The Ballad of The Whore-Bug Witch, and Other Strange Matters

July 24, 2016

Mr. Mahlon Jaculus Wunderhorn (MJW)
MAJUSCULE MARINA
Rumored to be in MAJUSCULE FOREST
Suspected to be located in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

mahlonblaineDear Mr. MJW,

I confess I was surprised to find your letter under my pillow for at least three good reasons:

1) Clearly you had received an Advance-Reader’s Copy (ARC) of I Can Taste The Blood. I checked with Anthony at Grey Matter Press and he did not have you on our ARC list for this book. The final actual book itself will be available on August 23rd 2016.

I also spoke with co-authors Josh Malerman, J. Daniel Stone, and Joe Schwartz and John F.D. Taff, who, having conceived the idea for this book together, could conceivably have conceived you. I guess. But all of my friends thought I was making a silly joke. And I have NO sense of humor. Now they don’t trust me any longer, think I’m up to something shady . . . And you know, I don’t want to take any chances. So, Mr. MJW, how did you get your hands (if that’s what they are)  on that ARC?!

2) You are definitely not The Tooth Fairy.

3) I created you as a character to feature in the novella “I Can Taste the Blood,” the very story about which you pose your questions. I do not want to think about what this means, except that I hate that this letter and what follows is part of my autobiography, now.

Mr. MJW, I’m glad you enjoyed the whole book. I also like your suggestion it could best be described as:

Five Unique Voices
Five Disturbing Visions
One Nightmare

(Although I can’t help but point out that those very phrases are printed on the ARC you unaccountably possessed.)

Anyway, below and as mind-wrenchingly requested, please find my explanations to the two bits of my text you’d highlighted in blood smears, on pages 163 and 171.

I hope you find my responses satisfactory. Please do not visit me or contact me ever again—unless you know something about my wife, who has been missing now for two weeks. Which is as mystifying in real life as it is in fiction. Because I never wrote a story where that happens.

Take Care,

Erik

Erik T. Johnson
_______________

“I CAN TASTE THE BLOOD” (Erik T. Johnson Version):
Regarding Pages 163 and 171

Page 163 (Your Strange Name)
1) Your first name, Mahlon, was inspired by “outsider” artist Mahlon Blaine, who most famously did the sumptuous illustrations for the English translation of the classic Alraune by Hanns Heinz Ewers; your last name “Wunderhorn” came to me while listening to the great classical composer  Gustav Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn.

Page 171 (The Ballad of the Whore-Bug Witch)
You guessed correctly. I am in fact, the author of these lyrics, a small portion of which appears on page 171 of the print copy of I Can Taste The Blood. You also correctly surmised that it was an excerpt from a longer ballad. Here, for the first time ever, I gladly share the whole, unabridged thing with someone (or something):

The Whore-Bug Witch made everyone sick
She was harder to find than a newborn tick
With mandibles hidden inside her mouth
(And Jim says in places even less couth)
But why not antennae? Or dragonfly wings?
The Witch had no need of such tepid things
But mandibles gave her the power to sting

She broke virgin-bride’s hymens on wedding day
More often than not in mid-ceremony
Sweet-hearts she vanished for good in the hay
Clean water she turned to bile and pus
Made people with chaste thoughts unstoppably cuss
Of the town’s wisest five, four gathered to plan
For to banish that Whore-Bug away from the land

But one got a pox, and one spider bites
All over his crotch—next they fondued  his wife
One tried to flee and never came back
His trail, it was fraught with bloody hoof tracks
The last of those four hung himself with a noose
Still Whore-Bug bid on him her scorpions loose

But one night Jim-Cock spied her in the trees
Growling “O Black-Hooded Master, Lord Namenvane!
Take me how you please! Whatever the pain!”
He saw her legs open, and great black boughs shake
Of mandibles frothing, Jim-Cock daren’t speak
Jim stay hid in a ditch until they were done
She sang to her belly, serenaded her son:
“You will be so evil, my Evilest One.”

But the Whore-Bug Witch got morning sickness
We caught her in the vestry squatting mid-piss
Her womb had waxed large as a harvest moon
Too bloated to flee, we trapped her, and soon

We strapped her to the stake tight as skin to a rash
Her eyes broke like eggs, nipples into embers, ash
Where foul expression, now smoking black gash
She barred her fangs and they cracked and broke
While screams rushed up it, teeth fell down her throat
Then mandibles clacking, stuck out like a tongue
And perished with the air singed from her lungs

The purging flames died–all cheered she was dead
“Wait, see she grows an upside-down head!”
For her water had broke in fire’s dazzling glow
Evilest One dropped down, no heartbeat or soul
Stillborn and gray, he swung by the cord
His mother’s gift from her Darkest Lord—
The cord was studded with the Whore-Bug’s teeth,
Twitching mandibles that bankrupt your sleep

The one wise man still left in our old town
Thundered:

“We should crawl home, ashamed and afrown’d
We must turn from our crime and find a dry place
We must pray to God for His mercy and grace—
For killing a babe is of all vile crimes the evilest to do
Your child, or mine—Even Evil’s son, too.”

Well it started to rain, so we took his advice
Sought cover from storm, with the flies and the mice—
When the sky was dry we chopped off his head twice

THE END

PS—Okay, Mr. MJW. I really gotta go now. Gotta prep for a reading from I Can Taste the Blood with J. Daniel Stone on August 21st at KGB in New York City!

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