“And as you all know, we lost a valuable member of our family.”
Gripping the lectern with both hands, I drew a suspenseful breath. “My cocoa mug—given to me by my great-grandfather on his deathbed—was blasted to atoms by that treasonous
AMOK as he fought tooth and nail to keep us from saving those disfigured zombies.”
The Sargent nodded in agreement, then returned to his monster truck rag. My audience was quite small, since it was a national holiday and
the Racoon City Police Department was already suffering from massive statewide budget cuts.
“Has anyone asked about the cameraman position?” I asked, covering my mouth with one hand in a faux yawn. “No, but I’m glad you asked that question!”
Motioning for Gambit to bring me the haunted slide projector, the next stage of our half-hour long presentation began.
“Now, over here, this thing that looks like a barn- that’s the Loch Ness Monster.”
“Your half hour delay is over,” a relieved Professor Charles Xavier cried, barreling across the room to harry us from the building. “Although I would love
to hear more of your one-man dialog, get out.”
“But we don’t have a new cameraman,” Gambit grumbled, twiddling his thumbs while looking downward.
We all turned to the window where a strange little man was scratching at the pane and wailing in tongues.
“I take it he’s with you?” the Professor sighed.
“Yo Prof, I ’ave never seen dis joker ’fore.” Gambit had been practicing his rap, I could tell. But he still couldn’t master the contractions.
“I’m here to apply!” the man shouted, finding his way to the door. “I have a camera! I’m a camera!”
We sized him up, Gambit and I. Loafers, purple robes, hair made of fire... nope, too much baggage. This guy was damaged goods.
If we let him on our team, he’d probably turn it into some kind of four ring circus.
“The position has been filled.” I callously brushed dandruff off my shoulder, and gazed with raised eyebrows at my fancy-shmancy Rolex.
“Don’t be an idiot!” Warbird jeered from across the station couch; the strange man’s screaming must have awakened her. Or maybe it was Scott, who was smashing packets of ketchup with a hammer just below her. “You can’t compete without a cameraman.”
“Yeah, well you’ve got soapy hands.
”“You take that back!”
While I knew Gambit would defend my honor at all costs, we couldn’t afford to lose any more time. Perhaps, just this once, I would... concede
... and take the cameraman fate had dealt me.
The station’s lights flickered for a second, then went out entirely. A weird green glow emanated from the jail cells, and small metallic objects began gravitating to the source of the glow.
“Nattering Nabobs of Negativism, Gambit!
Are you using your powers to disrupt space and time again?!
He shrugged as the glow grew gray, increasing its magnetic pull; the roof started to buckle.
“Well, I think you all know the rules... carry on, carry on,” Professor Xavier barked at us as an X-Manservant picked up his valise and held the front door open. “I’ve got to go back to the compound, sort out some financial dealings. See you all at the pit stop,” he waved.
Sparks shot from the glowing field, and a shadowy figure slowly emerged. No... it can’t be...
“I am AMOK.”
The field blazed, then imploded in on itself. Ceiling panels that were close to structural breach settled down, but the staplers (bound by the laws of inertia) crashed against AMOK’s strange futuristic exo-plating.
“But we saw you die!” Gambit gushed, about to break into tears. He still didn’t comprehend the gravity of the situation: if AMOK told the press that he alone
was responsible for saving the zombies of Racoon City, Gambit and I would be pariahs of history.
“Yes... how fortunate you survived... AMOK...” I insincerely monotoned, reaching for my magnetic decoupler.
“The AMOK unit you knew was destroyed,” AMOK... said.
“You kin tawk!” Gambit hollered, showing his ignorance of interdimensional physics.
“So the AMOK of this universe don’t have the ability to communicate beyond plastic egg level... yet...
“My assignment is to assist you in your challenge as position: cameraman, and use the prize money to build a transceiver, contact the AMOK mothership in this universe, and well, there is no third thing.”“Nooooo! Gibba libba libba!”
Our strange visitor (the one with the flaming hair) was yelling in tongues again, but seemed more focused this time. “I’m the cameraman! You can’t be the cameraman!”
“I have a present for you.”
The familiar whirring and clanking I’d come to expect from AMOK lifted my spirits, but then the newcomer made a series of high-pitched screeches and shot an eerie glowing green egg from his tray. It collided with the cameraman wannabe, and for a split-second I could see the guy’s skeleton; then he was gone, replaced by a pile of smoking dust.
“Scott and I are going to just wait out our yield out back,” Warbird said, meandering toward the unlocked side door. Unlocked?!
And they wonder why they lost funding!
“Alright people, let’s move out.”So authoritarian!
This new AMOK was a marked improvement over the older one, and my admiration for him grew as he zapped Gambit with a cattle prod to make him walk faster; Disneyland would be a piece of cake. Scratching my scalp, I looked down at the pile of our disintegrated haranguer.
No one would try to cut ahead of us in line. No one.