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August 8, 2013

I Hraet You (81)

Beat 81: Overpowering the Overpowering…With Power

“Wha…what the hell?”  Deirdre stared at the flaming vines with wide eyes.  In spite of her trembling body -- or likely because of it -- she swept a hand about to shift their aim.  But it didn’t work; the pair of vines remained locked on to her curvy form.  Neither of them moved, but the threat of violence proved more than enough to make Deirdre start sweating. 

“So my theory proved right, then,” said Lloyd.  He kept navigating the vine-laden walls of the pit, but at a much more casual pace than before; they hadn’t stopped, but they’d slowed down enough to create the illusion.  “Whatever you can imagine becomes real -- but as an imaginary being in your own right, you’re bound by a set rules and limitations.”

“What are you playing at, boy?”

“I’m afraid I’m not playing at anything.  Though more than likely, the one who’s being ‘played’ here is you.”  His eyes swept through the pit.  “Since the moment this venture started, we haven’t been alone.  You may have been the first to approach me, but you did so in tandem with one other.”

“Who?”

“Isn’t it obvious?  Miss O’Leary is here.  Or rather, everywhere.”

Deirdre looked ready to start bellowing at Lloyd, but he held up a hand just as she formed her first syllable.  “There are certain things you cannot do, so long as Miss O’Leary retains some form of control -- minor as it may be in this instance.  My guess was that she acts as the overseer in this situation; she’s more than willing to let you act freely -- for the moment -- but should you begin to act out of line, she’ll overrule your motions.  Ergo, the vines.”  A slight smile crept across his face.  “I believe your master is giving you a warning.”

Deirdre’s eyes darted back and forth between Lloyd and the vines, and for a moment Lloyd thought she might sprain her neck with so many turns.  But eventually she came to a stop -- and tried her best to wear her sultry grin.  “So what?  Even if Sheila won’t let me have EVERYTHING go my way, I can still do plenty.  She doesn’t care.  If anything, I’m the one who’s the overseer; if it wasn’t for me and my ‘suggestions’, she wouldn’t even leave the house in the real world.  What makes you think that she’ll step in now?”

“Think carefully.  Things have begun to change in this mental space -- and given those changes, how long do you suppose you’ll be allowed to continue unabated?”  Lloyd’s smile stretched a bit wider.  “I wonder…do you even know what your weaknesses are?”

“W-weaknesses?”  

“If not for me hanging here, telling you all of these things, would you have been able to figure out what’s transpired thus far?  More to the point, would you be able to see what’s about to transpire?”

Deirdre waved a hand through the air.  “Ha!  As if it matters in the end, boy!  I’m in control of this situation; I’m on top!  And I’ll stay on top for as long as I want!  And there’s nothing you can do about it!”

Resilient to the bitter end, I see, Lloyd thought.  Then again, she’s given me another tool that could prove useful in a moment.  He nodded at Deirdre.  “I suppose you’re right.  In the end, I am nothing more than a man of words -- a tailor with lines and thoughts in an attempt to give myself merit.  But in the face of your nigh-limitless power, I’m naught but a rambler.  I suppose in the end, there’s only so much I can do against you…especially if my words -- as they say -- bounce off you and stick to me.”  He turned aside.  “I feel as if I’ve gotten that wrong somehow.”

The tension that had gripped and shook Deirdre started to vanish before Lloyd’s eyes; the quivering lips she’d once tried to snap in line could now form that confident grin without filter.  “So that’s it, then?” she asked.  She threw out a hand.  “Ready to give up?  Ready to come to me?”

Lloyd bowed his head.  “I am.  There’s much merriment to be made.”

“Wonderful.  Simply wonderful.  Then let’s get starte-”

“HOWEVER!”  Lloyd bucked his head back upward, and stared straight at Deirdre.  “If this is to be my end -- Lloyd B. Hoigleheimer’s final stand -- then I have a simple request.  I ask, and hope, that within the kindness of your heart you fulfill my last request.  Let this mind-blowing moment be one that I specify.”

“Oh?  So you want me to make your fantasy come to life?  Give you something that’ll make you nice and hot?”  Deirdre chuckled and threw up her hands.  “Well, fine.  I’ve already won, so I suppose I can give you this last request.  What’ll it be, little boy?”

Lloyd’s eye twinkled.  “‘What’ll it be,’ you ask?”  He took a deep breath. 

Deirdre’s grin faded in an instant.

“I want to [CENSORED] with [CENSORED] while [DELTA-CENSORED] on a [ALPHA AND OMEGA-CENSORED] along with [OH GOD WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME THIS IS BEYOND CENSORED] while covering [HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME AGAIN IT’S GOING TO TAKE A CENSOR BAR THE SIZE OF THE MOON TO COVER THAT UP] at precisely an eighty-six degree angle all while [NO SCRATCH THAT IT’D TAKE ANOTHER BIG BANG TO MAKE ENOUGH CENSOR BARS TO CENSOR THIS AND OH JESUS WHY ARE YOU MAKING ME TALK ABOUT CENSORSHIP ON A UNIVERSAL SCALE] to the tune  of ‘Little Brown Jug’ as performed on [THERE IS NO HOPE LEFT NO REASON NO FUTURE] as the spirit of Leif Erickson [WHERE I GO NO MAN CAN FOLLOW FOR NOW I HAVE CHOSEN TO BEGIN THE MY JOURNEY BEYOND THE TERMINUS] and afterward we can have some cantaloupe.  Because it is delicious.”

Lloyd took in a half dozen gulps of air, and then let loose a calming sigh.  “There.  You can do that, right?”

Deirdre didn’t answer him.  She just stared at him.  She stared.  And stared.  And stared.  And stared.

And as she stared -- without moving, without blinking, and almost without breathing -- she started getting redder.  A blush, blooming into a shade, blooming into a full-on coat of red across her face.

“Was it something I said?” asked Lloyd.

Deirdre stared blankly at Lloyd -- and then, she slapped her hands to her cheeks and trembled like a freezing poodle.  “I-I can’t!  I just can’t!  It’s too -- i-i-i-i-it’s just too embarrassing!  Who comes up with that kinda stuff anyway?!  It’s just…th-that’s just wrong!  Oh my gosh -- it’s so GROSS!  I can’t do that!  I don’t -- I-I-I don’t even wanna think about it!  I’m not that kind of girl!  I don’t…I mean…what kind of planetarium would even let you -- ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”  She clamped her eyes shut and shook her head so fast it started to blur.  “It’s too much!  It’s so wrong!  So nasty!  Impure!  Impure!  Impure!  D-don’t make me do it!  Please!”   

Lloyd couldn’t hold back a smile.  “But I thought this was what you wanted.  You had every intention of going as far as you could with me, yes?  Then isn’t my wish more than enough?”

“I-I d-d-d…I di-d-d-did…”  Deidre’s eyes shot open, and she stared at her reddened form with terse twitches.  Whatever sweltering pose she wanted to make, she’d long since lost the ability to.  She’d pulled her legs inward, with her knees knocking noisily against each other.  Her arms tried -- and failed -- to shield her body, while her fingers curled and uncurled in rapid spasms.  Lloyd couldn’t tell what she wanted to do with her mouth -- yet for all but the rarest moments, she looked ready to burst into tears.  “Wh-what’s wr-wr-wr-wr-wrong with mmmmmmmmmmm-with mmmmmmmmm-m-m-m-m-me?!”

“You overestimated your abilities,” said Lloyd.  “And you failed to take into account your weaknesses -- faults inlaid into your very being.  You see, for all your sensual airs and appeals, you are, at your basest, the creation of a lonely first-grade girl.  Even if said girl should grow into a woman, there are certain parts within you that remain unchanged, even after nearly a decade of growth and transformation -- and your struggle for independence and control only exacerbated those parts.”

He offered her a hand -- but quickly slapped it back onto a vine as his grip faltered.  “You were created by an elementary school girl, and as such have the components of an elementary school girl -- a certain understanding of the world that remains at your core.  Something that remains immutable, no matter what your words suggest.  Your innocence is still within you, unchanged by internal or external forces; even if we take into account Miss O’Leary’s evolving tastes and knowledge as she gets older, there’s an inherent lack of knowledge and experience that ensures you remain pure-hearted.”

He gave her a brisk nod -- and she reeled as if beaned by a dead fish.  “Even if you’re capable of making such bold claims and taking such bold actions, you are at your core bound by certain rules.  You have no understanding of certain concepts.  And because you’re an imaginary being, you have no presence -- no endurance, no defense against concepts alien to your core.  All you can do is arrange the words you hear into a facsimile of their intent.  Relatively speaking, you’re all offense and no defense; if the mere image of a pair of feet can throw you off balance, then obviously all it takes is a single strike to leave you a stuttering mess.”

He flashed a smile.  “Consider your mind blown.”

And for a good while, it looked as if Deirdre did consider it.  She floated in place, unable to look him in the eye, unable to act like anything more than a thunderstruck schoolgirl.  But little by little, that started to change; her trembling took on a quick rhythm, and her lips finally started bending into a definite shape.  A scowl.

She lowered her head, and her hands curled into fists.  “Wh-why you…!  You little…-n-no good little…!”  Lloyd thanked every deity he could think of for her decision to keep her hands by her side, because at that moment she looked about ready to bend a fire truck in two.  “Rotten…impure…sneaky little…y-you think you’ve won?  You think you’ve got me whipped in line?”

“Eh-errrrrr…”  Lloyd squeezed a laugh out of his throat.  “I was just looking to make some progress, really.  You were proving quite prickly, and as such --”

“SHUT YOUR DAMN MOUTH!”

Lloyd shut his damn mouth.

“I’ve had enough of you…you won’t cooperate with me…you won’t adore me…you won’t obey me…all you do is babble, trick, and show me nasty feet!  What are you even good for?”

“I might make for a good opponent in a debate.”    

Deirdre lifted a hand above her head.  Above her outstretched palm, a sphere of fire appeared -- garnet flames and black vines, a cackling mass the size of a volleyball.  And then, the size of a grown man.  And then, the size of an elephant.  And then, the size of a dump truck. 

She glared fiercely at Lloyd, with teeth clenched so tight he thought they might shatter, and veins mere seconds away from exploding across her ruby-red face.  “I gave you a chance that any boy would kill for, and this is how you repay me?   Well fine, then!  I don’t need you!  If you won’t play along, then I’ll turn you into dust!  Here, there, anywhere!  You’re about to become past-tense!”

“Oh no!  That’s…”  Lloyd jerked his head aside.  “Wait.  Past-tense?  Does that mean that all this time, I’ve just been a construct of the English language?”

“DIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIE!”  With her muscles surging, Deirdre wound up for an incinerating pitch.  Lloyd could only hang there and watch -- watch and listen as she let loose a feral roar, and flung her arm forward.  And with that, she threw…

She threw…

She threw…a puffy pink cloud.

Both Lloyd and Deirdre blinked rapidly at the sight of the cloud -- a cloud that didn’t even make it a foot away from Deirdre before falling apart.  “Wh…what in the…?!” Deirsre asked.  She glared at Lloyd with renewed fury.  “What did you do this time?”

“It wasn’t me!  Honest!”

“Then who was it, then?”

She didn’t have to wait long for an answer.  The next thing she knew, a pair of feet slammed into her face; her cheeks and bones alike almost warped around the sneakers pressing ever deeper.  Globs of spit burst from her mouth, and her limbs splayed out like freshly-crushed roadkill.  An unflattering look, without question, but fortunately it only lasted for an eighth of a second.

Unfortunately, it ended with her body -- everything above her hips -- getting lodged into the audition room’s wall. 

Lloyd didn’t even get the chance to stare in disbelief.  With a sudden jolt of energy, the pit’s walls snapped shut around him, and in a half-minute’s time the audition room returned to normal.  Or almost normal; the reconstructed floor spat out the desk, the papers, the quill, the director’s chair, and Lloyd -- in that order, all of which landed perfectly in place without a scratch.

“…Well, that was odd,” said Lloyd as he dusted himself off.  But as his eyes drifted to the stage, he caught a glimpse of his savior.  The sneakers that had saved his life -- sneakers connected to a notably tall, numbingly-curvy form.  His eyes lingered on the typical choice areas, but the snot-laden snorts that echoed told him everything he needed to know about his hero.  Or rather, heroine.

Sheila turned toward the wall and glared at Deirdre’s cotton-tailed rear.  “There’s one rule you’re not allowed to break.  Rule number one: don’t burn any hot guys alive!”

“That is an eerily specific rule,” said Lloyd.

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