The World Hero Federation – Part 2

World Hero Federation – Part Two

Steve Austin’s mother often referred to him as an employee of the giant media conglomerate HHH Networks. Usually that level of vagueness sufficed to get her through casual conversations without having to get into the gory details. Steve was sorry she felt that way, but he was damned if he was gonna feel ashamed of his job – he was a janitor and damn proud of it. After his run-ins with the law and problems with previous employers, as his psychiatrist Dr. Levesque always told him, Steve was lucky to even have this job.

Which is why he was a little bit freaked out when his name was called over the intercom to report to The Big Office.

Steve had heard stories about The Big Office, about employees coming in and never coming out again, getting fired and mysteriously disappearing.

That, of course, was silly talk, and only crazy people engaged in silly talk. His watch told him so every day.

So, fighting off the calming effects of the drugs constantly keeping him in a dull haze those days, he brushed his long hair out of the face and defiantly marched up to the door of the Big Office, determined to come out of this encounter for the better.

“ENTER,” a voice boomed as he stepped towards the door. The doors swung open automatically and Steve stepped forward, like Dante into the Inferno.

The first thing he noticed was that the people sitting at the large, classy, oak table were much smaller than he had pictured them.

“Greetings, Mr. Austin,” the one on the left began, “my name is Matthew Hardy, and we’ve heard a lot about you.”

“What?” was all Austin could get out in reply.

“Indeed,” the second one said, “you may be just a low-level janitor scrubbing toilets on the 82nd floor, but to us you’re part of the family.” The large plaque in front of him read “Gregory Helms, Vice-President.”

“What?” was again the only syllable Austin was capable of producing under the influence of the drugs prescribed to him.

“That’s why it pains us so much to have to fire you.” The third one finished, giving him a weird smile.

“Well said, Jeffrey.” Offered Matthew.

“What?” Austin asked again.

“You seem to say that a lot, Mr. Austin,” Gregory pointed out. “You should see someone about that habit.”

“I am.”

“Good, glad to hear you’re capable of more than one word. All right, you’ve talked us into offering you a second chance at redeeming yourself. Now, while the main focus of Hardy/Helms/Hardy Networks is in the media areas, really you have to find something to do with your time and 103 floors of office space, or else you’re just going to stagnate, no?”

Austin didn’t follow, but followed the advice his watch most often gave him and nodded along anyway.

“Excellent.” Jeffrey had now picked up the conversation. “You see, we feel that branching into biotechnology is the best way for HHH Networks to diversify for the next century while maintaining our iron grip on the world’s TV and film needs. Do you read much, Mr. Austin?”

“Uh yes. Comic books, mainly.”

“Well,” Helms continued for Jeffrey, “perhaps we were thinking more along the lines of that book about something in a Jurassic Park type of vein, but I suppose those ridiculous tales of ‘pro wrestling’ might also provide some educational value.” Helms even did the quote marks in the air with his fingers, annoying Austin to no end.

“I believe that wrestlers exist, and not just in comics.”

“Now is not the time,” Matthew chided, “because you are rapidly causing us to lose our point. Now then, for years every school child in America has been concerned with one thing above all others: DNA resequencing and recombining.”

Austin seemed confused at this turn in the conversation.

“All right, perhaps we went to a more scientifically oriented school than you did, but who among us has not dreamed of having our DNA combined with that of a wild animal?”

Austin was feeling a little less confused and a little more freaked out.

“W what?” he stammered.

“You should be honored, Mr. Austin.” Helms smugly added. “All the others have been spectactular failures, unstable, unusable really, quite the disgrace to the whole field of so-called ‘mad science’. But you, Mr. Austin you are tougher and more adaptable. You will be our greatest success and make the name ‘HHH’ synonymous with the greatest advances in the history of science!”

Austin heard the doors slam shut behind him, and turned around to see something he had only read rumors about in the National Enquirer before then. 7 feet tall, covered in burn tissue, with a red mask covering his face, stood the thing that was only supposed to be a child’s tale, like Bigfoot or Loch Ness.

Kane.

Sadly, Austin’s watch had nothing of value to offer him in the way of advice before the first shot to the head by the monster Kane rendered him unconscious.

* * * * *

Deep in the Grand Canyon, beyond where normal human excursions could be taken, beyond where even the birds bothered to fly, there stood a statue.

Just a statue. Rock, sand, nothingness, darkness, and then this STATUE. If you had the patience and time to venture deep enough into the mind-numbingly boring canyon and had the patience to stare at the huge amounts of rock and sand for long enough to recognize that there would likely be nothing but huge amounts of rock and sand on the horizon for any time in the near future, you would be rewarded with seeing a statue where no statue should possibly be at just about the least likely time to see such a statue. For some, this could quite possibly be a deeply moving pseudo-religious experience.

For Undertaker, it was nothing more than an inconvenience, as he appeared instantaneously at the exact spot of the statue (in a bad mood), thus completely bypassing all the neat by-products of the journey to get there.

“Wake up.” He growled, seemingly at no one in particular but the statue. To the surprise of no one, there was no answer. This did not seem to faze the Undertaker, however, as he continued his seemingly-pointless one-sided conversation with an audience that may as well have been a sandbox for all the feedback he got from it. But being dead for so long tends to give you a fresh perspective on things like standing around at the bottom of a canyon having a conversation with a statue, so he continued undeterred.

“Wake up.” Then in case his point wasn’t completely understood, he decided to add “now” to the sentence.

If the statue cared, it didn’t show it. But then, that wasn’t a shock to anyone present.

Undertaker seemed to think long and hard, weighing what he was about to do. It disgusted him on many levels, but greater things were at stake. Despite his total lack of need for doing so, he took a deep breath, gritted his teeth, and put his cards on the table one last time.

“Please?” He felt unclean just saying the word.

The statue moved. One eyebrow.

“Are you happy now?” Undertaker griped. “You’ve been sitting out here sulking for almost six months now, and the world’s going to hell.”

The statue moved a little more, and now actually spoke.

“I suppose you have the solution to this great problem ailing the world, and I’m a part of it?”

“Look, Rock,” Undertaker said, using the statue’s proper name for the first time, “you can either help me, or sit here meditating like a monk for the next thousand years, it’s your choice. I would prefer to have your help because all I have so far is Angleman and I swear that I’m gonna have to kill him myself if I’m forced to spend the next month alone with him. So, Rock, PLEASE, help me.”

The statue, Rock to his friends, stepped off his pedestal and walked up to Undertaker, meeting him eye-to-eye.

“If Angleman offers The Rock so much as a glass of milk, The Rock is leaving.”

“Understood.”

“The Rock is serious. You might THINK The Rock is making it up, but he’s not. The Rock will be right back in the middle of the Grand Canyon doing time as a statue faster than you can say ‘rest in peace.’”

The conversation continued that way as they stepped through the portal.

However, unknown to them, there was one other person watching the exchange

(To Be Continued )