It's In the Job Description
I don't own any of the characters or names from Mystery Men. Or any of the insults the dog throws at them (you'll understand later), they belong to Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series.
A small group, at late hours, sat squashed in a booth at their local diner in Champion City. The walls were a tacky red and yellow design and the diner was filled with strange people. Strange was not what you would use to describe this group. Actually, the small group was trying to figure out what they would call themselves.
"Hey, what about Super Men?" Most of the group murmured in agreement when a voice spoke,
"Nope. No way. Do I look like a guy? No." It was The Bowler. The Spleen cocked his head.
"Now that you mension it-" He drawled.
"No way! Isn't that a take on Superman? Anyway, I'm a girl and I'm part of the group. I deserve to have a vote in this."
"We've taken that vote into account and well, frankly…you're outvoted." said The Shoveler frankly.
"No way! Come on guys, you know that you're more of a bunch of girls than guys. Right?" Everyone looked insulted. She rolled her eyes. She then noticed that Mr. Furious was looking at her strangely.
"You do look a bit like a guy. You got that masco…mascu…mascoo-"
"Uh, um, yeah, masculin look."
"Oh, really?" She asked, narrowing her eyes.
"What, do you have a problem with that?"
"I don't know, why don't you tell me?"
"Why don't you tell me?"
"Why don't you?"
"I don't know, why don't you?" Everyone put their heads in their hands and waited for their banter to stop.
"Okay, stop it. Stop it now! Why can't you two ever just talk properly?" The Shoveler, a.k.a. Eddie asked frustrated.
"Maybe it's because he keeps casting goo-goo eyes at that waitress in that disgusting uniform." The Bowler scorned. Mr. Furious's eyes nearly popped out of his head. "Oh, so what are you gonna do now? Yell stupid insults at me? Go ahead hothead." She smirked smugly as Mr. Furious started to yell ridiculous insults at her.
"Yeah, well, look who's talking! I bet you're just jealous. Jealous, green-haired freak! Yeah! You betta be scared when you go to sleep! I'll get you from under your bed. You'll be shivering in your covers! Betta be scared when Mr. Furious gets-"
"Furious? Ooh, I'm scared! Boogey monster is gonna get me!" The Bowler laughed, feigning fright. The rest of the group were trying not to, but they laughed along anyway. Eddie frowned.
"Roy! Bowler! Stop, both of you! We'll leave the name issue for later. Right now, some of us have families to get back to – I'll see you guys tomorrow at lunch here again, right?" The group murmured in assent. They rose to leave, but as they approached the exit, a TV camera crew ambushed them.
"So, what does it feel like to be Superheroes?"
"What happened to Captain Amazing?"
"Could you just look at the camera?"
Eddie glanced at his friends and gave them a meaningful look.
"Uh, we're pretty tired now, and we're just heading home. I'm sure you understand that we're too tired – after defeating Casanova Frankenstein – so we'll talk to you later." They camera crew nodded and let them pass. As Roy walked past, he muttered under his breath,
"Later, as in never." And The Spleen smiled toothily at the cameras before winking at them. None of the camera crew told him that the cameras were switched off. They had heard of his power – pure flatulence. They shuddered.
The Blue Raja or Jeff tapped a plastic fork on the table waiting for his order to arrive. The fork snapped.
"Darned plastic forks! They're just not like the originals!"
"Of course not – they're not meant to be. You're meant to be able to throw them away after you've eaten. Saves having to wash up." Eddie spoke with frustrating logic. There were three of them sitting in the diner, in their normal clothes.
"Who cares? At least it snapped, or I would have done it for you. The tapping was getting on my nerves." Jeff cocked an eyebrow at Eddie. Neither of them told Roy that they doubted that he would have been able to break the plastic fork. A dark-haired waitress arrived, laying down their orders. She smiled at Roy. Roy smiled back. It didn't go unnoticed.
"Well, seems that you've made friends with that lady over there." The Blue Raja stated.
"Who is she, Roy?" Eddie asked. Roy looked down.
"Er, no one." They seemed happy enough to leave it at that. They all dug into their food, contentedly. After a while, they finished and sat back. No one else was there.
"Shouldn't someone be here? I did say 'see you guys tomorrow at lunch here again', right? It's 2pm now. I'd have thought that lunch was over." Eddie frowned quizzically. Just that moment, a strangely dressed man bust in through the door.
"Help! Somebody help me!" He had a grizzly long beard and old ragged clothes. He waved a piece of paper in his hand and then collapsed. Everyone watched him for a while and then turned back to their food. Jeff, Eddie and Roy may have been superheroes, but even they were reluctant to approach the man who was squeaming and wriggling on the floor as if he was dying. They edged towards the man cautiously.
"Are you sure we should help this guy, Eddie?"
"It's our job, Roy." Roy was about to point out that it wasn't actually their job, but Eddie spoke again. "It's not really our job, but it's for us to help those weaker than ourselves – seeing as we did kill Captain Amazing."
"I didn't do anything!"
"And nor did I," he glanced at Jeff, who was looking guilty, "but we were all there." Eddie picked up the piece of paper, expecting it to be a clue. All it was, was a receipt. Apparently, this guy had bought some cigarettes, 1kg of apples, a bottle of water and candles? The guy was breathing, just, but breathing and rasped, as if reading Roy's thoughts,
"Just…a…receipt…" he wheezed, "ambushed…barking…dogs…attack…leader…hippie
…girls…and…disco…boys…help…me…secret…plan…dead…su…per…he…roes…" His eyes glazed over and he died.
"Hey, someone call an ambulance!" They stepped away and let someone else look after the old guy.
They walked out the diner, and wandered around.
"Hey, what do you think he was talking about?"
"I don't know Roy, but he mentioned something about an attack and he obviously was attacked, which led to his death."
"So, what do you think we should do?"
"I don't know, but we have to find everyone else. Come on, let's go." They headed off to Invisible Boy's house first.
They knocked on the door, feeling a large amount of déjà vu. A black guy peered out.
"Uh, we're looking for Invisible Boy?"
"He's at school."
"He goes to school?"
"Course, he's only 14. Its called Souper-Aero Academy. Now bugger off. Come back when he's finished school."
"Uh, when would that be? In a few years time?" The door slammed in their faces. Eddie turned to them.
"Well, we can't wait until then. We're going to have to get him to skip school. There are more important things at hand – like superhero business."
They had sneaked into Souper-Aero Academy, and were hiding in a storage cupboard.
"Remind me again why we're here?" Asked Jeff, cynically.
"I don't know. I thought you told us to get in here." Roy's voice was muffled.
"I did not! I thought Eddie told us to."
"No, I'm sure Roy did. I specifically remember him telling us to get into this storage cupboard."
"Hey, hey, stop laying the blame on me!" They pushed the door open and fell out. They glared at each other, when a voice startled them. A very familiar voice.
"What are you guys doing here?" It was Bowler, looking incredulously at them. "I'll ask you again, what are you doing here?" They were aghast. She looked feminine. She wore a yellow dress and a white cardigan over it and wore a brown backpack. It contrasted completely to what she usually wore. Her trademark green streaks were gone and so was her black-dyed hair. It was now brown and neatly tied back. All her gothic make-up had been washed off. On her chest, was a shining, new badge reading, Miss Bowler.
"What…what happened to you?" She glared uncertainly.
"Well, um, uh…look, trust me, I don't like this anymore than you do. I just need to have another job apart from being a superhero, because I don't get paid doing that. So, now I'm a supply teacher at Souper-Aero Academy. I was a whiz at English back at school, before my dad died. I thought that it paid well here. So, that's it. Don't laugh!" She menaced, looking very much like herself again.
"No, I think it's an improvement." Eddie spoke truthfully, the other two agreeing.
"Don't lie." She scowled, pulling her hair out and ruffling up her clothing. Unfortunately, it made her look more feminine. "So, what are you doing here?"
"We were looking for Invisible Boy-" Jeff briefed her on what happened and then handed over to Eddie.
"Why weren't you at the diner at lunch? I asked everyone to be there."
"Yeah, well. I was being briefed on my new job. I only found out that I had gotten the job this morning. I'm on my way to my first class now, so I don't think I can help you guys. But after this lesson, I've got the rest of the day off. I can join you then. But I need to run home and change. Ugh, these clothes are disgusting. I dug them out from the attic. These were my sister's clothes. I'll look for Invisible Boy, while I'm here, and we'll meet up with you…where?"
"Outside the diner?"
"Okay, see ya later." She turned and headed off. They walked out of the school.
"So, what do we do now?" Asked Jeff.
"I don't know." Eddie was still reeling from the shock of seeing Bowler in a dress.
"Man, she looked totally different in a dress, didn't she?" Roy spoke uncertainly. "I could even imagine dating her."
"Whoa!" They all said in unison, realizing what Roy had just said.
"I did not just say something." Roy corrected himself.
They wandered for a while, thinking.
"What do we do now? Look for the Spleen?" Roy asked.
"We don't need to look for the Spleen, you can just smell him. I'm sure he attracts flies." Jeff replied, wrinkling his nose. A sudden putrid smell overtook them and they all looked at each other, saying one thing, The Spleen. And as reliable as ever, a familiar, pock-ridden, tall man ambled up to them.
"Oh for fork's sake!" Jeff muttered, with a clipped voice, holding his nose.
"Sory about that guys. Just szlipped up there." He spoke with a constipated sound. He mercifully handed them each a clothes peg.
"Sorry I didn't manage to meet you at the diner, I was caught up in something, but I can't tell you what it was. So, how are you?" Jeff glared at him.
"Fyne, aktually, until you cayme alongg." His voice was unrecognizable behind the clothes peg. Eddie ignored him and briefed The Spleen on what happened.
"Ok…so what do we do now? You can take those off your noses now, I think you're safe." They took the pegs off their noses, apart from Jeff.
"I dohn't truss 'im. 'e mells all der 'ime. 'ow would 'e no when it's 'is mell 'e gets ued to?" He meant to say,
"I don't trust him. He smells all the time. How would he know when it's his smell he gets used to?" But it didn't really matter as they ignored him anyway.
"Well, I guess we look for The Sphinx. He's the only one left now." The Spleen shook his head.
"No…I heard he's left the country, very mizteriouss man, The Sfinx."
"He's left America?"
"So I heard."
"Well, I guess we'd better wait for Bowler and Invisible Boy to finish school then."
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Yheah, I guegss so."
"The Bowler still goes to school?!" The Spleen exclaimed, spewing forth a dollop of rancid breath. They leant away from him.
"No, she teaches there." Eddie murmured from about two feet away.
"Turns me on, a woman with education." Everyone stepped clear of him as he smiled toothily at them knowingly. They shuddered.
Bring, Bring! Bring, Bring! Bring, Bring!
The school bell, rung and students streamed out from the classes, heading to their next lessons. The Bowler could see Invisible Boy.
"Hey, you, wait!" She screamed across the hall, from the top of some stairs. Immediately, the din stopped and all the students turned to look at her expectantly.
Heeey,she thought as she strode across the corridor towards Invisible Boy, I should do this more often! She laid a hand on his shoulder to prevent him from going somewhere else and turned to look at the curious faces of the student body,
"Whatcha all looking at? Come on get moving you slugs! Get to lesson!" She screamed at the top of her lungs. Immediately, they scuttled towards the classrooms, not wanting a detention from the feisty new supply teacher. In a moment, the only people left were her and her captive. He turned and began to stammer with fright.
"U-uh…h-h-hello…m-m-miss…B-B-Bowler." He managed to squeak out.
"That's Sir to you!" She joked, deadpan. "Hey, hey calm down, Mister Mitchell…or should I say, Invisible Boy? Chill, it's only me, Bowler." She pulled off her gold-frame glasses and smiled. His eyes widened.
"Whoa! Is that you Bowler? But, you're wearing a dress!?" She scowled almost demurely.
"Yeah, and what about it?"
"That's right. Now come on kiddo, we got some superhero business to do away from Souper-Aero Academy." She led him out the doors.
"What? You want me do skip school? My dad'll kill me! I can't go!"
"Oh, come on, don't tell me you've never skipped school before? I used to do it all the time, don't worry I'll cover for you. He won't find out anyway. Now, come on, I'll explain on the way."
"To where? Ohhh…alright, alright, I'm coming." He slung his backpack on properly and followed her unwillingly through the school doors.
"-So before we go there, I'm gonna go home and change, okay? You go on ahead, I'll meet ya there."
"Alright-" But before he could say anymore, a hand with a steel grip was clamped down over his mouth, and he could only watch as The Bowler was being dragged away, kicking and punching, dress and all. He tried to remember what the attackers had looked like. One of them was undoubtedly a hippie, they looked as if they had just stepped out of Wood Stock – and the other was…Oh my gawd! His brain screamed that it wasn't possible…it was…it was…then someone threw a blow at his head with a club and it all went black.
Roy glanced at his old digital Mickey Mouse watch, before covering it up quickly. They were all leaning on a bicycle rail, trying to look nonchalant and 'cool'.
"Well, my super-friends, it's 3.49pm and 7 seconds. Where do you think our other super-friends are, super-friends?" Jeff glanced at Roy, his clothes peg disposed of after passer-bys had laughed at him, and said,
"Roy, do us all a favor and shut up, please." Roy glared at him.
"I don't know where Bowler and Invisible Boy are. They should be here by now." Eddie leaned back, puzzled. Suddenly, he leant too far back and fell over the rail, but a puny-looking dog, that looked like it was flea-ridden, broke his fall. Unfortunately for the dog. At that moment, Roy could hear a gruff voice screaming, in his head, Your sexual organs to sprout wings and fly away! Freaky. Eddie picked himself up quickly and had an uneasy feeling that the dog was glaring at him. He felt obliged to apologize to the dog.
"Uh, um, sorry little doggy." He tried to pet it, but it bared its teeth and growled. Once again, Roy heard a voice yell, Stay away from me buster! Eddie tried to calm the dog, by trying to stroke it. Your feet to fly from your body and be buried in a termite mound! Eddie was determined to stop the dog from growling. Big mistake. Gonna get ya buddy, you'll be sorry. Roy heard in his head, so he was expecting what was coming next.
"You…ow!" Eddie screamed with pain. He dived for the dog. The worms of revenge to eat your blackened nostrils! It screamed as Eddie began to pummel the poor dog. Hawks to peck your liver! Ahh! Your legs to swell to tree-trunks! Ahh! Your hand to wither and drop off! Ahh! Writhe on the spikes of damnation! Argh! Your teeth to abscess with red-hot heat! Argh! Your eyeballs to be spitted on shafts of fire! Argh! Your intestines to be wound around a tree until you are sorry! Argh! Afflict you with a thousand cuts! Argh! Smite you with thunderbolts! Argh! Your ankles to be crushed in the jaws of giants! Roy couldn't take it anymore.
"Stop!" he screamed. Both human and dog turned to look at him. Or Roy had a fleeting thought the dog had anyway.
"Eddie, it's just a dog. Leave it alone."
"It bit me! –" Eddie protested childishly.
"Step away from the dog. Now let it go." He looked thunderous. Eddie did as he said. As the dog trotted away, Roy was sure that it looked back in gratitude. Thanks buddy. He thought he heard. Then, he leant back against the rail in exhaustion. Suddenly, he thought he could hear millions of conversations at once.
Hey, pass me that!
Give it to me, you dung carrier!
His eyes swiveled around madly and rested on an ant and dung beetle, fighting for a leaf. He closed his eyes and shook his head madly. He had to try to get these voices out of his head. But, even before he started banging his head on the sidewalk, he knew he wouldn't.
The Bowler woke up, and automatically rubbed her head, where it was screaming in pain. She was tied tightly and hanging from the ceiling. And worst of all…she was still wearing that dress.
Ugh,she thought, I feel like I've been hit by a club or something.
That's because you have, my dear.
Aaaahhhh! Who's there? Who is in my head? Get out, get out!
Oh, don't mind me, just carry on as usual, thinking and whatnot.
What have you done to me?
Oh, I've just implanted a chip into your brain that allows me to hear what you're thinking. It's the first part of my plan that will lead to world domination…mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha…ahem, excuse me, did I just uncover my plans of world domination to you?
Uh, kinda, yeah.
Who exactly are you?
Well, now dear, that would be telling, wouldn't it? Well, okay then, if you insist. I am…
A large figure appeared in front of her, cloaked. Suddenly, he fanned out.
Ballerina Man!He cried inside and outside of her head.
Oh my gawd!
And helping me, is my assistant, PMS Avenger!
A dark-haired girl appeared, with a sour scowl on her face.
"I only work 4 days a month you know." She said flicking her hair over her shoulder.
"And what exactly are you going to do?" Bowler asked aloud.
"Well, ever since your little group, shunned my powers,"
"What, and your pirouette kicks?" She muttered. He frowned.
"Why of course, my special, how did you know? Anyway, as I was saying, ever since your little group shunned my powers, I felt a great urge to get some revenge. And so, I hired some henchmen in the form of…hippie girls and disco boys! Before you ask, I found the disco boys in the ruins of Casanova's mansion, and they were more than happy to aid me when I defeat you."
"Yes, it's just a matter of where, we can't decide." The Bowler thought to herself,
Okaay. I'm stuck with a crazed ballerina. And a girl who has a bad case of PMS.
"Hey, I heard that!" screamed the girl with a scowl on, as always.
Hey I heard that!Boomed a voice in her head. It was gonna be a long night.
To be continued…