Superpowers In A World Gone Mad
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Dark Corners, Issue #003

June 24, 2013 in Dark Corners Tags:

dark corners header
Issue #003 – – – – – controlled by Sarah Saunders – – – – – Credits 15

I was sitting in a dark booth at the rear end of some dive bar called Viktor’s.  I’d never heard of it before.  Which is odd because I thought I knew Downtown pretty well.  Though I suppose I should not be surprised by anything that occurs in Downtown, given the weird, shifting nature of the place.  But I was fairly sure that last time I’d chanced down this street there had been a Chinese launderette here.  Not any more.

“Okay, spill,” I told Melderact, who looked faintly ridiculous squashed onto a wooden stall in his Victorian-esque halloween getup.  “What’s this all about?”  The Wizard, if he really was a wizard, had led Imo and I from the parking lot to this location at quite a pace.  Along the way he had cast a spell and now an illusion made Imo look like a young, dark-haired man.  A good-looking young dark-haired man, I had to admit.  Best not to think about that, given that beneath the facade he was still a writhing, tentacular horror with almost no higher brain functions.

“I will do my best,” Melderact said.  “Though this is just what I have pieced together from my own magical research.”
“Understood,” I agreed.
“I first became aware that something was wrong about three months ago.  I was working in a cabaret show as a stage magician.  One evening I realised that my assistant, useless whelp of a girl whose head was filled with make-up where her brains were supposed to be, had forgotten to load the pigeons.”
“She’d forgotten to what?” I asked.
“The end of my act involved causing a flock of pigeons to burst from my top hat.  The pigeons were loaded beneath the table and with some sleight-of-hand I opened the cage and the pigeons emerged from behind the hat.  It was quite effective.”
“Oh yes,” my voice dripped sarcasm, “It sounds like a real highlight.  I bet they came from miles around.”
“Hmph,” Melderact grumped, “As I was saying, the stupid girl had not loaded the pigeons.  I pulled the catch and no pigeons came.”
“Embarrassing,” I nodded.  “What did you do?”
“It was so sudden.  I was caught off-guard.  I panicked, because back then I still thought I was normal and this was my livelihood.  In the spur of the moment it was like something shifted in my mind.  A memory, a fragment, or something more.”
“What did you do?” I asked again.
“I summoned the pigeons.  Which would have been a good result had they not been bloodthirsty vampire pigeons.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, after a moment of just gawping at him.  “Did you say vampire pigeons?”
“Sadly yes.  I was as surprised as anybody.  They fell upon the audience and gorged themselves.  It was quite spectacular.  Um.  Uh.  I mean it was quite spectacularly horrifying.  I knew they would turn on me also, so I fled.”
“You left your summoned vampire pigeons to murder the crowd while you ran away?”
“Please understand,” Melderact said.  “I did not know I had any power to do otherwise.  Not then.  But over the next few weeks my powers grew.  Well, not grew, precisely, though that was how it seemed at the time.  My powers returned.”
“Okay.  So now you realise you are actually some kind of powerful sorceror?”
“Something like that,” Melderact said shiftily.  His eyes flashed, as if there were more to it, but he did not elucidate.  “Once I regained spells that let me ask questions of dark powers I began to investigate what was really going on.  This was when I discovered the truth.  This world is not my world.  Nor is this world your world, Sulis.  This is a false world.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.  I’ve often found that when an evil mastermind is on a roll, its best to just prompt them to keep revealing more.  They like it.
“The world as it was appears to have ended in some catastrophe.  Something has remade reality and whatever it is that has done so has managed the project with extreme prejudice.  The world has been remade with an agenda.  I do not know what that agenda is, but I have begun to find flaws.  Weaknesses.  And where there are weaknesses I believe there is a chance.”
“A chance for what?” I asked.
“A chance to put it all back as it was.  As it should be.”

“What sort of flaws?” Imo asked.  Both Melderact and I turned to face him, our jaws open.
“Did he just…?” Melderact asked.
“Imo?  Did you say something?” I prompted.
“Sure.  I wondered what sort of flaws he could see.  I wondered if he would recognise a mindless man-monster that preyed on innocent people in the sewers becoming a loyal sidekick to a superhero as a flaw?” The young man who was the illusionary face of my ally looked earnest and concerned.
“Yes, indeed.” Melderact nodded.  “In this new reality things have shifted and changed.  People have new roles.  The passage of their lives has taken different turns.  In some cases utterly and completely different.  But none of this is real, or right.  It has been moulded this way, but the mould has not set.  It can be undone, I am sure of it.”
“But wouldn’t that make me a mindless monster again?” Imo asked.
“It may, yes.”  Melderact acknowledged.  I said nothing, so stunned was I to hear Imo talking this way.  “But in this version of reality, darkness is in the ascendant.  The world will grow dimmer and more frightening with each passing year until eventually there will be no light left at all.  In this world, the end really is nigh.  Surely, as a hero,” and he addressed this final enjoinder to me, “You are driven to stop that?”
“Perhaps,” I agreed.  “If you are telling me the whole truth.  But that doesn’t explain why you want to.  You like all the darkness and death, don’t you?”
“On my own terms, in my own way,” Melderact grinned.  “Not as the puppet of some unseen force.  I am no man’s puppet!”

I turned to Imo, “What do you think?”  But the face stared blankly back at me.  The light of intelligence had gone from the illusion’s eyes.  The creature was mindless, or mute at the very least, once more.  “What do you propose?” I asked the Wizard.
“I propose that you and I gather allies to ourselves from the dark corners of this city.  Downtown, of course, is the perfect place to start.  This instrusion on the true reality is otherworldly in nature.  It stands to reason that only otherworldy, or supernatural, forces can turn the tide.  Of all the super-powered people that call Helix City home, you have always been the most comfortable in such an environment.  The allies I seek to gather will not respond well to a dark voice such as mine.  But you?  They will like you.  They will listen to you.  This is why I ask for your help.”
“You want me to be some kind of supernatural public relations agent?  For an evil wizard?  I don’t think so.”
“There is nobody else who understands the true nature of what is happening, Sulis.  It’s my road, or the high road.  And the high road leads to Hell.”  I slumped in my chair and took a sip of my drink.  Damn it if he wasn’t right.  Sort of.  “Trouble is,” I told him, remembering the goblins from earlier.  “I’m not sure that both roads might not lead to Hell.”
“Yes,” Melderact nodded, holding out his hand and waiting for me to shake.  “You may be right.”

One Response to “Dark Corners, Issue #003”

  1. False Bill Says:

    O…Victor’s are we heading for our first cross over?

    Damn if you do or Damn if you don’t.
    Big question why does Melderact want to go back to a world where he dead?


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