Jack was stunned.
He didn’t know what to say.
He had heard the legends about the Dagger and Life and Death and its master (his best friend Ed actually knew more about slasher culture than he did), but up until now he had thought them just that, legends. Supposedly, in 1959, a meteoroid had fallen to Earth somewhere in America, and a figure wearing a yellow hooded robe had emerged from the rubble. The denizens of a nearby port town had gone to help the stranger, but he had slaughtered them to a man with a dagger in the shape of a twisted tentacle. What was even weirder, they had each died from a single cut. A citizen militia retaliated with pistols and shotguns; however, no matter how many times the stranger was shot, he didn’t die. What followed was a massacre. Every man, woman, and child in the port town was run through. After that, the stranger simply disappeared. The authorities, left confused and embarrassed, covered the whole thing up to the point where the identity of the port town was now a mystery.
Since then, the horror stories of the King in Yellow and his Dagger of Life and Death had become an integral part of the slasher mythos, the foundation and inspiration for the slasher phenomenon that existed today.
‘The Dagger of Life and Death….’ said Jack. ‘A weapon which grants its weilder the ability to kill anyone with a single cut as well as immortality…. Most slashers would risk death to get their hands on it….’ He smiled at Marilyn. ‘Not me, though! Sorry, sweetheart! Not interested!’
Marilyn choked on her orange juice. ‘Say what? But I thought you were a…well, you know…a sociopath? A spree killer? A video nasty enthusiast? I picked you specifically because all the grisly reports about you in the local newspapers. Surely this dagger is something that rocks your socks?’
Jack shrugged. ‘Not really. I kill for revenge mostly, and I only hunt when I know I can win. Tonight, I ran into another slasher that almost cut me to pieces. Going up against a hundred more guys like that isn’t exactly an attractive proposition.’
See, mom? I can take care of myself.
‘Okaaay….’ Marilyn bit her lip. ‘I mean there must be something you want that we could reward you with? Fame?’
‘I’m kind of an introvert.’
‘I’m Jewish. I’d rather not further the stereotype.’
‘Women?’ She looked to a Star Battles poster of the Princess in a slave bikini. ‘Surely women?’
An image of Jack being caressed by princesses in slave bikinis flashed through his mind. However, something about it just seemed hollow. He shook his said. ‘No. I know this probably sounds ridiculous coming from a guy like me, but I’m pretty conservative when it comes to relationships. I’d like a gal that I could take home to my mom. Though I’ve never had much luck with the ladies. You’re actually the only woman whose ever been inside my room….’
A grin stretched slowly across Marilyn’s face. She leant forwards so that her soft bosom was pressing against his arm. ‘I could be your girlfriend, Jack.’
He felt as though he’d been hit with freight train. ‘You could?!’
Marilyn ran a warm finger down his chest. ‘Uh huh. I’ve actually been looking for a tall, dark, handsome chap like yourself to come home to. It’s lonely climbing the career ladder to the CEO’s chair at ANN.’ She suddenly took her hand off his chest and looked sadly up at him. ‘Oh, but you’re not intimidated by a woman with ambition, are you?’
‘No, ma’am!’ Jack shook his head furiously. ‘As a matter of fact, I’m a follower of Orthodox Judaism! In my religion, the woman goes to work while the man stays home and looks after the kids!’
Marilyn’s grin returned. ‘Wow! What a modern man!’ She took her wallet out of her pocket, withdrew a set of photographs, and handed them to him. ‘I can tell you’re a no honeymoon before marriage type, but how’s about a sneak peek at what you’ll be fighting for? I do a little modelling on the side, you know.’
The photographs showed Marilyn in glossy black pyjamas lying atop a Polar Bear skin rug in front of a fire place. The curvature of her body set him on fire! She was a Greek goddess!
Marilyn moved her face very close to his so that he could see nothing but her wild green eyes. ‘I could make you very happy, Jack. All you have to do…is be my champion!’
Jack tensed his muscles and raised balled fists as testosterone energised his body. ‘Let me at ‘em! A hundred slashers? Piece ‘a’ cake!’
Marilyn clapped. ‘Oh, I knew you’d come through for me, Jack! My knight in shining armour!’ She turned to the door and whistled.
‘What are you doing?’ said Jack.
‘That’s my signal to the others to let them know you’ve agreed to join the America News Network family.’
‘Yes! You didn’t think we’d be so cruel as to make you fight alone, did you?’ Marilyn stood up and opened the door.
There were two figures in the doorway. The first was a man wearing a horned, bug-eyed, crooked-fanged blue oni mask and a kimono with Great Wave off Kanagawa pattern on it. He had a ridiculously long samurai sword in a sheath on his back. The second was—Hockey Mask?!
Jack pointed. ‘You!’
Marilyn put a hand on his shoulder. ‘It’s fine, dear! Puck and Mezu work for me!’
Puck took off his hockey mask to reveal that he was in fact a she: a little Christmas elf with light blonde hair, rosy cheeks, and a snub nose. She glared, first at Jack, and then at the room. She had a thick Canadian accent. ‘I can’t believe I lost to a hoser like you!’
Jack was speechless. There were slasher girls?! There were cute slasher girls?! He shook his head. ‘No, wait, you can’t be Hockey Mask! No one could have survived the fall off that cliff!’
Puck laughed. ‘You wimp! Anyone who can’t survive a hundred-foot fall into a forest has never been skiing in the Canadian Rockies! If you don’t grow up tough in the Great White North, you don’t grow up at all!’
A troubling thought entered Jack’s mind. He looked to Marilyn. ‘If Puck is working for you…does that mean you sicked her on me at the drive-in theatre? Were you testing me?’
Marylin gave him a puppy face. ‘It was just an itty-bitty test to see if you were as tough as you seemed in the local papers. You passed with flying colours!’ She battered her eyelashes. ‘You’ll forgive me, won’t you, darling?’
Man, she’s pretty! he thought. ‘Of course, I will!’
Digitised music sounded from the corner of the room. Mezu was playing Street Brawler.
‘Hey!’ said Jack. ‘Who said you could touch that?!’ He stormed over to give Mezu a piece of his mind.
A flash of light.
Hair fell from Jack's forehead.
Mezu slid his ridiculously long samurai long back into his back-mounted sheath. His Japanese accent was monotone. ‘You needed a haircut.’ He returned to playing Street Brawler.
Jack felt the warmth of his face going red with anger. He’d kill him.
Marilyn stepped between them. ‘Now, now, you two, save it for the enemy!’
Puck cleared her throat. ‘About that. I hate to be a party pooper, boss, but this hoser has a gunshot wound in his bum. I’m not fighting with a liability.’
That’s right. So much had been happening, Jack had actually forgotten his injury. He went to the kitchen and sat on the sink. He took three long breaths in and out of his mouth before yanking the bullet out with a practiced hand. The pain was excruciating, but there were girls watching, so he gritted his teeth through the pain. He held up the gory bullet and gave a thumbs up. ‘No problemo! I’m a quick healer! Strong German genes!’
Puck grimaced. ‘Gross.’
Marilyn laughed. ‘My, but you are full of surprises! We have medicine in the helicopter anyway.’
‘Helicopter?’ said Jack.
‘That’s right. Our transport to the Alamo. It should be arriving right abooout—’
The whir and wind of rotor blades came through the door. Outside, an America News Network helicopter was hovering in front of the motel.
Jack slapped his forehead. ‘Oh no! I forgot! This is going to wake everyone up! My neighbours are going to find out my secret identity!’
‘Don’t worry.’ Marilyn ushered Puck and Mezu out of the room. ‘We moved all the residents here to another motel for the night!’
‘Blackmail talks! Come on!’
Jack grabbed his wooden mask and fire axe, shut the door behind him, and followed Marilyn, Puck, and Mezu into the helicopter. As they ascended into the night, he had a funny feeling this was either going to be the best decision of his life…or the worst.
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