the writing. I have ust five or six hours left to finish the last twelve stories. Can I fucking pull this off? I'm tired, my hands hurt and I'm wondering why the fuck I did this to myself . . . but, hey, it's all for art. Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way. Mostly.
And now, our final story of the day:
I LOVE JENNIFER DICK
That’s really her name, you know.
A lot of people laugh at her, until they see how big her tits are.
Then they’re all nice—especially the boys.
Jennifer just smiles.
She’s the sweetest girl I’ve ever known and the most beautiful, too. She’s kind to me when I look at her, when she’s coming home from school. She even waves hello sometimes when I’m on the front lawn. But of course we live in different worlds. Even though we live right across the street from one another.
My name is Joey and I’m sixteen years old.
I’ve never been to a public school.
I don’t have any friends my age—or really any friends at all.
My mom says it’s because the world is evil and we can’t be a part of it.
I think it’s probably because I’m a hunchbacked dwarf.
Mom says the world isn’t ready for freaks like me, but she loves me anyway. She actually uses those words: “Freaks like you.” She calls me “Mister Pitiful” when I cry. I kinda hate her guts, actually. I think about killing her all the time. I fantasize about ways of doing it. Cutting her head loose on the lawn and watching the blood flow. I would do it and be happy about it. I would make sure Jennifer sees. I would do it all for her.
Jennifer is just one year older than me, and she has long red hair and perfect teeth and she walks her cute little doggie every day before school and once more when she comes back from school. The dog’s name is Pedro. He’s some kind of mutt. I think I identify with the little guy because he is a lot like me—short and round and gasping for air and totally in love with someone who will never truly belong to him. That’s the way all dogs are. They search and never find. Still and all, Jennifer smiles at the poor little fella and drags him behind her on the leash and he tries to keep up and she giggles when the boys tease her on the street, and then snap pictures on their phones as she walks away. The pictures are so they can jerk off to her later. They’re all such scumbags. I’d kill them too. Just for the sheer fun of it. Jennifer wouldn’t even have to see. I would laugh and laugh.
Every morning I get up early to watch her leave the house. She is like the sunrise. I love her so much. She is the only thing I love. Sometimes she sees me and waves. Then she forgets all about me and smiles at something else.
I wake up in the middle of the night and decide what I must do.
The back door of her house is easy.
I make no sound.
Pedro looks up at me with glazed eyes as I take him.
He doesn’t make a sound either.
He can’t because he’s a freak like me.
For the next two days Jennifer looks for him. She cries in front of her house. Every day, I am flush with excitement because I know just how I can make her happy. I know exactly what I can do to turn on the sunrise again. All I have to do is walk up to her with my hands behind my back, tell her what my name is and that I love her, and then I’ll show her Pedro and she’ll throw her arms around me and love me back and we’ll be best friends forever and I will marry her one day and we will have kids and grow old together and laugh about how we met as we gaze lovingly at old pictures of Pedro, still on the wall after all these years. What foolish children we were. How amazing it was to be a child. How cute Pedro looks, even in faded photographs. How perfectly goddamn delightful it all is, to be sure.
But I can never get there.
My body won’t react.
I am frozen on the wrong side of my window, looking out at poor Jennifer, knowing all I have to do to deliver her from despair and make her love me is reach out and put her beloved Pedro into her waiting arms . . . and yet I am paralyzed.
I have never spoken to a girl.
Never spoken to anyone.
I try and try . . . but I just can’t go to her.
And so I cut off one of Pedro’s paws.
It’s super easy with the hacksaw. I’ve done this before a lot. I know just how to cause pain and keep the animal alive. I cauterize the wound and watch the scream in his poor little doggie eyes and I think to him: See? This is what you get! THIS IS WHAT YOU FUCKING GET! And then I hurt him some more, into the night.
The next week, Jennifer is dark and unhappy, wandering in the neighborhood, still looking for Pedro. I follow her, silent behind bushes, like a broken shadow trailing after one of the Lost Boys, trying to find purchase in the real world. But I can’t ever break cover. I can’t ever go to her. I am frozen beyond my bubble. I want so badly to make her happy, to give the animal back to her—that’s all it will take, just a moment of courage, JUST FUCKING DO IT—
She is too beautiful.
She is too sad.
I cannot have her.
And so I cut off Pedro’s tail.
He makes no sound, sad pleading eyes lolling up at me in silent resignation, telling me, Yes, this is what I get. THIS IS WHAT I FUCKING GET!
The next day I take his left ear.
Then his right.
I chop off two more of his legs, screaming in silence.
My closet and my room smells of blood and matted fur and despair.
And the next day, Jennifer is no longer beautiful at all.
She is a defiled shell of a thing.
Her heart is shattered and she wants nothing more than to be dead.
Her beautiful, ageless smile is gone. The spring in her step has vanished. Everything that made me love her is absolutely not there anymore. Even the boys notice. They stop catcalling her. They don’t snap photos. She is invisible now. Broken.
And so it’s almost easy to walk right up to her, as she slithers home from school. She is nothing more than a freak like me, after all. The only thing that makes it hard at all is the memory. That she used to be so special. That I used to need her so much. There is the promise that I could find that again. That she could find that. But it’s only a promise. Most promises are broken. Every promise is broken. Eventually. I come to her with a shoebox and tell her what’s in it. She looks inside and he’s horrified.
But Pedro still looks up at her with love.
He has only one eye left to do it with.
And she still says thank you to me.
She kisses my cheek and says it again.
Thank you so very much.
I never see her again. Her family moves away and she goes with them.
But the kiss she gave me stays, comforting me now and forever, down through the days of my life, which I live alone in silence, waiting for the day to come when I will look back on such things as so many beautiful, fleeting moments of childhood lost.
Keep it here for some final updates, as I near the finish line!
2:38 . . . aaaaannnnnnd I'm officially calling it, with 51 stories written!
Since a little before 7pm last night (I started about an hour early) I have written 50,738 words. That's more than I've ever written in a single sitting in my entire life--and the book will end up being probably a lot longer because many of these stories are first drafts, and will be edited, reworked and in some cases, added to later, when the book is in production. (That's just how any book work, guys; it's not cheating.) I consider many of these first drafts . . . but I knocked quite a number of them out of the park right away. What they don't tell you when you decide to write an entire book of stories IN ONE FUCKING DAY is that the constant hallucinations tend to keep you from dong your best work. And you can be sure I will never be doing anything exactly like this again, at least in this century . . . but I came in, under the deadline, and we'll have a killer little book for you soon. It's just nutty fucking stuff.
Thank all of you for participating.
Your blood is our life and vice versa.
It's been real!
AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!
CLICK HERE to access the Twitter thread I maintained all during the marathon. It's pretty silly.