Excerpt from Murders of the Great Misery

They emerged from the blackness of the passageway deep in the heart of the sprawling warehouse complex, a giant hollowed-out dome laced with biosynthetic semi-sentient chrome-capillary chicken wire, pained synapses firing sending showers of neuro-juice onto fighters and audience alike, the latter of which crowded in greasy throngs about the shallow sand-pit in the center of the room watching two Modified WarGIANTS squaring off, radically engorged through the insertion of hyper-aggro stim-crystals directly into the neuro-mainframe, accessed through the installation of a shock-sphincter in the base of the skull directly above the neck-sphincter. They ran at each other, their bodies swollen like ripe fruit, near to bursting, stomach and waste-retainer sacs dangerously engorged and near-to-bursting.

One of the WarGIANTs, wearing a blue dry-skin electro-cod piece, gripped the neck of its opponent--wearing a similar crimson colored codpiece--in its powerful fist, pulsating fingertips pressing deeply into the veins throbbing with control-fluid. It’s fingernail, hardened by magnesium-composite electrolytes injected directly into the hand and filed into a savage point, found a way through the skin and managed to puncture the vein, sending up a short burst of cloudy control-fluid. To the crowd’s surprise, and probably its own, this played to the injured WarGIANT’s advantage, as the fountain of semi-curdled fluid doused the attacker’s eyes, temporarily blinding it. Still spurting liquids in every conceivable direction, the wounded gargantuan turned its bulk on its foe, hefting itself into the air and careening from above onto its shoulder and neck, at the same time kicking at the blinded opponent's throbbing retainer-sac.

Blood bursting in gysers, the WarGIANT, drunk on pain and its own stim-crystal saturation-based hyper-aggro stim-crystal, was knocked to the ground, its retainer-sac bursting open in a widening gash that let loose trails of soft white tendrils that spilled onto the ground on the ground beneath it. The first WarGIANT paused for a moment, girding itself for a final leaping pile driver by flexing and waving at the crowd in a show of stupid bravado (the WarGIANTs, purposely under-developed cretins that they were, had been deliberately designed with only a brain stem controlling basic functions—it couldn’t possibly know why it was taunting its opponent, or even derive any but the most basic pleasure from it, the pleasure of completing a basic motor task), a delay that should have given the second WarGIANT time to regain his footing and move out of the way—possibly even to counterattack, as Crip had seen some of the more skilled WarGIANTs do. But the floor of the ring had become slick with his own blood and entrails, which continued to spill out, and the second WarGIANT was unable to stand, his legs and hands sliding out from under him as he tried to stand and, sensing the futility in this, desperately attempted to spider walk out of the range of his opponent. Meanwhile, the first WarGIANT had finished his thoughtless grandstanding, and had launched itself high into the air on its powerful legs, brought its elbow crashing down upon the second WarGIANT, still pitifully scrabbling upon the viscera-soaked floor, an attempt at escape that only succeeded in bringing his head directly under the airborn GIANT’s elbow, which struck him squarely and tore through the side of his face and skull, veritably ripping his head in half, causing a torrential outpouring of blood and grey-grease.

Crip watched as the first WarGIANT tried to stand up after delivering its punishing blow, only to find that its elbow, having gone cleanly through his foe’s head, had been crushed against the floor by the sheer force of his maneuver. Too stupid to realize what was happening, it’s upper arm flailed wildly in empty imitation of a working arm, the crushed elbow—bloody and specked with specks of bone—and the blackened and useless flesh below it dangling uselessly and merely mashing against the ground, causing their owner to fall forward, its head bashing into the remaining, still relatively solid half of the second WarGIANT’s head. It gave a hideous yowl of pain and rolled onto its back, revealing a long sharp sliver of skull jutting from its forehead. Blinded by the blood pouring from the wound, the GIANT swiped without direction at his face, not only failing to remove the skull splinter but actually managing to claw out his own eyes with his sharpened nails.

This unexpected development pushed the bloodthirsty crowd past the breaking point, and the surged against the bio-mesh fencing, each hoping to improve their view of the bloodletting. The noise was deafening, and Crip, losing all patience with the match, let the masses rush about him on their frenetic push forward.

The GIANTs—one blindness, the other headless, for all intents and purposes—managed to stand up by leaning on each other and gripping each other in bear hugs, pounding against each other’s backs with their yet-powerful fists and arms. Because of the mindlessness of the fighters, a WarGIANT rumble only truly ended with the almost total dismemberment of one or the other. Unable to feel pain, the GIANTs could not ever be pushed past a breaking point; grown without consciousness, they could not know when they should stop; and unable to speak, indeed not even equipped with the proper equipment to make speech, they could not cry out for mercy. They could only fight on, raging in helpless and hopeless agitation, seeking nothing, expecting nothing, receiving nothing save the final reward which was, in some sense death, but a death that more resembled the shutting off of a machine than the extinguishing of a life.

The first GIANT had, through a dim sense of trial and error, learned that the bone shard jutting from his forehead, while slowly letting loose the lifeblood from him, could also be used offensively, and he began jabbing it into the exposed neck of his opponent, turning the bio-wiring inside into a grey-green mash. It seemed like it would be a quick finish from here on out, as all the first GIANT had to do was land one strike directly into the now-exposed brain-stem cortex, and his opponent would shut down completely and finally. But the half-headed GIANT had one final burst of strength left in him, and he reached forward, blindly but powerfully, with his oversized paws and gripped the first GIANT’s head on either side and began to push in. For a hideous second, the first GIANT’s skull resisted, and its eyes began to bug out, his jaw clenching tightly, blood and white-serum trickling out of his nose and mouth and ears, the liquid seeping out form beneath the other GIANT’s palms that pressed harder and harder in a final desperate gambit like some unstoppable vice until the head popped like a sour rotting melon, exploding with a short sharp pop and covering both GIANTs in a thick sticky curdle-fluid, allowing the second GIANT unabated access to the brain stem of the first—and, riding the crest of this last surge of dumb strength, he gripped the brain stem and yanked hard, up and outward, pulling the stem and entire spine out, skin of the other GIANTs back splitting open, a hideous tearing sound resounding throughout the chamber, fallen momentarily silent in utter awe and appreciation at the exhibit of savagery and violence on display in front of them.

Aaron Winslow is an archivist, editor, and science fiction and horror writer. His novel, Jobs of the Great Misery, will be published by Company Books in January 2016.

Title: Excerpt from Murders of the Great Misery