Monday, October 31, 2016

Classic Anarchy: Abjure the Realm of No Return

Abjure the Realm of No Return
Mark A Davis

The attic laboratory was dark.  Shadows pooled in the far corners, but in the center sat a large machine which glowed in an unearthly manner.  Dressed in his usual rumpled gray suit with an anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast, Grandpa Anarchy studied the back of a man in a white lab coat.  Grandpa was known to be the oldest super hero in the world -- and perhaps the world's oldest living human -- but when Doctor Percy Benevolent turned he looked far older, with dark, sunken eyes and gray, baggy skin.

"Horrible beyond conception are the things which I, myself, have witnessed," said Doctor Benevolent.  "You with your puny human mind can not even begin to concieve of the depths of terror to which my soul has been subjected...."

"Doc," said Grandpa, "you sound like bad H.P. Lovecraft.  Now, what did you call me up here for?"

"All in due time," the Doctor intoned.  "Answer me this:  What do we know of this universe that we inhabit?  Only what we can sense with those organs nature has seen fit to bestow upon us.  We only see in what we call the visible spectrum.  We hear only within a given frequency range.  There are many things which we do not see or hear -- and perhaps things that we have no ability to sense in any way.  I believe that unimaginable worlds exist at our very fingertips of which we are wholly unaware.

"And yet you mocked me when I broached the subject, when I suggested that I might be able to pierce the veil and see into these other worlds!  You mocked me!"

"Doc, I never mocked you," said Grandpa Anarchy patiently.  "I merely said that trying to prove the existence of beings in other dimensions was a waste of your time and that all your research was a massive pile of rubbish.  And that your plaid lab coat was the talk of the conference -- and not in a good way.  That's all."

Doctor Benevolent grinned like a man tethered to sanity by a solitary, fraying thread.  "Oh, Mr. Anarchy, but I have found a way to break down the barriers between this world and the next."

Grandpa studied the machine that dominated one side of the room.  It hummed softly, and glowed as if bathed in ultraviolet light.  "I get it," said Grandpa.  "A device to see into other dimensions.  I've seen one before -- Mad Doctor Ibriham built one just like it in 1947."

"You may wonder why the machine glows," said Doctor Benevolent, "but it is not powered by an electrical source in any sense you can understand."

"Extrametaphysical power source?" Grandpa said.  "Yeah, seen that before, too."

Shadows swirled about the room.  Within those shadows, things moved.  A wind whistled a low moan, as if across vast gulfs of space and time.  It slowly increased, as the shadows grew ever more distinct.

"I caution you to not move," said Doctor Benevolent.  "Here within the rays produced by my machine we are able to be seen, as well as to see.  You may think I dismissed the servants, but no -- they were not as careful as I.  Something from beyond the worlds we know snatched them up and devoured them!"

"Didn't know you had servants," said Grandpa.  The sound was now deafening, like that of a hurricane.  A vortex of swirling images and shapes spun about them.  Above them could be glimpsed not the attic ceiling, but stars twinkling in the vast gulf of space.  "Ain't that kind of antiquated?  I got a whole mansion and I don't employ servants, not even a butler.  Mind you, I've always got a sidekick to do the laundry...."

"You fool!" the doctor shrieked over the cacophony.  "Do you not see?  I have lured you here to your doom!   You made fun me, but now... but now!  Your fate awaits!  Just look over your shoulder!"

"No thanks," Grandpa replied.  His hand reached behind and grasped something.  It squirmed in his grip, a thing with slime-covered tentacles, glistening scales, mad, rolling eyes filled with mild annoyance, and a mouth like a beak filled with horrible rows of sharp, ichor-dripping teeth.

Grandpa didn't look at it.  He slammed his fist into its face.  Screams rent the night like a demonic chorus of damned souls, like tortured machinery given voice.

Grandpa punched it again, and again, until there was nothing left but a quivering mass of pulpy flesh.

"The trick," said Grandpa, "is to not look at them.  If you can't master that, you're in the wrong business."  His hand shot out into the shadowy void and grasped a second creature, which he began to thrash with savage blows.

Screams erupted all around them -- howls of impotent rage, as if all the hosts of hell cried out in agony.  The very air shrieked for revenge.  A spiked tentacle shot from void.  It hurled itself across the room and stabbed into the heart of Doctor Benevolent's machine.

Instantly the room grew still.  There were no more tentacles, no more screams or maelstrom.  All was quiet again.

"Huh," said Grandpa, as Doctor Percy Benevolent stared at him in horror.  "You know, that's exactly what they did last time, too!"


Monday, October 24, 2016

Buckets of Blood

Buckets of Blood
Mark A Davis

It was Halloween night at the Anarchy Mansion, and Grandpa Anarchy sat in the television room in the dark.  A dull thump thump thump could be heard through the floor, the distant echo of very loud music from a party held deep below the mansion in the Anarchy Cave.  Despite the darkness, Grandpa stared straight ahead, as if waiting for something.  Nearby was a bowl of candy, but there had been few trick or treaters on this night.  Other objects near his chair were difficult to see in the dim gloom, but there was a stack of old newspapers, a collection of jewelry and metal items on the table, a cup of coffee, long since gone cold, and several strange objects leaning against the nearby bookshelf, at least one of which appeared to be a rifle.

A tall boy with long hair stepped into the room.  He looked about and then right at Grandpa.  He stumbled back.

"Oh, man, you made me jump!" he exclaimed.  "Whatcha doing sitting in the dark like...."  He paused to peer at the seated hero.  "Whoah!  Hey, you're that old dude!  Mr. Anarchy, right?  That old hero dude that owns this mansion."

"That's me," Grandpa replied.  "Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero."

"That's right!  Hey, dude, thanks for letting us use your house  for this party.  Seriously!  This is a way cool place for a Halloween bash, am I right?"

"A haunted mansion for a haunted party?" Grandpa said.  "Yes.  However, you seem to have strayed some distance from the actual party, Son."

"Nah, Dude, I was just looking around, checking the place out, y'know?  Not often you get a chance to check out Grandpa Anarchy's mansion, right?"  The boy scanned the bookshelves, which lined the back wall of the room.  "You've got some really old books here, don't you?"

"I do," Grandpa replied.  He peered at the shadowy figure with the long hair.  "Most of the people here tonight are heroes and former sidekicks," he said, "but I'm not sure I know you."

"Oh -- of course not," the boy said.  "I'm no hero dude, I'm with the band."

"The band?" Grandpa repeated.  "Pixy Dreamgirl hired a live band?"

"Yeah, Dude, more than one!" the boy said.  "Who wouldn't want to play at a party with all of these hot superhero chicks, know what I mean?"

"I see," Grandpa replied.

"We're called Buckets of Blood," the boy offered.  "Our band, I mean. We're a death metal band, see?  Melo death.  We write exclusively about buckets."

"Buckets?" Grandpa asked.

"That's right," the boy said.  "Buckets.  You gotta have a theme, man, and all the good ones are taken.  Pirate theme, high fantasy, Gothic horror, Celtic folk fantasy.  All that stuffs been done to death.  But buckets, nobody's done that."

There was a pause as Grandpa processed this.  "I would think that would be, you know, sort of a limited subject," he said.

"Nah, Dude, there are endless variations.  Steel buckets, plastic buckets, wooden buckets.  Buckets for wishing wells, buckets for wells that people have tossed murder victims into, buckets for people dying of thirst.  Buckets in the old west, buckets in Medieval Europe, buckets in space.  Buckets are everywhere, Dude.  Jack and Jill had a bucket.  Then there's your phrases and cliches -- buckets of blood, buckets of crap, kicking the bucket.  When you really think about it, the possibilities are endless. We can always find new buckets to write about.

"But Dude, what are you doing here in the dark?  I know the party ain't your scene, but...."

"Oh," said Grandpa, "I'm just waiting for the slasher."

"The... slasher?" the long-haired kid asked.

"Or maybe it's zombies, or vampires," said Grandpa.  "Hard to say what'll show.  But you know how it goes, right?  Halloween night, bunch of attractive-looking teenagers throwing a party in the basement of a spooky haunted house.  Something's bound to show up.  Personally, I'm hoping for several things -- maybe a serial killer, then an evil poltergeist or undead creature.  Whatever it is, I'm ready for it.  Got the garlic, the holy water, the silver cross, the wooden stakes, several guns and my old shotgun... whatever shows up, I'm  taking it down."

The rocker laughed.  "Look Dude, if it's okay with you I think I'll just head back to the party...."

Grandpa Anarchy raised a weapon and fired.  A harpoon struck the boy in the chest and pinned him to the wall.  "Dude, what the heck?" the boy exclaimed, staring down at the object protruding from his chest.

"Stoner rock star is a pretty good cover," said Grandpa, "but I approved every invite to this party, including  the bands.  Death metal?  That's not Pixy Dreamgirl's style -- she's into that techno-crap.  And you saw me and my old books remarkably well in a very dark room.  Not to mention what kid doesn't scream when shot with a harpoon?  But mostly it's this ring."  Grandpa held up his hand on which was a large ring with a pentagram and a ruby set in the center.  "Got this from my lawyer.  See how it glows?  It does that in the presence of demons."

The boy transformed into a black-skinned demon with firey eyes and twisting yellow horns.  "Damn you to hell, old man!" it snarled.  "You've made your last mistake!  This night shall be your doom!"

"Nah, don't think so," Grandpa replied.  He drew a revolver and fired several shots into the creature.  The demon laughed.  "Bullets can't stop me, old man.  Bul... lets...."  The demon's voice slurred.  He slumped.  "How...?"

"Laced with holy water, jacketed with silver melted from a holy cross, blessed by priests and inscribed with prayers.  Cost a pretty penny, but danged if they don't work like a charm against demons."  Grandpa smiled.  "I told you.  I'm prepared for anything."

The demon screamed as it evaporated into black smoke.  The stench of sulfer filled the room.  Grandpa calmly removed the empty shells from his gun and reloaded, then again sat down in the dark.

Moments later Pixy Dreamgirl appeared.  She was dressed as a green-skinned witch.  "Grumpy Annie?" she asked.  "Is everything okay?  Only someone said they heard gunshots, and a  scream...."

"Everything's fine," Grandpa replied.  "Just a scary movie, that's all."

Pixy Dreamgirl glanced to the dark television screen, then focused on the harpoon buried in the wall.  "Ooookay," she said.  She frowned, and added, "Incidentally -- who's the girl?  I don't remember inviting someone like her."

Grandpa glanced to the corner of the room.  A young woman in a flowing purple 19th-century gown floated there, suspended in a faintly glowing purple bubble.  She was busily scribbling into a notebook.

"Just a former sidekick who doesn't know when to leave," said Grandpa.  "Ignore her.  Incidentally," he added, "you haven't seen any creepy clowns hanging around outside trying to lure children into the woods?"

"Uh... no?" Pixy Dreamgirl replied.  "Should I have?"

"Maybe, maybe not," Grandpa said.  "I'm sensing a 45% chance of creepy clowns tonight.  But don't worry, I'm ready for 'em."


Monday, October 17, 2016

Graveyard Smash

Graveyard Smash
Mark A Davis

"Thanks for letting us use the Anarchy Mansion for our Halloween party, Grumpy Annie," said Pixy Dreamgirl.  The leader of the new Daughters of Anarchy super group was a young woman who normally dressed in a rainbow-hued crop top and short skirt, with rainbow-dyed pigtails, but for tonight she had black hair, green skin, and the black dress and hat of a wicked witch.  "Our group doesn't even have a base yet, but we wanted to host a big holiday bash to advertise ourselves.  Since we're named after you, hosting it at a haunted mansion is perfect, and you even make a pretty good creepy caretaker, am I right?  There's always a creepy caretaker."

"I ain't creepy," said Grandpa Anarchy.  "I'm a hero!  The world's oldest!"

"You're close enough, trust me," Pixy Dreamgirl said.  "Now, the decorations are all prepared and people should be arriving in an hour.  I just wish...."  Her voice trailed off.

Grandpa Anarchy ducked a rubber spider hanging from the ceiling as he stepped from the elevator and into the Anarchy Cave -- a large underground garage beneath the mansion.  Cobwebs hung everywhere -- and not just the normal kind that tended to accumulate because Grandpa did not employ a maid or butler.  Dry ice fog floated across the floor.  Nearby a plastic skull screached and snapped its teeth while the eyes flashed.  Grandpa nearly jumped into a paper mache ghost.

"Mathew Mark Luke and John!" Grandpa swore.  "Does the place have to be so creepy?"

Pixy Dreamgirl rolled her eyes.  "Grumpy Annie, it's a Halloween party!  Anyway that animatronic skull is super fake, I'm surprised it made you jump.  I was really hoping for better decorations -- this is a party for superheroes after all -- but I just don't have the budget."

The cave contained the usual things -- the ancient Anarchy computer, the Anarchy saucer, the Anarchy submarine in a pool that apparently led to an underwater exit, and the Anarchy mobile -- a rusting 1958 AMC Ambassador station wagon.  Other things like the Anarchy Jetbike, the Anarchy flying wing and the Anarchy Exoskeleton had been pushed to one side to make room.

The place had been divided into several areas.  There was a theater area with a wide-screen television, and a gaming area.  There was a dance area with a DJ's table and sound system already set up.  There was the food area, of course -- tables already laden with Halloween cookies, candy caramel apples, and several heated steel bins filled with catered Chinese food.

"Hope you don't mind that we moved some stuff around," said Pixy Dreamgirl, "and vacuumed up a lot of dust.  A lot of dust."

"Nah, that's fine," Grandpa Anarchy replied.  "Hardly use most of this junk anyway."

"I wanted to ask, what's in the back room?" Pixy Dreamgirl asked.

"Back room?"  Grandpa stared at her blankly.

"A door back in the corner here...."  She made her way around the pool with the submarine and shimmied around some sort of massive gun draped in cloth.

"Oh, back here?" Grandpa said.  "Just ignore it... there's nothing to see...."

But Pixy Dreamgirl was standing before a heavy door.  "Huh," she said.  "It's not even locked."  She pulled it open, then jumped back.

"OMG!  There's someone in there!"

Grandpa Anarchy grabbed the door.  "Consarn it!  What's this doing open?  This should be locked up at all times!  This room is dangerous!"

Pixy Dreamgirl peered inside.  "Oh, it's just a statue," she said.  "What's so dangerous?"

"Lots of stuff," said Grandpa.  "This is what I call my Forgotten but Not Gone room."

Pixy Dreamgirl smiled.  "I think you mean Gone but Not Forgotten, Grumpy Annie," she said.

"I know what I mean," Grandpa snapped.  He flipped on the light.  "Nobody in this room is gone -- that's the whole problem.  This is my room for villains I've defeated that won't go away.  I keep 'em locked up in here, safe and sound."

Pixy Dreamgirl stared in wonder.  Here was a dusty storeroom of strange curiosities -- oddly realistic stone statues, rusting robots, mystic-looking weapons hung on the walls, and several shelves filled with dolls, figurines, objects, mannequin heads and what looked like brains in jars.

Several pairs of eyes swiveled to stare at her.  Pixy Dreamgirl screamed and leaped back.

"Oh, don't worry," said Grandpa.  "Nobody in this room can move.  Most can't even talk.  See this statue?  This is Emily Langenberg.  She was an evil magician -- what most people would call a hedge witch, really -- who got turned to stone in 1954.  She's still alive though -- she can move her eyes, see? "

"That's... very creepy," said Pixy Dreamgirl.  The statue of the witch glared with mad, hateful eyes.

"Yeah," said Grandpa.  "Took some time to get used to.  Most of these other statues can't even do that, so I have no idea if they're actually aware, but most of 'em were dark souls so I keep 'em safe anyway."

He pointed to one, an apparent sculpture of a man half-emerging from a block of metal.  "This was the assistant of Professor Mortimer Witworth Devereux of Wolverhampton.  What was the guy's name, again?  Sam, that was it.  Samuel Gaylord Goode, I think it was.  He tried to steal the professor's dimensional gateway machine in 1924 and as punishment the Professor had him frozen in elusionium.  It was only supposed to be for five years, but then there was that nasty business where the Professor opened a portal into hell, and -- well, everything vanished -- the unfreezing machine, the dimensional gateway, the whole mansion and the Professor himself.  Seeing as how Prof Devereux was the only one who knew how to undo this, poor Sam's been stuck this way ever since."

"He's missing a finger," said Pixy Dreamgirl.

"Yeah," said Grandpa.  "Sam wasn't happy about being frozen and he made a rather vulgar gesture as it was being done to him.  For decency's sake we had to break that finger off."

Grandpa moved deeper into the room.  "Over here is my cabinet of skulls and brains in jars.  See?  This one's the brain of Ukaleq the Undying, this is the living skull of Nihalanaskali the sorcerer, this is the brain of Mad Professor Thibleton, and this is the jeweled skull of the demon Triexotherion.  Next to them is my collection of objects containing sentient souls -- this cross contains the soul of the vampire Lord Alphonse Stigmatter, and trapped in this crystal is the soul of Michiru the Mystic.  I have about ten soul-trapped gemstones and pieces of jewelry, and next to them are the possessed dolls and stuffed animals and people transformed into brickabrack."

Pixy Dreamgirl blinked.  "And the living head?" she asked.  It was right there on the shelf -- a pale-skinned man's head with dark, curly hair.  The face was quite handsome.  It was one of the things in the room that stared at her.

"Oh that?" said Grandpa.  "That's just some minor god.  He's immortal so he never dies."

"Minor god?" the head exclaimed.  "I am Prometheus!"

"No you ain't!  You just think you are!" Grandpa shot back.  "See?  He's nutso from being a head for so long."

"You try being a head on a shelf in a dark room for ninety years," the head muttered.

In the back of the room were the robots -- rusted exoskeletons stacked against a concrete wall.  Grandpa pointed at one of them.  "This one's a robot built by Professor Duredon in 1974.  He downloaded his own mind into it, and called himself Duredon X9.  Tin body, rusted stiff.  You'd think people would learn.  Didn't Frank Baum himself spell it out in the Wizard of Oz?  Tin bodies rust!

"Same with brainiac over here," he said, pointing to a copper robot with a thick jar on top full of greenish liquid, inside which floated another brain and  two eyes, which were again focused on them.  "Alfred Bartholomew Abney, Emperor of Antarctica.  The Gentleman Brawler and I fought him in 1915.  His brain is kept alive in that jar but the body seized up ages ago.  He used to curse a blue streak at me every time I came near, so I ripped out the voicebox."

Pixy Dreamgirl's eyes scanned the row of unmoving robots, then glanced at the next wall.  Here hung several weapons, including three swords, five knives, a pistol, an ancient musket, and a large flat piece of metal with a handle and glowing runes that she couldn't quite figure out.

"Oh that?" said Grandpa.  "That's the Battle Spatula of the great warrior-monk-cook Zhang Chao, which sucked out the souls of his enemies," said Grandpa.  "He accidentally knicked himself with it one day while making breakfast, and that was that."

"And he's trapped inside?" she asked.

"Far as I know," said Grandpa, "along with all of his enemies.  You'd have to destroy it to find out I supppose.  Danged thing is dangerous.  I put it down here for safekeeping."

Pixy Dreamgirl took in the entire room.  "I had no idea you had all this stuff," she said.  "And you said you weren't creepy!  But you know what, Grumpy Annie?  I think you just solved a problem for me."


Magical Mimic Cosplay Girl -- dressed as Wednesday Addams for the party, but she was always dressed as someone -- took a bite of a cookie.  "I have to say, these decorations are uber creepy," she said.  "Did you see that witch statue in front of the elevator?  It stared at me!"

Black Dahlia was dressed as herself -- but then the goth witch need not dress as Wednesday Addams to be dark and morbid.  "Yes," she said, raising an eyebrow.  "And this head here -- it appears to be alive."

Butt Rock Boy grinned.  "It looks effin' real!" he exclaimed.

"I am real, you foolish imbecile!" the head on nearby table exclaimed.  "I am a god!  A plague upon your firstborn if you don't believe!"  The head glared for a moment, then added, "If you could place some General Tso's in front of me, it would be most appreciated...."


Monday, October 10, 2016

Code Habanero

Code Habanero
Mark Allen Davis

Dust drifted across the streets of a small western town.  The sun was high and the day was hot.  Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, crouched behind a stack of boxes in an alley, gun drawn.  He stood up suddenly, firing off two shots, then dropped down again.

"Bingo!" he yelled.  "I got Clayton Moore!  Right in the head with two .45 slugs!  If that don't  stop him, nothing will!"

Grandpa's sidekick said, "Who's Clayton Moore?"  The young boy was dressed all in red, with a western shirt, jeans, leather chaps, cowboy boots and a cowboy hat.  He had a Winchester rifle, and called himself the Capsaicin Kid.

"Who is Clayton Moore?" Grandpa exclaimed.  "Who is Clayton Moore?  How do kids not know who Clayton Moore is?  Son, he's the Lone Ranger!"

The sidekick made a face.  "I hated that movie," he said.  "Johnny Depp looked ridiculous.  And wasn't that Armie Hammer?"  He jumped up and fired his rifle.

Grandpa Anarchy sighed.  "Son, any Lone Ranger after 1957 ain't worth a hill of beans."  He popped up again and fired two more shots.  "Think I got Tom Mix," he said, ducking back down.  He turned to glare at his sidekick.  "You don't know who Tom Mix is either, do you?"

"Should I?" the boy asked.  "I'm fifteen years old."

The kid stood and fired his rifle.  There was a loud, unintelligible moan.  "That one sounded like:  Wing wong for the keeper," said the kid.

"Win one for the Gipper," Grandpa translated.  "That's Ronald Reagan."

The Capsaicin Kid frowned.  "Wasn't there a famous politician with a similar name?"  Grandpa just sighed.

"Well, we've got about half of them down," said the kid.  I'm downgrading the situation to code:  Chipotle."

"Code what?" Grandpa asked.

"It's a threat level on my Scoville Danger Scale," said the kid.  "Code Chipotle is more dangerous than a code:  Jalapeno, but not as bad as code:  Habanero."

Grandpa fired another shot, then reloaded his pistol.  "Well, you may just want to hold off on that danger code change," he said.  "We've still got the big boys to deal with:  Gary Cooper, Clint Eastwood, and the Duke himself -- John Wayne."  He jumped up and fired  three more shots.  "But I think I just got Fes Parker, so there's that."

"I know all of them," said the kid, "except Fes Parker...."

They heard loud moaning.  "I think he said... he's not going to shoot us?" the kid interpreted.  There was another moan.  "Like hell I will?"

"I keep tellin' them," Grandpa muttered.  "I keep tellin' them, but does anybody listen to me?  No!  The world runs on stories, I tell 'em, and stories affect how things work.  If you aren't affecting this world, then you're affecting some other universe somewhere.  Imagining up stuff like this is just tempting fate!  Eventually I'm going to be involved in it up to my eyeballs!"  He turned to glare at his sidekick.  "What I'm saying is this:  this situation didn't have to happen!"

"Aw, come on, Grandpa," said the Capsaicin Kid.  "Seven of the greatest cowboy actors ever seen, risen from the dead to save a Mexican village?  Even I thought Magnificent Seven Zombies was a brilliant concept, and a pretty good movie!"

"It was terrible," said Grandpa.  "How you don't include Steve McQueen, I'll never know!"

A bullet hit Grandpa in the shoulder.  His gun spun away.  An undead cowboy stumbled into view.  Rotting flesh hung from a face that was partially exposed bone, but the eyes were piercing  and alive.  The creature wore a wide-brimmed black hat and a dirty Mexican pancho.

"Doo yoo fee ruckee puuung?" the zombie moaned, gun trained on Grandpa.

"Code:  Smokin' Ed's Carolina Reaper!" the Capsaicin Kid screamed.

"I always feel lucky," Grandpa growled.  He dived for the gun, and came up firing.


Thursday, October 6, 2016

Classic Anarchy: Dancepocalypse

Mark A Davis

It was Halloween night, and Grandpa Anarchy was relaxing in his den when the doorbell rang.  He let it ring twice more before remembering that he currently had no sidekick.

"Danged kids," the old hero grumped.  He grabbed a tray of hard candy from the end table and opened the door.  On the porch stood a teenaged boy dressed in a green fairy outfit.

"Trick or Treat?" the boy asked, hopefully.

"Who're you supposed to be, Tinkerbell?" Grandpa asked.

"N-no," the boy replied, "it's Peter Pan."

"Ain't you a bit old to be...." Grandpa began.  There was a bright flash of blue light, and the two were somewhere else.

Grandpa blinked.  They were in the center of a dance floor.  Lights flashed and manic electronic circus music played to a throbbing disco beat.  The floor pulsed with rainbow-colored hues in time to the music.  Overhead a mirrorball spun.  And the dancers...

Grandpa stared.  They were dressed like disco-era rejects, but every last one of them was covered in shaggy brown fur.  They had clawed hands and feet, and animal-like heads, with mouths full of razor-sharp teeth.  It was like they'd been dropped onto the set of a hybrid movie called Saturday Night Werewolf of London Fever.

The boy stared in horror.  "What... what the hell...."  There was terror in his voice.

"Don't panic, kid.  We've been pulled to another world," Grandpa Anarchy said.  "Happens all the time.  See those circles and runes on the dance floor?  I ain't no magician, but I know a magic circle when I see it."  And indeed, the pulsing floor lights formed rainbow-hued concentric circles around where they stood, with unknown script and symbols written at the margins.

"Ladies and gentlefurs!" a voice boomed out.  "The Dance of Summoning is a success!"  Wild cheering and howling erupted throughout the room.  The crowd parted, and a large werewolf came bounding down a wide set of stairs.  He wore a bright white polyester leisure suit and a bright pink silk shirt, open to the waist.  He was grinning ear to ear, displaying quite a lot if pointy white.

"Grandpa Anarchy!" he boomed, sticking out his hand.  "So glad to meet you at last!  I've read much about you!  My name is Doctor Santos, but professionally I am known as the Zombeh Roaster, hero of my world.  Klondike Bar?"  The creature held up a shiny silver package, which Grandpa recognized as a tinfoil-covered ice cream bar.

Grandpa shook.  "No thanks," he said.  "I was enjoying a nice Halloween evening at home, so if we could just move this along...?"

The creature grinned and tossed the snack, wrapping and all, into his mouth.  He chewed happily.

"You're the one who summoned us?" Grandpa asked.

"Yes I did!" said the Zombeh Roaster.  "Come up to my DJ Laboratory, we have much to discuss!  You see, we have a zombie problem, and...."

He paused, staring at the teenager.  "I'm sorry, but I'm not familiar with your new sidekick."

"I... I..." the boy stammered.  "M-may name is Larry, and...."

"Tinkerbell here was just trick-or-treating at my house and got caught up in the spell," said Grandpa.  "He's no hero, just some kid dressed like a pixie girl."

"It's Peter Pan," said the boy.  "L-look, I-I don't know where we are or how I got here...."

"This is a bit of a problem," said the Zombeh Roaster.  "We need three heroes for the Zombie Apocalypse...."

"Zombie Apocalypse?" the boy squeaked.  "Please, just send me home!"

"The Dance of Summoning is a complicated spell," said the Zombeh Roaster.  "We can not perform it again until tomorrow."  He grinned toothily.  "But what I can do is transform your friend here into a hero suitable for fighting zombies."  He turned to Grandpa.  "Does any particular hero come to mind?"

Grandpa shrugged.  "Last time I fought zombies, it was with Nina Ballerina."

"Perfect," said the werewolf.  "Just hold that image of her in your mind.  This will take only a few seconds...."  He began to chant and dance, waving his hands in the air.  Rainbow-colored bands of light swirled around the boy.

"Ballerina?" the boy squeaked.  "I don't...."

There was a flash if rainbow-colored light, and where the boy had stood was now a slender woman dressed in white tights and a pink leotard and tutu.  She blinked.  "Grandpa Anarchy?" she asked.  She glanced about the room.  "Hmm, summoning, I see.  What's the situation?"

"Zombie Apocalypse," said Grandpa.  "Dancing Werewolf world.  That's all I know.  Is this the real Nina Ballerina?"

"Yes," said Nina.

"No," said Zombeh.   "Not really.  She is identical to the real one, but it's a temporary spell.  The boy will awake in the morning, and this will all seem like a dream."

"Got it," said Grandpa.  "Since you're not the real Nina, I'd like to take this opportunity to say that you were wrong that time in Hong Kong.  You were rude and pushy as always and we should have done things my way, and if we had we would have stopped Double Donkey before he assassinated that corporate president.  What do you say to that, huh?"

Nina Ballerina slapped him.  Grandpa winced.  'Yeah, that's how I always figured she'd react," he said.


Zombeh lead Nina and Grandpa to a part of the city where a giant paved square had been built around one of the largest trees they'd ever seen.  It pulsed with energy, and they could feel a tingle on their skin and a comforting warmth emanating from it.

"This is Marasala," said the Zombeh Roaster, "one of the the sacred world trees that maintain the field of magic that flows throughout our world.   Our world runs on magic, much as your world runs on gasoline and electricity.  These trees are our lifeline -- if they were destroyed, we would be plunged into an age of darkness.

"Every year at this time, we have an invasion from Satryrix -- the world of the dead.  This we call the Zombie Apocalypse.   All sorts of malevolent creatures dwell in Satryrix that are best left undescribed, but the important thing is that they only have a small window on this one day a year where the weakest of the army of undead can slip through.   Their goal is to destroy these trees and thus throw open the gates between our world and theirs permanently."

"And our goal is to stop them." said Grandpa.


Nina said, "You defend these trees every year, but you're a few heroes short this year?"

"Exactly," said the creature.  "We will have to defend until dawn.  it is tough work, which is why I summoned the mightiest heroes I could find...."

He set a large duffle bag on the ground.  He opened it and pulled out a boom box the size of a child's electric car.  The creature grinned.  He pressed a button.  Loud, syncopated dance music began to pound.

"And now," said the Zombeh Roaster, "we dance."

Grandpa and Nina watched as the disco werewolf danced.  He was quite good -- enough to perhaps even give Michael Jackson a run for his money.  Nina frowned.  "Not that I object, but why are we dancing, exactly?" she asked.

"Zombies have no rhythm and no soul," the Zombeh Roaster called out.  "Dancing is anathema to them!  Their brain remembers dancing, but they are unable to respond.  It confuses them and makes them hesitant.  It makes them pause.  When they pause, you kill!"

Nina nodded.  She began to spin and pirouette like the ballerina she was -- or rather, the one she had been.  Her back story involved a tragic career as a ballerina, followed by a stunningly successful career as a high-kicking crime fighter.  She was a member of the League of Two-Fisted Justice, after all.

"Dance, Grandpa!" Nina yelled.  "Our lives may depend on it!"

"Now look here, I ain't no dancin' fool..." Grandpa began.

"You are a hero!" the Zombeh Roaster yelled.  "If you do not dance, the zombies will win!  You must dance!"

"Oh, hell," Grandpa muttered.  He began to jerk about.  "Well, I guess it's true that I used to jitterbug in my day.  I was good at the lindy hop, and the Charleston too."  Nina grimaced -- nothing Grandpa Anarchy was doing could be remotely described as dancing.

"You dance worse than a zombie!" the werewolf yelled.  "You must do better than that if you expect to confuse them!"

"I'm doing the best I can!" Grandpa yelled.  "Maybe if you could play some Josephine Baker?  Oh, but that was before your time... and a world away, come to think of it."

Night fell, and the grunting and groaning of the undead could be heard in every direction.  The stench was overpowering.  They shambled out of the darkness towards the tree, first in ones and twos, then in larger groups.  But Zombeh had spoken the truth -- at the edge of the dance circle the creatures paused, within striking distance, as if unsure what to do.  And contrary to Earth legends, these undead were not unstoppable.  You could batter them enough that they would collapse, apparently dead for good.  Nina kicked, Grandpa punched, and Zombeh Roaster blasted with rainbow-hued balls of fire.

"Now I know why you're the Zombeh Roaster," said Grandpa.

"Yes," said Zombeh.  "That's one reason...."

The bodies began to pile up.  Grandpa sniffed.  "They sure go down easy for zombies," he said.  "Not like the unstoppable zombies I used to fight back in the day.  Those were fearsome undead bent on eating your brains.  They didn't go down with a few punches, that's for sure."

"Unstoppable zombies must be difficult to stop," Zombeh said.

"Not really," Grandpa replied.  "You just got to be persistent.  These are much easier."

"It's the harmonics," said Zombeh, "and the pulsing rhythm.  It's like a poison to them.  It weakens them and makes them much easier to defeat.  Without it, we would be overwhelmed.  But, Mr. Anarchy, you must dance better!"

Grandpa Anarchy stumbled about like a broken marionette.  His fists pounded zombie after zombie, but still more came, and they barely paused when confronted with his awkward movements.  "A living soul with less rhythm than a zombie," said the werewolf.  "I would not have believed such a thing possible if I did not witness it with my own eyes."

"Grandpa!  Dance better!" Nina demanded.

"Easy for you to say!" Grandpa snapped.  "Look, I'm a hero, not some fancy schmancy ballroom diva."

"What sort of hero does not know how do dance?" asked the werewolf.

"The usual sort!" Grandpa snapped.  He glanced at his companions.  "Nina is an exception, obviously.  But if you wanted a dancer you should have asked for Fred Astaire, or Gene Kelly."

"Or Michael Jackson," said Nina, "given the circumstances.""

"I am not familiar with these names," said the Zombeh Roaster.  "But if we do not improve our dancing quickly, we shall be overwhelmed."  He considered this for a moment, then shrugged.  "Oh well, there is always the shortcut."  He danced around Grandpa, chanting.

"Don't you dare turn me into another Nina!" Grandpa warned.

"Of course not," replied the werewolf.  He held out a hand.  A rainbow-hue'd ball of light coalesced over his outstretched palm.  "Look into the light, Grandpa Anarchy," he said.  "You are getting sleepy -- no, do not stop dancing!  You are feeling very drowsy.  Now, when I snap my fingers, you will remember how to dance like Michael Jackson, or Gene Kelly, or... that other one...."

"Fred Astaire," said Nina.  "And throw in Mikhail Baryshnikov while you're at it."

"Yes, you will remember how to dance like this Fred Astaire and this Mikhail Baryshnikov."

"I will?" Grandpa asked.  Zombeh snapped his fingers.  Grandpa did a quick spin, then tap danced around the tree.  "Hey, I do!  I do remember how  to dance like Fred Astaire!  How could I have ever forgotten?"

"Strange how that works," said Zombeh with a grin, dancing away.   "Now you're dancing at least 20% cooler!"

"More like 100%," said Nina.

With Grandpa's sudden surge in dancing skill, the tree was well defended.  Grandpa's smooth tap dance and two-step was complimented by Nina's graceful leaps and spins, and Zombeh's sexy flash.  The zombies were held at bay -- they approached the light of the tree and then paused, dazzled and confused by the pounding music and rhythmic dancing.  Magic fire flew from the werewolf's palms, burning them to a crisp.  Nina kicked, breaking necks and crushing chests.  Grandpa resembled a cross between Gene Kelly and Jackie Chan, whirling and punching.  Past midnight they danced, and still the zombie hoard kept coming.

"I may be old, but I still got it!" Grandpa yelled.  "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee!  Muhammad Ali's got nothing on me!"

"I don't know where a guy your age gets so much energy," Nina said.  They were all sweating profusely now, and breathing heavily, which was not a pleasant thing with the stench of rotting flesh in the air.

"Clean diet, exercise, and healthy living!" Grandpa replied.  "I don't drink or smoke.  My only vice is strawberry pancakes!"  He spun about, then lifted his fedora and spun it in his hands.  He rolled it across his arms and shoulder blades from one hand to the other.  he tossed it in the air like a Frisbee, high-kicked two zombies, spun about striking three more with his fists and feet, then leaped across the square, landing on his knees where he punched another zombie in the groin.  The hat landed neatly on his head.

"I could do this all night!" Grandpa exclaimed.

"That's the idea," Zombeh replied.

"I'm not sure I can keep it up," Nina said hoarsely.

"Suck it up, Cupcake!" Grandpa yelled.  "You're a hero.  You gotta do what you gotta do!  Look on the bright side -- you won't even be sore tomorrow, Nina!  You won't remember this at all!"

"Nina won't remember, true," said Zombeh.  "The boy in the pixy costume will remember everything, however, and will be as sore as Grandpa or I."

"Them's the breaks," said Grandpa, spinning to punch another zombie.  "He's a bona-fide hero for one night.  Few people get that chance.  So it involves wearing a leotard and tutu?  Nothing's perfect."

Nina watched as the old man moonwalked across the square.  He punched two zombies in the face, then grabbed his crotch and did a pelvic thrust.

"Actually," she said.  "I take great comfort in knowing that I won't remember any of this."


They danced and fought until they could remember doing nothing else.  They spun about the magic tree, punching and kicking and frying zombies.  Everything became a blur of dance, spin, kick, punch.  When the sun arose and the army of undead vanished , it took several moments before any of them realized it.

"Is it over?  Did we win?" asked Grandpa.  he was hunched over, hands on knees, breathing raggedly.  Sweat rolled off of him.

The Zombeh Roaster ran a clawed hand through his fur.  "Yes, we won the battle," he said.  "One battle only.  The war goes on.  The zombie apocalypse will return next year.  But that is what it means to be a hero:  to never give up the struggle, to be eternally vigilant.  If you were expecting anything else then you never understood what it means to be a hero in the first place."

"Oh, I think we understand," said Nina, gasping.  "Oh, my muscles!  I am going to be so sore!"  She paused, then brightened.  "At least, someone is going to be sore, but apparently not me!"

"So many dead zombies," said the Zombeh Roaster, looking about.  The bodies were piled all around them.  The stench was still overpowering.  "We shall have a great feast today and celebrate our victory!"

Grandpa glanced up, wheezing.  "A celebration?  Really?  What's on the menu?"

The creature grinned, displaying all of his sharp teeth.  "What else?  Roast Zombie!  Even better than Klondike Bars!  And you're welcome to join us!"

Grandpa blanched.  Nina looked sick.  She shimmered and morphed into Larry in the Peter Pan costume, who threw up.  Zombeh said, "I'll take that as a no, then?"


(Zombeh Roaster based on Zombie Fryer from the City of Heroes Virtue Server.  ^_^ )

Monday, October 3, 2016

Apocalypse Blues

Apocalypse Blues
Mark A Davis

"I just want to point out something," said Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero.  "Everyone always talks about how bad things are getting.  Everyone says the world's going to hell in a handbasket.  It's human nature to think things were better in the past, but more than that, people seem to want the end of the world to be just around the corner.  Lemme tell ya, paranoia about the future ain't anything new.  Every generation thinks they're living in the end times.

"My mentor the Gentleman Brawler fell victim to exactly that sort of thinking.  He was convinced by a local pastor that the end of the world was coming.  He fixated on May 1915.  I was just a kid at the time so I believed him -- but then May 1915 rolled around and the end of the world didn't manifest itself.  Oh, sure, Professor Harold Charleston Attaway tried to unleash his Infernal Doomsday Engine, which he claimed would collapse the planet from the north and south poles, but we stopped him, just like we always do.

"Point is, my mentor was wrong.  Ever since, I've become something of an expert on failed Armageddon predictions, and let me tell you, there have been a lot of them.  If there's one thing I've learned, it's that predicting the end of the world is wired into the human psyche.  It's a hobby with some folks.  Every day, someone is predicting the end of everything.

"If you go back to 66 AD, a guy named Simon bar Gioria of Judea predicted the end times and minted coins based on that declaration.  That's how we know.  Three different people predicted the return of Christ in 500 AD.  When that failed to happen, one of them revised his prediction for the year 800 AD.  Of course, lots of people expected the end to come in 1000 AD, including the Pope.  Failing that, many revised their target date to 1033 AD -- a thousand years after the death of Jesus.  Another Pope predicted the end of the world 666 years after the rise of Islam.  Are you sensing a pattern?

"More recently John Wesley, founder of the Methodists, predicted the end in 1836.  Many thought the Crimean War in 1853-1856 was the Battle of Armageddon.   Joseph Morris, a Mormon convert, predicted the end in 1862.  Margaret Rowen, Seventh Day Adventist, predicted the end in 1925.  The Jehovah's Witnesses predicted 1941, and later 1975.  A UFO cult called the Brotherhood of the Seven Rays predicted 1954.  The Branch Davidians?  1959.  Indian astrologers predicted the end in 1962 during a planetary alignment.  Charles Manson?  1969.  Pat Robertson?  1982.  Of course, everybody and their brother predicted the end in the year 2000 -- Isaac Newton, Edgar Cayce, Sun Myung Moon, Ed Dobson, Jerry Falwell, Tim LaHaye, the list goes on.  Let's not forget the Mayan apocalypse of 2012, or Grigori Rasputin's prediction for 2013.  That one, by the way, he tried to orchestrate himself."

"Grandfather Anarchy, " said the Princess of Purple Prose, "we have only ten minutes of oxygen inside this sphere.  That now is the perfect time for a lecture, I do not think.  In any case, I am trying to concentrate, and the fate of the universe lies in the balance...."

Grandpa Anarchy was dressed in his usual rumpled gray suit with the silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.  The Princess of Purple Prose wore a Victorian-era gown of dark purple.  She had a silver tiara at her temple, upon which was set a quill pen studded with amethysts.  They were floating inside the princess's impenetrable lavender bubble.

"I just wanted to establish," said Grandpa, "that I've been fighting crime more than a hundred years, and I've seen nearly everything there is to see, but I ain't never seen this.  Death Medal threatens to destroy the world every other Tuesday, and he always manages to screw it up.  How was I supposed to know he'd eventually get it right?"

  Grandpa stared out at the starless void around them.  "So if your fancy schmancy powers of Dramatic Climax Pivot  can write us out of this predicament," he added, "I'll be seriously impressed...."