I’m working on the third story featuring the snarky Leo Persky, a.k.a. Weekly World News reporter “Terrance Strange.” WWN, for those who don’t recall, was the black and white supermarket tabloid published by the chowderheads at American Media, Inc., the folks who bring you the gossipy National Enquirer. While the stories in the Enquirer are cheesy but true (they actually do rigorous legal vetting of this tripe since lawsuits are sure to follow), WWN’s–home of Bat Boy, alien babies, and creator of Elvis-sightings–were funny but fake from page one. I speak with surety of this as both a one-time writer and former executive editor of the late, lamented rag, which closed its doors in the summer of 2007 (it was later revived as a website, under new management).

The Leo Persky stories, however, are based on the premise that everything the Weekly World News (“The world’s only reliable newspaper”) prints is true. The first story, “Man Bites Dog” appeared in Moonstone Books’ anthology Vampires: Dracula and the Undead Legions, and was reprinted in my ebook short story collection, In My Shorts: Hitler’s Bellhop and Other Stories, and the second, “Vodka Martini, Straight Up, Hold the Jinn” in R. Allen Leider’s Hellfire Lounge 3: Jinn Rummy. The third installment will run in Hellfire Lounge 4: Reflections of Evil, scheduled for publication in early 2013.

So, for your consideration, the first 750 words of…

Shunning the Frumious Bandersnatch

The first thing you’ve got to know is, Lewis Carroll didn’t make up all that stuff about what was on the other side of the looking glass.

Don’t get me wrong. Most mirrors are just that: reflective surfaces we use to gawk at own mugs, comb our hair, or check for residual spinach in our teeth. Break the average mirror and the worst you’ll wind up with is a broken mirror, unless you happen to walk across the broken glass in your bare feet. The whole seven years of bad luck bubbemeisier has more to do with old timey superstition than reality–the reflection therein was once believed to represent the soul, therefore bad luck of the seven year variety (the number seven being to old timey superstition what thirteen is to us nowadays) for damaging said soul in the breaking of the mirror. The Romans believed that life renewed itself on a seven year cycle, so if you busted a mirror and did the aforementioned damage on a soulular level, things didn’t get back to normal until the next seven-year cycle had passed. But the olden days had a lot of weird ideas about the soul and the wacky little things that affected it that we still carry around in these modern, enlightened times. I mean, we know that sneezing is caused by inflammation or irritation of the nasal membranes and doesn’t result in bits of our soul escaping through our noses, but we continue to say “God bless you” to sneezers anyway.

But, that being said, there are, as the saying goes, exceptions to every rule.

So while not all mirrors are gateways to other realities, all gateways to other realities are mirrors.

By now, you’re wondering who I am and why I’m babbling on about mirrors, bad luck, and dimensional gateways.

Who I am is Terrance Strange, roving reporter for the Weekly World News, the world’s only reliable newspaper. You know the one. The tabloid you flip through and chuckle over while you’re waiting on the supermarket checkout line, the one that runs all those stories about Bigfoot, alien babies, and human/bat hybrid boys that you almost never buy because we make it all up? Well, as outlandish as it all sounds, every word we print is true…that is, except for my byline.

My real name is Leo Persky. But “Terrance Strange” sounds like he’d be a big, strapping adventurer who travels the world seeking out the dangerous and the, yes, strange, while Leo Persky sounds like a middle aged five foot, seven inch tall balding and bespectacled Jew who cowers at the slightest sign of danger. Seeing as how I am the latter but would rather readers believe I’m the former, I go with the macho name, not to mention a photograph at the top of my column of my paternal grandfather, Jacob Persky, who also used the nom de bizarre of “Strange” but actually was a big, strapping adventurer who traveled the world seeking out the dangerous. Unfortunately, I take after mom’s side of the family.

Be that as it may…

As Shakespeare once pointed out, there truly are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in Horatio’s philosophy. “Horatio” being a metaphor for you, that is. For all that you really, really, really want and need to believe that the stuff you see in horror movies, dream of in late-night-pepperoni-pizza induced nightmares, or is speculated about in low budget documentaries on the History Channel are imagined or make believe, most of them aren’t.

Bigfoot? Alien visitations? Magic? Ghosts and demons?

Real. Real. Real. And real.

We usually leave it to the so-called “lunatic fringe” to believe that things like Roswell, vampires and werewolves, and outlandish government conspiracy theories are true. And if you’d seen some of the things these folks have seen, you’d like be a little wack-a-doodle yourself. But just because they’re crazy doesn’t mean they’re wrong. And just because the stories we publish don’t fit into most peoples’ definition of normal doesn’t mean they’re untrue. It just means it’s way easier to go through life believing that to be the case than have to deal with the fact that there really are creepy, drippy things living under the bed and lurking in the closet.

And on the other side of the mirror.

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