Until Next Week

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Superhero, ‘2-D’ walked deep in thought. He should be rejoicing right now, another stereotypical evil villain had been done away with. The people of ‘Futuristic City’ were safe once more; well, until next Sunday at 8pm.

When they were finished cheering his glory in the streets, they would go home and sleep easily because of him. Because he, 2-D had killed SEV (Stereotype Evil Villain), quite painfully with a dart whose tip had been soaked in Hydrofluoric Acid.

The effects had been – unexpected. Although the final edit would never show it; it had actually taken quite a large number of darts. Not the simply the ‘one’ which the television edit would show. In actuality, 2-D had pumped possibly hundreds of the darts into SEV before the chemical had finally taken effect.

Then, when it did start working, the chemical had eaten SEV’s bones away, with an excruciating sluggishness which had left the villain screaming his torturous pain for almost an hour before he had finally died. The sound of those cries still rang in 2-D’s ears even now. It was leaving him with a cold and shivering sensation which was worse than it normally was after such endings.

A thing that the cheering, innocent and protected crowds celebrating on Main Street didn’t seem to connect with – Not fully at least anyway; was the horrifying fact that 2-D had just killed a person, in the most painful way possible. Every week once he was away from those crowds, the sensation washed over him. The one that let him know that he was as bad as these villains he killed. This week, he couldn’t avoid the knowledge that he was actually worse than the Villain.

SEV’s plan to take over the populace would have been relatively painless for the individuals. They would have been brainwashed, and therefore happy with their situation.

What had been dealt to SEV in return for this plot had been pointlessly painful. It was a punishment to appease the more wicked part of 2-D’s psyche. He could have used a million tools which would have provided a quick and painless passing. Instead, he had chosen the most painful death he could think of. For this, the crowds cheered him.

2-D slunk deeper into the back streets of Futuristic City. He pulled his hood down further over his face and bowed his head towards the cement ground at his feet. He had to hide his distinctive purple spiky hair and glowing orange eyes. It would not do his public image any good to be found out where he was going. Merchandise sales would plummet and 2-D would be broke.

His feet walked without any conscious thought on his part: Through the darkened suburban backstreets and out onto a busy road in the slums. Flashing, red, hologrammatic billboards filled the walkway ahead of him. Each one advertising the “talent” inside the store they hovered in front of.

His hood still hiding as much of his face as possible, and still looking at the ground, 2-D didn’t even notice as he silently walked through the image of Busty Barbara and her Boa. Instead, he cut down a little known alleyway along the side of the building.

Where he was going, there were no advertising signs, only a large black steel door and a burly bouncer with many scars and only one eye. ‘The Third Dime ’N’ Shun’ had no title or name printed anywhere outside of the building at all. Only that door, and the bouncer who guarded it.

It was the same bouncer that he found here every Sunday night. Despite the fact that they never spoke, they recognized each other easily enough. 2-D lifted his head from the pavement so that his sparking orange eyes could be seen by the man at the door. No one else had eyes like his; it came as a side-effect of the off-world chemical cocktail which had given him his superpowers.

The bouncer made no sign of recognition at all. Not a smile nor a nod, there was neither fear, nor awe shown to 2-D from this man. His features showed nothing at all. He simply opened the door to allow entry into the world behind it. For this, every week 2-D liked this man more than any other person he’d had contact with since the accident with the alien chemical freight transporter. This bouncer was truly impartial to everyone.

The bar inside was dark, so that faces were not easily recognizable. The music was audible, but in no way deafening, conversations here could be easily heard. The room itself was insanely long, and filled with very basic round pine tables and chairs. At the very far end was a stage, on which a woman with pale skin and black hair danced, naked in a cage with a tiger. Against the furthest wall was a row of snooker tables around which a few small groups had gathered. At the end of the room from those, closest to the door, and near where 2-D stood now, was a bar. Not a special bar of any kind, but it served drinks and that was all that mattered really. 2-D pushed his hood back from his face, and made his way towards a glass of very strong whiskey.  

The first glass of whiskey (no ice) disappeared down his throat almost as soon as it was put in front of him. The second however, he drank down at a more reasonable rate, though only slightly so. He took the time to savour the sounds and smells of the bar. A few voices hollered out to the stripper, each placing their bids for how much they’d pay her to come back to their places after she finished work. 2-D knew that none would succeed with their propositions; the lady in the cage was married, and had a young child who was currently sick with the chicken pox.

Over by the snooker tables an argument of some sort had broken out. Nerdman and Captain Redback were at it again. Every Sunday night, it was the same thing with those two: Who got to that table first. Never mind that there were 8 tables currently not in use, they both had to have that particular table. Every week it was the same thing. In a minute or two, 2-D knew, Nerdman would throw the 8-ball at Captain Redback’s head, and Captain Redback would then retaliate by breaking a pool cue over the other’s head. Within 20 minutes the two would be so involved with their fighting that they wouldn’t even notice when Doctor Miscreant and SensationalMan stole the table they were fighting over. It was the same thing, guaranteed, every Sunday night.

Back over near the door, The Pink Razor sat on her own, crying into her drink. This was also a regular Sunday night sight. Her drinks were different every week. Tonight she seemed to have some sort of Martini on the table in front of her. An Appletini, 2-D thought it might be. Not that it mattered. She wouldn’t actually drink it, she never did. She had been sober for a number of years, so she caved and ordered the drink, had one sip, felt bad about letting the addiction win and then just sat in the chair staring at the drink crying about it all night. Every Sunday night, guaranteed. Just like the issue of the snooker table.

Masspromo Woman and Poison Pavlova were at the front with the crowds offering their various fortunes to the woman in the cage. If it were not for the sick child, the two female lovers would be winning that little competition, 2D thought to himself. They weren’t offering Emerald Madtsoiidae money or corporate favours like the men were. No, they were offering their combined attentions. To a woman such as Emerald Madtsoiidae, it would be a much more appealing offer. She was very — liberal with her freedoms. She wasn’t greedy for money, and as 2D’s official arch nemesis she had all the corporate backing she needed already in her pocket. On any other Sunday, it would certainly be “The Masslova Duo” taking Emerald Madtsoiidae home.

Tonight, he could see the appeal of the two women. It was a curious thing for 2D, a completely new sensation for him. He had been created to be, as his name suggested, two-dimensional. Which was to say; he had always been completely and totally asexual. Tonight, something was different though. Almost as though, the way he had killed off SEV, had caused a third character dimension to develop. 2-D tossed down what remained of his drink and ordered another.

This was bad. His publicity and sponsorships depended on his only having two dimensions. If he developed a third character dimension, it’d be horrific. He’d have to change his name, and that wasn’t on. 3-D just sounded like he was a lame 80’s special effect.

He paid for his new drink and looked once more toward the cage. She was sexy. He’d never noticed before. Emerald Madtsoiidae had always just been “the enemy” to him. But as she moved inside that cage, one or two of the stretch marks from the births of her children were visible; there was something about them that did something for him. A very strange thing to find sexy he thought to himself. But then, how would he know what was normal or not about such matters. To him, they were sexy. The stretch marks humanized her, softened her in a way that her words and body-shape never could.

Being usually a very two-dimensional hero, he had never paid very much attention to Emerald’s Sunday night routine in the cage. There seemed, to him, to be something not quite right about tonight’s act though. It was hard to tell what was wrong with it, having never paid attention to it before. He turned to ask SensationalMan over at the pool table if he noticed anything strange about Emerald’s act. He never did get the chance to ask though, because at the same time as he turned around, he worked out what it was that was strange.

The smoke on the stage was not coming from the smoke machine. It was coming from Emerald’s boots. This realization was a fraction too late though as those who were closet to the stage were already passing out. By the time Doctor Miscreant had yelled, “Dead Man’s Sleep Smoke! Get out!” The only other people awake in the entire bar to hear the warning were 2-D and Poison Pavlova.

Pavlova was mourning over her sleeping lover, and futilely attempting to get her to wake up. Once she did finally realize what exactly had happened and who was responsible, Poison Pavlova stood up very calmly and reached for the needles in her belt.

Having enough experience battling against both women during his program 2-D knew exactly what she was about to do, he also knew why it would not work against Emerald Madtsoiidae. He did not stop and think at all before breaking his contract and ignoring the network’s copyright on the manoeuvre and employing his ‘Spiral Bolt’ to fly across the length of the room in record time to stop Pavlova from throwing her poison filled needle which would, of course, be hurtled back at her the instant it left her hand.

2-D caught her wrist just moments before it freed the needle from its holdings. “Anything you throw at Emerald, will only end up coming back at you.” 2-D quickly explained.

As Poison Pavlova lowered the needle there was a crash from the roof, and an explosion of effects smoke. There, appeared beside Emerald Madtsoiidae a new villain, one who none of them had ever seen before. He had neon green hair, thick lens glasses, seemingly mismatched teeth, over large ears, a cleft chin, and wore a tuxedo with a bow tie. Fairly tame for a super villain 2-D thought, the man really should speak to his makeup and wardrobe department.

“I –” he spoke in a self-important way, at the only three people awake in the room. “Am Governor Censor!” He announced as though everyone should have heard of him, and been suitably awed to be in his presence. The response was, not what he had hoped for.

Poison Pavlova blinked at 2-D who in turn looked questioningly to Doctor Miscreant, who simply shrugged and looked to the stripper’s cage expectantly for a greater elaboration from Emerald Madtsoiidae. Her reply to the curiosity of the three unaffected people in the room was simple. “I don’t know either. But he said he could get my oldest boy into Villainies College next year if I took him on as a partner.” Her black hair bounced with her words. “Only the very best can get their children into Villainies!” Her skin glowed with happiness and pride.

2-D felt happy for her in a way which ignored his current life threatened situation. He knew how much her children meant to her. The rest of the room apparently agreed. Villainies was impossible to get in to. Pavlova squealed happily for her friend. “That’s wonderful Em! I know how much you wanted them in.” The women cheerfully chatted over the issue in that way which women do over such great news regarding children. As they did so, 2-D’s eyes strayed to the new person.

Governor Censor was shifting impatiently in his spot at the centre of the stage with the microphone. It seemed an odd reaction for someone who had orchestrated the deal. If it had been 2-D he would have enjoyed seeing the women so happy over what he had done for them. Doctor Miscreant seemed to have noticed this oddity too, for he now sidled up beside 2-D and whispered into his ear. “Shouldn’t this Censor person be enjoying their happiness?”

Almost immediately, Governor Censor made the issue clear. He switched the microphone on and after blowing into it and counting to check it was working, spoke. “Hi. Remember me? The evil guy who just crashed in with a cloud of smoke after organizing to have most of the bar unconscious?”

The women both quietly murmured, “Sorry,” In admonishment. 2-D understood; in their line of occupation, such situations were a weekly occurrence. It became difficult to take it all seriously after a while. Even when it was real.

“You will be sorry.” Censor smirked stereotypically. “Because I was lying.” The women froze. Their minds not wanting to process what the man had just said. “How could I get anyone’s kids into Villainies? I just needed you to emit the ‘Dead Man’s Sleeping Smoke.’ Which you have done now.” He laughed even more stereotypically now.

Beside 2-D, Doctor Miscreant muttered quietly. “I’ve done a lot of evil, but to mess with someone’s children? That is really low.” After a moment watching the two, deathly, silent women, he added to his thoughts. “And, very stupid.”

Emerald’s eyes went red. 2-D had never seen that before. The tiger even cringed in a little bit of fear. She attempted to blast her way out of the cage, which she found suddenly to be more secure than what was normal.

“I think you’ll find,” Governor Censor spoke very crisply, “That I prepared for your reaction.” He looked coldly through his thick lenses. “I am on a crusade my dear, to clean the world of video games. You are guilty of producing many which scar young minds, and incite unsavoury deeds. Like the gluttony which turned my hair green!” His face raged at the woman now trapped in her cage. “You have been useful in my plan here tonight, but your usefulness has ended and now you will pay for what you did to me, and so many other children with your addictive computer games.”

Governor Censor pulled from his jacket’s inside pocket, what looked to 2-D to be a television remote control. He pointed it at Emerald Madtsoiidae, and paused barely a moment to gloat before pushing a button. A little laser beam in the shape of a bullet shot from the end of the remote control. It hit Emerald in the chest and she crumpled into a pile of ash.

2-D felt himself frozen at the scene playing out in front of him. He had liked Emerald, and was only just beginning to find her attractive. Doctor Miscreant gasped in mild shock, and Poison Pavlova actually screamed in horror to see someone who her and Masspromo Woman had shared a bed with, disposed of in such an efficient way.

Governor Censor crowed proudly at the shock he had elicited. “Do I have your full attentions NOW?” He smirked. “Here is what you are all going to do for me -” He went on to expand his plans and how 2-D was going to help clean up entertainment for the ‘betterment’ of the masses.

2-D’s mind was too fuzzy to process all the points that Governor Censor listed. It was as though he had been dosed with Pavlova’s sugared sweets.

‘That’s it!’ he thought. His mind rushing over everything Governor Censor had said. “Pavlova.” He whispered. “He said he had a problem with gluttony. Use your sugared cream puffs to brainwash him.”

“They’re in Masspromo Woman’s handbag.” She replied fretfully.

“I can help. But you’ll have to distract him.” Doctor Miscreant whispered a moment later.

2-D struggled and focused on what Governor Censor was saying. “Excuse me.” He interjected loudly to Censor. “But how could we four alone do that? None of us has the power to change what has already happened, in order to edit the news.”

Pavlova caught on to 2-D’s idea very quickly and began firing off criticisms and questions of her own. As Governor Censor became engrossed in defending his plan, Doctor Miscreant detached his BoomerGlue from his belt and quietly flung it at Masspromo Woman’s handbag.

As the glue connected silently with the handbag, it swooped it up and curved back around to Doctor Miscreant. 2-D watched enviously from the corner of his eye whilst Censor answered another of Pavlova’s questions. He had always wanted that glue, and had been so annoyed at the network for giving it to someone else. But right now that wasn’t important. Right now, they were in a real situation, and Doctor Miscreant had the handbag which he slid sneakily across the floor over to Poison Pavlova. 

Once it rested safely at her feet Doctor Miscreant, being the furthest from her, asked a question of his own. To answer, of course, required Governor Censor to turn his head away from Poison Pavlova giving her the chance to rummage amongst the receipts, make-up, perfume, and other junk in Masspromo Woman’s handbag.

She was not quick enough it seemed. Because just as she pulled the bills out of the bag to see easier, Governor Censor turned his head to speak her.

“This is the same as I was explaining to you dear dumb Poison Pavlova -” He would have elaborated, except that he noticed the handbag, which she had her hand dug into. “What are you doing?” He frowned suspiciously.

“It’s just -” she stumbled over her words. “We’ve all had a lot to drink -” her words trailed off as she frantically tried to buy herself time. “I thought a snack might help sober us up enough to understand your genius.” She looked pleadingly at the man. “Would you like one too?” She offered producing a sugary cream puff from the bag.

Governor Censor’s tongue froze on any more words as his gaze stuck itself to the delightful looking treat. “It would be a sin.” He muttered quietly to himself, staring at the proffered sweet. “But, only one…?” He went on to reason to himself as he moved forward in a trance like state. “Well. One is hardly gluttony. That’s just sustenance. I need something after all. It has been a long night.”

They all stayed frozen and still as the man moved off the stage to take the sugary cream from Poison Pavlova. Beside him Doctor Miscreant drew a nervous breath in between his teeth. 2-D felt his own pulse racing. Poison Pavlova seemed frozen somewhere between fear, and evil delight, as Governor Censor slowly sunk his teeth into the sweet.

When he finished it, there was a moment, a very small moment; but a scary moment for the gathered group, where nothing happened. Governor Censor reached out wildly for Masspromo Woman’s handbag still clutched tightly in Poison Pavlova’s hands. Just as he had overpowered Pav, for the handbag which he presumed to contain more sugary creams he quite suddenly, and quite thoroughly – froze.

“What are we going to do with him now?” Doctor Miscreant pondered. “Those things wear off pretty quick.”

Without consulting the others, 2-D took a tight hold of the frozen, would-be villain, activated his ‘geodetic effect jet’ and blasted off into the air through the hole in the roof.

Several hundred miles above Futuristic City he called up a LWT (Localized Wind Trap,) and let Governor Censor free fall into it. The LWT closed itself around him, whipped around the city impressively and then zapped itself to somewhere unknown.

2-D did a backwards somersault and then floated slowly back down to the bar. Coming back in through the same hole in the roof, he grinned widely at Poison Pavlova and Doctor Miscreant.

The group hug was a solemn thing; there was much less excitement than what could have been, but all three had their eyes on the pile of ash that had once been Emerald Madtsoiidae, and which was now being prodded by the nose of the tiger still in the cage.

As Masspromo Woman woke up and was instantly grasped in Pavlova’s happy arms, 2-D heard a clear and loud voice echo through the bar. What it said stifled all his joy.

“That’s a wrap! Good show tonight.” It was a different director from the normal Sunday program who walked in from some side door, but he still stood out enough to let 2-D know that this had all been a stunt which no one had told him about. “Fantastic start to the new late-night edition for adults. We’re going to own the ratings, I can feel it. We will have “3-D” merchandise sales sky-rocketing!”

2-D felt himself in a mental void filled with only static. No one had told him they were doing a show. He had placed his favourite bar on television, so that now he could never return. Emerald Madtsoiidae was gone forever because he had chosen to come here after killing SEV with the Hydrofluoric Acid.

All he could think of now was a static noise. He hadn’t known. Now Emerald’s children were without a mother, and 2-D had no idea who would be the one to tell them, and try to explain it to them. He knew that he could not. The worst was that this time, he had no favourite bar to slink off to, because he was standing there now.

“Come on.” Doctor Miscreant placed a hand on his back. “I know another bar that we can hide in.” He spoke with quiet and understanding sympathy. “You’ll just have to be a bit careful of the vampire hunters. They can forget they’re off the air sometimes and get a little bit over zealous. Other than that, it’s almost the same.” He trailed off before adding, “Very weird doorman though. Calls everyone ‘brains.’”

~END~

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