LNH: Hungry, Hungry Sabertooths! #14: "A Grand Night In"

Drew Nilium pwerdna at gmail.com
Tue Oct 20 21:52:44 PDT 2020

#14: "A Grand Night In"
A tale of sleepless regret and waking possibility, by Drew Nilium


April 23rd, 2020.
2:03 AM.
The night after the battle between UltraKiwi and Vendoridon Megafatalis, and
before Net.ropolis gets sealed in the Super Quarantine Field.
Got that, Masterplan Lad???


Blankets twist with uneasy dreams, soaked in sweat, mouth dry too long, no
sweet nepenthe, just floating down mnemosyne, an old spring winding, a loop
curling in on itself, tighter and tighter, until it's ready to...

Toony Stork's eyes open, and he stares into the warm darkness. Damn. Another
restless night. What was he buying those melatonin supplements for, anyway?

He sits up in bed, pushing the blankets back. Reaches for the end table;
there's about an eighth of a glass of water there, room-temperature, but he
drinks it anyway. In this dark and stinging mood, with the top of his head
screwed on too tight, he'd rather have a screwdriver to loosen it; but he'd
sworn off casual drinking, ever since...

He tries to suck the fuzz off his teeth. It's been years since the Dorf
invasion, years since he'd stopped carrying the silent weight of the worst
trauma of his life, since he'd stopped punishing himself for the compromises
he'd made to try to save the world from the Bryttle Brothers. It had felt good.
Real good. And he'd decided to be less like Irony Man, super-genius businessman
who knew what was right for the LNH and the world, and more like the guy who
had actually saved the world, by being honest and open and real.

So he'd gone back to the world of business, of high finance, and started using
the profits from his company to fund not just the LNH, but good causes around
the world. And it felt good to do that, but... he kept noticing things he
didn't before. Things that just didn't feel right. Like, why was he donating
his stock dividends to a charity that ran food banks, if the company giving him
the dividends got them by underpaying their employees so badly they had to go
to a food bank just to stay afloat? Should he be pouring money into getting
underprivileged people insulin if that money was just going to go into the
pockets of the people who had jacked up the price? Did it even make sense to
feed the homeless out of the profits from real estate?

Hex Luthor had been a businessman before he had been President, and his
corruption and compromise was a tiny fraction of the corruption and compromise
in the world that surrounded Toony now. But he wasn't the person who could fix
this world, either. And he'd been a businessman before he'd been a net.hero,
and if he wasn't one of those, what else could he even be?

Ugh. Okay, this is making his head hurt more. He gets up, grabs his glass, and
trudges to the kitchen. He pours himself some water, shakes out a couple
ibuprofen, swallows them, and opens up the fridge.

He's sworn off booze, but midnight cheesecake seems like an acceptable vice.
The bakery had only had chocolate, strawberry, and oreo, not like the old days
of taco salad cheesecake, but it'd do.

He pulls out the little plastic container, stands up, closes the fridge, and
sees the robed figure standing before him.

"Bwaugh!" Toony trips backwards and grabs the freezer door to try and slow his
fall; it comes open, and he goes WHUMPF! on his back; out of the freezer falls
a frozen ham, hitting him right in the gut, and he *wheezes*. A moment after,
the cheesecake splats in his face.

All is quiet for a moment. Then the robed figure leans forward, holding out a
hand. "Grandfather."

"Whu... wha..." Toony scrapes cheesecake out of his eyes and pushes the ham off
his belly. He squints at the figure, taking the offered hand and pulling himself
to his feet - noting that, despite her small form, she does not stagger even
slightly lifting his weight. And the robe looks - and smells - familiar...
"You're theeee.... *fourth* Time Crapper, right? The girl one?"

"Indeed." The Time Crapper took a dish towel and cleaned the cheesecake off her
hand. "If you were to leave now and go to your private superjet, you could be
in Net.ropolis in a few hours. You could sleep in your penthouse there. Or you
could stay up, and watch the sun rise. Whichever you would prefer, ultimately."

Toony pauses. "...I certainly *could* do that. Is there a reason I should?"

The Time Crapper stands there for a moment. She lays the towel down on the
counter and starts walking down the hall. Toony follows her, feeling just a bit
like the stranger in his own chalet.

The Time Crapper stops in front of a mahogany grandfather clock with a golden
pendulum, given to Toony by some college or other. She lays her hand on the
side, feeling the heavy weight swing back and forth. "...when I gained my own
sense of identity, it came with an extremely broad perspective - too broad to
include most individual lives. I am curious, intellectually, about what it is
to be a person. So I have decided to try caring about... family."

...well, Toony certainly doesn't *know* about any biological offspring, if he
has them. But then, those aren't the only kind of family - especially for a
being like this.

The Time Crapper puts her hand on the handle of the casing. "Go to Net.ropolis,
Grandfather. And be in the city before 11:02 AM." She pulls it open, and there
is a burst of light that Toony flinches back from; and when it fades, she is

Well. There's no particular reason he should follow her instructions. And yet...

In five minutes, Toony Stork is taking a shower. In fifteen, he is putting on
fresh clothes. In thirty, he is speeding down the road. And in the morning...
maybe he'll have cheesecake for breakfast.


Drew "filling in the time" Nilium

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