TALE FOURTEEN
The Fungus-Like Scum That Sacked Pahrump

    For June, it was an extremely warm day in San Diego, I mean like a hundred-plus but with the troubles with the environment, they are becoming more common.  It was the kind of day that you kick back in the sun with a cold beer in hand and listen to Itchyfinger tell stories as he cooks on the barbecue.  I have discovered in my time associated with Graves and his friends that even though some people are experts in many fields of knowledge, there are things that they cannot do that non-educated people can. In Itchyfinger's case, barbecuing is one of them.  As The Doctor passed me a carbon scored piece of meat he sat down and began weaving a tale.  It was on this day I discovered that Graves is not the only one who has an interesting tale to tell.  You see, Doctor Itchyfinger used to be a science teacher at a small town high school in Nevada, and of course since high school is full of unusual people there are bound to be one or two good stories to tell . . . this was one of them.
    Elliot Bean was a science genius at Pahrump Valley High School.  His favorite class was chemistry where he had brown-nosed to the point of having a 102% average.  Eddie Slazer was a waste in class and in some peoples eyes, humanity; he played football, but failed miserably at chemistry.  In an ironic twist of fate these two diametrically opposed characters were lab partners.
    It was a beautiful day in the valley and Elliot was in Las Vegas that day getting the nose break of his glasses fixed for the seventh time that year.  Eddie was left on his own to do the lab project of the day by himself.  I, the teacher, told the class to mix hydrochloric acid with calcium carbonate and observe the reaction.
    Eddie was a free-spirit and preferred to have his lunch an hour early.  That day it consisted of the apex of the teenagers four food groups; a Twinkie, Pop Rocks, a stick of Hubba Bubba and a Snickers candy bar.  With his safety goggles on he mixed the various chemicals together and watched what happened.  The solution popped and fizzed and to Eddie that was cool, but as I said before he was a free-spirit and liked doing things his way and his tiny brain was seized by a thought (something that didn't happen often).
    "What if I put my lunch in the solution and blaze it with the bunsen?"
    So a large lump of peanut butter, caramel, chikel and chocolate was sunk in the bubbling mixture followed by the Twinkie (whose chemical makeup still baffles scientists).  Eddie was never quick at things like thinking or moving, but he knew that when an experiment turned a shade of puke green and spilled over the side of the beaker and emitted an odiferous cloud of smoke . . . something was wrong.
    Most of the class was extremely revolted by the experiment and one boy simply fainted.  Being a true scientist I was quite fascinated by the thing that had been created by one of my worst students.  I ordered my secondary pet Lenny Binkman to get a large beaker and to do it immediately so I could trap this creation and secure my bid for a Nobel Prize.  Binkman did as he was told because his grade was at a precarious 99% due to his dropping of my prized bug collection and stepping on my rare and expensive Orthoptera Ascera.
    The green mass (whom one person affectionately called Herman) had a good appetite and ate the fly that inadvertently happened to land on him.  Herman gave off an odor resembling burnt hair, and the few students who dared get near him usually gave off the same odor.  My plan was going along as planned and I could envision all of my peers bowing to my genius.
    The problem was that the creature didn't want to be jarred.  In fact the only thing it wanted was to get out of the class.  First it rolled off of the counter and slid across to the Zoology classes final exam bug collections.  My eyes flared knowing that 537 kill-jarred insects were in jeopardy of becoming Bug McNuggets for the creature.
    I diverted the thing's attention by giving it a box of Cheese Doodles which were promptly devoured, box and all.  The fungus-like scum juggernauted towards the bugs with agility that even stunned me.  It then jumped onto the counter and somehow ate a hole through two centimeters of plexi-glass.  Starting with the ants, Herman ate an entire collection of bugs (which remarkably happened to be Slazer's).  It definitely enjoyed flying bugs which it gulped down immediately.  Cockroaches and stinkbugs were not his favorite and he casually pushed them into a corner like one does liver.
    He continued this process of insect genocide until all that remained of the collections were 32 cockroaches, 11 stinkbugs and one large spiky beetle that I couldn't even classify.  I was startled to see that the thing had grown to the size of a basketball.
    Kain Marshall, who was a large student with a talent for eating glass and smashing beer cans on his forehead stepped close to the blob with a number 12 Louisville Slugger.  Being a big guy, he was good at only two things, [1] Reaching high shelves, and [2] Smashing things.  It was his plan to beat the thing into cheese-flavored dog food and become the class hero.  The thing felt these negative vibes and responded by leaping off of the counter and skittering to the nearest door.
    The scum was apparently a contortionist for he quite simply slid under the door.  In panic, Gina Rossario screamed quite loudly and pulled the fire alarm.  Gina was never too bright and thought that the definition of picnic was her boyfriend Nick with a digging tool.  Most of the school panicked knowing that it was March and a fire drill wasn't scheduled until May.  The thing was scared to death at seeing 312 students stampede down the hall.  Its nearest haven was the drop zone of the 7-UP machine.  Being a creature formed from fizzing stuff, it felt at home with five cases of chilled carbonated soda.
    Unfortunately, cans of soda have never been known for their  conversational skills so Herman soon became bored.  Outside, most of the school was wondering what was burning and the general consensus was that the school cafeterias specialty, pigs-on-sticks, had crashed and burned.  Meanwhile I was inside searching for the blob.
    Little did I know that Herman was in the cafeteria porking out on the salad bar which it found quite tasty.  Resembling overeaters at an all-you-can-eat barbecue rib festival it can't be described. From there it ate the pigs-on-sticks and Mrs. Cookelberry's Spinach Souffle.  Respectively it grew in size and mass to the point of resembling a medicine ball (or one of the overeaters at an all-you-can-eat barbecue rib festival).
    Abe Fishman, the schools janitor was the blob's first human victim which showed its obvious lack of taste.  Finding these morsels not too filling, it tried the cleaning supplies.  Herman found these much more flavorful and exotic, and also saved it the trouble of having to wash up afterwards.  The scum felt a better variety of new food to eat in the west.  This also happened to be the direction that the quiet town of Pahrump lay.  Smashing through the west wall of Mr. Mentzer's history class, it rolled toward the peaceful town.
    I was confessing to principal Rod Pecarik about the science experiment gone rouge.  Rod personally wanted me beaten with a brand new fan belt but school policy required summary execution before any inquiry.  Strung out as most school administrators are, he called the local sheriff, fire department, and the local newspaper the Pahrump Sentinel (or known to the townspeople as the Pahrump Enquirer) making them fully aware that a large blob of fungus-like scum was on its was to crush the bustling metropolis of Pahrump, Nevada, population 1,354.
    Pahrump's cops were on the edge of incompetence and when a task was to be done, the Guard was called.  Dan Dinklebur was a Colonel in the Nevada National Guard and Gun Club and he liked his job.  He was able to play with automatic weapons and push around citizens.  When the call about the fungus-like scum came in, he was in para-military heaven.
    Immediately he summoned all of the Guard he could muster. Unfortunately this was a mere 26 due to the fact that most of the Guardsmen were on a fishing charter off the coast of California. Humming the tune from Apocalypse Now, they climbed into their helicopters and flew at top speed to Pahrump.
    Pahrump was a small town which made it a hard place to find on even a good day, and it took four fly-overs to get a fix on Main Street.  There to meet him was the Mayor Bill Zrgrina, his wife Jill and the two-member town board of Jake Finkburn and Edna Clapp. They told the Colonel that the fungus-like scum was presently at Zoot's Nursery eating Mrs. Alice Zoot's fronds.  Colonel Dinklebur thought that it would be the perfect time to test his men's training.
    At the nursery, Alice Zoot's son Douggy was helping feed the scum all of the broccoli he could gather.  The slime liked this vegetable, a taste that Douggy didn't share.  Soon Herman (as it was called by his friends) soon had reached its fill of roughage and began to leave seeing that they had no more Hidden Valley Ranch dressing (the only way to eat broccoli).  It was at that time Colonel Dinklebur's voice squawked over the bullhorn he always kept in his back pocket.  He told Mrs. Zoot to clear out because he was going to do his Rambo imitation.  The scum, even in its pre-pupatal stage knew what bad acting Stallone was capable of and figured that it was safer to clear out.
    Private Slim Odelknocker was the first person to fire on Herman, the fungus-like scum and is remembered as the spark that set off the day-long "Sacking of Pahrump."  Herman didn't like being shot at, and hated the loud noise that went with it.  This wasn't surprising for most monsters don't like becoming ground beef, and being formed from chemicals and Nutrasweet impregnated candy, it had a terrible hangover.
    With a pseudopod, it smashed the helicopter that the Guardsmen had arrived in turning it into scrap metal.  Being National Guardsmen, they choked when the things that they shoot at fight back and accordingly retreated.  Colonel Dinklebur ordered them to make a stand at the Valley Bank.  Smelling money, which he thought was food, Herman moved to the bank as well.
    The Valley Bank was a small adobe bank that employed four blonde women with black roots.  Like most movie-type blonde women, when they have to run from a life-threatening situation they twist their ankles and wait like sacrificial lambs for a man to carry them away.  This always seems to occur just before the zombie/chainsaw wielding psycho/fungus-like scum gets her.  Colonel Dinklebur was not in a hurry to fit this stereotype and so Sharise Forsberg became Herman's second human victim.  Sharise tasted better than Abe Fishman, who always smelled like mothballs.  This good taste was due to her liberal application of Chanel No. 5 and Binaca breath spray.
    Herman devoured the towns entire life savings (a paltry $14,000) and a large sum of bad checks.  The Colonel ordered the bank blown up, and the trigger-happy Guardsmen promptly replied.
    The adobe building fell on Herman's head, and he didn't like this.  He already had a headache and large quantities of steel girder and rock smashing on his head didn't help.  Herman became seriously mad and gave off a loud gurgle that set the Scrips richter scales off at four point four.  Eighty-seven percent of the town was startled by the loud gurgle that resembled the gas of the town drunk Calvin Cooler on one of his bad days.  The fact was, the rest of the town was out of town because Pahrump was a dinky little town that only served as a landmark for bombing runs at the Nevada Nuclear Test Site.  Out of the 87%, all but one agreed that it was a test shot from the site . . . Mrs. Cooler begged to differ.
    Fueled by anger, Herman, or the fungus-like scum, or simply that big green and brown thing moved at a rapid pace towards the town leaving a festering trail of slime that has caused vegetation to never grow there again.
    This movement panicked the Mayor into action.  If the thing destroyed the four businesses there, the town would go broke and would be forced to move away.  For the sake of the economy and the fact that Dinklebur didn't want Pahrumpites living in Las Vegas, he moved back to defend the town.
    There he made a hasty call to General Wesley at Nellis Air Force Base.  The Colonel told him that there was a huge slime creature attacking the city and asked him to send a squadron of planes to kill Herman.  The General laughed for about five minutes then hung up on the Colonel resuming his personal dictation to his secretary Buffy.  Dinklebur was extremely perturbed, in fact the actual report said that he said "DANG!!!"  The Colonel ordered the nearby citizens to make a blockade with their cars.
    But as many people have said, Pahrumpians don't like to do things that might endanger their cars, or their lives.  This made it quite easy for the scum to attack the town.  Pahrump consisted of a gas station, a post office, a general store, and a bowling alley.  Since it was hungry it was ironic that Herman chose to eat the store first.
    This made Ray Millard, the stores owner very unhappy and he thought that it just wasn't fair.  The Guardsmen tried to stop the creature, that could never be denied.  They fired bazookas, and mini-missiles at the fungus only to have them explode with no effect.  They fired more bullets than were used in the entire Vietnam War . . . but when you have the munchies, nothing can get in your way, and Herman had the munchies in a major way.
    Herman proceeded to eat all of the supplies in the store except the menthol cigarettes (real fungus-like scum smoke non-filtered) and the Bergie beer (the second cheapest brew on the planet).  The cornucopia of taste varieties made Herman a happy mutation and it gave off a huge grin.  The only thing that was bad was the fact that the 10W40 motor oil that it had eaten had given it a bad case of heartburn.
    Things didn't look good for Pahrump because the gas station was its next stop.  Seeing that there was no Peptol Bismol in the convenient 100 gallon bottle, it stayed clear of the oil.  The STP tasted good, and the tires were a delight (although he would have liked some cream cheese to go with them).  Dissolving the fuel pumps, he drank the entire 20,000 gallon tank of 12 octane unleaded gasoline.  It let out a huge burp that knocked down the five trees and one telephone pole that grew in Pahrump.
    This burp was highly flammable and unfortunately someone happened to be smoking nearby causing it to ignite and turn the nearby area into a fiery holocaust.  The townspeople agreed that with a proper oral hygiene plan, and regular use of mouthwash the whole nasty occurrence could have been avoided.
    Herman was now the size of a luxury townhouse built by a blind carpenter.  Many people set aside the fact that it was destroying their peaceful burg out of awe for its sheer enormity.  In many opinions, festering pus discharge, acid slime, and noxious odor aside Herman was a very beautiful creature.
    Staying away from the post office which offered nothing but paper and stamps (Herman hated the glue on the stamps) it attacked the Bowl-O-Rama Fun Lanes.  Ladies Auxiliary #20807 was having its annual charity Bowler Derby that very same day, and Harriet Flugelmeyer was quite happy to see Eunice Mullen eaten by the thing.  Eunice had been bowling a 279 and was in first place, which now put Harriet, with a 64, in first.
    This was the spot where Herman made his final stand.  General Wesley had sent two A-10 Thunderbolt Tank/Scum killer jets to Pahrump with orders to "nuke it till it glowed."  These planes spearheaded what is now known as the "Battle of Bowl-O-Rama Flats." Captain Jerry Church and his wingman Lieutenant Oral Chappel flew over and saw the tastelessly dressed scum eating pins and bowling balls.  They decided to drop the two napalm bombs they each had on the monster then down the case of Bergie beer which they happened to have with them.
    Herman didn't want a tan, nor did it like the fact that its skin was blistering and on fire, but then it has always been said that Nevada had a dry heat.  The people soon learned that fire does not kill fungus-like scum, only Frankenstein.  Instead it makes fungus-like scum monsters madder.  He tossed large station wagons and ugly light blue Dodge Darts at the jets which caused Lieutenant Chappel to relieve himself in his pants.  Captain Church decided to land and wait for reinforcements to arrive.
    Elliot Bean and his parents, Elbert and Louise were returning from Las Vegas when the battle began.  Elliot felt like a new nerd; his glasses were fixed and he and his dad had new pairs of wing-tip shoes.  Then they caught sight of the smoke rising from their hometown.  The family of three agreed on two theories, [1] The Department of Energy blew up a bomb in the wrong place, or [2] Someone had been smoking near Calvin Cooler when he released some gas.  Being practical minded geeks, they all swayed more to choice number two.
    Upon entering town they found out that a green fungus-like scum accidentally created by Eddie Slazer had proceeded to give Pahrump urban renewal.  Elliot being a genius at chemistry with a 102% average was always prepared for crack emergency scientific formulation and had a Junior Einstein chemistry set in his vinyl bookbag.  Preparing a quick but effective formula without any knowledge of how the scum was created, he went to the control center of the National Guard . . . his parents were so proud.
    Colonel Dinklebur was not happy to see a pencil-necked geek like Bean in his control center telling him that he could beat a monster that had defeated the best that the state militia and the U.S. armed forces had to offer with a crude formula that had been mixed in the back of a Dodge caravan.  But figuring that a genius at chemistry with a 102% average might have a better chance than a high school drop-out paramilitary stooge Colonel, he let Bean go ahead.  In his eyes one less nerd in the world was one more chance for stupid people to get meaningful jobs.
    Because, in the minds of the U.S Air Force, Bergie beer is the best, the pilots of the A-10's were pretty well hammered when Bean gave them the chemical to drop on the fungus.  Because of this, the chances that they would hit Herman were pretty slim.  On the other hand, the chances were good that they would hit something.  The planes flew over Herman and dropped the chemical on its head (or what could be determined as a head).  Remarkable as it may seem the vial of chemicals hit their target.
    Herman wasn't happy with the idea of things being thrown on its head.  The chemical had given it a headache, a nasty rash, and he felt like throwing up.  Suddenly Herman began to shrink, the natural reaction to a hastily made formula by a chemistry genius with a 102% average and new wing-tip shoes.
    Herman first shrunk back to the size of a medicine ball (or an overeater at an all-you-can-eat barbecue rib festival), then to the size of a basketball, and finally to the size of a fist.  I had escaped summary execution and met with Bean where we proceeded to capture Herman in a jar used to store acid . . . doomed for life to be a showpiece for long-haired professor types and Nobel Prize wanna-be's.

    The "Sacking of Pahrump" and the subsequent "Battle of Bowl-O-Rama Flats" went down in history as a local disturbance that was simply blown out of proportion by the fanatical readers of the National Enquirer.  It was written in very small print and included in Britanicas Micropedia of Completely Worthless Trivia Volume XIII.  The major participants are remembered as follows:

    Elliot Bean gained a Masters degree in chemistry and now teaches at Plateau Valley High School in beautiful metropolitan Collbran, Colorado, population 1,582.

    Eddie Slazer got a B+ for his massively cool experiment in proximinal gene mutation and is now president of Slazer Chemicals.  He is presently working with me on a formula that  will replace the cancer-causing sugar substitute Nutrasweet that formed Herman in the first place.

    Principal Rod Pecarik was fired from his job and now teaches  Physical education.  He is quite content to push students to  new extremes of physical torture, the likes of which have  not been seen since the Nazi regime.

    Lenney Binkman ended his senior year with a 97% in chemistry,  a complete failure to nerddom.  He is now a bum in Los Angeles  living in a 27 inch color television box.

    Kain Marshall discovered that being big has no relation to  success in the real world. He sells ladies underwear at J.C.  Penney and collects granny mugs . . . a stereotypical example  of the school stud after graduation.

    Gina Rossario earned a teaching degree and is now a high  school English teacher. She still preaches the following  definition:
        Picnic: pic-nik; n. My husband Nick with an axe-like digging tool.
     The students love her.

    Colonel Dan Dinklebur was blamed for the entire disaster in  Pahrump and was respectively promoted to General.

    General Wesley's wife discovered him "dictating" to his  secretary and divorced him getting everything.  He was  courtmarshalled and given a job as a police officer working  for the corrupt sheriff's department on Sumtner County,  Florida.

    Miss Buffy Bighooters left the Generals staff and has had a  successful tour as a talk show guest and advice book writer,  including How to Sleep With the Pentagon, and the number 1  best seller Learn the Three B's: Blonde with Big Breasts.

    Captain Jerry Church crashed an experimental stealth bomber  into the Los Angeles Colosseum, killing 5,000 tackily dressed  Rams fans, and allowing the Green Bay Packers to finally win  a game.  His blood alcohol level was 57.3%.

    And that was that.  Itchyfinger returned to the barbecue to turn over the steak-coal.  What!  Yes I know what your saying, "No way pal, you can't end it like that!  What happened to Herman the lovable fungus-like scum?"  Funny you should ask . . . I was thinking the same thing so I did.
    He explained that his grand vision of winning the Nobel Prize never came to fruition.  Herman wasn't that much of a discovery since science had created artificial life nearly a decade before when they invented Velveeta and Spam.  Basically he just conducted rhorshach tests and got his butt kicked in chess by Herman.
    He added that about four months after he had captured it, the fungus escaped his study.  He continued by saying that a shadow of doubt had remained stuck in his mind ever since then.  He said that the fungus-like scum screamed "I'll get you Doctor Earnest Itchyfinger . . . and your little dog too," then vanished down the bathtub drain.
    Even genius professors have little skeletons hiding in their closets.  I was going to ask him how the scum had learned to speak, but that was when Graves arrived and told me . . . .

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