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Literature / The Tick People

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In the city of Gloomville, situated on top of the giant dog called Old Gloomy, lives Fernando Mendez. He has the demoralising job of keeping Old Gloomy perpetually unhappy, so as to keep him from wagging his tail and thus cause earthquakes in Gloomville. Uncertain of whether he wants to continue literally Kicking The Dog for a living and just generally questioning his life, he tries to distract himself by finding his matchmate. This has especial significance since in his world, your matchmate is the only person in the world you are physically capable of having sex with.


However, after undergoing the tests he finds to his horror that his supposed one true love is not even human - instead, she's an "ectoparasite," one of the despised and degenerate Mutants who have evolved to live off of the blood of giant animals like Old Gloomy. Fernando swears that he wants nothing to do with his half-insectoid bride... but he soon finds that destiny, or at least biology, is conspiring against him...

The Tick People is a work of Bizarro Fiction by Carlton Mellick III.


This novella contains examples of the following Tropes:

  • Big Friendly Dog: Big enough that people built a city on it while it was taking a long nap! For all his monstrous size, though, Old Gloomy just wants to run and play and eat delicious food like any dog.
  • Cute Monster Girl: Deconstructed with Google. She doesn't actually look too bad, but her Bizarre Alien Biology makes intimacy with her... unappealing.
  • Crapsack World: Maybe not the whole world, but certainly Gloomville, which is the only part of it we see. People there are actively trying to be miserable out of fear that Old Gloomy will find their happiness infectious.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The titular Tick People can be read as allegorical of either minority groups, people marginalized for their strange, alien customs and left on the fringes of society that produce prejudice from the majority, or the homeless, given their squalorous and unsanitary life-styles and complete and utter lack of rights given to them. Either that or they are meant to be a freaky hybrid of both. It would not be surprising, given the genre.
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  • Fan Disservice: The Novel. The whole point of the story is that the protagonist is biologically compelled to have sex with a non-human creature who is, by all accounts, absolutely revolting. Of course, the afterword points out that it's all in the eye of the beholder...
    Irrate reader: People read erotica to be turned on, not to be grossed out.
    Carlton Mellick III: So you didn't think it was sexy?
    Irrate reader: Of course not. Listen to this line: "His penis was buried under a mound of the tick woman's vagina pudding." That's not sexy. It's just stupid.
    (a long pause, during which the reader looks more and more incredulous while Mellick just smiles mildly at him)
    Carlton Mellick III: (happily) I think it's sexy.
  • Fantastic Racism: The ectoparasites are universally despised and considered to be not only disgusting, but also shifty creatures of low moral character. They don't even have human rights - killing one is not considered murder. The end of the story sees an exception being written into law, making it illegal to kill an ectoparasite who is the spouse or offspring of a human.
  • Fantastic Slur: Google's race is technically known as "ectoparasites," but almost everyone disdainfully calls them "ticks" instead.
  • Happily Married: Bethany and her husband, and presumably also almost all other couples in the world of the novel. Your matchmate is always perfect for you... though as Fernando discovers they may be perfect for you not because they make you happy, but specifically because they make sure you'll always be miserable.
  • Hope Spot: An especially dark one. Google's mother is about to castrate Fernando to keep her daughter from being with him - and Fernando is relieved since, once he no longer has a penis, he can banish Google from his life. Then Google kills her mother rather than to let her go through with it, and Fernando's fate is sealed.
  • Kick the Dog: Fernando and the other Stressmen do this professionally. Their job is to make sure that Old Gloomy never has a moment of happiness and that even his dreams are sorrowful.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Google is the only one who doesn't hate the idea of her and Fernando being together. This includes Fernando himself, he just can't help himself.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: Accepting being with your match-mate is considered one's moral obligation to society. Anyone who prefers to stay single and not get married and have kids are frowned upon strongly for both males and females, leading to some rather resentful looks from some people at best.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: While ectoparasites are weird and off-putting to humans on a regular basis, Google fits into this trope when it comes to Fernando. When he decides to confront Google and tell her to her face that he has no intentions of being with her even if they are match mates, she instantly takes a liking to him. She follows him home like a lost puppy and instantly makes herself at home, tearing up his house in the process, all attempts to getting rid of her failing. While most guys paired up with this trope eventually find this behavior charming and fall in love, all that happens with Fernando is that he grows to tolerate her in-spite of how miserable she makes him. On the plus-side, this makes him perfect for his day-job.
  • Matricide: When Google's mother tries castrating Fernando, Google kills her before she could.
  • One True Love: The person whose genitals are capable of interlocking with yours is also the person you are suited to be with for the rest of your life. Homosexual people have a variation of this - each lesbian woman is the match of a gay man who is the soulmate of another gay man who is the match of a lesbian woman who is the first lesbian woman's soulmate, thus making sure that they'll all have both someone to love and someone to reproduce with.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: This is the norm in the novel's world. It helps that the Matchmaking Bureau doesn't decide the matches, it just discovers who you are biologically predetermined to be with.
  • Stalking Is Love: People rejected by their matchmates often turn to stalking them. While this is not legal, the police usually turns a blind eye, since the general sentiment is that you have a moral obligation to be with your matchmate.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Since humans have evolved in a way that makes each male physically compatible with exactly one female and vice versa, the penis has become known as the "key" and the vagina as the "lock." Like with regular keys and locks, they only fit together if they're absolutely right for each other.