Friday, December 15, 2017

The Alarm Clock at the End of the World

Part 94

Epilogue Part 7

Nepotism is already in the van. The drivers don’t look at us. They don’t talk to us. In Nepotism’s hand is that which we searched, a stone caduceus formed around a staff with Hermes at the top. A symbol dating to ancient Egypt and supposedly the answer to our quest. I’d started to think it was a MacGuffin. An Unnatural episode about Solomon may be in bad taste at this point. “Is that the Alarm Clock at the End of the World?” I ask.

He tosses the relic at my feet. I cringe for a break, but even the rubber carpet prevents shattering on the floor of the van. It rolls and bounces at me with the motion of the van. “That’s up to you,” he says. “Make it whatever you want.”

I pick up the Caduceus, inspecting all around. “Where did you get this?” I ask. It’s much too light.

“It’s foam,” he says. “It doesn’t mean a damn thing.” Nepotism reaches inside his hoodie and draws forth a book bound in black cloth. “I found Solomon’s spellbook.”

“Laying around?” Kara says.

Nepotism shakes his head. “In Solomon’s dressing room.” He breaks the spine and flips the heavy pages to the back. “Not where we found him, but the real dressing room. He had a spare lair.” Nepotism reads as he speaks, furrowing his brow in frustration. “When Security chased you off, I circled backstage. I got lucky with the book.”

“Have you read anything?” I ask. “What does it say?”

He holds out a page for me as if I could ascertain any of the scribbles and figures in the dim light. “Solomon wanted to make a Scrubber.”

I push the book back. “Solomon's dead.”

“He found a way,” Nepotism says, thumbing between entries, tapping the paper when he came across what he was looking for. “Says he found a man that could do it.”

“He is called Lazarus,” says Kara, jaw set, eyes grave. “He gave power to St. Eva.”

I don’t need to take this shit from some kid. “You going to start in on her now?”

Kara is unphased. “I met Lazarus too,” she says. “He made me who I am today.”

“And who the hell are you?” I ask.

Nepotism shakes his head. He won’t look at me. “Eva was behind this,” he says. “She’s been working for Lapis all along.”

“My name was Becki Murphy,” Kara says, but the name barely registers, a shadow of a background noise. “Lazarus cured me of my fame,” she says.

Nepotism throws his head back, crying out in recognition. “Oh shit! You were hella-famous!” He puts his head down, chuckling. “‘Justify My Touch.”

Kara’s face burns. “I was sixteen and I knew that was a stupid fucking song.” She trails off momentarily in thought. “That song bought me a Corvette though. I never learned to drive it.”

“What does this have to do with Eva?” I ask. “What does this have to do with Scrubbers?”

Nepotism says, “It’s proof she’s behind this. Becki was a sacrifice, we were the escort.”

“It’s Kara,” Kara says.

“Lazarus knows how to make Scrubbers,” Nepotism says. “Solomon wanted in.”

Kara shakes her head. “No. Solomon doesn’t know how to make Scrubbers," she says. "Lazarus is a Scrubber.” She stresses her final words and let them linger. “He is human as well, and he can pass his ability. He used his power to make my fame fade away.”

Nepotism is nodding. “You fell off the face of the Earth out of nowhere. Most people thought you went crazy. I thought you died.”

“Bending your will, Nep,” I say. “Black magick just as Crowley defined it.” Did Solomon learn to manifest?

“He calls it ScornFish,” says Kara. “A drink he was given that made him never die. Over time, Lazarus learned to pass it on. Then he learned to build automatons.”

“Dude,” Nepotism says. “Eva set this up from the start.”

“So she was working with Tyr?” I ask. Kara cuts off Nepotism’s response.

“Mephisto Tyr is not a man,” Kara says. “He was constructed by Lazarus.”

“He’s dead,” Nepotism says. “Scrubbers killed him.”

“He’s been rebuilt before,” Kara says.

“We need to get to work,” says Nepotism. “Becki’s testimony will get us reinstated to the Superhero Gang...”

“It’s Kara,” says Kara, “and I’m not talking to anyone. Eva knew where to find me, and how to sweet talk me into the mission. She’s too dangerous.”

“This is our career!” says Nep.

“This is my life!” counters Kara. “Eva could get me on any side, and I’ll be back in the spotlight again. I’ll be tranqued in a field and back on a tour bus faster than you can blink an eye. You brought down Solomon. Isn’t that enough?”

He can’t convince her, and he knows it. He turns away, momentarily a-bubble with rage, but is recomposed when he turns to her once more. “You’re probably right,” Nepotism says. “Stupes will give us audience at least. I can at least talk him into health insurance.”

The villain was defeated, the maiden had been saved, and all was well in Metro City. We’d saved a lot of lives, exposed a nefarious conspiracy, fired a lot of guns in the process, and I was drunk most of the time, so it sounds like a good few days for Dr. Filth. This victory is sure to have us reinstated as superheros. I did sleep with an assassin who tried to kill me again. I don’t expect Nepotism will let me live that down any time soon. I can’t see the time, but I’m pretty sure it’s close to beer o’clock.

The End.

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