JS finished e-mailing Commander Continuum.
Then, he flashed back to chapter 0.
"Fuckin memories...fuckin life", he mumbled.
Then, he flashed back to those "fuckin memories", picking up after the massacre.
As he was dragged off to a paddy-wagon, Kimber bawled "noooo!! Dusty didn't do it!! Dusty didn't do iiiit!!"
Dusty was sent to juvie until he was old enough to stand trial.
They sent him to a shithole called Hembsire Hillock.
It was made up to look like a regular school, but Dusty knew better.
It was a loony bin/jail for kids.
When he first got there, he got the "listen you little SHIT...", speech from Blackie Aaron.
Things didn't get much better after that auspicious introduction.
Dusty made Blackie the first entry on his list.
Dusty's list continued to grow from there.
There was Jayce Jameson, a skeezy little weasel who bullied smaller kids, and huffed spray-paint, and the exhaust off his motorcycle.
Jayce had a bitchy little twat of a girlfriend, Joanne, who if Dusty so much as coughed, belched, or hiccuped, said in a witchy voice "stop making sound effects!!".
And if she was in a particularly cunty mood, anything you said to lighten the mood would be twisted into an insensitive dramatic hate crime followed by "do you think that's funny?", but dragged out in that obnoxious witchy voice, so it sounded like "do you think that's faahhhneee?!?!?!".
To which Dusty would always answer "yup!".
Jayce knocked her up, and she denied being pregnant until she was 6 months along.
Then, she got moved to some other facility.
Dusty heard through the grapevine that she had the kid, and it had fins.
Then, there was Eric Tucker.
A compulsive booger picker who wiped his snot all over everything.
He was also prone to vandalistic tantrums that ruined many an attempt at a good time.
There was Nikki, a stuck up verbally abusive little wench who was friends with Joanne, and wore so much makeup, she looked like a creepy plastic doll and had enough hairspray in her bird's nest of a mane to be a walking fire hazard.
There was Devin Adams, who was there for pulling a broken bottle on his mother.
Seemed like a nice guy, all things considered.
Traded comics with Dusty, and knew a lot about movies.
Devin told Dusty about what a blood groove on a hunting knife was for.
It turned out to be a bullshit urban legend.
Devin would turn out to be an asshole later though.
There was Devin's friend, Zach Tonero, who was a treacherous little backstabber.
Dusty learned quickly not to trust him as far as he could throw him.
One time, Zach told Dusty and Devin a cock-and-bull story that he attacked their teacher, Griff Andrews, by slamming his face against the class computer's inkjet printer.
Dusty knew he was full of shit, but part of him wished it was true, because Griff was a known pedophile/hebephile who had allegedly sexually assaulted one of the girls in "the time out room".
Dusty had even heard Griff telling a girl the unwelcome story of some surgery he'd had on his balls.
A total creep.
Everyone knew it.
A printer to the face was the least of what he deserved.
The girl who was raped was still there, not relocated, not protected, and made suicide attempts monthly.
One day, Zach and Devin just up and turned on Dusty, heckling him mercilessly, and giggling like schoolgirls about a joke only they were in on.
It was on movie day too, so the fun was ruined.
Onto the list they went.
You don't fuck with a guy's movie day.
There was Johan Jameson, brother to Jayce, boyfriend to Nikki, who was too old and big to be there, and who like his brother bullied smaller kids, unless they bought drugs from him, then they were his buddy-old-chums. Or "smokees", as Johan called them.
To everyone else, he was an irritable bastard, to put it mildly.
There was Charlie, the creepy little toadie to Johan and Jayce, and whom they nicknamed "Dopey", who called AIDS "the virus!", and said everyone was going to get "the virus!", for any number of convolutied medically impossible reasons.
Johan and Jayce thought this was hysterical for some reason.
It helped poor Charlie survive.
One did what one had to.
There was Theo Matheson, who was one of the Jameson's brother's stable of perpetual victims.
There was Anton Stanton, who it turned out was the son of the guy who did those Smackman anti-drug plays at schools.
He caught a lot of hell for it.
So much so, he ironically turned to drugs.
There was Bernie who everyone called "Fat Bernie", but not to his face.
Bernie told Dusty that the secret to lovemaking was...what would later be known as Bukkakke. Except Bernie described it in florid detail, and in between every sentence or so, saying "they LOVE it!! They LOVE it!!".
There was a kid who danced around singing "know what you know what you know what's in your heeeeaaaad!!".
The Jamesons would beat him for it, but it didn't seem to deter him.
Until one day, they pushed him off a big rock in the woods out back, and split his head open.
Somehow, they couldn't prove it, and the little monsters were still there.
Then, there was Dusty's only true friend there, who was only there a month.
Timmy told Dusty about his brother Skip, who had been there ten years earlier in 1989, and had known the creator of Harry Hembock.
He took Dusty on a tour of graffiti under tables, and on rocks.
They were of Harry, and a lost character called simply "Glob".
It gave Dusty hope. If that kid could get out and be somebody, he could too.
One of the comics Devin traded to Dusty was Galaxic Gladiator.
Specifically, the exact issue from Offal's comedy routine years later, the one with the vampire, and the zombies eating the bikers.
Dusty would read it again and again, wishing that shit would happen to the assholes at Hembsire Hillock.
Until one day, he reflected that life would probably destroy them all by itself.
In the present, JS flashed ahead to their fates.
Jayce became a gas station attendant, and was doomed to die alone and forgotten.
When it finally happened, it was from swigging down a giant sized soda cup full of gasoline.
Joanne never amounted to much, and vanished from JS's awareness.
Eric Tucker became a shitty internet troll, despised by all who ran into him.
Until one day, he ran afoul of Xed Of The Undead, and got his face eaten off by his own dog.
The internet rejoiced.
Nikki became Phenomenal Female, and got punished by Chokecherry.
Zach and Devin became shitty little criminals, whom JS would punish soon enough.
Griff Andrews died of a complication of his nut surgery.
Griff's victim reclaimed her power by founding a goth-centric softcore porn site.
You know the one.
Johan became Peerless Person, whom JS had personally destroyed.
Charlie died of the virus.
Theo Matheson turned out well adjusted, despite having a gangster for a dad.
Anton Stanton got off the drugs, and took up his father's mantle as Smackman.
Bernie became a porn mogul.
You've probably been to one of his sites, and not even known it.
Johan's legion of former "smokees", grew up into the losers and mutants at the comedy club Offal performed at when he met Avian Louse, and joined the Freed Radicals.
Timmy Lowe opened a variety store.
Skip Lowe was Eric Tucker's next door neighbor, and saw when the whole face eating thing happened. It was an excellent 40th birthday present.
Dusty's parents were dead.
Apparent carbon monoxide poisoning.
Dusty knew better.
He cried whenever it was safe to.
Which wasn't often.
More of the same from the usual gang of idiots and maniacs.
Sixteen year old Dusty was tried as an adult, and sent to maximum security prison.
He added the phony bought-off judge to his list.
Over the next few years, he dodged many paid murder attempts.
The list kept growing.
The first entry after the judge was the asshole who'd appointed himself King Of The Prison.
His name was simply Jason, and he gave this long boring assholish speech in the cafeteria to the new fish how this was "Jason-World", and the rest of them had better get used to it.
He was encircled by goons.
One was simply called Josh, the other two had codenames, one was Legion, the other Wubb.
Legion wrote his name $Legion$ with dollar signs.
It was also tattooed on his right shoulder.
They would sit at the biggest table, and all shoot the shit about football.
$Legion$ would dominate those discussions, and only Jason seemed to have the social standing and thus power to tell him to shut the fuck up.
But, as boring as the sports shit was, Josh rambling on about politics was worse.
It made Dusty almost long for the football shit to come back around.
Either way, their bullshit dominated everything.
Funny thing was though, Jason was almost never there.
He left $Legion$ and the goons to run everything.
Was he in his cell reading?
Was he blowing the warden?
No one ever knew.
No one could ever find him.
Those that did know where he was, feigned ignorance with as much sincerity as those who genuinely didn't know.
All Dusty knew, is he both wanted and needed them to be dead.
Then, one day, Jason turned up dead.
Everyone including Dusty was sure that $Legion$ had done it.
Then, $Legion$ turned up dead.
Everyone including Dusty was sure that Josh had done it.
Then, Josh turned up dead.
Everyone including Dusty was sure that Wubb had done it.
Then, Wubb turned up dead.
Everyone was out of suspects at that point, but they breathed a little easier with that gang gone.
While all this drama went on, Dusty gave himself the codename "Gorgar", and tried to form an alliance of his own to topple the J-Worlders.
He had quite the fan-club going for awhile, until two fat bastards, Drew Rowles, and Harry McPeenie sabotaged his efforts, and broke the group up.
He later learned they were underlings of $Legion$.
This was followed by the first of many assassination attempts.
Someone tried to shiv him, but he'd prepared for it with a stack of magazines under his shirt.
The assassin was R'Thardin, another $Legion$ acolyte who had been paid off in manga.
For failing, he turned up dead.
Two guys who called themselves "The Two Guys", took his place, and tried again.
Again, they were paid in manga.
Dusty was ready for them with a fake dummy in his bed rigged to an elaborate booby trap.
After they got out of the infirmary for electrical burns, $Legion$ killed them.
As all of this drama unfolded, Dusty's only friend was a guy named Will, but who insisted on "Willguy".
As the J-Worlders dropped away, and finally vanished entirely, it occurred to him that Willguy might have done it.
He never bothered to ask.
Good riddance if he did.
Drew Rowles, and Harry McPeenie were released, and would later become successful movie bloggers.
Present day JS grimaced at this, and noted it on his list.
Meanwhile, back in the past...
A new batch of fish came in, this time, space science fiction enthusiasts.
There had been a riot at a convention, some kids were trampled to death, the worst offenders got life without parole, and now here they all were.
They called their little gang "GallopBBS", after Astro Gallop.
GBBS for short.
They set up shop, and immediately started being dominant domineering assholes, as bad or worse than the J-Worlders.
This time, however, Dusty was ready for them.
During the tenure of the J-Worlders, he'd found a secret secluded spot in the prison, and made it into a fortress clubhouse for he, Willguy, and a few others, and called it The Den Of Delusion.
It was a secret spot away from the GBBSers.
There, they rode out the inevitable implosion of this new gang.
And implode it did.
After GBBS imploded, it fractured into various splinter groups.
One of them called themselves "The Gnome Empire".
The skinheads and hispanics killed them off pretty quickly though.
Much to everyone's relief.
But not before they tried a couple times to kill Dusty.
Then, there was Phrasemold.
Dusty didn't mind them so much, and even participated in their activities from time to time.
Dusty had finally gotten sick of the Phrasemolders.
Luckily, an exciting new atheist gang came in, and he got all caught up in their cause for awhile.
The atheist gang splintered, but this time around, Dusty drew enough of them away into his gang, and turned the Den Of Delusion into "Flagentula".
Willguy was released, and vowed to keep Flagentuala operating on the outside.
One day, the judge who convicted Dusty mysteriously died.
With him gone, his appeal magically went through.
He was released.
His trial was exposed as the travesty it was.
But, the damage was done.
First thing he did when he got out, was fill a water bottle (Drinkable Aqua Fluid brand) with his piss, and dumped it on the grave of Charles Edward Harris.
"For old time's sake", he grumbled.
Little did he know, Xed was already doing the same ritual annually.
Dusty got his GED, and became janitor at Elisa Jack.
Someone had to keep watch.
He also learned, the father of the particular bully, mayor now.
Already on the list.
He made contact with Willguy, and stayed in touch.
He worked at Timmy Lowe's variety store "Labonza's", now.
JS in the present flashed to how Willguy opened a secret restaurant for superheroes in the back room of Labonza's called appropriately "Flagentula".
He'd kept his promise.
One accessed Flagentula by sitting in the phone booth, and dialing the secret number.
Then, Willguy buzzed you in, and a secret door opened.
Secret Flagentula meetings and contacts were how JS was so easily able to assemble the Freed Radicals.
Back in the past, Dusty reflected on how in prison, he'd learned lots of handy skills.
Picking locks, fashioning weapons, and burglary implements, smuggling items on one's person, etc.
He'd need a criminal's skills to fight criminals.
Also, lots of time in the weight room had made him ripped.
He was ready.
For what, he didn't exactly know yet.
Dusty Irwin wandered through the grocery store, and then stopped dead in his tracks.
There was a display of Halloween masks, and one of them hypnotically grabbed his attention.
Dusty started planning his transformation into JS at Flagentula.
He wrote his "I've got to get in on this", journal entry there.
Tucked into his journal was the crinkled, creased, torn, and taped together issue of Galaxic Gladiator.
The one with the vampire, and the zombies eating the bikers.
"If it doesn't matter...then I can do what I want anyway", Dusty grumbled.
He rolled over, and looked at the costume draped across the kitchen chair.
Black jeans, black workboots, black sweatshirt, black flak vest, black leather gloves, black fanny-pack full of toys, and...the mask.
"Yeah, fuck it, I'm doing it".
He nodded, rolled back over, and went back to sleep.
The Jade Shade he would be.
JS was back in the now.
The Galaxic Gladiator issue was laminated and framed on his desk.
He got up, and decided to pay a visit to Flagentula.
What I am Reading: - I’m almost always reading (at least) two books at once and working on comic books in between. Should you be reading what I am reading? I don’t know, but he...
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