Disclaimer/Warning:

This story is meant for Immature Audiences only. That's IA for short. This story is mine but no infringement is intended. Any spelling and syntax errors are also mine. This story also contains minor gore and many harmless allusions. I have nothing against anyone who is maimed or insulted in this story. Comments go to ja_glinka@yahoo.com Flames will be blithely ignored.


Subreality Cafe: Sailing the Hi-C's

Karolina Phillips

March 1998

 

Wrong place. She flipped her cloak over her shoulders and stood arms akimbo. Even in the dark of night, this building could not be mistaken for a cafe. Not by the natives' descriptions, at any rate. Four stories high with walls that blurred in and our of existence, this establishment reeked of debauchery. Behind draped windows, forms could be seen interacting in some interesting ways like puppets in shadow theater. Genuine white marble Corinthian columns lined the front giving it a false sense of authority. It was too much. It strained credulity. The young woman raised the eyebrow over her one remaining eye and adjusted the brim of her patented pirate hat, macaroni and all. Then she stepped underneath the ornate sign proclaiming "Mharie's House".

A slot in the bronze door opened with a clank. Two luminous red eyes round as saucers peered out. "Who are you?"

Oh dear. I don't think it, whatever it is, will understand MUSL (made up sign language). She decided it was worth trying anyhow. "Hi. I'm Kir, an adventurer."

"Oh. You are? Is your writer small, bald and white? Does your writer have two small friends? Does your writer live with a girl and her grandmother?"

"You understood me?!" The exclamation point pointed eagerly. What little white creature is he talking about? Suddenly, she wrinkled her nose behind her hood. The red eye creature smelled bad. It didn't just smell bad, it smelled like month old garbage. It smelled like something that had died and come back for the remote control. It smelled like cafeteria food. What's a cafeteria?

"Of course I do. This is limbo. It's magic."

"Um, can I come in?"

"Is your writer a-"

"No."

"Okay, you can come in."

The doors opened slowly, spilling warm light and smelly smell onto her. She futilely tried to wipe the smell away. But it wouldn't go away. It clung and smelled and snorted in amusement. "What is that stink?!"

"Oh...." The creature's ears dropped and it huddled on rodent-like feet. "That was dinner."

"Yes," piped up a second creature. "We ate a smoky man creature. There are many of them here so it's okay if we pick one off now and then." It nodded vigorously. "You won't tell, will you?"

There were several versions of smoking men in the House. Some had long brown coats and red hair, others had long black coats and short black hair. Apparently, they were color-coded. There were also a brood of short bristly men smoking cigars. A woman with long red-orange hair held hands, in front of a fire place, with an extremely pale man dressed in metallic blue. Glaring at them was a woman with green hair wearing a multi-colored skin-tight costume. Behind her was a bald man sitting in what seemed to be a floating yellow...carriage? Sitting on the front of the "carriage" talking with the bald man was one of the red haired smoking men in a long black coat, defying the accepted pattern. There were more costumed people, so many that they made her dizzy. Some had colored hair, some had capes, some were in pairs, some were in groups, male and female alike. The House was like no brothel she had ever seen.

"Gang way!" A sandy haired young man pelted by being chased by a blond woman in white leather.

Alas, she didn't see who she was looking for. Kir sighed and pulled the cloak back over her shoulders, mainly to hide the scimitar at her belt. Her clipper had sailed across the Ocean of Ideas, up a large river the locals called the Mainstream, towards the Mountains of Thought. After many moons, well, only one, she had reached a stream. A sign was posted there with the word "forbidden" scrawled right above Fanfic Tributary. She had sailed down the stream, daring rampant plot twists and the Lands of Delusion, frightening to be sure, past a small town until the stream ended at a small building. But that wasn't where the quest led. I don't think. Could that have been the Subreality Cafe? It sounded like a much larger place when the natives described it. So they had sailed over a forest, in the air of course, passing a passle of carebears, to here. And he wasn't here. She turned to leave.

"Wait! Wait!" A teenage girl came running down a staircase in back. "Don't leave!" The girl smiled widely and tied up her wet hair in a pony tail. "I had to take a shower," she clarified.

"I'll bet you did."

"Cool, sign language. I'm Mharie. Who are you?"

"She's Kir," chimed in the rat creatures.

Mharie scratched her head. "I'm not sure I know who you are? Are you an original?"

"In a manner of speaking. I'm an avatar. I'm on a quest."

"Hey, Oracle, can you check on her?"

A disembodied voice responded with a chuckle. "Let's see. Kir, no surname. Occupation: Pirate and revolutionary leader. Currently in the employ of...hm. Okay. From the empire of Q'alik. Looks like your garden variety Mary Sue."

"Oh, look at my manners. Come in, come in." She grabbed Kir's glove cuff and started to pull.

Shaking her hand free, she declined, "No, thank you, I don't know if," she looked around once more, nervously noting the spreading orgy, "that's a good a idea. I really ought to-"

"So what's your preference?"

Kir nearly tripped over two pairs of errant shoes. No, one pair were pink fuzzy slippers. For a moment, she could have sworn they hissed at her. "Look, I'm not here to, uh, be a patron. Give me a second to explain!"

Mharie clapped a hand over mouth in consternation. "Harmony! Stop that this instant! You know how Amethyst feels about this sort of thing. Christina, catch her, quick! - I'm so sorry, wait just a second - ellipsis, get the ellipsis!"

Abruptly, the room was filled with dots.

"I'm sorry, they're not supposed to be doing that in the lobby. I ought to beat all of them." Members of the supine crowd waved their hands shouting "Me! me!" until the girl glared them into silence and they dispersed.

Kir swallowed nervously. These people were weird. She had fought bandits, the royal navy and nearly died, but this was not something for which she was prepared. The lounge had temporarily cleared except for a small group of people in the corner. A large sturdy cage was there containing a milling pack of pallid people wearing worn clothing. They slavered and hopped about hooting while onlookers jabbed them with sticks. Thoroughly bemused, she asked, "Who are they in the cage?"

Mharie looked in their direction, then sniffed in distaste. "That's where we put writers who do horrible and perverted things to helpless fictives." She tapped the side of her head. "They claim it's just mind control." She sneered briefly and smiled savagely. "Then we jab them with sticks and feed them off one by one to Nudge Nudge and Wink Wink! It's a mutually beneficial relationship."

"Nudge Nudge and Wink Wink?"

"The slippers you tripped over."

"Ah. Well. Thank you but I do have to go."

"The bathrooms are over by the-"

Mharie gave the two rat creatures the evil eye and they slunk away. "What are you here for?"

"Jack."

"Jack? Jack who? I mean, that could be anyone. There are at least six jacks in the House right now." A red rubber ball bounced after the jacks.

She and Kir exchanged a pained glance.

"Oracle?"

"Hm?"

"Can you see that the Punner is taken out on the street and shot?"

"No way, you know how I am about that sort of thing."

"I didn't say shot dead, just shot. You know, have Canary take off a knee-cap or something."

"Oh, sure. No problem."

Mharie smiled in satisfaction, then returned her attention to her guest. "When you say Jack, you don't mean Jack, do you?"

"Yes, Jack."

The entire menagerie (which had sidled back into the lounge) gave a disappointed whine except for Mharie who narrowed her eyes formidably.

Now it was Kir's turn to frown. She's not going to like this. I might have to battle my way out.

"Oh, don't worry," the teen reassured her with a saccharine smile. "It's just, he's so sweet. He's perfect at everything he does, even at having flaws. He can cook, he can clean and last week, he won the Trojan War. I'm not sure if we can let you have him."

"But he's my quest. I need to bring him to meet someone." Didn't these paranoid promiscuous people perceive the importance of finding him? Well, of course not.

"I know you said you were an avatar, but I still don't recognize you. In fact, I don't think I've even heard of you."

"Neither have I," announced a sanguine Psylocke. She crossed her arms and raised her chin in a chilling manner. "Fate does not work by chance lest chaos devour the soul."

"What? Who made you say that?" Kir fidgeted and dropped her hand to the hilt of her sword, not worrying how she suddenly knew everyone's names. All attention was focused on her but Jack was nowhere in sight. Yet the owner's response indicated that he was on the premises.

"You just made that up, didn't you?" Rachel Summers picked up the smiling Psylocke and tossed her in the general direction of two Scott's, three Wolverines, another Professor, Jean Grey, several members of X-factor and a Nightwing.

Batgirl high-fived her. "Yeah, good going, Ray!" She looked at the back at the group. "Heeeyyy, no fair." She ran off to join the group as a bewildered Warren Worthington watched in confusion.

A grinning Jubilee popped her gum and smirked at him. "... to be you." She blew another bubble and drew everyone's attention back to Kir. "So, like ninja babe said, watcha really here for?"

"Er, maybe I should leave now. I don't think I'm welcome here. Actually, I think I might be too welcome here, if you get my drift, so I'll go on outside and sail my pirate ship back to that nice little place I saw a ways back and-"

"I don't think so, sleezeball." Supergirl, skimpy skirt and ... all, tossed a flashlight from one hand to another.

If she had been able to, Kir would have given a weak laugh. Instead, she started to slowly back out in the general direction of the brass doors. Sleezeball? I'm not a sleezeball. I'm barely even raunchy.

BAMF Nightcrawler grinned and ... his tail beside an unknown woman with a certain glow to her. The woman smiled and gave a classical magician's wave. Then she ....

Kir bumped into something behind her.

"Stop right there, that's an order." It was another Cyclops, yet something was different about him. His smile was too guileless, his attitude too cool. He was out of uniform and on top of that, something about him was swanky. It could be called down right .... "Uh, uh, uh," he admonished when she reversed direction, "you don't want to get me mad at you, do you? Or, maybe you do want me to get mad and then we can ... and . . . ."

Oh ... s ... fudge! Fudge and poppy .... What's happening to my thinking? "What are all those dots?"

"Don't you remember? Those are the ellipsis."

Jaws music began to play in ominous undertone as the hostile crowd crowded in on her.

"What's going on?" a deep baritone voice broke in.

The charismatic voice belonged to a handsome man. He was tall. He was built. His jaw was square. His eyes piercing. (Everyone ducked) His hair tied in a queue. He put his hands on his hips and took a manly stance. And then he changed.

"Are you Jack?"

"I am," he rumbled from beneath his newly apparent suit of shining armor. "What need do you have of me?" Light refracted off his steel plating as he strode forward with confidence.

"She says you have to go with her to meet someone, and Oracle says she checks out but I don't know who she is or who that someone is. None of us have ever seen her before."

Jack, who was now a slight man, dressed in the tunic of a bard, smoothed a hand over his crisp beard. "I am afraid I do not recognize your visage."

"By the spirits, I told you I'm an incarnation of her, not the real thing!" Kir bared her teeth at everyone and got ready to skewer somebody.

Jack's edges blurred into that of a disenfranchised police officer turned private detective. He squinted through blue eyes over high cheekbones. He studied Kir with the relaxed ease of a professional. "So you're an agent? Here on a quest? Odd...." He made a thoughtful sound. "See, the problem is the Mary Sue I know would do her own dirty work. Who are you and why are you here?"

"I told you, I'm a disenfranchised pirate on a quest. And I didn't say I was working for Mary Sue, but that I came in her name...sort of." She thought furiously. "It is my duty to find the man named Jack and facilitate a meeting with a third party."

"Very well," he capitulated, just like that. Now he was a fresh looking fellow in a suit that looked like it had been tailored specifically for him. His sandy brown hair was combed back and his teeth were a brilliant white. "Don't worry, Mharie, if she's lying...." He chuckled and rubbed his hands together.

"Oh, good, so-"

"You're going with her? Are you crazy?! We can't let you do that, Jack."

Kir and Jack looked at the armed crowd surrounding them in a group hug. There were long arms, short arms, red arms, blue arms, one arm, two arms .... The denizens of the House brandished whips and chains with whip cream and jelly-filled ... er, donuts. Except for Pete and Kitty who waved blue ribbons because they were loving and consensual, except when they weren't.

The glassy eyed crowed drew closer, leering, nearing, their nefarious intent clear.

"Use protection!" someone shouted.

Jack, now a rugged forest ranger, looked at Kir. They both looked at each other. They looked at the crowd. They looked at the ellipsis. They looked back at each other, wondering what good protection was. After all, everyone knew that a person couldn't possibly get ... knocked up or a disease from ... from .... Kir scowled until her eye glowed yellow. From ....

Someone in the crowd gave a snigger and they all lunged forward.

"Scene break!"

The House shifted and shattered, schismed and split, scuttled and scattered, seemingly sundered. In other words, it disappeared for a little while.


Kir and Jack found themselves standing in the middle of a poorly paved parkway. Each to the other appeared as a featureless shadow. To their right encroached a thick forest, to their left, a half-formed realm that induced drowsiness. A lone, rusted and graffitied sign marked the road as "Lost Causeway". They looked behind in temporary terror. A growing lynch mob was gathering ruckus and bad feelings. A water balloon splattered in the gutter beside them.

"Help!" implored a tiny voice from the gutter. "Help! I've fallen in and I can't get out!"

"Sorry, no time!" She started to run.

"By Zeus!" exclaimed the muscled Jack. "The gods must be angered to visit such a fate upon us. Come you filthy beats, taste the bronze of my blade!"

Since a sincere wince requires that all motion cease, Kir stopped running.

A water balloon hit Jack in the face as a runaway plot twist collided with the back of his knees. He fell with a mighty oomph, right on top of a gaping plot hole. Luckily, he was invincible and didn't fall in.

"Come on, quick!"

But he wasn't looking, and naturally, didn't see what she said. More water balloons bombarded them most unceremoniously. Pretty soon, strawberries starting sailing and created a jam. The mob gave a roar of mindless triumph. Jack leapt up and ran straight at them. Right then, he became a lightly built boy in a t-shirt, jeans and glasses. "Shoot!" He turned around and ran back the other way.

If they catch us, they'll do worse than kill. They'll ... us! She growled and shook the pesky dots away. Nasty, clingy things fudging my internal dialogue. She looked to the left, she looked to the right, she did the hokey-pokey and.... A candle stick beaned her in the head. Kir fell on her butt and blinked. Jack stopped running and turned to look. The mob instantly defied the laws of physics and surrounded them. There followed much leering, jeering and violent posturing that cannot be described due to the presence of ellipsis.

"What's going on?" piped a female voice.

Everyone turned to look at a petite redhead. She wore a police uniform and had large eyes. Very large eyes. Enormous eyes. The eyes blinked prettily.

"Urg," the mob moaned.

"Hi! I'm Nene!" She blinked some more and skipped up and down while waving cheerfully. "So, what's going on?"

A horrified hush fell over all present.

"Oh my ..., it's the Over-cute!"

Every sentient female within earshot ran for their lives. Except Kir, who as the heroine of the story was required to remain in a brainless stupor. I want to run, I really want to run away. Why am I sitting here with a bored and stupid expression on my face?

"Hey, Kir, get up. Um, why did all the chicks ditch us?" Jack tossed back his long tangled hair and practiced looking cool. All the remaining males looked around in puzzlement.

"Mebbe we should be goin' too, neh?" One of the red haired, brown coated smoking men began to casually saunter away.

"Save it Cajun, ain' no girl gon' scare me. I'm the best at what I do!" Wolverine growled and popped his claws, advancing on the police girl.

"Hey, like, we're after the pirate girl, not her," someone reminded him. There was a chorus of "yeahs".

"But, wait a second, weren't we just chasing her because she took Jack and our girlfriends and stuff were mad about that? Y'know?"

A multitude of eyes fastened on the speaker in contempt. They all sniffed at him disdainfully. They lunged at Kir who was still sitting in the middle of the road and staring at the Over-cute.

She waved her hands helplessly. "Help. Jack, you have to do something quick! Tentacles!!"

Unfortunately, he was busy fending off the mob. His eyes were shadowed by a fedora as he let loose with a volley from his gatling gun. Violins started to play as an epic unfolded, a story of a powerful family and the changing of the guard.

Meanwhile, Nene stamped her foot pettishly and pouted. All those stupid men were fighting over that weird girl in black when she, herself, was cute and perky. It wasn't fair. It wasn't to be borne. She would show them. She would show them all.

Wolverine leapt at Nene the Over-cute. Nene got even angrier than she had been. Her face turned red and her eyes glowed demonically. Suddenly, the lighting changed. Darkness fell, killing at least half the mob. Red clouds of evilness buffeted the remaining members, who froze in mortal fear. For an unexplained reason, Nene was back lit by a blinding blue light. The sound of tearing flesh and crackling bone filled the darkness as Nene fully transmutaloglified into the OVER-CUTE.

The monster hissed at them, waving tentacles in all directions. One grabbed Wolverine and flung him around like a rag doll.

Jack nodded, in his black business suit and shades. "I see. Tentacles. But I still don't understand why all the women ran awa- oh. Ew. Wait a second, why are you still here, then?"

"Can't move. I'm the heroine. Must remain stupefied and incompetent."

"Right." Jack launched forty feet into the air, fiercely pulling out a Super Duper Gun. Just as he reached the apex of the jump, he bared his teeth and fired, "ki-yahing" for good effect.

The Over-cute roared with laughter. It threw the mangled body of Wolverine at Jack.

"Stop Fiend! Only I, the Master of Magnetism may do that to Logan!" Magneto, looking quite regal indeed, carefully lowered Wolverine and Jack to the street. He swept his cape out and raised a fist. His eyes glowed for no particular reason, and the air grew heavy with electricity. The crowd shifted uneasily recalling the previous time the sky had fallen. "Know the power of- ack- ugh- oof- urrr...."

And it wasn't pretty.

A bat shaped shadow swooped over the crowd. "I am the night! I am-" The Over-cute used Batman's own batarang to knock him silly. Batman hit the road with a good solid crack. "Ow, by back!" he cried out in agony.

"Oh no you don't!" declared an older man in a black trench coat. His eyes glowed white as he drew a two handed broad sword out from under his coat. He too was fiercely mangled.

Right then, a trumpet fanfare sounded. All those living looked up in the sky. "It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...a smear on the pavement."

The Over-cute laughed some more before grabbing Kir.

"...!" She gurgled, trying to unwrap the tentacle from her throat. I have to do something quick. If I don't, this story will lose its PG 13 rating! She kicked the Over-cute in the teeth and drew her scimitar with a 7 B pencil. Her eye glowed too, a feral yellow, as she hissed and slashed at the monster. But there were too many of them. Too fast. To confusing. All that red and blue. Pretty colors....

A tank fell on the Over-cute and squashed it to death.

"Take that you wanker!" The ellipsis, arriving too late, had the grace to look sheepish. A scruffy someone hopped off the tank and shook a fist at the formerly scary, now squished, fiend. "Thought you could do that to Barney and get away with it, did you?" She kicked the fiend in the nads a few times. "You owe her a hundred pounds you lousy ...." The pink haired girl took a drag on the stogie dangling from her lips. "Hey...this isn't my comic. Guys? Guys? You around? Barney? Jet? Sub?" She turned around to face her war machine. "Tank, you see my pals?" It shook its gun barrel back and forth.

Kir considered what to do. Although she had met many in her travels, this individual was unknown to her. She appeared to be a young woman of indeterminate age with an Australian accent. Never mind what "Australia" was. She wore torn, horribly clashing clothing and combat boots. Her belt buckle proclaimed "TANK". The tank itself looked more like a rolling circus than an instrument of war.

"Uh, Tank Girl?" Kir tucked her sword away and tapped the disgusting girl-

The girl looked straight at the narrator and shook a fist. "Shut your ... trap you...!"

Uh, so Kir tapped the uncouth and morally depraved young woman on the shoulder.

"Whaddya want?"

"Well, I just wanted to thank you for saving my life, and stuff."

Tank Girl waggled an eyebrow and grinned. "Stuff, huh?"

"Yep."

"One question." She leaned closer and whispered, "Why are we being some oblique about stuff?"

"Because if stuff isn't kept off screen, the ellipsis arrive and trip everyone up."

"What the ... are .... Oh."

Kir wasn't about to question her good fortune. Already this meaningless quest was more trouble than it was worth. "We better get going. The Over-cute never stays dead for long. Pretty soon, it'll start regenerating for another sequel. You didn't, by any chance, see a perpetually morphing heroic type around here, did you?"

"Is he one of the blokes bleeding on the road?"

"Maybe, but that would be uncharacteristic. Usually, Jack can get right back up again. Er, I mean, you know what I mean."

"Sure I do." Tank Girl swaggered off in the direction of the mangled would be heroes. She came back dragging Jack by his foot. "This him? I didn't figure the ... fellow in the red tights and urn on his head would call himself something so mundane, and I didn't know about the little bleeder in yellow so I ... him."

"You what? How? When did you have time?!"

Tank Girl gave her a meaningful look and ignored that ridiculous question. "I will refrain from making unsolicited observations about your ... writer, but you have my ... pity."

Abruptly, Jack got to his feet and dusted off his vest and jeans. He stoically clutched a bleeding wound to his gut. "Thank you ma'am, but we'd best be on our way now. This lady and I are on a quest."

"Ooh, a quest! Do you sail through the known world battling the selfish whims of gods in an effort to deliver your significant other from the corruption of your enemies?"

"Uh, no. Someone else wrote that story."

"Now that you mention it, I think it might have been some Simpson guy."

"Homer?" Now how did I know... Oh. Her again. Kir curled her lip.

"Sir, I don't mean to interrupt, by the Over-cute just gurgled. It would be advisable to vacate the premises." Jack wore a futuristic and impractical space soldier suit and carried a deadly weapon resembling a calculator on crack.

Tank Girl raised an eyebrow. "Who's he talking to?"

"Me, I think."

Tank Girl practiced looking sardonically amused and puffed on here stogie. "Yes, sir!"

"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Hey, Jack! That's a discombobulater!"

"Got it, sir!" Taking the most unsubtle hint, he pointed the death ray calculator at the purplish slug-like mass and the fiend disappeared.


Dean (the Bouncer) opened the door of the Subreality Cafe and examined the three people in front of him. One was shrouded in black, as cliché demanded. Another was a chain smoking fashion horror, and the third a morphing man. He didn't recognize any of them and crossed his arms. "Look here. This is Dead Night and I don't know you guys. Either you're still alive, you haven't been written, or some ... writer is playing 'let's make the Bouncer look ineffectual' again."

The seedy girl smirked. "No problem. I'm always getting dead."

The morphing man, wearing a lab coat and glasses rested his chin on a knuckle thoughtfully. "I would have to concur. I myself rarely die, but I am perpetually under mortal threats. " He turned to the shrouded figure. "And you?"

"Oh, I think I qualify on that point, although in the more figurative sense."

Dean gave them all a dry glance. Loopholes again. Choice number three. "But are you fictives who have been in at least three stories?"

"Who the ... made up that ... rule?!"

Jack smiled faintly. "I have certainly been in three, if not three thousand."

"What if you were in one really long story?"

"Look, I don't make judgments. I just do my job."

"... off! You and your 'but it's not my responsibility' clause. You should feel ashamed of yourself. What would your mother think?" Tank Girl's eyes gleamed with unholy glee. "I'm going in. You guys coming?"

Dean sighed the sigh of one on whose shoulders rested far too much of said responsibility and tolerance. He let them pass. Besides, if he wasn't mistaken, that was a tank parked in the lot. New in the sense of being different from the others already there. He was pleasantly surprised then when the shrouded figure paused to hand him a narrow, red package. "What are.... Chopsticks? Why are you giving me cheap, restaurant chopsticks?"

"Well, it says right here. 'Tuck under thumb and hold firmly. Add second chopstick hold it as you hold a pencil. Hold first chopstick in original position move the second one up and down. Now you can pick up anything!' I figure that next time some gives you a hard time, you can just pick them up and toss them somewhere."

Dean grimaced, politely accepting the proffered gift. "Thank you."


"Tank Girl! Ish 'at you? We'sh been lookin' all o'er for ya." If it was possible, a young woman even more slovenly than the afore-mentioned staggered over and belched loudly. Here eyes rolled insanely and she drooled when she smiled. She was joined by another like her in a bandanna and a third in a fuzzy aviator's hat. Behind them was a kangaroo like creature wearing a goofy smile, and not much else.

"Barney! Booga!" Tank Girl started to skip towards the drooling girl and kangaroo creature, realized how foolish that looked, and stopped in consternation. Replacing the overjoyment with vicious sarcasm, she sneered, "Can't even have time off from you ...." Nevertheless, all five of them gave a group hug and requisitioned a table to revel raucously.

Kir sighed in her seat at the bar and turned to Jack. "Well, we're here. According to my sources, my quest of the day is completed."

"So this is it? Now we go to a shadowed corner table and act sly and mysterious, keeping an eye out for the flat-foot we're sure trailed us?" Jack tipped his bowler and hunched over a scotch.

"Nene? We discombobulated her, remember?" Her pathetic joke fell flat. Jack, engrossed in his role, didn't laugh. The quest was over. Another would begin. All of this was cause for a good bout of angsting. She had not filled her quota yet, after all. It was the same day in and day out. And it's all her fault. Here we go again. Maybe this joint is more interesting than the usual taverns. It was definitely crowded.

One large table was held by a disgruntled group of law enforcement types. Around them milled a herd of costumed freaks, many of which appeared to be clones of each other. In said shadowed corner was a small cluster of evil villains, readily identified by their obscene fashion sense. The people were the only constant, though. The flux of the room itself made her eyes hurt. A band was on-stage belting out something that barely cut through the din. Abruptly, they were replaced by a short man in purple clothes and platform shoes. As he started to screech, wail and moan, Kir frowned and turned away, sinking into depression.

She sank so far into depression that she did not merely turn blue but lost all color entirely and drifted into the Black and White section of the Cafe. Since Jack was engrossed in being cool and doing heroic manly things like drinking other people under the table, she took a peek around.

A hulking brute who had seen better days sat beside her now. He toyed with his drink while watching a topless dancer dressed as a cowgirl. "Isn't she something," he murmured.

Deciding he was musing aloud, Kir did not reply but when she tried to look, the ellipsis obscured her vision. She was interrupted from her irritation by a joyful shriek.

"Jack? Is that you?" A young woman, blurred around the edges, tapped her companion on the shoulder.

He put down his liquor. "Mary Sue?"

"Oh, Jack!"

Oh, ew! Kir cringed, attempting to shield herself from the sap. Ugh. How do I get myself in fixes like this? She covered her ears and grimaced. It could be worse. They could be in mortal enemy incarnations and be trying to kill each other right now. After coming up for air, Mary Sue gave her a big smile. Kir gingerly picked it up wondering where to put it.

"You know, you didn't have too that. I would have found him sooner or later."

"I know. I had nothing better to do."

"Where'd you find him, anyway?"

"Er, well...."

Mary Sue mimicked Mharie's earlier expression while Jack tugged on his cravat.

"Well, Mharie's House."

Mary Sue belted Jack on the nose and they brawled until Dean broke it up. Bereft of their company, Kir sniffled. It wasn't fair. She had fetched the Jack fellow and delivered him to Mary Sue. She had fought beside, the admittedly obnoxious, Tank Girl. Then they had both abandoned her. I never get to keep my friends. It's not fair! An even more mental voice told her to quit being childish. A big fat tear rolled down her face leaving a wet streak in her fur.


The Bartender, seeing someone about to have an emotional breakdown sighed more heavily than the Bouncer had. It was always like this on Dead Night. "Why me?" they all whined. He/She put down the glass they were wiping and went to console the unfortunate. After all, it was part of their job description. "There, there, now, I'm sure you'll be reincarnated soon enough."

"I will not! I wasn't even finished! I was a slave but then I fought these bandits who kidnapped me, and then I was a pirate captain and then I met this cute guy but I had to kill him and...." She settled in for a good thorough, albeit silent, bawling.

The Bartender leaned on the bar, not quit knowing what to say. He/She could not understand the cause for these histrionics. He/She thought the individual must be a newbie, an odd mix of generic felinoid human, one of those cartoon gargoyles and, if she/he wasn't mistaken, wings underneath the classic black cloak. "I realize this is a bad time, but are you new here?"

The strange young woman snorted loudly and wiped her nose on her sleeve. "I'm not new anywhere."

"Oh, that's disgusting. Use a Kleenex. Why don't you-"

Suddenly, the room was filled with psychedelic special effects. Three knobby trash cans, one gold, two silver, materialized in the center of the cafe.

"This lo-ca-tion has been i-den-ti-fied as the nex-us of all re-al-it-ies. It will be el-im-in-at-ed. Ex-ter-min-ate them! Ex-ter-min-ate them!" The golden one waved a knobby arm and knobby proboscis in a rabid frenzy. Soon, the two silver trash can-like beings joined into the frenzied chanting.

"Irrelevant. You will be assimilated," countered five cybernetic humanoids.

All eight metallic monstrosities began to battle.

Kir stopped babbling to watch as the Bouncer, assisted by Mary Sue and Jack the Barbarian, broke up the fight quite easily. Soon, the Daleks and the Borg were settling their differences through a match of chess rather than invisible weapons that went pshheww, pshheww!

The Bartender blinked and turned back to his/her customer. "So, you were saying about a traitor on your ship?" he/she prompted.

A wheezing sound, like a stubborn car engine, drowned out her reply. Everyone turned to stare at a blue police box that appeared where the Daleks had. A man in a floppy brown hat and overcoat stepped out. He glanced around cheerfully and flipped the trailing end of a tremendously long scarf over his shoulder. "Hello. It seems matters have quite taken care of themselves. Don't mind me, just passing through."

"It is the Doc-tor! Ex-ter-min-ate him! Ex-ter-min-ate! EX-TER-MIN-ATE!"

The Daleks rolled forward, waving their knobby antennae about, but the Bouncer intercepted, bashed them all to pieces and threw them out the door using the mighty chopsticks.

Kir pouted. A battle scene could disrupt a good hissy fit so easily.

"So, what was that again?"

All right, we've had our gratuitous battle scene. Kir raised her hands to explain everything. Someone tapped her on the shoulder.

"Excuse me, miss, but your Over-cute is molesting my bunny slippers."

She threw her hands up in exasperation wishing she could scream. Great. That's what I get for discombobulating it. "First of all, that is not my Over-cute. Second, I don't care who molests who in this story; the ellipsis will take care of it. Third, who are you?"

The person at her side, who appeared to be composed of black wrapping gauze, or something similar, drew himself upright. "I'm Abyss. My point is, that creature shouldn't be able to do anything to my bunny slippers. Why, they're the most supreme beings in the universe."

She scowled and ran out of patience. "So are the Daleks and Borg. You deal with it. I'm in the middle of a telling my sob story. As for your slippers, they seem to be enjoying themselves."

Abyss looked affronted. "You are a pervert."

Kir sighed morosely, even more so than the Bartender had, making it a truly meaningful sigh. She hunched over her root beer looking pitiful.

The Bartender smacked his/her forehead.

"My writer made me say it. I'm not a pervert. Really, I'm not."

"Okay , already!" chorused everyone close enough to hear. "So what is your sob story?"

"I-" She was cut off again.

"Why, this looks like a nice place. What do you think? Isn't this a nice place, dear?"

"Aye. Very nice."

A young woman in a dress, accompanied by a smitten aardvark strolled into the Cafe. The woman sat down on a bar stool while the aardvark climbed up on one.

"Hello. My name is Jaka. This is Cerebus. Say hello Cerebus."

"Cerebus says hello."

The Bartender nodded slowly, not recognizing the newcomers at all.

"If it's no trouble, I would like a wide-mouthed gin and Cerebus here would like a scotch, unless it is trouble in which case we'll both be on our way."

"Oh no, not at all. Just a minute." The Bartender sent Kir an apologetic look while fetching their drinks. "Say, have you been freshly killed?"

"Killed?" Jaka laughed delightfully. "Goodness, no. We're just passing through. I'm fairly certain we're still alive."

"Aye," growled Cerebus, putting a hand on his sword.

Maybe I ought to intervene. There's absolutely no reason for me to pout like this. "Excuse me, Jaka, Cerebus."

"Yes?/Aye?"

"He/She didn't mean it as a threat. It's only that tonight is Dead Night. This joint is filled mostly with dead fictives."

"So it's rather like a cheerful morgue? I suppose you're dead also?" Jaka slouched on the bar and flipped some hair behind her ear.

"No. I guess I'm passing through, like you. I'll probably spend the rest of my life trying to finish my quest." Kir leaned her head on one hand and sulked some more.

"Oh, really? That sounds quite interesting. Cerebus and I are going to the God's Fence. We've been having an ever so interesting time although I think we may have gotten a bit lost." She shrugged and chugged on her gin. "Why, I don't think I caught your name."

"Don't worry. I'm just a random Mary Sue."

"Are you certain? You don't look like one. You're not cute, perky or lovable. In fact, by traditional standards, you're rather on the ugly side although some people find the bestial look quite attractive. I'll bet you haven't even slept with the writer's favorite character."

Oh...she's at it again. "I am the writer's favorite character. How could I possibly sleep with myself?"

Jaka laughed. "Everyone sleeps with themselves if you think about it."

"No no no, never mind. Anyway, I'm not a fictive proper. I'm an original of an original story."

Jaka looked thoughtful for a while. "But you mentioned that your quest was unfinished. Why aren't you in your fic now?"

Astonished at the perfect opening, Kir almost did not answer. "Uh, well, you see, it's gone. The whole world is gone. So am I. I'm not only an Unposted, I'm a Deleted. It happened right in the middle of the story. Just like that." She snapped her fingers emphatically. Putting her head down on her arms, she let her ears droop.

The Bartender nodded in sympathy. "We get one of those every now and then, although.... You say a long story?"

"Uh huh."

"Just a minute, let me get the Manager." He/She left and returned shortly with someone who could have been his/her twin. In fact, the more closely Kir stared, the less they seemed to be two people.

"Well," announced the one with Manager written across his/her shirt, "I've been listening in and if you ended up here, then you probably have nowhere else to stay. Since you can't stay here, in the Cafe that is, I suggest you check with the Pendragon Inns. I'm sure one of them has a vacancy."

Kir looked up hopefully. Could this be an end to her unfulfilled quest? "You mean it?"

"Yes, we do. And if it makes you feel any better, I think I saw your ex, the one you mentioned killing, in here last week. I'm assuming your writer made you do it."

Kir nodded agreement, then looked around the strange Cafe and its bizarre denizens. Her friends might be here? She could get to like this place. She smiled, baring some rather pointy teeth. "And I can come here anytime I want...with no more quests?"

"That's the deal."

Settling into a free booth, she grinned and wiped her tears away. This place isn't so bad after all.


Credits:

Kir and this incarnation of Mharie's House are my fault although the House can be traced in a roundabout way to SC Chat crowd. Jack and the Ellipsis are public domain. The Rat Creatures belong to the writer of Bone. Most of the fictives in the first scene are from various erotic and not so erotic stories by various people. Mharie belongs to the errant Lady Amethyst. Christina Knight belongs to herself. Wink Wink and Nudge Nudge and Abyss belong to Abyss. Harmony belongs to Denise Keppel. Mary Sue as found in Subreality belongs to Susan Crites. The caged writers are as stated. That was me in the gutter. Nene is from Bubblegum Crisis. Nene the Over-cute is probably mine. Will Riley belongs to James McBriarty. Tank Girl, Jet Girl, Sub Girl, Barney and Booga belong to Hewlett and Martin. Dean the Bouncer is credited to Ian Philip Foster. Marv and Nancy belong to Frank Miller. The Manager and Bouncer were created by Falstaff. The Bartender, and offshoot of the Manager might have been created by Fancy Catz or Ben Church. The Daleks and Dr. Who belong to the British Broadcasting Corporation. The Borg belong to Paramount. Jaka and Cerebus and the God's Fence belong to Dave Sims. Prince belongs to himself. The Jaws theme belongs to John Williams.

Pete Wisdom, Gambit, Wolverine, Jean Grey, Madeline Pryor, Mr Sinister, Vertigo, Professor Xavier, Iceman, Emma Frost, Psylocke, Rachel Summers, Cyclops, X-Factor, Warren Worthington, Jubilee, Nightcrawler, Kitty Pryde and Magneto belong to Marvel Entertainment.

Oracle, Black Canary, Nightwing, Batgirl, Supergirl, Batman and Superman belong to DC Comics.


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