Villainy on Vacation
FIFTH VERSUS FOURTH
Hourman vs. Mr. Mxyzptlk
by Michael Rees
"I am Hourman, an intelligent Machine Colony from the Year 85,271, programmed with Tyler Miracol Geneware," The android spoke directly to the camera, behind him the breakfast show host could only stare and gawk." People of Happy Harbour, you must beware the giant pink gorilla that will go on the rampage later today."
The television picture changed to show a blond news reader with a bemused look on her face sitting behind a desk." This surprise announcement was made earlier today as the new hero appeared unannounced on the Happy Harbour Morning Show. With no further explanation Hourman left leaving host, Chuck Forstane, to carry on with the show. So far neither the JLA or the JSA have released any comment."
Hourman pressed the remote and the small portable set television fell into darkness revealing the collected faces of everyone in the Mad Yak café who looked as shocked as the morning show host had been.
"Was that inappropriate?" Hourman asked.
Beth blinked, snapping her out of her daze "Well it was a bit unexpected. Where did that come from?"
"My Time Vision revealed it to me," Hourman looked down at his shiny brown feet "As a super hero I thought it important to warn them."
"Don't fret Ty, it made the show more exciting," Snapper Carr put an arm round Hourman's cloaked shoulders. "People just have a hard time believing things like that, even when the Sun does get eaten occasionally, and the world has a tendency to get invaded by aliens, or foul demons. No offence, Torcher."
The short monster stopped sweeping the floor of the café and fluttered its leathery wings "None taken, mortal. We found some people had a very hard time believing they were in hell. It wasn't until we'd poke them with pitch forks they'd start to believe us."
"You just can't expect people to believe that a giant gorilla is going to stomp on their small town, let alone a giant PINK gorilla," Beth brushed her long black hair back over her ear "How is it going to get here?"
"American Express?" Carr quipped snapping his fingers.
"I do not know, that information was not revealed to me," replied the android.
The owner of the shop, Riker, shook his head, his white ponytail thrashing about "Giant pink gorillas, another sign that our society is crumbling."
"All I know is I am going to be hiding my banana's," Snapper said, desperately trying to cheer up Hourman. Although the android was highly advanced and from the future, he was only two years old and had the emotional instability to prove it.
Beth stared at Hourman through her thick glasses, her large brown eyes searching for a look into his soul. "Maybe it wasn't the best way to phrase it Tyler, but maybe that isn't the problem. You came to us in an effort to become more human, more normal, but you just seem to be getting pulled deeper and deeper into the craziness of super hero life. Just give yourself a chance to live an ordinary life and be a normal person."
"Quiet, can you here a tapping coming from the television?" Hourman jumped to his feet, the cloak he wore flowing around him.
After a moment to get over their second surprise that morning the others found they could indeed hear something tapping against the glass of the screen.
Snapper Carr walked over to it placing his hand on top of the set, it was cool to the touch but he could feel the vibrations shaking the body of the television. As he bent down to examine the front of it, the screen suddenly turned itself on revealing a strange sight.
A small man in a purple suit and Derby hat was squashed up against the glass. His fat nose was pushed flat as his legs twisted up and around filling the tiny space within the television. One hand tapped against the glass as cracks started to appear.
"Get back Carr!" Beth waved her hands causing her large golden bracelets to knock against each other "It's going to blow."
Snapper stumbled back just as the set exploded in a spray of sparks. The glass from the screen shoot everywhere, as the tiny man barrelled out of the television and started to bounce around the room.
Riker dived behind the counter to avoid the shrapnel while Hourman used his cloak to shield Beth. As the purple blur bounced past Torcher the demon snarled and lashed out with its claws but found only empty air. Snapper lay on the floor where he had fallen, his arms over his head.
Finally the small figure came to a stop, floating in the middle of the room, after he had knocked the menu board off the wall and smashed every light in the café
"Hey, I know him, he's Mister Mxyzptlk," Car said looking up at the imp who was adjusting the Derby hat to sit properly on his bald head.
"As seen on television." The little man said in a smug voice.
"You're going to pay for that set," Riker managed to say as he came out from behind the cover of the counter "And for the rest of the damage in the café."
"Silence, oh flabby one," Mxyzptlk pointed a finger at Riker and a gag suddenly appeared over the man's mouth "I am looking for that dimensional upstart Hourman!"
Snapper Car scrambled to his feet, snatching Beth's gold bracelets off her wrists and slipped them on to his own wrists. "Back off imp, if I slam these bracelets together I'll unleash my super power ego from the Phantom Zone!"
Mxyzptlk's raised an eyebrow in bemusement "Really? What's your alter-ego's name?"
Snapper paused before tentatively saying "Captain Snap?"
"There he is!" Mxyzptlk pointed a stubby accusing finger at Hourman "I found you at last. You're the one who thinks he's the master of the fourth dimension and snitched on Qwsp."
"You refer to the 5th dimensional invasion which I warned the Justice League of?" Hourman stepped towards the imp who continued floating in the centre of the room, a scowl fixed on his face. "I was under the impression that imp's actions were frowned upon by your people."
Mxyzptlk crossed his arms "True, but he did put the big blue through the wringer and that's good enough for me. You've insulted every member of the 5th dimension and this is payback, you bag of bolts."
"Don't you dare," yelled Beth " Hourman hasn't done anything to you. Why don't you go bother Superman?"
Mxyzptlk smiled and with an audible pop his clothes changed so that he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and brightly coloured shorts, sandals on his feet, but the purple Derby hat remained. "I am on holiday from the big S. I am going to spend my time tormenting someone who is even more clueless and stuffy. I'd get used to me because the only way I am leaving is if you can make me say my name backwards and you'll never manage that."
"How would someone actually say your name backwards?" Snapper tried to look innocent, with little success.
"You don't fool me that easily," Mxyzptlk made a cocktail glass appear in his hand "This is the best idea I've had."
Beth tilted her head "Aren't all the villains in world moving to different cities? Didn't you just copy them?"
"I hate plagiarism," Growled Torcher flying into the air "I condemn you to eternal hell."
Mxyzptlk crossed his legs as the scaly demon approached him, the beast's sharp claws pointed towards him, his mouth open, ready to belch unholy flames.
At the last second Mxyzptlk pointed his finger and a small icebox appeared in mid air, its door open. Torcher didn't have a chance to change direction and flew straight into the white appliance, the door slamming shut behind him and the whole appliance crashed to the floor.
"And I condemn you to the eternal refrigerator," The imp watched with glee as ice started to form over the outside of the icebox.
"You should not do that, it is anti-social," Hourman turned round and picked a plate with a cake on it from behind the café counter "Would you like some cheese cake?"
"What!" Said Mxyzptlk and Snapper at the same time; both equally surprised by the android's actions.
"You told me that you were able to convince Torcher to put aside his duties as a demon with a slice of cheese cake. I thought it would be worth trying that here," Hourman held the plate up higher "Has Superman ever tried showing you hospitality?"
Mxyzptlk rolled his eyes "I have unlimited power, what would I want with cheese cake? You're not going to be able to talk your way out of this one."
The imp floated down and sat on top of the block of ice that had formed around the refrigerator and rubbed his chin. "What you need is something to motivate you, something that puts your friends in peril."
In the distance there was a loud thud and the whole café shook. Snapper Carr watched his glass of water shake, causing a circle to form and flow outwards. The sound continued, a rhythmic beat getting louder and louder.
"What did you do?" Carr had a very bad feeling about what was going to happen.
The inside of the café got very dark as a large figure blocked out the Sun, and the smell of sweat and hair filled the area. All they could see was a wall of pink that formed the leg of some immense creature.
The figure crouched down revealing its simian face; lips pulled back to reveal yellowing teeth, dark eyes observing the occupants. It let out an ungodly bellow that blew out the windows of the café, and knocked everyone off their feet, except for Mxyzptlk.
"It's a giant pink gorilla!" Riker said, finally managing to remove the gag.
"Thanks for that," Snapper muttered "Don't think I would have worked that out without your help."
The giant gorilla thrust an arm through the front wall of the café causing further damage. Its huge fingers probed the area, crushing the tables and shattering chairs. Finally they found Beth and with a swift tug the gorilla dragged her out into the open.
"Beth!" Hourman's eyes grew wide as the gorilla scooped Beth up and disappeared from view, lumbering away.
Without any more delay Hourman flew after the enormous ape, his cloak bellowing around him, a look of cold determination set in his face. Among the ruins of the Mad Yak café, Mxyzptlk rolled about, holding his sides as he laughed.
"Did you see the look on his face!" Mxyzptlk was turning red through laughing so hard "I bet he wasn't expecting that."
"Actually we all were," Snapper brushed fragments of chair out of his hair "Hourman made an announcement about it this morning on morning television."
Hourman managed to catch up to the giant ape as it stomped across Happy Harbour. Beth was clutched firmly in its hand. At first Hourman was worried that she'd been crushed to death but as he neared he could see that she was pounding her fists on the ape's hand.
"Put me down! I am not Fay Wray," Beth protested.
The giant ape just grunted and scanned the horizon looking for a suitable tall building to climb. Unfortunately, Happy Harbour was mostly composed of small domestic homes, pastel coloured shops and the occasional mall. The tallest building was the town's lighthouse and the ape didn't fancy wading out to the rocky island where the lighthouse was positioned.
Gliding past the Pink Gorilla, Hourman shouted to Beth "Don't worry, I'll activate my hour of power and free you."
Touching his chest the hourglass emblem on Hourman's chest rotated and the android felt the flood of energy wash through him. For the next sixty minutes he had complete control over space and time.
"I'll de-age the ape, making him smaller," Hourman's eye's glowed and twin trails of chrono-energy struck the pink ape causing it to yell out in anger.
As the light faded Hourman saw that the ape was the same size as before and before he could react, the giant gorilla punched him with incredible force sending Hourman crashing into the sea.
"Tyler!" Beth watched with concern as he vanished beneath the waves as the gorilla started moving again, kicking cars out of the way and people to run screaming.
Realising the precarious situation she was in Beth searched for a way to delay the monster "Would you like some banana's? I think Carr has some at his house."
"Harooo?" The gorilla looked at Beth with interest.
"You mean he already knew what I was going to do?" Mxyzptlk pouted "That takes the fun out of it."
"That's what you get if you mess with someone who has time vision," Snapper helped push the remains of the counter off Riker.
"He can only control the fourth dimension, I control the fifth," Mxyzptlk illustrated his point by making a red number four appear which was quickly squashed by a giggling blue number five. " Still, he should prove to be a worthy challenge for myself."
Riker was fuming by the time he freed himself " I hope you have a big wallet Mr Mixapants or I am taking you to court."
The imp sighed and clicked his fingers. The café was suddenly restored to its former condition with the exception that Riker was now surrounded by the café bar with no clear way to get out. A chain lead from the floor to a collar around his neck.
"Humans, so obsessed with personal property. Now be a good slave and make me a sandwich," Mxyzptlk turned his attention to the television, which flicked on showing the pink gorilla being struck by Hourman's time vision. The words 'Action replay' flashed in the corner. " Let's see how the tin can is doing."
"Why isn't his power affecting it?" Snapper was torn between watching the television and the bizarre sight of Riker making a sandwich, his eyes glazed over.
"The big buffoon tried to turn the gorilla into a baby, but you can't do that if some thing's never been young. I only summoned it a few minutes ago, fully grown and very mad," Mxyzptlk watched with glee as his minion swatted the android away "His powers will be completely useless."
"So is this what superior beings do? Play with giant monkey's?" Snapper realised that mocking an all powerful being might not be the best of ideas, but he'd learnt that you can find out a lot if you can anger a villain enough to make him rant and explain his entire plan.
"You sound like my wife," Mxyzptlk said quietly "I wouldn't be so quick to judge me, Snapper, you've hardly made a great success of your life. Betraying the JLA, a failed marriage, a disastrous short career as a super hero."
"Hey! How do you know all that?" Snapper clenched his fist before he realised punching the twerp was only going to land him in even more trouble.
"From the book of your life," Mxyzptlk reached into his shirt and pulled out a large yellow book that he tossed towards Snapper.
Catching the tome Carr saw his own depressed face on its cover, the title ran across the top in bold green reading "Snapper Car, My Pathetic Life." Slowly he started to flick through the pages that revealed his life in horribly intimate detail.
"Read the end, there's a really good death scene. Nice and messy," Mxyzptlk enjoyed watching Snapper's face turn pale as he slammed the book shut "Oh, isn't that your house."
Snapper turned to look at the screen and saw that the giant gorilla was indeed tearing the roof off Snapper's house. The camera closed in on Starro, his white cat, hissing and jumping about to avoid being crushed by the searching fingers of the ape.
"Hurg?" The ape sounded very annoyed as it failed to turn up any of the fruit it was promised.
Beth looked up at its questioning face and shrugged " He said he had them."
There was a loud pop and a huge pile of bananas suddenly appeared, an equally large label appearing nearby with the words "Keep up the good work, Mr Mxyzptlk" in large black letters.
Pink Kong, as Beth had come to think of him, happily started shovel the yellow fruit into its mouth making the occasional contented grunt. Beth was relieved that the distraction had caused her captor to loosen his grip, not enough for her to free herself but breathing was becoming less of a problem.
Distracted the pink simian failed to notice Hourman, still dripping, fly over. His blank eyes grew wide as he saw the destruction caused to Snapper's home.
"Beth! Are you well?" Hourman gingerly floated closer keeping one eye on the ape who was continuing to stuff its face.
"I am fine for the moment but my clothes are going to smell of monkey for months," Beth saw that only a few bananas were left "You've got to get me out of here."
"My previous attempt to free you did not work as intended. Let me see if I can ascertain why," Hourman's eyes flared as he activated his Time vision peering into the gorilla's whole being, from its past to its future "By Metron's brain! This ape has no beginning and no end; it has no place in the normal flow of time. I will be unable to effect it directly."
Pink Kong finished swallowing the last of the banana's and started to take deep breath's trying to locate the scent of more delicious fruit. Finding no trace left it starting to knock over the furniture, angry bellows escaping its lips.
"Quickly Tyler, I think it's going to throw a monkey fit," Beth found herself jerked about as the ape reared back letting out a mighty shout of annoyance.
"I may not be able to use my powers on the ape, but I can still affect you Beth," Hourman allowed himself to see Beth's temporal trail, watching it drift back towards the Mad Yak café "I will move you to the physical space you occupied thirty minutes ago."
Beth didn't have the chance to question Tyler about what he meant as the glowing energy from Hourman's eyes struck her and she felt herself torn away.
Pink Kong seemed equally surprised but directed its confusion into an act of destruction, kicking Snapper's house causing the wooden walls to shatter. Selflessly, Hourman dodged the shrapnel and scooped up Starro, cradling the feline in his arms as he flew them both to safety.
Unsatisfied, the giant pink gorilla turned and searched for another way to display its disgust at the lack of bananas.
"Where'd the damsel go?" Mxyzptlk squinted at the television; slowly chewing on the ham sandwich Riker had made him "Can't have a dramatic situation if the hero's love interest isn't in mortal peril."
Just as the imp was getting up to take a closer look at the television, a metal bin was slammed over his head, showering him in trash. He let out a squawk of protest as his arms were jammed to his side and he was completely unable to see. His tiny legs were barely able to carry him as, desperate to escape, he dashed forward, leading him straight into the television, rebound off it and toppled over.
Beth gave a self-satisfied smile and glanced at Snapper who was stunned by her sudden appearance although, he thought to himself, he really shouldn't be, considering the kind of day he was having. She brushed her hand removing the grime that had come off the bin when she picked it up.
"You are in so much trouble when I get out off here!" Came Mxyzptlk's muffled voice as he sat up, the bin wobbling on his head.
Snapper picked up a stool and started to beat it on the side of the bin causing a load ringing noise. Beth followed his lead and the two of them attacked the bin, dents appearing in its metal surface.
"Gack!" Mxyzptlk was being deafened and beaten by the assault. He was completely unable to get his bearings.
"This is so much fun, it should be illegal!" Snapper yelled over the din of the bin.
The 5th dimensional being cursed to itself in an ancient language that would cause even the oldest, and bawdiest gods to blush. While he contemplated what horrible fate he would bestow on these two inferior creatures, Hourman had become the last thing on his mind.
Forty minutes had passed which meant Hourman only had twenty minutes of his hour of power to get rid of the ape and Mxyzptlk, who possessed powers beyond anything the android had ever encountered.
By the time he caught up with the gorilla it was in a trailer park, a popular location for tourists seeking to enjoy the seaside atmosphere of Happy Harbour. People ran for cover as the ape picked up the trailers and flung them into the air, scattering their contents everywhere.
A small toddler looked up with bewilderment as its home somersaulted through the air before reaching its zenith, slowed, and descend towards the child, an expanding shadow covering her.
At the last moment Hourman swooped in and caught the trailer, slowly lowering the heavy load to the ground. For a master of time he had little to spare in receiving the thanks of the child's tearful mother, holding her ward in her arms.
"This cannot continue," Hourman slipped between the gaps in the seconds avoiding the missiles Pink Kong threw, closing on his target "I know you are not to blame for you destructive existence, but lives are at stake."
To the pink gorilla, Hourman appeared as a golden ghost, objects passing through his translucent form. This defiance only angered the ape more and it lashed out seeking to rid himself of the android.
"While I can't affect you, I can affect the carbon-dioxide you exhale holding it in position, allowing you no air," Hourman concentrated, holding each particle in place, an invisible dome surrounding the ape's head, oxygen bouncing off the temporal trap.
The creature's eyelids started to become heavy, drooping over its brown eyes. Its breathing became deep and laboured, the gorilla's chest rising and falling at a slower and slower pace; its bright pink fur rippling.
Hourman watched the gorilla slope about, its leg's wobbling, it feebly swiped at Hourman but failed to connect with its tormentor. Using its long arms, the gorilla tried to balance itself, but its knuckles slipped on the smooth side of a squashed trailer. It collapsed, eyes closing completely, the simian falling into unconsciousness.
"I am sorry," Hourman placed a hand gently on the creature wide brow.
Snapper had taught Hourman that not everything was black and white. While the ape had been destructive and placed others at risk, it was not evil, only following its instincts. The true evil was Mxyzptlk. He had created the ape and used him as a pawn. Nothing disgusted Hourman more than that.
Summoning his strength, Hourman carried the sleeping gorilla away from Happy Harbour and placed it within a seaside cave, sealing the entrance as he went. A quick check revealed that there were only ten minutes of his hour of power left.
He hoped that it would be enough.
The trash can exploded with a fantastic force throwing Beth and Snapper into the wall behind the bar. Mxyzptlk stood trembling with rage, flames licked around him and his shadow was cast across the wall becoming large and threatening.
"That's it!" The imp's voice had changed; it sounded like a hurricane; a force of nature "No one treats a resident of the 5th dimension in such a manner. I'll stretch you thin across space and time, your pain will last an eternity."
Snapper pulled himself up using the bar for support, his back protesting its rough treatment "Would it help to say we're sorry?"
Imp's sandals scorched the floor causing a loud sizzling sound, each footstep shook the building, and even the sunlight seemed to dim. Mxyzptlk's eyes had become pitch black, his teeth clenched, the vehemence poisoning the air around him.
"I'll take that as a no," Snapper was suddenly pulled down by Beth as a blast of flames filled the space he had just been occupying. It covered Riker in soot as the café owner stood stock still in his zombie trance.
Mxyzptlk reached the bar and pushed it out of the way with a single touch, the wooden counter disintegrating into wood chips. Snapper held tightly on to Beth as the small figure closed on the two of them.
"This is turning out to be the best holiday I've ever taken," Mxyzptlk raised his hands ready to unleash his powers "Hourman only has one minute of his power left and I am about to kill his two best friends. This will show everyone in this sorry dimension Mr Mxyzptlk is not an imp to trifle with!"
As soon as the words were out of Mxyzptlk's mouth the door flung open revealing Hourman, his eye's glowing with time power. As its light dimmed it streaked across the café and struck the 5th dimensional troublemaker.
"Htiw elfirt ot pmi na ton si kltpzyxm rM noisnemid yrros siht ni enoyreve wohs lliw siht." Mr Mxyzptlk's arms snapped back to his sides.
The small figure shook his head and glared at the android "Now that's just cheating."
With that he vanished in a puff of smoke. As soon as he disappeared so did the refrigerator along with all the damage to the café and Riker's pupils reappeared. Hourman collapsed onto a chair, his power drained.
"Alright Tyler!" Snapper smiled and leapt across the surface of the counter "What did you do to him? It was as if you rewound him."
Hourman nodded "Using the last of my energy I was able to propel him back through the last four seconds, in effect making him say his name backwards."
"I don't care how you did it Tyler but you got rid of him." Beth through her arms around the robot's neck and gave him a big hug "Now our lives can get back to normal."
"Achoo!" Torcher sneezed, unleashing a plume of blue flame. He blinked and then shivered rubbing his scaly arms, the melting ice dripping off his hide " Never have I felt such cold. I believe I have come down with 'flu."
The demon sneezed again unleashing more flames; Riker snatched the menus off the counter, removing any flammable material.
"Well, maybe normal is too strong a word," Snapper laughed.
All characters and scanned artwork are © DC Comics
This story is © 2000 by Michael Rees
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