Haley ran up the stairs in an excited rush. She hadn’t seen her room in what felt like forever, and burst through the door when she reached it. She leapt onto the bed, scattering stuffed animals everywhere. She layed on her back, spreading all her appendages out on the bed. However, she only relaxed for a few seconds before realizing that she was too excited to wind-down. As she hopped out of her bed, she heard the front door close. Curious, she made her way to the top of the stairs to inquire. “Dad?” She asked.
“Yes hun?” Her dad poked his head out so that she could see him. “That was your mom, she went to the store to get some things for dinner.”
“What is she getting?” Haley asked.
“Well since our little angel is back, she decided to fix something special, possibly involving chicken.” Her dad said with a grin.
“Is it my favorite? The one with the salad dressing?” Her eyes opened wide as she asked.
“Oh, I don’t know, maybe.” Her dad said, teasing her. “Why don’t we watch a movie while we're waiting for her, then you can ask once she gets back.” Haley nodded happily as she sailed down the stairs. She dashed into the living room and began to look through a large white cabinet sitting against the wall.
The cabinet was filled completely with video tapes and dvd’s. After only a few seconds of looking, Haley pulled out an old vhs tape. “I want to watch The Lion King.” She said.
“You remembered just where it was didn’t you?” He asked. He chuckled as he took the movie from its case and placed it into the vcr. The large plasma t.v. displayed the tracking bar as he was sitting. Haley sat right next to him, and he pulled her close to hold under his arm. As the first preview was playing, he hit the fast forward button on the remote.
“No, I want to see all of it, even the commercials.” Haley complained. She tugged on his arm until he pressed the play button. As the previews resumed their normal speed, the doorbell rang.
“Sit tight sweetie, I’ll be right back.” He answered the door to see two strangers standing on the steps outside. One wore a black jacket, while the other was entrenched in some sort of tan coat that covered every visible part of his body. The coat seemed to be a strange blend of leather and wool, clearly synthetic, and he wore a hat of the same material to hide his face. “May I help you gentlemen?”
“Sorry to bother you sir, but I’m here on behalf of the “Standing Branch.” The man dressed in black said with a small bow.
“You people huh?” Haley’s dad asked. He quickly prepared to lie about Haley’s location.
“Yes, I’m sure you are familiar with us. Your daughter was being tested at one of our buildings. This may come as a surprise to you, but your daughter has been abducted by a man who escaped our custody last night.” The man said.
“What do you mean? What happened to my daughter?” He asked, fully flexing his bluffing ability.
“Please do not be alarmed, We have many teams looking for her. I’m here to check that she hasn’t returned home.” The man said.
“Well she hasn’t, now hurry up and find her.” Haley’s dad said with his teeth bared.
“Well sir, I need to step in to check that you are right.” The man replied. “I promise it won’t take but a moment, all part of procedure.”
“You take my daughter from me, lose her, and now you want to come into my home? Is this some kind of insult? Find my daughter or there will be hell to pay!” He shouted in reply. His sharp outburst left a period of silence between the two. That period just happened to be long enough for the movie to reach its opening; the iconic african chorus. The two men at the door easily overheard the movie, and began to get curious.
“You say your daughter has yet to return home. Am I to believe that you are a grown man, home alone, watching The Lion King?” The man asked.
Haley’s dad hesitated for a fraction of a second before replying. “It was her favorite movie. I watch it now and again to remind me of the daughter that you took from me.”
“Yet it wasn’t important enough to pause once you heard the doorbell ring?” The man asked.
Haley’s dad began to sweat bullets, knowing that there was no time to hide his daughter. “Get off my property and find my daughter!” He shouted, swinging the door to slam it shut. It crashed into something that stopped it from closing. The strange man that hid his face had stuck out his foot to keep the door open, and violently pushed it to open it once more. As the door whizzed by dad’s face he could feel his anger rising. “What the hell are you doing?!” He shouted, his insides boiling.
“Mr. Winger; like it or not, we are a branch of the law. We have already obtained the rights to enter your house, seeing as it is the missing person’s previous home. After a quick search we will be out of your hair.” The man in the black jacket said. The man who hid his face remained silent and stoic as he marched into the living room. As the man in black joined him, they saw that Haley was not watching the movie.
“She isn’t here. Please, just leave.” Mr. Winger said, giving a sigh of relief in his head.
“Now, now. We must search every room, and then we shall leave.” The man in black said. He made his way through the living room, towards the kitchen. Out of the corner of his eye, Mr. Winger saw his daughter slowly making her way out of the kitchen and down a hallway. He ushered a silent cheer for her escape. However, it was for naught. The man in black jumped from the kitchen in pursuit of her. “Got you now!” He shouted.
Thinking fast, Mr. Winger grabbed the baseball bat that he had jokingly stored in the umbrella holder by his front door. He got a running start as he put all his weight into swinging the bat at the man in the tan cloak. A metallic noise exploded outward as the bat impacted the man’s head, knocking his hat to the floor. Mr. Winger stared in disbelief at the man. Not only was he unfazed from the impact, but the lack of hat revealed his sinister face. It was as though his head was made of crumpled, blue metal; and his eyes resembled yellow gems. “He’s seen too much, plan B!” The man in black shouted. The figure in the tan cloak stood up to deliver a crushing blow to the side of Mr. Winger’s head, knocking him out in one go. The man in black turned around to see that Haley was gone. After hearing a screen door slam shut he began to bark more orders. “She went out the back! Nine Inch Nails, find her!” The figure, who was presumably the man in black’s stand, gave a loud, metallic roar as he charged down the hallway.
Outside, Nine Inch Nails spun in place. It carefully looked for anywhere the little girl could run to. Its eye was caught on a crooked plank in the fence that surrounded the yard.
“What’s going on Haley? You were gone for like, ever; and now you’re acting all weird.” The little girl said. Her and Haley were crouched down inside a plastic playhouse, trying to hide.
“They put me in a bad place, but my friend got me out. Now there are bad men trying to take me away again.” Haley whispered in reply. “I’m sorry I hid here Molly, if he finds us...” She trailed off.
“Don’t worry, we’ll be safe from any bad guys in my magic fort.” Molly said back. The two listened out to hear the fence being torn down. “What kind of guy is he if he can just crash through that fence like that?” Molly asked, beginning to panic.
“I think he’s a stand.” Haley said. “It’s a superpower, like I have. It’s why they took me away.”
“You’ve got super powers? Why didn’t you tell me?!” Molly asked. “Just use your powers to fight him!”
“No, I can’t. I can’t use Slipknot. He could hurt somebody.” Haley said. She could hear a low rumble in the back of her mind. “No.” She said to herself, covering her head like she had a headache.
“What’s wrong?” Molly asked.
“Slipknot.” Haley said in reply. She heard a rumbling growl that mimicked an alligator. It slowly grew louder as it evolved into some form of speech. Be it the language or the tone, Haley simply couldn’t understand it. “He knows I’m in trouble.” Right after she said it, the plastic house flew upwards, yanked away by Nine Inch Nails. The two girls screamed at the sight of it. It stretched out its hand to grab Haley, but stopped as it noticed a fourth presence. It quickly looked up, only to be blasted off its feet. Standing nearly eight feet tall, Slipknot had been unleashed. Though its frame seemed skinny, it was rippling with muscle. Its pale white skin pulsated with bright red veins that ran into its burlap-like clothing. What little clothes it wore were torn away and ragged at the shoulder and thighs. It slowly began to walk towards Nine Inch Nails, what was left of his long hair sprouted from his visible scalp and swung to and fro in front of his mask. The mask seemed as though it was once white, before being covered in mold and dirt, and closely resembled a hockey player’s mask.
“What happened?! Why did he go flying backwards?!” Molly shouted.
“Slipknot is fighting him, you have to run!” Haley shouted in reply. “If he sees anyone near me he gets mad!” Molly began to panic, and followed Haley’s directions to run away. She had safely made it inside her house before Nine Inch Nails had fully stood back up. In retaliation for the blow it suffered earlier, it punched Slipknot square in the forehead. Haley felt the blow to her skull, and cried in pain as she gripped her head. Slipknot didn’t seem to notice the punch, but upon seeing that it had hurt Haley it began to seethe with rage. It let loose a deafening roar from its bowels that shattered the windows on Molly’s house, and even cracked one of Nine Inch Nail’s gem like eyes. Slipknot then proceeded to wrap its massive hand around Nine Inch Nails’ head and squeezed with all its might. Nine Inch Nails held its arms up, but got no further than them violently shaking as its head was constricted. Slipknot then grabbed hold of his opponent’s shoulder, and ripped the head from its body. It dropped the decapitated body, not reacting to the fact that it landed on its feet, and turned to look at Haley.
As it slowly walked towards its user it was struck in the back by a pair of fists that put it on its knees. Haley cried out in pain, trying to compress the welt rising on her back. Slipknot convulsed in frustration as it saw the pained expression Haley bore. It spun around, throwing a punch that connected with the one Nine Inch nails’ headless body was throwing. The two punches met at the same distance, but Slipknot’s kept going; crumpling Nine Inch Nails’ entire arm. The crushed appendage flew off of the body, landing several yards away. As it stumbled backwards Slipknot caught it. Like a scene out of a horror movie, Slipknot got a grip of either side of its opponent’s chest, and ripped it apart down the middle. A ball of nails resembling a sea urchin rolled out of the chest cavity and stuck into the ground. Slipknot tilted his head inquisitively at the unique sight, and watched as the ball rolled around. it ripped up the grass and dirt around itself, forming a new humanoid form. The form leapt to its feet and began to flee the yard, causing Slipknot to chase after it with a frustrated huff.
Haley tried to find a rhythm of breathing to calm herself down, but was interrupted as she was snatched up by the man in black from before. “You thought your stand could save you huh?” he held her close to his chest, constricting her arms. “My Nine Inch Nails can’t be stopped just by brute force girlie.” He chuckled. He only needed one arm to hold the poor girl in an immobile state, and used his free hand to dial his cell phone. “Yeah, this is Gerry. Bring the ride around, I got the girl. Be careful though, the stands are fighting in the street.”
Slipknot’s hulking frame was nowhere near as fast as the dirt form its enemy wore. Figuring this out, Slipknot yanked a mailbox from the ground and sent it after Nine Inch Nails like a spear. The dirt around the urchin crumpled from the impact, causing the core to fall out and roll across the street. It picked up pieces of the asphalt as it rolled, forming a new body that stood nearly 12 feet. It mocked the action of cracking its knuckles as it stared down the now puny-looking Slipknot. Since its new body was so dense and large it had a new time swinging its arms around. It picked up the appendage in an attempt to smash Slipknot into the ground, only to have the stand side step the attack. Slipknot swept its arm through the body of the colossus, sending the urchin flying out and across the street.
The strength of the blow was such that the core had flown into the house across the street, and stuck in the siding. It rolled up the siding and bricks of the house, forming a giant torso and arm. As its destruction of the house reached the roof, so too did it reach the basement. Nine Inch Nails now stood at nearly 30 feet tall. It threw its arm forward, catching Slipknot in its clutch. The hand began tightening around Slipknot, causing Haley to scream in pain. Slipknot looked to see Gerry sneaking down the street with Haley wrapped up in his arms. A rage of magnitudes beyond comprehension welled up. Haley could feel the muscles on the back of her head becoming sore from the stress of Slipknot’s anger. The eye holes of its mask let out a strong red glow, and his muscles swelled up so rapidly and powerfully that they broke through Nine Inch Nails’ fingers.
Slipknot fell to the street, and stuck the landing. It began to run after Gerry, but was buried under Nine Inch Nails’ other hand. It let out a victorious laughing sound as Slipknot disappeared beneath its fist. Gerry stopped to admire the work of his stand, but slowly came to realize that Haley had not reacted with pain to having her stand crushed. “Why aren’t you screaming in pain? You’re supposed to feel all the pain your stand does, so why aren’t you crying?” He asked, beginning to sweat nervously.
“That attack didn't hurt him.” Haley said. Gerry Quickly shifted his attention between his stand and Haley, his sweat intensifying. He responded in the only fashion he could think of, running. He had run about ten yards when Haley winced in pain, sucking air through her teeth. Gerry looked her over, noticing her hand was bleeding. Upon closer inspection, he saw that her palm and fingers were covered in bleeding holes. he instinctively wanted to start running again, but felt as though this entire body was numb. He managed to turn his head around to see Slipknot leaping from the chest of the monster that had crushed him, holding the urchin-like core. Its grip on the core was so tight that Gerry himself couldn’t even move. Slipknot proceeded to pull nails off of the core, sending intense shocks of pain through Gerry’s legs and fingers. He dropped Haley as he tried to cope with the pain that wracked his body. “You feel all the pain that your stand does, right?” Haley asked. Gerry, with a face contorted by the pain of having his fingers pulled off, slowly nodded. “Then I’m sorry. I can’t stop him now.” Profuse amounts of tears rolled down Gerry’s cheeks as Slipknot jammed its thumb into the space it had created between the nails. It kept pressing harder and harder until the core let out a thunderous crack. Gerry let out what he thought was a scream, but more closely resembled a gurgle, before passing out. The core turned to dust in Slipknot’s hands, and it stood up to walk to Haley.
It knelt down in front of its user, and gently held her injured hand. Upon seeing the holes, it hung its head low. Tears of a bright red liquid streamed down its mask, and it held Haley tight in a hug. Despite its intense strength, the hug was very warm and comfortable. Haley patted its back with her uninjured hand before speaking softly to it. “It’s okay Slipknot. Thank you for saving me, but next time don’t come out unless I ask you too; ok?” Slipknot sat back and nodded at her proposition before fading away into nothing. She looked around to see people staring from their front doors. She knew how strange it must seem to them.
Zeke, Jordan, and Dan showed up soon after. They saw to Haley’s injuries, but she insisted that they look after her dad. Mr. Winger was rushed to hospital with minor skull fractures, while the mysterious Gerry was treated for a crushed lung and dislocated extremities. Even though the chaos of the fight had subsided, Zeke knew that the SPWF would have to pay for the relocated house. It was also troubling that Dan and Jordan had knocked out a cop not too long ago either. “Well, this looks like the start of a bizarre adventure.” Zeke thought to himself.
TO BE CONTINUED