The American Douchebag’s Guide to America: …Iowa?

What the fuck, Iowa?! How the hell, in all the thousands of other, far more interesting, places I could have chosen, did I come up with fucking Iowa as my next place to visit in this series? Can anyone even find Iowa on a map anymore?

Is it the one that kind of looks like an oven mitt?

Is it the one that kind of looks like an oven mitt?

You know what, whatever. It’s fine. I’ve got some goddamn journalistic integrity, and I’m going to talk about Iowa because the media is afraid to, and fuck you if you think you’re going to stop me. Good luck with your time machine dickmite, I’ve already written and posted this shit. Boom!

Overview

So, Iowa is apparently a state in the Midwest. “America’s Heartland” if you will…. Believe that America’s heart pumps out in the middle of fucking nowhere.

The Territory know known as “Iowa” was originally controlled by a bunch of beret wearing, baguette eating douchebags (No, I’m not talking about Modernist painters). The French sold the territory, which back then was part of the larger Louisiana Territory, to The Spanish, or more commonly known as the  tanner French with a fetish for getting impaled by bulls.

In 1803, the territory was bought by the U.S. during the Louisiana Purchase, which didn’t make the Native Indians living on the land too thrilled. By the end of the Black Hawk War in 1832, The Americans were able to force all the natives out of the Iowa territory and subsequently name it after them in the native’s honor because, let’s face it, the settlers were total pricks to the Indians.

In 1846, Iowa was officially named a state under President James K. Polk, a real president, not just one I made up because I didn’t actually feel like looking up the answer. He did exist.

Now, the state is mostly known for its agriculture (despite agriculture being only a small part of its economy, falling far behind manufacturing somehow) and for the fact that World’s Greatest Punk’der, Ashton Kutcher is from there. So yep, those are pretty much the two things you really need to know about Modern day Iowa: tons of corn and the spawning place of Kelso from That 70’s Show.

This is what the gene pool in Iowa looks like.

This is what the gene pool in Iowa looks like.

Also, I guess State fairs are really big there too.

Initial Thoughts

What the shit, I have to cross a goddamn moat to get into Iowa? Is Iowa some kind of fortified Bastille of a state that must protect its borders at all cost? Oh wait, that’s the Mississippi River. That’s cool I guess…. What’s with all the fucking hills?! I thought this was supposed to be part of the great plains! You lied to me, Iowa, you lied to me.

Accommodations

I stayed at the majestic hotel named, “Paul’s Apartment.”  Paul, as you probably don’t remember, was one of the many friends I made when I terrorized Europe for a month. Paul is actually a New Jersey native, not that we should hold it against him (too much), and is currently attending Grad School in Ames. So as one can expect,  the accommodations were that of a student going for his Master’s Degree: The apartment was relatively small and always fully stocked with beer, I slept on the couch, and within a day, my shit was everywhere (figuratively. Unfortunately, my literal shit got everywhere on day 3).

There were a couple of things that I genuinely loved about his apartment. First, Paul lives in a gated community, so I was able to keep my car door unlocked without worry. Secondly, he was on the ground level, which made it exceptionally easy to get in and out of his apartment when the need arose. Then there was the community gym. It wasn’t a big gym- definitely not what I’m used to using, but it had enough equipment that I was able to get in solid workouts whenever I went to lift. As a part-time muscle head, that’s important to me, bro.

They also had really nice bathrooms in the gym area, which is good because when I was there, Paul’s toilet was broken, and also without toilet paper. That means that my end of night ritual (which involves me squeezing out a fudge log) meant a quick little jaunt to the gym. Let me tell you, however inconvenient walking for three minutes in the middle of a cold, windy night to give birth to a mud dragon in a different building sounds, it’s nice to know that once you taint that building with your unholy colon stink, you can just leave and not worry about having to explain yourself to anyone. Clearly, people with outhouses have the right idea.

Sites

Des Moines and Iowa State were pretty much the only two sites I could find. I’m fairly certain that their state fair was over by the time I got there. And even if it wasn’t it probably would have been somewhere far from where I was staying. I guess the University of Iowa could also be considered a site if I’m going to consider Iowa State one, but the Univeristy of Iowa doesn’t have Paul, and is therefore inferior.

So first, we have Iowa State University. It is a college, so they have things like a stadium:

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I snuck into the stadium for this pic.

I snuck into the stadium for this pic.

A quad:

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A Student Union that overlooks a lake:

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And a Farmhouse Museum because, you know, Iowa:

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They also have a crazy amount of statues of people scattered about the campus, so you know I got all artsy with those pics:

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What the hell is with all the reading?

What the hell is with all the reading?

However, probably the weirdest thing about Iowa State is how secluded you feel walking around in parts:

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I took this pic on a path right behind the Student Union. Literally right behind it. If you were to turn to the right, you would see a path that would lead up to its parking garage. But the thing is, I had no clue it was the union at the time.  The path I was on was so deserted, that I figured that I had wandered to some remote corner of the campus, not the center, and especially not less than two football fields away from the main part of Ames.

Then, there’s Des Moines. The main three sights in Des Moines (By which I mean, the three sights I saw, and therefore, the only ones worthy of being talked about) are The John and Mary PappaJohn Sculpture Park, East Villiage, and the State Building.

The John and Mary PappaJohn Sculpture Park, which unfortunately does NOT serve free pizza with every tour, is located only a couple of blocks west of downtown, right between Grand Avenue and Locust Street. Their sculptures range from the charming:

Sings "Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting!"

Sings
“Everybody was Kung Fu Fighting!”

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To the bizarre:

I spent 20 damn minutes looking at this damn thing, and I couldn't find a single damn word on the list.

I spent 20 damn minutes looking at this damn thing, and I couldn’t find a single damn word on the list.

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To the inadvertently sexual:

They say that isn't a boner, but then what is that all I see when I look at that statue.

They say that isn’t a boner, but then why is it that all I see when I look at that statue is a dick?

To full on, land of 1,000 horrors creepy:

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Holy shit. Did I just stumble upon something from the novel "John Dies at the End?"

Holy shit. Did I just stumble upon something from the novel “John Dies at the End?”

This one is my favorite, and probably the creepiest. The spider one is pure horror.

This one is my favorite, and probably the creepiest. The spider one is pure horror.

On the other side of down town, and just across the river is Des Moines historic East Villiage. Over here you’ll find a series of shops and restaurants geared towards the younger population. There is an arcade bar that is pretty popular (it was closed when I was there), as well as several well-known hipstery clothing shops that also sold pot paraphernalia. Then there were these couple of headless, nude, department store mannequins  that oversaw the goings on of this section of town:

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Even farther east is the Iowa Capitol building, where state legislation is written and world food prizes are awarded, apparently. As you can tell, the Capitol building is surprisingly extravagant for something in Iowa, a state pretty much only known for its corn, but then again, they must have had a lot of extra cash once the rest of America started sucking on the sweet corn syrup teat.

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As you walk up to the capitol, you’ll notice a series of cannons, probably used to ward of pirates and lost French Settlers:

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But if you go around to the side, you’ll find yet another sculpture garden, this time all centered around the state itself.

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OK, I actually don't have a clue what this means.

OK, I actually don’t have a clue what this means.

So, all in all, Des Moines is actually a beautiful city, and small enough that a motivated person can walk around and explore in a day. Now, obviously there is more to explore in Des Moines than what I saw: Their Botanical Gardens, The Birthplace of John Wayne, The State of Iowa Historical Museum, which Paul and I happened to walk past twice, but didn’t even think to check out. There are other things you can do in Iowa too that you can find on your own. What am I, their tourism board?

Food

I ate a shit ton of Buffalo Wild Wings while I was there. I think I’m addicted now. I’m getting the shakes just from thinking about their Parmesan Garlic wings.

I really didn’t eat a lot of food that would be considered “Iowan.” I had some barbeque for lunch one day, but apparently it was a Texas style barbeque. Damn you Texas. I ate at a Mexican Resturant, an Irish pub, and cooked dinner at Paul’s place, and I doubt anything I ate was considered classic Iowa cuisine. I’m sorry, I failed you all.

However, there is a food story that I would like to share with you, and it’s pretty hilarious and awful at the same time. On Tuesday morning, I decided that Panera sounded like a great place to have breakfast. It was a crisp, early autumn day, and I wanted a warm sandwich to keep me full and happy as I wondered around Iowa State University for the day. I cannot really remember what the sandwich was, it was hot and had eggs on it, that’s all I remember, but I do remember what kind of coffee I had with it. See, I always drink my normal, homemade, straight from the coffee pot, gussied up with sugar and flavored creamer, coffee. This week, however, I decided to splurge right the fuck out. Every day I had a Café Mocha, and I sucked on that sweet caffeinated nectar like I was being nursed at the bosom of the gods. Tuesday was no different, and I bought my coffee at Panera. I finished my sandwich and took my coffee with me as I drove back to Iowa State to see what there is to see.

I hadn’t been walking for long before I started to feel a rumbl’n in my intestines. I casually wrote this off as “coffee poops.”  For those of you who don’t drink coffee (freaks), coffee has the tendency to make you want to poop. I, a mere mortal, have no clue why, but it happens. I’m sure Google knows the answer. Anyway, I am able to suppress the poop, and usually only have to deal with a cramp until my innards calm back down. This is a process I am both familiar with and accepting of.

I ignored my bowels plea for help and I continued around Jack Thrice Stadium, up the hill to the Alumni center, down the street to the fitness complex, then across the street and through a maze of buildings to their quad, my stomach growling and cramping more with each step. By the time I took the pictures of their bell tower, My innards were demanding relief, and I decided to call it quits for the day and head back to my car. Unfortunately, my digestive tract was impatient, and I only just made it to the men’s room inside the food sciences building.  After I had finished the dark, unholy deed, I decided that I had had enough exploring for the day and I decided to go back to Paul’s apartment and recuperate.

I hurried away from the Food Sciences building and the evil stench I no doubt left in my evacuation’s wake, and made it to the parking lot my car was in. That’s when I saw Paul. He was just getting back to campus and asked if I could drive him to his building. I obliged, but I began to feel the dark unsettled rumble in my bowels once again. I dropped him off, drove through campus, got lost, but eventually found my way back to his apartment complex. As I was driving past the complex gym (the one with the working toilet and toilet paper) I decided that I was probably well enough to stop at his apartment and drop my camera off before I drive back.

I was wrong.

As soon as I stepped inside his apartment, my emergency evacuation valve was turned. I waddled into his bathroom (the one with a broken toilet and no toilet paper) and I pretty much exploded. The sudden pressure change both inside and outside my body caused my ears to pop. Basically it was just like this scene from Dumb and Dumber, only less fortunate and without an attractive redhead.

My Lloyd is Panera’s coffee.

My Lloyd is Panera’s coffee.

Alcohol

I pretty much just drank beer in Iowa. Sure I had a couple of Jack and Cokes, but beer is what I consumed the entire trip. I didn’t even think to look to find local beers (they’d probably be made out of fermented corn anyway) so I either got high quality craft beers that will get you drunk quick, or the kind of piss water that will really make you evaluate your life choices. You know, Like Natty Light.

Natural Light: If you drink us, it’s because you don’t know any better.

Natural Light: If you drink us, it’s because you don’t know any better.

People

Well, there was Paul, but he doesn’t really count since he’s from Jersey. There were a couple of really friendly baristas in a Des Moines coffee shop that gave us a map of the city, and while I didn’t talk to many people at Paul’s school outside of his circle of friends, everyone seemed to be relatively nice there, and Paul’s friends and coworkers were pretty cool as well. Good Job with the hospitality, Iowa. And no, that wasn’t sarcastic.

Overall Atmosphere

Honestly, Iowa has a slightly-more-country Central Ohio feel to it, like if all the more rural parts of the state grew like weeds and were strangling out Columbus and Ohio State of their precious sunlight and space. But on the bright side, it doesn’t take long to walk from one  interesting place to another. Not like Paris.

But they do have a lot of Sundials. What the hell is up with that, Iowa?

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These are the two that I saw, but I bet I could find more.

These are the two that I saw, but I wasn’t hunting for sundials, so I’m sure there’s more.

Paix

That’s French for “Peace” motherfuckers.

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Fighting a Hoard of Gypsies With Zac Efron

This is a sequel to an earlier post. You might want to read that first.

If not, then enjoy!

***

Minigan sat in the open field, staring up at the overcast sky, and then to the jar in his hands. The jar, which appeared to house some kind of large insect, glinted in the late morning sun as Minigan rolled it in his hands.

“How do I get you back up there?” Minigan asked himself more than the insect.

“Dude,” Zac Efron interjected, sitting up from where he was laying, “Maybe we use a slingshot!”

“We’ll never be able to achieve escape velocity with a sling shot, Zaccy Effs. We’ll need a rocket. But even then we need to get it to the sun.”

“You could just let me free,” The insect squeeked.

“No can do, Kinish Asia,” Minigan replied, “All you’ll do is bring about the end of days on Earth. I cannot have you do that. I think it’s best if we launch you into the sun.”

“But that will kill me! And my name is ‘Kinich Ahau!’”

Zac and Minigan replied with disinterested, “meh’s” and continued with their activities: Zac lying down and tossing a ball into the air, and Minigan mindlessly spinning the jar, making the Mayan Sun God tumble around in his glass prison. Kinich Ahau roared (which sounded as if a chipmunk was trying to imitate a panther) and blasted fire at the glass.  Casually, as if he had to do this on an hourly basis, Minigan jostled the jar and sent Kinich bouncing back and forth.

“How many times do I have to tell you,” Minigan said into the airholes of the jar, “I made sure that the jar and its lid are impervious to flame. And don’t bother trying to heat up the glass to make everything on the outside of it burn: I already thought of that and saw to it that the glass insulates the heat from escaping.”

“What kind of god are you, Minigan?” The Mayan diety asked.

“I wouldn’t call myself a god,” Minigan said, blushing, “A demigod, probably, but not a god- god.”

Zac sat up and whined, “How much more time is left, bro? This is boring.”

“It should be done any minute,” Minigan replied as he leaned over to check the time on the old Easy Bake oven, which continued to putter away at its task.

Then, out of the corner of his eye, he saw a woman step off the gravel parking lot and head directly for them in the field. Minigan looked towards her and immediately recognized her. She was tall, very pregnant, and wore a bandana around her head. It was Della.

“Minigan,” she shouted to the men sitting in the grass.

“I’m sorry, but Minigan isn’t home right now” Minigan answered in a telephone operator’s voice, “Please leave a message along with the date that you called and he will get back to you.”

Della stopped, her expression changed from one of determination to the one a person makes when they leave a message on voicemail (You know, eyebrows raised, nostrils flared. Think about it next time you leave one). Della replied, “OK, Well tell Minigan that I need to speak to him about his birthday present for me, and that he needs to get a hold of me. Or he could just talk to me now since I’m staring at him right now, and I’m not an idiot.”

“Damn,” Minigan whispered to Zac, “I almost thought that worked.”

“Me too bro!”

“Minigan!”

“Hi Della! What have you been up to lately, other than being knocked up? When did that happen?”

“Cut the shit, Minigan,” Della snapped, “You’ve been dodging me all summer, but now it’s time. You need to do something to fix the damage you’ve done on my birthday.”

“But that wasn’t even your birthday!” Minigan cried, jumping to his feet, “And besides, how is it my fault that the gypsy that I had enslaved to make your cake cursed it so that it would unleash snakes and a shit monster inside your house?”

“Do you even listen to yourself talk?” Della asked.

“Shit, dude, did that really happen?” Zac asked as he sat up.

Della did a double take at the actor whom she just realized she was in the presence of, and then asked “And why the hell are you and Zac Efron sitting in the middle of a field with an Easy Bake Oven, a bookbag, and a jar with a huge bug in it?” She gasped, “You didn’t kidnap Zac Efron, did you?”

“Not this time,” Zac replied as he cast a glare Minigan’s direction.

“Nope,” Minigan added, “Zaccy Effs is here because of his own poor decision making abilities.”

“OK,” Della replied, “But that still doesn’t answer the ‘Why.’”

Minigan picked up the jar with Kinich Ahau in it and tossed it to Della. Inside the jar, Kinich screamed a tiny scream as he flew through the air.  When Della caught the jar, he fell into a pile of himself on the bottom. Della looked inside curiously as the Mayan god of the Sun returned to his feet, brushed himself off, and then began punching the glass with his bare hands. Each hit bouncing off the glass with a light “clink” that just barely escaped the airholes.

Before Della had a chance to ask, Minigan stated, “That is the Mayan god of the Sun Kinish Asia-“

“Kinich Ahau!” the little imprisoned man interjected.

“And last year, he tried to bring about the end of the world. Zac and I stopped him, and now we’re trying to figure out how to get him back to the sun.”

“Why’s he so small?” Della queried.

“We had to keep him somewhere,” Zac added, “If he touches the ground, the world will end. So Minigan decided to shrink him down and put him in a jar until we could get him back to the sun.”

“Ok,” Della replied, uncertain, still staring at the captured Mayan diety, “So you two were sitting out here because?”

Minigan replied, “Because NASA won’t let us borrow one of their rockets so that we can blast a jar into the sun-“

“Obviously.”

“The selfish Jerks,” Zac interjected.

“Yes,” Della retorted snarkily, “That is the problem.”

“So, I had to go about my normal methods,” Minigan continued, “By which I mean taking a drug that will let me warp reality to my will.”

Minigan ushered Della towards the Easy Bake Oven. He continued, “Cooking in the Easy Bake Oven right now is a drug I like to call Olivia Wilde. It’s a powerful hallucinogen that will send the user on very realistic trips.”

“I hate to break it to you, Minigan,” Della replied, “But that Easy Bake Oven isn’t cooking anything; the plug is stabbed into the ground.”

“It’s all in accordance to how you make Olivia Wilde, Della!” Minigan cried, “You must cook the specific ingredients in an Easy Bake Oven with its plug in the dirt, the morning before the First Quarter Moon.”

“Minigan was supposed to have a batch already done, but apparently he was ‘too busy’ to spend four hours in a clearing as he waited for the drug to cook last month, even though he promised to.”

“I had shit to do!” Minigan cried, “I’m sorry that my career hasn’t given me so much down time that I can waste a morning like you clearly can.”

“How will a hallucinogen help you warp reality, though?” Della asked.

Minigan answered, “By mixing it with this…”

Before Minigan continued, he began to rummage through his bookbag and pulled out two jars. The first was a glass masonry jar, similar to the one in which Kinich Ahau was imprisoned, but this one had a metallic coating on the bottom. The other was plastic with a blue lid, was filled with ice, and had a red and white object lodged in the center.

“Once the Olivia Wilde is complete, you mix one of these,” Minigan shook the plastic jar, “into the powder to create the drug that lets the user change any aspect of reality that he or she sees fit.”

He handed both jars to Zac, and began another search through his book bag. This time, his search yielded him a lighter, an unused red candle stick, a small glass vial filled with a clear liquid, and an eyedropper. Minigan  sat Indian style on the ground and had Zac place the two jars in front of him. Minigan then sat the candle stick and the eye dropper on his lap and arranged the vial and two jars in a line in front of him. He opened both jars, and pulled the red and white object out from the plastic one. The white of the object turned out to be a paper towel, and the red was the blood that seeped through. Della and Zac recoiled in disgust as Minigan unrolled the paper towel to reveal three severed fingers. With his thumb and index finger, Minigan gingerly picked up one of the fingers and dropped it into the metal lined jar, then rerolled the remaining two fingers and returned them to the ice filled jar.

Minigan raised the jar with the finger it to a grossed out Della and Zac, and stated, “This is one of Charlie Sheen’s fingers. If you remember his outbursts from 2011, you’ll remember all the crazy things he said about himself: that he is a warlock from mars, that he has tiger blood, that he himself is a drug. That last one is true. Sheen had done so much drugs during his life that he can now be classified as a narcotic. Of course, Charlie Sheen is dangerous by itself, which is why I always cut it with Olivia Wilde.”

“So, you’re telling me that that is one of three severed fingers of Charlie Sheen that you just have?” Della asked with a look of suspicion and disgust frozen upon her face.

“Damn Minigan,” Zac added, “That whole thing happened two and a half years ago. Those jokes are so tired, dude.”

“SHUT YOUR MOUTH! SHUT YOUR GODDAMN MOUTH, YOU PERMINANT CASE OF BED HEAD MEGA-DOUCHE!!!!”

Zac Efron after being attacked by a colony of bats, probably.

Zac Efron after being attacked by a colony of bats, probably.

As if Zac had said nothing at all, Minigan continued, “Della, yes, those are Charlie Sheen’s actual fingers. He can regenerate them. He actually gave me three because he is getting tired of me bothering him all the time. Anyway, I first have to burn the finger down into ash before I can cut it with Olivia Wilde. That’s what this other stuff is for. I learned that if I light the finger in a silver lined jar, with a virgin candle made of beeswax, and then add a drop of Alaskan glacier water, the process takes a few seconds instead of a few hours. Watch.”

Minigan lit the candle, and then pressed the flame up against the finger. Once the flesh started to blacken, and the smell of burning meat crept out of the jar and into the air around them, Minigan pulled the candle out, took a drop of water from the vial, and dropped it onto the burning finger. Instantly, the finger burst into vibrant blue flames. It spun around madly in the jar, emitting a high pitched squeal as it did. The flames quickly engulfed the entire inside of the jar and were shooting out the top. It did this for a couple of seconds before an orange fireball erupted from the jar and straight up into the air. The fireball fanned out to form a tiger, and as it did, disembodied guitar riffs rang out from the jar itself. Just as quickly as the fire had begun, it was extinguished, leaving only the smoldering ashes behind.”

“What the hell was that?!” Della cried.

“The raddest fucking thing I’ve ever fucking seen, that’s what that was!” Zac answered. “Minigan, bro, do it again!”

“Sorry Zaccy Effs, but I need to keep the other two fresh until I need them.”

Della pinched the bridge of her nose, “So you’re going to cannibalize Charlie Sheen’s fingers after you mix it with whatever you’re not cooking in that Easy Bake Oven.”

“I wouldn’t call it ‘cannibalizing.’ And I already told you, The Olivia Wilde is cooking.”

Della pulled the hair on the sides of her head, quickly losing patience with the situation, snapped, “No, Minigan. Nothing’s cooking. You have that damn toy plugged into the dir-“

The Easy Bake Oven’s timer went off with a “ping.” Zac cried excitedly and grabbed the oven by its sides. The hissing sound of searing flesh and the second degree burns that accompanied it transformed Zac’s excited cry into a pained wail.

Easy Bake Oven: burning stupid kids since 1965!

Easy Bake Oven: burning stupid kids since 1965!

“Damn it, Zac,” Minigan shouted as he slapped the back of the actor’s head so hard that it knocked the oven out of his hands, “How many times do I have to say it? Oven- Hot. Oven like fire. No touch.”

As Zac whimpered at his blistered hands, Minigan used the purple pusher/ spatula to retrieve the cake pan containing the drug. Della wasn’t sure what exactly she was expecting to see, but what came out what definitely not it. In the pan was a flat, homely, moldy green disk. It had a texture similar to old corks, and its scent was akin to warm compost. Minigan overturned the pan, and the disk plopped heavily into his hand. Despite the heat from the Easy Bake Oven, the disk was surprisingly cool to the touch, and Minigan was able to hold it in his bare hands without even a wince. Then, Minigan dropped the hideous green disk into a plastic bag. Minigan then snapped the disk in half, and both halves turned to a brilliant royal blue. He broke the pieces in half again, and the color shifted from blue to indigo. He split the four pieces in half again, and the crumbling chunks turned violet. From there, he crushed each piece into powder, and once all eight pieces were nothing but dust, the color changed one last time from violet to hot pink.

Minigan dumped the Charlie Sheen ash into the bag, gave it a light shake, and then announced, “Alright. It’s ready. Let’s launch this Mayan God into the Sun.”

“But what about fixing my house!” Della cried, “I’m going to have this baby soon, and I’d really appreciate it if my living room no longer had holes in the walls or stink like a sewer.”

“C’mon dude,” Zac requested, “We can send Kinish Asia-“

“Kinich Ahau!”

“into the sun after we fix that house. It won’t take that long; we can just montage it!”

“That’s not going to work,” Minigan replied, “We’re talking about powerful gypsy magic here.  That isn’t something our drugs can fix on their own. We’ll have to find the gypsy and ask him to change it back himself.”

“This is why you don’t enslave gypsies, Bro!” Zac scolded.

“You shouldn’t be enslaving anybody!” Della added. Then, remembering that nothing she could ever say would affect how Minigan acts, she asked, “Do you have any idea where the gypsy would’ve gone after he escaped your capture?”

Minigan pondered for a moment, and then answered, “Well, he was a Polish Gypsy, but he and his clan were nomadic, so I’d say somewhere in Eastern Europe.”

“Oh, well that narrows it down,” Della replied sarcastically, “If you would have said all of Europe, I would have been like, ‘Let’s just give up- that’s too much land to search.’ But since you said Eastern Europe, that’s much more doable for the three of us.”

“It will be once I take this,” Minigan  replied as she shook the drug filled bag in front of her.

“Why you?” Zac asked.

“Because I remember what happened last time I let you take the drugs without me.”

“Honestly, Minigan, I’d feel better about this whole thing if you weren’t the one with reality warping superpowers,” Della insisted, “Let Zac have it.”

“But… But…”

“Minigan,” Della begged, “I’m asking you as a- well- friend. Please let Zac have this.”

Minigan felt defeated, but he obliged. He shoved the bag into Zac’s chest, and Zac immediately started pouring the powder into his mouth. Almost immediately, Zac Efron’s eyes began to roll in opposite directions.

After a few seconds of doing this, his pupils darted back to the center, and he stated, “OK. We’re going skydiving.”

“OK-What?!?!” Della and Minigan cried in unison.

A blast of icy wind hit them both from behind as their diving instructor opened the door of the plane. They looked to Zac, who was wearing an Army green jump suit, aviator sunglasses, and a parachute back pack.

“Are you two ready? Zac Efron asked the uneasy Minigan and the terrified and still very pregnant Della. The roar of the wind made it hard for them to hear, but Zac made sure to yell it loud enough so that they could.

“No!” they answered in unison.

“We don’t even have parachutes!” Della added as she tried to step away from the airplane’s open door.

“It’s too late to start worrying about those kinds of luxuries, dudes,” Zac replied. He then grabbed a hold of an exposed beam above his head, swung both of his legs out in front of him, and kicked Minigan and Della in the rears, sending them tumbling out of the cabin of the cruising airplane. Zac did a running front flip out of the door, and zoomed down to his freefalling compatriots. Della was face up, her arms and legs flailing wildly and her long, dark brown hair obscuring her face. Minigan was facing the rapidly approaching earth, his mouth open wide and the wind expanding his cheeks, making it look like he was breathing out while his mouth was pressed up against a window.

Zac spun, dipped, darted, whirled, and whipped around them, making him look like he had the flying capabilities of Superman. He spun around to face them both and yelled, “Don’t worry, you two will land lightly on your feet when you hit the ground.”

This didn’t sooth either of them. As they plummeted for the next thirty seconds, both Minigan and Della panicked and flailed their limbs accordingly. But Zac was right. Right as they were about to hit the ground, all three sky divers slowed, and their legs swung down thanks to some invisible force. Each of their feet  gently touched the cracked, unkempt concrete as if they were only coming down of a single step.

“Minigan, Della, Welcome to Pryipat Ukraine.” Zac announced brightly to his shaking and panting cohorts.

Once he caught his breath, Minigan charged at Zac, yelling, “You kicked us out of a plane you son of a bit-“

“You’re a flaccid penis monster, Minigan!” Zac cried just Minigan swung a fist at his jaw.

The penis monster Minigan toppled forward into a pile on the irradiated ground, but not before landing a soft punch across Zac’s face. Zac laughed hysterically as the puddle of penises that was once Minigan Blackwood feebly gasped for air, his penis ribcage too weak to prevent his body collapsing upon itself.

“Despite how much I love seeing someone giving Minigan a taste of the torture he inflicts upon the rest of us,” Della said to Zac between sucking in lungful’s of air, “There is no one on this planet I hate more than you right now. So change him back before I punch the dick off you. Do you understand, bro?”

“Ugh, fine,” Zac replied, “Minigan isn’t a penis monster. Just his normal self.”

Zac reached out his hand to help Minigan up, but when Minigan swung his arm up, he missed Zac’s hand and punched him directly in the groin. When Zac leaned over and instinctively clutched his pummeled genitals, Minigan hit him with a right hook that sent him toppling to the ground.

As Zac, rolled on the ground, his hands wrapped around his crotch, as if doing that was the only thing keeping his balls from falling off and running away, Minigan climbed to his feet and said, “Really, asshole? You made my bones flaccid dicks too!?”

“Oh, shut up, Minigan,” Della snapped, “It’s your fault we’re here in the first place.”

“My fault?! Let’s not forget who decided to give fucking Troy Bolton here “Drug Fueled Leader” status.”

Della didn’t reply, but instead looked around at the long since abandoned amusement park they had landed in. Directly behind them was the bumpercars; the years of neglect had stripped the pavilion of its roof, and allowed tufts of foliage to break through the floor between the rusted cars. About thirty or so yards to their left was the Ferris wheel, its weathered skeleton looming over the area like death itself.

Nothing good comes in a setting with an abandoned Ferris wheel.

Nothing good comes in a setting with an abandoned Ferris wheel.

“Why does this place look so familiar to me?” Della asked.

“Have you ever heard of Chernobyl?” Minigan replied.

“Yeah.”

“Well, this was a neighboring town that was evacuated because of the Chernobyl disaster. Usually pictures from Pripyat get lumped in with the ones from the city of Chernobyl.”

“So, we’re in a place that was evacuated because of its deadly levels of radiation.”

“Exactly,” Minigan answered. Then, realizing what Della was getting at, he nudged the still incapacitated Zac with his foot and said, “Hey, you need to make us immune to the radiation here.”

“We’re immune,” Zac coughed.

“Good. Now get up, asshole, we need to find this gypsy.” Minigan and Della headed towards a series of apartment buildings that sat on the other side of a line of trees. Zac climbed to his feet, and as fast as he could while still cupping his balls, waddled to catch up with them.

“So where are we headed?” Zac asked.

“The gypsies are probably staying in one of these buildings. We’re going to search through each one until we find them,” Minigan answered.

“How do you know where they’re living?” Della asked.

“That’s where they were the last two times I found them.”

“Two times?”

“Yeah,” Minigan stated, “Two times. The first time so that they could teach me how to make the Olivia Wilde drug, the second so that I could kidnap and enslave Vanlow.”

Della rushed in front of Minigan and put her hand out, effectively stopping him. She stared at him with a combination of disbelief and anger when she said, “So not only did you know the gypsy you were going to enslave, but you also knew that they could do magic when you enslaved one of them?!”

“I wanted to make you a really nice cake! Besides, I was going to let him go afterwards.”

“It doesn’t matter you sociopath! I cannot believe I have to say this, but you shouldn’t enslave anyone, especially someone who you know can perform magic!”

“Uh guys,” Zac interrupted, tapping them both on the shoulder.

They looked to him, but he didn’t look back. Instead, he was focused on something several yards ahead. Minigan looked around Della to see what Zac was staring at. It was a little girl. Together, the three Americans cautiously walked towards the girl, who stood perfectly still, staring directly at them. The little girl, Minigan decided, couldn’t be older than seven years old. She wore a long dress that looked like it was stitched together from different patterns of fabric. Her blouse was baggy. Minigan wasn’t sure if it was tan or just discolored from lack of washing. The girl’s dark brown hair reached her waist, and was so wild that she had to keep it in place with a bandana similar to the one Della was wearing. In her hads was an old baby doll, obviously abandoned by the original owner during the evacuation in 1986, and wore only a gas mask over its face.

The Eighties were a weird time for everyone.

The Eighties were a weird time for everyone.

They were mere feet from the girl now; she just stared at them. She didn’t seem scared, or even wary of the intruders upon her home, she just stood and waited for them to get closer. Zac, Della, and Minigan stopped. No one said a word.

The girl stared at them with her teal colored eyes for a second or two, and then looked to Minigan and said, “Minigan Blackwood, Vanlow has been waiting for you.”

“Where is he,” Della asked before Minigan was even able to open his mouth.

The little girl looked to Della and said, “Follow the smoke.”

She then turned and made an underhand throwing motion. A cloud of crimson smoke formed about ten feet off the ground, and then darted off towards the buildings. Zac, Minigan, and Della quickly looked towards one another, and then rushed to catch up with it.

As they hurried along  the abandoned streets, Minigan regularly glanced upwards towards the forlorn buildings and through the darkened windows for any sign of life. Every once and a while, he would even glance behind them to make sure they weren’t being tailed. Not even the little girl with the gas mask doll was to be found.

The tree of them followed the smoke as it made a sharp left down an alleyway, and Minigan muttered to the other two, “Keep a lookout for gypsies; this is probably a trap.”

“Don’t worry Bro and bro-ette,” Zac replied, “If any try to ambush us, I’ll just spit some acid in their face.”

To demonstrate, Zac breathed deep and spat at the nearest wall. Oozing saliva (still a pale pink from the drugs) foamed up and ate away at the wall. In a matter of seconds, Zac’s spit had eroded a hole big enough for a person to climb through and it continued to expand. The already weakened structure began to sway towards the alley.

“Shit, Run!”

The building crumbled over them, showering the three with larger and larger chunks of debris. The thundering crash of the one building toppling into the other encouraged Della, Zac, and Minigan to run faster. The collapsing building chased them in return. Della, with the weight of her unborn child slowing her down, started to fall behind the two 25 year old men in peak physical condition. Realizing this, Minigan stopped, picked her up, and began sprinting down the alley once again, the toppling building raining pieces of brick and mortar upon them as he ran.  Minigan and Della escaped the alley with only a second to spare before the building Zac spat on collapsed entirely into the other, which then folded in upon itself, leaving a colossal pile of rubble where the two buildings and alley once sat.

Zac looked back at the destruction he had caused and said, “My bad.”

Minigan lowered Della’s feet back to the ground, and in an irritated tone, replied, “Nevermind. Let’s keep following the smoke.”

They followed the trail of crimson smoke through the desolate ruins of Pripyat for an uneventful ten minutes, the smoke winding its way through the city, it’s vibrant color stood out brilliantly compared to the dull off whites of the surrounding buildings. Finally, the smoke brought them to a town square. The crimson smoke darted towards the center of the square, and then stopped. The three hurried up on it, and once they got close enough, the cloud of smoke shot straight down.

Pripyat Central Square

Zac and Minigan hurried to the spot, with Della hobbling behind, grumbling about her aching back and feet. The three looked down at where the smoke had rested, finding it resting on the ground in the shape of a circle not much larger than a fist. Suddenly, sixteen lines of smoke began creeping from the circle, fanning out across the ground.

romani protection symbol

Curious, Minigan stepped away from the central point and watched as the sixteen lines spread outward from the center. It took a second or two, but Minigan finally recognized the symbol.

“We need to get out of the circle!” Minigan cried to Della and Zac, who were still fascinated by the arms of crimson smoke stretching across the pale grey concrete, “NOW!”

All three ran towards the ends of the smoke lines, but it was too late. The lines stopped, connected to each other with an outer circle, and in a flash, a semi-transparent dome erupted from the circle, trapping the three inside. Minigan had managed to extend his arm across the line as the dome formed, but the dome formed around it, trapping him and leaving his arm flailing on the outside. Minigan tugged on it, but I could not pull it through the dome’s force-field wall.

“Uh, guys,” Minigan begged, still pointlessly pulling, “A little help please?”

Della and Zac both grabbed onto Minigan’s torso and began to pull. Still nothing.

“What the hell is this, anyway?” Della asked as she wrapped her hands around Minigan’s bicep and tugged.

“The sixteen spoke wheel,” Minigan explained, “It’s a protection symbol for Gypsies. I remember seeing it drawn on Vanlow’s hand in icing when he was making the cake for you. I looked it up after he had escaped.”

“How did he escape, anyway?” Zac asked.

“I’m not sure- Della, stop digging your nails into my arm. I would like to keep it attached.” Minigan continued, “Della and I went to confront him after we survived the attack of the shit monster, but he had already escaped. He was able to perform some magic, but nothing like this, at least, not like I had ever seen. His magic seemed to be more potion based. I think he may have picked the lock or something.”

Wicked cackling erupted from behind them, making all three of them jump and Minigan wince in pain from his trapped arm. They turned around to see the little girl who had directed them there standing at the other end of the circle, grinning a devious grin at them.

I’ve waited long for you, dog.” She said in a voice more suited for an old hag than a little girl.

The little girls eyes sunk into their sockets, and the area around them darkened. Her fingernails grew into axe blades, and her teeth flattened into large bladed scoops, similar to shovels. She charged at the three, her toothy mouth opened wide to devour her captors. She lept. Zac spit. His spit hit her right on her cheek, and immediately began to eat away at her face. She fell to the concrete, shrieking and writhing in pain.

“Nice work, Efron,” a male’s voice with a light European accent said from outside the dome.

It was Vanlow. He was fairly young, no more than a year older than Zac or Minigan, but his dark features made him look much older. His hair was jet black and just long enough for the natural waves to stand out. He wore a pair of loose, dark blue pants that looked like they were made from some repurposed canvas cloth, which was tied with a weathered looking rope. A battered button-up shirt that was several sizes too large for him draped over his torso, and its sleeves he wore rolled up past his elbow. Confidently, he stepped through the force-field dome. Once inside, he turned to the wailing and now disfigured witch and made the sign of a cross. The witch instantly exploded into a cloud of crimson smoke, which continued to hang in the air , giving the light that passed through it a pink haze.

“I knew I should have never entrusted a witch to capture you,” Vanlow said with a grin, “They do have a tendency for eating their prey, do they not?”

Vanlow then grabbed onto Minigan’s trapped arm, and, with no concern about Minigan’s comfort, yanked his arm free from the dome, which sealed the hole his arm had left. He let Minigan fall to the ground, and slowly paced away from Minigan, Zac, and Della, to the other end of the dome.

Minigan rubbed his freed arm, and begrudgingly said, “Well, thanks, I guess.”

“Now now, Minigan!” Vanlow cried as he turned on his heels and faced him, “That is such an improper tone to take with an old friend such as I. After all, I did teach you how to turn those fingers into ashes, did I not?” He started to walk back towards Minigan, his eyes flashing malevolently. “I assume you’re here to capture me once again? I’m sorry to say that that will not be happening today.

“Actually,” Della interrupted, “We’re only here to ask you to remove the curse you put into the cake. It destroyed my house, and I would really like for it to be back to normal before my baby arrives.”

Vanlow looked to her with mild surprise, “Your house? Minigan, you didn’t.”

“No. No. No. He absolutely didn’t have any involvement in me getting pregnant.” Della interjected, “Nor will he ever be. I have a husband that I love very much, and I’m very glad that he is nothing like Minigan.”

“I like you,” Vanlow said to her with a friendly smile, “Did you know that he had enslaved someone to make it?”

“No! Well, kind of. He mentioned it right before we ate it, but Minigan wouldn’t accept me refusing to eat a piece!”

“So you ate the cake, knowing that it was created by slave labor?” Vanlow asked as his friendly smile morphed into a dark glare, “Then I cannot help you. You did this to yourself.”

“C’mon, Vanlow” Minigan said as he returned to his feet, “Just change it back, and then you’ll never see us again.”

“How dare you!” The gypsy spat, “You enslaved me to make a cake!”

“And you’re being a real asshole about it right now, so I’d say we’re even.”

“OK, I’ve had enough of this,” Zac stated. He then pressed his wrists together, aiming his hands at Vanlow and yelled, “Hadouken!”

I burst of blue fire shot from Zac’s hands and at the chest of Vanlow, sending him sailing far outside the dome prison. Zac then turned to the dome and began to feverishly spit on it. Each wad of spit sailed through the dome as if nothing was there. Almost instantly, Vanlow was back on his feet and inside the dome, with tendrils of dark blue smoke stretching out from under his shirt and wrapping around Zac. With a light flick, the smoke tossed Zac across their prison, and he slammed hard into the force-field wall on the other end. Zac fell to the ground in a heap and didn’t move.

“You see, Minigan,”  Vanlow explained as we flicked his wrist and made the dome grow arms that grabbed Minigan and bound him to the wall, “I knew you’d come back to capture me again, so I have been practicing my magic. Impressive, no?”

“Very impressive,” A struggling Minigan replied, “Who knew being a raging prick was actually a form of witchcraft?”

“Even in the face of defeat, you still make your belittling jokes. You have no sense. Your ego makes you stubbornly refuse to bargin.”

“You never said that bargining was an option!”

“Bargining is always an option with Romanis.”

“Well then, what do you want?”

Vanlow paused for a second, scratching his chin as he pondered. When he figured it out, his eyes lit up with excitement and he answered, “I want a slave, just as you enslaved me.”

“Alright,” Minigan answered, the sound of defeat in his voice, “I’ll be your slave on the condition that if I escape, we’re still even.”

Vanlow laughed a hardy, booming laugh, “Who said I want you as a slave? I want her.”

“Her?!”

“Me?!”

“Yes, her,” Vanlow stated, “Enslaving one of your friends should be a much better punishment than enslaving you. Plus, when she gives birth, I’ll have a second slave. That’s just a better deal, is it not?”

“Then no deal,” Minigan replied, still struggling against the dome’s hands, “The whole reason we’re here is to help fix Della’s house. This isn’t fair to her. Just enslave me instead.”

“Listen to him!” Della pleaded frantically, “He’s strong! He can lift a lot heavier things that I can! You can put him to work!”

“This isn’t your decision, miss Della,” Vanlow said dismissively.”

“This decision directly affects me, of course it’s my decision!” Della snapped.

Minigan and Vanlow simultaneously shouted, “Stay out of this, Della!”

“I have a magical gypsy axe!” Zac shouted from the other end of the dome.

Vanlow turned around and watched in horror as Zac swung his axe down at the crimson smoke marking on the ground. The blade severed one of the sixteen lines, and the wheel symbol, as well as the imprisoning dome, vanished.

“No!” Vanlow roared.

“Hadouken!!”

Another blue fireball shot out of Zac’s hands and hit Vanlow, sending him flying for a second time. Della and Minigan rushed to him just as dozens of gypsies poured out of the decrepit buildings surrounding the square and surrounded them. The gypsies quickly had them surrounded, each one poised to attack with their various weapons or magic.

“Hold” Vanlow called from somewhere in the hoard. He stepped through the crowd, his wavy black hair disheveled from the blow, and his eyes bloodshot and furious. He picked up a stone from the ground, held it in one hand, and squeezed. From the rock dripped water as if the rock were a sponge.  When Vanlow opened his hand, all that was left of the stone vanished in a puff of dark blue smoke. He glared at them for a second or two before saying, “So you have chosen to fight, yes?”

“You got it, asshole,” Minigan called back.

“Fine,” the gypsy replied, “But the Romani are a close knit family. If you fight one of us, you fight all of us.”

“Bring it on!” Zac yelled. He then leaned over to Della and muttered under his breath, “Get on the wagon behind us, I have an idea.”

Della looked to find the cart sitting there, waiting for her, and she did just what Zac has said.

“Family, Attack!”

The clan of Gypsies charged at the three Americans. Zac and Minigan ran around to the other side of the wagon, pulled down of the handles so that Della’s end raised, and together, they began to push. Within seconds, Zac and Minigan were on the receiving end of a series of punches, blows from various chains and clubs, and blasts of smoke that were filled with needles or caused the two to feel dizzy. Whenever he could, Zac spat at the gypsies, effectively incapacitating them with the acid in his saliva.

Minigan, still taking a beating and unable to fight them off, yelled, “Zac, we need more superpowers to fight them off!”

“You’re right,” he replied between spits, “Della, stop them with your queefs!”

“My what?!”

“ Your queefs! You have superpowered queefs! It’s the classiest superpower ever!”

“Ever, or that your pathetic mind could think of?!”

“I meant me!” Minigan cried as a fanned away a turquoise cloud of smoke that was making is eyes swell.

Zac and Minigan spun the cart around, knocking over several gypsies in the process.

“Della hit ’em!”

With a look of pure loathing plastered on her face, Della leaned back, spread her legs, and squeezed. A light “pfft” sound crept out of her crotch. Suddenly, the tree gypsies coming up on Della were blown across the plaza, as if being carried away by some great wind. The gypsy hoard saw this, and out of either shock or fear, hesitated to move any closer. Taking this opportunity, Zac and Minigan spun the cart around again, and pulled it through the newly made gap in the crowd and towards the edge of the Plaza.

“What are you waiting for?!” Vanlow roared, “GET THEM!”

The mob obliged. Several steams of different colored smoke shot into the air like arrows, and then arched down at the fleeing Americans. Della aimed her pelvis and squeezed again. After about a second, the smoke collided with the queef, turning each trail of smoke a sickly green. The smoke trails then changed their direction and rushed back at the gypsy hoard, attacking their former masters. Panicked shrieks echoed through the otherwise quiet plaza. Chaos erupted from the clan as the clouds of queef tainted smoke assaulted the people who had cast them, many of them frantically running around, blinded by the haze. In the center of the Pandemonium, Vanlow stood, seething as he watched Minigan and his friends escape the plaza.

“What direction are we headed?” Zac asked between heavy breaths.

“I think towards the amusement park,” Minigan replied, “Let just try to get a much distance between us and those gypsies before we head back home.”

“But what about my house!” Della cried, right before she blasted a queef at a burly and mustachioed gypsy whom managed to break away from the carnage in the square and catch up to them. The queef hit the man, instantly binding him with ropes. He lost his balance and fell to the ground, squirming to break free from the bindings.

“I’m sorry, I totally forgot about your house,” Minigan replied to Della sarcastically, “maybe if we just stop and ask Vanlow nicely, he’ll change his mind.”

“Can we argue about this later?” Zac interjected, “I don’t think just distance is enough to keep those people from catching us.” he pondered for a second or two, then exclaimed, “I’ve got it! These buildings can shift to form a series of blockades!

Just then, the ground beneath them began to rumble. The shaking became more and more violent, to the point where the already decrepit apartment complexes began to sway. Then, slowly at first, with the sound of concrete rubbing on concrete, each building started to move. They spun and slid over the streets, and slammed into one another, forming an impenetrable maze of abandoned buildings in Minigan, Zac, and Della’s wake. Even the ones a head of them shifted, creating an escape route that lead directly to the Ferris Wheel. After not much time at all, the three had escaped the moving buildings of Pripyat, and were racing towards the vacant lot where they had begun.

Imagine it as the cheap version of Inception.

Imagine it as the cheap version of Inception.

Della, after she carefully scanned the now still buildings for signs on approaching gypsies, uttered “I can’t believe you, Minigan.”

“What did I do?”

“This is all your fault. If you hadn’t taken Vanlow as a slave, that cake wouldn’t have destroyed my house, and I wouldn’t in the Ukraine queefing at an angry mob of magical gypsies.”

“But I’m not the one to decide that the frat guy from Seth Rogan’s new movie should take the reality bending drugs!”

“Hey! I’ve been doing a good job!”

“You kicked us out of an airplane and almost collapsed a building on us, you dick!” Della snapped.

“That’s right!”

“Hey, I don’t even need to help you bickering douchebags!” Zac snapped, “How is any of this my problem?”

The three continued to argue, and as they did, they failed to notice the plume of dark blue smoke rise over the buildings and fly towards them. The smoke arched, and then rocketed to the ground, landing mere feet away from the arguing trio. Out of the smoke stepped Vanlow, still notably furious, but also wearing a look of triumph on his tan face.

“You really thought you could escape me so easily?” Vanlow announced, but Della, Minigan, and Zac payed no attention to him, opting to continue arguing instead. Flabbergasted by such an unusual response, momentarily paused, his anger robbed from him. Once it resurfaced, he roared, “HEY!”

Minigan, Zac, and Della stopped and looked to him. In unison, they said, “Will you shut the hell up, we’re in the middle of something!”

Zac added, “You wait until the Americans are done talking.”

With a flick of his wrist, Vanlow whipped up some dark blue smoke. The smoke raced down to Zac’s ankles, wrapped around them, and then shot upwards, making Zac flip in the air and land on his neck. Minigan charged at the gypsy. He counter acted with another burst of smoke, this one throwing Minigan across the parking lot and into the bumper cars pavilion. Minigan slammed into one of the weather worn cars and collapsed onto the ground. Vanlow shot seven more smoke blasts at the pavilion before turning to face Della.

Vanlow smirked at Della, “You’re coming with me.”

“Stand back,” Della cried, “My queefs will rip you apart!”

She closed her legs and then opened them again, and her vagina made a sound similar to that of a cocking gun (see what I did there?). Vanlow was undeterred, and took a step towards her. Poot. The shock of the queef made Vanlow stagger backwards, but he quickly regained his composure and stepped up to face Della again. He raised his right hand, and emitted a thick cloud of smoke that darted at the pregnant Della. She queefed again, and it collided with the smoke, turning it a sickly green color like the others. But it didn’t attack Vanlow; It just hung in the air for a second or two before bursting into flames.

“Oh, come on, my Queefs aren’t that deadly.”

Vanlow didn’t reply, but instead shot another plume of smoke at Della. Della was too slow that time, and the smoke hit her directly in the stomach. Della didn’t feel a thing. She gave Vanlow a confused look, that is, until she felt her pants get wet.

“Guys!” she yelled, “My water just broke I think!”

Zac, with his face planted on the concrete, mumbled out of the corner of his mouth, “I’m fine.” Feeling better, Zac stood up, jumped on the cart, and yelled, “This cart can move by itself, and wants to keep away from Vanlow!”

The bed of the cart leveled, and with an awkward lurch forward, sped away from the vengeful Romani smoke lord. Vanlow created a pool of blue smoke at his feet. He closed his eyes as the smoke swirled and rolled around him, undulating as if something alive was stirring beneath its surface. The swirling waves of smoke grew more violent, and then Vanlow opened his eyes. The smoke shot up into the sky, carrying him with it. Within seconds, he was several stories up in the air, and arcing downward towards the fleeing cart. Vanlow rocketed at Zac and Della, looking like a hipster Iron Man with a serious suit malfunction. The cart sped up in an attempt to avoid the flying gypsy, but Vanlow was too quick, and within seconds was about to crash into them. That’s when Minigan dove into Vanlow’s path, and collided with him, sending both men spiraling  away from the cart.

-a few minutes earlier-

Minigan landed on his back, his body spread out on the bumper car pavilion’s floor. Struggling to sit up, he watched as seven blasts of smoke followed him into the pavilion and crashed into each of the cars. Instantly, the cars came to life and charged at Minigan. Despite feeling worn down already, Minigan jumped to his feet and dove over the first car. The second and third car charged at him at the same time, so Minigan jumped at the last second, causing them to crash into one another. He landed on the yellow one that had pink graffiti scrawled on the hood, and from there hopped over the metal fence and out of the pavilion.

You can see the murder in their non-eyes.

You can see the murder in their non-eyes.

Racing away from the bumpercars that were desperately trying to break free, Minigan looked up and saw Vanlow’s smoke trail streaking down towards the fleeing cart. As fast as his burning legs could carry him, Minigan sprinted towards the cart. At the last second, he dove, managing to grab a hold of Vanlow as he passed.

The two men hit the rough concrete and rolled several feet before breaking apart and coming to a stop. Minigan was back on his feet first, but was unsteady. His warm blood oozed from the newly formed scrapes on his forarms and face, and the dull throbbing pain in his skull made it hard to see straight.

From behind him, Minigan heard Zac yell, “You’re fine Minigan! Kick that dirty gypsy’s ass!”

“OK,” Minigan replied, his vision cleared and his head feeling fine, “Just help Della give birth!”

“What?!”

“You heard me-“

A loud clang of metal hitting pavement indicated to Minigan that the bumper cars had escaped. He looked to where Vanlow had been, only to realize he had vanished. Minigan ran back to the zigzagging cart, deciding that that was the perfect opportunity to give himself an edge against Vanlow. He dug his hand into his pocket and pulled out his secret bag of Olivia Wilde and Charlie Sheen. As best he could, Minigan dumped the contents into his mouth and swallowed.

“I’m on the cart,” he announced.

“Holy shit,” Zac stammered, looking both terrified and sick, “H-How did you do that?”

“No time for questions Zaccy Effs,” Minigan replied brightly, “Where is Vanlow?”

“That’s a question!”

In a pained voice, Della replied, “I don’t know. God this hurts!”

“Good to know. But while he’s still gone, we need to figure out how to stop him.”

“There’s no way to stop him!” Zac cried, a little more frantically than he normally would have, “He is more powerful than the drugs. Nothing I tried has stopped him yet.”

Minigan pondered for a second, and then asked, “Quick, what’s the one thing Gypsies are powerless against?”

“Nazis?” Della answered between breaths.

“Soap?” Zac added.

“Ugly jewelry?”

“Peddling their half assed fortune telling chicanery?”

“Bondage!” Minigan shouted, “They’re mostly nomadic. They hate being tied to a particular place! If we are able to tie him up, then maybe that will weaken him!”

“But you tied him up before and he escaped,” Della noted, “oh God, here comes another contraction!”

“Minigan please don’t make me help with this,” Zac pleaded over Della’s pained yells.

“Vanlow picked the lock- he didn’t use magic, Della. And Zac, you need to help deliver the baby, it’s the only way.”

“Why can’t you do it?”

Just then, the leading bumper car rammed into the back of the cart, making the wooden bed tilt back and forth like a seesaw.

“That’s why,” Minigan said as he pulled a handful of mines out of his pocket.

“Where the hell did you get those?!” Zac asked, “Wait a second, did you take some Olivia Wilde?!”

“Yes.”

“I thought you didn’t have anymore!”

“I had to lie to you cause I figured you would try to dick me over again,” Minigan explained, “So this was my back up in case shit went afoul,”

“You deceitful little bastard!” a red faced Della shouted in a much deeper voice that usual, “You’ve been giving me shit all day about letting Zac have the stupid bag of drugs when you had more! You petty little shit. If I wasn’t about to have a baby, I’d beat the hell out of you!”

“Hey, if I wanted someone to ride my ass, I would’ve just twerked with Robin Thicke at the VMA’s.”

Without another word, Minigan dumped the mines onto the ground in front of the cart. The cart rolled over them with no problem, but as soon as the first automatous  bumper car drove over one, it exploded into thousands of pieces of flying shrapnel. The other cars were destroyed in the same way, one at a time, exploding into pieces.

“Impressive, Minigan,”Vanlow’s voice said from behind him.

“Oh, God, the baby’s coming!”

“Tell it to wait a little while longer!”

“Vanlow,” Minigan demanded, “End this. Let us go.”

“Never.”

“Fine.” Minigan snapped, “Vanlow is tied down with chains!”

Vanlow looked at the thick metal chains that were binding him. He scoffed, and the chains vanished in a puff of Dark blue smoke.

“The three of you know nothing about me,” Vanlow muttered darkly, “Nothing about the Roma! Nothing about our culture! You don’t even know one of our oral traditions.”

“Yeah, but I’ve got a few oral traditions of my own, if you know what I mean,” Zac interjects. He goes to give Della a high five, but she just glares at him.

“Shut up, Zaccy Effs,” Minigan commanded.

Ignoring Zac, Vanlow continued, “So let me give you a lesson!”

“You’re a penis monster, Minigan.”

Vanlow shot several spike shaped clouds of smoke at the penis monster Minigan, but all they did was disperse once they hit him.

Penis monster Minigan smirked at the dumbfounded Vanlow and quipped, “So, was the first lesson that you guys are pointless?”

Vanlow let out an angry roar and dive tackled Minigan. The two men tumbled out of the rolling cart and onto the metal strewn concrete. Vanlow rolled away from Minigan and quickly stood up, and then backed away from the Penis monster on the ground, clouds of blue smoke puffing erratically out of his ears and nose. Penis monster Minigan stood up and faced his foe. Noting that Vanlow seemed to have lost some of the control of his smoke after tackling him, Minigan charged.

Vanlow dodged Minigan’s attack and screamed, “You want to fight as monsters? I shall fight you as a monster!”

The gypsy vanished in a billowing plume of smoke that grew upwards about forty feet. The swirling, dark blue cloud expanded and expanded until it blocked most of the rearranged Pripyat from view. Then, with a deafening high pitched roar, a 24 headed dragon stepped out.

Della screamed in pain, which was echoed by Zac and Minigan, who admittedly were screaming about two different things.

The dragon, with a single swipe, snatched up Minigan in its claw and brought it up to one of its many faces.

“Stop Pushing, Zac!”

“YOU stop pushing, Della!”

“THAT’S NOT HOW THIS WORKS, EFRON!”

“Shit shit shit shit shit shit shit shit!” Minigan cried, as he stared into the gaping mouth of the 24 headed dragon.

“You’ll never stop me, Minigan,” The dragon roared, “Either give me the girl, or I’ll destroy everything you love.”

“How about you not take the girl and not destroy everything I love?” Minigan asked.

“That also works,” The dragon replied.” And how about we sit down and drink of the finest wine, and eat meat that no man has ever eaten?” The Vanlow Dragon joked, “This isn’t a fairy tale, Minigan! In the real world, dragons aren’t so easily outsmarted!”

Vanlow closed his claws around Minigan and squeezed. Bursts of pain shot through his body as his bones and internal organs were squeezes to the point of breaking or rupturing. Minigan began to feel the blood vessels in his eyes begin to burst and the oxygen escape from is lungs.

Thinking quickly, Minigan used his free hand and, with what little breath he had left, squeaked, “My penis fingers are highly elastic.”

Minigan’s elastic penis fingers stretched out and wrapped themselves around the main head of the multi headed dragon.  This didn’t do much, so Minigan had his fingers urinate on the Dragon. All twenty four heads shrieked in pain as the urine burned its skin. Out of the combination of anger and pain, the dragon threw Minigan to the ground. Minigan bounced to his feet, and while the Dragon was still wailing because of his burns, Minigan ran to the cart.

“Della,” Minigan shouted, looking at her through his strained and bloody eyes, “I need your afterbirth!”

Della- Why must the all the focus be on what comes out of my vagina today?!

Despite taking deep lungful gasps of air, Minigan managed to retort, “You’re expelling a human being from it right now. Try to keep up, Della, this is important.”

“Fuck you Minigan!” Della screamed through clenched teeth.

“The head’s out!” A shaky Zac interjected, “One more push I think. At least that’s what the movies say.”

Della screamed, gave a final push, and little Myka was born. Zac caught it, and spanked its ass, causing the newborn to start crying. Zac then wrapped the baby in a blanket that he pulled out of nowhere and handed him to an exhausted Della. She looked into her baby’s eyes, and for a moment, everyone was at peace. Nothing mattered except that the baby was ok, which he was. Minigan breathed a sigh of relief and patted Zac on the shoulder, which Zac returned. Della, for the first time in months, was smiling.

But of course, the moment was ruined by the livid twenty four headed dragon lumbering towards them. Minigan quickly  gathered up as much after birth as he could, doing his best not to gag, and placed it into a large plastic bag he had pulled from nowhere. He tied the bag, aimed, and threw.

Majestically, the bag of placenta sailed high into the air, catching the light of the setting sun as it did. Not so majestically, it exploded on one of the faces of the dragon. The other twenty three heads began to screech and flail, and one by one, exploded into blue smoke.

Just as the dragon’s body did the same Minigan ran forward yelling, “Vanlow is tiny and I have a jar that is impervious to all kinds of gypsy magic!”

I tiny sounding cry rang out from the blue smoke, and Penis Monster Minigan did a running somersault to catch the miniaturized  gypsy. He caught the four inch tall man in the jar, and immediately twisted the lid on and sealed it.

“Let me out, Minigan,” the tiny Vanlow cried, “I demand it!”

“I’m so sorry, Vanny Low,” Minigan replied, “but I’m afraid I cannot do that. I gave you enough opportunities to not be an insufferable butt-hole, but you refused. This jar is where you shall stay.

“You want my curse undone?” Vanlow bargained, “It’s done. The curse has been lifted, and her house is back to normal.

“Oh yeah,” The penisified Minigan said incredulously, “We’ll see about that.” He then shouted to no one in particular, “We’re all back at Della’s house, in her living room.”

Regular Minigan turned around to see Della resting on her living room couch. The ceiling and walls were neither stained with sewage nor containing giant holes and exposed pipes. The air was heavy with a sweet smelling potpourri, not the smell of human excrement, and there wasn’t a single terrified snake in sight.

“See,” Vanlow cried, “Now can you let me out?”

“Sorry. Not gonna happen.”

“But we made a deal!”

“I’m sorry?” Minigan snapped, “We made no deal. You did this on your own; I didn’t agree to anything.”

“But bargaining is always an option!” Vanlow cried.

“Bargaining was an option until you turned into a dragon and tried to squeeze the life out of me.”

“But…”

Minigan refused to hear another word from Vanlow, and instead stuffed the jar into his bookbag. He then joined Zac, Della, and her husband and sister in celebrating the new life.

Hours later, when Minigan finally got back home, he went to his room, shutting the door behind him. With his bookbag, he climbed up to the shelf above his desk. He pulled out the jars of Kinich Ahau and Vanlow and placed them on the shelf.

Then, with a lingering look over at the rest of the empty shelf, said, “Hmm…”

THE END… FOR NOW

Life Before Cracked: Exploring the Comedy Websites I Used to Frequent

It’s been about four years since I first discovered Cracked.com. I don’t remember the exact date, but I do remember the exact article I read that made me take notice of the site. It was Ian Fortey’s article about awesome cases of Internet vigilantism. I knew I had been to the site before, but Stumbleupon had brought me back there. I ended up liking the article so much that I  decided to browse the website on my own. Then, I either read this story by Robert Brockway or watched this video by Michael Swaim and Katie Willert . I’m not sure which one I experienced first, so let’s say it was both of these that turned Cracked.com from “the funny site that I only kind of knew about,” to “The Greatest website ever why haven’t my shitty friends already been converted?”

And that basically did it. I’ve been a fan ever since. And just like a very persistent cult member, or a regular member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, I’ve been spreading the word, and annoying the shit out of my friends with their articles ever since. I even stopped visiting the other websites I used to visit, because now Cracked filled just about all my other comedy website needs.

Eat a swarm of angry dicks, Buzzfeed

Eat a swarm of angry dicks, Buzzfeed

However, I am the kind of person who loves to go back through my old writings, jokes, or passtimes to see how I’ve progressed as a writer and as an overall human being (I may have been a bit quick to judge Buzzfeed up there). That’s what I’m going to do right now. So, below are comedy websites (or websites with comedy on them) that I used to frequent before Cracked came along and screwed everything up for them.

1. T-Shirt Hell

Ah, T-shirt Hell. I’ve known about this website  since 2003, which makes it the oldest comedy website that I visit. I remember my first shirt from there. It said, “What Would Jesus Do (for a Klondike Bar).” Over the ten years since my brother showed me that site, I’ve amassed a collection of 29 shirts. If you’ve ever seen a picture of me, then you’ve probably seen me wearing one of their shirts.

Like this picture from my Instagram:
IMG_0076

Or this one of me and my baby cousin Carter (who is wearing the T-Shirt Hell-Baby Hell shirt that I got for him):

Clearly, no one has ever taught me how to hold a baby.

Clearly, no one has ever taught me how to hold a baby.

Or this one where I display my patronage of Christmas and girl-on-girl action:
DSCN2425

What I’m getting at here is that I have a veritable fuck ton of these shirts, so part of the reason I stopped visiting there as often is because I really don’t need another T-shirt. Maybe ever. And since I’ve seen all the shirts that they have at least a thousand times, I think it’s a better use of my time to read dick jokes on Cracked.com and save paying attention to T-Shirt Hell whenever they send me a new shirt notification.

2. Stumbleupon

Stumbleupon was the biggest victim to my new found fan-ship of Cracked, which is particularly sad, since it was the website that introduced me to Cracked in the first place. A student I was tutoring introduced me to it back in November of 2008, and for the next, say, 10 months, I was Stumbling upon (Stumbleuponing?) random websites any time I was at a computer. Looking back, I was kind of like an internet hobo: riding the rails of Stumbleupon, traveling from website to website just looking for a laugh. You had to be a man back in those days. The only person who’s got your ass was you, and you could bet every penny remaining on your Amazon gift cards that that needle eyed bastard ShockerLovr69 was watching you, just waiting for the perfect opportunity to pounce on top of you and pound you with rape jokes. Sure, I’ve seen men die- many from my own hands. But I ain’t no killer. No, no, I’m a survivor. Killin’ meant that you lived another day on the Stumbleupon railway…
…Jesus Christ. What the fuck am I talking about?

These guys don’t know. Lousy Hobos.

Anyway, after I found Cracked, I stopped visiting Stumbleupon entirely. And other than that brief period 2 years ago when God had forbidden me to use facebook and I needed another way to waste my time, I hadn’t been back on the site since. That is until about two weeks ago. Now, I mainly use it in a not well thought out attempt to find inspiration to write. It never works. I honestly should never get back on the site since I know it’s going to waste my time, and I absolutely do not want that. But how else will I find out about the crazy awesome new green-homes that are featured on Dornob.com? And another thing- Stumbleupon, please stop taking me to the websites I already frequent. I know I liked articles from the Onion, Vice Magazine, and Cracked, but I go to those sites all the time now. Anything you try to show me, I’ve probably already seen. Take me to a site I haven’t been to yet. No, not the last page of the internet. You’ve shown that to me on three separate occasions. The novelty has worn off, and I think we both know that I’m going to continue browsing.

And while I’m on the subject of seeing the same thing over and over again…

3. The Cheezburger Network
I cannot honestly say that I was ever a “fan” of The Cheezburger Network so much as “prey to one of their joke traps on Facebook.” What would happen was someone I knew would post something from the site, and in my moment of weakness, my curiosity would get the better of me and I would click on the link. The next thing I’d know, it’s three in the morning and I’m on page 40 of Roflrazzi reading a photo comic involving Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey McGuire. So while my stupid friends still occasionally post pictures from that internet shit gutter, I’ve long since chosen to stick with my Cracked articles that at least teach me something other than how we English Majors get a little too worked up over the differences between “Your,” and “You’re” when there are far worse atrocities being wrought upon our beloved language.
Note: I didn’t actually visit The Cheeseburger Network at the time of writing this because I’m trying to have this post up before Christmas.

1. Acid Cow

Ugh, this was a dark time in my comedy life. I visited this site heavily during Stumbleupon’s reign on my free time, and Acid Cow was one of the sites it directed me to. Back then, I only ever visited the website so that I could find funny pictures to make into motivational posters. I’ve long since given up making those posters if favor of jokes that are actually funny. During the year or so that I made those posters, I crapped out about 230 of them, with only a handful actually being funny enough for me to be only mildly embarrassed by them. Here’s the funniest one:

Slut

And that picture isn’t even from Acid Cow. That’s one I took in New Orleans of my one time friend, Lady Gaga fan, and potential mass murderer, Lady Caggiano. So, I essentially wasted all that time searching through Acid Cow’s bottomless pic dumps looking for funny pictures, only to use those pictures in what I would describe now as the dregs of my comedy writing career. I guess I shouldn’t credit Cracked.com with me no longer visiting this site, as it was more of my own new-found hatred of Motivational posters that did it. But I’d like to give credit to Cracked.com anyway. Thank you Cracked! You saved me from a life of telling not funny jokes over pictures that could be classified as the “Two and a Half Men” of pictorial comedy. You wonderful people are heroes.

Some more than others

As I was writing this post, I moseyed over to Acid Cow for the first time in at least three years to see if I found any of the pictures in the pic dump funny. Out of the 79 pictures in that dump, one made me laugh. And that was of the new Wendy’s spokesperson (You know, the red haired nymph that magically appears only to gloat over random people’s fast food choices) taking a wide mouthed and eyed bite at a sandwich. Shit. I’m so embarrassed by my past self.

5. Cyanide and Happiness

Oh man, I was fucking obsessed with this site before I discovered Cracked.com. I have my best friend and knife aficionado to thank for that. For those of you who don’t already know, Cyanide and Happiness is a web comic featuring crudely drawn stickish figures and all of their wacky, sometimes amoral, adventures. I was actually a pretty hardcore fan of the site until Stumbleupon came along and ruined everything. Here is probably my favorite comic they’ve ever made:

Recently, I liked the comic on Facebook, and now I get the latest comic strips on my news feed on a regular basis. And this brings me to a very important question: Why in the spinning tirade of fiery fucks did I ever stop visiting this site?! There is no excuse for it. For all the other sites I’ve mentioned, I’ve had a decent reason: I’ve matured as a writer, I found a better site, I have enough offensive shirts. But there is no excuse for me leaving Cyanide and Happiness. It’s a web comic- it’s not like it will suck up all of my time. Quite frankly, I’m ashamed of myself, and the only way to rectify this glaring mistake of mine is to go back and read every single comic of the last four years. So if you’ll please excuse me, I need to atone for my comedy sins.

Peace

The Tale of the Unwanted Box of Gushers

 

After work Tuesday morning, I bought a box of gushers. When I opened the box to devour the little gem shaped goo sacks, I found bizarre scrawlings written all over the inside. As it turns out, they were journal entries, and I thought I would share them with you. Enjoy:

 

Day  1:

Dear Journal,

Hello! I am a box of Gushers fruit snacks, expiration date 11 Jun 2014, and today is the day that I finally moved up to the front of the line on the shelf. I’m really excited. After all, I have been waiting for this moment ever since I’ve had my insides stuffed inside me and my ends sealed with hot glue. That sounds painful but it’s actually quite nice- you feel whole afterwards. Anyway, I just know that any minute now a person (or possibly a younger person with the case of the “munchies” as I’ve heard it) will take me off the shelf, and carry me off to their homes where…

Actually, I don’t know what happens then. No one does. There are stories of course- some say that we spend the time before we expire relaxing with other items, doing whatever we want- standing there, lying down, falling over, you name it. Then, of course, there are the boxes of gushers that believe that we’re going to be tortured and possibly eaten by these giant people. These boxes hang out in the back of the shelf, sometimes behind other products like Fruit Roll Ups until a worker person finds them. Personally, I like to believe that I will spend my remaining time playing with the miniature people (children, as they’re called), seeing as though they are the ones who usually ask for us by name.

But whatever happens, I will find out soon! I’m at the front! I can see the floor for the first time since the brief glimpse I stole as I was being put on the shelf. That feels like such a long time ago now. But it doesn’t matter, I was made for whatever happens to me next! Oh, and look! A person is coming! I think this one is called a “man.” He has short hair, is larger than the “womans” I’ve seen, and is wearing nice looking clothes. I especially like the shiny black things on his feet and the piece of dark blue cloth that starts at his throat and hangs down in front of his chest. It looks fancy. I wonder if he’ll let me wear it.

He’s getting closer now. He’s pushing one of those carts, and it has quite a good amount of stuff in it already, but I see room for me! I’m standing up straight, making sure not to wobble, and my logo is clearly visible. There is no way he is going to miss me. He’s still walking towards me! Getting closer! Getting closer! He’s right in front of me!

He passed me up. He didn’t even notice that I was there. Maybe I did something wrong. Maybe my colors weren’t bright enough to get his attention. There is a tiny bit of space between me and the edge of the shelf; maybe I should’ve been forward a little more. I wish I knew what I did wrong. No. It’s OK. That was the first time a person walked by while I was in front. I cannot start beating myself up just because that man didn’t want me. Someone will, and pretty soon I will be taken home by that person, I can feel it in my pouches.

Gushers, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014

Dear Journal,

I’ve been taken off the shelf! A very nice sounding woman snatched me up and tossed me lovingly into her cart. I like her- I think we’ll make a great pair. She’s older, has a fun round shape to her, and leans onto the cart as she walks, like she’s trying to get closer to us!

By “us” I mean the other products and myself. I guess you could call them my new friends. Or well most of them. At first, I tried hanging out with a bunch of colorful things in bags. They called themselves fruits, and since fruit is part of my name, I figured I belonged with them. I was wrong. They called me a lot of hurtful names like “fake” and “candy” and “nonperishable.”

“Why don’t you hang out with the other junk food,” the apples said in unison.

I was hurt, but obliged them, and I decided to talk to the other boxed items like me. There was tall box called Saltines, and a box that was closer to my shape named Hamburger Helper. They were much nicer to me. As was the blue plastic package called Oreo, who was put in the cart after me. I liked my new friends. We all shared storied about our time in the factory and on the shelf, as well as our theories on what happened to us next. Apparently, no one knows for sure, but every rumor I heard from the other Gushers were also told to them, so I wasn’t much help in solving that mystery.

After a while of our person wandering through the store, she grabbed a big white thing and set it down between me and Hamburger Helper. This new guy, who’s label said “Homogenized Milk” was the weirdest thing in the cart. He was easily the biggest thing in there, but he was also kind of squishy.

“I’m filled with liquid,” he explained.

“But then why are you so cold?” Hamburger Helper asked.

That was a good question. He was very cold, and after not too long he began to sweat.

“Why are you so moist?” I asked after I accidentally touched him. The water was quickly absorbed into my cardboard and the area started to swell. I fell away from him to prevent it from happening again.

“Well, shit,” he replied, “That’s just my condensation. It happens to all us cold stuff. Don’t worry though; it’s not dangerous and will evaporate again soon.

“Why are you even talking to those Nonperishables, Homogenized Milk?” the cucumber at the other end of the cart asked, “Their expiration dates aren’t this month. They’re not even next month. How can you trust something that lasts longer than two months?”

“Hey Cucumber,” Homogenized milk retorted, “You’re just a jar of vinegar away from being nonperishable yourself, so how about you fuck off.”

The cucumber didn’t say anything back, but instead started a heated conversation with a bunch of bananas.

“Don’t worry about those guys,” Homogenized reassured us, “They’re produce, and produce goes rotten real damn quick. You just have to ignore those fuckers.”

We all laughed with Homogenized milk, and pretty soon he had given us all nick names. I was “Gush”- which I liked- it sounded cool, Hamburger Helper was “HH,” Saltines didn’t seemed too pleased with “Cracker,” but he didn’t complain, and Oreo was given the nick name “Big O.”

Big O then said to Homogenized, “We should call you Homo!”

He liked the name and adopted it as his own, and finally our little group was complete. Well, that is until our person stopped the cart. I looked up at her. She was looking from a slip of paper to us and frowning. Then, without a single word, she picked me up and pulled me out of the cart. With a look of both disappointment and annoyance, she set me down on a nearby shelf and then returned to the cart and walked away.

“Homo! HH! Big O! Cracker! Help!” I cried, “She’s leaving me, she’s leaving me!”

“Gush!” they cried back. But it was no use. She turned the corner and they were gone, and I knew I was never going to see them again. I wanted to cry. I really did. How could my person do this to me? I wasn’t even on the right shelf. I was far, far away from where I was supposed to be. How was I supposed to get back? Why would she abandon me here of all places- behind a bunch of little boxes of Lotrimin Ultra, and under hanging Dr. Scholl’s inserts? Why did she even bother to get my hopes up if all she was going to do was to leave me somewhere else? Are people really this cruel? Will anyone pick me up if I’m here? I took a deep breath after asking myself that last question and said to myself, “hopefully they will, and hopefully it will be soon.”

Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014

"You think this is funny, don't you? WHY IS THIS A GAME TO YOU?!?!"

“Woe is my existance.”

Day 2

Dear Journal,

No one picked me up today. Most people barely noticed I was there. I don’t like it here. It’s cold. See, on the other side of the aisle there are shelves sitting in a cooler, and they are filled with bottles of different colored liquid. I’ve overheard them call themselves “Juices.” I wondered if they’re similar to Homo, and was thinking about asking them, but the memory of Homo and the others made me too depressed to speak.

Throughout the rest of the day, I took in my surroundings. I was on a very small shelf- much smaller than the one with all the other Gushers. Despite the fact that I was towards the back of the shelf, I could still see the floor over the packages of Lotrimin Ultra. Speaking of the Lotrimin Ultra, if you ever get a chance to talk to them, Journal, Don’t. Don’t get me wrong, they’re not mean like the produce, but they’re just really, really weird. Anytime a person passes, they feel compelled to talk about the person’s feet. They discuss which person’s feet would have the worst fungus, or which ones had unhealthy looking toenails. I seriously think they get off on it. When one of them finally said something to me, all it asked was, “Do you like feet?”

“I don’t know,” I replied honestly, “I’ve never seen them outside of those things they wear over top of them.”

Several Lotrimins moaned with pleasure, and I made a note to never mention naked feet ever again.

Somehow, the Dr. Scholl’s inserts above me were even worse, all they talk about is how much they want to be stepped on by particular customers. They call some customers “Flatfoot” which sounds like equal parts an insult and a sexy nickname when they say it, and whenever they do, I realize just how out of place I am on this shelf. I really don’t like it here, but I’m hoping that a worker person will pick me up soon and take me back to the self with all the other Gushers.

Honestly, I’m not huge on the idea; I’ve seen boxes come back before, and it’s always embarrassing, but the feeling of embarrassment cannot possibly compare to the feeling of loneliness and rejection from being stuck in a place you don’t belong. Maybe tomorrow I’ll be back over there. I guess we’ll see.

Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014

Day 7

Dear Journal,

Sorry I haven’t written over the past couple of days, but I was busy trying to figure out how to count the days. I had to guess with Day 2. Luckily for me (I guess) one of the Lotrimins told me that whenever the lights in the juice case come on, it’s the start of a new day. Once I was told that, I had to count backwards in order to figure out how many days it had been, and then find a way to record them. I decided to mark the day with a little line on the inside of my box. I have marked six since I’ve been here, so that means it’s day 7.

Crud, I’ve been here seven days and not a single worker person has bothered to pick me up. I know they see me; I’ve seen them look directly at me. But no, all they do is look at me and keep walking.  I always see the same few too. First there are two women. One is shorter and has red curly hair, and the other is a bit taller with much shorter hair that is always sticking up. They are the ones that usually add more Lotrimin and Dr. Scholl’s to the shelf, so I don’t understand why they haven’t taken me back yet. Then there are a series of people whom I mostly see the backs of, as they deal with the juice. I doubt any of them have even noticed me, despite the fact that I’m at least five inches taller than the backs of the Lotrimin boxes.

Then there is another person that only comes in around the time the Juice cooler lights go off and leaves around the time the lights come back on. This person has long hair, so originally, I was inclined to believe it was a woman. But judging by its voice and how its shaped more like a man, I’ve convinced myself that it is one. It (or, I guess “he”) is usually the one to put the juice on the shelf. He brings the cases out on a large, flat, wooded thing and usually sets it down right in front of me. Because of this, he seems to be the only one to really notice me. Granted, he only glanced at me the first few days, but with each new day, he notices me more and more. I was hoping that he would be the one to take me back, that is, until I heard him mutter, “not my damn problem” after looking at me yesterday. I had never heard those words before, but there was such a cold dismissal behind them that I couldn’t help but feel insulted. When I could, I caught a glimpse of his name tag. “Minigan” it read. Well, you’re a jerk, Minigan. I’m pretty sure that I am your problem, since you work here after all. It’s not like I’m demanding that you take me home with you, just back to the shelf. And that shouldn’t be too far for you because you have legs. Are you really that lazy?

I’m sorry Journal, I got carried away. I think it’s time I end it for the night. The lights in the cooler just went off, so Minigan should be here any time now.

Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014

Day 11

Dear Journal,

I’m still here, on the tiny shelf behind the Lotrimin Ultra. No one has bothered to pick me up yet. I’m beginning to think that most of the worker people are just trying to avoid me. They must think I have a disease or something. All they ever do is look at me and keep walking. At least that Minigan person has had the decency to give me a reason why he isn’t bothering to take me back to my rightful place. A couple of nights ago (apparently the time that the lights in the cooler are off are called “nights”), he once again saw me on the shelf, standing in roughly the same spot that I had been for the past 10. He chuckled to himself and said to me, “Someone still hasn’t taken you back to eight?!”

I couldn’t answer because I have no lips.

“Well,” he continued without me, “I would, but you’re in Aych Bee See’s department, so they should be the ones who fucking take you back. Plus, I’ve got a lot of damn juice to work.”

I wanted to be angry at him for leaving me there again, but that was the most honest a person has ever been to me. Plus, his use of the words “fuck” and “damn” reminded me of Homo, whom I missed dearly. I hope he was happy at his new home with Big O, Cracker, and HH. It was in that longing that I decided to give this Minigan person the nickname “Homo 2.”

Although they shared some of the same vocabulary, Homo and Homo 2 are widely different. Homo 2 has a tendency to talk to himself, and if he had black things in his ears, sing to himself. One night he spent at least a half an hour singing about a party in the Yu Essay. I don’t know what a Yu Essay is, but he must like partying in it a lot. Also, other than his snappy remarks at the produce, Homo seemed to be pretty peaceful. Not Homo 2. He throws cases of juice across the floor just so that he doesn’t have to carry them, and I’ve watched in horror as he tosses the single bottles up into the air and catch them before placing them on the shelf. It makes me glad that he wasn’t the one to put me on my old shelf. But even still, at least he noticed me, and seeing him come around means that I don’t feel so lonely.

Until tomorrow, maybe,

Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014

Day 16

Dear Journal,

I hate these worker people! All of them! Every. Last. One! Today, while I was sitting in the same stupid place I had been sitting since I was unceremoniously dropped off by that awful woman, one of those Aych Bee See workers that Homo 2 mentioned came by to restock the shelves, and do you know what she did? She pushed me out of her way! She just knocked me on my side and continued to work, as if I had no feelings at all! And then, when she was finally done, she left me laying here on my side! I can’t even see past the backs of the Lotrimin boxes now. That was all I had; the ability to see what was going on in the world beyond this tiny shelf, and now even that’s been taken from me. How do these awful think so positively of themselves.

And do you know what makes it even worse? Whenever that jerk Minigan (he lost the privilege to be called Homo) came in a little bit ago, he saw me laying on my side, laughed, and then took a picture with his phone. He’s getting some kind of demented amusement from seeing me here day after day. And know that it’s obvious that I’ve been moved, he’s getting an even bigger kick out of it. I swear I would give anything to be taken away from this shelf and never see that long haired “man” again.

An angry Gushers, Expiration date 11 June 2014, tolerance expiration date: Now

gushers 1

“Don’t just stand there grinning and taking pictures, set me back up Minigan!”

Day 17

Dear Journal,

I decided to focus my energy on socializing with the Lotrimins that I was lying behind today. I didn’t learn much, but I did learn that they absolutely hate a group of products called Tinactin. At first I didn’t know what Tinactin was, but then a customer walked by and a chorus of “Booms” came from somewhere along the shelf. One of the Lotrimins groaned and informed me that anytime I hear a “boom” it’s coming from a Tinactin product. Apparently they have a stupid spokesperson. At least that’s what Lotrimin, Expiration date May 21 2015, said.

Later in the day, Minigan showed up for work, pulling his “pallet” of juice behind him. When he saw me, he chuckled, said “still here” mostly to himself, and then stood me back up. That would have redeemed him if it wasn’t for him deciding to take another picture of me. He revels in my humiliation. After all, we’re all just objects to him. We have no feelings, no emotions, no hopes. We’re just things that he tosses around to amuse himself while he’s working. What a sociopath.

Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014

Day 18

Dear Journal,

I take back every negative thing I said about Minigan. He just picked me up and put me in his cart. He said that the only way I’ll move anywhere is if he goes ahead and buys me, so that’s what he’s gonna do! I’ll have a home today! He’s even picked up friends for me! They’re both bottles of oddly colored juice. One is black and calls itself Dr. Pepper, and the other is green and goes by the name Mtn Dew. It tells me that it’s pronounced “Mountain” not “Mit-in” like I was saying. Anyway, I’m sure I’ll be happy with Minigan-

Wait… Oh, God. Minigan just said that it’s been a long time since he’s eaten Gushers. Eaten??? Those paranoid boxes of Gushers that hid behind the Fruit Roll Ups were right this whole time?! We are just food to these people!? This cannot be happening! Please let him change his mind, please! Someone needs to rescue me; he’s theorizing how long it take him to eat all of my six pouches.

Someone please help me!

Someone please help me!

“Not my pouches!” I tried saying to him, “Anything but my pouches! Please Minigan, please don’t eat me!”

But he didn’t hear me because I have no lips. As he marched me down an aisle, I called to the products on the shelves, “Help me!” but none of them reacted to my pleas.

“We’re food!” I shrieked, just trying to get their attention, “All we are is food to people!”

But not a single one of them responded, and my fate is sealed as Minigan wheels his cart into the lane of an open register.

Final entry of Gush, Expiration date: 11 Jun 2014, but it’s likely I’ll never reach that date.

 

Well, shit. That was kind of grim, wasn’t it? Sorry everybody.

Actually, knowing that Gushers are sentient beings and have human emotions makes them taste even better!

Actually, knowing that Gushers are sentient beings and have human emotions makes them taste even better!

Ways I Would Ruin A Date With Anna Kendrick

If there’s one thing I like to do, it’s to play with my cellphone while I poop. If there’s two there’s two things I like to do, it’s to play with my cellphone while I poop and to imagine scenarios in which I’m on a date (or at least having a conversation) with a celebrity. If there’s a third thing I like to do, it’s to overuse already worn out humor clichés.

Picture Unrelated

Picture Unrelated

But as for that second thing, I like doing it because, well, most of my time I’m imagining scenarios in which I’m fighting celebrities, so it’s fun to mix it up every once and a while and think up situations where they are stuck by my suaveness and charm instead of my mighty, mighty fists. Also, I might have an unhealthy fascination with fame culture in which I demonize it, yet secretly yearn to be a part of it. But that kind of deep psychological self-examination has no place in my blog. No, this blog is a gaping void of classlessness that I’m trying desperately to fill with dick jokes.

http://www.stormbowling.com/products/balls/classic/second-dimension

See what I did there? I know, I am a genius. But let’s move on.

However, despite all my awesomeness which must be incomprehensible to you hu-mons, I try to honest with myself, so I’m sad to say that a date with Anna Kendrick would probably not end well. I mean, let’s face it- we love celebrities so much because we only see a fraction of what they really are. We see the characters that they play/ hear the music they make/ read the words they write/ etc. but don’t ever see them more that a two (or sometimes one) dimensional prop in the slash fiction plays that we constantly create in our own heads. So while in my head the date would go swimmingly and she would be thoroughly wooed by extensive knowledge from half remembered Cracked articles and delightful array of fart jokes, in reality she is a real, living person with her own separate thoughts, emotions, and reactions that the real life me would not be prepared for. And that’s why I’m going to completely undercut what I just wrote in this paragraph by making sweeping generalizations about Miss Kendrick’s personality despite knowing very little about what she is like in her private life in order to prove my point. Sorry Anna.

“Oh Minigan, I think it’s sexy how you’ve turned me into a paper doll for one of your weird fantasies.” –The Anna Kendrick inside my head.

“Oh Minigan, I think it’s sexy how you’ve turned me into a paper doll for one of your weird fantasies.” –The Anna Kendrick inside my head.

1. She is so much cooler than me

This probably isn’t the ideal place to explain who Anna Kendrick is for those of you who don’t know, but I didn’t have a good place to put it before now, so here will have to do. Anna is an actress. She was in the cult movie “Pitch Perfect,” which came out last year, but has also been in “The Twilight Saga,” “50/50,” “Paranorman,” “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World,” and according to her IMDb page, the Broadway musical, “High Society.” She also has a hit song out called “Cups,” but I’m going to get to that later.

Frankly, she seems like she would be a pretty cool person to hang out with even before you know much about her. She just seems to have a look about her that makes you think that if you ever met her, she would probably be pretty damn chill. That’s what I thought at least. And then I started following her on Twitter. Holy shit, guys. If you’re not following her on Twitter, you need to get with the goddamn program. Seriously, look at this shit:

Anna Kendrick Tweet 1

I understand that there are a lot of shitty things that happen on Twitter. Believe me, I know. It’s hard not to think that are language be dying when you see some of the stupid shit the masses on Twitter post (My tweets included), but this single tweet has to make up for some of that. It’s just so simple, so perfect, such an incredible use of hashtags- which at times feel like shameless pleas for attention. But not in this tweet. No, the hashtags only add to the beautiful simplicity of it. I don’t remember what I tweeted for my 1,000th tweet, but I can assure you that it wasn’t nearly as awesome as this one is.

Oh my God, you’re amazing!

Oh my God, you’re amazing!

And this is why I’d ruin the date. I cannot compete with this. I’d walk into the date all cocky, like I’d be able to handle the violent cyclone of awesome that is Anna Kendrick, so I’d be totally unprepared for it when her awesomeness slaps me in the face. In reality, Anna’s level of coolness would, in all likelihood, tear me the fuck apart. The date would consist of me saying something that I think is good, followed by something amazing she would say, and all I would have to say in reply to her would be, “I have nothing to add. You’ve just conquered the human language, you beautiful monster.”

Of course, that’s if I’m able to talk at all, because…

2. My social awkwardness would probably ruin our date before it would even begin

Here’s how I’d imagine the first exchange of the date would sound like:

Anna- Hello, Minigan, It’s very nice to meet you.

Me- hurr…argle…gooorg…ba-ba-bargle…

This is how every real life conversation I have goes if I'm not already comfortable with you.

This is how every real life conversation I have goes if I’m not already comfortable with you.

That sound I made would be the sound of my tongue, fearing that I was about to say something stupid, retreating down into my throat and inadvertently choking me. But let’s just say that I don’t become a bumbling mess of spoken word when she says “Hi” to me, and instead think of how an actual conversation would go between us.

Unfortunately for me, I am incredibly inconsistent when it comes to meeting people for the first time. Sometimes, I can be open and social and seem like I actually do fit in as a functioning member of society- like when I met the people that would eventually become my fellow writing tutor friends, or when I met the people I would be traveling through Europe with. Then there are time where I just refuse to talk to or even acknowledge a person for the first dozen or so times I meet a person. And then there are times when I start off seeming social, but manage to ruin it with my innate ability to fuck up any nice conversation. I once met a friend’s girlfriend who used to make a webcomic I enjoyed, and when I went to complement her on her work on the comic, I said, “Yeah, I enjoy your work on the internet… well, not that kind of work.” That last part was a porn joke. The woman I said that to was not in a porn, nor will she ever be, and that shit flew out of my mouth before I could stop it. Granted, my phrasing was shitty enough that she probably didn’t understand what I was referencing (see: she was never in a goddamn porno to begin with), so she probably just ignored the last part, chalking it up to me being strange. But I knew what I meant by it, and I seriously considered jumping out a window to flee from the conversation. I was so embarrassed by my stupidity that I barely said another word to her that night. So then I probably seemed like I was actually a dick. Granted, that’s better than creepy, but not by much.

Seriously, this is me.

Seriously, this is me.

So, if I’m able to speak at all, then I will probably make some terrible joke that will make everything awkward, and she’ll get up to go to the restroom and never come back. And honestly, I wouldn’t blame her. It would be a smart move on your part, Anna. Trust me.

3. I cannot do the “Cups” clap.

I told you I would be getting back to this. For those of you who don’t know what the “Cups” clap is, then I suggest you watch this video. Or rather, watch this video regardless of whether or not you know what the “Cups” clap is.

That is the video for Anna’s single, “Cups.” The song is short, but it’s so catchy that it’s been classified as a Class 2 addictive substance in 23 states. I had it stuck in my head so bad that no song, not even the Oscar Mayer Bologna song, was able to get it out of my head. I watched the video once and then immediately downloaded a copy of it from iTunes, and I never do that. That’s how powerfully addictive that song is. It’s like ear crack.

Now, here is a video of me trying and failing to do the clap that is featured in the video:


I assume that during our date, I will mention how much I enjoy her song, and she will proceed to test my worthiness of her company by having me attempt the clap. I will, of course, fail, and she will deem me as an unworthy suitor and cast me asunder.

"How can one man be so terrible at such a simple clap? Throw him into the snake pit!”

“How can one man be so terrible at such a simple clap? Throw him into the snake pit!”

So, Anna, if you’re reading this, I would be honored to go on a date with you, but I fear it would be a complete waste of your time. Don’t put yourself through all that.

…Unless, of course you want to. In that case, call me.

But until then, Peace.

Awesomesquad! Assemble! 1 Revisited! (Part 4)

Since this is part 4 of this section of my novel, you need to be filled in on what happened in the first three. If you’re new to Awesomesquad! Assemble!, then you should go back and read them when you’re done. I promise you won’t regret it (a lot).

Back in May of 2009, Jessie James (our mechanic/ vehicle builder) came to us with the theory that Donald Trump was up to deeds more dastardly than his usual dastardly deeds. Against Damien Walters’s (our fighting/ parkour trainer) wishes, we flew to New York City to run some surveillance on the orange skinned millionaire. We stayed at a hotel the night before we were to carry out the stake out.

The next morning, Damien left to break into the lower levels of the Trump Tower and download a program onto the Security system so that we would have access to the cameras, while the rest of us minus Lady Caggiano (my second in command/ stubborn crazy person) went to stake out the atrium of The Trump Tower and to try and bug Trump. Our first attempt was a failure; Jessie was unable to get Trump to talk to him at all. Then, I recieved word that Damien was in trouble with security, so I had Criss Angel (Mind Freak/ the team’s wizard) distract some of the guards. Finally, when our second chance to bug Trump arrived, Jessie was about to do just that when Trump’s body guards found the bug Jessie was trying to plant. Thinking quickly, I had Criss, plant the bug instead. He successfully managed to do it, but we were all caught and thrown out of the Trump Tower. When we made it back to the hotel room, we waited for any information from Damien, who still hadn’t come back. While we waited, we watched the security camera in Trump’s private elevator, and discovered that Jessie’s theory was actually correct.

Meanwhile, Damien was found out by security, and had to fight his way to the security station deep within the lower levels of The Trump Tower. Once inside, he was able install the software and the router that GMZ needed to take over the security cameras. However, the building’s security team gathered enough forces to attempt to break down the door. Damien, in a brilliant display of enginuity, managed to knock out most of the guards and escape through the ceiling. However, the ceiling panels couldn’t hold his weight, and he fell back through. On the run again, he made it back to the elevator and into the ventilation ducts, where he overheard a conversation about Trump buying an apartment complex and forcing everyone out- thus proving Jessie’s theory. Damien made it out  and back to the hotel, where we planned our breach of Trump’s loft.

And that’s where we are now. So,now I give you Awesomesquad! Assemble! 1 Revisited! (Part 4).

*Disclaimer*

This is a work of fiction. All the characters- even the ones based on real people- are simply parodies and noting written here should be taken as the truth. Trump, Please don’t sue. I don’t have any money, and I won’t learn my lesson.

***

As we ate our dinner and waited for Everett to return, we talked about whether or not Dan Brown’s latest novel was going to be any good, and how hard of a left turn down Crazy Street the ending would take. We all agreed that it wouldn’t be “’Deception Point’s’ swirling shark vortex,” hard left, but had to be at least above “The Da Vinci Code’s’ British geriatric with crutches holding a gun” left.

“I’d want the ridiculous, over the top ending, over the clever one” Nut’n Fancy noted. When I looked at him with mild surprise, he defended himself by saying, “What? It’s an action novel. You’re not supposed to learn some great truth about the universe from the action, you’re supposed to sit back and enjoy all the ‘splosions.”

“I’m just impressed that you read books,” Lady Caggiano quipped jokingly.

Nut’n Fancy shrugged and replied with a grin, “Well, I gotta keep y’all book lov’n Liberals on ya’lls toes, don’t I?”

“I guess,” Lady Caggiano answered pleasantly enough, “But in any case, out-of-left-field action sequences that only exist to be as over the top as possible only entertain, and action has the opportunity to be deep as well as entertaining. And action is even worse when it’s so over the top that it makes no goddamn sense. It’s like the writers don’t give a shit about the reader.”

Once we had finished our sandwiches, we stuffed the wrappers in the already overflowing trash bin, and began to prepare for our mission. Lady Caggiano emptied out her suitcase and loaded her belongings into mine. Then, she began loading up her guns, vest, pants, mask, gas mask, knockout gas, and knives into the emptied suitcase.

As for the rest of the group, we each loaded up our book bags full of weapons, extra ammo, and other assorted equipment. GMZ loaded two bags: the first simply had his laptop, his Bluetooth headset, a pair of binoculars, and a couple of stink bombs, the other had a lap top, plus everything the rest of us put in ours. I realized that second one was for Everett, as he made sure to add the flame throwers and extra bottles of butane. I eyed the metallic hand torches longingly; Everett at this point hadn’t made any more flame throwers than the ones he already had, so he was the only one to use them. Damn it I wanted to use those things.

By the time we had finished loading our stuff into our book bags, and loading the rest of our belongings back into our duffle bags, it was almost 9:30, and Everett and Derren had arrived.

As he marched through the door, Derren announced, “OK, everyone. I need to sign us out of the room and take our luggage to the Awesomecopter!, so everyone but GMZ needs to help bring the bags down to the Lobby.”

We all nodded in understanding, and then I turned to GMZ and said, “Go up to the rooftop bar and get set up. I’ll text you when we’re headed up.”

“Right on,” he replied, and without another word, grabbed his book bag and headed out the door.

The rest of us headed down to the lobby, and as Derren checked out, Damien and I hailed a taxi and we loaded it with the remaining five duffel bags. Once we were finished, and Derren had boarded the taxi and left for the airport, everyone but Lady Caggiano and I returned to the lobby. I looked at her, and for a brief second, I couldn’t help but think of how she actually did look kind of cute in the schoolgirl outfit.

I shook that awkward thought from my mind and said to her, “Walk around the Trump Tower until I radio you and tell you that we’re in position.”

“Got it.”

“Do you have a gun on you right now?” I asked in a hushed voice.

“Of course,” she replied.

I answered, “Good. If anyone tries to bother you when you’re walking around, don’t be afraid to threaten them with it.”

Lady Caggiano smirked, “Like I would ever let someone bother me.”

I chuckled, knowing that that poor soul would never be able to walk again, and then said, “Good luck.”

I opened my arms for a hug, but she just stared at me.

“What the hell are you doing?” she asked, “We only fist pound, bro.”

Taken aback, I dropped my arms and instead held out my fist for her to pound it.

She laughed, “I’m only fuckin’ with you. Of course I’ll hug you.” She stepped into me and wrapped her arms around my chest. With her voice slightly muffled, she said to me, “You guys be careful.”

“Same to you,” I replied into the top of her head.

We pulled apart, and confidently, she walked off in the direction of the Trump Tower, dragging her suitcase with her. I watched her go for a second or two, and then headed back into the Lobby.

Once inside, I was greeted with a chorus of “awe’s” from the remaining four team members.

As firmly as I could, I spat, “Each one of you can blow it out your ass. Let’s get to the roof.”

We entered the first empty elevator and rode it to the roof. Once it began its ascent, I texted GMZ and let him know that we were headed up. I didn’t get a response back. I didn’t need one, however, because the in pouring of panicked bar patrons and bar tenders, each of them covering their mouths and noses from the putrid, sour stench that washed in behind them, was enough indication that he had thrown the stink bombs. Criss, Damien, Nut’n Fancy, Everett, and I pushed our way through the packed elevator, covered our noses and mouths with our shirt sleeves, and set off to find GMZ through the acrid smoke. I walked through the haze, the smell from the stink bombs making my eyes sting and tear up in defense. After a few seconds of fumbling over overturned chairs, we found him right where we planned: in the seating area closest to the intersection we would be zip lining over. He was already wearing his gas mask and was typing feverishly at his computer.

Although the mask muffled his voice, I heard him say, “You guys are gonna want to hurry up, because security will probably be up here soon.”

We all nodded, GMZ lit and threw the last of the stink bombs in the direction of the elevators, and Everett began unpacking a bag full of our zip line gear. GMZ pulled the mask off of his face and handed it to Everett, who stuffed it in the now empty zip line bag. Once he got a whiff of the foul air, he gasped, “Jesus Crist in a neck brace, this is awful.”

“Stop take’n The Lord’s name in vain!” Nut’n Fancy shouted.

“Minigan does it all the time!”  GMZ cried back as he covered his mouth with the sleeve of his sweatshirt.

“I’ve told him to stop saying that a hundred times!”

“Enough already!” I shouted, the stench becoming too much for me to handle, “Let’s just get going already.

Nut’n Fancy obliged, assembled the heavy duty grappling hook gun in a flash, and fired the hook diagonally across the 5th Avenue intersection. The Hook lodged itself into the center of the roof of the building on the opposite block. Everett fastened the wire to the roof, seeing to it that it would be safe enough for us zip line across without it coming loose. Then the five of us put on our harnesses, our gloves, and our protective goggles as fast as we could, and then one at a time attached our zip line trolleys to the wire.

Damien went first. Fearlessly, the man jumped off the building flew through the air high over the busy street. Within seconds, he pressed his hand down the on the wire, and once his feet touched the roof, he ran to a stop. I looked over the railing to see if anyone on the street had noticed. Everyone down there was bustling on, completely unaware that someone had just zip lined from one building to another.

Nut’n Fancy was up next. He slung the grappling hook gun across his shoulder,  grabbed a hold of his trolley and jumped. He awkwardly spun to one side as he whipped across the rooftops, but managed to correct himself before he landed. I checked again to see if anyone on the ground had noticed (they hadn’t), and then Everett  and Criss followed.

It was my turn. I fastened my trolley to the wire, and before I jumped, I reminded GMZ, “Once I make it across, start unfastening the wire. Everett will reel it in, so let go once you feel it tug.”

“Got it. And I’ve already got my WoW game set up for when security gets up here,” he replied.

Figuring that Security would immediately suspect him of setting off the smoke bombs, GMZ decided his best alibi would be to act like he was in the middle of an intense quest in the MMORPG World of Warcraft, and that he was too preoccupied with the game that he wouldn’t move, even if someone set off smoke bombs or if security was bothering him. This also meant that he could talk to us freely and not look suspicious once the bar patrons and workers returned.

I jumped off the side of the building and rolled backwards. I pulled my knees up to my chest, and zoomed across the intersection. The cool night air rushed past my face and filled my nostrils with the smell of car exhaust, which was a welcoming scent after the stink bombs. Poor GMZ was going to have to deal with that for a while. Once I got close enough to the building, I pressed my gloved hand onto the wire behind my trolley, and slowed myself down. Once I reached the roof, I dropped my legs and let my feet slow me to a stop. I immediately unclipped my zip line trolley from the wire, and Everett freed the wire from the hook lodged into the roof. He then fed his end through a reeling device, and the other four of us stepped behind him as he pressed the button. The machine lit up with a bright orange light and let out a loud “whir” noise. In the matter of only a couple of seconds, the other end of wire shot out of GMZ’s hands on the Peninsula’s roof and across the intersection. Once the last inch was inside the reeling device, the light went out and the sound ceased with a light click. When I looked back up, GMZ was already staring at his computer screen.

“Alright, guys,” I said to my team, “let’s go.”

Quietly, we crept across the roof top until we reached the glass wall of the office building separating us from the Trump Tower. Nut’n Fancy reloaded the Grappling hook gun, and shot it up the side of the building. Nut’n Fancy tugged on the rope to make sure it was secure, and once he was satisfied, we began to creep up the wall of the building. We made it to the top, making sure to step around any illuminated window, and once we climbed over the wall we prepared ourselves to do it again.

Nut’n Fancy changed the rope on the grappling hook, this time to one that several loops at the end so that we could fasten our carabiners to. He attached the looped end to the gun, put the grabbling hook into the barrel, and fired at the Trump Tower’s roof. The hook sailed up into the darkness, but after a moment or two, found an edge to hook onto. We all hooked our carabiners into a separate loop, and then Nut’n Fancy (who was hooked into the last loop) fastened the gun to his chest. Together, we jumped off the roof. In one motion, we swung across East 56th Street and slammed into the glass. Luckily, we slammed into the levels that housed offices, so the rooms were dark and uninhabited. As soon as we all had our feet planted on the wall of the building, we began to scale the Trump Tower with me leading the way up.

After only a few minutes of climbing I began to feel the burn in my muscles. I closed my eyes and forced my body to work through the pain. As we moved higher, the winds picked up, and we had to move even slower so that we could brace ourselves from the gusts. The sounds of the street below were growing distant at an unacceptably slow rate, and beads of sweat formed on my forehead before rolling down my face and evaporating, making the cool gusts feel icy cold against my skin.

After what felt like hours, we were finally getting close to the top when I noticed that we were coming up on a window that was dimly illuminated. From such an extreme angle that I was looking up at even just twenty feet below, I couldn’t see the light until just then.

“Guys,” I said as quietly as I could but still loud enough so that they could hear me, “We’re coming up on a window, move to the right.”

They heard, and slowly we inched up the wall and gradually drifted to the right. As soon as I got up to the window, my curiosity got the best of me and peered inside.

“Holy shit you guys!” I exclaimed a little bit louder than what I should’ve, “Jay-Z and Beyoncé live here!”

“Shut up, Minigan!” they answered in unison in what I assumed was disbelief and not aggravation by my outburst.

But it absolutely was them. The entire room was dark, but the light coming from their TV illuminated their faces to the point that I was sure it was them. Jay-Z had his arm wrapped around Beyoncé and was holding onto what I guessed was a beer bottle with his free hand. Beyoncé was draped in a blanket with her feet poking out of the side. On her lap was a bowl of popcorn that she was eating out of, one kernel at a time. I paused and watched them for a second or two, confident that black I was wearing (my cloak was in my book bag) and their complete absorption in whatever they were watching would render me invisible to them.

I had every intention to watch them for just a little while longer, but Damien punched me in my leg and whispered, “Hurry up, you bloody git!”

I obliged and hurried my way past the window, the couple inside completely oblivious to the people climbing right outside their window.

“Holy shit! That is Beyoncé and Jay-Z!” Everett exclaimed.

“I told you so!”

After another long minute or two of climbing, I finally reached the top. I climbed over the side and then immediately turned around to help pull Damien up. Once he was over, we both helped Everett, Criss, and Nut’n Fancy over the railing. We unhooked ourselves from the rope, and then wasted no time setting up. Everett began setting up his laptop near the access door that Lady Caggiano was supposed to open for us. Nut’n Fancy, Damien, and Criss unpacked their bags and began placing their weapons and extra ammo in their belts and holsters.

I pressed the button on my earpiece and announced, “We’re on the roof. Lady Caggiano, head towards the Atrium’s entrance now, but do not engage until I say so.”

She coughed twice, which I took as meaning “affirmative.”

“GMZ,” I asked, “How are things on your end?”

“Pretty good so far. Security asked me a few questions about the stink bombs, but I had them convinced that I was way into WoW to care about the smell. Lady Caggiano, there is a doorman and two of Trump’s guards at the Atrium entrance, so you’ll have to take them out before heading up to Trump’s loft.”

She coughed again.

“Alright,” I added, “I’ll radio you both when we’re ready to start.”

As quickly as I could, I loaded my guns and fastened the holsters to my bullet proof vest. I then loaded up my belt with extra magazines, knives, my grappling gun and hooks, smoke and flash bombs, and a tube of what Everett called “Sticky Bombs.” I pulled out my folded white cloak from the bottom of my bag, shook it, and let the lightweight yet strong cloth unfold itself into its normal cloak shape. With one fluid motion, I twirled the cloak at the base of the hood around my neck and fastened it. I then checked the secret pocket inside and felt the blade of my Justice Stick. I had never used it in battle before, and if everything went smoothly, I wouldn’t be using it tonight either. I sighed. I had been training at night with Damien over the past few months with practice poles, and I was just itching to whip it out and swing my big stick at people (Trust me, I’m going to be making those jokes through this entire story. Be prepared for it).

Once we were all ready and had gathered back at where Everett had set up his computer, I radioed Lady Caggiano and GMZ. “Alright. Let’s do this.”

“OK,” GMZ replied, “I switched the camera footage being played in the Trump Tower security to footage from the night before and I’ve also blocked radio communication for Trump Tower’s security. So, Lady Caggiano, the only people watching you on those cameras is us.”

She sniffed, which indicated that she was getting into character. I crouched down with the rest of the team on the roof to watch. Everett brought up the view from one of the Atrium cameras where the entrance, the doorman, and Trump’s two private guards were all in view. The doorman was pacing back and forth, one of the guards stood near the elevator, and the other directly in front of the camera. Thanks to the bugs we planted in the morning, we could hear the doorman as he griped about Trump forcing the three of them to stay the night.

“This is some high class, premium cut bullshit.” He yelled out with his Brooklyn accent, “I was gonna meet up with some bitches tonight.”

I murmured to my group, “If Lady Caggiano heard that, that man is already dead.”

From outside, I noticed the murky image of Lady Caggiano appear from the darkness. Everett zoomed in as the doorman turned around and saw Lady Caggiano at the door. She waved at him. She smiled, but she was clearly distraught, and I was pretty sure that there was a steady flow of tears running down her face.

“Don’t let her in,” one of Trump’s private security commanded.

“What?” the doorman replied, “It’s just some girl. What’s she gonna do? Besides, there was no women in the group that got kicked out this morning.”

The doorman turned around, headed to the door, and let the sobbing Lady Caggiano inside. “What’s the matter, miss?” he asked politely.

“I,” she sniffed, “I lost my school group when we got off the subway and my cell phone is dead and I don’t know where to go and I… I…” she broke into full body sobs that made Helen Miren’s acting look unfit for B horror movies.

“No, no, don’t cry!” he said as he patted her reassuringly on her shoulder. He then turned to the nervous guards and said, “See? She’s just a lost little girl in the big city.” “Would you like to use my cellphone, hun?”

Lady Caggiano’s eyes lit up as she replied, “Oh, yes please, please, please! Thank you so much, sir!”

He pulled out his phone, leaned in to hand it to Lady Caggiano, and then stood perfectly still for a second. Then two seconds. Then five seconds. I looked to everyone else watching the video feed; they all had puzzled looks on their faces, but their eyes had not turned away from the screen. The man was still standing in his awkward stance, partially bowing towards Lady Caggiano. From the position of the camera, we could only see Lady Caggiano’s pigtails- everything else was blocked by the doorman. Apparently, guards were just as curious as we were, because one slowly moved off to the side to see what was happening.

Lady Caggiano stepped to her right, gun in hand and the barrel lodged in the doorman’s mouth. She fired. The doorman shrieked and fell to the floor, and the security guard near the elevator fell to the ground, dead. Before the other guard could react, Lady Caggiano aimed and fired at him, hitting him in his chest.

She walked away from the writhing and moaning doorman whom she had shot through the cheek, and fired the kill shot into his head after saying, “Don’t call me hun.”

The five of us stared slack jawed at the laptop where we had just watched Lady Caggiano casually murder three people. GMZ’s flabbergasted and mildly terrified voice came through my earpiece, “What in the entire cosmos of celestial fucks just happened?”

Lady Caggiano strode to the elevator doors, and with her gun in one hand, the handle of her pink roller suitcase in the other, she stole the clearance card from the dead guard and swiped it. Then, as the elevator doors opened, she looked to the camera and made a couple of gestures with her hands and forearms.

Damien looked up from the screen, the golden light illuminating half of his face and asked, “What does that mean?”

I answered as I rubbed my forehead with the tips of my fingers, “I have no fucking clue. We didn’t plan out hand signals.”

After she was finished making nonsensical hand signals, she stepped into Trump’s private elevator and let the doors close behind her.

Everett toggled up the camera inside the elevator, and the image of three dead men in the Trump Tower Atrium was replaced with Lady Caggiano changing in the elevator.

I covered the screen with my hand and said, “Let’s give her some privacy-)

The screen went black.

I pressed the button on my earpiece and asked, “Lady Caggiano, what happened to the camera?”

“I covered it with my BIMBONIA ACADEMY jacket,” she replied, “that way, you dirty pervs couldn’t watch.”

“I was covering you up with my hand,” I insisted. Then, I made my voice harsh and asked, “And what the hell was with you murdering those three guys? Did you not bring the tranquilizer gun?!”

“Hey,” she snapped back, “Trump wants them to use deadly force on us, so why shouldn’t we use deadly force back? Plus, Damien shot two of those darts into that one guard’s neck and that didn’t even knock him out, and the two guards in the Atrium were much bigger than that guy was.”

“She’s got a point, Minigan,” Damien added.

“But this is still our first real mission, and I don’t immediately want to get a bad reputation-“

“From whom?” Lady Caggiano asked sarcastically, “No one knows we’re doing this. That was the whole point, remember. Besides, I don’t give a damn about my reputation.”

“Well,” I snapped back at her, “It’s a good thing you don’t give a damn about your bad reputation, Joan Jett, because right now your reputation is that you’re a grade A psychopath.”

I pressed the button on my earpiece to turn off the speaker, and then said to the other four men, “I hate it when she’s right.”

After about a minute or two of silence from Lady Caggiano’s end, she uncovered the camera, revealing herself in her bulletproof vest, black pants, and goggles. Her guns, knives, and canisters of knockout gas were strapped to her vest and belt for easy access, and her long, light brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail.

GMZ’s voice came through my earpiece and announced, “OK Lady Caggiano, you’re getting close. There are three men outside the elevator door. Use a can of knockout gas to take them out.”

“Sure,” she replied as she grabbed the canister on her chest. She ripped it out of the pocket, but the ring got caught on her vest and pulled out of the top. “Oh shit,” She muttered.

“Oh shit,” The five us on the roof answered.

“Oh shit,” GMZ’s voice echoed.

There was about a second where I could clearly see the expression that I can only describe as “pure fucked” on Lady Caggiano’s face before the cloud of knockout gas enveloped her head. Within seconds, the entire elevator was filled with the gas and the whole computer screen went white.

“GMZ!” I shouted as I jumped to my feet and pressed the button on my earpiece, “We need to save her! We need to break into the Trump Tower now!”

“OK,” GMZ replied, his voice shaken. He steadied it and continued, “If you guys are on the grass, that means over the ledge should be a glass roof. That’s the roof to the elevator shaft. The doors open in your direction, and then the hallway in Trump’s penthouse head left parallel to East 56th. If you rappel down either the shaft you could save her before the doors open.”

“Too late,” Everett interjected, “the elevator is at Trump’s floor.”

“Nut’n Fancy and Damien,” I commanded hurriedly, “Set up ropes to rappel down the side of the building. We’ll need to create a diversion.”

Both men ran off without another word in the direction that GMZ said. I pulled out one of the sticky bombs, pressed the center of the green gel disk as Everett directed, and threw it at the glass skylight. It beeped for a few seconds and then exploded, shattering the glass which sparkled for a brief second as it fell into the dark shaft.

“Derren and me are in the Awesomecopter! and on our way,” Jessie’s voiced announced in my ear.

“Great,” I answered back, still looking into the dark pit I was about to jump down, “There was a complication at Trump’s loft, and we’re about to break in, so the sooner you get here, the better.”

I tied a rope to a tree and was about to rappel down the shaft when Everett cried, “Guys, get back here!”

I hopped over the wall and ran to Everett and Criss, who were staring at the computer. On the screen, they had brought up the camera right outside the elevator on Trump’s level. I watched as the beating of my heart drowned out every other noise. The doors opened. I bit my lip. The three guards turned around to see what caused the doors to open. Smoke billowed out. Then, a knife sliced through the dense gas and into the first guard’s throat. The other two guards raised their guns, but a still conscious Lady Caggiano sprinted out, still awake and moving faster than I’ve ever seen her (or anyone) move before. She slid past the guard on her left, jumped and bounced off the wall, and landed on his back. She threw another knife at the third guard before he could shoot, getting him in the neck as well. She the then pulled out her hunting knife, held it to the guard who’s shoulders she was sitting on, and slit his throat. He fell to the ground and she rolled off of him. With a single bound, she was behind a pedestal holding a large vase. I was relieved, until she bumped the pedestal and knocked over the vase.

Everett pulled up another camera. There were nine other guards in Trump’s kitchen, hanging around an island that looked like it could hold a queen size mattress. They heard the crash and ran to the other end of the hallway. Just then, Nut’n Fancy and Damien came back, claiming that the ropes for us to rappel down were ready. When they saw the look on Criss, Everett, and my faces, they circled around the computer to get a look at the screen. Everett put up a spit-screen view of the hallway, one facing the hazy elevator entrance, the other down the narrow, bookshelf lined hallway itself.

The guards filed down the hallway, each with his gun drawn and a determined look on his face. Lady Caggiano sat behind the pedestal, holding a glock in each hand. She looked tense; even through the smoke, I could see her tightly gripping her pistols. The guards were all in the hallway now, and had stopped far enough apart and staggered that it would be impossible for anyone to get to the other end of the hallway.

GMZ warned Lady Caggiano, “There are nine men in the hallway. You’ll never make it. Do not engage.”

Lady Caggiano’s face twisted itself into a look of pure rage, and she jumped from behind the pedestal. Bang. The first man went down. The other guards started firing. Lady Caggiano ran at a full sprint, zigzagging back from one side of the hallway to the other, shooting her guns. The men aimed and shot. She dodged, rolled, and fired back. Guards two and three were down. She shot the fourth in his knee, and jumped up to punch him in the face before shooting the fifth between the eyes. She ran forward, kicked the sixth onto into a book case and shot him in the chest. She released her empty magazines from the guns. She then threw up two loaded magazines and caught them in the handle.

“How is that even possible?!” someone on my team asked in awe.

There was no time to consider it. Lady Caggiano jumped up, grabbed a hold of the bookcase nearest her, swung back and fired at the fourth, who was about to raise his gun again. She jumped off the book case, and charged at the seventh. She shot at his wrist, making him drop his gun, and then shot him in the chest and head. The eighth dodged a few of her shots, but she delivered a swift roundhouse kick to his face before shooting him a few times in the chest. The ninth walked backwards, firing wildly in Lady Caggiano’s direction. She shot the gun out of his hand, and then threw her guns into the air. She dove over the table, planted her hands on it, and swung her feet between her arms. When her legs came up, she kicked the man hard in the chest. Lady Caggiano landed on her feet, spun around, and caught both guns. She spun back around to face the man on the floor. She squeezed the trigger. Click. She was out of ammo again. Just then, a faint ping from behind her warned her that a new wave of guards had arrived. She took a running leap and dove onto the island. She slid to the other side and dropped to her hands and knees onto the kitchen floor.

“Shit,” I said, looking up to the other four members of my team, “Let’s get down there.”

We abandoned Everett’s laptop, and the rope I was going to rappel down to get to the elevator car, and we climbed over the wall that separated the grassy area from the rest of the roof. I sprinted across the gravel topped section of the roof, jumped down the set of stairs that lead to the final section of the roof. I somersaulted the landing, but I was immediately back on my feet and running to the edge of the building. I reached it, and a couple seconds later, Criss, Damien, Everett, and Nut’n Fancy joined me. I grabbed one of the four ropes and- Shit. Only four ropes. Of course there would only be four ropes because the fifth was hanging down the elevator shaft where I left it.

Noticing the problem at hand and proceeding to make it worse, Damien said, “That’s not the only thing, Minigan. This glass is too strong for us to kick out when we rappel down, and the angle is too sharp for us shoot at or throw a sticky bomb at.

“Well, shit.” We were running out of time. Lady Caggiano was hiding behind that island while more guards, probably heavily armed and protected, rushed into the penthouse. Maybe it was because the panic that image had caused, but my mind went blank.

“Wait!” Everett interjected, “Criss, that card trick you did this morning- the one where you made them fly around- could you do that with a sticky bomb?”

“Maybe, but I won’t be sure if it lands on the right floor,” he answered.

Everett directed Criss to the edge, pointed down, and said, “Just aim for those lighted windows. That’s Trump’s loft.”

“That’s great and all,” Damien added, “But that still leave the issue with their only being four ropes for the five of us. If one of us rappels down after the other four, that one will get blown to Hell.”

Building off of Everett’s idea, I replied, “Criss can just levitate down!”

“What?!” Damien and Criss cried in unison.

“Yeah! If you levitate down with us, then you won’t need a rope,” I answered.

Angrily, Criss asked, “What makes you think I can even levitate off the side of a building?”

“Because you’re a wizard, and that is one of the many things that wizards do.”

“I AM NOT A WIZARD, MINIGAN!”

“Quit your argue’n!” Nut’n snapped, “We’re outta time!”

Without another word, Criss snatched a sticky bomb out of Everett’s hand, pressed the button, and threw it over the side. It made a wide downward arc and stuck onto the illuminated window below. There was a loud bang and a flash of light. The sounds of screaming and gun fire rang out from the new opening. Damien, Everett, Nut’n Fancy, and I rappelled down the side of the building (I made it to the window in two bounds), and we swung inside the High end loft turned battle zone, our gloves hot from the friction on the ropes.

To my right, the island and the kitchen walls were riddled with bullet holes. On the floor in front of me was the guard that Lady Caggiano couldn’t kill before backups had arrived, dead with three kitchen knives lodged in his chest. Behind his corpse was the bookshelf and dead body lined hallway, and in it were three terrified looking guards, two of them being Trump’s personal body guards from earlier that day. The guard I hadn’t seen before saw me and raised his automatic rifle. Before I could even process the thought, my hand had pulled out my hand gun and fired a shot into his chest. He fell backwards onto the other two, knocking one of them down. With the guards momentarily distracted, the five of us dove behind the battered island.

We were greeted by Lady Caggiano’s who was sitting pensively with her back to the island, and holding a bunch of pots and frying pans. Her pupils were dilated to the point where I could barely see her brown irises. Then, in an unsettlingly calm voice, “Trump is coming. He’s bringing more guards. Cover me.”

I nodded, raised my gun and peeked my head over the counter top. Lady Caggiano did the same, and then threw each of the pots and pans on the stove. She lit each burner, making sure that the flames were as high as they could go, before sitting back down. I heard commotion coming from the hallway, and I knew that the new series of guards, as well as Trump, were on their way.

I handed Lady Caggiano one of my hand guns, and then whispered to my team, “Get ready.”

We stayed silent as several pairs of footsteps came down the hallway and into the livingroom. I nodded to my team, and as one, we jumped up and started shooting. We only managed to kill one of the guards before the others dove behind various pieces of furniture. We were out of rounds within seconds, all of our bullets expended into the inexplicably impenetrable couches and chairs. The guards popped their heads out from behind the furniture and began firing at us as we ducked down and reloaded.

As they fired, lady Caggiano stood up, grabbed one of the now red hot frying pans, and chucked it across the room. There was a clang, followed by a loud shriek, which told me that the pan had hit its mark. As the other three men were distracted, I stood up and threw a throwing knife at the one behind the couch. It missed, and he fired back at us in retaliation.

I looked to Lady Caggiano, who was taking deep breaths and clenching her fists, and asked, “Are you okay?”

She looked at me with an expression of anger that genuinely scared me. Her face was red and the veins in her neck and forehead were pulsing. Her eyes were bloodshot, and her pupils still dilated, and her jaw muscles bulged from how tightly she had her jaw clenched. She looked me directly in the eyes and growled, “Fuck hiding.”

She then stood up, grabbed a pot in each hand, and charged at the guards. Damien, Nut’n Fancy, Everett, Criss, and I were taken so much by surprise, that when we managed to scramble to our feet and follow her, she was already on top of a guard beating the hell out of him with the hot pan. One of the guards took aim at her. I reached into my cloak pocket, pulled out my Justice stick, and charged at him.

Gunshots rang out all around me. I jumped feet first at the man. My feet connected with his chest, and the blade of my pole-arm with the side of his face. He fell backward, firing bullets from his semi-automatic rifle up the side of the wall near Lady Caggiano. I lost my balance, fell over the coffee table, and landed upside down on the couch on the other side of it. The guard with the burnt face, which happened to be the spray tanned, bald guard from that morning, stood up and aimed his gun at my face. He fired. I rolled. He flew across the room and smashed into a large portrait hanging on the wall. Criss was standing several feet behind where the guard was standing with his hand raised.

I jumped back onto my feet and called, “Nice one, Criss,” before kicking my Justice Stick into the air, catching it, and going back to fighting the guard with the semi-automatic.

More guards rushed in- maybe seven or eight, and immediately found themselves in the center of an intense battle. Damien was crushing one guy’s face with his knee, Criss was tossing guards across the room like they were superballs, and Lady Caggiano was bludgeoning anyone stupid enough to come within swinging distance of her and her pots. I had successfully knocked the gun away from the guard I was fighting, but he came back at me with two large, Arabian looking swords from over the fireplace mantel. He sliced at my chest, but only shredded my vest. He swung his swords down at my shoulders, but I blocked them with my pole-arm and kicked him in the stomach. He stumbled backward, but right as I was about to charge at him, two big arms wrapped themselves around my chest and knocked my weapon from my hands. It was the fat black guard from this morning.

I struggled to free myself, but the arms were too strong. The guard I had been fighting ran towards me, the thought of murder in his eyes. I lifted my legs and kicked him in the face. He stumbled backwards, clutching his nose, but not before swinging one of his swords at me and slicing my leg. I ignored the sharp pain in my thigh from the gash, and instead focused my energy on swinging my legs back down and slamming my feet into my captor’s knees. He screamed in pain right into my ear, and then fell… right on top of me.

I felt all the air rush out of my lungs as the man’s heavy body fell on top of mine. I struggled to free myself, but he still had his arms around me.  My face was sandwiched between the cool, hard floor, and the guard’s warm, doughy body, so I couldn’t hear what was happening, but after an excruciatingly long second or two, the guard’s body went limp, and a pair of boots kicked him off of me. I took a deep breath of gunsmoke and blood scented air, and looked up to see Nut’n Fancy extending his hand down to me.

He pulled me up, and said, “You know you’re bleed’n from your leg, right?”

“Yeah,” I answered smartly, “But I’m kinda busy right now.”

“I know,” he joked back as he fired a couple of shots at the guards in the hallway, each bullet hitting its target, “I saw you let’n that guy fool around on top of you. I had no clue you were inta bigger guys”

“God is a lie,” I snapped back at him, knowing that would piss him off more than any insult I had in my arsenal at the time.

Without another word, he went off to shoot at the other guards in the hallway, and I turned to face the guard with the swords again. He spun the swords around in his hand and charged at me. I ran at him, and kicked up my Justice Stick once again. I twirled the pole in my hands, and then plunged it into his chest.

He stopped. His swords dropped to the ground. I was leaning forward, bracing myself for the impact, so when he stopped, his face was less than a foot away from mine. I watched at the expression on his face shift from anger, to pain, to fear, and then to nothing. The light behind his green eyes went out, and for a second, I stared at the expressionless face of the man I just killed. I pulled my Justice Stick out of the mortal wound I created, took a few steps back, and let the man collapse in front of me.

“ENOUGH!!!” a voice roared from the hallway.

It was Trump. His face was red, redder than his hair, and his normally dead looking eyes were burning with rage. He stepped into the room, and all fighting stopped. His guards backed away from him, and looked to the ground as if staring him in the eyes would turn them into stone.

“You little shits,” he shouted, his lips so thin that they were practically invisible, “All of you! You destroyed my living room! Well, I’ve had enough!  You’ll all pay dearly, and by my hand.”

“Sir,” The bald, spray tanned, and burnt guard pleaded, “We were only trying to protect you. They came very prepared.”

“I don’t care!” Trump raged as he strode to the middle of the room and up to the guard, “They shouldn’t have even made it up here in the first place!”

“They- they managed to get control of the security cameras somehow, sir!” The guard said, his voice shaking.”

“So you failed.”

“No!” the bald guard cried, now visibly shaking with fear. The other guards backed as far away as they could. Some managed to slip into the hallway and into another room. The bald guard continued, “They only-“

“No,” Trump interrupted, “You failed, Silvio, and you will pay for it.”

Silvio gasped, and what happened next I would have never predicted. From atop Trump’s head, his hair quivered, and suddenly, a long tendril of red hair reached out and wrapped around Silvio. We all watched in shock as Silvio was raised into the air, and the hair tightened around his chest. Within seconds, all the air was squeezed out of his chest and the blood vessels in his eyes started to pop.

Trump’s hair tightened until Silvio was dead, and then a disembodied voice, the gravelly voice we heard from the bug Criss had planted, spat, “You are worthless!”

“You are worthless.” Trump’s normal voice repeated, right before his hair whipped Silvio’s lifeless body around in the air and threw it out the shattered window.

The other guards began to run away, completely ignoring the intruders they were trying to kill moments earlier.

The Gravelly voice growled, “Where do you think you’re going?” as the men sprinted for their lives.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

Several more hair tendrils erupted from Trump’s head and grabbed the guards. A few of the tendrils even broke through the doors that guards had stepped through and pulled them out as well. Then, with a single flick of the hair, they went sailing out the window and down to their bloody deaths on the street and roofs below.

My fellow members of Awesomesquad! and I regrouped and stared at Trump, our jaws dropped in shock and confusion, as his hair retracted back into his head. I wasn’t sure how to react to what I had just seen. I practically dropped my polearm as I squinted at Trump, trying hard not to believe what I had just seen was real. Had Trump’s hair really come to life and thrown a bunch of people out the window? I asked myself. Was even thinking that thought enough of a reason to have myself committed? Seriously, what the fuck did I just witness?

Just then, either refuting my insanity or irrevocably confirming it, Trump’s hair shifted again. This time revealed two large, red eyes and a mouth with rows of vicious looking fangs. When the mouth spoke, the gravelly voice came out and said, “And if that’s what I do to people that work for me, just imagine what I’m going to do to you.”

“And if that’s what I do to people that work for me, just imagine what I’m going to do to you.” Trump’s regular mouth repeated.

I still needed some time to process what I was looking at, but unfortunately, Trump wasn’t willing to give me that time. The tendrils shot back out of his head and at us, and the six of us managed to run screaming back to the island. We each dove behind it just as the hair tendril wrapped themselves around various appliances and attempted to bludgeon us with them.

“What in the spiraling shark vortex of fuck is happening right now?!” Lady Caggiano cried as she swung the pot she was clutching at a tendril of hair with a microwave.

“How in the hell should I know,” I yelled back. I quickly grabbed a dish towel and tied it above the cut on my leg before trying to fight of one of Trump’s hair tentacles.

I was on my back, jabbing my pole-arm at the tendril trying to crush me with the refrigerator door. I rolled to my side just as it slammed the side of the door down. As it raised up the door again, I pulled out a throwing knife and threw it at the hair. The knife sliced through the air and Trump’s hair tentacle, and the refrigerator door fell on top of Everett and I. It smacked me in my lip and Everett on the forehead. Trump’s hair let out a high pitched, ear-piercing shriek, which was followed by the monotone wail of Trump’s mouth. The other tendrils of greying red hair dropped their various makeshift weapons on us and then pulled back.

With Everett and me clutching each end of the refrigerator door, we pushed it off of us and against the cabinets of the island. I then pressed the button on my earpiece.

“GMZ!” I yelled, panic ringing in my voice, “What in the flying Hell are we dealing with right now?”

After a second’s pause, he answered, “Wha? Oh, shit. The mission, right.”

“What did you mean by that?!” I screamed at him.

“Well,” he explained, “I had to make it look like I was playing WoW, and I thought the best way to do that would be to actually play it.”

“YOU’RE PLAYING WORLD OF WARCRAFT RIGHT NOW?!?!” I roared.

The other five members of my team barricaded behind the kitchen island looked to me with a look that was equal parts confusion and fury.

“He’s doing what?!” Nut’n Fancy cried.

“At a time like this?” Everett added.

“I’m sorry!” GMZ replied, “I just got really into the quest.”

“I don’t care! Just look at what we’re dealing with right now and help us figure out how to stop it!” I looked to the rest of my team and added, “That little shit.”

The other five members of Awesomesquad! replied with various “yeah’s,” and “what the hell’s.”

“Hey, I heard that!” GMZ replied.

“I know, I meant for you to hear it, now get to work!”

Everett let out a terrified cry and shuffled away from the island as the short piece of hair that I had severed from the rest slowly inched towards him. All of our screams joined in as each of us grabbed anything we could and began beating the possessed lock of hair.

Once Lady Cagginao beat the hair into submission with a frying pan, I picked up the newly limp hair and put it into a bag that Everett was holding open for me.

As he sealed it up and put it into a small plastic container from one of the cabinets, he nervously whispered to me, “Do you think this can hold it?”

“Let’s hope so,” I whispered back, “We need to get it back to the base to study it.”

That’s when I noticed how silent the room was. There was no footsteps, no rustle of clothing, no breathing coming from beyond the island. In fact, the only other noises other than my team’s heavy, panicked breathing, was the distant sound of what I hoped was the Awesomecopter!.

We sat, huddled together like refugees, for a few long seconds of tense silence when I decided to see what was happening. Pressing my raised index finger to my lips, I slowly, silently climbed to my knees and peeked my head above the countertop. Across the room, glaring at me with all four of its eyes was Trump, his hair holding up a large flat screen TV. The face in the hair let out an evil laugh (which was parroted by Trump’s body), and then it threw the TV at me. I ducked back behind the island as the TV soared over our heads and smashed against the wall over the sink.

“What the hell am I looking at right now?” GMZ asked, just as perplexed as we were just before the hair began to attack us.

“We don’t know,” I answered, “That’s why you need to find out for us.”

Trump’s hair let out another scream, and began hurling books from the hallway at us from over the island’s countertop. We all screamed, and Everett and I lifted the heavy refrigerator door over our heads and sheltered the other three from the onslaught of literature.

“Where do you expect me to get that information,” he asked smartly, “Google?”

“You’re the hacker!” I shouted at him as a hardcover copy of “Angels and Demons” smacked me in my already sore and bloody lip, “Go search for it on some secret government Database or something.”

Trump’s hair threw another book at me. I dodged it. I looked at the cover and realized it was Trump’s own, “Time to Get Tough.” I clenched my teeth and nodded to Lady Caggiano, who looked down at the cover and understood. She grabbed the end of the refrigerator door that I was holding, and I pulled out another throwing knife. I jumped to my feet. Books were flying at me from several directions, but I dodged them. I pulled back my throwing arm. Another book flew past my face. I threw my knife. It sliced through the air, and I dropped back to the floor.

After about a second, Trump’s hair shrieked in pain. I peeked my head back out from behind the island and saw my knife lodged in Trump’s leg. Shit, my aim was off. That should’ve gone in his chest.

I dropped back down and said  to my team, “Aim for his body, he can feel the pain that we inflict upon it, and that’s a bigger target than his hair.”

They nodded in understanding. But just before they could pull out their assorted knives, several hair tendrils exploded through the island’s cabinet doors. We all screamed in terror as the hair tentacles flailed at us, blindly wrapping themselves onto whatever they could and pulling it back through the holes.

Damien barely dodged one of these tendrils before he cried, “fuck this!” He then pulled out one of his sticky bombs, and threw it at the window. The deafening boom from the explosion was followed by the clinking sound of the glass hitting the tiled floor. Damien stood up and ran. He sprinted at the window, narrowly dodging the hair tentacles as they rushed at him, and dove out the window. Nut’n Fancy, Criss, Lady Caggiano, and I looked at each other in shock.

“Did that limey bastard just abandon us?” I asked.

“I think he did,” Criss replied as he smacked a lock of Trump’s hair away from his face.

Nut’n Fancy interjected, “Son of a bitch…”

I pulled out my hunting knife and chopped the hair tendril closest to me. I cut the hair, which inched away, and I added as I bludgeoned the lock with a knife block, “If we get out of this alive, I say we track Damien down and beat the hell out of him with socks filled with limes.”

Everyone but Everett agreed, but right at that moment, another hair tendril broke through the door between Everett and me, taking both of us by surprise and knocking us backward.

“Ahhh! Kill it! Kill it with fire!” I screamed.

Everett and I looked at each other, the two of us thinking the same thing: his wrist mounted flame throwers. Not wasting another second, Everett torched the hair tentacle with a fiery blast from his wrist. The other four of us shielded ourselves from the intense heat of the column of fire as it set the hair ablaze. Almost instantly, the hair reeled backward, shrieking in agony. The scent of burnt hair filled the air. It was hard to breathe through the stench from the smoke, but taking the opportunity, I jumped back to my feet, and began rummaging through the cupboards. Lady Caggiano, Criss, Nut’n Fancy, and Everett were now on the offensive. They stood up and provided me with whatever cover they could with their remaining knives and butane. In a drawer, I found one of those long lighters for grilling. I grabbed it and continued my search. Next, I found a half drank bottle of vodka, a washcloth, and some cooking spray.

I stuffed the washcloth into the vodka bottle and flipped it upside down to get the rag wet. I passed the cooking spray to Lady Caggiano, and she lit it with one of the stove’s burners.  I lit the lighter and then the alcohol soaked rag. Trump stepped back to the opposite end of the room. I chucked the bottle.

I held my breath as it flew through the air directly at the multimillionaire and his evil hair. With a single swipe with one of his hair tendrils, Trump managed to smack the Molotov cocktail out of the air. It shattered on the ground, and almost immediately a circle of fire roared up between him and us. The sprinkler system went off, extinguishing the fire and my hopes for getting out of this alive.

Trump stepped forward through the falling water, his hair whipping its wet tendrils around. In its gravelly voice, it said, “You idiots will never defeat The Donald.”

Just as it was about to whip its hair arms at us again, the sound of jet engines roared from outside. Everyone looked to the windows and saw a bald man in a heavily armed jetpack.

“It’s Damien!” Everett exclaimed.

I looked closer. Well, damn. He was right, I guessed I owed him an apology. Damien smirked at us and then took aim at Trump. Then, he squeezed the trigger on the handle.

I couldn’t hear what Damien screamed over the roaring of the rocket thrusters or the machinegun blasts, but if I read his lips correctly, he screamed, “FUUUUUUUUUCK YOUUUUUUUUUUU!”

Bullets shattered the remaining windows as Damien fired at the fleeing Trump. Trump sprinted across the room, his hair lifting his body off the ground and out of the line of fire. Trump’s hair then reached out the window, and before he could dodge it, wrapped around Damien.

With one quick flick of his hair tentacle, Trump’s hair threw Damien back inside the loft and up against the wall.

“My Prototype!” Everett cried.

“Screw your prototype,” I snapped, “What about Damien?!”

“Him too!”

Damien had barely touched the ground before Trump’s hair had begun wrapping around him, winding around his body like a boa constrictor does with its prey. Within seconds, it had wrapped around Damien’s throat and began to squeeze.

Still holding the lighter, I grabbed the cooking spray from Lady Caggiano’s hands and sprinted towards Trump. Trump continued to squeeze. I watched as Damien’s face turned blue. I pressed the spray button and lit the oil. The heat and light came back. I ran at the tentacles between Trump and Damien. The smell of burnt hair returned, as did the hair’s pained howls.

I was about to change my direction and head straight for Trump when one of the locks of hair grabbed me by the waist and lifted me into the air. It whipped me around for a second or two, and then I was soaring out the window.

“Fuuuuuuuuuuck!”

Thinking quickly, I pulled my grappling hook from my belt and shot towards the roof. I kept falling. Still falling. I was about to panic when suddenly I stopped falling. I heard a pop in my shoulder, and then felt pain shoot up and down my arm. I screamed and grabbed a hold of the grappling hook gun with my other hand before my injured arm had a chance to let go. I was in so much pain that I didn’t notice the building rushing back at me.

Smack. I hit one of the windows hard. My arm was still racked with a stabbing pain, which was now accompanied by the stings of my face and knees hitting the side of the building. I bounced backward and then back into the window again, but this time with a softer “thud.” My right arm felt like dead weight- I must’ve dislocated it. I let it drop to my side, and then struggled to get my footing on the glass walls of the Trump Tower. I was somewhat dazed by the pain in my shoulder and the collision with the window, but not dazed enough to not notice the people watching me.

I looked through the window to the scene I had witnessed earlier- Beyoncé and Jay-Z sitting on the couch, watching a movie. But this time it was different: the bowl of popcorn had fallen to the floor, neither of them looked relaxed, and both of them were staring directly at me.

I smiled weakly at them, and then, once realizing that they couldn’t see my face, I raised my injured hand and waved. Pangs of stabbing pain shot up and down my arm, so I immediately dropped it. Inside, Jay-Z and Beyoncé mouthed, “The Fuck?” I gave them another apologetic grin that they wouldn’t be able to see from under the hood of my cloak, and then I began to scale the side of the skyscraper again.

With only one arm able to help pull me up, climbing up the building took some time, but I eventually made it around the corner and to the shattered windows of Trump’s penthouse. I peeked in and saw the rest of my team fighting Trump’s hair. Each of them dove and rolled out of the way right as his hair lunged at them, and they each attempted to cut it apart without also getting grabbed.

Holding onto the ledge with my good hand, I raised my right hand to my ear, ignoring the soul piercing pain, and pressed the button in my earpiece. “GMZ,” I whispered, “Do you know what this is yet?”

“No.” he replied regretfully, “It doesn’t seem like our government- or any government for that matter- has any information for possessed hair. The closest thing I could come up with was an old Simpson’s Tree House of Horror episode, and they had to rip the hair off the head and kill it in order to stop it.” “Hey!” he added, “What if you scalp Trump?”

“What?!” I half whispered back as I watched Trump’s hair swing the refrigerator door at Nut’n Fancy.

“You know,” he replied, “like what the Native Americans used to do. Just cut around the scalp and then grab the hair on the sides of his head and yank.”

“I don’t think I can do that,” I breathed, “I think I dislocated my shoulder.”

“Well, you’re gonna have to try.”

He was right. Right now I had the element of surprise, and if I blew it, it could mean the death of me and the rest of my team. Slowly and silently, I rolled over the edge and back onto the tiled floor. Shards of glass sliced the skin on my forearms and cheek as I rolled, but Trump’s hair was too distracted to hear the clinking of the glass. I stood up, and with my knife drawn, I charged.

I jumped onto Trump’s back and dug my knife deep into the side of his head, his hair (and then his body) roared with rage and pain. His hair flailed around, frantically taking swipes at me as I cut along Trump’s hair line. A tendril of his hair wrapped around my ankle and threw me at the wall.

Lady Caggiano ran to me as the other four fought off Trump’s advances. “Are you alright?” she asked.

“My shoulder’s dislocated,” I grunted back at her.

She knelt down beside me, and I saw a kindness in her eyes that calmed me down somehow. In a warm and motherly tone of voice, she stated, “I’ll put it back in its socket on the count of three, OK? One…”

She pulled. My shoulder popped. I cried in pain. Trump’s hair threw his coffee table at us. Lady Caggiano threw herself on top of me and pinned me to the ground. The table smashed into the wall and the broken pieces of high quality wood fell on top of us.

 

“I thought you said three.” I gasped, my arm throbbing.

“You would’ve tensed up,” she answered. You needed to be relaxed.

She helped me to my feet, and we both joined the fight again. The fight continued for several long minutes. His hair would swipe. We would dodge. His hair would lunge. We would roll. We would slash. His hair would whip back. It was like the dangerous fight dance between a cobra and a mongoose. Except, that the mongoose was six people with knives and flame throwers, and the cobra was a rich man with murderous hair tentacles- so it was way more fucked up than a cobra/ mongoose fight, I guess.

Everett blasted Trump right in the face with his wrist mounted flame thrower, and Trump stumbled backward. His hair swatted at the flames and then screamed, “What the Hell do you guys want, anyway?!”

“What the Hell do you guys want, anyway?” Trump’s normal voice repeated.

“We want you to not take over New York City!” I shouted at him. “Also,” I added in a more conversational tone, “It would be nice to know what the hell you are.”

“Me?” His hair asked and normal voice echoed, “I am just an ancient being looking for some room to expand and reproduce, and have been controlling your greatest business owner and billionaire for the past four decades.”

“Please,” Lady Caggiano scoffed, “Everyone knows that Steve Jobs is the greatest business owner and billionaire ever.”

“STEVE JOBS IS A BALD HEADED CULT LEADER OF A BUNCH OF STUPID HIPSTERS!” Trump’s hair roared.

“Steve Jobs is a bald headed cult leader of a bunch of stupid hipsters.”

“Woah,” Everett replied, “Steve Jobs has cancer, you monster.”

“Monster, MONSTER?!” The monster raged, his tentacles whipping into a frenzy again, making each of us dive for cover.

“Monster, monster,” Trump’s human mouth parroted.

“You’re not proving us wrong, dickbag!” I screamed as I dodged a section of the island that Trump’s hair threw at us. It slid to a halt between me and Damien.

“You think I’m the worst celebrity out there?!” Trump’s hair screamed and his body soullessly repeated, “I can name dozens of celebrities who are far worse than I am. Why aren’t you going after them, Huh? Why aren’t you trying to stop Sean Penn and his terrible, leathery face?”

From somewhere behind the overturned couch, I heard Nut’n Fancy’s voice call out, “That’s just what I said!”

Trump’s hair wrapped one of its tendrils around the couch and lifted it into the air, and then slammed it down at Nut’n Fancy. Nut’n Fancy rolled out of the way at the last second. The couch crashed into the floor and broke apart. Trump’s hair then picked up the pieces of the couch and flung them at us until the six of us had rolled and dodged our way into the same spot in front of the fireplace. I quickly glanced out the window as I felt for one of those sticky bombs. I had none. Fuck. They must have fallen out.

“You were foolish to think you could stop me!” Trump’s hair spat has he threw a chair our direction.

“You were foolish to think you could stop me.” Trump’s body repeated.

Criss threw his hand out and to the right, and sent the chair flying out the window.

“I’m the Donald!” he shrieked, “And I wouldn’t be where I am if I let little fucks like you stop each of my plans!”

“I’m the Donald. And I wouldn’t be where I am if I let little fucks like you stop each of my plans.”

Several new hair tendrils stretched out from the back of Trump’s head and raised themselves high into the air, each one pointing at us. Basically, we were fucked.

My team and I braced ourselves for the onslaught that was about to come, each of us clutching to anything that could possibly be used as a weapon, when  Jessie stepped into the room from the hall, carrying a bazooka, and yelled, “Hey Trump, You’re fired!”

 

Jessie fired. Trump turned to attack Jessie, but it was too late. The rocket blasted out of the barrel.  Trump’s hair tendrils went limp and blanketed his body right before the rocket hit him squarely in the chest. Trump flew out the window, both is body and his hair screaming, “NO!”

The Rocket propelled Donald Trump flew out into the night, and his ride climaxed in a brilliant and blinding explosion over the streets of New York City. The six of us jumped and cheered at the giant fireball as it billowed up into the night sky. A jubilant Damien jumped onto Everett’s back, knocking him to the floor. I turned to Lady Caggiano and we high fived.

“Seriously,” she asked me, “Why do you give such weird high fives?”

“I don’t give weird high fives!”

Jessie interrupted our celebration by running towards us, a look of childlike excitement on his face, and exclaimed, “I did it, guys! I saved the day!”

We all stopped. Damien and Everett picked themselves off of the floor, and the six of us glared at Jessie.

“And what the hell were you thinking?!” I shouted.

“Wha-?”

“Why did you think it would be a good fucking idea to leave the Awesomecopter! to come down here?” Lady Caggiano snapped.

“I thought I could help!” Jessie replied quickly, “Plus Derren is watching the Awesomecopter!!”

“YOU LET DERREN WATCH THE AWESOMECOPTER!?!” I roared.

“And where the hell did you get that bazooka from?” Everett asked.

Jessie frowned, his heroics were clearly not going over like he had planned. “I found it and I thought I could-“

“You thought what?” Damien interrupted, “You thought it would be fun to shoot a bloody bazooka in the middle of New York City?!”

Nut’n Fancy added, “And now pieces of shrapnel and Trump body parts are rain’n down on everyone below, you dang idiot!”

“But Criss, didn’t you just cast a chair out the window?” Jessie asked as panic began to creep into his voice.

“Don’t try to change the subject,” Criss spat, “What we’re talking about right now is how you fucked up.”

“But…”

“But nothing.” I said, “Get back upstairs and wait for us at the Awesomecopter!.”

“But…But…”

“Go.” I demanded.

Seeing the furious scowls on all of our faces, Jessie realized his defeat and turned around. He bowed his head, and then sulked his way out of the war-torn living room and into the slightly less war-torn hallway. As soon as we heard the door to the roof click shut, we relaxed our faces.

I turned to the group and asked, “So, I think we all agree that what Jessie did was the greatest thing ever?”

“Absolutely.” Everett answered.

“It was brilliant,” Damien added.

Lady Caggiano noted, “That was probably one of the most badass things I’ve ever seen. He even had that amazing, “You’re fired” line. That just made it perfect.”

We all nodded and murmured in agreement. Then, I added, “Good. Let’s promise to never tell Jessie how incredibly awesome it was.”

“Agreed,” The rest of my team answered in unison.

“Great, Now let’s get out of here.”

“Wait a second, Minigan,” Damien interjected just as I turned away, “Don’t you remember why we planned this in the first place? We need to destroy his plans in case his hair survived the blast.”

“Shit,” I replied, “You’re absolutely right. Let’s destroy that information!”

As a group, we filed out of the living room and into the study, which showed not a hint of destruction. Everett walked up to the computer and sat down. From his right pants pocket, he pulled out GMZ’s flash Drive and plugged it into the computer. The Screen flickered for a second, and then in the password bar, a line of dots formed. After not even a second’s pause, they vanished and were replaced with another line of dots. Then another. Then another. After about a minute of the program’s rapid fire password guessing, it had chosen the correct one and the home screen came up.

As Everett combed through the various word documents and any program that might lead us to Trump’s hair’s plans, the rest of the team walked back through the Penthouse for any evidence of our presence there (other than, you know, the total destruction of the living room, kitchen, and hallway). When we returned, Everett had found the files and was about to delete them.

“Wait! Lady Caggiano cried, “Don’t delete them, save them!”

“What?!” Everett and I replied in unison.

“If we destroy all that information, and Trump’s hair is still alive, then it can start its plans over without anyone knowing,” she explained, “But if we send in the information of what he’s doing to a news site, then it could go viral and the people of New York will know not to sell to him.”

“Plus, if we destroy this evidence and Trump did survive, he can try to get us thrown in prison,” Damien added, “After all, we did break into and then destroy his home.”

Seeing their points, Everett and I agreed, and he downloaded all the information onto a flash drive before wiping it off the computer. We then did one last search of the penthouse for any weapons that could incriminate us if found. We hadn’t missed much on the first time through, so on our second search we only found two throwing knives, the plastic container with the lock of Trump’s hair, and one of Lady Caggiano’s hand gun magazines. With our mission complete, I radioed Jessie and had him start the Awesomecopter!, and then my team and I filed through the corpse lined hallway to the roof access stairway. We rushed up the stairwell, careful to make as little sound as possible in fear that more of Tump’s guards were on their way. They weren’t, and we safely made it to the roof without incident.

I untied the rope I was going to use to rappel down the elevator shaft and the five of us who had left bags on the roof gathered everything back up and stuffed them into the already pretty full Awesomecopter!. Once everything was secured and we made sure we left nothing behind on the roof, we climbed aboard the Awesomecopter! and flew  towards the Peninsula’s rooftop bar to pick up GMZ. We hovered twenty feet or so above the roof, the downwash from the spinning blades kicked dirt and paper into the air, and made the bar patrons flee to the elevators for the second time that night.

With the fuselage door open, I threw the looped end of a rope down to GMZ, who stuck his foot into the loop and then raised himself off the ground. As soon as he was secure, Criss and Damien began pulling the rope back inside the cabin.

“He’s clear!” I called to Jessie, and he banked the Awesomecopter! hard to the right.

Despite my still sore shoulder, I joined Criss and Damien in helping pull GMZ up. Once he had his feet on the landing skid, Damien and Criss pulled him up by the arms, and I grabbed onto him by the straps of his book bag. We pulled him through the door, leaving us in an awkward pile on the floor.

Damien got up, brushed himself off when he let out a startled cry. The rest of Awesomesquad climbed to our feet and looked to see what he had seen. Ahead of us, floating in the spring night, was a great wispy looking sphere with a man’s form attached to the bottom. We flew past it, staring at the floating hair bubble as we did. Trump’s body looked dirty and his clothes burnt, but other than that, in good shape.

His hair, which had spread itself out like a giant afro to catch the wind currents saw us staring at it and shouted, “You will pay for this! YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE LAST OF ME, YOU BASTARDS!”

***

Sorry for how long that was. I even cut out over 1,500 words (I could have cut more, but I really enjoyed ripping on Dan Brown) of stuff that you’ll have to wait for when I finish the novel.  But just imagine how epic that book is going to be.

Alright, go outside and play, kids.

The Most Tolerable Work Self-Evaluation Ever

A couple of weeks ago, I received my annual performance review from my job, and being the absent minded person that I am (most of my brain power at work is dedicated to imagining I’m anywhere but work) I forgot to turn it in. Being the persistent jerks that they are, they gave me another to fill out. So I did, and turned that one in, leaving me with an unused copy to do with what I like. And that is why we are here today. You cannot tell if you’re not in earshot of me, but I’m cackling manically right now. Lightning is even flashing across the sky- so you know this is going to be good.

 

If this isn't the face you’re imagining, then you aren't doing it right.

If this isn’t the face you’re imagining, then you aren’t doing it right.

Anyway, I absolutely hate these performance reviews, which I suspect are only used to get retail workers in a room with their boss so that the boss can tell them how shitty of a job they’re doing, and talk about the worker’s future in what is, in reality, a soul sucking dead end job. Basically, the worker fills out the form giving themselves a 1-5 for each category (5 being awesome, 1 being just below a rotting mushroom in usefulness, or “needs improvement” as they call it). Then, the worker has about a 1 inch by 4 inch rectangle to explain why they think they deserve the number they chose. Maybe a week or so later, the worker is sat down in an office with a manager, who filled out the same form for the worker with his/ her own opinions, and then “discusses” with the worker why the worker was wrong for choosing those numbers. Finally (at my job at least) the sum of the boss’s numbers is calculated, and if it’s above 20, the worker gets a higher raise.  Because of this, that usually means that I tend to low ball my scores so that my bosses have no choice but tell me I’m doing a better job than that, which is something I already know. Yes, I’m a manipulative prick, but it makes me feel better about myself, so don’t judge.

As you can tell from these last two paragraphs, I don’t take this process seriously at all. I may have the self-restraint of some kind of superhuman wombat or something while I write out my annual performance review, but all I want to do is make jokes. Because, at the very least, it will make reading my review more entertaining for my bosses and it will make writing it less of a chore for me.

Sure that superhuman wombat remark was a little out there, but if it wasn’t for that this picture wouldn’t exist. And I for one think this picture is too cute to not exist.

Sure that superhuman wombat remark was a little out there, but if it wasn’t for that this picture wouldn’t exist. And I for one think this picture is too cute to not exist.

So below is what I would have written if I had the creative freedom to say what I wanted and not get penalized by not getting a raise. And since that at the time of posting, my bosses had given me my review and my well deserved raise, I have no qualms of posting this to the internet. Prepare your buttholes, because this is about to go in dry:

Prompt 1: Understands and follows company standards on safety.

  • Follows safety and health rules
  • Takes ownership of spills and eliminates unsafe working conditions
  • Works safely with equipment
  • Wears personal protective equipment as required

Team Member Rating: 5

Reason: I make it a point to never bring vials of flesh eating bacteria into the store, despite the store being a convenient place to try and sell them (After all, super villains need to buy groceries too). I always take ownership of spills by planting my personal flag over the spills and treating any situation in which a person tries to clean up the spill or walk through the spill as an act of war. I like to think I work safely with the equipment, that is, if you consider me riding the power jack around the back room while wearing a tri-corner hat and screaming “I’m fucking Nipple-Leon Boner Fart!” working safely.  I think it should count, since I haven’t caused any injuries or loss of product yet this month. As for the personal protective equipment, I would wear them when I’m required to, but I’ve made it a personal rule to NEVER have sex with someone while at work, therefore I have no need to wear condoms. I’m not sure why you guys even allow that. Is it because you can watch on the security cameras, you dirty pervs?

Prompt 2: Understands and follows company standards on sanitation and cleanliness.

  • Follows food preparation/ storage/ return guidelines
  • Properly maintains cleanliness of equipment, tables, utensils and floor
  • Contributes to an organized work environment
  • Contributes to department/ store passing Steritech and health department inspections

Team Member Rating: 5

Reason: Well, I’ve never seen the “Food preparation/ storage/ return guidelines” of legend, but I do have a basic understanding of keeping cold stuff cold, warm stuff warm, and frozen stuff frozen, so I think I have a handle on that one. Thanks for indirectly asking if I’m retarded. I used to do a very thorough job of cleaning the tables, but the folks in Prep Foods demanded that I stopped washing them like I was a sexy coed washing a car, so I stopped washing them all together. Those ungrateful bastards can wash their own tables. I always contribute to an organized work environment. If there is anything that I take seriously at this job (there isn’t) it’s that. In fact, the work environment would even be more organized if you would just let me open all the M&M bags and reorganize them by color and then staple them back together like I wanted. That one’s on you guys. Way to drop the ball. As for the Steritech and health department inspections (I assume you don’t capitalize Health Department because you’re rebels against authority) I have made it a point to never release rats, cockroaches, or lice infested howler monkeys into the store whenever those inspections occur.

Prompt 3: Understands and follows company standards on shrink.

  • Helps control shrink by properly handling product, perishable go-backs and/ or damaged items
  • Adheres to trim standards and portion control
  • Avoids over-production of product or over-stocking shelves
  • Rotates product properly (FIFO)
  • Accurately prices/ scans merchandise
  • Accurately verifies items received in order
  • Conducts regular display case/ cooler temperature checks and/ or scale checks

Team Member Rating: 5

Now, I would have given myself a 4 for this, but your blatant use of the word “Fifo” is offensive to my people, the giants (it comes from “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum” from Jack and the Beanstalk, if you didn’t already know). I was deeply offended by your thoughtless and malicious use of that word, and I felt that my compensation should be a higher score. See, I am a quarter giant (it only shows in the one place it counts, ladies), and as I’m sure you know most of the Giant race were mercilessly slaughtered by your people centuries ago. To this day, we have not been able to get our population levels back up, and many of my species has resorted to inbreeding, which as you could guess, and resulted in some unfortunate genetic mutations, like “Screeching Uterus” and “Arm Pit Testicles.” I escaped that fate only because my human grandfather was really into some big boned women.

But as I said, if it wasn’t for that horrible slur you used, I would have given myself a 4 because while I do everything else perfectly ( I handle the shit out of product until that fucking shrink is no longer interested in it) I do have a problem with rotating. My problem is that I’m not sure to what orientation do you want me the product. How much do I rotate? 90 degrees? 180 degrees? 270 degrees? No one ever told me; I was just told to rotate and was left to stare at the product and figure it out like some idiot. Since everything fits on the shelves so perfectly, I assume that you didn’t mean along the x, y plane, but instead along the x, z plane, so I’ve been rotating all the product so that the labels face the shelf. It seems kind of dumb to me, but hey; it’s your rule, not mine.

No one ever said that I was going to have to know fucking geometry for this job.

No one ever said that I was going to have to know fucking geometry for this job.

As I said, I do everything else correctly (you refuse to let me price or scan merchandise, so I don’t do that perfectly as well), but I want to give another example just to drive that point home. I check the temperatures in display cases/ coolers by hiding various alcoholic drinks in them for me to retrieve and consume throughout my work day.

Prompt 4: Understands and follows customer service strategy.

  • Welcomes and acknowledges customer with a smile and/ or friendly greeting
  • Asks and fulfills customer’s needs
  • Goes the extra mile and gives customer full attention
  • Thanks and invites customer back
  • Diffuses situation when an unpleasant shopping experience occurs
  • Seeks out customer contact
  • Solves customer problems
  • Answers and uses telephone/ intercom professionally

Team Member Rating: 4

Reason: I think we all remember the situation I’m referencing when I say “The Troll Fight Incident,” but in case you forgot, here it is. One day back in March I was going about my business, rotating the cereal so that you only saw the backs of the boxes, when a troll wandered into the store. For those of you who are unaware, trolls are the natural enemies of giants, and we had been at war with them long before Hu-mons walked the earth. So naturally, I grunted at it menacingly to let in know that it had stepped into giant territory and that it should leave, but it ignored me. As standard practice of my people, I cried my war cry, and then hopped on its back and attempted to bludgeon its head with my club. Well, hilariously, it turns out that it wasn’t a troll at all, but instead a rather large Hungarian woman named Ivana Hurkelmonchiconk (that isn’t her real last name; I just slammed my fingers on the keyboard. It produces the same effect of having a Hungarian last name, so I’m sticking with it.) I’m sure she’s laughing about the mix up now just as much as I am. Maybe more because I bet those prescription pain killers she got are probably very strong.

Other than that, I tend to think that I treat customers very well. I never spit in their faces (despite how much I think they deserve it), and I always answer the phone and use the intercom professionally after I’m done whispering “hard nipples” into it. However, as I mentioned earlier, I have made it a personal rule to not have sex with anyone while at work, and that has always included customers. But when I look at this review, it dawns on me that I might be not following one of the store’s rules by not having sex with them. After all, this prompt does ask if I, “Fulfill customer’s needs,” “Go the extra mile and give customer full attention,” and “Seek out customer contact.” Clearly, you want me to perform the Spring Break Tumble with our customers, so I promise to start propositioning them at my first opportunity.

Prompt 5: Attendance and Punctuality

  • Reports to work for scheduled shifts
  • Comes to work on time
  • Follows break and lunch guidelines

Team Member Rating: 2

Reason: I come to work whenever the hell I feel like it, I take my breaks whenever the hell I feel like it, and I leave whenever the hell I feel like it. You like that I’m a rebel, don’t you, baby. That’s right, I’m bad news. Also, I have no clue what my schedule is like each week, because you guys have forgotten to put me on the schedule for the last two years. If you fix that, then I will know what time to come it (and I will promptly ignore it).

Prompt 6: Grooming and Apperance

  • Presents a professional appearance
  • Adheres to the dress code policy
  • Personal hygiene
  • Appropriate body language
  • Approachable
  • Has a positive attitude about his/ her job
  • Wears a name tag

Team Member Rating: 5

Have you fucking seen me? I’m glorious. Every time I enter the store, I am carried in by millions of butterflies as golden beams of light wash over me and celestial horns ring out a melody so heavenly, that even the angels fall to their knees and weep tears of exuberant joy. Instinctively, customers, coworkers, bosses, and security guards  bow to me and avert their gaze, knowing that the embodiment of perfection is before them, and that their puny, mortal, Hu-mon eyes could never register something so beautiful without catching on fire.

And since no one looks directly at me, go ahead and assume I’m properly dressed, and not at all naked 100% of the time.

Prompt 7: Job Knowledge and performance

  • Knows his/ her job responsibilities
  • Understands and follows department and company policies
  • Communicates well with others
  • Uses time wisely and effectively
  • Gets along well with fellow team members
  • Adapts well to change

Team Member Rating: 1

Reason: Let’s be honest, I have no clue what the fuck I’m supposed to be doing when I come in to work. I assume it’s to test the delicious, delicious food for poisons to protect the customers. I don’t have the slightest knowledge of the department or store’s policies, let alone understand them, I don’t communicate well with others (no one here speaks giant), I only use my time wisely and effectively if taking regular naps and poop breaks are wise and effective uses of my time, and I only get along with my fellow team members if they respect my glorious image and remember that are lowly Hu-mons deserving of my hatred. And as for change… Change? WHO SAID ANYTHING ABOUT CHANGE?!?!?! MINIGAN FEARS CHANGE!!! AAARRRGGGGHHHH!!!!!!

OK, who mentioned the word “change” to Minigan again?

OK, who mentioned the word “change” to Minigan again?

 

Alright, that’s all for now. Peace be with you-violently.

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