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May 22, 2012

I Hraet You (7)

Beat 7: You Know What They Say About What Comes With Great Power, Right?

Lloyd smiled.  It would seem that I have returned.
He sat in the director’s chair once more, albeit with a much more confident posture than last time.  He had no reason to worry or fear this time around; even as the colorless world encased him, he felt as if he’d entered his own personal command center rather than an altered plane.  He slid his glasses up his face with one finger, his smirk reaching critical levels of smugness; yes, this WAS his command center, the launching point of his operations.  He would own it.  Use it.  Have it serve as the foundation to his empire of breasts.
It’s finally that time.  Now, show yourself once more, Miss Walters!  Appear before me, and feel the power of my heart!
Lloyd held out a hand, as if to invite Trixie onto the ballroom floor.  Sure enough, his lady of the evening stepped onto the stage, script in hand.  “Miss Walters!  It’s a pleasure to see you once more,” he practically sang.  “Now then, I’m looking forward to a good showing from you.  Let’s get to work, shall we?”
But Trixie merely stood there, cocking her head like a puppy.  “Uh…sorry, but…have we met?”
And with those words Lloyd’s smugness levels hit record lows. 

“Sorry, but this is the first time I’ve ever tried something like this -- and it’s definitely the first time I’ve ever seen a guy with purple hair.”  She gasped, and held up a hand in apology.  “S-sorry!  It ain’t like purple hair’s a bad thing!  It’s, uh, real manly!”
Lloyd didn’t need anyone telling her that he looked good with purple.  He slapped a palm against the table and leaned forward.  “Now hold on a minute!” he yelled.  “As much as I enjoy your company, I refuse to believe that we haven’t done this dance before!  Meeting in the real world, then this audition room, then again in the real world -- are you saying that none of that registers with you?”
“Nope.  What, are ya mad?”  Trixie scratched absentmindedly at her head.  “Oh man.  I haven’t even auditioned yet, and things are gettin’ outta hand.  This is gonna suck…maybe I should just get outta here.”
Lloyd shook his head rapidly.  Bad enough that he’d been caught off guard; worse for him to lose what little advantage he had left.  “I won’t allow it!  You came here for a reason, and I’ll be damned if I let you walk away without as much as a spoken word!”  He nearly jumped out of his chair, and leaned his whole upper half over the table just to point at Trixie (forgetting the lesson that Rosco had taught him earlier).  “You want to be a star?  Then you know what you have to do!  Move my heart with your skill and power!”
Trixie held a hand over her mouth and took a step back; for a moment, Lloyd -- just now realizing he’d practically yelled at her through a megaphone -- thought his voice knocked her backward.  “Ya really think I can do it?” she asked, her voice much softer than usual.
Lloyd slid back into the chair and nodded, arms folded and fever dying down.  “I do, indeed.  But the one who decides who will become a star and who will fade into obscurity isn’t some man judging you from behind a table.  It’s you.  Now, stand tall and show me all your zeal!”
In spite of Lloyd’s plea, Trixie looked less than inspired; in fact, she almost seemed ready to hide behind one of the curtains.  “I dunno how ya can have so much faith in me.  Didn’t we just meet?”
Lloyd would have brought up the threat of surfboard-bashing and repeated punches, but decided to hold off.
Trixie shook her head.  “I dunno if this is gonna do any good, but…”  She looked back at Lloyd, neither confident nor fretful.  “If ya want me to try, then I’ll give it my best shot.  Make me a star!”
Just like before, a ball of blue gas shot out of Trixie’s chest, shrouded once more by that fishy mask.  The stars followed soon after; one by one they appeared, and moved back into their destined orbit.  But Lloyd could find no peace in seeing them -- if anything, it was the opposite. 
The stars that he’d filled up last time had dimmed.  As it stood, Trixie only had a half-star left.
This…this does not bode well, Lloyd thought, his body chilling and sweating at the same time.  How could this be?  How could I have gone back to step one?  He bit his thumb.  No, it’s worse than that; she’s starting out at a lower level than before.  And if she reaches that zero-star level, then…
He shook his head and forced a quivering smile.  No need for such gloomy thoughts, Lloyd old boy.  You raised her level once before.  You can do it again.  He stared fiercely at the fourth star in line; it almost seemed to taunt him -- calling his name, and daring him to try his best.  Soon enough, I shall know victory.  As shall you, my dear.
Trixie’s eyes shifted toward her shuffling feet.  “Should I leave now?  I…I don’t think I can give ya what yer lookin’ for.”
“Nonsense!  A hot-blooded woman such as you would have no problems impressing any given viewer!  You just need to relax.  Take a deep breath.  And have faith in yourself -- you don’t stand a chance if you think yourself a failure.”
Trixie hung her head.  “But I AM a failure.”
Lloyd clapped a hand over his mouth.  Last he checked, giving Trixie a compliment boosted her star count; if that rule held true, then the reverse did, too.  She’s barely hanging on as is, he thought, watching as the fish mask frowned -- it almost seemed to age twenty years in less than a second.  If I don’t watch my words, then we might have a real catastrophe to deal with.
He stroked his chin, watching pensively as his guest kept her eyes locked on the colorless stage.  Concentrate, Lloyd.  She called herself a “failure” just now.  Use that as a base of attack -- as evidence to boost her stars.  You just need to find something a bit more concrete, and…
Suddenly, Lloyd had a thought.  He whipped his head toward the table, at the pages of gibberish laid before him.  Sure enough, most of it remained as gibberish -- but some of it had shifted to a pulsating red, begging for his eyes to ogle them.  Could this be the tool I need? he wondered as his eyes darted left and right across the pages. 

TRIXIE (furious): Yer lucky yer already in the hospital -- if ya weren’t, I would’ve smacked ya over the head with my surfboard!

TRIXIE (panicked): Oh crap.  I punched a minor!  If word gets out, then I’m in some serious trouble…that’s the last thing I need right now! 

TRIXIE (despondent): But I AM a failure.

So these pages are a record of her past dialogues with me.  Fair enough.  But I doubt my mind is so weak that it can’t even remember a conversation here and there.  I wonder if there’s something more to this…  In his pondering, he hardly noticed that he tapped a finger against one of the lines.  And just as he did…
“Oh crap.  I punched a minor!  If word gets out, then I’m in some serious trouble…that’s the last thing I need right now!”
Lloyd bobbed his head back to the stage.  He remembered more than that line; Trixie had repeated it just now with the exact same cadence as before.  Same pitch, same speed, everything.  He glanced quickly at the page, and then tapped a finger against it once more.
“Oh crap.  I punched a minor!  If word gets out, then I’m in some serious trouble…that’s the last thing I need right now!” 

This time, Lloyd saw her as well as heard her; she repeated every action, every motion she had made back at the park’s underside.  He nodded, knowing that -- for better or worse -- he had his own personal repeat button.  She’s certainly expressive when she needs to be, I’ll give her that much, he thought.  Now then, how to proceed from here.  Maybe…yes, that could work…

“Uh, are ya doing okay down there?” Trixie asked.  “Uh…n-not that I’m second guessin’ ya or anything.  Just, ya know, bein’ friendly.”

Lloyd nodded slowly and offered a cool smile.  “Trixie.  From what I can gather, you’re at your best when you’re not quite so nervous,” he explained.  “When you’re acting at full blast without fear of repercussions, you show off a side of yourself that’s quite attractive.”

“Y-ya don’t mean that, do ya?” Trixie asked, pulling back a bit.  “Yer just messin’ with me.”

“No, I’m quite serious.  I wouldn’t dream of slighting you now.”  He held a hand in the air, as if hoping Trixie would lend him her own for a gentlemanly kiss.  “It’s that passion that drives you -- the same passion that gives you your power to move the heart, I’d wager.  Given that, why be so fretful about consequences?”

“I…I don’t think I follow ya.”  She held up her script.  “Should I just read my lines, or --”

Lloyd shook his head; he could only act on instinct and theory for now, and hope for the best outcome at the end of it all.  “If you read your lines now, I doubt it would be enough to impress me.  I want you at your best, even if it means facing you when you’re at your most violent.”  He tapped the back of his hand against the table.  “Frankly, I’m used to women getting violent with me,” he said with a weary grin.  “You could say that a part of me revels in it; seeing that passion in action sets my heart aflutter.”

Trixie turned aside.  “Ya got some weird tastes, pal,” she muttered.  “U-uh, not that that makes ya any less of a theater bigwig, ya know?”

“I take no offense.”  But as soon as he’d finished speaking, Lloyd shook his head.  “Or rather, I’ll take no offense, IF you can answer a few simple questions.”

“Like what?”

“Why don’t we tackle the question of your true identity first?”  He stroked his chin once more; crazy as he could get sometimes, he knew how to put the pieces together -- and use them for his offense.  “That accent paints you as someone from the south -- quite firmly rooted, I suspect.  It’s no wonder you came to Porbeagle with the intention of surfing.”  He flashed a smile, letting its glint signal his starting advance.  “Let me rephrase that.  You came to Porbeagle under the guise of surfing, not knowing any better; once you arrived, you stuck to your claim to cover your true motive.  Am I wrong?”

“Th-that’s not it at all!” Trixie stammered, with her face flushing.  “I came here to surf, honest!”

Lloyd turned his head upwards as he planned his next move.  “Fair enough.  I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt, based on the fact that you DO have a few aquatic traits -- the fact that you’re still wearing that one piece of yours chief among them.  So you’ve some experience with water, but I wonder if that has any bearing on your surfing.” 

“It does.”

But Lloyd merely shook his head.  “If that’s the case, then what sort of surfer would leave behind her surfboard -- an extension of her very soul?  And more to the point, what sort of southern belle has ready access to waters that allow her to surf?”

“Agh -- w-well, ya see, that’s…”  Trixie’s eyes darted left and right across the stage, searching for an answer -- maybe even that MIA surfboard.  “I-I had one, but…”  She pressed her lips shut.

She says she had one.  So what happened to it?  Did she lose it when she tried to save me?  No, that’s impossible; the only way for her to have lost track of her board would be if she had been under the Ferris wheel when it collapsed.  And beyond that, she could have used her board to ship me to safety -- in other words, she could never do something as reckless or foolish as losing it after getting out of the water.  That can only mean one thing.

Prior to saving me, Trixie had no surfboard -- and, she was able to save me because she was -- as the old saying goes -- “in the right place at the right time.”  If that’s the case…  He peered down at the red lines.  

I’ve got it!



  1. I'm totally enjoying this. And I'm not 100% sure of certain things, but I bet it'll be a fun ride on finding out. I really like the way Lloyd talks.

  2. Good to know, because that's the way I talk in real life...well, sometimes. It depends on whether or not I'm in a hammy mood. Which is more often than you'd expect.

    Also (obligatory desperate plea for attention incoming), feel free to tell your friends and family about the story. I'm looking to get as much input and feedback as I can to improve -- and the sooner I get more readers, the better off we'll all be. Well, the better off I'll be, at least; I imagine not many people will enjoy my impending reign of terror. Fortunately, they'll be too brainwashed to care.