April 1st, 2016"Gotta hand it to ya, Spit-curl, you sure are persistent!"
the cackling aberration says as he hurls a pulsating purple bubble towards me. "I've literally turned your entire world upside-down and inside-out, and here you are, still thinking there's a way you can strong-arm your way out of this!"Well, he's not entirely wrong,
I say to myself flying downwards towards the bottomless sky-pit to avoid the bubble. It bursts against an office building, causing it to sprout enormous hairy legs and begin to tap-dance, sending clouds of dust and shattered glass and debris tumbling upwards into the crackling ground high above us.
I'd been having such an easy day, too, until Jimmy transformed into a sock puppet and all the air turned green.
The entity calls itself.....well, I can't really pronounce it, but the closest approximation you can make with a humanoid mouth is something like 'Mxyzptlk.' He--I assume it's a "he," anyway, given that he's taken the form of a diminuitive balding man with a purple suit and bowler hat-- claims to be an imp from the Fifth Dimension, a being of pure infinite possibility, who enjoys messing with lower-dimensional beings to keep himself entertained. I faced him once about ten years ago, and his 'pranks' were no less destructive and bizarre than they are now."I don't have to out-muscle you, Mxy,"
I say as I weave my way between bolts of nightmares. "I remember the rules from last time I defeated you, and I can do it again.""Oh right, right, you 'defeated' me,"
he mocks, rolling his eyes and making exaggerated air quotes from actual thin air as he gestures with his fingers. "I've been giving this sad little slice of time-space you call a 'universe' a subatomic wedgie from the word go today, and so far you haven't even managed to get me to say a single syllable of my name backwards! All you've done is zig-zag around while I've taken pot-shots at you! Speaking of which, BOOM!"
Mxyzptlk points his finger at me, and a beam of white-hot nothing screams towards me. I put every ounce of energy I have into speed, zipping up and down the streets and avenues, banking hard and looping back on myself to keep out of the way of his attack as it slices through skyscrapers like a hot knife through butter. I really
hope everything goes back to normal like last time, or the reconstruction effort is going to take ages."What's your game, Mxy?"
I call out, rolling to the left to avoid a rift in timespace and the thousand gibbering horrors that pour out. "If you can go anywhere in any universe you want, why come back here?""Who says I spend all my time here?"
he replies, lazily lobbing nightmares after me as I come close to completing the pattern. "This form, this name 'Mxyztplk?' It's like an avatar, a username for an account in one of your video games--well, not your video games, those are all terrible. Maybe more like one of those internet forums where some fat loser in his thirties thinks he's really clever by breaking the fourth wall like that isn't a total cliché by now. Anyway, I use variations on this gimmick all over the place, and I've messed with a whole bunch of different yous."
I have no idea what he's going on about, but it doesn't matter. I've got to keep him talking, keep him throwing his attacks at me, following the pattern...."And it's not like I just mess with Supermen,"
he continues. "Sometimes I got and stir up trouble with a space captain in the future. Sometimes I dress up like a triangle and mess with a kid in Oregon. Every once in a while I go screw with a bunch of cartoon horses. But none of those are ever as fun as messing with Big Blue."
The sky below me turns black, and what looks like a gigantic grapevine made of gnashing mouths comes swirling up to chase after me."It still sounds like you're a one-trick pony, Mxy,"
I say, veering near a row of shops as the mouth monster drags itself across them, ripping up the brick and mortar facades. "It sounds like a pretty dull way to live if everywhere you go, all you can think of doing is messing with other people's lives.""Oh, come on, Boy Scout,"
he sneers. "You're talking about an infestation of bags of wet meat, some fuzz on a wet rock, like they're actually people? I mean, you're essentially to them what they are to the bacteria in their stomachs, and you think they're your friends! Get some perspective!"
With that, I fly up directly towards him, stopping inches from his face."I think you're the one that needs some perspective today, pal.""Oh yeah? And what exactly do I need to--"
Casually, I glance downward to the crumbling buildings, the swirling sky-pit and the rings of circling debris.
Slowly but surely, he sees the destruction he's wrought has formed a pattern.
Or rather, a sequence of letters."Wha......I, err.......you--"
By trying to hit me with his most devastating attacks, he wrote it with his own actions into the fabric of the universe itself. In huge flaming letters.
KLTPZYXM"You know the rules, imp,"
I say, the game truly over. "Now put everything back the way you found it, and then get the hell out of this dimension.""But.....that's--....I just....you....ahhhh! HA!
He suddenly starts to laugh. "AH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAA!"
It's not a laugh of triumph, or of a villain whose master plan has just come to fruition. It's the kind of laugh a con man might get when he realizes he's been out-conned."Oh! Oh, you are good, Spit-Curl! I gotta say, I'm impressed!"
Wiping tears of laughter from his eyes, Mxyzptlk snaps his fingers, and without so much as a 'poof,' the sky and ground are where they should be, the gibbering horrors are banished to the dark places of the multiverse, and none of the people are sock puppets or vegetables or chalk drawings anymore."Don't worry yourself, farmboy, I'll stick to my word and make myself scarce,"
he says, slowly fading away as the laws of probability reassert themselves.BUT KNOW THIS:
his voice rings through my mind. A CRISIS IS COMING, FAR GREATER THAN ANYTHING YOUR PUNY REALITY HAS EVER KNOWN. NEW GODS ARE AWAKENING, AND THEIR WAR WILL SOON SWALLOW ALL. BEFORE THIS IS OVER, YOU WILL STAND ALONE AGAINST THE DESTRUCTION OF ALL THAT WAS OR WILL EVER BE. AND YOU WILL FAIL, SUPERMAN. YOU WILL FAIL.
Below me, life goes on like nothing had happened. People are heading to and from their work, popping into stores, trying to catch the cross-town bus or riding the monorail. The LED banners in Glenmorgan Square start playing an advertisement for LexCorp's new 'Net of Tomorrow' software. The Meteors are warming up for the afternoon's game against the St. Louis Cardinals.
And just like the last time, I'm floating above it all with a look of bewilderment and a tinge of horror.
I feel something in my hand that wasn't there a moment before. It's a note, hastily written on a scrap of paper that simply hadn't existed.Supes,
Don't think I'm a bad sport. I left you a prize for winning today, but I'm not telling you what it is. You'll find out soon, though, and I can't wait to see how you handle it.
Off across the bay, I hear a fire siren. I find myself blinking a few times before I shake off the surreal daze, and then I crack my knuckles and get back to work. Whatever 'prize' the imp has gifted me, I can deal with it later.
For now, I've got a job to do.