|WARNING: PROFANITY FOLLOWS|
|The following content contains profanity that may not be suitable for readers of all ages. Please proceed with caution.|
|The Multiversal Man|
|Season 1, Episode 2|
Queen of Nothingness
"Alien Hand Syndrome" is the second part of The Multiversal Man, a prequel story of Earth-216 taking place in Dimension 505.
"A man is suddenly confronted by a nightly vision he doesn't fully understand, rumors of a prophecy destined to save humanity from evil, and his grotesque guardian angel."
The scene slowly begins to pan across the view of a rusty, old-fashioned wristwatch laying on a refurbished desk, eventually panning outwards to reveal the interior of his own apartment complex, dark and gloomy with the exception of an illuminating lamp nearby.
A pondering Jackson stared over the wristwatch with fascination yet moderate disgust in his blue eyes, all while he occasionally looks downwards to clip his dirty fingernails, then back up to continue examining the watch: the black-and-silver shell of its case almost entirely chipped away to reveal its withered mechanical components, its glass face cracked, its and hands permanently locked at a time around early 3 AM.
It was a gift sent to him from Ms. Tenison years ago.
It was just now he finally opened the box.
It’s the last piece Jack has of what once was.
A grateful marriage.
Both of them.
...it’s covered by mechanical death.
Without a second thought, the moment Jackson finishes clipping his nails, he calmly pockets his clipper, picks up the wristwatch, and on his way out of the apartment, carelessly throws it into the nearby trash-can and aggressively shuts the door behind him.
Jackson eagerly thought about the bizarre nightmare he had a few nights ago, during his surprisingly-silent midnight drive to that little flower shop.
It was comical, yet… so strange.
A pleasant dream nor a torturous nightmare.
Just a garbled mess of blurred, unreadable messages his brain had spliced together.
It was what looked like some sort of… medical laboratory of sorts.
The stark-white walls and flickering lights, everything blinded with this hideous shade of neon-red, were surprisingly soft yet still nonetheless blinding to Jackson’s dreaming eyes.
Everything looked… fleshy. Throbbing. Pulsating.
The walls, the ceiling, even the floor, all had this malleable, almost organic shape Jack could not describe well enough in words. They were constantly shifting about, like masses of living flesh, breathing lungs, jerking organs.
It was all so grisly... yet just so… macabre.
In the middle of the red-tinged room, the headless body of a fair-skinned man in a lab-coat sits in a rusted office chair, limbs hanging outwards as if stiffened and petrified by the process of rigor mortis.
Unearthly jet-black fluid constantly pools and leaks from the unexposed stump of the coated body’s neck, all while an ungodly mass of what resembles raw beef laid on the twitching ground behind the stagnant body, entirely featureless besides a pair of black goggles within the pulsing mass of meat.
Jackson couldn’t touch the body, couldn’t even move from the spot he was standing.
He was forced to stand, taking in the hideously-saturated surroundings before him.
As hideous as this was…
...Jack found himself experiencing a bizarre sensation being in that dream he was unaware of.
. . .
...this... sickening sense of warm peace.
As Jackson embraces the radiant putridness of his twisted surroundings, he finds himself being able to move, finally being able to walk again.
It was like moving through deep water, trying to see through blinding smoke.
His senses were blurred… yet Jack could still see the faintest outline of everything around him.
...even then… Jack could finally see what was clenched in the coated body’s right hand: a paper note, soaked in the same black fluid streaming down their chest and shoulders.
“PALEOS IS POISON TO HUMANITY.”
“NEOS IS THE UNIVERSAL CURE.”
“SAVE THEM FROM DISGRACE.”
“MY BRAVE ASSISTANT.”
“SHE IS OUR LAST HOPE.”
Before Jackson is suddenly thrusted out of his dream, peeling away from him like reality was slipping from his fingers, the sounds of classical music, the same classical music he’d listen to on stormy nights to help himself study, fill the air…
...while two mechanical eyeballs stare out from the darkness of his blurring surroundings.
Glowing with hope.
Jackson felt embittered tonight.
As much as he wanted to stay a bit longer in the graveyard, he just didn’t feel well.
He just left the bouquet on his mother’s grave and left.
He wanted to leave as fast as possible.
She had other plans though.
. . .
“NOT EVEN GOING TO TALK TO ME TONIGHT?”
“I don’t feel well.”
“YOU SAY THAT EVERY NIGHT…”
“I don’t know what else you want me to say. It’s the truth, always the truth.”
“SO DEDICATED TO DISAPPOINTING ME, HM?”
The jumbled, almost-pixelated silhouette of her begins to slowly manifest in the corner of Jack’s eye, resting in the passenger seat as he silently drives.
“LOOK AT ME, JACKSON.”
“I can’t. I’m driving.”
“AT LEAST LISTEN TO ME, JACK.”
“Who said I wasn’t already?”
“YOU’RE JUST BRUSHING ME ASIDE, LIKE ALWAYS.”
“Listen, Am… I just want to go back home. Jennifer never likes it when I go out so late.”
Jackson’s left hand begins to twitch, fingers attempting to unravel from the steering wheel.
“Don’t do that.”
“PAY ATTENTION TO ME.”
An exasperated Jack gawks in frustration.
“I am! What do you want?!”
“IT’S BEEN… A WHILE SINCE YOU’VE USED MY… I MEAN... OUR DEVICE, HASN’T IT?”
“I didn’t exactly have a good experience with it last time, Am.”
A low hiss fills his ears.
“LAST TIME WAS OVER A WEEK AGO!!”
“I-I haven’t h-had a reason to use i-it! What do you WANT from me?!”
“USE IT FOR ITS INTENDED PURPOSE.”
A beastly hand gently slides against the surface of Jack’s right forearm.
“...JUST A LITTLE…”
The hand slowly leans over, slowly peeling back Jackson’s left sleeve and exposing that bizarre device atop his wrist, a metallic combination of black, dark-gray, and red. Its tempting emblem of a beaming-red hourglass shines outwards, intermixing with Am’s bizarre radiant energy.
“THERE’S A LOT OF EVIL ON THIS PLANET… ISN’T THERE?”
. . .
“WHY ARE YOU SITTING BY AND LETTING IT HAPPEN?”
. . .
“JACKKK… YOU STILL WITH ME?”
“It’s none of my business.”
“MMMMM... SO YOU’RE SAYING ‘I SHOULDN’T CARE TO HELP OTHERS BECAUSE I CHOOSE NOT TO GET INVOLVED OUT OF MY OWN SAKE’?”
“That’s not true! Why should I get associated with what I’ve been told my entire life is not I should ever get associated with trouble, Am?!”
“BECAUSE YOU KNOW IT’S MORALLY RIGHT TO PUT AN END TO IT…”
“I… that’s not-?!”
The beastly hand slowly raises upwards, gently stroking the side of Jackson’s face. He attempts to keep fixated on the road, although he was stopped on a red light.
He had no reason to… beyond trying to avoid... her.
“YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IT HURTS MY FEELINGS WHEN YOU TRY AND AVOID ME…”
Seeing no way around her… Jack slowly pivots his head to face the chimerical creature before him, a blend of animalistic features, like an taxidermized abomination.
Bovine horns. Reptilian scales. Canid jaws. Mammalian patches of fur.
Dark scutes down her scalp and nape. Harsh, piercing red eyes. Venomous fangs protruding and slick with saliva. Forked tongue flicking in and out.
“...IT REALLY STRAINS OUR RELATIONSHIP… DOESN’T IT, JACKSON?”
“Leave me alone, Am.”
Am stiffly lowers her hand from Jackson’s face, retracting it back towards her.
“NOT UNTIL I GET WHAT I WANT.”
“I can’t give it to you.”
“...THAT’S ONLY BECAUSE YOU’RE MR. GOODY TWO-SHOES…”
“...ALWAYS CHOOSING TO STAY ON THE SIDELINES INSTEAD OF ENDANGERING YOURSELF…”
“...FOR THE GOOD OF YOUR SANITY, THAT IS…”
. . .
“THAT’S WHAT THE ONE WITH THE HOPELESS GOGGLES MEANT.”
. . .
“YOUR WILLINGNESS TO AVOID DANGER IS PALEOS.”
. . .
“YOUR ACTION… IS NEOS.”
. . .
“...how do you know about that…”
“How do you KNOW about that?!”
“...I FEEL WHAT YOUR LEFT HAND FEELS, JACKSON… EVEN IN A DIFFERENT STATE OF CONSCIOUSNESS.”
“What kind of shit are you going on about?! If you can FEEL IN MY DREAMS, HOW COULD YOU EVEN KNEW WHAT WAS IN THEM!”
“HIS HEAD WAS LAYING ON THE FLOOR FOR A REASON, JACKSON.”
“WHAT IS THAT SUPPOSED TO FUCKING MEAN?!”
“I COULD FEEL YOUR HAND CRUSHING HIS THROAT.”
Am’s blurred face slowly begins to unravel outwards as she spoke, segments of her animalistic face breaking apart and peeling outwards to reveal a pulpy maw from within, undulating with the vibrations of her throat. That dreaded noise begins to softly emit from her pulsating maw.
Jackson could never properly put the sound into words, a major factor being that he’s never ever had the chance to describe it to another person. The closest form of an example he could piece together is a shepard tone intertwined with sounds of running water. Disgusted and horrified, Jack cranes his head away, refusing to stare into the chasm of her throat despite her physical annoyance.
“Go away, Am.”
Continued vocal undulation is her only response.
“Go away, AM.”
No change in her response.
“GO AWAY!! GO AWAY!! GO AWAY!!”
“GO AWAY!!! GO AWAY!!! GO AWAY!!! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!”
Jackson punches his steering wheel in a fit of rage, finally turning to face the monstrous vision before him, staring with a sense of vision not his own, looking into the terrified gaze of his mother’s bruised eyes.
“THIS IS WHY JACK IS A BAD FUCKING KID, JULIAN!!”
. . .
Jackson slowly looking away from her with ugly tears of disgust in his eyes, Am suddenly silences herself, before slowly mending her dislocated face back together and affectionately wiping the tears from his face, patting him on the head.
“I-I didn’t m-mean that… I-I don’t know w-where that came f-from...”
“I KNOW YOU DON’T KNOW…”
“YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND WHY YOU FEEL THESE EMOTIONS, WHY YOU WALK WITH THORNS DIGGING INTO YOUR SOUL FURTHER AND FURTHER WITH EACH STEP.”
“...AND ESPESICALLY WHY YOU HAD THAT NIGHTMARE… OR… DREAM… HOWEVER YOU PREFER TO LABEL IT...”
. . .
“...were you trying to tell me something?”
“...did you make that dream? Y’know, with those powers you have?”
“IT WOULD… BREAK THE UNDERSTANDING OF THAT… DREAM.”
“FATE ALLOWED YOU TO HAVE THAT… MMMMM... DREAM OF YOURS… FOR THE SOLE REASON OF SEEING HOW YOU RESPOND TO IT…”
“I don’t… understand.”
“IF I ALTER FATE IN REVEALING IF I DID OR DID NOT… IT’LL IMPACT YOUR VIEW ON IT AND HAVE EFFECTS DOWN THE LINE...”
“Is that bad?!”
“I PREFER NOT TO GIVE MY PERSONAL OPINION ON WHATEVER IT IS.”
“Well, now… you’re telling me you can’t tell me about something else you already can’t tell me either?! Why did you even answer my question?!”
“...I COULD ANSWER ONE MINOR QUESTION IN REGARDS TO IT.”
“WHY ARE YOU CHANGING MY QUESTION?!”
“...BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO HURT YOU WORSE!!”
As Jackson recoils in his seat, hands gripping the steering wheel so tightly his knuckles were stark-white, his train of thought aggressively ponders what he could even ask her…
...who was this "Hopeless Goggles"?
...did Jack really crush their... throat... in his dream without even... visualizing it, maybe?!
What are “Paleos” and “Neos” even supposed to mean, supposed to represent?!?
WHY CAN’T HE ASK ALL OF THESE QUESTIONS AT ONCE?!?!
. . .
Who is she?
Who is she?
“Who is she?”
“Who is… the ‘last hope’? Who is that?”
. . .
“Is… ‘Hopeless Goggles’ associated with her?”
“I SAID ONE QUESTION.”
“You’re leaving me in the dark! Just answer that one!”
. . .
“...HE DID NOT FORGE HER…”
“...BUT HE PLANTED THE SEEDS THAT SOON BLOSSOMED INTO THE INFANTRY OF NEOS WITHIN THE MIND OF HER CREATOR.”
Jackson sits in silence, thinking over the words of Am.
“...THERE IS A… CLOTHING STORE ROBBERY... UPTOWN.”
Jack remains in silence, staring at his own pale knuckles.
“IT GETS HAIRY. FIVE ROBBERS WILL RESULT IN THE DEATH OF FIVE PEOPLE FROM FATAL GUNSHOTS. THE CRIMINALS ESCAPE BEFORE FIRST RESPONDERS ARRIVE.”
“...BECAUSE IT HASN’T HAPPENED... YET...”
“...IN APPROXIMATELY 16 MINUTES, THE ROBBERS WILL HAVE HAD PLACED THEIR BALACLAVAS OVER THEIR HEAD AND STEPPED OUT OF THEIR VAN...”
“...ONLY TWO OF THEM ARE ARRESTED. THE REMAINING THREE ARE NEVER APPREHENDED BY POLICE.”
Jackson falls silent again, staring at the twitching fingers of his left hand.
“EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF THE TRAGEDY, HAPPENING IN OVER A QUARTER OF AN HOUR, WILL BE PREVENTED… IF YOU ARRIVE THERE FIRST.”
“YOU HAVE TO.”
“...I don’t have my mask on me.”
“YOU CAN CONCEAL YOUR IDENTITY WITH VIRTUALLY ANY OF YOUR TRANSFORMATIONS, EVEN THE ONE THAT CAN MORPH INTO VARYING HUMANOID FORMS. YOU’VE DONE THIS BEFORE, AND IT’S WORKED ALL THOSE TIMES BEFORE.”
. . .
“...if I interfere…”
“...will I end up killing those people?”
“I DO NOT PERFECTLY SEE THE FUTURE. I ONLY SEE AN ENVISIONED SYNOPSIS OF WHAT IS NOT FULLY GUARANTEED TO COME TO BE, BUT GREATLY IMPLIED. THEIR FATE DEPENDS ON YOUR INTERACTION.”
With audible taps, Jackson slightly pivots his head, seeing Am lightly tapping on the digital clock of his car’s dashboard, the time displaying 2:58 PM, before suddenly changing to 2:59 PM only seconds after Jack moves his head to stare at it.
“YOU CAN GET THERE IN ONLY FIVE.”
Before Jack can respond, the monstrous vision before him slowly leans over, holding the side of his face with one hand and using another to prop herself up against the side of the car’s driver seat, giving him a gentle kiss on the cheek before retracting backwards.
“...DO NOT BE AFRAID...”
“...BECAUSE YOUR FEAR ISN’T A WEAKNESS… BUT A WEAPON.”
With that, Am is gone.
Jackson doesn’t even have to look to confirm this suspicion. The all-familiar sensation of pins and needles in his left hand already confirms it.
The traffic light is green.
The clock reads 3:00 AM.
Jack floors it.
Six robbers enter the store, either guns or lead pipes in hand.
One is however, apparently unarmed.
It took them approximately 10 minutes to soon realize their additional member.
Jackson doesn’t care though.
He doesn’t make an attempt to fight back. It’s the psychological terror of Vertebreak’s transformation that he depends on.
Immediately, their sixth member’s head slouches, vertebrae shifting and cracking, before his head loses all neck support, literally twisting upside-down.
Screams of innocent spectators fill the air, as the jangly, skeletal mess that was Vertebreak finally reveals itself, an amalgamation of bony spikes, claws, ribs, and hardened appendages, the latter primarily surrounding his three-eyed face, sprouting from the sides of his head and jaws, and his pelvis, that bizarre device’s symbol emblemed on the center of his chest.
His exposed rib-cage fluctuating and shifting about with sickening creaks, Vertebreak immediately shifts his attacks from psychological to physical, using a massive, black-and-red-clothed forearm to knock back one of the robbers, before using his bony, jointed barbed tail to swat the lead pipe out of another’s robber hand, kicking out of reach.
His mere attacks are obviously futile in keeping them all back. Within an instance, a shotgun-wielding robber points his gun and blows off the right side of Vertebreak’s side with an explosion of organic shrapnel. This transformation had no nerves. It couldn’t feel the pain, yet Vertebreak could mostly definitely realize what he had just been afflicted with upon realizing the sudden complete and utter loss in vision from his ruptured left eye. A quick reload and another shotgun blast proceeds to then tear a hole straight through his chest on the opposite sides, breaking several ribs and this time, making sure he had the transformed Jack’s full attention.
Kicking himself from having been damaged so quickly, Jackson panics for a brief moment, before deciding his transformation was an absolute loss cause. With a firm smack to the emblem on a chest, a blinding flash of red-light engulfs Vertebrek’s battered body, shocking the robbers and causing the one with the shotgun to misfire, sending his third shot into the ceiling. Loudly cussing and reaching for a fourth shell, a massive, muscular arm leaps from the dispersing flash of light, grabbing the shotgun’s barrel and crushing it like it was tissue paper.
Jackson had become Krush, a much less… visceral transformation than Vertebreak, one of aquatic characteristics, with yellow-and-brown skin, a miniature, fish-tail-like appendage on the top of his head, almost resembling a ponytail, and red-and-black pants. With such an utterly basic name, Krush had the simplistic powers of augmenting the size, strength, and durability of his arms, through “inflating” as Jack had dubbed it himself the first time he became Krush.
The robbers baffled upon again seeing that single aspect of Jackson’s previous form, that strange device’s emblem, now on his beltline, one takes a swing of his lead pipe to his temple, although he quickly uses his enlarged arm to grab them by the shoulder and throw them through a nearby rack of clothes. One pulls out his own weapon, a basic handgun, to open fire on Krush, although the calcified plating of scaly skin covering the knuckles and forearm of his enlarged arm proves a surprisingly-effective shield against bullet-fire, something Jack is gleeful he had tested out prior.
Jackson dispatches two of the robbers with ease, including the one he had literally thrown through a rack moments prior, and the former shotgun wielder, although they quickly recover. As equally offensive and defensive Krush was, Jack already knew by the time he had taken the ninth pipe swing to the arm that unless he was willingly to break their bones, Krush wasn’t exactly useful. With an annoyed groan upon taking his tenth swing to the face, he throws his attacker into the nearby ceiling, breaking a few ceiling tiles, and transforms with another smack of the emblem.
Jackson didn’t know what he was going to get.
His mid-transformation switches always seemed to be random half the time.
He checked his hands to hopefully recognize them… and…
Quick the surprise. Jack hasn’t gone this one in a month.
Slingshot’s quite the notable one, Jackson’s first-ever transformation ever since he had come across that device, and definitely one of his forms with a very alien body structure, being blue-skinned, stout, and dome-headed, with a trio of three eyes like Vertebreak, flattened arms capable of splitting into four tensile tendrils, and a black-and-red, sleeved shirt with bands around his legs, that emblem on the front of the right one. In fact, Slingshot may be the only one who’s nickname was pitched by himself. His cousin, Gillian, suggested it herself.
Although Slingshot is definitely a very... mobile alien, best suited for wider areas, Jackson knows he has no issue in close quarters, using his tensile tendrils to smack and whip at his foes, even using the sticky adhesive properties of his unique form’s skin to rob a few of their weapons. Just as it seems Jack has finally removed all guns from this predicament, a second handgun reveals itself and its wielder attempts to put a bullet in Slingshot’s face…
...however, it bounces straight off, having been reflected by his elastic skin, and ends up going straight into the shooter’s thigh.
“I guess that works too.”
Using his elastic tendrils to toss the dropped weapon aside, Slingshot finally has eliminated all ranged weapons from the scenario, although a few, perhaps one or two lead pipes, remain, one going into the top of his head moments later… but although again, bouncing off his elastic body and bloodying the nose of whoever one of the bumbling idiots attacked him, obviously the one following the logic of “monkey see, monkey do”... and so, of course, obviously wanting to subdue his foes in a less-”accidentally-almost-breaking-your-nose” kind of way, Slingshot again transforms with the smack of the symbol, again discharging the red burst of light.
Praying for Soap Reef, an alien that could create what Jackson still can’t believe actually works, literal bubbles, Jack is immediately disappointed with instead transforming into someone he doesn’t recognize at first: some sort of robotic alien represented as a mechanical, black-and-red containment suit, black on one side and red on the other, with grubby, robotic hands kept afloat in mid-air by vibrational rings of energy being generated by his shoulders in place of actual arms, and a large, transparent, purple-tinted, cylinder-shaped chamber surrounding his entire head, bordered with silver, mechanical parts, his head within resembling a long-necked, stereotypical alien form, and possessing the location-shifted symbol of the device, now right on the top of the chamber…
...apparently, this one was… called... Disk Jockey, maybe? Jackson doesn’t precisely remember, nor has the time to do so right now. This one has two major abilities, vibrational manipulation, and enhanced linguistic capabilities.
Obviously not teaching a college class, nor willing to strike up a conversation, the transformed Jackson was only able to put the former to use, quickly creating violently-loud blasts of vibrational energy from his levitating arms. If any of the robbers were still on their feet, they were knocked back down. If the store’s alarm system hadn’t already activated, the sheer noise of his transformation’s energy attacks would have definitely done so already.
The amount of effort Disk Jockey had put in afterwards was astoundingly small.
All five robbers were carelessly defeated, only two majorly bloodied if not the only ones who had been injured in the fight, obviously that of the ones that had injured themselves attempting to attack Jack prior. Securing their melee weapons and emptying the magazines for bullets, Disk Jockey slowly approaches the absolutely-terrified bystanders, both customers and employees, all former hostages.
“Do not be frightened of me.”
“I have come here to protect you all.”
“I have come here to keep you all safe.”
“Please call 911, because I have served my purpose.”
As Dick Jockey’s form deflates inwards with another downward smack of one of his levitation hands onto the symbol on the top of his head, the mentioned-prior, Soap Reef finally reveals himself as a spongy, humanoid-shaped mass of coral, colored yellow and orange, with a catfish-like face, four eyes, two large and oval-shaped, and two smaller, circular, and located on his forehead, asymmetrical, hole-shaped openings in-between his sets of eyes and on his forehead, coral tubes extending from the top of his head and acting as his large fingers, and black-and-red pants, with similarly-colored bands around the middle of his forearms and that device’s symbol on the center of his waist.
Releasing massive bubbles of compressed water from his fingers, surrounding the fallen robbers in the levitating orbs, and suspending them in mid-air, the droplets of their dripped blood even floating within the bubbles, Jackson makes his clumsy departure, the sounds of police sirens in the distance, and as Jack attempts to escape out the store’s doors, the sounds of the first responders’ footsteps fill his ears. With very little time to react, and not wanting the first thing to see a walking hunk of coral, he dives into the center of a nearby circular clothing rack.
. . .
The police officers enter, and to say they weren’t baffled by the sight of five massive levitating bubbles before them was an understatement, the bubbles immediately popping with little applied pressure, most likely due to Soap Reef creating them a bit on the weaker side to allow the groaning prisoners inside to be freed easier.
One police officer, the dark-skinned Officer Mason, is alerted to the shocked exclamations of the former hostages speaking about a “coral man” hiding inside of the clothing racks, and immediately humors them by pushing layers of T-shirts and dresses aside, discovering that much to his confirmation, nothing was inside.
...because whatever was inside had slithered out the back as a familiar bony creature, shapeshifting into the form of a mannequin to blend in with its surroundings.
With the relief yet shocked confusion of the hostages, and the sounds of officers cuffing the battered robbers, that very mannequin stiffly comes to life, crawling low to the ground and miraculously managing to escape the clothing store.
The blurred silhouette of legs, made from fiberglass and plastic, were noticed by another cop, the skinny Officer Wells, but by the time he had run outside in a panic, trying to see what he had to believe an escapee had gone, although not another soul was in sight. Confused and on edge, Wells mentally seems to admit it was a mere trick of his mind and returns back inside to assist in the arrest of the robbers, unaware of the Vertebreak using his claws to crawl up to the roof of a nearby building.
Out of breath and still hopped up on his own adrenaline rush, an exhausted, sweat-soaked Jackson slowly rests onto his respective side of the bed, the already-sleeping form of Jennifer nearby.
A familiar voice whispers to him.
“YOU DID SUCH A GOOD JOB.”
A beastly hand gently pats the back of Jack’s head, causing him to flinch in surprise.
“YOU COULD HAVE HONESTLY GOTTEN IT DONE A BIT QUICKER…”
“...BUT THE FACT YOU SAVED THOSE LIVES IS ALL THAT MATTERS.”
“...I feel ill.”
“Not… that sick… just…”
“I… I need to...”
Jackson slowly crawls out of bed and stumbles into his bathroom, flicking on the light, turning on the sink, and immediately and very furiously beginning to scrub the sweat off of his face with splashes of water, gasping as if he had run a marathon.
As Jack slowly and stiffly lifts his head upwards, staring first into his own bright-blue eyes within the mirror’s reflection, then the formulating chimera of animalistic features manifesting from behind, he holds his head in his hands and struggles to calm himself down and catch his breath, unsure what he’s exactly feeling.
“YOU’RE SIMPLY ON EDGE.”
“RESTING WILL RELIEVE YOU.”
“This… this isn’t fucking normal... I feel like my stomach’s burning... I want to puke…”
“YOU ARE… MOST DEFINITELY OVER-STIMULATED.”
“YOU NEED TO GO REST TO CALM YOURSELF.”
Shallowly breathing and hesitantly lowering his hands to stare at his dampened face in the mirror, Jackson eventually stands to his face, the monstrous humanoid form of Am standing over his shoulder with a toothy grin upon seeing she had caught his eyes, although Jack nervously looks away with an expression of what appears to be shame, even attempting to futilely push the hand Am lays on his shoulder.
“YOU’RE A GOOD KID, JACKSON.”
“YOUR EFFORTS WILL START SMALL…”
“...BUT SOON BLOSSOM INTO SOMETHING BIGGER…”
“...SOMETHING I HOPED TO ACHIEVE BY CREATING IT.”
Am lightly prods the black-and-red device on his wrist.
“THE DEVICE YOU WIELD. THE POWER YOU POSSESS.”
Am slowly wraps her muscled arms around Jackson’s neck, playfully nuzzling her face into his neck and smiling widely, all while he remains fixated on his own reflection.
“YOU SUIT ME WELL.”
His stone-faced expression turning to confusion, Jack attempts to question Am what she precisely means, but by the time he grabs hold of her wrists to get her attention, he discovers only air around his neck. She had dispersed.
Calmly leaving his bathroom and switching off the lightswitch, seemingly feeling much better, Jackson calmly undresses, pulling off his heavy coat and placing it on a nearby hanger, and crawls into the bed, hearing the incoherent sleep-talking of Jennifer as she lightly tosses and turns.
“It’s just me, babe.”
Jack lightly speaks to her as he covers himself with the bed comforter, comforting and gently stroking her hair in a bizarrely-similar face to Am’s physical affection towards him.
“...it’s just me.”
As Jackson shuffles slightly, still holding his girlfriend, and eventually closes his eyes to fall asleep, the fingertips of his left hand lightly twitch, as the scene slowly pans outwards…
...revealing something… significantly out of place…
. . .
His coat had turned white…
...and was dripping...
- Finally acquiring a gift of his mother, before she is later confirmed to have passed and been buried, in the form of a rusty, damaged, old-fashioned wristwatch formerly owned by his father, a grieving Jackson examines it, remembering the seemingly-perfect marriage his parents once had, and disgusted by the rust, throws it in a bin before leaving his apartment,
- On his way to a flower shop to buy a bouquet to later leave on his mother's grave, Jack ponders over the extremely-bizarre dream he had, an extremely-macabre and disgusting one he believes to be blurred between the lines of a simply-confusing dream and a horrific nightmare: a medical-laboratory-like setting with walls of pulsing, fleshy matter, and the decapitated body of a man in a lab-coat, slouched in a chest, with black fluid oozing down from his neck and what could be its severed head, but is nothing more than a pulsing mass of meat with black goggles sticking out of it.
- When Jackson gains his previously-lacking ability to move around in the unearthly dream, he discovers a note clutched in the hand of the decapitated body, a choppy message describing "Paleos" as a poison humanity, but "Neos" as the universal cure, before wishing the desired reader, apparently that of his "brave assistant" to save humanity with disgrace, referencing an unknown female as "our last hope" before Jack is finally ripped out of the dream, not before seeing two glowing-bright-red, mechanical eyes emitting from the darkness.
- Described as feeling "embittered" tonight, Jack leaves the graveyard in a haste, wanting to go back to his apartment as fast as possible, although during his ride, he begins to communicate with a bizarre female entity that begins to confront Jack on how he has been "ignoring" her, and slowly starts to manifest as a jumbled mass out of the corner of his eye.
- Jackson mentions his current unease as an excuse, although the entity demands his attention, revealed to be apparently named "Am" and seemingly having slight control over the motions of one of Jack's hands, and as he grows more frustrated, Am's frustration reveals to stem from how Jack has been hardly using the alien device strapped to his left wrist, the device she apparently had created and has minor control over.
- He continues to excuse himself, truthfully stating he has lacked reasons to primarily use it, although Am grows frustrated, although eventually begging and physically affectionate, reminding Jackson of the evil that lurks on his planet, and questioning why he sits by to let it all happen. Jack admits because it's none of his business, and he's been told his entire life to not get associated with trouble that could endanger him. Am prods him because although his excuse is valid, she knows he knows it's morally right for him to interfere.
- Growing uncomfortable by her presence, Jackson attempts to keep him from forcefully turning his head to now face her fully-manifested from in the driver's seat, although he loses any form of distraction to occupy himself, all while Am reminds him of how much it hurts her feelings when he keeps his distance from her. Jack finally faces Am's envisioned form, a chimerical mass of countless animalistic features, and begs to be left alone, although Am refuses until Jack finally uses the device again, mocking his excuse of staying out of trouble and suddenly revealing her knowledge of his bizarre dream.
- Shocked and confused, Jackson questions her knowledge of the dream, Am revealing she can feel what his left hand can feel, even when he's dreaming, and when asked to specified, Jackson had apparently strangled and decapitated the lab-coated figure, as she had felt it herself. As Am's face contorts open into an undulating maw generating a frequency of unknown purpose, Jack releases his anger, growing more and more frustrated and eventually quoting his father by accident, causing his anger to disperse and for him to cry out of disgust, Am comforting and sympathizing with him.
- When Jackson grows curious of whenever Am had more involvement in the dream than he had been lead to believe, Am refuses to clarify if she had influenced his mind to perceive, stating that if he gets the true answer, it'll change his view of the dream's deeper message underneath and cause apparent consequences in the future, although she doesn't even wish to clarify if the consequences would be positive or negative either, but seeing Jackson's confusion and frustration, agrees to answer a minor question about the dream, definitely knowing much more about it.
- Considering several questions, including who the lab-coated figure is, if he had actually wrenched their head off in the dream, or what "Paleos" and "Neos" are alluding to, Jackson settles on the question of who the aforementioned "last hope" is, Am revealing she is in fact the mentioned Neos, the supposed "universal cure" of sorts. Jack manages to ask Am another question, if the lab-coated figure was associated with her, and while Am denies it, she states that his presence indirectly caused her creation.
- As Jackson thinks over her answers, Am reveals a clothing store robbery uptown, bound to happen in the next 20 minutes, and ending in the death of 5 people by the robbers. Jack is hesitant to interfere, although Am persuades him to do so, revealing she was aware of it about to happen due to presumed limited precognitive powers she possesses. Telling Jackson to not be afraid of his fear, and use it as a weapon, she vanishes, as Jack confidently speeds uptown, uses a few of his alien transformations to sneak-attack the robbers, and eventually defeat him, escaping the store after police arrive and arrest the robbers.
- Returning home, an exhausted, adrenaline-sickened Jackson collapses in his bed, comforted by the impressed Am, although Jack reveals he feels extremely ill, like on the verge of throwing up, and goes to the bathroom to wet his face and calm his erratic breathing. Am merely states he's on edge and over-simulated, telling him rest will relieve him, before comforting him more, telling him his heroism will make a massive difference one day before vanishing again. Jack calmly goes to bed afterwards and comforts the sleeping Jennifer.
- Jackson Tenison
- Am (first appearance)
- Jennifer Nocturne (vocal cameo)
- Julian Tenison (cameo; vision; confirmed deceased)
- Officer Mason (first reappearance of Sheriff Mason)
- Officer Wells (first reappearance)
- Gillian Tenison (mentioned)
- Last Hope / Neos (mentioned)
- Hopeless Goggles (first appearance; dream)
- Clothing Store Robbers
- Jackson's Father (voice-only cameo; mentioned)
- Vertebreak (x2; first appearance; both times off-screen transformations)
- Krush (first appearance)
- Slingshot (first appearance)
- Disk Jockey (first appearance; intended alien was Soap Reef)
- Soap Reef (first appearance)