Conundrum: FIMAS Part Four: Story Time With Tim

Greetings and salutations, faithful reader! Welcome back to another offering of Story Time With Tim! I’m Timothy Scott Purvis, as you well know, and here we have the final part of Conundrum: Featuring International Martial Arts Superstar Quam Vincent! If you’ve been following along so far, thank you, thank you, thank you! I hope you’ve been enjoying the work! It’s an older writing, but it still holds up, I think anyway.

If you haven’t been following along, well, maybe you should take a moment to get caught up: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

There, we’re all caught up! Now, let’s not linger on any more foreplay! Yes, I suppose I could say a few extra things, but, would it be necessary? I don’t think so myself. Therefore, let’s jump right back into the work! This is the last part of this novella! Next week will be something different! So, catch you all then!

13

Hurriedly, the lead commander of the demonic forces of Hell approached the Dark Lord. He didn’t want to deliver the news he had, but he’d already gone to Hell once, so, as the humans tended to say, ‘What the hell’.

  “Master. Quam Vincent has entered the citadel.” He bowed and knelt, fully expecting the ‘corporate axe’.

  The Dark Lord stared menacingly, as he was so fond of doing, down upon his cowering soldier and happily obliged his soldier’s expectations of an early retirement. A shame Hell didn’t offer insurance.

  The Dark Lord stood up and addressed the assembly of cowering incompetents gathered before him.

  “What is the point in having a legion, if that legion can’t even stop one insignificant little human being!? Can anyone else tell me what’s wrong with that picture!? I suppose I needn’t even bother asking you to stop him from coming down here? Well, can I at the least expect you to slow the bastard down!? Get moving!?” The Dark Lord walked around his throne and pressed a switch.

  A hum emanated throughout the hall as the roof to the citadel opened wide and a large syringe looking instrument rose up towards where the roof had been and began charging its energy core.

  Looks like my plans have been stepped up. Here’s to hoping it’s at enough of a capacity to do some damage. He stared at the stairwell in anticipation of the coming confrontation.

  “Come and get me, you little gnat.” His bellowed voice echoed.

14

Why didn’t I think to grab some of those damn cats? Quam thought to himself as he plowed through an inexhaustible supply of voracious hellhounds and the fantastically dull witted. He knew he must be close after having descended a nightmare’s worth of stairs. What a sigh of relief it was once the stairwell opened out into a massive room and, best yet, no more demons. Having gotten this deep, they all seemed to have withered away back into the shadows. Where are the rest of them?

  Quam looked around for anything resembling a machine of disproportion or whatever else may have been available for the vertically challenged.

  Seeing some strange, blinking lights on the far wall, Quam decided to check there first. However, his progress was hindered by a massive axe cleaving the air three feet in front of him. It didn’t help his confidence any seeing that the axe itself was more than a story tall. Quam took a step back from the massive Dark Lord who stared down with a hard gaze at Quam. Deep, crimson eyes pierced the darkness still engulfing the Prince of Hell.

  “You’ve come a long way, maggot. I underestimated your skill and prowess in battle. Never would I have thought something as insignificant as a man would arrive in these halls! However, now you stand no chance.” The Dark Lord lifted his axe. “Nothing can protect you now.”

  “Are you sure? I have a pretty good Angel watching over me.” Quam retorted.

  This gave the Dark Lord a momentary pause as he stared down at Quam. His axe touched the floor gently as the heft of the handle remained loosely gripped in the beast’s right hand. Then he bursted out in a laughter as evil as Hell itself. And that laugh’s boom rattled the very foundation of the citadel.

  Quam used this moment of distraction to run past the goliath and towards the mechanism on the far wall. Amused, the Dark Lord let him get half way across the sprawling room. Then he stomped his foot causing Quam to trip. Another belly laugh reverberated triumphantly throughout the room. And the Dark Lord raised his axe to attack. In one giant stride he was on top of Quam who had just managed to get back to his feet. The axe came down, but Quam leapt out of the way and tumbled himself into a forward roll. Coming flawlessly out of the roll, Quam rebounded gracefully back to his feet, and wasting none of his momentum, continued forward.

  A sideways smack by the huge axe sent Quam careening towards the wall perpendicular to his destination. Of course, due to the size of the hall, he didn’t quite reach the wall, but rather slid part way across the floor. Undeterred, and in some pain, Quam stood and locked eyes with the mega-sapien. Both were in battle ready position. Both charged each other. Plainly, the Dark Lord had the size advantage. And plainly Quam had the agility advantage. Yet, it was the age old school book play that saved Quam in this moment of undelusional death. He evaded the axe and let the Dark Lord’s momentum carry massive weight past one tiny target. Said target rushed between said attacker’s legs.

  Unfortunately for the Dark Lord, this meant he’d be eating a little bit of floor and doing a little bit of stomach surfing himself.

  “You little…! Ow!!” Came a pained exclamation as the Dark Lord hit the wall full force. It took him all of a few moments to come to his senses and rise back to his massive feet. The Dark Lord looked upwards towards his charging weapon. Still it gathered energy. Knowledge sank in that if he didn’t fire it soon, he may not get the chance. Then he saw Quam at the mechanism flipping switches randomly.

  Ah, hell. The Dark Lord hadn’t anticipated the audacity and cleverness of the small being but knew how to compensate. He raised his hands upward then summoned an invisible force which hurtled Quam away from the device and several meters across the room. Quam rested uneasily on his back and sat back up in excruciating pain.

  “Ugh, sometimes I wish there were more of me,” he winced in pain and when he looked around him, Quam saw fourteen other Quam’s wincing in pain and sitting up. They all looked at one another in bewilderment.

  “What the… !?” they all began in unison. A bellow of hatred drew the group’s attention to an enraged Dark Lord charging them. “Get him!!” They shouted and joined in battle against the monstrosity.

  Several Quam’s got slung to the four corners (figuratively of course since the room was round) of the massive chamber. Then the original Quam got an idea. While the others were busy occupying the Dark Lord, he’d take care of the mechanism.

  “Keep him busy!” he commanded and went towards the device and frantically struggled to figure out how to shut the damn thing down.

  “Easier said than done!” One Quam Responded as a massive Dark fist grounded him permanently. A pitched battle ensued as the Quams held their own against the massive tyrant who himself was having trouble keeping up with the Quamipulets. Roundhouses met thick flesh and a gargutuan foot met little resistance with three panicking Quams. One Quam wished for a bow and arrow finally figuring out how this materialization thing was working. A swift, steel bolt pierced the Dark Lord in his side in a scene vaguely reminiscent of a Tolkien storyline. Infuriated, the Dark Lord responded with a wide sweeping axe cleaving two Quams in half. Several minutes passed and the Dark Lord lifted his arms victoriously, holding his axe above his head.

  “I am a GOD!!” He screamed and then saw the real Quam shut down the reality warping mechanism. “GODDAMNIT!!” Was what he shouted as the darkness surrounding him faded into oblivion leaving him no longer a Dark Lord, but a strangely dressed demon with a checkered pattern across his clothing and three horns sticking out the top of his head. Then he was forced to dodge the massive axe he’d been holding drop down onto its head and remain perched precariously in that position. Quam looked towards the Dark Lord and saw that he must have pushed the right combination or something to that effect.

  “Alright, let’s finish him…” He looked around and saw no more Quams. Not even the corpses of those thrown haplessly to the ground by the Dark Lord’s assaults. “That’s strange.”

  In addition to that puzzler, which must have had something to do with the device he imagined, he took note that the Dark Lord’s attire had changed into something a little less… intimidating. Quam pondered this development as the ex-Dark Lord busied himself evading the massive axe falling to the ground with a ponderous thud. Then it dissipated into nothing. The room continued to rattle under the reverberations of the axe’s wake and shook the foundation of the room in which the two stood. Strange lightning streaks pulsated all across the newly exposed mechanisms working the citadel.

  “You idiot! Now you did it!” The Dark Lord, sorry, EX-Dark Lord rushed across the floor towards Quam, intent on beating the hell out of him. However, now, being just six foot nothing, he and Quam were evenly matched fighters. So, Quam obliged the beast and rushed towards him too.

  Racing in one another’s direction, the two had plenty of time to contemplate the matters at hand. Quam took his time up to realize that the facial features of this particular ex-Dark Lord were very similar to those of the Angel that had set Quam on his destined confrontation with the Dark One. And he took note that the three horns actually seemed to be some sort of hat.

  Meanwhile, the ex-Dark Lord had some thoughts of his own. You cock-sucking, malady ridden, petulant beast of burden! And other thoughts of that nature until the two collided into a whirlwind of crazed fists, jaw jarring elbows, wicked knee thrusts intent on doing testicular harm, insulting jests, mama jokes, and twisting leg thrusts that no sane human should ever attempt. Not to mention a few head butts here and there and you have a serious melee of epic proportions. A true battle of good vs evil. At least until the floor gave way under the tremendous rumbling that had been brewing over the many minutes this battle had been fought. Caught by surprise, the ex-Dark Lord found his feet giving out underneath him and his body slipping into an opening chasm. He managed to catch a formed ledge of various metal materials and stared up helplessly into the eyes of Quam Vincent who walked over to the edge and made it his turn to stare menacingly down onto the ex-Dark Lord.

  “This… this can’t be. How?” The ex-Dark Lord practically pled for an answer. Quam waited a dramatic moment and put on a pair of sunglasses that had suddenly materialized in his hands. “I told you once, you son of a bitch, I’m the best there’s ever been.” And at that, the ex-Dark Lord plummeted to his demise.

  Quam looked around the room as it began to fall apart. Whatever he had done, wasn’t to his complete benefit. He looked up to see a massive weapon of some sort falling near the throne, throwing it onto its side. He remembered what the angel had told him and headed over to the throne laying cast aside. Where the throne had set, he saw a device. Quam wrestled with a metal cover until it gave way and displayed the secrets it had held. A strange box with golden inlay and various wires running from it laid within the opened cavity. Two golden Angel figurines in the likeness of his angel stood atop the unusual box and along the base of the figurines were written unintelligible characters.

  “God, what does this say!?”

  As he inquired the wording dissolved into English, ‘Press little red button on control panel to initiate Self Destruct… Have a nice day.’

  “Uh-huh. Convenient,” Quam said and opened up a depression on the front of the box revealing the aforementioned ‘little red button’. Triggering the button, Quam beat a hasty retreat. Seeing a door leading out away from the stairwell, Quam tried his luck. Within the next room, he found a long hall with a train like device waiting for him. Not questioning his fortune and guessing it must have been the Dark Lord’s personal mode of transportation, Quam entered. Automatically the device lurched forward and took flight.

  “What the!?” Flying securely away from the compound, Quam watched on a display as the citadel sank back into the Hell pit from whence it was spawned. Strangely, all the Hell beasts had vanished as well. A short time later, the craft landed upon landscape not sunken into the pits of Earth. Quam exited the flying device and took a good look at it. No wings. Yet it flew. He didn’t want to know. Turning around, Quam was greeted by thousands of people hailing his name as if he were some saint handed down from the heavens above. Many patted him on the back and praised God for having brought him there.

  Quam was speechless. Then the clouds dissipated to reveal magenta hued skies. The world would never be the same, he knew. Yet, there he was, and he’d have to make the best of it. A bright light caught Quam’s eye and something came from the skies. It could have been a plane, or a shuttle of some sort, but there were, like the device he escaped with, no wings. The craft landed in an area cleared of people. Not sure what was going on, many fled behind fallen structures wondering if the devil hadn’t returned.

  From within the craft, came several beings. Among the beings, was the Angel who had helped him… he guessed. Quam wasn’t sure if you could have called that help and she had seemed a little… bitchy.

  “Quam…” The woman began, smiling. “You have just done us all so much a favor! I mean… you saved the Earth!”

  “So, they say. I destroyed the mechanisms as you instructed. What was he?” Quam inquired, inhaling deeply the stale air flowing across the tattered landscape. Another of the Angel beings walked forward. A male with those same, strange eyes. Long, black hair fell to his midback and his jaw was lined in a drooping bushy beard.

  “Well, my friend,” The being took Quam’s hand in his and gripped it tightly. “That was a being we’d been struggling with for quite some time. You see, he was, if you’ll pardon the phrase, hellbent on destroying our world. That’s what the mechanisms were for. Your people suffered for his revenge.”

  Quam just looked at the strange man, not sure what to say.

  “You’ve had dealings with the devil before?” Hands continued to be clutched as the being fought, within his mind, to come up with the right thing to say.

  “Well, yes. You see, once upon a time, our two peoples were united as one. Our worlds cooperated in a joint venture to establish peace and prosperity in this solar system. I see your puzzlement. We come from Lahmu. What you know as Mars.”

  “Mars? You’re Martians? How can anyone live there? Isn’t it pretty much one big dust ball? I mean, really!” Quam smiled faintly, digesting this new tidbit of information.

  “Yes and no. Mars is actually a garden world. It hails back to when our two peoples were one,” he explained, motioning his head like a crack fiend needing another dose. “There was this dispute between leaders and one thing led to another and your leaders decided it was best if they went their own way and there was this silly misunderstanding that made those leaders think we were still trying, I mean… they thought we were trying to subjugate them and there was this nuclear war…”

  “Nuclear war!?”

  “Bear with me, kid, I’m explaining here. Anyway, as I was saying, since there was this misunderstanding, we decided it was in everyone’s best interest to just sever our ties and create a massive cloaking field to make it look like we were just a desert planet. I didn’t matter anyway because your people settled back into the middle ages, threw caution to the wind, said ‘screw it’ and didn’t get back into the technological side of things until just about a century ago. Into the space faring age, that is.”

  “I see. But weren’t there satellites sent to Mars…?”

  “We tricked the systems on those. Pretty easy really. The real tricky elements were those damn rovers that kept running into the middle of our buildings and parks and such. Convincing THOSE things we weren’t real was a pain, but doable.”

  “Oh… I see. Fine. What’s the deal with this Dark Lord and why the unnatural fear of felines?”

  “Uhm, he doesn’t actually have a fear of cats… just bells. I guess the bells just reminded him that… uh… well, we’re still a, you know, monarchial type society sort of like your England. And… heh, you see it’s like this… he was the court jester.” At this, Quam just froze and stared at the man, or whatever he was considered, before him. “Unfortunately, the Dark Lord, or Bongo as we liked to call him, got the tech from us. He was a little pissed that we fired him for taking advantage of the royal daughter. This whole ‘Dark Lord’ thing is just something he made up millennia ago to get the people to cooperate with him, so to speak.”

  “…Interesting. Then, if he’s just some deranged jester from the cosmos, how is it he was capable of making things just materialize out of thin air? Come to think of it, how did those glasses pop up?” Quam looked at the pair of glasses he had taken off upon debarking the flying train and stuck in his jacket pocket.

  “Glasses?” The male inquired as Quam held it out for him to view. “Ah. Matter Displacer.”

  “Huh?”

  “It’s a device that can create anything from nothing. With just a thought, you had your glasses in your hand. The same ones you wore in ‘Missing and in Traction’ if I remember correctly. It’s quite an amazing machine, actually.”

  “That would explain my duplicates… So, I’m guessing she’s no Angel.”

  “Not by a long shot. God no.”

  The woman shot a glare at the male alien and responded to Quam. “In a manner of speaking, no… I’m one of the En Gil. The servitude to the throne. Messengers of the Lord. You know, his highness upon Lahmu. Heh… heh.” She rubbed the back of her head absently.

  “Then how was it you have been watching me?”

  “Oh, well, I just love your movies!”

  “Then… it is true. I really did come out of some movie… David created me… But, how did it happen?”

  “The Matter Displacer made it possible. When the people prayed, you were their answer.” The male spoke in response to Quam and motioned for one of his associates to join him. The associate handed the male a small box. “The machine employed by Bongo brought you here. It was his own undoing. What a shame.” He started to open the box and stopped short. “Now, you did eliminate the Dark Lord, right?”

  “Unless he suddenly materializes out of thin air, I’d say he’s gone,” Quam said as the woman started looking around like she suddenly realized something.

  “Say, where’s David? Is he alright?”

  “Well…” Quam began when a sudden rumbling split a hole in the Earth and the ex-Dark Lord shot forth close to the woman alien and made to attack her. She screamed and leapt backwards. Quam was about to spring into action when a loud scream emanated from above. Everyone looked up, including the ex-Dark Lord, Bongo, and saw a brand new car careening down unto the goofy looking beast. Bongo didn’t have time to move and was crushed by the vehicle’s weight. Miraculously, the sole occupant of that vehicle who had been screaming his head off, emerged safely and looked around.

  “Wh… what the hell happened?” David inquired as the woman slung her arms around him, planting a sincere kiss upon his lips.

  Quam looked at the box in the male’s hand, grabbed it, threw it to the ground, and began stomping on it fiercely, breaking it into little pieces. He looked at the male who was staring at Quam in horror.

  “Now, how the hell do I get home!?”

  “There… is only one device that can do that. The Emancipator. It acts just like the Matter Displacer only it can reverse the effects.”

  “Where is it!?” Quam was nearly into the alien’s face. The male stared at the ground where the box lay in pieces.

  “You … just destroyed it.”

  A moment of silence passed then Quam shouted out. “Damn it!!”

  “We were keeping that one safe! It allowed us to clear the skies of those horrible clouds! The one under Bongo’s throne could have torn the fabric of reality asunder!” he pled. “Once, amusingly enough, though, it had been a handy communications device. Before a bunch of religious zealots got ahold of it and started to parade it around and calling it the ‘Holy Ark of the Covenant’ or something to that effect.” Quam growled and began to walk off.

  The woman alien still holding David in a strangle hold witnessed this and asked, “Are you all right?”

  “All right? Today, I’ve battled the minions of Hell, or what I thought was Hell, found out I’m not real, met an Angel who’s no angel but the servant of the reigning government of Mars, and to top it all off, the devil is actually just an evil jester. Oh yeah, I’m fine.” He noted the people gathering around the alien presence. “What about the people?”

  “We’ll reestablish our alliance with this world and forge a better, democratic tomorrow, free of evil jesters,” the male said.

  “Good enough,” Quam replied and walked off, pushing his way through the masses.

  He shook his head in disdain, unable to believe the events of his long day. A somber feeling permeated his soul as he ignored the crowd. He wouldn’t be going home. So deep in contemplation was he, that Quam didn’t see the woman before smacking right into her. He was about to apologize when he looked into the woman’s face and saw it was the same woman he had run into when this whole nightmare had begun.

  “Hey. I knew you were a hero! I knew you would save us! Quam Vincent, I want to have your baby!” Looking at the deranged woman with ever widening eyes of adoration, he could only respond one way,

  “What the hell.”

Thank you for making it to the end of this last part to Conundrum! I’m sure you had a blast with the story and are looking forward to next week’s offering! Hey, so am I! I appreciate your reading and, if you want this whole story for yourself, why not hit those links below and go check the story out for yourself? The novella alone is only 99 cents and the book the has it as part of its collection isn’t too hateful either! What, a buck ninety nine on Kindle? Not bad at all if I do say so myself. …And I do!

Anyhow, read to you all again next week! Hope your days will be wonderful ones and see you soon!

~Timothy S Purvis

Find the individual novella for Conundrum here:

Looking for more to read than just this one last story? Why not go ahead and check out Volume II of my Tales From A Strange Mind collection? It’s well worth the time to read:

And, of course, don’t forget to go check out my author’s page where new work will be posted and my old works can be found either in collection sets or individual downloads. I’d greatly appreciate your support! Just click on my name for the link to the page–>Timothy S Purvis

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