The next morning, Dirk woke up around elevenish. He shuffled over to his bathroom. There was a tooth brush there and a crusty tube of tooth paste. So. Brush.
While seemingly half asleep, Dirk Darrenger, formerly known as Paragon, the Ultimate Man, was actually in sheer ecstasy. This simple act of brushing his teeth without having some super powered villain crash through the wall to stop him was sublime.
When finished, he shuffled over to the loo and did something else he was never able to do without being interrupted.
After a nice hot shower and a much needed shave, Dirk did the unbelievably pleasurable act of watching Price is Right over a TV dinner in his bed. He was just about to dig into his salisbury steak when there was a loud knocking at the door.
Dirk just stared. It couldn’t be anyone from work. His prolonged absence from the press room had resulted in the terse letter from his boss about being “let go.” It couldn’t be a friend because he never had time for a social life. The only other prospects left didn’t please him much.
Wielding his spork menacingly, Dirk cautiously opened the door.
Standing on the other side was a large, muscle-bound man in black spandex and an iron helm that resembled a skull. A big silver skull was emblazoned on his chest.
“Paragon, the Ultimate Man, I am Enthropy. I destroy worlds in my wake. I shall destroy you and your puny planet!!!”
“Sorry,” Dirk said tiredly, “I’m retired.”
“Oh.” The severe look dropped from Enthropy’s face. “I guess I’ll just head back home then. Good bye!” He disappeared in a poof.
“Bye,” Dirk waved. He closed the door and shuffled over to fridge, grabbing a six pack of MGD. Sitting back on his bed, he began to get smashed in a way that he had never imagined possible as Paragon.
Several more six packs later, Dirk was sprawled out on his bed, singing to himself.
“She’ll be comin’ ‘round the six pack when she comes…”
He didn’t notice the man in the black trench coat standing over him.
“On top of a six paaaaaaaack, all cover’d wit beeeeeeeeer…”
The man in the black trench coat picked Dirk up and hefted him over his shoulder. “Come, Mr. Darrenger, we’re going on a trip.”
“I drink my six pack and close my eyes, trippin’ away t’paradise…”
The door out of Dirk’s room began to glow an eerie greenish, yellow. The man in the black trench coat carried Dirk through it and they disappeared.
“… and the home… uf da… Braves!!!”
Mary Lu Retina ran and ran and ran. She ignored all the shouts of “Run, Forrest, ruuuuuun!” coming from people she passed. She just didn’t care.
Eventually, she was all run out. As she bent over to catch her breath, she heard a man behind her say, “You are the Ultimate Woman, aren’t you?”
She whirled around, ready to rip the guys head off. Considering the guy behind her was almost seven feet tall and looked like he could tear her now un-Ultimate body to shreds, she held back.
“Who the Hell are you?” she spat.
“My name’s Jack Armington, the Dragonslayer.”
She looked at him skeptically. “’Dragonslayer?’”
“You’ve never hear of me, and there’s a reason.”
“You’re a nothing nobody?”
“No,” he said patiently, “I’m an abandoned character, and I’m looking for revenge.”
“What are you talking about?” Mary Lu asked.
“Look around you, Mary Lu,” Jack said, sweeping his arm about him. There was nothing in every direction. “You’ve run out of the story. You’ve been forgotten about.”
“Forgotten about?” she seethed. “No one’s ever gonna forget me…”
“They don’t have to,” Jack said. “You can get your revenge still, and I’ll have mine.”
“Great!” Mary Lu shouted. “Where? How?”
“Just follow me. We’re going to Rhode Island.”
“Are you sure this is the one that we want to use?” the man in the black trench coat asked. “Why can’t we use someone a bit more powerful? Like that Tempest fellow over there in…”
“No!” The man in the white robes bellowed. “That would be playing right into our enemy’s hands. This man, Dirk Darrenger, is the ultimate weapon.”
“He isn’t the ultimate anything!” The man in the black trench coat insisted. “I found him drunk, singing songs about six packs. That’s no way for our ultimate weapon to behave!”
“That’s enough out of you,” the man in the white robes growled. “One more word and I’ll have an Omega limited series written about you. And you knows what happens to them.”
The man in the black trench coat shut up.
Dirk shook himself back to consciousness. He was in a back alley somewhere and a man in a white robe and a man in a black trench coat were standing over him. He had one humdinger of a hangover too.
“You’ve been tapped, Dirk Darrenger, formerly Paragon, the Ultimate Man.”
Dirk looked at his shoulder.
“Your Ultimate Collective,” the man in the white robes continued, “has abandoned you as their hero. We’re picking you up.”
“And just who are ‘we?’” Dirk asked.
“Dirk Darrenger, but don’t you ‘we.’ You’re not royalty,” the man in the black trench coat said.
“That’s it!” The man in the while robes pointed a finger at the man in the black trench coat. There was a flash. Laying on the ground where the man in the black trench coat had been was a pile of papers. “OMEGA: Man In the Black Trench Coat four part LS.” There were only two issues.
“His name was too long anyways,” Bob said. “Oh, by the way, call me Bob.”
Dirk looked at him in awe. “Microsoft Bob?”
“No!!!” Bob’s eyes flashed in fury. “Do not play stupid with me, Darrenger! I have powers you and your puny collective never even dreamed of!!!”
Dirk looked at him blankly.
Bob calmed down a bit. “Sorry, you’re not playing stupid. My apologies. Anyways, to business.”
Bob began pacing back and forth. “You see, Dirk, we of People Respecting In-Continuity Karacters, or PRICK, have been watching you and yours tearing through the very fabric of reality just to continue a storyline. It disturbs us deeply. It disturbs us even more that this kind of reality ripping will continue for quite a long time, as the Author’s List is long and revolving.”
“Author’s list?” Dirk asked. “Reality ripping?”
“A few PRICKs and I have decided that this must stop. Destroying you would be the ultimate answer, but as soon as we tried reality would be bent and you’d escape. Soooo…”
Bob waved his hand and the scenery changed. They were now standing in the downtown of some city Dirk was unfamiliar with. There was a gun in Dirk’s hands.
“We’re giving you a chance to live, Dirk. Welcome to Providence, Rhode Island. See that moody looking young man walking down the street? He is Matthew Rossi III. Kill him, Dirk, and you’ll be free of anything weird ever happening in your life again and reality will be kept safe.”
Dirk looked at the rifle then he looked at Matt across the street. Slowly, he raised the gun and took aim…
Will the next writer be shot, putting an end to the RACC Challenge cycle? Will Dirk actually understand what the heck is going on? What are the real motives behind PRICK? Has Mary Lu escaped from the story line? Tune in next issue as Matt Rossi writes for his life in a story that can only be called…
Next issue: Chapter 15: “Don’t Be a PRICK” by Matt Rossi