|20.20|21|22|22.2|22.22|22.222|23|24|25|Those Extra Four…|1|2|3|4|Back Cover|
What The Fuck?
The phrase What the fuck? goes through the minds of Sean Hymarc and Chuck Leary at the exact same time that it exits Chuck’s mouth. Sigmund and Jolon both reach for a piece of World War II weaponry that neither of them brought back from the digital world. Chuck spans his arms and backs up, squishing his robotic, rotund, hairy, and extraterrestrial friends into the back of the cramped elevator, putting as much ground between them and the motionless zombie before him as said cramped elevator will allow. Even if it’s only a couple feet, it’s still something.
Realizing the zombie is also a vegetable, apparently, Chuck raises his left hand and flips the zombie the bird. His entire left arm then melts into a cannon, the kind you would find on an eighteenth-century merchant’s vessel, and fires a cannonball directly into the zombie’s chest. The projectile penetrates, but then drops to the floor immediately behind the unphased, undead unhuman before melting back into hemibots and crawling into Chuck’s shoe. Everybody in the elevator would be deaf after being in such close proximity to a cannonball being fired, but fortunately, Chuck’s cannonarm has a silencer on it. Unfortunately, the chesthole fuckin’ stinks.
Seeing a decomposing human body body a cannonball without flinching fucks with Chuck just a little bit, so without warning he fires again, shooting the second cannonball into the space where the zombie’s head used to be before a cannonball removed it from the plot as you started reading the second half of this sentence. If the chesthole’s smell was bad before, well, it just caught a whiff of the smell leaking from the corpse’s neckhole and died, further adding to the stench. How the elevator isn’t flooded with vomit right now, I will never know.
Even headless the zombie still stands, menacingly, pieces of liquidated flesh and solidified blood dripping from the pit in its chest like the guts of a putrefied dead caterpillar carcass hanging by its legs from a tree. Within the chesthole, the Cape Gang – well really just Chuck because the rest of them are retching – can make out bits of a mechanical skeleton interwoven with the calcium one, giving the body the support it needs to continue standing without a head. Chuck thinks to himself, ‘A cybernetic zombie? Somebody call the fuckin’ Call To Duty guys, I have their next four video games in my back breast pocket.’
Tiny Tim reaches his entire hand into an especially dense tuft of fur near his chin, I suppose you could call it a beard, and pulls out a tiny piece of what Jolon assumes is a banana peel. Tim pops the rind in his mouth and grimaces as he chews, but swallows nonetheless. Tim-nah’tee then steps up to the plate, guiding Chuck behind him with an outstretched hairy arm. After throwing hand signs at a blindingly fast rate, Tim claps his hands together and produces a visible soundwave that causes the zombie’s rigger-mortis body, and the statuesque bodies of the other three beings standing guard at the other elevator doors, to vibrate and dance their way to the middle of the lobby. Jolon tries to question Tim about how the fuck he did that, but side-by-side with Chuck, Tim’s already left the elevator. Jolon follows close behind, then Sigmund, and then AdultJack, who has no idea that he is, at this moment, the second most capable force of destruction in the entirety of the Cape compound.
Chuck makes a very ugly face as he studies the three heads and four bodies that stand motionless in the center of his lobby. It is at this point that, out of the corner of his eye, Chuck sees past the two bipedal vegetables guarding his office from the inside and spots the balding head of an old-looking dude with a gray ponytail peering over Karen’s desk.
Chuck walks through the glass doors that read Cape Enterprises, Uncorporated before he smashed them to pieces by touching them with the brim of his fedora and shoves away the two statue-stiff humans – they slam into the walls, breaking through the sheetrock while still keeping their upright form like a couple of human-sized action figures. He marches up to the bongless Karen’s desk, ‘Thank you Karen,’ and brings his gloved (or should I say gauntleted) hands down on the desktop to intimidate the trembling gray man.
“Okay, hi there little guy. Two questions for ya, asked in order of importance. Actually, three. NUMBER ONE! Where the fuck is Karen? NUMBAH TWO-AH!” sharp inhale “Who da fUCK, are you? NUM-BAH TREEEE! Why in the fuck is there a baby-faced German having a seizure on my floor? AND NOW, THE HIDDEN-UH,” sharp inhale “NUM. BAH. FOUR-AHHHLAALALALAAH! What the fuck is up with your fuckin’ statue-ass henchmen-ass ass-ass asses? One of which I assume was a zombie before I blew his goddamned head off!”
The gray man, shivering in the boots that he’s not even wearing, stands up and stretches a hand towards Chuck. “I-I–… I can under… understand why you may be put off by, uh, by all of this, Mister, uh… Mister Cape, Sir, b-but, but I… please help, this man has been seizing for a few minGGAHHHH!!!”
Chuck accepted Mister Grayman’s handshake and seized the opportunity in the form of shattering every bone in the intruder’s appendage. Chuck then twists the hand, snapping the man’s wrist and forearm before raising it and throwing it back down on the desk, reveling in the wet splat sound of the impact. Amidst Grayman’s screaming, Chuck does the whole middle-finger-syringe thing and skewers the mangled, purpleish-blue hunk of skin and flesh attached to the intruder’s wrist. After holding the needle in the lump for more than just a moment, Chuck heals his guest.
“While I’m none too thrilled you’re here, I’m slightly impressed that you and your buddies managed to get in without being totally wrecked by my security system. You’ll have to explain that to me. As far as the seizey baby goes, well… I don’t want to heal him. So I’ll turn it over to…”
Sigmund takes this as a cue to waddle around the structure that houses Karen’s desk and enter the secret elevator behind the wood paneling. He travels down to the emergency BioBot room and sits in his throne to slump over and assume control of a three-foot-tall MediBot that he designed to look like the classic alien gray that his TerryTeam20 viewers were foolish enough to believe existed before Sigmund turned them all into TerryTeammates by broadcasting his programming to them.
The MediBot drops from the ceiling behind AdultJack, who’s just startled to pieces. Sigmund commands the bot to impressively hop over the desk, landing on one knee with a fist to the floor next to the seizey baby. MediBot then picks up Grayman and lobs him into Chuck’s arms in order to allow himself some space to poke and prod at the seizing BabyFace. Chuck gives Grayman a flirtatious smile, lip-bite and everything, and Grayman almost passes out cold.
When the poking and prodding doesn’t help the situation at all, MediBot lifts BabyFace over his head and leaps back over the desk, landing without even bending his knees. He then makes a series of clicking noises at AdultJack, the BioBot auto-translate software letting Jack know that he should follow MediBot into the elevator. When they’re sealed in, MediBot has AdultJack push a button, any button he likes, before having him press the cancel button and then the button for floor forty – the MediBay.
“Why did you bring me with you, Sigmund?” AdultJack asks in the voice of a sailor, “I’m not going to be of much use, I don’t even know cee-pee-are.”
“clickity’clackity paddywhack, giveadogabone, click”, MediBot enunciates, translating to, “Two reasons. One, I need to tell you something about your BioBot, just in case you go back up there. Two, you don’t wanna know what’s about to happen up there.”
Meanwhile, back up there, “You wanna know somethin’, Mister Grayman?”
“Uhm… y-yes…?” Grayman asks between thumb-sucks whilst Chuck cradles him in his arms.
“Me too. Your buddy… what’s his name?”
“Uhm, Doctor, Doctor Edvard Torp–” thud “Ouch!” Hymarc yelps after Chuck drops him on his ass. “Doctor Edvard Torpol.”
“Hmmm. Doctor EdVard Tore-pole, huh?” with emphasis on the V. ‘Interesting.’ Chuck contemplates this as he strokes the chin part of his goatee. “Sounds like a Nazi to me, but we’ll let it slide.”
Chuck then offers his uninvited visitor a hand to his feet, which Grayman accepts. Chuck keeps the hold on Grayman’s suddenly wet hand and begins to guide him deeper into his lair. I mean, office. “Come on, let’s go for a little walkie. I want to know something else. What’s your name, Grayman?”
Things Go South
Off to the side, Jolon and Tim-nah’tee are trying to remove the big-boy action figures from the wall so they can put the collection together and horde it into an elevator. Sticking strictly to telepathy, Jolon asks Tim, ‘Should we go in there? Assist Chuck if things go south?’
‘Have you peered into his mind? Chuck’s not the one who will need our help when things go south.’
God Isn’t Here
Grayman is led to the table in the unexplored wing of the office. “Erm, Hymarc. Sean Hymarc, Esquire. Well, the Esquire was from the days when being a lawyer was a thing one could do, although I was never a lawyer, I just always liked the way Esquire sounds, so I used it. What is, um, what is your name, sir?”
Chuck smiles. “Yeah, didn’t ask for the whole history behind the mouth noises you use to label yourself. Sit the fuck down right there, would ya?” while pointing to the end of the table.
“But… there’s no chair for me to sit in?”
Chuck doesn’t answer, instead walking to the other end of the table and sitting lotus on the table itself. Hymarc begins to climb up on the table until Chuck yells, “The fuck’re you doing?!” Chuck then calmly instructs his intruder to get the fuck off the table and sit on the fucking floor, which Hymarc does with haste. Hymarc is just tall enough to peer over the edge of the table, his head at eye-level with Chuck’s crotch.
“May I… sir, may I please stand for this meeting?” Sean asks without standing up.
“So, pleasure to meet you mister Highball.”
“Erm, it’s Hymar–”
“That’s what the fuck I said, Highshit. Don’t interrupt me if you value your ability to speak. Now, we have a few things to go over, don’t you agree? That was rhetorical, before you fucking interrupt me again; I’ll let you know when it’s your turn to speak. First order of business, how the fuck did you and your what I assume to be sex dolls bypass my crazy goddamned security protocols and get into my fortress?”
Hymarc says nothing, waiting for Chuck to give him the okay to speak. Out the window behind the silhouetted suited man, Hymarc sees the TerrorWing zooming around, back, up, down, and forth in no recognizable flight pattern. He doesn’t even have the will to gulp, instead choosing to block out the sight of this sick manifestation of his entire day spinning out of control.
“Oh, don’t wanna talk now? You were soooo eager to tell me all about the history of your fucking name, but now you’re silent. Okay daddy, I’ll play.”
Chuck unfolds his legs and uses the resulting momentum to leap across the table, tackling the sitting Hymarc and pinning him down.
Chuck then holds his left hand up like he’s about to karate chop the abhorrently confused Hymarc. He commands his hand to morph into a plasma chainsaw and severs Sean’s right arm clean off his body, cauterizing the wound as he creates it. Before Sean even has a chance to scream, panic, or even realize what’s just happened to him, Chuck re-hands himself, grabs the loose arm, holds the end of it against Hymarc’s brand new shoulder stump, and stabs it with the syringe finger on his right hand, injecting the healing serum as he pulls the needle out. By the time Chuck’s sat back on his end of the table, a tsunami of pain grips the fully healed Hymarc by his now intact median nerve and pinches it harder than a case of carpal tunnel pinches a teenager’s dominant arm.
“GAAAHAHHAUPSOHSDPA WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST DO TO ME?!” Hymarc screams as he spazzes out all over the floor, convulsing more than his seizey buddy was a moment ago.
“Oh, you like that? I call it the delayed reaction technique. See, I just forced you to feel the pain of amputation without anesthesia while causing zero net damage to your body. In fact, you’re even healthier now than you were before, your nerves are just freaking the fuck out because they experienced me chopping your goddamned arm off. And they’ll continue to do so until… now.”
As Chuck says now, Hymarc’s nerves stop the torrent of pain signals they were sending to Hymarc’s brain. His brain then begins a distribution of flight signals, or translated from psychological jargon, get the fuck out of there signals, to his entire body. Hymarc tries to open his mouth to speak but all his muscles are suddenly tightened up. If Torpol were here he would suggest some tension-release therapy, but Torpol’s not here right now, is he?
“How did I have the timing down so perfect? Well… I’ll let you put that jigsaw puzzle together yourself. Now, there was probably a little misunderstanding there. You didn’t talk because I didn’t tell you to talk. A word of advice: speak when you’re fucking spoken to. Now, I’ll ask again. How. The fuck. Did you get. Into my compound. Will all your sex dolls?”
Apparently God isn’t here either, Jesus Fucking Christ.
Hymarc is downright shivering, and it’s not even that cold. He swallows a stringy wad of saliva and mucus, making a gulp sound that Chuck pretends was a hallucination for both their sakes.
Steeled, Sean says, “I… we just landed on your roof and walked in. We had an alien ship on autopilot, it’s actually waiting to come and get us. We can… look, you can keep Torpol if you want him, I’ll just take my uh, my sex dolls, and we can all be on our way!”
Nice try, “Chuck sa– FUCK! Didn’t mean to say that, sorry man! Now what was I… right. Nice try. I guess that’ll explain why your boat didn’t get shot out of the sky by a compact nuclear warhead, your alien tech must not have tripped my sensors… that’s pretty cool. Wanna know something cool about me? I fucked an alien this week. Yeah, you should start crying, bitch. Not even God can help you now, and that’s big Gee, we clear? God isn’t here right now, Mister Sean Hymarc, Esquire. I am.”
Oh my… did… did he hear me?
Hymarc, on account of his own verbacious blubbering, doesn’t hear every word that comes out of Chuck’s mouth. But! he picks up enough keywords to apply the doctrine of context clues and catch Chuck’s drift.
With one drift caught, Chuck throws another. “So, what, you just hopped into my elevator and randomly chose the floor to my office? There’s more than two hundred floors in this building, you’re going to have to walk me through this. While you’re still able to walk.” After waiting until Hymarc’s weeping slows down to a whimper, Chuck adds, “It’s your turn to speak now. Faggot. Go get to fuckin’ speaking.”
“I’m… I’m not a homosexual, Sir, I–”
“Never said you were?” with one eyebrow cresting over the rims of his sunglasses.
“But I… fine. Yes, we took the elevator, but the button for this floor had a big Cee on it, so, so the Doctor and I just assumed that it meant Cape, and that this was your office.”
“Mm-hmm…” Chuck mouth-noises as he taps the pads of his gloved fingers together. “A likely story.”
Chuck then holds up his hand as if he was holding a ninja star and waits as a layer of his tie peels off and wedges itself between his fingers and his thumb to form itself into a ninja star. Chuck then flicks the ninja star and impales Sean Hymarc right between the eyes, knocking him to the ground like a target dummy. With a snap of his fingers, Chuck commands the ninja star to inject Hymarc with healing serum with enough force to dislodge the ninja star and send it spinning back though the air. Chuck catches it in his mouth and smiles a terrifying, toothy grimace as it melts through his teeth and slithers back into his tie.
About twenty seconds later, when the pain fades enough for Hymarc to get back up and paw at the lack of wound in his forehead, Chuck is playing a tune on a very tiny piano.
“I can do this all day, Hymarc. Not play the piano, I mean torture you,” as he smashes the piano to bits with his forehead. “It gives me a twisted kind of thrill, you know? Again, not the piano playing, but the torturing. I legitimately enjoy causing other humans pain… only when I think they deserve it though, don’t worry. You came into my house, my home, uninvited. Do you know what that tells me? That one, you’re not a vampire, and two, that you can feel pain. I have a little-known fact for ya, the undead? They don’t feel pain in the same way the as of yet dead do. At first I thought that rule only applied to hillbillies – it’s a long story – but then I realized, in order to hurt something that’s already dead, biologically speaking, you have to get pretty fucking creative. And it’s a good thing that I smoke lots of Cannabis, because I’m creative as fuck! Speakin’ a’which, any chance you’d wanna smoke a little? I’m being rude, I haven’t even offered yet.”
Quite a few lightbulbs went off in Sean’s head during that little tirade. He says, “Well, Sir, I can’t say I’ve tried Cannabis before, buh–” before he’s cut off.
“IT,” pause “is settled then,” as Chuck walks over to his desk to fetch his rolling supplies. When he plops down in his wheeley chair, he notices that the THC breath scanner had been activated on his computer. He’s almost impressed for a moment, until he sees the tiny, curly gray hair sticking out of the end of it.
With steam gushing from his eyeballs, Chuck says, “So uh, you almost got into my computer, I see. Good job…” before roaring, “is what I would say if you didn’t stick your dick in the fucking sensor you fucking demented shitstain of a pathetic fucking waste of human fucking seed! You FUCKING…” he trails off, pinching his rage to a low growl so the resulting excess mental energy can be converted into physical energy later.
Sam was here, he would probably bring up that old newspaper article right about now. You know the one I’m talking about, c’mon; that article about the Mexican man who smoked marihuana and went crazy, violently murdering his wife and children in the process because the drug told him to? You know, the one that influenced the United States’ government’s decision to outlaw Cannabis in the first place? He’d probably bring this up to Chuck in an attempt to sway the man’s high into a less villainous vibe before he does something to Hymarc that can’t be fixed by his special sauce, before he proves once and for all that smoking Cannabis can directly lead to evil things. Chuck would of course refute this, claiming that the concept of good versus evil is about as inane and storybookish as heroes versus villains before picking Sam up by his holier than thou-ass ankles and tornado-tossing him out a window.
Sam is not here, fortunately or un-, and the closest thing to an anthropomorphized voice of reason, the only being still in the room aside from Chuck and his new toy, as a matter of fact, is Tiny Tim, who just happens to peek around the corner to see a groveling Hymarc curled up in the fetal position behind the minifridge. Tim, being Tim, places a heavy hand on Hymarc’s shoulder and attempts to console him.
“There, there, Mister Hymarc. Are you okay?”
Hymarc immediately drops the crying act and says, “Oh yes, Mister Bigfoot. I’m doing quite well, actually. I assure you, this is all a misunderstanding.”
Tim smiles an Oh yeah? You really think so, don’t you? smile before offering, “I’m glad you’re choosing to see it that way. You see, the man in the suit over there? I have known that man for a very, very long time. Ever since he was a child. Ever since I was a child, if you can imagine such a thing. That man is a very great man, a man of honor, integrity, and character. A man who was forged inside the heart of a star, a man who can easily be described as a cold piece of work. The power he wields is even greater than mine; he holds the type of power that could decide the fate of an entire universe, if he were pushed to do it. That being said…”
Hymarc’s cocky smile fades into a shit-smearing frown as Tim continues.
“…that man is also his father’s son. With great power comes great responsibility, of course, and he realizes this… but he also realizes that the times in which so great a responsibility is called upon are few and far in between, if they ever occur at all. He realizes that carrying the level of power that he does makes him a god, and on this human-inhabited planet, well, there’s no instruction booklet for how to be a god. He, and likely he alone, realizes that his power is only considered to be so great to creatures like you and I because it is compared to the power wielded by creatures like you and I by creatures like you and I, creatures that abide by predetermined limits installed into our genetic coding by an outside force. That man… he doesn’t abide by those limits, or any limits. Yesterday I was hiking with him and he told me that he’s met his creator face-to-face and he was thoroughly unimpressed.”
“What are you getting at, ape?!” Hymarc barks through a grimy scowl.
Chuck chuckles as he presses the licked glue strip down, sealing the joint.
“My name,” Tim-nah’tee says in a grave, forewarning voice, “is Tim-nah’tee of the Quatchfut, and throughout the innumerable solar cycles in which my species inhabited this planet, we have never once come into contact with a being on the same level of consciousness as the one who sits across the table from you today. I say all that to say this: that man does not give a fuck. You should choose your words very carefully today, as I did before I approached you.”
‘Hmph, this intolerable talking ape thinks he can scare me. As soon as the ‘borgs boot back up this entire room will be a bloodbath. You have yet to use the secret weapon Hymarc, everything is going to be fine.’
“Now, if you’ll excuse me, Mister Hymarc,” Tim says in an almost sorrowful manner, “I must go bind your cyborgs in eEe-eM-Pee wire.”
‘Shit! What a fucking coincidence!’ Hymarc thinks to himself, not wanting to give up his poker face. “Very well, thank you for the words of advice, Tim’nah-tee. Leh–”
Ignoring that, “Let me ask you, how often does that man call you by your true, full name? You seem afraid to even utter his name; that’s no way to live, no way to be treated by an employer. Why must you bind my men, because he told you to? Maybe that’s not such a great idea, think about it. I mean, do as you will; I’m in no position to command you, after all. But when this is all over and done with, well, I’d like to offer you a job.”
Tim, without turning around to face Hymarc, says, “I do not work for him, Sean, I live by guided my own free will and nothing else. Jolon and I are binding your men for their safety, and no one else’s.”
Tim then leaves the office and, after installing the new glass doors that Jolon had created with the Dirt Eater Mk I’s fabricator, he hops into an elevator and descends into the underground bunker to wait out the rest of this storm in safety.
Chuck Decides It’s Time
As the pressure on Hymarc’s shoulders seems to increase by the weight of the world’s largest rubber band ball, Chuck climbs back on the table and resumes his lotus position.
“I see you met Tiny Tim, he’s great. Old friend of mine. Now, I have this joint; sit your ass back at the fucking table with me.”
Sean sits his ass back at the fucking table with Chuck.
“Gravy. Here,” Chuck says as he throws the joint like a dart, landing the crutch in the small gap between the top and bottom jaws of Sean Hymarc’s slightly agape mouth. Chuck holds his right hand in the shape of a gun and brings his thumb down, causing a gray Qic lighter to spout from the tip of his pointer finger. Once his wrist is extended to the length of the table, Chuck lights the joint for Hymarc and, after the man’s taken his first toke, Chuck removes the joint from his still open mouth and mentally commands his hemi-atomic nanobots to de-extend his wrist back to a normal size again. Then, as the lighter deconstructs, Chuck begins smoking the joint.
“So I just popped your cherry, right?” Chuck eagerly asks a red-eyed Hymarc. “What do you think, bud?”
“I think…” Hymarc mumbles. What does Hymarc think? Does he even think, like, normally? “I’m… not sure. How is one supposed to feel while on this drug?”
“One is not supposed to feel anything, it works its magic on each of us differently. Tell me how you’re feeling, Sean.”
“Well… I, I suppose I feel… light. Happy. A tad bit euphoric, maybe a little peckish…”
“Oh yeah? Woo-hoo! This is great, you’re high! Hahahaaaah, I love making humans high for the first time. It’s always so special. You know man, I was gonna pull some stuff, like, some real stuffy stuff, but now–”
“I wasn’t finished speaking,” Hymarc says, not intending to rudely cut Chuck off but rudely cutting him off anyway. “I also feel… alive, confident, in control of my own circumstances.”
“Well that’s uh, good,” Chuck says, growing agitated. “Buh–”
“SO confident, in fact, that I can do this!” as he slaps the sleeve of his suit jacket right over his watch, clicking a button that sends a signal back to the Apex tower.
From the laboratory on the seventieth floor, two human-sized capsules launch and propel themselves across the city, smashing through two of the wall-windows next to Chuck’s desk. Without missing a beat, Chuck calmly takes a hit and looks to his right.
The capsules open and fill the room with smoke until the smoke is sucked outside by the difference in air pressure. From the metallic shells crawl two naked hillbillies, their bald heads, cumulative seven teeth, and lubricated bodies shining under the unflickering lights of Chuck’s office.
The shorter hillbilly with a mean hunch in its back cackles and twists its head clockwise ninety degrees as claws begin to erupt from not only its knuckles, not only the space between its fingers, but from its fingertips as well, and from the majority of the pores all over its body. The other hillbilly, one hand pumping away at its flaccid penis, sits back down in its capsule to watch.
“Oh fuck no,” Chuck says as he converts his Cannabis cocoon into a worm of ash.
“Mister Cape, I would like you to mee–”
“I said, oh FUCK NO!!” as Chuck rips the fingers and thumb from his left hand and throws them at Hymarc. The fingers each morph into restraints that wrap around Hymarc’s arms and legs, sticking him to the wall. The thumb morphs into an over-the-mouth gag, something Sean just plain isn’t used to at this stage of the game.
After patiently waiting the half of a second that it takes for his hand to grow its fingers back, Chuck stands up to face the hillbilly menace. He holds his arms out, fingers pointed towards the ceiling as his palms both open and dangle down by a hinge on his wrist, revealing a pair of large, shimmering lenses. From these lenses form two massive, Cannabis green hard-light constructs in the shape of hands in the style of the BS comics powerhouse LanternMan. The hands grab one hillbilly each, slamming them together in a double-handed fist before shooting off into space at a speed slightly slower than that of soft light, because of the hard light and all. The hands, and the hillbillies, are then doublefist hamslammed directly into the surface of the sun, arriving so fast they don’t even get burnt up by the cascading waves of pure heat and solar radiation.
Back on Earth now, Chuck’s hands reassemble and he begins a slow clap. Hymarc tries to say something defiant, but the words can’t break through the robinite gag. So, being the gentleman he is, Chuck mentally commands the gag to melt into a neck restraint, which Hymarc finds quite a bit more enjoyable than the boring child’s gag. Before he can speak though, Chuck says…
“Congratulations Sean, you just fucked up! You fucked up big time!” the second sentence said excitedly, like a child talking to a goldfish he just won at a carnival. “Remember what Tim just said a fuckin’ minute ago? Choose your words carefully? Well, do you know what a word is?”
A mental, ‘What, are you trying to teach me a lesson? Do you think you’re better than me, you insolent little rodent? Just give me time, I’ll fucking squash you like the bug you are,’ accompanied by silence from Hymarc, his brain spinning faster than the teacup ride at his favorite carnival that he would always ride alone because he was never able to win a goldfish (or any prizes) as he tries to come up with something, anything, to no avail.
It’s just as well; as most children who’ve won goldfish at the carnival do, the child in the first simile shakes the bag until the fish dies.
“A word is a symbol, on paper at least, that we use to describe something. In reality though, words are just noises – very creative noises, but noises nonetheless – that we spew from our mouths in an attempt to make each other feel a certain way. They’re a fucking manipulation tactic, unless you use them to sing a song or rap, then they’re an instrument of art. But, you don’t seem like the creative type, I can tell just by looking at you. See, when you figure certain things out about the Universe… well, about Existence really, but specifically about Earth’s humans, you’ll realize that our words are inherently meaningless. When humans talk, they often do so in order to hear the sound of their own voice and nothing more. Humans also often like to see the reaction their mouth noises inspire in the targets of their words – I’m a human, and I’m spouting all this fuckin’ quote-unquote enlightened shit right now just to scare you, just to make you squirm. Just so you know you fucked up, because even though I said it, you may have interpreted my words wrong.”
Chuck breaks the entire tip of his tie off and throws it onto the ground between himself and Hymarc. The fabric-looking thing then begins to grow, transforming itself into a smooth metal cylinder with a small wire hanging out of a hole in the middle of the body. Atop the cylinder, once Chuck carefully removes the cap, is a series of needles and spires with electrodes buzzing at the tops.
“See, because that’s where the beauty of a word lies – in the ears of its beholders. Words are inherently meaningless, but yet we all spew ‘em as if they actually mean something, and still they’re so often misunderstood! When I told you that you fucked up a minute ago, you probably thought I was just talking mad shit. That I was condescending upon you because I think that I’m better than you, or some moronic inferiority complex shit like that. Or, that I think you’re better than me, so I need to knock you down a few pegs just to feel equal to you, even though I just said that I’m talking for the sole purpose of scaring you. I’m literally telling you what I’m saying as I’m saying it, but you’re still probably misunderstanding me. Anyway, so you see this little diddy I have here?”
“Yes,” Hymarc sneers, summoning all the saliva in his body into his mouth. The dumbfuck then sprays, “What is that, a garbage can? Are you going to toss me in the trash or something? You know, you remind me of an employee of mine, a low-level lackey named Alvey. He’s the trash man at my Brick City headquarters, recently got a promotion to coffee man at the NewMann location. You’d probably detest him, I know I do; when all this is said and done, I’m going to hang you by your testicles on a meat hook and have him sit in the room and carry out pleasant conversations with you.”
“Okay, first of all, fucking called it. Second of all, fucking called it! You’re not taking me seriously! Sean, I just monologued like a proper antagonist for a fucking reason! You wanna know why, Hy? Because YOU!”
Chuck extends his right arm as if he was reaching for the ground.
A stream of what appears to be liquid metal containing trillions of hemi-atomic nanobots emerges from Chuck’s tie and slithers over his blazer and up his sleeve.
The sliver of hemibots forms itself into a katana with a handle shaped like the neck and head of a dragon. From the mouth of the dragon, another sliver of hemibots emerges, this one forming into the head of a tomahawk. ‘If only Jolon were here to see this.’
In a series of swift motions, Chuck slices through each of the five restraints binding Hymarc to the wall. Before the restraints can hit the floor, and far quicker than Hymarc’s brain can perceive what’s going on, Chuck does a back handspring to distance himself from his plaything and throws the Katanaxe Mk VII at Hymarc. The blade of the tomahawk sticks into the wall behind the resulting gap between Hymarc’s body and his newly severed head.
Oh fuck, this just got dark, darker than Hymarc’s rapidly fading sense of self, and perception, and life in general.
Then, Hymarc can feel his face again. He opens his eyes and, after the lights stop blinding him, his vision clears to reveal that he’s facing the wall, which still holds Chuck’s Katanaxe Mk VII. There’s a bloodstain dripping down from the weapon, but no body to be found. Could… could that have all been a vision? A fever dream of sorts, a hallucination generated by Sean’s brain to distract him from witnessing himself committing a heinous act of violent deviance against a fellow NewMann CEO?
Well that would certainly make sense, wouldn’t it? The brain hallucinates all conscious reality, after all. Every sight, smell, touch, feeling – it all comes to the perception from the brain. Everything you know and feel, everything you’ve ever known and felt has been nothing more than an electrical shock, a translation. The brain takes electricity and turns it into reality, but only after it’s traveled through the body – surely an organ of such power is capable of making its own decisions, painting its own reality for its perceiver, no? Well, why not? If one’s brain can take particles of light and make its perceiver think the sky is blue, then why couldn’t one’s brain make its perceiver think the sky was green? Or purple? Why couldn’t the brain perceive true reality and flip it into something entirely other for its perception to get lost in?
Well, the thing is, it could.
Maybe what Sean was seeing was an alternate reality being played out in the darkest recesses of his mind. The dude’s a dickhead for sure, but he’s not evil. He’s never murdered anyone himself, he’s never done anything that didn’t go towards the greater good that is the achieving of his own desires. He’s… well he totally could do it, sure, but… he’s also kind of afraid to kill someone himself, like… what if his victim didn’t really deserve it, you know? What if the reason Hymarc kills someone boils down to that someone having an off day? There are so many unpredictable variables involved, it’s just so overwhelming.
Well, in normal circumstances, anyway. But today… this whole fuckin’ week really, has been about as far from normal as one can stray. Maybe Chuck was really Sean’s father the whole time; maybe experiencing a hallucination of being victimized by a manifestation of all his greatest shortcomings was Hymarc’s brain’s way of having Hymarc’s spirit accept the fact that killing his father was the only answer, the only way to escape that dank basement prison. In order to face fear, one must be made aware that facing said fear is the only acceptable option – Sean’s perception bore witness to his greatest fear in the confines of his mind so his body could face the truth in the rest of reality.
Yes, that would all be very convenient and plot-twisty, it would all make perfectly good sense… if Mister Hymarc wasn’t suddenly overcome with the sensation of his body lying on a table two feet behind him.
“Remember when I said you fucked up, Hymarc?” Sean hears, the words said in Mister Cape’s voice, as he’s slowly turned around to face the table. “Well I fucking meant it.”
Sean mouths the phrase What the fuck? without any of the sound that usually follows.
“Oh, sorry, lemme just…” as Chuck flips a tiny switch behind Hymarc’s head. “There, try now.”
“What have you done to me?!” Hymarc shrieks in a horrified voice. His head is skewered atop the metal cylinder, animated by the electrode-capped spires, and from this vantage point, he can see a small wire running from the base of the cylinder over to the neck of his naked, headless body.
Oh fuck, this just got darker!
“Well, I decapitated you in the most humane way possible. Or maybe the least, considering what’s about to go down in the main office of Cape Enterprises, Uncorporated today. You see… okay, so like… no, actually… okay, so, see… no… hold up. A’right, so you see… DAMNIT! I can’t find the fucking words, GRAGH! Okay, do you remember that cap that I took off the Doohickey Mark One? I don’t know if you were paying attention, but… yeah? You were? Word. So, using that cap, which, if you haven’t already guessed, is much more advanced than your everyday run-of-the-mill Doohickey Mark One cap, I plugged your neck hole and stopped the blood that your stump of a neck was so persistent on spouting like one of those ground fountains at a kid’s fucking water park. Then I took that uh, that little wire? You know, the… oh right, you can see it. So I took the wire and plugged the Doohickey Mark One into your body so now, even whilst decapitated, you still get to feel everything that happens to you. And, let me tell you, things are about to happen. In other words, I finally get to use that random throwaway project that my very happy scientist friend made for me. All things come full circle, buggaboo, and this circle’s boutta’ cum all over your face.”
Before Hymarc can even grasp the sadistic shit that he brought upon himself, Chuck continues. “Or, maybe I’m not finally getting to use it. Maybe, just maybe, this is what I do on especially wet Wednesday evenings. Oh, it’s not Wednesday? Well as far as you know, assfuck. Maybe this isn’t real, maybe this is all a simulation… maybe you attempted to break into my fucking office a looooong time ago and I captured you, and all of your little henchmen and ball lickers, maybe you’re all plugged into a simulation of the office invasion, except instead of you at the helm, Mister Sean Hymarc, Mister fuckin’ IOwnAFuckin’CompanyEvenThoughI’mOneChunk-OfLeadInTheHeadAwayFromBeingARealLeader, maybe it’s each and every one of your little buddies. Maybe you all get to watch yourselves lose time and time again, just to be strapped to my table so I can do things to you. Horrible, unspeakably wicked, truly vile and terrible things, things that’ll be burned into your central nervous system at a quantum level, things that will make pee-tee-ess-dee look like a fucking ice cream cone that you purchase when you’re waiting on line for the fucking teacup ride.
“Or maybe not, maybe this is all real and I’m still about to do things to you, just to restrain you, heal you up, put you back on my wall and practice throwing my fucking Katanaxe Mark Seven at you just so I can repeat this whole process time and time again. Maybe I’ve been repeating myself here, maybe this is the third time in a row I’ve cut your head off with a perfect throw, maybe you just became my new hat-trick. Speakin’ a’which, maybe I’ll turn my fedora into a circular saw and cut your head off like that next time, so you can feel that flavor of pain before the lights go off and you’re swept into that blissful state of limbo that holds you until I decide I want to play some more. Maybe this whole week, ever since you think you saw your building get torched on Monday morning… maybe your whole fuckin’ life has been a simulation.
“Lemme just break the shit down for you. As far as you know, your fucking name isn’t even Sean. Right now, in the actual now, you could be a caveman sitting in a random mountain’s cooch, just sitting around while an aliens scrapes some funky orange shit off the wall for you to smoke until you pass out, and you would have no fucking idea. Scratch that – you have no fucking idea. I have you convinced that this whole shit is a technological simulation when it’s actually a Psychedelic trip, completely biological. AND! You’re seeing me again now because no matter how many times you come to the nexus, no matter how many fucking times the decision is presented to you, you keep fucking up! It’s a fifty-fifty shot, Sean, and you keep choosing wrong! And until the day that your actions don’t lead to me, your life will be paused on an existential level and you’ll stay smoking the wall gunk in that cave. You’ll stay strapped on my table, over and over again for ever and ever. Oh we’ll be the best of friends, Mister President Sean Hymarc, Esquire, Sir – all because you keep fucking up. How’s that for a hat-trick, Apex?”
Sean doesn’t even have mouth noises to clap back at Chuck. He only has one thought, three little words playing on repeat to the tune of epic, fiery, orchestral boss music inside of his head: ‘I fucked up.’
“In other words Sean, if that’s even your name you Gronk-ass motherfucker, you just fucked up so bad that you don’t even know how bad you fucked up. You wanna know why? Because you can’t know how bad you just fucked up. I’ve taken everything from you in the span of about nineteen minutes, even the ability to consciously know what your reality is. Your entire existence just crumbled to dust in the palms of my gloved fucking hands, and I did all this on a whim. You’re playing my game now, Sean Hymarc.”
Then, with a diabolical, fiendish growl, “Welcome to my world.”
Chuck takes the gauntlet off his left hand and throws it down to the floor. He holds his bare hand an inch from Hymarc’s face and mentally commands claws to grow not just from the knuckles, not just from the spaces between his fingers, but from the tips of his fingers themselves.
“Did I get the hand right, Sean Hymarc? Sean Hymarc!?” Chuck slaps Sean Hymarc across the face with his human hand, relishing in the SLAP sound. “Don’t you fucking pass out on me yet, big boy! If you want, I can– you know what? Fuck it. Lemme just hook you up.”
Chuck flips another switch on the Doohickey Mk I, activating an adrenalin pump that surges Sean’s brain into an unforgiving state of constant hyperawareness.
“THERE HE IS! WOO! Now that you can feel everything you’d normally feel and more, did I get the hand right? Oh yeah, just like Tooki’s hand… or was Wan the one who transformed? I don’t give a fuck, I’m only asking because I killed them both at that fucking lake all those years ago and I wanted to bring up the fact that you fucking sprang them on me again! Fucking AGAIN! I didn’t even know it was you that first time, and did you see how quickly I uh, dispatched them, today? Know what that means? That means that I’m mad now, that means I’m about to do even worse things to you, Mister President Sean Hymarc, Esquire, sir.”
Chuck turns and walks over to the body on his table. He lightly drags his middle finger’s claw over Sean’s tummy. Sean feels every dreaded millisecond of it, the accumulated anticipation building up in his boiling bloodstream like cholesterol does a clogged artery.
“I should have figured out that somebody’s been watching me. Usually I’m more aware than this, but… well, you know what they say; great power attracts even greater challenge. Except… wait, you asked me for my name before, didn’t you? HAH, that’s fucking rich! I just remembered that as I was saying it too, isn’t human memory great? Before you walked in here today you had no idea who I was, just like I had no idea that you even existed until I came into my office and found you stroking yourself, wishing you could be me. But yet… you’ve known me all along, haven’t you? I’m the one who is what you cannot be. I’m the one who’s achieved what you never will. I’m the one that shredded your little science experiment, twice. I’m the one who controls the city that houses your company. I’m the one that torched your fucking office on the mainland, and you know what else? Considering all these fuckin’ synchronicities, that was probably your car that I dropped Alvey on Monday morning! Oh yeah, look scared, I know him too. I actually don’t hate him; we’re pretty different, sure, but he’s my friend; I find that our differences provide an interesting dynamic. You were wrong about that Sean, just like you were wrong to come here. And now… now it’s my turn to be wrong…”
Chuck plunges his hand into Hymarc’s chest, slicing through all sorts of arteries, bones, and organ tissues as he removes Hymarc’s beating heart and holds it up in the air. Chuck then brings the heart not to his own mouth, but to Hymarc’s mouth. As he feels his body tremoring, going into shock, convulsing, reaching, begging for the pain to stop, for the blood to flow, for reality to be real again, as Hymarc feels his body approaching death like a tangent approaches the axis on a graph, as Sean feels his belief in God and god alike slipping away, he is forced to lick the blood that’s spurting from his own, still beating heart.
Then, Chuck drops the heart back into the cavity from whence he pulled it. Using his right hand, he injects the headless body with healing serum and the hole in Sean’s ribcage patches itself right back up. The heart reconnects, the body starts working again. Eventually the pain fades and Sean is brought back to baseline.
Then Chuck vivisects Sean’s right leg, peeling back the skin like it was sod and slicing away at the muscles until the bone is exposed. With a series of badly aimed punches, Chuck snaps his victim’s shin bone and takes it out of its wrapping before using it as a shiv and stabbing a hole into every square inch of Sean’s body. Blood pours off the edges of the table in a waterfall just to be sucked up by the Doohickey Mk I and pumped, through the wire, back into Hymarc’s body. When Sean’s husk is more holes than solid pieces of flesh, Chuck drops the bone back into the leg and injects his plaything with healing serum. The bones all realign, the muscles reattach, and the skin fuses back together without so much as a single scar.
Sean is put back together, good as new, just to be torn apart in increasingly gruesome and admittedly creative ways for god knows how long. At one point, Chuck literally rips Sean’s dick off and shoves it into the man’s mouth, shouting, “You fucking thought the breathalyzer was a fucking cock measurer ?! What the fuck ?!?”
You’d think the pain would fade, or at the very least Sean’s brain would become used to it, but no. That would be too easy, I guess; thanks to the adrenalin and the not-publicly-available healing serum, every single moment of this abhorrence feels like the first. Every single stab, every single blow, every single second of harrowing, gut-wrenching, nightmare-spawning pain feels like the first, feels like the worst thing Sean Hymarc has ever felt.
And it happens over and over again, the pain feeling worse and worse each time Chuck devises a new way to hurt his intruder.
And it all keeps happening just for Hymarc to be healed back to perfect health and torn back apart.
Never ending, until Chuck decides it’s time.
You Have It Backwards
At the end of his episode, Chuck takes a few deep breaths and finally puts the glove back on his hand. He wheels Hymarc’s head over to the end of the table so he can get a really good view of the Doohickey Mk I’s cap.
“Before I put you back together, I’d like to address something. You and me? We’re the only ones in here. Want to know why? Because although your seizing associate and your frozen sex dolls didn’t know what I was capable of, they all had viable excuses to not be here. But my friends? The scientist, the adult who definitely isn’t actually a teenager piloting a robot, the
Zeroc, the Quatchfut? They all know me. They all know what I’m capable of, and that’s not because they’ve witnessed it, not because they’ve experienced it for themselves, but because they’ve been around me for long enough to draw their own conclusions. Allow me to address the hole you think you’ve poked in my logic: the Zeroc, Jolon? He’s only known me for a few days, he couldn’t possibly know what I am. But, see, the aliens can read minds, Sean; he took one look into mine and decided that he should follow rather than try to lead me. But you… you have some sort of mental complex, some kind of psychological baggage that you carry around with you in your daily life, the very baggage that makes you feel like you need to be in complete control of everything even though you’re so clearly incapable, so fucking incompetent that you couldn’t pull off a surprise hostile takeover of my company! When I wasn’t even here!
“So I had to teach you a lesson, a very important lesson that everybody inhabiting this Universe needs to learn sooner or later, a lesson that I’m more than happy to teach by any means necessary: you don’t fuck with me.”
With that, Sean’s senses go dark once more. The limbo state is even calmer now, even more welcoming than it was earlier, if this even is the limbo state; perhaps it’s the hub that spirits wait in before their simulation is rebooted so Mister Cape can torture them again.
Or… wait, didn’t Mister Cape say this was all a drug tri–
Suddenly Sean is awake. He looks down and sees his body, sat cross-legged, on a carpeted floor. In front of him is a table with a suited man sitting on top of it.
“Welcome back sleepy head, have a good nap?”
“What… what was that?” Hymarc whispers, mostly to himself.
“That, was exactly what you think it was. It wasn’t a simulation. It wasn’t a hallucination. It was all real, it all happened. Every single second of it. And it can happen again, too, if you’re not careful.”
“I…” as he looks down to the swirly lines on his hands, failing to find god. Or God, for that matter. “What… what are you?”
“Me?” Chuck says as he stands up, clapping the dust off his hands. “Well I’m a human, just like you. I’m living my life, making my mistakes, and enjoying my triumphs. Maybe I’m a little more eccentric than you, maybe I do things with a little more intensity… but, ask yourself, doesn’t that just make me more human?”
Chuck turns and starts to walk towards his desk, deciding to let that one marinate for a few hours before he pops the roast into the oven. Or days, it doesn’t matter; Hymarc can stay for as long as he wants.
It’s not like he can pose any sort of threat to this suited madman.
Or… can I?’
Hymarc stands, his knees cracking from sitting in such an uncomfortable position, and takes a pen out of his pants pocket. It’s nothing too fancy; chrome body, black rubber grip, a lead button on the top. The words Apex Corporation emblazoned up the length in ruby red letters.
Sean grips the pen in his hand and thinks to himself, ‘What do all humans have in common? What is the one thing we all do at the end of the day, the one thing that we can’t prevent no matter how hard we try?’
Sean clicks the pen and powerwalks after Chuck to make up for lost ground.
Chuck hears the footsteps approaching from behind him, but he’s not worried. He isn’t worried when he feels the barrel of a gun press up against the back of his head either, but he figures he should at least stop walking. This finally just got a little bit interesting.
“I’m about to paraphrase the rapper here; not a rapper, but the rapper, but… what was I saying?” Chuck says, readying himself. He then spins around faster than any human should possibly be able to spin around, grabs Sean Hymarc’s revolver, slowly licks up the length of the barrel, and slams it into his own temple.
“Ah yes; Sean, the way I was raised, I’ve come to believe that if you’re gonna murder somebody, you should face ‘em. You should tell ‘em why, look ‘em dead in the eye, and then waste ‘em.”
After a moment of staring into Hymarc’s tear-leaking eyes and not being wasted, Chuck says, “So? Tell me why Sean, tell me why you think you’re about to waste me!”
Chuck’s right hand then morphs into a revolver that’s identical to Hymarc’s except for the fact that it’s twice as big, has two barrels, holds twice as much ammunition, and could probably kill a dragon if they hadn’t gone extinct along with the dinosaurs.
Chuck holds the revolver to Hymarc’s temple and YELLsays, “TELL me FUH-king WHY!!”
“Because you have it backwards,” Hymarc warns, closing his tear ducts. “You might have yourself and all of your little friends convinced, but not me. You are not a god, sir, you are a dog, a rabid dog with mange, rabies, and all varieties of different worms. You probably have fleas, as if your parents neglected you. They left you out in the swamp behind their house, and that’s where you are now, sunk neck-deep in the mud that you helped create by shitting in the water. And me? I’m the kindhearted passerby that notices you in pain. I’m the one who’s going to put you out of your misery.”
“Oh wow, that’s sooo scary, right? You probably sat with your thumb up your ass for hours trying to come up with that shit. Fuck you Sean Hymarc, fuck you and everything you think you’re about. You probably aren’t even going to pull that trigger, want to know why? Because you’re weak, you’re a bitch, just like your fath–”
Chuck’s body thumps to the floor, the blood that fills the hole in his head oozing out all over the carpet that he just fucking cleaned when he was done playing with Sean a few minutes ago.
One Level Down
One level down, over the humming of the literary printing press bringing her first poetry collection to life, Karen hears the gunshot followed by the thump. All the color drains from her face – she goes to grab everything that she can carry, but then realizes the only thing she brought in here with her was the box of bongs that’s still sitting under the conveyor belt. After jumping up and down in place for a second to run out the time that the press is taking to finish printing the first copy of her first poetry anthology, Karen grabs her leaflet and sprints into the elevator, frantically smashing her finger into the button that’ll take her down into the bunker. She then inserts her hyperspeed key and makes the elevator go as fast as it can without causing her bodily harm.
“I had a lesson to teach you Mister Cape, like you said, by any means necessary,” Hymarc triumphantly says as he wipes the blood from his face with the handkerchief he had in his pocket. “You know, it was never about you. In fact, it was so not about you that I never even learned your name. What a shame, I’ll have to buy a newspaper printing agency and read whatever obituary your scientist friend writes for you. Or maybe your ex-secretary will write it, or maybe neither will, considering how I’ll murder them if they don’t agree to work for me. You tried Mister Cape, you tried to not learn, but guess what? You’re not a god, and you never were a god… I was the true God all along. Wasn’t it obvious? You were the Devil, you inflicted endless pain and suffering upon me and I could do nothing to stop it, nothing to prevent it. But I still survived, because you let me, no less! You made me suffer and left me to die for your sins, but I was resurrected! Yes, you dug your own grave, Mister Cape, and then I buried you. It is quite the shame I never learned your name… but then again, it’s not my job to engrave your headstone, is it?”
Sir Sean Hymarc, Esquire, with his gun back into pen mode, pockets his secret weapon and begins his slow victory stroll to the computer. With the head of this company suitably decapitated, all that’s left is to break into the mainframe and read through the files. There’s even a phone next to the computer, he can call down to wherever the medical bay is and have that strange little alien thing bring Doctor Torpol back up so they can get right to work. The rest of this book is about how Apex takes over the world, hypothetical reader. You made it. I’m proud of you.
‘You did it Sean Hymarc… you finally did something good. I… I did ih–’ “Huh?”
Sean’s train of thought is interrupted by the feeling of a gloved left hand on his right shoulder. He’s spun around to come face-to-face with Chuck, who’s face is still mostly hole except for his mouth and one half of his left eye.
Seizing the moment of silence by the balls, Chuck utters, “My name is…” and draws back his free hand.
With the speed of a Colorado-sized meteor heading straight for Earth, Chuck’s gloveless right hand, clenched into a fist, connects with a punch, the Df
ZT crystal ringed around the bottom bone of his middle finger impaling Sean right in the middle of the forehead, about an inch above the bridge of his nose. When Chuck pulls back, a tiny dot of blood trickles out from the puncture wound, creating a triangle with Sean’s two eyes.
Sean falls back as a purple mass streaks past the shattered wall-window behind him. All his emotions, values, morals, sensations, memories, preconceived notions, knowledge… his entire perception of the world around him is swept up by the plume of immensely sharp pain that’s suddenly erupting through his forehead from the pinecone-shaped caldera in the center of his brain.
To Chuck Leary, who’s already back at his desk rolling another joint, Sean Hymarc simply falls back and hits his head on the carpeted floor. To Sean Hymarc, though, the entirety of reality melts away…