2008-02-21: Nightmarish And Ridiculous

Starring:

Lee_icon.gif and Leslie_icon.gif

Special Thanks:

Joule_icon.gif

For scene-sets and death trappy emits.

Summary:

It's a deathtrap for Randall!!! But Lee is in it and ruins everything forever, the end.

Date It Happened:

February 21, and before, but mostly before.

Nightmarish and Ridiculous


New York City

Okay. The phone is either in a dead zone and has been for days, or it's out of battery and Lee's forgotten the charger. Given how stressed and distracted he's been since she's seen him last, anything's possible. Joule wishes, for the third time, that she thought to get his sister's number. She could at least call and wish him a happy belated Valentine's day. If he's even there, as opposed to hiding in a motel with the TV out on the balcony or something. She sighs. "You better be all right, you daft hipster you," she says to herself before leaving for work.

Lee is not all right.

VALENTINE'S DAY

Lee descends the stairs into the Secret Lair, wearing his best collared shirt, scarf, coat, vest, and having worked on his hair until it's just right. A smidge of cologne, a bouquet of roses, he's ready to head over to Joule's. "How do I look?" Lee says to Tito.

"Kory needs a ride, she's picking up some chairs at this warehouse on the south side." Tito says, parroting the message he was left without really caring that he's giving it to Lee and not Randall. After all, Tito likes Randall and doesn't like Lee and the best way to put a spoke in Lee's Valentine's plans is to send him traipsing off the city on an errand. And he doesn't even look up at how Lee looks. "Ugh." Lee says, taking the post-it from Tito.

Lee's crappy Volvo pulls into the warehouse parking lot. It looks a bit run down but not abandoned, which until a few days ago, it was. Lee leans out the window, looking in consternation at his cellphone. "No signal? C'mon…" he mutters, tucking it away. "Kory? You around here?" he calls out, coming up the stairs to the cheerily-lit door that says 'Customer Pickup Entrance'. In video games, it's well established that players go towards lights in dark environments. It's no different here.

There's no Kory. At least, no answer from her. Maybe she's inside, out of earshot. The parking area is also pretty empty save for a couple homeless guys around an oildrum fire. They don't acknowledge Lee, though.

Lee goes on in, hopefully she's inside keeping warm. As usual, he is wrapped up in his own thoughts.

The hallway looks normal enough, though deserted. There's another sign on the floor in front of the elevator that says in a neat pre-printed and professional font, "Please come up to the second floor waiting area." Lee's steps echo up the hallway. There're cigarette butts in the ashtray beside the sign. So maybe this building isn't entirely deserted, despite how it looks. Perhaps the majority of the staff went home early because it's the lovers' holiday.

Lee is annoyed now that he's not heading out on his lover's holiday, heading up to the second floor, fussing with his cellphone again. "No frickin' bars, this is a disgrace…" he mutters. "This is New York City, shouldn't there be a hundred towers in any direction?"

There should.

There are.

However this building? No repeaters. And a jammer. No cellphone bars for Randall. The recording of Leslie's voice, made echoing and intimidating by some kind of synthesizer. "Welcome, Randall Kirkwood, to the beginning of the first of the last of your life. HA HA HA HAHAHAHAHA!"

Lee says, "…Who?" A pause. "Randall…Hey, my name's not Randall and…. And that threat is completely redundant and idiotic. The beginning of the first of the last of his life?! What, is that middle age?" He looks around, jiggling door handles experimentally. "Kory, are you even in here?"

The elevator opens onto a hallway. "If you surive this night, my rival, maybe I'll see if she still wants you. But don't count on it. On either of those, really. She's mine now. She's forgotten you. We're going to be flying off to some tropical climate to get married even if you do make it out alive. Face it. I won. You lost."

Lee yells out, "Who the hell are you talking about? Is it…." It becomes clear that either the person is ignoring him - horror! - or can't hear him at all. "…wait, did you say 'if you survive'?" Lee says, somewhere between alarmed and chagrinned. He slowly takes a step out of the elevator…and just in time, as a cable is severed and it goes plummeting back down into the darkness to smash to pieces in the darkness far below. Horrified and stunned, Lee stumbles back from the yawning black pit that exists now, falling down, scrabbling backwards on the concrete floor, his two-tone shoes scraping at it. This is serious.

The evil laughter continues, taunting, but there's no more taunting language at this point. Though a couple panels open in the ceiling and darts begin firing out of little metal tubes at Lee. If he pays attention, he can hear the whirring of each dartgun before it fires.

Lee is not paying attention and it isn't until the first one hits the concrete with a SPAKK right between his legs - it would have been on his back if he'd been standing, and in the back of his neck if he'd been standing and Randall - that he grasps the situation. He heaves himself up to his feet with an undulating push and raises up a hand to deflect the darts in a way his sister would call Matrix-style. At the moment he wouldn't have any snappy comebacks for her. The eerie whirr of the dart guns push forward on a rail above the ceiling tiles, pushing him backwards down the hall step by step, faster and faster.

"Well." The voice sounds amused yet disgusted. "You made it through my first little trap. Not bad. You're better than I thought. Though how you did it, how you can see through all that hair, is beyond me. WHAT ARE YOU, FOUR? CUT YOUR HAIR!" Is it a hint to the next deadly threat Randall Lee will face? There are no unlocked doors in the hallway except the one at the end. A flight of stairs goes up. Not down. The stairs heading down are — rubble and empty space. Randall'd break a leg trying to jump it. Lee on the other hand? Well, his powers may not quite be honed enough that he can safely jump it either.

Lee laughs despite himself. "He does have pretty terrible hair…" he mutters. He doesn't even think about jumping. You'd hurt yourself! He goes up…but cautiously. This idiot, what was his name, Lefty? …he must have some kind of sensors to set off the traps, like weight or heat or something, that must be how he knows he survived the darts. "Let's see just how melodramatically stupid you are…" Lee says, crouching down as he ascends. "…did you just announce to me what your next brilliant move was?"

Apparently not. There are no spinning or whirling blades involved when Lee arrives on the landing of the next floor. Instead? There's an ominous thudding. Behind Lee. A metal-on-metal noise. Something big is coming down the stairs. Giant pinballs. Like one would find in a pinball machine. Except large enough to flatten a grown man. "And you without your flippers," taunts the synthesized voice. "Mind the bumpers."

Lee can run, for reals. With long legs and precision balance he flees from the pinballs. He knows the walls must be electrified or something so he doesn't try to squeeze around….down at the end of the hall he sees a hanging lamp that is still hanging, still intact, though the lightbulb's long gone. Faster and faster he runs, hearing the massive sphere getting closer and closer. No way is he going to be killed by a third rate 1970s X-Men deathtrap. At least give him a mug of hemlock! He runs, runs, longer strides, almost a leap, then one jump as high as he can, fingers outstretched for the lamp….

The lamp holds, groaning and swaying, but it bears his weight. The giant pinball falls down into the elevator shaft, to make a horrible crashing racket atop the now defunct elevator. But there's another sign that indicates there's a flight of stairs. And like the ones at the other end of the hall, these have the way down demolished. "You think you're so clever. With your Hollywood smile, and your clever quips. The only reason she noticed you is that you didn't look at her boobs first. You talked to her." There's a sneer, a bitter growl in those words, that implies the speaker didn't have the nerve to talk to her himself…something he would've been scandalized to realize he'd given away.

Lee is panting for breath…he moves more slowly when he drops back down to the floor. Hollywood smile? Randall? "Who is this idiot in love with, anyway?" He gets to the stairs. "Shit!" he curses, kicking a rock into the blackness. It arcs down, obediently, out of sight into the inky hole below. He checks his cellphone again. Going through this guy's routine is getting old. But there are still no bars. And nowhere to go but up. He goes.

This floor has the buzzsaw blades. At different heights. Knee-height, chest-height, neck-height, ankle-height. All sliding in and out of the walls at intervals. "You didn't do anything for her insomnia! You didn't do anything for her pain! All you did was make big brown puppy eyes at her, and she FELL FOR IT! LIKE A TON OF BRICKS! You don't even have money! Or a steady job! What does she SEE IN YOU?" The voice goes crazed. Then it calms. "No matter. There won't be anything of you to see in a moment, will there, Randall?"

Lee stares at it for a long moment. He takes deep breaths. He considers running, sliding…no, he'd have to go left, then…no, the one in the floor would get him…and…"Fuck this." Lee says, turning back to the stairwell and hefting up a big chunk of rock. He heaves it up to his shoulder and twists his neck to stare at it, focusing hard. "This is bullshit." he says. "This is bullshit, do you have some kind of recorder or something in here?" he insists. "I know you do, because you would want to watch it over and over again afterwards. This is….BULLSHIT!" With that explosion of anger, he heaves the rock as hard as he can into the air, over the tallest sawblade, and concentrating as hard as he can, tries to guide it to the area past the trap. Hopefully if the weight sensor is there, it will turn the trap off, just as ascending the stairs turned it on. And…to his dismay, the huge chunk of concrete happily floats through the air like a balloon pulled by a string, and CLANGs to the floor right where he wanted it. He hates that he's getting better at this. Just fucking hates it.

The sawblades stop where they are. Which is going to leave Lee still a dangerous and circuitous path to the end of the hallway to get past them. But get to the end he does. And now there's only a ramp leading up to a doorway under which blue-white light spills. "Yeah. Nice work there, hair mop." If only Lee paid attention to the dynamics in the Lair, that derogatory nickname might ring familiar. "Looks like you've made it to the endgame."

Lee clambers over and around and his coat is caught and ripped and his scarf gets hung up and he has to leave it behind. "Endgame…great, lovely. Good. Maybe I can get out of here." he mutters. See, if he'd actually read more comics he would know that is not what the supervillain means.

The door opens with no problem to the top floor. There's a wall facing Lee. That's it. A blank wall. On which is projected the face of his tormentor. It's the one who goes by a new nickname every week, dressed in a tux. Behind him is something that clearly resembles a church set up for a wedding. "Speak now, or forever hold your peace," he taunts. "Oh, wait. You're gonna be holding your piece forever." The image changes from a fullscreen of him to a 3/4 screen of him. The fourth quarter is set up with a two minute countdown. "The explosives in the basement are going to bring the building down like a piledriver. Goodbye, Randall. It's been real. It's been nice, but it hasn't been real nice. I win. I get the girl.

"…and you get …oblivion."

Lee says, "What? Wait!! This is…you can't!" He doesn't know anything about explosives, but if the guy has a sawblade hallway there's no way he can't get some dynamite. He yells, "You can't do this!…uh…" His pleading lacks a certain something because he never paid enough attention to remember the guy's name.

Lee rushes back into the stairwell, but this is the longest drop yet, four stories straight down with not even a guardrail to tie a rope to if there was a rope, with the whole vertical drop carefully cleaned of any method of climbing down - worse than an elevator shaft because of its width. Lee looks up, looks down frantically. No ladders, no wires, no pipes, just a sheer blank industrial surface. Behind and above him the countdown continues. "No, no…" He looks at his cellphone one last time but it's completely dark. He whirls around in a panic, left, then right. The big chunk of concrete he threw sits at his feet. "…oh christ." he says, staring at it with green eyes wide. "Oh…oh christ." He runs his hands through his formerly perfect hair, now matted with sweat and even a bit of blood from…something cutting him or hitting him. He has no idea where it was, somewhere in these nightmarish, ridiculous hallways.

Lee gulps for breath. He sucks in air, blows it out, shakes with fear. He very slowly puts one foot on the wall of the stairwell, turning around backwards, leaning over as if to push off, like a runner at a starting block. But he doesn't push off. Instead, Lee shuts his eyes.

And he puts his other foot on the wall, facing straight down the empty stairwell towards the ground sixty feet below.

The old homeless man told the police: "He came rushing out of the building running hard as he could, yelling, wavin' his arms around like to warn us and then the whole place went up. My ears is still ringing. The explosion lifted him right up off the ground like he didn't weigh anything. Slammed him down. Damnedest thing. I guess if he hadn't warned us off we'd still be standing there by his…well, by where his car used to be."

PRESENT DAY, PRESENT TIME

The hospital is over the river in New Jersey, close to the industrial bridge that served the warehouse district. It's not the greatest hospital, but Lee is relieved to wake up at all. Even if it is a few days later than when his date was supposed to be.

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