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


September 5, 2013

I Hraet You (89)

Beat 89: No Victory for Old Psychologists

“Combine?” Lloyd repeated.  “Wait a moment.  So does that mean…?”

“Uh-huh.”  Sheila gestured toward Deirdre.  “It’s like she said.  She can’t beat you.  And neither can I -- so I guess you can call this your win.”  She pressed her fingers together.  “A-a-although I’m sorry you had to work so hard to get this far.  It’s -- i-i-it’s not like I wanted to cause so much trouble.  It just kind of…happened.”

“Think nothing of it.  Although…”  Lloyd’s eyes shifted to his left.  “Am I really the one you should be apologizing to?”

“But…but I…”

Lloyd flashed a smile.  “I would consider myself lucky to be in your position, Miss O’Leary.  I imagine very few people ever get a chance to have a conversation with their imaginary friends.  I’d bet there are more than a few kindergarteners that are jealous of you -- so why not take advantage of the opportunity?  You might never get one again.”

Sheila nodded -- and with an unsteady step, she turned to face Deirdre at last.  “I…s-sorry, but I…I don’t even know where to begin.  I mean, this is all so unreal, I…”  She rubbed the back of her head.  “Gosh, this is really gonna be hard…”

Deirdre just stared at Sheila, her smirk long since gone.

“Okay.  I guess I should start with…with…”  Sheila snapped into a bow.  “I’m sorry!  I-I’m really sorry!  I only made you because I was sad and lonely, and then I ended up hurting you just so I could feel better!  And then you…y-y-you helped me out anyway!  That’s so nice of you, and I’m really glad you did!  I know I’ve done some awful things to you, and I know I can be really demanding, and I know that I’m a no-good screw up and a loser and a crybaby, but I…I just want you to know that you really mean a lot to me, and I’m sorry!  I know I can’t make up for what I did, and I’m still a total loser, but I wanna --”  

“Stand up straight, Sheila.”

Sheila gasped, but did as told.  At least, she tried to.

“I thought I said stand up straight,” said Deirdre.  “Completely straight.  Arch your back.  Don’t slump your shoulders.  And for God’s sake, raise your head.  I want to be able to look you in the eye.”

Sheila did as told with a puny yelp -- though by the looks of it, she didn’t have much practice standing up straight.  She looked as if she might snap in to at any moment, or at the very least fall over backwards.  For seconds at a time Lloyd actually saw her start to lose her balance.  But Deirdre didn’t bother to save her from a fall; she just stood there, watching, judging her poise.  At least, until she decided to speak her mind.

“Sheila!” she blurted.  “You’ve got huge boobs!”

Both Lloyd and Sheila nearly fell over.

“Your chest can snap bras in two!  Your ass is like a giant peach!  You’ve got legs for weeks, and a waist that’s curvier than a million-dollar vase!  Like it or not, you’re beautiful, so act like it!  You’re not allowed to be this snot-nosed little crybaby any more -- not while I’m around!”  She cocked her head upward and started to grin.  “A girl like you needs a bit of work, yeah, but there’s no doubt in my mind that with a little help from yours truly, you’ll go from knockout material to a real megaton bombshell!”

“You think so?”

“Well, as long as we can do something about everything from the neck up.”

“B-but everything from the neck up was your idea!”  Sheila pumped her fists up and down.  “You said that if people weren’t as interested in looking at my face, they’d look at my body more!  That’s what we want, right?”

“Oh yeah.  I did say that, didn’t I?  Well, whatever.  Now that I think about it, you could probably get the same effect by wearing lower-cut tops.”  She scratched at her cheek -- and for the first time in ages, she started to redden.  “I guess I say a lot of stuff to you, don’t I?  Uh…try not to get too mad, but sometimes I just say stuff to get a laugh.”

“W-wait, what?  A laugh?!”

“Well, yeah.  An imaginary friend has to entertain herself somehow, so what better way than to have her girl put on a show?”

“So you’ve been trolling me?”

“Not all the time.  Just…you know, whenever I get the chance for some real laughs.  Which I have to admit is kind of often.”  She raised an eyebrow.  “You mad?”

“Yes, I’m mad!  Do you have any idea how much trouble you’ve landed me in on a regular basis?  I thought you were trying to help me out!”

Deirdre shrugged.  “I guess you could call us even, then.”  But before Sheila could say anything more, she shook her head.  “No.  No, that won’t do.  I guess…I guess I should just go ahead and apologize.  You’ve been counting on me, and I’ve been holding you back just to suit myself.  That’s not something an imaginary friend -- a friend, period -- should ever do.  I mean…well, maybe if it wasn’t for me interfering, you’d be a lot farther along in life.  Making your mom proud.  Laughing it up with a bunch of friends.  Maybe even having a cute little relationship.”  She laughed sharply.  “Isn’t that sad?  I put you in a situation where you only need me because of me.  I always knew I was kind of a bitch, but now that I’m getting forced to realize it…it’s not a good feeling.”

“Then can I make it up to you?” Sheila asked.  She held out a hand.  “I don’t want you feeling bad.  If you do, then I wouldn’t be much of a friend, either.  So…y-you know, if you want, we can start working together.  You can give me courage and confidence, and I’ll give you…um…something.  Kindness, I guess?  Or maybe a few laughs.  Or -- well, I guess I’ll always be someone you can talk to.”

“Heh.  Still have a ways to go, girl.  But I guess I do, too -- and by the sound of things…”  She glanced at Lloyd for a moment.  “…They’re things that I can’t do alone.  So I guess I need you to keep me in check.  Don’t let me be as much of a bitch as I’ve been in the past -- because if I am, then I’m gonna be missing out on a whole lot of the good stuff in life.  And I definitely want to be there for your first kiss…and beyond.”

“Of course.  And you’ll help me get there in the first place.  B-but I’ll do my best to get there on my own.”

“And I’ll help if you need me.  And I won’t try to sabotage it or anything.”

“Okay.”

“Okay.”

Sheila looked down at her outstretched hand, and then back up at Deirdre.  “Sooooo…are you just gonna leave me hanging?”

“Easy, girl.  I just wanted to make sure you and I were on the same page first.”

“How could we not?  We’re the same person.”

Deirdre stared at her in shock, but in the end couldn’t do much more than smile and nod.  “Heh.  Yeah, I guess that’s true.  I’m you…and you’re me.”  She extended a hand.  “So let’s take this world by storm.”

“I’ve got a better Idea.  Let’s be the storm.”

“Is that even possible?”

“I dunno.  But it sure sounds cool.”  And with that, she took Deirdre’s hand in her own.

It was if a star had exploded on-stage.  Lloyd nearly toppled from the force, and if he’d been a few pounds lighter he might have actually flown into the rear wall.  Somehow he managed to hold his ground, shielding himself from the red and white supernova, and hoping that the light didn’t sear his skin.  Thankfully, it didn’t; he could feel the heat prickling his forearms, but it died down soon enough.  Hopefully, it meant he could open his eyes without risking blindness.

It did, indeed.  As his eyelids slid open, Lloyd caught a glimpse of stars in orbit -- a wide orbit, large enough to accommodate a pair, or even a trio.  More importantly, he could see four stars.  Four golden, glimmering stars -- but as if they’d sensed his gaze, they broke formation and darted into the four corners of the stage.  That didn’t stop their shining, though; if anything, they grew more luminous than before.

That just left Lloyd with the stage, and its would-be performers.  Sheila and Deirdre stood their ground, with a hand clasped around the rolled-up -- and now-completed -- script.  Above their locked hands hovered the rabbit mask -- the whole rabbit mask, now in perfect form and smiling cheerfully.  The perfect complement to the ladies below.

“It goes without saying, but for formality’s sake, I can say that the two of you have earned the part,” Lloyd said with a grin.  “Now then.  I trust you know what comes next?  A bit of confirmation is in order, I’d say.”

Sheila and Deirdre turned to each other and nodded in perfect unison, and turned back to Lloyd.  “I don’t know what the future holds,” they said in sync.  “But that’s no reason for me to refuse to try.  If you want me to bloom, then I’ll bloom -- and one day, I’ll find a dream that makes me happy to be alive.”

“Well said, Miss O’Leary.  Well said.”

“And who knows?  Maybe one day, I’ll be surrounded by an army of hot guys!”

“Aaaaaaaaand once again, it goes a step too far.”  Lloyd laughed to himself and shrugged.  “Then again, I suppose that a step too far is best, so long as it moves you out of a vicious cycle.  And with that…”

The mask spun in midair and burst, spreading its red mist throughout the audition room.  As the last of it faded, Lloyd turned to the adjacent wall, where black vines had sealed off the exit.  They’d been still for ages, but now they started to jostle and gyrate -- and then, they climbed up the wall.  Higher and higher they went, growing, spreading, and stretching as far as they could.  And as Lloyd looked about, he saw the same thing happen to the other walls; vines sprouted from the walls, the ceiling, and even the ground itself, doing their best to shroud the room.

And as they did, they transformed.  The harsh black texture gave way to a lively shade of green, and the thorns that could have gored a man shrank.  In their place emerged buds, with dozens of them sprouting from a single vine alone.  Each bud doubled in size every second, until they reached their apex -- and at that point, they split wide open.  They split, and revealed their contents: roses, and camellias, and wildflowers Lloyd couldn’t even begin to name, each one ready and able to cuddle and blanket a grown man for a bout of sweet dreams.  The scent they left set Lloyd at ease -- but the petals and sparkles now swirling about made his heart beat fiercely.  And somehow, he had a feeling that Sheila and Deirdre felt the same.

“A new star has been born,” said Lloyd.

--STAGE OUT--

Sheila let loose a squeal, and if not for the chair binding her, she might have jumped right into the ceiling.  But she’d have to make do with just crashing against the ground. 

“I think I did it,” said Lloyd, though with no shortage of effort.  Coming back to the real world meant coming back to a body that could have used a trip to the hospital.  He didn’t know if it was the post-metaphysical lag or the fact that he’d endured enough torture to break a hardened criminal, but he needed a moment to adjust.

“H-holy…!” He could hear Trixie’s voice going off, and making her shock well-known.    “Would ya look at her?  She -- she’s usin’ ‘em like a pair o’ airbags!  How’s that even possible?!”

“With a dozen pounds of fat and gravity bein’ a bitch?”  Mrs. Overdose asked.  “Well, who cares?  You can gawk all you want later.  The kid said he’s done, so I guess we’re done here.  Let’s help her up.”

“C-can’t ya do it on yer own?  I don’t wanna touch anythin’ I’m not supposed to.”

Still?”  Mrs. Overdose moved in front of Lloyd and gave him a few “light” taps across the cheek.  “Hey, kid.  Snap out of it.  Are we done here?  You did all you needed to do, right?”

Lloyd jerked out a nod, and his grogginess started to subside.  “Yes.  I think we’ve done just about all we can do.”

“Heh heh.  See that?  It’s like I’ve always said -- being busty has its advantages.”

Lloyd shook his head rapidly -- maybe he was groggier than he thought.  He could have sworn that for a moment, he’d heard…

“Y-you call this an advantage?  This is so embarrassing!  I’m just glad nobody’s around to see this; I’d be an even bigger laughing stock than before!”

Lloyd leaned back in his chair.  “Miss O’Leary?  Are you all right?”

“U-um…yeah, I think so.  I mean, I still feel kinda weird for some reason, but I think I’ll be okay.  Just let me push myself up and -- o-oh, don’t look behind you just yet.  I’m in kind of a bad posi-”

“No, no!  You should definitely turn around now, sweet cheeks!  I bet a pose like this is bound to get you revved up!  You know what I…oh my GOD!  What is wrong with MY NOSE?!  There’s all this crap coming out of it!  And -- Jesus, how thick are these glasses?  It’s like I’m wearing a brick wall on my face!  And somebody get me out of this chair!”

“Miss O’Leary…?  Are you…er…feeling all right?”

Before he could get an answer, Sheila -- fully untied, and with full control over her body once more -- stepped before Lloyd.  “I think we might have a problem,” she said, pressing her fingers together.

“Problem?”

Sheila nodded clumsily -- and then, she flung her glasses into the corner of the room.  “There.  I look much sexier without them,” said Deirdre.  She whipped her head back and forth, squinting so hard her eyes had nearly shut.  “Now where’s that mirror?  Sheila, I thought you had a mirror in here somewhere!”

Mrs. Overdose nudged Lloyd in the shoulder.  “I think you broke her.”

TO BE HEARTINUED…

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