Let’s Blow This Popsicle Stand
“I’m right here, buddy,” Duke said.
“I don’t know what your problem is. I don’t hunt Draculas,” Van Helsing whined.
“You’re Van Helsing. You hunt vampires.”
“I hunt witches.”
“That’s Matthew Hopkins, Witchfinder General, dingus.”
“You are such a poseur,” Duke took a swing and Van Helsing ducked, “It’s go time.”
Duke launched himself at Van Helsing driving him into the side of a building. Van Helsing dropped to his knees trying to catch his breath.
“This is lame,” Duke muttered.
Van Helsing removed a stake from his coat and thrust it at Duke’s chest. Duke swatted his hand aside.
“Now we’re talking,” Duke grinned.
Van Helsing drew a stake in his other and lunged toward Duke. Duke pushed his arms away and Van Helsing went tumbling. He rolled to his knee and planted his foot on the ground, holding his stakes like batons.
“I will go through you to get to her,” Van Helsing panted, “I will complete my mission.”
“Sure, sure, let’s go, bud,” Duke held his hands out and curled his fingers in a beckoning motion.
“You’ll regret this,” he hopped to his feet and circled around Duke.
Duke held his fist up like a boxer and floated in around Van Helsing, matching his footwork like a dance.
The Menagerie and Englebert’s mercenaries stood in a line facing each other, in the middle of an intersection. Cars were lined up honking.
“Get out of the street, assholes,” one driver shouted, “Uber doesn’t drive itself.”
“Yet,” Cheryl shouted back.
She rooted through her bag and pulled out Psychic Speak n’ Spell.
“What are our chances here?” she asked it.
“100%,” it replied, “The editors are desperate to end this muddled storyline and move on to more concise, focused story arcs.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” Sophie asked.
“I don’t know,” Cheryl replied, banging the side of the Speak n’ Spell with the heel of her hand, “This thing is all fucked up.”
“Not that it matters much,” Psychic Speak n’ Spell continued, “A reality bomb is ready to detonate in New Orleans, 1940.”
Cheryl shoved the Speak n’ Spell back into her bag.
“Done playing with your toys, Ellers?” Engelbert asked.
“I’ll...show you...toys, jerk,” Cheryl spat.
“Don’t let the bastard get to you,” Hunter whispered.
“He’s not getting to me...I’m just pissed that thing doesn’t work.”
“Like most of what you create,” Englebert said.
“Seems like you’re getting a lot of mileage out of the shit you stole from me.”
“Shit...indeed. It only works because I improved it.”
“This guy is going eat about 300,000 volts,” he hands lit up with electricity.
“Remember our assignments, Ellers,” Ian said.
“Fuck the assignments,” Cheryl lifted off the ground surrounded in crackling arcs, “This guy is about to take up smoking.”
Hunter and Sophie looked at each other. Sophie shook her head and Hunter shrugged. Ian rubbed his eyes under his glasses.
“I’m not going near the Japanese chick,” Carl said, lumbering under Cheryl in his mech suit.
“So, what are we doing?” Hunter asked for confirmation.
“I have no idea,” Sophie sighed, “Help me with Devana, then I’ll help you guys with yours, I guess.”
“Any plan is better than naught,” Ian said.
Cheryl and Carl ganged up on Englebert’s mechanical stand-in, who fired rockets as it backed up. Sophie, Ian, and Hunter circled around Devana. Horus and Ichiko ran at Sophie, Hunter, and Ian. Dethmetl assisted Engelbert. Hunter whirled around and struck Ichiko on the face with the flat of his blade, it snapped back and smacked him on the head.
“Don’t strike the girl,” Ian said, “Don’t give her any kinetic energy to use against you.”
Hunter jabbed his blade at Horus and Ichiko intercepted it, causing Hunter to jab himself in the stomach with his own hilt.
“What did I just council?” Ian said.
“She got in the way,” Hunter said.
Ian swung his flutes in the air and lilting melody drifted in the air. Devana became transfixed. Horus opened his mouth and a rumbling tone shook the ground. Ian and Sophie held their ears, wincing. Hunter’s blade started to vibrate. He struggled to keep it under control. He began twiddling the knobs and it stabilized. He pointed it at Horus and dense shockwave rippled the air and struck Horus on the face, throwing him back.
“Your sword can do that?” Sophie asked.
“This thing is like a new car,” Hunter replied, “I’m still figuring out all the bells and whistles.”
Ichiko advanced on Hunter.
“The creepy little girl is stalking me menacingly,” he said back to Ian and Sophie.
“Close your eyes,” Sophie said and held her hand to the sky.
The area around them began to get dark as the light from the sun gathered in her hand. A glowing ball of piercing light filled her hand and she aimed it Ichiko’s eyes. She howled and ran, covering her eyes. She ran across the intersection and was struck by a car. The car was launched several feet in the opposite direction and slammed into Englebert’s robotic proxy, sending him skidding down the block.
“Two down,” Hunter said, “Now for the weird elf lady.”
Devana broke herself out of Ian’s trance and kick Hunter in the back, sending him to his hands and knees. His sword slipped from his hand and skidded across the street. Ian and Sophie traded and dodged blows with her. Devana grabbed Sophie by the wrist and spun her around and pinned her arm behind her back while parring Ian’s attacks with her other arm. She pulled out a small gun and fired a pulse at Ian, ringing his bell. He staggered back, trying to shake it off. Devana pulled a long blade and held it to Sophie’s throat. A flip-flop stuck Devana on side of the face. She looked to see Hunter standing there holding his sword, pointed at her. Sophie jabbed her in the gut with her bow and she slipped her grip.
“Let’s go, Galadriel,” Hunter said, biting down on a smoldering cigarette, “You and me are gonna tangle.”
Sophie fired a volley of arrows at Devana but they sparked off her energy shield.
“You think you can cut me with that?” she asked.
“This thing can and has cut through a Cadillac,” Hunter replied.
“I meant, did you think you can get close enough?”
“But if I don’t have to.”
A languid tune began to fill her ears and she started to sway. Sophie clubbed her over the head with her bow. Devana dropped to her knees and fell forward onto her face.
“Go team,” Hunter said.
“Go team,” Sophie chirped.
“Indeed,” Ian muttered, “What about Carl and Fearless Leader?”
The twitching body of Dethmetl was plopped on the ground between them.
“That takes care of that little twerp,” Cheryl said, “I think I fried his central nervous system.”
“I’m sure juvy has top-shelf medical care,” Hunter said.
“What about Englebot?” Sophie said.
“Carl launched it into the river,” Cheryl shot Carl a cold glare, “Waste of good parts.”
“Jeez, Cher, I’ll fish it out for ya,” Carl muttered.
“I guess Psychic Speak n’ Spell was right,” Sophie said, “But what was it saying about a reality bomb?”
“Don’t encourage it,” Cheryl said.
“I don’t know about you guys,” Duke said as approached, “But that kind of sucked. I hope you had more fun.”
“Bit of a letdown, really,” Hunter replied.
“Seemed like a lot of build up for not much,” Sophie added.
“Well, now I’m all revved up with no place to go,” Duke said, “I guess I’ll go online. Uber ain’t gonna deliver itself.”
“Yet,” Cheryl said.
Duke tapped his phone and it chimed, “Got a ping already,” he grinned. Then his grin collapsed into a scowl, “Man, fucking Denny’s. I’ll see you guys around,” he floated above them, “You have my number.”
“They let you fly on Uber?” Sophie asked.
“I called driver support and they said they didn’t give a shit. Exact words.”
Duke shot off into the city skyline.
The gang sat around the table in a corner booth at Denny’s. Carl sat on the floor on the open side. They sat in silence stabbing at their food, staring into it. Cheryl had Psychic Speak n’ Spell opened up and the circuit board lying out on the table. She had a little keyboard attached to it and small, fist-sized monitor that was scrolling through lines of code.
“Weird,” she mumbled.
“This code I was experimenting with. It’s not just psychic. I think it’s multidimensional.”
“This Grand Slam is neither,” Ian sighed, his face within a perilous range of his pancakes.
“These hash browns are like concrete,” Sophie held up her fork on the end which hung a solid slab of fried potatoes the size of an LP. She attempted to nibble a bit off the side.
“Why did we come here?” Cheryl said, glowering at her coffee.
“Seems alright to me,” Hunter replied with a mouthful of Moons Over My Hammy.
“That’s because you're stoned,” Cheryl said, poking at the insides of Psychic Speak n’ Spell with her sparking finger.
“Ma’am?” a waitress said, “Please don’t solder at the table.”
They continued to choke down their food in silence. Hunter took a bite of some spongy, yellow, alleged egg and chewed with a quizzical look, staring at the Speak n’ Spell.
“What was that about multidimensional?” he asked.