Stud reflexively tightened his grip on his pistol, his eyes flashing with anger.
"You should not refer to a woman as an object, Clint. That is very offensive and contrary to modern thought on the issue," he ground out.
Clint downed his martini in one and jumped to his feet, his face contorting with rage.
"You are one to talk, Stud. Your track record with women in that regard leaves your position akin to that of a man who can only throw stones who has, through the exigencies of the modern economy, been forced to take residence in a glass house. And besides, you knew very well that it was a figure of speech and in fact my views on gender relations are highly advanced," he snapped.
Stud smiled inwardly. He knew that he had Clint on the back foot, because whenever Clint's modern views on gender relations were challenged in a way that exposed a weakness in him, he finished whatever drink he happened to have nearest at the time. It was well for Clint that the KGB had an excellent healthcare plan, but nevertheless Stud knew that Clint's liver was a toxic ruin and the KGB had told him that either he could update his views on gender politics or stop drinking. And Clint, having studied in the 1980s, could do neither.
It was time to press the advantage.
Clint’s eyes flashed his focus on taking down his hated enemy.
Neither he nor Stud noticed the miasmic black ooze that roiled in under the door. Creeping across the floor the ooze inched closer, while the two antagonistic men’s chests heaved as they sort to out-stare each other.
The substance pooled around their feet and began to climb their legs.
“O gods, do I have to rescue you again,” Tatiana said from the door, her head shaking in weary exasperation.
“What,” both Clint and Stud said together.
“Look down,” Tatiana said.
“What is it,” gasped Clint clutching at the table in panic while Stud pursed his lips in thought.
It's this bleedin 'otel Stud. I told you when we checked in, make sure its bleedin star – stop being so tight. That black ooze that you two probably think is some other-wordly evil spirit is over-run from the loos across the hallway.
When you called me out of the blue I thought it would be a lark - I’ve seen the Bond movies – I could be Russian. But this? I’m off back to Manchester - you two can shoot it up, drink martinis or talk manscaping.
“A spring tide, combined with the outfall from the nearby sewer. This is Venice, after all, and the agency treats expense claims for luxury hotels with extreme prejudice.”
Tatiana laughed bitterly, “No, Stud. Think again”.
[Damn -- beaten to it; so I withdraw in favour of the preceding addition. NB Emma: refreshing the page deletes unsaved comment text, so doesn't help much in avoiding this kind of thing.]
“But we’re on the second floor” stated Stud, getting on his hands and knees to inspect the filth closer.
“Has this stuff somehow made it up the stairs of its own volition?”
The ooze continued to flow into the room, Stud and Clint joined Tatiana on the bed.
“It’s not natural” said Clint, while checking his reflection in the ceiling mirror.
Forming itself, golem-wise, into humanoid shape, the slimy stuff now assumed an angular disposition and made a tired, stertorous address:
“I seek vengeance,” it rasped, “against the illegitimate progeny of crimes against the written word, such as this tangled mess you’ve found yourselves here born into.
“I see myself, if you like, as a selective abortionist, invading literary spaces and obliterating, preferably at an inchoate stage, abominations such as you two….
“(Regarding your ‘Russian’ friend, I’m reserving judgement for the time being, but I don’t, to be frank, live in hope of seeing her character flourish.)”
“Good Christ,” Stud whispered. “You’re the demon who brought down Archer, the merciless one who saw to it that the only copy of my autobiographical Days of Darkness manuscript fell beneath that Rajasthani train just in time to be buried by a mountain of noisome human waste….”
“And yet Harry Potter lives,” observed Tatiana drily.
Damn – beaten to it; so I withdraw in favour of the preceding addition. NB Emma: refreshing the page deletes unsaved comment text, so doesn’t help much in avoiding this kind of thing.
I'd have let both additions stand, as they weren't actually contradictory. And sorry, I have a browser extension that saves all text typed into a text box. C/p before you refresh.
“And now we come to a crossroads” intoned the golem, “Do you want to live in a self-referential paradigm or a metafiction narrative?”
The trio stared into the literary device’s maw.
When suddenly the window blew open, and a figure appeared. He was a bald man wearing only underpants and a cape made of curtains.
"Never fear, I Captain Underpants with Wedgie Power will save you from this torrid literary pretension. For I fight for all that is cottony goodness."
"Hoorah", they all cried.
"Cor you don't look half bad in those tightey whiteys Captain Underpants." Tatiana exclaimed. (Or am I getting confused with breaking bad...)
Stud was starting to feel an unpleasant tightness in his head. Suddenly he remembered that misandrists had injected a microscopic bomb into his head which would detonate if he was ever a participant in failing the Bechdel test.
The tightness resolved itself into a ticking. Stud realised that the bomb was about to detonate.
"But the Bechdel test isn't even an accurate assessment of whether a particular piece is adequately feminist or not," he thought desperately, "_Sucker Punch_ passes the Bechdel test, for God's sake."
This was a mistake. The only things misandrists hated more than white men was God. Stud felt the bomb tick ever faster, as Clint, Captain Underpants, Tatiana and the Literary Shoggoth looked at him quizzically. Inspiration!
"Wait a second," shouted Stud, "There's no global misandrist conspiracy! How on earth could misandrists have planted a bomb in my head when they only exist in the fevered imagination of MRAs and Redditors?"
But it was too late.
His forehead split open in a haze of golden light and Athena stepped into the room. “Huh,” she said, “I haven’t made an entrance like that since Hera and Demeter got fed up with Zeus and Hades and their all night drinking sessions.”
Kicking the now unconscious Stud out of the way —well she is a goddess and it would be rude to be the death of your gateway to the mortal plain—Athena stalked across the room and hauled Tatiana off the bed. “You, missy, have a lot to answer for,” she snapped. “Get dressed. You’ve got five minutes. You left a heck of a mess in that bunker last night and if we don’t go back and shut that program down, Venice will be gone by tomorrow and Italy by the end of next week.”
"What a pretentious load of cods" splurted the critic. "I haven't seen anything this
cobbled together since we visited the Uraguayan pavilion. " but the curtain cape had a certain something, if only he could pull himself together, it could be a winner"
An image of the lion dor appeared in Amanda's cocain sharpened mind, and she made a mental note to schmooze captain underpants at the Bienalle closing party, there could be collaboration funding on the table.
A dark haired woman wearing a dress made from red carpet came into Amanda's field of vision and stared hard at her. Amanda became a little uncomfortable and inexplicably burst into tears.
The critic burst out "fucking stop that Marina it really freaks people out"
What did Marina care.
“Cut!” Called the director.
” I know it’s just a commercial luvvies, but dig deep, there is no such thing as overacting on this
The director called to the props manager on her Walkie talkie.
” we need more soft furnishings and I have an image of a row of silver clad boys with lampshades on their heads, lit of course,make it happen….please”
She hoped it wouldn’t be too Busby Berkley but the shoot needed more structure, so far it was a shambles. What else could she bring in to tie the room..er, set together.
“I know...cushions, lots of cushions and brightly coloured throws.”
Nigal, the one time KGB operative turned best boy inwardly groaned. What was he doing on the set of a crazy biennale based briscoes ad?
What had happened to the global fight against capitalism and what had happened to the culture?
Nigal’s existential pain was interrupted by a 20killowatt lamp weighing 70kg, slamming down and killing him instantly.
The once famous actor playing the part of a once famous art critic was inexplicably missing from the set….
a dunny brayed loudly
Peter sighed heavily, wantonly even. Renting out the studio for a casual was always a fucking drag. He turned to face the urinal in vain.
Meanwhile, inside a nondescript building situated somewhere in the Waihopai Valley, the atmosphere suddenly turned tense.
"Blast!" yelled a voice. "We've just lost our primary trail! That's what happens when you overlook even the smallest details!"
"Hey, don't look at me like that!" yelled another voice. "How else could the transmitter have fit into the surroundings? It's not like loosening a wall outlet, you know."
"You know exactly how this Nigal character operated. He had a tendency to check things twice over before proceeding. Fort Meade and Pine Gap aren't going to be happy about this at all! Get Agent Lampjaw on the line before this gets out of control!"
Stud opened his left eye 3 millimetres, because he had to use the metric system on the continent. He saw fibres of wool carpet and felt sheepish, realising he was face down on the floor, again. He tried to return to unconsciousness, but something kept nagging at him: It was his foot, vibrating. He was confused. He knew he’d set his shoephone to silent, but he couldn’t for the life of him remember putting his shoes on.
Stud could, however, recall the last thing he saw before blacking out: an image of the departing Athena, Tatiana draped over her shoulder. And then it hit him - the legend of that god's birth, bursting forth from the head of Zeus, and he looked down in horror at Clint's silent, crying face, grafted bodyless to the bottom of his left foot. "Egads - The Gods! What terrors they concoct when aligned with a Russian scientist! And I thought she was The One. Or at least, no more than a love interest in MY story. Clint, with your brawn and my brains now aligned, we must get to the bottom of this." "Stick your feet in a pool of bourbon and I'll think about it, mate."
Meanwhile, back at the bunker, Athena implored Tatiana to take the impending crisis seriously. "You're treachery has threatened all of creation! The Directors feel you have departed too drastically from the script. Get it under control!" But Tatiana just turned up her nose, and laughed. "Tell them to cease intervening in the text, and I may consider unscrewing their world. But I'm willing to let Venice burn, for I do so despise all these tourists." Athena felt... conflicted.
..of course this did not worry Stod as his ancient scottish housekeeper, Mrs Hoosies, who had been looking after him since he was orphaned, would tidy away the mess and hoover up the glitter, then prepare him a simple 8 egg omelette, quail, melon and chops, with a double espresso and a pint of Guinness, his favourite cure for an amyl hangover. Then he would throw Clint out and get on with his full day.
Stad carefully checked the tells that he had left on the Aston Martin, he had cunningly poured a pint of enamel paint over the door and, by god there were hand prints in it and all over the steering wheel and upholstery. Well that fucks the Aston and Stid was dammed if he was getting his sea island cotton shirt covered in signal red. Styd decided to take the Nissan Bongo instead and departed for his meeting with the SMERSCH triple agent, the double crossing cross dresser Astrid….
He sat in her guest chair while she tied the black tie above her dinner jacket. The black and white attire set off her golden waves perfectly. She could tie a bow tie blindfold. Rather than watch what she was doing, she stared at him in the mirror, accusingly .
“Too bloddy right I am still cross, Stød. Vat ver you expecting when you dizappeared lazt time vit ze chob only half don?” She sighed “But zat is alvays yur vay, no patience, if it is takingk too long, get ze voman to finish it fur you.” She cast daggers at him from her ice blue eyes. “If I hed known you vood cop owt, I vould not hev invited you to participate in ze forst place. Zo do not expect me to be vorgiving you so qvickly.”
“Vy are you here, anyvay?”