Friday, December 21, 2007

The Unusual Suspects


This morning, Gadfly Lad and I had a conference-visi-phone call with Eyeful Ethel. The investigation is really chugging along. And it's about goddamn time, too! Lallor's Solstice Season is almost done, and with it, my "undercover" job as Santa.

The mysterious chemical in those bottles that dropped out of the getaway zoom-lorry? A contraband, extra-dimensional fluid known as "Suspendium." And it just so happens that several bottles of Suspendium were reported stolen from the Space Museum's Gallery of Liquid Curiosities. The fingerprints collected from that crime scene match the ones on the bottles. And sure, the perps had used a Fingerprint Scrambler (another fine product from BrainGlobeCorp) but we still managed to decipher them! We now have four "persons of interest" in this case. Three of them have long criminal records. And all of them have been "off the grid" for years!


No Ah*: Rimborian career criminal. Worked as a henchman for Grimbor, Doctor Regulus, Pulsar Stargrave, and multiple Starfingers. Skilled fighter and sous chef. Flunked out of grade school, beauty school, and clown college.


Karel Henrick Van Schoonhoven: Native of Xenon, where by pure coincidence, all the names sound Dutch. Explosives expert, adult film director. Must wear bubble helmet that simulates atmosphere of home planet, but is addicted to "huffing" oxygen. Never blinks, due to lack of eyelids.


Drogann: Kaffarian voyeur. Freak accident imbued him with uncontrollable power of super-vibration. He can shift his molecules through walls, but he ruins every photo he's in.


Meyer Qayd, a.k.a. "The Mess": "What, me bathe?" This hapless yokel has no prior convictions. That said, we have discovered that he grew up in a trailer pod over which the Mall of Lallor is sitting, this very instant! Y'see, Lallorian construction companies rarely bother to demolish condemned buildings. They'd much rather build the new structures off-site, and then just drop them on top of the old ones! Gentlemen, we have a motive!

But who are they all working for? I mean, if it turns out that the Mess is some kind of mastermind, I'll eat my hat. (Admittedly, this wager is a win-win situation for me. Even if I lose, I'll have an excuse to go hat-shopping!)

*Edited to fix punctuation error.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Some Live Like Ozymandias

Yesterday, my coworkers and I went up to the First Planetary Bank of Lallor, so we could all enjoy seeing my brutally handsome countenance forever immortalized as a giant... um... art... thing.

Eyeful Ethel's rocket-limo pulled up in front of the bank, just as Gadfly Lad and I were nearing it on our humble feet. Tusker, Rainbow Girl, Dentata Damsel, and Frigid Queen quickly piled out. They were followed by Nightmare Boy -- who was wearing his mobile visi-phone headset, which resembles a motorcycle helmet. He didn't say much the entire time, aside from the occasional, drowsy-sounding "Eyeful Ethel's Detective Agency, please hold" and some muffled snoring. Finally, Ethel herself stepped out of the conveyance, onto a red carpet she keeps for such occasions! And sure enough, the moment she emerged from the rocket-limo, a jetpack-wearing paparazzo zoomed by, and snapped a photo of her. She tilted her head coquettishly, and smiled for him.

I thought it was awfully nice of Ethel to take the time to join us, considering how busy she is with her public speaking engagements, and her book club, and her signature line of gourmet tabasco sauces.

I wondered where Storm Boy was, but I decided to keep that to myself. Too many people already have the misguided opinion that I'm seething with jealousy over his entirely hypothetical romance with this "Ox" character. But no, I just regret making him mad at me. Even though I can't figure out how I even did it in the first place! Heck, just two nights ago I showed up at his apartment, about 1:30 AM, unannounced and heavily fortified with space-wine... to make amends! And if I just happened to catch a glimpse of Ox, well, that would have been a convenient coincidence. But Storm Boy refused to even let me inside! (Blockade block!) I started in on the little speech I'd prepared, but Storm Boy interrupted me, and said, "I'm sorry, Blockade Boy, but I can't even look at you when you're... like this." And of course, he was making this sour, wincing face, and only looking at me from the corners of his eyes, with his head all twisted sideways, the whole time I was there. Just like I used to do with him! WHAT THE HELL?! I tried again to talk, but he just said, "Goodbye, Blockade Boy," and (gently) shut the door in my face.

On the slow-moving X-ray treadmill that takes you into the lobby of the bank itself, the eight of us chatted excitedly about what sort of medium would be portraying my magnificent visage. I envisioned a mega-sized, working diorama of my skull, made out of swords, and axes, and other cool weapons. Spiky maces for my eyeballs, perhaps. Ethel surmised it could be a dynamic holo projector. Tusker imagined -- or maybe he was just hungry for -- a butter sculpture. Dentata Damsel wondered if it might be inflatable, like those bouncy fortresses they have at kids' birthday parties, and the art patrons could enter it through the back of my head, and exit through my mouth (sliding down my beard). As with most of her ideas, her complete lack of vocal modulation made it impossible for me to tell if she was serious. After what felt like days, the treadmill jerked to a halt, and deposited us into the bank's spectacular lobby.

And then I saw it.


A mobile.

It was a fucking mobile! With a big red clown nose! Gah!

I'm pretty sure Gadfly Lad, Ethel, Tusker, and Rainbow Girl all managed to hold their tongues. Frigid Queen had her hand over her mouth, but audibly tittered, plus she was shaking all over, like Michael J. Fox on crack. Dentata Damsel's blandly agreeable mug barely moved, while it emitted a percussive, congested snorting. And Nightmare Boy laughed so hard, he hyperventilated and briefly passed out. I can't be one-hundred percent sure of any of this, however, because I was too busy screaming "MOTHERFUCKER!" over and over.

I'm afraid I made a real scene. I must have ranted about that goofy mobile for a good twelve minutes, at least! I think everybody else was mainly amused by me at first, and then they got kinda terrified, and towards the end, boredom set in. When I'd finally run out of invectives -- and steam -- I was left just standing there, all red-faced and panting, fixing the mobile with a goggle-eyed stare. Behind me, I could hear my coworkers muttering in exasperation.

"Up on the housetop, bitch, bitch, bitch, 'Santa,'" sighed Tusker. (Like he should talk--!)

"Drama queen...!" mumbled Nightmare Boy.

"The mobile, as an art form, has enjoyed increasing prominence on Lallor ever since the Atomic Wars," droned Gadfly Lad to nobody in particular. "Why, in the Modern Museum of Lallor alone, there are..."

It was Rainbow Girl who clasped my shoulder and said, gently, "You know Klup meant well, right?"

With no little amount of resignation, I conceded that point.

Rainbow Girl pointed out that it was a rare thing to be the inspiration of such a prominent piece of art, and she added that nobody had ever made any artwork because of her. The others chimed in to say pretty much the same thing -- except for Eyeful Ethel. She just grinned at me and said, "Remind me to show you the holo-painting I posed for. That no-talent doofus made my hair look like Spider Girl's."

Heh. It's strange: I put up with Weight Wizard's constant murder attempts for umpteen years (exactly how many years I can never be sure, thanks to this dimension's damn sliding timeline) but I was more upset by Klup's artistic hackery. As one of Amadus' greatest anonymous poets once said, "I have a heart of steel, but an aesthetic sense as tender as the hairs of a child's biker 'stache." Hmm. I'm going to have to ponder that one for a while. Seeing as how I'm so deep and wise and shit.

*philosophically puffs on pipe*

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Space-Cheddah Diggers of 2987

I had kind of a "freak-out" at work, yesterday.

Y'see, I kinda spent most of the money I'd saved up... on those tickets for "Sweet Chariot." I'm poor again! I've had to buy all my beard-grooming products and back-hair styling tools on credit! (And that shit ain't cheap--!) Anyway, I was doin' the Santa thing, and this one client, he made the mistake of telling me he'd just embezzled several wheels of space-cheddah from his bank. So I asked him how recently it had happened, and he told me it was just before he came to the mall to get absolved of it. And he still had the stolen loot on his person!

I think you all can guess what happened then.

Yup. I "confiscated" it. (For his own good.)

Then I went a little nuts. From that point onward, every punishment I dished out involved me taking people's space-cheddah away from them. I could see the mall's event coordinator getting nervous. How were people going to pay for crap they didn't need if I was taking all of their funds? I gave her the "relax" gesture -- the one where you cup your hands and kind of pat them downward, like you're building a sand castle or warming your mitts on some guy's ass cheeks. The less-orthodox Santa worshipers in line began to slink away when they realized what was going on. Fortunately, the hardcore types got so into it that they started visi-phoning their friends, and then the line was twice as long as ever! And it was packed with folks who insisted that I take all of their space-cheddah! I had a mammoth pile of the stuff goin' by the end of my shift. I finally had to fashion my cape into The Universe's Largest Bindle and just dump it all in there. When I made my triumphal walk down the stairs, all of the mall's executives were at the bottom, with their arms folded and sour expressions on their pusses. But before they could say a word to me, I undid the knot in my cape, swung it around like the hammer toss competition at the Space Olympics, and whipped all that space cheddah directly into a crowd of orphaned, feral toddlers who were getting escorted out of the mall by gun-toting security officers. I shouted, "CHARITY, motherfuckers!" and bolted for my dressing room.

I phoned Klup, to check on how the gigantic sculpture (or whatever) of me was going. He said he was finishing it up, that very night! I'm going to gather everybody from the agency for a "field trip" to go see it today, at lunch. I'm pumped!

On my walk home, I realized I still had a little crumble of space-cheddah in my pocket. Seriously, how did that get there? I guess I'll never know. *looks around, nervously* Anyway, I saw one of those pushy Solstice Season charity workers on the corner, collecting for the post-Solstice reconstruction efforts. They're a little bit like your own "bell ringers", except for the civil defense helmet, and the megaphone, and the "bloody red barrel" with the bio-hazard symbol on it. And this lady, she was on all four corners of the intersection, simultaneously. Which is when I realized it was Rainbow Girl! Rainbow Girl Yellow was closest, so I sauntered up to her, nonchalantly tossed the space-cheddah into the barrel, and with my plummiest, most elegant baritone, purred, "A mere trifle, my dear woman. But one must think of the little people."

For about a half-second, she was annoyed. But then she saw it was me. "Bite me, Sasquatch," she shot back, with a grin.


Before I could go on my way, she grabbed my arm. "Wait up! I gotta tell you what happened today at work: Tusker punched Phantom Lad!"

Of course, I had to stay and hear all the details.

It turns out that Phantom Lad had started loitering around the office again, since I wasn't there. And Tusker was having a bad day, with nothing going right. Some time after lunch, Tusker dropped a huge stack of files, right in front of Frigid Queen's desk. He swore like a star-sailor. And Phantom Lad took a break from macking on Frigid Queen to say to him, "Looks like somebody needs to get laid!"

And here's the beauty part: Tusker immediately put his fist into Phantom Lad's face, before he even had a chance to turn all immaterial like he always does. And while that douche-nozzle was laid out on the floor, blood streaming from his busted nose, Tusker leaned over him with his fists cocked, and said "Maybe I should just keep hitting you in the face! Maybe that would be a good stress-reducer for me!" (Attaboy! I'm so proud of him right now!)

So Phantom Lad scrammed out of there, with Frigid Queen following close behind and shooting a few mysterious smiles at Tusker. And then Nightmare Boy picked his lazy ass up from behind the reception desk, rushed over to Tusker, and shook his hand. "Dude!" gushed Nightmare Boy. "You're cool!" And then he invited Tusker to go out clubbing with him this weekend, so he could show Tusker how to be a "playa."

For the rest of the walk home, I swear Lallor's radioactive haze looked a little rosier than usual.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Duke of Hurl


That's why I avoid eating spicy foods (or getting drunk) before a fist-fight. Poor "El Grando!" Not only is his Mardi Gras mask busted, but he's gotten chipotle-scented vomit all over his fancy mariachi costume.

Also, I'm pretty sure they stole the whole idea of a "red self, slipping up from behind" from a film I once saw. ("Superman Red, Superman Blue-Balls." I give it four-and-a-half stars. Out of ten. The sex scenes were hot, but the sound design was atrocious.)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Love in the Time of Ball Cancer

So it turns out, "Glub's" name is really "Klup." Also, I now suspect Flev may be suffering from severe nasal congestion. (Think about it.)

I had just enough time after my shift to change clothes, splash on some Hi-Tri-Jitsu cologne, and dash to the theater so I could meet Klup. He was a vision in this figure-hugging spandex number that hinted at every single piercing below his neckline. Plus, there was a peek-a-boo cut-out at his waist to show off just a hint of pubes. I growled appreciatively, and proceeded to eye-rape the bejeezus out of him. It was a good start to the evening.

The management had installed metal detectors, due to the Solstice Season unrest. Klup and his bazillion piercings almost didn't make it inside the building. But a stern look from me (and an individually wrapped slice of space-cheddah) smoothed things over with the security guard. "Sweet Chariot" itself was very enjoyable -- one of the better productions I've seen of this show. I particularly applaud the casting of Android Gerard Butler as Judah Ben-Hur. What a looker! (Fear not, music fans; they'd implanted him with Android Thomas Hampson's baritone voice box.) Klup had never seen the show before, but I could tell he was utterly enchanted by the spectacular musical numbers, like "If My Slaves Could See Me Now" and "It's a Leprous Face."

The famous chariot race was just beginning (finally, a good reason for theater-in-the-round) when one of Lallor's famed Spontaneous Riots spilled into the theater, through the atomic blast exits. So basically, all hell broke loose and the show came to an immediate halt. It was chaos. Nearly everybody -- rioters, security guards, androids, and theater patrons -- broke into a Western-style donnybrook. The security guards didn't even use their phaser pistols! What the hell? Nope, they were just hitting and kicking folks like everybody else. I was holding my own in that brawl, but I quickly noticed that Klup was getting piled on. He wasn't even hitting anybody! He was just defending himself with his arms. And crying. So I had to wade in there and scoop his ass up. With Klup cradled in my arms like a freaking baby, I punched my way out of that scrap. Once I made it to the sidewalk, I sprinted several blocks, and got us just out of range of the shock wave from when the theater blew up.

Klup told me he was worried about making it home, what with all the Solstice crazies on the streets. So I did the gallant thing and accompanied him back to his studio. On the way, I entertained him with a recounting of the remainder of "Sweet Chariot". I even gave him my rendition of the hit song, "I Love To Cry At Crucifixions."

I gotta say, Klup lives in a pretty bad neighborhood, what with all the graffiti, and the burned-out husks of rocket-cars, and the gangs of feral toddlers, and the sky mutants abducting people up into their glowing clouds. No wonder he had six different force-fields on his door! "I know, I know," he said, as he disabled each one. "But the rent's a dream! And it's just so much more 'real', don't you agree?"

Klup showed me around his workshop, and I swear, I still couldn't make heads or tails of anything. All I could see were big, curving plates of metal stacked up everywhere; the odd spool of industrial-strength inertron cable; and some odd metal spheroids, bigger than my head (which is already kind of hefty). Everything was covered in soot. By way of accomodations, Klup had a compact refrigerator, a king-sized velour mattress (no bedframe), some throw pillows, and a ginormous armoire. Klup cracked open a bottle of space-wine, and we talked about the vagaries of Art. I wanted to bring up my life as a costume designer, but since my real identity is doubly-concealed right now, I had to play dumb. (Damn it.)

Then Klup asked me if I could do a favor for him. He was worried about getting testicular cancer after getting caught in a recent fallout storm without his lead codpiece, and he wanted me to check him for lumps. Then he emitted a startled little squeal, because he realized that one of my fur-bearing mitts had already slipped into his peek-a-boo cut-out and was groping his balls. "Way ahead of you, kid," I purred to him. Then I told him how he could do a favor for me.

The sex wasn't as professional or as thorough as I'm used to, and sure, the neighbor's pit-maw was howling at us the entire time (how it even got into Klup's apartment in the first place, I'll never know)... but it was genuine, and I hadn't felt anything as sweetly sincere as that since Weight Wizard passed away.

Afterwards, Klup seemed energized. He said that I "inspired" him, and that he wanted me to pose for a new installation he was working on for the First Planetary Bank of Lallor! The artwork is supposed to be in honor of some long-dead Lallorian hero -- so long-dead that nobody even knows what he looks like, anymore. So in this case, Klup wants to use my handsome face! Sweet! Klup had me wear a replica Sugyn helmet he'd picked up at a pod bay sale, and then he started sketching me. I struck a ton of sexful poses. I vaguely recall Klup telling me that I didn't have to bother because he was only drawing my head and that I sure as hell didn't have to be nude, but I was workin' that helmet (and everything else) so fiercely, I barely noticed he was even there.

Much too soon, I had to return to the mall for my next shift. With one last passionate kiss, I left sweet Klup for the harsh Lallorian streets.

Klup's a nice guy. I wouldn't mind seeing him again. If only he wasn't such a little pussy, though--! Ah, well. We're just having fun. It's not like I'm going to spend the rest of my life with him. And besides, he's going to put a huge image of my likeness in the lobby of a bank! That'll rock! ...Hang on. I'm getting a visi-phone call. From Klup!

...Klup says the new project is going really well, and he should have it completed sometime this week! He says he's "really captured my essence!" (Yes, repeatedly. Haw!) But seriously! This is awesome! I'll be sure to take a picture of it for you all. *happily whistles "Rich Man's Shurg" from "Sweet Chariot"*


Sunday, December 16, 2007

Don't Let My Beard's Bugs Bite

The test results came back on those mysterious white granules I found in that spot where the suspect's rocket-car had been parked. Turns out they're just plastic. That's it. There's nothing in the least bit extraordinary about them.


However! We actually managed to prevent a store theft the other night, which was kind of the whole reason Eyeful Ethel's agency got hired. Oh, and when I say "we" prevented it, I mean Gadfly Lad did. Better yet, he scored some more evidence! Yay, team! ...Er, I mean "good for him."

Ethel got the genius idea of putting Gadfly Lad on patrol outside of the mall, with a night-vision camera. So now we have some fuzzy, noncommittal video of two guys setting up some sort of weapon on a tripod, presumably a teleporter or something, and they're aiming it at the Radio Pod electronics store in mall sector 7-C.

Gadfly Lad went after them before they could fire it up, though. So they collapsed it and threw it into the back of a zoom-lorry they'd stolen, and then they took off. Gadfly Lad gave a good chase, but after a few miles, they tossed a neural grenade at him. I've seen the feed from a traffic monitor they had passed. It's pretty brutal. I mean, he's not permanently injured, but just to see him flattened out on the ground, having a seizure... well, it's pretty hard to take. Now, I really want to pound on those dirtbags. On the plus side, when they took a real tight corner, a couple of plastic jars filled with a mysterious fluid bounced out of the truck. So now we have some more chemical evidence, and maybe even some finger prints!

I found all this out from Ethel and the mall's security guys when I showed up for work. I found Gadfly Lad in our dressing room, still shrunken down to doll-size and "sleeping it off." He looked spent, the poor li'l fella. His teensy chest heaved. With a shiver, he clutched himself and curled into a ball. I was so touched, I picked him up (being careful to not wake him) and laid myself down on the couch in his place. Then I tucked him under my beard, like it was a blanket.

Okay, so maybe that wasn't the best idea in the world. Or I at least should have warned him I was gonna do it, 'cause when he eventually awakened, he flipped out.

Heh. Oops!

I guess it's a good thing I have that date tonight with Flev's buddy, Glub. (Or maybe his name is "Blug". Or "Gulb"? I dunno. It's some goofy Lallorian name.) At any rate, it'll be nice to think about something other than work.