From the author: The International League of Girls With Guns, the world's mightiest super-heroines, are interrupted during one of their weekly game nights when the enemy of one of them plots their destruction. Can they escape the trap they become imprisoned in-without killing each or other or damaging their friendship in the process?
By David Perlmutter
You might think that we superheroes exist in an alert and sterile world of our own. That we concentrate almost exclusively on locating acts of evil, big and small, all over the world and beyond, and that, as a result, we don’t have what you would call “real” lives, in which we can pursue recreation and romance and so forth in anonymity, away from your prying, insinuating eyes.
Nothing could be further from the truth. And, honestly, even someone like you, who spends so much time talking to us and getting us to talk about our adventures for your readers, can’t really get to the bottom of it.
Not that there’s anything dirty we’re keeping from you. Me and my gal pals aren’t those types at all, which is why we’re heroes and our less honourable enemies are villains. No. We wouldn’t be going into explaining this if it hadn’t coincided with our latest adventure together, and some of us don’t want the secret given away, even though I think it’s unlikely anyone’s gonna horn in on our privacy just because we tell you. Those who have done so already know the consequences of that.
What I’m talking about is probably the centerpiece of our five-member organization, the International League of Girls with Guns (meaning muscles (metaphorically), not firearms). What defines us as a group beyond our super-heroic exploits….
Aw, c’mon, MG! Don’t tell ‘em!
Yeah. Suppose they find out where we do it….
…and what we do during it…
NO! We agreed that, given what happened, we have to explain what it is to set the scene.
No more excuses! You think people will seriously want in on our private action just ‘cause we tell them about it? I doubt that. Please carry on, MG.
Sure. I’m talking about….our game night!
There, you see! Nothing happened! We’re perfectly safe. Unlike…..then….
May I continue?
On every Friday night we can manage it, the five of us…
-Candy Girl, the Titan of Teens, whose emerald ring empowers her with awe inspiring physical strength and speed, as well as a green light that can cut through any surface it touches; wearing her monogrammed purple sweatshirt and sweat pants, brown work boots, and red belt, in addition to her sharp black eyes and stylish, long, light red hair…
-Power Bunny, the most powerful humanized rabbit in the universe, able to shape light to her will and perform vast feats of daring; wearing her blue sweater-and-skirt combo with a white fringe….
-Cerberus, the world’s mightiest puppy, far faster, stronger, and smarter than any of her fellow dogs- and sometimes the rest of us as well; wearing her monogrammed white T shirt over her white, liver-spotted fur…
-The Brat, who looks like a blond-haired toddler, but is actually a mighty, and adult, cyborg alien from a distant planet; wearing her white skirt and boots, blue cardigan sweater, and monogrammed white T shirt…
-…and myself, Muscle Girl, the mightiest and most formidable pre-adolescent girl in the known universe; wearing pig-tailed blond hair, pink monogrammed shirt and tights, white monogrammed panties and cape, and silver boots…
…gather for what we consider to be the greatest test we can manage for our super-powerful minds and super-enhanced senses and reflexes imaginable.
We play cards.
What? You were expecting something more elaborate, maybe? Like a fight simulation program or something? Don’t be ridiculous. We do enough of that stuff on the job as it is.
Yeah. Cards are more fun.
Easy for you to say. You girls always whip my ass!
Don’t take it so seriously, Candy. It’s not like we’re playing for money or anything. It’s just hanging out time.
Yeah. But it’d be more fun for me if I….
Uh….girls? I thought I was gonna set up things here, and then you could…
Right. Sorry, MG.
As I was saying, when the club was first established, we didn’t know each other that well, owing to the fact that most of our paths had never crossed prior to the big inter-dimensional universe crisis that brought us together “professionally” for the first time. I knew Cerberus beforehand, as she was a mentor figure to me when I was starting out, but I wasn’t too sure about the others. But we clicked; our powers complemented each other, and our problem was soon solved. Socially, beyond super stuff, we still weren’t sure until we decided to play cards to celebrate the win. Then we discovered we were all on the same wavelength beyond fighting evil. Taste in music, books, boys, you name it. Which was discovered chiefly through employing our mental powers more than anything else…
Except me. My powers don’t include that stuff. But, boy, did they find out stuff about me that…
Besides which, we genuinely enjoyed each other’s company, which is just as important for the functioning of any superhero team as any playbook of potential fight plans. And, for five gals who have always had a lot of difficulty making true friendships and keeping them intact, that was mucho important.
I’ll say. Maybe I look like I’m popular, but I’m not. You girls are the closest thing to best friends I’m gonna get. No-scratch that. You are my best friends.
Anyhow, you can clearly understand that game night is important to us, for any number of reasons. And, considering that we have school, and day jobs, and so on, on top of our solo super careers, we can’t get together that often. This is when we have time for each other, precious as it is, and we guard it like mother dogs do their pups…
….something that I’ll never get to experience….
…against those who try to take it from us. Like the time we’re gonna talk about now.
We’d gathered, like usual, for our night of fun, at the space station orbiting Earth which serves as our “clubhouse”, and started in on our games.
And don’t think we play kid stuff. None of those baby jobs for us. We play all the games adults do. Poker, blackjack, euchre, canasta, gin rummy, stuff like that.
I love gin rummy. It sounds like we’re drinking, and since most of us are minors…I mean, legally, we can’t…
I think they get it.
Well, what happened that night was that we’d just finished our first hand of poker…
Which, for the record, I won, with a Royal Flush….
Even though I had three aces…
…when we were suddenly forced into a much more dangerous scenario, which had much greater stakes involved than our little dealing and shuffling party could ever have…
You got a real way with words, MG.
It started when the lights went out on us. Our first thoughts were that it was one of two things: a) that we’d failed to pay our electric bill…
Which was absurd, since we didn’t actually have to pay one…
….or, more likely, b) that one of our enemies was screwing with us.
Specifically, two of mine.
Scylla and Charybdis are these nasty as hell teenage twin sorcerers who go to school undercover at the same school I go to- as my “normal” secret identity, I mean. Even though they’re physically cute, morally they’re about as low as the mythological monsters they were named for. Scylla’s the boss; Charybdis tends to go along for the ride most of the time. Together or apart, though, they can be a totally nasty pair. I recognized that it was them as soon as I heard Scylla do her maniacal, cackling villain laugh as soon as the lights went down.
“This is not funny, Scylla!” I snapped.
“It’s not supposed to be, CANDACE!” her disembodied voice growled back.
“I don’t know,” said Charybdis, in his perennially effeminate tones and the same disembodied manner. “With you lot, it’s always funny.”
“Shut up, Charybdis!” Scylla snapped. “Your cheap attempts at LEVITY are not helping!”
“Well, you won’t let me do…”
“So…” inquired PB, “when, exactly, are you going to put the lights back on?”
“Let me transport you to a place where you’ll have plenty of light thrown on you!” Scylla pronounced.
And the next moment, the five of us were flying out of the satellite and towards Earth. But not through our own power!
I’ll say. We were never more scared in all our lives. It was as if some invisible hands had grabbed our shirts and was pulling us down….
…with a grip so strong none of us could break it. Which is really saying something!
It had to be stronger than we were in order to capture us. And the impact upon landing was so shattering that I’m surprised we weren’t killed.
Well, that’s Scylla and Charybdis for you. They think, if they throw their magical muscles around strongly enough, their enemies will crack up easy and surrender. That worked for the demonic forces they got their powers from, but we’re made of sterner stuff than that….I mean, you girls are, anyway…
Oh, come on, Candy! It wasn’t that bad. And you’re certainly as brave as the rest of us…
I didn’t feel like that then. I felt humiliated. I can barely talk about what happened next…
Allow me, then.
No sooner had we fallen to Earth en masse, through the services of the Magic Rat and her doofus associate, than they finally deigned to appear in front of us in human form. She with ugly blue hair, he with even uglier chartreuse locks, both of them wearing expensive looking, finely tailored black pantsuits that made our outfits look like rags by comparison. From the looks on their faces, they seemed unwilling to grant us mercy, but neither would we give them any. Especially if we had to fight them- and that, as it often does, seemed like the only way we could get out of this trap intact.
I was the first of us to regain consciousness following our enforced fall to Earth. Spotting Scylla immediately, I angrily confronted her.
“WHAT,” I shouted, “is the MEANING of this…..INTRUSION…..?”
As I spoke, Scylla whipped out her iPhone (which is the source of her magic), thumbed around on the screen with her fingers, and sent a spark of energy from her fingers to stop me in the midst of the panther leap she rightly assumed I was making for her throat. I fell like a stone, but the others had gained their feet and formed a phalanx around me. Muscle Girl caught me before I hit the dirt and put me gently on the ground again.
“The “meaning” of this, you miserable CUR,” Scylla shouted at me, “is that I mean to have control of your Earth- and SOON! In a fashion by which all of you FOOLS will be totally UNABLE to STOP!”
“And she ain’t lyin’, EYE-ther!” Charybdis drawled.
At which point Scylla punched him in the stomach and pulled his underwear over his head. Then, with a touch of the iPhone, Charybdis was levitated over to the other side of…
…well, wherever it is we were, though it appeared to be an isolated island of some sort. Given that there were palm trees, I was thinking perhaps we were in the South Pacific….
It didn’t matter where we were, Cerb’. The point was that we had been totally and completely shanghaied by this mistress of black magic! At this point, I spoke up and asked Scylla what the point of abducting us was.
“The “point”, little girl,“ she said, prejudicially invoking my appearance, “was getting you out of the way successfully to achieve my larger objective! And there’s no more place more isolated than this particular pimple on the face of the Earth!”
“And what’s to stop us from flying off in pursuit of you once you leave- and then overpowering and capturing you?” Muscle Girl asked.
“Let’s say,” postulated Scylla, “that I was to do so: NOW!”
She thumbed the iPhone and then levitated, hovering above us at a strategic point on the beach where were located, while we tried to fly or run over towards her and grab her…
….and we failed, miserably.
Because Scylla had erected a magical invisible barrier around the island against which all our powers were useless! On our first assault, we bounced off it as if it were made of rubber. Then, when we all tried to punch it, or step through it, or throw things at it, we couldn’t do anything! And, all the time, Scylla was laughing at us, in a complete state of schattenfreude!
I didn’t sneeze. That’s a word- and a concept.
I don’t know it. What does it mean?
It means finding pleasure in observing the sufferings of other people.
That’s something different, dear. Entirely different.
Well, the point is, that’s what she was feeling, then. Very much so. We all hated it, of course. Especially me. I’d been on the business end of her magical B.S. before, on my own, and I hated it then, too. And now she was doing this to me again- along with my pals. On our game night, no less! I lost my temper, like I usually do when the chips are down.
“You…lousy….HARLOT!” I snapped at Scylla. “How DARE you!”
“How dare I?” she roared back, archly.
“Yeah,” I said. “How dare you interfere with our personal time! It’s important to us….”
She thumbed the iPhone again, and from it produced a thunderclap that knocked us down, like bowling pins in the path of a speeding ball.
“You,” she said, with unearned regal authority, “are in NO POSITION, at this moment, to utter anything resembling a THREAT towards my personage! I control all the forces of this island, man-made and otherwise, and you so-called “heroes”, for once, are in your PROPER PLACE!”
“WHAT?” all of us said together, in furious anger.
“You are not getting away with this, Scylla!” I snapped.
“Au contraire,” she snarled. “I already HAVE! Only I know how to release you from your imprisonment, and I damn well am NOT telling you how to do it!”
“Didn’t think so,” I mumbled.
“You dirty…” Cerberus began, but she was cut off when Scylla repeated the thunderclap process with the iPhone.
“NO!” she said. “I will not be insulted by the likes of YOU! Ladies of breeding and character- like me- need not even acknowledge low-born peasants who think running around in their NIGHTGOWNS and PANTIES in PUBLIC accrues their existence with SIGNIFICANCE! Be grateful that I am even TALKING to you, you WENCHES!”
She paused for a moment to get her breath back, and then said:
“I look forward to harvesting your corpses in a few weeks, as you will, by then, have died. Likely through the kind of supposedly hilarious misadventures you can get up to you on your own on a deserted island, or, more likely, simply through directing your own “super heroic” homicidal tendencies on each other. But I have no time for such trivialities. FAREWELL!”
She disappeared from our view.
At which point, Power Bunny produced a fresh pack of cards, and said:
“Wanna play another hand?”
Boy, did I pick the wrong time to say that!
I thought it might loosen us up a bit to play some more, but the facial reactions of the others made it clear that they thought my request was comedy of the black variety. Especially Candy. She was fury unleashed.
“Cards?” she shouted. “Is that all you can think about now? CARDS? There’s a time and a place for that, PB, and this isn’t it! Damn it! We could die here if we don’t…”
“You don’t know that,” I said.
“And you do?” she snapped back.
It might have gotten ugly, but then Brat grabbed my paw.
“Why don’t we see if there’s any foodstuffs around here?” she said. “Like pineapples, or coconuts, or something. We’re probably gonna be here for a while, so we might as well find some sustenance.”
“Yes,” I said, glaring at Candy implicitly as I did. “Let’s.”
“Maybe you guys could figure out some sort of shelter, or see if there’s anything we could hunt for meat, if it comes to that,” Brat said to the others. “We all gotta pull our weight to get out of this trap.”
“Sure, Brat,” said Muscle Girl. “I’m sure our powers will get us out of this…somehow. I mean, just because they didn’t work on the barrier doesn’t mean we can’t use them on the island itself. And that barrier can’t possibly last forever…..Can it?”
While we pondered the awful idea of us being permanently imprisoned on the island- which even the relentlessly optimistic Muscle Girl now seemed to believe possible, given the twitchiness in her eyes and the teenage boy-like breaking that emerged in her usually bell-like voice as she spoke- Brat and I went off on our food seeking expedition…
…leaving MG and I to play psychiatrist for Candy. Her anger, fear and sadness at our predicament was worse than the rest of ours put together.
Hey. I’m a teenage girl. Phases of the moon, right? And, on top of that, I have Asperger’s syndrome, which, even with medication, can make it seem like you’re the only normal person in a world on a permanent LSD trip when you’re bummed out. Plus, it was all my fault we were there. Scylla and Charybdis were my enemies. If I’d done a better job of clamping down on them, this whole thing wouldn’t have happened.
You told us nearly the same thing then on the beach. And you remember what we told you?
Or, more precisely, what I told you?
Yeah. “Woman Up.” You girls are always telling me that. ‘Specially if I’m off my meds temporarily…by accident, of course.
You’re not now, are you?
Well, you were off that day, for sure. Granted, you were under stress. We all were. But you were still way out of line.
Here’s what happened:
Candy starting crying and swearing and shouting and throwing the light from her ring at the innocent foliage, and I told her, as she just said, to “woman up”.
“Is that all you can say?” Candy demanded. “We’re stuck here….”
“Come on, Candy,” Muscle Girl. “Relax. We’ll get out.”
“Besides which,” I added, “I think some extra….companionship….time might be good for us…”
“You think?” Candy snapped, sarcastically.
I was offended by her flippancy.
“Be careful how you employ that tongue of yours!” I warned her. “I can easily…”
“Oh, SHUT UP!” she said.
I was even more offended by that particular turn of phrase.
“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” I said.
“You heard me! I am fed up with that pseudo-intellectual act of yours, you stuck up JERK….!”
“There is nothing “pseudo” about me at all!”
“…preening about all the time about how ‘I am so much better than any other dog on Earth!’ Well, your powers had about as much success as mine in getting through the barrier!”
“Candy,” Muscle Girl interjected, with a warning tone.
“Oh, you’re gonna start too, now, huh? High and mighty, the lot of ya! If we didn’t have any powers at all, I’d kick all of your asses- easy!”
“You’re insane!” I countered defensively.
“Candy!” Muscle Girl repeated, louder, but she was still ignored.
“Yeah, you girls think you’re so hot. We can all do that carnival strongman stuff at pretty much the same level, but you have to lay it in on me, ‘cause I can’t read anybody’s mind, or commit entire books to memory without READING ‘em, or talk like I got a goddamned Ph.d from fucking HARVARD! That’s how you guys hand my ass to me all the time. Especially at CARDS!”
“Are you accusing us of being CHEATERS?” I was fighting mad now.
“If the shoe fits…”
“How DARE you! I will bite you SO HARD that you….”
“Not if I put a big green one up your butt, you little…”
Muscle Girl shot that word out of her mouth with a speed and a force that was equal to- even greater, perhaps- that of the killer knockout punches she can deliver at her most ferocious level of physical power. She glared at us with a penetrating stare that could melt glass- which is another thing she can do very well, with her heat ray vision. Candy and I were frozen in our tracks. MG moved towards us, but she focused on Candy, grabbing her hand, holding her up in the air, and then, after Candy pitifully mewled something about how she was sorry and wouldn’t do it again, throwing her down on the ground.
“DON’T SAY ANOTHER WORD!” she ordered Candy, with her severest villain attacking glare, when the latter tried to speak again. “Not ‘til I’m done with you! I am sick of you blaming yourself- and us- for everything wrong in your life! You have to learn how to deal with things without kvetching about them, Candy. That solves nothing- understand? Now BEHAVE yourself!”
She took a breath, and continued, calmly and rationally this time.
“I’m sorry, Candy, but the only way we’re going to get out of this is working together- and not indulging in personalities!” She looked at me with her severe glare to imply this message was for me as well- which I well knew already. “We should all know better than this by now- especially you, Candy. We have to have clear heads to think of an escape plan. And that means no more accusing each other of doing or saying anything bad- either now or before.”
She pulled Candy to her feet with one muscled arm.
“Now, you go over there, sit down, and think of something you can do that will be USEFUL to us in this situation. And then DO IT!”
“Yes, Ma’am!” Candy gave her a precise salute as if we were in the Army or something, and then sat down silently as commanded to think.
“That was most….” I began.
Muscle Girl whirled around and faced me.
“Cerberus,” she snapped, “if you aren’t going to do anything useful…”
“I will, Gerda,” I said, addressing her by her “secret identity” name. “Because it’s clear to me that I’ve taught you well, and you know what you’re doing.”
She softened and smiled proudly, because we both knew what private thing we were talking about.
“Yes,” she agreed, as she gave me an affectionate pat. “You did, didn’t you?”
That was when he showed up.
“Pardon me,” said Charybdis, as he appeared before Cerberus and me in a puff of smoke. “I hope I’m not intruding…”
“Oh no, you don’t!”
Candy, upon his hearing, dashed in front of us in seconds, assuming a protective stance, and brandishing her ring threateningly on her hand.
“Wait!” He put his weaponless hands up. “Truce!”
“Can we trust you?” demanded Candy.
“More than you can Scylla,” was the response. “That’s for sure.”
“Give us a minute,” said Candy, and got in a football huddle with Cerberus and me, like we always do when we plot strategy in the field.
“Let me talk to him,” Candy said. “I know how to deal with him.”
“Okay,” Cerberus said, after a pause. “But you owe us if this doesn’t…”
“I “owe” you for this whole thing, remember?” Candy responded. “I got us into this- let me get us out. If it doesn’t work, you can blame me then. Don’t do it now.”
So Cerb’ and I let her do it. What else could we do?
I walked up to Charybdis as he stood on his own. He certainly didn’t look powerful for someone whose sister was, through her magic, holding us hostage.
“So,” I said, getting down to business. “What’s the deal?”
“I want revenge,” he said. The way he said the last word revealed lots about him he hadn’t before.
“I’m not surprised. I mean, I’ve been kind of hard on you and…”
“Not on you, silly.”
“Who, then? You barely know the other girls…”
“On SCYLLA, you fool!”
“Ah, I see….Wait a minute! You two are…”
“Twins, yes. But you knew that already. But I have come to DESPISE her! Even more than you and your friends have over this short period of time.”
“Is that because of what she did to you today?”
“She always does that. That’s the problem. She will not consider the feelings of another being if their name is not SCYLLA!”
“So…is that why, whenever we tangle, you’re always reclining like a Roman emperor, and just tossing off the odd wisecrack until she…”
“Exactly. She won’t let me do anything else. And she doesn’t even like my jokes. But it’s hard to tell her otherwise. We may be twins, but she was born first, and she thinks that makes her queen.”
“That goes without saying. So where do we…?”
“Well, I was planning to smite her myself, but you can’t keep a secret from Ms. Majesty. Once she found about my plans, she stole half of my strength to empower herself further and weaken me. That’s why she’s stronger than usual today, as with the barrier she put around this place. So you can imagine what would happen to me if I were to challenge her to a spell duel in my current condition. But, should I have assistance from some confreres- or, should I say, consoeurs- who are just as determined to be rid of her...”
“But we can’t get off the island with the barrier there. Our powers won’t work against it.”
“Your powers, maybe!”
He chanted a word loudly, there was a flash of light, and then he said:
“There. It’s gone.”
“You mean…we’re free?”
“Well, provided you help me. If you don’t….”
“But if we do it, we can go home, right? No tricks?”
“Nothing up my sleeves!”
“ ‘Like’ what?”
“Y’know….”friendly” with girls…’cause I thought…’cause of the voice…and the mannerisms….”
“I’m metrosexual! Why? Are you….?”
“Did… it get…hot…in here?” I said, hiding my growing attraction to his handsome visage as best I could. “No. Of course not. I’m a hero, you’re a villain. No way it would work out. I just have a pal….back home…who wants to know…”
“You got your answer, then. The important thing you need to know is that I know how to exile Scylla to somewhere she’ll have a devil of a time getting back from- with the assistance of you and your friends, of course.”
“Tell me what I need to tell them, then.”
So it was that Candy gathered us back together and told us the good news about being freed.
Albeit with that catch about “helping” Charybdis.
“Supposing, after we ‘help’ him, he decides to keep us prisoner himself?” I said.
“Yeah,” said the Brat. “Can we really trust him?”
“He is a villain,” Cerberus added.
Candy glared at us, with her hands on her hips, like she was our babysitter, and we were kids who had been caught writing on the wall with crayons. She usually saves that glare for those rare moments when she’s totally serious, so we knew what was up then.
“Can you girls stop being Doubting Thomases for a minute, please?” she said. “I know what this guy is like, okay? I go to school with him- remember? You don’t. Besides: Scylla may be arrogant, uppity and mean as piss, but at least I can get rid of her, even if just for a little bit. He, on the other hand, has to deal with her crap all the time. 24-7! You get me?”
We got her.
“I gave him my word we’d help him,” Candy continued. “And we all know what that means.”
“If you gave him your word, Candy,” I said, “then we’re committed. Heroes can’t go back on their word once they give it. But we’re with you all the way. Aren’t we?”
The other girls nodded without further prodding.
“Thanks,” Candy said, as she wiped her brow and breathed a sigh of relief.
“Besides,” I continued, “I think we all know what you’re feeling right now about your enemies getting too big for their expensively tailored frocks…”
We all nodded.
“…because, if it was one of our enemies that did this, we’d feel we let down the side the same way. I’ve felt like that every time one of my enemies made me bite off more than I could chew. Even if you have to be all stiff upper lip on the outside, to show them you mean business, you blame yourself for not being able to put the boot to them. That is- until you actually do that.”
“So- this is normal for us supes, huh?” said Candy.
“Absolutely,” said Cerberus. “But I think we can all agree, again, that whatever we may be feeling inside, the most important part of this job is stifling evil, regardless of how large it is, and regardless of whether it’s one of our personal ones or not. Right?”
Another round of nods. Then, without further adieu, we set off to gain our vengeance against Scylla, with an assist from Charybdis…
Charybdis had told me exactly where Scylla was, down to the longitude and latitude co-ordinates. It was another island, but not like the one we’d been imprisoned. Rather, it was in Canada, plunked down where a large lake met a medium-sized river. Across from the island was a very big city…
…which shall remain nameless.
Other than the fact that it starts with the letter ‘T’.
Cut it out! It’s my turn to narrate!
Anyway, this island was almost like a suburb of the aforementioned city, and it was hard locating Scylla at first. But we found her. The co-ordinates were exact, and there aren’t too many girls who purposely choose to walk around in public with blue hair these days. She was biding her time in a beach park facing the city, waiting for her cue….
Using our speed and stealth, we surrounded her without so much as a whisper on our part. Then, I tapped her on the shoulder. She turned around, saw us, and became livid.
“YOU!” she snarled.
“The jig’s up, Scylla!” I snapped. “Don’t try anything funny. There’s no barrier here to protect you from us this time. And we’ve all had some time to get our batteries recharged!”
“How did you….?” Scylla demanded.
“Ask your brother!” I said. “He sprung us- and told us where you were!”
Her cheeks turned the same shade of purple as my uniform- with rage!
“That….miserable….WORM!” she exploded. “He BETRAYED me! After all I did for him…”
“More like what you did to him, by the sound of it,” I said.
“That,” she growled, as she moved ominously towards us, “is neither HERE nor THERE! I am fully capable of DESTROYING you- ALL of you- WITHOUT him!” She pointed a dagger-like finger at me. “Especially YOU, you red-haired VIXEN! I saw you lure him from my side -with that casual manner and voluptuous appearance of yours…”
“You think I’m voluptuous?” I said, in mock astonishment. “I didn’t know you swung that way, Scylla!”
That was the wrong thing to say. She bellowed like an enraged bull about to confront a matador, and ran towards me with hands outstretched. With one hand, she put a constricting grip on my neck, and with the other, she seemed to be preparing, with some magical assistance, to punch me to death….
Fortunately for Candy, Scylla had, in her anger, forgotten about the rest of us. This allowed me to free Candy from her grip with a flying football tackle and hold her down, but, in the angry state Scylla was in, even my muscles couldn’t hold her for long. I got bucked off of her like a bronco, and she aimed one of her magic fireballs at me via the screen of her iPhone as I got up.
“Try and muscle your way out of this, MEDDLER!” she said.
I thought fast, and cartwheeled my way out of the fireball’s path before it hit. It helped considerably that Candy used the emerald ray from her ring to block and neutralize the fireball before it got to me. Then, we moved towards her en masse again.
Scylla must have realized that she was outnumbered, and she couldn’t fight all of us at once. That, and her magical powers must have started to run low. Because, instead of teleporting or levitating or disappearing to escape and thwart us, she bolted out of the park.
“She’s getting away!” I said.
“Of course she is,” Cerberus interjected, wearily.
“After her!” Candy ordered.
So we went after her, full speed ahead.
I was the first to catch up with her. Her boots looked like they were made of something tough, but my teeth have bitten through worse. As soon as I severed one of her Achilles tendons, she screamed in pain, but she kept on running, in a panic.
“You miserable MUTT!” Now it was my turn to potentially suffer her wrath, as she aimed a fireball at me with the ubiquitous iPhone. “I’ll…”
And then the other girls arrived to help a sister out. Muscle Girl grabbed her from behind, slowing her down, while Candy ran forward and socked her in the gut to slow her down further. Power Bunny then reached into her pants, and gave her a wedgie….
…and the Brat leapfrogged onto her head and plucked out every single hair on her head.
Easier than it sounds. She was wearing a wig. Without it, she was totally BALD.
I further unstabilized her by biting her on the seat of her pants, occasioning another pained shout. But then we lost our collective equilibrium.
“Look out, Cerberus!” Muscle Girl called out to me. “She can’t support all of us on her. We’re gonna fall over….”
And that we did. My body was spared, but I was trapped by my tail when Scylla fell over backwards, with everyone else on top of her. But not for long.
“GET OFF OF ME!” she bellowed.
With an assertion of Apple approved magic on her part, we were all thrown on our rear ends nearby. We made ready for another assault, but she was prepared. As we flew together towards her, she magically fashioned handcuffs and manacles for our arms and legs, and we dropped like we had been shot by a Spitfire. Once again, we were helpless, since our restraints were seemingly more powerful than we ourselves, as, to her satisfaction, we failed to free ourselves from them. Only when she was sure we were caught did she begin to execute her plans, which began with another spin of the iPhone wheel that whipped up the winds to hurricane force.
“You unendurable wastes of time have just made your LAST assault on my dignity- or ANYONE ELSE’s, for that matter!” she glowered. “Prepare to be fully and completely DESTROYED by the forces of…”
Then a blast of energy aimed at her chest cut her off, the whipping winds ceased blowing, and she was knocked down to the ground in pain- again.
Charyb’ came through for us, like he said he would. While Scylla was down, he put one of his feet on her, and ululated something that sounded halfway between a Gregorian chant and a yodel. When he finished, a clear, trap door-like hole in the Earth opened, and Scylla, clutching her iPhone, fell through it, screaming. At which point, the shackles she’d created for us disappeared, and we were free and strong again.
And it wasn’t even ten o’clock yet. Our whole entrapment, to say nothing of our battle with Scylla, had, miraculously, lasted for barely an hour. We had plenty of time for some more card games before midnight, which was when we usually pack it in.
We were just about to head back to the satellite when I notice Charybdis was still hanging around, by his lonesome. Evidently, his victory- and ours, I guess- was more Phyrric than we thought it would be.
“Hang on,” I said to the girls, gesturing with my thumb towards him.
“What about him?” said Power Bunny.
“We can’t just leave him,” I said. “I mean, not without inviting him to…”
“But…he’s a villain,” the Brat protested. “He might….cheat….”
“Oh, and like you girls don’t, once in a while,” I reminded them.
“You’re right, Candy,” said Muscle Girl, after a rueful sigh. “It was Scylla who imprisoned and fought us. Not Charybdis.”
“Uh-huh,” I said, confidently, now that I was “right”. “And he was the one who risked his butt so his sister couldn’t kick OURS! We owe him the courtesy of an invite- at least.”
“But can we trust him- with our secrets, I mean,” insisted Cerberus.
“Only one way to find out,” I said.
I walked up to him, much to his surprise.
“Hey, Charyb’,” I said, in a friendly, flirtatious way. “Thanks for saving us back there. We totally would have been goners without you. You were- dare I say- heroic…..for a villain, I mean…”
“Sure,” he said, in a way that communicated volumes.
“Listen. We got another chair open at our card table tonight for ya- if you’re interested. You do play cards, right?”
He nodded, gratefully, as tears of joy started coming down his face.
This story originally appeared in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine (2016).