J u l y   2 0 0 4

Guest Writer

Something big in the final act
by Jess Gulbranson

We’ve been following our rumpled yellow-haired hero ever since early 2001, when he lost his motel – along with everything else but the red hooded sweatshirt on his back – in a poker game. He’s been bouncing around through several different dimensions ever since. Here's episode 38:

t the other end of the door, Mel ended up in Jeuss Rucker's dark lair. The eyeless fiend was still tending his dark, swirling sphere. It was no bigger than when Mel had last been sucked into it, but it looked unmistakably bloated. Rucker displayed his vicious smile.

"I've never had anyone come back through. I think your second trip might be the one that ends it all!"

Rucker sounded positively giddy.

"Jeuss, I've figured it all out and I see that I can't win. So I'm giving it up. If you get rid of that thing, I'll give you the terrible godlike power that I'm blessed with." He hoped that Rucker would not be wise to the trick, because he had indeed figured it out.

"Wonderful, Mel. It would have been an effort to do this the hard way, you know."

Rucker reached out and stopped the spin of the sphere. It seemed to dwindle, until at last nothing was left. Suddenly the atmosphere was much less oppressive, and Rucker looked like someone had knocked his ice cream cone to the ground.

"Well? Hand it over."

Mel shook his head and, with a twist of mind that was surprisingly easy, handed over the shining crown of godhood that had gotten him in all the trouble to start. Rucker straightened, seeming taller. Light streamed from his empty eye sockets and he moaned softly. Then he began a sinister laugh and Mel knew it was time for his last and greatest con job.

"There's just one more thing," he said in a passable Peter Falk impression. "Frank!" He reached into the pocket of his red hoody and pulled out the golden Ma Yuan.

Out of the ring, or out of nowhere, Frank Burley appeared.

"Son of a bitch!" uttered Frank. He stretched, the material of his cosmonaut suit crinkling. "Mel, you're not the Messiah anymore! That's amazing. But how?"

By way of an answer, Mel pointed at Jeuss Rucker, and that was all Frank needed. He grabbed the gold ring from Mel and crushed it with his fingers. "Ha!" Then Frank turned to Rucker. Looking like a pro wrestler, Burley grabbed Rucker, lifted him in the air, then snapped him in half over his knee. There was a soundless explosion of light and Jeuss Rucker was gone. Mel felt the power floating in the air – and had to concentrate to keep it from returning to him.

"Wow," said Frank. "I feel better. You figured out the Ma Yuan, then?"

Mel nodded. "Until now, the Ma Yuan has been keeping the gods on their toes by a little skirmishing action. But you had to do something big in the final act, and that was it."

"Right. So who's the big cheese now? Don't worry, I don't have to kill them for a good, long time."

Mel scratched his chin. "I only know one person who's up for the job."

Anderson Demetrius Dean appeared in a sparkling mist. "My ears are burning. Well, are you guys done?" Mel and Frank were both speechless. "Of course I knew. I had it planned all along!"

"Dean, you are one tricky mofo. You knew I wouldn't keep this thing, and you used me to clear the field. Man!"

"Is that so bad, Mel? Would you rather be the anchor for the universe and have a constant struggle? You know what you want, and it's waiting for you on a beach somewhere. Besides, you and I both know that I'm perfect for this. Don't get me wrong – you were the right man for the job. But it takes a real management-type to run this gig smoothly. So whadaya say?"

Mel laughed. "It's all yours, Dean."

The power settled out of the air. Dean didn't shine or glow any more than usual, though, as if this were how it was supposed to be.

"Nice," was Dean's only comment.

"It's been cool," said Frank gruffly, "but I have to motorvate out of here."

"Hold it, Burley. Let's send Mel on his way. Then you and I need to talk."

Mel looked back and forth between them. "You guys are something else. Well, this is it." As he shook their hands, he wondered how much of his power was left. Mel gestured and the door to Tahiti opened.

"... he only took tips!" That must have been the punchline to Lucifer's joke, and apparently a good one. He could hear Anne laugh heartily. In stereo.

"Later," he said. Then he jumped through the door and was gone.

"So where's the door, Dean? I'm dying for a burger right about now."

Dean put his arm around Frank's shoulders as they began to walk. "You know, Frank, I think this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship."

Look for Mel's past adventures, check out an interview with our dimensionally challenged hero, and e-mail Jess at j_gulbranson@hotmail.com.

site design / management / host: ae
© 2001-2005 nwdrizzle.com / all rights reserved.