Thursday, April 10, 2008

SVI #3: 'Horrorville'

Chapter 3: “Horrorville”


America’s Quietest Town”, the signpost proclaimed by the town’s entrance. “Proud Home of the Country’s Largest Thimble Museum


Population: 2316.

Lady Mastermind walked through the town gates Monday morning with a nasty appetite for destruction.

By Wednesday afternoon the population was down to 1542 and dropping fast.

Setting off for this small blimp of the American suburbia, all I knew was my Lady’s eerily jubilant declaration that she was spending some time away from the messy X-continuity and taking me with her on holidays to try out her new gear.

The gear in question was a futuristic looking bucket helmet she had me dig up from the ruins of that Westchester mansion. I couldn’t understand what need she would have of that piece of scrap, or why she had decided to take me along; after all, for the past 2 months of my servitude to her as ‘Dirt’ I hadn’t been allowed to step outside my cage, let alone drive her across the state to a place right out of an HBO suburban drama.

I took up her bags and set up my cage in our motel room in the centre of town. From the windows I could see Dullsville spreading our around us. The museum, the church, the police station, the market, the bathhouse, the hospital, the video club, the schools, the roller disco, the town theatre and the garage. Not many surprises here. Dreary people leading dreary lives. I hated them when I was a vacant corporate businessman, I hate them even more now that I’ve seen the light thanks to my Lady’s sinfully indulgent form of anarchy. I could somehow already feel at that point that she had plans in motion to shake the people out of their ignorant conformity. I couldn’t have imagined this carnage though, not in a million years.

“Survivor: Suburbia. The Great American Reality Death Trap.”, she called it, with a delicious sneer. She was reclined in bed with that Cerebro contraption on her head, a sadistic technopriestess from a steampunk horror novel, draped in leather and covered in all sorts of cables and wires connecting her to the machine augmenting her mutant abilities to enter men’s minds and cast deadly illusions.

Her voice was heard individually inside the head of every man, woman and child within the town limits.

“Good morning, my lovely. Terribly sorry to interrupt your pathetic conformed existence this way. Consider this your wake up call. You have no time to waste. Your serene conformity has been compromised and your peaceful town will easily become your even more peaceful grave if you don’t make it out of here fast. Trust noone.”

I couldn’t understand what she meant, until she released me from my leash and sent me out to explore the neighbourhood. I could hear screams in every direction, and lifeless mangled bodies had already started to scatter across the city centre. The people of Serenity were running around frantically, killing each other with a manic fury.

It made no sense at the time, until Lady Mastermind allowed me to connect to the people in my proximity and see the surroundings as they did, as I entered the illusions she was casting in each of their minds.

A group of hunters was holed up by the motel’s entrance. They had just shot down a couple of other visitors, and forced the desk clerk to cower behind the reception desk. Only, in their minds, they were defending themselves against a wild pack of bears which had attacked their city and eaten up some of their number. They were only shooting to defend themselves. None of them could even register my presence. Noone in town seemed to be able to sense me. Another illusion trick. I walked towards the reception. As I did, the room changed. The bear carcasses shifted momentarily back to human bodies and then again to… green aliens?!? As far as the motel staff was concerned, they were being invaded by alien shapeshifters. They were trying to escape into the pantry and devise a counter-attack.

It was all starting to make sense, but I had to be sure. I left the motel and perused the town centre, the locale changing every few minutes as different groups of people sprinted past me. Each group of them was immersed in a different horror scenario, perceiving everyone else in Serenity as an invading something or another: ninjas, werewolves, Nazi ghosts, mummies…

The priest was desperately fighting against his constituents; he thought a vampire had turned the entire town overnight; they had just seen their priest reveal himself as the antichrist and declare apocalypse on their idyllic town. He only managed to stake so many with a broken off cross before they overpowered him, severed his head and then turned on each other as their illusions kept shifting to new scenarios.

The hospital staff was busy chopping off their patients heads as well, running through the corridors in groups to survive the zombie epidemic. A surprising number of them were holding camera equipment, recording the experience.

At school, the kids were surviving better against each other, for the first day at least. My Lady seemed to have separated them in groups of 10 or less. One group was hiding in the chemistry lab from a different pack which had put on Scream masks and started chopping off heads with scythes from the prop room. The Screamers themselves thought they had finally quarantined the mutated toxic monsters from the lab explosion and were getting ready to torch the place.

In the gym everyone saw each other as an alien parasite-possessed serial killer. The swimming pool was infested with killer sharks, while ghoul pirates had boarded off at the lake shore, eating up horny teenagers in the surrounding woods. The dinosaur bones in the museum had come to life and were chasing the curator through the corridors. Time had sped up in the police station, the only building seemingly left intact in the massive earthquake; now the starving policemen had to decide which of the guys in detainment to skin and cook first. If they weren’t running from a swarm of African Killer Bees or a murder of demon crows, they would be getting their limbs broken off by possessed bleached kindergarteners. After a few days of taking in the landscape of horror across town, not even the gigantic alien sperm spitroasting anyone who would come near it fazed me.

The way Lady Mastermind’s powers worked, the people didn’t need to kill each other to flat-line; as soon as their minds believed they had been killed, the bodies would automatically shut down. By Friday noon only 30 survivors were left; A teacher who had expunged her class of kids turned into living ventriloquist dummies; the fire-chief who had burned down the research lab full of demonic robots; a mother who had slain her family with an axe when she discovered she had raised Satan’s offspring for a demonic cult; a quiet emo kid who survived his classmates being turned into cockroach monsters; the blood-soaked cheerleader squad who survived the attack from their boyfriends turned into raving cannibals. So many people driven insane, living out their private horror movie scenarios, killing their neighbours and their loved ones, so many innocent lives lost. I had witnessed the bulk of the massacre, but I could no longer feel anything, I was numb from the sheer amount of incoming shock data.

On the fifth day, Lady Mastermind looked upon her handiwork; she smirked and lifted her illusions off the survivors’ minds, then she walked out of town. I followed her faithfully, a knot in my gut with every step. I turned to look back to the survivors of Serenity one last time. Realising the terrors they had committed in the name of survival, most had turned their make-shift weapons to themselves, not being able to bear the guilt a moment longer. The others were stunned in place, unable to even compute their situation; all apart from one.

A tall lanky raven-haired woman soaked in the blood of her kids. She was mumbling, “Rosemary’s choice”. Her giggle sent shivers up my spine. Her stare ice cold, she turned the knives in her hands towards the last of the townspeople left standing. Lady Mastermind motioned her towards us.

“We have a winner, pet. The ultimate survivor of the suburban death trap. One more broken soul for my collection. Don’t fall too far behind, Bloody Mary. There’s a new episode of Desperate Housewives on tonight, I wouldn’t want to miss it for the world.”

Round Topic:

Not sure which one I like more here...

Dr. Girlfriend: You should have replaced his blood with acid after this part. The sharks won't touch him now.
The Monarch: Thanks, thanks Dr. Girlfriend. Now you tell me.... LOWER THE GIANT HAIR-DRYER!!!!


Number 24: I can't believe that whore stole my Stanza!
Number 21: I can't believe that whore made it through the lake of acid...

One of your minions has proven to be a spy. You've captured an intruder who has broken into your evil lair. An enemy agent has fallen into your trap, and wakes up strapped to a table with all sorts of mean-looking things pointed at him.

Your captured enemy has committed a grievous offense against you in any case, and now he has to die. But how? Super-Villains throughout the year have turned murder into an art form. Sparing no expense, especially when staying theme-appropriate, villains will sometimes devote entire wings of their lair to deathtraps of unimaginable complexity. Others might be a bit more prudent, finding a strange minimalistic beauty in pulling out a gun and ending things right then and there. But where's the fun in that?

In this round, your character has captured an adversary of some sort. The only stipulation as to the identity of your captive is that he may NOT be the character you consider an "arch-enemy". This is someone lower on the totem pole, or possibly a nameless red-shirt, one who if you're successful in killing you won't kill the whole story right then and there. How does your character enact the ultimate punishment upon his captive? Quick and effective, or slow and colorful? Concentrate on the methodology as it reflects your character's psyche. Your character does not necessarily have to be successful in killing his opponent.

Also, considering the potential nightmare fuel that could erupt from this particular topic, PLEASE be mindful of the rules. I don't want the literary equivalent of a snuff film here. Don't go crazy with the gory details if your story comes to that point. If you are at all concerned as to whether or not your story is acceptable, please PM an unedited version to me and I will let you know whether or not it needs to be changed.

Judges, same deal as last time. Once your groups have submitted their entries, nominate two for elimination. We will vote, and say goodbye to the two losers.

Good luck everyone!

Round begins: Friday, April 4th, 12 PM, Eastern Standard Time
Round ends: Monday, April 7th, 12 PM, EST


This was the perfect prompt for you, I think. It's an interesting spin on the theme, and at first I was doubtful about it's viability but it was just too damn fun to worry about. Lady M throwing a small town into chaos, almost as a sort of vacation is awesome. It read like a horror story, a Battle Royale-reminiscent throwback to the "24 Hours" issue of Sandman. Very cool stuff.

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