A Horror Story On Snuffworld: a story by: GF Willmetts

‘I’m not well, Mistress Morbrondo,’ the Grand Emperor Borro declared looking downtrodden. The glamour of his royal palace not even cheering his demeanour.

‘I do forensic medicine,’ Jumpee replied. ‘I’m not a doctor.’

‘But you are qualified in medical practice?’

‘Yes, but…’

‘Indulge me. Unlike my medical staff you will not say anything to appease me.’

‘What did you do with your medical staff?’

pulpy pulp

‘Nothing. That is the problem. I have lost the will to order their executions. My empire is in a crisis. It’s a matter of death and life when I cannot order death. The population will grow uncontrolled.’

Jumpee dug into her medical bag, ignoring her saws and chisels, looked around for her stethoscope but settled down for a rod to listen to the Grand Emperor Borro’s four heartbeats as she simultaneously checked four difference pulses one after the other. A bit erratic but no more than stress would give. Blood pressure would have been checked by his medical staff but the pulses told more about blood flow. She also drew a sample of blood but declined a faeces sample.

‘I would need better instruments than I have here but your circulation seems all right. Do you have headaches, Grand Emperor?’

Borro shook his head.

‘None of your wives upset you?’

‘They were fine.’

‘When did you witness your last execution?’

Borro paused. ‘Last week, I think.’

Jumpee looked across the room to the quietly waiting Detective Inspector Baratty Rabatty who quietly mouthed a couple words.

‘That was LaBorsch, wasn’t it?? One of the pretenders to your throne. You executed him personally.’

‘You are well read, Mistress Morbrondo.’

‘I did the official autopsy by your request. No obvious infections for his insanity in attacking you. It would be hard to check if anyone else is suffering your malady, Grand Emperor.’

‘Who would admit to it?’

Borro nodded sagely. ‘You heard that, Rabatty?’

‘Yes, Grand Emperor.’

‘Do some detecting. I need my mojo back.’

‘I might not be able to get it right in one attempt, Grand Emperor. It might mean a few failures.’

Borro swiped his hand in the air as if swatting a fly but missing. ‘I am hardly in a position to execute you for failure. Just don’t leave it too long before you try something…anything!’

‘You’re very gracious, Grand Emperor. I’ll need Mistress Morbrondo to assist me.’

‘Of course. Go with him, Mistress Morbrondo.’

Both of them bowed and left the throne room.


Rabatty put a finger to his mouth. ‘The Grand Emperor is very generous with his time.’

Jumpee nodded, looking around at the courtiers and the odd concubine walking past. Things looked normal here, although a little more sombre than usual. No one running to do the Grand Emperor’s bidding. It looked as though they were either expecting a powder keg to explode as Borro shouted out commands or that they themselves might be in the firing squad’s line. Borro was quiet. There would be no urgent orders today.

‘I think we are so lucky with being granted time with the Grand Emperor.’

Once out in Rabatty’s car, they drove off.

‘We’ll need somewhere private we can talk, Rabatty.’

The Inspector snorted. ‘That’s easy. I have some anti-surveillance devices and this car is already that way. So it’s not medical, Jumpee?’

‘Physically, as fine a body as he wants anyway.’


‘I’m not a psychologist. I’m rarely a medical doctor of live bodies. I did take a blood sample that I can check for contaminates but I don’t think I’ll find any. I presume you checked his food tasters and they are alive?’

Rabatty looked at her questionably but nodded.

‘There’s more than poisons, Rabatty, that could have got past them. Narcotics. Hypno drugs. Even downers to consider. He might well have been eating some without realising and ignored his tasters. Considering the way his tasters die, it could even be an accumulative dose in his body but that doesn’t seem likely. I could feed him some uppers to make him happier but that wouldn’t solve what was causing it.’

‘After that last purge, he doesn’t have that many relatives who want his title. LaBorsch was the last old enough. I’ll need to go to my office to check any other perpetrators.’

‘Your compotator not working, Rabatty?

‘The anti-surv blocks incoming messages. Can’t have it both ways, Jumpee.’

‘And after that?’

‘Then we’ll really have to think. There has to be other ways to disturb the Emperor this badly. If it hasn’t affected the rest of the population, then it must be specific to him.’

‘But everyone copies him.’

‘Only eventually. We don’t.’

‘We’re…I don’t have a word for it.’ Rabatty paused. ‘Are you absolutely sure he couldn’t have drank and ate anything that poisoned him…even unintentionally?’

‘Borro has tasters for everything from food to drink for every meal. Even if they didn’t know, they would have the same problem and you said they didn’t.’

‘What would be something you could check easily enough by blood testing them. After all, he hasn’t executed any of them lately. If the Emperor is hiding it, then they might as well. I’ll have to interrogate them a little deeper while you check them.’

‘So might any of his servants.’

‘It’s not like he socialises with them, Rabatty. Whatever got to him got up personal. Something only he would do.’

‘Even so, if any of them know, they could exploit the situation.’

‘Then use them for scapegoat. Sooner or later, the media will want something to fill their displays and I doubt Borro will want the truth out there. Better to have something else to provide.’

‘You’re being very astute. Are you sure we shouldn’t be changing jobs, Jumpee?’

‘You don’t dissect people. I’m just watching you. We have to think ahead.’

‘I’ll go back to the palace and get his bodyguards trebled.’

‘Assuming they aren’t in on it.’

‘Old practice. They come from a family who are deaf and dumb.’

‘That should make an interesting conversation, Rabatty.’

‘Just in case its one of the staff, we need to keep them worried so we can focus on the what than the who.’

‘We could do it by elimination.’

‘But we’d still have to check their replacements.’

‘Under normal circumstances, Borro would go for a clean slate and replace them all.’

‘But it won’t solve the problem. We’ll have to go over his life just before and after it happened and see what the difference is.’

‘And try not to be affected ourselves.’

‘Could it be that bad, Jumpee?’

‘It depends on what it is.’




A week of cross-checking by both of them brought no fresh results but it was Jumpee alone who visited Borro next. She looked around nervously as the lights began to dim.

‘It is good of you to attend me, Mistress Morbrondo. I am about to watch the latest Earth screenings downloads.’



‘I thought you watched these first and alone, Grand Emperor. Not even the royal downloader watches them.’

‘That is indeed true. But lately, these films have moved me and I find a need for companionship.’

‘Your wives? Your concubines? Why not watch with them. I’m not a film watcher. I’m a…’

‘Forensic scientist. I know, you keep reminding me,’ Borro paused. ‘They would rather wait for my approval before watching. You never watch any films?’

‘My life is full of finding out why our people die, Grand Emperor. You…provide me with a lot of work.’

‘And off-duty?’

‘I normally eat and sleep.’

‘Then this can be your first experience.’

‘As you wish, Grand Emperor.’

Dejected, Jumpee settled her four legs onto the ground and, remembering her place, a little back from Borro. If she fell asleep, he might not notice during the film. The lights dimmed further.

‘This latest batch is not like the normal ones we watch,’ Borro called out as the screen lit up. ‘Not so violent but equally moving.’

‘Indeed, Grand Emperor. Does it have a name?’

The screen revealed the title. ‘What kind of film is this “Love Story”?’

‘The promos say romance. I was intrigued. Watch now, Mistress Morbrondo. They are quite addictive.’

Jumpee shrugged and watched. Half-way through, she turned and watched Borro, who was sobbing. A biped upset about another biped dying. She saw it all the time from work. Generally, coupled Granolans would decide that they couldn’t live apart and died together than waiting for one to die. Usually leaping off a high building until it was decided that killing those below wasn’t always a good idea, not to mention cleaning afterwards, so designated areas were given and names noted to save paperwork tracking down who they were. This biped was going to keep living. How unrealistic. Was this what upset the Grand Emperor? It would still reduce the population even if it was only half the number. There wasn’t any sign of gunfire yet and these Earthers weren’t armed. Where was the violence that so inspired her people?

Still, the Grand Emperor was crying.

When the lights came up, Borro was still trembling.

‘Have you seen many of these er…romances, Grand Emperor?’

‘Several, Mistress Morbrondo. The Earthers seem to have a passion for them at the moment. I’m falling for this passion. Did you not enjoy it?’

‘With your Grand Emperor’s permission, this is my first film. I didn’t know what to expect. Can I be excused to think before giving an answer?’

‘I, too, find I have to think after watching these romances. I will see you later, Mistress Morbrondo.’

She left him sobbing, not quite sure what to do. The first person she collided with when leaving the Grand Emperor was Rabatty.

‘Enjoying popcorn with the Grand Emperor, Jumpee?’

‘Watching a film. Do you watch many of them, Rabatty?’

‘Too busy solving crimes.’

‘I said a similar thing to the Grand Emperor but couldn’t refuse his invitation.’ She lowered her voice. ‘We need to talk.’

‘I’ll take you back to your lab.’

They parked as before away from the palace and Rabatty turned on his car’s anti-surveillance device.

‘Tell me, Rabatty, have you ever heard of Borro crying after watching a film?’


‘Tears. Getting emotional.’


‘Teardrops when you get something in your eye, like me whacking you around the head.’

The detective shook his head.

‘One thing we have in common, Rabatty, is that we’re not film-watchers. I have no idea how to react to them.’

‘Watching a film did not change your mind?’

‘I wasn’t really watching it. I was watching Borro cry through most of it. Would he do a similar thing to the more violent films he normally watches?’

Rabatty shrugged. ‘I know after a national premiere, deaths go up. People always want to re-enact the violence. He must have enjoyed it and mostly from people copycatting. Borro does his usual purges from the prisons to make room for more. The streets if he’s really happy. Whether he cries over them I have no idea.’

‘And if they all come out crying than killing?’

‘The population would grow through lack of control. I saw the statistics for something called porno a while back. All of Borro’s wives were pregnant after them.’

‘Borro has been watching these romances for a few weeks. Have they been shown to the population yet?’

Rabatty checked his compotator, now adjusted to break through the anti-surveillance channel. ‘Next week. He hasn’t said they shouldn’t be shown. By the time, they are massed produced, it’s another two weeks.’

‘Can we have the population all crying after a film? That’s a lot of mojo, Rabatty.’

‘Even if you’re right, that won’t stop the Emperor’s problem.’

‘Find him a violent film and he’ll forget this romance nonsense. Make it several. You’ll need to have a talk to the royal downloader and get them isolated.’

‘He can’t do anything. He’s not allowed to watch them.’

‘Do we get much of this porno anymore?’

Rabatty shook his head. ‘Not that I know of. The population rate has been statically high for a long time now but never like that peak.’

‘Then he or someone is censoring. Talk to him or at least make sure he gives Borro a diet of action films. We must stop this horror from repeating itself.’




Cheaba Requielosa fiddled with the controls of the receiver dish as Rabatty looked at him. The chamber they were in gave direct controls to a series of satellite dishes collecting information out in space.

‘I heard you were interviewing the royal household, Inspector. I seem to be the last on your list. The Grand Emperor favours you more than most these days. What does this have to do with me?’

‘You’re the Grand Emperor’s royal downloader. I was curious as what you’ve been giving him to watch lately.’

‘How would I know? I don’t watch them. That is for the Grand Emperor to decide if they are worthy for the population. I am just his humble servant.’

Rabatty decided to ignore the last comment. ‘How do you know when a recording is complete? The Earthers don’t tell us. You just gather signals they’ve thrown into the sky since…whenever they started transmitting.’

‘The films vary in length. There’s a frequency modulation that runs out and an extended list of human text that doesn’t mean very much other than the end. The timings tend to be consistent.

‘But you double check them? I mean, the Emperor wouldn’t be happy if you missed the ending or had poor reception.’

Requielosa whitened a little. ‘It has never happened on my watch, Inspector.’

‘Detective Inspector.’ Rabatty placed his anti-surveillance box on the table. ‘Will this interfere with your data gathering?’

Requielosa nodded. ‘Let’s use it somewhere else. I do have some fresh disks to collect and you’ll also have the rare opportunity to see the Emperor’s collection.’

Rabatty followed him to a massive sealed room full of labelled disks.

The door closed behind them. ‘You can use that gadget if you wish, Detective Inspector, but nothing’s detected in here.’

Rabatty, not trusting anyone, turned it on. ‘So tell me, Cheaba Requielosa, how do you avoid the violent urges that the rest of the nation goes through when you’re at the centre of our film catalogue?’

‘How do you?’

‘I’m too busy solving crime.’

‘I’m too busy collecting signals. It takes a while to collect and reformat. I rarely see more than the beginning and the end. You understand that is confidential? That’s all I need to watch. I don’t watch the content.’

‘Of course, yet throughout, you don’t watch anything at all or ensure that the Grand Emperor only gets the finest material. No fuzzy signals?’

‘The reception has been good since we got the new receivers. The Grand Emperor makes his own choice from the selection I hand him once formatted. As I said, I am his loyal servant. I do as I’m told.’

‘He no longer gets a particular subject. Something called porno because it incited population growth. I can see Borro keeping that for private use but he doesn’t appear to watch that anymore judging by the fewer number of simultaneous pregnancies from his harem.’

‘Well…I do…er…keep an eye out for such things. The Earthers often have a warning notice before they start. They are kept but not shown…not even to him. We have enough population.’

‘So you are his censor as well?’

‘Only when I must. I doubt if even the Grand Emperor would want too many heirs to his throne.’

‘Were you told or did you make the decision yourself?’

‘Is there a difference?’

‘Have you noticed anything different in the Grand Emperor’s behaviour lately…like the lack of homicidal feelings for instance? Are you plying him to stop him executing you?’

‘I am loyal to the Grand Emperor. I suspect, like yourself, we are too valuable to incur his wraith.’

‘But he hasn’t ordered an execution in two weeks. He knows something is wrong but doesn’t know what but wants it resolved. I’ve been told these latest films he’s been watching are some horrific thing called romance.’

‘They are new. The Grand Emperor always wants to see anything new. He says it challenges him.’

‘But they are clearly not healthy for him. He sobs while watching them.’

‘What’s “sob”?’

Rabatty slapped Requielosa a couple times around the head, enough for the royal downloader to squint and water seep out of his eyes.’

‘Like that. A lot more than that and not done by anyone royal or otherwise slapping him. It happens when he watches these romances.’

Requielosa squinted through his damp vision at Rabatty but felt nervous about retaliating.

‘He hasn’t said anything. Only asks for more.’

‘But he stopped watching porno. The only way that would happen is if he wasn’t given them anymore. You did it once, you must do so again. You need to stop giving him this new filth as well.’

‘What should I give him instead?’

‘Do I watch such things? Give him what he likes. The Earthers always have films featuring death and violence. Get some more of them. You must have some in reserve.’

‘That isn’t always easy. Ever since the Emperor executed their ambassador, the Earthers have been trying to upset the signal. Fortunately, I am more clever than them, so they must have been sending this new variety.’

‘At least we have a scapegoat. You must have kept some of their more violent snuff films in reserve in case reception ever got bad.’


‘I think, Cheaba Requielosa, that this is one such situation. As investigating officer, I, Detective Inspector Baratty Rabatty, give authority to use them and should the Grand Emperor ever ask, you can direct him to me.’

‘You are very sure of your position, Detective Inspector.’

‘Would you like to put it to the test?’


‘Run one of those snuff films for the Emperor and tell him I will see him afterwards. Ensure it is a long one. Plenty of violence. Do so regularly for the next few films. It will make him well.’

‘The Emperor might not be happy with me…’

‘I will personally exonerate you to the Emperor with a recommendation that you alone will protect him from the Earthers more dangerous films so you will no longer have to hide such checks.’

‘I am grateful, Detective Inspector Baratty Rabatty.’




‘Is it wise to see Borro so soon?’ Jumpee asked as they arrived and trotted up to the palace entrance.

Rabatty nodded. ‘We need to know its working, worked or failed. If it fails, we will have the opportunity to search again. If we have succeeded, we can get back to our own work.’

As the two Granolans entered the royal palace, the staff seemed a little happier.

‘So far so good.’

They were stopped at the royal throne room by the Grand Emperor’s personal secretary, flanked by two bodyguards.

‘Are you expected?’

‘Would we be here otherwise?’ asked Rabatty.

‘I have also been asked to attend the Grand Emperor’s health personally,’ added Jumpee.

‘The Grand Emperor would not like it to be known who held us up.’

The personal secretary gave a slight shudder and moved aside. ‘The film has just ended and the Grand Emperor is eating. He does not like to be disturbed.’

‘I’m glad to see his appetite has returned. There’s no need to announce us. We have been told to be discrete and come at once. We are here.’

The personal secretary scanned his compotator. ‘Indeed.’

‘It would be wise for you to stay this side of the door.’

‘I have no desire to enter.’


Both Granolans entered and the personal secretary went about his business as they trotted through the small corridor. Lackey names were unimportant if their career prospects dropped.

‘I hope you’re right, Rabatty,’ muttered Jumpee.

‘Rabatty, my man, so good of you to arrive.” Borro turned to greet them. ‘Your presence is also appreciated, Mistress Morbrondo.’

‘You look well, Grand Emperor.’

Borro stood up and raised himself on his hind legs, beating his chest a little as he stood on all four legs.

‘Indeed, Mistress Morbrondo. I now feel like I have time to kill. Just a matter of selecting who. The world will shake with happiness with my joy.’

‘I take it the film was a success?’

‘Present company excepted.’ Borro continued unheard before pausing. ‘Cheaba Requielosa is at the top of my list. There must have been something wrong with this batch of films.’

‘Without Cheaba Requielosa we wouldn’t have restored your mojo, Grand Emperor. He realised that the Earthers were contaminating the films and removed this particular horror selection from your list to restore your health after I consulted with him.’

‘That is forbidden. He is not allowed to watch the films. That alone is enough to have him executed.’

‘Which is why it took so long to realise there was a problem. We respectfully request that he be allowed to watch at least some of them to ensure that this does not happen again.’

‘As you wish. You are smart, Rabatty, my man. I will war with the Earthers instead.’

‘And lose their films?’ asked Jumpee.

‘That is true, Mistress Morbrondo. I will put them on notice instead.’

‘Or it might be easier to ignore them in this matter. To indicate that it worked, even partially, would only mean less of your favourite choices, Grand Emperor. They might contaminate further. Those are still being broadcast on a different wavelength. Cheaba Requielosa says there are many such wavelengths but needs to examine them to see what other preferable gems them may hold. The film you just viewed came from one of these. All those romance films you saw in the past two weeks should not be given to the public.’

‘I will give him a bonus instead.’

‘And a new title worthy of such work.’

‘It is akin to being a royal taster, Grand Emperor,’ Jumpee added. ‘It is done to preserve you from any harm the Earthers might be planning.’

‘I am in need of another film. Will you stay and watch it with me?’

‘Alas, Grand Emperor, the nature of our work never rests and it would be unwise for either of us to make our colleagues ever jealous of your patronage.’

‘I can have them killed.’

‘That won’t be necessary, Grand Emperor, our work is better done by the trained than the trainee.’

‘And many of them at one go take a lot of training on the streets.’

‘You are wise in years…both of you.’

‘I, in turn, must sanction the next film. ‘Hostel’ or is it ‘Hostile’? The Earthers could never spell anything right.’

‘But at least they provide your entertainment, Grand Emperor, and from you to the people.’

‘Who would have thought that there was a world with greater violence than our own and capable of ever more dangerous films that even we couldn’t tolerate? ’

‘We are amateurs compared to the Earthers, Grand Emperor.’

‘And they think we are violent.’




(c) GF Willmetts 2015

This also includes, at their request, the names:-

DI Baratty Rabatty

Forensics Doctor Jumpee Morbrondo

Grand Emperor Borro

Cheaba Requielosa

all rights reserved

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