David Wong John Dies at the End

ISBN 13: 9780978970765

John Dies at the End

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9780978970765: John Dies at the End

It's a drug that promises an out-of-body experience with each hit. On the street they call it Soy Sauce, and users drift across time and dimensions. But some who come back are no longer human. Suddenly a silent otherworldly invasion is underway, and mankind needs a hero. What it gets instead is John and David, a pair of college dropouts who can barely hold down jobs. Can these two stop the oncoming horror in time to save humanity? No. No, they can't.

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About the Author:

His work has appeared in National Lampoon's Not Fit For Print, as well as on NationalLampoon.com and Cracked.com. Nearly 50,000 readers completed the novel John Dies at the End in its run online.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

CHAPTER 1
The Levitating “Jamaican”
THEY SAY LOS Angeles is like The Wizard of Oz. One minute it’s small-town monochrome neighborhoods and then boom—all of a sudden you’re in a sprawling Technicolor freak show, dense with midgets.
Unfortunately, this story does not take place in Los Angeles.
The place I was sitting was a small city in the Midwest which will remain undisclosed for reasons that will become obvious later. I was at a restaurant called “They China Food!” which was owned by a couple of brothers from the Czech Republic who, as far as I could tell, didn’t know a whole lot about China or food. I had picked the place thinking it was still the Mexican bar and grill it had been the previous month; in fact, the change was so recent that one wall was still covered by an incompetent mural of a dusky woman riding a bull and proudly flying the flag of Mexico, carrying a cartoon burrito the size of a pig under her arm.
This is a small city, large enough to have four McDonald’s but not so big that you see more than the occasional homeless person on the way. You can get a taxi here but they’re not out roving around where you can jump off the sidewalk and hail one. You have to call them on the phone, and they’re not yellow.
The weather varies explosively from day to day in this part of America, the jet stream undulating over us like an angry snake god. I’ve seen a day when the temperature hit one hundred and eight degrees, another when it dipped eigh teen degrees below zero, another day when the temperature swung forty-three degrees in eight hours. We’re also in Tornado Alley, so every spring swirling, howling charcoal demons materialize out of the air and shred mobile homes as if they were dropped in huge blenders.
But all that aside, it’s not a bad town. Not really.
A lot of unemployment, though. We’ve got two closed factories and a rotting shopping mall that went bankrupt before it ever opened. We’re not far from Kentucky, which marks the unofficial border to the South, so one sees more than enough pickup trucks decorated with stickers of Confederate flags and slogans proclaiming their brand of truck is superior to all others. Lots of country music stations, lots of jokes that contain the word “nigger.” A sewer system that occasionally backs up into the streets for some unknown reason. Lots and lots of stray dogs around, many with grotesque deformities.
Okay, it’s a shithole.
There are a lot of things about this undisclosed city that the chamber of commerce won’t tell you, like the fact that we have more than quadruple the rate of mental illness per capita than any other city in the state, or that in the ’80s the EPA did a very discreet study of the town’s water supply in hope of finding a cause. The chief inspector on that case was found dead inside one of the water towers a week later, which was considered strange since the largest opening into the tank was a valve just ten inches wide. It was also considered strange that both of his eyes were fused shut, but that’s another story.
My name is David, by the way. Um, hi. I once saw a man’s kidney grow tentacles, tear itself out of a ragged hole in his back and go slapping across my kitchen floor.
I sighed and stared blankly out of the window of They China Food!, occasionally glancing at the clock sign that flashed 6:32 P.M. in the darkness from the credit union across the street. The reporter was late. I thought about leaving.
I didn’t want to tell this story, the story of me and John and what’s happening in Undisclosed (and everywhere else, I guess). I can’t tell the story without sounding as nuts as a ... a nut bush, or—whatever nuts grow from. I pictured myself pouring my heart out to this guy, ranting about the shadows, and the worms, and Korrok, and Fred Durst, babbling away under this wall-sized portrait of a badly drawn burrito. How was this going to turn into anything but a ridiculous clusterfuck?
Enough, I said to myself. Just go. When you’re on your deathbed you’re gonna wish you could get back all the time you spent waiting for other people.
I started to stand but stopped myself halfway up. My stomach flinched, as if cattle-prodded. I felt another dizzy spell coming on.
I fell hard back into the booth. More side effects. I was already light-headed, my body trembling from shoes to shoulders in random spells, like I swallowed a vibrator. It’s always like this when I’m on the sauce. I dosed six hours ago.
I took slow, deep breaths, trying to cycle down, to level off, to chill out. I turned to watch a little Asian waitress deliver a plate of chicken fried rice to a bearded guy on the other side of the room.
I squinted. In half a second I counted 5,829 grains of rice on her plate. The rice was grown in Arkansas. The guy who ran the harvester was nicknamed “Cooter.”
I’m not a genius, as my dad and all my old teachers at Undisclosed Eastern High School will inform you with even the slightest provocation. I’m not psychic, either. Just side effects, that’s all.
The shakes again. A quick, fluttery wave, like the adrenaline rush you get when you lean your chair too far past the tipping point. Might as well wait it out, I guess. I was still waiting on my “Flaming Shrimp Reunion,” a dish I ordered just to see what it looked like. I wasn’t hungry.
A flatware set was wrapped in a napkin on the table in front of me. A few inches away was my glass of iced tea; a few inches from that was another object, one I didn’t feel like thinking about right then. I unwrapped my utensils. I closed my eyes and touched the fork, immediately knew it was manufactured in Pennsylvania six years ago, on a Thursday, and that a guy had once used it to scrape a piece of dog shit from his shoe.
You’ve just gotta make it through a couple of days of this, said my own voice again from inside my skull. You’ll open your eyes tomorrow or the next day and everything will be okay again. Well, mostly okay. You’ll still be ugly and kind of stupid and you’ll occasionally see things that make you—
I did open my eyes, and jerked in shock. A man was sitting across from me in the booth. I hadn’t heard or felt or smelled him when he slid into the seat. Was this the reporter I spoke to on the phone?
Or a ninja?
“Hey,” I mumbled. “Are you Arnie?”
“Yeah. Did you doze off there?” He shook my hand.
“Uh, no. I was just tryin’ to rub somethin’ off the back of my eyelid. I’m David Wong. Good to meet ya.”
“Sorry I’m late.”
Arnie Blondestone looked just like I imagined him. He was older, uneven haircut and a bad mustache, a wide face made for a cigar. He wore a gray suit that looked older than I was, a tie with a fat Windsor knot.
He had told me he was a reporter for a national magazine and wanted to do a feature on me and my friend John. It wasn’t the first request like this, but it was the first one I had agreed to. I looked the guy up on the Web, found out he did quirky little human-interest bits, Charles Kuralt stuff. One article about a guy who obsessively collects old lightbulbs and paints landscapes on them, another about a lady with six hundred cats, that sort of thing. It’s what polite people have instead of freak shows I guess, stories we can laugh at around the coffee machines in the office break room.
Arnie’s gaze stayed on my face a little too long, taking in my beads of cold sweat, my pale skin, the thatch of overgrown hair. Instead of pointing out any of that, Arnie said, “You don’t look Asian, Mr. Wong.”
“I’m not. I was born in [Undisclosed]. I had the name changed. Thought it would make me harder to find.”
Arnie gave me the first of what I assumed would be many, many skeptical looks. “How so?”
I half closed my eyes, my mind flooding with images of the 103 billion humans who have been born since the species appeared. A sea of people living, dying and multiplying like cells in a single organism. I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to clear my mind by focusing on a mental image of the waitress’s boobs.
I said, “Wong is the most common surname in the world. You try to Google it, you’ve got a shitload of results to sift through before you get to me.”
He said, “Okay. Your family live around here?”
Getting right to it, then.
“I was adopted. Never knew my real dad. You could be my dad, for all I know. Are you my dad?”
“Eh, I don’t think so.”
I tried to figure out if these were warm-up questions to prime the interview pump, or if he already knew. I suspected the latter.
Might as well go all-in. That’s why we’re here, right?
“My adopted family moved away, I won’t tell you where they are. But get out your pen because you’ll want to write this down. My biological mom? She was institutionalized.”
“That must have been hard. What was the—”
“She was a strung-out, crank-addicted cannibal, dabbled in vampirism and shamanism. My mom, she worshipped some major devil when I was a toddler. Blew her welfare check every month on black candles. Sure, Satan would do her favors now and then, but there’s always a catch with the Devil. Always a catch.”
A pause from Arnie, then, “Is that true?”
“No. This, this silliness, it’s what I do when I’m nervous. She was bipolar, that’s all. Couldn’t keep a house. Isn’t the other story better, though? You should use it.”
Arnie gave me a practiced look of reporterly sincerity and said, “I thought you wanted to get the truth out, your side of it. If not, then why are we even here, Mr. Wong?&rdq...

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