Universe W-2020: The Sideshows 11
April 6th, 2000
The Crash: A The 2020 Event Prequel
Chuck’s First Day Of College
The doors close in front of Chuck at the push of a button, trapping him inside a small chamber. His breathing intensifies, his heart rate picks up, and as the box starts rising, his legs begin to tremble. He looks down at the cheap torn carpet and sees through to the plywood subfloor, then he looks up at the flickering lights that shine far too dimly. Our boy, never a fan of tight, enclosed spaces, especially the ones in which he’s trapped with his father and extra especially when they’re inside of a public institution, is less than happy to be here. Today is Chuck’s first day of college.
Magnus on the other hand is more than ecstatic about the current circumstances, although he’ll be damned if he shows it. His stance is tight, mouth clamped shut, brow furrowed to the point of radiating anger – the man’s got his game face on. He’s been looking forward to today for the past… however many years Chuck has been alive. I guess it’s eighteen at this point? Sure, the boy could have been allowed to properly graduate high school, but the Madame was more than happy to exchange a degree for a meaty bribe, and then a more financial one after the deed was done. Chuck never made anything of an impression at that school anyway, nobody will miss him.
Chuck and Magnus step out the elevator and walk down a long, windowless hallway. Chuck’s anxiety instantly rears its grotesque, pizza-faced head when he sees two humans engaged in a verbal spat at the foot of the hallway, right in the direction he’s walking, at his destination, even. Chuck doesn’t like conflict, there always has to be conflict. Why does Chuck reign ruin and turmoil wherever his grotesque, pizza-faced head travels to? It’s almost like he’s a magnet for unhappiness, an omen of life taking turn for the worst. The older of the two arguers turns his head and locks eyes with Chuck, studying him a bit; ‘Fuck, that dude’s in really good shape. Python arms, Athenian columns for legs. He’s probably sizing me up so he can beat my ass for walking through his hallway. He probably…’
As Chuck continues mentally berating himself so Magnus won’t have to waste the energy, the two men at the end of the hallway stop bickering. They shake hands obligatorily and part ways, the younger approaching Magnus and his problem, the older continuing to watch Chuck from the end of the hall.
Upon approach, “Hello there! You must be Mister Horgan, and this must be your son Chu–”
“My child Charles, yes.” As he gestures to Chuck, “That would be it. I am safe in assuming rooming arrangements have been made upon my request?”
“Yes sir!” the RA says with a skip in his voice’s step. “The Dean told me all about your meeting with him, I’ve been instructed to prepare nothing but the best for, uh… Charles, here.”
The RA holds a hand out to Chuck and Chuck does his best to shake it, but his hand’s as clammy as a bottom-dwelling mollusk and it decomposes into a frothy paste when clenched by the RA.
“Pathetic,” Magnus says aloud to himself for all to hear. Then, “I assume my part in this is done; I’ll be leaving. Thank you, Reno,” as he holds his own hand out for a shake, a small piece of paper sipped between his fingers.
The RA accepts the transfer, adding, “My name isn’t Reno, si–”
“Your name is whatever I damn well say it is, clear? Make sure his roommate gets that note, and,” as he makes direct eye contact with the side of Chuck’s floor-turnt head, “make sure it doesn’t read it. Clear?”
Magnus turns and makes his leave; finally, after all the awful nonsense, that dreadful, pitiful excuse for a waste of a fertilized human egg cell is off Magnus’s hands. Maybe now that it’s forced to be on its own it’ll stop trying to suckle upon Magnus’s swollen teet like a calf and get its breast milk elsewhere, like a real man.
“So, Chuck! Welcome to college, my man!” as the RA leads a trembling Chuck down the hall to his cell. “Since you’re enrolling late and whatnot we didn’t exactly have a room set up for you, but you got paired with the best of the best. This dude’s as athletic and suave with the ladies as he is gifted in the art of the sciences; I didn’t tell you this, but he’s is about to get his first Doctorate. At twenty-two. He was living alone for most of his college career, buh–”
“But I thought, why not take in a roommate?” the burly man’s man of a man says, cutting off the RA with virile. “Hi there Chuck, the name’s Durham. Sigmund Durham.”
Chuck and Sigmund shake hands, the former displaying a lack in the enthusiasm department.
“Yowza, weak handshake bro! We’ll fix that, don’t worry. Come on in. I see you have no luggage, where are your normal clothes?”
Chuck looks down at his suit, a gray ensemble with a light blue button-down and a sharp blue necktie. Then, “These are my normal clothes. I like to wear a suit.”
Sigmund and Reno the RA share a glance.
“Well then,” Sigmund says, picking up the conversational slack. “We’ll have to get you a fedora or something. Come on in buddy, make yourself at home.”
Chuck, without making eye contact, walks on into the dorm. It’s not a huge room, but not small either; a penthouse, as far as college dormitories go. There’s a big couch in the main room, a TV, a small kitchenette, a little table to eat at. There’s also a door that probably leads to a bedroom, but Chuck doesn’t want to be intrusive so he just sits down on the couch and stares at his thumbs a’twiddle.
Out in the hallway, Sigmund and RA the Reno share whispers and a slip of paper before Sigmund approaches his new project. “So, hope you’re cool with crashing on the couch for a while; I didn’t know you’d be coming until like five minutes ago, so I haven’t had the chance to build you a bedroom yet.”
“Build me a bedroom…?” Chuck asks, surprised that Sigmund even offered him the couch.
“Yeah man. I build robots and stuff, the Dean is kinda my bitch. He recognizes that I’m far smarter than his great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren will ever be, so he pretty much lets me do what I want. This room was originally half the size it is now, then I moved in a few years ago, and boom – mancave treehouse on the top floor of the dorms. I’ll probably have your room done in a week or so. It’ll be great.”
“Oh… cool. So, what like, what are you studying?”
“Oh you know, a little of this, a little of that. I have a checklist to be honest, but let’s not get into all that right now. Today’s your first day of college, my boy, and I have a fabulous lady I’d like you to meet.”
“A… lady?” Chuck’s heard of these creatures before, but he’s never had the privilege of meeting one’s acquaintance face-to-face. He has a Stepmom that adores him platonically, but other than her, dude’s feem well is drier than a dried well on the surface of the sun.
“Yes. Come with me.”
Sigmund walks over to the closed door and opens it to reveal a bedroom, just like Chuck had predicted. There’s no lady though, no woman, no girl, no feem to speak of. The room stinks though, smells of an elated skunk mixed with a blowtorch.
As Sigmund plops down on the bed and reaches underneath it, Chuck looks around. It’s dark in here, very cozy. A mancave within a mancave, felicitous.
“There’s no ladies in here, Sigmund. Unless… no way. Are they invisible?”
Sigmund pfffts and then, dropping the cigar box on his lap and patting the bed next to him, “Pop a squat, Chuck the buck. You’re about to be introduced to the most magical fee-mine to ever grace the Earth with the pleasant elational qualities of her presence – my one true love, Miss Mary Jane.”
Over the course of the next fortnight, Chuck gets very acquainted with Sigmund’s bride-to-be; she even introduces him to some of her friends! There was Lucy, whose hobbies included skying in the fly with diamonds and copiloting rocket ships; there was Psilvia, an avid outdoorsy type that loved to paint and chant in rhythm; Sally, the trippy daughter of a practicing Mazatec shaman; Melanie, a cactus grower with eyes that danced like golden lights; Chuck even hooked up with Dmitri, a tropical mystic who claimed he was born at the beginning of time in the center of the Universe. Chuck spent ample time with all these wonderful beings, stretching the objective two weeks into a subjective eternity of sleeping less than he ate and getting to know all his new friends inside and out, and although he loved them all, he was truly taken by Mary. Nobody ever understood Chuck like Mary did, nobody vibed with him so well, made him feel so at home in his own skin. Sure, she’d make him laugh when there was no reason to laugh, she’d dance with him to music that only he could hear, she’d keep him up for nights on end with conversations that Sigmund couldn’t keep up with even though he tried, but are any of those really bad problems to have? Are they even problems at all? Certainly not, at least not to Chuck. He had found himself, he finally discerned what type of human he is: he’s the type that likes to wear a suit, although he traded his blue and gray for white and black with a green tie to match Mary’s hair, and, as he’s currently explaining to Sigmund, it just so happens that Chuck is also the type of human who occasionally hears voices in his head.
The Voices Up Top
“Wait, what did you just say, Chuck?”
Chuck, unsure which voice asked the question, waits a moment to answer. All’s quiet on the internal front, so it must have been an external being.
“I said I sometimes hear beings talking to me inside my head. Y’know, aliens, extradimensionals, et cetera. They’re usually pretty chill, though every now and then a douchey one will try to convince me to kill myself. Although, that douchey one might just be me…” Chuck says nonchalantly, returning to pace with his video game. “Why, what’s up Sig? They don’t talk to you?”
“Uhhh, no, I definitely don’t hear voices speaking to me from inside my head…” Sigmund says, retreating into his head just to make sure. “How uh, how long have you experienced this, buddy?”
“Hm? Oh y’know, like… well, there’s no past or future, there’s just the now, man. So like, whaddya mean?”
Sigmund’s eyes grow as wide as Chuck’s pupils. “They uh… they tell you kill yourself, you said? How often do they do that?”
“No, I said that voice was probably me. It was more of a joke than… wait, what? Huh? You tell him dude, he’s sitting right there.”
Sigmund looks around at the total lack of dudes sitting right there. “Tell who what, Chuck…?”
“Oh, sorry,” Chuck says, not bothering to pause his game. “One of the voices up top says, and these are his words, not mine, but he says, ‘Shut the fuck up Sigmund, I fuckin’ got this. Go discover extraterrestrial life or something.’ Again, his words.”
Sigmund’s jaw drops; sickopsychotic or not, that was just rude! Extraterrestrials; how pretentious, just call them aliens for fuck’s sake. It’s not like they actually exist, anyway… well, perhaps they could. Maybe they just haven’t come across the planet yet. I could attract them, lure them in. I could build something, like… like an island out of repurposed garbage… wait, hold on a sec.’
As it turns out, Sigmund thinks when he’s anxious. No wonder he started doing all those science experiments when he first got here. “I… what does this voice sound like, exactly?”
“Which one? Oh, the one who’s making me act as a middleman? He’s like… I mean, to be honest he kind of sounds like me, but like… older. Does that make sense?”
“Kind of like your dad, then?”
“What?!” Chuck says, prying his crisp-fried eyes away from the screen momentarily. “No, where… why would you even say that?”
As Chuck continues gaming, Sigmund looks forward into empty space. This… this shit’s actually happening, it’s really going down. In some of the neuropsychology classes he took, especially the ones focused around mental illness, the resident professors were always very adamant about the fact that the consumption of hallucinogenic substances could, in very rare cases, lead to the development of schizophrenia, especially if the case in question was predisposed to the disorder – you know, rough family life, lapse of a social life, no direction in life or concept of self, that sort of thing – but Sigmund always refuted such a possibility in his head. He’d been smoking Cannabis for years at that point and he’d never heard so much as a whisper inside his head, never became disassociated with reality in any way, shape, or form. Plus, considering how the United States’ governing body makes hallucinogens as illegal and impossible to acquire and research as legally possible, how could anybody in the country, on the planet at large, even, how could one possibly know, beyond reasonable doubt, that taking hallucinogenic substances can lead to mental illness?
That said, Sigmund’s now doubting all reasonability as he comes face-to-face with the manifestation of this unlikely possibility. After two weeks of not leaving Sigmund’s dorm room and eating all the hallucinogenic compounds Sigmund willingly fed to him, his social science project had failed; Chuck has plunged precariously into the realm of mental illness, and it’s all Sigmund’s fault. He turns and puts his arms out to hug Chuck out of sympathy, sorrow, and mostly self-pity, but Chuck’s not there.
“Chuck?!” Sigmund exclaims, his heart falling out of his mouth. “Chuck, where are you?!?”
“I’m right over here dude, shit,” Chuck says, tying his shoes. As he picks his fedora off the hat hook and completes his outfit, “I’m gonna head out for a bit, the dudes are almost here with the car.”
“The car?” as Sigmund struggles to stand up, the gravity of his world collapsing around him weighing him down.
“Yeah, the car… oh, I didn’t tell you? Yeah, like a week ago one of the voices gave me a phone number to call so I could get a free sportscar, and so I did, and when I called, dude, they actually picked up! They’re dropping it off now, I don’t wanna miss ‘em. Peace!” as he skips out the door without a care in the world.
Sigmund, on the other hand, voluntarily has all the cares in the world stuffed down his throat like a pumpkin through a funnel. He scrambles into his bedroom, ripping apart his nightstand in search of a very specific piece of paper, the one scrawled with Magnus’s phone number. As the dial tone drones on, Sigmund peers out his window and watches as Chuck crosses the parking lot in approach of a red sportscar that just pulled in a moment ago.
“Wassup boys!” Chuck shouts, mimicking the voice in his head. “Is that my ride? Kinda bigger than I thought it’d be, not gonna lie.”
The boys, two thirty-year-old balding men, one of which wears a trench coat, share a stare of apathy and hunger for nicotine. The trench coat pulls out a piece of loose-leaf notebook paper and a pen whilst the other bends and touches his toes, sacrificing his back to be used as a writing surface.
The bent one says, “Yeah kid, this is her. We don’t particularly care that she’s girthier than you thought, because she’s what we have for you. Take her or leave her.”
“Oh I’m takin’ ‘er,” as Chuck snatches the pen and begins to dig his name into the bent one’s back. “Sick contract by the way guys, the crayon’s a nice touch.”
“Thanks. You’re sure you’re good for the money, though? We just picked her up on Memorial Day.”
“Yeahyeahyeah I’m goo– wait, what? Memorial Day isn’t for another month, what are you talking about?”
Bent Over cranes his head back to look at the trench coat, then, “How about you shut the fuck up, kid ? Here are the keys.”
Chuck catches the keys in midair, feeling badass. By the time he climbs in and reignites the engine, Bent Over and Trench Th’Coat are nowhere to be seen; just as well. Moments later, Chuck throws that bitch into drive and peels his way out of the parking lot and the space between the driver and passenger seats of the car ignites into a swathe of colors, some that Chuck recognizes, some that he never even conceived of. As if that wouldn’t be hard enough to explain, a suited man with a fedora mighty enough to rival Chuck’s emerges from the colors and crawls his way into the passenger seat. Shortly after his seatbelt is buckled, the portal closes.
For a while, nobody says a word. This is partly due to the fact that Chuck hasn’t noticed that he has a visitor and partly due to the fact that said visitor has nothing to say, but regardless, the two suited men sit in silence as the younger tears through his college campus bumping a classic Menimen album. ‘He’s not just a rapper, dude is the rapper, the game would be something else entirely without him.’ After flipping off the empty security guard booth and approaching the campus exit, Chuck flips on his right blinker. Then…
“Nah, turn left.”
“WAH!” Chuck yelps, finally realizing he’s not driving the car alone. “Who the hell are you?!”
“Well, let’s see…” the passenger says with a suggestion of the fact that Chuck is a fuckin’ moron in his voice. “We’re both wearing a suit and a fedora, and we both wear them well. Secondly, the voice in your head that you heard up until a few minutes ago sounded an awful lot like me, didn’t it? Thirdly, said voice stopped talking to you when I crawled my suited ass out of the portal said few minutes ago, an–”
“You crawled out of te portal?!”
The passenger looks at Chuck with very tried eyes. “Yes, I… fuck dude, how high are you?”
With a chortle, Chuck says, “No occifer, it’s how, high are you.”
“That’s what I just…” a gradual sigh. “Okay. I’m gonna save myself some time here and just spoil it, I’m an older version of you.”
“An older… huh?” YoungChuck asks, not realizing that he officially just became YoungChuck.
“That’s right whY-Cee, don’t ask me how it’s happening. To be honest, I’m not perfectly sure how I got here, I just found myself and the happy ass that self speaks from halfway out the portal, mid-crawl, no less. I must be here for a reason though, so let’s talk.”
YoungChuck is quite confused. “Wait, that doesn’t make any sense. If you’re an older version of me, then wouldn’t you remember having this conversation? Like, wouldn’t you know why you’re here because… uh… because, like, time travel?”
“Nah, and for lots and lots of reasons I don’t feel like explaining. Not even a little bit. But, I’ll give you the rough cut and say to you that remembering the events surrounding a car crash is usually very difficult to do.”
“Car crash?! What are you talking about!?!”
“Oh never you mind,” with a crass boop to YoungChuck’s nose. “Now,” clap “what do you want to know about your future?”
It’s a cool April night in the suburbs of Quarryville and the Montas are just sitting down for their post-dinner television. Daisy Monta, nine months pregnant and still riding the wave from her wedding last month, is struggling to sit whilst her husband, Chuck Monta, watches in amusement from his recliner.
“Damn girl, you can’t even sit right! This is hilarious!”
“Shut up Chuck,” as she unsquats to reposition herself and try again. “Yo–”
“HEY! I TOLD YOU NOT to call me THAT. It’s CHARLES, or CHARLIE. NOT. CHUCK.”
Daisy stops trying to sit, fear gripping her by the yet to be born fetus. She mumbles an apology and eventually sits herself down on the couch, taking the leftmost seat and leaving the other two open. She can’t help but think that the outburst was her fault, maybe dinner wasn’t as good as usual tonight; she did only cook for two hours rather than the usual three. Meanwhile, Charles (or Charlie) is totally engrossed in the bootleg of Scuuby Doo Too: Beasts Unleashed that he scored from a shady man in a van in the parking lot of the college over in Wahmah where he was working today. The plumbing in the dorms is utterly atrocious, but the extra hour of clearing out college kid shit was made totally worth it by vanman. Now that he’s home and his belly is full, nothing is going to stop this hardworking man from enjoying the handheld-camera-quality movie, especially not a woman and her womanly woes.
A stellar evening than most at the Monta household.
Daisy, in the midst of trying to block out a clever combination of back pain, cramp pain, and a choice bonus combo of dull aching and pain in her pelvis, suddenly feels something wet in between her legs.
‘What on Earth is that,’ she thinks to herself, ‘it’s almost like a water balloon popp– OHMYGOD.’
Daisy’s eyes go wide as the full moon. “CHARLIE!” she yelps, breaking her poor, unsuspecting husband from his Scuuby-trance.
“WHAT IS IT, WOMAN?” Charlie (or Charles) shouts back, retaliating with equal if not greater force. “CAN’T YOU SEE THAT I’M WATCHIN’ MAH STORIES?!”
“I THINK MY WATER JUST BROKE, I NEED TO GET TO A HOSPITAL!”
Charles (or Charlie) stares blankly at his wife for a few seconds, mouth agape, ready to return fire. He even has his finger raised in the air, as if he was about to dramatically point something out. He looks back at the TV, then to wifey, then to the TV. With a tear welling up in his eye, he admits defeat with, “Shit, let’s go.”
Charlie’s (Or Charles’s) patchy stubble shivers as the wind hits his face. He runs to the driver’s side of his rustbucket and wrestles the door handle for a few rounds, trying desperately to open it. He knows it’s locked, but if he jiggles the bastard without running back inside and grabbing the keys then he might make it back in time to finish Scuuby before the neighbors realize that their electricity is being sapped again. When he finally gets K’d O by the pinching and ripping of a layer of skin from his pinky, Charles (or Charlie) runs inside, slides past his struggling wife, laughs to himself how she can’t even get her shoes on by herself, ‘Seriously, it’s like she’s a big baby, and she’s about to give birth to one! HAH!’ he grabs the car keys and gets his bucket started.
As Daisy is wincing her way down the two semi-flights of stairs between the front door and the drive, Charlie (or Charles) realizes that he parked his plumbing truck in front of his rust bucket. The crazy part – by the time the truck is moved and Charles (or Charlie) is back in his bucket, Daisy still hasn’t gotten to the car! The nerve of this woman! First, she entrances him with her womanly wiles and forces him to sleep with her over and over again, even when she pretends she doesn’t want to, even when she cries during, but then she forces him to impregnate her with his seed. Chuck Monta’s seed in this random Treering harlot’s polluted womb; and now, on the night that poor Charlie (or Charles) finally gets to watch the sequel to last year’s smash crash at the box office Scuuby Don’t, the harlot’s water has to break. Of course. Never has there been a more tragic tale told.
As everybody can plainly see, Charles (or Charlie) is clearly the victim here, especially on a cosmic scale. Maybe, just maybe, he’ll get everything he’s got coming on this car ride to the hospital.
The two putt-putt down the road, ghastly black clouds escaping the exhaust pipes like the spirits of the dead flying from hell’s gate. Tonight’s ride isn’t a short one – the happy couple must traverse all the way through Treering and up over Skyline Mountain before they skip through Elmsea and then cruise all the way through Wahmah, which neighbors the town that the hospital’s stationed in. For each of the innumerable perks that comes with living in Treering, there are some drawbacks – sure, you have that backwoods flavor of privacy, a corrupt town government and police force that provides an environment of do whatever the fuck you want just as long as you kiss the right ass, all the fishing and hunting you could imagine, and a veritable lexicon of cliffs to jump off for fun, but all that comes with a hint of isolation from the rest of society at large. They’re only about fifteen into the forty-minute road trip to the nearestby hospital and Daisy’s already moaning, groaning, and crying so loud that Charleslie can’t even finish his story about how this car got him laid like, twice at a single party back during his week of community college. She’s just so distracting, so demanding; the woman has no consideration for Charlieles nor the rustbucket! So what that it can only go thirty miles per hour max, so what that it stalls at every stop light, so what that the exhaust leaks into the car and clouds up the windshield to the extent that the driver can’t see the headlights heading directly for him, Charleslie doesn’t see how any of that is even remotely his fau–
A Car Crash
A car crash takes place, setting into motion a course of events that will culminate in the utter decimation of the planet held mediocrity, the Universe it floats in, all the universes floating inside Existence, and even Existence Herself. Unless it doesn’t, in which case, fuc–
The rustbucket, locked in a smooch with a devious red sportscar, is stopped dead in the middle of the road. The windshield is shattered but intact, the airbags are deflating, and surprisingly enough, Daisy is still conscious. The same can’t be said for Charlieles, but that’s okay; he’s swimming in a dream of Scuuby snacks, he’ll be just fine.
For the first thirty seconds after the crash, Earth stops rotating. The Universe stops expanding, the wind stops blowing, the deer stop forcing the humans to swerve their loud’n’fasts across the yellow lines by crossing the road at the worst possible time, everything goes still. Daisy’s still in extreme pain, her baby is still trying to claw its way out of her womb, but yet, a feeling of serenity rushes over her. She could have died, she could be a widow right now (hey, maybe she even is one), and her baby… she doesn’t even know if it’s a boy or a girl, but it could have never been born. It may be stillborn, she doesn’t know, but… something saved her, some strange force, a guardian angel witnessed the crash and spared her life. This is going to be a whole new beginning for Daisy Monta – no more alcohol, no more blaming others, no more spite; the Universe gave her a second chance, a whole new lease on life. She’s not going to waste it.
Then, Daisy forgets all about that as a teenager in a suit is thrown through her windshield, their foreheads colliding in a blatant crack that knocks them both out cold.
The driver’s side door of the sportscar flies off into the distance. AdultChuck, currently the only conscious iteration of Chuck in the Universe, climbs out and dusts himself off.
“Well that went about as well as I expected. Like, Christ Uni, what the fuck? You couldn’t have knocked the kid out by yourself?” said to the open air.
He walks over to the rustbucket and reaches in, carefully peeling a layer of what at first appears to be skin from YoungChuck’s face, the fuck… oh, my bad, it was a face mask. OOHHHHH, I see now, okay; so, what happened was that AdultChuck took off his fedora and made it turn into an ultrathin force-absorbing mask that would protect YoungChuck’s face from being gouged by the glass of two windshields. Then, AdultChuck threw YoungChuck through both of said windshields, knocking him and Daisy Monta out. Now, with the sounds of helicopters approaching in the distance, AdultChuck has his fedora back, and all is right in the Universe. I guess that’s a
Oh, never mind, he’s leapt into the bushes. Let’s see where this goes.
Chuck peers from the shrubbery he’s stashed within to see two helicopters land, blocking off the road. ‘It’s a good thing nobody’s our driving tonight, shit,’ he thinks to himself. ‘Like, where are all the humans?’
From the larger helicopter spills out a bubbling team of medical workers, some equipped with jaws of life, some hauling stretchers, some with pompoms to provide moral support. They work diligently to remove the doors and roofs from both cars, one of them cursing when they realize the sportscar is ruined, as’n if they’d be able to salvage it anyway. You don’t need a red sportscar, Darren, give it a fuckin’ rest, dude.
Bored with watching the crew clean up the mess that he played a pivotal role in causing, Chuck looks over at the smaller helicopter. There are two dude-lookin’ guys approaching the scene from that way, one of them very muscular, exuding an aura of self-confidence. It almost looks like… holy fuckin’ shitboards, it’s YoungSigmund! Hot damn! Chuck completely and totally forgot that Sigmund used to be athletic at one point in his life, this is wild. If he ever purposely returns to W-2020, he’ll have to tell Sigmund all about this… but, wait, who’s that other guy?
“This is an atrocity,” that other guy says, slamming his walking cane into the pavement. “How could you let this happen, Durham?”
“I’m s-sorry, Sir, buh–”
“You do NOT address me as Sir, have some fucking backbone! You’re clearly capable of great things, Sigmund, seeing how you single-handedly induced schizophrenia into my child.”
‘Oh,’ Chuck thinks to himself, conjuring the Df
ZT ring upon his finger. He’s about to slice a hole into the cat’s cradle of reality and dip the fuck outta here, but something stops him, something broken, crude, and sinister. He kind of wants to see how this plays out now; sure, Chuck remembers being delivered the aftermath of this talk, it was the best day of his life! But it may be interesting to see how it all happened, yanno? To see the course of events that lead to another course of events that lead to another course of events that lead to–
‘Wait, no, I definitely don’t care. I just wanna leave.’
No you don’t.
“M-Mag… Magnus, you have to understand, I had no idea that Chuck would be susceptible to schizophrenia, I had just met him two weeks ago! I–”
“You think I give a fuck about your excuses, you obsequious little fuck? Listen to me here, hear my words – you, are nothing. I get it, you think you’re hot shit because you’re on your way to your first Doctorate at the young age of nobody gives a fuck; you’re smarter than everyone you fester with at that pathetic liberal arts institution, but guess what? It means nothing. Absolutely nothing. Do you understand what kind of money I have? I could sponsor and sustain the existence of some putrid, supplicative streetrat from New York and fulfill all of his wildest dreams and endeavors for years on end; I could manipulate the path of his life in a way that would bring him to the point where he would want to hire a hit man with what he had left of the original money I gave him, to kill you specifically, Sigmund Durham, all without him ever knowing that I was involved. And that wouldn’t even put a dent in my wealth, do you understand me? You may be smart; hell, you can possess all the intelligence available on this flat plane of a planet, but if you don’t have a bank account to back it up, it means none short of nothing. You can build all the robots you want out of materials owned by entities that are not yourself, and you do so with the highest degree of success, but do you know what that makes you? That makes you a leech, boy, a parasite. Do you know what parasites do, Sigmund? Parasites spread diseases, they infect their host with incurable ailments of the worse degree, just like you’ve done to the one miserable thing in my life that I consider to be a failure.”
As Magnus takes a checkbook out of a pocket inside his suit, the robot weaved into the seat of Sigmund’s pants begins the process of cleaning up the fecal matter that just slithered out sloppily from the inside of Sigmund’s rectum.
“So,” with a click of his pen to accentuate his speaking, “here’s what’s going to happen. You are going to take this check.”
Sigmund takes the check. He tries to discern the number, but the tears in his eyes are making it very difficult to count all the zeroes.
“That slip of paper is worth one quadrillion dollars. You are to get on the medical helicopter with what used to be my offspring and go to the hospital with it. As long as it is passed out, you are to wait outside the room; just to be clear, you are to give that waste of a life no support of any kind, especially not moral, until it wakes up on its own. I have men, armed men, that will be watching the room; if you go inside before the schizofaggic cunt wakes, I swear to you, I will have you hunted down, I will throw your living pre-corpse into a vat of liquid platinum, and I will use your body as the figurehead for my sailing vessel.”
Sigmund’s pants robot shifts up a gear.
“As I was saying, when the psychofag wakes up, you are to go into the room and explain to it that, because it made the fatal mistake of losing its mind, it is no longer my son. That check is a severance package, a premium that will ensure I shall never have to deal with that daft, selfish, spoiled rotten little brat ever again. After you tell him all that, you have two options: you can either hand the check over, or you can leave with it in your pockets. The decision’s yours. Have a… life, Sigmund, or at least the closest semblance to a life that a bereft bloodsucker like you could possibly manage.”
With that, Magnus walks back to his ‘copter and the pilot takes off, leaving a broken Sigmund to cope with a handful of seconds’ worth of YoungChuck’s entire life up to this point. AdultChuck, on the other hand, pissed off because the hemibots that swarm ‘round his consciousness refuse to get their act together and melt into an old fliegerfaust so he can disintegrate Magnus’s sumptuous ass from this Universe, trembles in the bushes along the side of the road. He definitely didn’t need to bear witness to all that, but here we are, in the exact breast pocket of Existence that Chuck doesn’t wish to exist within. With a quick swoop of his ringed finger, he cuts a hole into the Universe and shatters it, leaping in just to be thrown back out into a hospital room the next day.
“God. Muh’fucking. DAMNIT!” Chuck shouts, stirring the sleeping woman in the bed across the room from YoungChuck.
Remembering Jack Monta, ‘Rest in peace you beautiful cherub, you didn’t deserve any of it,’ and his undying aversion to waking a sleeping Daisy, Chuck quietly draws the divider curtain to separate Daisy’s bed from the rest of the room. He then crouches down next to YoungChuck and slaps him in the face, waking the boy up.
“Hunhh… wha… what? You?”
“Yeah man, it’s me. Uh… Leroy. We met in the parking lot of the school, and if you think anything else it’s because your mind is playing tricks on you. Look, uh, your buddy Sigmund? He’s about to come in here and… well, you guys are going to have a talk. Just, um… it’s going to be okay, okay? Like, it’s going to seem like it’s not going to be okay, but it’s all going to be okay, okay?”
“Uh… okay…?” YoungChuck mumbles, only half conscious. If I’m speaking honestly, YoungChuck’s long-term memory isn’t even going to kick into gear until Leroy leaves the room; this conversation doesn’t even matter. But Leroy doesn’t know that, so I guess it does? Sort of? Reality’s weird, man.
“Okay. Guh– uh, good. So uh, everything’s okay, everything’s good. You’re not going to kill yourself, this is good. Uh… right?”
“Why would I kill myself, Leroy?”
“I, uh… never mind. I’m gonna go now, uh… oh, and the baby’s okay too, so you’re aware. But uh… yeah… stay suited, Chuck.”
“Kay Leroy, you too.”
Leroy leaves the room. As he walks down the hall, he passes a distraught Sigmund.
“Wait, Chuck?!” YoungSigmund calls, causing Leroy’s heart to skip a beat. “You’re awake?! What in th–”
Leroy spins right around and cuts Sigmund off by lowering his sunglasses to reveal two black eyes. Not black eyes as in he just got punched, but black eyes as in no irises, no pupils, no whites, just black. Then, in a voice octaves lower than a steamship’s foghorn, he says, “I’m Leroy, I don’t fucking know you. But you know what you’re going to do with that check, right Sigmund Durham? You’re not going to just walk out of here with it in your pocket, are you?”
Sigmund, his pants robot turning on preemptively, says, “N-n-n-nnnno, I–… I’m gonna g-g-give it to Chuck.”
Without another word, Leroy continues walking down the hall until he comes to a window. He then turns back around, makes eye contact with Sigmund, and jumps backwards through the window, initiating his power armor and flying away so he can portal the fuck out of this Universe in peace, hopefully for the last time.
Meanwhile, in the hospital room, “So your name is Chuck?”
“Huh?” Chuck says to the curtain on the other side of his room. Then, once it’s pulled aside to reveal a lady, “Oh, hiya lady. Yeah, I’m Chuck. Who’re you?”
“I’m Daisy. I think… were you the one who crashed your car into us last night?”
‘Oh fuck lady, you bet your bedridden ass I am.’ “Um… yeah, I think so… I’m so sorry about that, Daisy. Are you okay?”
“I seem to be, yeah,” Daisy says, rubbing her forehead. “Besides a little bit of a headache, anyway. Do you know where my husband is? Does he have my baby?”
“Oh, well uh, I didn’t know you had a husband, but Leroy said the baby was okay. I wasn’t pregnant yesterday, so I have to assume he was talking about yours.”
Daisy giggles at this. “Leroy?”
“Yeah, he uh, he was just kinda here… anyway, do you have a name picked out? For the baby, I mean?”
Daisy smiles, leaning her head back and breathing steadily. Trying to make this normal for herself, moving the conversation along. “Yeah, Sam. Samuel if she’s a boy, but I’m hoping for a girl.”
“That’s a great name. I’m… I didn’t know you were pregnant, a deer jumped out and… I’m so sorry, Miss Daisy.”
“It’s all right Chuck, don’t worry. We both made it out alive, let’s focus on that, okay? How are you feeling?”
“Oh, I’m okay I thi–”
Chuck’s cut off when two burly henchmen-types burst into the room. “Which ones a’yous is Daisy?”
Chuck’s tempted to raise his hand, but he lets Daisy take her own identity. The men help Daisy to her feet and then sit her down in a wheelchair, rolling her out of the room. Chuck is left alone there in the bed for a moment, trapped in the eerie hospitalic silence that’s made all the more harrowing by being forced to mingle with his own thoughts. Then, Sigmund walks in, closing the door behind him with a trembling hand.
“H-hey there, Chuck. How you feelin’, buddy?”
“Hey Sig!” Chuck exclaims, a smile spreading across his face. “I’m doin’ okay. Can’t believe I crashed that car though, what a wild night. How did I even get that thing?”
“You… don’t remember?” Sigmund asks, sweat in his brow.
“Nope. The last twenty-four hours are a haze to be honest, but uh, I guess that’s what happens when you celebrate the Holiblaze for the first time, right?” with a wink.
Sigmund can’t muster the strength to return the wink. “Yeah, uh… listen Chuck, I um… I need to talk to you, and it–”
“It’s going to be okay,” Chuck says with a smile, thinking of Leroy. “You can tell me anything, dude.”
Sigmund says, “Well…”