Tag Archives: Sandra the Barkeep

I Got Clubbed 5

“You got that number you can reach me with, right?”

“Yeah, yeah,” Sandra rolled her eyes as she responded.

“And remember, no more Sexahol,” I ordered the bartender.

“Sure thing, hon. You’ve said that every day now since you got that call with your statue,” she responded. Then she asked, “Saving it up for a hot Valentine’s night?”

She winked at me. She must have gotten into the Sexahol too.

“Nope, that stuff’s dangerous. It’s got roofie shit in it. As bad as Rohypnol is, its shit is even worse. You know, with peanuts and shit in it.”

“Ewwww, not a yummy image, bossman. I’ll remember though. No Sexahol.”

Satisfied that the lie had nailed that lesson into her head and the temporary number to call me on my armor’s helmet, I turned toward the boys. Moai and Carl were coming with me and we were all suited up. I had on my armor, Carl was bundled up with a balaclava over his face and his weapons on him, and Moai was wearing a sombrero with a whip tied around his waist. It was a good look on him. Not everyone can pull that off.

“Boys, we ready?” I asked them before we left.

Moai nodded. “Yup,” answered Carl.

My ears picked up a familiar tune to the music. “Sure, right when I’m leaving and facing some evil mastermind, that’s when I finally hear something I know.”

“You didn’t know any of the songs they’ve been playing?” Carl asked.

“Much of the music I prefer isn’t danced to. I won’t say it can’t be danced to, since that just means all those people aren’t trying hard enough, but it’s just not the stuff they play in clubs.”

“Ah, you’re a fan of rock.”

“Among other musical genres. Ah well. As this song says, ‘We’re out all night to get lucky.’”

“I don’t think they meant anything like this, boss.”

“Would you rather we go out all night and get unlucky?”

“Good point. Wish I could get lucky in my armor.”

Carl still didn’t get a chance to have his first real time out in his keg walker, since that scrape with the drunk transvestite lizard man didn’t count. We had left the makeshift power armor in the back of the club.

He was eager to try it out, too. He didn’t get to use it while we were out getting information because of the need for more subtlety than firepower. In this case, it involved bribing liquor store employees for their shipment schedule. Didn’t hurt that they were somewhat friendlier lately. Sampling the wares, it seemed.

The driver was a different story altogether. For some reason, he didn’t want me to know where all this Sexahol crap was stored at. Maybe it was the armor. People don’t often like cooperating with villains. He wasn’t a regular truck driver either. The overalls said “working stiff” but the tattoos said “I like to wear women’s hose and be a bad boy.”

I handled the situation with my usual tact. I had him bound, gagged, and tied to a chair in the office of the liquor store. Moai kept watch and made sure we weren’t interrupted unless necessary. Carl fetched me a puppy from a pet store. I sat across a table from the driver, examining a bottle of tequila and a lighter I’d taken from the front of the store.

“While I wait for you to talk, I could use a snack,” I said. The puppy Carl brought yipped excitedly as I took it in one hand. Carl exited to watch over the place with Moai. “Hey there, little guy. You’re the snack!”

The driver was agitated, but when he spouted off, I got the sense it was more due to his being restrained than any actual fear for the dog. “The hell are you doin’ man? The hell are you doin’? You’re not gonna eat a puppy.”

“I’ve never flambéed a puppy with tequila before. I wonder how it works. You think it’s like veal, or will I have to tenderize it first? You know what, I was planning on tenderizing it anyway. Just light this tequila on fire, smack the puppy with the bottle, and voila!”

“Jesus, man.”

I tossed away the top to the tequila and flicked the lighter to life.

“You want me to talk or you’ll do it, that’s it?”

“Not at all, my dear fellow. I’m going to do this anyway, because you’re probably thinking you can give me some BS that sends me on a wild goose chase while you get out and warn your buddies.”

“What are you going to do then?”

“That’s a good question. I could have my guys bring in a couple of glasses. We could sit here and have ourselves a few drinks of this tequila while they check it out. Can’t trust just anyone to bash a cute widdle puppy skull in, now can you?” I scratched behind the pup’s ears while I talked in the baby voice to him. “I already have a couple jokes ready, too. Like ‘I wouldn’t say it was a Great Dane. It would have been better with some steak sauce.’ What do you think? Maybe ‘Lady and the Tramp make better meatballs than the ones they were pushing around,’?”

He flinched at the jokes, but then he gave that proposition a minute’s thought.

“Alright. I can live with that,” he said.

I got up and knocked on the door. Moai opened it. “Hey, you guys bring a couple shot glasses and come in here.”

I took a seat while they did so, then had Carl free the prisoner’s arms so he and I could share a drink.

“It’s over by the waterfront. A warehouse.” He downed his drink and grimaced. After shaking his head clear, he gave them the actual address. “There isn’t any security, either.”

“You heard the man. Go find the place and make sure it is what it is. You still have that key?”

Carl patted his pockets looking for it, but then it fell out from under the whip Moai wore as a belt. Carl picked it up and checked to make sure nothing was out of place. It was a key fixed to a grenade, after all. It wouldn’t just suck if that thing went off. It’d blow.

After they were gone, my prisoner and I just sat there in the back of a liquor store, drinking tequila and snuggling a puppy. See how civilized I can be? It was practically a scene out of a kid’s movie. Specifically, The Lorax, where the guy sings the song “How ba-a-a-ad can I be? Just look at me pettin’ this puppy.”

The problem came when almost an hour had passed with no word from Carl and Moai. Ok, scratch that, no word from Carl.

Then I got a call. “Bossman? You got a call here, and I think it’s important. It’s on your big TV right in front of that chair of yours.”

“It’s called a throne and a giant screen.”

“Right, your throne in front of your giant screen.”

“Reverse that. And who is calling?”

“It’s some guy with these teardrops on his costume.”

Breakdown. When Mix N’Max was targeted by a team of superheroes after me, they put him in Marscow Prison. I broke him and a lot of other prisoners out. Breakdown was one of them and he tried to take advantage of a perceived weakness at the time. He liked hurting people psychologically as opposed to physically, and he was supposed to be great at quick escapes. I think he had some magician training.

Now, he’d gotten his costume back and was calling me in the middle of some important business.

“Thanks, Sandra. I’ll patch on through directly to the big giant screen.”

An image of Breakdown popped up in one of my eyes thanks to the connection through my helmet and my brain CPU. He was a thin man, though he supposedly possessed a wiry strength. Too bad for him I got wire cutters. His costume was light grey and dark blue. It wasn’t a good color combination, but there’s a limit to how intimidating you can be when your costume looks like a gentle spring shower.

“Breakdown.”

He looked a little confused. “Oh, is that Psycho Gecko? Why are you a giant eyeball now?”

“I recently discovered I’m a Sauron-American and I wanted to embrace my heritage. What’s this call about? Kidnapped Westboro Baptist Church and threatening to kill them unless someone pays the ransom? You must have known you’d work your way down to the very last name on the list…”

“Ha ha. No. That’s not what this is about. It took forever to get rid of those kids in a safe way. Do you know I’m now wanted for both kidnapping and reverse kidnapping of a child? I didn’t even know that second one was a crime.”

I chuckled. “Heh, that’s right, I remember when I did that the first time. I pulled this little trick with the kids of the Israeli and Saudi Arabian ambassadors. That’s not important now. Why did you call then?”

“Oh, I just figured I would make a little deal. See, I have your friends from when they were trying to get into my warehouse.” He held up Carl’s mini-pistol. “I think it’s time for an exchange.”

“Hold up one moment,” I told him.

I turned toward the driver, who had been sitting quietly, trying to understand why I was talking to myself. I grabbed my shot glass and shoved it into his mouth. It broke, causing blood to squirt out, but it was forced down into his throat nonetheless. He clawed at his throat, trying to throw it back up but unable to as it dug in with sharp, broken angles. He collapsed on the table in a gurgling heap.

“Ok, I’m back. And if you were trying to get your guy back, he’s dead now. No exchanging him after all. Looks like you’re going to need to come up with some other deal instead.”

“How did you do it?”

“I shot him.”

“That doesn’t sound like you. Nevertheless, my deal was never about exchanging him for your people. My deal was about having you come and give yourself up. Yes, after your daring rescue of Mix N’Max, I should have realized the best way to get to you would be to get your friends and hold them over your head. A fitting punishment, that you’ll lose the few people you care about on Valentine’s Day all because you tried to stop the spread of love.”

“Breakdown, there’s not a single thing about this plan of yours that doesn’t reek of stupidity and a chance to do untold amounts of damage to a location you are making use of. Should I knock before I enter, or just come in?”

“Knock, please, and leave that gaudy armor of yours behind. We wouldn’t want the men on the jackhammers to get shocked and accidentally carve your Moai into, oh I don’t know…a goatse?”

“I would find you holey responsible for that if it occurred, Breakdown.”

He slapped his forehead with his palm. “Ugh, I always get a headache talking to you for precisely that reason. Be here before midnight, before Valentine’s Day, or else.”

He ended the transmission.

Just because he was being such an ass to me, I called him back. “Or else what?”

“What?”

“Or else what?”

He blinked for a moment, then cut the transmission again.

I called back again. “Ahem, hi there. I’m calling with an important message about your credit report.”

“I know it’s you, Gecko.”

“Your credit is…fine! Now, you should really sign up for our credit card at http://www.orelsewhat.com/fuckaturtleintheear.com.”

He wound up having to disable his screen number by the time it was said and done with.

He didn’t want me in armor, and he didn’t get me in armor. Not my armor, at least. I got to the warehouse in question well before his stupid little Valentine’s Day deadline and got the keg armor up to speed. It wasn’t a match for what I wore, but the upgrades gave it enough strength for this. So did the stop sign I grabbed out of the ground, and the flamethrower that I borrowed from Sandra. Oh, and a lump hammer I brought for backup in the cockpit of the walker.

I crashed through a wall into the place and found another jumpsuited worker standing around, lighting a cigarette with his gun between his legs. I swung the stop sign and the edge of the octagonal sign caught him in the head, leaving behind a nasty gash as it knocked him to the ground.

Another approached, but this one had armor covering the entirety of his arms that was linked by wires to a few plates on his legs. I swung for him and he blocked it. Strength enhancements, that’s what they were. I stepped back to avoid his punches, ungainly in this walker. It was more mechanical than digital.

I brought the stop sign down in an overhead swing that he blocked with both forearms in an X-shape and then grabbed.

“Stop!” I yelled. “Hammer time!” I threw the lump hammer in his face. It was a throw that would have made Thor proud, and it cracked his nose open for blood to flow freely. He stumbled back at that and I let go of the stop sign with that arm and punched him hard. He left a trail of blood behind as he skidded along the concrete floor.

Given Breakdown’s style, I expected some slow death trap to end my guys, so I had a little time, but not enough to keep wasting on these idiots.

I had the walker kick down a series of shelves, which knocked over the next in line, and the one after that, and the one after that, and so on. It cleared me a path to the center of the warehouse, which was mostly empty, save for Carl and Moai chained up together and suspended from the ceiling. Above them, attached to the ceiling, was a device with cylinders of pink fluid.

Yep, a setup. I was glad I killed the driver when I found that out.

A voice called out to me as I clambered unsteadily over the shelving in that armor. A couple jumpsuited minions hopped out from behind a stack of crates and opened up with pistols, but I swept the left arm of the walker toward them and activated the flamethrower I’d hastily rigged to it. The were too busy watching their eyelids burn off to worry about shooting me. I left them there, rolling around on the ground next to the crates that had gone up.

The crate burst open and I smelled a little bit of cherry or strawberry. Sexahol. I got to destroy some of it at least. The rest of the crates in that stack blew as well, the fire igniting the sealed Sexahol and causing it to destroy the bottles it was in as it was consumed.

“Hey boss! I wanted to be the first to try that out,” Carl called as I got close.

“Breakdown said he’d let you go if I showed without my armor on. I just needed to technically hold to his exact words.”

“You have, and for that you will get your friends back!” said Breakdown. I looked and found him standing at the door to an office raised to a higher story and accessible by ramp. He pulled out a remote and pressed a button. With a click, the chain holding Moai and Carl was released and they fell to the floor.

I moved to help them get out of the mess. “What was the point of this? You’re actually here. You’re letting them go without any trouble. You know you’re not going to keep me locked up here. I thought you were smarter than this, Breakdown.”

“Love makes you do funny things, my friend,” he said as he tossed away the remote. “Haven’t you ever been in love?”

“If your Sexahol is any indication, I love to kill people.”

“Oh no, we’ll fix that. All you need, all anyone needs, is someone else to love. That will fix you. It will fix your friends. We’ll just have to drug everyone and get you set up with someone. Can you see it? We can solve the world’s problems.”

I helped up my comrades and turned fully to face Breakdown. “That’s how it always goes. The world would be a better place with a little bit of brainwashing. That’ll make it nice and neat and orderly. I don’t care about an orderly world caused by faked feelings that you forced on someone. I wouldn’t like a world without problems anyway, let alone one built on a foundation of raping someone’s mind and body. Now get down here, because I’m about to kick your ass so hard, you’ll feel like a shaved Filipino boy who just got passed around a NAMBLA meeting.”

Breakdown looked at his watch, “That won’t do, Psycho Gecko. It’s midnight, and we have a very special present this Valentine’s Day. I didn’t think it would be you to investigate and grab one of my assistants, but nonetheless, this was all a distraction for any heroes who stumbled onto the plan.”

I heard a hissing sound from above.

“Boss, it’s gas!”

Sure enough, I saw pink gas drifting down from the device on the ceiling. I took the precaution of jabbing myself with a syringe of nanites. They’d counteract whatever it was.

When I looked back over toward the office, Breakdown was gone.

“Come on, boys. Let’s skedaddle. I need my armor and you need a hazmat suit, Carl.”

Together, we ran for a nearby door. I let Moai and Carl take the door while I jumped through the wall. We barely made it. That stuff spread rapidly. Outside, we saw we weren’t the only ones dealing with it. Pink mist settled over the entire city, drifting down from the sky. There wasn’t anyway to escape it, not really.

Even as it inevitably fell over us, I couldn’t help but think the sounds were one thing that set this apart. People screamed as it approached. Then, silence. Then, a happy mess of babbling and laughter. I felt it settle over us.

The mist made my eyes go all fuzzy, and I felt like I was drunk on Sexahol again, but it was being cleared by the nanites. The feeling never got very intense and I could mostly keep my head about me.

It got Carl though. He had a goofy grin on his face and gave me a big hug.

Breakdown’s voice came from the thicker fog inside the warehouse. “It’s not too late to join me. The age of hate is over with. Now, we can all find ourselves someone to care about who feels the same way. We can fix the world, gentlemen.” He moved forward so I could see a silhouette of him in the thick pink mist.

Carl stepped forward at the same time I raised the flamethrower. “No, boss. You’re great, but I’m going with him.” He backed into the fog toward Breakdown. I didn’t have a shot unless I burnt him too.

“Carl, come back with us. We’ll get you sorted out and clear that crap out of your system. None of what you’re feeling is real.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’m happy, boss. I feel like it’s my wedding all over again.”

“Fuck this shit,” I said and charged past Carl, shoving him out of the way to throw a punch at the silhouette. There was nothing there, however. It vanished suddenly and there was nothing there but thick Sexahol fog that was starting to overcome my nanites. I gave myself another shot of the little regenerative bots and turned the walker around. I didn’t see Carl around anywhere as I stepped out of the hole I’d broken earlier. Moai was looking around, searching.

“Carl, you around here?”

Moai shook his head.

“Moai, you see where either of them went? Or if they went together?”

The second shake seemed more forlorn than the first.

“Carl! Caaaaaaaarl! Where are you, man?!”

There was no answer.

“This guy’s better than I’ve been giving him credit for, Moai. You still with me?”

Moai nodded rapidly.

“Good. Let’s go get my armor. Then we can get Carl back to his right mind and give Breakdown a biiiiig hug. Love is a four letter word.”

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I Got Clubbed 4

Work work work, work work work. I’ve been avoiding it, but doing so has been nearly exhausting.

I tried watching the news on my giant screen on the throne, but it was so loud out there that I could barely hear the story. Aside from all this mess about people being overly friendly around the city for some reason, it mostly focused on that wizard who tried to kill Congress. There’s going to be some fallout now. He died and there’s been a petition online to give him one of those fancy state funerals with the white horse and the carriage.

A bit of an exaggerated reaction, I guess, but his death has already caused some more serious problems. For all I’ve disliked how heroes don’t end the real problems out there, there are costs to them killing off a regular ole villain. Just ask that bank in D.C. where some guy made of sewage flooded the place and killed everyone, then took the money.

Or this one teenage girl around Empyreal City that panicked when using her powers to scare some people at her school. Oh, the ability to change the color of something seems innocent enough when the cheerleader who, let’s be honest about what probably happened, picked on her finds her brunette locks suddenly turned eye-blindingly pink and yellow. All her hair, to the roots. From what I hear, the carpet matches the drapes.

Sounds kinda hot, actually. Pink is a good color for hair.

School resource officer saw it and approached the scene. Girl overreacted and turned his eyes an impenetrable shade of black. The cop overreacted too and pulled out his sidearm. She tried to grab it from him. It went off, killed a couple bystanders, and now the girl is missing. The mom was all distraught it sounds like, but cops are now watching the house.

One’s a purposeful escalation, the other not so much. It tends to make some people nervous when a hero kills a villain. Though occasionally some of us are such total dicks that people don’t mind so much.

You know…that reminds me. For all the press making a big damn deal, there hasn’t been one bit of retaliation for my supposed death.

For their sakes, I’ve chosen to interpret that as them thinking I didn’t really die.

I was distracted from catching up on the news by some jackass throwing a beer at me. It shattered against the throne and somebody cheered.

Odd. Normally the crowd is surprisingly mellow most nights. Ah well. I looked for whoever looked like a smug dick without a bottle. There. I launched myself to my feet and ran to the end of the catwalk. The coat I wear when I’m not in armor flared out as I dropped to the floor right in front of the little ass and his friends.

The dipshit was in all black. Really tight pants with combat boots. A black sleeveless leather hoodie thing. Detached fishnet sleeves and black nailpolish.
“Oh shit!” he said tried to get away. I grabbed his forearm as he turned away to flee and twisted it around into a wrist lock. “Ow, ow, ow, let go, let go!”

I laughed at his pain. All that screaming for something so minor. The parting of the crowd around me and the sound of motors and heavy footsteps preceded Carl as he approached from behind. “There a problem here, boss?”

“Ah, yeah there’s a problem. Let me go. You can’t treat me this way,” pleaded my insolent guest. He twisted around and I could see the little horizontal lines on the underside of his forearms. I tore the fishnet sleeve to get a better view. Scabs, except for a couple that were still bleeding.

“Uh, boss?” asked Carl.

“Carl, our friend here is completely right. This is the wrong way to treat him.”

Twenty minutes later, I sat on a pier with a strong fishing pole in my hands. It was a big thick one with a huge reel. That’s the sort you use for shark fishing. Carl stood behind me, outside the armor, and laughed his ass off as I dunked the little cutter into the water.

The water had rendered that goth fellow a soprano.

“Now cut that out!” I chuckled and dunked him under the water briefly before raising him back up. “You wanted attention. You welcomed pain. Enjoy!” I dipped him back under the surface. Something tugged.

I stuck the line rod in a holder and tugged on it at a higher up position to lift the goth guy out of the water. “Hey, what was that tugging?”

“Stop it, something’s down there. Let me go, alright?”

“You’re sure there’s something down there?”

He nodded. “Yes! Yes, now can I go?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, you crazy fuck!”

“Double check,” I told him and dropped him back into the water and sat down to hold the rod again.

I turned to check on Carl as that brought a fresh bout of laughter to him. “You alright back there?”

“Yeah. Jesus, yeah. That’s..hahaha…fucking hilarious, boss.”

I felt a tug that didn’t stop, bringing my attention back to the water. The water churned as the line jerked all over the place. I stood up in a flash to get a better view. “Carl, hey Carl. Quick! Did you bring any popcorn?”

“No, boss,” came the reply. He was getting over his gigglefit now.

“Aww. Oh well, we still get a show.”

Most of the action happened underwater where we couldn’t see, though. All the splashing didn’t help matters. When it calmed down, a head poked out of the water. It was pointy like a shark’s, but seemed to be attached to a neck. He opened a mouth full of rows of pointy teeth and yanked the hook and part of the goth’s shirt out of his mouth. “Thanks for the meal. Anyone else care to go for a swim?”

I did a search for shark-like supervillains real quick. “Nope, no thanks. Cold enough up here. And you should really wait thirty minutes now.”

The shark man snorted water out of the sides of his neck. “Good one. Next time you throw someone out here, make it someone with more meat on their bones.”

Names and images flashed up on the HUD in one eye. I picked the one that best matched our friend there, as my facial recognition software isn’t set up for sharks. “Right-o, Terrorjaw.”

With a wave, Carl and I left the shark man behind.

Back at the club, our bouncer was glaring at the ID of some girl. She was obviously new. We at The Secret Lair don’t give a fuck about the drinking age.

“What’s this guy’s name, Carl?”

“You still don’t know?”

“I don’t generally use the front door.”

“How do you get in?”

“I like to come in from the back.”

Carl slapped his palm to his face.

“His name’s Terrance. He’s got powers, but he’s not a criminal or anything.”

I walked up to wear Terrance was still scrutinizing the ID that was probably fake. His eyes glowed blue through the shades he wore even though it was night. “Hey there, Terrance. Why don’t we go ahead and let this one on through, huh?”

He looked back at Carl, then at me, then handed over the flimsy little driver’s license to the girl. “Sure thing.”

“Thanks mister,” said the teen as she shuffled in ahead of Carl and me. She kept her hair over her eyes and her head lowered slightly.

“Have fun. Feel free to grab a drink.”

“Nh hun.” Not much of an answer. She needed to watch her ass. I tried to, but she was in some baggy clothing. She looked around a bit and headed off for one of the side rooms. She could have been in for a bad time if she interrupted the Russians having a poker game.

Sandra waved me over to the bar. “Hey, there, bossman. Your big…uh…stone dude, he left me a note for you. Something about some villain calling you? Oh, and the people are getting a little more…intimate…than normal.”

Like I cared. I headed for the stairs up to the catwalk so I could take the call from the throne. I did see people getting more handsy along the way, though. One of the nerdy guys who didn’t believe me was even getting some action. Some girl with a black dress and dreadlocks with little metal skulls on the ends took his glasses off and told him, “You look better without these.”

She started to lead him toward a private little corner, but he got completely lost as soon as she let go of his hand. Turns out those glasses fucking do something. As turned around as he got, they might be the only thing about him that fucking did anything that night.

I turned to Carl, though. He was still following behind me through all this. I told him, “See what we can do to keep the dance floor from turning into an orgy, alright? I mean, that guy who did the permits might be here, and now that I keep thinking about him, I just don’t want any sex to happen anywhere that he might join in.”

“Uh, I’ll see what I can do. I can set off the fire alarms if they go too far.”

“Dammit, man, that’s exactly the wrong thing to do. The last thing I want is to make a whole bunch of women wet.”

“That explains a lot.”

At that, I shooed him away and ascended up the catwalk, turned a corner at another part of the walkway, took a right, then another right, and kept going straight to get to my seat in the chained-open entrails of a superhero. Seeing my throne in the middle of the dance floor, I had my suspicions that perhaps all the Sexahol sales were going too far.

I sold it to all these people in spite of my own experiences with it, but there’s a limit to how much I can tolerate everyone getting some in my club while I sit around watching.

I could see the lower half of Moai under the big giant screen. He was standing in front of my throne. I grabbed the railing and swung around to the other side of the screen.

“Hey Gecko,” said a familiar voice from the screen. It was Mix N’Max, the perpetually grinning supervillain. As always, he had the stuff on his face to look paler. He too had what I think is a goth look, but I’ve been talking about that stuff a lot lately. Long brown hair, burgundy coat, ruffled white shirt. I guess that’s what you’d call that, but fuck if I’m completely clear on the distinction or care overly much. Oh, and he smiles almost constantly. Real perky guy.

He’s an ally. A buddy, some might say. We’ve worked together in the past as part of a small team. I sent him some Sexahol to examine because he’s good with chemicals and poisons. Where I know some conventional chemical weapons, he can somehow throw together pollen, spit, and crushed rose petals to make napalm. Near as I can tell, that’s his power. Somehow, he can combine all sorts of things to unusual effect, like shrinking someone or turning them into a fish.

“Heya Max. Hey Moai, good job keeping Max entertained. What were y’all doing?”

Max answered me. “We were playing Rock Paper Scissors. I’m close to figuring out Moai’s tells. It has something to do with his hat, I think.” Ah yes, Moai’s pukao. This big rock hat that Moai statues used to wear. It was my Christmas present to him and it’s nice to see he still wears it.

I pointed a thumb at Moai. “Good luck. He’s got a hell of a poker face. I’ve never seen him flinch, and this guy’s fought a talking gorilla with a jetpack. You calling about the Sexahol stuff?”

“Yeah, but it’s good just to talk. I haven’t seen you in awhile. Sam owes Holly some money now.” He was referring to his helpers. I don’t think it’s a sexual or romantic relationship at all. Sam Hain, or just Sam, is a goth type too. She tends to have purple hair and wears a lot of black. Holly is a brunette, and goes for the middle class look. Your American Eagle and Aeropostale kinda stuff. The pair are friends who took up working for Max. They’re ok.

“Holly really thought I was dead this time?”

“You give people too many chances to bet on if you’re dead, you know. Anywho, I took a look at your Sexahol. Nice job to whoever did this. It’s just a little slow for my taste.”

“Tell that to the people getting it on over here.”

“Sure, maybe whenever I get to visit.” He smiled wide, but with his mouth and eyes closed.

“Ok, stop trying to look cute. Of course you can come visit, provided I haven’t burned the place down for insurance money.”

Moai nudged my shoulder.

“Hey, relax,” I said to him, “So far, no one will insure me. I ask too many questions about their arson procedures. Anyway, back to the Sexahol. You said it worked slow?”

“Yeah. There’s an aphrodisiac ingredient in there. It’s a synthesized chemical that attaches to receptors in the brain to mimic feelings of joy and euphoria people experience when in love, with some lust in there too. The effect is minor, but cumulative like certain toxins and heavy metals. The body can’t metabolize the artificial aphrodisiac, so it builds up in the system. The effect persists over time and intensifies the more people drink. It doesn’t abate.”

“No, I suppose abating is a natural consequence of being constantly horny from it. Is it going to kill my customers?”

“Thaaaaaaat’s iffy. If they have weak hearts or forget to eat, then they could die. Or if they don’t stay hydrated. Chafing and bleeding, I suppose. Did you try this stuff?”

“Yeah, that’s why I sent it to you. The nanites must have cleared it up when I got drunk on it.”

“Ooooh, I have to wonder what that looked like.”

Next to me, Moai shook his head rapidly.

“Not good, Moai? I’ll take your word for it. I wondered if that would change some parts of your shining personality. You’ll have an easy time around the city if this keeps up. This explains the mystery of Empyreal City. People are acting like this all over the city.”

“Hmm, much as I’d like to take credit for getting the entire city drunk, that’s not just me. Other bars, other people buying this stuff.”

Max looked contemplative for a moment. “Yeah…are you ok with that?”

“No skin off my back if everyone else is too hippiefied to do a damn thing to me.”

“Oh. Surprise, surprise.”

“What’s all this ‘surprise’ shit about?”

“Oh, just with all the date raping this is enabling. Every single one of those people. I can see you not getting laid on this stuff, but it’s going to turn that place into free love central.”

I thought about it. About the nerdy guy, and about the girl walking him back. About every single person down there and out in the city under its effects. About people finding out how people act under it and making sure someone they want drinks up. I thought about…certain times I don’t like to think about, with people who are dead now and better off for it.

“Aha…there’s the Gecko I know who doesn’t like to admit he’s there,” he said in a sing-song voice. He was teasing me over the appearance of certain preferences that some may, if they don’t know better and don’t care about living, call morals.

“Shut up, Max.”

He quieted quickly at the tone of my voice, but still grinned like a Cheshire cat.

On the one hand, I now have to be the jerk that saves the day. On the other hand, at least it’s ultimately going to make a lot of people upset that they’re no longer screwing everyone around. So maybe I can squeak by and claim it was all done in the name of fucking over the fuck fest.

I turned to my stony minion. “Moai, we’re going to need a lot of cold water. It’s time to blue some balls.”

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I Got Clubbed 3

Wow, I had a nice dream last night. Well, no fighting or killing or anything, but still nice. I and some other people were living in a massive ice cave for some reason, and it felt like there had been some sort of apocalyptic tragedy. There were plenty of people still being civilized, but the main government or governments were gone. Also, it was like a school of some kind where I was writing a paper and I had a symbiotic maggot-looking worm thing living in my tongue. When I opened my mouth, it would push its way out with a crunchy kind of sound, and even though people insistently referred to it as a parasite, I was sure it more of a symbiotic relationship, with it somehow capable of healing me.

I’d like to go back to that one some day and see what else happens besides me trying to heal people by infecting them with my parasitic mouth worm.

For news in the waking world, I have sent off a sample of the Sexahol to Mix N’Max. I could do it, but he really likes it when I send him weird stuff.

In the meantime, things are ok being one of these club owner people. The same types who were in here dressed all wacky before are still here, and the place really fits them. We’re even getting some people that none of the regulars seem to know. Nerds, near as I can tell from walking amongst them. Or at least introverted types who normally don’t go to clubs but are a lot more comfortable with masks covering their faces.

“See, man, this place is cool,” one of them said to his buddy. They were both in costumes. They had made good use of pads like you see on ATV drivers, and one of them had this welder’s mask with a skull design over the front. The skull’s eyes were replaced by the solid visor piece, though. It was a good look.

They were waiting on the bartender and looking around. I had walked over to the bar myself, in armor, and they were apparently referencing my own costume.

“Hey man, that’s a great job. Did you make that yourself?” a taller one with fake molded muscles on his costume asked me.

“Yeah. Fully authentic.”

“Are you supposed to be somebody?”

“I’m Psycho Gecko,” I said.

One of them went all deer-in-headlights from not having a clue who I was, but the others recognized the name to varying degrees.

“Yeah, right,” said one future corpse. He nearly reached his full potential right then and there, but at that point Moai showed up, threw a feather bolo around me, and dragged me to the dance floor for a brief amount of time.

“They deserved it, Moai. Come on, just a pound of flesh. Half a pound. You know what, I’ll leave all their flesh on their bodies, but they’ll learn an important lesson about who I am.”

Moai wasn’t convinced. He only let me go once the guys at the bar had gotten their drinks and moved on. Then he let me go. I stuck a finger right in Moai’s face, “I’m going to get my bloodbath, you know. It’s bound to happen. Bloodbath later, though. Bloody Mary now.”

Actually, I slid up to the bar to get my Bailey’s. No more Sexahol. I ain’t turning into some lovey dovey hippy Gecko. Ladies and gentlemen, I do not want to impregnate a frozen yogurt machine! I don’t want to be tied down raising a bunch of yogurt flinging crybabies. And given how babies are little more than crapmachines normally, that bodes ill for the quality of that yogurt. It’s a lose-lose situation.

So no, for the good of people not having shityogurt, I did not have Sexahol. That, and being drunk apparently makes me less violent.

The bar wench, because I still love the word wench despite its offensiveness to those it refers to, walked over immediately. “Hey there, I hear you’re the one in charge. Sorry I didn’t get over here quickly before your friend in the costume pulled you away, but I had to go get those guys some more Sexahol. What can I get you?”

“Lots of Bailey’s, whatever your name is. Wait, what is your name?”

“It’s Sandra. I was hired to be the T and A around here.”

“Well, miss Sandra the Titanosaurus and Anguirus, I guess I’m lukewarm to have you around. We’ll see how you do. By the way, are you scared of or get ill at the sight of blood and/or internal organs that are no longer internal?”

She rolled her eyes. “I already answered that at the interview, but no. I can handle that stuff if it happens.”

“Ah, but can you handle yourself if someone gets grabby?”

Sandra reached down and pulled out a switchblade with a little smile on her face.

“That’s cute,” I told her. “I’ll see about getting you a flamethrower. Now, fetch me the Bailey’s. A bottle, if you will. And glasses. No, wait…a monocle.”

She snorted and shook her head, but went about grabbing my current favorite. When she set a large bottle in front of me, she asked, “By the way, you want to try this Sexahol stuff? It’s selling like crazy.”

“Ah, thank you, Tiktaalik and Archaeopteryx, but no thanks on the Sexahol. It makes me horny. You wouldn’t like me when I’m horny.’

“Sure, whatever. You do know T and A stands for ‘tits’ and ‘ass’ right?”

“Really? I thought there were other parts to you as well.”

“Yeah, but those are the parts that make guys want to come up here and try to buy expensive drinks so they can talk to me.”

I unsealed my helmet and pulled it from over my mouth so I could sip on the creamy liquor with the obnoxious burn that gets better over time. I’d say more about the taste and drinking experience, but only after Bailey’s works out an endorsement deal with me. Otherwise, that’s all their getting.

“Huh. Gives me an idea for a trap.”

“Huh, traps?”

“Yeah, a boobie trap.”

“Oh god,” she pressed her palm to her face at that.

“Excuse me!” called someone from the other side of the bar. A skinny fellow with a hairline not so much receding as retreating like the British from Dunkirk. He was in a suit and holding a notepad.

“I better get this,” Sandra said and slid over to him. Addressing him, she asked “What can I get you?”

I couldn’t hear what he said to her over the music and the crowd, but she turned back and walked back over to me. “This guy says he wants to speak to a manager. He’s talking about the club having a lot of violations and not having permits. “

“I’ll handle it,” I said. I took one last sip of my generic drink with a name I can’t pronounce without copious amounts of money introduced to my system, then pulled my helmet back down . I walked over with my bottle of non-specific liquor that could have even been the cheap taste of Kahlua. Not like I’d specify that without a deal of some sort, Bailey’s.

“Hello there chum,” I said, holding out my hand. The man with the hair like the forest around Isengard reached out awkwardly, having perhaps not expected a man in a costume to answer his summons. He also didn’t expect the bait and switch where I left him holding the bottle of undetermined liquor that I’d love to talk about if I had my own lifetime supply of it provided by the company. And my own cloned T-Rex to ride.

“Hi, I’m Timothy Redmond with my office got word you were operating something out of here. Now, we thought this had to be a mistake,” he said as he put on a deceptive, predatory grin, “After all, nothing had been filed with us. No permits, no licenses, no inspections. Just poof! One day, you’re here operating like this illegally.”

“Ah, yes, I see where we are having our little miscommunication here…” I put an arm around his shoulders and led him closer to the dance floor. Moai caught up to me wielding a feather boa again, but this time I smiled and said, “No, no, nothing like that. I’m just going to have a chat with Mr. Redmond here. In fact, I’d prefer you came along. I expect it will be very educational.”

Moai nodded.

A few minutes later, I held onto a screaming Timothy Redmond as the stereotypical-looking bureaucrat bounced against the side of the building. I wasn’t trying to smack him against the side of the club, but I wasn’t trying too hard to avoid it either. In fact, I figured I could scrape him against it a little. He had some lung power on him, though. That guy was close to breaking glass.

“Oh calm down, you big baby. It’s not that bad. You don’t see me whining about it, do you?”

I don’t think he heard me, so I gave him a little shake, which shook me in turn. I was also hanging down from the roof of the building, with Moai holding onto me somehow. I haven’t paid a lot of attention to how he does that.

“Easy there,” I tried to warn Tim. “What you’ll want to make absolutely sure to do is keep control of your bl- Nevermind, there you go. You’ll want to stop screaming and close your mouth right about now.”

He didn’t listen to that either, but at least his screaming stopped when he sputtered and coughed from the warm liquid I saw wet the crotch of his slacks. Let that be a lesson to everyone: do not piss your pants when hanging upside down.

“Hey, now that you’ve shut up for a moment, I think we need to have that chat now. See, I figured a talk like this had a bit of gravity to it, so why not add a little more? But just holding you over the edge seemed a bit stereotypical.”

He started to cry for help instead of pay attention, so I gently smacked his head into the wall hard enough to stun him for the moment.

“As I was saying, you rude little man, I had to find some way to spice things up, and now we’re on equal footing. Moai, haul us up!”

Moai backed up, dragging my armored body up and onto the roof. I held onto Mr. Redmond and brought him up with me. I dropped him on the roof and he curled up on the ground, keeping low while he tried to wipe his face. I bent down in front of him. “I think you’ll find that there’s merely been an oversight. Our registration or whatever just got misplaced, right?”

Mr. Redmond nodded at me from where he cowered on the roof.

“Glad to hear that. Here, use this to dry yourself.” Moai passed me a towel and I handed it to Tim. As he pressed it to his face, something within crackled. He opened it up to find a couple thousand dollars in fifties and hundreds.

“What’s this?”

“You know, it occurred to me that with our club’s policy on being costumed, a guy like yourself could probably wear a good mask over his whole head and some tights. A place like this, all those nubile young women wouldn’t know you from anyone else. You could be anyone to them. No, literally, you could dance around like a guy half your age.”

“That didn’t answer my question.”

I put my hands on my head and shook it. When I stopped, I used a hologram to make it look like a Magic Eight Ball prediction had floated up on my forehead. “Shut up, take the money, and party,” it read.

“Yo, Moai, please show Mr. Redmond down and out with discretion. Mr. Redmond, I look forward to this entire thing being cleared up. Water under the bridge and all that.”

“Water under the bridge?” he asked incredulously. He still panted a little, but he was gaining control of himself.

“Yeah, that’s where they’ll find you if this mess doesn’t get cleared up soon.” I patted him on the shoulder. He eyed the gloves, possibly very glad that he wasn’t still upside down at that moment.

That’s how we got all our proper paperwork for the club, by the way. There are many ways to cut through red tape. Next time, I think I might try a knife.

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