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Welcome to Monster Mingle, a place where urban legends find romance, where full moons lead to fuller hearts, and all the thirsty singles have fangs. This is how it usually works: illustrator Bryan Politte comes up with the creatures and I (Drew Chial horror author) give them a backstory. This time Bryan got the character Matilda MacDonald from my book HE HAS MANY NAMES.
Watch out for Matilda. She’s an unreliable narrator. She’ll use scripture to get inside your head. She’ll try to temp you. Don’t let your guard down, because she is not the devil you know.
I was starry-eyed when I arrived in the silver city, thinking I could make it on my charm and my wit. I floated my résumé all over, inquired about every position, but no one knew where I fit in. I wandered the chrome crosswalks and sterling skyways for days. I was on my way out the pearly gates when a messenger came for me.
“Hail, thou art highly favored.”
He told me I’d landed an interview with the biggest player in town.
The Entrepreneur’s reputation preceded him. He was an industrialist, a philanthropist, and a visionary with the business acumen to keep the silver city running.
The Entrepreneur wasted no time showing me to my office. He needed a spokesperson ASAP. He had seven days to roll out his most ambitious project yet. He gave me a wardrobe for the week, adorned every outfit in precious stones, and dubbed me, “The seal of perfection. A startlet who will shine through morning.”
With the plans for the universe stretched across our arms we became a power couple. We invested in atoms, watched the interest build into molecules, and later elements. We shipped dark matter, hydrogen, and helium throughout the cosmos and laid the foundations for the constellations. We built a real estate empire from time and space itself.
I assumed the Entrepreneur meant it for the residents of the silver city, a reward for their investment, but he had other plans. It turns out there was a pet project he’d been laboring on, with his petri dishes and his eyedroppers. He called it “Life.” While each Angel was handcrafted and meticulously detailed, life was capable of sustaining growth with minimal oversight. It was with thishe meant to populate his planets.
When creating humanity, the Entrepreneur used resources I didn’t know we had: genitals, free will, and death.
I didn’t get it.
Why would an omniscient being give people the power to choose if he already knew the outcome? Either he was leaving them to struggle for his own amusement or he wasn’t that omniscient to begin with.
My pride got the better of me. I told the Entrepreneur the project would lead to chaos and a third of the board agreed. Furious, the Entrepreneur cast the lot of us out.
Matilda MacDonald by Bryan PolitteLife Changing Event
I plummeted into the mouth of a cavernous pit. The walls scrapped the jewels from my outfit. Gemstones flew in all directions. My breastplate burst, my braces buckled, and my gauntlets were ground down to grain. I crashed through sheets of ice and landed upon a bed of stalagmites.
When I came to, I found my skin had taken on a bluish hue, my hair was slick with frost, and my eyebrows were lined with icicles. I thought it was strange that I could see my breath so far from the light, but then I noticed the length of silver around my right index finger. The last piece of my armor was shining in the dark.
I teetered to my feet and the ring glowed brighter. I limped toward the wall and a stinging sensation surged down my arm. The ring was trying to warn me about something in the limestone. I waved it around until I came upon a series of ridges unlike any rock formation I’d known. When I touched the ridges, they told me they were the fossilized remains of something called a trilobite. The creature claimed to have dominated the seas for hundreds of millions of years. I called the trilobite a liar. I told it that I’d helped found the universe only a week ago.
The trilobite said, “If that’s so then where did I come from?”
I ventured further into the dark to see what else was hiding there. The pit was littered with bones: great leviathan skeletons, ribs arching like the roofs, skulls yawning open as if to drink the ocean. They looked upon me with hollow pleading eyes and every time I tapped them with my silver, they told me what they were. These were the titans of industry that came before: The Uranides, the Vanir, and the Great Old ones. Azathoth, dethroned from the seat of chaos. Hastur, shut out of Carcosa where the stars shine black.
Each one had a similar story. The Entrepreneur had been rolling out beta universes, with each new version he took on a partner, and when the rollout was complete the partner ended up here. I was the latest in a long line of suckers.
You’d think that misery would love the company, but I was all the more heart broken.
The Entrepreneur had taken almost everything, but I still had that shard of silver on my finger. I used it to cut bricks from the bones and mortar from their marrow. I built a home from those who came before, and in my den, I listened to their whispers. They taught me the secrets of their runes, cosmic currencies, and investment strategies. I used that knowledge to cross over into the Entrepreneur’s latest venture.
My Hobbies and Interests
I had no part in getting Adam and Eve evicted from the Garden of Eden. That was a snake that got jilted when Adam wouldn’t choose it to be his mate.
Most of my appearances in the Old Testament were mistranslations. This is what happens when you name someone after the Hebrew word for “adversary” and then you need to use the same word to describe others. People get confused.
Although I’ll admit the book of Job was all me.
I’d been wandering the earth trying get a startup going, but my hands were bound by tedious regulations.
A plague spread throughout the land and I snuck back into the Silver City amongst a wave of refugees. With some fancy footwork I made it all the way back to the Entrepreneur’s office. He was scrolling through the feed from his ticker tape machine, fat and rosy on humanity’s adoration and belief. He didn’t seem too surprised to see me.
“Where did you come from?”
It took all of my self-control not to drive my silver ring through my palm. “I’ve been roaming the earth. Going back and forth on it.”
He nodded, unphased I’d scurried my way out of the pit.
“Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”
I had considered Job.
“Does Job love you for nothing? Check out his palatial estate, his bountiful lands, and livestock empire. Not to mention the ten children that will ensure his legacy carries on for generations. You gave him a good return on his investment. Take it back up and he’d curse you where you stand.”
The Entrepreneur stroked his beard. “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man do not lay a finger.”
I gave Sabean raiders a hot tip on where Job kept his oxen. Then I rained commits on his sheep and dropped a roof on his children.
Job, the poor sucker, did exactly what I wanted him to. He fell to his knees and said, “The lord has given and the lord has taken away. May the name of the lord be praised.”
I returned to the Silver City to find the Entrepreneur wiping a tear of joy from his cheek. He was tickled pink.
I reached into the pile of ticker tape that had accumulated on the floor, pretending to care about things I already knew.
“Job still has his health. Take that and the praise train will roll right off its tracks.”
The Entrepreneur smirked, lifted a few more sanctions and I covered Job in lesions.
Job’s neighbors had heard about his misfortune. They paid him a visit to reaffirm his faith, but he had come around to my way of thinking.
How could such bad things happen to a good person? If the Entrepreneur was all-powerful then he couldn’t be all good, especially if he was trying to prove something to someone. That would just make him an all-powerful asshole.
Job cursed the day he was born, gave into despair, and begged the Entrepreneur for death. His neighbors tried to rationalize the Entrepreneur’s mysterious ways, but they were arguing from ignorance, and Job knew it.
“Let the Almighty answer me!”
The Entrepreneur had been following the conversation from his desk and decided to make an entrance. He split the sky open to grant his investors an audience and what did he have to say to them?
“Where were you when I laid the earths foundations? Tell me, who fixed its measurements? Surely you know who stretched a measuring line across it?”
Of course, I knew. And it wasn’t a measuring line. It was tape. Had the planet held such little regard to him that he thought it was flat?
The Entrepreneur bullied Job into submission and doubled the man’s losses as compensation, which just proved my point. His investors were only as loyal as their assets.
My Intimate Details
I’ve convinced many Jobs to pull out of the Entrepreneur’s enterprise, but it took finesse to get them to invest in mine. The Entrepreneur’s PR department has turned my brand toxic, blaming me for the Inquisition, the Witch Trails, Christ, even the Catholic Abuse Scandal.
When missionaries came to Greece, they saw idols of the Greek God Pan with his horns, hooves, and hard-on and they felt threatened. They could’ve told stories of a faun who lured children into caves so he could eat them (you know, use their imaginations) instead they merely passed his fashion sense onto me. They swapped my blush with a beard, my long legs with matted wool, and my firm butt with a sad droopy tail. Then they handed me Hade’s pitchfork for good measure. “Here, hold this.”
Despite all the evidence that Pan was another entity, from another mythology, his likeness was attributed to me. Fine. While the faithful looked over their shoulders for a goatee and red complexion I was free to walk among them.
The more insidious my methods got the more grandiose my depictions became. When John the Revelator was exiled to the island of Patmos, he tried his hand at writing. He had a strong premise with the Apocalypse, but he did what most first timers do and let the concept devolve into lists: seven seals, seven trumpets, seven spiritual beings, with seven bowls.
Had John been a better storyteller he might have imagined Armageddon, not as battle of swords, but of wits, where competing philosophies debated for the fate of humanity. Alas, John was more interested in who would win in a fight: The Archangel Michael or a seven-headed dragon.
After John, Dante and Milton wrote some fine fan fiction. I liked how Dante populated the Inferno with his personal enemies and how Milton made me a freedom fighter that could give a good speech, but I was never up to my tits in any ice nor would I claim Death and Sin among my brain children.
I never did half of what I got credit for. I never stole tools from the Silver Foundry to make a pact with a blacksmith. I never dared a soldier to wear a bearskin for seven years, and I never took a small-town farmer to trial for his soul. I have never lorded over any flies. Horseshoes don’t scare me, and black cats do not answer to me. They’re cats. They answer to nobody.
I wish I were as powerful as people believe. I wish I’d shined as bright as Venus in the morning. I wish I’d had a penthouse in Babylon. I wish my corporate headquarters had floors based on sins, but I have to budget my expenditures same as anyone.
These false etymologies have followed me for centuries. I used to agonize over every erroneous association. Now I’ve learned the value of good branding. Products live and die by consumers’ belief in them. I’ve learned to lean into humanity’s misconceptions, because the more they fear me the more they believe.
When the clergy made up stories to fill seats, I used their sermons as brainstorming sessions. I jotted notes over old hymns, tore out the pages, and slid them into my corset.
This wasn’t merely opposition research I was insider trading.
I’ve held many titles over the years. These days I go by Matilda MacDonald: Agent to the Stars.
Matilda is derived from the High German “maht” and “hild” meaning “strong in battle.” MacDonald is a modified version of Dòmhnall, which means “World ruler.” My name states my intentions while conjuring images of telekinetic little girls and fast food chains.
In the 80s, I made myself over as one of Patrick Nagel’s art deco women. I wanted to embody the iconography of that era of greed. I already had the snow-white skin, raven black hair, full lips, and stone cut cheekbones. All I needed was the pixie haircut, eyeshadow, and wardrobe full of pantsuits.
I’ve kept the same form for a generation and low and behold greed is still in fashion.
My Perfect Match
While my investments are in the markets of man, my heart belongs to the arts to the music-makers and the dreamers of dreams. Kings rule nations, but creators rule minds. All of my lovers possess a wealth of imagination, that je ne sais quoi that captures my attention.
Over the centuries I’ve played patron to many a prodigy. I massaged Nicolo Paganini’s joints so he could play violin, taught Giuseppe Tartini my favorite sonata, gave Christoph Haizmann visions worth painting, and tuned Robert Johnson’s guitar so he could always find the right strings.
I see the same spark in you.
You’ve tried so hard to make it as an artist. You have the tenacity and the drive. Too bad the free content movement devalued your medium, your ability never caught up with your tastes, and your style was never in fashion.
If you stay on the path the Entrepreneur has set, you’ll always be on the outside looking in. Your day job will never help you sleep at night. Your inspiration will be reduced to a nagging voice in the back of your mind. You will grow cynical watching fame go to vapid, beautiful, superficial people. You’ll die knowing your intimate thoughts will never connect with a broader audience, search engines will bury your legacy, and your work will go undiscovered.
But not if I have anything to say about it.
I heard the prayers you whispered to bathroom stalls, showerheads, and pillows. I heard the long-winded confessions that shot out of you like steam. I heard you scratching at death’s door. I know what’s it like to have lofty ambitions, to think your ascent was a forgone conclusion only to wind up scraping yourself off the ground.
I’ve chosen you because you’re not destined for great things, but you should be.
My Ideal Date
In the Richmond District of San Francisco, there’s a yellow duplex on California St. between 24thand 23rdAve. The address should read: 6118, 6120, and 6122, but someone has pried off all of the 6s from the units.
On special nights, under the light of a blood red moon, the edifice shifts. A person with the spark of inspiration will see the black Victorian home that once stood there.
If you’re ready to live the life you deserve walk up the stoop and open the front door.
Don’t let Togar scare you. He may be a lion, but he’s as friendly as they come. Take hold of his mane and follow him through the black velvet curtains down into the basement.
Don’t worry that the ritual chamber hasn’t been used in years. Cross the cobwebs between the candelabra and the pipe organ, past the bed of nails, toward the altar. Consider the wall of ceremonial daggers. The blades are made from ivory, flint, silver, and gold. I trust you’ll know which hilt to pull. When you do a door will open revealing a secret corridor. The corridor is made of seven artist spaces.
The first is filled with bookshelves lined with leather bound first editions.
The second: painted canvases stretched end to end.
The third: drafting tables jutting out from channels.
The fourth: a cube of soundproof acoustic panels.
The fifth: the many monitors of an editing bay.
The sixth: cryptic code on digital displays.
The seventh chamber, at the heart of this tomb, is the devil’s den: my master bedroom. I’ll be waiting on the futon beneath the sheer red canopy. Why don’t you join me when you’re ready to live deliciously?
There are many ways to enter into a binding bargain, but I find that this one is the most fun.
Welcome to Monster Mingle, a place for urban legends to find romance, where full moons lead to fuller hearts, and all the thirsty singles have fangs. This is how it works: illustrator Bryan Politte comes up with the creatures and I (Drew Chial horror author) give them a backstory.
Meet the first. He’s an alien. He’s well traveled, loyal, and charming, but just wait until you get to the end before you decide if you’re smitten.
Greetings, lovelorn earthlings,
My designation is Scryzon Wixelvox Gleep, the last of the Monogoans: a race known for our vast subterranean cities, towering silver spires, and big hearts.
After the destruction of Monogome Prime my people were scattered throughout the galaxy. Our vessels were bioengineered to convert cosmic radiation into endless provisions, but mine was the only one that functioned as designed. Helpless, I could do nothing but watch as all the vital signs went flat. Then I was alone in the universe.
I’m ashamed to admit I spent a prolonged period in hyper stasis after that.
Eons later I am up, active, and avoiding the hibernation chamber. I exercise, walk the exterior perimeter of my vessel, and meditate beneath the stars. I spend my working hours restoring the Monogoan archives, piecing together our cultural legacy so that my lineage might know where they came from. (Yes, I wish to sire offspring, I hope that’s not a deal breaker.)
I’m told my eyes are my most striking characteristic. My trinocular vision makes me an observant lover. I see ultraviolet light, infrared, and subtle emotional cues. My pheromone pores enable me to sense arousal from several kilometers away. I’m also a good listener, capable of hearing hypersonic frequencies, infra sound, and the sweetest of nothings.
My Perfect Match
For centuries I spent my evenings at the helm of my vessel monitoring the long-range scanners for signs of life. It was Earth that first gave me the green light. 100 of your years ago I received your first radio signal. I mistook the bowing of the violin strings for your vocal incantations. I thought that that transcendent music was how you spoke. Imagine my surprise when I found your speech patterns were similar to my own.
I charted a course for your solar system, devoting my days to learning your language, listening to your sports operas, talent plays, and quizcasts.
I’m embarrassed to admit I mistook the War of the Worldsfor a genuine newscast. The Martian Invasion was reminiscent of the attack that decimated Monogome Prime. From the heat rays to the black smoke to the heartless indifference of our attackers, it was all very triggering. I stole away to the roof of my vessel and sobbed into my helmet; certain I was alone again. When I crawled back through the airlock, I found you were still broadcasting like nothing had happened. How could you toy with my emotions like that? I’m not going to lie. It felt like a breach of trust.
It was the Voyager 1 satellite that reignited my feelings for you. The golden record, with all the warm greetings, was the mix tape I needed to know you were still into me.
As I near your solar system I’m watching your television broadcasts as I receive them, learning a lot about the intricacies of human courtship from shows like The Honeymooners and I can’t wait to give you all “one right in the kisser.”
My Intimate Details
I’m omnisexual. Having evolved over eons my species is compatible with all carbon-based life forms. I know omnisexually carries a certain stigma. You might wonder how you could hold my attention when I’m sexually attracted to every organism, but I assure youI am loyal. We Monogoans are serial monogamists.
My Ideal Date
I would cherish nothing more than to fly around the earth taking in the sights with the right guide. Show me how to use the Eifel tower, what the pyramids are for, and what the great wall holds up. Together we’ll sample earth’s finest cuisine, art, and theater. I want to hear everything about you too, your dreams and aspirations, your five-century plan.
We’ll chat until morning as we fly toward the horizon, chasing the sunset. And when we’re exhausted from our revels, we’ll exchange genetic material.
Now I know your species doesn’t traditionally interbreed, but don’t worry. There’s no need to get flummoxed over silly things like which genomes are compatible. My race reproduces parasitically. Our larva evolved to make hosts of any organism with a pulse. They’ll give you a healthy bioluminescent glow. The golden puss filled sacks that will droop from your earlobes and pearl-like cysts around your neckline will make you the envy of all your friends.
Paralysis will eventually set in and you’ll have me all to yourself, waiting on you hand and foot. For all five decades of the gestation period you’ll be pampered and lavished with attention. We’ll grow old together as your bones and muscles liquefy into mush. I’ll squeeze you tight as your flesh withers into a hollowed-out husk, and when the time comes, I’ll wring you out, letting our children spill forth from your every orifice.
Please send me an electronic communication if this conforms to your idea of romance.
Soon to be yours,
Scryzon Wixelvox Gleep
I’m teaming up with professional creature illustrator Bryan Politte to make dating profiles for monsters and we need your help naming the project.
Horror writers take universal fears and intensify them. They add dumpsters full of oil slick tentacles to long dark allies. They perch gremlins on airplane wings and send great white worms into enclosed caves. While those fears prey on our animal instincts the fears that plague our modern world are social, romantic rejection being chief among them.
With all the new apps and etiquette modern romance is scary to navigate. We write bios to express what makes us unique, while burying our private peculiarities. We put carefully curated images out there hoping somebody likes what they see. We scream into the void and shudder when it whispers back.
I want to take that fear and add monsters to it.
With the help of my friend Bryan Politte, a professional creature illustrator,I’ll be creating a series of dating profiles for freaks, demons, and urban legends. Bryan will illustrate each sinister selfie while I write the dating profiles, which will read like flash fiction horror stories.
Our goal is to make something spooky that goes beyond parody. Each piece will be chilling and heart rending at the same time. This won’t be a mockery of the dating scene, but rather a love letter to the misfits caught up in it.
These monsters won’t be exaggerations of the worst people you might meet online. They will be mirrors of all of us. These monsters will lead with their red flags in the hopes of finding someone who doesn’t spook easily. They will overshare their sins in the hopes of being understood. They’ll flaunt the things we hide. They will be every bit as monstrous as we secretly believe ourselves to be.
We think this concept is pretty cool. If you do too then help us out by voting on a name, and if you have a better idea for one then we’d love to hear that too.
Meet Noelle, a Hollywood transplant that’s been subsisting on instant ramen and false hope. She’s on the verge of moving back into her mother’s trailer when her agent convinces her to take a meeting at the Oralia Hotel. Enchanted by the art deco atmosphere Noelle signs a contract without reading the fine print.
Now she has one month to pen a novel sequestered in a fantasy suite where a hack writer claims he had an unholy encounter. With whom you ask? Well, he has many names: Louis Cypher, Bill Z. Bub, Kel Diablo. The Devil.
Noelle is skeptical, until she’s awoken by a shadow figure with a taste for souls.
Desperate to make it Noelle stays on, shifting the focus of her story to these encounters. Her investigations take her through the forth wall and back again until she’s blurred the line between reality and what’s written. Is there a Satanic conspiracy, is it a desperate author’s insanity, or something else entirely?