Active Ingredient- Chapter 1

Bad idea, boy-o. Bad fucking idea.

I stood on the porch of the nondescript bungalow, my finger hovering above the doorbell. Even though it was hardly even noon yet, the whole rainy, miserable day seemed to be leading up to this moment.

Don’t you do it. Don’t you fucking do it!! the little voice inside me shrieked.

Answering an online ad. This is how people ended up murdered, their corpse hidden in a garbage-strewn culvert by the side of the road for weeks at a time, only to be discovered by a DOT highway crew cleaning up garbage or cutting vegetation. Murdered over a cellphone, or sneakers or the change in my pocket after replying to some vague and shady internet ad. Looking down at my phone for the eleventh time since I arrived at the address, I re-read the ad that brought me here.

Enterprising mamono seeks single human male in good health for unique business venture. Must be unattached. No married men or drug users.

Even though it was unseasonably warm for this time of year, the warmth brought a steady rainfall with it. The day’s dreariness was exemplified by a sad woman with an acoustic guitar on the radio singing a cover of Graham Nash’s Used to Be King as I drove my truck past the town’s long-abandoned factories and warehouses, as well as the trees that were nothing more than bare branches devoid of life futilely clawing at the gray sky. I tried intentionally getting ‘lost’ on my way to the address given to me before realizing that I had little choice but to take my medicine.

I did not used to be king, although I did have a fairly comfortable and well-paying job with a trucking firm until- at least until my employers cut back and shut down the regional hub me and about 30 others worked out of. Still, if you find yourself on a complete stranger’s doorstep in a run down neighborhood in response to an internet solicitation that read a bit too much like a personal ad, you probably made some pretty iffy life choices along the way.

Ads placed by mamono, apparently.

Yet I doubt the 27 other people I used to work with at our now-shuttered logistics hub were showing such poor decision-making prowess, despite most of them being in similarly dire financial straits as me. Inhaling a little bit, I figured that I might as well stop procrastinating and ring the doorbell. My finger finally pressed the button and……..nothing.

I pressed the button on the bungalow’s doorbell and again….nothing.

Did I have the right address? I sauntered out to the curb near where I had parked and double-checked the number on the bungalow’s mailbox.

91 Cross Street.

Same address on the ad. Although I was only a few feet away from my primary means of escape, I trudged back up the steps to the bungalow’s porch. Instead of ringing the doorbell, I sharply knocked on the front door.

Again….nothing happened.

At least right away. I had my back to the door as I was staring longingly at my truck, wondering what exactly the threshold for backing out of this with a shred of dignity still intact was. It kind of sucked that I finally managed to work up the nerve to reply to the online ad only for nobody to answer at the posted address. But I wouldn’t be lying if I said I was also somewhat relieved, too.

As I fished my truck keys out of my pocket, I heard the bungalow’s front door open up behind me.

“Hello…?” a voice quietly called out.

I turned around. It was a mamono all right, but I wasn’t quite prepared for the sight that greeted me. Standing in the shabby bungalow’s doorway was a voluptuous and nearly naked Holstaur, a white terrycloth towel wrapped just above her ample mammaries and barely coming down to her upper thighs. The mamono’s frosted white hair was still damp and spiky and featured little black streaks that I assume were natural. She was quite pretty, but she had a pensiveness to her. I could also see little beads of water flecked across her skin as I took in the sight of her.

Realizing that I probably looked like some sort of stalkerish, salivating fanboy, I figured I should probably say something to her to break the ice. However, instead of an introduction or apology for coming at a bad time, I simply inarticulately blurted out one of the first things that came to mind.

“N-Ninety One Cross street?” I asked.

“Oh….you’re here about the ad, aren’t you?” the holstaur asks as I detect something along the lines of relief along her face.

“Y-yeah….sorry if I came at a bad time.”

“I was in the shower. I’m sorry- you weren’t waiting out here too long, were you?” she asks.

“Oh no….” I fib. “I tried the doorbell once or twice, but I guess that wasn’t working.”

“Sorry…” the mamono in the doorway says. “I’ve been meaning to get that fixed.”

After an awkward pause she continues, beckoning me inside.

“Well come in. It’s nice and dry, plus I have a few follow-up questions that I need to ask before we continue.”

“Right….of course.” I say a little nervously as she holds the door open for me.

Stepping inside, I see that the little bungalow’s interior is much more cozy and better maintained that one would think from looking at the shabby exterior. Although the large floral print wallpaper is dated, the interior is decorated in a quaint, rural motif with ceramic cows, cow piggy banks and a framed photograph of a red barn with an American flag painted on it.

All in all, it’s quite pleasant and I can see that she’s already had a pot of coffee brewing. I’m starting to wonder if her towel is made from terrycloth or titanium as she reaches up into one of the cupboards and pulls out two mugs, her titanic udders straining the towel considerably as she embarks upon this task.

“I’ll need you to wait here for a moment while I get dressed.” she says. “Would you like some coffee?”

“Sure- thank you.”

The holstaur pours herself a cup before bringing the coffee pot to my mug- a clean but somewhat faded University of Syracuse Orangemen ceramic coffee cup.

“Would you like any cream or sugar?”

“Yes….please-” I start to say before I belatedly ponder the possible source of the cream she’s offering me. To my surprise, she opens up the fridge and produces a small bowl filled with those thimble-sized prepackaged parcels of cream that one can find in most restaurants.

“I….I work nights at that diner off of route 278.” she says sheepishly.

That was a little anticlimactic, but sure enough I’m soon sipping at an impossibly sweet and creamy cup of coffee out of the faded Syracuse mug while I’m waiting for the holstaur to return.

I look around the kitchen a little more, increasingly convinced that I’m not in the den of a vicious serial killer who lures unsuspecting men to their demise with internet ads. On a shelf next to the sink is what looks like a little red barn with an old time Mail Pouch chewing tobacco ad on it from a model railroad. The miniature barn looks like it’s been weathered, although I’m not sure if it came that way or somebody took the time to make it look more aged and distressed afterwards.

Next to it is a little chicken coop and a corrugated metal grain bin also probably from an HO scale model railroad set. Coffee in hand, I’m marvelling at this little slice or idyllic rural Americana the Holstaur has set up just above her kitchen counter.

Despite having cloven hooves and being indoors, I’m not aware of the Holstaur’s return until she’s already back in the kitchen with me.

“I know it seems silly, but sometimes I like to have little things around that remind me of home.” she says shyly as I’m inspecting her improvised scale model farm.

“Where’s ‘home’?” I ask.

“Here, I guess……” there’s a hint of sorrow or resignation in her voice. “But when I first came here, I was taken in by a family on a farm out in Steuben County. There wasn’t alot to do there, but I still liked it and they were very nice.”

“Steuben County? I’ve been there before…” I say. However, saying I’ve been THROUGH there on the interstate a few times would have been far more accurate.

“Oh really? I kind of miss it sometimes…” the Holstaur says wistfully.

I realize that I’m probably making the Holstaur just as uncomfortable as I was while waiting for an answer at the door.

“I-I’m sorry….I’m Gunnar…” I say to the mamono as I held out my hand.

“Rinaata…” the mamono says as she clasps her impossibly soft hands around mine. “Pleased to meet you…”

“Likewise…” I smell something like lilacs as I reluctantly pull my hand away from hers. Rinaata must’ve applied some sort of lotion of skin cream not too long ago.

“Well, Gunnar….are you single?”

I nod. Her kind were said to be pretty intuitive about that sort of thing, and there was no point in lying.

“What do you know about mamono physiology?” she asks, seamlessly transitioning to what must be the interview phase.

“Not much….I pretty much finished up school before the presence of mamonos became public knowledge, let alone required classroom curriculum…”

“Really?” she asked. “You’re a little older than you look….”

I arch my eyebrow at the Holstaur’s backhanded compliment.


“I’m sorry….I didn’t mean it quite like that…”

“That’s okay….go on…” I say.

“Well, as you may or may not already know, mamono have taken to alot of the food that’s available to humans here….” Rinaata started. “However, we also require something called Manna or Spirit Energy and…..” she was starting to blush and look away. “And…..the greatest concentration of Spirit Energy is….is found in the ejaculate of human males….”

“I heard…” I say to Rinaata tersely. In all honestly, the only time I had encountered any mamono who seemed openly interested in my seed was a pair of harpy prostitutes at a truck stop off the I-92 last year. I did not oblige them, although I’m sure they eventually had their fill courtesy of somebody else that night.

“So…” Rinaata began to say nervously. “I was working one night and it hit me. Why not find a way to combine some of the foods that mamonos like with spirit energy?”

Oh shit- I know where this is going I say to myself.

“Well…what exactly did you have in mind?” I interrupt.

“Chocolates.” She said matter-of-factly before continuing. “Chocolates blended with spirit energy”

“You mean jizz.” I cringe after realizing I said that out loud.

“Y-yes… probably sounds odd to you, but I have reason to believe it would be quite popular with a number of mamono subspecies.”

I raised my finger as though I had something to say before I realized that the holstaur probably had a point. A lucrative and untapped niche market- Free enterprise at its finest.

“S-so you’d need someone to help market it or promote it, right?”

Did I mention that I had this tendency to overlook the obvious and ask really stupid questions?

“N-no…” she said a little nervously and probably flustered that she had to spell it out for me. She was looking me in the directly in the eyes now.

“I need someone to provide the raw Spirit Energy- that’s the position you’re interviewing for.”


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5 thoughts on “Active Ingredient- Chapter 1

  1. Stuben county, eh? I can see someone’s familiar with rural New York! My father grew up in Allegheny, and I hail from Livingston myself. Familiar settings aside, really enjoying the homey yet interesting story, can’t wait to see more!

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