Dashed Expectations

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PostPosted: Fri May 09, 2014 6:59 pm 
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Atop a bleak, snowy mountain stood a man. His white coat caked with frost, but he felt no bite of the wind’s chill. His legs stood firm and rigid, his tall boots half-buried in snow. Alone he was, gazing at the arid landscape around him through his purple sunglasses.

Done reflecting on what the world presented him with, the man turned his round head to the large sword he held. Only it wasn't a sword; more like a giant squid. A squid that he himself had fished out of the freezing waters of this tundra with his bare hands. This squid was special. Even now, as it laid frozen stiff in his hands, he could feel its immense power—a power only he deserved. It had been no coincidence that he should catch this green-and-black-striped squid on his visit to this harsh world. He and it were fated to unite.

Now the man raised the squid by its frozen tentacles until he stared at it eye-to-eye. By all appearances, the squid was dead. But the man knew it was not so. It had merely agreed to channel its energy into him. Its consciousness still existed; he could see it in its blank eye. And right now, that consciousness was saying something to him:

“Ride me.”

The man needed no further instruction. He dropped the squid flat onto the mountain slope and jumped onto it. Balancing himself, he rode the squid down the mountain, leaning this way and that to steer around jutting rocks, sometimes launching off of one and catching some mad air. His snowboarding was a sight all would be privileged to see if there were any to witness it.

The man felt at one with the universe. This was what he was meant to do with his life. To ride the squid of destiny down the mountain of plight. It was at this moment that the man felt truly enlightened.

Then he slid straight into a snowdrift and buried himself and his squid. Disappointed, but not upset, the man tried to break out. The task was slightly harder than he preferred.

It was then that he noticed a penguin standing a short distance in front of him, staring at him. The man stared back through his sunglasses. Moments passed. Neither said nor did anything. Until finally, the penguin waddled forward and plucked the man’s head from the snow. Literally.

“I never thought I’d find watermelon growing around here,” the penguin spoke in surprisingly fluent English. “Weird that it’d have these sunglasses, though. Oh well, I guess it’s a double-win for me!” It put on the glasses and tucked the watermelon under its wing.

As it began to waddle away, the man’s body finally wrenched itself free of the snow and rose high enough for its shadow to fall over the penguin. The penguin noticed and turned around to discover to its amazement a muscular man with a chiseled head too silhouetted against the sun to make out. The man held his squid in one hand as he bore down on the penguin.

“That melon,” he spoke in deep, resonating voice, “is my mask.”

The penguin stared at the man a moment longer before looking down at the melon and back. “Oh, sorry, I didn't know this was yours, dood,” it responded and gingerly held the watermelon for the man to take.

The man lifted the melon to his head and with one swift motion, slammed it down until it fit past his neck. Now, for all intents and purposes, the watermelon was his head. But it was missing something.

The man held out his empty hand and spoke, “The sunglasses, too.”

The penguin looked devastated, but eventually relinquished the glasses too. As the man placed them back onto his melon head, giving him the grape-tinted vision he was used to, there was suddenly no longer a penguin in front of him, but a man. He wore a red cap, a red coat, blue pants, and some brown boots. In many ways he resembled an iconic plumber, except his face was clean-shaven.

The watermelon-headed man set his squid down headfirst while he pondered. “A being that appears before me as an animal, only to appear human when viewed through certain lenses,” he mused out loud. To the new man, he spoke, “You, sir, must be a departed spirit out to get me, for the jealousy of all I have, that you don’t, has driven you mad.”

The new man shifted his weight slightly as he answered, “Actually, I’m, uh, alive. I just prefer to be seen as a penguin because penguins are cool, dood. My penguin pals—real penguin pals—call me M. Just M.” He took a hard look at the watermelon-headed man. “And who are you, exactly?”

The man raised a hand to adjust his sunglasses. “Wally,” he answered with authority. “But among the deities of this world, I am known as… the Underdog.”

“Cool, dood. So I guess you must be on some epic journey of self-discovery, right? I mean, why else would you come here?” M lifted his arms flatly, as if they were still penguin wings, to gesture to the vast white landscape around them.

Wally gave a slow nod. “You’re not a bad thinker for someone who decided to live a hermit’s life among penguins.”

“Hey, everybody’s got their priorities. Besides, there’s a lot of evil out there. Everybody’s worried about something. Here, all I gotta worry about is when my next meal is gonna be. That, and how to go to the bathroom where nobody will notice it.”

Wally was once again thoughtful. He knew only too well the mystical powers at play that tormented the world’s denizens for their own ends. Perhaps now that he had boarded down a mountain, it was time to take his newfound power to new heights. He took up his squid and stared at its frozen eye and he could tell, telepathically, that it agreed with him.

“Well, do whatever you’d like around here,” M stated. “Just try not to tempt us penguins with little morsels we can’t have.” And with that, the bundled man turned and slid away on his belly.

Wally turned to the horizon, reflecting it in his glasses. It was time for him to make a comeback in the world. He would seek out whatever evil dared to show its ugly mug, and he’d swat it like a fly.

“Come, Squall,” he said to his squid, which he had just then named. “Together, we will not be known as underdogs, but rather… a single… Overdog.”

He shifted his glasses. This was going to be a cool gig.

To be continued...?

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