Described as "the worst fantasy novella ever", The Eye of Argon is a story by Jim Theis, who was 16 when he wrote it. It's the tale of Grignr, a foul-mouthed barbarian warrior who is trying to escape the dungeons of Evil Overlord Agaphim and rescue a young woman named Carthena from a pagan cult who want to sacrifice her to their idol — a statue with one eye called "The Eye of Argon". (A "scarlet emerald", complete with some interesting plumbing.)
Published in the fanzine OSFAN 7, in 1970, the story is well known for its abundant cliches, shoddy spelling, flat characters, wooden dialogue and overly colourful writing. Every woman is a "wench", eyes are "emerald orbs". Almost nothing is ever "said" — instead it is "queried" or "ejaculated" or "husked" or "stated whimsicoracally". There's an extended scene involving elderly priests groping Carthena, and a scene where Grignr has sex with (or possibly just hugs) a "half-naked harlot... with a lithe, opaque nose". One cult member randomly faints by an epileptic fit in battle, and another suffers a savage, multi-paragraph groin attack.
The most widely-known and circulated copy of the story comes to an abrupt and unsatisfactory halt, and for many years it was believed that the ending was lost forever (or even, in some quarters, that the story was never completed). Recent years have seen the separate discoveries of two intact copies of the fanzine in which The Eye of Argon debuted, so it is now known how the tale ends. (With multiple exclamation marks, it turns out.)
At science fiction conventions, The Eye of Argon is now a sort of parlour game. All participants sit in a circle with a hard copy of the story, and the first one starts reading aloud — pronouncing every word as it's misspelled, and including every adjective. When they finally burst into laughter, the copy is passed to the next person. If a person manages to make it through more than a page, the copy is sometimes passed anyway, on the grounds that the reader must have special training as a news anchor.
I heard of this story and had to read a little TEoA to get the gist of it. And the story begins like this (none of the misspellings are mine, but the author's):
The weather beaten trail wound ahead into the dust racked climes of the baren land which dominates large portions of the Norgolian empire. Age worn hoof prints smothered by the sifting sands of time shone dully against the dust splattered crust of earth. The tireless sun cast its parching rays of incandescense from overhead, half way through its daily revolution. Small rodents scampered about, occupying themselves in the daily accomplishments of their dismal lives. Dust sprayed over three heaving mounts in blinding clouds, while they bore the burdonsome cargoes of their struggling overseers.
"Prepare to embrace your creators in the stygian haunts of hell, barbarian", gasped the first soldier.
"Only after you have kissed the fleeting stead of death, wretch!" returned Grignr.
A sweeping blade of flashing steel riveted from the massive barbarians hide enameled shield as his rippling right arm thrust forth, sending a steel shod blade to the hilt into the soldiers vital organs. The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid.
The enthused barbarian swilveled about, his shock of fiery red hair tossing robustly in the humid air currents as he faced the attack of the defeated soldier's fellow in arms.
"Damn you, barbarian" Shrieked the soldier as he observed his comrade in death.
A gleaming scimitar smote a heavy blow against the renegade's spiked helmet, bringing a heavy cloud over the Ecordian's misting brain. Shaking off the effects of the pounding blow to his head, Grignr brought down his scarlet streaked edge against the soldier's crudely forged hauberk, clanging harmlessly to the left side of his opponent. The soldier's stead whinnied as he directed the horse back from the driving blade of the barbarian. Grignr leashed his mount forward as the hoarsely piercing battle cry of his wilderness bred race resounded from his grinding lungs. A twirling blade bounced harmlessly from the mighty thief's buckler as his rolling right arm cleft upward, sending a foot of blinding steel ripping through the Simarian's exposed gullet. A gasping gurgle from the soldier's writhing mouth as he tumbled to the golden sand at his feet, and wormed agonizingly in his death bed.
Trust me, it gets eeeeeven better:
Grignr slipped his right hand to his thigh, concealing a small opague object beneath the folds of the g-string wrapped about his waist. Brine wells swelled in Grignr's cold , jade squinting eyes, which grown accustomed to the gloom of the stygian pools of ebony engulfing him, were bedazzled and blinded by flickerering radiance cast forth by the second soldiers's resin torch.
Grignr gradually groped his way to the other end of the vault carefully feeling his way along with his hands ahead of him. When a few inches from the wall, a loud, penetrating squeal, and the scampering of small padded feet reverberated from the walls of the roughly hewn chamber.
Grignr threw his hands up to shield his face, and flung himself backwards upon his buttocks. A fuzzy form bounded to his hairy chest, burying its talons in his flesh while gnashing toward his throat with its grinding white teeth;its sour, fetid breath scortching the sqirming barbarians dilating nostrils. Grignr grappled with the lashing flexor muscles of the repugnant body of a garganuan brownhided rat, striving to hold its razor teeth from his juicy jugular, as its beady grey organs of sight glazed into the flaring emeralds of its prey.
Taking hold of the rodent around its lean, growling stomach with both hands Grignr pried it from his crimson rent breast, removing small patches of flayed flesh from his chest in the motion between the squalid black claws of the starving beast. Holding the rodent at arms length, he cupped his righthand over its frothing face, contrcting his fingers into a vice-like fist over the quivering head. Retaining his grips on the rat, grignr flexed his outstretched arms while slowly twisting his right hand clockwise and his left hand counter clockwise motion. The rodent let out a tortured squall, drawing scarlet as it violently dug its foam flecked fangs into the barbarians sweating palm, causing his face to contort to an ugly grimace as he cursed beneath his braeth.
With a loud crack the rodents head parted from its squirming torso, sending out a sprinking shower of crimson gore, and trailing a slimy string of disjointed vertebrae, snapped trachea, esophagus, and jugular, disjointed hyoid bone, morose purpled stretched hide, and blood seared muscles.
Flinging the broken body to the floor, Grignr shook his blood streaked hands and wiped them against his thigh until dry, then wiped the blood that had showered his face and from his eyes. Again sitting himself upon the jagged floor, he prepared to once more revamp his glum meditations. He told himself that as long as he still breathed the gust of life through his lungs, hope was not lost; he told himself this, but found it hard to comprehend in his gloomy surroundings. Yet he was still alive, his bulging sinews at their peak of marvel, his struggling mind floating in a miral of impressed excellence of thought. Plot after plot sifted through his mind in energetic contemplations.