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Impossible, :eek:
it's Impossible! :D

Yes, the name seems rather apt. :)

I had not originally realized that it was Marissa and her nameless companion who fooled the guard and busted out of the prison. Then again, since you didn't originally mention names, and what with all the narrative and chronological jumping around, it's not that hard to miss that point.

Found Navassa Island on Wikipedia. Hmm, guano... Wasn't Doctor No's hideout built on a small guano island somewhere?

I was going to wonder how Marissa ended up from Western Africa on a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Haita, but that concern was slightly superseded by the magical tricks employed by Lady Charlotte. If one of the characters can alter reality and raise (and magically float - and sail) ancient sunken ships, a simple transposion from Africa to a Carribean island is really nothing to bat an eye at. :)
 

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Yes, the name seems rather apt. :)

I had not originally realized that it was Marissa and her nameless companion who fooled the guard and busted out of the prison. Then again, since you didn't originally mention names, and what with all the narrative and chronological jumping around, it's not that hard to miss that point.

Found Navassa Island on Wikipedia. Hmm, guano... Wasn't Doctor No's hideout built on a small guano island somewhere?

I was going to wonder how Marissa ended up from Western Africa on a small, uninhabited island off the coast of Haita, but that concern was slightly superseded by the magical tricks employed by Lady Charlotte. If one of the characters can alter reality and raise (and magically float - and sail) ancient sunken ships, a simple transposion from Africa to a Carribean island is really nothing to bat an eye at. :)
Just to clarify a few things:

1. Well as long as everything is clear as of the end of this update, that's okay. Their names weren't mentioned at first for a very specific reason, the significance of which has already been alluded to and will become increasingly apparent (sorry, can't give any more info than that!).

2. This is a somewhat fictionalised version of Navassa Island. The real one doesn't seem to have a natural harbour (or, in fact, a gigantic underground labyrinth). I was going to make up an island, but couldn't think of a name for it. :eek:o

3. Bear in mind Marissa was kept in a drugged stupor for over a week (mentioned at the end of update 17), which gives her captors ample time to transport her from Mali to Navassa. A few days later the other prisoner appears in her cell, and a few days after that they escape.

Hope that helps. :)

PS should I do another summary?
 

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Nah - not for me, at least. I'm enjoying muddling through this story. As you progress through it, things are clearly starting to fall in place. I just have to remind myself occasionally (okay, frequently) that I shouldn't make any presumptions about the 'rules' of the story, since they are far removed from the usual narrative.

I'm perfectly happy to journey through this tale befuddled. After all, that's how I make my way through most 'complicated' AARs. :)

PS: There could've been a smiley after the second paragraph in my previous post, to soften the statement a bit, but I didn't want to go overboard on the emoticons. So, retroactively, imagine another ':)' there.

PPS: According to your rank, you have 150 legs?
 
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I have no idea what's going on

19
Deep underneath Navassa Island, Anton gulped and wiped the sweat off his brow as he entered the Secret Chamber of Doom. In front of him sat his boss, Madame Tzarsou, reclining on a tinfoil throne, with scantily clad assistants on either side, gently waving fans. The second-in-command was standing in front of a gigantic multi-panelled screen on the wall, which was currently showing the HMS Impossible as it sailed away from the island in the sunset. On either side of the walkway leading up to the throne there were, for some reason, lava pits that spat and bubbled furiously. Mindful of his step, Anton walked and knelt before the throne with head bowed.

“Ahem,” Anton said, after a little while, mindful of the growing cramp in his leg. Madame Tzarsou’s head suddenly snapped up.

“Oh, right." Her face grew dark, her voice a deep growl. "You have failed me, Anton. We do not tolerate failure in this organisation.”

“I’m sorry, my…lady. I shouldn’t have let them get away.”

“Stupid boy! That’s not what I meant. What do you have to say for yourself?”

“Well I-“

“Silence! Listen, you worm; they were supposed to get away! Why do you think I didn’t send a whole load of armed minions after them? Because those two prisoners still would have escaped from the island, and it would have been embarrassing for said minions! Male pride and so on." Her chiselled face brightened. "Plus, it’s much more fun this way.”

Madame Tzarsou giggled, and Anton frowned as the gears of his mind very slowly turned with an audible squeak.

“Wait. So…they were supposed to escape? So I didn’t fail, right?”

“Wrong! You tried to subvert the narrative! You tried to take matters into your own hands defy the authority of fate! Yet in spite of this, they still managed to break free, making you look more idiotic in the process than you would have done if you’d just fallen for their original trick!” She tapped her fingertips together, her face a shady sneer. “You already know the punishment for such a transgression.”

After a moment of bemusement Anton shook his head, his skin prickly and sweaty, mostly from nerves rather than the heat. “No, anything but that…please, Madame Tzarsou, I beg you, anything but that!”

“Shut up! Your pleas are pitiful, yet how strange it is that I feel no pity. Cease your snivelling and assume the position!”

While Madame Tzarsou inflicted her punishment upon poor Anton, her second-in-command looked on dispassionately and rolled his eyes. He turned his gaze back to the giant screen and ignored the bone-chilling shrieks that were coming from the guard as he received his mind-numbingly horrific punishment.

“Naughty boy gets spanky bottom!” came the gleeful cry from Madam Tzarsou as she delivered a strike to Anton’s posterior with each word. “Naughty boy gets spanky bottom! No one fails Madame Tzarsou without getting a spanky bottom!”

When the ordeal was finally over, Anton ran out of the Secret Chamber of Doom ashen-faced, humiliated and ashamed. The second-in-command approached his boss, half-amused.

“Is that really the most appropriate punishment for failure? It’s just, you know, we do have these somewhat implausible lava pits. It seems a shame not to put them to good use.”

Madame Tzarsou rubbed her stubbly chin and narrowed her eyes. “Are you looking for a spanky bottom?”

“Noo, but still…eh, never mind.” He glanced over at the screen, and shook his head. “Why did we go to all the trouble of kidnapping and imprisoning those girls if we’re just going to let them get away? Seems a bit…counter-intuitive.”

Madame Tzarsou tittered. “I have something much more fun in mind for them. And what’s the point of being an insane megalomaniac if you can’t have a little bit of enjoyment now and then? I’m like a cat, playing with my prey. Meow! Teehee.”

“Wait-Oh god, not the humongous mechas again?” the second-in-command said with a groan. “We already tried that, and they were completely impractical.”

“But cool!”

“They kept falling over! It was ridiculous, and may I remind you caused a lot of damage.”

“A lot of cool damage.” Madame Tzarsou grinned, and had a mad glint in her eyes. “But no, I don’t mean the mechas, but something better. Something much, much better. Teeheeheeheehee!”

---​
Oh that’s it! Anton thought as he stormed away from the Secret Chamber, still sore from his punishment. That is it! This whole organisation is a…a joke! I’m not taking it anymore!

He made his way through the network of secret passageways that led to the surface, occasionally kicking the grimy floor with anger and frustration, until after twenty minutes or so he came back to the cell that he had been guarding. He stared into the emptiness, and as it stared back at him he knew whose fault it was. Them! Those harlots, those filthy whores! This was all down to them, especially the blue eyed one that spoke strangely!

As he gingerly sat on his rickety old chair outside the cell, an idea began to take shape in his mind. He had noticed the enormous screen (it was difficult to miss), and had seen that they were aboard that weird ship. I will follow them, he thought with a little smile, feeling a slight burst of excitement. Yes, I will follow them and find them, take them by surprise. I will not be a bit-part in this story, not some stupid guard who is the butt of endless bad jokes, but a major character with my own storyline. My own epic quest! This travesty of an organisation can go to hell!

Yes, I will follow those wretches.

Then…I will kill them both.
 

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The punishment for failure is... "Naughty boy gets spanky bottom!"?!? There's an almost-discussion on the utility of decorative lava pits in evil lairs? Faceless drones question their evil overlord - and get away with it?!?
“Wait-Oh god, not the humongous mechas again?” the second-in-command said with a groan. “We already tried that, and they were completely impractical.”
Poor, dumb Anton decides to subvert his characterisation and the storyline for his own immortal glory?

I'd call it breaking the fourth wall, if that was even remotely appropriate. This is more like obliterating the fourth wall. And the other three walls. And the roof. And the basement. And a couple of adjacent city blocks. By means of a MOAB.

It's very entertaining destruction, though. :D
 

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The punishment for failure is... "Naughty boy gets spanky bottom!"?!? There's an almost-discussion on the utility of decorative lava pits in evil lairs? Faceless drones question their evil overlord - and get away with it?!?Poor, dumb Anton decides to subvert his characterisation and the storyline for his own immortal glory?

I'd call it breaking the fourth wall, if that was even remotely appropriate. This is more like obliterating the fourth wall. And the other three walls. And the roof. And the basement. And a couple of adjacent city blocks. By means of a MOAB.

It's very entertaining destruction, though. :D

Madame Tzarsou isn't exactly an evil overlord...more like a child who's been given control of a nuclear bomb (figuratively speaking, I mean).

My, this is on the verge of... well, a verge! :rofl: Great work, sir! :D

Thanks.:D
 

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I no longer hear the music, or: The wild west (exhibit B)

20
The organ music drifts through time and space, each note complimenting the one before it and leading perfectly to the one that follows. Grand sweeping chords swell and burst, rising and falling like waves lashing against a lonely cliff. A surge of energy crackles and shimmers and illuminates the sky like the aurora, and it seems as if the whole universe is folding in on itself, tearing itself apart in a wild, orgiastic, Dionysian fury. Then, suddenly, as the notes soar towards a majestic crescendo, as the blood begins to boil, as the cosmic dance begins...

They fall silent.
“Sorry, what were you saying?” Molly blinked, coming out of a daze. Pierre frowned slightly, but remained otherwise unfazed. He was already getting accustomed to Molly and the somewhat tenuous grip she seemed to have on reality.

“I said, I’ve arranged a meeting with Jean Toussaint.” Pierre sighed upon seeing Molly's blank expression. “You know, the Professor of Experimental History at the University of Havana I mentioned a few minutes ago? The guy who wrote that article on the Fountain of Youth?”

“Oh yeah, right, him.” Had it really only been a few minutes? It seemed as if a whole load of stuff had happened in between, enough time for at least six separate episodes worth. It felt as though time itself was stretching, and everything was elongated like an elastic band, and in that gulf had come those haunting notes, the music of the lost and the tormented. A desperate and hopeless plea for help, for liberation, for relief. Molly thought it wise not to mention any of this to Pierre, and instead smiled a little bit too brightly. “That will be fun for you!” followed by a frown of confusion. “Experimental History??”

“Yeah, I don’t know what it is either, but Professor Toussaint said he’d be willing to give a demonstration.” He stopped, and paused for a few seconds through indecision. “You’ve got-

My eternal love! When my hands touch the keys I feel like someone else completely. The fog lifts and the sun shines and I can catch a fleeting glimpse of something better than that awful mockery I have become. I remember who I really am, and I weep. I don’t know how much more of this I can take.​

-a holiday, haven’t you? How do you fancy a trip to sunny Havana?”

“Erm, well I don’t know, seeing as how I only just met you…I don’t normally just go off with people I barely know.” said Molly. Havana? She had heard a lot of scary stuff about the place, about the drugs and murders, the rapes and gang warfare and worst of all, the terrible parking. Apparently it could sometimes take over half an hour to find a space in the city centre, and that was on a weekday. She dreaded to think what it was like at weekends. It wasn’t known as Haiti's Wild West for nothing, that much was obvious. “Actually I was planning on trying to find out what the black stones are, and trying to discover what happened to whatshisface…er, that guy I told you about whose name I can’t quite seem to remember…oh, you know who I mean, the one who never existed, thingy Turing, no-Louverture! That’s his name. I don’t know if going to see this professor would help.”

The Criminal is coming again. I can feel his malevolent presence. I wish he’d go away and leave me alone. The music calls to him, entices him, allows him in to take advantage of my weakness. I just want to play, why can't he just let me play? Why why why-
“It might,” said Pierre. “This guy seems to be on the fringes of the mainstream-you have to be if you’re writing for Secret Worlds-so if it’s anything esoteric he might be able to help.” He took a sip of cold Orinoco, and grimaced. “You know, that whole black stones thing you were talking about rings a bell…but I can’t think why. It’s really strange. I could swear I’ve come across it before. But never mind that. Are you going to come or what?”

-whyeeeaaaaarrgghhhhelpmehelpmehelpmehelpme-​

Molly threw her hands up in the air in resignation, almost knocking over her coffee. “Okay, okay, I’ll go with you! I guess it’s better than my other plan, which was to just wander around aimlessly and hope I’d randomly find something useful. Just don’t try anything,” she said in what she thought was a threatening voice. “It really wouldn’t be in your best interests.”

“As if I would,” Pierre said with a roll of his eyes. Molly-

-sat hunched in front of the ethereal organ, her hands perfectly still, resting an inch above the keys. A man in a smart blue uniform entered the organ room, and saluted.

“Madame? You called for me?”

The organist remained still as a corpse, and no response came. The smart man took a step forward, feeling a slight flutter of dread. “Hello? You-you called?”

He edged forward uneasily, until he was standing right beside the figure. Had he arrived too late? He very gently tapped her on the shoulder, and suddenly an icy, bony hand shot out and grabbed his throat, and effortlessly forced him against the wall so that his feet were dangling and flailing just above the ground.

“Errggkkkl” he said, looking with wide eyed horror at the organist’s transformed face. The eyes were sunken and its grey, mottled skin was stretched thinly over the cheekbones, giving the face an almost skeletal appearance. A terrible hate burnt in its eyes, and the ill-fitting platinum blonde wig that hung limply on its scalp was more disturbing than amusing.

“Don’t touch me,” the organist growled in a hollow voice, before casually tossing the man aside with a flick of the wrist. His fragile frame smashed against the concrete floor with terrible force, cracking several of his ribs, and he scrabbled helplessly on the floor in pain. The organist strode over imperiously to where the man lay and trod heavily on his hand, grinding it into the hard ground with eyes aflame, ignoring his howl of anguish. “Never touch me.” The organist finally lifted his foot, and then spat on the man contemptuously as he curled up into a foetal position, sobbing and clutching his shattered hand.

“I’m-I’m sorry, I-I did-didn’t mean-“

“Stop, I have no time for your pathetic whimpering.” An awful smile creased across his skeletal face. “Yes, I'm back.”
-ignored it and pursed her lips. “Well good.”

“I’m due to meet him in two days time, so make sure you are packed and ready to go for tomorrow to meet at the air-dock, three o’clock.”

Molly’s eyes widened. “Tomorrow? Talk about short notice! But don’t you need to book tickets in advance?”

“Nah, it’s a bit more expensive, but you can buy them at the desk at the air-dock.”

“Well I better go home and pack! See you later!”

Pierre nodded, and called after Molly as she hurried away. “Remember, three o’clock! Don’t be late!” She turned and gave a slight nod, before disappearing into the arcade.

Alone, he took another sip of cold Orinoco coffee, and gazed around the café. The only other person there was an old black man, apparently asleep with his straw hat over his eyes. Pierre signalled to the waiter that he wanted a refill, and shook his head with a wry smile. “Well this should be interesting.”
 

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I don't know what to make of this update (yet), so I'll just concentrate on the few things I can comment on. First off, now that I have directly quoted from your post (not sequentially in this post, but chronologically speaking, what follows later was written first) and can see the actual innards, I'm very impressed with the amount of effort you clearly put into the presentation of the text (resizing the font, changing the fonts, indenting text, etc. etc.).

Second, I've noticed this before, but haven't commented on it before: you interweave the different narratives very nicely, so that when the narrative changes from one to another, the sentences seem to bleed into each other: although one action stops and the other continues, it reads as though they are one and the same. At least for the first few words. I don't know how much time it takes you to produce the effect, but it's a very nice effect.

Finally, I'll point the following out. Either it's a typo on your part, or it's intended and I'll never get a satisfactory explanation for it. :p

-sat hunched in front of the ethereal organ, her hands perfectly still, resting an inch above the keys. A man in a smart blue uniform entered the organ room, and saluted.

“Madame? You called for me?”

...

“Stop, I have no time for your pathetic whimpering.” An awful smile creased across his skeletal face. “Yes, I'm back.”
The unnamed - unknown - organplayer seems to change gender within the post...
 

Fiftypence

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I love the description of the 'organ through space' at the beginning, it really set the scene well... :D

Thanks, I'm rather fond of that bit myself.

I don't know what to make of this update (yet), so I'll just concentrate on the few things I can comment on. First off, now that I have directly quoted from your post (not sequentially in this post, but chronologically speaking, what follows later was written first) and can see the actual innards, I'm very impressed with the amount of effort you clearly put into the presentation of the text (resizing the font, changing the fonts, indenting text, etc. etc.).

Second, I've noticed this before, but haven't commented on it before: you interweave the different narratives very nicely, so that when the narrative changes from one to another, the sentences seem to bleed into each other: although one action stops and the other continues, it reads as though they are one and the same. At least for the first few words. I don't know how much time it takes you to produce the effect, but it's a very nice effect.

Finally, I'll point the following out. Either it's a typo on your part, or it's intended and I'll never get a satisfactory explanation for it. :p



The unnamed - unknown - organplayer seems to change gender within the post...

1st. Yeah all that formatting takes longer than writing the actual update sometimes. :eek:o

2nd. In some cases it's deliberate, but sometimes it just comes out in a way that works, so I leave it like that.

Final. It's intended. ;)
A odd joke. A odd organisation. Nice nice. :D
Yes, it's all very odd. :D
 

Fiftypence

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WARNING: Spoilers

21

Remember the taste of cigarette smoke; it’s not pleasant but somehow comforting,
Tinged by regret and tawdry waste. Never mind! Imagine falling leaves,
Keep that September scene in mind, the autumn sun sickly and cold,
The bitter taste of tobacco smoke evoking strange nostalgic desires
For stories that remain untold. A stillborn hope that the fires of hell
Could be heaven sent.

Although there is something repugnant about the idea of 'spoilers', I feel that as a secondary critic, my observations and review of Pebble’s text should be allowed to run the full gamut, and not be constricted by certain concepts that up until now have been kept hidden. With this in mind, I shall proceed. My intent is not only to analyse Pebble’s work (work may be too generous. Let’s say ramblings), but also to illustrate how it is inherently a deconstruction of an art form not widely known to the general public, except amongst certain dedicated enthusiasts.

One of the most prevalent themes in 'The Lost Century' is that of unity and division, a challenge to binary oppositions and the promotion of the idea that each character, and indeed each individual thing, is in some form an infinite spectrum. Take, for example, the characters of Marissa and Miss Charlotte. Apart from the obvious wordplay that links these two names (just say the names out loud), there is a clear indication that there is something greater linking these two individuals, that on some level, they can be said to be one and the same person. For a full list of examples and explanations of this phenomenon, which invariably permeates Pebble’s text, consult Appendix B [missing], and also section A of episode seventeen (For know there are two worlds of life and death/Sitting beside you, just out of sight, can't relax or get away. Who is her accomplice?), in which Pebble hints at this very idea through his reference to Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Prometheus Unbound (195-199).

This raises obvious questions about the nature of the individual, and promotes the concept of interconnectedness. This is the belief that through some unifying essence, whether it divine in nature or not, every unit of substance is in some way linked to every other, so that there is no such thing as an individual unit, but rather only illusory divisions of one much greater universal whole. When Pebble refers discreetly to the ‘Divided Man’ we are reminded of Blake’s Albion, and clearly-​
She swam, she ran with her fan and her hand to her face as if in a race (running from whom? May I ask, haggard Miss Impossible?), do you think she’s a guardian angel? she said, as the waves crashed near her head and smashed and dashed against the wreck like angry Poseidon, who bellows all in a rage: oh my dear Polyphemus, blinded by the cunning of that wretch, you shall be avenged! Mighty winds gust and thrust and thus-

-we come to the underlying idea of the unreliable narrator, of which Pebble is a particularly vulgar and unrepentant example. Not only are entire sections revealed to be fabrications, but Pebble appears to take delight in his deception, a delight no doubt borne of his multi-faceted nature. His older, nobler self, justifies this as a necessary and quite vivid demonstration of character, telling us that the episode is presented as a demonstration of just how deep the delusion runs.

For example, in episode nineteen (I have no idea what's going on/This isn't going to end well) we first glimpse Madame Tzarsou as a character, and in the following section we encounter an organist, who appears to be, in the course of things, possessed by a malevolent spirit referred to as 'The Criminal'. The deception in these two sections runs deep and is complicated by the character of Anton (whose connection to Pierre and Eleazar is yet to be explored in any great depth). Pebble tells us that Anton is guarding the two prisoners on the instruction of Madame Tzarsou; this is false. I will restrain myself from indulging the truth, but believe me when I say it is quite sensational! Yet the desire for vengeance, and Anton’s chase of the two lady prisoners, is an entirely truthful account of events. What really prompted such a response from Anton is unknown. What we can say, with certainty, is that it did not involve, in any way, that poor deluded prisoner Tzarsou, or a 'spanky bottom'.*

Alderman Pebble eloquently states that Madame Tzarsou’s lair lies underneath Navassa Island, and is part of an elaborate labyrinth. This, of course, should remind the reader of the story of Theseus and the Minotaur- but let us not forget that the labyrinth** of legend served as a prison: Madame Tzarsou, being a prisoner of her own mind, sees it not as such, and instead indulges in a puerile fantasy world of her own invention. When the more sinister aspect of this character appears, the starkness of the prison and the colourfulness of Madame Tzarsou’s childish delusions are brought into sharp relief. The dichotomy between the utterly insane yet essentially harmless Tzarsou and the perfectly sane yet cruel and vicious Criminal presents us with one of the fundamental binary oppositions; that of male versus female (and also the sacred and the profane, and let us not forget Blue-eyes’ fanciful notion of 'the Law' versus the reality of the Criminal). Yet this is deconstructed as we see the transition between Tzarsou and alter-ego is not a binary male/female switch, but rather a spectrum that passes through the neuter. The concept of gender is shown, in this case, to be undecidable. The subtext of the ‘The Lost Century’ is a clearly a feminist, or possibly post-feminist critique of structuralism or post-structuralist discourse, and purveyors of such concepts-​
Never had need for angels, the lady pirate responded, I have always looked out for myself.

I remember reading of an obscure mystic called Crowley, comes the reply, who spoke of such angelic beings. We have a higher self, a deep, spiritual connection with the universe that is known to manifest itself in times of dire need.

Laughter. Impossible! she said.
__________________

*I fear that Madame Tzarsou is but a vehicle through which Pebble can indulge in childish humour. I hope I am wrong, and he adequately illustrates the deeply tragic nature of this character.

**The similarity between the labyrinth underneath Navassa Island and the description of the underbelly of the Hall of Records should not have escaped the attention of eagle-eyed readers. This brings us back to the idea of interconnectedness, and neatly illustrates how it is not only characters with shared aspects, but also buildings and places.
 

Enewald

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Feminism, eww. :eek:
Narrator haranguing a fictional narrator who is a creation of the narrator?
Awesome!
 

Stuyvesant

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Sweet mercy! Are you still in university or something?!? Either you know very well what you're talking about (which is to be respected. Scary, but also to be respected), or you are insanely good at making this stuff up. Either way, respect for the skills on display.

As for myself, having graduated a number of years ago and entered the drone world of regular employment (until recently, at least - but that's another story), I am feeling like Danny Glover's character in the Lethal Weapon series (Sergeant Murtaugh?) when he uttered the famous words: "I'm getting too old for this shit." I used to be able to run with this kind of thing, but now... Ah, the mind is willing, just no longer able... Woe is me, middle age must be upon me. Waily, waily (etc. etc.).

My head hurts. I might have to go and get a Paracetamol. :D
 

Fiftypence

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Feminism, eww. :eek:
Narrator haranguing a fictional narrator who is a creation of the narrator?
Awesome!
Actually that particular sentence was a joke. :D
That's how it appears, or maybe Pebble is himself the other narrator and he's haranguing himself?

Sweet mercy! Are you still in university or something?!? Either you know very well what you're talking about (which is to be respected. Scary, but also to be respected), or you are insanely good at making this stuff up. Either way, respect for the skills on display.

As for myself, having graduated a number of years ago and entered the drone world of regular employment (until recently, at least - but that's another story), I am feeling like Danny Glover's character in the Lethal Weapon series (Sergeant Murtaugh?) when he uttered the famous words: "I'm getting too old for this shit." I used to be able to run with this kind of thing, but now... Ah, the mind is willing, just no longer able... Woe is me, middle age must be upon me. Waily, waily (etc. etc.).

My head hurts. I might have to go and get a Paracetamol. :D

I am just making it up. All you need to remember is that it is stated that update 19 didn't happen as presented. Or something like that. :p

Very good stuff, I like your deep knowledge of what your writing, because you display it well... :D

Thanks. :)
 

Fiftypence

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In which Molly brushes her teeth, amongst other exciting things

22
The Criminal, eyes cold, entered the Secret Chamber of Doom. His second-in-command, dressed smartly in blue, staggered beside him, letting out little gasps of pain with each step, face pale and terrible. There was no longer a big screen there, nor the bubbling lava-pits. All products of the deluded mind of Madame Tzarsou, a pitiful, deranged creature worthy only of scorn as far as The Criminal was concerned. The attendants and their wafting fans had all gone, and instead of a brilliant golden jewel-encrusted throne there was a sulking rock, with a well worn groove set within it. The walls were dark and grey, and the only source of light came from burning torches on the walls, spaced evenly and sparsely around the cavern.

The Criminal sat down on the stone, and his face was a terrible frown. He spent a moment sitting in silence, smelling and tasting and feeling the world as if for the first time, and a slight smile crept onto his bony face. “He is here.”

The second-in-command tried not to vomit as his ruined hand throbbed in dreadful agony. “Who is?”

“He will free me from this prison, and I will call in my debts,” The Criminal replied mysteriously. He laughed, mockingly. “Those fools, they had no idea what they were unleashing. My good friend was too late. Much too late!”

“I don’t understand! Who will free you?”

Eyes gleamed maddeningly, and voice rose. “He goes by many names, the most common of which is…” He paused dramatically, and then said, almost in a whisper, as if he was afraid of saying it too loudly, “N-​
Molly woke up, and wiped her eyes. It was only a dream, she thought in surprise. She stumbled over a pile of clothes that lay on her floor and rubbed her nose. The light from the window was bright and warm, they sky clear and blue, no sign of a storm. But then there wouldn’t be, the cloud-buster busted everything in the sky; clouds like gold dust in old Haiti, nothing to darken the skies. Not even a spot in front of your eyes.

“There never is,” she said to herself as she went to the bathroom and took from the shelf her toothbrush and gazed in the mirror that hung on the wall above the white sink. “Unh,” she said with a grimace as she brushed her teeth, and strangely she could still taste the beef that she had eaten for dinner last night.

“Okay this is getting silly, right, stop with the rhymes it’s pointless you know,” Molly said. I just wanted to show that prose can be poetic and nice but now I can’t think of anything to rhyme with nice and I’ve lost the rhythm. Crap. You win, Molly, this time.

Molly brushed for a minute or so, before spitting into the basin. She glumly noted a tinge of red amid her saliva, and saw that her gum was bleeding. She rinsed her mouth out, and then gargled with some mouthwash. A green translucent liquid, the bottle was labelled “extra-strong” and it didn’t lie. The strong, noxious smell hit her as soon as she unscrewed the cap, and as soon as she had taken a swig felt as if a wasp had crawled into her mouth, and had invited several of its closest friends. She quickly spat it out and repeatedly rinsed her mouth out with water, to little effect.

She twisted her mouth into a smile, and looked at her teeth in the mirror. Her front two teeth were slightly crooked, which people told her gave her a somewhat goofy smile. As a result, she tried to smile only when necessary. Her lips were thin and red, much like everyone else’s. They were entirely unremarkable in every detail. She stuck her tongue out, and she noticed it looked a bit off-colour, more the colour of an old bruise than red. She made a silly face and rolled her tongue, and thought to herself: isn’t it strange that there are people that can’t do that?

She spent a couple of minutes staring at her eyes, trying to see if any new blemishes or wrinkles had appeared overnight. Her eyes were still brown, just as she had left them last time she looked, and as she did she remembered a game from childhood where she would try and catch herself blinking. Strangely, the reflection would blink at the precise moment she did. When she had played the game face to face with her sister, without a mirror, exactly the same thing had happened. In retrospect this struck her as extremely unnerving.

“Am I supposed to brush my tongue?” she said to herself. She had never been very clear about that. The correct procedure concerning dental hygiene seemed to change with each passing week. Then there was the whole issue of flossing. She felt she ought to do it, but was always a bit puzzled by it. She glanced around the sink, but the floss was nowhere to be found. That’s odd, she thought...really odd. Her heart skipped a beat, and her mouth felt dry. She felt herself begin to shake, and desperately tried to keep herself calm. I will find the floss, she thought defiantly, I will find it if it takes me ten, even fifteen minutes!

Molly cautiously opened a white (it was a very white bathroom, because as everyone knows, white equals stylish) cupboard, which had three shelves. On the top shelf were various different shampoos; Molly couldn’t remember why they were there, as the shampoo she used for her often frustratingly frizzy black hair always remained beside the bath. The one for coloured hair had been Natalie’s, but that was all she knew. On the middle shelf were several tubes of various skin lotions that she applied meticulously mostly out of habit, without ever seeing much effect, and there, on the lower shelf, was the dental floss, hidden behind a bottle of perfume. Her great quest was finally over, after almost five seconds of agonising searching. She clasped the container lovingly and pulled out a short length of floss. She looked at it with head bent sideways, before awkwardly lodging it between her teeth and running it back and forth, a slight minty taste making it a bit more interesting (which I’m sure is what they intended). She did this until she got bored, and tossed the piece of glorified string into the bin.

In the end she decided against brushing her tongue, mostly as it still stung from the toxic mouthwash. Strange as it seemed, this morning ritual was when Molly felt at her most tranquil. When she stepped outside she felt as though she was being constantly bombarded with sound and light and signals, but this clean white bathroom was her temple. There was only one thing left to do, and that was to take a shower. She started getting undressed-

Attention. The all-knowing censors, guardians of our wellbeing and our precious bodily fluids (?), have deemed the following passage (featuring a moderately attractive young woman taking a shower while naked, with the soap and the scrubbing and the gratuitous shampooing) to be inappropriate, and so have removed it so as to prevent the corruption of our youth. For this and other deleted scenes, make sure to buy the extended DVD of “The Lost Century”, available nowhere, never.

That was an amazing shower! Molly thought, fully dressed in a long sleeved black top and a dress that went all the way down to her ankles (and far, far beyond). She made herself a cup of drugs, and then went out and shot a man just to watch him bleed.*
__________________

*Not really.
 
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