Spinetingler formally announced his presence on Sunday night. The day of rest became the day of unrest when everyone started it with the same shared dream. A sea of people surrounded a pedestal. And everyone wore what they went to bed in. It seemed to be lucid for everyone, too, because I asked the naked guy next to me to imagine he looked like his last girlfriend. He turned into a blowup doll.
Black flames appeared with a whoosh from the pedestal. When they died, Spinetingler stood in all his gooey glory, glaring out over everyone. He threw his hands up as he began to speak. “Worms, kneel before your new god. I am Spinetingler, and I declare my dominion over the rotting corpse of a city you crawl around in.”
His voice grew louder to speak over the millions of murmuring people who threatened to drown him out. “Effective immediately, there is to be a curfew. Stay indoors at night, lest my militia of monstrosities have their way with you.” He paused for effect, sweeping his gaze over everyone.
I saw my chance. I held up a bullhorn, one that I just had because I wanted one, and yelled out. “Oh god, it’s a porno setup!”
Spinetingler continued on as if he didn’t hear anything, ignoring the wave of laughter. “I will not be a fickle ruler, so long as I obtain my goal.”
I kept going, too. “He wants his baby back, baby back, baby back, he wants is baby back, baby back baby back…”
Spinetingler spoke over me, “I am looking for something. My forces will be out on the streets, searching.” He waved his hands and there appeared hovering in the air a number of unique-looking individuals. Thanks to my eye’s handy zoom function, I saw a man in a scarf with the skin removed from his lower face, and gaunt one with fangs who kept throwing a straight razor into the air and catching it. Some of them matched what I read of his past associates. “If they knock and you don’t answer, they will enter anyway. If you wander after dark, they are free to do with transgressors as they wish.”
“Just like yo momma!” I called out.
Spinetingler seemed to growl even more as he spoke, while I noticed hands rise from the ground next to me. I jumped up and landed on each one with a foot, grinding my heel in. “I am Spinetingler and I am strong that I took over your city. I’m strong enough to have defeated Captain Lightning. Anyone who wishes to quarrel with me shall answer to him.”
In a flash of black lightning, the man himself appeared. The legend who first started fighting in 1940 and hadn’t aged a day since. Though he did look he had a bad case of the Michael Jackson’s. White as a ghost of a dead Ku Klux Klansman. Instead of gold boots and gloves with a red tights and a top resembling a captain’s dress coat, the colors had changed. The gold looked tarnished, and the red had darkened to nearly black. The lightning bolt running between the rows of buttons on his chest appeared rent in half. His long, iconic white cape trailed behind him, marred by a red hand print.
Spinetingler rushed to speak before anyone interrupted his attempts to intimidate. “Surrender to the inevitable. Fear has ruled you always, and I am fear itself.”
“I object!” I yelled out. I jumped into the air and held myself there, growing a cape with a smiley face on it. “I declare myself King of Empyreal City.”
Captain Lightning was on me in a flash. There wasn’t any anger there. He stared through me, seeing nothing, face a blank mask. He grabbed me by the throat. “Help, help!” I yelled through the bullhorn. “I’m being repressed! Fear is no basis for a government!” Captain Lightning grabbed my arm with the bullhorn. He pushed with his thumb and my arm cracked as it bent upward at a painful angle. “Ahhh, fuck!”
I reached up and touched the bloody bone. But it was a dream! I just spoke loud enough that my voice carried over millions of people. “You think this is funny?” I said, laughing to overcome the pain. “You think this is a joke?” I couldn’t keep a straight face with all the pain I felt, so I guffawed and pointed at the arm. “Ok, so it is humerus.”
Nearby, a group of people in scrubs all groaned.
“Pull out his tongue,” ordered Spinetingler.
I gave ‘Tingler a thumbs-up. “Good job. I know your wife needs a toy that’ll actually get her off.”
The Captain readied his hand to plunge it into my mouth. “Wait, I have some last words…hold on, uhh…I know what I was going to say. Had it all planned out. Um…oh yeah. SHAZAM!” Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to able to leap from building to building in a single strike, a bolt of lightning shot down between myself and Captain Lightning.
It blinded me, but didn’t shut my down. Instead, it threw us apart and left me floating in my armor, with a cape. Cape’s aren’t too bad if you know how to use them. “You know what? I might be willing to step down from being king while we transition to a new government. All in favor of democracy, say aye!”
“Enough!” yelled Spinetingler, interrupting democracy in action. Damn plutocrat.
I started to yell, “Fight the power!” but darkness swallowed me. It gradually brightened to reveal an older room; an octagon with clear aluminum walls. I realized I wasn’t in my armor anymore, or did I have my cape. I missed my cape.
I found it when it appeared out of thin air, worn by someone in my armor. “Remember me, Lamb?” asked the man in my armor.
That’s when I awoke, sitting straight up in bed. Venus started and backed away from me. “What did he do to you?” she asked me.
“Depends. How much longer was I out compared to everyone else?”
“A couple minutes. Not long.” Then she smiled. “You really are incapable of shutting your mouth when it’s the best thing you can do, huh?”
I threw off the covers of my bed and stood up, immediately gathering up my clothes. “Whatever. Carl! Bring me my other eye! And the car! We got some traps to build.”
Spinetingler made a mistake. I think Venus realized it, too, but she was at least out of my sights enough that I didn’t wipe that smile off her face. Oh yeah, she’s on my bad side, too. But he’s even more-er on my bad side. Curse my inability to English good! Must English better! Fire bad. Fire bad!
The language problems tend to pop up when I think about things pre-Dimension Bomb. Stuff like accidentally using two synonyms in a row.
She insisted on hanging around the stockpile with me as I used the extra space to plan things out. Kept rambling about having some idea why Spinetingler’s acting different this time. Finally, I picked up a half-eaten cheeseburger I didn’t finish at lunch and slapped her across the face with it. She suddenly realized I didn’t give a crap about hearing her talk.
Anyway, cut to one day later. Well, one night later. From the trail of carnage the night before, I took a guess about what street would be affected next. So that’s why I leaned on an abandoned car in my coat and khakis, sporting my second eye behind my shades.
At dusk, the monster walked up Thirteenth Avenue. He flicked his wrist, sending a gleaming straight razor into the air and catching it deftly. I had to filter out the remnants of failing light from behind him in order to catch is sharp smile and ears that looked like they’d been ripped off. “You’re the Psychopomp. I know your work. I’ve seen a lot of it.” He smiled even wider, unnaturally so.
“And who are you supposed to be, Spinetingler’s version of Sweeney Todd? If that’s the case, I’m going to feed you your own meat pie.”
“I am the Jackal, but you can call me Jack. I used to be a nobody at the funeral home, dreaming about doing anything in life but becoming another sexy corpse on a table. Spinetingler made me strong enough to fight you.” As he spoke, his grin got wider, and his body got thinner. His skin took on a purple tone, like a bruise spreading across his entire epidermis.
“Should have just sat back and smoked some grass, Jackalope. Then maybe you could have been High-ena.”
He clucked at me, the smile halting. “Who talks like that? I should take your tongue first. It should net me a bonus.”
With that, Jackass stalked toward me on limbs that looked like they could snap like twigs. He twirled the razor in his fingers, causing it to whistle slightly. I let him get close, then turned and kicked off the car to get further away. He broke into a run, stepping onto a manhole cover that shot him into the air with a “boing!” I broke out laughing as the empowered human was replaced in my view with a bouncing spring under a manhole, then turned my attention to the air.
I pulled off my shades, painting Jack Mehoff with the laser in my new eye. Not to cut through him. Just to direct a guided rocket from a nearby rooftop that delivered its cream pie warhead’s payload right into Jack’s face. It also spun him around as he gravity delivered him to the ground.
Jack swung wildly, cutting through the spring and even though the street with that shiny little razor. Something told me my armor didn’t matter around that thing. I laughed at him. “You know, it’s hard to be scary when you’re getting pied in the face. Look at you. I might be scared if I was a diabetic.” Jackal pushed off with his hands and feet, flinging himself at me. I spun to the side and backpedaled further down the street.
In his blind anger, Jackal didn’t notice the bear trap. It clamped shut on his leg, gouging the bony limb and stopping him so suddenly that he nearly tripped. Jack knelt to carve away the metal teeth, leaving him open for when the laden barbell fell on his back. It knocked him forward, where a lasso surrounded an X drawn on the street in chalk. I hopped on his back and kept a boot on his razor hand as I fitted the rope around his neck.
“Ya know,” I told him, “I think all this physical activity is getting to me. I need a rest. Why don’t you go on ahead?”
With that, the noose whipped up even though Jacky Boy’s leg stayed in the bear trap. The fellow’s head popped off, arcing down the street. His body stayed behind and shuddered.
Just in case he thought about coming back as the Headless Horseman or something, I set his body on fire. When presented with the choice of being attacked by a bodiless head or a headless body, I’d rather deal with the head.
I splashed some gasoline on it. “You know, you’re not that good a minion. You keep this up, you’re liable to get fired.” I looked down at the body and ignited the gas with a more intense laser in the new eye, feeling the heat in my orbit. “Ah, that’s why this thing took so long. First I had to put the laser in, then I started taking the laser out when I realized how hot it’d be. What do you think, a little too cliche to have a laser eye? Ah hell, you wouldn’t know because you’re a jackass. A headless jackass.”
I may not be able to take on Captain Lightning, but it’s horror hunting season. American Psycho? More like American Psycho Gecko. We’ll have a Nightmare on Anal Street with some real Hellraisers.
Actually, that just made it sound like I’m branching off into dirty movies. But beware, Spinetingler’s Menagerie of Monstrosities: I know who you did last summer.
That habit is going to be a hard on to break.