Fear of a Clown Planet
Mark A Davis
Her lips and nails were red as blood, and her buisiness suit as black as sin. She had predatory eyes like those of a viper. Julia Judas had been the CEO of Omigen Corp since 1969, but she appeared to be no more than thirty-five. She was the daughter Jamison Judas, son of Joseph Judas, son of Julian Judas, son of Jebadiah "Madman" Judas -- all villains who had opposed Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero, and his mentor the Gentleman Brawler before him. Grandpa considered her a sworn enemy -- and yet here he was, begging for her help.
"Never fear, Mr. Anarchy," Julia said. "Doctor Angela Chen is my top scientist, a certified genius. If she cannot isolate this immunity serum found in your pancakes and replicate it, then nobody can."
"I hope so," Grandpa said, "though I doubt my sanity in coming to you. I should be out in the street punching clowns. Your corporation is one of the least trustworthy in Frosthaven, if not the entire country."
"You came to me, Mister Anarchy, because this is an emergency and we are experts in genetics," Julia replied. "We are the leading authority in the field and have been working with the United States government and military for decades, supplying them with elixirs and genetic enhancements. You could have gone to Mr. Magoon at MJM Enterprises, your friend Ichabod Berelli at IB Enterprises, or even to your friend Jay Medberry and his associates, but the city is in crisis so you came to me."
Grandpa Anarchy wore his usual clothing -- an old and nondescript gray suit with a silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast. Beside him was his sidekick Panic at the Dance Hall Boy, a muscular lad in a multi-colored spandex outfit accessorized with glow sticks and flashing lights. Beside Julia, General Van Der Ven, a five star general, scowled.
On the far side of a glass wall was a laboratory where several scientists worked feverishly under the direction of Doctor Chen.
"This wasn't my choice," Grandpa said.
"Omnigen has never steered the U.S. military wrong," said General Van Der Ven.
"Mister Anarchy," said Julia, "the current crisis is your fault, not mine. Just because you and I have had our differences -- and yes, to be fair, you and my brother, and our father, and our grandfather, and our great-grandfather, and our great-great-grandfather -- does not mean that I intend to drown in a sea of clowns. The day I allow clowns run the world is the day I turn in my doctorates in genetics & genomics and in medicine."
As Grandpa opened his mouth, she quickly added, "And no, I do not speak of those clowns in congress! I mean those clowns out there!"
She pointed out a small side window that looked down on the city of Frosthaven. White-faced clowns with red noses roamed the streets, terrorizing people with pies, lapel flower water squirters, balloon animals and squeaky shoes. A clown apocalypse had engulfed Frosthaven and threatened to spread to all of New Jersey. Grandpa Anarchy bit his tongue. He wanted to say that he knew how to deal with a clown apocalypse -- that you just needed to find the clown with the golden mask and defeat him, and that a serum preventing mind control was built into the strawberry pancakes that he could summon with his magical lapel pin, given to him by an alien god. But the truth was, the apocalypse had already grown too large for one hero and his magic lapel pin.
"All I'm saying," said Grandpa, "is that your company has a certain knack for hiring unhinged madmen...."
"What Grandpa means," interrupted Panic at the Dance Hall Boy, "is that the brilliant minds hired by Omnigen often demonstrate a lack of care, a willingness to ignore common safety procedures, and a worrying tendency to experiment on themselves in order to achieve their goals."
"Exactly!" Grandpa chimed in. "Omnigen gave the world Doctor Totengräber, the Octarine Orc, Komondor Dogman, Doctor Unipus...."
"You get nowhere in this world by playing it safe," Julia said. "We pride ourselves in hiring the sharpest and most ambitious scientists the world can produce. There have, of course, been a few accidents and mistakes along the way...."
"Twenty-seven supervillains by my count," said Grandpa Anarchy. "Plus seven heroes, to be fair...."
"Each hero being worth several villains, as you've previously stated, that's a net gain for us," said Julia. "Mister Anarchy, science is always portrayed as the bad guy in science fiction stories, but we don't live in stories...."
"Speak for yourself!" Grandpa snarled. "I live in a world where clowns threaten to take over America, led by the resurrected king Bofforma III of an ancient Kalownian Empire -- an empire of clowns from over 4,000 years ago -- and the only antidote is contained in strawberry pancakes summoned by a magic lapel pin given to me by an omnipotent alien who calls himself the Reality Bender!"
Gunfire echoed in the hallway. An armed guard stepped through the door. "Clowns are storming the building, Miss Judas!" he called out. "We can't hold them off forever!"
Behind him, another guard was hit in the face by a cream pie. As he scraped the pie from his face, his skin turned white, and his nose bright red. It swelled like a tomato. The first guard spun about and shot the second in the chest. The clown collapsed to the ground, mortally wounded.
"Wait," said Panic at the Dance Hall Boy. "We're shooting them now? These are ordinary citizens!"
"Desperate times, my friend!" Julia Judas stated. "The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few! The only thing that matters is that we save the city!"
The door to the inner lab burst open. Doctor Angela Chen stood there, a vial in hand.
"I require one of these cream pies with which the clowns infect new victims," said the doctor. "I have isolated the antidote! But first I must test its effectiveness... on myself!"
"Oh no we don't!" Grandpa Anarchy exclaimed. "No genius scientist is going to experiment on themselves on my watch!"
Grandpa lurched forward, but another soldier had already delivered a pie to the scientist. With a smirk and a hint of madness in her eye, Doctor Chen smashed her face into the pie. Her skin turned a pasty white. Her nose turned red, and began to swell.
An assistant in a lab coat stepped forward, injecting Doctor Chen with the antidote.
Several things happened in rapid succession. Two more soldiers backed into the room, firing their rifles. One glanced behind, called out, spun and fired on the clownified Doctor. She collapsed, struck through the heart. However, as she lay dying, Doctor Chen's nose shrank and her skin returned to its normal hue.
After a moment, Grandpa said, "Well, the good news is the serum works -- and we didn't produce another supervillain...."