Tuesday, November 5, 2013

X of the Week


"Today we have a special treat: With us in studio - Amazing Girl!" Brian declared. There were two problems with this, thought Sarah the fantastic ‘Mazing Girl. 1) She never pronounced the ‘A’, it was implied. And 2) this wasn't a studio. It was a living room, albeit a very nice one by most standards.

"Hi!" said ‘Mazing Girl. She waved. To no-one, as she had specifically requested that this not be filmed. She was wearing her costume, but hadn't bothered with makeup, and ‘Mazing Girl did require a lot of makeup to look ‘mazing. She was actually looking a bit like she just got out of bed. Which was at 10:00 on a Saturday not completely true, but more true then not. This was her.

"Wow you look amazing,” complimented Joe, Brian’s co-host. Both were superhero nerds - fans of the different heroes in the world if such a thing exists. Actually they did, as Sarah had been one such nerd growing up, but kind of grew out of it a bit as she had grown in. But even their enthusiasm was enthusiastic.

They had a podcast called "Superhero Adventure Hour" where they talked about superhero business, developments around the world, and interviewed people from the superhero world (yes mainly fans, but also agents, government officials and a very interesting podcast about someone who made Steamer’s suit). And yes, occasionally they interviewed people like Sarah. She liked the show. She listened to it now and then. They made a request through her agent, Carl, and she saw it on a list of media requests - and why not? What the hell... It looked fun.

Sarah had done a bit of media work before. Joe her agent had been big on that, when she first hired him.  It was okay. Some superheroes, the aforementioned Steamer for example, did a lot of PR through the media. He was a regular on the Letterman show, and did silly skits. Magica in New York had done some movies, and had posed for some pictures in Vogue that were *not* tasteful. She kept it cool.

She wasn't trying to sell herself as anything other then a helpful presence, and she tried to show she was not scary despite the fact that she could crush you like a gnat with just her toe. Not her big toe, mind you, her little bitty one - she could push it against your chest, feel your rib bones crack, your lungs explode, listen to you gasping on your last breath until there was nothing left, nothing left for you to breath until you look out and see her, and see her smile - and know that she....

Well, actually she had never done anything like that. God...that was horrible. Why was she thinking about that, when she was looking at Brian, who was a handsome looking young man with glasses. He had an “I am a nerd, and I’m not actually in any form of the word ‘cool’, but I am kind of geeky-handsome and probably very nice” air about him, an air that Sarah found attractive sometimes. And the fact that he was worshipful toward her...well, yeah - she was thinking things. She made it a point as ‘Mazing Girl never to act on things, because that could hurt her rep *a lot* if it got out, and because it may explode the little guys soul. She didn't want that, or the lung thingy.

But she had done media: She had done a couple of magazines, including Superheroes Quarterly, Newsweek and the LA Times on multiple occasions (the latter was very good at doing phone-ins that didn't make her sound like a nincompoop). She had done the Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien which was a good way of focusing on the exact moment she had appeared. That had been a good time. She always was afraid, that unless one got into nuts and bolts, there wasn't a whole lot to what she did that she could reasonably talk about - but Conan was a trooper. And, yes, he did ask her to bend a steel bar.

It broke about halfway, as steel bars tended to do when you bent them too quickly. Then she had taken both ends and pushed them together so hard they literally melted into a new bar - I mean it glowed 8000 degrees.

She put it down afterward and told Conan: “Don't touch it as it may hot”.

She still thought that was the funniest gag she maybe ever did in her life. Which was a shame, as it was a visual joke and thus does not translate well here.

However, Conan got fired a couple of months later, and she didn't want to do Leno, didn't want to fly to New York to do press so...for the last couple of years she didn't do all that much.

Until...

"So you have been doing this for about five years now," Brian began. "How has it changed your view of Los Angeles?"

Sarah paused. Podcasts were weird. There was an expectation of doing something slightly serious, and ask intelligent questions, but also to be kind of funny. It was a weird mix.

"LA is an easy city - and you both live here, so I guess you know what I mean - but LA is an easy city to be in one neighbourhood, to have one experience, and forget 100 feet down the road someone else is leading a totally different life, and I enter it, and...”

"Toss cars around."

"Less then you might think," said Sarah.

 "So what do you do?"

“I wander the streets, looking for problems as they come. It’s a hard job, but...”

"No wait,” Joe interrupted. “How often do you toss cars around?"

Sarah shrugged. "Cars specifically? Once a month...maybe a little more frequently. It’s rarely one of those dramatic things but just, like, car accidents. I do general superstrength stuff, well, just about every day. ‘Couple times a week. You’d be surprised what needs lifting."

"And what was the weirdest thing that needed lifting?"

"Oh come on," groaned Brian. "You have one of the most powerful women in the entire world and your asking her that? What is this? Morning radio?"

Sarah, who did not have the superpower to distinguish between podcasts and morning talk radio, this was lost upon.

"I lifted a kangaroo once. The funny thing is there was nothing funny about it. It made perfectly logical sense at the time. Completely."

"Oh, come on!" said Joe. "You got to tell us what happened."

"No," observed ‘Mazing Girl. "I don’t."


********

And so they talked for about 40 minutes. The conversation got a tad more personal then Sarah would have liked - even though she made it a ground rule that, like comedian Paula Poundstone or Bill Murray, you did not talk about her personal life.

Unlike Ms. Poundstone it wasn't because she didn't have one, just...well the questions weren't precisely about her homelife, or even if the question she got occasionally, if she was 'happy', but rather the delved into the depths her fears, and prodded her vital essence.

Actually, it was a pretty good conversation. And Brian was cute. Really cute, and intelligent, and sensitive. And if his wall was any indication, a fan of 70s DC comics.

Sarah had the feeling - perhaps it was the setting, perhaps it was the fact that he did offer her a glass of wine,
perhaps....

Perhaps, perhaps. Sarah made it a rule not to date any one as ‘Mazing Girl.

Joe left for home.

She drank a glass of wine. They were talking but she only heard the music.

And then fell over unconscious.

****

And woke up in what looked to be a dungeon.

The wine was still in her head. Whatever knocked her out wasn't.

She was wrapped in large metal chains, huge chunks of steel that wrapped all over her body.

And then she wasn't.

They took all of about a second to pull apart link by link. She felt the pressure expand against her superpowered muscles as they themselves grew, pushing against her costume, swelling into rippling steel cords of their own – only far more powerful ones. The chains broke and shattered against the room, flying into pieces. Her left arm, her right arm, her leg. A large band in the centre cracked like a walnut shell in the hut sun, turning into so much scrap metal. But then again, it took like a second.

She also realized she was laying down on a bed. It was acceptable that she didn't realize that before, as again this all took like a second. She got up, stretched a bit.

She could tell from the coldness of floor that this was reality, but it did have a feel of an honest to goodness dungeon - not some kind of fake set, or faker reality. This was real stone on the floor. It actually looked kind of cool. Everything was grey and black stone constructed of uneven tiles. There was some kind of vaguely purplish light somewhere that lit it. There was dankness, wetness, the sound of water dripping - but it was not unattractive. It felt and looked like a deep dark dungeon - but yeah, if you ever actually where in one you would say that was neat.

Which Sarah, literally, did.

"This is neat."

Sarah actually wasn't, in the scheme of things, all that pissed off. For someone who spent a lot of time dealing with depressing crack addicts, this did have the feel of honest adventure. Perfect stuff for discussing on a podcast.

She got up.

There was darkness after about 20 feet, but she went forward into it, walking down the space which seemed like a wetter version of a video game - or like about 2010, in video games where the trick was to make everything shiny and wet, and vaguely gross - but as mentioned it was actually kind of neat. Sarah didn't know what was at the end. Which felt almost a shame really. There would be an end and there would undoubtedly be a battle, but this sense of mystery would leave, and the mystery was kind of fun.

"Ohhhhh" said a voice. She recognized it.

It was Brian. She looked down to see him on the floor - just on the floor.

"I don't feel so good," he confessed.

Sarah picked him. He must have been drugged a little more then she was. Humans with their weaknesses...

He felt like a feather, but it was a good weight. Not a bad one. Just the slightest of strain as she held him in her hands. She looked into his eyes.

"Don't worry. We’ll get through this. We’ll get out of this."

He had beautiful eyes. Sweet ones. Gentle ones.

Sarah put him over her shoulder.

She walked.

This dungeon was pretty long actually, all things considered.

*********

"So you’re into DC comics?" Sarah asked.

"The modern stuff...the new 52. I get the idea. It doesn't work" said Brian.

"Yeah," agreed Sarah "Clark Kent looks way too attractive."

There was a gurgle on her shoulder of acknowledgement. "But it had some fun stuff. You know, people say Superman is just this cold unrelatable hero...like that line in Kill Bill when they critiqued him...but really they have done a lot of weird fun stuff. Specially in the Perez...”

And then Brian vomited down her back.

Sarah looked on. She was walking fairly slowly by her standards, or any others. Her vision was dark, this was a strange hallway. She had been in mazes before - and going too quickly could set off horribleness. Not to her. She wasn't worried for her own safety, but she wasn't alone. She had Brian.

And she didn't want to loose him.

But vomit and all that...

But she kept still. Vomit could be a method to get her to move faster, or just an upset stomach. When people vomited, that was usually in fact a good sign.

She shook her head.

"So...you married?" Brian asked.

"No," admitted ‘Mazing Girl.

"Seeing anyone?" Brian pressed.

"No.”

"Ever?"

"Of course" said ‘Mazing Girl.

"You wonder, you deal with the stuff I do, maybe you guys are robots or something...I don' know," said Brian "you think things. Now I’m Lois Lane."

"Don't have the gams for it," ‘Mazing Girl coolly informed him.

"No...seriously. Maybe why I did this...did all of this. You know...get rescued, be next to you...and now I feel like crap. Just crap. You don't think about vomiting all over your cape."

"It’s okay."

"No. You’re probably going to have to get a new cape. Seriously will...all this vomit...you don’t...”

And then he started to cry.

And Sarah brought him over her head and held him in her arm, kneeling down for a second.

"There, there. It’s going to be okay, it’s going to be okay. Shhhh."

"I am so scared right now...so scared...you...you do this all the time...”

"I’m not scared at all," said Sarah. "Except scared that your scared, or afraid your afraid...wait a second. Does that make any sense what-so-ever?"

"yeah" said Brain.

"We’ll be okay, I am Amazing Girl," vowed ‘Mazing Girl, pronouncing the A. "I am the greatest hero in the land, and I’m your shining knight, or princess or...”

And then she leaned in and kissed him. Kissed him deeply, kissed him strongly, with a kiss like she had never really meant in a long, long, time. It felt on her lips like honeysuckle and dandelions and pure joy as she kissed him.

And then he threw up in her mouth.

She coughed it out.

"God," muttered Brian.

And she breathed.

"Let’s do this quick.”

She picked Brian up in her arms....and then embracing the person who was increasingly the most precious thing in the world to her,  she ran. Ran as fast as her legs could carry her, hoping whatever traps that caught her were at least a little time- based. Hoping...

And about 20 feet later there was a left turn and she was outside.

She looked around.

It was a park.

She didn't recognize it, but it had the quality of trees, grass, one expected in a park.

It was dark - maybe midnight - but clearly a park.

And she jumped.

*****

She needed to take Brian to a hospital, that much was clear. But where was she? What hospital? Where was this the right place to go?

She jumped a few minutes

Okay.

The park was Elysium Park - near the police academy actually. That was good. County USC was nearby. That was good. That was...a pretty crappy hospital in the scheme of things...but it would do.

She...

And then she felt something. Or not.

Brian was unconscious.

*****

Sarah kicked open the door to the ER, hard enough that one of the doors shattered on impact.

"I NEED HELP IMEDIATLTY!!" declared Sarah, screaming to no one in particular.

A bright Hispanic doctor came forward.

"What’s wrong?”

"He’s been...drugged...or something. Help, please help.”

The doctor looked at Brian as she put him down on a bed. He was unconscious now. Fading.

"Let’s get him into the ER. Any idea what did this?" the doctor asked.

Sarah closed her eyes. "No."

"Nurse, let’s get some saline...it looks some kind of strong alkaloid...”

And Sarah was lost in the words.

****

45 minutes later Sarah was sitting in the waiting room.

People where around her.

People you see in a county hospital at 1am. Not good people, but people.

They had a fairly nice fish tank. She was surprised. Not just goldfish, but clownfish like from Finding Nemo. She watched it

and thought about her Brian.

Her wonderful Brian, who had a last name, and probably a real job.

Brian.

She shook her head, she took of her cape as it was bothering her...sitting it next to a homeless man beside her. She ignored him it was covered with vomit. Brian was right, she would probably throw it away. Or make her wedding dress out of it. Or...

There was a note attached to it.

Oh fuck. She read it. It was typed in Arial font. Which was a classy but cold font, and not her favourite. She was more of a Verdana gal.

She noted it was typed all in capitals.

"DEAR MAZING GAL,

THERE IS AN EXPRESSION: THIS TIME IT’S PERSONAL. IT’S NOT REALLY PERSONAL TO ME, OF COURSE. I CARE NOTHING FOR YOU FOR OR AGIANST - BUT I FOUND SOMEHOW THE DESIRE TO MAKE IT PERSONAL FOR YOU"


Sarah had to stop reading as a nurse came forward. County hospitals could be cold bouts of no emotion - but her...wow this was

"I'm sorry...I am so sorry, I know you were waiting for the guy...but I am so, so, sorry...but...Mr. Fallsen is dead. He died five minutes ago. We don't know what of, but when he got in he was already suffering heaving organ failure and he....”

And the nurse started to cry.

This was not helping Sarah one bit. One iota. Tears came to her face. She cried.

And then she cried.

******

It was only two hours latter that she got back to the note still sitting in the room with the clown fish. but she looked and

read.

"THE PODCAST WAS ADVERTISED. HEAVILY. I HAVE FILTERS TO FIND STORIES ON THE INTERNET. 'IN STUDIO'. I FOUND TWO BOTTLES OF WINE IN A RECOGNIZANCE OF THE HOUSE. IT WAS A SLIGHTLY DUBIOUS SCHEME, BUT IF IT FAILED OR YOU DRANK THE BOTTLES IN THE WRONG ORDER, NO GREAT LOSS. NOT EVEN MONEY. BUT YOU DID. PERFECTLY. THE SECOND BOTTLE DRUGGED, YOU AND I BROUGHT YOU AND MR FALLSEN TO THE TUNNEL IN THE PARK. ITS AN OLD MINE BY THE WAY. YOU I
CHAINED UP FOR SHOW. HIM - HIM I INJECTED A THIRD POISON. A SLOWER ONE, ONE THAT IF YOU BROUGHT HIM TO A HOSPITOL IMEDIATLY THEY MAY IDENTIFY AND TREAT (AND I WON'T NAME IT IN CASE YOU FIND THIS TOO EARLY) BUT MOST LIKELY...HE’S DEAD. DEAD ISN'T HE WHEN YOU READ THIS? HOW OFTEN DO YOU CHECK BEHIND YOUR CAPE. THIS WAS THE SECOND BOTTLE - BUT THERE WERE TWO, RIGHT? THE FIRST BOTTLE. THE CIA SEVERAL YEARS AGO DEVOLOPED WHAT WAS IN
EFFECT A LOVE POTION - NOT REALLY, NOT LEGALLY, BUT IT INCREASED ALCHOLS ABILITY TO MAKE YOU ATTRACTED TO SOMEONE, TO WANT TO BE WITH SOMEONE - THE PERSON NEXT TO YOU BECOMES A GOD. IN 20 YEARS IT WILL BE DECLASSIFED AND A FUN PARTY DRUG. NOW I CAN KILL ANYONE. AS I AM SAYING THIS I FOUND MR. BRIAN FALLSEN’S COHOST AND JUST FINISHED SLAUGHTERING HIM. NO REASON,
JUST TO MAKE A POINT IN A NOTE IN A LETTER I AM SENDING YOU. BUT YOU DON'T CARE REALLY. WHO WOULD? SO MUCH DEATH IN THE WORLD. BUT HIM? MR FALLSEN. TELL ME ABOUT HIS EYES, HOW DREAMY THEY ARE, AND YOUR PLANS FOR CHILDREN...

AS I SAID I WANTED TO MAKE IT PERSONAL BY KILLING SOMEONE YOU LOVED. NOT KNOWING WHO YOU REALLY LOVE, I DID THE NEXT BESTTHING. I MADE SOMEONE FOR YOU TO LOVE. AND THEN KILLED THEM.

SEE YOU SOON - deca"


Sarah crumpled up the note.

Now Deca left out that the drug wasn't that powerful in the scheme of things and that the emotions it produced tended to be short lived. But at that momment it didn't matter, she didn't care and even if she lived for a thousand years it shouldn't matter.

She walked out of the hospital.

She didn't say that it was now personal, as she had no one to say it to really.

Not even Brian.

Beautiful wonderful Brian.