Michelangelo Demetrius: Part 18

Jeffrey Giligan was tired of school. The hard desk chairs, the long hours sitting and studying, the teachers always standing over him, just waiting to scold him or tell him he was wrong – he couldn’t stand any of it. He stood by his locker and stretched, groaning as his back ached. Michelangelo Demetrius was certainly not cut out for a desk job. He needed to get out of here. All he had to do was get back to his secret base and find out where that device was being kept. His real body must be at the base as well, being possessed by that rotten little pipsqueak. Once he had the device, it was simply a matter of pulling the trigger, and his old life should be back to normal. Then he would ruin this kid’s.

But first he had to get away from the school. He racked his brain, trying to think of some way to escape without being caught. “If they catch me twying to escape, it’s ovew,” he thought aloud. “I don’t even want to think about what my mothew would do to me.”

He shuddered as he remembered his chastisement for sneaking into the abandoned lab. The lectures, the spankings, the fear and despair that washed over him like boiling acid with every disapproving look. He absolutely had to keep up the facade of being a “good boy” in case his mother found out.

“Why do you want to escape?”

Jeffrey looked up, startled, to see another boy standing behind him listening. He quickly clamped his hand over the boy’s mouth and shoved him behind his open locker door, hiding him from view as he looked around conspiratorially. “Shut youw mouth!” he whispered fiercely. “Awe you twying to get me in twouble?”

The boy pulled Jeffrey’s hand off of his mouth. “No,” he said in a quieter voice, “I just thought you might want my help.”

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Michelangelo Demetrius: Part 17

Suddenly Jeffrey heard voices coming from the top of the stairs. Some of the teachers were coming to investigate. He was about to try to climb out, but he realized it would be next to impossible to slip by them. An idea popped into his head and he hid behind the table in the blackness. As soon as the teachers entered the room, he snuck around behind them and quickly mounted the stairs. He emerged into the daylight, and then he had another idea. He reached down and pulled the switch again, and the section of the playground floor began to raise the swing set back up. Jeffrey grinned fiendishly. Served them right, being trapped down there. If they had caught him, they would have done a lot worse to him.

“What’s going on out here?”

Jeffrey turned to see the principal striding out into the playground. Before he could answer, the kid with the horrible sweater spoke up. “Jeffy trapped the teachers down in the secret lab!”

Jeffrey glared at him and opened his mouth to respond, but the principal sighed and grasped him by his arm. “Come with me, Jeffy. I’m going to have to tell your mother about this!”

At the mention of his mother, Jeffrey’s eyes froze wide open in fear. He thought back to the evening before and the torture he had experienced. His mother had chastised him, spanked him, and then sent him off to bed without any supper. Never before had he experienced such agony, and he had curled up in his bed that night, sore and hungry. He didn’t even have a comfortable Tempur-Pedic mattress or silk sheets. The boy shuddered as he tried to push away the horrible memories. He couldn’t go back to his mother. He struggled, but the principal’s hand was clamped onto his arm as if it were made of iron. Finally going limp and allowing himself to be led to the principal’s office, Jeffrey resigned himself to his fate.

Michelangelo Demetrius: Part 16

Jeffrey Giligan had a plan. All he had to do was get back down into the secret lab beneath the school. Once he had the device that had trapped him inside this pathetic body, he would be able to return to his life of success and happiness. Even if he couldn’t get to his old body immediately, the gun should work with anyone. He could switch bodies with a teacher, the principal, or maybe even someone outside the school. Then he could take the device away from the naughty boy who had it and choose his next target. He could switch again and again, as many times as he needed, until he worked his way back to where he had started. And as soon as he was back as Michelangelo Demetrius, he would make sure no one ever used that gun again.

As he was let out for recess the plan formed in his mind. The secret entrance had been closed and the swing set replaced, but that wouldn’t stop him. He knew where the hidden switch that opened the door was. After all, he had been the one who had found it. As the other children played around him, he nonchalantly strolled over to the swing set. After a quick glance around to make sure he wasn’t being watched, he bent down and felt around under the gravel. Luckily, the handle hadn’t been pinned down by the swing set. He gave it a pull and the playground structure started sinking as the secret door opened below him. The metal frame caught and stuck on the stairs that led down into the lab, the swings hanging sideways crookedly.

Jeffrey knew he had to move quickly. Some of the other kids had already noticed what was happening. He hurried down into the underground room and went straight to the table where the gun had lain. It was too dark to see very clearly, but he felt around where the kid had found it. The device was gone. His aides must have taken it with them when they left. Jeffrey slammed his fist on the table in frustration.

Michelangelo Demetrius: Part 15

Mascot Man swaggered forward haughtily. “You underestimated my powers,” he told Albert, who struggled in the grip of the super-strong hero. “A long time ago I was bitten by someone in a radioactive mascot costume right after I was struck by lightning. This somehow gave me the power to control small children with my voice. It seems that there’s more to Michelangelo Demetrius than meets the eye. He has the heart of a child, and now he has no choice but to follow my every command!”

“Mr…Demetrius…” Albert gasped out as Michelangelo’s grip tightened. “He’s…not…Bubbly Bear!” The big hero’s grip loosened slightly, and Albert grasped the huge arm and lifted himself up a bit. “I watched Bubbly Bear when I was a kid. Look at his cap. It has red stripes. Bubbly Bear’s cap has orange stripes!”

Michelangelo stared at Bubbly Bear’s baseball cap in disbelief. Sure enough, the color was wrong. Mascot Man stepped back nervously. “What are you doing? I said kill him!”

That was when Michelangelo noticed a zipper stretching around the mascot’s furry neck. Bubbly Bear didn’t have a zipper. He released his hold on Albert, who fell to the ground spluttering. Michelangelo looked like he had been stabbed in the back by a close friend. “Who are you?” he asked in disbelief.

“What are you talking about? It’s me, Bubbly Bear!” Mascot Man changed his voice in an attempt to match the high-pitch tone of Bubbly Bear. He did a small dance and waved his arms in the air. “I’m Bubbly Bear! Look at me!”

“What’s your favorite food?”

“Um, I’m a bear, so…honey, of course!”

Michelangelo towered over the lying fake. “You’re not Bubbly Bear! Bubbly Bear doesn’t like honey! It’s creative irony!” He grabbed the head of the costume with one hand and pulled. The zipper came with it as it ripped free of the body, exposing the head of a middle-aged human male with a unibrow and creeper ‘stache.

“That’s Mascot Man,” Albert explained, still breathing hard as he struggled to his feet. “He’s wanted in seven countries for large-scale theft, kidnapping, arson, destruction of private property, and general creepiness.”

Mascot Man laughed at Michelangelo. “That’s right, you found out my true identity! I’m not Bubbly Bear. I wasn’t bitten by a mascot or struck by lightning, either. As if any villain would have such an absurd backstory! I just dress up as Bubbly Bear because kids will do anything he says! If you can control all the children, you can control the world! You may have caught me, but there’s a war coming! You’ll never stop the tide of evil that’s about to engulf the world! Muahahaha!” Michelangelo cut the villain’s diabolical laugh short by delivering a sound whack to the top of his head, causing him to crumple to the ground.

Michelangelo Demetrius: Part 14

The chase continued, and soon Michelangelo Demetrius was about the overtake the Bubbly Bear mascot. They reached a dead end, blocked off on one side by a wall along the edge of the framework of a roller coaster and on the other by a small pool decorated with a fountain. With nowhere left to go and his pursuer almost on top of him, the mascot turned and held out a fluffy paw. “Stop!” it pleaded.

Michelangelo stopped dead in his tracks.

Tilting its head with what seemed to be a questioning look, the mascot gave another command: “Back up!”

Michelangelo took a step back.

Bubbly Bear nodded knowingly. “Ah, I see you are a child at heart.”

Michelangelo stood entranced. He felt like he would do anything Bubbly Bear asked, even that he would be able to do anything he asked, no matter what. After all, he was Bubbly Bear. What child hadn’t dreamed that Bubbly Bear was real, that maybe one day he would find him and befriend him, see him with his own eyes and talk to him? He silently worshiped the larger-than-life character, thinking dreamily of all the adventures they would go on and all the fun they would have.

Albert broke into his thoughts as he finally caught up, panting as he doubled over in exhaustion. “Good work, Mr. Demetrius. You’re trapped, Mascot Man. Give up, and Mr. Demetrius will go easy on you.”

If it were possible for a mascot costume to change its expression into a sly, evil look, it would have. “Oh, don’t be so sure about that.” It pointed its beady black eyes straight at Michelangelo. “Kill him!”

Without any hesitation Michelangelo Demetrius turned, wrapped his huge hand around Albert’s neck, and lifted him right off the ground.

The short man struggled to breathe, his legs flailing in the air frantically. “Mr. Deme…trius…stop…it’s…me…Albert!”

Michelangelo acted as if he couldn’t hear him. He glared at his aide as a red mist shrouded his sight, turning the world around him to the color of blood. Bubbly Bear’s command resonated in his mind, keeping all other thoughts from it as the words echoed: “Kill him!”

Michelangelo Demetrius: Part 13

It took Albert buying another ice cream cone to get Michelangelo Demetrius to stop crying. Finally, he wiped his eyes on his sleeve and licked at the treat sullenly. Then suddenly, he saw something that brightened his mood considerably. Albert was looking around for their target and didn’t see Michelangelo slip away. The hero joined a crowd of kids that were gathered around someone dressed as a mascot. It was a goofy-looking brown bear with a green shirt and a red-and-blue-striped baseball cap. Michelangelo jumped up and down with a sudden excitement as he called out, “Bubbly Bear! It’s Bubbly Bear!” The mascot turned, took one look at Michelangelo, and took off as fast as it could, the fat costume wobbling as it waddled away from him. “Bubbly Bear! Wait!” Michelangelo called as he ran after it. The mascot looked at one of the kids and gestured behind him, and the kid immediately attacked the pursuing hero, jumping up and clinging to him so as to weigh him down. More and more of the children came after him, grabbing onto his legs and trying to pull him over. Michelangelo shook them off and kept up the chase.

Albert saw them as they ran off through the amusement park. “Mr. Demetrius!” he called. “You found him! Don’t let him get away!”

Michelangelo wondered why Albert cared about Bubbly Bear. He was a grown-up, and grown-ups usually didn’t seem very interested in cartoon characters. But Michelangelo didn’t need any urging. He found that he could run breathtakingly fast when he tried. People jumped out of their way left and right as they charged through crowds. Bubbly Bear, trying to throw his pursuer off his trail, tumbled over the counter of a drink stall and escaped through a door at the back. Michelangelo ran straight through it, breaking a hole through the center and pulling the small building down into a heap of rubble behind him. A terrified vendor that was trapped inside managed to crawl his way out of the collapsed structure.

Michelangelo Demetrius: Part 12

Albert escorted Michelangelo Demetrius as he stumbled away from the roller coaster. Feeling like his insides were all scrambled, the hero leaned over a rail and threw up his lunch. The ordeal had put him in a glum mood, and he felt like he wanted to go home.

That is, until he saw the ice cream. It was being sold at a small stand, and Michelangelo could see there were lots of different flavors. He almost pulled his aide off his feet trying to drag him over to the stand.

Albert bought him a cone with a scoop of chocolate and one of vanilla on top. Michelangelo was so focused on his task of licking it off slowly that he didn’t see the small girl in front of him. He halfway tripped over her, sending his frozen treat plopping down onto her hair before sliding off onto the dirty ground.

Michelangelo glared at the girl angrily. “You made me drop my ice cream!” He noticed she was also holding an ice cream cone.

The girl looked up at the big man uncertainly as she felt the sticky mess on top of her head.

Michelangelo had already been in a bad mood, and the one thing that had eased it was the cold, sweet dessert. “You made me drop mine, so give me yours!” He tried to grab the cone out of her hands, and when she tried to withhold it he ended up crushing it in the struggle. Melting ice cream covered his hands as the cone fell apart. Seeing the gruesome destruction of her treat, the girl burst into tears, and Michelangelo followed her example.

Albert had been scouting around for their target, and he just now caught up with Michelangelo. At the same time, the girl’s mother approached. “What are you doing to my daughter?!” she demanded.

Albert tried to apologize to her for the sobbing Michelangelo, but then the woman recognized the face of the hero. “Oh my, you’re Michelangelo Demetrius! I hope my daughter hasn’t inconvenienced you in any way!”

“He dropped ice cream on my head,” her daughter complained.

The woman looked up at Michelangelo, her face a picture of joyous awe and gratitude. “Oh, thank you so much! I’m sure your wondrous gift will bring happiness to my child! You truly are the greatest hero in the world!”

As she was led off by her mother, the girl tried to protest, “But he ruined my ice cream!”

“Oh, stop complaining,” her mother corrected her. “Not everyone can say they’ve had ice cream dropped on their head by Michelangelo Demetrius!”

Michelangelo Demetrius: Part 11

The roller coaster climbed up higher and higher, and Michelangelo couldn’t help quivering with excitement. Albert sat next to him, slightly annoyed. He hadn’t planned on riding the ride, but apparently, Mr. Demetrius didn’t want to ride alone and had pulled him into the seat. He tried to look around for the criminal, but then suddenly they passed the highest point of the tracks and started plummeting downward.

At first Michelangelo Demetrius was having the time of his life, but he quickly began to regret deciding to ride the roller coaster. It zoomed downward so fast that the hero felt like he was going to fly out of his seat. It reached the bottom of the incline and went back up again, turning upside down as it raced around one loop, and then another one. Disoriented and beginning to feel sick at his stomach, Michelangelo wondered when the ride was going to end. It darted to one side, then the other, spinning and twisting in pretzel shapes. Michelangelo decided he didn’t like riding this ride anymore. He felt like his heart had been left far behind. “Stop! I want out!” he yelled, but no one heard him. He felt trapped, unable to escape from this terrifying device of high-speed torture. Finally, after what seemed like hours, the vehicle ground to an abrupt stop and Michelangelo was pressed painfully into the bar in his lap. Albert looked over to see the huge man balling, tears flowing down his cheeks as he cried out loudly in a mixture of fear and relief, “I don’t like this ride! I don’t like this ride!”

Michelangelo Demetrius: Part 10

Michelangelo Demetrius tugged on Albert’s sleeve as he pointed up at the roller coaster. “I wanna ride that one!”

The aide adjusted his glasses as he tried to pull away. “Mr. Demetrius, please remember the reason you are here. We’ve received a tip that Mascot Man is hiding out here. We don’t have time for riding rides–”

“I wanna ride it! I wanna ride it!” Michelangelo demanded, jumping up and down. He pulled so hard on Albert’s sleeve that he almost lost his balance.

“Okay, Mr. Demetrius, let’s catch the criminal first, and then we’ll ride it.”

Suddenly Michelangelo went into full-blown gimme mode. He stomped his foot, causing the ground to quake slightly. “No, now! Now! I wanna ride it now!” His powerful voice ricocheted around the park, causing many people to turn their heads.

Adjusting his glasses, Albert finally caved in to Michelangelo’s demands. “Okay, we can look around the roller coaster while we ride it. But if he’s not there we absolutely must search for him. If we don’t find him, it could be disastrous.”

Michelangelo’s excitement mounted quickly as he sat in the roller coaster. Strange, he didn’t see any pedals. The attendants made him buckle his seat belt and lowered a bar across his lap. Then finally the vehicle started moving. Apparently, it moved by itself. In that case, what did they have against short people?

Michelangelo Demetrius: Part 9

Michelangelo Demetrius was excited. He was going to an amusement park! He had never been to one, since as his mother had told him the companies that ran such parks were corrupt, greedy organizations built on using the promise of cheap thrills to entrap young children in a never-ending cycle of debt and addiction to entertainment. She also said they were too expensive. But now that he was no longer Jeffrey Giligan (student of Metro City Elementary School) but was the world-famous hero Michelangelo Demetrius, even his mother couldn’t stop him from going! From what his aides told him, some villain was reported to be hiding out at the amusement park, and he was apparently supposed to catch him and beat him up. That sounded cool, but not as cool as riding roller coasters! He had heard that young children weren’t allowed to ride some rides because they were too short. He guessed that was because their feet couldn’t reach the pedals. But now that he had the body of this big, tall man, he would be able to ride whatever he wanted!

As he followed his primary aide, Albert – the man who was with him at the school – into the amusement park, he looked around in awe at all the people riding the rides. They screamed in thrilled excitement as they rushed along the track of a roller coaster or made high-speed circles on a dizzying spinning platform. Then he saw a ride that made him fall in love at first sight. It was an extraordinarily tall roller coaster that started off with a long climb, followed by a breathtakingly steep drop, and then immediately went through two consecutive loops, after which it entered a twisted mass of dizzying turns where the track crossed over and under itself countless times before finally coming to a bone-jarring stop.