The Mandela Effect: Part 5
Will Grant (with Spidey powers)
Pacific Point, CA
Carey McClean was starting to close up shop. Ever since the Hounds of Humanity had attacked Pixy Stix and Club Morte several weeks ago, Carey’s family and friends have urged her to sell her trendy bar, the Apothecary, and find a safer line of work. But she could never bring herself to let go of her business; she had built it from the ground up. A few bigoted assholes were not going to scare Carey away.
After Carey had wiped down the last few glasses, she poured a quick shot for herself. As she swirled its contents by tilting the glass in her hand, a golden shine briefly irradiated from the drink. Once the little light show had concluded, Carey downed the drink. She paused for a moment, taking in the alcohol’s aftertaste. She then picked up a shard from a glass that had been shattered earlier that night. With the fragment in hand, Carey began to jab the palm of her hand. However, instead of bleeding profusely from her hand, Carey saw that there was not even a scratch. Carey immediately scribbled down some notes on her notepad so she could remember how she created this side-effect.
“Want a taste of tonight’s mystery brew, Tif?”
Tiffany, the only person still left in the bar, gave Carey a cross look before looking back down at her phone.
“I wasn’t born yesterday, Carey.” Tiffany finally pipped in.
“Oh, come on! Last time wasn’t that
“Sure. My boyfriend was so
happy to feel something hard poke him in the thigh when we were curled up on the coach.”
“Wait, did you hear that?” Carey suddenly asked.
Carey peered around the room. She could have sworn she had heard something. The clicking of the skylight. The taps of footsteps. But she did not see anyone among the empty sea of tables and chairs.
“Must have been my imagination.” Carey admitted. “Anyways, how about a little taste test before we close this joint up?”
“Fine,” Tiffany finally admitted as she snatched the shot glass from Carey’s hand. She downed the drink with one gulp. Before the liquid touched her lips, Tiffany had braced herself for whatever the drink was going to taste like. These mystery brews were like those magic jellybeans from Harry Potter
; you never know if you’re going to get something normal or something disgusting. Tiffany was lucky when she discovered that the shot was rather fruity.
“Wow, you’re getting good at your mixology. Before you know it, you’ll—” Tiffany started to complement Carey’s work, but she suddenly felt a tingling sensation in her tongue. Something slimy began to roll around in her mouth. When she opened her mouth again, she watched her tongue spill out of her mouth. Tiffany could not utter a single word as her tongue kept coming and coming. By the time her tongue stopped, it was already a couple feet long.
But that was not all of it. Although her elongated tongue did not have a mind of its own, Tiffany could contort it, as if it were a third arm.
“Prehensile tongue,” Carey muttered to herself while she scribbled a few additional notes on the same sheet of paper from before. “Not really useful in combat situations, but I could earn a mint from selling it to certain cosplayers.”
“Great…” Tiffany barely mumbled because her tongue was still sticking out.
“Hey, if you hurry home now, you could have some fun with your boyfriend,” Carey winked at Tiffany.
The miniature bell attached to the front door of the bar suddenly rung. Two ruffians came bulldozing through the door and strolled up to the counter. The first man through the door held a baseball bat over his shoulder. The other man was not holding anything, although that did not mean he was not concealing anything.
“Sorry, boys. We’re closed for the night. You’ll have to come back tomorrow,” Carey told the two intimidating men who stood before her.
“Oh, we’re not here for your bougie drinks,” one of the two men told her.
“Alright, let me just get you what I have in the register.”
“Girlie, we have our eyes on a bigger prize,” the other man jabbered as he and his accomplice pulled out their sidearms. “It’s open season on heroes. What you have in there is chump change compared to the jackpot we’re about to land!”
“And we can’t leave any witnesses behind,” the first man threatened by aiming his gun at Tiffany. However, when he saw her face, he contorted his face in confusion. “What the fuck’s wrong with her tongue?”
“Chill, bro. Maybe we can collect double the reward by claiming she’s a meta, too!”
“Really? You’re going to threaten two women when I’m just sitting right here?” A man’s voice came from behind the two intruders. When Carey, Tiffany, and the two ruffians turned their heads towards the origin of the voice, they saw a man wearing a scarlet and gray superhero costume. Its most prominent feature was the white lenses, outlined with a black and then a golden band, on the mask.
“What the hell is Arachne doing here?” One of the ruffians asked aloud.
“Are you sure? This guy looks like a dude!” The other one uttered.
“How could you possibly confuse me with her! Arachne wears blue and pink
, not scarlet and gray!” the arachnid hero quipped.
“Has someone turned Arachne into a dude? Or has he been pretending to be a chick this whole time?” The first ruffian pondered aloud while ignoring the comment from the hero sitting in front of them.
“I not even going to entertain such a dumb question…” the hero sighed.
“I don’t care if this bug is a he, she, or whatever pronouns people are using nowadays. Let’s put a bullet in his head and earn another 500 grand!”
Because of this hero’s arrival, Carey found a short respite from the would-be murderers, who had shifted their attention to the wall-crawler. While the men were distracted by the newcomer, Carey had pulled out another glass, larger than the others, and filled it to the brim, all while keeping glance focused on the two men. After she had applied her powers to the liquid, she waited until the right opportunity to act.
The man with the baseball bat then rushed at the arachnid hero, swinging the wooden club aimlessly. This effort was very much in vain, as the man’s target kept dodging out of the way. The man’s partner, seeing this, began reaching into his jacket, as if he were drawing something out of it. This was the moment that Carey was waiting for. Before the man could pull out his weapon, Carey splashed the man with her enhanced drink, drenching his entire back.
“You’re going to regret—” the man threatened, but he cupped his mouth with his palm when he heard his voice jump an octave.
“That one was on the house,” Carey said with a smug smirk on her face, as she watched the man fall to the ground and squirmed on the ground in pain.
“What the hell did you do to me, bitch?” The ‘man’ barked at Carey after the pain had ceased. When Carey saw him, it was like looking at an uncanny mirror of the man, or rather a mirror image of what the man’s sister would have looked like.
“Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?”
“Why you little—” but the ‘man’ was interrupted when ‘his’ partner was tossed directly into ‘him.’ The hero who had made a timely appearance, walked up to the bar as he slid his hands past each other as if he were dusting off his hands.
“Sorry, Arachne, but you can’t blame me for whatever happened to you.”
“Didn’t you hear me? I’m not Arachne!” he responded in frustration. “I’m Araneus, not Arachne!”
“Are you really splitting hairs on such similar names? Plus, you’re basically wearing a copy of her costume.”
“Why am I having to repeat myself so much...” Araneus trailed off his voice as he shook his head. He then slid his fingers into a slit on the side of his costume that looked like the opening of a pocket and he pulled out a cell phone, that definitely could not have fit in such a small space. He slid his finger across the phone’s screen and tapped it a few times until he flipped the screen towards Carey.
“See! There’s a clear difference between the two of us!”
“Okay, Boy Arachne. I have this feeling you didn’t just come here to save the two of us. So, what’s up?” Carey asked. The photo that Araneus showed her clearly depicted Arachne, although she had never seen the drider heroine wearing a blue and pink costume before. Carey did not really know her that well; she has only run into her one or two times before while on patrol.
“Well, speaking of Arachne,” Araneus mentioned as he tied up the two ruffians with some spider silk. “Have you seen her recently?”
“I can’t say I have. It’s not like we’re BFF or anything. Why such a question?”
“Something weird has happened to her. Knowing your unique flair, I just wanted to rule you out if I could.”
“I really hope you haven’t been going around and asking people these questions directly.”
“I didn’t think I would have to go all Batman on other heroes and toss them off buildings to get them to spill the truth.”
“Hey, I was just checking. I would love to claim that it was my handy work, but alas it wasn’t me. You wouldn’t mind giving me some details on what happened to everyone’s favorite arachnid?”
“Err…I don’t know about that,” Araneus suggested as he looked at Tiffany, whose tongue still has not returned to normal. “I don’t want to give you any good
“How disappointing,” Carey sighed. “But I’m guessing you’ll be heading out soon. Do you want me to cook up a concoction to spice things up between you and your girl, Arachne?”
“You heard me! Partners don’t throw their arms around each other like the two of you did in that picture. So, what do you say?”
“I—um—don’t know what you’re talking about,” Araneus stumbled with his words before shooting a web line up at the ceiling. “I suggest calling the police to pick up these dumbos.”
And with that, Araneus scurried up the web line and exited out the rooftop skylight, leaving Carey and Tiffany alone with the two scoundrels. Carey immediately started to phone the authorities.
“Really, I have to talk to the police like this?” Tiffany continued to complain. “This is the last
time I’m taste testing your brews!”