Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Fund My Catgirl

Fund My Catgirl
Mark A Davis

A display mannequin in blue coveralls screamed, "Scriptures from the future!  I see the changes that are happening outside of me!"  It swung at Grandpa Anarchy, who caught the punch and twisted the bot's arm out of its socket.  "Other participants go on to vote for the identity of the false statement!" the thing yelled.  Grandpa smashed its head  repeatedly with its arm until the creature ceased to move.

"Nyaa!  What's with these things?" Grandpa's sidekick Kitty Kitty Bang Bang asked.  "They make no sense."

"Of course they don't," Grandpa replied.  "They're spambots, minions of the Spam King.  They run around shouting nonsense and destroying everything in sight.  Their master is trying to sow confusion and distress in the market.  I think."

Grandpa Anarchy was the world's oldest hero.  He wore a wrinkled gray suit that might well have existed since the Eisenhower administration.  A silver anarchy symbol was stitched over the left breast.  His sidekick, meanwhile, was a bona fide catgirl, with grey and white tabby fur, cat ears, a cat tail, and a face that was also very catlike.  She wore a rawhide bikini, cowboy boots and hat, and a gunbelt which held two six-shooters.

The two of them stood on a downtown street of New York City.  Neon lights shone in the night, illuminating grimy streets.  Cars sped past, filling the air with a steady stream of engine noise and whooshing air.  No one noticed the drama playing out on the sidewalk.

Two more spambots appeared.  They resembled animate crash test dummies.  "Be luminous!" one screamed.  "The evil will come again, backlit unseeing, a long way from home, quite glittering below the frock!"  One tore up a street sign and wielded it like a weapon.

Grandpa Anarchy charged, fists swinging.  Behind him he heard several shots fired.  Bullets whizzed past his head.

"Hey!" he called out.  "What are you trying to do, kill me?"

In front of him the spambots were struck.  One head exploded, while the other's arm swung wildly as a bullet shattered the elbow.  "Don't worry, nyaaa!" Kitty Kitty Bang Bang called out.  "I'm bending the bullets!  I'm good at this!  Been doing it for years!"

The bot with the sign collapsed.  The second spambot swung its good arm at Grandpa.  He dodged to the left.  Quick as a tiger, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang lunged forward, sinking her claws into the maniken's face.  She ripped and tore, spinning the head sideways.

Grandpa came up alongside the bot.  He grabbed its head and twisted harder, breaking the neck.

"We seduce invisible snares beneath the fog!" it exclaimed.  "You ensnare scary tongues within the vapors, take cover!  The fun is over with what memories...."  The light in the eyes faded, and the bot ceased to move.

"Hate these things," Grandpa said, tossing the bot aside.  "But at least they're cheaply built and easily destroyed."

Minutes later, the two heroes took a left into an alleyway.  Up ahead were more spambots -- at least eight.

"This looks promising, Grandpa," said the sidekick.

"A catgirl who bends bullets, huh?" Grandpa asked.  He glanced sideways at his companion.  "I need to have a serious talk with Jay about who he sends to be my sidekick."

"Mew?  I'm not good enough?" asked the catgirl.  She sized up the approaching spambots, then drew her pistols and drilled the first two in the head simultaneously.

"You speak mournfully tombstones beside the earth!" one spambot exclaimed.

"You're too good," Grandpa said.  He grabbed the next bot and swung it around in a wide arc, crashing it into another.  "I'm supposed to train young heroes.  You're already good enough at this to be on your own."  After a moment he added, "How did you afford that transformation, anyway?  I'm guessing Black Dahlia did it, but she charges an arm and a leg...."

"Nyaa!  I raised the money on HeroFunder, of course!"  The catgirl leaped high in the air, spraying bullets into the spambots ahead.

Grandpa's eyes narrowed.  "Herofunder?  That's one of them intertube crowdsurfing money things?" he asked, while trading blows with another bot.

The catgirl grinned.  "It's a crowdfunding site, Grandpa!"

"Right," Grandpa said, charging into a group of three bots and scattering them.  "And you raised a million dollars on the intraweb?  How?"

"In a slumbering alder hemmed in by violet forests!" one of the bots exclaimed.

"By offering tiered rewards that people want," said the catgirl.  "The lowest  tier netted people weekly exclusive pinup photos for two years.  That was only a fifty-dollar pledge.  I have a friend who's a professional photographer -- they're very good, and we mail out autographed copies.  One tier above that was exclusive access to my adventures on a live stream -- I'm broadcasting that right now!  The top tier was a date with me for an evening.  I sold six of those at $100,000 a piece!"

Spambots littered the alleyway.  Grandpa and Kitty Kitty Bang Bang reached the end of the alley and turned left into a warehouse.  "One hundred thousand dollars for a date...."  Grandpa shook his head.

"A date with a bona fide catgirl," the sidekick added.  "Never underestimate the power of furry fanboys, Grandpa!  Or fangirls -- one of them was female!"

Up ahead waited the Spam King.  This was a short, fat man dressed in scale armor made from hundreds of meat product tin cans.  He stood on a raised dais, an elaborate weapon the size of a Gatling gun on a rotating base nearby.  What it did was anyone's guess.

"Grandpa Anarchy," said the villain.  "At last we meet again!  I knew the destructive campaign of my spambots would draw you out of your cave!"

"Spam King!  Your wicked ways are at an end!" Grandpa exclaimed.

Grandpa whispered, "The last time I fought the Spam King, he used a Subliminal Stimuli Compulsion Gun which rooted me in my tracks.  It broadcasts a steady stream of gibberish directly into your ears, but the subliminal message hidden beneath and between the words compel you to remain rooted."

"Subliminal messages don't work that way," Kitty Kitty Bang Bang replied.

"Tell that to him!" Grandpa snarled.  "All I know is if it weren't for my sidekick I might never have made it out of that fight alive!"

"Well, have no fear, Grandpa," said the catgirl.  "His spam-based attacks are aimed at humans -- but I am more than human.  As a catgirl I am more agile, with quicker reflexes.  My sight, hearing and sense of smell are all enhanced.  I have greater balance and am better able to land on my feet.  I am stronger and more athletic -- I can jump higher, run faster, prowl more silently, and stalk through the shadows undetected.  I am physically 100% superior to a normal human being, and that's not even mentioning my claws, which are a great weapon when needed."

The Spam King flipped the switch on his weapon.  Spam gibberish was blasted at the two heroes:  "Train cleavage, ignore from the industrial complex!  Living within the bubble bound fairy from south of the crystal desert!  Which is north of the shattered remains of Orr and south of Lion...."

Grandpa Anarchy froze.

"Remember my subliminal weapon, Grandpa?" the villain asked with a cackle.  "Of course you do!   This is the upgraded version.  It prevents you from moving or making any move against me...."

Sweat beaded Grandpa's brow as he struggled to move.  "Nnngg... you won't.... get away... with this... Spam King!" he said through clenched teeth.

Kitty Kitty Bang Bang strode forward, weapons drawn.  "Just as I predicted," she said.  "I'm impervious to such weapons...."  She aimed her pistol at the villain.

The Spam King flipped a second switch.  A red laser stabbed the darkness the warehouse ceiling.  It began to move and dart about.  The catgirl's eyes focused on the red dot as it spread across the floor.  She dropped her weapons and chased after it.

"Did I mention I was a third tier supporter of Kitty Kitty Bang Bang's fundraiser?" the villain asked.  "Along with a future date and access to the live stream, that tier came with an extremely detailed breakdown of all her abilities and weaknesses...."


Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Silence Is Golden

Silence Is Golden
Mark A Davis

The villain known as the Holy Terror spread his arms wide, holding his antipapal ferula with its skull motif up to the sky.  He wore a demonic skull mask and a tall pope's hat.  His robes billowed in the evening breeze.  The colors were black and red, sprinkled liberally with skulls.  Behind him stood a terminator-style robot with a titanium skull.  It wore a wide-brimmed, tasseled galero hat of red.

The villain floated up into the air, ten feet above the rooftop of a downtown Frosthaven NJ building.  "Before I end your miserable life, Grandpa Anarchy," the villain exclaimed, "allow me to lay out for you my devious master plan."

"Don't care," Grandpa Anarchy replied.  He drew a pistol and emptied his clip into the robot, but the bullets bounced off.  Grandpa Anarchy was the oldest active hero in the world.  As usual he wore a gray suit, wrinkled and unkempt, with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.

"My ultimate goal is, of course, world conquest," the Holy Terror said.  "But first I must control New Jersey, and use it as a platform to infiltrate and take over New York and its financial centers.  As everyone knows, Grandpa Anarchy is based in New Jersey, and his super hero team the League of Two-Fisted Justice has its headquarters in New York, so my first step was to lure you out into an open confrontation...."

"Still don't care," Grandpa said.  He traded blows with the robot, which knocked him across the rooftop and into a ventilator.

Grandpa's sidekick fired dual pistols at the robot, which had no more effect than Grandpa's had.  His sidekick was a young catgirl -- a human woman with tabby fur covering her body and a catlike face, cat ears, and a tail.  She'd paid to have her body transformed by magic, and was dressed like a cowboy-themed stripper in a black bikini with a fringed vest, cowboy boots, cowboy hat, and a twin pistol gun belt.

"Use some of your magic bullets, Kitty Kitty Bang Bang!" Grandpa exclaimed.  "That terminator bot is impervious to the regular kind!"

"The first step," said the Holy Terror, "was to rob the Second National Bank of Frosthaven, and to leave a message intended solely for you.  Of course, I had Cardinal Deathbot lying in wait to spring my trap...."

"Matthew, Mark, Luke and John!" Grandpa Anarchy exclaimed as he grappled with the robot.  "How many first steps have you got?  Will you just shut up already?  Nobody cares about your stupid plan!"

The deathbot lifted Grandpa in the air and tossed him off the roof.  At the last second Grandpa produced a grappling gun and fired.  The claw wrapped about a roof antenna as Grandpa disappeared from view, then the rope went tight.

Kitty Kitty Bang Bang finished reloading her six shooters.  She took aim at the robot and fired.  A bright explosion ripped Cardinal Deathbot in two.

"Nyaa!  Explosive rounds, yes!" the catgirl exclaimed.  "Magically charged and equal to one kilogram of TNT!"

The villain pursed his lips.  "What?  Dead already?  I wasn't even done with the explanation of my plan...."

Grandpa Anarchy scrambled back up onto the roof.  "Listen," he said, "I get it.  Everyone wants to show off how smart they are.  Well, guess what?  The fact that we're fighting means you've already failed.  I'm the hero, Son, and the hero always wins.  Always.  Trust me, I've been doing this a hundred years, and if we reach the point where you reveal your big plan, then you're doomed to fail.

"All you villains talk too much, you know that?  Every danged one of you.  One day I'm going to meet an enemy that never says nothing, and then maybe I'll face someone who can pull off their so-called great master plan...."


It was morning in the Anarchy Mansion.  Grandpa sat in the kitchen, eating strawberry pancakes.  Kitty Kitty Bang Bang entered the room and dropped the morning newspaper on the table.

"Nyaa!" she exclaimed.  "Great going!  Last night the New Jersey senate voted to give some mysterious villain known only as the Silent Specter full and absolute control of the state!  Nobody knows what his next move is.  You wanted a silent nemesis, and now you've got one!  Hard to stop someone who never tells us what he's up to!"

Grandpa stared at the headlines.  "Well," he said, "I guess it was bound to happen eventually...."


Friday, January 19, 2018


Mark A Davis

Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, strode into the center of the Parkway Central Library of Philadelphia.  He looked around at the rows and rows of books.

"Literate Lemur!" he yelled.  "I know you're in here!  Come out, and let's get this show on the road!"

For several long moments the library was quiet, save for the hum of air recyclers and overhead lights -- all of the people had long since fled.  Grandpa Anarchy wore his usual outfit -- a rumpled gray suit with an anarchy symbol stitched in silver over the left breast.  Today he wore a sea-green tie.  Trailing behind him was a young, dark-skinned woman dressed in red spandex, with bleach blonde hair held back by a red hair band.  She was tall and lanky and wore a deerstalker cap and a double-breasted Ulster overcoat.  On her chest was the astrological symbol for Venus.

"By Librarium!  If it isn't my old nemesis, Grandpa Anarchy!" a voice called out from an upper floor.  The Literate Lemur appeared on a balcony, balancing on the rail.  He was a somewhat portly man in a black and white striped costume with a long, striped tail, a masked face and eyes that reflected light.  "As Shannon L. Adler herself once said, 'If you want to discover the true character of a person, you have only to observe what they are passionate about!'  Thus you find me in a library, wherein lies my greatest passion:  books!"

"Plus, the clues lead us to..." Grandpa's sidekick began.

"And what a fantastic library it is!" the Lemur continued.  "The jewel of the entire Free Library of Philadelphia!  In the planning stages since 1911 and first opened in 1927, the Parkway Central Library is the centerpiece of the 13th largest public library system in the United States, and unique in that it is neither a city agency nor a nonprofit organization...."

"We don't need a history lesson, thanks," Grandpa interrupted, cracking his knuckles.  He walk purposefully towards the stairs to the upper level.

The lemur frowned.  "Well, aren't we the rude one?"  After a moment he added, "And who is your lovely sidekick this fine evening?"

"I am the Cisgender Slueth!" the woman exclaimed.

"Ah," said the Lemur.  "A  nicely alliterate name -- something even the least literate of heroes can appreciate  But that's an interesting word, cisgender."

"It means..." the sidekick began.

"Oh, my dear girl, I know what it means," said the Literate Lemur.  "Do not test me on words if you hope to win!  Do you know how the word came about, I wonder?  Coined in the 1990's as a word meaning the opposite of transgender, itself a word only coined twenty years earlier -- the origins of the words are clear.  From the Latin, trans means on the other side of, and cis means on the same side of."

"Yes," said the sidekick.  "I thought...."

"But the public is not very aware of the prefix cis," the Lemur continued.  "It appears in very few English words.  Some don't understand the word, some consider the word a kind of slur.  It's an open debate among linguists as to whether the word is useful enough, and user-friendly enough, to become a permanent part of our great language."

"Enough talk!" Grandpa Anarchy exclaimed, having reached the top of the stairs.  "I'm here to arrest you, Literate Lemur, on the charge of attempted theft of rare books, and when I do I'm gonna toss your literate ass in the hoosegow!"

Grandpa Anarchy charged at top speed towards the villain.

"Ah, yes.  Hoosegow.  Also an interesting word," said the Lemur, as he dodged Grandpa's punch.  "This is 19th century American slang, most likely a mispronunciation of the Spanish word for tribunal or court, juzgao, which is from the root word juzgar, to judge."

The two trade blows.  "That's nice," Grandpa snarled.  He delivered a rare roundhouse kick, which missed as the Lemur leaped to the top of a bookshelf.  "But the point...."

"Compare also jusgado, Spanish for prison, which might also be the origin of the phrase," said the Lemur, leaping from bookshelf to bookshelf.  "All this is from Latin of course -- Spanish is a Romance language after all! -- judicare, to judge, derived from judex -- a judge."

The Literate Lemur fired a grappling hook, which caught on a lamp high above.  He swung across the room, the upper balcony on one side to the other.  The Cisgender Sleuth met him there, gun drawn.  He did a back flip over the balcony and to the lower floor below.  Meanwhile Grandpa Anarchy had leaped to top of the bookshelves on the lower floor.  He hopped down and punched the Lemur.  The two exchanged a flurry of blows.

"Ah, fisticuffs!" said the Lemur.  "The noble art!  As Elbert Hubbard once said, 'War is the sure result of the existence of armed men... The man who prides himself on fisticuffs is going, some day, to meet a man who considers himself the better man, and they will test the issue.'  Well have at thee, Sir!"

"You're a good one for fancy speech," said Grandpa Anarchy as he dodged and weaved, "but if you expect to beat me in a boxing match, then you've got another think coming."

The Lemur landed a punch to the face, and Grandpa Anarchy stumbled back.  "What was it Churchill said?" asked the Lemur.  "Ah yes -- 'The object of Parliament is to substitute argument for fisticuffs."  I must admit, I enjoy doing both at once.  What you and I are engaged in, Mr. Anarchy, is not just a physical battle, but a battle over words."

"No we're not...." Grandpa began.

"That, my friend, is known as a logomancy," the Lemur continued.  "I'll just bet you weren't aware there was such a word!  It springs from logos, the Greek root which means word or speech, and machesthai, also Greek of course, meaning to fight."

Grandpa said, "That's nice, but I...."

"In fact the second definition is simply a controversy marked by verbiage.  A quite liberal interpretation of this definition might, in fact, cover all of our battles, since we are always fighting, and there is always verbiage.  Indeed, our battles often include discussions about language itself, unlike any other opponent you face."

"Actually," said Grandpa Anarchy, "Hairsplitter Man often comments on...."

"And our battles often take place in temples of learning -- libraries, bookstores -- places dedicated to the written word!" said the Lemur.

"Yes, but that's because you're always stealing...."

"In point of fact," said the Lemur, "I sometimes fancy myself a kind of modern logomancer -- one who divinates from words.  Not that I literally divinate, mind you, but...."

"Logomancy this!" Grandpa exclaimed, delivering an uppercut that lifted the Literate Lemur completely off the ground for one brief moment.

"Only one talking about words is you," Grandpa stated, as the book thief collapsed to the tiled floor.  "Can't get a word in edgewise."

Later, as the Lemur was loaded into a police van, he mumbled, "An interesting idiom, get a word in edgewise.  In use since the 1700's, For me the phrase conjures images of spoken words as if they were on a printed page with an edge... so very apropos!  Indeed, one might even say that...."

The doors closed, and the rest of he had to say was lost.

"Does he always talk that much?" asked the Cisgender Sleuth.

"Always," Grandpa Anarchy replied.


Friday, January 12, 2018

Black Friday

Black Friday
Mark A. Davis

It was cold, dark, and wet.  A light mist was falling from the sky.  Streetlight glinted off parked cars and wet blacktop.  People shivered and stamped their feet, their breath turning to mist.

"I'm telling you," said Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, "this is my favorite time of year."

Grandpa was dressed for action in his typical outfit -- an old, gray suit with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.  He had a fedora, black gloves, and a rarely-worn black diamond mask.  Beside him stood a young woman with dark skin and bleach-blonde hair in a red spandex outfit, with a deerstalker cap and an double-breasted Ulster overcoat.  On her chest was the astrological symbol for Venus.

"I cannot help but assume that you are not referring to Thanksgiving, Sir," she said, "given that you did not even call your relatives to wish them a joyous holiday, let alone visit them or invite them to your mansion...."

"Darn straight, Cisgender Sleuth," replied Grandpa.  "I'm not allowed to go near the great-granddaughters until they're eighteen."  His sidekick raised an eyebrow.  "Oh, it ain't what you think," he added quickly.  "My two granddaughters, Claire and Angela, ain't having with any of this superhero business.  The last time Elsie visited me, she spent a week in fairyland on some fool quest and I still haven't heard the end of it from her mother.  That ain't happening again!  Claire and Angela laid down the law -- no adventures with Grandpa Anarchy until they're officially adults.

"So no, I'm not talking about Thanksgiving!  I mean Black Friday!  Why do you think we're lined up outside this box store at 4:45 AM in the morning?"

The Cisgender Sleuth stared at the long line of people in front of them.  "Well, Sir," she said, "A simple application of Occam's Razor would suggest the most obvious reason -- that there is something which you wish to purchase during this Black Friday sale...."

"Nah, don't be daft," said Grandpa.  "What could I possibly need that I don't already have?"

The sidekick shrugged.  "Given your penchant for strawberry pancakes, perhaps you desire an automated strawberry pancake-making machine?"

Grandpa grinned.  "Oooh, good guess!  That would be pretty sweet -- but I already got this magical pin that produces strawberry pancakes whenever I rub it.  See?"

Grandpa Anarchy rubbed a lapel pin in the shape of a plate of strawberry pancakes.  An actual plate of pancakes appeared in his other hand.  They were steaming in the cold air, and smelled delicious.  He held them up for inspection, then handed the plate to a startled woman behind him.

"Free pancakes," he said.  "Enjoy!"

The Cisgender Sleuth stroked her chin.  "I must confess, our reason for being here escapes me.  Given the nature of this establishment, may I assume you require something to spruce up the Anarchy Cave?"

"What?  No!" exclaimed Grandpa.  "My Anarchy Cave has everything you could possibly want and a lot more besides -- I mean, how many crime caves have a self-aware computer, a flying saucer, and a collection of possessed weapons stored in a safety vault?  And let's not forget the exo-skeleton or the rocket bike!"

The Cisgender Sleuth sighed.  "No, I have not forgotten those things," she said.  "Most of which do not work.  Very well then:  If I must guess, then it would be that you are purchasing Christmas gifts for all of your enemies."

"Why would I do that?" asked Grandpa.

"I really do not know," the Sleuth replied.  "It was merely a guess.  But Black Friday is traditionally the day one gets the jump on Christmas shopping, and we are at a place called the Villain's Lair Emporium...."

Grandpa Anarchy stared up at the red neon sign.  "You got that right!" he replied.  "Finest purveyor of villainous lair accessories on the east coast!  In business over fifteen years now!  Anything you want, they got -- death rays, pit traps, wave motion guns, thrones for your throne room, computer systems for your control room, minion uniforms and storm trooper gear, giant magnet kits, Faraday cages, atomic robots, Jacob's ladders, security bots, artificial gravity plates, lava river kits, ventilation systems -- you don't want to build a volcano lair without a good ventilation system, one large enough for the heroes to sneak in!  Then they got your Archimedes claws, Archimedes heat rays, barracks for the minions, shark pool kits, everything you need to raise mutant animal minions -- and what they don't have, they can special order!  Pretty amazing place, really."

"A one-stop shopping center... for villains," said the sidekick.

"That's right," Grandpa agreed.  "And with fifty percent off between 5:00 AM and 9:00 AM, no villain can resist!"

By this point, the Cisgender Sleuth had taken note of how many of the other people in the long line were eyeing them surrepetitiously -- and how many of these had outfits involving leather, spikes, and helmets with horns or giant all-seeing eyes.

"I note that you are dressed for battle," said the Cisgender Sleuth.  "Perhaps you wish to destroy this purveyor of villanous goods?"

"What?  Smash a business?  On Black Friday of all days?" said Grandpa.  "That don't sound very heroic!"

"I must confess," said the Cisgender Sleuth, "I had no idea that such an establishment existed in our own city...."

"Well," Grandpa said, "we were going to put it in Manhattan, but land in Frosthaven NJ is much cheaper."

The Sleuth blinked.  "You... own this establishment?" she asked.

"Part owner, part owner," Grandpa replied.  "I ain't involved in any day-to-day decisions -- I don't run it.  But about seventeen years ago my financial adviser/lawyer Mal started bugging me to invest some of my money so's I don't lose it all, and there was this really clever enemy of mine named Raymond Wallbridge -- well, back in the day he went by the name the Sinister Saffron Salamander, of course -- and he wanted my help going straight...."

"So naturally you helped him establish a business catering to supervillains," the Sleuth interjected.  "Brilliant."

"Hey," said Grandpa, "it's a legitimate business!  Raymond has been clean and non-villainous for sixteen years now!  I mean, he still has a secret lair -- one of the best you've ever seen! -- but it's all for show.  He's gone straight.

"The point is," said Grandpa, "superheroes and Black Friday go together like a peanut butter, pickle and mayonnaise sandwich."

The Sleuth made a face.  "I have multiple issues with that statement, Sir, but setting aside for the moment the advisability of eating such a sandwich....."

"Don't knock it until you've tried it!" Grandpa exclaimed.

"I have no intention of ever trying it, and every intention of knocking it, Sir," replied the Cisgender Sleuth.  "That said , and despite your partial ownership of this store, I still fail to see any particular connection between Black Friday and superheroes."

By this point the front doors had opened and the line was moving.  Within seconds they were inside.  People were rushing to grab whatever particular sale item had caught their fancy.  Grandpa stood in the middle of it all.  He cracked his knuckles.

"Well," he said, "it's like this:  people like to get into brawls on Black Friday."

"And you're hoping one breaks out here?" asked the sidekick.

"Hoping?  No," said Grandpa Anarchy.   "I know one will."

At that moment a man in a yellow salamander suit appeared.  "Morning, Paul," the salamander said.  "Ready to do this?"

"Morning, Ray," Grandpa replied.  "You know the answer:  I was born ready."

The salamander nodded.  He spoke into a microphone, which amplified his voice throughout the concrete warehouse.  "Greetings, Black Friday shoppers, and welcome to the Villain's Lair Emporium!  Just like last year everything in the store is 50% off until 9:00 AM!  Also like last year, we have a special deal -- we have Grandpa Anarchy present, and anyone punched by him in the face, head, or chin gets an extra 5% off!  But that's not all -- defeat Grandpa Anarchy, and your entire purchase is free!"

The sidekick ducked and rolled out of the way.  The last image she saw of Grandpa Anarchy was of him swinging his fists and grinning, before he disappeared beneath a horde of shoppers.


Wednesday, January 3, 2018

The Return of the Holy Terror

The Return of the Holy Terror
Mark A Davis

A papal ghost floated over the city of Hobokken New Jersey.  Black and red robes decorated with skull motifs billowed in the wind.  There was a demonic-looking skull mask and a tall pope's hat.  The priestly spectre's arms spread wide, as if offering absolution to the world at large, or perhaps poised to embrace the world in darkness.  Trailing behind was a floating fortress the size of a Range Rover.  It bristled with futuristic cannons and turreted death rays.

In the distance across the water one could see the Manhattan skyline.

"Tremble, Hoboken!"  The eerie voice echoed across the city, amplified beyond what one would encounter at an outdoor heavy metal festival.  "Tremble in terror before the Pope of Pain!"

A bright beam of light shot from the fortress and stabbed the ground.  Several buildings exploded in a cloud of dust and rubble.  The demonic pope cackled like a five-year-old with a 101 Party Jokes book.

In the distance an object appeared.  As it drew closer, it resolved into a small flying saucer.  It approached the papal apparition and then paused, about a half mile off.  There were three such saucers often seen around the New York area -- two that belonged to the League of Two-Fisted Justice, and an older, less impressive version that belonged solely to Grandpa Anarchy.  Those familiar with them could clearly see this was the latter.

Inside the saucer, Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, peered out.

"Well," he said, "that didn't take long.  Six weeks ago I was helping him out of the gutter, and now look at him:  flying about like a ghost, lording it over a city with his fancy schmancy floating death ray guns.  You gotta give the old guy credit -- once he got clean and sober he got right back on his horse!  I feel almost like a proud Papa -- you know, apart from the blowing stuff up and taking over the world bits."

As usual, Grandpa was dressed in a rumpled gray suit with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.  The fedora, black leather gloves, and the black diamond mask were optional extras -- he often didn't wear them, but today he'd donned the full costume.

Grandpa's sidekick, a young boy dressed head to toe in red and white spandex with a hood that exposed only his face, piloted the ship.  He was known as the Poughkeepsie Paddle-Baller.  His massive battle paddle-ball weapon lay nearby.

"Annie Two," the sidekick said, "please tell me about a villain known as the Pope of Pain."

A holographic image of a young woman dressed like a 19th-century librarian appeared.  "This is an alternate name for The Holy Terror, a villain who dresses as a demonic pope," she replied.  "Primarily an enemy of Grandpa Anarchy, he was active from 1975 until about 1995.  His specialties were death rays and attempts to conquer the world.  His villainous activity came to an abrupt halt when his funding from the  International Injustice Institute was pulled, after which he fell into alcoholism and wound up on the street."

"We've got to stop him!" the sidekick exclaimed.

"Today, Hoboken," the booming voice exclaimed.  "Tomorrow, the world!"

Grandpa frowned as he stared out at the Holy Terror.  "Well, someone has to stop him, at any rate," he said.  "Can't have villains taking over the world."

"Just tell me what to do, Grandpa!" The Poughkeepsie Paddle-Baller exclaimed excitedly.  "I'm ready to leap into action!"

"That's great, Kid," Grandpa replied.  "Just park the saucer right here, for now."

Grandpa pried open a package of Mother's Circus Animal cookies.  He shoved several of the pink and white iced cookies into his moth.  "Want some?" he asked, offering the bag to his sidekick.  "You know, you can't get these on the east coast anymore, but Black Dahlia brought me a case."

"Now is not the time," replied the Paddle-Baller, frowning.  "And Grandpa, It's a flying saucer.  I can't park it up in the air."

"You know what I mean," said Grandpa.  "Just hover here where I got a good view of everything."

"Roger!" exclaimed the sidekick.  "What are you going to do, Grandpa?  Are you going to use a jet pack and battle him in the air?"

"Nah," Grandpa replied.  "Didn't bring a jet pack.  The last one I had got destroyed by that hovering octopus monster, and I haven't yet replaced it."

Annie Two said, "Noted.  I have just placed an order for a new jet pack."

"Then did you bring the hover bike?" the kid asked.  "I've been wanting to see that in action!"

"Nah," Grandpa said.  "Ever since Death Medal crashed it, that thing's been needing repairs."

"I have now scheduled repairs for the hover bike," said Annie Two.  "You really should tell me these things earlier, Grandpa."

"Well he's too far away for you to just leap at him," the kid replied, frowning.  "I could get closer...."

"Nah, this is close enough," said Grandpa.  He stuffed several more cookies into his mouth.

"Then... maybe you're going to fire a long-range grappling hook, entangle him, and reel him in like a fish?"  The sidekick seemed dubious that such a plan would work, but he watched Grandpa's face hopefully.

"Never could get the hang of grappling hooks," Grandpa Anarchy replied.  "You fire 'em off, and then what?  They bounce off things and fall to the ground.  Useless, I tell you -- at least they never worked for me.  Not like you see in the movies or with your flashier heroes.  Now, Guy Shadow -- he could fire one of those things off and it would wrap itself around some outcrop or pole or whatnot every single time, neat as you please.  Every.  Single.  Danged.  Time.  Don't know how he did it.  I never could.  Perhaps it's just as well -- swooping about on ropes like Errol Flynn, that was never my style."

The boy in red and yellow spandex was by now quite confused.  "Then what are you going to do to stop him?" he asked.

"Stop him?" Grandpa repeated.  "Who said anything about stopping him?"

"But he's destroying buildings...." the sidekick suggested.

"Well, sure," said Grandpa.  "But in Hoboken.  I'm more of a protector of Frosthaven, NJ, you know.  I wouldn't want to overstep my bounds...."

"Sir!  You are an international superhero!" exclaimed the Poughkeepsie Paddle-Baller.

"Sure," Grandpa replied, "and you heard the man, right?  Today Hoboken, tomorrow the world.  If tomorrow comes and he hasn't been stopped, then maybe I'll step in.  But if you ask me, poor Holy Terror is really behind the times.  He's out of the loop -- don't know what's what.  I mean, picking Hoboken of all cities to attack first...."

The sidekick frowned.  "Annie Two," he said, "does Hoboken have a...."

"I see you, Grandpa Anarchy!" the villain boomed.  "Why don't you come out of your flying saucer so we can fight mano a mano?  I have a Papal Death Punch with your name on it...."

A beam of light shot up from the ground, piercing the flying fortress, which exploded in a fiery ball.  "What..." the Holy Terror began, before a second beam of energy struck him.  The villain tumbled backwards.  His pope hat and skull mask flew off.  Then he plummeted to the earth.

A figure flashed up from the ground, catching the falling villain.  It was a man clad in silver cybernetic armor resembling that of a medieval knight.  Wrapped around the top of the helmet was a white cloth turban, fronted by a golden sarpech set with rubies.

The man circled about, waved at them, then descended until he was out of view.

"See," said Grandpa Anarchy, "our town has a villain as mayor, but Hoboken has a mayoral hero -- the Sikh Knight.  Really talented guy too, so I knew he'd have this.  We only came to watch."

After a momen, the Poughkeepsie Paddle-Baller shrugged, and stuffed several frosted animal cookies in his mouth.