13DWF Day Eleven: "ZOT!" by Duane Pesice

Our eleventh story of The 13 Days of Weird Flash is Duane Pesice's "ZOT!" from our "Spring '23" release.

13DWF Day Eleven: "ZOT!" by Duane Pesice
Duane Pesice, author of "ZOT!"

Mondays, am I right?

There seems to be an almost sinister and cruel force lurking behind the first day of the work week. If you took hopeless futility of the Swamp of Sadness from The Neverending Story (children of the '80s - click that link at your own risk), crossed it with the frustration caused by a minor chaos deity and slapped -day on the end, I think you’d end up with Monday.

Rather than dwell on all the ways that Monday can stuff it – that would be an entirely new newsletter all of its own – let’s get into our eleventh story of The 13 Days of Weird Flash with a tale from our Spring ’23 installment: "ZOT!" by Duane Pesice.

Duane is the author of a small army of weird fictions, the editor of some well-received books, a sports journalist, itinerant backyard chef, and a multi-instrumentalist with a great deal of free music available. Nowadays he lives in the desert southwest with his many dogs and cats, computers, and guitars and consumes tacos on the regular.

Stick around after the story to hear more from Duane.


By Duane Pesice

Way way way down in the green and marshy lands, we Anura sleep when it’s cold and wake when the sun warms the water’s surface enough that we can feel it underneath, or catch a stray ray of light. Down on the bottom it is cold and dark, and things move very, very slowly. Contents under pressure and all.

But once we are awake, we are AWAKE! And the air fills with the sounds of bullfrogs ribbiting and tree frogs peeping and all manner of other animal noises, and floating around on lily pads is the accepted form of entertainment, and we unspool our tremendous appendages and ZOT any nearby insects or anything else that promises to be food or to fit in our mouths.

Why, just this morning I found an especially large and tasty bit, trailing a bit of spider-web from one hairy leg. I had been minding my own bullfroggy business, sitting on a lily pad, floating downstream, keeping an eye on the world going by, but not too closely, occasionally ZOTTING a passing blackfly or bluebottle when this odd little fellow buzzed by, flapping as if its wings were unfamiliar, erratic in its pattern and bearing a huge white head.

Bzz bzz, it buzzed, while I watched, and alit on a reed. It sat there, mere inches from the water.

I slipped quietly from my leaf and into the cool water, came up silently just below it.

The fly was washing its paws, cleaning its wings, and making un-fly-like noises.

“Oh I got away from the spider. But now what to do? What to do? I don’t know where home is,” it buzzed. That sounded like humanese. I’ve heard those big apes talk like that. It’s strange that a fly should make such sounds, or have a head like that. I don’t really understand, but, you know, survival of the fittest and all of that. I’m always hungry, and it would fit in my maw. It was big enough for a meal rather than a snack, so I unspooled my tongue and gave it my best ZOT. Perfect shot ZOT, perfect dead center, withdraw, chomp!

“Help me, help me,” it said, as it disappeared down my gullet, from which there was no escape.

A small boy ran along the bank, weeping, his feet threatening the bank of the creek. “Papa! Oh papa, where are you?” Splash splash splash. Tromp tromp tromp. “Papa!”

It went on like that. Humans are weird animals and there’s no figuring them out. One has just to enjoy them. Or not. They could be an acquired taste. I have no idea what that was all about. I like to nap while I digest my supper, so I resumed my position atop the leaf and fell to dreaming. I wouldn’t mind acquiring that taste. Very good, memorable meal. I hope there are more where that came from.

Whitehead fly, mental note. Good eating.

Q&A with Duane Pesice

WFQ: Why do you write weird fiction and when did you start?

DP: My imagination won't work any other way. I've been writing the weird since I found the need to create a new villain for Daredevil as the Stilt-Man was so lame. That was a very long time ago.

WFQ: Who are the literary inspirations for your contributions?

DP: I am a lifelong fan of the great Fredric Brown and the nonpareil Saki, and 500 words is a common length for my smaller ruminations.

WFQ: What do you like most about the 500-word format we use? What do you find most challenging with it?

DP: I love the format – it's one I use to preserve ideas and style when I can't write a notion out right away. It's a challenge to make things exactly 500 but I'm all for it.

WFQ:  If you were made editor for an issue, which theme would you choose to guide a whole WFQ installment?

DP: Cosmic horror.  Variations thereof.  A shared-planet kind would be best.

WFQ: Where else can we read more of your work? Where can we find out more about you?

DP: My anthology appearances and chapbook are on my Amazon page.

Other work can be found at www.shoggoth.net and excellent audio renditions of two of my tales have been read by Morgan Scorpion on YouTube: Parchment and Ghoul Picnic.

You can also find my baseball writing at Bleed Cubbie Blue.

One of the things that I appreciate most about weird fiction, especially of the horror variety, is that no matter how rough of a day you might be having, you can’t open up a collection without running into a story that makes your day not look so bad.

I may still have a case of the Mondays, but I am confident that I won’t be meeting my end later today slowly digesting in the belly of a bullfrog sunning itself.

And as bad as my Mondays may be, I thank my lucky stars for every day that I don't wake up as Stilt-Man!

If you like to read more tales from the same twisted circle that brought you ZOT!, check out our Spring '23 edition - available now!

Also, a reminder for our Southern California readers: Denise Dumars will be reading her story Čert for the upcoming Winter '24 edition at the Anaheim Central Library at 5pm on Thursday, December 7th:

She will be the featured reader, so don't miss it!

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