By Christian Laforet
Sam was blindfolded. Her hands secured behind her back. After the Emperor’s men ambushed her and her companions, Felicia and Robi-Jo, at Fresh Choppers 9822, they were loaded on to a transport. She couldn’t help but wonder how the Emperor had managed to get to Hardpan. Although able to communicate across the worlds, he had, as far as she knew, not mastered the technology needed to teleport. A familiar voice answered all her questions.
“You must have known I’d figure it out.”
She tilted her head. “Professor?”
“Pahlease, I’m ten time smarter than that fool.”
“Don!” Sam’s words dripped venom.
Felicia piped in. “Hey, um, for those of us who have no freaking clue what you are talking about, how about some answers.”
Sam assumed her compatriots were secured, as she was. “The Professor was my mentor. He invented the teleportation technology that I’ve been using.”
“Huh,” Felicia said. “So, he turned traitor or something?”
Sam shook her head before remembering her friend probably couldn’t see the gesture. “No. The professor died for the cause. This is his half-wit twin brother Don.”
“Half-wit?” Don roared. “I’ve always been the smarter sibling.”
Sam laughed. “Yeah, right. You’re a lazy loser who leeched off the professor for years. I’m guessing you sold him out and stole his technology?”
Sam smiled when no reply came. Clearly she had hit the nail on the head.
Finally, the man spoke. “It doesn’t matter what you think, soon you and your friends will be dead. The Dread Rainbow Emperor will rule the multiverse and I’ll be there by his majestic side.”
Despite all her bravado, Sam felt a swell of remorse fill her. They had lost. “It’s over.” Her voice barely above a whisper, Sam shook her head. “We’ve failed. The great profit Veets was wrong, nothing can stop the Emperor.”
She felt the familiar distortion of a teleportation field wash over her.
When the blindfold was pulled from her face, Robi gasped. She expected to see anything but the sight before her. She, and the other two girls, stood in front of a massive window. The pane stretched floor to ceiling and looked out at the most gorgeous world she had ever seen. Towers of sparkling glass and ivory stood like sentinels across the landscape. Lush bunches of trees and foliage carpeted the land around them, and stretching between it all was rainbows. These were not just illusions of light like the ones she was used to either, these were physical arches which radiated glorious colour.
“Holy crap!” Felicia let out a whistle. “This place is—”
“Awful,” Sam interjected.
Both Felicia and Robi turned to look at her.
Felicia let out a small chuckle. “Not the word I was gonna use.”
“Yeah, really,” Robi leaned closer to the glass. “This place looks like heaven. What world is this?”
Sam remained silent for a moment. When she finally replied, it came out nothing more than a croak. “This world is called Shallmar, and it’s my home.”
“Holy smokes Sam, you never said you came from paradise!” Felicia joined Robi by the window. “Oh. My. God! I think I just saw a unicorn!”
“It wasn’t always like this,” Sam said, tears collecting along the bottom of her eyes. “Everything you see, it all came at a price. My world was not perfect, but its people were free. Free to make all their own choices. When the Emperor arrived, we welcomed him with open arms. His promises sounded so good. We let him do this. When we realized what he was really up to, it was too late. Shallmar had been changed. You couldn’t go out without every person you passed smiling at you.”
Um, that doesn’t sound all that bad.” Robi arched her eyebrows.
“She’s right Sam. Most people like stuff like that.”
The girls turned in unison to watch as the Emperor approached from behind. The room, a massive throne dominating the middle, was decorated in every conceivable colour. The Emperor himself was draped in a shimming rainbow cloak.
“Screw you!” Sam spat towards Emperor Shawn. “Somebody will stop you.”
The Emperor burst into laughter. “But Sam, I thought you were the one destined to stop me. Isn’t that what the prophecy of the great Veets said? That a person bearing the mark would bring about my demise? Well,” he waved around the room, “unless you have something up your sleeve, I would say you failed.”
Sam ground her teeth. She wanted to lunge at him, tear his head from his body, but remembered how easily he swept her aside in their earlier encounter—and that was with her hands free. Looking at the electronic restraining devices binding her wrists, she knew that she would have to bide her time and wait for just the right moment to strike.
The Dread Emperor turned his back on the girls and walked over to his throne. He slumped into the oversized seat, pressing one of the many buttons along the arm as he did so.
Overhead, multiple doors opened along the ceiling. The Dale pieces lowered, held by steel cables. Arms and legs on the left. Head, torso and heart on the right. And hanging directly in the middle, the canister holding all five Dale souls.
A couple of soldiers stood watch at the entrance of the Emperor’s tower. Ever since the population of Shallmar had been ‘adjusted’, there was nobody to guard the tower against. Because of this, the two men had grown lazy in their vigil.
The cloaked figure slipped in behind them. Once there, he cleared his throat.
The first guard turned dumbly and was rewarded with a swift kick to the head, rendering him unconscious. The second guard, a little quicker on the draw, managed to raise his gun. He never fired though as the robed man flipped it from his grasp, spun it around and fired point blank into his chest.
With the way clear, he dropped the gun, and headed for the stairwell. All was going exactly as he knew it would.
Next stop, the tower’s central power station.
“So what?” Sam demanded. “You bring us up here just to rub our noses in it? So that you could mock us before killing us?”
“Yes, actually, that is why.” The Emperor smiled cruelly.
Felicia spoke up. “Hey now, there’s no need to be doing the killing. Can’t you just make us braindead rainbow lovers?”
Robi nodded emphatically. “Yeah, that’s a totally better idea.”
“Stop it!” Sam glared at her companions. “Don’t stoop to begging this monster for anything.”
The Emperor chuckled. “No, Sam’s right, this whole thing is getting tiresome”. He reached out and hit a button on his chair. The door to the throne room opened and an old man in a white lab coat entered.
“Don!” Sam growled.
The man strolled over to Sam and patted her on the shoulder. “Just think Sam, if only you had worked with me instead of my idiot brother, you wouldn’t be in this predicament.”
“I would never work with you!” Sam could feel the hate rising inside of her. “You’re a fraud. Acting like you know what you’re doing, when really, you spent your life hiding behind your brother’s greatness. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
The sour expression on Don’s face gave Sam a brief moment of satisfaction. Finally with a huff, he pointed a finger at her and opened his mouth.
Then the whole building shook.
It wasn’t a great amount of movement, but enough to feel. Robi-Jo looked around the room and could tell from the glances that passed between Don and the Emperor, whatever had just happened had been unexpected. No sooner had the vibration ceased than the power in the room flickered, and then went out.
Don spun in a circle. The various monitors and lights around the space had gone black. Even the gentle hum of Nickelback—the Emperor’s favourite band—had gone silent from the speakers around him. The loud clank pulled him back towards the three girls. When his eyes focused on what had made the sound, he knew it was too late to run.
The power went out, so did the electronic locks on the wrist binders securing Sam’s hands. She wriggled it free, watching it fall to the floor, and then looked up at Don who was turning towards her. She smiled.
In a blink, Sam reached out and snapped the man’s neck.
“Run for the exit!” She shouted to Felicia and Robi-Jo.
The Emperor rose from his throne, covered the distance between the girls almost too fast to see and struck Sam with a mighty blow to the solar plexus. She rocketed back, slamming into the large window sending a thousand cracks through the glass.
“Sam!” Felicia screamed as she jumped on Emperor Shawn’s back, her fingernails raking across his face. He swung wildly, but ended up tripping when Robi-Jo dove into his legs. All three toppled forward to the floor.
Robi and Felicia rolled free from the downed tyrant and ran over to Sam. “Are you okay?” Felicia asked.
Sam shook the confusion out of her head. “I told you guys to run.”
Robi hefted Sam to standing. “And leave you alone with that weirdo? Hell no!”
The Emperor rose to his feet. Lines of rainbow coloured blood dribbled down his face from where Felicia had scratched him. “I’m through playing. Come to papa.”
The three girls charged in unison towards the power mad dictator. They attacked fiercely but for every blow they managed to land, the Emperor delivered two back. They would not last long against him.
Robi threw a looping punch at his face, but he caught it and flung her across the room. She bounced off the throne and rolled to a stop by a small table. Pulling herself to her knees, she saw that their belongings had been piled atop it. Keeping an eye on the melee behind her, she rifled through the possessions. The only thing she saw that could be of any use at all was Dale’s box cutter. Gripping it tight in her fist, she started back towards the action, but was halted as someone new entered the room.
Sam was in the middle of choking the Emperor when she saw the robed man. Her eyes wide, she said, “Veets?”
Felicia, biting Shawn’s right ear craned around to look at what Sam was seeing. She shook her head in confusion. “Veets? That ain’t Veets. That’s Steve!”
The prophet smiled as he walked over to Robi-Jo.
“Steve? I thought you quit to be an underwear model.” The scuffle behind her all but forgotten.
Steve did not answer her question, instead he pointed at the box cutter and said, “Chop it fresh!”
“Chop it what now? I don’t understand…oh,” she looked up at the dangling Dale parts. All the pieces where secured using the same metal cord, which ran along a nearby wall. “Thanks Steve—” she started, but paused when she saw that he was already gone.
The Emperor dislodged Sam and Felicia. He had lost track of the third girl during the fight and twisted to find her. There! But what was she doing?
Extending the blade, Robi ran towards the cable. “I hope you’re right about this thing cutting through anything Dale.”
Robi-Jo slashed the blade across the metal cord with all her might. The blade sliced cleanly through causing a twang sound to echo throughout the space. She twisted and watched as all the Dale parts suddenly went slack and dropped to the floor.
Emperor Shawn leapt back just before the body parts collided in a heap on the ground. He thought that they would just stay that way, but then something happened. First the limbs all began to connect together, then the heart rolled up the torso and disappeared into the raged hole in the chest. Finally, the souls, which were flashing and spinning inside the cylinder broke free, circled the room three times and then slammed into the pile of Dale.
A bright light emanated from the body parts as they fully reformed.
Mouth gapping, the Emperor took an unsteady step back.
Dale moved a step forward, then another; each time moving closer to the Dread Rainbow Emperor.
The light swirled in waves off of Dale, they seemed to cling to the Emperor as she retreated. He swatted at them, but it did nothing.
His backwards retreat brought him a couple of feet away from the broken glass window, with nowhere else to go, he stopped and raised his arms defensively.
Dale reached out and touched one of Emperor Shawn’s forearms. A sheen of pure white light raced across the power mad tyrants skin. Shawn let out a bellow of pain and rage.
Seeing her chance, Sam grit her teeth, and launched across the room towards the Emperor. She slammed her shoulder into his midsection pushing him the last couple feet towards the window. His weight against the glass caused it to break fully.
Emperor Shawn grasped at the air in front of him in search of something to grab, something to save him; there was nothing.
He screamed all the way down. The impact produced a rainbow shockwave which rocked the building. As the blast of distortion expanded outwards, it snuffed out each rainbow it passed until there were no more across the whole of Shallmar.
Sam, leaning on Felicia for support stared out of the broken window. Tears rolling down her cheekcs. It was over.
Robi looked back as Dale approached; the light had already faded from his body. He was smiling. “So…what the heck is going on here?”
Relief washed over her. She ran to him and gave him a big, tight hug. “Oh my god! You did it, Dale!”
Dale hugged back. “Thanks…I guess. But really, I have no idea what’s going on.”
Sam hobbled over. “It was Veets. He made sure his own prophecy came to pass.”
Shaking her head, Felicia also joined them. “Great. Veets, Steve, whatever! Can we please go home now?”
Sam returned them to the exact spot she took them from. It had only been minutes since they left thanks to the difference in Earth time. She thanked them again and even collected the remains of the killer robot imposter which had killed Dale in the first place.
Deciding that they all could use a break, Dale, Felicia and Robi-Jo headed for the lunch room.
“You guys are really going to have to fill me in on some stuff,” Dale mumbled through a mouthful of chips.
As Felicia and Robi-Jo started their tale from the beginning, Steve watched from around the corner. He smiled to himself. He went by many names; Yahweh, Vishnu, Zeus, Jehovah, Elohim, Jesus and Veets besides many, many others, but he would miss being known as Steve the most. After a few moments, he silently moved away and exited out the receiving bay door.
Christian Laforet is the author of the short horror collection, The Space Between Houses and co-author of the upcoming science fiction collection No Light Tomorrow.
The Space Between Houses is available through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Space-Between-Houses-Christian-Laforet-ebook/dp/B00P5N8TRS/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-ueredtext&ie=UTF8&qid=1420681234&sr=1-2&keywords=the+space+between+houses