Last time: Cliffhanger and the Tesla Girls were joined by Kate’s ex-boyfriend, macho hero Big Shot. The four flew to the headquarters of Emilie’s arch-nemesis Asylum, located on the eighth floor of the Tribune Tower, a historical landmark.
Part Five (of Five)
Cliff thrust out his finger, pressing the elevator bank’s up button with heroic impact. Fortunately, the janitor for the Tribune Tower had let them in after Big Shot autographed his mop by tying it in a knot. Cliff didn’t even want to know how the hero had twisted a wooden broom handle, but apparently the laws of physics gave him a pass.
Poised for action, Cliff waited for one of the elevators to arrive.
“This one,” Marina said, bouncing over to the second door from the right.
Kate walked up to the elevator at the far end and pressed a button on her Universal Remote. The door opened, and she stepped in. Cliff entered after her, followed by Big Shot and a pouting Marina.
He reached out for the 8 button, but there was a beep from Kate’s remote and he returned his gloved hand to the grappling hook hanging on his belt.
Moments later, the elevator doors opened. On the other side was a hallway, stretching to the left and right. A glass door in front of them had a small plastic sign. “Room 801, Dr. A. Sylum, Psychiatric Care.”
“Seriously,” Cliff turned and asked Kate, “His name is A. Sylum?”
“I think the A is short for asshole,” Marina offered.
“It’s an affectation,” Kate said. “His real name is Clyde Todmorden. I don’t think he actually ever legally changed it. It’s really a pain to do, trust me. When I joined the Tesla Girls, and had to have my last name changed to Tesla? Paperwork city. It was easier to invent a paperwork filling out robot than to, you know, just fill it out.”
“I have him sign photos for my fans now,” Marina added.
The elevator door shut.
“Too much small talk,” Cliff said, pressing the Door Open button before Kate could take all the fun out of the rescue with her Universal Remote. The door swooshed open again, and this time, Cliff stepped out of the elevator. Pushing his way into room 801, he was moderately surprised to find a waiting room. At the far end, past the plastic chairs, potted plants and old issues of Entertainment Weekly, there was a large metal door. In front of the door was a receptionist.
“Hi, can I help you?” she asked, her curly brown hair bobbing as she spoke.
“Oh, god, her again,” Marina mumbled.
“Hi, Dina,” Kate said. “We’re just here to get Emilie.”
“Do you have an appointment?” Dina asked.
“No, we don’t–” Cliff started, but Dina, who was apparently a robot deathtrap as well as a receptionist, had opened her laser eyeballs and fired two lethal blasts at Cliff’s head.
Fortunately they were intercepted by the invulnerable hand of Big Shot before they could burn parallel tunnels through Cliff’s skull and brain.
“Faster than the speed of lasers!” Big Shot congratulated himself.
“Light, dammit, Bruno,” Kate said. “Lasers move at the speed of light. It’s an actual phrase, ‘speed of light,’ as opposed to ‘speed of lasers’ which doesn’t mean anything and no one says!”
Marina had come up behind Cliff and pushed him forward towards the metal door. “When the evil robot secretary asks you if you have an appointment…”
“Right. Say yes,” Cliff nodded.
“Or kill her,” Marina said, a bolt of lightning leaping from her chest to explode the robot’s head.
Cliff was damned if he wasn’t going to contribute something to this rescue, and he stepped up to the big metal lair door. Focusing, he tried to discern what its weak point would be. Since he had no idea how to do that, he decided to just go for the area around the handle.
With all his might Cliff kicked the metal door, but it just hurt his foot. It hurt it a lot.
“Let me,” Big Shot said, and reaching out, he grabbed the metal door in his fingers like foil and gave a yank. The door came off in his hand.
Beyond the heavy lair door, there was a very interesting and detailed medical laboratory in the background, but Cliff ignored it for the sight that greeted him in the foreground.
Standing in a loose straitjacket over her leather jacket over her shredded concert tee, was Emilie Tesla. One of her striped stockinged legs was lifted just enough to rest the leather boot heel on the head of a man in doctor’s scrubs that Cliff had to assume was Asylum. The big ring of old-fashioned keys on his belt and the grimace of pain kind of gave it away.
“Hey guys!” Emilie said. Her makeup was smeared and her hair was almost a mane.
“Hey,” Marina sighed.
Kate folded up her Universal Remote disappointedly and put it into the front pocket of her overalls. “Hey Ems,” she said.
“You weren’t coming here to rescue me, were you?” Emilie asked, peering at her teammates with impish amusement.
“Cliffy wanted to,” Marina said, shoving him forward.
“Hi, uh, Emilie,” Cliff said.
Emilie looked confused. “Have we met?” she asked. “I meet an awful lot of superheroes.”
“Please help me,” murmured Asylum from the floor. “She’s crazy. She shot me. A lot.”
“Hey, I fight like a girl,” Emilie said, turning away from re-meeting Cliff to effortlessly pull her raygun from its holster (Cliff didn’t quite know why her gunbelt was on the outside of the straitjacket, but he wasn’t going to ask) and spin it in her hand dramatically like a rodeo cowgirl before she replaced it in the same smooth movement.
“We’re here to rescue you!” shouted Big Shot, a day late and a brick short of a load.
“Rescue me?” Asylum asked hopefully before Emilie stomped his head for silence.
Cliff turned and headed out of the lair, out of the reception room and back into the elevator. This had to have been the worst rescue mission he had ever been on.
First he had brought flowers to a team-up with a girl who wasn’t there, then he had gotten himself flung off of a car only to be saved by the world’s least impressible heroine. He had completely failed to assist Kate, being overshadowed by one of his own heroes who then turned out to be both a moron and an asshat. Not only that, but when they finally did get to the villain’s lair to rescue the damsel in distress, she wasn’t in distress at all, nor did she even remember him. Cliffhanger’s dignity was really the only one here who needed saving.
He pressed the lobby button.
Just as the doors were about to shut, they stopped, and Kate Tesla slipped gracefully in between them. With a press from her thumb, they completed their closure and the elevator began to go down.
“You grapple really well,” she said poking at his hook with one gloved finger. “And I like your car.”
Cliffhanger waited for more to spill randomly out of her mouth, but no more did.
“Um, thanks,” he said.
The elevator stopped its descent and Kate step-twirled out into the lobby. “I thought it was a fun team-up. Let’s do it again.” With timing so good it required months of practice (or a Universal Remote) she stuck her head in between the shutting doors and planted a smiling kiss on his cheek before pulling back just in time to not have her skull crushed.
Cliff pressed the door open button repeatedly, but by the time it finally did anything, the lobby was empty. He stepped out into the Convergence City night just in time to see three jetpack contrails flying back from Semaphore Hill to Wardenclyffe Tower. Smiling, he headed down the steps to the Cliffmobile.
There was a ticket under his windshield wiper for parking in a handicapped spot. The fine was $325.
He hoped there would be another chance to team-up with the Tesla Girls, and cheerfully whistled along with the playlist as he drove out of the Tribune lot and towards home.
© 2013 by Douglass Barre, All Rights Reserved.