I stood on the precipice in a storm, rocking out. Before me floated the assembled horde of heroes in their tights and their armors. I wore spikey shoulder pads over a black leather coat, with metal skull knee pads topping off my boots. I wielded a double-bladed battleaxe in my hands…as a guitar. The handle served as the neck with strings running down it to the blades. The band accompanying me were faceless lackeys in gas masks and chainmail. Behind us, our instruments plugged into a shoddily-put together nuclear reactor which glowed a dangerous blue.
The song began; a rock version of “Let It Go” the way it was meant to be done, with an evil laugh. Soon after starting, the heroes charged.
“Let it go! Let it go! Can’t hold me back anymooore!” Lightning burst out the end of the axe handle and fried a flying freedom fighter. “Let it go, let it go, turn away and slam the door!” I walloped a rock man’s head off with the axe. One floated up in a white and blue costume and used a ring on his hand to encase me in ice. “I don’t care what they’re going to say! Let the storm rage on!” A beam from the axe handle shot into the sky, causing a rumble from the clouds, then several lightning bolts stabbed through the crowd of heroes. A swipe of the axe knocked the ice aside. “The cold never bothered me anyway.”
Before I could get to the part with us flying over a city, ready to unleash a reign and rain of terror upon it, a piercing tone cut through my simulation. I covered my ears as everything went black save for a wire frame outline of my cell. The sound halted almost as soon as it started.
“Ow! Having fun being dicks again, guys?” I asked my overseers.
“You were ignoring us,” one of the guys said. I had dubbed this voice Dick, because he was a dick.
His partner, who I labeled Ass, joined in. “Too busy singing your Disney princess song.”
“I was playing Guitar Villain in here. Do you know many heroes who sing about no longer having to act good in front of people and being able to unleash their full power? I got a friend who’ll love the ‘Dr. Feelgood’ level, too. Can’t wait to show him.”
“Yeah, right. That’ll happen,” Dick said. “Quit playing Barbie. Someone wishes to speak to you in person. We are going to open one of your walls, but there’s going to be a barrier between you and the visitor. Boss lady says to keep your pant on.”
“Is there any particular reason she said that?” I pondered.
Ass answered, “No, she just said it’s part of the containment procedures any time you get a visitor. Keep your pants on.”
“That’s a violation of my rights again, you guys. I swear, this crap y’all keep pulling makes me so angry, I could tear these pants right off!” I gave my prison tights a tug for emphasis, but the material withstood my feeble ripping attempts. I concentrated my efforts on the inside of my thigh.
“What are you doing now?” Dick asked.
“I’m trying to yank this thing off!”
“Boss lady said not to yank anything, either,” said Ass.
“Whatcha gonna do, revoke my visitation rights?” I shook a fist at the ceiling.
“You don’t have visitation rights, but some people want to see you.”
“Too bad for them, eh Dick? Have you told my visitors about your eye stealing policy?”
“No, they haven’t, but that is partially my fault,” said an unfamiliar voice from off to mey side. I didn’t look or turn, just pointed over at the man.
“You sir, are a fiend. May your rectum be burnt by a homeless barber. What can I do for ya?”
The man’s voice stayed amiable. “I thought we could sit and talk about how to make your stay here more comfortable. Have a seat.”
I walked toward the visitor. “Joke’s on you, bucko, they didn’t give me a-!” And then I tripped over the chair I meant to tell the man didn’t exist. I went right over the back of it, crashed chest-first into the seat, and smacked my face on the floor.
“Sorry,” the man said. I propped my head up on my elbow but otherwise laid on the chair like that. “Other than that, how are they treating you?”
“Could be better. I keep mysteriously tripping over things and they’ve hidden drugs in all my meals. And they stole my eyes. They paralyzed me, stripped me, and dressed me in tight clothes. They watch me constantly and sometimes try to murder my eardrums. Every time I have to rush to the toilet, it disappears and reappears somewhere else. Overall, the overseers aren’t going to live very long once I escape.”
“If you escape, which is unlikely,” the man made sure to say. That would have been a good time to glare at him, or even give him a creepy smile, but I just didn’t feel up to it. My stomach had gotten all growly again. “While you’re here, I could help make things easier on you. I understand you enjoy music a great deal? What’s your favorite kind of music?”
“I take it song by song. I like to think of it as auditory emotion, so it’s nice to find songs where other people feel the same way I do. You know, like when you find that song that so perfectly encapsulates an intense need to destroy an entire city full of people.”
“So, rap instead of country?” the man asked.
“Are you kidding? Country’s full of brawling, drinking, outrunning cops, and blowing up other countries for no reason. Johnny Cash shot a man just to watch him die. Folsom Prison Blues. Friends in Low Places. Fancy. The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia involves someone getting away with murder and letting an innocent man fry for it. Nah, all the genres have their edgy side. I’ll bet you money there’s a polka song out there somewhere about crushing a motherfucker’s head in an accordion. That’s what polka players use, right, accordions?”
“I don’t know. I don’t listen to it, but hear me out. This isn’t imprisonment-“
I interrupted him there and rolled to my feet. “Oh, in that case, I’ll just be going now. Mail me the bill for my stay.”
“This IS imprisonment, but sit back down and listen to me, please.”
I slid into my seat, cupping my chin in the web between my index finger and thumb. “Please, you say?”
“I say that this doesn’t have to be a miserable experience if you don’t want it to be. I’ve seen the initial results of the tests on your eyes. I think you have a lot to offer us at the agency while you’re in custody. You could give us an incredible edge. The least we could do is make this more like a vacation than a prison.”
I bet if I could have seen his face then, he’d have been smiling.
“But you’ll still want me locked up.” I had no doubts.
He laughed. “I said you would give us an edge. I don’t think you know nearly enough to afford getting free.”
I grinned. “Technology to travel to other dimensions. You want to sneak into any enemy position? Pop in through a hole from another world. You want resources? Try another planet where humans don’t live. That’s just a little bit. Robotics, prosthetics, computing, data storage, energy sources, energy transfers, armor, the list of advanced technologies in my brain just goes on and on. I’m guessing you’re CIA, right? You mentioned an agency. Why not run a few things by your boss? I’ve been fighting a war against Hephaestus over most of the past year. I got a whole list of targets in my skull. Lots of research labs and storehouses of things to give regular people powers. Had a bout with Faustus, too. Magical artifacts. I have a lot to offer, but my asking price is simple. Freedom.
When he spoke, it was quieter, without anymore laughter. “I’ll speak with my boss. We’ll see what we can do if, and only if, you can prove what you’re saying.”
“Yeah, well see that you talk quickly. You never know who else is going to show up and offer to make me comfortable in this cell.” I winked at him. He quietly groaned at the sight.
After that meeting, I assumed the wall closed up. I was pretty comfortable in the seat there, up until it dropped into the floor. I didn’t go with it. Laying there, I pointed at the ceiling and said, “I’m beginning to suspect y’all don’t like me.”
Dick’s voice came from above. “We didn’t want you to get too comfortable. Another guest requested a meeting with you. We normally wouldn’t allow this many visitors within a year, but you are a special case. You are a very special case. Emphasis on special.”
“Are you calling me slow?”
“Very special indeed. I never heard you were married.”
I sat up like I’d just been coldcocked by a frozen rooster. “Who’s a jigga wha?”
“Married. We have a visitor here who insist she see you because you’re her husband. You’re quickly becoming our favorite inmate, so we decided we would give this ecstatic woman a chance to show you her love, whether you were prepared for it or not.”
Before I could protest, they popped another chair up beneath me. It swiveled around in a circle repeatedly, causing me slight nausea, then it shot toward one of the walls. I wondered who the hell was crazy enough to claim to be…of all the…who the hell…?
“Hi! O-M-G. Oh my god! It’s really you. I mean, it’s good to see you again dear. Do you remember me? Please say you remember, sweetheart. It’s been too long since I saw you.”
Now, I’ve never been married. I think I would have known if I had. For one thing, I’ve never been to Las Vegas, and that place is the blackout drunk marriage capitol of the world. Either Las Vegas or any city in Russia.
“I’m…what?” I didn’t know who or what threw me the curve ball, but I needed to figure out if I wanted to go with this turn of events or not.
“You’re probably just disoriented by everything that’s happened. Don’t you remember? You met me in the bar with your friends, like that guy Harlon. Crazy guy. He skipped out of being your Best Man, too! But that’s ”
Harlon. I never expected him to stick his neck out for me. I didn’t know who he sent, but even an undercover investigative journalist would be useful to have on my side.
“Oh, yeah, of course. Sorry, babe. It didn’t help that they took my eyes from me.” I pulled open the lids to show them off. Then I wondered if she could see me. Ah well. It couldn’t hurt.
“Oh, my poor baby! Those animals, doing that to you! We’ve got to go to the press, my sweet little honey badger.”
The female overseer, who seemed to be higher up on the totem pole than the guys, broke in. “That’s it, visiting time is over.” You might expect I named her Tits following the theme behind Dick and Ass. You’d be wrong. She was Slagathor.
“But I didn’t get any time for a conjugal visit!” I whined. “How am I supposed to fill the world with tiny, hyperactive versions of myself with no restraint or acknowledgement of other people’s property?”
I didn’t get any answer from the fake wife Harlon sent, but I heard Slagathor remark, “Another one?”
“She’s gone, isn’t it?” I asked, standing and finding my way to my bed.
“That’s right. You’re all alone in here with us.”
“In that case…” I jumped up on the bed and took hold of my air guitar “…let’s hear some Free Bird!”
Those overseers gotta learn; I’m not stuck in here with them. They’re stuck in here with my singing.