C.K. propped his tablet on the low, wooden table draped with white lace. “You guys better watch this, too.”
A moment later Blackout emerged from the kitchen with a vanilla milkshake and plopped next to Fern on the love seat.
“What’s up?” Fern said.
“It’s the news report, huh?” Blackout inferred. “Channel 9 garbage, I’m sure.”
“It’s probably best to watch for yourselves.”
With that, C.K. started the video.
“This is Adam Satchel, and I’m live here at the Northside Hospice, where it seems some kind of lewd fireworks display is taking place.”
Adam was walking hurriedly up the street towards the fading fire column, neck craned backwards towards the camera. “It has yet to be determined what the purpose of such a display might be, but one can only imagine that the perpetrator derives some kind of sick, possibly sexual, pleasure from the suffering of the terminally ill.”
“I can see some people standing on the roof out there, Adam,” said the announcer over her polished-violet glass desk. “Is there a possibility that this is a villain incident?”
Adam held his finger to his earpiece for a long second, nodding the whole time. “I certainly think that is one possibility, Lisa. It seems like there are at least 4 perpetrators. I don’t like to jump to conclusions, but, based on the explosions, this may also be an act of terrorism.”
Fern cut in, “What?!” He shot a look around at C.K. and Blackout, looking for commiseration. “Just because we’re all brown doesn’t mean we’re terrorists!!”
“Is nobody upset about the presumed sexual deviancy?” asked C.K.
Blackout added in a low voice, “I told you Channel 9 was shit.”
Adam was now approximately a block away, eyes trained on the roof. “Hold on, Lisa,” he said. “I think there’s some kind conversation going on; I’ll see if we can get a better audio feed—”
There was a bit of wind noise, then Fern’s voice cut through, “The Villaingers won’t be defeated so easily!”
Lisa stared incredulously at the camera, “Did the figures on the roof just refer to themselves as, ‘The Villaingers’?”
“While I certainly hope that name was a product of technical difficulties with our sound equipment,” said Adam with a sour look, “at this point in time it’s all we have to go on.”
“Adam,” began Lisa, leaning forward, “could this be a poorly-executed practical joke?” She held up her fingers, listing the evidence, “First a giant, fire phallus, then a golden-sequin geyser, now ‘The Villaingers,’ which is obviously a play on the Village People. All of this taking place at the Northside Hospice? I mean, the pieces don’t seem to be adding up here.”
“I told you that was a stupid-ass name,” sliced Blackout. “All that work we put into the heist, and there you go with the fire dicks and homo-erotic disco band.”
“Shut up, Blackout,” Fern replied, but the words didn’t have any bite. Now that Fern heard it put that way, a small seed of apology planted itself in his chest. “It was supposed to be like The Avengers…”
Blackout continued to shake his head, and then dragged his gaze back to the tablet.
“It does appear as if two of the figures are fighting, Lisa,” Adam said, staring at the roof. “Although to what end, I’m not sure.”
“Didn’t the media get our video message?” Blackout asked C.K.
“It looks like everyone was too focused on Frigidier to see our broadcast before showing up,” he explained. “In a sense, we should thank Fern for his, uh, antics, that we got any coverage at all.”
Fern nodded at C.K., who returned the gesture.
Then C.K. said, averting his eyes, “We are going to have to do something about the name, though.”
“Hold on, Lisa,” Adam called with his hand to his earpiece. “A screen of some sort has descended upon the rooftop. I can only make out some vague sparks—”
“Do you think that perhaps they’re performing a kind of…perverse ritual, Adam?”
“I don’t think we can rule anything out at this point, Lisa,” responded Adam with a serious look into the camera. “There appears to be some fire shooting from within the screen, so whatever obscene ritual might be taking place, there is certainly an aspect of violence to it. Frankly,” he continued, “it turns my stomach just imagining what depravity might be occurring in there right now.”
Blackout clenched his jaw around his milkshake straw and leered at Fern from the corner of his eye with a supreme air of “I told you this was gonna happen.”
A second later the four of them were captured on camera emerging from the screen.
Fern’s line, “This isn’t over!” was audible in the video clip right before the three of them disappeared off the far edge of the hospice roof.
“Well, Lisa,” Adam stated with a noticeably uninspired tone, “if cliches are any indication, I would say this does lean more towards the villain incident theory.”
A long exhale from Blackout’s nostrils expressed his mood. He took an extended drag of vanilla, emptying half the glass. The proceeding brain freeze added emphasis to his scowl.
“Can we confirm if there are any casualties, Adam?”
“I don’t know, yet, Lisa. But I’m heading into the hospice right now to hopefully interview some eye witnesses and see what, exactly, was the purpose of this enigmatic episode.”
The camera switched back to Lisa behind her glossy desk. “Thank you, Adam. For more exclusive coverage on this incident, stay tuned to Channel 9 News.” She rearranged some papers in front her before returning to the teleprompter, “Next, the Central Art Museum on ice? Frigidier’s new project is sure to give you the chills, right after this.”
Throw to commercial.
C.K. stopped the video.
Everyone leaned back.
“They have an interview with Al-Chemy, too, if you guys—”
“That’s enough for today,” Blackout said, curtly. “Thanks.”
Fern turned in his seat to look at Blackout, “Look, we’ll—”
“No,” Blackout interrupted, “You won’t. Me and C.K. will. You’re just gonna say what we tell you next time.”
Blackout may have had a point. Fern hated when Blackout had points.
“‘The Villaingers,’” repeated Blackout, jutting his chin upwards. He downed the rest of his milkshake, pushing the straw to the edge of the glass and tipping it into his mouth. “You better hope the internet doesn’t catch on before we fix that shit.”
C.K. slowly picked up his tablet. And then, most nonchalantly, closed all of the tabs in his browser.