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Afterwards

by

I didn’t think it would be like this. I remembered hearing the banshee scream and seeing Sheila fall over. Then everything went black. I figured I’d be waking up to fluffy clouds and pearly gates. Either that, or flames and pitchforks. I was really hoping for the clouds, honestly.

What I didn’t expect was to find myself sitting on an oversized sofa in a waiting room. A little coffee table sat in front of me, bearing a neat array of sports and news magazines. Bland landscapes decorated the walls. I heard the faint plinking of piano music wafting from a hidden speaker.

A frosted glass window slid open, and a smiling attendant poked her head out. “Hello, would you sign in, please?”

“Oh, sure,” I said, standing awkwardly and approaching the window. “Erm, I wonder, are you…?”

“Cindy,” she said, smiling even more brightly. “Afterlife Services.”

“Ah. So I am…actually….”

“Deceased, yes.” Cindy’s smile didn’t even flicker. “If you would just sign here, please, and initial there….thank you! One of our associates will be with you shortly!”

“Thanks,” I said, sitting back down. The window slid neatly closed. I didn’t think this was the Bad Place. People usually didn’t smile there, from what I’d heard. So, this was heaven.

I leafed through the magazines. I was disappointed to find that they were all extremely outdated. On the bright side, it looked like the U.S. had a decent chance against the Soviet hockey team this year.

There was a door on the far wall, at a right angle from the window. I kept expecting it to open up and someone to call me. It stayed resolutely closed. I finished going through the magazines. There wasn’t anything else around to read. I did see a television in the corner, but it wasn’t running, and I couldn’t find the remote.

I tapped on the window. “Hello!” Cindy said again. “Jane, is it? Someone should be with you momentarily!”

“Yes, about that…” I said. I wasn’t worried. Not quite yet. “I can’t seem to get the television to come on.”

“Ooh, I’m sorry,” Cindy said, looking sincerely crestfallen. “We’ve been meaning to fix that for days. I’ll send a message to Afterlife Services Maintenance and they’ll get to it shortly. In the meantime, would you care for a beverage?”

I hadn’t felt thirsty until then, but it had been a while. “Sure,” I said. “Water’s fine.”

More time passed. No one from Maintenance appeared. Cindy had kindly given me a plastic cup with water and two ice cubes. The cubes melted. I finished the last bit, and realized I had a new problem. I tapped on the window again. “Hello!” said Cindy. “One of our associates-”

“Will be with me shortly,” I finished. “Yeah. Where’s the bathroom?”

“Unfortunately, there isn’t access to a functional restroom on this floor,” Cindy said. “But once your processing is complete, one of our associates will be happy to escort you!”

“And when will that-”

The window slid shut. I waited. It occurred to me that there wasn’t a clock anywhere in the room. The piano music kept repeating the same two chords over and over again. I tapped on the window for a third time. It didn’t open. I banged hard on it, panic rising. I seriously considered using the coffee table as a battering ram, but when I pulled, it wouldn’t come loose from the floor. I hurled a magazine at the window.

No one answered. Ever.

Now I knew exactly where I was.

This story is part of the ongoing adventures of Jane the Igor. Thanks for reading! 

Sheila’s Mistake

by

I should have said no. When Jane showed up that night, Frankenstein’s monster in tow, asking if I could help make the guy a girlfriend, I should’ve slammed the door in her face. I, unlike Jane, still have a job. I, unlike Jane, am still a respectable Igor, working for a respectable mad scientist. Therefore, I ought to have said no.

But Jane’s a friend, and she had helped me out once when my scientist needed a certain amulet to break mummy curses. So, against my better judgment, I said I might be able to help.

I told her it would take a week. I was a bit optimistic. As I said, I, unlike Jane, still have a day job, and that particular week the boss was trying to bring his own creature to life. I couldn’t tell him I was free-lancing. I didn’t have time to go off hunting for my own brains to use. Honestly, Jane had no idea the position she put me in. It’s her own fault, really, what happened next.

See, my mad scientist has been branching out lately. He’s not like your traditional mad scientist, still tied up with lightning machines and whatnot. He’s been getting into magic. Runes are really in right now. And if it worked for him, I figured it would work for me. Chant an incantation or two, make a couple mysterious gestures, and shazam: one monster girlfriend. And when it didn’t work, I could give Jane some line about the planets not being in proper alignment, the harmonic convergence of ley lines being affected, blah blah blah. She wouldn’t have known.

Thing is, it did work.

Saturday night. Jane’s there, the big guy looming over her shoulder. “You sure this is safe, Sheila?” Jane asks, worriedly.

“Of course it is,” I assure her. Then I chant some mysterious phrases. It sounds impressive to Jane, but really, it’s some old Gaelic love poetry I found in a used bookstore once. I make some passes in the air. There’s a flash of light, which surprises me. Then I hear rustling. “Right,” I say, trying to project confidence. “There it is, then. She’s waiting for you outside.”

The big guy lumbers out the door. I figure he can handle things from there, but then I hear a sudden loud wailing. Both Jane and I rush to the window. The big guy looks very much alarmed. There’s someone else out there.

“I think you’ve made a banshee!” Jane gasps.

“Oops,” I say. “Well, maybe it’ll still work. I’ve seen stranger relationships.”

Actually, I didn’t think it would, but I’ve heard about banshee screams being fatal to anyone who hears them, and I assumed this would resolve the problem. The big guy would be dead, the banshee would float away, I’d go back to my job, and Jane would go back to…wherever.

Turns out, banshee screams don’t work on reanimated Frankenstein monsters.

They do work on Igors.

I didn’t expect that.

This story is part of the ongoing adventures of Jane the Igor. Thanks for reading!

Train Rescue

by

“Will you just hold still?” growled the Malevolent Med-Student.

“Er, no,” Jennifer said. “I’d rather not, honestly. And once again, I really have to protest. Tying me to a train track is clearly a violation of”-

‘Yes, yes, I know,” the Malevolent Med-Student interrupted. “It’s cliche. It’s been done. Why don’t I murder you in an original way. Can’t I drop you into a pit of radioactive ferrets. I know. But look, the trouble is, my minion got herself captured and locked in an institution, and now she’s receiving therapy and resolving her deep-rooted personal issues for all I know, and meanwhile here I am trying to practice supervillainy without an assistant. I don’t have time for an original death. Train tracks will have to do.”

Jennifer blinked. “That…was not my complaint. I don’t want you to murder me in an original way.  I’d really prefer-”

“At last,” the Malevolent Med-Student said, “someone who appreciates the classics.”  He glanced at his watch. “The 11:15 should be along shortly. I’d expect someone to rescue you about thirty seconds before the train hits. They’re always so punctual.”

11:15 came and 11;15 went. No train appeared. Jennifer felt hopeful. “Well, doesn’t look like anyone’s coming. Can you untie me now?”

The Malevolent Med-Student stabbed furiously at his phone. “Blasted search engine, can’t get a signal worth a damn out here…”  He swore again. “There should’ve been a train! Where did the blasted thing go?”

“Perhaps it was held up at the station?” Jennifer suggested.

“Indeed it was!” boomed a new voice. “Held up by justice!”

“Oh, Lord,” the Malevolent Med-Student said, seconds before a white-gloved fist slammed into his head and sent him spinning like a top into a nearby clump of bushes.

“Hey there, citizen!” said the Captain exultantly.

“You can lower your voice now, dear,” said his wife, who had just pulled up behind him. She gestured, and a white soccer ball floated over to Jennifer, produced a tiny laser, and began neatly cutting Jennifer loose. “The supervillain’s unconscious; everything’s secure.”

“Right,” said the Captain. “Well, that was easy. Should I pick up some milk on the way home?”

“Would you? We’re almost out. Oh, and a jar of pickles. And a lemon.”

“Right oh, Super Soccer Mom!” said the Captain, before soaring away into the sky, cape streaming behind him.

The soccer ball chirped happily when it had lasered through the last ropes. Jennifer looked askance at Super Soccer Mom, who shrugged. “We’re pregnant again. Number seven.”

“Congratulations,” said Jennifer. “I’d like to go home now.”

There was a sudden distant whistle. “Train’ll be along in a few,” said Super Soccer Mom.

“I think I’ll walk,” Jennifer said.

Super Soccer Mom shrugged again. “Suit yourself.”  She grabbed hold of the soccer ball, which powered up a small jet engine and carried her away into the sky.

Not for the last time, Jennifer seriously considered moving to a non-superhero city.

After Hours

by

Sheila wrenched the door open. “All right, all right, I’m here! I-”

“Hi,” Jane said uncertainly. “I should’ve called first, but..um…”

A hulkish figure loomed up behind her. It was chortling. “A space party! You plan it! Thas’ a good one!”

Sheila blinked. “Is that…”

“Yup. That’s him.  The doctor created him right after he fired me.”

“Why…”

“He wants a girlfriend,” Jane said. “Thought you could help.”

“But why is he….”

Jane looked down. “I thought a road trip would be fun, okay? Get him used to human civilization. America. You know.”

“And?”

“Frankenstein can’t hold his liquor for beans.”

“I’ve peed on cars!” the creature boomed happily.

This story is part of the continuing adventures of Jane the Igor. Thanks for reading!

Food Fight

by

There were times when Gaseous Girl wished she had a decent arch-nemesis. Everyone else had them. Mr. Ecosystem had Pollutanica. Thunder Lass had Nanobyter. Heck, even Captain Happily Married had the Malevolent Med-Student. But who did Gaseous Girl, wielder of the Armpits of Armageddon, She Who Dealt It, have?

Hiccup Holly.

Holly could hiccup with explosive force.

That was about it.

But at least, Gaseous Girl reflected as her black Starfleet-style boots scraped the asphalt of the vast supermarket parking lot, Hiccup Holly had nearly destroyed the world. Crudmuffin, here, hadn’t blown up so much as a popsicle stand. Goodness knows, he’d tried. Crudmuffin had a definite pastry obsession, and in the process had declared all-out war on any foodstuffs that weren’t pastries. That was why Gaseous Girl was here, on this frost-bitten November night, trying to stop the Mad Baker from torching a taco truck. “Right,” she said tiredly as she approached, “Put the exploding biscuit down.”

“It’s not a biscuit, it’s a scone!” Crudmuffin snapped.

Gaseous Girl shrugged. “Okay,  Downton Abbey, put the exploding scone down.”

“Of course you wouldn’t know the difference,” Crudmuffin growled. “No one appreciates a good pastry anymore! No one appreciates fine dining! Why, just the other day, I was doing a smash-and-grab of the mayor’s house, and do you know what he had in his refrigerator?”

“I’m guessing not scones.”

“Hot dogs!” Crudmuffin said, with a flourish of his white cape. “That was it! A fine upstanding man such as our mayor, and he couldn’t think of anything more appetizing than a mere hot dog? It’s positively plebian!”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Gaseous Girl said. “I myself have snatched a hot dog or two from a gas station. It’s a nice quick snack when one’s on the go.”

“A…a gas station?” Crudmuffin spluttered. “You…but…really…”

Gaseous Girl sighed. “Look, I get that you’ve got different eating tastes than I do. And also the mayor. But do you have to  take it out on this poor taco truck here?”

“And not just this!” Crudmuffin shouted, waving his exploding scone. “But all food vendor trucks  everywhere! Soon the world will be forced into a new era of fine dining,  tasteful meal preparations, and-”

He had begun monologuing, which is always dangerous for a supervillain to do. Sure enough, a sudden titanic boom rent the parking lot. Crudmuffin went flying head over cape, landing hard in a nearby trash bin. Seconds later his exploding scone went off, wrecking the trash bin and sending Crudmuffin away into the night sky. Gaseous Girl heard a distant thud as he landed. She turned, and saw Hiccup Holly, who burped noisily. “Hey,” she said.

“Hey,” Gaseous Girl replied, tentatively.

“We’re still nemeses, y’know,” glared Hiccup Holly.

“Naturally. But why-”

“I like hot dogs.”

“Oh. You didn’t do it because you suspected him of destroying the world, and you decided to put aside your own petty grievances and work together for the good of the planet?”

“God, no. I still hate you. And the planet. I just like hot dogs.”

Gaseous Girl sighed. “It was just a thought.”

Small Talk

by

I’ve never had a monster show up at my door before. You might think this would be a common experience for an Igor. Actually, we in the Igor line rarely have post-creation contact with the creatures we help bring to life. We fetch the brains and throw the switches, but then the doctor takes over the messier business of trying to integrate the monster successfully into the civilized world. Trying is the key word there.

The doctor I used to work for had never done it. Either his creatures had never come to life in the first place, or they’d missed something in the creation process and gone off bellowing incomprehensibly and wrecking things. That’s usually when the mob with pitchforks and torches shows up. People tend to get upset when a monster trashes their villages. Fortunately, my doctor had an attorney on staff, and carried malpractice insurance. A nice settlement offer and promises to rebuild their homes usually calms down the villagers.

Even when I had been an Igor, though, I had never dealt personally with the awakened creature. Now here he was, on my doorstep. This was a problem.

“So…” I said, reaching desperately for a conversation opener. “How about those Cubs?”

I honestly had no idea whether he would say anything intelligent. To my surprise, he actually did. “I understand they won the World Series last year,” he said. “I am uncertain as to their performance this year, however. Whatever success they might achieve seems almost anticlimactic.”

“Look at you, all sportsy and stuff,” I said. “What’d you do, hide out in the woods with the sports page?”

“Actually, yes,” he said. “I found an entire newspaper. Unfortunately, it is a bit dated. Tell me, how did the election in this country turn out?”

“Let’s not talk about that,” I said. “Next question. Why are you here?”

“The usual thing,” he said. “Mankind is naturally horrified at my appearance. Therefore, I am alone. I was hoping the doctor, who brought me to life, would create a companion for me. But he declined. He told me, however, to go and talk to you.”

“Oh. Lovely,” I said. “Did he mention he fired me?”

The creature seemed distressed. “He did not. He said you had found a post with another doctor. He seemed quite certain-”

“He lied,” I said. “The jerk.  He was just faking so you’d go away. Sorry.”

The creature looked so upset that I thought it might be best to distract him. “Look,” I said. “I’m only an ex-Igor, I can’t make you a girlfriend. But I tell you what: I’ve got this friend, Sheila, in Wisconsin. She didn’t get fired, and she’s got contacts. Maybe she can help.”

“Wisconsin,” he said disconsolately. “That is some distance away.”

“I can call her first. Save you a trip if she can’t help.”

“That would be most kind,” the creature said.

“Sure thing,” I said. “I know, sorta, how you feel. I had a thing with a government guy, once. We broke up after six months. I guess it wasn’t real love, but it was kinda fun at the time. He showed me that super secret warehouse in D.C. where they keep all the cool stuff. We made out by the Giant Rat of Sumatra. Funny story about that….but then he gave me an amulet for our anniversary. An amulet. With runes. I kinda wanted roses. Or maybe diamonds. Not runes.”

The creature blinked slowly. “So…you preferred one shiny object over another, and this ended your relationship?”

I shrugged. “Love is a funny thing.”

This story follows the continuing adventures of Jane the Igor, and comes after Up and Down, Trades, The Switch, and In Which Jane Meets a New Friend. Thanks for reading!

In Which Jane Meets a New Friend

by

The life of an Igor is not all it’s cracked up to be. The life of an ex-Igor, on the other hand, is even worse.  You can manage to get an interview with a reputable company, you dress professional and practice your responses, and then you get asked about your prior work. There’s no good answer to that for an Igor. “Well, Mr. Jones, I assisted a mad scientist in reanimating dead tissue and unleashing horrible monsters into the living world.”

The interview usually ends after that. You never get a call back.

Frankly, you’re lucky if you even get an interview. I spent five years as an Igor. Five years leaves a gaping hole on your resume. Before that I worked in a pharmacy. I suppose I could have lumped the two together and said I was in medical work, but that seemed dishonest. Besides, I still would have gotten the questions.

The doctor wrote me a nice reference. He actually typed it himself, slid it in the envelope along with my severance check. The check lasted for two months. The reference was worse than useless. I couldn’t ask a reputable employer to call up my old mad scientist boss and inquire about my work. I couldn’t include the letter with an application packet. Once again, I was stuck with a gaping hole on my resume and no way to fill.

There was, of course, the obvious choice. I tentatively reached out to my friends in the Igor community to see if any other mad scientists were hiring. Nobody was. Even Sheila in Wisconsin, my longest friend in the Igor world, couldn’t help. Meanwhile, I was stuck at home, trying to get on somewhere.  I lost my health insurance (which was surprisingly good, considering it was offered by a mad scientist), and I couldn’t get unemployment benefits from the government. You think it’s bad telling employers you used to work for a mad scientist; try telling the state. The IRS had already sent me two ominous letters and a postcard. Things were getting bad.

It was Monday night.  I sat there, in my kitchen, staring at the empty box of cereal. I didn’t have enough left of my severance pay to get more. I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a knock at the door.

I expected to see a salesman, or perhaps some kid selling candy bars so he could go to camp. What I got, framed in eerie moonlight, was a towering creature with flowing black hair and gray skin. I noticed two shiny metal bolts on its neck, and gasped. Those were my bolts. I had purchased them myself from Home Depot. The doctor had asked me to get them when I was an Igor. Which could only mean….

“Oh dear,” I said. “You’re alive. This is a problem.”


 

This story was written for the yeah write weekly writing challenge. Thanks for reading! 

 

 

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