It took me a long time to write, but it's done now... -----=====##### GUITAR MAN 2 #####=====----- [Issue 2. A Fishy Tale] "Is this a human face in the mirror? It looks just like a piece of the sea, I've been staring at the waves for so very long now, My mind is playing tricks on me." -The Mutton Birds, "No Telling When" Guitar Man woke as his alarm went off. He went through the usual groggy phase, then the gee-I-don't-really-wanna-get-up phase, then finally crawled out of bed and into the shower. 10 minutes later, he sat at his table with a glass of orange juice and a bowl of "Captain Indigestion" cereal watching his goldfish eat its morning meal. Eventually he changed out of his shower robe and into his armoured uniform, and went outside to face the day. The rain fell on everything. It fell on the streets, it fell on the buildings, it fell on the people. Water pooled in the gutters and made the sidewalks slippery. It fell on poor people and rich people, it fell on the harbour, it fell on the traffic, it fell on Guitar Man. Rain is indiscriminate in its attentions. GM flew through the rain to "Ahab's Scuba Store - for all your Scuba needs". .o(In a city the size of Net.ropolis, everyone's prepared to specialize) he mused, as he landed. He walked in. The scuba store was decorated to look like the bottom of the sea, with a foamy look to the ceiling, a pleasant blue shade to the walls and a sandy floor. Racks of designer wetsuits were placed haphazardly, and somewhere there was the hiss of airtanks being refilled. A salesperson approached Guitar Man. "And what can I do for you today," he started, then took in GM's costume, "Bold Hero?" "I'm looking for something that'll let me operate underwater," replied GM. "Well, the store next door sells a complete range of surgical supplies, as well as some *wonderful* gowns in a wide range of pastels." GM looked puzzled for a moment. "Um, no, I just need an air supply so I can go underwater." "Oh, then in that case you've come to the right place. How long do you want to be able to stay under? What sort of air mix were you after? Any colour preference? We have the latest in Armani scuba tanks, but it helps to know what sort of environment you'll be working in - bright fish and dull stripes just don't work for me, and neon in the darker trenches is just so passe." "Ummm..." "Of course, a Hero like you can probably hold his breath for *ages*, so we can probably make do with just a mask. We pride ourselves on our masks, we have glow in the dark masks, see through masks, masks for people with beards, masks for people without beards, masks for people without beards who would like to grow one, masks for people with stubble..." "Ummm..." "We also have masks you can't see through for people who are afraid of fish, we have Gucci masks, we have *urk*," said the salesperson, as GM punched him in the stomach, and threw him in the corner. He lay there like a stunned mullet, with little porpoises dancing around his head. GM strode to the rack of masks, quickly selected one, grabbed a hefty pair of air tanks and the attached hoses and bits, and headed for the counter. "This, and this, and this," he said, "and I don't want to talk about it." "That's OK," said the cashier, who was dressed like a pirate, "I'm quite impressed. Noone else has ever been able to shut him up before. If you promise to come back and do it again sometime, we'll give you the stuff for free." "Done," said GM, and he had been. === GM flew back to his hideout. As he dropped into the street, he noted that the rain was easing. Fumbling for his keys, GM didn't notice what was wrong with the door 'till he was at it. The first thing he noticed was a note, with a paper bag pinned underneath it. The note read: "I dropped past to check how you were, and for breakfast. You weren't in. I left you a croissant anyway. -Mouse." The second thing he noticed was that the rest of the door was hanging from its hinges in bits. This was definately fishy. Someone had broken in, and from the sound of it was still there. GM charged inside. In his lounge were a half-dozen or so men with fish-faces and scales. They were ransacking the place, one of them had GM's goldfish bowl under its arm, another was torturing the potplants with Barry Manilow "music" and a third was smashing his computer. A slight perfume smell tinged everything. GM uttered his warcry (that he read somewhere, and liked, but forgot what it meant) "Hoka-Hei! Today is a good day to fry... fish." They looked up, and glubbed (well, what noises _do_ fish make?) in surprise. GM hit the first one with the scuba tanks, the second with his table. "I'll teach you to break into my plaice," he said, though he was a bit late - they already knew how. He was just starting to get stuck into the third when he realised that the rest of the fishmen were running away. One of them had his goldfish, still in its bowl. "Come back here, you slime." He turned to the fishman attempting to struggle out of his grasp, and kneed it viciously in the ribs. He sprinted trout the door, just in time to see the fishmen going down a manhole. "You haven't seen the last of me," he swore, and turned back to his wrecked home. He walked inside, stepping heavily on the unconcious remnants of the fight as he moved about the room. He collected the scuba gear, and put it on, letting the mask hang loosely around his neck. He picked up the scent tracker from the computer bench and hung it from his belt. Finally, he went into his room and pulled his guitar out from under the bed, caressing its case softly as he opened it. He slung the guitar across his front and coaxed a chord (cod) from it, causing the mirror to crack at the disharmony. Nonetheless, he seemed pleased. "Time to kick some bass." === The rain had stopped but that did nothing to improve Guitar Man's mood as he stomped towards the storm sewer outlet that led into the harbour. As he reached it, snow started to fall in light, fluffy flakes. GM waved the beeping scent tracker about and decided that this was the right spot. He adjusted his mask, and flew into the water. The cold depths closed around him and he cursed not bringing a flashlight. After a short experimentation, he discovered he could fly underwater, and made swift progress along the sea bottom, following the perfumed scent-trail with the tracker. === Captain Nome sat in his underwater base and reviewed his troops. He called them his protos - but that's just because he was dyslexic. He had a cat named Poofums, with "Smupofo" on her collar, and reclined in his underwater QH. Captain Nome wasn't like other villains - he didn't want to rule the world, he wanted to Leru the Drowl, and his sarddatyl plans were on a small, acquatic scale. His fishmen had managed to locate the hideout of the hero who had taken out the first creations of the ooze (or zooe as he preferred it) and, like their predecessors, the ratmen, had taken a licking. Captain Nome looked at the bowl on the table - the goldfish cowered in its castle. There was a beep from the sonar screen behind him, but he didn't bother looking up. He knew that Guitar Man was on his way. === In the distance, the dark murk of the sea brightened. As Guitar Man flew/swam closer, he could make out floodlights lighting a well-maintained area of the seabed. Seacows frolicked in pastures, and seacorn and seapeas grew in straight lines in the underwater fields. Seasheep gazed at him as he moved past, contentedly grazing on weed growing on the bottom. A Seaquest passed overhead, but it was bound for another series so GM ignored it. Finally he spotted the residential part of this undersea farm, a big dome set into the sea floor. "This place is obviously a hideout, or the home of a madman," mused GM, and got a mouthful of water for his trouble. He paused under an archway at the start of a path made of shells, and read the text across the top. Or tried to. "Mewloc to het mohe fo Paintac Nemo". "A-ha," thought Guitar Man, having learnt from his earlier attempt to muse. "So this villain is Paintac Nemo. Well, he won't get away with ... it ... this time," he finished, lamely, in the privacy of his own head, and followed the path towards the front airlock. === A thunderous booming echoed through the HQ as Guitar Man knocked on the airlock. One of the fishmen turned to his friend, and said: "Glub (Trans: I wonder who that could be?)" "That'll be Guitar Man now," said Nome. "Answer the door, and when he comes in knock him out. I'll be in the lab, bring him there." === GM hummed to himself as he waited for the door to be answered. If this was the lair of the villain, then he would wreak havoc in here. However, there was a slim chance that this was just the home of a madman, and he didn't want to embarrass himself by breaking down the airlock and having to apologise. The door was answered by a fishman. "Glub? (Tr: Hello? Can I help you?)" Guitar Man scrutinized the fishman before him, shrugged, and swung a fist at it. Unfortunately it's harder to throw a decent punch underwater, and it just skimmed its scales. About a dozen fishmen poured out the airlock and descended on GM. His perfume-scent detector went crazy and flashed its lights; but he didn't notice, he was too busy being knocked unconcious. === Guitar Man woke in a small cell. His scuba gear was in a pile in one corner of the cell, and his guitar was on top of it. GM tested the bars to see if they would bend, but gave it up when two fishmen standing guard glubbed at him warningly. He sat on the small bench serving as a bed and tuned his guitar while he scanned his surroundings. The cell he was in was suspended a few feet above the floor. He was in a large lab/conference room. Across the room, a figure dressed in pirate regalia, with a lab coat thrown over the top, experimented with glowing ooze and made notes, occasionally giggling to itself. So this _was_ the home of a madman. The madman heard him tuning, and put down his experiment. The madman approached the cage, spoke. "So, you're Guitar Man, eh?" "Yes," said Guitar Man, after a brief impulse to claim to be here searching for undersea treasure. "I assume you're Paintac Nemo." "Who?" "Paintac Nemo?" "Never heard of him... I'm Captain Nome, Master of Dyslexia." GM thought a moment. "I see." "And now, I'm going to kill you." "Just kill me? Just like that?" "No. I'm going to put you in a jar and suspend it over a vat of boiling oil. The rope that holds the jar up leads over a pulley and will be slowly cut by a gerbil-driven saw. How could you get out of that one, eh?" Guitar Man said nothing. Captain Nome gestured to the fishmen, and they lowered, and then opened, the cell, leading GM out. He put GM in a jar, suspended over boiling oil... etc, etc. Captain Nome watched the gerbil, and teased it to make it run. The only noise in the room was the squeaking of the gerbil's treadmill and the rasping of the saw, interspersed with Nome's occasional giggles. Slowly the saw worked, cutting the rope, until finally it snapped and the jar dropped into the oil. Guitar Man, of course, remained hovering in the air. Captain Nome stared at him. GM folded his arms. "So. _That's_ how you're going to get out of it. Neat." "I thought so," replied GM. "Give it up, Nome." "Never," replied Nome, assuming a wide stance and pulling out a large- calibre automatic handgun. "...um," said GM. "Now, back in your cell, Guitar Man. Why do they call you Guitar Man, anyway?" "Because," replied GM and he swooped back into the cell, "I play the guitar." "Oh," said Nome, "well... let's hear it then." "My talent is wasted on scum like you," replied GM. Nome wiggled the gun. "But I've always wanted to do an underwater concert tour, and where better to start than here?" He collected his guitar, and flew next to Nome, dropping lightly to the floor. Extracting a pick from behind his belt, he started to play. GM played all his favourite songs, and finished with a final strum, looking to Nome for a critique. Nome didn't move; in fact as soon as GM had started to play he'd frozen, and hadn't moved since. GM waited. Nome re-animated with a jerk. "Well. For someone named Guitar Man, you certainly have no talent playing the guitar." He waved his arms around, gesturing at the room. "I mean, my fishmen passed out sometime during the second verse, I saw my cat's fur turn white during your cover of 'Mary Jane's Last Dance' and, quite frankly, the only reason I survived is because I only have a tenuous grip on reality. You," he continued, "Stink at playing guitar. Tremendously." Guitar Man looked him in the eye. Nome stared back; silence reigned. Finally, GM broke. In fact, he broke his guitar... he broke it by wrapping it around Nome's head. Nome dropped unconcious to the floor. "Maybe you're right," said GM. "But you could have considered my feelings." He collected the goldfish bowl from the lab bench, and waved at Monster, swimming around inside. Monster didn't wave back - but then Monster was entitled not to, being a goldfish. GM collected Nome over one shoulder, grabbed his mask, and held his breath while the airlock cycled. He accelerated upwards, breaking the sound barrier almost as he broke the water's surface; the shockwave crushed Nemo's underwater home like an egg dropped from a skyscraper. === The desk cop looked up as GM squelched into the room. It wasn't every day that he saw a sight like this ... a very drenched man dragging someone in a soggy pirate outfit into the station. Maybe every third day or so, but not every day. "Can I help you?" he asked the hero in the electric-blue suit and yellow boots. "Sure," said GM, " take this man to prison." "Why?" asked the cop. The question caught GM off-guard. "What do you mean, why? He's a villain!" "Maybe so, but we need a charge." GM shook Nome awake. "You know that part where you reveal all your secret plans?" "Sure." "It's now." "I was going to create an army of fishmen and rule the world." GM looked at the cop. "Is that enough?" "Conspiracy to rule the world? Sure... half our cells are filled with villains on that charge." "Take him away, then," said GM. "Who shall I put down as bringing him in?" "Guitarless Man," said Guitarless Man, and squelched out. ===================================================== Coming in GM #3 ... "Boot Camp LNH" *Bladed Lad & Marshmallow Lass in their only ever issue. *Why so few people really _make_ it into the LNH. *Oh... probably some dude in an electric-blue costume with yellow boots. Guitar Man is copyright me - Campbell "Sasquatch" MarchBack to the Index.