Jack Marshak was grinning widely as he held the door wide to the store. First to enter was Michelle Foster covered in mud and grime and drenched to the skin. Johnny Ventura was next only much more wet and much more muddier. He passed the cursed miner's hat to Jack to put in the vault as he and his red-haired companion shuddered together.
"If only you two saw what you looked like." Jack chuckled.
"Keep laughing," Johnny shot back a dirty look. "But when someone yells alligator in the sewer… I usually start running!"
"Don't look at me." Micki slowly turned to the staircase leading above Curious Goods. "I thought it was an alligator. How was I supposed to know it was just floating trash!""
"You knocked me down and ran across my back!" Johnny pointed his finger at her.
"I didn't see you standing there!"
"You knocked me down!"
"All right!" Jack had crossed off the hat in the manifest. "Why don't you two children get cleaned up? I'll order some pizzas for us."
Micki and Johnny shot looks at each other as if they were brother and sister and realized there was only one bathroom upstairs from the store. Micki bolted first up the stairs as Johnny tried to cut ahead of her. Jack could only muse over their rivalry as he put the cursed hat into the vault among numerous other hexed and cursed objects and wondered how many people had died to find the treasures it had uncovered. The pipes in the building rattled as water filled the shower upstairs. The rest of the night would be for relaxing, as Micki emerged beautiful again with her red crimson pompadour back to full curls. Relaxing in her favorite white sweater and blue jeans, she grinned as Johnny emerged five minutes later from the shower.
"You used up the hot water."
"Did I?" Micki was devilishly wicked as she teased him. Jack meanwhile separated the pizza into separate even plates as the two of his closest friends reverted to kids. After five years of chasing objects cursed by the black magicks of a man who was once his friend, it was a marvel any of them still had a sense of humor anymore.
"What movie are we watching?" He asked.
"Oh," Johnny whipped one out. "I got this last week. Allison Hayes in Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman. I've seen it hundreds of times on late night. It's a classic."
"You would like that stuff." Micki bit into her pizza.
"Johnny, where'd that VCR come from?" Jack watched while Johnny load the tape as Micki took the remote. Their VCR was supposed to be a recent Emerson model, but the one atop their set now was an old model RCA. "Did you get a new one?" Jack wondered about the switch.
"No," Johnny realized the different machine wasn't their regular one. "Micki?"
"Don't look at me." She swallowed the pizza in her mouth as the VCR clicked on. The TV flipped to static before showing a horrible grinning face looking out at them.
"Don't touch that dial!" Lewis Vendredi looked out from the TV screen.
"Who?" Johnny barely asked as the TV screen glowed white enough to blind them. There was a popping noise as Lewis appeared outside the TV laughing, and Jack, Micki and Johnny vanished!
The man entering Nick's Bar And Grill may have looked like forgotten actor William Hudson, but he was instead Harry Archer, the husband of Fowler fortune heiress Nancy Archer. Less than interested to be the doting husband to his beautiful wife, he instead traced off to meet a younger mistress five years his junior. Honey Parker was short, petite and blonde and as vivacious as she was in high school, but she was also the voice of corruption in his degradation.
"Nick," Harry called over. "Get me a drink!"
"Sure thing, Mr. Archer." Nick the bartender and owner of the establishment nodded to him, but personally couldn't stand him. He hated Harry, but didn't dare admit it. Many of the people in town had thought Mrs. Archer was a much more beautiful woman than that Honey Parker. They all thought he was a fool to hang out with a mistress when he had a beautiful and wealthy wife at home who loved him. Nick poured Harry a drink and took it over to him. Harry and Honey were buzzing on the same news that everyone else in town was whispering. Nancy had seen a UFO on the way home and had claimed a giant man inside it had tried to abduct her. The UFO might have been ignored altogether, but the giant man claim had put it over the top. As the conniving husband planned to commit his wife for the alleged illusion, Nick returned to the bar and began wiping the surface of it down. He bumped an empty glass and watched it crash to the floor and shatter into more than a dozen pieces strewn over a few square feet. Exhaling out of his own stupid annoyance, Nick bent down behind the counter to clean it up with broom and dustpan.
He winced as he cut himself on one of the larger shards and stopped where he was. A sudden revelation seemed to overcome him as if he was suddenly discovering this world through new eyes. He wasn't really a bartender and his name sure wasn't Nick, it was Johnny Ventura! He wasn't a bartender; he worked in an antique store and explored seemingly random cases of occult activity. The pain from the cut in his hand must have restored his identity as he stood and looked around. What was wrong with the color around him? Everything was in shades of gray as if reality was being shown through a black light bulb. He stood up and looked around the interior of the black and white world around him. Recognizing Harry and Honey, he realized one thing: he was now in the movie! He was inside the black and white copy of the Allison Hayes cult hit. The sense of awe and novelty hit him as if it had knocked across his face, but he quickly turned to worry as he looked around. Where were Jack and Micki? If he had merged with the bartender, whose roles had they entered?
"Jack? Micki?" He raced out the entrance of the bar and grill and recognized the surroundings. The town in the movie really was a tiny little village. Seeing small clapboard houses and only a smattering of businesses, he gazed on buildings he had only glanced upon briefly a thousand times over from watching the movie. Awe was turning to panic as he raced through the parking lot and stormed into the sheriff's offices near him. No one was here, but the jail looked like the set from "The Andy Griffith Show." Johnny tore the bartender's apron off as he started running looking for help. Just when was he in the movie! The beginning? the middle?
"Jack! Micki!" He screamed. "Where are you!"
Johnny had driven around the small town looking for the mansion he knew only from the front. Straining his deductive reasoning, he began to reason and theorize the layout of this screwy little town and its reality trying to find a large mansion he knew served as the location for much of the movie. If he had been cast off into a little used sub-plot, Jack and Micki must have fallen into roles in the major plot. As the surroundings became more familiar, he knew he was on the right track. The Fowler Estate turned out to be some ten miles out of town as he drove through the black, gray and white scenery. He turned through the front gates at thirty miles an hour and raced up to the house nearly hitting the police car parked out front. He bounded up the stairs to the entrance and knew he was at the right place when he recognized Jess the butler from the movie answering the front entrance.
"I'm looking for..." Johnny glanced inside and noticed Jack in a far back room talking to the local law, Sheriff Dubbitt, and the other movie doctor in this science fiction soap opera. He pushed his way in and run up to him desperately and anxiously determined.
"Jack! Jack, it's me! Johnny!" He gripped his jacket and shook him. "I have to talk to…"
"Who?" Jack was still overcome by the role he had entered in the movie. "Am I supposed to know you?"
"I'm sorry, Doctor Cushing." Jess ran up trying to pull Johnny back. "He charged past me in the foyer!"
"No! No!" Johnny insisted shaking Jack as the other doctor and the Sheriff tried to push him off. "You got to remember me! The store! The objects! We're trapped in the movie!"
"I've never seen you before in my life!" Jack answered back. "My name is Doctor Heinrich Cushing. I'm a doctor for Mrs. Nancy Archer."
"Let him go!" The sheriff tried to unpry Johnny's hands.
"Sorry, Jack!" Johnny fought back trying to force him to remember. "But I got to hurt you to force you to remember!" Johnny slapped his mentor and best friend hard then punched him in the gut. Coughing from the unprovoked blow, Jack dropped to the floor and the sheriff pinned Johnny to the wall and began handcuffing him.
"Okay, that's it." He started dragging the upset young man off to the jail. "Maybe you ought to be cooling things off behind bars!"
"Nick?" Harry Archer was just returning home from his philandering. Honey Parker was with him listening and observing as if she were plotting. "What are you doing here?"
"He just struck your wife's doctor!" The sheriff screamed as he dragged Johnny away screaming and yelling. Johnny tried clawing to free himself. Actor or not, the sheriff had him in a real grip and world of hurt that any real life small town sheriff would have had. Fighting as hard as he could to get to loose, he looked up as Jess held the door open for Sheriff Dubbitt and his prisoner.
"Jack! Please!" Johnny struggled against the Sheriff fighting him to the door. "You got to remember! Micki! The store! We're in the movie!" He knew he sounded like a maniac, but it was unavoidable. Loeb barely fretted over the obviously deranged man and turned to his friend and associate.
"Heinrich," He lifted his colleague to a chair. "Take a deep breath, are you okay?"
"Johnny, you hit like a prize fighter." The former magician gasped as he looked around and then gazed straight to Loeb and the room. Why was everything in gray? Where was he? The last thing he remembered was seeing Lewis in the TV and then there was something with a bright light. It had seemed as if it had washed him over in and out as he fought to stand. In a brief second, Johnny's words forced him to realize the truth. It was another world in this movie and just another hazard in the midst of reality hopping and time-traveling he experienced by way of the objects in the store.
"Dr. Cushing," Jess looked back at him as he offered him a drink. "Are you okay?"
"Who are you people?" Jack became confused. Did Johnny say they were now in the movie? "Where am I?"
"Heinrich," Loeb looked back him. "We are here treating your patient from radioactive poisoning. She caught it in the desert when her husband abandoned her."
"That's a lie!" Harry shot back as he downed his brandy. "Nancy went out alone looking for that thing she said she saw."
"You keep believing that." Jess the loyal and dedicated manservant turned and looked into Jack's eyes. "Doctor, Mrs. Archer can collaborate everything I say." Jack turned confusingly toward Harry angrily stewing and whispering to his mistress Honey Parker. They eyed the nurse nearby preparing more syringes for the patient upstairs.
"Hopefully," Loeb led Jack the way up the stairs to the top portion of the house. "We can treat her before the poisoning spreads through her body. Right now, it's confined to the scratches on her neck, but... should it spread." He pushed open the door and Jack immediately recognized Micki laying in the bed unconscious. Regal and flawless, she appeared as if she were a brunette in this odd light. Across her light gray alabaster neck in this black and white movie were three long clearly visible scratches about five to six inches long that glistened with otherworldly particles.
"Micki!" He dropped to her level and touched her to be sure she was alive. Her body was warm and her breath slow, but she wasn't dead.
"Micki?" Loeb appeared perplexed. "I thought her name was Nancy."
"What?" Jack looked up as he carefully rested Micki where she was. The closest thing to a daughter he ever had, he realized she was only trapped in the role this movie had given her, but he had no idea what was to happen to her nor could he slap her around as Johnny did to him. He needed to know what was occurring in this tangent of a reality, and only one person around here had a psychic precognitive insight into this movie's end.
"Where'd they take Johnny!"
"Who?" Loeb looked back with his forehead furrowed. "Oh, the young man. I imagine to the jail."
"I need him here." Jack found his way back out.
"But," Loeb looked back to the person he knew as Nancy Archer. "What about your patient?"
"Give her two aspirins and tell her to call me in the morning!" Jack snapped back at him trying to find his way out of this cockamamie movie.
Johnny stood staring and shaking his jail door trying to get out of his cell. There were no keys in sight for him to try to reach to as he leaned into the bars. This may have been a movie set to him, but it was a reality to these characters that existed within it. He tried to think of a way to get out as he thought he heard someone coming. Thinking it was the deputy, he began psyching himself to take out the short glasses-wearing little wimp then looked up as Jack entered.
"Jack!" His spirit returned. "Do you know me?"
"Of course, I know you." Jack looked through the bars at him. "Johnny, where are we? What's going on?"
"We're trapped in the movie." Johnny revealed. "Get me out of here!"
"Where are the keys?"
"I don't know." Johnny answered as Jack poked through the sheriff's desk a second and scanned the walls. He stopped as he eyed the cot in Johnny's cell.
"Get me a spring out of the bed." Jack pointed and waited for the piece off the cot. "I'll have to use it to pick the lock."
"Jack," The young man handed over the spring as Jack bent it and started picking at the lock on the cell door. "Who was the old man on the TV? How'd we get here?"
"That, Johnny…" Jack tried to hear the tumblers. "…Was Lewis Vendredi, the man who cursed the antiques; neither Micki nor I have seen him in years, but he must have made another deal with the devil to return to the store. This time, I'm afraid we bungled ourselves straight into it "
"You think he's out there watching us."
"We can't worry about that now." Jack tried to think to all the jail cells he escaped from as a magician. "Johnny, you know this movie. How does it end? How far into it are we?"
"Well," Johnny knew the movie very well as he tried thinking. "I'd say when I met you was about when Harry tried to poison his wife..."
"Who Micki now is..."
"But he discovered she became a giant and backed off. The giant had scratched her throat while ripping her jewels off of Allison Hayes to repair his ship, but the scratches turn out to be radioactive and she grows fifty-feet tall as a result." Johnny continued. "She later wakes, breaks out of the house and terrorizes the town before getting electrocuted in power lines."
"And with her go our chances of getting out of the movie." Jack was having slow luck with the cell door.
"Jack, it's only a ninety minute movie." Johnny watched as Jack worked the lock. "We only have thirty minutes till that happens."
"Maybe in our time," Jack heard another tumbler fall into place as he tried for the next one. "But I bet in this movie's real time we barely have a few hours. Our only hope would be if Micki brought the remote in with her. If she did, we can use it to stop the tape and get out."
"As a giant?"
"She should go back to normal in the real world." Jack heard the last tumbler. "We have to find that remote." Jack pulled the jail door open and stepped aside to let Johnny out. They both then turned round as the deputy stood in the doors of the Sheriff's office and pulled out his gun. He looked sadly disappointed as he held his pistol on them.
"Doctor Cushing," Deputy Charlie Spooner called Jack by his character's name. "I never figured you for starting a jailbreak." He waved them both into the cell.
"I forgot the deputy returns." Johnny raised his arms and turned back defeatedly.
Jack and Johnny stared back from the cell now stripped of its bed. Neither of them was feeling very spirited or intelligent as they were locked up together to await Micki getting electrocuted without their interference. Jack felt the most bumbling as he had the opportunity to snap her out of her role and keep the movie from reaching its dire end. He sighed loudly as he tried to think of a way out.
"Well done, Marshak," He spoke to himself in second person. "Lewis is in the store and you're about to be permanently etched into a low-budget sci-fi movie."
"Sorry, Jack," Johnny fretted and dropped to the floor. "I'm not exactly coming to the rescue, am I?"
"No, Johnny," Jack paced near the cell door. "You don't have the experience with Lewis as we do. We should have known what was occurring when we saw the strange VCR." He stopped and looked out. "Does that deputy come back?"
"No," Johnny rubbed his chin then stood up. "Wait, yes, yes, he does. After Nancy escapes the house as a giant, the sheriff calls here looking for him. The deputy then leaves and picks them up walking on the road, but then, without you at the house, we may have changed the plot..."
"Never mind that." Jack seemed optimistic. "You get him in here. Remember, he isn't a real policeman; he's just a character. You get him to open that door. We take off for the house and find that remote!"
Johnny looked at Jack trustingly as almost on cue they heard whistling. With enough advance notice, Jack looked back then lowered himself to the floor and sprawled himself out on the concrete floor. Johnny realized his opening as the deputy entered the sheriff's office.
"You got to help him!" He yelled. "We were arguing when he suddenly grabbed his chest and fell to floor!"
"Jinkies!" The deputy was truly trapped in the Fifties as he fumbled with his keys and unlocked the door. Kneeling down to the floor, he saw Jack staring and grinning at him.
Johnny kicked the alleged lawman hard to the face then struck his head hard to the steel bars. He was swinging the door shut quickly as Jack hurried out and helped him to close it. Within seconds, they were excitedly running out together as they scrambled for the first car they saw and slid in together.
"I'll drive!" Johnny saw the keys in the ignition and wondered if the Late Fifties really was this innocent or simple. The engine roared to life as Jack looked for seat belts and braced for some hard driving.
"Floor it!" He ordered as Johnny turned into a racecar driver. Car tires spewed gravel and dirt into the police station as the deputy groaned a bit under breath. Shaking the delirium out of his head, he tried to sit up.
"Oh my head," He rolled over on the floor of the cell as the sheriff's phone rang. Moving like a drunken man, he staggered and swayed as he fumbled with his keys, unlocked the door and hastened almost out of it for the phone.
"Heck, huh, hello, I mean, Sheriff's Office?" He felt as if he had been to the local Bar and Grill too many times. "What? She's awake, huh. Yeah, I'll tell Mister Archer. He'll be home in a minute. Another thing, tell the sheriff that Dr. Cushing just busted Nick out of jail. They've both gone nuts... ranting about movies and giant ladies..."
Johnny and Jack were speeding down the highway to the Fowler Estate at almost sixty-five per hour. Their car nearly rolled as they swerved into the long flat driveway to the house as Jack's eyes rounded at Johnny's driving.
"Keep it on four wheels." He braced himself. As they rounded the turn for the house, they began to see the roof of the house and then the middle of it buckling as if something large, very large was pushing up through it. Doctor Loeb and the nurse were in the garage area watching as shingles began raining down to the ground followed by pieces of broken beams and whole sections of roof. Against the night sky, something very large and dark was forcing the hole in the roof wider as the person they thought was Nancy Archer reared her head up, arched her back after being trapped in her cramped space and swung one huge twenty foot tall leg out of the house. Tossing her long red tresses out, her mighty chest jutted forward and a massive breath filled her lungs. The stitched bed sheets covering her bosom strained and grew taught with her breath as she realized the sensation of being immortal. Resembling some great goddess in human form on earth, her beauty and grace was almost primal and primordial as she stood on cold earth and realized everything around her were mere toys to her. Lightly running her palms down over her skirt of bed sheets and curtains, she held her head aloft regally as her mind tried registering and accepting what had happened to her. Was she a goddess on earth or a mortal evelvated to divine status? She seemed to recall and flash upon other identites as she scanned across the moving figures no higher than three inches to her and their mortal accessories. Considering them beneath her station, she turned her mind to urgencies within her mind.
"Oh my god!" Jack looked out through the windshield. "It's Micki! She bigger than I thought she'd be!"
"I know where my husband is." The role of Nancy Archer echoed out of the titanic redhead while Micki seemed to realize her surroundings. "He's with that... woman!"
"Heinrich!" Doctor Loeb looked straight to Jack pulling into the driveway under Micki's incredible gait stepping over the driveway. "Mrs. Archer turned into a giant! We got to warn the town!"
"Not now!" Jack jumped out of the car as they watched Micki towered over him and Johnny. She was pushing herself through the trees and forcing a path as Johnny's heartbeat reminded him to be scared to death. She could easily step on him in her condition or even swallow him without realizing it. After years of knowing her and even admiring her, he felt afraid of her in her new Olympian status.
"Johnny!" Jack snapped him out of his shock. "Where would Micki be the second the movie started!"
"What, uh, the car!" He raced ahead as he jumped over wreckage in front of the garage and glanced at Nancy Archer's car. A 1957 Ford Galaxy, it could worth a fortune to classic car collectors if he could get it out of the movie. Jack meanwhile had a glimmer of the power Micki now had as he stared up through a hole in the garage ceiling to the living room, the bedroom above it, the attic above it and then to the dark night sky. The ground was still trembling as their gigantic redhead headed toward town to incite a panic with her mere presence.
"I got it!" Johnny held the remote control up like a torch.
"Good," Jack pushed him back to their car. Dr. Loeb and the nurse joined them as Jack slid behind the wheel and started the car. "Now we overtake Micki and get us out of here."
"Heinrich," Loeb leaned over the front seat. "What are you talking about?"
"Look!" The nurse pointed to the Sheriff's car making a hasty u-turn and speeding around to catch them. "It's the sheriff!"
"And the deputy and butler are with them!" Johnny added as they looked over the horizon for Micki heading to town. The patrol car's lights and horns were going as they all sped back toward town. Too many things were happening at once. The deputy certainly must have informed the sheriff about the jailbreak and he might be grabbing them before they could use the VCR remote control on Micki.
"Why do we always have to play it so close!" Jack gripped the steering wheel hard and stepped on the gas.
Harry Archer and Honey Parker grinned toward each other over drinks as Nick's employees kept the Bar and Grill going in his absence. The lights had flickered a bit for a while as they kissed and spurred rumors for anyone who didn't already know about them. Eventually, they decided to try a little dancing to the jukebox as he tried to forget he was a married man.
"Harry!" A woman's voiced echoed through the place just ahead of the impact tremors shaking the place.
"What was that?" Honey looked around. It sounded like Harry's wife on a bullhorn, but she was supposed to be dead!
"Sounded like someone calling your name."
"Harry!" Micki Foster's voice came again in place of the absent Allison Hayes as the Bar and Grill began shaking. It felt like just another California earthquake as bar patrons froze to the aftershocks and felt the structure being shaken.
"Mr. Archer!" The deputy ran inside looking for Harry, scanned the crowd then advanced to face him. "It's your wife! She's wrecking the whole town looking for you!"
"Nancy?" Harry remembered how big she had grown when he found her in the dark of their bedroom. He could barely think to realize she was still that size, awake and looking for him. Just dealing with her eccentricity at normal size was difficult; dealing with her at what she was now would be murder! "I can't go out there! She's crazy! She could kill me!"
Honey screamed and everyone on the bar watched in horror as a huge hand with fingers almost five feet long and as thick as telegraph poles reached in through the doors as if they were searching for something. Patrons of the bar and grill ran to the back of the room trying to get out of her way and a few dashed out the back way into the alley in back. Feeling nothing but blank floor, the titanic hand before the few astounded and morbidly witnesses continued groping and reaching for signs of life.
"You're a deputy!" Honey realized she'd be an entree if caught. "Shoot her!"
"What? I can't shoot a lady!" The deputy had reared his gun and paused as Harry grabbed the weapon and pushed him aside.
"Give me that gun!" More than willing to fire a gun to save his life, he fired upon the huge fingered monstrosity without concern. It reacted and pulled back with alarm.
Still trapped in her character's life, Michelle Foster felt the slight burns as tiny projectiles hit the skin of her hand. Scowling and displeased, she stood straight up again before the bar and grill dwarfed by her new height and stature. Her head towered over the roof of her errant husband's watering hole. It was almost a highly detailed dollhouse reproduced to the tiniest details to her, but unlike her, it was highly fragile and likely vulnerable to her great strength and size advantage. Pressing her chest into it and gripping her hands deep into its exterior walls, she gripped the roof and began tearing it off as if it were made of balsa wood. The shingles slid off around her over her body and into her cleavage as several thousand pieces of thick construction paper while the roof snapped off like the top of a wood crate. Deep within the place, frightened by-standers afraid to run out of the building listened to the sound of a living tornado ripping off the roof and hid under tables. Harry pulled Honey with him behind the bar as the ceiling to the second floor began cracking and rafters began snapping through. High above them pounding through the second floor, the voice of Micki Foster continued tearing the place apart with her bare hands and even unconsciously liked the sensation of ripping something apart with her bare hands.
"Sheriff!" Jack and Johnny were handcuffed in the back seat of the patrol car. "Please, we can stop this!"
"Okay," He was looking over the remote control trying to figure out what it was and then tossed it in the driver's seat and took out his keys. "But no funny business! You're still my prisoners!" He uncuffed Jack and then Johnny. "Damned if I know how you predicted this."
Once freed, Johnny grabbed the remote and sprang for the car. People watching from across the square screamed as Micki shrieked in delight and pulled out a figure from the shell of the former bar and grill. Delighted and ecstatic, she lifted the screaming and terrified figure of Harry Archer high above her head threatening to drop him from almost seventy feet in the air from her outstretched hand above her head. Harry Archer felt he was taken hostage by a living Statue of Liberty as he gazed down her aloft arm past her face grinned viciously at him through her cleavage and over the dizzying ground stretched wide around him. From the edge of the square, Jack Marshak raced across the seemingly war-torn town square while Johnny rose the VCR remote, aimed it at Micki and pushed a button marked STOP.
"Jack, it's not working!"
"It has to!"
"She's got Harry!" People were screaming and watching from safe distances unable to look away as the person they thought was Nancy Archer lifted high into the sky her philandering husband victorious and desperate to control him at last. Jack's eyes widened as Micki began getting close to the high-tension wires. The sheriff had raced back into his office, grabbed the riot gun off the wall to put an end to the madness and started running back out as he aimed it at that huge red-haired target.
"It's got to work!" Jack snatched the remote from Johnny and wondered if the batteries were dead. The sheriff's finger contracted on the trigger of his rifle as Jack pushed POWER...
There was a familiar burst of light as Jack, Johnny and Micki suddenly hit the floor in front of their television. Jack gasped as he looked over and saw Micki beside him back to normal. Five-foot-seven again and a bit overwhelmed, she realized where she was and what she had been and gratefully hugged and caressed her own body promising to herself to never complain about not being tall enough. Jack hugged her tightly and hysterically joyful that she had made it out with him and back to normal. If she had come out at that massive size, there would be obviously more questions than answers. Johnny looked up with glee then noticed Lewis Vendredi staring back at them in surprise after racing to investigate the commotion. Coming up the stairs from the store, he clenched the store manifest hard as Johnny sprang up and charged at the deranged warlock.
"Johnny, no!" Micki screamed as Lewis swatted the young man away like a mere insect. Flying backward, Johnny fell back, hit the TV and pushed the VCR off it as the movie cassette bounced out of it and hit the floor.
"Lewis!" Jack stood to face to face with his former friend. "How'd you get out of hell?"
"Hell has many levels, Jack." Lewis answered. "I just struck another deal."
Micki scrambled through the videocassettes on the floor and found one with time still on it. She popped into the VCR and tossed the remote to Johnny.
"Johnny!" She called as he caught it, aimed it at Lewis and pushed PLAY! The two of them winked out before them in to the thin air.
For the two of them, the scene changed around them as they found themselves in a deep forest on an obscure tropical island dominated by trees and mountain ravines. Lewis grabbed a branch and swatted Johnny hard as the remote flew from his hand. It sailed out of their way and landed safely on the thick mossy mulch of the forest floor. They looked at each briefly and realized it was up to only one of them to wrest it from the other. Johnny lurched faster as Vendredi crashed into him clawing for the tiny electronic device. Johnny hit the decrepit old man up the chin and stretched his hand for the remote and then felt Lewis jump on top of him trying to grab it from him once more. A moment to shake off the old man, he rolled with all the strength he could muster and leapt to his feet around a massive tree. Clutching the thing hard to his hand, Johnny pressed it against his chest and pushed the button.
"No!" Lewis freaked as the young man vanished from under him. He cursed, scrambled around a minute and wondered where he was. Strange noises were coming out of the forest as he stepped on something solid in the weeds. He pulled up a steel plate and flipped it around to read it.
He looked up as a huge shadow pushed through the trees. The huge reptilian head looked down on him as the warlock began screaming his head off. Several more figures started dashing around him with sharp teeth and long claws rendering through his body. Their long tails stiffened skyward as they struck. It was a pack of ravenous raptors starving for something to eat. A second later, Vendredi felt his head and shoulders separated from his lower extremities and a violent spray of blood gushed from his chest...
By next afternoon, Micki Foster felt human again as she handled once more being a very mortal but very attractive regal redhead. A royal sparkle danced in her eyes looking over the normal stock of the store. Jack passed near her putting the ledgers back content in the knowledge that Lewis was out of their hair for good. Trapped on their copy of "Jurassic Park" in a perpetuating cycle of life and death, he was now in the vault with the VCR and remote and hopefully out of their hair for good. Jack grinned to Micki as she glanced up to him.
"Why are you looking at me like that?" Micki felt a bit odd in his presence.
"Oh, I don't know." Jack mused clandestinely cheerful as he sat down at the desk. "I guess being in that movie last night made me see you in a new light."
"Oh, really?" Micki grinned amusingly myself.
"I guess I saw what Johnny likes about that movie." Jack removed his glasses and turned his head up Odin-like along with an added touch of wry wisdom. "You were... Well, a force of nature. The primal force personified. It was as if you took the form of the hurricane, the tidal wave and every force of nature at once, and yet, all the prestige, power and grace of godhood. You were practically beyond perfect. It was like looking upon the face of an Olympian goddess in her true form. I just never really realized just how beautiful you really are."
Micki rolled her eyes with just a bit of annoyance, disbelief and just a bit of ego as her lips tried not to grin. She wondered how men could manage to be so condescending as well as charming at the same time.
"I'm sorry, Jack," She mused a bit. "But I barely recall any of it, and if I had, I doubt I would feel worthy of your praise." The bell on the door jingled crazily behind her as Johnny entered with videos from the movie rental place.
"What did you get this time?" Jack peered around Micki to him.
"Oh," Johnny placed aside his Pepsi. "After last night, no more horror or sci-fi for a while. I got some Abbott and Costello."
"Really," Jack seemed interested as he recalled upon his magic career. "I actually worked and collaborated with them a few times when they were still doing Vaudeville. Which of their movies did you get?"
"Buck Privates, Time of their Lives and The Thirty Foot Bride of Candy Rock." Johnny made a condescending look of a teasing nature toward Micki and turned to look at Jack again before hastening his step up the stairs to start the popcorn for the movies. Micki slowly turned her head to Jack as he grinned clandestinely toward her again.
"I am not marrying Lou Costello!" She announced.