Monday, November 28, 2016

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors

Good Fences Make Good Neighbors
Mark A Davis

Like an ancient citadel perched on the mountain border of some malevolent dark lord's lands, the tower of black brick loomed against an oppressively gray sky.  This particular tower, however, was attached to a modest building in a suburban street in Frosthaven NJ.  Rhododendron bushes lined the walls of the dwelling, surrounded by fresh bark and encircled by an immaculately manicured lawn.  Nearby a leaking hose dribbled water.  The knocker on the door depicted a glaring demon.

Ignoring this, Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, banged on the door.  After several moments it opened.  Framed in the doorway was an alien creature out of nightmares -- four eyes, eight tentacles, bloated purplish skin, and a mouth full of rows of shark-like teeth.  The creature was vaguely humanoid and appeared to be wearing slacks, a preppie-style sweater, and smoking a pipe.

"Who dares cast their shadow over the entryway of Ninugtus the Unspeakable?" the creature bellowed.

Grandpa stuck out his hand.  "That would be me," he said.  "Grandpa Anarchy.  Nice to meet you, Ninugtus!  I am the world's oldest active hero, and I also happen to be your next door neighbor.  Welcome to the neighborhood!"  Grandpa paused to glance at the black brick, then added, "You know, for the last few years this place has been owned by Mayor Doomhollow, and he seemed to delight in renting it out to the worst neighbors he could imagine -- white supremecists, drug dealers, demons, and insurance salesmen.  Glad to see they finally sold the place to someone who is hopefully not a villain and who plans to live here a while!"

"Insignificant mortal!" Ninugtus exclaimed.  "Bow down before my immense power!"

"Yeah," said Grandpa, "that's probably not gonna happen.  But listen, Ninugtus,  while I'm over here, I did want to bring up something.  See, the neighborhood covenant rules -- I know nobody likes them, but see, they say that you have to be quiet after 10 PM, right?  I mean I don't want to be a stickler about things, Lord knows I've got sidekicks building things at odd hours of the night.  But that throbbing, pounding sound of yours has been going steady all night for the last three days.  Think you could turn it down a little?  Only if you don't, I'll be forced to call the cops, see?"

"Your lands shall be mine!"

Grandpa Anarchy sighed.  "So it's gonna be like that, is it?" he said.  "Listen neighbor, let's get one thing straight -- the neighborhood covenant specifically forbids battles between super-powered neighbors, otherwise I'd be happy to give you what-for right here and now.  But I can't.  I got to obey the rules, right?  Ever since that knock-down, drag-out fight with Mr. Wong in '74 -- you remember him?  He went by the name the Red Jade Dragon.  Ever since then, they've had this rule:  keep the confrontations to the streets of the city.  No fighting in the neighborhood.

"And another thing," Grandpa added.  "That purple dog of yours with ten legs and a mouth like a shark?  Keep it off my lawn, got it?  'Cause if I find that thing crapping on my property again, it's going to come down with a case of lead poisoning, understand?  Fast, hot lead poisoning.  I'm within my rights to shoot at anything that trespasses onto my property.  In fact as the local hero I'm pretty much required to do so, and not only will they not stop me, they'll probably give me a medal.  So just keep it off my lawn, got that?"

The tentacled monstrosity puffed his pipe angrily, then declared, "You call that lawn?  It not been mowed in year!  Full of weeds, keep spreading to my side!  You take care of lawn!"

"Hey," said Grandpa, "I mow my lawn regular, twice a year, every spring and fall!"

"That what Ninugtus saying!" the creature bellowed.

"Look," said Grandpa, "all I'm saying is if you don't knock off the noise, it won't be just me you're dealing with.  It'll be the Neighborhood Covenant Board.  Got it?"

A troubled look passed through the alien's eyes.  "Woman with blue hair, black glasses, and annoying voice -- she is on board?"

"Mrs. Pinchpenny?" said Grandpa.  "Yeah, that's her.  Retired librarian.  She's a stickler for rules."

"Ninugtus not like that woman," the alien said.  "Not allow Ninugtus build moat or line driveway with skulls of enemies.  Tell Ninugtus is against covenant."

"Well, that's my point," said Grandpa.  "You'd rather face a cyborg army of death droids than face Mrs. Pinchpenny, am I right?"

"This is a true thing."  Ninugtus puffed his pipe a moment in thought.  "Ninugtus sorry about outburst," he said.  "Ninugtus doctor say Ninugtus must avoid stressful situations.  Is much pressure, trying build army for world conquest.  High command always demand, Ninugtus, report progress!  Ninugtus, how much land you conquer so far?"  He spread his hands.  "They give me budget to conquer local Walmart, maybe!  Is only so much one being can do!  Ninugtus only have eight tentacles!"

"Tell me about it!" Grandpa replied.  "Like that Flying Egg that my new sidekick is building.  Those things don't pay for themselves!"

Ninugtus laughed, then extended a tentacle.  "Ninugtus promise be quieter at night," he said, "and to keep D'ragthar warbeast chained up.  Ninugtus want be good neighbor, not want for plans be interrupted.  Is good?"

"Sounds good," Grandpa replied, shaking the creature's tentacle.  "You know, I could tell you a few things about this place.  It was built in 1907 by Professor Victorian Honesty St. Normal, the famous mad scientist.  That's why they call it St. Normal Tower, by the way.  The Prof owned the place until that dimensional incident in 1924.  Anyway, it's been owned by various evil people since -- Tabitha Von Grimmelshausen, evil sorceress; Thomas Alexopoulos the mad artist who painted into different dimensions; the Suicide Squid from Betelgeuse -- not to be confused with that tentacled elder god that we got here a few years later, he didn't own the property he just moved in so we had him evicted.  Mrs. Pinchpenny does not allow elder gods from beyond the stars -- it's in the covenant.

"Then there was Frankie, the monster creation of Professor St. Normal -- he stayed her a few years.  And oh, super villain genius Stanislaus Von Censure, remember him?  I already mentioned the Red Jade Dragon.  There was Mrs. Vincent, who was a perfectly normal woman apart from owing a dangerous shadowarg as a pet.  And Mr. Hightower, he seemed perfectly normal until he tried to blackmail the city of New York.

"Basically," said Grandpa, "the place attracts bad people.  But I'm sure this time will be different!"


"Well?" asked the Titanium Goose.  Grandpa's current sidekick was a young man in a suit of power armor with a helmet and visor shaped like the head and bill of a goose.  He was working in the Anarchy Cave on a flying machine shaped like an egg.

"He seems like a nice guy," Grandpa replied.

The Titanium Goose stared at him.  "Really?"

Grandpa Anarchy sighed.  "No," he said.  "He's an alien bent on world conquest.  I give him one, two months tops, then we'll be duking it out over New York."  He tossed a five dollar bill onto the workbench.  "There," he said.  "You win.  Happy now?  Just once I'd like to have a normal neighbor in that place.  Just once."


Monday, November 21, 2016


Mark A Davis

"Look," said Grandpa Anarchy's sidekick, "it's not that I don't believe that one man is responsible for global warming.  That's just silly.  It's that I don't believe that global warming is real at all!  How can Baron Climate Change be responsible for something that doesn't exist?"

Grandpa Anarchy climbed a steel rung ladder up the side of a zeppelin.  Smoke billowed from oil-burning engines to the aft of the gondola; the wind whipped it up the sides of the rigid envelope, stinging the eyes and making them water.  Below him was a ten thousand foot drop into upstate New York.  His sidekick, Truther Boy -- a young man in jeans and a red hoodie with "Truther" on the front in a faux-Coca Cola logo script -- was just behind him.  Far above them climbed Baron Climate Change, a man dressed in heavy flight leathers like those of a World War I pilot with brass goggles and a brass-and-steel jet back strapped to his back.  He laughed hysterically like the madman he most certainly was.

"Kid," Grandpa Anarchy yelled over the howl of the wind, "the important thing that Baron Climate Change wants to bring 100 years of winter to Buffalo NY.  He wants to start a new ice age!  We can't let him do that."

"Climate change is a myth!" the kid exclaimed.  "It's a false story created by the liberal socio-governmental complex to justify more rules and regulations.  It's like those people that believe that we actually went to the moon, or that the earth is round.  I mean, you'd fall off -- you wouldn't be able to see the horizon."

Grandpa reached the top of the zeppelin.  Baron Climate Change ran to the front along a gangplank that ran the length of the ship.  "I can see the horizon from here just fine," said Grandpa, "and the only thing I'm worried about falling off of is this zeppelin.  Anyway I've been to the moon, Kid.  I fought the Blood Red Menace up there.  Trust me, it ain't that great.  Just a bunch of dust really, except for Doctor Thomas Nova's secret moon base."

  "You're part of it too, Grandpa!" yelled the Truther Kid as he reached the top of the ship.  "You're part of the grand conspiracy!"

"Kid, you got one job -- to help me take down the baron here.  Leave the conspiracies for later."  He charged after Baron Climate Change, yelling, "Give it up, Baron!  We've defeated your Zoot Soot Monsters and broke your Ice Age Machine!  It's time to face the music!"

The baron spun, having reached the end of the gangplank near the front of the zeppelin.  He produced a weapon that was a contraption made of glass pipes and tubes, with a glass ball in the center filled with bright blue liquid.  "I vill nefar give up, Herr Anarchy!" he yelled.  "I am zee rizink ov zee sea, und zee meltink ov zee polar ice caps!  I am zee comink ov zee new ice age!  I am unpredictable veather!"  He fired the weapon, spewing a stream of ice that Grandpa barely managed to dodge.  Laughing, he launched skyward, his 19th-century jet pack spewing black smoke.

"This entire battle is a farce!" Truther Boy exclaimed.  "You and the Baron are in cahoots!  I know you're secretly a member of the Global Judeo-Masonic Illuminati Zionist Knights Templar New World Order Cabal!"

Grandpa Anarchy sighed.  "Kid, I got no idea what you're even saying.  I've got my card from the Department of Superhero Licensing, and if the president needs me I'm there for him -- but he generally tries to avoid calling me at all costs.  Other than that I pay my taxes like everyone else.  That's the extent of my involvment with the government."

"The Internal Revenue Service is a Free Mason conspiracy!" the boy exclaimed.

Trailing black smoke, Baron Climate Change circled around and flew back at them, weapon trained on Grandpa Anarchy.  Ignoring his sidekick, Grandpa waited.  At the last second he raised his pistol and fired twice.  The first shot knocked the ice weapon from the baron's hands.  The second struck the jet pack, which sputtered and then exploded.

The baron crashed back onto the zeppelin.  He scrambled to his feet, producing another weapon that looked like a cross between a blunderbuss and a brass pesticide sprayer.

"Very vell!" the baron snarled.  "I am goink to brink you down like zee tvin tovers!"

Black, oily soot shot forth.  Grandpa ducked.  "Don't fool yourself!" Truther Boy exclaimed.  "9/11 was rigged!  It was an inside job!  Jet fuel can't melt steel beams!"

The shadow of a helicopter fell across the zeppelin.  A blast of soot and hot oil struck Truther Boy in the face.  He collapsed to the ground.  As he writhed in pain, he shouted, "Grandpa!  Tell them it's not true -- Baron Climate Change didn't kill me!  He would never do such a thing!  It's all a conspiracy!  Warn, them, Grandpa!  Tell them the truth!"


  "So that's how Baron Climate Change killed your sidekick?" a gravelly voice asked.

Grandpa sat in a spare room with one bright light.  Across the table from him sat a man in dark glasses and a black suit.  There was an open briefcase in front of him.

"What?" said Grandpa.  "Don't be daft.  Nobody dies from soot and oil."

The man lit a cigarette.  He leaned across the table.  "I'm going to ask you again, Mr. Anarchy.  Please consider your words carefully.  Is that how Baron Climate Change killed the Truther Kid?"

"Yeah, okay," said Grandpa.  "We'll play this your way.  Sure, Baron Climate Change killed the Truther Kid.  That's my story, I'm sticking to it."

"Good," the man said.  "We wouldn't want the public to get the wrong idea."

"Incidentally," said Grandpa, "you don't have any information for me on Sally the Masonic Avenger?  She's that sidekick that you kidna... that disappeared while working for me last year.  Only, you know, her parents have been asking...."

The briefcase shut with a loud snap.  The man stood.  "I'm sorry, Mr. Anarchy," he said, "but I have no idea who you're talking about."


Monday, November 14, 2016

Rock On

Rock On
Mark A Davis

Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, ran down a steel walkway suspended high over an abandoned facotory floor.  He wore his usual rumpled gray suit with the silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.  The platform beneath him shook and groaned with each step,  threatening to give way at any moment.  Behind him was a beefy young man in jeans, sneakers, and a black AC/DC tee shirt.  Ahead of him ran the villain Death Medal -- a muscular man in a black military jacket reminiscent of the Third Reich SS, with silver skull buttons and a raft of medals over the left breast.  His head was a flaming skull.

The villain spun and fired a revolver.  Grandpa hit the deck.  Death Medal laughed.  "You cannot stop me, Grandpa Anarchy!" he exclaimed.  He pointed to the floor far below where fires in steel drums and stormtrooper soldiers ringed a platform on which sat a very small statue.  "With the Infinite Cat Buddha, I will unleash doom upon the earth!"

"Don't tempt fate, Death Medal!" Grandpa exclaimed.  "You're messing with forces you don't understand!"

"Oh, I understand them just fine," said the villain.  "And while you chase me through the upper platforms, my minions have prepared the ritual!"

"Not on my watch!" Grandpa exclaimed.  He leaped from the platform, grabbed a dangling rope, and slid down to the factory floor.  As his sidekick landed beside him, Grandpa charged into the center of the circle and snatched up the small statue.

A net sprung up around him and his sidekick.  In seconds the two were ensnared and suspended in the circle of light.

Death Medal golf clapped.  He stepped out onto a overhead crane hook and chain and slowly descended to the factory floor.  "Brilliant," he said.  "Once again you and your sidekick leap right into my trap.  Oh, that Infinite Cat Buddha?  I bought it at Archie McPhee's.  Don't tempt fate, you said.  Grandpa, it's a cat buddha!  Cheap plaster!"  The villian lifted the statue from Grandpa's hands and smashed it on the ground, grinding it beneath his hee.  The grinning skull appeared to be laughing.  Death Medal removed a small tin from his breast pocket and added, "That place is pretty amazing.  They even sell Supervillain Mints, can you imagine?"  He held up the tin.  "Mints designed just for me!  Sure, they're just sugar and peppermint oil, but the tin is quite stylish, don't you think?  Even a demonic villain with a flaming skull for a head can do with fresh breath, am I right?"  He opened the tin and tossed two mints down his throat.

"I'm going with an old standby tonight," the villain said.  "No magic statues.  I'm using the Illuminated Librum of Inscrutible Verse to bring about the end of the world."

"This, again?" Grandpa asked.  "That one never works!"

"It'll work tonight!" exclaimed the villain.  "I've worked out all the bugs!  And you have a ringside seat!  You and your sidekick in the stylish AC/DC tee shirt -- what was the name again?"

"It's Butt Rock Boy!" the young man exclaimed.  "And when I get out of here I'm gonna go 3-chord rock all over your ass!"

Death Medal looked as if he was raising his eyebrow.  This was quite a trick, given the perpetually-grinning skull that was his face.  "Really?" he asked.  "Butt Rock Boy?  That's your sidekick?"

"Hey, I don't name 'em," said Grandpa.  "They name themselves."

"What's wrong with being Butt Rock Boy?" the kid asked.

Death Medal seemed to roll his eyes.  Again, this was mostly an impression, although the glowing red dots in the cavernous eye sockets did move.  "Kid," he said, "the term 'butt rock' is a perjorative.  It describes overly-processed crap rock with unoriginal lyrics sung by vocalists who hide their lack of talent by singing in a raspy voice.  It's not something to be proud of.  You might as well call yourself Lame Rock Boy."

"Perjorative terms are often reclaimed by the downtrodden," the sidekick said.  "In the same way  that black rap artists reclaimed the N word, I reclaim the term Butt Rock."

Death Medal appeared to be laughing.  Of course, he always appeared to be laughing.  "Are you seriously claiming that Monday Night Football-watching, cheap beer-swilling wannabe UFC fighters who like Creed or Nickleback are an underpriveledged minority?"

"I'm merely trying to reclaim a term used to denigrate a certain demographic," the kid replied.  "And I note that you are making assumptions about what Butt Rock is when we haven't even agreed on a definition.  It's  true that for many people, the term refers specifically to post-grunge, nu-metal rock like Nickleback or Five Fingered Death Punch -- but some definitions include glam rock as a genre of Butt Rock.  I  prefer the definition set forth by Mark Lee in his 2015 article Towards A Grand Unified Theory of Butt Rock, in which he states:

Butt rock is not a single unified genre of music, nor does it have a static definition. Butt rock is always defined in opposition to the head rock of its time. 

Death Medal frowned.  "Head rock?" he said.  "I've never read this article."

"The point," said Butt Rock Boy, "is that if you assume a definition of Head Rock that is innovative, creative, and intellectually challenging, then you can define Butt Rock in opposition to it -- music that is derivative of what came before, that is base and pedestrian and does not challenge creatively or intellectually."

"Yes, okay, I can actually get behind that statement," said Death Medal.

"But not necessarily bad," the boy added.

Grandpa Anarchy struggled to free himself.  "Are we going to fight or what?"

"Hold your horses, Grandpa," said the villain.  "This is getting interesting."  He turned to the sidekick.  "The problem with your definition," said Death Medal, "is that what's innovative is entirely subjective -- some may think Rush or Emerson, Lake and Palmer are brilliantly innovative, others may think them boring and pretentious."

"Granted, but you have to start somewhere," said Butt Rock Boy.  "Let me challenge you a bit:  Let's assume Gary Glitter is Butt Rock...."

"That's easy," said Death Medal.  "He is.  And I'm sure we'd all like to  tar Gary Glitter with as many negative labels as possible -- to say nothing of straight up tar and feathering him."

"But some of the early pioneers of Glam Metal were truly innovative in their own way," said Butt Rock Boy.  "Would we have an AC/DC if not for Slade who came before them?"

"Hey, now," said Death Medal.  "Don't you be calling AC/DC butt rock.  That's straight up classic rock."

"They are the forefathers of butt rock," said Butt Rock Boy.  "Why do you think I wear this tee shirt?"

Anger seemed to flare in the villain's eye sockets.  "That's it!" he exclaimed.  "Your death, boy, will be slow and painful!"  He hefted a large tome, but almost immediately it was lifted from his hands by a giant white paw.   Death Medal spun.  Towering over him was a very serene and fat white cat in a monk's robe.  The creature was at least nine feet tall.

The burning skull gaped.  He uttered a single word: "What."

"That'd be Cat Buddha," said Grandpa Anarchy.  "Like I said:  you're messing with forces you don't understand."

The cat stared at the villain through half-lidded eyes.  It breathed out, then waved a paw.  A hole opened beneath Death Medal, and the villain was sucked down into the earth.

The cat swiped the net holding Grandpa and Butt Rock Boy, shredding it.  They tumbled to the ground.  Death Medal's minions turned and fled.

Grandpa stood and dusted himself off.  "Thanks, Cat Buddha," he said.  "You ask me, music has gone to hell ever since they started playing Jazz on the radio...."

"Namaste, Grandpa Anarchy," said the cat.  "Peace be with you."  It glared at Butt Rock Boy and added, "AC/DC?  Really?"

"Really," said Butt Rock Boy.

"Well, then," said the cat.  It faded from view.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Rubber Forehead Theory

Rubber Forehead Theory
Mark A Davis

Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, opened his eyes.  He was naked and wet, and lying in a long tube of glass and polished metal -- a kind of windowed coffin.  A pleasant feminine voice said, Welcome back to life.  Your body has been reconstituted in our instant regeneration vats.  You are aboard the Hammerhead of of Heedral.  I am the ship's computer Val 9000; I am at your disposal.

Grandpa blinked.  The Hammerhead of Heedral was Jennie Nova's ship.  He'd been through this before.  Jennie was an agent for the galactic empire known as Eieio (pronounced EE-Yow), and registration with the Eieio (pronounced EE-Yow) government meant you could be revived via clone technology and a computer recording of your mind.

Jennie had contacted Grandpa on earth for help on a mission to some planet called Hanl Six.  Fisticuffs might be involved -- and if Grandpa was good at anything, it was fisticuffs.  But the last he could remember, they'd still been travelling to Hanl Six.  There'd been no incident, nothing to explain why he might have recently died....

With a soft mechanical whir, the top half of the coffin arose.  Standing over him was a very healthy young woman  with fair skin and red hair.  She was dressed in a silver bikini and gogo boots, with a shiny blaster on a belt at her hip.  "Don't move," she commanded.  "I'm still trying to calibrate the ship's new defense mechanisms...."

Viscous green liquid dripped from the tank and drained into a grate in the center of the room.  Grandpa said, "I died?  I don't remember nothing....."

"It's not my fault!" Jennie exclaimed.  "Kuh!  It's  this drumdik ship defense system that 5E headquarters forced on us, it's got a few scorching bugs in it...."

Grandpa started to sit up.  Jennie pushed him down.  "I said wait," she said firmly.  "I want to make sure you don't have any bumps on your head...."  She ran a hand scanner over his forehead.

"Why would I have bumps on my head?" Grandpa asked.  "Isn't this a brand new body?"

"Pure fusion," said Jennie, "but I just want to be sure.  I mean, we have your DNA profile and memory and personality readings stored, but it still takes a few hours for the cloning tanks to restore you.  No harm taking an extra minute if it might save you several hours!"

Llahna walked into the room.  Like Jennie, Llahan wore a silver bikini and go go boots -- it was the official uniform of the Society of Intergalactic Space Babes.  Unlike Jennie, Llahna was clearly an alien -- you could tell by the blue skin.  She was an Arellian from Kootah Delphi Seven in the Trifid Nebula.

"Is Captain Headbang finally awake?" Llahna asked.

Grandpa frowned.  "Does someone want to explain what happened to me?"

"You died," Llahna said.

"I got that part," Grandpa growled.  "What does that have to do  with me banging my head?"

"It's a bit complicated," said Llhana, "but the Eieio (pronounced EE-Yow) Empire has had a problem lately with terrorists, assassins, and spies from Zorath.  You're familiar with Zorath, aren't you?  They're aliens who look almost human, except for the bumps on their forehead...."

Grandpa nodded.  "Yes, yes.  The old Rubber Forehead rule -- lots of aliens are humanoid with bumpy foreheads or weird colored skin or hair.  Nobody can explain it."

"Exactly," said Llahna.  "These spies are disguised as humans by covering up or hiding the bumps on their foreheads.  To combat it, 5E -- the Eieio (pronounced EE-Yow) Empire Endowment and Encouragement Enforcement agency -- rolled out this new security system designed to detect aliens disguised as humans...."

"Let me guess," said Grandpa.  "Based on the bumps on their foreheads?"

"That's right!" said Jennie.  "Only, it's a bit buggy... and you hit your head pretty hard...."

Grandpa's eyes crossed.  "Wait a second.  Are you telling me your own security system killed me, because of a bump on my forehead?"

"But we put you back together," exclaimed Jennie, "So it's really okay!  We just need to make sure it doesn't happen yet again...."

"Doesn't happen yet again?" Grandpa yelled.  "How many times...." he began as he raised himself abruptly.  His head banged into the lid of the coffin.  Jennie and Llahna hit the deck as laser fire erupted.  Klaxons blared.  Sirens wailed.  "DANGER!  ALIEN DETECTED!  DANGER!  WARNING!" the ship's defense system exclaimed.  The room filled with knockout gas and the acrid smell of burning flesh -- Jennie and Llahna were barely able to activate their holobreathers in time.


When it was over, Jennie and Llahna examined Grandpa's corpse.  Llahna asked, "What is that, five times now?"

"TANJ!" Jennie swore.  "This is getting old!  If we can't disable that system, then I say don't revive him until we reach Hanl Six."


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Classic Anarchy: Dead Again

Dead Again
Mark A Davis (idea by C.D. Woodbury)

In a massive cave-like underground warehouse filled with strange vehicles hidden beneath dustcloth, a dog-girl was sweeping.  Here could be seen a jetbike, there a giant dimensional gateway like a pool set on its side, over there a submarine sitting in dark, placid water.  A large saucer-like ship dominated one corner.  The girl had grey fur and a dog's head and was dressed in a jeans skirt and blouse with flight goggles and a red scarf.  Two metal licenses hung from a chain around her neck.  She carefully swept around the base of what looked like a portal into another dimension, albeit currently deactivated.

A phone rang.  A young woman in rainbow-hued tights with a rainbow-colored ponytail appeared.  "I got it!" she called out, and sat down before a large and ancient computer.  She tapped a button.  "Anarchy Hotline, this is Broad Spectrum speaking," she said.  "How may I help you?"

After a pause she added, "No, I'm sorry, he's not available at the moment.  Grandpa Anarchy is dead."

The dog girl emptied her full dustpan into a robotic trashcan.  Lights flashed.  Something whirred and went clunk.  Flames flared up, incinerating everything.  A computerized voice said, "Thank you for not smoking!"

"Yes, you heard me correctly.  He's kicked the bucket.  He's shuffled off this mortal coil.  He's feeding the tree.  Dead as a doornail, which a weird phrase that I've never understood, why is a doornail any more dead than the door itself, or the doorframe, or the wall or the floor?

"Sorry, just trying to make it as clear as possible."

Broad Spectrum leaned back in her chair.  "Permanent?  Well, normally I'd say yes, of course.  When you're dead, you're dead.  But this is Grandpa Anarchy we're talking about.  He's died before, you know.

"I'm just his sidekick.  I was only on the job for four days when this all went down, so I don't know.  If you need immediate assistance I could connect you to the office of the League of Two-Fisted Justice.  The other memebers are all still very much alive.  Also, there's the Archons of Excellence, and independants like Solar Sister and the Crimson Cyclone, and that new group, the Black Moon... oh?  Well ok then, have a good day."

The young woman turned to the dog-girl.  "I really want to thank you for coming over to help me out, Dog Is My Copilot," she said.  "I have no idea what I should be doing at a time like this."

"Bark!" the dog-girl replied.

"Is there any news from Bluejay?"


"Ok," Broad Spectrum said, "let me know if you hear anything."

The phone rang again.   "Anarchy Hotline, Broad Spectrum speaking."  There was a pause, and she said, "Grandpa?  No, Grandpa Anarchy is currently dead.  I could connect you to the offices of the League of...."

Her voice trailed off.  "He hung up," she said.  "That sounded like the sme guy too.  I guess he was just calling back to be sure?  Anyway, I...."

The phone rang.  "Anarchy Hotline, this is Broad Spectrum.  No.  He's dead.  Didn't you just call?  No, he hasn't gotten any less dead in the last fifty-one seconds.  Look, if you really need help, I can connect you to...."

The young woman stared at the computer and sighed.  "He hung up again.  What an idiot.  I mean, I know Grandpa Anarchy has cheated death before, but...."

The phone rang again.  Broad Spectrum said, "This had better not be the same idiot again, I swear...."  Dog Is My Copilot growled softly.

"Hello?  Yes, this is the Anarchy Hotline, I'm Broad Spectrum, Grandpa's current sidekick.  Oh, it's you again?  Why am I not surprised.  Look, I don't know what your game is, but... hmm?  What did I tell you?  Do I have to say it again?  Okay then:  Grandpa Anarchy is still dead.  There, happy now?"

Broad Spectrum keyed the phone off.  Almost immediately it rang again.  She sighed.  "I have a feeling this is going to be a very long day," she said.  "Hello, Anarchy Hotline...."


In a building in another part of the city, Kid Gloves and Geothermal Jenny, two members of the villainous League of Former Sidekicks watched as Kid Enigma dialed the phone yet again.  Kid Gloves giggled.  Jenny rolled her eyes.

"Look" she said, "I know this is the first time one of our revenge plots has ever been successful  but why do we need to keep calling to ask if he's dead?"

Kid Enigma said, "I just enjoy hearing them say it."