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"Monsters in Paradise"
Featuring Terrorsmith

by David R. Black

Prologue

"Max! I told you this crazy plan of yours would never work!" Oberon burst through the doors to Maxwell Lord's office and stormed inside, angrily waving a newspaper.

"Oberon, can't this wait? I'm in the middle of a call with the Russian ambassador," said Maxwell Lord, the Justice League liaison with the United Nations. Max wondered why no one ever knocked before barging in.

"No it can't," continued the diminutive man, "Ray brought this in from Philadelphia. Read the headline Max. I told you this was a bad idea from day one. You better call them back before they do some major damage."

Max unfolded the rolled up, slightly singed copy of The Philadelphia Inquirer. He sighed loudly as he read the headline: 'Sleepy Bad Guys KO train station passengers in Center City'. Max scanned the rest of the article quickly and groaned.

"So, what do you think?" asked a grinning Oberon. "It's not to late to send them back to Russia or send them somewhere else where they can't do any harm. Perhaps a one way trip to the Moon?"

"No Oberon, I have faith in these guys, at least for the time being," replied Max. "Besides we need their help since we're so short handed right now. If they can find Terrorsmith and bring him back to the embassy, it would solve a lot of problems"

"Max!" exclaimed Oberon, "Cluemaster released knockout gas in a crowded train station! Not only did they endanger innocent citizens, but the gas put all six of them to sleep too. Of course, Terrorsmith got away. I don't understand what you want with Terrorsmith or the blasted Injustice League anyway!!"

"I'm trying to kill two birds with one stone Oberon," Max calmly answered, "Our Injustice League problem and our never ending problem of recruiting members for the league. Terrorsmith isn't really a bad guy; he's more of a nuisance because he creates uncontrollable monsters."

"No kidding," replied Oberon, "if I get one more of those 'rampaging monster' calls while I'm on monitor duty, I'm gonna……."

"Anyway," continued Max, "Terrorsmith has shown the ability, if he concentrates on a person's good qualities instead of their bad qualities, to temporarily give a normal human super powers. Imagine having this guy on our team Oberon. We'd have never have another recruitment problem ever again, and we could just pull some average guy off the streets and have Terrorsmith give him temporary superpowers. Who needs established heroes when you could have a guy who can create heroes?"

"Hmmm, interesting idea Max," answered Oberon, "but why did you have to involve the Injustice League? I mean, Guy Gardner or Hal Jordan probably could have used their rings to find Terrorsmith faster than those bozos."

"Here's where the plot thickens," said Max enigmatically, "After the Injustice League's alliance with Sonar, during his attempt to take over the former Soviet Union, Major Disaster and his group faced serious charges for crimes against the Russian government. Since all of the Injustice Leaguers are citizens of the USA, the American ambassador to Russia got involved. To make a long story short, in order for the Injustice Leaguers to be released, I had to agree that the league would 'supervise' them."

"So, seeking to avoid an international incident," noted Oberon sarcastically, "you bring back the bunch of clowns responsible for the Justice League Antarctica fiasco."

"Well…," Max laughed, "I promise that there will be no killer penguins this time. Besides, locating and offering Justice League membership to Terrorsmith is so easy that not even the Injustice League could screw it up."

Part 1

    Jack Mobley glanced at his watch. "Come on, come on, hurry up, the bus is leaving in five minutes," he thought as he watched the man in front of him hand the cashier a wad of coupons. Jack had bought a one way Greyhound bus ticket to Pittsburgh with the last of his money in Philadelphia, hoping to find a nice, quiet place to start a new life. The bus driver stopped for coffee in this sleepy village called Paradise, and Jack had hopped off the bus looking for something to drink. His senses, especially his senses of smell and taste, hadn't been the same since the alien parasite had attacked him. Milk tasted like battery acid, and soda pop tasted like hot wax. He wondered if anyone on the bus would notice that he was drinking bl….

"Hi, sir, how're you doing today?"

Jack stopped daydreaming and thumped the two bottles of bleach on the counter. He grumbled something in reply, and fumbled around in his pocket for his wallet. He began to write out a check.

"Your total's six dollars and fifty cents, sir," announced the young cashier, "and if you're paying with a personal check, I'll need to see two forms of identification"

Jack finished writing the check and handed his driver's license to the cashier. "Why does everything have to be such a hassle?" wondered Jack. "Everybody's always giving me a hard time."

The cashier glanced at the license photo, and then back at Jack. Sure, most peoples' driver's license photos looked nothing like them, but this was too different.

"What's taking so long? I'm going to miss my bus!" hollered Jack, becoming more impatient.

"Well, sir," stammered the cashier, "the guy in the picture is a blond Caucasian male with brown eyes, and you're…..well…..you've got red eyes, black hair…..frankly, sir, you look nothing like this guy."

Jack groaned. Of course he didn't look like the guy in the photograph, the parasite bite had changed him into something no longer quite human.

"Look kid, just take the check! I'm going to miss my damn bus!" yelled Jack.

"I cant do that, I …."

"Why not, how hard is it to…"

"Hey buddy, leave the kid alone," said a man in line behind Jack, "don't go making a fool of yourself over two bottles of bleach."

The man snickered, and Jack turned around to face him. Out of the corner of his eye, through the store's front window, Jack saw the bus drive away.

"That does it," screeched Jack, "now I'm stuck here with no place to go because of you two jerks!"

Jack grabbed the man with one hand, and leaning over the counter, grabbed the cashier with the other. A purplish glow emanated from his hands, and one at a time, both men were transformed into grotesque monsters, hideous aberrations of their former selves. Panic erupted within the small store as patrons ran for the exits. Jack picked up the bottles of bleach, and calmly walked towards the exit. He pushed frightened patrons aside, inadvertently turning some into more monsters.

"Stupid jerks," muttered Jack, "that'll teach 'em to mess with Terrorsmith!"

Part 2

    Somewhere along the Pennsylvanian portion of U.S. Route 30, a motley bunch of men are also heading westward.

"ZZZZZ, SNORT, ZZZZZZ"

"Big Sir wanna go for a pony ride!! Please, Major? Pretty, pretty please?"

The highway's full of broken heroes…….

"Are we there yet? How much longer, Clock King? Can't we go any faster? I really have to find a bathroom!"

"According to my calculations, we're only eight point four minutes away from the next town, a little village called Paradise. Why are you in such an impatient mood anyway?"

Major Disaster sighed. He was grateful to be out of that super villain prison in Russia, but he didn't like playing errand boy for Maxwell Lord. The pay was okay, but a super villain of his caliber should be out taking over the world or something, not riding around rural Pennsylvania in a beat up 1985 Ford Econoline van. Maybe once this mission was over, the Injustice League could rise to the fame – or infamy - it truly deserved. But first…..

On a last chance power drive…….

    "Please Major? Just one pony ride for Big Sir? Please?"

"ZZZZZZZ, grumble, SNORK, ZZZZZZZZZZZZ"

Baby we were born to runnnnnnnnn…….

    "Everybody SHUT UP NOW!" screamed Major Disaster. "Big Sir, you can have a pony ride later." Seeing the horse and buggies driven by the Amish in these rural parts had made Big Sir want to go for a "pony" ride.

"When's later Major?" asked Big Sir.

"SNKXX, ZZZZZZZ, snort, ZZZZZZ

"The next town, OK?" answered Major Disaster, doing his best to hear himself think over all the noise. "Somebody wake up Cluemaster! Multi Man calm down! And Bruce…turn down that music already, or put the tape in your walkman!"

"Okay, Major, you're the boss," replied Bruce, "but the batteries in my walkman are dead."

"Then find some other batteries then."

"Hey, where are we?" mumbled the awakening Cluemaster. "Did we find him yet?"

"No, no, no. We couldn't find the Pacific Ocean if we fell into it!!" hollered Multi Man. "We're the Injustice League, we always find some way to mess things up……."

"Clock King, turn on the police scanner," ordered Major Disaster, doing his best to ignore the ever moody Multi Man, "maybe our friend Mr. Mobley has attracted the attention of the police out here with his creations."

"……just like last time in Philly," continued Multi Man

"Hey, don't blame me, how was I to know that the big guy rearranged the gas canisters on my uniform?" countered Cluemaster, pointing his finger at Big Sir.

"Big Sir am sorry 'bout that," replied Big Sir sheepishly.

Dispatch this is 504, we have the suspect cornered in the Paradise Pizzeria Parlor……

"Well you shouldn't have let him get his hands on your costume in the first place," Multi Man huffed. "Can't you go any faster Clock King, I really have to find a bathroom!"

"Only five minutes, thirty six seconds and fifteen nanoseconds till Paradise"

"Hey, he promised to take it to the dry cleaners for me after I couldn't get that ketchup stain out," said Cluemaster.

……requesting back up from the State Police in Embreeville, this guy's a meta human, he's making a bunch of monsters………

"Well, you never see Superman or Green Lantern eating with their costume on, do you?" questioned Multi Man.

"Finally some batteries!!" exclaimed Bruce happily.

504 this is dispatch, did you say monsters?

"Wait a minute, wait a minute, say that again," said Major Disaster as he turned the volume on the police scanner up.

"I said I found some batteries"

"Not you Bruce, the radio, the radio!"

Affirmative dispatch, this fella seems to be turnin' normal people into monsters with his bare hands! Clyde went to cuff him and got turned into what looks like a big cockroach….

"We found him! Yippee! Hooray! Oh boy oh boy!" rambled Big Sir excitedly.

"Clock King, take us to Paradise!" exclaimed Major Disaster with authority.

"We're already going there for Multi Man's potty break," laughed Clock King.

"That's not funny, I feel like a pent up Niagra Falls ready to burst," said an uncomfortable looking Multi Man.

"Major? Do they have pony rides in Paradise?" asked Big Sir excitedly.

Major Disaster sighed.

Part 3

    "This is the Paradise Police Force. Call off your monsters and come out with your hands up! You're surrounded. I repeat, call off the monsters and surrender peacefully!"

    "Yeah right," thought Jack as he slumped back down behind the counter in the pizza parlor "too bad I can't control any of my creations." The blaring bullhorn was beginning to get on his nerves. After leaving the convenience store, the local police force showed up and tried to arrest him, but Jack managed to escape into the pizza parlor after turning one of the cops into a giant cockroach. Now he was trapped, cowering on a tomato sauce stained floor. Worse yet, the cops seemed unfazed by all the monsters he had created.

"How did I get into this mess," muttered Jack quietly. "Those cops shouldn't have chased after me……The store manager must have hit a silent alarm or something……This is all that blasted cashier's fault. If he wouldn't have given me a tough time…..That damn bus driver drove off without me too. If only he would have…….."

Call off the monsters now and surrender peacefully!! Let the hostages go, and walk out with your hand up!!!

    "It wasn't my fault these guys happened to be in here, after you bastards chased me in here!" screamed Jack in the direction of the bullhorn.

He looked at the two men, a teenaged employee and an elderly Amish man, who were huddled in back of the kitchen. They had seen Jack transform the store manager into a drooling lizard, and both were afraid.

"At least I've got two more distractions up my sleeve," mumbled Jack "I hope they're enough to get me out of this mess. Damn it, all I wanted was a fresh start, a place to start over. Why is everybody out to get me?"

Outside, Police Chief Annette Harper put down her bullhorn and looked around at the chaos unfolding behind her. Giant lizards, spiders, eight armed fish creatures, flying birds, and other assorted creatures were tearing apart the town's central business district. A third generation police officer from Metropolis, she had moved to Paradise in search of an idyllic lifestyle free from the hustle and bustle of the big city.

"I hope this guy doesn't call our bluff," Harper said to Officer Evan Turinsky, "our three person police force won't be able to stop this guy if he decides to run."

"Doubt it," said Turinsky as he shrugged his shoulders, "especially since we're down to two officers after Clyde was turned into a monster. How long till the State Troopers arrive?"

Harper sighed. "At least twenty minutes, maybe more. These monsters are destroying everything in sight, even the roads. I thought I was done dealing with super-villains after I left Metropolis."

Harper picked up the bullhorn and did her best to sound convincing. Turinsky covered their flank, angrily firing warning shots at any monsters brazen enough to come close to them. Born and raised in Paradise, he was painfully aware of the destruction being inflicted on his hometown.

Part 4

"Clock King!" yelled Bruce, "Watch out for that….that…..monster thingee!"

SCREEEEECH! The van's ancient brakes protested mightily, as the van swerved awkwardly.

"I can't stop it," groaned Clock King, "we're going to hit that….

CRRRUNCCHHH! WHAM!

"……police car."

"Well, we're here anyway," laughed Multi Man giddily as he opened the door. "Be back in a minute guys, don't start without me".

"Geez, talk about sudden mood changes," said Cluemaster as he and the rest of the Injustice Leaguers stepped out of the van.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" roared an infuriated Chief Harper, poking a finger into Clock King's chest. "We're in the middle of a crisis here, and you crash into our only police car? As soon as we take care of the guy making these monsters, I'm going to charge you with so many traffic violations that you'll……."

"Wait a minute," inquired Major Disaster, "the guy making monsters, where is he?"

"He's in the pizza parlor over there," said Harper suspiciously, noting the group's colorful costumes. "What do want with him? Who are you guys, and why are you wearing……"

"We found him! We found him!" noted a happy Big Sir. "After we catch Terrorsmith, can I go for my pony ride Major?"

"Sure Sir," replied Major Disaster, "but right now let's get this guy. Bruce, you stay here and wait for Multi Man. The rest of you follow me! Look out Terrorsmith, the Injustice League is coming for you!"

"Wait a minute, did he say Injustice League?" asked Turinsky.

"Umm….well…yeah," replied Bruce reluctantly, noticing the suspicion spreading over the two officers' faces, "but we've changed our ways, we're really good guys now….. No, really we are…..We just have to get a new name."

"I thought I recognized those guys," exclaimed Harper, "I saw their FBI files when I worked in Metropolis, and they're super villains all right. Turinsky, handcuff this guy and don't let him out of your sight."

"No wait, I can explain," replied Bruce as Turinsky slapped the cuffs around his wrists, "we're part of the Justice League now….We report to Maxwell Lord himself."

"Sure thing buddy," replied a skeptical Turinsky as he forced Bruce to the ground, "just sit there quietly and listen to your walkman."

"Turinsky, contact dispatch and tell them we need more backup officers," said Harper, "Tell them we have a full scale super villain riot on our hands."

Part 5

Jack Mobley looked out from behind the counter, and he saw the four costumed men enter the pizza parlor. "Oh, no," he groaned, "not these guys again. I thought I finally lost these guys back at the train station in Philadelphia."

"Yoo hoo," yelled Big Sir, "come out, come out wherever you are!"

Jack grabbed the employee in the back of the kitchen and walked out to confront his tormentors. "All right you jerks," Jack said angrily, "You guys just can't leave me alone, huh? You're out to ruin what's left of my life. Let me outta here, and I won't hurt the boy!"

"Take it easy, Mobley," warned Major Disaster, "We don't want to hurt you….."

"Oh yeah?" snorted Jack, pointing a finger at Cluemaster, "Then why'd the guy in the orange costume throw a canister of knockout gas at me last time?"

"Hey!" replied Cluemaster, "How was I supposed to know that the gas has no effect on you? You must have some goofy kind of metabolism or something. Besides, you wouldn't listen to us then either. All you did was rant and rave…."

"Look," said Clock King calmly, "all we want to do is offer you…."

"I'm not interested in anything you have to say," roared Jack angrily. "This whole mess is your fault. Now this poor kid's going to have to suffer because of you!"

Jack's hands glowed purple, and the boy was turned into a seven foot crocodile. Confused by his sudden transformation into a monster, the boy-crocodile lunged at the startled Injustice Leaguers.

"Oh, great," sighed Cluemaster, "Here we go again."

"Cluemaster! Clock King!" ordered Major Disaster, "You two get Terrorsmith. Big Sir and I will handle the crocodile. And this time Cluemaster…no gas canisters!"

The crocodile monster lunged at Major Disaster, its' razor sharp teeth coming dangerously close to the Major's leg.

"Big Sir," scolded Major Disaster, "help me out over here!"

"I dunno Major," Big Sir wondered, "haven't you always told me to be nice to all animals?"

"Sir," replied Major Disaster, doing his best to convince the muscular man with the intellect of a five year old to help him, "the crocodile's been very, very naughty. Remember the boy Terrorsmith was holding? Well, the crocodile ate him….and if you don't help me, the crocodile's going to eat me too."

Big Sir lunged at the crocodile, easily picking up the wildly thrashing beast. "You've been very bad, hurting that poor little boy," Big Sir said to the crocodile as he threw the beast through the pizza parlor's front window and onto the street.

CRASHHH!!! Hearing the sound of glass shattering, Bruce stood up, only to find himself staring into the face of a crocodile.

"AHHHHH!!!!! There's a crocodile on the roof of the police car!!" screamed Bruce hysterically.

Officers Turinsky and Harper turned around to face the beast, which was now on the ground charging towards them.

"Shoot it! Shoot it!" yelled Bruce.

"I'm out of ammunition," said Turinsky, "Besides, I've only been firing blanks. These monsters all seem to be afraid of loud noises"

Officer Harper, wielding the bullhorn like a baseball bat, swung at the beast. The impact of the bullhorn stunned the beast long enough for her to pull Bruce out of harm's way. The crocodile, angrier than before, charged at the trio again.

"Here I come to save the day….Multi Man is on his way!!!!!!!!!!"

Multi Man charged bravely at the crocodile, hitting it with an extended forearm.

"Wow! Nice clothesline MM!" cheered Bruce. "You sure picked a good time to become courageous!"

"Sorry it took me so long," replied Multi Man, as he landed another punch to the crocodile's snout. "With all the destruction these monster are causing, it was hard to find a bathroom that was still standing"

"Another one of these guys?" asked Harper. "Turinsky, cuff him too"

Turinsky slapped a handcuff on Multi Man's left wrist.

"Hey hold on a second," said Multi Man as he pulled his right hand away from the overzealous police officer. "Couldn't you have at least waited until I finished with the crocodile? Now I'm so depressed."

"Ummm….guys?" noticed Bruce, "Don't look now, but the crocodile's still pretty angry!"

The crocodile pounced on top of Multi Man.

"I'm going to die, I just know it," whined Multi Man. "My mother told me not to become a super villain, but did I listen? Nooooo……"

"Wait a minute….." said Harper as she grabbed Bruce's walkman.

"Hey! What do you think you're doing?" protested Bruce.

"These things don't like loud noises right? So if I crank up the volume………."

Baby, tie your hair back in long black bow….Meet in the field, behind the dynamo….Prove it all night…I'll prove it night….Girl, I'll prove it all night for your lovvvvveeeeeee

The crocodile screeched, and scurried away.

"Guess he's not a Springsteen fan, huh?" said Harper.

"All right!" exclaimed Bruce, "the Mighty Bruce saves the day again!"

Part 6

    Jack backed up against the pizza parlor's rear wall, and realized he was out of room and out of options. Clock King was closing in from the right, Cluemaster from the left, and Jack was too far away from the other hostage to use his powers on him.

"Time's up Terrorsmith!" announced Clock King as he delivered a solid left hook to Jack's jaw. "We gave you a chance to end this peacefully."

Cluemaster took swung a swing at Jack, but Jack ducked, causing Cluemaster's hand to smash into the pizzeria's wall.

"Owwww!!!" yelped Cluemaster as he hopped around in pain. "Owww!! My hand, I think I broke my hand!"

Jack seized the opportunity, and delivered a well placed kick to Cluemaster's stomach. Whirling around he grabbed one of Clock King's hands, and then grabbed the doubled-over Cluemaster by the hair.

"Never tried two at the same time before," Jack said to no one in particular, "I hope this works."

Major Disaster felt helpless as he saw the purplish glow emanate from Terrorsmith's hands. A wave of ghastly energy seemed to slowly ripple through Cluemaster and Clock King, making it look as if the men's costumes were alive. Big Sir closed his eyes, too afraid to watch. When he opened them again, a fifteen foot tall horse and ten foot stone creature stood in the place where Clock King and Cluemaster had been seconds before. The sudden transformation destroyed a large portion of the roof, and the remaining parts began to collapse.

"Whew!" gasped Jack "that was tougher than I thought. Now I gotta get outta here!"

"Damn it!" moaned Major Disaster. "This whole place is going to fall apart any minute. Big Sir! Come on, we've got to get out of here quick!"

Big Sir stood motionless, gazing at the sight before him. "A pony!" he shouted with glee, "A pony big enough for Big Sir to ride!"

"Big Sir! No, come back here," yelled Major Disaster, "You can ride the pony after we catch Terrorsmith, I promise!!!"

His pleads fell on deaf ears as Big Sir ran after the Clock King-horse monster, crying out "Come here, come here! Big Sir want to ride the pony!"

"Hey, buddy," smirked Jack as he ran by Major Disaster, "you're the hero, you better save the guy in the back. You wouldn't want an innocent bystanders to suffer would you? Meanwhile I'll make a clean get away."

Major Disaster fumed, and for a second, he considered running after Terrorsmith.

"He's right, mumbled Major Disaster "I'm trying my best to be a hero. I'd better rescue that man" Disaster ran towards the back of the store, scooped up the elderly man in his arms, and ran out the toppling building seconds before it collapsed.

Meanwhile, back outside, Multi Man, Bruce and the police officers were busy trying to stop the Cluemaster-monster.

"Bruce, is it me or does that stone creature look like Alex Trabek?" asked Multi Man.

"You know," said Bruce as he dodged the monster's foot, "He kind of does!"

"Don't let that thing grab you!" yelled Officer Harper to Turinsky.

"I'm trying not to!" replied Turinsky as he noticed the fleeing Terrorsmith. "Hey! Our monster maker is getting away!"

"Try the walkman thing again," urged Multi Man. "We've got to stop this thing and catch up to Terrorsmith before he gets away."

"I tried," said Bruce, "the lousy batteries are dead. Maybe we can ram it with what's left of the van."

"No!" screamed Major Disaster. "That stone monster is really Cluemaster!"

"What?" replied an unbelieving Multi Man. "Cluemaster's greatest fear is becoming an Alex Trabek look alike?"

"Well, it kind of makes sense," answered Bruce, "Cluemaster used to be a game show host, right? And after his show was canceled, he became a super villain. Maybe his show was canceled because of Jeopardy, and Cluemaster harbors a grudge."

"Bruce that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard!" complained Major Disaster. "Our only hope is to catch Terrorsmith and make him reverse the process."

"Help! Let us go! Help!"

Major Disaster, Bruce, and Multi Man turned around and saw the Cluemaster-monster walking away, clutching Turinsky in one stony hand and Harper in the other. The monster appeared to be talking to the two squirming police officers.

"Just remember to phrase your answers in the form of a question," giggled Multi Man. "Well, that solves our cop problem."

"This is no laughing matter Multi Man…" scolded Major Disaster

"Sorry, you know I can't help it"

"Never mind. I've got a plan for catching Terrorsmith," continued Major Disaster.

Part 7

Major Disaster looked down the only road leading out of town, and he could see Terrorsmith about three blocks away from him. The Major concentrated, and hoped that his plan worked. His powers were kind of unpredictable, but….RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE RUMBLE! The ground beneath Paradise shook violently, as the human induced earthquake intensified. Buildings began to tilt over on liquefied ground, lampposts swayed violently, and a huge crack formed down the middle of the road.

"What the blazes is this?" wondered Terrorsmith as he was knocked to the ground by the violent shaking. "An earthquake?"

The crack in the road grew wider and deeper, large enough that a human who fell in would have a hard time getting out. Major Disaster began to smile, amazed that his plan was working. The Major's smile turned quickly into a frown as he noticed that the crack was growing the wrong way. Instead of going towards Terrorsmith, the fissure was expanding towards him.

"Oh boy, this is not good," realized Major Disaster, "Not good at allllllllll…….."

The fissure opened up directly underneath his feet, and Major Disaster fell into a fifteen foot crevice.

The quake subsided, and Jack Mobley stood up. He looked back at what remained of the village of Paradise, noticing the immense damage. A gas line had burst causing a fire to burn out of control and the cries of injured townspeople filled his ears, but Jack's attention was focused on a swaying lamppost. A little girl stood crying beneath the lamppost, which looked like it could fall at any moment.

"I should just leave now and forget this entire thing happened," thought Jack. But as he looked at the young girl, who was about the same age as his own daughter, a solitary thought crept into Jack Mobley's mind.

"If I hadn't been here, none of this would have happened," mumbled Jack, "This whole mess happened because of me."

A failed marriage, chronic unemployment, and a lack of friends were all problems from Jack's past which he blamed on others. Everything was always somebody else's fault, not his own. Jack realized that finding a new place to start over wasn't enough to solve his problems. His attitudes and behavior needed to change as well. For the first time in his life, Jack accepted responsibility for his actions. The lamppost teetered and began to fall.

"I've got to save that little girl," said Jack as he ran back into the ravaged town, "It's the least I can do after causing this mess."

Jack leaped, pushing the little girl out of harm's way as the lamppost came crashing down.

"T-th-thanks mister," replied the visibly shaken girl.

Jack smiled. "No problem."

"I got him Multi Man, I got him!!" hollered Bruce with delight.

Jack struggled to stand up with the still handcuffed Bruce on his back. Sneaking up behind them, Multi Man quickly clasped the empty handcuff dangling from his left wrist onto Jack's right arm.

"You're not getting away this time," exclaimed a triumphant Multi Man. "Not with the two of us shackled together!"

"Why can't you guys just leave me alone?" asked Jack as he tried in vain to free his wrist, "I'm sorry for all the trouble I've caused, but all I want is a fresh start, a chance to redeem myself. Having you six chasing me wherever I go sure complicates matters."

"Look, pal" scolded Multi Man, "If you would have just stopped to listen to us before attacking us…."

"Not to mention turning innocent people, and two of our teammates, into monsters," added Bruce.

"….you would have found out that we're not here to fight you, arrest you, or hurt you in any way," continued Multi Man, "In fact, we want to offer you membership in the Justice League."

"What!" replied Jack incredulously. "The Justice League?"

"Yep, the Justice League," said Multi Man, "You see, Maxwell Lord thinks that you'd…"

"Umm, guys?" interrupted Bruce "Can this stuff wait? Because a giant horse is galloping straight towards us, and it looks mad!"

The three men looked at the galloping horse, carrying one overgrown rider, bearing down on them.

"That's Clock King!" exclaimed Multi Man, "and Big Sir! Terrorsmith, can you undo the process that allows you to make people into monsters?"

"Probably," replied Jack, "but I've never really tried."

"Try it fast then!" screeched Bruce, "Before we get stomped on!"

Jack Mobley closed his eyes and concentrated. Beads of sweat poured down his face as an immense purple glow lit up the sky. Throughout Paradise, giant lizards, crocodiles, cockroaches, and a host of other assorted monsters returned to their natural human forms. More importantly, the galloping horse reverted back to Clock King. However…..

"Watch out!" gasped Multi Man, "Big Sir is still moving…He's going to fall right on us!"

No longer having anything to stand on as his pony ride came to an abrupt end, Big Sir was plummeting downwards. His momentum was carrying him towards the three men on the ground.

WHAM! CRUNCH!

"Whew," sighed Bruce, "That was close, wasn't it guys…..umm….guys?"

Bruce turned around and saw a smiling Big Sir sitting atop Terrorsmith and Multi Man.

"Can I go for another pony ride Bruce?" asked Big Sir. "That last one was soooo fun!!"

"Sir, get off them!" ordered Bruce. "Geez, these two look pretty bad. We better get them to a hospital."

Epilogue

"YOU WHAT!" screamed Maxwell Lord. "This keeps on getting worse! First you destroy an entire little town, and now……."

Major Disaster held the phone an arms length away from his ear, but he could still hear Max perfectly. The Major sighed and rubbed his eyes.

"At least nobody was killed," said Major Disaster, "Multi Man and Terrorsmith are pretty banged up, some broken bones……We tried using our signal device to contact you guys…….No, no. Bruce took the batteries out of it to use in his walkman and we couldn't find………..But we found him, and he agreed to join……Yes Max. Sorry Max……"

In a nearby hospital room, Jack Mobley was happily daydreaming about his future. An adventurous job with the Justice League, a pardon for all his criminal offenses, and a second chance on life awaited him. Jack was so preoccupied dreaming about his good fortune that he barely noticed the doctor and nurse entering his room.

"Well Mr. Mobley," said the doctor, "you're a lucky man. I've run a few tests, and because of your unique physiology, you'll be as good as new in a few weeks. That's not too bad for someone who had a three hundred pound man fall on him."

"I'm just going to inject you with a local anesthetic so the doctor can set your broken arm," added the nurse as she rolled up Jack's sleeve. "Just relax, this won't hurt a bit."

Jack closed his eyes, and bit his lip as he felt the needle prick his arm. A wave of nausea crept over Jack. He opened his eyes and tried to speak, but something was wrong. The room seemed to swirl around him, and Jack Mobley lapsed into unconsciousness.

"Doctor!" screamed the nurse, "He's going into cardiac arrest!"

"What? This is impossible!" said the doctor as he pumped Jack's chest with his hands. "Nurse, call for assistance, we have a code blue situation. His system must have had an adverse reaction to the anesthetic."

"Medical emergency in room 219," uttered the nurse into the hospital intercom, "We have a code blue, repeat code blue, in room 219!"

"Never mind," gasped the doctor, "he….he's dead."

All characters are ™ DC Comics
"alt.showcase.94" concept by Joel Ellis Rea.
This story is © 1999 by David R. Black.


THIS ISSUE:

David R. Black is Fanzing.com's magazine editor and chief archivist. A big fan of "The Warlord," he has a cat named Shakira and is looking for a girlfriend named Tara....