The first bounty hunter to catch up with me was easy enough to handle: syringe to the eye, designer hallucinogen to the brain and I was two states away by the time he remembered that his balls weren’t made out of gila monsters. Three months later I woke up in New Tartarus with Hyperion Scaggs standing over my bed. I read that his wives started a scholarship for orphans of involuntary castration. I’ve slipped by Caesar Golem, Hera Hades, the Wax Triplets and Paul the Black Wolf. After almost two years on the run, I never imagined that the one to finally collar me would be my own Grandpa Sagittarius. Considering the prices on my head though, I can’t really blame him.
Before the puppet show industry collapsed, Goatsong Buddies was the go to for animatronics. From marionettes to alchedriods, if they didn’t have it, they made it. Now, like all of the other grand wonders of the Sapphire Age, the factory was a haunted museum. Deep in the warehouse, hundreds of shiny eyes glared at me from of the darkness as if I had awakened them from sweet dreams of happier days. All the legendary puppets were there: Jarface, Henrietta Harpy, Savory Panther, and the terror of my childhood, the snake haired scourge of evil - Medusa Marvel. All of them wore their control wands on silver chains, inexplicably juiced up though the factory had been abandoned for over a decade.
As tough as the magnomarble doors were, I knew it was just a matter of time before Grandpa would get tired of toying with me and begin busting into the building, then my shot at escaping would have been a dud. I sighed, said a little prayer to Hermes, and punched his code into my mobile.
When he picked up on the third bell, you would have thought I was calling to tell him happy birthday. I tried to be his little angel again. I reminded him of the times he took me to the ocean, and bought me my first lamb, and taught me how to slice through any system. And through any throat. He then reminded ME of the time I ran away to join the Cherry Jets. And the time I stole his new Phaeton. And the time I poisoned his best hound.
So fair enough.
I hung up, hitched my boots and made my way out of the warehouse and towards the shaft to the roof. I had seen a stand of sick looking satin trees when I broke into the puppet factory. If I could make the jump and if I could get to the ground without breaking my neck, I figured I had a decent shot at getting clear. I snaked up the greasy iron ladder, through the hatch, and straight into my cousin Libra.
The last time Libra and I talked, she was never speaking to Gramps again. She was going on about him killing one boyfriend too many. I guess the gold on my head was what she needed to give Gramps one more chance. She managed to clock me one in the head before I could drop back down the shaft. I yanked the hatch closed on her foot as I went. I could hear her screaming all the way down to the stone floor.
I staggered away from the fall, blood pouring from the gash in my head where Libra tagged me. I knew if she was here, then there was no telling who else Grandpa had scared up. However many there were, I knew he had them in position as he was sinking his teeth into the locks system. I had no weapon. I had no plan. I had no chance. Then, I saw Medusa Marvel, still staring at me. This time, she almost seemed to be smiling.
Within a minute, I had ripped the frame and wiring from her shell and locked on her famous helm and breastplate. I sliced into the wands, and every puppet in the warehouse creaked back to life.
Gramps did have the factory surrounded. Half of my family; cousins, nieces, nephews and even on of my step brothers were armed and ready for me. Ready for me, but there was no way they were ready for Medusa Marvel. And the Savory Panther. And Jarface. And Henrietta Harpy. And the Li’l Cyclopses. And Captain Parthenon. A horde of Saturday matinee superstars, stampeding over an army of mercenary trash, back out into the world that had forgotten them.
*****A now here I am, free for now, speeding down the Great Road in Gramps’ Phaeton. I’m wondering if the dust has settled back at the factory. I’m wondering how far I’ll run this time. And I’m wondering if I’ll ever manage to get out of this fucking Medusa Marvel costume.