Aside from the on-and-off rain, there hadn’t been much happening yet. Oh, there’s been something. You don’t flood a city and zap stuff with lightning without causing some bad feelings among people. Then you have power loss, internet slowdowns, and wet streets. Car crashes. Kids running around hyper indoors because they couldn’t go play and storms wrecked their game consoles. People get grumpy when they haven’t seen the sun in days.
Shit happens, yo.
I haven’t seen any reports of Spinetingler being spotted, but I gave my guys a heads-up. Harlon and Carl had people to look out for. Moai not so much. I don’t know the extent of Moai’s sentience, but it’s notoriously difficult to get blood from a stone. I don’t believe the extraction of fear has been measured, however.
I took the time to brief all of them. Despite my clear disdain, Venus invited herself over, too. Her and her Empyreal City students. I didn’t have much to say about him. Spinetingler had been mostly active prior to my appearance. After my destructive immigration to this dimension, he and I never happened to cross paths.
“He’s notoriously mysterious,” I told the crowd in my lair, pointing to a sock puppet in front of a dry erase board. The board said “Spinetingler” and an arrow pointed down at the puppet. “But before we get to that, class, it’s time for homework. Anyone who hasn’t gone out and strangled a bunny this week, please leave the room now.” I folded my arms and stared right at Venus, tapping my foot against the floor.
A spike shot out from Venus’s knuckle. I caught it, but then things felt all electrical. After picking myself up off the ground, I tried to brush the hair down on my arms and head. “Are you all set to waive the homework requirement?” Venus asked.
“Damn electrocution hair. You know, if they didn’t shave people’s heads when they ran them through the chair, it’d really make the occasion a lot less solemn. They’d come out of it looking like a clown. Hold up a sec,” I pulled out my pants a bit to peep down there. “Ah crap. Just my luck.” I looked up and pointed into my pants. “Afro, Venus. Major afro. I expect you to do something about this later.”
That drew snickers from everyone assembled except Venus and Moai.
“Alright, so we don’t know much about the guy, but he pretty much turns things into a horror movie. It might be magic, might be psychic, might be a combination of various powers. No matter what, this is the time to be genre savvy.”
To illustrate my point, I rolled a worktable over. Picking up a mirror, I told them. “This is a mirror. I don’t care how stupid it is, don’t you dare repeat any name three times in front of one of these, whether the lights are out or not. No Bloody Mary, no Candyman, and no Zeebo the clown. Nothing. Not even Beetlejuice. While we’re at it, don’t travel alone. If you hear a weird noise, shoot first. Also, you’ll all want to avoid sex and drugs until this is handled.”
The crowd groaned. Carl even booed. Someone else threw a candy bar wrapper at me. I held up my hands. “Ok, fine, there’s a chance that may not matter, but if it does, y’all are in even worse danger. Because those are the old-school rules. The idea was to obtain a sort of payback against people for sinning. But we’re in the age of the reboot and remake. Things are gorier, and killers might let a promiscuous drug-user live. That also means they’re more likely to kill anyone, regardless of perceived purity.”
“This is great if we were in a horror movie, but is any of this stuff really useful for dealing with real life?” asked the speedster whose ass I kicked last month. He covered over a crack in his helmet using yellow duct tape to form a lightning bolt shape.
Venus broke in and answered that one. “It can’t hurt. The reports from past incidents include stories where Spinetingler used the popular consciousness about horror. That included scenarios resembling urban legends, even movies.”
Reports, eh? I couldn’t find a lot online about the guy. For some reason, the wikis and forums lacked the normal inundation of data. Sounds like a cover up. The government must really be wetting their socks on this one.
“What is Spinetingler after?” asked one of Venus’s group. He looked like a middle schooler. He had a mask covering all but the top of his head, which would normally provide concealment of identity and keep his head cooler by allowing the hair out. In this case, it showed off his bald head, which probably gave away his identity. Not many bald middle schoolers outside of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Venus shook her head. “Nobody knows yet.” The bald guy looked at me. I shrugged.
“Hell if I know. The guy’s been imprisoned for awhile, right? No one’s heard from him in a couple years. I mean, I might be able to talk to the guy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s just pissed.”
The super made entirely of bricks raised her hand. “He would do this just because he’s mad?”
“The Rubik’s Cube wasn’t a very pleasant place,” I answered. “The food was crappy and full of drugs. They removed both my eyes and moved the furniture in my cell around constantly. That included the toilet. To control me, they used a tone to make me dizzy and nauseous. That, or they gassed me with a paralytic. Nothing like starting prison being paralyzed and having people yank out your eyes. They tried to deny me all outside contact, but they found it more useful to let people talk. They were willing to cut a deal for advanced technology. Then, when they thought it’d be easier, they decided to remove my brain. Imagine what they’d do to someone without such a vocal defender as Venus or useful data in their brains. Especially someone whose powers might be psychic in nature. If you’re lucky, he’s mad. If you’re unlucky, he doesn’t know what he’s doing because they fucked up his mind.”
I let that sink in, but Carl provided what I felt was an appropriate and succinct response, “Fuck.”
“Just my response when I told Venus I wasn’t teaming up with her and then suddenly I get a team of heroes in the middle of my home.” I winked at Venus with my empty eye. “I’m not y’all’s friend or ally, so the only reason this little visit is safe for y’all right now is because Venus does this really awesome thing with her tongue. It’s kind of a spiral motion-”
“Alright, we’re going!” Venus interrupted.
Well that was easy. It gave me more time to send off an email to Mix N’Max. I asked him if he could send me something to use in case of zombies. Hey, they could happen. Max has been busy dealing with the cartels by the Mexican border, but he said he’d help me out.
As I previously mentioned, things have been relatively calm, as I said, up until Friday. The second that we got to midnight, the rain and lightning stopped. It didn’t occur to me until Thursday that he’d make a move the next day, but then I noticed the date. Thursday the 12th. Unless someone pulled some temporal shenanigans, that meant Friday would be the 13th. That’s a notoriously unlucky date for people. I’m not one to be superstitious, but it just makes sense that someone would use that date for its significance.
As expected, that’s when weird happenings began. I noticed it as I walked back the lair alone at lunch time with a bag full of alcohol, condoms, oil, laxative, and food. I know what you’re thinking: a wild night at the Gecko Lair. Too bad. The condoms and alcohol were for Carl; the food and oil were mine. I was hungry, he had Valentine’s Day coming up. The laxative was for…uh…a friend of mine who had some trouble pushing crap out no matter how hard I try. Even sticking a finger up the ass of this friend of mine barely did the trick, and only a little at a time.
I walked along, humming a song, until I noticed a distinct lack of traffic. I felt like someone watched me…which weirded me out because I got used to that feeling long ago. It made sense after the first few intelligence agencies began watching me. Give the people what they want: I know how to put on a show in a shower. Give me a stripper pole and I’ll be on the Most Wanted list in no time.
More than all that, the noises had changed. There are certain sounds you get used to in a city. Cars, distant cars, helicopters, wind, planes, barking dogs; that sort of thing. The dogs are especially prevalent at night for some reason, when a lot of the other sounds stop.
I didn’t hear the dogs. I heard the screech of brakes. A scream echoed from somewhere. This looks like a job for…a hero! Well, maybe one will stop by and save that person. I had chicken-fried steaks to fry. But first, I needed to go to the bathroom to try and finally push out some stuff. For a friend, of course.
It was there, on my porcelain throne, that I decided to delve deeper for information on Spinetingler and meet with him to determine his intentions for my city. I wish I could say it came about as my usual toilet-based insight. As everyone knows, sitting on the crapper is a great way to think through a problem. Why do you think that sculpture, “The Thinker” depicts a man in that position?
The tentacle prompted my need for inquiry. What tentacle, you may ask? The one that slithered out of the damnably clear water of the bowl to try and strangle me.
“Hentai!” I yelled as I grabbed hold of it. The suckers clung onto my skin, pulling painfully. Not sure if y’all know this, but those suckers leave some marks. Strangely, the tentacle twisted around and suddenly an entire second one branched off from what had once been a solitary length of wet, grey flesh.
I grappled with the first one while the second slapped at my face. Not a fan of the taste of calamari or calamari-related toilet monsters, I punched at it. That didn’t work well. “Carl! I need a hand in here!” I yelled at my minion.
“I draw the line at enemas, boss!” he yelled back. Just great.
Then I remembered by standard dump protocol. As I mentioned to y’all a long time ago, I often like to keep a firearm in the bathroom in order to shoot down the toilet. It keeps the pipes clear of blockages and sewer rats. I reached back and pulled the toilet lid off to smack the tentacle upside its face. Or I would have, if the tentacle had a face. Unfortunately, my grip on the first one weakened and it wriggled free to wrap around my face. I remedied the situation with another strike of the toilet lid. The tentacle released my face with a gross “squish” sound. Or maybe that was my broken nose. Either way, I dropped the lid and reached back to whip out the Five-seveN in there.
I jumped off the john and braced myself against the sink, then unloaded twenty bullets into the tentacles and toilet. They retreated back into bowl, but I noticed one of the holes close up, then sprout an entirely new tentacle.
I needed the big guns. As I stepped out into the main lair in only a shirt and shoes, I pointed at Carl. “Our bathroom’s been invaded by a tentacle monster, and that’s not a euphemism.”
Carl looked on, flabbergasted, as I dragged a belt of chicken grenades and the double-barrel bazooka back in there to fix our plumbing problem.
Yeah, I need to invade some databases and steal the classified stuff about my foe, then have myself a sit-down with him. How bad could the guy be, after all?
He couldn’t even scare the crap out of me.