Monday, December 6, 2010

A little creative writing interlude



Wilson Dam, Alabama, 1977, August.

The light of the rising sun broke over the surface of the Tennessee River, sending sparkles across the water.  The muggy heat of an August morning in Alabama was already apparent and it was clear to the good folk in the area that it was going to be another scorcher.  Robert Winslow opened his gas station for the morning, cursing “that fool-headed boy” he’d hired for the summer months.  If Robert Winslow had known how close he was to death at that moment perhaps he would have felt differently, but he did not know, could not know that high above him, atop the Wilson Dam, stood the worst threat to freedom, liberty and the American way of life the world had ever known.

Elvis Presley did know it.  He had received the intelligence report on the activities of his old nemesis days before and had spent the time tracking his foe, always one step behind, it seemed.  He knew it was critical that he catch the villain.  It had been critical for some years now.  The result of this double life, rock and roll star and hero, had taken its toll on him spiritually, emotionally, and physically.  His marriage was over, but he accepted that it was necessary to make sacrifices.  A series of body doubles, vaguely resembling him, had been drafted to appear in his place when a distant view was all that was needed.  This had freed him up considerably.  That once or twice a double had been required to take the stage for him was unfortunate, but again, necessary.  Elvis had long ago accepted that his commitments to American security and freedom were more important than his public image.  This commitment was why, after three days of ceaseless travel, chasing his enemy, with no sleep and little food to sustain him, Elvis Aaron Presley, special agent reporting directly to the office of the President of the United States of America, stepped out of the shadows of an arch atop Wilson Dam and into the early morning sunlight. 

“It’s all over, Totenfaust,” Elvis said to the back of a cloaked figure standing hunched over a mass of wires and machinery. 

“I think not, Herr Presley, in mere moments my bomb will go off, flooding the valley below and robbing the area of vital hydroelectric power,” said a voice from within the cloak.  Without looking up Totenfaust, former Nazi agent and current menace to society continued his work.

“You know I can’t let you do that,” Elvis’s signature drawl replied.

“Und yet you cannot stop me, Capitalist dog,” Totenfaust replied with a laugh.

“I’ve done it before.  In fact, I’ve done it many times before, man.  Let’s face it, I always do.  What I can never figure out is how a Nazi ended up working for the Commies?  You boys were enemies in the big one.  What changed?”

Totenfaust stood up from his work and turned to face his enemy.  The scar that marked the entire left side of his face was a sickly, corpse color compared with the rest of his face.  Despise him, though Elvis did, he was always impressed that the villain maintained a sense of style.  Underneath his deep purple cloak was the impeccable uniform of a colonel in the Soviet Army.  In accordance with the nature of the man it was accented by trinkets from his service to the Fuehrer and his own noble heritage. 

America lacks nobility, Herr Presley, certainly you realize this.  The Reich was a socialist institution in name only.  Herr Hitler preserved the nobility, for he respected the power of our blood.  After the shameful occupation of my homeland, of which you are fully aware, being one of the pathetic American soldiers sent to do so, the greatest of us fled to bide our time and strike back.  The Soviet Union is no different.  That dummkopf Brezhnev is no man of the people.  He follows the same philosophy as Stalin before him.  The nobility may be gone but the class lives on.  These Russians are but tools that I will use to bring down the inefficient American machine and replace it with the glorious Reichsmodel!”

“Surely you know that a free-market economy with unrestricted trade is the most efficient of all economic systems, man.  Efficiency is created by means of market forces which guide the process with minimal governmental interference.  The practical upshot being that competition drives prices down while simultaneously forcing improved efficiency to increase profit margins (a-huh).”

“Surely you speak of the ‘invisible hand’ guiding the market, Herr Presley, but you fail to take into consideration that folk are, at heart, foolish and easily misled.  This is why the nobility have always existed from the beginning of time.  A totally free-market system fails to serve all men when the foolish are allowed to compete within it.  Only by creating a pure race, led by a born nobility, such as myself, can we ever hope to achieve solvency within the market.”

“And freedom for the people,” Elvis asked.

“Of no importance; it pales compared to the strength of the race, the species itself.  Not that you would know with your mixed-race music and decadent American culture,” Totenfaust said, spitting on the dam’s surface beneath them.  “You are like mongrel dogs in this so-called culture.”

“Ain’t nothing can fight like a mutt, Totenstein.  We showed you boys that during the War!”

“Enough, schweinhund; you have distracted me long enough with your Adam Smith and economics discussion.  It is time we ended this, my old enemy, for good and all, ja?”

“Abso-damn-lutely, son.”

Elvis launched himself at his foe but Totenfaust was quick, despite his age.  Elvis knew that the older man had enhanced his failing muscles with mechanical augmentation and had suspected that some Nazi black magic had been involved as well.  It was apparent as they locked hands, struggling with one another that the Nazi had upgraded his powers.  Elvis, weakened by lack of sleep and nourishment, struggled to overcome his foe.

“What do you hope to accomplish, Totenfaust?” Elvis asked through gritted teeth.

“I will destroy this dam, Herr Presley; I should have thought that was obvious.  The valley will flood, wiping the schmutziger miscegenation from the land.”

Totenfaust brought his right knee up sharply into Elvis’s stomach, doubling the King over in pain.  A kick to the face sent Elvis sprawling onto his back.

“You are no doubt thinking this is ‘small potatoes’, nicht wahr?”

“The loss of human life ain’t never small potatoes, Totenfaust,” Elvis said as he rose to his feet, preparing to launch himself at his enemy again.

“Oh, but such sacrifices are a small thing in the grand scheme, I assure you.  My plan is so much greater, Herr Presley.  This bomb is but one of many all set to go off within seconds of each other.  My operatives will, upon my signal, set off charges at dams across the nation, including Hoover Dam.”

“Vegas?  Damn you, Totenstein!”  Elvis leapt forward and put his shoulder squarely into the center of Totenstein’s torso.  He realized that the Nazi was wearing some sort of body armor as a great pain stabbed into his shoulder.  Totenstein was staggered by the blow.  Elvis went down on one knee, as did his foe.

“Yes, Herr Presley, and you will not distract me with your famous Battle Banter!”

“How about with a flash from my belt buckle?” Elvis asked.

Despite such an obvious telegraphing of the move, Herr Totenfaust gave in to the all too human compulsion to look.  A flash from the massive gold belt buckled strapped about the King’s waist momentarily blinded the villain, giving Elvis the advantage he needed.  With great speed Elvis was again upon his foe, hammering him with a series of punches and kicks.  Totenfaust met the bulk of these attacks with blocks and counterstrikes.  Each man fought with all the fury and determination he possessed, and each felt the blows of the other.  A glancing blow to his temple knocked the King’s sunglasses off.  The blue glow of his eyes startled Totenfaust.

“So it is true, Herr Presley, there is more to you than flashy costumes and gadgets,” Totenfaust said.

“You know it, you Ratzi bastard,” Elvis replied.  A corona of crackling blue energy surrounded his fist as he drew back his arm readying it for an opening.  Totenfaust did not intend to give the hero such an opportunity.  He reached up to his shoulder with his right hand and pressed a series of studs hidden under his cloak.  It was Elvis’s turn to be surprised as Totenfaust’s left hand underwent a visible change, revealing small nozzles or barrels through the knuckles of the glove he wore.

Elvis had less than a second to react as a stream of flaming liquid came spraying out of the nozzles.  He twisted his torso to avoid the worst of the jets of flame.  His cape was burning and the rhinestones on his suit had begun to crack.  Thinking quickly Elvis dropped into a roll, releasing his cape from his suit as he came up while sweeping Totenfaust’s legs from beneath him.  Now together on the ground the men grappled.  Totenfaust’s glove had burned away revealing an entirely mechanical hand where his organic left hand should have been.  Elvis struggled to pin Totenfaust to the dam while his foe rained a series of glancing blows onto the King’s back with his mechanical hand.  Realizing that wrestling his foe was pointless Elvis began to hammer the villain with his fists.  Totenfaust caved under the assault, finally going still.  He was conscious, but beaten.  Elvis stood and staggered toward Totenfaust’s machine.  It was overly complex for a bomb, he thought.  Elvis would have to be sure Totenfaust could do no harm with the device.  Again his fist crackled with a corona of energy.  Elvis placed his hand near the machine and sent an arc of electrical power into it, intending to fry the internal workings.

Behind him Totenfaust laughed.

“What?” Elvis roared, spinning around to face his beaten foe.

“The machine was inactive until you charged it, my old nemesis.  After so many clashes did you think I would not learn?  I expected you to try to destroy my bomb with your electrical powers.  You have activated the device and it cannot be stopped.  Only I can stop it.  The control is attached to my mechanical enhancements.  Only by shorting out my mechanics can you hope to override the control mechanism, and I have long since shielded them from your damned electrical attacks.  It would take full immersion in water to destroy them in time!”

“Can you figure out which part of that little monologue you probably shouldn’t have mentioned?” Elvis said and leapt toward Totenstein. 

They struggled.  Elvis pushed his foe toward the edge of the dam.  Totenstein realized what was to come.

“You fool; we cannot survive such a fall.  You will be destroyed!”

“Bad choice of last words, man,” Elvis said, tripping Totenfaust and throwing his weight into the Nazi.  Totenfaust gripped Elvis by the wrist and the pair tumbled down off the dam and into the river below.  They hit the water in pain, feeling bones break and organs crush.  Death was not instantaneous, and Elvis struggled to reach the surface.  Totenstein reached up from beneath hero to drag him under again.  It was him or the Nazi, Elvis knew this.  He brought his heel into Totenstein’s face strongly.  The bones of the villain’s face gave way with a crunch and with them the strength of his grip.  Totenstein slipped to the bottom of the river and Elvis kicked for the surface.  Exhausted he was able only to float, letting the river carry him away from the damn and his drowned foe.

After some time, and how long he could not say, Elvis washed up on the bank of the river.  He reached into his belt and retrieved a small device; a micro transmitter he used to communicate with his base of operations under Graceland.  Elvis’s main communicator had been destroyed during the fight, or after being plunged into the waters of the Tennessee River.  The micro transmitter was a one-way device and limited to Morse code.  Painfully Elvis sent his message to headquarters:  “downriver from Wilson Dam…northern Alabama…dying…initiate E-mergency protocol regicide…TCB boys…God bless”.

With that, Elvis lay back in grass by the riverbank and felt the heat of August in Alabama warm his body.  He knew he wouldn’t last much longer and there was much to do.  Reaching inside he found the hidden reserves of fortitude that separate heroes from regular people.

Elvis crawled, painfully, away from the bank and into the woods nearby.  Internal bleeding from his injuries coupled with his previous exhaustion could do him in, certainly, but he hadn’t taken that much damage, had he?  Totenstein must have done something to him during the battle to weaken him enough to kill him.  It was, truly, out of his hands now.  He lay back against a large pine tree, ready to collapse into oblivion.  There he stayed; perhaps for an hour, perhaps longer.  As the darkness threatened to overtake him for the last time he heard a noise.  Raising his head he looked into the distance, trying to focus his vision.  It looked as though a small child were approaching. 

A small child was indeed approaching.  Five year old Rook Wilder was playing in the woods behind his house that morning and had wandered too far.  In danger of becoming lost, the boy wandered aimlessly, paying little heed to his developing predicament. 

“Hey, kid, c’mere,” Elvis managed to say.

Young Rook, with the boundless curiosity and trust of youth, approached the charred and broken form of the King of Rock and Roll.

“What’s your name, kid?” Elvis asked, coughing quietly with the effort.

“My name is Rook Wilder and I am this many,” the child said, holding up a grubby hand showing his five fingers spread wide.

“That’s good, son, very good.  I need to give you something, okay?  Good, now come here.”  On his right middle finger was a large ring depicting a stylized lightning bolt surmounted by the letters TCB and encrusted with diamonds.  Elvis took the ring from his finger and pressed it into the boy’s hand.  “Keep this safe.  Hide it somewhere where nobody can find it.  It’s very important.  Can you do that, kid?”

Rook nodded his head. 

“Now don’t tell anyone about it, ever.  Okay?  This is very, very important.”

Rook nodded again.

“Now git on home, son; you don’t want to be around in the next few minutes.”

Rook turned and ran into the woods, but stopped just out of sight.  He crouched behind a bush and watched.  The body of Elvis began to glow as the last breath rattled from his lungs.  In fear and amazement the boy saw the body consumed in a golden fire until nothing was left but a scorch mark on ground where once had lain the King of Rock and Roll.

Rook turned and fled toward home.

End of Prologue

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Lab Recording 10 June

11:45 AM

Rikenstein: I am afraid you are quite wrong, William.

Psychobilly: But just consider it, doc, as a possibility.  Not everyone uses the same set of definitions.

Rikenstein: That is why we have dictionaries, William, so that persons with different vocabularies can communicate.

Psychobilly: I'm just saying that a space man does not have to come from Mars to be a Martian.

Rikenstein: Yes it does, William.  De facto, categorically and by definition, a space man must be from Mars to be a Martian.

Psychobilly: What if he was a Martian born in Nebraska?  He'd still be a Martian only he would also be a Nebraskan.  Only you wouldn't call him a Nebraskan, now would you?

Rikenstein: No, that would still be a Martian.

Psychobilly: Right.  So what we have locked in the other room is a Martian from some other planet.

Rikenstein: This is your concern?  Not the potential invasion of our world by an alien species?  What to call it?

Psychobilly: Oh that's not a concern.  I decided to call him "Ted".

Dr. Rikenstein's Notes: Page 376

From time to time William declares that with amazing powers comes amazing opportunities.  I have tried to explain to him the importance of the work we do on Project Atomic Prometheus as well as the serious nature of his duties to test new technology that may be of benefit to our troops in the ceaseless fight against Communism.  Regardless he is an excitable youth and given to his own flights of fancy and what he calls "civic duty".  Below I have included an example of this behavior.

I would like it to be known that I counseled against it.

William's ill-conceived "super-hero" suit

Dr. Rikenstein's Notes: Page 215

This photo was taken shortly after the accident that fundamentally changed William Rumble forever. As you can clearly see, the atomic power within him has caused his skeletal structure to glow a vivid green color. Although further testing is required, it appears that the glow becomes more pronounced as he uses the energy burning within him. When fully "powered up" for lack of a better term, his skeleton glows to the point that it is visible beneath the skin.
This condition is not present at all times, and as long as young William chooses to remain calm and not take advantage of his newly acquired "abilities" he passes as completely normal, if somewhat on the juvenile delinquent side.
This requires further study for the sake of Science and the American Way.

Psychobilly Rumble in…Wrecking Ball!

One solid hit from that ham fisted bastard and I am flying through the air and into a wall.  There is a lot of pain in my back and my neck and I really wish I hadn’t gotten into this fight in the first place.  I’ve already taken a pounding and now it seems that this orangutan was just warming up. 

“Had enough, asshole?” I said boldly as I stood up from the floor.  Or at least that is what I would have said, but he managed to get a gorilla grip on my windpipe somewhere during the “Ha…” part.  So now he thinks I am laughing at him.  This is bad.  I could be losing consciousness here.  Nope, he is lifting me up over his head.  I never thought a Nip in a kilt could be so dangerous.  Okay, honestly I never thought I’d ever meet a Nip in a kilt, so we are truly out of my depth of reckoning at this point.

I am going to assume that his next move will be to throw me at something.  If I’m really unlucky he will throw me through something.  Like a window.  Or a wall.  Everything is starting to spin; I must be losing consciousness…

No, wait.  I am starting to spin.  This guy is actually spinning me around a bit before he does me in.  I might upchuck here and if I do I’m going to aim for his stupid head.  A wall, a door, a window, Gil, a wall, a door, a window, Gil, a wall, a door, a window, Gil…since I am about to die I think I should take a moment to reflect on how I got into this messed up situation in the first place.  Let’s rewind about 3 hours to 3:00 PM.

Tuesday, 3:00 PM, the Institute.

It had been about three weeks since my run in with the Nazi Nymphos and I was feeling recovered, but Dr. Rikenstein wanted to do more tests.  I had been in the labs for eight hours each day for the past four days while the Doc did his thing with the test tubes and the probes.  He was convinced that I could generate some sort of mental blast, all Martian-like, from my brain that could be a useful weapon.  Yeah, right.  He kept trying different things that he thought might trigger the effect, but we had come up zilchville so far.  Luckily for me, the Doc had a meeting with some bigwigs from the Capitol and I wasn’t needed at all, so I decided to head out and relax for awhile.  The way I figured it, I was due a little off time and Gil could use some fresh air too, so I headed over to the aquatics labs to pick him up.

“What’s haps, Fishboy?  Let’s get outta here and have some fun,” I said as I came through the door.  Gil was reading a pulp magazine and sulking, which is what he does most of the time.  He needed a break from the lab. 

“Go away, Billy.  I’m trying to read over here,” Gil whined.  He does that a lot. 

“Come on, Gil, you can read any time.  We need to get out and have a little fun while the Doc’s busy with those squares from Washington.  Can you tell me any good reason why you would rather be sitting around this sad little swimming pool and not out having fun, drinking some brews, chasing some trashy girls?”

Gil gave me that sad sack look of his, the one he always gives me when he’s feeling sorry for himself.

“I’m a freak who is permanently bonded to this fish-man suit and can’t be seen in public,” he said.  “Is that a good enough reason?”

I admit, that is a good reason, but not good enough for me.  See, I didn’t know Gil before the accident that turned him from a normal guy into an amphibious fish-man, but I suspect he was always this mopey.  He’s always reading pulp magazines and imagining the exciting life of crime fighting and dames and all that, which is ironic as that is the life we live, sorta.

“Not good enough, daddy-o.  I’m crashing this pity party as of right now.  We are going out and we are going to have fun.  It’s not Friday night, so don’t use that whole Sabbath excuse on me like you did last time.”

“How am I supposed to go out looking like a fish?  Thought of that yet, smart guy?”

“Aha,” I said, my genius about to shine forth, “You’ll put on a hat.”

About half an hour later we were behind Dodge’s Groceries meeting up with a couple of friends of mine, Tommy Dodge and Kalvin Parks.  Dodge and Kal are good guys and are both aware of my secret identity, so to speak.  I introduced them to Gil and not surprisingly they were cool with the whole thing.  Tommy’s pop owns Dodge’s Groceries, which is one to the few things that makes him great to hang out with.  Tommy slipped out the back of the store with two sixers of beer and the four of us took off for the local television station where Kal works in the maintenance department.  He’s a grip or whatever they call those cats with all the tools on their belts.

So there we were, sitting in the parking lot on the hood of the AHR, drinking PBRs and listening to the radio.  Everything was right with the world.  Then Gil started in.

“So this is all we do?”

“Whuzzat?” Dodge asked.

Gil continued, “We just sit here on the hood of the car and drink beer and smoke cigarettes?  This is what you call fun?  We could have done this back at the lab.”

“Not the same,” I explained.  “Here we are out in the open, enjoying the air.  Here we have the opportunity to go and do other things.  Besides, Doc doesn’t have any beer at the lab.”  I felt I had made my point. 

“Pabst Blue Ribbon,” Dodge said to no one in particular, “no finer beer.”   He chugged the rest of the can and tossed the empty into the grass. 

“No finer beer we could get you mean,” Kal said. 

“There is no finer beer than free beer,” I added and popped the top on my third.  It was a fine fall afternoon and the crisp night was coming soon.  I could see that Gil was not happy, but I think he’s probably never happy, so no loss there.

“Is this all we do?” Gil asked.  He was still nursing his first beer.  Life support, more like. 

“No.  Absolutely not,” I said.  “After it gets dark we’ll cruise for awhile.  See if we can find some chicks.  Maybe roll by the Cosmic Burger, I’m starting to get a little hungry.”

So we were sitting and drinking and shooting the shit when Kal tells us that a strange package arrived at the station on Friday and when he brought it to the station manager the guy acted all crazy and locked the thing in a wall safe.

“…and it’s just been weirdsville since then, man,” Kal said, finishing his story.  “Must have been pretty important because everybody in a tie has a stick up their ass about it.”

“Oi vey,” Gil said and exhaled loudly.  “I think I’m drunk.”

“Whyzat, lightweight?” Kal laughed.

“Because I am seeing a massive Scotsman walking toward the front door of the television station.”

We were parked at the back of the station, but we had a good angle toward the front door.  There was in fact a massive Scotsman striding toward the front door of the television station.  Even though I live a life that is not what one would call ordinary, this officially qualified as strange.  I do not live in the sort of neighborhood where one expects to see a massive man in a kilt walking around.  I mean, it wasn’t even Halloween.

Gil continued to stress about the Scotsman but Dodge and I thought it was nothing.  Kal was unusually interested in this Scottish phenomenon continuing to stare in the direction of the front door after the Scotsman had disappeared from view. 

Dusk was fast taking away the last of the day and I was contemplating my fourth brewski when the chirp of autumn crickets was broken by a loud crashing noise and screams from inside the television station.  Kal leapt from the hood of my rod so fast that Dodge was surprised enough to slip off the car and to the ground, busting his keister on landing.  I was laughing at Dodge and failed to notice Kal was running toward the back door of the station.  It was Gil who pointed that out.  I took off after Kal while Gil helped Dodge up from the ground.  The chubby bastard was whining about his ass hurting and the beer he’d spilled on his pants, but I was more concerned with Kal at the moment.  Apparently he had keys to the back door because when I got to it he was fumbling with his key ring as though he was looking for the right one.

“What the hell, Kal?” I asked him. 

“Billy, something is going on in there.  It’s a television station, those noises shouldn’t be happening.  And then there was that strange man in the kilt.  It might be MacAngus!”

I didn’t know who the hell MacAngus was supposed to be.  In retrospect, it was obviously the Scotsman, however at the time I had been drinking and the whole experience was too surreal for words.  Kal started to speak way too fast.  I could tell he was panicked.  What I gathered at the time was that Kal had been eavesdropping and overheard a name, Toshiro MacAngus, and that the name was connected with some kind of wrecking ball and that Kal’s boss, the station manager, feared for his life and possibly the contents of the package that was in the wall safe.  At least that’s what it seemed like at the time. 

“We have to do something, man!”  Kal shouted at me as he pushed open the back door to the station.  “Do your hero thing, Rumble!”

So I did.  I shouted back to Gil and Dodge, telling chubby to stay put and fishboy to tear ass over to the station.  We had work to do.

I followed Kal inside the station and let him lead me.  Not surprisingly he went straight for the station manager’s office.  Once there we saw the big Scottish goon standing over the body of the station manager.  It looked like he was dead, but he could have been unconscious.  The Scotsman had a pry bar and was dismantling the wall around the safe.  It looked like he was going to take the whole thing with him.  Not if I could help it.

“It’s Psychobilly Time!”  I shouted my battle cry and let the atomic energy within flow.  I could feel my body heating up and see my forearms glow as my skeleton lit up green with atomic fire.  Damn, its times like that when I wish I had theme music.  You would have thought my battle cry would have drawn his attention, but he just kept tearing up the wall like I wasn’t even there, which made me angry of course. 

“Hey, gorilla man!  Get ready for lights out.”  And with those bold last words I leapt into action.  Now I figured he was just a normal but very large Scotsman, so I didn’t want to nail him with the Super Psycho Atomic Knuckle Sandwich.  I mean, I didn’t want to kill the man.  So I launched myself at him instead and boldly grabbed his pry bar and jerked it out of his hand.  At least that was the plan. 

What actually happened was the large Scotsman pulling me up to his face and looking me over.  Then he said something in a language that I did not understand and I got a good look at his face.  A bushy beard, slanted brown eyes…what had Kal said?  Toshiro MacAngus.  I was staring dead into the eyes of Giant Japanese in a kilt.  “Ummmm…,” was all I could manage before this enormous kilted maniac lifted up the pry bar, with me still holding onto it, and tossed me across the room.  Nothing bruised but my pride; I stood up and promptly decided that holding back with this particular goon was not a good idea.  Again I launched myself at him, this time flinging myself into his back with a solid shoulder slam.  It was like hitting a brick wall in a skirt.  But at least I got his attention.  It was then that MacAngus turned and swung a quick punch at my head.  I deftly ducked it only to find that a follow up left was aimed at my gut.  It felt like I had been hit by a bowling ball and I staggered trying desperately to catch my breath. 

Finding the sort of testicular fortitude that makes John Wayne America’s hero, I stood up tall in time to see Gil coming into the room to join the fight.  I make fun of the fishboy a lot, I know, but the first time we met he nearly cleaned my clock.  I know he’s good in a scrap and there’s nobody I’d rather have with me in a rumble.  But this MacAngus was one tough customer.  So it came as no surprise to me that when Gil jumped onto his back to put him into headlock the giant goon flipped him over in a Judo chopsockey move and started pounding him.  Poor guy didn’t even have time to block those massive fists.  It was brutal.  I knew I had to do something and quick.  I decided to let the bastard have it, my full force Atomic Punch. 

“Yo, Johnny Sake!” I shouted.  “Why don’t you let the fishboy alone and deal with a real man?”  And then I let him have it.  My fist shot out like a jackhammer and connected with his face.  Blood squirted from his nose and lips and I knew I had made an impression.  The element of surprise had been on my side for that punch, but now it was lost and with it my advantage.  What followed was a dizzying flurry of punches and a few kicks and something about a ‘beastie’ and ‘best laid plans’, it was hard to follow.  Which more or less brings us up to where we came in: me hoisted into the air and being spun rapidly in circles. 

The simple fact is that I can’t beat this guy and he is probably going to kill me.  I’d like it to be noted, for the record, that this cowboy did not go down without a fight.  And here comes the toss…

I did manage to grab his shirt before he threw me.  I don’t know what that is meant to accomplish, maybe it will slow me down as I fly through the air. 

Turns out that was a good move on my part.  Way to go, Rumble!  Instead of flying into a wall I hit the floor.  Hard.  I don’t think I want to get up again.  I think I will lie here instead.  Awwh, who am I kidding.  I lift myself up as best I can and prepare for my death…only he’s not standing there ready to kill me.  He’s gone back to the wall safe.  I don’t know whether to be insulted or relieved.  Things are sorta hazy right now; I think I can hear Kal hustling station workers out of the area.  Gil is still knocked out, but he’s breathing.  That big bastard MacAngus has actually pulled the safe out of the wall.  This looks bad for our side.  I find myself thinking of Pearl Harbor for some reason.  And John Wayne.  And Johnny Cash.  This really hacks me off, you dig?  I feel an amazing headache coming on, all sudden like.  Like my brain is on fire and my eyes are going to explode.  I keep thinking about Nagasaki and atomic fire and I really hate this guy for kicking my ass all over the room.  And then it happens…
Waves of pain stab at the front of my head and I can feel my forehead explode.  The fire and pain focus into a shape like a lance right in the center of my forehead and I can see a wave move through the air like the heat haze coming off the blacktop on a hot summer day.  Waves of anger and pain and fire coming out of my head and lancing forward to strike at the hulking form carrying the wall safe in his arms. 

My head snaps back like whiplash and my vision goes red.  And when it clears I see that big kilted goon lying flat on his back, K.O.ed and the wall safe pinning his legs to the ground.  I stand up way too fast and fall back to the ground.  Then Kal is there helping me up.  Gil is awake now, but he looks rough.  I manage to stagger over to the unconscious MacAngus, now shirtless thanks to me.  He appears to have a massive tattoo on his chest…of a wrecking ball.  Ahh, it all comes together now. 

Ten minutes later finds me and Gil in the AHR contacting the Doc on the radio tele-transmitter and receiver in the rod’s dashboard.  Kal and Dodge have taken off at my request.  I told them to become scarce before the fuzz showed up.  I don’t have much time either. 

“IASA headquarters come in, this is Rumble and Gilmann,” I say into the mic.

“This is IASA headquarters, over,” the voice comes through the speaker.

“We need immediate aid at the television station.  A very large and dangerous enemy agent has been apprehended by us, but we cannot contain him.  Suggest elephant tranquillizers and some very heavy chain.  Please patch me through to Dr. Rikenstein.”

Ahhh; the comforting flattop and commanding pipe of the Doc. 

“Rikenstein here,” he says.  “William is that you?” 

“Yeah, Doc.  Gil is with me.  We’re coming in.  I think you should have a medical team ready.  I’m in bad shape, maybe a few cracked ribs, pretty bruised all around.  Gil is awake now but he took a pounding.  We’re all messed up.”

“Good Lord, man, you sound awful.  What happened?”

“You could say we got hit by a wrecking ball.  Psychobilly out.”

The End.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Psychobilly Rumble: The Birth of a Hero

From the desk of Dr. J. Rikenstein, PhD

Report on Project Super Eagle (Transcript)

Gentlemen, you will forgive the somewhat informal narrative style of this report, but the events in question must be told as they happened for the sake of posterity and science.  As you are all well aware I am Dr. Jeffery Rikenstein of the Atomic Research Project Super Eagle.  As the head of the project it is my responsibility to make this report to you today.  If everyone is comfortable, let us begin.

The purpose of Project Super Eagle was the development of prototype super soldiers to combat the growing Communist menace in the world today.  Our project was initially comprised of 10 volunteers from across our armed forces.  The first phase consisted of a battery of physical and mental tests designed to weed out those that would be unfit for the process.  At the completion of Phase One we were left with 7 candidates for Project Super Eagle.  I direct you to the slide on the screen currently.  You will see the 7 candidates that were judged fit to advance to Phase Two.

Phase two consisted of rigorous training exercises and a very specific diet, including the chemical enhancers that would be necessary to transform the successful candidates into the super defenders of the American way of life that Project Super Eagle was intended to protect.  During Phase Two we learned that 3 of the candidates were allergic to the chemical combinations they were being given and had to be removed from the project.  This left us 4 candidates for Phase Three.  I now direct you to the screen where slide two will show you the remaining 4 candidates. 

Phase three was a very delicate phase during which the candidates would be taught advanced skills using sleep teaching machines developed by me.  The sleep teaching machines, as many of you are aware, employ the basics of hypnosis to imprint knowledge directly into the brain of the subject while the subject is asleep.  It was during Phase Three that we discovered this man [points to screen] was a secret Soviet sleeper agent.  Fortuitously, the sleep teaching machine had broken the hypnotic seals and revealed the viper in our midst.  The candidate, Cpl. Andrews, was immediately taken into custody by military police and questioned.  The full details are to be found in the report made by the Military Police.  Let it suffice to say that Cpl. Androvitch had been detained and we had reason to believe that none of the secrets of Project Super Eagle had made it to the Soviets.  

With only 3 viable candidates left in the project, we moved into the Phase Four.  If successful this would have led to the fifth and final phase of Project Super Eagle.  Our 3 candidates had been trained and primed, given the experimental chemical compounds and their systems had accepted them well.  With confidence in our experiment and our eyes toward the goal of protecting the American people from the Red Menace, we proceeded.  If you will regard the screen you will see the Atomic Bombardment Chamber.  This chamber was specifically designed to allow us to harness the power of a split atom while avoiding the destructive potential of the same.  Our brave test subjects stepped into the chamber and with a final prayer to the Good Lord we began the complicated process of activating the Atomic Bombardment Chamber.

If I could now direct your attention to this slide [nods head toward screen].  This young man is William Rumble.  He was working at the site in maintenance.  I draw your attention to his picture, as he will become very important to this report shortly.  The photo you see is a young man of average intelligence with no special skills.  He comes from a lower middle class family, single-parent family.  The young man’s mother disappeared some years ago.  On the day that we were to activate Phase Four of the project, William was serving in the capacity of a fire watchman, keeping an eye on the machinery that provided the power to the electron accelerators for the Atomic Bombardment Chamber.  As the electron accelerators reached full power our instruments clearly showed that all was well.  I had my assistant, Dr. Hibbs, throw open the interior shielding on the chamber and we prepared to focus the power of atomic fire into the chemically prepared cells of our brave subjects.  It was then, gentlemen that disaster struck.  It seemed that Cpl. Androvitch had not been the only spy in our organization.  Someone, as yet unrevealed to us, but rest assured, gentlemen he will be found, had sabotaged the Atomic Bombardment Chamber.  The chief technician, Stanton, was the first to notice a critical overheating of the electron accelerator and subsequent overcharging of the atomic particles as they entered the chamber’s focusing aperture.  We reacted quickly, hitting the emergency shut-off plunger, but the failsafe had been tampered with as well.  With no other choice I ordered my staff to flee the area as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately the brave patriots who had volunteered for Project Super Eagle were locked inside the Atomic Bombardment Chamber and the locks would not open while the machine was active.  Further, I knew that to open the chamber would be disastrous to the entire complex. 

Gentlemen, I am sorry to say that young Mr. Rumble was not aware of the evacuation order and continued to maintain his station.  As the atomic energy built to massive levels, the 3 brave heroes who had volunteered for this mission were vaporized.  We may all take some comfort in knowing that their deaths were almost instantaneous.  We can all rest easy knowing that they felt no pain, as their nerve endings most certainly burned up in seconds.  The Atomic Bombardment Chamber contained the majority of the blast, but the electron accelerator received a critical backflow of atomic energy, causing the device, which was not designed to be shielded against such waves, to release massive amounts of energy in waves that bombarded young Rumble, apparently knocking him unconscious. 

Fire crews were sent in as soon as was judged possible.  A radiation crew was sent in to check the complex and, if you will look to the screen and the charts, you will see that the Atomic Bombardment Chamber safely contained the blast and the radiation.  The teams found William Rumble lying unconscious in the electron accelerator control room.  Despite the damage to the accelerator, the radiation levels in the room, including those associated with Mr. Rumble, were all normal. 

I immediately brought William into the lab for tests.  I have concluded that his body somehow absorbed all of the energy released from the electron accelerator.  A further miracle is that he seems to have suffered no ill effects as a result.  However, the energy he has absorbed has changed his body on a fundamental level.  He has demonstrated several abilities that are well beyond normal human limits.  Although none of these abilities were predicted as part of Project Super Eagle, they are still fascinating and I believe useful to our purpose.  If you turn your attention now to the screen you will see William Rumble as he appears today.  You will see that he has not changed outwardly.  However if you look at the next slide you will see him as he appears when viewed spectrographically.  You will no doubt observe that Mr. Rumble is a powerhouse of energy.  Already I have conducted tests to determine some of the applications and limits of this amazing young man.  He shows an increase in strength, resilience and endurance in no way commensurate with his apparent physical form.  Further, this young man of previously average intelligence has demonstrated an amazing grasp of scientific principles.  I predict that with training, perhaps using the sleep teaching method I have developed, he could be a useful asset in our fight against the Communist threat.  For this reason I have requested that the funds set aside for Project Super Eagle be increased and allocated to my latest project proposal:  Project Atomic Prometheus.  I cannot stress this enough, gentlemen; William Rumble and the results of the Project Super Eagle incident must be studied!  Do not consider Project Super Eagle as a failure for our atomic super soldier plans.  Rather, consider it a great success for science!

Thank you for coming.