The stylings of Greek-themed Batman Villain Maxie Zeus.
Source: Robin #172 (DC Comics)
Saturday, April 12, 2008
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Chapter 3: “Horrorville”
“America’s Quietest Town”, the signpost proclaimed by the town’s entrance. “Proud Home of the Country’s Largest Thimble Museum”
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.”
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.
Wednesday, April 09, 2008
Tuesday, April 08, 2008
Chapter 2: Feast on Sins [link]
“Dinner is ready to be served, please make your way to the Rossian wing of the mansion.”
The loud voice reverberates across the room. The mansion. A random labyrinthal arrangement of rooms and corridors and grand halls. I never get the chance to explore anymore, I spend most of my days in my cage. The maid, the battered southern belle, brings me my doggy food bowl regularly and cleans after my mess; that’s all the human contact I have since my mistress left on work a week ago.
Human contact. Heh. I’m not even sure if the maid - ‘Jenny Sugah’- if she’s even real. If this mansion, this cage, anything… is real. She has named me Dirt, taken me as her pet. I serve her, Lady Mastermind. I don’t even want to remember my human life before her.
My cage lock clicks open, the tiny iron door creaking open with tremendous effort from an invisible hand. Every time, the door opens to a different room. More illusions from Her. More unexplainable, beautiful magic.
The short stubby demon who tends the house is waiting for me with my leash in his paw. He motions me to silence with a dirty scarred finger to his crooked mouth. I remember being scared of him the first weeks, but after this long my fear of the macabre has numbed. Even this pint-sized dark imp with his horns and tusks and ridiculously oversized body piercings doesn’t faze me. I’ve heard the others refer to him as Barbatos. Is he another human pet bewitched to resemble a demon or a figment, a trick in my mind? He drags me crawling to the Kubler dining room, and leaves the room in a hurry, leaving me gasping for breath on the edge of the table.
I look down in my hands and see a huge carving cleaver and a pitch fork. I guess I’m serving tonight, although I see naught but empty plates on the dirty linen. The table is set for seven, but only five guests have taken their places, vaguely discernible through the shadows. I climb on the table, hunched because of my tight shackles and look around the seats.
I think I recognise the British looking father and daughter, seated together; in the flickering candlelight from the chandeliers floating above us, I mistake them for the people from my Lady’s past: herself as a young, unkept, slothful and spoiled child and her birth father, the magician mastermind, Lord Wyngarde. But how could that be? More tricks of the eye. Next to him, a fiery red bird, tied to a black leather ribbon to her seat, squawking loudly and spreading her wings as if to proclaim its magnificence and make everyone else jealous. Jenny Sugah (the maid! Why does she get to dine properly) is whispering a song in her deep southern drawl to calm the bird down. Her cuts and scrapes look more discomforting in this light, even though her white streak of hair is covering her black bruised eyes. And the fifth man… So handsome, proud and tall. His blonde hair is changing shapes from a wind I can’t feel, creating discomforting shadows of monsters and devils on the wall, his golden eyes fixated on me. He feels so familiar in a stranger way. Someone I will become more familiar with in the future but I do not yet know.
The doors open again. Barbatos is wheeling in a gigantic covered platter, dragging it on the table and then taking his place on the sixth chair, his mouth watering and slobber drooling down his neck. What is on the platter that has everyone so eager? I lift the cover. Underneath, I see… her: My Lady Mastermind, asleep on the platter, her limp naked body taking up the length of the carved table. I can’t avert my eyes from this, and the sadness tears my gut. Before daring to ask, I suddenly know/remember what to do tonight. The guests’ favoured dishes and their order of importance, more like a muscle memory instantly and painfully engraved in my flesh than a conscious thought. Suddenly the cleaver feels so heavy in my grasp. Are ours the only two real heartbeats in this room? She opens her mouth and addresses us, still lying on the cold platter.
“Welcome to my House of Sin, my friends, my hated loves and my adored enemies! It’s been a while since I had cause to entertain you all, my dearest of sinners. Don’t be afraid to get biblical tonight, it’s a night without inhibitions. Drink and eat and fornicate to your black hearts’ content!”
She gestures to me. How can I do this. I’ve never pushed a knife inside--- I stab her stomach with the fork, blood trickles down her still breathing body. I hear her silently whisper ‘More’. I carve the flesh out slowly. I can feel her pain, she can feel every inch of this blade, but she won’t accept or acknowledge the pain. I serve her insides to the ravenous demon, Barbatos. He drowns his face in the bloody entrails, making disgusting noises as he slurps down every last bit. I should feel sick, but I know what comes next is far worse.
The cleaver has turned into a flaming sword in my hand. My Lady parts her legs and lets me plunge it inside her, the blood pouring down the length of the sword, filling the bottle I placed under the hilt. ‘Lord Wyngarde’ has the first sip of the blood wine, he raises a toast to the hostess and victim. She smiles, the demon eating out of her open stomach, and her father kneeling down to kiss her deeply, sharing her blood. What have I signed myself up for? My head floods with images of degenerate roman orgies and feasts.
She’s back from her mission… Why won’t she get up? Was she hurt that badly? Brought back on the platter as if it was a Spartan warrior’s shield. Why is she ignoring this, pretending as if nothing is amiss? As I think this, I feel the prickling in the back of my head, I feel her presence in my mind.
“Defeated, pet? You dare spoil my big do with your rambling blues? All I need is to gorge on my men and my pleasures. Are you that person, pet, the party-pooper? Nothing went wrong, if you must know. I was my usual glamorous self, when Rogue and her X-troops decided to rain on my joy parade. Nothing I didn’t plan ahead for, nothing that can get me down though! The show will go on.“
The Lord and the servant crawl back to their chairs, fully sated. Her voice has turned loud, wrathful! But she still won’t get up, why? From her angry stares towards Jenny Sugah, I know what is next on the list. I position my blade over her clenched fists and saw them off one at a time. They spring to life like venomous spiders and climb across the table, on the servant girl, forcing their way in her mouth. She gasps for breath as they claw their way down her throat. The poor girl. And my poor Lady.
“You know that’s the way they always are. Interfering, pushing their damned faux-moral code down my neck. I bet Rogue thinks she’s so much better than me, the stupid country bumpkin. I could strangle her puny neck, make her think it was that smelly rat lover of hers doing her in. Just to let off some steam! She was a bad girl once too, you know, but they let her in, made her their queen. They let her in, they let Emma in, they even forgave that slutty redhead who stole my father’s affections from me! After she destroyed a planet they let her back in. But not me, no, they still hunt me. If I could have another stupid chance, I’d let them see how much better I am than those trollops. Just one chance.”
She’s mellow again. Jenny is breathing again. Did my Lady give her those bruises? Why is she taking her anger out only on her? I move in to carve out the next plate, but I hesitate, as I catch the reflection of my blade’s cutting edge on my Lady’s eye as I struggle to push it inside. The Fire Bird gives a loud squawk and jumps on her face. Its claws deep in her cheeks, it’s beak plunging out her eyeballs. The crunching sound makes me sick but I keep it in. I see her tears flooding out of the empty sockets, turning to steam when they touch the burning feathers of the phoenix. She still won’t stand up. She’s not denying something went wrong anymore. Has she given up? I slice off two steaks from her rump and serve them to the girl. She doesn’t make any movement, she’s frozen from sadness, empty of life. I chew the flesh piece by piece and feed it to her, my lips on hers. My Lady is now non-responsive.
Only one serving left. The Devil is smiling at me with his golden eyes. He’s next. We’re next. The last chair is meant for me, for the fifth stage. I slice off her perfect proud breasts for Morningstar. I feel my way through her chest, touching her heart. Her greedy heart, and I remember how she saved me from my own exuberance and materialism. Is she finally ready to accept her reality? I eat of the heart. Her addiction to sin got her in this position, it can also save her. She’s too proud to give up like this, too greedy for power to let them keep her down.
The guests stand up and the dining room fades away. Just me and her now, in an empty room. She’s comatose again. She always falls into a deep slumber after her encounters with these X-Men. But her unconscious mind still goes through then motions trying to force her to wrap her mind around this grievous situation, accept it and move on. She’s Lady Mastermind. She will lick her wounds, reassert her pride, smile wickedly and go after the Neanderthals who did this to her.
Damn. I think I’m in love.
Round 2: If At First You Don't Succeed... You're A Villain
Ok. I've reviewed the video of the attack on Venture. What happened? Why did we suck? How can we not suck in the future?
It never fails, does it? Your nemesis is a moron. They'll hand you the instrument to world domination if you so much as threaten a puppy. Everything they do is probably part of your grand design. AND YET THEY STILL KEEP KICKING YOUR ASS.
No matter how clever yoru plan, no matter how awesome your power, no matter how difficult your heroic foil made things for himself, the jackass still manages to defeat you. Not once, but again and again and FREAKING AGAIN! To be a villain, you have to have more than a cold black heart. You have an iron resolve as well. The kind that handles repeated failure at most every turn.
If a villain is going to have any sort of longevity, he's gotta get used to setbacks. So in this round, the hero (your arch-nemesis if you wish, or maybe just some lucky jerk in a cape) has just foiled you. Not for the first time. Not for the last time. But somewhere in the middle, right about the time where it starts to get old. How do you respond to this? Is your character becoming more cunning with each defeat, learning from his mistakes and coming closer each time? Or is he slowly becoming unhinged, losing sight on any nobility he once had in the process?
The point of this round is not to focus on your character being beaten, but how he deals with (sometimes constant) failure and why he keeps going.
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, March 28, 12 PM, Eastern Standard Time
Round ends: Monday, March 31, 12 PM, EST
Wow. I feel violated. That was pretty intense.
So Lady Mastermind deals with defeat by projecting this grotesque scenario where she’s devoured, eh? I like it. It seems like the way narcissists would kick themselves if they had these kinds of powers (and imagination.) You describe everything in great depth and chilling detail, making us experience every bit of this orgy. I had to try not to imagine where that sword was going, ouch. Well done.
I enjoyed not knowing exactly what was going on until the end, although there were some hints along the way (I didn’t think they were actually going to eat her.) When it did come full circle, the payoff was pretty rewarding.
I would’ve liked you to be a little less vague about the narrator. I thought for a while that it was a woman, and I’m still not sure. A little physical description would’ve been nice.