Challenge #01173-C078: My Neighbour Baq'oth'met

Steve and the antler guy -- Gallifreya

Suburbia. Realm of the bland, the ordinary. The whitebread and the boring. Or it would be if this wasn't a town named One Horse.

Steve Carol peered between the blinds at his neighbour's yard. The eight-foot Thing that lived next door gave him a cheery wave. "G00D M0RR0W N31GHB0UR ST3V3!"

"Don't you dare flip that man the bird," said Shannon pre-emptively. How she managed to do that when she was clearly in the middle of flapjacks was a mystery to Steve. "Baq'oth'met is a perfectly nice person."

"He's watering his hell plants again," rumbled Steve. "You know he waters them with blood."

"And you know he has a deal with the hospital and the kosher butcher's down the road. It's all waste, otherwise." The sound of the fridge door indicated that the bacon on the countertop was going to be withheld, this breakfast. "Waste not, want not."

Other beings, less tall than Baq'oth'met, but certainly not less disgusting, were visible through the windows of the otherwise ordinary suburban house. Z'g'di, otherwise known as the Housewife From Hell, waved her spatula at him.

"Steven Ulster Carol, you come away from that window and sit for breakfast. You're having grapefruit and oatmeal." Which meant that Sharon thought he was being so mean-spirited that he didn't even deserve flapjacks.

"With or without Chia and Quinoa?" he grumbled, stumping over to the table.

Sharon didn't answer him. She called up the stairwell. "Timmy! Shanice! Breakfast! Come and get it before the dog does!"

The bowl of gruel set before Steve had suspicious-looking granules in it. And not enough oatmeal. The grapefruit arrived as a juice, but not alone. There was wheatgrass in it.

"Sharon..." he whined.

"You need to cleanse," she said, dishing out flapjacks for the kids and a similar smoothie for herself. "Liver fat is the leading cause of unreasoning rage, they say."

Translated: It's spotty gruel and wheatgrass smoothies until your attitude improves, mister.

"I don't hate them," he rumbled, chasing a spoonful of crunchy gruel with a sip of too-thick alleged juice. It was like trying to drink jello. How Sharon could down hers in one go was beyond him. "I just think they're up to something."

"Steven..." Sharon tutted. "You can't blame someone for something they haven't done. Or where they came from."

"They came from the seventh circle of Hell, Sharon!"

Timmy gasped and put his hands over his mouth.

"Da-a-ad..." complained Shanice, who wanted extra piercings and permission to dye her hair. "That's retro-think. It's called the Deeper Otherrealm. And the people from the Upper Otherrealm are no different from people like Mister X'X'X."

"All I'm saying is that there's something funky going on, over there." Steve resolutely forced himself to ingest his pseudo-breakfast. "Back in my day--"

There was a united groan from the table.

"--criptids stayed in the woods, where they belonged."

Timmy gasped again. "Mom. Dad said the C-slur!"

"I heard," Shannon singsonged through gritted teeth. "If Dad didn't have to go to work, this morning, he'd be getting a lecture about remembering his Sensitivity Training."

"Well maybe," Steve singsonged back, "liver fat also assists in memory retrieval."

Next door, in an otherwise cheerfully-decorated home[1], Baq'oth'met winced at the neighbour's shouting. "N31ghb0ur St3v3 1s n0t h4ppy w1th us 3x1st1ng," he murmured.

"Y0u sh0uld buy h1m m0r3 4mmun1t10n," cooed Z'g'di. "Sh00t1ng 4t y0u 4lw4ys ch33rs h1m up."

"D4d, why d0n'ch4 w34ar th4t sw34t3r h3 g4v3 y0u? Sh0w 4ll3g14nc3?

Baq'oth'met glanced over at the light-up sweater as it lay recharging under the bleeding cow skull. Eldritch energy was far more effective than surface-style chemical batteries. But could he convince Neighbour Steve of that? "1 d0 l0v3 th4t sw34t3r," he allowed. "4nd 1t 1s my turn t0 3sc0rt y0u to sch00l, t0d4y."

Kr'ki cheered. "1'll g3t th3 s4ddles!"

Another perfectly ordinary morning in a little town called One Horse.

[1] If one ignores the traditional, perpetually bleeding cow skull on the wall.

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