Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Chapter Four

Chapter Four

“The Bar” couldn’t be accused of having the most creative name on the block, but it was just that... a bar. The name was an unfortunate instance in which it’s owners spent so much time bickering about the name of the bar that they couldn’t come up with a name in time for the opening, and ended up just calling it “The Bar.” It was that type of bickering that eventually ended up in the very violent breakup of their partnership where one of them drove their car into the living room of another, and it was quickly bought up by a man from Wisconsin named George Smith, who promptly threw some Irish things up on the walls and claimed he was from “Belle-fast.” 

No one noticed.

“The Bar”, like many of the other bars and eating establishments in Washington, DC, did well mostly to the fact of it’s proximity to a bunch of young individuals that spend most of their days extremely close to seats of power while having very little power themselves, but still flocked to bars to try to impress friends and other people they wished to see in various states of undress by claiming to have a lot of power. At any given time, despite the many various warnings to the contrary, everyone would be wearing a name badge that had some indication of their name and rank on it, hoping that the person they were talking to didn’t realize what it all meant.

The members of Smith Times Four often met up at this bar to discuss the varying ways they would eventually quit and finally stick it to Mr. Cunningham, with the sole exception of the one time that he made the mistake of showing up with Mistress Number 3. This was the last trip that Mars made with the group, because while their he invented the game, “See how close you can come to mentioning that Mr. Cunningham had a wife without actually mentioning it.” 

While Tyler ended up winning that one, it was a close game. Also, that was the point that Mr. Cunningham finally caught on and vowed vengeance against whoever started the game, and Mars realized that he should probably avoid The Bar for a little while.

So, no one was more surprised than Mars to find himself sitting in the bar facing several of his co-workers, including Evie and Tyler. He felt uneasy being there, not because he thought Mr. Cunningham would show up - he was certain that he wouldn’t, after the game - but because he felt an uneasy set of eyes watching him.

“You gonna nurse that thing all night?” Evie said as the waitress put another beer in front of her. 

“What? Sorry?” Mars was already behind because he had claimed he had to stay late. He almost felt an otherworldly force finally eject him from his chair and lead him down to the bar.

“You seem distracted tonight, friend-o,” Tyler said, “you ok?”
“Yeah. It’s just... strange to describe. Ever feel like you’re being watched?”

Evie, being an attractive brunette in her 20’s in a bar with a 3 -1 woman to man ratio felt this a lot right now. But she was certain that’s not what he meant, but really wanted to point it out.

It was Tyler that spoke up. “No. You’re probably just paranoid. My Uncle was paranoid...” Tyler launched into a story that neither Evie nor Mars were going to listen to.

While The Bar was a frequent hangout of the young professionals of Smith Times Four, it was not a frequent hangout of the staff members of Heroix Comix. Both Elizabeth and Kaplan entered the bar (Elizabeth armed with her trusty fake ID that read she was “Lindsey” from New Jarsey... the misspelling got her 20% off and if she wore something low-cut, no one was going to really call her out on it.)

“... that’s when my Uncle finally confronted the badger...” Tyler was continuing, but Mars was more interested in the two newcomers that had just strolled through the door. The woman... the girl didn’t look old enough to be in here. And the other guy, with his unkempt facial hair and T-Shirt that bore the image of what he knew was a “My Little Pony” character seemed really out of place. 

He stood up and walked over to them, transfixed on the pair.

“Hey, this is going to sound weird, but, do I know you?” Mars said, looking right at Kaplan.

Normally this was the point where Kaplan would tell him that he was flattered, and he hoped this guy would find someone one day, but it just couldn’t be him. He was too into chicks. But at that moment, he felt something, too. A strange connection.

“David... Mars?” he said, pulling his name out of thin air.

“And you’re David Kaplan,” Mars replied.

“An old friend of yours?” Elizabeth-Lindsey replied, having successfully gotten a beer. She eyed the newcomer with her usual, “I’m reading you” look.

“I’ve never met this man before in my life,” Kaplan replied.

“And I haven’t met you, either. So... how do I know you?”

A voice from the booth in the back boomed towards both of them. If the other bar patrons heard it, they didn’t react. 

The pair turned in unison to see a man and a woman sitting at a curved booth with a around of drinks in front of them. The man had thinning hair and a goatee, and was dressed smartly in a grey pin striped suit with a green shirt with the top button undone. There was nothing really unremarkable about him, except for a strange tattoo of a rune that could be seen on his left wrist as he held up his arm to beckon them over. The woman was certainly attractive as well, deep red lipstick offsetting her somewhat pale face. Of course, this was the woman Kaplan had seen and given a lesson to earlier today.

Mars and Kaplan headed over to them. Elizabeth, realizing she shouldn’t be in the bar at all much less by herself, followed. Evie, who had watched the meeting while trying to ignore Tyler’s droning decided to head over herself to find out what was going on. Tyler, now clued into the fact that his story didn’t really have an ending, managed to squeeze himself into the booth as well, jamming himself closer to Elizabeth than she was comfortable with.

“Ok... we really just meant the two of you,” Gabe said, holding her drink up so it wouldn’t spill as Tyler jammed himself down.

“Yeah, we’re a little weirded out as to what’s going on, so we thought we’d bring our friends,” Mars said, speaking for the two of them.

Normally Kaplan would have protested. But he did just form a connection with a complete stranger while having the voices of two people in his head, so he decided to see where this was going.

It was then that Gabe and Raph introduced themselves by their true, full names, Gabrielle and Raphel, two of the archangels of the Lord, and they were sent down with a task to find the Chosen Ones to help stop a Global Apocalypse. Because of the grand moment with the lights and the fake angel wings, they decided to leave off the fact that Mars and Kaplan were the third choice.

The five people reacted with varying degrees of expectation, while Elizabeth managed to blow all of their minds. Of course, the Angels weren’t about to do tricks to appease someone who wasn’t even supposed to be in the bar, nor was supposed to be sitting at this booth.

“So... Mars is supposed to save the world?” Evie said, stirring her drink needlessly.

“Well, you see, we’re really not sure this time,” Raph said, getting ready to pull out the list. Gabe put her hand on his shoulder and shook her head.

“Don’t. Just. Don’t.”

“Fine,” Raph continued, “you see, there’s a master list of ‘Chosen Ones’ that all Angels use when there is a threat of this magnitude. Mars and Kaplan are on the list at the same time.” 

Raph and Gabe decided when they found out that both of them had the name “David” they would only refer to them by their last names. It was just easier that way.

“So, we’re like... separated at birth or something?” Kaplan asked.

“No, that’s a stupid question,” Gabe glared at him. 

“Look, you’re just on the list at the same time, ok. And we need you for an important task,” Raph continued.

“My Uncle had to save the world once...” Tyler started. Then despite the fact that his lips were moving, no sound was coming out. 

“What happened?” Evie waved her hands in front of him.

“I took away his speech. He’ll finish his little story,” Gabe replied.

“Can you teach me to do that?” Evie asked.

“We’ll talk later if Mars and Kaplan survive.”

Mars and Kaplan glanced at each other, then at the two angels that were currently tasking them with saving the world. “Survive?” 

Both Gabe and Raph debated this moment. Raph was in favor of easing into the fact that it was up to them to save the world, mostly because their first two choices failed so miserably. Gabe didn’t want anything of it, and just wanted to give them their mission. So, they came up with a compromise that if it came up organically, they would mention it.

So, Raph took this opportunity to tell them all about the fact that Gomez quickly defected to the other side, and Dale died a horrible death while his friend was still missing. He dis this in the nicest terms possible, while still explaining that if they didn’t act within a week, the planet itself was pretty much doomed because there was no way this cult was going to fail the third time.

There was a few moments of silence. It looked as if Tyler was finishing his story, so Gabe waved her hand.

“... then, after the squid jumped in the boat...” she waved her hand a second time.

“So, the bottom line is, we need your help.” Raph finally said.

Mars considered the options. On the one hand, he could spend the weekend on the couch with Captain Sisko, then return to work on Monday to repeat the week he just had. He could continue to do this until the company was run into the ground by the remaining Smiths and Cunningham, whereupon he’d find another job that would stave off starvation long enough for him to retire. Or he could face an evil Cult and near certain death in an effort to save the world.

He looked over at Kaplan who was currently seeing if he could figure out what type of underwear the cute waitress was wearing. 

“I’m in,” Mars replied.

“What the hell, me too!” Kaplan said, putting his hand in the middle of the table, hoping everyone would join him in a cheer. No one did.

Gabe and Raph looked at each other, unsure if they were relieved or ready to start looking at the next name on the list.

“Ok, here’s the deal, you need to head to this address and speak to Izzy. He’s going to guide you for most of the way.”

Mars took the piece of paper, because he was 90% sure that Kaplan would lose it. He was still staring intently at the waitress.

Evie eventually spoke up, “So, this cult... what exactly are Mars and Kaplan up against?”

“What do you mean?” Gabe asked.

“I mean, what are they up against? Demons? Dragons?”

“There’s an actor in Hollywood who, while researching a role, made a deal with a Demon. Now, in order to fulfill that contract, he has to find the Demon a human host, where together the two of them will start their 100 year reign of terror,” Gabe replied.

“Izzy knows a lot more than we do, which is why we’re sending you to speak with him,” Raph finished for her.

“Which actor?” Elizabeth asked excitedly,

Gabe and Raph exchanged glances.

It was Gabe that eventually spoke up.

“Nicolas Cage. You need to save the world from Nicolas Cage.”

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