Hero's Diary: Day 1, Part 18
11/02/28 at 00:44 EST

Cautiously, I approached the penguin creature that I had been informed was my relation through wedlock. She stared back at me with her beady fish-eyes, watching my every move. I raised my hands defensively.

"We need more money, dood!" She said to me suddenly. She stuck her hand out, though it was more of a flipper - and waited expectantly. "I want to buy a signature-series fanny-pack, and we don't have the cash for that. Hurry up, dood!" She jostled the leather pack that hung at her waist expectantly.

I didn't respond. I couldn't respond - what the hell was this creature? It wasn't a penguin in the most traditional sense, for the wings on its back, and both of its legs had been replaced with wooden stumps.

"What about that girl you're always with? See what she has, dood. She looks rich!"

"Hey!" Etranger was at the door, looking pouty, as always. "Are you and that prinny done yet? Come on, we have work to do."

And then I saw yet another image that would give me nightmares. The penguin creature winked at me, its smooth rubbery flesh folding upon itself, the bulbous eye temporarily collapsed inward.

Without a word, I went after Etranger, making my best effort to avoid vomiting. Etranger led me to the end of a pier where Pirohiko was waiting, arms folded, confident. "Ready to take another crack at it?" he greeted us.

"Seriously?" Etranger responded. "He completes one dungeon, and you think he's ready for Darkdeath Evilman?"

"Listen to you! He handled himself really well back there! He single-handedly put an end to that crooked robot! I think he's ready to show Darkdeath the true hero's spirit! He might not even run away this time!"

"You do realize that he 'defeated' the robot by running away from it, right? But, if you think he's ready..."

As I monitored their bantering back and forth, I briefly wondered why I didn't get a say in this.

Etranger conceded at last. "Fine, maybe you're right. At the very least, if he doesn't run away, we can always just collect the body and send him through some more trials. Not to mention, we'll collect some good data on exactly what we're up against."

Collect the body? I raised a hand in question, my mouth agape and ready to protest, but Etranger was no longer standing at the end of the pier.

"Here we go!" She was standing behind me. I looked over my shoulder as she was in mid-swing, holding the largest hammer I had ever seen; a thick wooden shaft holding aloft a large stone face. The head of the hammer connected squarely with my back, and at the moment of impact, time stood still for a moment. I pondered my current predicament and thought about what lie ahead of me, as I would be rocketing toward it at an incredible speed.

As I hurdled through space and the stars blended into darkness, only the Earth remained, looming, beckoning. It was the last to fade from view as I passed out. The concussive blow to my back might have been responsible for that. The next thing I remembered was pulling my face out of the dirt.

As my senses returned, I had a chance to look around. I was in the park near my house. Etranger said I had tripped on a rock and smacked my head. Was it possible, then, that this entire ordeal was just a dream that I unintentionally subjected myself to? It was true - as I picked myself back up onto my feet, I realized that I hadn't gone anywhere! Just then, a rumbling sound caught my ear. I turned around.

The gigantic lion creature hadn't gone anywhere, either. He looked as though he still wanted to kill me, too.

So much for that.
Tagged under: ZHP
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