Thursday, February 21, 2013

Quantum Dissolve: Chapter Seven. (Jade Shade vs Phidippus-Dude)

Jade Shade sat in The Mayor's office, glaring daggers across the desk.

He hissed.

"Listen, you little SHIT!".
The Mayor hissed back.

"I've done a lot of covering up, and sticking out my neck for you! I've even had to commit purjury to keep your ass out of the slammer! I'm going to start getting something OUT of you, by God!".

JS glowered behind the mask.

Dammit, he was right.

His stomach churned.
"Fine, I'll go".
The words had the taste of bile behind them.

What The Mayor wanted was simple.
In theory.

It was a publicity function.
A goodwill building exercise.

He had to take a flight two cities over, and have pictures taken with Phidippus-Dude, or, "Phidey", as the fans called him.

JS did not like Phidippus-Dude.
Not one bit.

Phidey was an arachnid themed superhero.
He started out as a street soldier, but sold out very quickly.

Now, it was all comic books, action figures, feature films, a reality show, and a musical that was pretty thoroughly panned by anyone with taste.

Anyway, The Mayor figured, JS cleaned up his city, "Phidey", cleaned his up by turning it into a sugary family tourist trap, why not have the two most effective superheroes meet, and glom some good publicity.

The prospect of meeting this person face to...well, mask to mask, made JS sick.

Nevertheless, he DID owe The Mayor one, and apparently, it was time to cash in.

He took out a week of sick days as Dusty, booked the flight, and away he went.

A boring flight with a crappy movie, and he was there.

The Big City.

As gaudy and silly as he imagined.

He was anything but impressed.

He grabbed the nearest cab, and went to the nearest cheapest hotel, and stayed there.

He didn't take in the sights, he didn't take in the people, and he sure as Hell wasn't going to take in a show.
Especially not the Phidippus-Dude one.

"Phidippus-Dude: Turn Up The Contrast", or some horseshit.
JS hadn't even bothered to remember.

He was thankful he wouldn't have to smile, thanks to the mask.

The Mayor had tried to book everything for him, but, that would have made a paper trail that would have given his identity away.

There was no doubt some poor shlub at the ritzy hotel he was supposed to stay at was waiting for him, and wondering where he was.

"Oh well", he mumbled.

He spent the whole time staring at the filthy ceiling, and stewing over all the crime he wasn't stopping back home.

"Damned inconvenience, the whole thing", his mind droned several hundred times.

JS arrived at "the big event", via cab.

He gathered that a limo was supposed to take him there.
Already, murmers from the dipshit press about that faux pas.

"Morons, all", he thought to himself.
Just barely containing saying it aloud.

There was Phidey.
Clad in grey spandex from head to toe, his chest emplazoned with a North American Jumping Spider, and his mask showing no features but two big circular black tinted lenses, and two smaller ersatz eyes to the side of either real eye to create the effect of the four eyes of the Phidippus Audax.

Phidey was doing jumps, flips, kicks, cracking wise, flirting with the girls, and was pretty upbeat about the whole thing.

He was hard to hate.
JS managed it by hearing the screams of victims gone unanswered in the back of his mind.

JS grit his teeth, and took the pictures.
Phidey did most of the action posing.

Someone gave JS a prop tire iron to hold up as a club.
That's about all he did.

It was over fairly quickly.

JS was ready to take off, but then, the worst thing happened.
Phidey wanted to hang out with him after.

"Aw Christ", he barely kept from saying.

They were both taken by limo to Phidey's fancy penthouse.

JS remained silent, and aloof.

If JS could be impressed by ostentation, this would have done the trick.
Something right out of "Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous".
Or, that other one on the channel that used to play videos.
You know the one.

Phidey casually unmasked, and asked "so, what do you think?".

JS was stunned by this, but then remembered, this city had a superhero registration ordinance, and Phidey had been on the pro side.

"I don't care who you are".
JS muttered.

"I mean, of the place".

"Lots of unused space".

Phidey shrugged it off with a smirk.
"Howcome you don't show your face? You're safe here, y'know".

"This is my face".

"Oh, it's like that is it?".

"It's very much like that".

"All righty then".
Phidey held up his hands in an "okay, fine", gesture.

"So, what got you into the game?".

Before JS could even inhale to answer, Phidey continued.

"For me, I got bitten by a spider, and had to go to the hospital. Watching all those great nurses at work made me think 'dammit, I gotta get out there, and make the world better the way they do!', then...once I got out, I realized I'd suck at medicine, so...this was the next best thing. Since a spider was the start of the whole process, well, here we are".

"Yes, I've seen the press kit".
JS grumbled.

"And you?".
Phidey asked, returning to the question he interrupted in the first place.

"I could do nothing else".

"I see".

Phidey pressed a button to summon one of his servants.
"You want anything? Drink? Fruit pie?".


Phidey ordered one of those bar drinks with an obnoxiously cutesy name.
JS barely restrained rolling his eyes.
Not that it would have been seen through the shades.

"So, as I started out, I quickly realized 'why should I bust my hump for this city, putting it all on the line, and not get something out of it? Much less keep working these shitty pizza-boy and gas station jobs as my secret identity', y'know? Plus, I had my girlfriend at the time, Mary Warner, to help support, because she was having a tough time with her modeling career, so, I figured, why not cash in on all of this, y'know? So, I do some interviews, let some cameras follow me on a couple patrols, one thing leads to the next, and, well, now I have all of this".

JS grumbled.

"Also, there was my Uncle Frank to think of. He was out of work, couldn't just let him die in the gutter".
Phidey nodded off to the side indicating something.
JS looked.

An old man with grey hair and a pot belly wandered out wearing only a towel from the waist down.
A slutty blonde was on his arm.

The old man grabbed a beer from the fridge, said "hey", and wandered out to the patio.

"Look at him now, eh?".
Phidey beamed.

JS snarked, while hiding his tone.

The servant brought the drink.

"So, yeah, if my money makes my family happy, what's the harm? And if SOME money is good, why not go for the gusto? This is America, after all, land of opportunity".

"Home of the brave".
JS graveled.

"Right, man, right! Society needs its heroes! We perform a necessary function. And heroes get lifted up! It's like Tiger woods, or Lance Armstrong, right?".

"...something like that".
JS grumbled, still masking his tone with affect-less replies secretly dipped in venom.

"Is this what success really looks like? Is this all there is in the world?", JS thought morbidly.
"Is this all this cartoon of a civilization has to give? Is this prancing idiot my final destiny?".
JS hung his head, and resolved "no...I want more. I want more than this cloying veil of candyfloss. This playpen for knuckleheads. I don't know what it is yet, I may have to make it from scratch, but there has to be more than this farce".

All the while, he stared ahead, calmly, and coldly.

Phidey tossed JS something, JS caught it.

It was a limited edition Phidippus-Dude action figure.

"Everyone gets ONE!".

"Everyone gets one?".


JS rolled his eyes, and didn't bother to hide it.
"Well, I might find some use for it someday", he figured to himself.

Phidey pressed his call button, and was brought another drink.

"Y'know, in a way, you're lucky. You indie guys get to do what you want. Us company men, not as much. We get more perks, and security, sure. But freedom? Psht. For example, the game console people that own the studio that owns my latest movie? They call the shots on my publicity tours, and therefore call the shots on anything I do outside this penthouse. Can I hang out with this or that hero? Not if their competitor sponsors them! That's why they picked you. No legal hassles. They kind of approve who you can and can't be seen with period., I miss Mary Warner. Or, even my old friends, Frostdude, and Flamedame. They were amazing friends. But you? You get to tell the power to fuck off, right?".


Phidey pressed his call button, and was brought another drink.

"Man, it's like I sold my soul to The Devil to protect Uncle Frank....but erased my marriage. Those deals with The Devil, they always get ya, don't they?".

"..I wouldn't...".

"Some days, it feels like someone else is living my life for me. Like, one of my villains, y'know?".


"Or, it's like I've been replaced by my clone for years and years, and it just keeps dragging on. You ever feel like that?".

"Can't says I have".

"Sometimes, it even feels like this costume is taking me over. That I'm just its stuffing".


"Giant alien robots disguised as cars...friends hooked on speed...comic writers retconning childhood traumas into your biography...such are the superhero's tribulations. But, it has its good points".

"I see it as its own reward".

"Sometimes, I long for my old day job at the power company. Those were innocent days".

"Never too late".

"Man, I'm drunk, I say stupid shit when I'm drunk. Excuse me, I gotta go hurl".

Phidey finally got up, and went into the kitchen, and began to vomit quite loudly into the sink.

JS got up to look around.
He eventually happened upon Phidey's discarded utility belt.
He looked around to see if anyone was looking, then peeked around inside the compartments, and found what he was looking for, and the only reason he really agreed to this trip.
A stickybomb.
One of Phidey's arachnid themed specials.
A capsule the size of a roll of mints that gave off an expanding glue that could NOT be removed, and bound its victim quite securely.
Even a bodybuilder couldn't bust out of it.
JS quickly stuffed it into his own utility belt.
If he could have it analyzed, he could run off a bunch of them.

JS then grimly thought to himself.
"I wish I could bring this asshole down. He's dangerous just by being pro-registration. Nevermind the blood soaked corporation that owns him. But, aside from him being a rutting money-grubbing slob, I can't see anything to use against him that would...well...stick. Celebrities are teflon, and someone at his level, moreso".

Phidey came out of the kitchen.

JS ran back to his chair.

Phidey prattled on.
It got more absurd.
Alien shapeshifter conspiracies.
Cosmic entities that endow you with temporary powers.
Billionaires building flying suits of armor.
Radioactive monsters.
He was clearly blitzed.

JS wondered what the hell was in those three little drinks.

"I'd rather kill myself than be this fucker", JS also thought.

Suddenly, a woman's scream.

"Finally, in my element".
JS thought.

Jade Shade and Phidey ran out onto the patio.

It was Uncle Frank.
He was floating face down in the pool.

Phidey wailed, and then dived into the pool to get him.

JS looked at the bimbo that had been with him, and told her "don't you move".

Phidey had Frank out of the pool, and was attempting CPR.
Deep down, JS knew it was too late.

JS tied up the bimbo with zip ties from his belt.
She was the prime suspect, as far as he was concerned.

Then, he dialed 911 on Phidey's land-line.
Going through the motions. He knew Frank was a goner.

Phidey bawled, the bimbo cursed.

JS decided to get the hell out of there.
On his way out, he shot one last remark.
"Worth it?".

On the flight back home, as Dusty Irwin, JS heard that yes, the bimbo was guilty, and also, Phidippus-Dude had killed himself.

"Well...that's REALLY going to piss off The Mayor".
JS thought.

"He won't ask my ass to do another goodwill tour again though".
He thought with a wicked smile.

JS then reflected on it for awhile.
Could he have contributed?
Did he have to open his big mouth that last time?
Was Phidey really that bad of a guy?

"Great power,, he was just weak".

But deep in his gut, he wasn't so sure.

No comments:

Blog Archive