Lord Ruthven ran into the bathroom and vomited. He nearly missed the toilet, and dropped to his knees.
“Your slave didn’t succeed, Varney?” Mysta asked, leaning against the door frame.
“DON’T CALL ME THAT!” Lord Ruthven yelled. He leaned up against the tub, took some deep breaths, and passed out.
Mysta shook her head and snapped her fingers. Upton entered the bathroom, picked the vampire up, and took him back to the bed.
“I’ve made up my mind,” Mysta said, opening up the window. “Go back to my office, and retrieve my Anti-Radical serum.”
Upton nodded and walked over to the window.
“You should know where it is—call me if you have any trouble.”
Upton nodded his head again. He then jumped out the window, initiated his jet pack, and began flying to Chicago.
Mysta closed the window. She turned around and looked at Lord Ruthven, who was hugging one of pillows.
“I’ll give you one more chance tomorrow,” she mumbled, closing the curtains.
Floyd put the pitcher and three glasses on the table.
“What’s this?” Joseph asked.
Gareth smiled. “PBR.”
Joseph looked confused. “PBR?”
“Pabst Blue Ribbon!” Floyd said, filling up a glass and handing it to Joseph. “I’ve gotten into it since I’ve moved here. All the kids in the Vine Neighborhood drink it!”
“I see,” Joseph accepted the drink and looked it over. “I really wanted to try out this ‘Oberon’ though.”
“Oh, my bad! I’ll go get you one.”
“I’m good for now, thanks.”
Floyd patted him on the shoulder. “My treat, don’t worry about.”
Joseph tried to give Floyd a five dollar bill. Floyd put his hand up, repeated “My treat”, grinned, and walked across Waldo’s Campus Tavern to the bar.
“He’s really cute,” Joseph said, watching Floyd swagger up to the line. “Is he always this energetic?”
“I just met him earlier today, so maybe?” Gareth said, filling a glass for himself. “He seems pretty hammered already.”
Joseph nodded. “If I hadn’t recently gotten into a relationship with possibly the most handsome man ever, I’d try to seduce him.”
“Don’t let something like a loving relationship stop you,” Gareth downed half his beer. “ ‘What goes on in America’, etcetra etcetra.”
“You’re finally smiling,” Joseph said, resting his head in his hand.
Gareth realized that he was smiling, and dropped it. “It’s the beer. It’s good, though I’ve become more of an Old Style guy since I moved to Chicago.”
“Okay, so what’s been bugging you? Is it this ‘Lord Ruthven’ guy?”
“That’s at the forefront right now,” Gareth finished his drink, “but these past few weeks have just been really, really fucking shitty. I almost think I shouldn’t have taken this trip.”
“So, what happened?”
Gareth sunk into the booth’s cushion. “Don’t want to talk about it.”
“Really? You’re seriously gonna leave your cousin hanging like that?”
Gareth glared at him. “Yes, you’re the second person I’m gonna leave hanging today.” He sat up. “Why did you just call me cousin?”
Joseph hummed while taking a sip of his beer. “I think I know why you’re able to hold my rapier.” He put down his drink. “Wanna take a wild guess?”
Gareth rolled his eyes. “Is it because I’m ‘pure hearted’, ‘worthy’, or something,” He poured himself another drink. “Cause I’m neither of those things.”
Joseph laughed. “No, it’s because we’re probably related somehow.”
Gareth stared at him. “Is that so?”
“Yeah. Basically, the guy I got the rapier from told me that no one, in recorded history, has been able to wield it until I came along.”
“If no one could ‘wield it’, then how were they able to move it around until it got to you?”
“I mean, hold it with your actual hands. You know, grip it, swing it around…they found ways to move it until now.”
Gareth sipped his beer. “Okay, I think I’m getting what you mean now. That’s why Floyd said his hands felt like he had put it on top of stove after he held it for a few seconds.”
“Yep, I guess that’s the swords self-defense mechanism, you could say.”
“So how is it a requirement that only people related to you can wield it though?”
Joseph thought it over and shrugged his shoulder. “I just kind of came up with it while we were fighting that monster earlier. It makes sense to me!”
Gareth hummed. “Okay, and who exactly was this guy you got this sword from? Some kind of historian? Archaeologist?”
Joseph shook his head. “No, he was a mad scientist.”
Gareth stared at Joseph.
“What?” Joseph asked.
“A mad scientist?”
Gareth held up his glass. “The most reliable of sources!” He took a big swig.
Joseph cringed. “Too true.”
“YO!” Floyd yelled, suddenly appearing at the table, surprising the two superheroes. “Bartender said that they’re out of Oberon, but they still got Two Hearted, the other beer Bell’s makes, on tap. Still interested?”
Joseph composed himself. “Yeah, that’ll be great!”
Floyd winked at Joseph, gave him a thumbs up, and walked back to the bar.
“Ain’t he a sweetie?” Joseph asked Gareth.
“Yeah, he’s letting me stay overnight in his campus apartment even though I got blood all over his work area, so he’s cool.”
Joseph took another sip of his beer. “So, this Lord Ruthven situation,” he looked Gareth directly in the eye, “I’ll help you take him down.”
Gareth shook his head. “No, dude, I gotta take care of this myself.”
“Why not? We made a pretty good team against that monster. You said it was one of his minions—how hard can he be?”
Gareth glared at him. “I barely beat him on the train here. And I took on his other subordinates—they weren’t a joke like this one was.”
“All the more reason why you’ll need me around.” Joseph pointed at himself. “Hell, if you weren’t around, I’d be going after him myself!”
Gareth shook his head. “He’d waste you in a sec.”
“And you just admitted to ‘barely’ beating him. You need my help.”
Gareth growled as he stared down at the table.
“Oh, I get it—you’re the “Lone Wolf” type. I bet you’ve never even teamed up with another superhuman before now.”
“I’ve worked with plenty of other superhumans.” Gareth shot him a glare. “What about you?”
Joseph shook his head. “I haven’t until now—it’s why I’m so excited!”
Gareth groaned, and rolled his eyes.
“Look, I’ll follow your lead,” Joseph said. “After we do our radio interview tomorrow, you’re entirely in charge.”
“Who said I was gonna take part in this interview?”
Joseph snorted. “You did, after I bugged the shit out of you.” He pointed at Gareth. “No backing down now!”
They hear yelling coming from the bar. They looked over and saw Floyd arguing with two fraternity brothers about him cutting in line.
“Just what I need,” Gareth said, cracking his knuckles as he stood up.
Joseph slipped past him. “Let me take care of this. I think my way will lead to a more peaceful resolution.”
Gareth snorted, and sat back down. He was about to refill his glass, but then noticed that the pitcher was nearly empty. Jeez, he thought, draining the rest while watching Joseph get between Floyd and the fraternity brothers.
“I see that you ordered room service while I was gone,” Mysta said as she entered the room.
Lord Ruthven ignored her as he ate his steak.
“Did you just wake up?” Mysta asked, taking off her wind breaker.
Lord Ruthven continued to ignore her, finishing his steak and picking up his bottle of wine.
Mysta glared. “How are you feeling?”
Lord Ruthven closed his eyes as he chugged the wine.
Mysta walked up to him. “ANSWER ME!” she yelled, slapping him alongside the head.
The wine spilled onto the bed. Lord Ruthven shot up. He wound back the bottle and brought it down towards Mysta’s face. Upton instantly got between them, blocking the bottle with his hand, shattering it to pieces.
“I’M FINE!” Lord Ruthven yelled.
“Appears so,” Mysta said, looking over the now fully closed hole that Godan had put through the vampires chest. “I take it that you’re just about ready to start hunting again?”
“You damn right!” Lord Ruthven grabbed the blanket and began wiping the wine off his arms, stomach, and chest. “I still have his scent, so even if he took off yesterday after battling my spawn, I can still track him easily…”
“Funny you should mention that,” Mysta took out her phone, “because he’s still in the area, along with his new friend.”
“New friend?” Lord Ruthven then remembered Wolf Savage from the demons memories. “Oh yeah. Well, that pussy won’t be a problem.”
“As a matter of fact, they’re about to go on air in a few minutes.”
“On air? What are you going on about?”
Mysta handed Lord Ruthven her phone. He looked at it and saw that it was a from WIDR’s official website, detailing Godan and Wolf Savage’s appearance on one of their shows later that day.
“Oh, you have got to be shitting me,” Lord Ruthven said, scrolling.
“Nope, seems like your spawn just made them more famous.”
“Whatever,” Lord Ruthven grumbled, handing Mysta back her phone, “this just makes it easier to hunt them down—and cause some more carnage!”
Lord Ruthven walked to the window and whipped open the curtains.
“Leaving already?” Mysta asked.
“Not yet,” Lord Ruthven opened the window. “I’m going to lure them to me.”
Mysta realized what he was about to do. “DON’T WASTE YOUR STAMINA ON THAT!”
Lord Ruthven grinned, closed his eyes, and clenched his fists. He grunted, and his back began to expand.
“DAMN YOU!” Mysta looked over at Upton . “Go help him—”
Lord Ruthven held up a hand. “I CAN DO THIS MYSELF!”
A woman emerged, gasping for air, her hair flowing down Lord Ruthven’s back. He grunted again, pushing her out of him and onto the floor.
“She isn’t as powerful as the last spawn,” Lord Ruthven said, standing up straight and stretching. “But she’ll get the job done.”
The spawn stood up. Mysta looked her over and became angry.
“How dare you,” Mysta’s voice was shaking, “you little shit.”
“What, you don’t like it?” Lord Ruthven put his arm around his spawn and parted her hair, reveling her to be a duplicate of Mysta. “How can you not be flattered that I patterned one of my monsters after your beautiful looks?”
“Change her look, NOW.”
Lord Ruthven turned them around. “Just shut up, Mom.”
Mysta snapped her fingers. Upton opened up the compartment in his chest that contained the briefcase he was sent to retrieve. As Lord Ruthven explained his orders to his spawn, Mysta opened up the briefcase to reveal a syringe containing a black serum. She picked it up, examined it, and nodded approvingly towards Upton.
“…then we’ll take them together.” Lord Ruthven rubbed his spawns shoulder. “Is that understood?”
The doppelganger nodded. Wings spouted from her back.
“Good. Remember, don’t engage if you can—LEAD.” The doppelganger nodded again. Lord Ruthven grinned, and pointed out the window. “GO!”
The doppelganger flew away towards WMU’s campus. “Now, I just have to wait,” Lord Ruthven said to himself as he shut the window.
He heard a snap behind him. Suddenly, he was ensnared by Upton’s tentacles.
“WHAT’RE YOU DOING?!” Lord Ruthven yelled. Before he could break free, Upton stunned him with an electric shock, and pulled him into a bear hug.
“You’ve disrespected me for the last time, Varney,” Mysta said, holding up the syringe, “it’s about time you got a proper punishment.”
Lord Ruthven’s eyes widened. He screamed ‘STOP’ as Mysta jammed the syringe into his neck and injected him. The vampire struggled, but stopped as he felt his heart become numb.
Mysta stepped back and put the syringe on the table. “This serum is something I whipped up shortly after I perfected the formula for Alkaline Radicals.”
Lord Ruthven screamed as his skin started to wither. Upton let him fall to the floor.
“It was a simple idea: if Alkaline Radicals can enhance someones abilities, then there should be an Anti-Radical that can take them away.”
Lord Ruthven held his stomach as he felt his insides crush together.
“And then some.” Mysta bent down on one knee and watched her son suffer. “I found out through my experiments on the Rudkus’s that it’s perfect for controlling superhumans like you.”
Lord Ruthven made a weak leap towards her, mouth wide open. Upton stepped between them. The vampire bit down on the androids leg. He felt his teeth crack.
Mysta stood up. “Like Alkaline Radicals, it only lasts for a short time though. The question is, do you think you’ll survive that long?”
Lord Ruthven curled into himself on the floor, holding his mouth, screaming.
Mysta stepped on his neck. “Only a few gangbangers survived until it wore off, though I obviously expect you to outlast it, with the power you have.” Mysta smiled. “It’s a shame that you won’t get your chance to get revenge on Godan, though.”
Lord Ruthven’s eyes widened, and he became still. He felt the intense pain begin to dampen as his rage intensified.
“Next time, watch your big mouth.”
Lord Ruthven shot upward, sending Mysta stumbling on the floor. He let out a screech so loud and obscene that it made Mysta covered her ears.
“STOP IT!” she yelled as Upton covered her. “EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE DAMN TOWN WILL HEAR YOU!”
Lord Ruthven’s wings shot out of his back. He stopped screeching and breathed heavily.
“I can’t believe it…”
Lord Ruthven glared at Mysta, growled, and ran to the window. He smashed through it and flew off.
“He is amazing,” Mysta mumbled.
A loud banging came from the door, with a hotel clerk on the other side asking if everything was all right.
Mysta sighed as Upton helped her to her feet. “Now’s the time to really put my bullshitting skills to the test.”
“This the right place?” Wolf Savage asked as they landed in front of the Faunce Student Services Building.
“You tell me,” Godan said, letting go of his hand.
“Come on, Gar, don’t be like that!”
Godan rolled his eyes. He pointed at the door, which had a sign indicating that WIDR studios was inside.
“Yep, we’re here!” Wolf Savage laughed. “Sorry, I’m kinda giddy and nervous and excited, all at the same time, I think, being my first radio interview, and—”
“Okay, I get it!” Godan crossed his arms. “Relax, will ya?”
Wolf Savage put his hand on Godan’s shoulder. “Thanks for accompanying me.” He gave Godan a sincere look. “I will help you track down this Lord Ruthven guy after this.” Wolf Savage started walking towards the entrance. “After all, what are cousins for?”
Godan sighed, and followed Wolf Savage. They went down the hall and found the studio, where Imogene McDonald was hosting her show.
“…by Days N’ Daze, and ‘New Mexico Song’ by the legendary Johnny Hobo.” Imogene said, listing the previously played songs as she shuffled through her papers. “You know what the best thing about running this show folks? It’s having to go through these songs and censor out all those explicit, naughty bits, and hope to God that it pleases the FCC.”
Wolf Savage knocked on the window. Imogene looked over, saw Wolf Savage waving, and smiled.
“Oh my God, folks, it’s that time already! As I announced on my blog post on WIDR’s official website, the canine duo that saved all us students from the monster attack at the Renaissance Festival yesterday, Wolf Savage and Godan, agreed to be interviewed today—and they literally just showed up! Please hold on a sec as I let them in.”
Imogene took off her headphones and ran to the door. “Hi guys!”
“Hi, Imogene,” Wolf Savage said, extending his hand, smiling.
“I am SO glad you two actually showed up,” she said, shaking Wolf Savages hand.
“You seriously doubted us?”
“Somewhat,” Imogene laughed. “I always raise my expectations too high.”
“Well, we’re gonna bring your expectations to that level,” Wolf Savage put his hands on his hips, “and beyond!”
Oh, Jesus Christ, Godan thought, rolling his eyes.
“Come in and sit down,” Imogene led them inside. “Put on the headphones, and we’ll get to the interview as soon as I finish these announcements.”
They sat down and put on said headphones as Imogene began detailing upcoming shows and community events. Godan noticed that Wolf Savage was having trouble putting his headphones on due to his wolf’s head mask. Godan scooted the chair over and adjusted them. Wolf Savage whispered ‘Thanks, cousin!’, and gave him a thumbs up.
The doppelganger landed on campus and began looking around. Nearby students saw the naked spawn and began chatting eagerly amongst each other and taking pictures.
“…and finally, Shonen Knife is performing this Sunday night at The Strutt, eight o’clock. I’m pretty sure y’all already know about my most favorite venue in town, so check out their official website, Facebook page, or Shonen Knife’s official website for more info.” Imogene shuffled her papers again until she found the questions she wanted to ask the superheroes in her studio. “Now that that’s all been said, today’s show has transformed into a VERY special episode of The Crack House, your hour of all things Folk Punk, hosted by ya girl, DJ Ragged Woman, here at 89.1 FM, W-I-D-R Kalamazoo—your only source for Radio Evolution.”
“Deep breaths, ‘Gene,” Wolf Savage said, “deep breaths.”
Imogene laughed. “Believe me, I’m used to doing long monologues like that.” She composed herself. “That, folks, is the voice of one of my guests. If you were lucky slash unlucky—depending on your perspective—to have been around the Sangren Pedestrian Mall yesterday, you may have noticed that we were being attacked by a LITERAL monster.”
“Looked more like a demon to me,” Wolf Savage said, grinning.
Godan nudged him. “Shut up and let her finish,” he mumbled, his hand covering the microphone.
Wolf Savage rubbed the back of his head. “Sorry, sorry.”
A custodian came out of the Faunce Building and noticed the doppelganger walking towards him. He stopped dead in his tracks. “Uh, ma’am?” he said, not knowing how to react to the beautiful, naked woman in front of him. “Are you all right?”
The doppelganger ignored him, staring ahead, unblinking. The custodian moved to the side and the doppelganger entered the building.
“College kids,” he mumbled, getting out his phone and dialing the number of campus security.
“So let’s welcome to The Crack House, all the way from beautiful Windsor, Ontario, Canada, Wolf Savage!” Imogene started clapping. Wolf Savage did the say. “As well as The Gray Wolf of Chicago—no real introductions needed, I believe, since you have all undoubtedly heard about his feats in the Windy City one way or another—, Godan!” Imogene noticed Godan’s sour look. “Who I can tell is just absolutely enthused to be on the program today.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Wolf Savage said. “He’ll come around.”
“So, before we began some formal interviewing,” Imogene took out her phone and began taking pictures, “I just want to say, Mr. Savage, that I think your uniform is absolutely fabulous—though I do think the wolf’s head does look a bit clunky.”
Wolf Savage laughed. “I’ve gotten that critique a lot, actually. I assure you though that it’s quite comfortable—I wouldn’t be wearing it otherwise.”
“Very nice.” Imogene swirled her chair around towards Godan. “No offense, Mr. Gray Wolf, but your uniform, in comparison, is pretty casual and, from what I’ve observed, pretty ragged.”
Godan raised an eyebrow. “The lady who calls herself ‘DJ Ragged Woman’ is ragging on me for wearing shitty clothing?”
“Nice unintended pun,” Imogene laughed, “but what was that you said? ‘Shifty Clothing’? Wink, wink.”
Godan realized what he said. “Oh, yes, ‘shifty clothing.’ That’s totally what I said, FCC.”
“That’s what I thought,” Imogene gave him a thumbs up. “For real though, that’s just my observation of your style choice, no offense intended.” She sniffled. “By the way, does anyone else notice that smell?”
Godan smiled. “Well, I like to keep it fairly simple.” He rested his head on his hand. “I’m not a flashy person in general, it saves me money—”
Imogene held her nose. “Indeed, it does.”
Wolf Savage laughed. Godan grinned, and shook his head.
“I can assure all the folks listening at home,” Godan tapped his nose, “that my sense of smell tells me that DJ Ragged Woman stinks just as much as I do.” They all broke out in laughter.
“See, I told you he would come around,” Wolf Savage said.
“No offense, fellow punker,” Godan said.
“Why would I ever get offended by something so controversial, yet so true, Gray Wolf?” Imogene replied.
The doppelganger finally found the studio. She looked in through the window.
Imogene had turned her attention back to Wolf Savage, asking him about his ”origins”. Godan relaxed in the chair—the first time he felt as such in the past couple of days.
There was a loud tapping on the studios door window.
“Oh, come on!” Imogene looked over. “Am I really being interrupted while conducting my first major radio interview?”
Wolf Savage and Godan turned their chairs around. The doppelganger continued tapping the glass.
“Who’s that?” Wolf Savage asked, turning to Imogene. “You know her?”
Imogene shrugged her shoulders. “No clue. You know her, Godan?”
Godan clenched his chair’s arm rests. Shit, he thought, sniffing rapidly.
“Uh, Godan,” Imogene got up and tapped his shoulder. “You still with us, hero?”
Wolf Savage noticed the look in Godan’s eyes. “Who is she?” he asked, getting up. “Is that ‘Lord Ruthven’?”
“Who?” Imogene asked.
Godan bolted from the chair and slammed into the door, breaking it off its hinges, and smashing the doppelganger into the wall.
“OH, SHIT!” Imogene yelled. She covered her mouth, realizing that she swore on air.
Wolf Savage summoned his rapier into his hand. Mist emerged from behind the door and floated down the hall.
“GET HER!” Godan yelled, running down the hall.
“Just my luck,” Wolf Savage looked at Imogene apologetically, said ‘Sorry!’ and followed Godan and the doppelganger
Imogene fell back into her chair. “I’m so fired for this.” She looked at the mic, and sighed. “Okay folks, we’re going to a break, so I can process what has just happened, and probably cry.” She pressed a button. “Here’s a song by Defiance, Ohio.”
Godan and Wolf Savage burst through the door. They watched as the doppelganger materialized—with wings—and flew away.
“That’s Lord Ruthven?” Wolf Savage asked.
“No, but it smells just like him, and that monster we fought yesterday.” He extended his hand. “Let’s go!”
Wolf Savage nodded, grabbed onto Godan, and flew off.
Bio: Garret Schuelke is the author of the GODAN series (2018-present, Bakunin Incorporated) WHUP JAMBOREE: STORIES (2017, Elmblad Media Group), ANAMAKEE (2016, Riot Forge), and three poetry ebooks. He is also the host of The Garret Schuelke Podcast. He can be reached at his official website, garretschuelke.tumblr.com , or through Twitter @garretschuelke