Hours later, Exx Man was still struggling with her mind-boggling discovery and wondering about the impact it would have on her mission. What should she call herself? Should she continue under the misnomer Exx Man? Or should she call herself Exx Woman? Obviously, her whole mission needed DRASTIC rethinking.
Overwhelmed by the sheer excitement of her discovery, Exx Man sat on a marble bench inside the shopping mall to rest her head in her hands as she contemplated her navel anew in this bold new world. What was she to do?:::MD54 SAT NOV 16, 1991 21.16.55
The choice was clear.
Black and white were no longer obvious.
Good and evil were no longer clear-cut, nor following the simple political party lines as before. Ever since Opus left Bloom Country for Outland, Exx Man had been struggling with her purpose in crime fighting, staying up late, continuing on, but still confused.
She had to face it.
She wasn't even able to drink beer and enjoy tackle football now. And she felt a strange desire to buy Vogue and Bride magazines.
Exx Man decided to become a hairdresser. It would be cute, and fun, and lots of cute fun guys would come around anyway.
Whistling happily, EXX Ma (note the missing "n") went off to open her new business.
(Don't complain; Exx Ma is ALLOWED to be a liberated woman in today's world--it's the American Way/Dream.)
Of course, happy endings were (and are) unheard of in these tales. The tracer still existed, and Exx Ma would have to face the pissed-off Skywalker.
Now it was all up to the all-powerful Dragon Poker, villain status or not. Can this dastardly fiend restore Exx Ma's sense of purpose, or was it all pink laces and teddy bears for the former superhero?
Tune in later to see if I'm going to get beat up for this.
:::MD54 SUN NOV 17, 1991 09.58.23
EXX MA #16 -- A NEW VISION
FROM: MD54 At Music
It was business as usual in the little hairdresser shop, except for the fact that no one had come in yet. Exx Man sat glumly on her barber stool, a brush in one hand and a bottle of hair spray in the other.
This was not working out one bit.
Whoever said that the life of a beautician was exciting was full of bull dung (EXX Ma could recall thousands of late night commercials with Sally Strothers concerning the occupation.)
Suddenly someone entered the store.
EXX Ma readied her brush and spray, ready to attack this first customer and awe them by her impressive dexterity.
The lady wore red leather with a big black dot in the middle of her chest. She wore black leather boots, and her hair--although not mohawked or anything expected--was a full loose tumble of purple- tinted curls.
"My name's Spike!" clarified the new character, "and I'm here to get your little tush back out fighting crime where it belongs."
"What?!" exclaimed EXX Ma, not too sure about what was going on.
"Just being a woman doesn't mean you have to be a sissy too," explained Spike, picking at her teeth with an army dagger. "Women can do anything a guy can and more."
"Well, what if I LIKE hairdressing?" countered Exx Man, still too confused to properly consider the argument.
Spike popped a new clip into her Uzi. "Well, that's too bad, 'cause here comes your friend carrying the light saber or the big stick or whatever it is at this point."
A smoke canister rolled into the store--dastardly Skywalker had struck! The battle commenced, in the physical realm and in the mind of poor little Exx Man, as stereotype clashed with what reality should be and nothing was clear.
:::IR51 SUN NOV 17, 1991 13.54.13
EXX MA #17- BATTLES ARE BORING
FROM: IR51 At Music
Exx Ma was caught off guard. The smoke filled the room and began choking Spike. But Spike, being an exx-boy/girl scout was prepared. She had a remedy for the smoke. She grabbed Exx Ma(n)'s cape and pulled it around her mouth. She next took out the matches she used to light her pipe. Using the hair spray she formed a flamethrower. She was a firm believer in the old saying: where there's smoke there's fire.
Exx Ma(n) meanwhile was rolling on the ground. With her new found femininity, she was able to slip through the smoke. Skywalker at this point had his lightsaber readied. He would fight what he thought was Exx Man. Spike was busy with her flamethrower and Exx Ma(n) had escaped This was good news to Exx Ma(n) fans everywhere.
The battle was now beginning between Skywalker and Spike. Both were armed and dangerous (more to themselves than each other). Skywalker struck first. The spray can disappeared into the cloudy beauty parlor. By now, someone had called the fire department. The sirens began to sound. This scared Skywalker. He used the power of the quartz to raise himself out of the smoke. Now he could see Spike clearly. The battle was progressing nicely. That was until that darned fire department arrived.
See, the only thing that can defeat the quartz is water. Since it appeared that there was a fire in the parlor water was doused everywhere This was not good news for Skywalker fans. Spike, also rather wet, recovered and saw where Skywalker lay. She walked over lit a match and grabbed the hair spray container.
:::DL20 SUN NOV 17, 1991 21.01.40
Exx Man #18 A FIRE IN THE HOUSE
FROM: DL20 At Music
Unfortunately, Spike had never read the warning label on the side of hairspray bottles which caution users that the contents are under pressure, and should not be exposed to heat. As she lit the match, the hair spray canister exploded, making a rather loud and smelly explosion.
Spike staggered out the back door of Exx Man's beauty shop and was immediately seen by a fashion designer who loved her "explosive" hair style -- hair flying every which way, hard as a rock. Spike went on to great fame and fortune for her exotic hairstyles, before she ultimately choked on a piece of asparagus at a UN ambassadorial dinner, resulting into a rather embarrassing coughing fit which would lead to all out war between Estonia and Fiji. This, however, is in the distant future, and is of no concern to us.
Exx Man, choking on the hairspray and smoke, crawled along the floor of the room, coughing as the soot caught in her throat. A pair of boots suddenly caught her eyes. She looked up, and there was none other than the evil Dragon Poker, holding a massive fire hose! With a sinister laugh, he dropped the hose and walked over to the fallen Skywalker.
"Now I have you, Skywalker!" he cried, as he picked him up by the neck and began to squeeze ever so tightly. Turning bright red, the helpless Skywalker peered down at Exx Man with pleading eyes, begging her to save him from Dragon Poker.
Deep within her heart, Exx Man felt her old calling rising up once more, and realized that it didn't matter if she lost or won (she never won anyway), but only that she kept trying to be a superheroine and fight all the forces of evil, wherever she went.
As Skywalker's cries dropped off to a throaty rattle, Exx Man grabbed a can of mousse and prepared to deliver her coup de chicken.
"Dance, I say, dance! You must try to dance faster!" commanded Dr. Dingle to his assistant, the vivacious Mara. "We have succeeded in acquiring a suitable patient! This is a time for celebration, my malicious, delicious Mara!"
Mara swirled around and around the mad Dr. Dingle, gyrating to the rhythm of his howling, insane voice. Suddenly, she collapsed from exhaustion.
"Dance, Mara! You must not stop just yet!" cried Dr. Dingle.
"I've had it, Dingle! I'm tired. How do you expect me to work on that patient in my exhausted condition?" yelled Mara.
Mara always indulged the mad doctor. He was insane in his genius, a mad doctor in the truest sense of the word, yet his lust for wild dances were too tiring.
"He's so weird," muttered Mara under her breath.
"Alas, you are quite correct," said Dr. Dingle, who had regained his cold, calculating composure. "Let us prepare for the experiment. My experiment!"
Exx Man lay on the cold, stainless steel counter, strapped down tighter than a drum. His mind was a whirlpool of strange visions, a mixture of recollections and faint images that swirled and interwove to create a confusing canvas of color. Was he alive or dead? Was he awake or dreaming? He did not know. All he could see were visions of hairspray and scissors. He remembered Dragon Poker and Skywalker locked in battle. Then the aliens in white uniforms came and covered his face so that he faded into nonexistence. Did they kill him? It was all so difficult to sort out, especially since his train of thought was continually interrupted by the voices.
"Is he secure?" inquired Dr. Dingle in a monotone voice.
"He is secure," replied Mara in her cool, professional voice.
"His vital signs are fairly strong, although his present condition is one of lethargy," said Dr. Dingle. "I think we shall proceed."
Dr. Dingle had prepared for this day many years ago. He had experimented continually, perfecting the secret formula that would endow humans with qualities that were superior to the average human. He would show those rotten professors at the Kiss-Rot Institute of Chemical Science that he was superior to them all! He would have his revenge! They would pay for kicking him out like rubbish worth less than a flex card! Oh, he could taste the revenge. Once the formula was tested and improved, he would use it on himself.
Dr. Dingle made one last examination of the patient and the lab equipment monitoring vital signs.
"Now, give him the injection now!" commanded the doctor, with wild expectation in his eyes.
Mara grabbed Exx Man's arm and plunged the needle deep within the flesh, injecting the secret formula.
"What will happen to the patient?" asked Mara with her usual emotionless voice. "Will he die immediately?"
"Perhaps. In any case, he will not live past four hours," said Dr. Dingle. "He will be unable to adapt to his new strength fast enough. The surge of energy will be too much for him. He will die, rest assured."
"But what if he lives longer," asked Mara, tempting the doctor's patience.
"Impossible. He will die," pronounced Dr. Dingle, although he wasn't as sure as he indicated. "If by chance he should live, I can only conclude that he is some sort of freak! I will have succeeded beyond my wildest imagination if that occurs."
Exx Man lay on the cold counter. His arm burned with a strange sensation and his head ached.
"Do you hear that gibberish? He thinks he's a woman!" said Mara with disgust.
"That will end once the formula takes effect. It will accelerate his return to reality," said Dr. Dingle.
"What do we do now?" asked Mara.
"We wait. Now silence, I say! Your mouth has become tiresome!" yelled the doctor with irritation. "Let us see what I have done!"
:::DL20 MON NOV 18, 1991 21.14.30
Exx Man #20 THE AWAKENING
FROM: DL20 At Music
Choking loudly, Exx Man shook herself into consciousness and spat out a large mouthful of mousse. Hideous stuff. No wonder she had dreamt that she had been imprisoned by a cliched mad scientist named Doctor Pringle or Dinglehopper or something. Why, it reminded her of the super-villain Lex Luther, who was said to be a mad scientist himself until the Great Reorganization of DC, when he changed into a mobster, and Superman took two bounds to leap over a tall building.
But was she a man or a woman, she asked herself? Certainly, she had been told by the old codger that she had to use the ladies' room, and Spike had referred to her as a woman. She quickly ducked behind the counter and peered down her pants. Nope, no doubt about it. She was *definitely* a woman.
But what had happened to Skywalker? Where was the dastardly, no good Dragon Poker? She sat down on her barber's stool and tried to remember what had happened. She had blinded Dragon Poker with a spray of mousse, forcing him to drop Skywalker. Skywalker had then broken the quartz over Dragon Poker's head, and proceeded to rob the till. That was when she had attacked him, only to be beaned on the head with a large mirror and get sprayed on the face with mousse. Hideous stuff, that was.
What was she to do now? Her credit rating was definitely ruined since her hairdressing business was sure to fail now. Neither Skywalker nor Dragon Poker were anywhere to be seen.
Sigh! There must be easier ways to fight evil!
As she sat there, bemoaning her fate, who should appear but the twisted Mara and her employer, the near-sighted Doctor Dingle! The terrible duo materialized with a bright flash, not unlike the flashes which accompany Samuel Beckett when he leaps around on _Quantum Leap_.
"Confound it," Doctor Dingle declared, "this was not supposed to happen!"
"What was not supposed to happen, Doctor Dingle?" Mara asked, twisting wildly.
"Our serum failed to give the subject any super powers. In fact, it changed his sex. He has become a woman, and is still just as mentally unstable as before. I am ruined, unless, unless . . . "
"Unless what, Doctor Dingle?" Mara asked in a sudden gyration.
"I don't understand, Doctor Dingle," Exx Man interrupted. "Do you mean I'm really supposed to be a man?"
"Well, I don't know that I would put it that way. If there is a reason for you to be a man, it must have been overridden by a higher reason for you to be a woman," he explained, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
The two of them suddenly disappeared in another flash of white light. By this time Exx Man was doubly confused. She *was* a woman, but she had apparently been a man before. Was she a superheroine or a hairdresser? Was she a reject from Don Quixote or a reject from Star Wars? And why did it seem like there was no plotline to her whole story line?
So many questions, and she had no answers.
With slumped shoulders, she headed out the front door and moved into the mass of faceless people on their way to nowhere. Up ahead, she saw a large hairy man robbing a store. With renewed purpose, she charged up to the perpetrator of vile deeds and prepared to deliver her challenge to this latest manifestation of evil.
:::ZL22 TUE NOV 19, 1991 13.20.01
Exx Man MEETS NOSTRADAMUS
FROM: ZL22 At Music
Exx Man charged up to the hairy man, who looked like he hadn't eaten anything in a century or so. She said bossily:
"Now then, who do you think you are? Put down that gun."
The man turned to her and said, "Who is this chick? Are you serious?"
"Perfectly. I am Exx Man, defender of righteousness, queen of the American Way. Who are you?"
"I am Nostradamus, and I predicted this would happen. I am merely a servant of fate, and I am in the middle of fulfilling my destiny. Now if you would please let me alone..."
:::IR51 TUE NOV 19, 1991 18.35.20
EXX MA(N) #22-> WRESTLING WITH LIFE
FROM: IR51 At Music
"No wait a minute!" said Exx Ma(n). "You aren't Nostradamus."
"I've seen you before. You are famous. You that wrestler----Oh what's your name----Wait I know, of course. You are George "The Animal" Steele. You're the dude that eats the turnbuckle! I knew I saw you before I guesses by all the hair." Exx Man's femininity was finally coming out into the open.
A grunt was all that The Animal could muster.
"What are you doing here?" asked Exx Man.
The Animal was able to get out a few words, "I was here to get my teeth cleaned."
Exx MA looked up at the sign. It said "Heavens & Sons Dentistry"
"I see," said Exx Ma.
Exx Ma was then hit with a startling revelation. The gun possessed by "The Animal" could be used as a weapon. What if the Animal would use it on the Dentist. What could he do? What would happen?
Exx Ma asked, "What should I do since you have a gun?"
"You heard me, what should I do about your gun?"
The gun went off and Exx Ma fell to the ground. She was cringing in pain. The world, not to mention the mall, was getting very dark. Life as she knew it was coming to an end. Or was it....:::IR51 WED NOV 20, 1991 09.10.53
Things were getting dark. Exx Ma(n) could hear the people running and screaming. There were several more gun shots and even more screams. Exx Ma was dazed. She had been hit and was lying on the ground but she was not dying. This was a predicament. She needed a way to get up and get this new villain.
She opened her eyes slightly. She saw several bodies near her and the Animal above her. What could she do? (By the way it is important to remember that superheroines, including those that think they are, do not die easily.)
It was time to prove once and for all that she could beat the enemy known not just as the Animal but Death. She slowly crawled her way to where the Animal now was standing. Using all her superheroine strength she tried to tackle the Animal. Needless to say it didn't work. She was able to remove the blaster from The Animal's hand. It was time to fight man to woman.
Suddenly, a wrestling ring appeared and she climbed in. The announcer then announced her. The crowd was screaming (you see she was the good guy). Next came The Animal into the ring. He was met by chorus of boos.
The announcer began:
"Ladies and gentlemen, are you ready for the main event. It is scheduled for one fall with an hour time limit. At the bell fighters come out wrestling...."
Dong.:::DL20 THU NOV 21, 1991 00.42.26
Being a superhero, of course, Exx Man knew all along that there was no wrestling ring, but that it was merely a hallucination or hologram, such as those caused by the arch-villains Baron Brimstone and Mastermind. She was determined, however, not to be bested by however many thousand villains which might be arrayed against her. No superheroine could ever lose. It was a fact of life.
With a mighty swing, Exx Man fell flat on her face and lost consciousness. With her lack of awareness, the writer suddenly found himself able to write from a reliable perspective since Exx Man's madness no longer distorted his understanding of the events.
Exx Man lay sprawled in a pool of blood on the sidewalk, a powerful odor rising from her belly where the bullet had entered. Nearby lay the would-be-thief, gravely wounded himself.
"It was horrible," the small dentist cried to the police officer and anyone else who would listen. "He tried to rob our safe and wanted to know where we kept our gold for fillings. He was going to shoot my secretary Steve when this woman stopped him."
"Incredible. This woman should be a hero," the police officer remarked, turning to the medics who now lingered over the fallen Exx Man. "How's she doing?"
The medic paused, wiping the sweat from her forehead. "We've got her stabilized enough to take her on the ambulance to a hospital. She's lucky. Another inch to the left and the bullet would have hit her spine."
"Yeah. Real lucky," was all the police officer said before turning back to the dentist. "Have you ever seen this woman before?" he asked.
"No, never," she responded. "She just came up here, muttering something about a dragon poker and someone named Luke Starbucker or something."
"A dragon poker? What is that -- some sort of sword?"
"I don't know. I'm a dentist, not an antique collector. I have no idea why she did anything at all. Most people wouldn't want to get involved, even to stop a robbery or save a life."
The medics loaded Exx Man on the ambulance and drove away at top speed, sirens blaring. "Yeah. She's either an escapee from a loony bin or a hero," the officer said, taking more notes for his report.
"Maybe both," the dentist responded.
A strange look flew across the police officer's face. "Yeah," he agreed at last. "Maybe both.":::PF21 FRI NOV 22, 1991 14.46.39
The ambulance arrived at the hospital and Exx Man was quickly taken to the emergency room. As the medics wheeled Exx Man into the room, an excited doctor, who happened to glance at the patient, ran over to take control of the situation.
"Back, I say! You'll suffocate the creature!" yelled the doctor. "Nurse Metalmash, get over here and assist me. We'll, take it from here fellows, so you can just run along!"
The medics, who were a bit confused, thought the poor woman must be in good hands, and so they departed.
"Quickly Mara, let's get this patient stabilized! Follow my instructions exactly, otherwise we will lose this patient" said Dr. Dingle, who had quickly begun to attend to Exx Man's wounds.
"I can't believe my incredible luck!" muttered Dr. Dingle with glee. "I must find out why my formula altered the gender of this former man. Thank goodness I tested it on him before myself. Mara, get over here, I say!"
Once the duo of Dr. Dingle and Nurse Metalmash stabilized Exx Man, they prepared him for transport to the mad doctor's secret lab.
"Quickly! We must move as swiftly as possible. Oh, I cannot believe my wonderful luck!" exclaimed Dr. Dingle with glee.
Dr. Dingle stealthily looked down the corridors as he and Mara wheeled Exx Man to his purple van parked in the rear of the building with the "Child on Board" sign in the window. Suddenly, they were stopped by the eminent Dr. Brissel.
"Where are you taking this wretched woman?" enquired Dr. Brissel. "Why wasn't I notified that this obvious homeless woman was brought in with serious wounds? Answer me Dingle!"
"Oh, I forgot to tell you.....this is....my sister, yes, my wretched sister Matilda. She often drinks too much....Snapple...and then goes into states of delirium. Yes, she's quite insane and I'm taking her home where I can care for her better. Isn't that right Nurse Metalmash?" said Dr. Dingle with anxiety in his voice.
"Oh, yes. It's quite true. She drinks Snapple and then sprays hair mousse all over herself. Why just look at that wretched hair style she has! She then stabs herself with plastic forks. Quite dreadful," said Mara. "She needs Dr. Dingle's supervision."
"This is highly irregular. I might need to discuss this with Dr. Kivorski and Nurse Bruer. This doesn't seem legit, to quote Hammer," replied the skeptical Dr. Brissel.
"Oh, she's not legit, so she had to quit," said Mara, misinterpreting Brissel's comments as referring to the state of the patient, who really was a man who was now a woman.
"Oh, I've already spoken about this with Nurse Bruer," said Dr. Dingle. "She said Dr. Kivorski would not provide my disgusting sister with adequate accommodations, and so I will bring her home."
"Alright, Dingle. But if you sister poisons herself with mousse, the mousse will be on your hands ," said Dr. Brissel with an air of authority. Brissel then walked off in search of Nurse Bruer, whom he hoped would accompany him on a groovy dance date at Club Arinon.
"Throw it into the van!" yelled Dr. Dingle. He and Mara proceeded to put Exx Man into the van. "Now, let's get to my hideout where we can try my new and improved formula. I think I know what I did wrong last time. Too much estrogen was accidently mixed into my formula!"
And so, the strange duo of Dingle and Mara sped off to their hideout.
"Oh, my malicious, delicious Mara. You will dance, won't you?"
"He's so weird," muttered Mara under her breath.:::IR51 SAT NOV 23, 1991 19.38.17
As we know weirdness is a relative concept. Dr, Dingle thought of himself as quite normal. It was Exx Man who was on the wacky side.
They reached the lab in twenty minutes. Exx Man was barely conscious. Quickly, Dr. Dingle prepared his lab, while Mara wheeled in the now mumbling Exx Man. The light was on and Mara began her dance.
Needless to say, Exx Man had had a long day. This operation was not a thing he wanted to do. Dr. Dingle meanwhile, was working at a feverish pace. He had injected Exx Man with several different drugs. All were designed to keep Exx Man under for a good long time. Mara continued to dance. Once the bullet wound had been patched up, Dingle went to work on the formula that would restore Exx Man's masculinity as well as give him the superhuman strength Dingle originally wanted. The ingredient list read like a witches' stew. There was bats wings, snail shells, lizard eyes, and Snapple. Mara wasn't lying when she said that Exx Man drank a lot of Snapple. (This cost Dr. Dingle a fortune because it was so expensive at the local snack bar.) Through this Mara continued to dance. Finally the potion (err...serum) was ready. It was put into a vile vial. The needle was about a foot long. This would do one of two things.....
... but before Dr. Dingle entered the needle, Mara stopped dancing and said that she had to leave. Dr. Dingle was very disappointed that she had to go, but Mara had a good reason. She was a premed major at an excellent, but high priced, local institution, and she here for her work study job. But her time was over, and she had class in ten minutes.
She left as quickly as her tired legs could take her and shut the large, wooden double doors with a loud crash. Mara was very depressed recently because of two main reasons. First, her institution was beaten last weekend by it's arch rival, Lelow. Also, she was depressed because she knows that she will have to pay the institution 250 mandatory elasticbucks which she will use to supply her addiction to Snapple.
Meanwhile, back at the lab..... Dr. Dingle was going crazy with the absence of dancing, because he thought that without dancing, his head would implode. He then glanced down at Exx Man and blared out, "I remember a dancing formula that I learned in Chemistry 101, I wonder if I still have the notes!" He then scrambles off into some far corner of the lab and then darts back before you could even blink. He then mixes together a large amount of chemicals and puts that formula into the whale needle (it was the only one he could find). He then injects Exx Man with the formula and then unstraps him. Exx Man tried to run for the door, but she stopped in her tracks and found herself dancing madly, to the enjoyment of Dr. Dingle. She didn't get tired for four hours when she finally ran out of endurance. She fell to the floor and Dr. Dingle injected more drugs into her. He then restrspped her on the table.
Next, he went downstairs in glee to get more ingredients for another formula. Exx Man saw an opportunity for escape. She focused all the remaining strength she had into breaking the straps. This was difficult, because she was heavily drugged. She pushed and pushed until sweat came rolling down her face. And then the straps broke! She took off out the door into the night hoping that she could continue her never-ending quest...:::DL20 SAT NOV 23, 1991 22.21.25
As Exx Man ran out, she was suddenly stopped by Mara, freshly returned from her class at Lackawanna College on "Underwater Basket Weaving." Mara easily overpowered the drugged Exx Man, and led her back to the secret laboratory where she strapped her back down again.
Doctor Dingle soon marched up the stairs again. "Ah, I see you have returned at last. You must dance again!" With a heartwrenching sigh, Mara resumed her dance while Dingle readied to inject the unconscious heroine.
Doctor Dingle drew the needle back with a sudden start. "Wait a minute!" he cried. "I forgot to counter the DNA changes. This man, er, woman, er . . . whatever the subject is, was, whatever, became a woman at the genetic level! I must compensate to remove the extra quarter of the chromosome!"
With an irritated scowl, he turned to the dancing Mara. "This is your fault, Mara!" he shouted. "If you hadn't distracted me with the `Bunny Hop,' I would have caught this sooner." He turned back at once to his calculations and cried aloud "The chant! The chant! You must begin the chant!"
Dancing wildly, Mara began to call:
"Round about the cauldron go; In the poisoned entrails throw. Toad that under cold stone Days and nights has thirty one . . ."
Naturally, she did not mention that the chant was stolen from the three witches in _Macbeth_. While she went on about fenny snakes and dead eyeballs, Doctor Dingle began to toss in flex-pizza and burgers. With a loud hiss, the cauldron burst forth a jet of steam.
"It is ready at last!" he cried, a wild gleam in his eyes. "Prepare the patient." With that, he plunged the syringe into the kettle and filled it with the vicuous liquid.
"Prepare him yourself," Mara wheezed. "I'm bushed." She stretched out on the floor and went to sleep.
"Sleep, my malicious Mara," he taunted. "Sleep through the greatest triumph of modern science, as I transform this lunatic into a superman!"
He hovered over the slowly awakening Exx Man, about to plunge the needle into her arm, when a sudden, sharp noise dragged his attention away from his villainy.
"What is that?" he cried. "There must be no interruptions!" He gaped at the wall of his secret laboratory as a sword cut a doorway into the hard concrete. With a loud noise, the cut-away wall section fell in, dust rising. In the hole stood a man clothed completely in loose-fitting black clothes. With small black shoes and a tight-fitting face mask which exposed only his deep black eyes.
"Who are you?" Doctor Dingle gasped as he staggered back in fear.
"I," the bold new arrival declared, "am the Sunoco Ninja, and I will not allow you to destroy this young woman's womanhood." In a flash, the Sunoco Ninja drew his katana and leapt across the room to stand between the captive Exx Man and the deranged Doctor Dingle.
"I cannot allow you to interfere with my work," Dingle protested. "You force me to inject myself with this serum and give myself super powers. I will crush you like the insect you are."
"Do your best," the Sunoco Ninja dared him. "I must warn you that I can catch bullets in my teeth and swords between my hands. There is no way to defeat a ninja, and I am the greatest ninja of all." So saying, he bowed to his opponent and prepared for the battle which would soon begin.
Doctor Dingle, tired to death of lunatics who thought they were superheroines and ninjas who could jump backwards and land in a tree branch ten feet up, plunged the needle into his arm. He could feel the harsh fire of his serum coursing through his veins as it made him . . . smaller?
The Sunoco Ninja gasped at the powerful ninja magic which was at work in Doctor Dingle. The Doctor shrank down to a mere foot in height, metamorphosing the whole time. His arms and legs grew much shorter, until he was forced to walk about on all fours. All about his body, a dirty brown hair sprung up, while a long furry tail burst out from his rear end. His teeth disappeared, except for his two front teeth which became larger into prominent buck teeth. His two eyes retreated to the sides of his head.
"Egad!" he cried in a nuttering voice. "What is this?"
The Sunoco Ninja stared in wide-eyed disbelief. "You have become a squirrel." He glanced at the slumbering Mara and the bubbling potion, and decided that she, too, must pay for her evil deeds. He filled the syringe up once more and injected the sleeping Mara with it. She, too, transformed before his eyes.
"Potent stuff," he commented drily. With a sudden movement, he was at Exx Man's side once more. Faster than the eye could see (indeed, it appeared he never moved at all), he sliced open the straps which held Exx Man down.
"Arise, woman, and go your way."
"But who are you?" she asked.
"I am the Sunoco Ninja," he said dramatically, and in a puff of smoke, he disappeared.
Doctor Dingle looked up at Exx Man, and quickly went off in search of some acorns. Winter was coming fast upon him, and he had no acorns stored in his larder yet. Exx Man watched in confusion as the squirrel scampered off, wondering how on Earth she arrived at this strange place from the shop where she had confronted that thief.
Rubbing her chin in confusion, Exx Man wandered off into the wilderness.
Exx Man was wandering around, wondering where to go next, when the squirrel returned.
"I thought you were going to follow me," the squirrel said. "Huh?" Exx Man was shocked.
"Are you not Exx Man, defender of right, queen of the American Way?" the squirrel asked. "We need your help."
"With what?" Exx Man asked. She had never seen a talking squirrel.
"We are trying to defend ourselves against a killer! His name is Brian. He'll get us all if you don't help us!"
Exx Man was a defendress of the environment. She followed the squirrel up a huge hill, charged with righteous indignity against this man Brian, and finally ended up behind a building.
"Where am I?" she asked the squirrel breathlessly.
"You are at the squirrels' headquarters behind Simon building of Econ and Business," said the squirrel secretively, "and the meeting is about to begin!"...
The squirrel led Exx Man into the building. Once inside there were literally a million squirrels (all right- I exaggerated). Each was sitting in a chair waiting patiently for the chief squirrel to enter. That also happened to be the squirrel that recruited Exx Man.
"I am here," announced the squirrel. "This is Exx Man. She is a defender of life, liberty, and the pursuit of acorns. She will help us in our fight with the evil Brian."
The crowd of squirrels erupted into, not applause, but laughter. All wanted to know how this human female could help in a battle against an enemy like Brian. After all, the pen was mightier than the insane. The head squirrel had not anticipated such a response from the others. He had thought it was an excellent idea. He needed to save face, or at least his tail.
"All right. Let's take a vote. All in favor of Exx Man aiding us in our fight say tree....."
The room fell to dead silence. Not a single squirrel wanted Exx Man's assistance. The chief squirrel was dumbfounded. Why was this happening?
"All right. She will not help us. Exx Man, you are permitted to leave. We will fight Brian in print instead of in physical violence. Thank you for the lesson you taught."
Exx Man was about to say "what lesson" but stopped and said, "No problem If you ever need me I will be around. All you need to do is chatter like a squirrel."
With that, Exx Man went down off the hill. He landed in a city that he had seen and been in before. Now if he could just remember when-------
Wainscotting awoke from his sleep in a cold sweat. Phew! He was definitely glad that for some strange reason you always wake up right before something really drastic happens to you in your dreams.
As he went to the kitchen to get a snack of acorns and peanut butter Wainscotting thought back on the days events. When he discovered Exx Man he had thought he found the ultimate tool to fight Brian. He was truly disappointed that the squirrel council did not agree with him.
The rest of the meeting had been tense, considering that it started with such a strong show of disapproval for him, their leader. However, it had gone pretty well considering the circumstances. A complete plan was made as to how Brian would be overcome.
After the meeting Wainscotting had gone home and laid down to sleep, hoping for once to get a good night's rest. But then that dream came. He dreamt that he was in a laboratory, and a person who looked vaguely like Exx Man was strapped down to his table. He couldn't recall why Exx Man was there, or why he felt larger than a squirrel. Then that loud noise woke him up...
Could it be true? Was he always a squirrel? It was true that he didn't remember much of his past, but the other squirrels said he was Wainscotting, their leader. And why did he have this nagging suspicion that he and Exx Man had once been foes?:::MD54 MON DEC 02, 1991 14.21.48
Life certainly had been exciting lately.
Exx Man sat around and thanked heaven that she hadn't become a squirrel, like Dr. Demento or Dingleberry or whatever that goofball scientist's name was. Squirrels were so....small. So...bushy. And they could never go out for a beer or a pizza when the urge struck, like a person could (although since her gender reversal, Exx Man had more of a craving for a...daiquiri...rather than a good ole' Busch or Coors. Ah, well. Tastes change over time, she supposed).
She had to get away. Far away, for the moment. The new changes in her hormonal balance, the violent and bloody revolution planned by the squirrels, the strange squirrel scientist and his assistant, the appearance of more super-powered idiots than one could count: what was the world coming to?
She supposed it was Reagan's fault.
But everyone blamed him anyway, so that wasn't a good answer.
Exx Man supposed she was back in reality now. For awhile, things had been about as sure as national health care or the Democrats finding a real candidate for '92 (or even Pards thinking Flex dollars were a good idea), but now things seemed more stable. More quiet.
That was it! Exx Man deserved a fling! She deserved a treat to pay back for all the heck she had been put through of late. A new do, a new manicure, a new costume (with funky racing stripes up and down the sides , just like one of the sick-looking Geo Storm or such).
Grabbing her Visa's and Mastercards, Exx Man headed off...for the mall.:::MD54 MON DEC 02, 1991 14.52.59
Unfortunately, things at the mall--as always--were beastly.
Whoever first suggested that it was "a jungle out there" was being an optimist. Easily.
After dispatching a fat lady blocking the aisle, two women squabbling over stocking prices, and tripping an old man being denture cleaner, Exx Man slumped back against the wall, breathless, clothing her meager purchases.
Some toothpaste, a Carpenter's cassette, and some extra sturdy nylons for late night adventuring.
"I'd rather be fighting Dragon Poker," she said aloud, almost - unconsciously.
"I rather thought you'd be saying that at some point," commented a dark voice from behind.
EXX-Man spun, sending here packages across the busy mall walkways. They quickly disappeared into the hands of greedy shopmongers.
"Drat and confound it!" complained Exx Man, remembering that really bad language wasn't a role model for little impressionable tykes. "What'd you do that for?"
Dragon Poker tried to saunter over, although he had to break some burly guy's kneecaps and send an old lady sprawling to avoid being crushed under the heavy weight of the shopping frenzy. "I figured that since we seem to be taking a momentarily pause from the ordinary plot line, I'd offer an explanation of my original or something just as trite."
Exx Man rolled her eyes. "Great. I don't even know where I come from, and now you want to attract all those alienated readers to follow YOUR cause." She paused to put on some lip balm. "Oh, well. Se la vi. Shoot."
"Actually, I don't have an origin."
Exx Man felt slightly frustrated. "Well, why the big build-up then, you idjit?"
Dragon Poker beamed with glee. "HA HA! Just kidding! Fooldja! Ha HA! I DO have an origin! PHHHHTTT!" He danced around happily, totally removing any doubt that he wasn't actually as macho as he pretended.
"You're not going to believe this, but I have to tell you. You see, I used to be a sword."
"Oh, for crying' out loud."
"It's true! You have to believe me! For centuries, I was this sword called Dragon Poker. Of course, I went through a lot of different masters; it was quite a bore, I'm telling you.
"You know, they'd go off gallivanting around on their cute little white steeds, waving me around and acting all proud and mighty. They'd go chase down these really big nasty dragons, and then they'd try to stab them with me. It was really boring. All that ever happened was that the dragons would start to giggle and then laugh, and then it was all over. I mean, imagine a laughing fire-breathing dragon. As soon as he belched up a large laugh, my poor little master was toast. Literally.
"Time and time again, that's how it would go. Get a few days of fresh air when some idiot dug me out of a cave, then he'd go dragon crazy and take me after an other one, then POOF, ARRRRGG, THUDDD, and then I lay buried under soot for another decade or so. I would have rather watched Married with Children for centuries than go through that again."
All this seemed very interesting, and the mob was still impossible to break through, so Exx Man stayed around. "Well, how'd you get to be human, like me?"
"That's the rather strange part of it," said Dragon Poker. "One day this mad scientist strapped me down, some broad danced around me, then I got injected with some really gross fluids, and suddenly here I was!"
"You mean.....Dr. SQUIRREL!" exclaimed Exx Man, not remembering the quack's real name.
"Well, he was pretty nutty!" answered Dragon Poker, then groaning as he realized what a horribly AWFUL joke he had just made. (But it took up space on the network, so he guessed it was worth it.)
"So what are you doing here?" he asked poor little Exx Man.
Exx Man shrugged, having nothing to show for her early morning struggles . "It was horrible. I came here to go shopping, but they wouldn't take VISA or Mastercard. They only took Flex Dollars."
Dragon Poker shivered at the thought. "TO think that Long Arm of the Leech has stretched that far!"
Suddenly the plot thickened as a cloud of smoke erupted nearby, containing a dark shape.
"Oh, gross, not ANOTHER hero!" whined Exx Man, ready to go home and soak her feet in hot bubble bath.
"Ha HA! It's just me Sunoco Ninja, come to annoy you!" The black shape lurked around the walls.
"Hey, didn't' you save me before?" asked Exx Man, confused.
"Back, foul Veelann! Ai am zee reeel Sunoco! Daaaiiiiieee, imposteeer!"
As the two chatting superpowers looked onward, another cloaked figure appeared and sliced off the first one's head. At his side bounded a large furry sheepdog. "Ai ama Sunoco Neenja! The Real one! And Ai have come to save you! This is my companion Aamco!" The large dog jumped up and down happily, slobbering everywhere.
"This is too much..." muttered Exx Man, burying her head in her hands and wondering if she'd ever get her new spandex jumpsuit picked out.
The villain rolled to a stop, and Sunoco bent to pick it up. "Alas," he said. "<< His name was Yorick. I knew him well.>>" (For you readers out there, bad Japanese accents will be designated by double angle signs. Thanks--Devon).
With a last look, Sunoco tossed the poor skull to his pet Aamco, who grabbed it joyously and ran off to bury it somewhere.
"SO now what?" mentioned Dragon Poker, wondering if the Shakespearean subplot would carry through after all.
:::DL20 MON DEC 02, 1991 16.14.58
Exx Man #34 --> HASTE ME TO KNOW IT
FROM: DL20 At Music
Hours later, Ham was completely oblivious to the activities of a ninja he would no doubt find considerably useless and annoying. Of course, in his current depression, nearly anything annoyed and irritated him. He had returned less than a week ago from a successful business trip to Europe, only to find that his father had died while he was gone. With his unexpected demise, Letucci Enterprises had been like a ripe peach just waiting to be plucked in a hostile corporate takeover. Only quick maneuvering by his uncle had saved the business.
The depression ran deep and threatened to overwhelm him. As if it wasn't bad enough that his uncle had taken the multi-million dollar communications business that should be Ham's, his mother had already decided to remarry. His father's body was still warm, and she . . . they . . . it was disgusting. Didn't they have any respect for the dead?
Ham shook his head to clear it of his melancholy. This was ridiculous. But still . . . if he didn't know better . . . it looked like the whole thing had been planned by the two of them. No, that was ridiculous. His own mother and uncle? Kill his father? No!
He sighed and stretched out. This was ridiculous. Why would his uncle want to kill his own brother? That was ri- . . . that *could* win him a multi-million dollar business if he planned it right. Ham's eyes narrowed. Uncle Clyde could have done it. On the other hand, killing a brother and marrying his wife? That was a bit extreme for anyone -- even a money-hungry man like Uncle Clyde.
He scratched his head. It was *possible* his uncle did what he suspected him of. But he would have to prove it, blast it! He needed proof to convince anyone, even himself. If he were to accuse a man of this, he would need proof! And proof was something he did not have.
He stormed out of his apartment, his mind filled with questions he was not sure he wanted answers to. Calling down curses on himself, he stomped out in the windy streets of the city. He held his trench coat closely about him as a sudden gust of wind tossed the city's litter at him. A torrent of tattered leaflets assaulted him while he wandered through the labyrinth of streets. Driven by doubts and suspicions, he stalked the city streets for the answers he needed to find.
He rounded a corner as a new gust of wind rose up from the sidewalk. Up ahead, a derelict figure stumbled against a building, groping about for support. Not finding any, she slumped against the wall and slowly slid to the pavement.
Filled with concern, he rushed up to her. His eyebrows knit in puzzlement. What was this woman doing out here in these tattered rags? "Are you all right?" he asked. The woman stared back at him emptily.
"What are you doing here?" he asked. For an instant, the woman returned his gaze, but her eyes slowly closed with exhaustion.
The woman was shivering fiercely with the cold, yet her face was streaked with sweat. What was she on? She was coming down from a major drug-induced high. "Don't people know better than to poison themselves with that junk?" he wondered. Taking another look at her, he made his decision. "No, I guess not." How many drugs had she taken? It was a miracle she was even alive.
"Pitiful wretch," Ham muttered. "Come on, let's see what I can do to help you." Filled with pity for the ill Exx Man, Ham scooped her up in his arms and turned back toward his apartment. Whatever questions he had about his uncle and his mother, they would be answered *after* he had restored this derelict woman's health from the drug-induced sickness she was in.:::IR51 TUE DEC 03, 1991 15.26.54
Since everyone seems to be wondering what is going on in the world around Exx Man- I will address the occurrence at the psychiatric ward that Exx Man escaped from- when she was a man.
"Where did he go," screamed the nurse who went to check on him! A crowd began to form around the empty (and desolate, destroyed, depleted) room of Exx Man. The back wall had vanished and all that was left was the bed and three walls. "He must be around somewhere!"
The group broke up in a search of the building. People were everywhere. On each of the twelve floors a search was conducted. Exx man was no where to be found. It was decided to expand their search to the region encompassing the clinic. Of course, it was unbeknownst to the staff at St. Alan's that Exx Man was just that- an ex-man
Meanwhile.....back at Ham Letucci's residence in this strange yet familiar city, Exx Man was recovering from her drug induced hallucinations. Ham had nursed her back to some semblance of reality. It had been two days that Exx Man had been under. She now awoke ever so slowly.
"Where am I," she mumbled. This startled Ham.
He answered politely," My residence in this strange yet familiar city."
"Oh. Who are you?"
"I am the savior of your life."
"No that is my job," replied Exx Man. "At least that was my original purpose. Now, I don't think I have a plot line to follow."
Of course this was all gibberish to Ham. He had no idea what was going on and figured it was a side effect of the drugs she had been taking. Why would anyone want to take drugs? Then an idea hit Ham. This girl (woman, female, gal) said that her job was to save life. That might be a benefit in trying to prove his uncle killed his father. Then he would get the million-dollar business It just might work! Now, how could he use this wretched female that called herself the savior of life?:::DL20 SUN FEB 02, 1992 21.19.18
Exx Man, meanwhile, was having the time of her life at a stage production of Tom Stoppard's _Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead_, starring Arnold Schwarzeneggar as Rosencrantz and Wil Wheaton as Guildenstern.
The city pedestrians were treated to the rare sight of two squirrels walking down the sidewalk. If humans had ears to understand the language of the squirrels, they would have been astonished to listen in on the conversation.
"I am outraged, Mara, outraged, I say. How will I ever explain this to the dean of the college? He will never understand, never. I am sure to be denied tenure now! What self-respecting institute of higher learning would ever extend tenure to a squirrel?"
Mara walked a half step behind the demented squirrel. "I'm sure that Lehigh University will have an opening, Doctor."
"Lehigh!" he snorted. "You underestimate my abilities, Mara. If I were that desperate for job security, I might flip hamburgers at McDonald's, or become the Dean of Rip-Offs, I mean, Dean of Flex- Dollars, at Lafayette College. No, I must aspire to more! I must rise to meet the demands of my vast intellect! I must become . . ."
"A garbage collector?" Mara offered.
"Silence, woman! Your mouth has become tiresome once more. You must dance for me, Mara! Dance! Faster!"
To her credit, Mara did her best to dance. Although she was a talented dancer as a human, having a bushy tail and four legs did not make dancing very simple.
"Hey honey!" a large man shouted as he stooped by the gyrating Mara. "Look, it's a drunk squirrel!"
Dingle was oblivious to all this. He nestled his brown chin on the underside of one of his paws. "I must become a man again. But how?" He looked across the street. "Yes! Mara, come quickly. My old laboratory is across the way. Perhaps I can design a formula to restore us to our natural forms."
Mara ignored him, preferring instead to beg peanuts from the man and his children.
His eyes fixed on his secret laboratory, Dingle rushed madly into the 35 mph traffic. Too late, he realized his mistake and looked on, horrified, as a Mack Truck came crashing down on his squirrely frame. The last thing he saw was a license plate, blazing against the night, and then the truck with the plate SKYWALKR ran him over with its massive wheels.
"Oh, look!" a person cried as she spied the Dingle-roadkill. "Put it in a box and send it to the college," she advised her companion. "We can use it in the upstairs dining room. The students will love the improvement.":::CA51 TUE FEB 04, 1992 20.45.40
And so, we find our hero in a box on his way to Lafayette College's illustrious Arinon, rather, Farinon Center to be prepared as Monday evening's Chinese specialty in the grill. Mara, after ingesting a large number of peanuts, decides to follow her recently-expired mentor.
After hours of erratic travel in the back of an Easton-ite's oh-so-elegant pick-up truck, Mara arrived at her destination. Quickly jumping from the bed of the truck, she caught sight of the driver: Bucky the Lair Boy. She felt honored, and yet repulsed, at the idea that she had ridden with this blond creature.
Crossing in front of the Non College Center, Mara tried desperately to make her way across the Quad. Her first few steps were hindered by an intriguing mud slide, and once clear of that, a large dog, J.D., began to chase her. Mara, racing frantically towards a tree of immense value, (for it had two bottles of Labat's underneath it) clambered as best she could up the grand oak. Once again, however, she was hindered by a silly plaque with an alumnus's name on it. "Why should anyone want his name on a tree? The squirrels and birds just pee on it. And they aren't the only ones!" Mara patiently waited for J.D. to cease his futile chase before she clawed her way back down. Standing on her hind legs chewing her long black nails, Mara contemplated which way to go. Little did she know her beloved mentor was just yards behind her.
Mara decided to venture toward the large pinkish building nearby.:::CA51 WED FEB 05, 1992 20.19.03
SO, we find our heroine (that's female hero for you numskulls) on her way into the dreaded Pardee Hall.
"Oh goodness, I'm so glad that window in the psych office was open today, or I would never have gotten in here. Those crazy posters on the wall about Freud were too much for me to take." Mara happily scampered down the hall in first floor Pardee to the elevators. There happened to be many people about, yet they were all so wrapped up in talking about the weekend's drunken stupors, they failed to notice her. Mara was absolutely amazed that these people were so enchanted with themselves and they did not even notice a squirrel.
Mara decided that Dingle was most likely on an upper floor, sear- ching for a peer in the math department, hoping to be recognized by any- one. Patiently waiting for the world's slowest elevator (which happened to be documented in The Guiness Book of World Records), Mara struck up a conversation with a cockroach joy-rider.
"So, do you come here often?" asked Melvin the cockroach.
"Nice line! Why not try, 'I'm drunk,' it works just as well. I wonder if you can help me. I'm looking for a furry guy, possibly up in the math department, kind of dark. Have you seen him?" Mara did not like talking with this arthropod (for he was so incredibly genetically inferior to herself) yet she thought him her only hope.
"Oh, you mean that guy Lorenzo. Yeah, he's up there. I like hanging in his office. He's always eating something. Sometimes he will even share with me. Great guy. A little weird, though." La coucaracha looked rather pleased with himself for having an in with the math department. Mara just sighed.
"No, you inferior life form from Hades! He's a squirrel, like me but not really. His name is Dingle. Don't you know him?" Mara became tired with this cretin (she suspected he was a fraternity mascot) and removed herself from the elevator on the second floor. As she exited, she heard the cockroach mutter: "Yeah, check Arinon! I hear they have a Chinese special tonight! HA-HA-HA!"
Mara felt a wave of fear wash through her (actually, it was the nuts she had eaten earlier repeating on her) but she felt for Dingle. Was he truly to be the entree this evening? Would anyone actually have the nerve to order that Chinese food from Helga the Kitchen Wench? Mara became distracted and began wandering the halls of the second floor in Pardee.
Before she knew it, Mara, our heroine had stumbled into room 217. Our little adventurer squirrel had stumble onto a gruesome sight.... a calculus 162 class at eight o'clock in the morning. Oh, she had heard of such horrors, yet she never though she would experience the trauma.
All around her were sleeping students, zombies, and pledges who were either hungover, still drunk, or thinking about being the above. Every now and then a student spoke to answer a question asked by The Church Lady, who seemed to be enjoying torturing these poor freshmen. Mara shuddered in fear at the thought of being in this dreadful place at such an hour (actually, it was those darned nuts again...she'd learned her lesson this time!). Suddenly, Mara began to yawn uncontrollably. She tried to stop, yet our heroine could not fight this terrible feeling of fatigue (this time, she was sure it wasn't the nuts!) Oh, why was this happening to her? Was it true what they say about calculus- the only cure for insomnia? Mara was fading fast.:::PF21 WED FEB 05, 1992 23.26.23
It began as an ordinary day. The sun was shining on the copper roof of the Farinon Center, and the rich, fertile earth was exposed along the edge of the quad, a testament to the many students that had tread upon it. However, the wind contained the stench of all that rots, and Janet was apprehensive. Still, she walked with confidence up the stone steps and entered Hogg Hall.
The secret note she found under her door with the captain crunch rubber stamp mark instructed her to go to Hogg Hall. She was to kneel before the sacred Alpha Phi Omega Founders Plaque and say the name of the founder, Frank Reed Horton, five consecutive times. This she did, although she felt rather idiotic and was constantly watching to make sure Chaplain Miller wasn't lurking about.
"Frank Reed Horton, Frank Reed Horton," she repeated in a calm, but unsure voice.
Suddenly, a squirrel jumped on her head from behind, obviously coming from The Gourd. Janet screamed and tried to throw the wretched creature from her hair. However, it was too fast and managed to escape her grasp. And then...it spoke.
"I know who you are! You're the sister of that wretched man-woman I created in my laboratory. I know because I looked in the official college files, you wonder wench!" yelled Dingle, who was still a squirrel, although he was much larger than he used to be. Somehow, he had grown larger, and he seemed more human, but Janet found him repulsive.
"Get away you monstrosity! You, you mongrel from Minsi Trails!," yelled Janet "I don't know who you are, but you can't push me around squirrely! I'll crush your nuts, plain and simple."
"Exactly what I had in mind, a servant to do my bidding and assist me until I'm normal," said Dingle in a haughty tone of voice. "You'll not only serve me, but you'll serve me and like it! And you'll dance like that woman I saw on MTV singing "Remember the Time."
"What?! That was Michael Jackson, not a woman," said Janet
"Precisely, Michelle Jackson. Just as I recall. But enough of this trifling conversation. You'll do as I say! Now move!" ordered Dr. Dingle.
Janet, also known as Shield X: Wonder Girl of the West, was the sister of the famous Exx Man. However, she had been off duty from her usual crime fighting deeds since she began writing an honors thesis on Herman Kissiah and the development of pipe tobacco. Now she had been found out, no longer able to conceal her secret identity in this quaint, isolated little town.
"I'll tell everyone who you are!" threatened Dr. Dingle. "I'll ruin your transcript records and expose you in the Vid. I'll even call that reporter, Brian Berkey, and he'll make your name mud!"
"Alright. You win. I'll help you for the time being, but I want you to know I will never participate in your nefarious deeds of defilement," said Shield X. "I'm only helping you in order to help my brother recover from whatever you have done to him. You're a wicked, wicked man, you rotten squirrel!"
"Silence, wench! First, we must find Nurse Mara Metalmash. I have a feeling she is climbing about this ritzy campus. I must have her assistance for my experiments," said Dr. Dingle.
"I'll get that wretched Exx Man. But first, I want the person known as Skywalker for trying to assassinate me. He knew I was the greatest mind since Chase, and yet he eagerly tried to deprive the world of my brain. I will get him, yes indeed," muttered Dr. Dingle under his breath.
"We shall depart, you wretched wench. And I know just where we can hide. We shall go to the official residence of your college president, the one that he refuses to live in. Then, I shall prepare to rescue Mara and make myself strong!" shouted Dingle.
"But first, we shall go down to the WJRH office, where I shall play James Brown because I feel good, real good. And you will dance, my witchy wench. Now move!!!" ordered Dingle.
And so the squirrel man and Shield X headed to the WJRH office, where Shield X was forced to dance to the groove of the godfather of soul until she dropped from exhaustion.
"She's not as talented as my malicious, delicious Mara," said Dingle with obvious disappointment.:::DL20 THU FEB 06, 1992 09.10.39
"Enough," said Dingle. "We must find Mara Metalmash. I am certain she followed me to this campus."
Janet stopped dancing and looked at Dingle. He was still a squirrel, but he had grown even larger in the last forty minutes. He was now about twice as big as the standard Lafayette College squirrel.
"Maybe she went to Pardee," Janet said. "I think I remember seeing a squirrel run past my modern novel class with Professor Balakian at 9:00."
"Then you will take me to Pardee," said Dingle. He straightened up into his most imposing stance. It was fifteen minutes before Janet could stop laughing and get up off the floor. "Enough!" Dingle cried again. "You must take me to Pardee Hall." This time he did not try to look imposing, preferring instead to simply command her.
Out on the Quad, a group of Plant Operations wombats with large headphones and submachine guns walked purposefully across the Quad. It was the dreaded Squirrel Control Squad, formed and headed up by Herman C. Kissiah, Dean of Students.
"Now, boys," said Kissiah (known to his friends as "Herm"), "Be on the lookout for a squirrel with a pronounced limp. I ran him over in my truck yesterday, but apparently only broke his leg. I don't want to let the poor bugger suffer, so be sure you shoot him up good." He held his tobacco pipe up to his mouth and breathed deeply of it.
"Yes sir," said a wombat. "You mean like that big one bothering that student over by Farinon?"
Kissiah squinted and saw Dingle limping across the Quad. It had been close, so close. Another inch to the left and Dingle would have been roadkill for certain. "That's the one, boys. Waste 'im."
Dingle looked up to the sight of thirty submachine guns being pointed straight at him. Janet noticed, too, and took off to watch the latest tuition-raising program from a safe distance. "Oh dear," said Dingle in a tiny voice.
Bullets started flying, tearing into the ground and Dingle's body. The Squirrel Control Squad meant business. They began to advance on Dingle, guns blazing. Students all gathered around to watch their tuition bill rise steadily higher. And a senior inside Kirby House, steadily typing a new part for the story board, was very glad he would be graduating soon and would not have to pay the tuition hike the college was sure to inflict.
At last the shooting ended. Kissiah walked up to the remains of the Dingle-squirrel and kicked them with his foot. Nothing moved. Not too surprising, since Dingle's head, arms, and legs had been blown off his body. All that was left in one piece was his tail.
"Big squirrel," a wombat said drily.
"Not any more," said Kissiah.
"But look at the size of that carcass," said another wombat. "It's over twice as big as a normal squirrel."
"Boys, what you say if I told you that this squirrel used to be a deranged scientist?" Kissiah asked.
The wombats shifted. They wanted to shoot more squirrels. Finally one of them spoke up. "We'd say you've been smoking something more dangerous than tobacco in that pipe of yours, sir.":::PF21 THU FEB 06, 1992 15.43.37
Janet, after escaping the massacre of the dreaded Dr. Frederick Von Dingle, decided to forsake her honors thesis on the eminent Herman Kissiah and pipe tobacco development to resume her crime fighting duties. She became, once again, Shield X.
Following the messy experience with Herm and the Wombats, Shield X returned to her room and pulled out her black satin, metal studded X-wear. She strapped on her metal belt that contained her special crime fighting gadgets and then waited until night.
The Quad was empty that evening and the darkness pervaded every inch of the terrain. However, if one looked carefully through the mist that lingered on the quad, one could see the stealthy movements of a dark and mysterious figure. Shield X had arrived, and Nurse Metal Mash was her prey.
"I must find this Mara squirrel-woman," muttered Shield X. "Darn Herm and the Wombats! Dingle was my only hope of helping my brother, the Exx Man. Maybe this Mara can help. I'll ring her neck until she reveals the secret formula."
Just then, Shield X came across a furry something on the quad near where Dingle had died.
"What the heck!? It's a squirrel tail. It's Dingle's tail! I think I'll keep this as a trophy and show it to Mara. She'll be terrified that I'll do this to her!" said Shield X to herself. "Ha! I love it! I'll make that mutant squirm!"
After penetrating the custodian security in Pardee, Shield X searched for Mara. Eventually, she heard some chatter in the office of Rado Pribic.
"Yummy! Rado sure knows how to stock a desk!" said Mara aloud to herself. "I feel so much stronger. I know I'm getting better. I just know it! I mean, I can talk now. Surely, I'll be back to my normal self. If only Rado's computer could help me locate the Doctor."
Shield X quickly burst in and grabbed a rather strange looking squirrel-human who seemed to be eating Moldavian bread and drinking Russian vodka. Mara was slightly intoxicated.
"Ah!" screeched Mara. "Back off, bimbo freak!"
"Shut your squirrel trap, hair ball!" commanded Shield X. "I know who you are ...Miss Metalmash. Do you see this squirrel tail? This is all that is left of Dingle! Ha, Ha, Ha! And if you don't cooperate, there'll be less of you left before I'm finished."
Mara was shocked. Her hated and loved Dingle was dead, his tail being a scalped trophy for a strumpet in black satin! Mara began to cry, and her mascara ran down her cheeks.
Shield X spoke. "Now stop your tears, you little sniveling cry baby! You aided that madman in changing my brother, the famous Exx Man, into a wretched woman hair dresser! Now...you're going to assist me in changing him back, since Dingle is a little too spread out to be of much help."
"I can't do everything alone," said Mara, now that she had regained her composure. "I need my Dingle. You may have killed him you rotten tramp, but at least you have his tail. We can use the DNA in a skin or hair sample from that tail to bring back my Dingle."
"I'll make you a deal, squirrely. Dingle in exchange for my brother," said Shield X.
"Very well. That sounds fair, I suppose," answered Mara as her devious mind thought about how she and Dingle, once brought back, could capture Shield X.
Shield X and Mara then set off for the Herman C. Kissiah research center for the mentally unstable.
"We can gather the equipment we need to bring back my Dingle," said Mara.
In an isolated wing of the center, Shield X and Mara set to work. Finally, they were ready to add the proper ingredients to Mara's formula to rejuvenate Dingle. Mara quickly injected the liquid on the squirrel cell.
Suddenly, the cell began to swell and expand. It became larger by the minute, shedding layer after layer of sticky goo. Finally, a mutant squirrel-man, more man than squirrel, lay gasping on the table.
"Dingle, is that you?" queried Mara in an expectant tone of voice.
"Ah, my malicious, delicious Mara," said the squirrel-man. " You have saved me from the dance of death!"
Just then, Shield X interrupted the conversation.
"Shut up Dangle! I mean Dingle! You're only alive because I need your help," said Shield X.
"It's you, you dreadful denizen of deviltry! I should have known," said Dingle, as he lay strapped to the table, a precautionary measure Shield X had been sure to implement.
"I'm Shield X, defender of all that is good! And we are now going to locate my brother. Get your squirrel butts moving! Any sudden moves and you'll be nothing but a squirrel tail again. And that goes for both of you!" yelled Shield X as the strange trio left the research center.:::DL20 THU FEB 06, 1992 22.58.23
"Now no funny stuff," Shield X said as they marched toward the exit of the sanitarium. "Just march straight out the door and don't do anything unless I tell you to."
"Yes, yes, we will do as you say," Dingle said.
As Shield X watched, a swarthy figure burst through the revolving door, throwing broken glass everywhere. Clothed in black from head to toe and carrying an assortment of weapons from nunchucks to a katana, the new arrival looked extremely imposing. Right behind him came a large sheepdog with its tongue hanging out of its mouth.
"I am zee Zunocoo neenja," the man announced, "and zeess is my fithefull companion, Aamco."
"Pardon me, what?" asked Shield X, unused to the unpredictable writing found in "Exx Man: In the Forbidden Zone."
"Die, Doctor Diiinglllle," said the Sunoco Ninja and leapt at Dingle, slicing the very air with his katana.
"NO!" Dingle screamed and took off back down the corridor, away from Sunoco and Aamco. Mara followed him, running as fast as her legs could follow him. With a start, she noticed that something had gone horribly wrong in her regeneration of Dingle.
"Doctor," she called. "You have a five-foot-long tail!" But Dingle did not stop to listen. He was too intent on escaping the wrath of the Sunoco Ninja.
"Wait a minute," said Shield X. "Didn't I just tell him not to try any funny stuff?" She turned to the Sunoco Ninja and grabbed him by the arm. "Now you there, what do you mean by stopping me from saving my sister, I mean, my brother?"
"Back woman," said Sunoco. "I must not bee delayed." He instinctively swung her free from his arm and hurled her across the room. Free from her, he ran down the hallway after Dingle and Mara.
By this time, of course, about fifty Sanitarium workers had come to investigate the commotion. What they found was a destroyed revolving glass door, huge grooves cut into the floor, at least a gallon of slobber (courtesy of Aamco, though they had no way of knowing this), and Shield X, ranting uncontrollably about squirrelized men, a ninja with a sheepdog, and her brother who had been tragically transformed into a man. This itself was not too incriminating in and of itself, but Shield X was also running around in steel-reinforced lingerie, a practice considered unusual by much of society today. To make a long story short, Shield X was quickly put into a straitjacket and led to a nice padded room where she was assured that the doctors would be by to see her in a few months (they were backlogged).
"Hurry!" Dingle said. "We must make our escape, Mara. Why must this infernal elevator take so long?"
"Die, squirrel from hell! Die, die, die!" It was Sunoco, just at the end of the hallway and closing in fast. The elevator finally opened and Dingle pushed Mara in. No sooner had Sunoco reached the doors than they had shut.
"You cannot outrun me," Sunoco called. Without slowing down, he grabbed the elevator doors and pulled them open. The elevator was rising quickly as it rushed to the rooftop. Without a second's hesitation, Sunoco leapt to the other side of the elevator shaft and pulled out his katana. He hit the other side feet-first and as he bounced back into the hallway, he cut the elevator cables neatly across. He watched as the elevator plummeted back down the shaft with Dingle and Mara still in it. For just the briefest instant, he saw their faces fill with astonishment as floor after floor flew past on their way to impact. There was a deafening collision of metal upon metal as the elevator hit the bottom floor. Little pieces of squirrel fur drifted up from the sub-sub-basement and then floated back down before Sunoco's eyes.
Sunoco peered down the shaft. Was Dingle dead? Surely no one could survive that fall, but it would be best to be absolutely certain that nothing at all was left. He leapt out again and grabbed one of the severed elevator cables. The cable gave him plenty of slack to reach the bottom of the shaft in no time at all without injury.
No one was there. He gazed about the shattered frame of the elevator car. Neither Dingle nor Mara was present. It was good he had checked, or Dingle might return in the future. He grew as still as a cat and listened for any noise. A large furry mass fell on him from above.
"Aamco," he said, "you must not do that!"
"Doctor, what was that?" a voice whispered. Sunoco grew still and perked his ears. That had been Mara Metalmash.
"You must be silent!" a second voice shot back. Dingle.
Sunoco moved through the darkness of the sub-sub-basement in stealth and silence. To his left, he saw a man with a long squirrel's tail squatting behind a box. With a fearsome cry which no one could make any sense out of, Sunoco leapt at the stack of wooden crates Dingle and Mara were hiding behind and knocked them onto the duo. The crates broke open as they fell, revealing their contents: brussel sprouts for the mental patients.
"DIE, foul villain," Sunoco cried and leapt upon Dingle with renewed vigor.
"No, no. You must release me, or I will never show the world my superior intellect!" said Dingle. He fell to his knees to beg for mercy.
"DIE!" Sunoco held the point of his katana at Dingle's throat.
Dingle's eyes grew suddenly strong. "Go ahead, kill me. I'll just come back, and next time, I'll kill you. Is that what you want? Two people, fighting, killing one another over and over again, never dying?"
Sunoco didn't like Star Trek, and Dingle's pitiful attempts at bravado only served to anger him farther. "DIE!" he cried one last time and sliced Dingle to ribbons. Not satisfied with that, he picked up all the ribbons and tossed them into the blazing incinerator, leaving absolutely no remains at all. Sunoco turned to find Mara just in time to see Aamco finish licking up all the liquified remains of Dingle which he had not incinerated. There was absolutely nothing left of Dingle. Not one hair follicle, not one drop of blood, not one chip of bone or tooth, not even one dislodged booger. He was completely gone, dead, etc. Sunoco resheathed his katana and made his exit with Aamco. Their work was done.
Mara ran up the stairs like a gazelle. Her poor mad Doctor Dingle! That crazed ninja had killed him by now, that was for certain. He would never find her now if she hid up on the roof. It was a place she would never be able to escape from, so he would never suspect it as a hiding place. Breathing heavily, she burst through the door to the rooftop. Standing at eye level was none other than the Skywalker!
"What are you doing here?" Mara asked.
The Skywalker took his pipe from his mouth and held it in his left hand. Pointing the stem at her, he spoke. "Just making sure that Dingle is dead."
Mara burst into tears. "He's dead all right! He's probably sliced and diced into a million pieces by now." Her tears ran down her face, soaking her costume.
"Hmm. Of course, someone with your medical knowledge could probably bring him back. I can't allow that." The Skywalker grinned evilly and advanced toward Mara. The moonlight cast an eerie light on his black beard and skullcap (for those who might think that the Skywalker is Dean Kissiah, think again. Kissiah has no beard and his hair is more gray than black).
"W-what do you mean?" she asked. The callousness in the Skywalker's voice was positively chilling.
He grabbed her by the neck and pulled her to the ledge. She looked down below and saw the cars moving about like matchbox cars.
"I'm afraid this is the end of the line for you," Skywalker said, and pushed her off. She screamed all thirteen stories. The Skywalker turned and walked across the night skyline.
Morning came to Ham Letucci's penthouse and cast a blinding light through the window to his guest bedroom. Exx Man awoke after a few minutes and went out into the dining room where Ham was already up and reading the market pages.
"May I?" Exx Man asked, picking up the front section.
"By all means," Ham said without looking. Things were looking for Letucci Enterprises, but he was still uncertain how to approach things with his uncle. He needed some more proof before he could charge him with fratricide. He was even beginning to waver in his own convictions. He needed some way to reassure himself. Perhaps he could stage some sort of charade with his friends at Letucci Enterprises to gauge his uncle's guilt. Something which would be patterned after the his father's death. Yes . . .
"Hmm, this isn't good," he said.
"What isn't?" Exx Man asked.
"Fort Inbras, Ltd. is making tremendous gains in the communications business. If we aren't careful, they could buy out our foreign market. Hostile foreign corporate takeover would not be good."
"Oh my . . . " The sound died in Exx Man's throat.
"What is it?" Ham lowered his paper to look at her.
"The paper says that a woman committed suicide by jumping from the Herman C. Cassias Sanitarium last night," she said. "That's impossible. She wouldn't do that."
Ham put the paper down on the table completely. "How can you be so sure? Did you know her?"
"Not exactly," Exx Man said. "But she would not commit suicide. She had to have been pushed! I must avenge this evil deed!" She rose up from the table with a start, covering Ham with scrambled eggs and grape jelly.
"My suit!" he cried. "This cost me a thousand dollars!"
"Yes, my suit! I must wear my suit so no one will discover my secret identity," Exx Man said, and rummaged through Ham's garbage until she found what she wanted. To anyone else, this was a smelly hospital gown like you might worn by an asylum inmate who wasn't dangerous to herself. To Exx Man, however, it was a comfortably fitting costume which concealed her true identity and kept her warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Obviously, she had never worn it during the winter before, because the rear ventilation it offered guaranteed to keep her from getting overheated *any* time of the year. Without further ado, she stripped off her civvies and climbed into her costume.
As he heard her open the door, Ham finally put the paper back down which he had been reading VERY closely (and upside-down) and called after her. "Where do you think you're going like that?"
"To right all wrongs, to defend the weak, to lift up the downtrodden, and fight for all just causes, that's where. I'll try to be back for dinner." And with that, Exx Man closed the door and was gone.
Ham rolled his eyes and turned to the comics pages. Where was this going to go now?