A/N: Woah, it's been a while, huh? I don't even remember what's been happening in this thing. Well, I do, but. . .you see where I'm going with this.
Bold Italics Lazlow, Regular Italics Max.
All is quiet in the house, the housemates are preoccupied in their own activities, and, somehow, have managed to last over six hours without killing each other. Let's watch.
"Bishop to knight four," said Tommy, sliding his queen diagonally across the chessboard.
Claude held up a checkmate card.
"Claude, you haven't moved yet."
Checkmate, persisted Claude.
"No, move a piece first."
Claude held up the "nyeh!" card, before launching the board, table, and chess pieces into the air, causing them to fall on the first domino in the cycle Carl had spent the last six hours trying to build.
Checkmate, mimed Claude.
"I'LL KILL YOU!" screamed Carl, lunging at the bemused Claude, knocking over a Jenga tower, a five thousand piece 3-D puzzle of the Taj Mahal, and three hours worth of winnings at Texas Hold 'em.
Tommy surveyed the wreckage as a game of snakes and ladders spontaneously combusted.
And now a word from our sponsors:
The doorbell rang. Tommy, with precedented situations very similar to this one fresh in his mind, warily strolled towards the door.
Someone in the other room yelled, "come back, shit for brains", followed by a series of loud clatters.
Tommy gingerly opened the door, and in a tremendously short period of time, found himself on the floor with a large black man on top of him.
"Oh, my god!" yelled Claude in poorly acted astonishment. "It's BJ Smith! From the Vice City Mambas!"
"That's right, little man," he said, placing a red and white Mambas cap on Claude's head, forcing it down just a little too tight. "But I'm also a leading car salesman with my own semi-legal car firm."
"Hey, who's this jackass?" asked Carl, sliding into the room on a trail of marbles. "And can he get me the car of my dreams at a very affordable price?"
"He sure can, Carl!" said Claude gleefully.
"Am I the only one not in on this?" asked Tommy, squirming under the weight of the sweaty fellow who was still lying across his stomach.
Did we forget to tell Tommy? Max, did you forget to tell Tommy about the new advert we're shooting? Max? Where the hell is he?
"Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!" I yelled, as I swung from the stairs, like Tarzan in a jungle of poorly decorated suburban housing.
The guests exchanged glances.
I awoke in a daze, with a 200lb black man across my waist.
And not for the first time, I might add. It all took me back to the night of my senior prom, where -
"I don't think he's dead." said Carl.
"Well, actually," said BJ in an informed tone, "your average video game maverick cop with a harsh vendetta can retain the ability to recite monologues well past the point of death. So he may well be dead."
"Can I stop talking now?" asked Claude. "The viewers prefer it when I don't speak. And where the FUCK are my cue cards? Carl, I asked you a FUCKING question! Don't make me get the tazer again!"
Claude, shut up.
Claude held up a card with his middle finger on it. He then proceeded to shove it down Carl's throat.
"Glack." said Carl.
"Oh, my back!" moaned Tommy, struggling to stand, as everyone else in the room left him to lie there.
"No," whispered a voice, "stay down. We'll sue that rich loser for millions. That'll teach him and his army of rhinos who's boss."
"Ken? What are you doing in the heating grate?"
"I've been here for the last four days. It's the only home I have."
"I left you in the mansion!"
"Yeah, see, it burned down."
"How the hell can you burn down my entire estate?"
"Ya know like they say "don't put metal in the microwave?""
"Oh, dear lord. . .yes. . ."
"And, uh. . .you know like they say you shouldn't set fire to an aerosol can?"
Tommy got the shakes. "Yes?"
"Well, the pink gorillas – you know the ones – they thought, "wouldn't it be a great idea to put a jar of hairspray in the microwave, set it to full power, then pour boiling water over the electrical socket." And trust me, Tommy, it was a great idea at the time."
"Well, those monkeys have had some great ideas in the past. . ."
"Oh, you're damn right, Tommy, you're damn right. I remember this one time when -"
"Ken, what were you saying about taking legal action?"
"No, Tommy, I said sue him."
"Ken, if I could move, I swear to God I'd punch you in the head."
Ken retreated into the heating duct, and Tommy put the plan into action.
Meanwhile, in the other room:
"Hey, hey BJ," yelled Carl, "go long!"
"Carl, that's a table-tennis bat. . ." replied a confused BJ Smith, seconds before he was knocked unconscious by a flying table-tennis bat.
"Pfft, and he calls himself a pro wrestler. . ." muttered Carl, unimpressed.
Carl, I think you just KILLED BJ Smith.
"Who's BJ Smi- oh! You mean the guy who's lying on the floor with an open wound in his head?" asked Carl. "What should I do?"
. . .see if he has any money.
Seconds later Tommy collapsed through the doorway, his left leg in a cast, the opposite arm bandaged, and plasters all over his face.
"Ah. . ." he feigned, poorly, "it hurts. Please. . .it hurts."
Tommy, you've been shot at thousands of times in your life, now you're trying to say that being pinned down by an overweight black man has left you immobilized?
"Hell," said Claude, "If we had known that, I woulda got Carl to jump on you days ago!"
"Burn!" yelled everyone in present company, including Carl.
Well, new ratings show a massive decline in popularity for Claude now that he can talk. We have one loyal viewer and ex-supporter of Claude here in the studio who wants to explain that Claude is no longer a role model to him and all the other mutes out there now that he's revealed he can speak. Take it away Frankie.
". . ."
Silence swept over the house as everyone listened to Frankie's testimony.
"Wow", said Claude, "I didn't realise I was that important. Thanks for your advice, Frankie. I vow from now on to never speak again!"
"Hallelujah!" yelled Carl. "Am I right, huh? Burn, right? BJ, high five! Tommy, high five, huh?"
Claude jabbed Carl with the tazer, and he fell to the ground in a smoking heap.
Claude held up a card that said "burn".
"Uh. . .sort of. . .dying here." said Tommy, trying to get attention.
"Tell me about it." said Carl.
Well this sucks. We were going to have another contest to win your next meal, but now Carl and Tommy can't compete. Ah, no matter. We still have Claude and Max, and BJ should wake up sometime soon. And we could even get Ken out of the heating grate to take part too!
"There's no one in the heating grate. . ." squeaked a nervous voice from inside the heating grate.
I'll bet it's cold in there. Claude, are you cold?
Claude looked up from zapping Carl's fried body and nodded solemnly.
Then let's turn up the heat.
"Ah, ah, ah, hot hot hot hot!!!" yelled Ken as he tumbled out of the heating grate in pink polka dot shorts and a white vest top.
Now we just need to wake up BJ.
Claude sauntered over to BJ's lifeless body and zapified him.
"That's right little man. . ." murmured BJ as he twitched violently. "I am the man. Oh yeah! Woah, where am I? Who the hell are you, and why do you have a tazer?"
Let the games begin!
Moments later, the inhabitants of the house found themselves sitting on hard, wooden seats, positioned in a circle. Each contestant was stripped down to their underwear (in some cases this involved putting on clothes) and staring nervously at one another. Tommy reclined in his recliner and observed the proceedings, his leg propped on a stool and his arm in a bucket of ice.
So, it's basically a simple game of pass the parcel, and -
"Then why are we all almost naked?" questioned the now less on fire Carl, irritably.
If you'll LET ME FINISH.. .
"Lazlow, please, you're not threatening at all. Not even if you were here in person would I be afraid right now."
Fine. As I was saying, it's a simple game of Pass the Parcel, but with one slight twist. The Parcel omits a cloud of nerve gas when the music stops. Also, Tommy will administer an electric shock through a random chair whenever he feels like it, via the control mechanism he holds in his hand.
"What's the point in that?" yelled Carl.
Keeps you focused.
"Don't question the man's motives!" Tommy interjected, sending a mild shock through Carl's genitals. "He is surely a king among men! I mean, this is so delightfully evil, isn't it? It's fantastic! Zzzzap!"
A current shot up Claude's leg, the muscle spasm forcing him to kick Carl. Claude laughed.
Okay, so when the music plays, pass the volatile substance around the group, when the music stops. . .you're out! Last one left not convulsing wins. And go!
A poorly played rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" on xylophone played over the intercom, as Claude held the box – decorated in purple polka dot paper and a bright green ribbon. A bio-hazard warning sign was etched into one of the sides.
He passed it to his left, where Carl was sitting.
The music stopped instantly.
Carl slumped to the ground inside the circle, foaming at the mouth.
Then the nerve gas was released.
Claude dragged his chair in closer, swept Carl under the carpet.
The music started again, and Claude picked up a new box. He passed it to his left again, to BJ Smith, who then passed to Ken – who received a jolt to "refocus" him; then another; then. . .another – who then passed it to Max.
A box. But not just any box. A box, which inside, contained my destiny. What do I do? Do I protect the box, like a bodyguard protects his client?Or do I pass it on, discard it like so many cigarette butts and wine boxes?
A box, which inside, contained some wine. But then -
"Oh, dear GOD, MY EYES!"
Max is out. Round three.
"I grow weary of this game," alerted Tommy grandly, from his chair. "I would like to see the three remaining contestants participate in a new game, a far more dangerous, life threatening affair for our three remaining participants to contest in. An affair, I might add, that I will be unable to partake in – curse my current disability – but that our three remaining, able-bodied house mates would be all too happy, I'm sure, to take part in, in order to win their next meal. I would also like to add that I would like a meal also, for overseeing this procession." Tommy lifted his monocle to his eye, effectively guarding the soft eye tissue behind it from a small throwing knife propelled from Claude's direction.
Why, of course, sir Tommy. I would be happy to abdicate my position of authority – stop laughing, Claude – assuming you will not take legal action against myself or our network.
"The network took my cookery channel off the air for some lame-ass reality TV show." fumed BJ Smith.
Moving on, like a train stuck in perpetual motion, never stopping, never starting, never moving.
I remember I was on a train once.
A homeless gentleman was sick on my shoes.
"Ahem," Tommy cleared his throat, "as I was saying, before unconscious Max rudely interrupted me. . ."
Yes, my lord and master.
"I was saying that I want a new competition. I would like to see BJ, Claude and Ken in a. . .no holds barred wrestling match, to the. . .uh. . .death. Yeah, that should satisfy my blood lust for a while."
The three men stood in silence.
"Well, get cracking!"
You heard the man.
The entire living area erupted in a cloud of dust and comedic, cartoonish whirlwinds as the three fighters, still dressed solely in their underwear (for reasons which, to be fair, never were correctly explained), kicked the crap out of each other for Tommy's amusement.
Seconds later, Claude and Ken lay on the floor, each writhing in pain, having slammed full force into BJ's bulging biceps and succumbed to the subsequent alliteration. Max was absolutely delighted with this literary technique of pure pain.
"No, no, no! This is not working at all!" yelled Tommy, leaping from his chair, then promptly slumping back into it before anyone noticed he wasn't really injured. He allowed for a dramatic pause, which let the dust clear, revealing Claude straddling Ken's shoulders, arms around his neck, while BJ repeatedly kicked him in the groin.
"We need more action! We need to make this like some kind of Hollywood movie. That's why I've hired Steve Scott, director of such movies as. . . that one with the Shark, and all those other. . .action. . .films."
Tommy, the man directs porn.
Immediately, the door swung open, with Scott drifting in at an alarming pace, followed by an entourage of scantily dressed womenfolk carrying large crates.
"Tommy, Tommy, thanks for inviting me. I brought all the props you asked for. Where d'you want me to put the sharks?"
"That will be all, Steven. I think I can take over from here. You may leave now, not to be seen again in this story until a later chapter."
Steve nodded in agreement, and made his way to the door.
"Oh, and leave the girls."
Steve let out a sigh. "Alright Tommy. I swear, if you didn't own my studio I would never let you pay me this vast amount of money to do your bidding. Oh, hey BJ."
BJ, how do you know Steve Scott?
"Well, when my football career went down the drain, I was a little short of money and-"
In fact, do I even want to know this?
"Probably not, but-"
I didn't think so.
BJ! I said I didn't want to know!
"But I was just talkin' bout the shark!"
"Then I can dig it!" squealed Claude.
Is it 1971?
"People, people, please!" screamed Tommy, snapping his fingers furiously, "can we please get on with things? Okay, Claude, Ken, BJ, Max – is Max awake? Yeah, he's awake – equip yourself with a firearm and stand in the middle. Now, I'll have to warn you, there isn't a great choice of weapons here, and it's first come, first serve – Ken, you're last by the way – so I'd get there quick."
Claude, being first to the box, was eager to brandish a samurai sword. Max, who came second, took a sniper rifle. BJ, deciding to use his own "fists of fighting fury", took from the box a medieval shield and knight's helmet. And finally, Ken, salvaging what he could from the remains of the box, found himself with the choice of either a foot long rubber sex toy, or a hand puppet shaped like Kermit the Frog.
His choice was the puppet.
Everyone met in the middle, awaiting Tommy's instructions.
"Teams." he said when everyone faced him. "We need teams. All those in favour of everyone against Ken?"
Three heads nodded yes, against two who said no (Ken and Kermit).
"On second thoughts, let's split you guys into two teams of two. Let's have Speed and Rosenburg against Smith and Payne. Split up and get fighting, people, and remember: those are real weapons, so make sure you don't take my eye out."
"Real weapons?" gulped a nervous Kermit
"That's right. Lazlow, if you would do the honours?"
Let the games begin!
The four competitors retreated to find a safe zone, as Tommy surveyed the fight from his armchair which he had moved into the corner out of harm's way. This confused the other competitors, seeing as how Tommy was handicapped, but they decided to ignore the fact and concentrate more on imminent, bloody death.
Claude peered around from behind the sofa on the ground floor of the house. He spied BJ standing on a tasteless, purple and green rug, and poised himself for attack. Claude tilted the blade of his sword, using the reflection to watch BJ's actions without revealing his own whereabouts, and as soon as BJ, clad in a full suit of armour he had dug out of the box, turned around, Claude charged.
Imitating the anime type films he had spent his childhood watching, Claude arched his back, his arm outstretched as he ran. This running sequence, despite BJ being only a few feet away from him, took roughly 30 seconds to complete, and unfortunately was in vain as at the moment to strike, BJ bent over to pick up a penny, sending Claude flying into a recently painted brick wall.
Launching himself to his feet, Claude thrust his sword out, inches from BJ's face. BJ somersaulted to safety (which sounded like an entire drawer of crockery hitting the ground, due to the armour) and provoked Claude with a smug look in his eyes.
The two charged at each other, and commenced battling.
Max Payne, stationed atop the stairs on the seldom referred to first floor, extended the barrel of his sniper rifle through the slats of the balcony, and peered through the scope. Below, he saw Claude and BJ fighting it out, Claude's sword constantly repelled by BJ's armour.
I watched the nimble fighters as they danced like some masochistic cabaret, like some marionettes in the hands of a particularly cruel puppeteer.
It reminded me of a sadistic rendition of the Wizard of Oz. I saw the tin man, his fury personified in his swiping actions. And Claude could be Alice I suppose.
The metal clinked and scraped, the unbearable grating that took me back to my days in the war, preparing food in the kitchens for the troops. I felt that same urge to retreat as I had back then, but this time I wouldn't be able to hit my supervisor with a wok and run. This time, my destiny lay in the gun I held, its long, slender figure like that of a woman – not that I would know – , its extended neck like a recently choked chicken.
I grabbed my chicken and prepared to squeeze. The resulting blast would be poultry in motion.
It's a shame I'm the only one who can hear these monologues, that was rather funny.
I prepared for the shot, I had the samurai in my sights.
Perspiration dripped down my forehead like rain on a windscreen: a windscreen of importance.
Something was nibbling my ear.
"Max, don't move!" yelled Rosenburg. "I swear to God, the more you struggle the harder Kermit will bite."
"But how can he bite, if he's already dead?"
Ken glanced down at his naked hand. Kermit lay bleeding on the floor in front of him.
"But. . . but how?!" Ken gasped.
"Now, Ken, now it is your turn." croaked Max, rising from his vantage point almost mechanically, a vicious grin spreading across his face.
"M. . .Max? We can solve this peaceably!" begged Ken as he shuffled along the ground, effectively backing himself into a corner.
I stared down at the pathetic excuse of a man cowering before me in his underwear. Tears streamed down his face like rain on a windscreen: a windscreen of fear.
He writhed and contorted as if in the grips of a night terror. Of course, for him the terror was all so real. Also, it wasn't technically night yet – only six o'clock! - and thus the whole analogy pretty much became redundant.
I raised my foot in anger, like an old man stomping out a flaming bag on his doorstep, and stomped down hard, stubbing my toe on the skirting board.
It was at this point I saw, through suppressed tears, that Ken was no longer there.
Disgruntled, Max returned to his vantage point. Peering through the bars of the banister, he saw that Claude and BJ were still battling on valiantly. He steadied the gun and gently squeezed the trigger.
The bullet tore through the air, completely missing its desired target - the quiet one – and ricocheted off of BJ's armour with an impressive spark.
Severely altered from its original course, the bullet seared across the living room and embedded itself in the wall inches above Tommy's head.
"Jesus fucking Christ!" screamed Tommy, leaping from his chair, "that almost fucking hit me!"
Everyone in the room glared at Tommy – who had just realised the grave mistake he had made – accusingly. They began to advance.
Tommy, knocking over his crutch in the process, bolted out of the room with his tail between his legs.
After ten minutes of searching (during which time all five searchers – including the recently revived Carl – had forgotten exactly what it was they were looking for), the house mates returned to Games Night.
A chess game was set up (after all the pieces had been removed from CJ's orifices), which was played by Max and Carl. Claude busied himself with an Etch-a-Sketch while BJ Smith bench pressed him.
The only sound in the house for the next three hours was when Claude, using a pre-written message on his Etch-a-Sketch, alerted Carl that his hair was on fire, probably as a result of the spark from the bullet colliding with BJ's armour. He then proceeded to beat it out.
Meanwhile, cramped inside a pitch dark wardrobe, Tommy peered through the keyhole in terror at Smith's sheer size. Tommy had never tried wearing lingerie but he assumed BJ was around eight times larger than him in this department. He was also afraid of BJ's build.
"Well," he whispered to himself in the darkness, "I can't go out there for a while."
A familiar voice next to him, between sniffing, said, "tell me about it."