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#1 Rick Starr

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 04:37 AM

Rick's mouth tasted like mushrooms and toothpaste. This wasn't really the strangest thing that Rick's ever tasted, which was still technically bullet, but it wasn't a flavor combination that he had been expecting. Rain was coming down in sheets around him. Wave after wave of warm droplets soaking into his clothes. This was new.


It took him a few tries before he finally remembered how to stand. The initial vertigo was threatening to make him lose whatever elements combined to make mushrooms and toothpaste so Rick abandoned the entire enterprise in favor of collapsing face first into the sticky, wet muck that the rain had turned the surrounding field into. 

 

"Dude, you fucked up," Imaginary Boreas was squatting beside his host brain. He wasn't dressed in a costume but he still had that ridiculous mask of his on so that Rick knew that he was Imaginary Boreas. The fucking up thing was probably about the fact that Rick was currently lost in the woods, but maybe he had forgotten to pay a parking ticket. Until somebody fictional or otherwise told him differently he was just going worry about having left his truck at Nick's apartment.


"Where are we exactly?" Rick was not sure where he was but Metro City couldn't be that far away. Usually, when this sort of thing happened he just woke up in a Wendy's or O'Hoolihan's which served similar purposes of providing Rick excess calories to waste.


"Remember, I'm imaginary. I really don't have a single clue where you've gotten yourself but I just want you to know that I spoke to everyone and we're all very disappointed in you." 


"Isn't this normally somebody else's job?" 


"Nick says you are afraid of success and was worried you might try eating centipedes again if she came out." Was that the toothpaste flavor? Yeah, that made sense. Sometimes when imaginary versions of a woman you are dating appear before you the only reasonable response was centipedes.

 

"Look, I just want to go home and maybe get a shower," he patted himself down looking for where his cellphone could possibly be hiding. 

 

"Don't worry, bro. We have you covered," Boreas handed over the cellphone already dialing a number with a Florida area code. 


"Oh, thanks dude," he looked around the wet, green field  for where the imaginary figment had gone, but apparently Boreas had gotten tired of being imaginary comedic relief. The hold music was a smooth jazz and occasionally a recorded message assured Rick that the company really appreciated his patience. Rick had to admit it felt good to be appreciated. "Um… Hello?" 


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#2 Kristján

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 04:52 AM

Gentleman's Quarterly was once again trying to convince Kristján that he ought to wear boat shoes without socks in the summertime. Hacks. Children. Clumsy blind creatures groping in the darkness of the aesthetic wasteland that was their publication without even the benefit of diabolical pacts with Satan to help them find their way.
 
Kristján did not heed GQ. Mostly it let him know how disgusting the youth of the world were going to be this season. 
 
This season boded rather well, but it would go better if everybody would stop telling young men that socks were optional. They'd be buying fine shoes and reeking them up in no time, and then where would they be? Buying new shoes. The obviousness of this shoe sales-boosting conspiracy had not seemed to occur to anybody else. They were all fools and they deserved to be bankrupt, rolling in the streets in their own filth and the oozing mess smeared on them by their own leaking sores. Justice not being his personal business, however, he was free to leave such reprobates to the whims of fate to free himself up for more important things, like answering the phone at CAPE's front desk.
 
"Center for the Affairs of Powered Entities, how may I direct your call?"


#3 Rick Starr

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 04:58 AM

"Hey, this is the Insectoid Man calling. Do we have some kind of department that does phone traces?" He paused, wondering if that was sufficient information to explain his current needs. It felt like it would be centipede egg on his face if he needed to actually say that he needed somebody to triangulate his position off of cellphone towers because he was lost. Rick scratched his head looking up at the rainclouds above. "We have one of those, right?"

 

Maybe Rick should have called somebody else that wouldn't tattle on Nick. Somebody that didn't have his best interests at heart. Why couldn't he have a real villainous nemesis like everyone else did? 


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#4 Kristján

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 05:07 AM

Kristján picked up his Montblanc Bohème Pirouette Lilas fountain pen with the beautiful eighteen karat red gold nib and resisted the urge to drum either end against his desk blotter calendar. Feeling the urge and then congratulating himself for resisting it for the sake of respecting fine writing instruments was far better than any cheap thrills he'd have felt by tapping it against anything so homely and unworthy as the CAPE desk's calendar.
 
After a couple of seconds of silence, Kristján replied, "Yes."
 
Obviously.


#5 Rick Starr

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 05:14 AM

"Oh. Well, good." Rick stumbled through the knee high grass and considered the best way to lie to a secretary why he needed his own cellular phone traced. The most reasonable explanation was that he was infiltrating some kind of super gang. Maybe he could just say that he was possessed by ghosts. People didn't doubt you when ghosts were involved. 


"I need them to trace the number that I am currently calling from. That is 555-360-4117. Do I need to repeat that?" 


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#6 Kristján

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 05:21 AM

"No."
 
What sort of receptionist did this boy think he was? He could remember a string of numbers and even if he could not, he would go out of his way to confirm them on his own without any filthy vermin men second-guessing his professional judgment. 
 
Kristján pulled his notepad over and wrote down the number with his Montblanc Bohème Pirouette Lilas, privately reveling in the feel of the nib against the paper even as he regretted the paper's inferior quality and what texture it meant he was missing from the experience. 
 
"555-360-4117?"


#7 Rick Starr

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 05:28 AM

"That's the phone number. How long does this sort of thing normally take?" 


He sat down on a small exposed rock and tried to figure out where he could be. The landscape provided minimal clues besides the presence of rain, grass, and centipedes. There was something that he was supposed to be remembering but it was just one of those days. The kind that a guy has after ingesting something that made his head pound and his joints ache. 

 

Maybe if they sent a rescue team they could also send some mouthwash. 


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#8 Kristján

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 05:36 AM

"That depends on your answer to my next question."
 
Kristján had something to settle for himself, a professional question as well as a personal one. Which of his myriad options would be most convenient for all involved and which of them would be most generous and helpful were obviously secondary considerations to which would amuse him the most.
 
But could he really subject a fellow man to such a terrible thing?
 
For the sake of his own amusement, and as punishment for this absurd waste of his time, Kristján certainly could. Especially as punishment for wasting his time. Why hadn't he thought of that first? Oh well. If anybody were ever to ask, he had, and that was just going to be the official story forever. 
 
"Are you or anyone else in any imminent peril? What is the level of urgency of this request?"


#9 Rick Starr

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 05:44 AM

Oh no. This sounded like a real official question. This sounded like the kind of question that was followed up with a Sir, have you been taking illicit substances? Then he'd be obligated to answer yes. Well what type sir? He didn't know. You don't know? Well it's not like he had some kind of degree in chemistry or something. It was just the stuff that works.


No, this was a terrible idea.


"Well, I think I'm having a pretty bad ghost problem." Yes.


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#10 Kristján

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 05:52 AM

A ghost problem.
 
A pretty bad ghost problem could mean anything from my walls are bleeding and flies are nesting in my body to it's singing Henry the Eighth and won't stop. It was vague and it was unhelpful and most importantly it was not the question Kristján had asked.
 
This was so inefficient. There was terrible fashion advice being given in magazines and instead of deliberately enraging himself by reading it Kristján was talking to this vermin.
 
"Do I need to repeat my questions?"


#11 Rick Starr

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 06:00 AM

"Well if you put it like that then the ghost problem isn't immediately a threat to anyone. They're just ghosts. You know how ghosts can be." The man on the other end of the phone would give a jovial chuckle and agree that he knew exactly how ghosts were. Everyone knew how ghosts could be. 

 

Silence.


"I'm really lost." 


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#12 Kristján

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 06:05 AM

Time-wasting vermin, filthy and impoverished and pointless. The sound of rapid typing filled the air around Kristján's computer, and subsequently filtered through to the receiver on his phone and out of Rick Starr's cell phone speaker.
 
With particular emphasis Kristján hit one last key.
 
The result was quick, and happily not too different from what he'd expected. That would make everything less complicated.
 
"Yes," Kristján said. "You certainly are. If you are done wasting my time, I have another call to make. Is this a convenient number with which to call you back?"


#13 Rick Starr

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 06:13 AM

This was the sort of man that Rick could physically intimidate. If he took this tone with him in person then Rick could personally dunk Kristján's head in a toilet like the dweebazoid that he clearly was. Maybe it was just the drugs or the centipedes talking but Rick felt something bubbling up deep inside of him. 


"Look, I bust my ass out here. Can we cut the sass?" So assertive. Rick was a true alpha male. 


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#14 Kristján

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 06:17 AM

Busted his ass.
 
Sure he did. 
 
Sure he did. 
 
It hadn't looked like that the last time Kristján had checked in with him. 
 
"I am infernal royalty and you are literally an insect. You have made this process inefficient. That is unacceptable. At this point I can only remind you that this could have gone differently. You made it this way. Stay where you are and I will be in touch."
 
Then he hung up.


#15 Rick Starr

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 06:27 AM

"Hey! Hey! No, you do not hang up on me!" Rick yelled at his cellphone because there was not a filing demon in several miles to yell at. Then he threw his phone at the horizon because it seemed like a reasonable thing to do at the time.


It quickly became clear to Rick as his enhanced strength launched the tiny plastic phone as several hundred feet a second that this wasn't a reasonable thing to do. 

 

"Crap!" It took Rick a few minutes to chase down his phone and retrieve it from an albatross nest before he really considered where his life had taken him. He was a grown man of a certain age who sometimes woke up on islands to the perpetual back sass of the infernal. Richard Starr's life was suffering. 


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#16 Kristján

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 06:34 AM

Kristján had some phone calls to make. 
 
The first was an obvious one, as there were certain people whose involvement was contingent upon their consent, at least according to those members of the Metro City PE community with professional standards and respect for others. It was not the sort of thing Insectoid Man could have understood. Perhaps now at least Insectoid Man would understand the value of not pissing people off by being an unprofessional disorganized shambles. There just was not any imaginable excuse; plenty of insects were perfectly organized, admirably so, even. This was unacceptable. 
 
Certain newly-involved parties seemed inclined to agree, for whatever reasons they had. Kristján supposed he could guess, but knowing for sure simply was not terribly important. Data was exchanged, updated, and certain arrangements made.
 
Kristján was satisfied by them.
 
Fifteen minutes later the Insectoid Man received another phone call.


#17 Rick Starr

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 06:44 AM

"Look, I really don't have any fish," he was sitting cross legged beside the albatross nest speaking with the occupant of said nest. It's not that he had given up on ever being rescued from this location. With enough walking anything was possible but rescue seemed faster. The albatross gave a gentle cough.


"Anyways, I don't think it is necessarily inherently an immoral thing to partake in what I do. I'm not in any real risk and sometimes I just need a vacation from stuff. Everyone has their own way of dealing with stress." The albatross flapped its massive wings in agreement and proceeded to vomit up a bright orange stomach oil across Rick's lap to defend its nest.

 

Rick's cellphone vibrated and he immediately answered it now almost excited for the prospect of the hellish wit of the nether. "Hello?" 


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#18 Kristján

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 06:49 AM

The smooth tenor voice was unfamiliar, as was the number. The accent was not American, but rather a sort of watered-down British. 
 
"Good afternoon," said the voice, alerting Rick Starr to the very important and possibly heretofore mysterious revelation that it was in fact past the hour of noon. "Am I speaking with Insectoid Man, most recently of Metro City, Florida, in the United States of America?"


#19 Rick Starr

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 06:54 AM

"You're correct. Whom may I ask is calling?" It always paid to be polite to mysterious individuals on the phone. Unless they turned out to be possessed spiritual conduits for nether creatures. In which case, Rick was definitely justified in telling the filing demon he had sass.


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#20 Kristján

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Posted 31 January 2014 - 07:30 AM

Rick heard a deep breath from the other end of the line, not generally a particularly good sign.
 
"Royal Falkland Islands Police Reserve Constable Kelly. I have been informed that you entered this country illegally but from a country with which we have a reciprocal agreement, so a visitor's visa is not required." 
 
Reserve Constable Kelly took a breath. 
 
"I am also informed that it is possible you may have been forcibly relocated from your nation of origin and accordingly have been empowered to assist in your repatriation back to the United States of America, due to me not having much else of any importance to do with my time."
 
Kelly took another breath. 
 
"If you will remain at your last recorded location, a white vehicle with a blue and yellow checkered stripe along the side will be along to collect you at our earliest convenience."






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