Monday, November 24, 2014
Cosplay The 13th
A bonus post lands this afternoon thanks to a flash fiction prompt over at Chuck Wendig’s Terribleminds blog.
For those of you unfamiliar with Chuck and his work, let’s just say — in a run-up-to-Christmas kind of a way — that he’s the other “guy with the beard”.
This week’s prompt was a simple one:
Get the hell up off of your scented bean bag, Whirl, and make merry with your writing paraphernalia.
Write a 1000 word superhero story, mashed up with another subgenre.
I decided to run with moderate horror on this one, and having “turned up” thusly, here’s what I turned out...
Cosplay The 13th
Darkness invades my skull through pursed irises of terror.
Was that a crash or a thump or a bump or a bang?
I kick back my duvet and assume a defensive stance, midway between Rogue Gorilla On The Loose and Possible Vampire Alien.
“It’s Cosplay Time!”
My trademark costume on up catchphrase is met by the silence of a custom-built superhero mansion under threat.
Where is my alter ego’s moulded carapace? My matching boots and helmet? All the fancy swishy swashing of automated hypervelcro?
I throw on the lights and reach inside the bedside cabinet for my Standby Costume Putter-onner Device Array Container Pod — my SCPODACP!
Dials buzz as I punch in my 363-digit encrypted security code and assemble the locater aerial, but in my fear-fuelled haste, I hellheck can’t remember who I chose as my favourite TV or movie star — and the pod dies.
Everything about this scenario suggests INVADERS WITH EVIL INTENT, and without my costume I’m naked as a helpless babe: a bundle of fear waiting to be consumed whole by fear itself.
Someone — or some thing — or some ONES — or some THINGS — or ALL THINGS — have breached my mansion’s defences, and now creep, en stealthy masse, about staircase and scullery, eager to unleash their uncanny devilry upon my helpless, costumeless form with the psychopathic zeal of Elvis lookalikes battling to outquiff each other to the beat of Heartbreak Hotel.
I pull out my phone and call the emergency costume hotline.
A thousand bucks a month buys me premier 24 hour access, but you never know when some intergalactic space war will drag those guys from their desks, leaving behind only a clueless goober and a pile of microwave oven instruction manuals.
Tonight I’m lucky. Tonight I get the stretchy head honcho.
With one ear on every nook and cranny of my mansion, and both eyes popping from my skull, I run through my dilemma — like The Flash.
“Hmmm,” says the guy, “sounds like you have a problem with the destablerized molecules comprising your costume. Best thing is for you to hook up some kind of nuclear generation device to any two parts of your superbeing apparel you can lay your hands on, and perform a straight interdimensional particle swap boost. That ought to meld those costume parts and transform them into a magnet for the rest.”
I thank the guy and rub my hands.
Most other superheroes would be out on a limb right now, but if the sworn arch-enemy of Lieutenant Particle has learned anything from 30 years of superheroics, it’s this:
Given a choice between making a hasty and triumphal post-combat exit from a Death Star, clutching either the plans for a nuclear generation device OR a rare beetle collection, you take the plans every time — then assemble what you find, in your basement, with a 24-piece screwdriver and spanner set.
And, yeah, maybe you steal a few beetles also — and Snoopy Dance.
My brain flips into Mission Plan Mode, cogs whirring, amygdala suppressant soup swirling. All I have to do is figure how to make it through the shadows to the basement without being eaten or roasted, fix up my costume with nukes, then deal with the bad guys without being eaten or roasted.
Do I take the stairs, the elevator, or the curiously superhero-width and ladder-rich ventilation shaft?
Panic grips my throat like my heart had pumped right up inside my neck and made like a boa constrictor with my tonsils.
It’s indecision like this that first led me to become AquaLaserPantherBoyForceMan, and my mind swills with images of the uncle I couldn’t save, the radioactive sea cucumber I felt compelled to insert, the Nordic hammer whose typo I couldn’t prevent myself from pointing out to the Gods (which they subsequently had tattooed all over my body) — and the $3,795 bill for badly sewn spandex.
But there’s no time for origins now. This is the finale.
Preferably not mine.
Flesh creeping about my knotted sinews, I take the pole direct to the basement, cursing myself for letting Flapdancegirl slip from my life. I still hear her leather apron’s skid against the pole’s cold steel, feel the lash of her forty foot tongue against the undersides of my toenails.
What a fool I was to throw her away — to lose her, leave her flailing in Dr Murkswamp’s devillish Sargasso of Doom to die.
I hereby dedicate the forthcoming mortal combat to the memory of our love — just as soon as I retrieve my aquahelmet from its curious new semi-resting place above the basement door.
Its sequinned chrome glints in the candlelight’s twisted shadows as it shakes from side to side, neither levitating, hovering nor flying.
Next to it is a glove, vibrating like the pixels of a frozen DVD movie.
It’s a mis-atomized costume assembly glitch, just as the tech guy said!
A chill waterfalls down my back, but there’s no time to figure out the what, when, why, how, who, where, which, whatever of it all: I have precisely the two parts of my costume I need to reassemble the whole thing.
Heads up! It’s time to kick open the door and make with the nukes!
Or, because I’m still in my exoskeletonless pyjamas, maybe I should just use the door handle.
Lieutenant Particle’s nuke device throbs before me, its Master Booster Power Switch clutched tight by — the coils of Flapdancegirl’s prehensile tongue!
She pounds the switch, hard — and laughs.
My aquahelmet spins onto my head. Gloves and trunks and belts and panther pelts fly in a haze all around me, velcro into place, one by one.
From a secret receptacle below my chin, my underwater protection mask rolls out over my nose and mouth, sealing my costume tight.
But this time, no pffffft of oxygen!
No flip-down titanium snorkel!
Flapdancegirl fixes me in her sights and grins her cruellest erectile dysfunction grin.
It’s Cosplay Time...