Upgrade to a better browser, please.

Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Books


Added By: Administrator
Last Updated: Administrator


Purchase this book through Purchase this book from Purchase this book from
Author: A. Lee Martinez
Publisher: Orbit, 2009

This book does not appear to be part of a series. If this is incorrect, and you know the name of the series to which it belongs, please let us know.

Submit Series Details

Book Type: Novel
Genre: Fantasy
Sub-Genre Tags: Comic Fantasy
Avg Member Rating:
(7 reads / 4 ratings)


Meet Monster. Meet Judy. Two humans who don't like each other much, but together must fight dragons, fire-breathing felines, trolls, Inuit walrus dogs, and a crazy cat lady - for the future of the universe.

Monster runs a pest control agency. He's overworked and has domestic troubles - like having the girlfriend from hell.

Judy works the night shift at the local Food Plus Mart. Not the most glamorous life, but Judy is happy. No one bothers her and if she has to spell things out for the night-manager every now and again, so be it.

But when Judy finds a Yeti in the freezer aisle eating all the Rocky Road, her life collides with Monster's in a rather alarming fashion. Because Monster doesn't catch raccoons; he catches the things that go bump in the night. Things like ogres, trolls, and dragons.

Oh, and his girlfriend from Hell? She actually is from Hell.



The thing was big and white and hairy, and it was eating all the ice cream in the walk-in freezer. Four dozen chewed up, empty cartons testified that it had already devoured half of the inventory, and it wasn't full yet.

From the safety of the doorway, Judy watched it stuff an entire cartoon of Choc-O-Chiptastic Fudge into its mouth with a slurp. The creature turned its head slightly and sniffed. It had vaguely human features, except its face was blue and its nostrils and mouth impossibly huge. It fixed a sky cobalt eye on her and snorted.

Judy beat a hasty retreat and walked to the produce aisle, where Dave was stocking lettuce.

"I thought I asked you to stock the ice cream," he said.

"No need," she said. "Yeti is eating it all."

He raised his head. "What?"

"Maybe not all of it," she said. "Doesn't seem to like the vanilla."


Dave wasn't the brightest of guys, and the staffing shortage of the Food Plus Mart and the extra hours he'd been putting in had taken their toll. The poor guy got maybe three hours of sleep a night, nine dollars an hour, and two days paid vacation a year, but it was all worth it to work in the glamorous world of supermarket management, she assumed.

"It's a yeti," she said. "Big, hairy thing. Belongs in the Himalayas. Except it's in your freezer, and it's eating the ice cream."


She sighed. "Just go look for yourself, Dave. I'll handle the lettuce."

Dave trudged toward the freezer and returned.

"There's a yeti in the freezer," he observed.

"Umm hmm."

Dave joined her in piling on lettuce. They moved onto bananas, then grapes. He checked the freezer again.

"Is it still there?" she asked.

"Yeah. Now it's eating the frozen chicken dinners." He rubbed his fat chin. "What should we do?"

"Don't ask me," she said. "You're the manager."

Dave scratched his head. He was obviously having trouble forming a coherent thought. Judy took pity on him.

"Isn't there a book of emergency phone numbers, Dave?"

"Yeah." He yawned. "But I don't think it has anything about yetis in it."

"Have you checked?"

"Uh, no."

"It's in the office right?" she asked.

He nodded, struggling to form a thought.

"Oh, Christ, Dave. Just give me the keys to the office already."

On the way to the office, she passed the freezer. The yeti was making a mess, and she'd probably be the one to have to clean it up. She didn't mind. She needed the overtime.

The emergency phone number book was a spiral notebook with a picture of a happy snowman on its cover. She sat in the creaky chair, propped her feet on the desk, and thumbed through the book. It wasn't arranged in any particular order, but she wasn't in a hurry. Fifteen minutes later, she decided on the only possibly appropriate number, picked up the phone, and dialed.

The Animal Control line was automated. A pre-recorded voice informed her of the hours of normal operation, and she was unsurprised to discover three in the morning wasn't among them. She almost hung up, but it was a choice between listening to a recording or starting on the canned goods aisle, so it really wasn't any choice at all.

After two minutes of interminable droning that Judy was only half-listening to, the voice instructed, "If this is an emergency, please press one now."

She did.

The phone started ringing. She counted twenty-five before she got distracted with an impromptu drum solo using the desktop, a pen, and a pencil. She was just settling into her beat when someone answered the other line.

"Animal Control Services. Please state the nature of your emergency."

"Yeah, uh, I know this is going to sound kind of weird, but we've got, uh, like a yeti or something, I guess, in our store." She winced. She should've just said they had a big rabid dog. They might've believed her then. "I know how that sounds, but this is not a prank, I swear."

"Please hold."

Judy waited for the click and dial tone to replace the steady buzz of in the earpiece. It didn't come. The clock on the wall ticked off the seconds. Maybe they were tracing the call right now and dispatching a squad car to arrest her. Or at the very least, give her a stern talking to. Well, let them. When the cops got here, she'd just show them the yeti, and it would become their problem.

"Cryptobiological Containment and Rescue Services. Can I have your name, please?" The woman sounded supremely disinterested.

Judy hesitated, but figured it didn't make much difference at this point. "Judy Hines."

"And you believe you have a yeti in your freezer, is that correct?"

The words were beginning to lose their absurdity.

"Yes, I think so," she said, though she wasn't as certain as she was five minutes ago.

"Can you describe it?"

"It's big and white and eating all the ice cream," she said.

"What flavor?"


"What flavor does it seem to prefer? Yetis generally go for rocky road. Now wendigos, on the other hand, prefer strawberry in my experience."

"What's a wendigo?" Judy asked.

"Like a yeti, except meaner."

Judy considered that this woman might be screwing with her. If Judy were working a lonely job in the middle of the night and got a crank caller, she'd probably do the same.

"It didn't seem to like vanilla." There was an awkward pause. "I am not making this up."

"Just stay out of its way. We've dispatched an agent. He should be there in fifteen minutes."

"I didn't tell you the address."

"We trace the emergencies calls." The operator hung up.

Satisfied she'd done her job, she went to the front of the store. She shouted, "They're sending a guy so I'll go wait for him and take a smoke break while I'm at it, Dave!" There was no indication he'd heard her, but he'd figure it out.

The night was cool, and she'd wished she'd thought to grab her sweater. It wasn't cold enough to bother going back. She sat on the coin-operated rocket, lit a cig, and waited.

She wondered about the yeti. It didn't make much sense for a mythical monster from the Himalayas to be in the Food Plus Mart freezer. She hoped the guy the city sent would know how to handle this. She doubted that pole with the loop of rope would be up to the task.

A white van pulled into the parking lot. The plain black stenciled letters on its side read Monster's Cryptobiological Rescue. The vehicle rolled lazily into a parking spot in the middle of the lot, though there were plenty of closer spaces available. A man in cargo pants and a t-shirt stepped out of it. The dim lot lighting kept him an indistinct blur as, whistling the theme to Star Trek, he went to the back of his van and retrieved something. He didn't look like much, and as he walked closer, he looked like even less. He was tall, lanky, with a narrow face. His hair and skin was blue. The hair was a tangled mess and could've passed reasonably for seaweed. He carried a baseball bat over his shoulder.

She didn't comment on his blueness. Like the inexplicable appearance of the yeti, it didn't seem odd. Like encountering an elephant at the beach or meeting an Aborigine at the mall. She wouldn't expect it, but she wouldn't cl
assify it as bizarre as much as unexpected. Her lack of strong reaction struck her as stranger than anything else. But Judy made an art out of indifference, so she just chalked it up to not caring.

"Are you the guy?" she asked. "The guy the city sent?"

"I'm the guy. Are you the one who called?"

She nodded.

"Let's have a look then."

Judy stabbed out her cigarette. "I don't think that baseball bat is going to do much against that thing."

"Lady, I don't recall asking you what you thought. How about I leave the delicate art of stacking canned goods in decorative pyramids to you, and you leave the yeti wrangling to me?" He snorted. "That is, if it even is a yeti."

He gestured toward the door and smiled thinly. "After you."

Judy flicked her cig into the ashcan and led him to the freezer.

The yeti was still there. It'd done away with most the inventory and was content to just sit on its big, hairy ass and digest its meal.

"Yup. Yeti," said the guy.

"Told you."

"Good for you."

"How the hell did a yeti get in our freezer?" she asked.

"Tibetans make a pretty penny selling the young ones as pets. Then they grow up, and the next thing you know, some asshole drives them to a strange part of town and unloads them."

Judy frowned. "That stinks."

"What are you going to do? People are shit."

This was a philosophy that Judy shared, so she didn't argue. It did stimulate some empathy for the yeti though, looking very much like a big fluffy teddy bear except for the claws and teeth.

"You aren't going to hurt it, are you?"

"I'm paid to bring them in alive." He pinned the bat under his arm and pulled out a small book from his back pocket. He flipped through the pages, nodded to himself, and with a magic marker drew a few strange marks along the bat.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

He glanced up with annoyance but didn't explain. The blue-skinned guy went into the freezer. He wasn't being sneaky. Just walked up to it and smacked it on the back of its head with the bat. It wasn't a hard blow, but it seemed to do the job. The yeti's eyes fluttered and it fell over, unconscious.

The guy kissed his bat, took out his marker, and started drawing on the freezer floor. He drew a circle around the unconscious creature, and, after consulting with his pocket guidebook again, began drawing strange letters around its edges.

"What are you doing now?" she asked.

"You wouldn't understand it."

"Try me."

"Unless you've got a certified degree in Runic Studies with a minor in Cryptobiology from The Greater New Jersey Community Collegius Arcanus just leave me alone and let me take care of this."

He moved around the circle, drawing strange symbols. It took three minutes, and when he finished, he stepped back as the yeti disappeared in a flash. When the spots cleared from Judy's eyes, the yeti was gone. There was a small, fluffy rock in its place. The weird writing drifted off the floor and faded like smoke.

"What did you do to it?" she asked.

"Don't worry your pretty little head." He scooped the stone up and stuck it in his pocket. "Just transmogrified it for easy transport."

"So that's it?"

"That's it. Now if you could just accompany me to my van and sign some paperwork, I'll be on my way."

They started back.

"That was easy," she said. "I thought it'd be a lot harder than that."

"That's why they pay me the big bucks."

They were halfway down the stationery aisle when a tremendous clatter and crash echoed through the store.

"Is there anyone else in the store?" asked Monster.

"Just Dave."

Something roared.

"Another one?" she asked.

He pulled a small square of paper from his pocket. It had a lot of those weird not-quite-letters written on it. The paper folded itself into an origami hummingbird.

"Chester, Recon," commanded the blue guy.

"I'm on it," said the bird, soaring over the aisles on paper wings and quickly returning. "We've got a yeti in the canned goods aisle."

The bang of a shelf of Chef Boyardee Brand Beef Ravioli being tossed to the floor made Judy winced. It depressed her to realize that she'd been working at the Food Plus Mart long enough to identify the brand and product solely by the sound. Spagheti-Os had a tinnier echo, and green beans were more muffled.

"Shit, I just stocked that aisle."

The blue guy and Judy investigated canned goods. The yeti's cheeks bulged as it stuffed pasta, cans and all, into its maw. It was a hell of a mess. This creature was bigger than the last.

"This shouldn't be a problem," said the guy. "I can handle this."

Something growled behind them. Judy whirled and came face-to-face with yet another yeti. This one bared its teeth at her and snarled. Its bloodshot eyes bore into her, freezing her in place. It knocked her aside with a glancing blow and seized the blue guy. He struggled, but the yeti lifted him to its jaws and swallowed his head. The guy flailed and twitched as the creature ambled away, sucking on him like a lollipop.

She didn't hear the man scream. Either he was dead already or his shrieks of pain were being muffled by a throat full of his own blood. The yeti stopped at the far end of the aisle and spit the man out. It hunched over him, growling and clawing. Scraps of cloth flew in the air, but the creature's body blocked Judy's view of the carnage.

"Oh shit. Oh shit." Judy froze, repeating the chant over and over.

A curious grunt came from the canned goods aisle. The second yeti's claws clicked on the tile as it drew closer. It snorted and sniffed.

She bolted for the front doors. They were only a dozen or so steps away, and the lumbering yetis didn't seem very fast. A can of peas rolled underfoot, causing her to fall. She struck her head on the discarded baseball bat, and it rolled noisily across the floor.

The second yeti roared as it advanced on her. "Oh, shit, oh, shit!"

She'd always known Food Plus Mart was a dead end job. She just hadn't expected to reach the end so soon.

The paper bird, now folded into a large vulture shape, fluttered in the creature's face. "Run, miss! I can't distract it for--"

The yeti grabbed the bird and threw it to the floor. The beast stomped on the paper several times.

Judy snatched up the baseball bat and clutched it in two tight fists. The animal control guy had used it to knock out the other yeti. She figured she'd only get one shot so she had to make it count.

The yeti pounced.

She brought the bat up hard and smashed it across the jaw. There was an explosion of force. The yeti was blown back down the aisle. It flew fifty feet, landing with a thud beside the third yeti, the one mauling the animal control agent. The struck yeti stayed down, but the last one turned away from its victim and howled.

The strange writing on the bat glowed brighter. The weapon quivered in her grip. It was only a bat and the yeti was a hulking brute, but she felt invincible with it.

"Come on," she whispered through clenched teeth. "Nobody messes with my canned goods aisle, you son of a--"

The abominable snowman charged forward. Its feral roar dissolved her sense of power. Yelping, she pitched the bat at it. The weapon sailed through the air and struck the yeti right between the eyes.

The bat exploded in a crack of thunder. Splinters of wood flew like shrapnel, slicing her face and arms. A sizeable chunk collided above her right eye, knocking her to the floor. Everything went hazy as she struggled to stay conscious for a few seconds.

"Miss, miss?" Her vision cleared enough to make out the four foot paper man standing over her. "Are you okay, miss?"

She sat up, and the sudden rush almost made her throw up.

"Don't try to stand. That's a nasty bruise on your head."

The yeti was dead. Its head was gone, blown to oblivion. There wasn't even any blood or brains left. Just a smoking crater. She glanced down at the chunk of scorched wood that had dented her skull.

The blue guy was beside her. "Are you okay, lady?"

"She might need medical treatment," said Chester.

She struggled to form a sentence.

"She'll be okay," the guy said. "Chester, get the healing elixir from the van. The one in the yellow bottle. That'll fix her up."

"Sure thing, boss." The paper man folded himself into his hummingbird shape and flew away.

"But... but... " Judy covered her eyes as she assembled the thought piece-by-piece. "But that yeti mauled you."

He helped her up, keeping her steady. Her vision cleared. The guy's clothes were ripped, but there wasn't a mark on him. Not so much as a scratch.

"Why aren't you dead?"

"I'm blue."

Judy leaned on the guy to keep from falling over. "Huh?"

"I'm invulnerable to violent harm when I'm blue."

Maybe it was her spinning head or the way that he said it so matter-of-factly, but it made sense to her.

A vaguely Dave-ish blur appeared at the end of the aisle. "What the hell happened?"

"It's okay, Dave," she said. "We took care of it. Me and this guy the city sent. Uh, what's your name?"

"Monster," said the blue guy.

"Of course, it is. Well, Monster, I really have to sit down before I puke, which I really don't think you want to happen. Unless you're also immune to dry cleaning bills while you're blue."

They went over to checkout and found a stool for her. She leaned against the counter and closed her eyes.

"Shit," said Monster. "You killed one."

She opened one eye. "It was going to eat me."

"A dead yeti is hardly worth hauling in for alchemical harvesting," he said. "Thanks a lot."

"Sorry," said Judy, but she really didn't mean it.

The paper man returned and handed Judy a plastic bottle. "Drink this, miss. It'll help you feel better."

She took the squeeze bottle and squirted some in her mouth. "Uh, this tastes like crap."

"That's the manticore bladder," said Monster. "But without it, a healing elixir isn't much more effective than a sports drink. So deal with it."

Judy grumbled, but her head did feel better. She slurped another mouthful.

Dave's exhaustion dulled him, and so when he shook his head and muttered to himself, Judy knew he was pissed. His store was a mess, and there was no way they'd get everything fixed before the next shift.

Monster said, "Soooo what do we got here? Two healthy yetis..." He glared pointedly at Judy. "And one dead one."

She half-scowled, half-smiled. "It was going to eat me."

"Uh hmm."

"Screw the overtime," she said. "Dave, I'm going home."

He mumbled his approval. Or disapproval. Or indifference. Regardless of the exact sentiment, she didn't care.

Chester said, "Miss, we'll need you to sign some forms."

"Whatever. Just make it quick."

"I left the forms in the van, Chester," said Monster.

Rather than wait for Chester to go and retrieve the paperwork, Judy followed him into the parking lot. While he rummaged around in the back of the van, she lit a cigarette.

"So how did that guy do that?" she asked. "Make that yeti into a stone and have the baseball bat explode?"

"I'd like to explain it to you, but I really don't understand the magic of this lower universe myself. Even if I could, you'd just forget it."

"I nearly got killed tonight. I think that kind of makes an impression on a girl."

"Oh, you'll sort of remember it, but you'll soon find the details a bit... fuzzy."

"Wait a minute. You're calling me a muggle, aren't you?"

Chester jumped out of the van with a clipboard. "That's not an officially recognized term."

She snatched the papers.

"I'm not a dumbass muggle."

"Whatever you say, miss. Though only muggles use the word muggle." His paper head had no mouth to smile with, but she sensed his condescending smile. She was tempted to flick her cigarette at him.

"There. All signed. Can I go now?"

"Certainly, miss. Have a pleasant night."

She tossed him the clipboard and headed toward her car. "And tell your boss he's lucky I don't sue his ass for giving me an exploding baseball bat."

Judy didn't see how she could ever forget this, and her contrary nature made her even more determined not to.

By the time she'd gotten home, she'd forgotten that vow.

Copyright © 2009 by A. Lee Martinez


There are currently no reviews for this novel. Be the first to submit one! You must be logged in to submit a review in the BookTrackr section above.


No alternate cover images currently exist for this novel.