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Monday, September 21, 2009

Today's episode was brought to you by

Facebooks 5 tv characters you wish were real so you can hang out with them poll, too much caffeine before bed, and my inner novelist, and 4 series 3 D&D podcasts from Penny Arcade and Wil's flikr photo of a Felidar Soveriegn super-rare, unreleased player card and one dish of shrimp lo mein.

Dreams are back with a vengence. I am glad that I don't live in a movie world where my dreams come true. Last nights was a doosy. On the upside, my best friends in the movie/dream were Dr. Will Zimmerman*, Henry Foss* and Wil Wheaton** as an anonymous teenage heart throb/geek.

For whatever reason we were on a floating party barge kinda thing with a couple of decks, one below, one topside. Obviously. As we were saying goodbye to some friends before departing on some fateful adventure, there was a decent rocking motion that nearly tumbled everyone down the stairs like dominoes.

Henry looked over the rail and didn't see anything. Since were were so close to shore yet, Will decided that we had probably bumped a sandbar as West Bay is pock marked with them after all the dredging that has been done to keep the luxury boaters happy, natives be damned. We powered up and headed to Marion Island.

As we got further out the shoreline began to morph in to something akin to the Louisiana bayou. The maples became gloomy mangroves, dripping with gypsy moss. When I mentioned the change, Henry told me I was being silly and letting my imagination get the better of me.

"It's just some creeping charlie over the dying maples and oaks. Happens all the time".

True. And the only reason I was creeped out was because some smart as had mentioned the creature from the Black Lagoon with the admonition to wear thick socks. Out near Grampa's old house the bay was deeper than the rest of the shoreline so we were close enough to catch the trees' silhouettes in the fading dusk. It was creepy. And the moon was no where to be found. So of course my mind instantly played the Scooby Doo soundtrack while I scanned for bats.

We skimmed passed Marion Island. Will said that he wanted to have a look at Old Mission light from the water, at night, with a fog rolling in from Lake Michigan because he got a new lens for his camera that Henry recommended. Wil and I elbowed each other and lunged toward Henry. Henry dodged. "It's not my fault. I didn't tell him to come out here." The barge rocked violently. Will chastised us for rough housing and upsetting the balast. But there was no way that we could have done that, so says Wil. So say we all.
Henry dashed below to check the instrument panels to see what was going on. Henry, chief technogeek of our little tribe, had rigged extra sensors so that he had as much information coming in as any ship of Starfleet's line. I was about to go below when Henry did a girl scream and turned on his heels. He caught me in the gut just as the ship rocked again. I made the mistake of looking out a porthole.

Something sea foam green and plastic looking was moving passed the window. It was all muscle and scale with, what one in their right mind would call, dorsal fins regularly spaced across its length. They were a red, coral color. I screamed. Henry started pushing me up the stairs as Will and Wil were headed down. It didn't take much to convince the other two to turn topside.

We congregated at the top just in time to see the head rise from the water, dripping algae from its bearded chin. It looked like the head of a Chinese New Year Dragon come to life. In my head I know they don't breathe fire. In my head I know that a New Year's Parade Dragon head is people powered. In my head I know that the monsters on Scooby Doo always turn out to be human hoaxsters. Unfortunately, my head was not in charge. My bowels and adrenal glands were. The dragon head came down against the hull forcing the barge toward shore. Will and Henry were at the defenses.

Wait. What? Why does a water conservancy barge have defenses?

I looked at Wil. "Well, the Enterprise's main mission is scientific and it has defenses.", he said with that calm cool Wesley Crusher delivery right before he melted down into the Holy Shit I have Jerry's dice on a saving throw in the face of certain doom Wil as we did the Two Coreys scream in each others face. We hugged each other as if we were life saving talismans; or at the very least, to have someone handy to throw in the path of the gaping maw should it hurtle toward either of us.

The head was under water and its body scraping against the hull. Will and Henry were trying to load and aim our meager defenses. I would have given anything for a zat, a staff weapon or to be about eighty light years away on a Hatak bound for Anubis's stronghold than standing there hugging Wil and peeing my pants. As they got the weapon loaded, the tail finally followed the head with a spaghetti slurp sound effect as the water began to calm.

"Where is it?" Will kept asking over and over again.

"I don't know." Was the only thing that Henry could say.

Finally, Will snapped his twig, "You're the damn Werewolf, why can't you smell it?"

"You're the super genius with spooky microscope vision why can't you see it?"

Then the barge rocked wildly again, the head reared up at the bow, letting out a scream so shrill it should have been accompanied with fire just before head butting the forward deck. Will and Henry jumped back. The barge scraped against the lake bottom, knocking Wil and I on our asses. Henry slid in a crazy spiral into the wheel house while Will pitched toward the side. He caught himself before going over. "Henry, do something!"

"Like what?"

The head reared back for another attack. Wil scrambled to get to his feet. Grabbing my hand, he pulled me toward the stern. "Do that incredible hulk thing you do." he yelled at Henry.

"Hey I can't control that!" Henry yelled as he struggled to his feet.

"Well what good is mighty morphing Abnormal power if you can't use it?" Wil snapped with the ferocity of a Mormon Tabernacle Choir boy.

"Yeah, how scared do you have to be to change?" Will asked incredulously, gripping the splintered door jamb on the wheel house.

"Hey, wunderkind," he said to Wil, "why don't you set one of your lab projects loose on it?"

Points taken. We were all FUBARed cause no body's super anything was going to get us out of this mess.

"For the love of Steve the Fruit bat, I am not Wesley Crusher."

"You only play him on TV." I added, most inappropriately. He gave me the withering Captain Picard "shut up Wesley" look.

We were all wondering where Dr. Magnus, Mr. Scott, the Asgaard or even Q was when we needed them. As usual, it was us against certain doom with only our inherent skills to get us out of the situation. And what God-given talents did any of us possess to save our collective assess from the likes of a sea monster of this magnitude? Uhmmmm...

The head smashed through the forward bulkheads. The deck pitched forward under our feet, sending us all skittering toward the dark, turbulent water being churned by the leviathan's constant motion. Will nearly tore his shoulder from its sockets as he snagged a railing. Henry slid unimpeded toward its grinning maw as the transformation finally began to take place. Wil still had my hand as we slid on our backs, smashing into chunks of debris like they were pinball bumpers. Wil was dead weight dragging me down toward the water.

Suddenly transformed, Henry found footing to leap at the head, digging into the scaly jowls and holding on while the head thrashed back and forth, attempting to release its unexpected attacker. Purple clawed talons scratched at the air. Its arms were too short to scrape Henry's lycan form from its face. Panicking, other claws rose from the water. It grabbed for footing on the tattered decking, causing more damage. The barge fed itself under the claws like lumber through a buzz saw. Wil and I slipped closer and closer to the shredding machine. The creature's head flailed back and forth; Henry growled with each violent change of direction. Will had dropped himself closer to Wil and I. He had just about convinced us to throw ourselves over the side and head for shore when a claw came down and separated the three of us.

The water churned with the dragon's panicked thrashing, littered with debris and murky as a swamp. We didn't want to throw ourselves over as there was no way to tell if the thing's body was close enough to crush, smoosh or submerge our mortal selves. Henry bellowed like a demon. I looked at him in time to see him thrown out into the middle of the bay like a soggy stuffed toy. Grinning, dripping algae mixed with drool over the deck, it barred its teeth as it headed for me. Wil was wearing his green lantern shirt and obviously thinking he was safe from the red shirt of doom curse. But he'd obviously worn the red tunic unscathed too many times to escape Fate, who having a bone to pick with the lucky ensign, took it out on my altergeek friend; it scooped Wil up in its teeth.

He screamed. I screamed. Will scrambled to find a weapon while he yelled at the thing to drop its tofu fed snack. From nowhere... okay not literally. It came from the wooded shoreline. But it might as well have come from no where or at the very least pulled from a very shallow literary well... a snarling, roaring arrow of fangs and claws aimed itself at the sea creature's middle. Glittering gold and muscle upon muscle, the feline creature tore into the soft underside of the dragon's neck and upper torso. Wil fell to the deck in a downpour of blood and gore. Will and I pulled him, half mad and half conscious, toward the relative safety of the rudder housing. We could hear the scraping of claw against scale, rending of flesh and the pain filled screams of the leviathan that started to sound like air being let out of a helium balloon as its strength waned. When the sea monster got a good shot in at the cat-thing, those sounds sent chills deeper down my spine. Whereas the leviathan was all pain and frustration, the cat-thing was astonishment and revenge. What are you supposed to be more afraid of in a situation like that?

Henry had swam to us and tried to help us get to shore. Before we could rescue ourselves the clash of the colossi ended. The triumphant feline had torn the head from the body and tossed it skyward. As the head spiraled, it flung bits of blood and tissue like a ghoulish sprinkler head. I thought I was gonna puke on Wil with each splatter that hit me in the face. Will was lowering a semi conscious Wil toward Henry who was shoulder deep in the water. Well, at least we weren't gonna drown, I thought. I won't die in the water; I've always known that. Which, come to think of it would have been a good reason to stay on the boat. I get along great with cats.

The head splashed down, gracelessly showering bay water all over the place. The rampant feline roared as it turned its head toward us, blood stained breath sticking to us like deodorant. Will dropped Wil on Henry and grabbed at me. He missed. I was too far forward as I had been curious to see if the cat face were more Aslan or Cheshire. It wasn't either. The beast may have had a cat's body with tufted lion's tail and flowing mane, but it had the face of a gargoyle straight from Fuseli's nightmare,complete with ginormous antlers. It's whiskers were as stiff as porcupine quills. And it was headed toward me.

Our half sunk barge slipped under the feline's shifting weight, flattening the deck out for a moment before tipping it and me toward the steely claws tearing the boards. It did have a Cheshire grin. But then all cats have that Cheshire grin, which in the vernacular, translates as shit eating. Judging by how tense my tush was clenched, I had no doubt it would be less a figurative description if it got its mouth on me. Will made one last grab for me before the rest of the decking splintered and dropped him into the water. As the barge broke, the cat leaped.

I closed my eyes and screamed like a girl in a B horror movie as hard muscle and tendon wrapped around my shoulders. The smell of warm flesh filled my nostrils just before the wind was sucked out of me. I lost all sensation of any kind of footing, firm or tenuous; I felt almost buoyant... except for the fact that a very large paw held me tight. My short hair flew forward, scraping my eyelids. For an instant I was annoyed enough to try to brush it away from my face. Oh yeah, arms pinned. More annoyed. Suddenly I was falling.

Don't look. Don't look. Don't look.

I looked. Hey nobody else listens to me; why would I?

Henry tried to catch me which is more than Wil one and Will two had done. I landed on the forest floor marbled with gnarled roots. With any luck the spleen was okay. If not then nothing the cat-thing did was going to matter. I nearly passed out when I tried to sit up. It was even darker in the woods than it was on the water. I could hear Henry's monster footfalls as he tried to reach me. Will was shouting something. I heard a breathless "By Riker's beard" from the geek. The only sense I had was of being under a very large table. A hairy table. A hairy table that smelled like wet animal and crushed autumn leaves. When I opened my eyes I could just make out the outline of the thing standing over me. I was lying between its forelegs like a broken Barbie doll. I don't know that "By Riker's beard" really covers this kind of thing. But then, what does?

Wil had hidden himself behind a tree as the thing had come ashore with me in its clutches. As I lay there, praying for a swift devouring, Wil reached for me. "C'mon... grab my hand." He whispered. By the gods, Jerry's dice suck.

Above me, I heard a raspy, snaggle-toothed chuckle. Despite being dazed with terror and numb with pain, I felt the urgent need for inappropriate gallows humor. Cats play with their food. We were four flavors of geek, not even interesting enough as Meow Mix. I reached up to touch the fur swaying mere inches above my face.

"What are you doing?" Wil whisper yelled at me. "Are you nuts?"

It laughed again. I heard something fall near my head. "Hey!" Henry yelped.

Another soft laugh.

"Ho-leeeee" Wil's voice moved away form me. A thud. "Shit."

Of course Will was the first one to gain any sense of... well, his senses. "Thank you."

I sensed the hulking form move away from me enough to let me sit up. When I did, I saw that the beast wasn't quite as large as it had once been. It was 3 times the size of a Bengal tiger instead of the Godzilla size it had been when it came out of the woods. Relieved to already be on my keister, I crab-crawled backwards. Will helped me to stand without taking his eyes off of the creature.

"Will?" Of course the rest of the question needn't be asked. We were all wondering the same thing.

"I don't know."

Henry siddled up to us, smelling of sweaty wet dog. "I got nuthin'."

We looked to Wil who was walking toward us as he brushed forest dander from his jeans. "Anne's gonna kill me", he said poking a finger through a hole in his shirt. He finally noticed us staring at him. The cat folded its forepaws under its chest and waited. "What?"

Really? The next best thing to Data in walking computers and he had no idea what we are waiting for?

"Oh." He tugged the bottom of his t-shirt, squared his shoulders and delivered the goods. "It is a special card from Magic the Gathering's 2009, as yet to be released, set called Zendikar. He is a Felidar Sovereign that garauntees successful completion of a campaign when the player using the card has at least 40 life at the beginning of the maintenance portion of his turn." And in his best Stewie voice, "Game over. We win."

Who needs dice?

Dream over. Footnotes to follow:
* Will Zimmerman and Henry Foss are coworkers of Doctor Helen Magnus of Sanctuary. They help Abnormals (read Mutants in non copyright infringing way) at a place called Sanctuary. Will has a special gift of clear vision while Henry is lycan. ** Wil Wheaton is... well, Wil Wheaton.