LNH: Dashing Tales #4

Andrew Perron pwerdna at gmail.com
Sat Sep 5 23:26:22 PDT 2015

On 9/5/2015 12:37 AM, Ben Rawluk wrote:
>You'd think Hell -- whichever Hell this is -- would be teeming with the lost
 > and damned. But it isn't -- trailing through a bloated, festering maze of
 > bowels, not a single person of any description.

Hmmmmm. Going with the "the afterlife is what you think it is" description, 
perhaps this is Bogus's personal hell.

 > Maybe some of the organic sludge sluicing past their feet used to be people.
 > They're in the belly of a beast, after all; maybe this Hell is digestion.

Euuuuuugh. That's *nicely* disturbing. @.@ ACRA-level.

 > Then he hunts around awkwardly for a solid minute before producing a lighter.
 > "Stupid thing," he says, and then tries to light it.. No. Again. No. Again.
 > No. Again -- yes -- there is a sudden flash and a loud bang, a fireball
 > expanding from the lighter and briefly overtaking Bogus's face.

You really should have predicted this, dude. XD

 > "I can get us out of this," he says, and Emma searches his face for evidence
 > of betrayal. He's down here, right? He wouldn't come down here if he couldn't
 > pull himself back up.
 > He refuses to explain why he "saved" her, still.


 > "Emergency feeds have been rerouted to the Auxiliary Mission Monitor Room,"
 > say Mashup Laq, not bothering to look up from their LNH-brand Synthezoid
 > Phone.


 > Mashup Laq pauses in their wandering in front of him. They're very cute,
 > white eyeshadow on one side and purple on the other. They say, very
 > cautiously, "Are you all right?" Like he's a bystander. Is that what it's
 > like for every new Legionnaire? Not that he can do anything, anyway.
 > "I'm fine," he says, but he doesn't commit to the words and stares down at
 > his boots.
 > Mashup Laq reaches out, but withdraws their hand. "It's all right if you're
 > aren't."

Very good moment. <3 <3 <3

> Occultism Kid's movements are very precise, very spare. He tilts his head by a degree.

DEFINING HOW CHARACTERS ACT. I really need to learn how to do this level of 

 > "What on Earth was a Netizen reporter doing in here?" He swivels on Stomper
 > then. Is he even aware that Marco is in the room? "You know who reads the
 > Netizen? Trenchcoaters looking for coded insults from each other in the
 > classifieds. We shouldn't be walking their reporters by sensitive
 > information--"

Man. I've got to wonder how it got *such* a negative reputation. o.o This goes 
beyond National Enquirer, into The Sun territory.

 > Sparks begin to fly from Occultism Kid's fine blond hair. "People like
 > Clement Bogus are one step away from being villains--" His hair lights on
 > fire. He freezes, staring upward and sniffing. Something in the ceiling
 > clicks and hums, and then a fire sprinkler right above Occultism Kid switches
 > on. Eyes narrow, he says, "You get what I'm saying."

That's so great. XD

 > They don't know anything about him. They're trying to help and all Marco can
 > think about is being an intern for the Netizen, being the lowest of the low,
 > getting coffee for an asshole like Mister King, how if they knew they'd yank
 > the communicator right out of his hand. "Maybe I should take you to
 > Administration, get you assigned some quarters." They keep looking at the
 > swim goggles, and he feels stupid. They look up and down and their eyes flick
 > back to his face. "If you want to meet New Look Lass, maybe--"


 > Bogus starts to open his mouth when the something slithers by again, slowly..
 > And then she feels garbage breath on the back of her neck. She turns, but
 > nothing, and then the smell is behind her again.
 > "Fascinating," says a voice.
 > "Bogus?"
 > "That wasn't me."
 > Emma closes her eyes tight. Breath like boiled cabbage, rotten fruit,
 > something like meat. "Emma Dash," she says. "Net.ropolis Netizen. Do you have
 > time for an interview?"

SO rad.

 > It takes him an hour of wandering the hallways before he finds an abandoned
 > corridor. An hour with his eyes on the ground, avoiding eye contact.
 > Sometimes he runs into the same people two or three times, like the hallways
 > are looking back on themselves, like the whole building is a strange fractal
 > of architecture.
 > If he'd taken Mashup Laq on their offer, he could have quarters right now, he
 > could have a locked room between him and the rest of the world.


 > "Coke," he says. "Who drinks Coke? Why do they have a Coke machine?" Doesn't
 > everybody drink Mr. Paprika? Didn't Coke die out after Coke Zero?

You've created a situation where Coca-Cola is an element of the uncanny. 
Congratulations. <3

 > "Sorry," she says. Does she sound sorry? "Irma told me there was a another
 > poet." She smiles and he tries not to resent her. April has a book. Marco sat
 > through the launch party, the readings. He has a copy on his desk at home.
 > He's made a point of avoiding the reviews, because they're probably good;
 > even lukewarm ones would feel like a knife. "I'm Sonnet Queen. I mean, I'm
 > calling myself Sonnet Queen."

As I knew, the offhand reference came back in the best way.

 > He turns, to peer down into the darkness. "I don't know. I was looking for a
 > place to be alone and eventually -- well, the hallways lead me here."

<3 <3 <3

 > "When I joined the Legion, Research Lass took me aside," she says. Her voice
 > has gone quiet, and she's leaning in, like they're drunk at a party somewhere
 > on the East Side, like they're at that part of being drunk where they think
 > they're friends. "She told me: to make it in the LNH, you have to be the hero
 > in your own story." She grins. "So maybe we should solve the mystery."

Hell fucking yes.

>The Archbishop is a long, slender centipede, with a slick humanoid face --
 > only the face looks like plasticine, like they've molded it and slapped it on
 > over whatever creepy pincers and compound eyes are under there.

rrrrrgh good description. JEALOUSY.

 > They've wrapped themselves around Bogus, tight, boa-constrictor-style. This
 > is probably supposed to be a threat.


 > "This one already belongs to me, you know. But I know a hero when I smell
 > one."

<3 <3 <3 <3 <3

> "I'm a reporter. And you said it yourself: I'm a hero."
> (She's trying not to fall apart right now.)


 > How old is Occultism Kid, anyway? Right now, he looks so boyish, not that
 > much older than Marco, but when he was in here before, he looked closer to
 > middle-aged. It's almost like there's a film over him, shimmering and
 > rippling when he moves, when he turns around.

Interesting. o.o I wonder...

 > Marco blinks. Occultism Kid is looking at him. Marco looks away. He doesn't
 > want to -- Emma would crack a joke about him having a thing for trenchcoaters.

Awwwwwwww. <3

> Anyway, he got dumped two days ago!

Awwwwwwwwww! <3 <3 <3

 > "You're thinking about her," says Occultism Kid. "I can feel like thoughts
 > pooling in the space around the hole." He gestures, vaguely, in the direction
 > of the burn marks. Marco must make a face because he adds, "Don't worry! It's
 > more like empathy. I'm not reading your thoughts." Maybe he's blushing.
 > "You're -- I can get a good bead on the emotional landscape of your
 > friendship. Okay. Yes."

Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww! <3 <3 <3 <3 <3

 > Occultism Kid closes his eyes, tucks his chin against his chest and snaps his
 > fingers. The light quality in the Mission Monitor Room changes -- blue 
screens go dark. Mood lighting. Marco blinks, and finds five black candles and a 
piece of white chalk hovering in the air in front of him. "I need a pentagram 
with a candle at each point," Occultism Kid says. The chalk drifts over to 
April, who catches it and gets to work immediately. The candles settle into 
Marco's outstretched hands. He didn't even realize he was holding them open. 
"There's a plotline running between you and here. Your friend. Emma?  Emma. I 
can use that to reel her back." He frowns. "You ran off before. I didn't have a 
chance to--" His mouth snaps shut. "No, skip the angst, focus on finding her. 
It's okay."

This paragraph combines good characterization, good character *interaction*, 
good description, good off-the-cuff metafiction, and good urban fantasy. WHO 

 > "That's actually really creepy," says Marco, and he brandishes a candle in
 > front of him.


 > "We're supposed to protect the regular folks from the bad stuff." Occultism
 > Kid turns with a flourish, trenchcoat fanning out behind him. He looks like
 > everything Clement Bogus wants to be. "And this junk is my bag. So I'll be
 > your co-pilot in finding your friend."

Heck yeah!

 > Marco looks up. Appropriate power. He looks down at the candles again. He
 > holds them up to his mouth, and he whispers. It takes exactly one stanza --
 > whispered, he doesn't want to hurt anybody -- but every single wick bursts
 > into flame. It is aggressive, angry flame, and he has to pull back to stop
 > himself from getting burnt. "Crap!"

Hmmmmmm. Net.elemental? o.o Either way, this is great. (Yes I'm a broken record, 
no I don't care.)

  He admits the lines don't scan very well. He looks up -- surprised, maybe a 
little singed -- and Occultism Kid is watching him. Marco looks away. Marco 
walks in a slow circle around the pentagram, setting out candles at each point 
before stepping across the chalk line. "What now?"

 > "This is really basic summoning spell," Occultism Kid says, but he's gritting
 > his teeth. He bites down on his words and his eyes glow, the pupils vanishing.
 > So creepy!


 > "Only room for one," says Occultism Kid, pulling at Marco's chin until
 > they're looking into each other's eyes and suddenly Marco is really, really
 > uncomfortable with the situation. Life and death occult death trap. Right.
 > This isn't a thing. This isn't going to be a thing.

Yesssss, I ship it

 > -- before things flicker, and speed up, and there's an explosion, like meat
 > sauce splattering in a microwave, and Marco stumbles backwards, Emma Dash
 > suddenly in his arms, and she's shrieking at him. "I was in the middle of an
 > interview, you jerk!"

Oh, Emma. Never change. <3 (By which I mean keep growing as a person but stay 
true to your fundamental self 'cos it's rad. <3)

 > Mashup Laq is the creation of Andrew Perron, and I one-hundred-percent
 > promise they will get way more attention the next time I write them.

I'm guessing you copy-and-pasted this without thinking about it, because you 
gave them a *lot* of good attention here. :D

Andrew "NO .SIG MAN" "Juan" Perron, there's another one, holy BALLS

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