Haf of HERO8 – Episode 4

October 29th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Previously on Haf of HERO8…

Haf rolled his way out of the peril of a wet and slimy death and found that the love of his page-turner of a life was still alive. Sina warned Haf of the dangers looming; Paper Doll was coming and she meant to kill him.

Back at the News Stand…

During the stormy season monsoons can flair up in a flash and catch unwitting citizens off guard with no place to run for cover. The law-abiding people of NAC might not care to get wet, or have their umbrellas flipped inside out by a surprising wind, but I couldn’t be so careless. A strong gust might blow me out into the harbor.

Of course I know how to swim. It’s the surviving part that has always scared me.

Flash floods, broken water or sewer pipes, a tidal splash from a passing car, or even a false fire alarm in a movie theater would turn me into an inky pile of ooze much like an unprepared wicked witch. I had to do something.

“Hold still, you little ingrate.” Jimmy aimed the sprayer at my face. I wiggled away on the slick plastic he’d used to cover his inventory in the small stand. Jimmy had closed early to help.

I turned the dots of my eyes into thin slits and curled up my nose in my best impression of Jimmy after he’d smelled one of his wife’s slips of gas. I don’t know why they keep asking me over for dinner. I can’t eat. For that matter, I don’t know why I keep going. She farts way too much.

“Careful with the face. Thin, even coats.”

Jimmy squeezed the trigger of the canvas waterproofing spray bottle and moved it side to side over my naked body. The smell was putrid; a buttery, tart smell that I swore would eat through me.

He stepped back and eyed me top to bottom. “This might not last long.” He read the back of the Nikwax bottle and wrinkled his brow. “It isn’t foolproof. It’s only water repellent and you’ll need to reapply it often.”

I could feel the parchment of my skin soaking up the spray. It would have to do. Paper Doll would be coming at me with everything including a kitchen sink full of dirty dish water. I had to be ready for anything.

“It doesn’t have to last forever. One fight at a time, Jimmy. One fight at a time.”

“The missus will have your threads ready soon. Made to order.”

I don’t have time to wait for a custom superhero outfit. My spray-on protection will have to do for now.

“Does ABC Refinery ring a bell?” Jimmy had been around for longer than most of the town; he knew where everything was.

“It’s a few miles south of town. An abandoned place, it hasn’t been used for years.”

I drew a triangle outline of a glider, climbed on like a surfer ready to catch a fresh cloud wave, and pointed south. “I’m going to go play cops and robbers with a little doll.”

I heard Jimmy wish me luck as I ducked through the power lines feeding the traffic lights. This construct didn’t make a sound. I couldn’t figure out if I was getting better at drawing or worse. Sometimes these things came with cool sound effects, other times they were as stealthy as a chicken hawk.

South of NAC just above the grey muck of pollution…

I came in for a hard landing on the old refinery’s roof. Rows of puff stacks and broken air handlers lined the sticky tar, an antiquated military unit forever at attention waiting to be called for duty.

SFX: KAPLUNK!

If Paper Doll were anywhere, she’d be here. The thick smell of petroleum jelly lubed my nose; it reminded me of the stink I caught while hanging over that barrel in the TP warehouse.

I kicked up loose gravel as I scrambled for an opening. The sky looked ominous and I didn’t want to test Jimmy’s handiwork unless I had to.

Maybe I should move to a desert town. I laughed at the thought. I’d probably turn brittle, yellow with premature age and break apart as punishment for leaving NAC unprotected.

A broken skylight at the east edge was the only entry point. I drew and threw a zip line at an inside wall opposite the opening. It pierced the aging mortar and I tied the other end to a vent pipe near the window. Grabbing a loose length of chain once used to secure the windows, I flipped it over the line and zipped in like I knew what I was doing.

Twenty feet from the ground with tons of dangerous refining equipment as my only landing zone, the zip line disappeared leaving me holding a useless chain and falling to a world of hurt. I couldn’t think of anything that I might draw to get me out of this one. My mind was as empty as the Inspector’s pickle jar.

At the last second, I flattened myself out and turned sideways. Being two dimensional was rarely useful, but I easily slipped into the tight space between two machine monsters and rolled head over feet like a gingerbread man turning cartwheels.

I rolled into the center of the operations floor, a spot clear of equipment and stopped just short of Paper Doll.

“What took you so long, half-man?” Her skin was dark, and it shimmered in the low light. She spoke softly, but her words faded in and out like a dream.

“I was all tied up.” I wanted to laugh. I touched the tender spot she’d left on the back of my head instead.

She turned a gun on me and said, “Get up!” Paper Doll poked at me with the end of her weapon. It was an M9000 Super Jet squirt gun. Range: 50 feet. Capacity: Enough to kill me thirteen times and still fill a dozen water balloon hand grenades.

I got up, ready to fight or run or duck; something other than getting splattered by a gun-wielding bad girl, and I wasn’t about to hang around to test her marksmanship. Just as I was sure that it couldn’t get any worse, she split in two, then four, then eight, then sixteen. She replicated herself just like a paper doll should and surrounded me. Sixteen M9000s hold a lot more water than Nikwax can repel.

 I won’t go down without a fight. Even if I have to fight as a lump of papier-mâché.  

Episode 5 is the final chapter of The Diabolical Toilet Paper Heist. Will Haf survive a fight with sixteen Paper Dolls? Will his temporary repellent be enough to save him? Stay tuned to learn that and more.

 

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©2010 Keith Dugger

  1. November 2nd, 2010 at 13:39 | #1

    This is still brilliant. And Paper Doll is so awesome. I hope Haf finds a way out! Love it.

  1. November 3rd, 2010 at 20:55 | #1