Under 30: Part 3

“Oh yuck.” Sydney crinkled her nose. “I didn’t think that movie could have been worse, but that’s worse.”

Camille smiled a little as Sydney talked, but addressed me, “You made it sound like this was embarrassing for you. Was it? Come on, you can tell us.”

“OK. My grandpa told me what it did when I was twelve, and I tried it on my family’s cat. I mean, who was going to notice? We’d already had him neutered. Except there were a few things I didn’t know. One thing was that the genes that make a cat’s fur a particular color show themselves differently in each gender, so his fur started to change color. He’s normally orange, but female cats aren’t generally orange—”

Haley asked, “What color did he turn into?” She used the same, slightly disbelieving voice she used when asking things like how many days in a row I’d worn a pair of jeans.

“I don’t know. I think there might have been some brown. Anyway, I didn’t notice right away because it takes a little while for fur to grow out. That matters because of the other thing I didn’t know. The person’s normal shape starts trying to reassert itself immediately, and you get back to normal somewhere between three months and a year. I haven’t looked into why it works that way…

“Anyhow, by the time I noticed the new colors starting to show, my mom also noticed, and took him to the vet.”

“Oh, no,” Haley muttered.

“Yeah, it was a mess. The vet noticed that his… uh…” Balls? No. Nutsack? Definitely not. “… testicles were growing back. However it works, things get put back the way they’re supposed to be, not the way they’ve been changed to. The vet freaked out. He’d just removed them a year ago, and he remembered doing it. He called people, took pictures, and he was going to write a paper on it. He actually asked my mom if he could neuter the cat again to find out if everything would grow back a second time. Daniel’s dad or grandfather ended up editing memories of everyone involved. It was horrible.”

Haley raised an eyebrow. “Is that why the cat hates you?”

“There may have been a couple other experiments. Nothing that hurt him. Just stuff he didn’t like.”

Sydney made a face. “What kind of experiments?”

Oh great. Now I was a cat torturer.

“Nothing bad,” I began, and then Vaughn interrupted me from the closer to the screen.

“Hey everybody, I’m starting the next movie. It’s James Dean in ‘Rebel Without a Cause.’”

Cassie, sitting next to Jaclyn and Travis, said, “That movie’s really old.”

“Yeah,” Vaughn said, “but I see it mentioned all over. It’s one of those classic teen rebellion movies, you know?”

“It’s from 1950 what?” Cassie still didn’t sound interested.

“Oh come on,” Travis said, “let’s get on with it. It can’t be any worse than some of the other movies we’ve watched. Look, we watched Titanic.”

Haley frowned. “What’s wrong with Titanic?”

Travis shrugged. “What’s not? It’s not bad if your ideal guy is someone too dumb to save both of you.”

Daniel, who was grabbing pizza off the table, said, “Not to mention the historical inaccuracies.”

“Oh, let’s not go into that again,” Rachel said. She’d sat down next to Lucas, Shannon, Julie, and Jaclyn.

“Exactly,” Jaclyn said. “We all get to choose. I’m sure you’ll like something next week.”

Cassie didn’t look convinced, but she didn’t argue any more. Vaughn dimmed the lights and started the movie.

* * *

By the time the movie ended, it was after midnight. Almost everybody left in small groups, still talking to each other.

A few of us stayed to clean up and shut everything down—Vaughn, Jaclyn, Haley and I. Jaclyn convinced us set up a rotating schedule. I had no complaints about that because as the owner of HQ, I was the guy most likely to get stuck with the mess.

Unlike in TV shows, Jaclyn, our resident speedster, didn’t pick up everything superfast by herself. She made sure everyone did their fair share. Haley and I ended up together at the main table, picking up the pizza boxes.

Haley placed a fifth box on top of the four she’d already picked up. “How do you think it went?”

“I don’t know. Everybody seemed to have a good time.”

“I think so. I think we ought to invite them again.”


“Well… Not Sean. And if we don’t invite Sean, we can’t invite Jody or Dayton because they’ll bring him.”

“How did you manage to invite Sydney without Sean?”

“Nick, they’re barely speaking to each other. That’s why I invited her. He’s angry because she’s hanging around Camille.”

“Why? She was in Justice Fist too.”

“Because he doesn’t believe Camille’s his sister. He says she’s ruining his dad’s good name.”

“That’s messed up. All he has to do is look at them.”

“I know. His dad doesn’t have a good name. Even when Sean and I were dating, I could tell he was… with more women than just Sean’s mom.”

“Really? Did you tell anybody?”

“I didn’t want to get involved.” She bit her lip. “He idolised his dad.”

We’d made it to the kitchen while we were talking, and put the leftover pizza into the refridgerator and thrown away the empty boxes.

Jaclyn appeared in the doorway as we finished. “I think we’re done. Vaughn’s going around the room looking for leftover cups.”

“Good,” I said. “I’ll start turning out the lights—”

I didn’t get to finish my sentence. Vaughn shouted, “Hey, you’d better come out here. This looks bad.”

Jaclyn practically disappeared. Haley and I followed, joining Vaughn and Jaclyn at one of the trophy cases near the corner of the room. Made out of steel reinforced concrete, it looked sturdier than the others.

Evil Beatnik’s ring was gone, but the bulletproof glass case covering the top hadn’t been broken. Unfortunately, everything inside had been destroyed. The League had placed the melted ring in the middle of a magical circle, but where normal circles were chalk, this one was steel. Except now the circle  had been melted into a circle of grey goo. So even if we recovered the ring, we didn’t have anywhere to keep it.

Vaughn turned away from the trophy case toward me. “What was in here?”

“Evil Beatnik’s ring. It shouldn’t work anymore. They melted it.”

Jaclyn peered at the mess inside the glass. “Then why’d they put it inside all this?” She gestured at the glass and concrete.

“Well, the ring’s basically him. The original League melted it so no one could put it on, but the personality’s still there, just inaccessible.”

“Maybe someone stole it,” Vaughn said.

Haley started talking almost before Vaughn stopped. “They wouldn’t do that. I was with Camille and Sydney the whole time.”

With everyone else, I wondered about Shannon, Julie, and Lucas.

29 thoughts on “Under 30: Part 3”

  1. Oh no!
    Not the Evil Beatnik!
    My old-super-villains database is getting a real work-out of late, Jim.

  2. “Haley placed a fourth box on top of the four she’d already picked up.” Maybe the word ‘fourth’ should say ‘fifth’?? Excellent chapter!!!

  3. Darn it, I really don’t remember their individual powers well enough to even hazard a guess here. Is the Voice girl one of the ones that were there? She’d stand a chance.

    I guess they should have watched Lord of the Rings for movie night. Now the one ring has been stolen, ready to corrupt whoever puts it on with the power of the Evil Beatnik, dark lord of Mordor. Other than that, I got nothing. I’ve never read anything in any history class that actually told much of what Beatniks were, aside from the fact that they didn’t recognize that On the Road wasn’t supposed to inspire them to copycat.

  4. Leesai/Mycroft: Thanks for the corrections. Now fixed…

    DWwolf: Oh, probably true.

    Unwise Owl/Mazzon: After people responded with such enthusiasm to the idea of Evil Beatnik, I pretty much had to use him sometime.

    Psycho Gecko: I’ve done the necessary research on Beatniks. Oh yes. At least 60 minutes of it. There’s an episode of Laverne and Shirley with beatniks. There may even be beatniks in an episode of the Beverly Hillbillies–which I think I might have watched once when I was five or something.

    Actually, just for the record, DC’s Snapper Carr character started out as a beatnik.

  5. The only thing I have problem is visualing a power theme for the EB. Also slightly ironic that a beatnik is tied down to an item.

  6. It’s just that the evil Beatnik was last mentioned…190 or so posts ago. Half-way to this point. You’ve written a terrifying amount since then.
    I’m so glad that he’s finally getting a moment in the sun.

  7. One of the things I have in mind for my redesign is a good way to remind readers of who a character is. In this case, yeah, Evil Beatnik last appeared as part of a joke more than a year ago. I don’t really expect people to remember him.

    We’ll see him for the first time here for all practical purposes.

  8. Up in fictional character Heaven, Nick’s grandfather is really starting to regret not securing the villain weapons a little better before he died. Truly, curiosity, trust and denial were his Achilles heel, because his lack of foresight is about to unleash…. The Second Coming of the Evil Beatnik! Like wild, man.

    I’ve noticed the story has taken a more humourous turn Jim — is that just so you have a breath of fresh air, or Robert’s zany influence?

    On a serious note — Nick (and by extension his grandfather) got lucky when Vaughn used Red Lightning’s gear and didn’t become a crazy villain. This is called “not learning from your mistakes” and I don’t think they’ll get off so lightly twice in a row.

    — Batman — “Okay Robin, first rule of the Bat Cave is don’t talk about the Batcave.”

    — Robin — Oh shit. We might have a problem.

  9. G.S: Someone stealing the Boy/Girl gun and the ensuing hilarity is probably best left to vaguely creepy fanfiction. I mean, it’s perfectly okay to have one superhero web serial that ISN’T all about transsexuality.

  10. Gavin: It’s mostly due to me wanting to do stuff that I won’t be able to do in the main storyline. Plus it allows me to expand the universe. Earlier on in comics, it seemed like you could do more relatively silly villains. I’d like to be able to do that, but I don’t want put them in the middle of serious stuff.

    Thus, it’s in the “break between books”–which isn’t really a break.

    Mazzon/G.S: I think the Boy/Girl gun is funny, but it doesn’t have to be used to be important (my apologies to Chekhov). That being said, it appeared for a reason. We’ll find out what that is in the not too distant future.

  11. Mazzon wins the prize for funniest comment!

    On the subject of the gun, it occurs to me that this thing is actually a cure for ovarian cancer, hysterectomies and being kicked too hard in the nuts.


  12. Ah, humorous gimmick villains. I love how the Flash’s goofy looking rogue’s gallery is so awesome these days. That’s a group that used to include the Rainbow Raider, aka Roy G. Bivolo!

  13. “The bulletproof glass case covering the top hadn’t been broken, but the metal circle inside had melted into slag along with the mystic symbols surrounding it.”

    I’m sorry, but I don’t understand what this one is supposed to be saying.

  14. Huh. I wonder if I should rewrite it?

    All I meant to say was that the metal circle that surrounded the ring had melted, but all the damage was inside. The glass on the top half of the trophy case hadn’t been damaged.

  15. I sort of see. Maybe it should be:

    “Before there had been a ring inside, in the center of a metal circle inscribed with mystic symbols. Now the metal was melted, the symbols illegible, and the ring gone.”

  16. I echo Emote Control’s comment about the ring. It isn’t at all clear to me what was stolen as it sounds like the ring itself had been melted by the original league so as to be unusable…and the trophy case is still intact.

    Great writing everywhere else, though! Enjoying the story. 🙂

  17. @Hydrargentium: As a device for healing it goes way beyond just what you mentioned. I’m completely straight but would gladly walk around as a woman for a year if it meant actually being able to walk normally again! I also can’t help but wonder just how old that cat grew to be. It’s possible in trying to fix things back to normal the body may actually regenerate the body to it’s prime condition.

  18. you said:
    “Nothing bad,” I began, and then Vaughn interrupted me from the closer to the screen.

    I don’t know what you meant, but maybe:
    “Nothing bad,” I began, and then Vaughn interrupted me from where he was sitting, closer to the screen.

  19. The same line that triped Emote Controll up, got me as well. I’d also like to say Jim I’m loving the story so far and that I think the new interface with the phone is a lot better. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  20. “We’d made it to the kitchen while we were talking, and put the leftover pizza into the refridgerator and thrown away the empty boxes.”

    Three things:
    1) Looks like an extra ‘and’
    2) ‘Refrigerator’ doesn’t have a ‘d’.
    3) need a comma after refrigerator.

    “We’d made it to the kitchen while we were talking, put the leftover pizza into the refrigerator, and thrown away the empty boxes.

  21. Uh, should I mention the fridge still has the ‘d’? (See previous comment.) It’s weird, because in the short form there, it does have one.

    As long as I’m commenting, I think you do a pretty good job of dropping in little reminders. Like the Haley dating Sean thing here, nicely alluded to for anyone who might have forgotten.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *