“Oh my God!” cried Leon. “It’s Metaphor Man!”

Indeed it was; Metaphor Man streaked down to the city jungle, a comet across dark clouds. The impact was a tiny tsunami, the superhero a wall between Leon and Nöel and evil.

“Who’s this chump?” said the lead mugger, deftly juggling his pistol between two hands. “It’s not Mondo Man. Think he’s bulletproof?”

“Your bullets are hollowpoint insults, raindrops on oilskin,” growled Metaphor Man, a pitbull in his element as he baited large, dumb bovines.

“Huh?” The mugger said, looking down the barrel of his pistol, which he had learned how to use from TV shows.

Metaphor Man glowered, a judge at an execution. “Your death is your birth, an unfortunate accident.”

The gun went off and the mugger crumpled to the ground. His companion, visibly shaken held his gun on the superhero. “Stay back!”

“You are a simpering kitten, the slightest sound blowing away the mirage,” sneered Metaphor Man, his voice deep and imposing whiskey-soaked gravel from a bar parking lot. “The ground, a magnet, draws your failure to it…just as the horizon is a siren’s call for the cowardly.”

Mugger #2 dropped his gun and ran.

“The police are flies, drawn to a stench you cannot conceal,” Metaphor Man cried after him. “A dog to its vomit, you return to them soon.”

“Thank you,” said Nöel, as a weak and weeping Leon cried on her shoulder. “You were like an angel. How can we ever thank you?”

“Your gratitude is sweet nectar, but your simile is a bitter salve,” grunted Metaphor Man. “You make your thanks palpable by sending the latter to its grave an unmourned corpse.”

“Huh?” Leon said through the sobs.

“He wants us to use more metaphors, sweetie,” said Nöel. “Thank you, Metaphor Man. You were manna from heaven on a day otherwise marked by biblical blood rain.”

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“Oh. My god.”

“What now, Dick?” sighed Anna, straining not to roll her eyes.

“That. Do you see that thing?”

Anna looked up at her (admittedly unfortunately-named and unfortunately bland) date. He was standing stock still in the middle of the sidewalk, apparently oblivious to the rushing nightlife crowd around them, and staring straight ahead.
Anna tried to stare too, peering through and around the bodies flowing past her. And yes, there was something in front of them. Something that looked quite like a praying mantis. Or, no, she thought, like a tree. And were those hands?

“Quick, Dick!…wait…*snirk*” Anna snirked.

“What?”

“It’s the Mantis Lord! Get him!” Anna cried, tearing off her plainclothes to reveal a latex leotard.
Anna, aka Missus Wow!, flew at the Mantis Lord and threw him into a building with her super-strength.

“Aw, what, now? But we were on a date…fine.” Dick wiggled out of his clothes to reveal…a less-attractive latex suit. The Dickless Wonder aimed his palm at the Mantis Lord and prepared his laser beams.

Her scream pierced the night. Another damn nightmare. For weeks after that lousy date, Anna had been dreaming for that guy. Not that she was actually interested in him or his unfortunate name, he just kept appearing. She could go through the whole day without thinking about him, but every dream lead her back to that night and their plain simple date.

Still, she hadn’t seen anyone else since then. It was simply that no one else had come into her life, or so she told herself. Trisha from the office was still to get her second cousin Bill in town to meet Anna, but nothing had come of it. So instead she laid in her bed in the dark of night, terrified of her walking dream.

“Would you like that dream expunged? That awful date, those terrible comic book references? I can make that happen for you. No more nightmares and no more datey thoughts…for a price.”

She looked up, startled, from her bed at the hunched shape in the corner. Half convinced it was another dream, she would only say: “What price and who’s asking?”

“The Motley Man asks, and his price is quite reasonable,” came the oily-smooth reply. “Or would you rather go back to being Missus Wow to your awful date’s Dickless Wonder for the rest of your slumbering life?”

“All right,” she said. “I don’t care what the price is. Just take away the dreams and the memories of that date.”
“Deal,” said the Motley Man.

The memories were gone. The dreams were gone. But that, perhaps, was because she was now an inanimate bookshelf frozen in a silent scream.

Inanimate though she was, Anna was still aware. Trapped inside her head and inside another dream which was, if possible, worse. Time was wrong. She sat on a throne, that crooked Motley Man at her side bearing a tray of all manner of strange things and before her knelt a man.

“Who are you?” he asked. “Why can I not understand you?”

She laughed bitterly. “I do not even understand myself.”

“Please,” he said, “tell me, oh Time, how I can better understand you, better spend you, and better find you.”
The words rose as if she had been born to say them.

“You must go to the Jungle of Luud. My servant will go with you. Do everything he tells you and you will find yourself in the Sacred Geometry. There you will find the one you seek. When you have pulled her from the Geometry, then you will understand what you seek.”

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“Teeming teaming terrors, it’s the Grinpire, the smiling vampire!” cried Mouse-Boy, the most uniquely rodentlike sidekick in the International Brotherhood of Sidekicks Local 420. “And Simpltron, the killer robot who reduces everything to binary opposites!”

“I see them, Mouse-Boy.” Super Chin, the world’s only chinchilla-themed detective superhero, narrowed his eyes.

“That’s right, you fuzzy freakazoids,” chortled the Grinpire, his chalky-white skin leering above his gleefully dancing fangs. “And with our powers of anarchy and logic combined, to say nothing of our shared immortality and immorality, it’s curtains for you!”

“01110100 01110010 01110101 01100101!” zotzed Simpletron.

“You suck, Grinpire!” riposted Mouse-Boy in return.

“No, now, Mouse-boy,” scolded Super Chin, his thick and luxuriant hair swaying with every shake of his head. “While it may be technically true, the implication is that of a childlike insult, and heroes are neither childish nor insulting. Unless they’re Child-Man or Insulterine, naturally.”

“What are you going to do to stop us, Super Chimp?” the Grinpire laughed hysterically. “Scold us to death?”

“01100110 01100001 01101100 01110011 01100101!” computed Simpletron. “01100110 01100001 01101100 01110011 01100101!” It began to whir and smoke and glow, and the ambient temperature nearby skyrocketed.

“Holy horrible heatstroke, Super Chin!” Mouse-Boy gasped. “Your one weakness, aside from diabetes from too many sweet raisins or other dried fruits!”

“That’s right, Mouse-Boy,” Super Chin agreed through gritted teeth. “Temperatures in excess of 80°F (25°C).”

“And when you collapse with heatstroke, the Grinpire will be here to move in for the suck!” added the undead crime kingpin. “What do you say to that, Stupor Chin?”

“01100100 01101001 01100101! 01100100 01101001 01100101! 01100100 01101001 01100101!” chanted Simpletron with its Chant Simulator 98 software package.

“There is only one recourse,” said the visibly uncomfortable rodent detective superhero.

“No!” squeaked Mouse-Boy. “Surely you can’t mean…!”

“I have no choice,” said Super Chin. “I must…take a dust bath.”

Based on characters created by and courtesy of Scott M. Watson.

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