One of the weird facts of Hollywood - well actual Hollywood the neighbourhood tucked-in between west LA and downtown, and not the nebulous concept of the movie industry was the fact that the movie industry wasn't there...
Paramount had a studio there, but it was a very small place and kind of dinky even by movie standards, which tended to be very dinky. A couple of offices with small production companies. Weirdly enough the corporate offices of Nickelodeon, and weirder the corporate offices of CNN.
However there was tons and tons of crap designed to sell movie memorabilia, meet people dressed up as Charlie Chaplin and several very nice movie theatres. It wasn't a bad place - well unless you lived there, and had to park. But it was a place. At night it was one of the rare portions of LA that seemed to have a sense of being alive.
Which is why ‘Mazing Girl, on her patrol, kind of liked it.
Plus they had a really good restaurant that had fake snow on top of it, that served pancakes.
Hollywood was good for fake snow. That much she could give it.
She was jumping over the area around 11 o’clock looking for trouble. There wasn’t all that much. A couple of drunks...some kids on meth. ‘Mazing Girl had a policy about drugs of any kind: Unless you were doing something more, she wasn't going to narc on you. A guy in an alley was tripping on something fierce, and God bless ‘em.
She watched him for a minute to make sure she shouldn't call an ambulance (yeah he'll be fine) when she felt something on the back of her neck. The sensation of evil...of malice.
Well, time to respond.
She leapt off the alley to the top of a building - only to see that it was an outdoor nightclub. Huh? Well...she hoped if she jumped out quick enough people wouldn’t notice her. So she jumped across the street to an office building, and saw people were still looking at her. Some of them where hollering. This particular bar seemed to be full of college frat-boys and movie execs...hard to tell which at this time of night.
Back to business. She looked around. The sense of malice seemed to be coming from about 3/4 quarters of a mile away, in what looked to be an independent warehouse or studio space well off the main strip in Hollywood. No sense of what it was other then trouble. She could speculate plan - but ahh...
She jumped off the building and landed in front of it in one leap – a good leap for an odd angle, and she smashed the front door in less then five seconds later. It was how she worked: Quick.
Inside was darkness.
"Good evening Nighthawk" said a voice.
A light came on. She saw that the room looked to be a medieval dungeon - or a Hollywood version of one. She could see the flats of the wall in the grey brick patterns, and noted the fact that the dragon head mounted on the wall was papier-mâché (okay, what else would it be?). The fabrics, the swords, all looked like they had been made by Roger Corman in one his later more ambitious Technicolor productions.
And in front of her was a movie projector playing on a small screen an old- fashioned 16mm movie.
"Welcome to my little chamber of the dammed," said Mysterion.
And behind the door she had come through a steel mass slid down like the gate of a castle wall - it must have been 2 three inches thick. It would take her upwards of 20 seconds to get through it.
"Ha ha Nighthawk That was the only exit - I am at the end. If you can get through this mysterious cavern of death and destruction you deserve to take me to jail. But you won't, you never will. For I have put dozens of traps...hundreds of ways to kill you, murder you... maim you. This is your doom, you giant canary. Your death...and it was I, Mysterion, who did it!!"
Mysterion... The name was familiar as was the face. He was someone who had fought Nighthawk, she knew, a couple of times. He had been in The Times - his real identity was someone else - you know, she should have paid attention more to all of that.
Instead of a head was a small glowing fire A green jumpsuit below it. Stylish. He talked to a camera in a medium shot - that was obviously done a while ago, and was referring to a different superhero.
Two wooden doors opened in front of her on either side of the grey screen.
"Two doors. One leads to salvation, the other to ruin. Choose wisely."
And with that the movie ended. Leaving her in the fake setting room.
She paused. She could probably break through the walls of the sets pretty easy. She could break through the metal door behind her and get a lot of police too. But the door on the right...
She remembered that was advice one took in a maze.
She walked in. The hallway was dark and empty - but as she entered the door behind her closed and lights came on.
Two walls of spikes were coming in from either side.
"Hahahahahhahha!" said a tape-recorded voice of Mysterion. "Hahahahahah!!!”
Hah! You could literally hear the "ha" in the voice, not just laughter.
‘Mazing Girl waited. She could probably go right through the steel door in front of her. maybe 30 feet away, but he obviously had put a lot of work into this.
So she waited.
"Is this how you thought you would end?" demanded Mysterion, via tape deck.
"Um, am I supposed to answer that?" asked ‘Mazing Girl, "I mean, can you hear me?"
There was no answer.
The walls were closing in maybe a 1 foot each side per minute, and the walls where 10 feet apart - so 5 minutes.
When room was down to about 4 feet she paused. The spikes where sharp. She placed a hand on either side. And held her arms out. Straight out.
And the machines started to hiss. The engines strained; As for Sarah, not really - she did feel it, but no pressure.
The engines kept going. There was a distinct whine. She smelled a little smoke...and it stopped.
She let go.
The one on the left coming towards her. Weaker then before...
She grabbed it and started to push back, walking towards it - and after about 30 seconds she heard a small boom. And it stopped.
Well, that was taken care.
She walked to the end of the hall. She suspected that the door was supposed to open but maybe she had shorted that too. So she punched and it flew off its hinges.
The room beyond looked like another dungeon - well maybe more like a medieval keep. Like a room where kings ate their meals. He was going for a good middle-ages theme here, and she was kind of enjoying this.
Another projector. Another Mysterion.
"Oh...you survived. Well, that tested your intellect...but now your muscle."
Actually no, the first room had tested her muscle. But well, she wasn't going to correct him.
The room was maybe 40 feet by 40 feet with a 20 foot ceiling.
A door opened on the top of the opposite wall.
Flying in on a rope was a 12 foot tall dragon.
It let out of a gout of fire and on its chain in the ceiling started to fly around the room.
She really hoped he didn't have any cameras going, because in about three seconds of work, before it came at her, she took off all her clothing - leaving her bare naked. Top, pants, boots, panties. Everything except her mask.
And them she jumped towards the monster - it looked like it was doing a pattern that circled getting closer to the ground each time or something like that. She was caught in flame as she flew through it for a second, but it didn't hurt. Fire never really ever hurt her. Which was perhaps a shame, somehow. Burning was a sensation she wanted to feel...I mean she was hot.
But before she finished, the thought the dragon was a pile of rubble on the ground.
She had, however, misjudged her jump a bit, and flown into the ceiling and out on top of the chamber of horrors.
She noted that it was a fake ceiling, and above all of this looked to be a series of small rooms with flats, and about 10 feet to the actual roof. A series of small enclosures from the other side looked plain and industrial.
Working in the movies she was used to that.
She thought about just staying out here, but she had no clothing.
Sarah jumped back in, and in flash was dressed again.
She looked around. The entrance for the dragon was closed. But there appeared to be a small door she could walk through. She had done this puzzle right at least.
She walked through the waiting door.
“You’ll never escape. You’re one canary who will not flee the coup!"
The hole was about 40 feet deep, and at the bottom she fell toward some more razor sharp spikes.
She adjusted her angle a bit as she fell, with the practiced ease of a gymnast, put her legs against the walls, and jumped right out before touching the spikes.
Okay, that was the last puzzle.
She punched the wall. And created a large hole to the industrial side. She noted the wall was wood backed and she wondered if Nighthawk could have done it.
And she was now in the warehouse proper.
She started to do a search inside, running at about 40 miles an hour, to see what was what.
Sarah followed the wall towards an ending, hearing what sounded like darts, some acid. That was the sound of a lion - she wondered if was real - and after a turn, doubling backwards toward the beginning of the building, like an amusement park ride, she was at the end.
"To get past the widdows key anwser me these questions three"
She punched the wall.
And saw Mysterion sitting at a computer. He had security monitors.
"This can't be!!" he shouted.
She had gotten a little annoyed the last couple of minutes - but this can't be. That was a little sweet. "You’re going to jail."
She grabbed the guy, who really wasn't putting up any effort to stop her.
"Can you answer me one question?" asked Mysterion. "Then I'll go quietly."
"Why did you take your clothes off?"
She pushed his mask off to reveal a man with a really good beard. I mean a really, really nice black one.
"Because my clothes aren't fireproof," explained ‘Mazing.
"I could have put that on the internet...but didn't,” Mysterion said, "Because I knew if I did you would beat me up...a lot."
"They beat me up in prison."
She sighed. "I bet."
"This cost me like, 10 million dollars," said Mysterion, "It took me six months to put together."
She sighed. Then she realized something she often did. This guy had attempted to murder her, and she had no sympathy for villains...for idiots like him.
Sarah ran to the front door, holding him in her arms, and punched out into the street...through the steel wall and into Hollywood.
Land of dreams - land of make-believe.
Land she could she see a really tacky limo driving through, a limo that was part hummer.
As she entered the street, Nighthawk swooped to the ground, landing in front of them.
"I'll get you Nighthawk," said mysterion "If it’s the last thing I do..."
"What’s going on?" Nighthawk asked.