Thursday, June 14, 2007

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

I was sitting in my Last Gladiator Standing II trailer looking at the dailies for the latest competition when I got a message from Jan the Intergalactic Aviator. It seems that some character named Bandit hired her to transport some power cores or something to another galaxy. That sounds like fun; I bet it’ll be a nice, easy trip for her.

My musings were interrupted by a strange disturbance. It felt like some sort of “force” was calling out to me and I couldn’t quite place it but then I felt it come into focus. It was Professor Xavier, he wasn’t calling out to me in particular, but the anguish radiating from him was as easy to read as a Richie Rich comic book.

I bounded into action and quickly made my way towards the Professor’s room. Along the way, I met Private Hudson.

“What’s the op, Jon?” the marine asked as he matched my pace.

“Something bad’s going on with the Professor,” I answered. “I can’t tell what it is, but he’s in trouble!”

“Need help?” Hudson asked.

“Got your gun?”


“Then let’s go.”

We sprinted to the Professor’s door and I threw my shoulder into it. Unfortunately for me, it was one of those fancy sliding ones and it did so smoothly and efficiently. Ever have one of those moments when you think you’re going to hit something and you really put your weight into it? I mean really, really throw yourself into it with all of your energy and might and then it’s not there? For me that’s what just transpired.

I stumbled in off balance and firing wildly but luckily my target was very big and very obvious. That target was a demon who was holding the Professor in the air with a gesture and laughing maniacally. This felt very familiar to me, I fought the devil once and I was very lucky to escape with my life. I am compelled to help though, you know, I am a hero after all.

Flanked by Hudson, I fired my blaster Betsy at the demon but with a flourish of his taloned hand, the two of us were sent sprawling against the wall.

Hudson recovered more quickly than I and leapt at the demon with vibroblade in hand.

“Your game is so over!” he snarled as the blade flashed at the scarlet monster.

With an evil sneer, the demon caught Hudson’s wrist in midstrike. Acrid smoke filled the air and the Colonial Marine howled and was sent sprawling back against the wall. By that time, though, I was already in the air with my boot aimed at his torso.

Laughing off my kick, my opponent reached out with supernatural speed and grabbed me by the throat. He leered as he pulled me closer, choking the life out of me. His fervid breath punched my face as his grip grew tighter around my windpipe. I managed to look at Hudson who was still crumpled against the wall in a daze, then at the Professor who seemed uncharacteristically helpless.

“You should not have come, but I knew you would,” the demon sneered.

“Whu—what?” I sputtered.

“I know what compels you and I must have it,” he whispered just loud enough for me to hear. “You will give it to me.”

I desperately grabbed his arm, trying to gain leverage or a grip or anything. Spots cavorted in front of my eyes and I knew that in a moment, I would be finished.

“I am the Lord of the Underworld,” he hissed into my ear. “I am Mephisto and I have seen things in shadow that should not be seen by light of day. You cannot beat me, just give me what I want and all the pain will go away.”

Desperately, I fumbled for the Sonic Disrupter on my Wristcomm. I punched buttons until the electronic multifrequency whine exploded forth assaulting everyone’s hearing and balance. Normally, I can direct the sonic attack, but the emitter must have been damaged or something. Or maybe I just had it turned up to 11.

The demon dropped me to cover his ears and I dizzily fumbled with the weapon’s buttons until the pain in my head subsided. I then launched another kick straight at my enemy’s chin. He stumbled back and I spun around with a follow up, but he caught it and sent me flying with my own momentum.

“Who taught… the demon… judo…?” I mumbled as I crumpled to the floor once again.

Hudson dove at the monster once more but with a rancor-filled howl, the Mephisto beat him down with both fists. He stalked towards me and before I could fire another sonic attack, the demon crushed my weapon like an aluminum can.

“Listen to me hero,” Mephisto rasped as he hauled me close by my neck once again. “Surrender to me or I will kill all of them. Give me your soul or I will take Xavier and Hudson and all the rest of the people you lured here to play your little game. And then I will kill you. What say you?”

This rescue attempt is not going so well.


This story is part of Stewart Sternberg’s writing assignment. This assignment has two tasks; the first is to use the phrase “I have seen things in shadow that should not be seen by light of day.” A perfect phrase to be used by a demon, don’t you think?

The second task is to take ten words and replace them with something richer. These are the ten that I chose:

Musings replaces thoughts
Anguish replaces suffer
Bound replaces leap
Sprinted replaces ran
Transpired replaces happened
Flourish replaces wave
Snarl replaces yell
Torso replaces chest
Fervid replaces hot
Cavorted replaces dance


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Is there never a decent time to rest?

Karnov said...

Your meme seems hard to understand. I have an easy one for you to do, however, on my blog

Jon said...

Wow. Mickey Spillane meets Flash Gordon! A lot of fun.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Where's the meme, Karnov?

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Ah, I found it, Karny.

And thanks Jon, all in a day's work for an Intergalactic Gladiator.

Professor Xavier said...

Nothing worse than a judo knowing demon.

And I definitely liked the use of level 2 vocabulary.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

Yes, using good words makes the story really, really, uh, good.

Stewart Sternberg said...

Two things:

First, I did not realize you had posted a contribution. I will put a link up immediately.

Second, I needed this. I am preparing to write a work of pulp and needed to think through an approach. I sat with Jon Zech today and he and I mulled over what was and what was not pulp. Thanks

Gyrobo said...

I was wondering why I tasted pulp.

Pulp is actually good for you, if you mix it with avocado skins and paper.

Travis said...

This was a pleasure to read. I enjoy your tongue-in-cheek kind of hero.

Batman said...

The Flash wasn't involved, so I don't think It's that bad a rescue.

gugon said...

This was a fun little pulp story - it's like Doritos for the mind. (That's a compliment, by the way.)

Nicely done - I enjoyed it.

Darvin said...

If only I was there. I could have lent you Evil's Bane (+4 Short Sword versus evil outsiders).