I wanna take you for a ride (I think)! Let's discuss Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite!


October 25, 2012

I Hraet You (49)

Beat 49: The Lowest of the Low Blows

Everything proceeded as Lloyd expected.  Stars appeared and began to orbit Mrs. Overdose’s body, moving in silent order as a mask started to take form.  So far, everything is as it was with Miss Walters, Lloyd thought as he leaned forward.  Certainly a far cry from the incident with Miss O’ Leary.  But I wonder what sort of shape her mask will take?

He didn’t have to wait long for an answer.  It appeared outside a wisp of gray gas, and bordered by rigid chains: a mole.  Or some kind of rodent, at least; Lloyd only vaguely knew the hairy face and long nose, but could make a good guess based on the hidden -- if not absent -- eyes.  Not the most expected of animals for a woman such as this, but who am I to judge?  He stroked his chin.  Doubtless I would have something along the lines of a wiry peacock. 

But my musings on my innermost bestial representation can wait. I have a heart to attend to.  Lloyd continued rubbing his fingers across his chin as he observed Mrs. Overdose’s form -- not changed in the least in regards to her posture, and still wearing the same cool scowl as always.  Even the mole-faced mask looked unfazed by its surroundings or its master -- or by the two golden stars, or the dull topaz ones that followed close behind.  Only two stars…well, it could be worse, but I’d prefer not to leave her at half-capacity if I can help it.  I intend to uplift her in one fell swoop -- four stars well before Gaston’s plan comes to fruition.

His brow started to tense.  But I’ll need to be careful, now more than ever.  Not only is Mrs. Overdose at risk in this world, but apparently I am as well.  If I’m to succeed, I’ll need to shrug off her scathing words -- because if I don’t, it’s likely that I’ll end up in a worse situation than this one.

Right then.  Nothing for me to worry about.

Mrs. Overdose raised an eyebrow.  “So are we gonna do this sometime this year?  I’m not gettin’ any younger.”

“Of course.  Let’s begin immediately.”  Lloyd glanced down at the desk, working hastily to devise a plan of attack.  Should he let her speak freely?  Press her on certain points?  Or have her repeat lines to get a reaction?  All of them seemed like fair choices at that moment, and at the very least he had a number of options.  “Mrs. Overdose -- or should I say, Mrs. Delgado --”

“Overdose is fine.”

“Of course.  Well…I was just thinking to myself that for all our misadventures together, I can’t say I know you particularly well.  So if at all possible, I thought you could use this opportunity to introduce yourself.  Tell me a little more about you, as a means to fill in your biographical details, should the need arise -- or merely to begin forming a bond between actor and director.”

That got a reaction out of her; almost immediately, she cocked her head and sneered.  “You drag me here lookin’ to add me to your little group, but you didn’t bother doing a background check?  I didn’t know you were in such a rush to get one of your kidneys scooped out with a spatula.”

“People do that?”

“…Remind me why I’m here again?”

“So you can --”

“That was rhetorical.”  She massaged her temple.  “Damn, I need some beer, or a cigarette, or something.”

“You’ll get none of your vice-laden products here.  This is an incubator of love -- and the sooner you cooperate, the better off you’ll be.”  He raised one of the sheets, and tapped the back of his hand against it.  “Now then, why don’t you read a bit from your script?  Doubtless it would help your case.”

“Well, if it’ll get me outta here faster…”  Mrs. Overdose started eyeing her script, her eyes darting left and right at a rapid clip.

Hmmm…as I recall, this is the third time that one of these “actors” has shown up with a script in hand, Lloyd thought.  But this is actually the first time I’ve actually had them read from the script at large.  Now then, what can I expect from this turn of events?  A revelation of her past?  A clue to her deepest motivations?  Perhaps desires that her conscious self might never have kno-

“It’s blank,” said Mrs. Overdose.  She held up the pages.  “It’s completely blank.”

Lloyd snapped out of his pondering, and stared with wide eyes at the stage.  “B-blank?!  But how could that be?”

“I dunno, but it is.”

“But surely you came in here with a filled-in script; how could you have --?”

“I don’t know, but all the words are gone.”  She rolled up the script and started shaking it at Lloyd, threatening to bop him with it like a misbehaving terrier.  “Look, I dunno what kind of crap you’re tryin’ to pull with all this acting junk, but all this is starting to piss me off.  Give me one good reason why I should work with you and not turn you into a sack of broken bones.”

“Because this can help you in a way that money never could.”

“How?”

“Because it’s the power of love.”

“Maybe you didn’t hear me.  I said how?”

Lloyd leaned back in his chair and folded his arms.  “Love will triumph over all.  So long as we people, guided by its amorous force gather together, we can bring about a revolution the likes of which the world has never seen.”  He scratched his ear.  “I would have figured that was common knowledge.”

“You still haven’t answered the question.  How?  What’s your master plan?”  She started looking around the room.  “Let’s say I end up becoming an actor for you.  Then what?  You got other actors?  Got a play all lined up?  Got a producer?  A place for your show, props, music, the works?  You even know if people will show up?  Because, honestly?  I am REALLY startin’ to doubt your credibility, kid.”  She waved a hand through the air.  “Ooooh, loooooooooove will fix everything!  We don’t need money or support or common sense, because we have loooooooooooove!”

“I may not have all the details planned out, but I still have an ultimate goal in mind.  And that is --”

“Impossible just because you have good feelings.  Can’t you offer anything better?  Can’t you give me any proof that this thing isn’t a waste of time?”

“I can -- of course I can!” Lloyd shouted, seizing the desk’s edges in a tightening grip.  “This venture…no, I can offer you a new way of life, a new vision!  Happiness beyond anything you’ve ever known before!”

“Then I’ll ask you again. How?”

Lloyd immediately opened his mouth to give an answer, but relented; he held his mouth open for a few seconds before snapping it shut, and slinking back into his seat.  This is getting us nowhere.  It’s just as Gaston said; if I can’t bridge the gap between the two of us, then this entire sequence is pointless.  She’s a practical woman that deals in concrete evidence and finances.  I need more than just passionate pleas to woo her -- and I need it now.

He formed a slight grimace; he could hear his heartbeat growing steadily louder, and with it came a disruptive chill.  Her words are affecting me once more.  If I let this continue, she’ll deal another savage blow to my heart -- and from there, I’m one step closer to my expiration.  But what do I do?  What can I offer her?  I don’t have anything nearly as palpable as she’d prefer.  He glanced down at the desk.  I don’t think anything she’s said in the past is nearly enough to start a counter-offensive; the details about her have all been well-hidden and maintained.

So what?  What do I do now?  He started to gnaw on his thumb.  Think, Lloyd, think!  You can’t let her get the best of you!

“Hey.  Kid.”

Lloyd looked back at the stage; Mrs. Overdose hadn’t bothered to bail on him, but judging by her furrowing brow he didn’t have much time left.  “Why’re you doin’ that?”

“It’s just what I do when I’m particularly incensed,” Lloyd answered -- though to his dismay, he’d gnawed on his thumb much harder than usual.  “When I’m deep in thought, sometimes I --”

“I know what that really means.  And I wanna know why you’d do it.”

“Ah -- I…well, I suppose it’s just a tic of mine.”

“Why?  Why can’t you just be normal?”  She looked through the room almost absentmindedly, as if bored by the conversation, the boy, and perhaps even the room itself.  “I’ve seen stick figures that are more realistic than you -- and in more ways than one.  And I’m pretty sure they’re all a lot more pleasant than you.”

“What do you mean?”

“Think about it, kid.  The purple hair.  The fancy speech.  The lovey-dovey talk.  Everything about you makes me ache all over.  You’re an eyesore, you’re noisy, you’re givin’ me a headache, and I’m pretty sure I’ll need to soak my legs after all this pointless standin’ around.  And you’re seriously out to win me over with all your dumbass antics?  You want me, or anyone else to take you seriously when you can’t even answer the simplest questions?”  She pressed a palm against her temple, and started digging her fingers into her scalp.  “I’m pretty sure this is obvious, but I’ll go ahead and say it.  I hate you, and the sooner you get outta my sight, the better off we’ll both be.  I’ll be free to make some money, and you can go love your way into a ditch or something.”

Lloyd clenched his teeth, and clutched his chest -- but even with the cold sweat forming on his face, he leaned forward in stark defiance.  “Lying is an ugly thing, Mrs. Overdose; hardly befitting of the fairer sex.  And even if what you said was true, I still have every intention of converting you --”

“You’re missing the point, kid…or should I call you Romeo?”

Lloyd reeled again -- and this time, he didn’t bounce back.

“You’re unreal.  You’ve dialed up the quirkiness to where it’s way beyond cute -- it’s just sad.  And that’s all you really are deep down: a sad, delusional kid that’s about to act his way to an early grave.”  She let loose a short but biting laugh.  “Love.  Please.  You’re forgettin’ one tiny little fact, kid: nobody could ever love you.”

Lloyd didn’t have an answer to that.  And even if he did, he couldn’t say a word; it felt as if he’d been slashed by a broadsword, and run through for good measure.  He doubled over and drove his fingers into his chest, momentarily fearing that he might tear through the skin.  He did so out of reflex, and out of a desperate need to soothe the sudden spasm -- though why he’d grab his chest instead of the afflicted area remained a mystery, even to him.

The heart-shaped jewel reappeared in a burst of light, but only for a moment.  Just long enough to crack even more, and resound to announce its impending destruction.

“Kgggh!  D-damn…!”  Lloyd started to stagger and stumble, and his vision jumped between a blurred mess and pitch-blackness.  “What on earth…?!”

“You don’t look so good, kid,” Mrs. Overdose announced, still as cool as ever in spite of watching Lloyd struggle to stay on his feet.  “What’s wrong?  Things get a little too real for you?”

“I…I can still…!”

But the gunwoman merely shook her head.  “You’re all talk.  And if that doesn’t work, then just what are you good for, huh?”  She crossed her arms, and cocked her head upwards, giving Lloyd an even more derisive stare than before.  “Why don’t you go to sleep?  Stay in dream land where you belong -- and leave reality to the adults.”

If Lloyd could have made an objection, he would have.  But he couldn’t.  Because before he could even think of getting a word out, he tumbled face-first onto the desk.  And that was where he stayed.

Without a word.  Without a motion.  Without a breath.

TO BE HEARTINUED…

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