LNH: Easily-Discovered Man #53 (1/2)
robrogers72 at gmail.com
Thu Jul 19 13:19:10 PDT 2012
Doused with microwave radiation, Theodore Wong gained the
ability to glow and be detected at great distances by anyone
with a Geiger counter. Forced to retire, Wong has left former
sidekick Lite to continue his battle against the forces of
corruption, chaos and common sense, and to carry on the
legacy of the fabulous EASILY-DISCOVERED MAN.
The following takes place sometime after issue #9 of the
Legion of Net.Heroes mini-series "Beige Countdown."
-----Previously on "The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man"----
Having pledged to track down and capture the murderer
of their greatest foe, the villainous WAFFLE QUEEN, Easily-
Discovered Man and Easily-Discovered Man Lite began their
investigation -- only to be delayed by the world-spanning
event known as the "Infinite Leadership Crisis."
Returning from the event, the pair found that Lite's
friend, the SCREEN SAVER, stood accused of the Waffle Queen's
murder, that a criminal mastermind known as MYNABIRD was
obsessed with killing Lite, and that Lite himself had lost
his membership in the Legion of Net.Heroes.
With friends Cynical Lass and Substitute Lad sent into
space to battle Mynabird's villainy -- and Easily-Discovered
Man himself driven by family and friends to renounce his name
and powers -- a hunted, harried Easily-Discovered Man Lite
must continue the quest for the Waffle Queen's killer
Before continuing his story, however, 'The Adventures
of Easily-Discovered Man' would like to provide its readers
with yet another behind-the-scenes look at the activities
of its cast...
--EDM-- --EDM-- --EDM--
"Hey, Cyn. Whatcha doing?" I asked, peering over
Cynical Lass' shoulder at the shimmering blue screen of
"No touchie!" Cynical Lass snapped, starting to
close the computer's cover. I placed a finger in the
"Hey... are you writing something?" I asked.
"Maybe," Cynical Lass grumbled.
"So it's existential," I said.
Cynical Lass sighed. "I may or may not... be working
on a paranormal romance novel."
"No kidding," I said. "So is this a 'hot woman in black
catsuit meets tormented vampire' book or a 'ruffled shirt
vampires mope around New Orleans house filled with atmosphere
and homoerotic subtext' thing?"
Cynical Lass rolled her eyes. "Please," she said.
"Vampire novels are so 2005."
"Okay," I said. "What then? Werewolves?"
"Do I look like a furry lover to you?" she asked.
"Do you really want me to answer that?"
"No," she said. "And I'm not writing about ghosts,
either. I'm taking the paranormal romance genre to its
I scratched my head. "Women who are so in love with
the idea of death that they conclude existence itself is
meaningless, and cheerfully accept a lifetime of slow
decay with a shirtless, balding man in a trailer park?"
"Lovecraftian cosmic horror romance," she said.
"Oh please no."
"Don't be so dismissive," Cynical Lass said, taking
her laptop from the desk and sitting cross-legged on her
bed. "The heroine of many romance novels is a smart,
beautiful, capable woman whose attributes have somehow
been overlooked by the world.
"And the central theme of Lovecraft's work is the
notion that humanity is at the mercy of horrific
supernatural forces that do not care about us one way or
another," Cynical Lass said, clapping her hands
together for emphasis. "It's the perfect match!"
"I am likely going to regret this more than I have
ever regretted asking anyone anything," I said, "but
how in the world are you going to make Cthulu... sparkly?"
Cynical Lass shook her head. "There's no need to
dumb it down," she said. "Your classic male protagonist
in a romance novel is tall... dark... powerful... and aloof.
Very, very aloof," she said.
"With the head of a giant octopus?"
"Women aren't like men," Cynical Lass said,
poking me in the chest with her finger as Substitute
Lad walked past the door of her room.
"We aren't fixated on surface images," she said.
"What we care about... what we fall in love with...
is the soul beneath. Especially if it's an old, old soul."
I edged around Cynical Lass so that I could
read the title at the top of her screen.
"_R'yelehan Encounter_," I read. "Well, I've
got to hand it to you, Cyn. You've really come up
with something original. I'd love to read it
when you're done."
"No you wouldn't."
"Okay," I admitted. "I'd love to read it when
someone has drawn pictures to go with it."
"No, you really wouldn't."
"Okay," I said. "But I have the feeling that
people who like reading about tentacled monsters...
and the long-suffering -- and I mean really, really
long-suffering -- women who love them... are going
to eat this stuff up."
"Thanks," said Cynical Lass, giving me the tiniest
of pecks on my cheek. "That may be the most
encouraging thing you've ever said to me."
She returned to her keyboard, and I left her room.
Substitute Lad stood outside, shaking his head.
"I can't believe you said you thought what she's
writing was a good idea," he said.
"Hey, I'm always the first to support the creative
output of my friends," I said. "Besides, have you read
the last thing she was working on?"
"No," Substitute Lad said. "What was that?"
"Discworld erotica," I replied. "She called it
_Fifty Shades of Octarine_."
We now present episode #53 of "The Adventures of Easily-
Discovered Man," "Barnstorming, "in Real 3-D whereever
people are foolish enough to pay for it. Enjoy.
--EDM-- --EDM-- --EDM--
The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man #53
Rob Rogers Rob Rogers
This is where I am now: on my back, the straw and
splintered floorboards and things I don't want to
think about digging into the base of my neck as the
zombie reaches for my throat.
I bring my spatula up -- hard -- under its chin,
but apart from a briefly satisfying "thwack," the
creature takes no notice of the blow, its long-dead
eyes rolling back in its head as it lunges forward.
"Penny! Go for the door!" I shout, then realize
it's too late, that the other zombies have already
blocked the entrance to the barn. I hear Penelope
screaming, hear feet shuffling toward her... and
then blackness, nothing, as the cold claws close
around my windpipe...
--EDM-- --EDM-- --EDM--
This is where I was, eleven hours ago: pretending to
read a newspaper in a booth at the Waffle Palace in Mount
Roosevelt, Ohio, my aching back propped against the plastic
cushions, my eyes fixed on the door.
The door, as doors tend to do, opened.
"Hey, I just met you. And this is crazy," she sang,
her back to me as she flipped the sign hanging on the door
from "CLOSED" to "OPEN." Her hair was pulled back into a
long red ponytail; her ears were covered by the kind of cheap
blue plastic headphones you get on an airplane.
"But here's my number. So call me mayb..." she
continued, before turning around and seeing me in the booth.
"We don't open for another hour," she said, removing
the headphones from her ears.
"Hello, Penelope," I said.
She stared, long enough to make me uncomfortable, and
then her perfect little pink mouth formed syllables I
recognized as "Oh" and "My." Before she could get any
further, however, she found her voice, and my name.
"Hector Far-reaching Lopez," she said, though the
actual word she used in place of my middle name was not
"far-reaching." "What the far-reaching are you doing in
Penelope Laine had been wearing a cheerleader's
uniform the first time we'd met. She had also been
holding a pitchfork and attacking the Prof and I in
a murderous rage, being under the control of someone
called Pointless Death Man, who had turned Penelope
and most of her classmates at Mount Roosevelt High
into something like zombies [in Easily-Discovered Man
#30 -- Footnote Girl].
It was the cheerleader's uniform I remembered.
"I was hoping for breakfast. But I'd settle for
coffee," I said, as Penelope tucked her iPod and headphones
into the pocket of her apron, her eyes never leaving mine.
"You know, most of my exes either stalk me on
Facebook or send me long, drunken text messages," Penelope
said. "I suppose I should be flattered that you actually
came to see me after all this time."
My eyes found something interesting on the table
in front of me.
"You didn't come all the way out here from Net.ropolis
just to see me, did you?" she said.
"It was really kind of an added bonus," I admitted.
"You're far-reaching incredible," she said, in a manner
that suggested she meant very nearly the opposite. "I'll
make the coffee."
I'd met Penelope after coming to Mount Roosevelt in
order to help some guy named Trevor Blount repossess a
of shape-shifting supernatural monster that had escaped
from Hell. (Easily-Discovered Man and I did that sort of
thing all the time, in those days).
We hadn't really succeeded; as far as I knew, Blount
was still out there, somewhere, chasing after his escaped
wraith. But we'd managed to free the town of Mount
Roosevelt from Pointless Death Man's control, and I'd
managed to ask Penelope for her phone number, something I
now wished I'd used more often in the last two years.
"So," she said, placing a steaming cup of coffee in
front of me with a degree of force that suggested she
hoped a spider was crawling under it, "What made you
choose Mount Roosevelt as a place to hide out?"
I looked up at her. "I'm not in hiding, Penelope."
"Hello?" she said, snatching up my newspaper and
waving it in front of my face. "We do know how to read
in Mount Roosevelt, you know. 'Criminal Mastermind
Hunts Easily-Discovered Man Lite.' 'Easily-Discovered
Man Lite Thrown Out of Legion of Net.Heroes.' 'Former
Sidekick Blamed As Easily-Discovered Man Quits.'
'Mastermind Targets Easily-Discovered Man Lite's
Music Collection...' "
"Oh, man. They trashed my CDs?" I said, taking
the newspaper from her hands.
"I don't know what you got yourself into, Hector,"
Penelope said, sliding into the booth across from me.
"But did you really think you could hide from it in
Ohio? In Mount Roosevelt? Do you know that when
Missy Chitterling got herself pregnant last summer, the
whole town knew about it before her little pee-stick
had even turned blue?"
"I was not aware of that," I said. "Learning to
keep secrets is not something you pick up working with
a guy called Easily-Discovered Man. And besides, I
already told you: I'm not running away from anything."
"Then why are you here?" she asked, then looked
past me at the framed photographs covering nearly
every square inch of wall space within the Waffle
Palace, the plaques that covered the rest, the
large cardboard cutout by the front door.
She exhaled, leaning back in her seat.
"It's because of her," she said. "Isn't it?"
I looked at the cardboard cutout myself. I'd
had plenty of time to examine it while jimmying the lock
on the restaurant's door that morning. Like almost every
other photograph in the establishment, it showed a somewhat
younger version of the woman who had made the restaurant
famous: Constance Schlubb, otherwise known as the Waffle
"I'm trying to find out who killed her," I said.
"I thought the police had a suspect," Penelope said.
"They do. But -- and this is speaking as someone who
has the greatest respect for the police, who has seen nearly
every episode of _Law & Order_, including the creepy
spin-off with Vincent D'Onofrio -- I think I know a little
bit more about the world of super-villains than they do."
"Super...? Oh, right," Penelope said, rolling her
eyes. "You're one of those people who still thinks Connie
Schlubb was some kind of criminal."
"Well, she did try to bake me into a giant waffle."
"Are you sure that was her?" Penelope asked.
"She also took control of my mind and the minds of my
family and friends, and tried to do the same to the
entire city of Net.ropolis," I said.
"That was just a bad element in her marketing
department," Penelope said. "Everybody knows that."
"She sent killer robots after me," I said. "And
we had a sword fight. Well, a sword versus spatula fight."
"Look," Penelope said, raising her hands. "I'm not
saying Connie Schlubb didn't have her ways. Lord knows
she wasn't the easiest person in the world to work for.
But she put a lot of people to work in this town. And
she gave me my first job."
"Me too," I said.
I hadn't known during my one -- and as far as I knew,
only -- trip to Mount Roosevelt that the town had once
been the home of Constance Schlubb, and the beachhead
from which she had launched her restaurant empire.
(In retrospect, however, it made sense. After seeing
all the Bob Evans, Denny's and other "family"-themed
restaurants clustered between Colum.bus and Mount Roosevelt
-- all of them mobbed by eager diners -- I had become
convinced that no one in northeast Ohio was capable of
cooking breakfast on their own).
"Okay," Penelope said, leaning one of her freckled
elbows against the table and propping her head upon it.
"Despite the fact that you no longer work for Easily-
Discovered Man, that Easily-Discovered Man himself no
longer exists and that a crazed madman and his super-villain
army are trying to kill you, you've come to the middle of
Ohio to find out who may have murdered the woman you believe
to be your greatest enemy."
"That is a remarkably concise way of putting it."
"I don't buy it," Penelope said.
"I made someone a promise. And," I continued, because
I could tell she didn't buy that, either, "...and, it's the
sort of thing the Prof... that Easily-Discovered Man would
Penelope stared at me for a long time.
"Breakfast rush is going to start any minute," she said,
looking over her shoulder at the door. "What makes you
think you'll find what you're looking for in Mount
I opened my wallet. "This," I said, taking out a
photograph and sliding it towards her.
(Part II follows).
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