First this Frosty™, Then the World!
“I should have gotten a swirl.”
Jaclyn Pierrot stops and looks down at the soft-serve mush taking up the bottom third of the red cup. All vanilla - a boring choice for an ice cream, even more so for a Frosty.
“Or that new strawberry flavor,” she sighs, dunking the spoon once more into the slurry. One booted foot follows the other as she bounds up the stairs leading to the small Chicago home. A man wearing all black reaches out and opens the door, nodding towards the clown who wanders past, continuing to debate her life decisions aloud. She barely notices the towering form of Trevor, arms crossed rigidly over his chest. “Or made a Napoleon. Is it Napoleon?”
“Your behavior?” The bald man asks, her attention shifting to him.
“No, that’s dy-no-mite!” Jaclyn exclaims before raising the Wendy’s cup between them, smiling brightly. He does not return the smile. “I mean the ice cream though.”
The tall man stands silent. After a moment, she peeks around the soft serve. “Did you just call me short?”
“Yes, that is my concern,” he hissed, “Your height.”
“Well I never!” she declares with as much indignation as someone with a soft-serve mustache could manage. The clown begins to storm off towards the staircase.
“Jacky!” Trevor’s commanding voice forces her to pause, “The two you left with?”
“We have henchmen?” she asks. At that moment, a pair of men in matching Dead Rabbit attire - black and white leathers with a modified motorcycle helmet, complete with skeleton bunny ears, step from the door leading to the basement. The clown leans against the wall to let them pass before looking over to Trevor, an exaggerated look of surprise on her face. He does not appear to be amused.
“Jacky! What happened?”
“Well…” she begins, prodding at the slush with the spoon.
“I’m not into henchmen, really.”
Jaclyn can feel her jaw clench as she hastens her pace, doing her best to move away from the shorter of the two rookies she was assigned as ‘protection’. Despite her obvious efforts, the oblivious henchman - who has somehow been saddled with a small bunny backpack - scurries to catch up. “But he does have nice muscles for a henchman.”
She motions to their companion who walks a few feet in front of them. He is young, brash, and impulsive, or what many would define as brave. He had come highly recommended. 'The Future' Trevor said and Jacky had to admit, he has the muscles - and brains - suited for the role. She feels a nudge and turns to see the girl leaning towards her, whispering loudly. “I’m a sex addi-”
“Why the fuck are you telling me this?” Jaclyn interrupts, briefly stopping her stride.
“I was just making conversation…” the henchwoman begins to explain to the back of Jacky’s pink-pigtailed head as she storms away. Their companion, the muscular man in matching rabbit attire, starts to speak when she approaches.
“You know: I bench over 400 poun-“ he attempts, only to receive a full contact shoulder as she shoves by.
“Who the hell told these two they could speak?!” she yells, louder than she should given the circumstances. The two rookies exchange an embarrassed look. They had done well so far silently infiltrating the NASA headquarters, but Jaclyn’s frustrations were beginning to boil over; they have reached the top floor and still their target was nowhere near their sights. She withdraws the .44, her knuckles white as she grips the handle. “Where the fuck is this guy?”
“Trevor told us to keep it quiet-“ the muscular, masked man attempts to protest, but a report from the handgun cuts through his complaints and straight to...
As the crack of the caliber fades away, the hallway comes alive. Panicked employees push their way past - covering their heads - as they do their best to make it their way towards an escape. Jacky watches with glee, her golden eyes searching the crowd. “Come out, come out, wherever you are!”
Like a grizzly grabbing a salmon, the clown reaches out, plucking one of the fleeing men from the crowd before tucking the pistol beneath his chin. “Hiya!”
He starts to sputter then stops when the full barrel slides between his chattering teeth.
“Can you tell me where Deputy Directors Chalmers office is?”
He tries to speak, but is quickly reminded where her weapon is as she pulls the hammer back. Arm shaking, he points down the hall to a lone office - shades drawn and door shut. The nameplate on the door reads, ‘Chalmers’.
The clown smiles, pulling the gun out before wiping it on his back as he stumbles after the dwindling crowd. The hallway empty save the three, Jacky calls out to the door.
“Deputy Director Chalmers? Are you here?” There is no response, at least not verbal. The unmistakable sound of a 12 gauge slug sliding into place, however, says otherwise. “We’re not here to hurt you! Just here to talk.”
The glass explodes and the three drop down, ducking back into some of the abandoned cubicles.
“Well come on in!” a gruff voice responds from within. He accentuates the point by readying another shell. Jacky turns to the taller of the two - the brand new, brave young bunny.
“Looks like we need a hero,” she says soberly. His confusion, typical in henchmen, quickly shifts to understanding. He nods his head towards the two, pushing himself to his feet.
“You know what that means,” he shouts, puffing out his chest, “Rabbit season!”
Rushing down the corridor, he manages to get down the hall under a hail of buck. The henchman slams his shoulder into the door, forcing his way through, then runs headfirst into the room. There is a loud blast from within and his limp body flies back through the glass, landing just in front of the clearly occupied office. She nods her head with appreciation.
“Guess it should have been duck season,” Jacky shrugs before turning towards his partner, her eyes wide with horror.
“Alright Debbie Dicksucker,” the clown says to the henchwoman whose entire body trembles. She looks down the hallway then to the clown, .44 still held in her palm. “You’re up.”
The woman, left with no other choice, slowly slides the backpack from her shoulders, a gift from her grandmother. As she steadies herself to make her way down the hall, the clown's attention turns towards the window, her eyes locked on a pair of big red pigtails.
“I wonder if they have Frosties,” she says to herself before turning back towards the stairs. As she reaches the steps, the henchwoman makes her move, rushing towards the door and the doom that lies just beyond.
“Everyone wants to be a hero.”
The scene opens up.
Jaclyn Pierrot sits on the counter, Wendy’s visor pulled low on her eyes. The sizzle of the fryer can be heard along with the distinct buzz of an emergency door left ajar. The Cross-Hemisphere championship bounces in her lap as she kicks her legs.
“But what’s a hero? We once had a grasp on what that was with great icons and grandiose ideologies. An American Dream. A Super Man. A Caped Crusader. An image we had of good versus evil whose division was once so crystal clear in our minds when it was far away, became less so as it was explored how close. We quickly found that clarity was only through their lens and soon we started to find those very things we once called evil closer than we could have ever imagined - at our doors, in our homes, and even deep in our own hearts.”
Jacky clasps her hands over her chest.
“And so knowing that each and every one of us was capable of both acts of greater good and absolute evil, put the mere definition of those words on a shifting scale, depending on who was watching.” The frame cuts to the security camera, showing her pistol sitting just behind her, out of view from the front; the cash register empty and open. “Or from what angle.”
The shot switches back to the front.
“With the way the world’s going, eventually we will all have to choose a direction, but I think my choice has been quite clear. So then, in this moment, what does that make you Vespertine? Do you have it in you to be a hero? You’ll say you have it in you to go all the way. You’re here to show yourself and the world that there’s no stopping you but me? I’m just here to show you all the cold hard truth. See,” she places her hands fondly atop the belt, “While you would love to add this to your laundry list of lost championships, the fact of the matter is, I’ve grown quite fond of having it here by my side and so that’s just where it will stay.”
She taps her chin in thought.
“You know, the problem with people like you is you’re so simple and narrow-minded in your solutions. Step into the ring - any ring - and set your sights on the biggest prize you can find. In Hearts we call this “shooting the moon”, but in our minds we understand what it really is. Some call it chance, others call it a Hail Mary, but others can see it for a what it really is: dumb luck - the leading cause of “heroism” these days.”
The clown shakes her head
“Everyone wants to be a hero, but there’s no such thing as a hero anymore. The billionaires babies aren’t beating people up in the streets, because their mother and father never took a wrong turn, so instead they are here, being booked in these very rings. And the values we once looked to them to spread - hard-work, determination, perseverance - are instead, not only deeply ingrained, but also studied and celebrated in these would be villains. And the valiant fight for freedom? Now merely a fumbling for fame and fortune.”
Setting the belt aside, she pushes herself off the counter.
“We have no heroes here - only a haven for the heathens. Heathens like you - seeking your moments so you can leave your marks. And heathens like me - ready to dig in that much deeper to defend what is mine. And so what happens, Vespertine, when it’s over and you walk away empty handed? What will you say to those that saw you as something before you became just another hero who failed to save the day? You’ll claim it as a setback, nothing but a bump in the road, and be on your merry way. But in the back of your mind, you’ll remember that moment as the one where you learned a truth about both yourself - and the world -”
Turning to the counter, she scoops up both belt and gun.
“Everyone wants to be a hero…” Jacky flips the Cross-Hemisphere championship once more onto her shoulder.
“The problem is - nobody has what it takes.”
Turning, she takes aim at the security camera. The frame switches to that view for just a moment before she opens fire and the scene fades to black.
“So you left them there?”
Tanks shakes his head, his arms still crossed tight across his chest. Jacky points towards the red cup she set aside during her story. “For a Frosty!”
Trevor sighs deeply, taking a moment to compose himself before he speaks. “Did you forget the plan?”
“Right the plan!” she says, staring absently towards the Frosty.
“The launch codes!” he shouts. Jaclyn holds her hands up.
“Right! Sheesh! I’ll go get them then! All you had to do was ask.” Trevor watches her exit the front door, once again resuming her debate.
“And maybe a Napoleon too!”