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A Day In The Life of Gary Shoe

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[OOC: Gary's basically the most over-the-top parody of a brooding, tortured JRPG hero I could conceive of. I think a few perfectly good brain cells committed suicide to create him. I really ought to find a good excuse to use him someday.]


Yesterday, my sidekick died. Stabbed through the heart by another of those mysterious white-haired guys who keep claiming they've been watching me since I was born. Why do they keep following me around? What is their aim, the mysterious purpose they work towards? Why do they look so splendidly fabulous when they take their shirts off, and why are they perpetually surrounded by roiling vortexes of swooning fangirls? My heart and mind remain darkened by grief, and these questions remain unanswered for me. 


I don’t remember his name. He'd joined me when I'd wandered into a bar in my endless search for the cure for my sister's terminal disease one day -- He'd merely asked for a pittance, a mere 500 G*l for his undying loyalty, and I'd unhesitatingly agreed. One little fanfare later, and Sidekick #36 was on his merry way with me, two fellow wanderers travelling and fighting our way through the endless hordes of small annoying monsters and psychopathic biker gangs that plagued what remains of civilization. It must have been their fault that the Fall happened to begin with -- in their smallness and annoying nature, they must have driven the men of a bygone age to madness. They must have torn down their great edifices and shattered their machines, in despair that Mother Earth's bounty turned out to be naught but hordes of critters good for nothing but training one's sword arm on and the cheap trinkets they inevitably disgorge upon their demise. I wonder if they eat those trinkets.


I have no idea where the biker gangs come from, or where they scavenged the hair dye for their mohawks from. It will remain a mystery for the ages.


Anyway, I digress. We adventured together, fought together, and bled together, but still, despite him being my brother in arms, I remembered him not. In my memory, he merely blended into a collective -- that of the loyal, steadfast sidekick, merely one of the dozens who have followed me in my journey. They may die, but in the next town I stumble upon, another is willing to take his place. His death is a tragedy, that is for sure. I swore vengeance upon his killer over his bloodied corpse, and I screamed his name to the heavens, lamenting why such a brilliant life be cut short so cruelly. But ultimately, he will remain as a footnote, his death forgotten as a new name rises to take his place as the 37th of Gary Shoe's unfortunate followers.


Now the love interests I remember more clearly. They had come in all sorts -- demure, dainty flowers, spunky ones who could take me in a fight, quiet, mysterious ones with dark secrets, and everything in between, a gamut of names and faces that would appeal to every demographic and leave none unrepresented. They'd all met tragic ends, invariably, and almost always at the hands of those inexplicably pretty men who haunt every step of my journey. Earlier on in my quest, I'd tried harder to save them. I'd invest thousands in miracle cures, and lay one Magic Feather after another upon their slowly cooling bodies in a vain attempt to bring them back. And yet, they remained dead, their demises seemingly too permanent for even the greatest of magic to overrule. Even after I'd learnt to harness my powers over PURE ENERGY to mend wounds, to reverse the spiral of failures and shutdowns that led to bodily death, the moment the villains' cold steel blades sank into their chests, their lives were relinquished, their souls seemingly too far gone for even my greatest powers to drag back. Maybe I'll meet another one someday, another light to briefly illuminate my tragic life --  but that time in the sunshine will be brief, I expect, cut short by some other improbably effeminate desperado who wishes to slay me for whatever vaguely defined reason.


Now, I finally come face to face with the man who killed my friend. He is, as expected, more effeminate than most actual women, with long, flowing tresses of hair white as freshly driven snow. His porcelain-smooth skin bears nary a mark, and beneath his open leather jacket are sculpted muscles of improbable definition. In one hand he holds a monstrous blade, all improbably jagged, serrated edges and impractical, unbalanced spikes. It looks more like a work of modern art than something you'd beat someone to death with. He smirks, twirling his impossible weapon as if it were but a toy, and in his other hand, a fireball blooms to life. "You cannot stop me," he declares haughtily, just like every other before him. "Do you think yourself capable of beating your own brother?"


I've definitely heard this spiel before. Just how many brothers did I have, and was my absent father some Casanova of legendary proportions, to have spread his misbegotten seed so far and wide across this world?


"..." I managed to spit out through gasping breaths. 


"You'll lose! I got all the dominant genes, while you got all the recessive genes!" He yells as he hurls the fireball within his hand towards me. As it flies, it blooms into a great, all-enveloping conflagration, its heat singeing every strand of my mysteriously gravity-noncompliant hair.


"..." I let loose my mighty war cry as I call upon my PURE ENERGY, bringing forth a crackling barrier of blue light that holds off the fire. He bellows in rage, swinging his bizarre sword in a deadly arc at me. My sword, a genuine Demon-slaying multiply-enchanted flaming frozen electrified laser chainsaw gun-katana forged in the Age of Gods, effortlessly slices through his blade and then bites into his right shoulder, severing the arm at the socket. "THIS ISN'T EVEN MY FINAL FORM!" He screams, before his marble skin tears open.


He is now a hundred feet tall, with six wings of fire and brass spreading out behind him. He has four arms now, each ending not in hands but in malformed, jagged blades of bone. A hundred writhing faces pulsate upon his mutated torso, their mouths screaming a chorus of damnation. As he rises into the air, an orchestra begins playing, the sound of wailing guitars and booming horns accompanying this man's metamorphosis into... whatever that was.


“Fear my unstoppable power, Gary Shoe! Today, YOU DIE!!!†I stand, helpless and frozen, as he takes several minutes to charge up an incredibly overwrought light-show of an attack – a massive beam of energy that would have vaporized me in an instant had I not countered with Forbidden Secret Technique #54 – Energy-Devouring Blade. My tutelage under my old master had been, simply put, a very compressed curriculum – he’d skipped all normal forms of training and just moved on to teaching me all his 108 Forbidden Techniques, because he’d said that the Forbidden Techniques were the only ones that ever mattered. He seemed to be right, as far as I knew – and even my Forbidden Techniques that had worked well on previous villains frequently failed, as if to show off how mighty my new foes were.


My Energy-Devouring Blade consumes the energy of the blast ravenously, and my blade, now engorged with titanic amounts of PURE ENERGY, lets off a brilliant glow like a piece of a giant star brought down to earth. I swing it once, sending out a scythe of searingly bright PURE ENERGY through the monster’s belly. He lets out a choked scream, then splits into half – then, both halves explode in brilliant pillars of light.


Strangely enough, despite being in the throes of vaporization, he manages to shriek, “THIS ISN’T OVER! MY BROTHERS WILL FIND YOU, AND THEY WILL DEFEAT YOU FOR SURE, GARY SHOOEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!â€




I stare mournfully at the crater where the villain once stood. He might be gone, but the likes of him will return, as if he were some phoenix, repeatedly dragged back to the land of the living by his popularity. It is as if the powers that govern this world shall never let me find rest, shall never let me save my sister, still trapped in limbo in the throes of her terminal disease – as long as I continue to draw breath, these men will hunt me. They will continue to kill those I hold dear, those who have accepted my companionship and paid the ultimate price for it. They haunt me like the specters of my tragic and convoluted past, and there seems to be no escape from this but death.

A hard rain begins falling – no doubt tainted by the radiation that blankets the planet now. I hate the rain. It even rained on the day I was born. As it soaks me, it reminds me of one thing – of the suffering that is every day of my life. Of the trials and tribulations that I have yet to face. It reminds me that this world I live on is broken, rotten to the core, and that I have no escape from it but death, and even that is no guarantee.

For, god forbid, the world might want me to live on just to witness my suffering. 

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Suggestion: Finally found a love interest, you go on a date with her, have a lot of fun, but turns out she's been dead from the start thanks to you-know-who.

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Day 2

I stumbled into a small village, weary from exhaustion. I had traveled continuously for a hundred miles already, and I had been forced to abandon my trusty motorcycle and most of my supplies early on when another of those guys -- some white-haired bastard named after some obscure early Christian sect -- turned into a dragon and tried to vaporize me. In my desperation, I had drank from tainted water on my journey, and very soon, I would regret it. It was an insidious killer -- in the early stages, what early researchers had called the 'walking corpse' phase, one could carry on relatively unaffected, as though nothing amiss had happened. And then, just a few days later, they'd suddenly keel over, the accumulated effects of radiation damage finally causing the body to catastrophically shut down.

That happened just moments after I'd set foot into the village. My head swam, my throat went dry, and before I knew it, everything went black.

When I'd finally regenerated, several days later, I'd found myself tucked under warm, clean sheets -- someone had brought me back and tended to me. While their efforts to treat my immortal physiology must have proven futile, it was rare indeed that anyone would bother tending to the likes of me. I was some dying stranger who'd wandered in from the wastelands, with no friends or connections here -- a sensible person would just have left me for dead and went on their merry way, and I wouldn't have been missed. Resources were scarce, and better spent on the living than on those whom hope no longer existed. But somehow or another, someone had decided to save me. I didn't particularly need it, but the thought brought a spark of joy to my sorrowful existence.

Then, I felt a surge of panic as I realized the absence of my few remaining belongings. In particular, my sword, Strike Freedom Infinite Justice Power Sword X. Not only was it a weapon of unparalleled power and beauty, but it was my last keepsake from my teacher, the one who had taught me the 108 Forbidden Secret Techniques. Not only that, but I worried for the life of whoever had picked up the blade -- after all, due to its paradoxical, reality-warping properties, anyone other than me who pulled it from its lead-lined sheath would probably have received a fatal dose of radiation.

"Oh, you're finally awake. Were you looking for your sword?" A sweet, mellifluous voice came from nearby. I strained to turn my head, and beheld a vision of unparalleled beauty.

She was a sweet young thing probably not past her twentieth summer. She wore her salmon-pink hair in a loose, fluffy bob, and on her perky little nose was perched a pair of red-rimmed glasses. Her clothing was simple but clean and well-made, and in her hands was my sword, thankfully still secure in its sheath.

"Th-Thank you," I managed, clumsily reaching out towards the weapon. "I-I must go-"

"Sick people shouldn't be going out, you know," she said with a cute little pout. My heart melted.

She spent the next few days tending to me. Strictly speaking, it was unnecessary -- but she was so earnest, so dedicated in her care that I couldn't help but feel indebted to her. We conversed occasionally, mostly idle chatter about insignificant things. I couldn't have told her much of what I knew -- it'd simply have put her in danger, made her a target. However, despite what little we had to talk about, I felt glad for her company. After all those months wandering the wastelands and wallowing in my despair, her simple kindness was a beacon in the dark -- I yearned to be with her, to stay by her side -- on some nights, as I sat beside her gazing at the stars, I wondered if I should just throw it all away, lay down my sword and settle down. I could cast my sister's fate aside, as long as I had the chance to be together with her. Could love bloom, even in a radioactive wasteland?

However, the hero's burden is not an easy one to lay down. I had to leave soon after, for an old sidekick who, surprisingly enough, turned out not be be dead after all thanks to a contrived series of coincidences, sent me a communique requesting assistance against another of the mohawk-wearing warlords that ran roughshod over the wastelands. My departure was swift and unceremonious, with few words exchanged other than a half-hearted promise that I'd return, but the girl remained in my thoughts all that while -- I wanted to return, to see that sweet smile once more.

A few days later, the warlord was slain, and I made good on my promise, heading back to the little hamlet I'd called home for those sweet few days. When I returned, she was waiting for me at the hilltop, where we had watched the stars together. She stood there unmoving, my perfect angel silhouetted in the wan moonlight. "Gary, could you come over here?" she had asked. I wordlessly obliged, walking over to where she stood.

"Gary... Could I... Could I ask a favor of you?" she asked, stuttering with just the slightest hint of trepidation.

"..." I nodded my assent.

"Raise your hand." I was confused, but I obliged. Anything for my sweet angel. She lifted my hand up, and placed it over her head. "Please, pat me on the head... I'd like you to pat me on the head..."

I nodded wordlessly, and did so, eliciting a soft chuckle from her. "I'm so happy. I'm so happy... I met... you..."

Tears were running down her cheeks now, but her sweet smile remained. "I'm... I'm so happy we met that day... but I'm sorry..."

"Huh?" Something felt very wrong. This wasn't supposed to be how this kind of things went...

"I'm sorry that we can't be together now."

"What? What's going on?" I murmured, my mind suddenly cast into turmoil.

"I'm already dead." Those three words hit me like a freight train. "But always remember...I l-love-"

Then, her head exploded like an overripe watermelon, showering me in her blood. My dearest angel's blood, splattered across my face like a pagan offering. I tasted something metallic in my mouth, and I retched, collapsing to my knees.

"WHY?!" I screamed hoarsely, staring blankly at the headless corpse before me. As if on cue, the rain began beating down on me, slowly washing away the blood on my face and hands... but not washing away my sorrow. "WHYYYYYY?!"


A few days later, I tracked down my love's killer. He hadn't been very hard to find -- his modus operandi had been a very distinctive calling card. Unlike the androgynous Adonises I faced on a regular basis, he was a hulking giant of a man, a six-foot mountain of corded muscle and sinew. His shirt was left open, revealing a series of seven scars punched into his heavily-muscled chest, and his gaze, framed by a massive, bushy set of eyebrows, seemed to bore right through me and come out from the other side.

"Why did you kill her?!" My tears ran freely, hot upon my cheeks.

"She was a vampire. Did you not see the signs?" the man said, cracking his knuckles menacingly.

"WHAT SIGNS?! All I see is that you murdered an innocent girl!" My teeth ground and my veins popped, and the edge of my blade glowed with actinic light as if it were somehow reacting to my rage.

"This one's already enthralled. There's no hope for him now." I could have sworn I saw a single tear run down from the corner of his eye. Then, his expression hardened, and he roared, his shirt spontaneously ripping itself to shreds and revealing his impressive musculature.

"I'LL KILL YOU! I'LL KILL YOU! I'LL KILL YOU!" I charged at him, blade raised to deliver the killing blow. Just inches before my blade bit into his flesh, he suddenly dodged, his movements little more than a blur to me, and I felt my blade cut empty air, followed by a sharp pain as he drove one finger into a point on my neck.


"You are already dead," he declared, stepping back as I stared at him, dumbfounded. "In ten heartbeats, your life ends."

One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.

I almost allowed myself a smile. That was a pathetic bluff, and one that wouldn't stop me from cleaving that misbegotten head from his shoulders.

I took a step forward, raising my blade. He didn't react to the apparent failure of whatever technique he'd used, his expression remaining stony and inscrutable.

Then, my ribcage imploded. As I crumpled to the ground, torrents of blood pouring from my nose and mouth, I heard one last thing before oblivion claimed me: "I lied."


A few days later, I regenerated again,but this time, I was alone, Once again, I must walk these grey wastelands alone and without hope. Truly, I am cursed.

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Scenario: Gary Shoe makes a contract with a strange talking unicorn named Charlie and becomes a magical boy. Then he discovers that it's all a ploy to steal his organs to sell them.

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Regeneration 3

It had been several days since that giant of a man had killed me. I was wandering alone again, my soul adrift in a boundless sea of anguish. I'd found love, but it had been cruelly stripped from me again. Perhaps I could have attempted to kill her murderer in a rematch, but it seemed pointless. His whereabouts now would be a mystery, and my angel wouldn't ever return.

I was still lost in my ennui when I saw the unicorn. At first, I thought I must have gotten poisoned again and ended up in a mid-regeneration hallucination, for not only was it a very real-looking unicorn, it was also bright purple. Small annoying monsters were a dime a dozen, but I'd never seen a beast of such strangeness.

And then, it talked.

"Hello! What's your name? I'm Charlie!"

I stared at it, my jaw hanging slackly. It had talked to me. And it had been a greeting, instead of a death threat -- death threats constituted a good ninety percent of conversation openers in this horrid, blasted wasteland.

"Gary Shoe..." Perhaps I should oblige it. I needed a new comrade, and even if Charlie had turned out to have zero combat ability, I could do with a pack mule.

Somehow, the unicorn had produced a gaudy-looking wand tipped with a ruby heart despite his lack of opposable thumbs. "My Heart Wand has detected you are one with great karmic potential! If you'd only make a contract with me and take up this Heart Wand, you'll gain the power to heal this broken world!"


Charlie proffered a paper filled with a wall of impenetrable jargon and a pen. I was still wondering how he did that without hands. "It's a limited time offer, Gary! If you don't accept the contract here and now, you might lose the chance of a lifetime to save this planet!"

Well, he seemed benevolent enough. In the old tales, unicorns were always miraculous harbingers of good tidings -- perhaps Fate had finally decided to smile upon me on this glad day! Unicorns were elusive creatures, too -- if I didn't act fast, he might slip away and I'd never get this chance again.

I grabbed the pen and signed on the line.

"And sign here...and here... And here... Here too... And there, you're done! The Heart Wand is yours now!" Charlie declared, handing it over to me. That was a lot of paperwork for a magical boon, really. Did Charlie work for a union?

"..." I stared at the wand. It didn't seem to have any obvious means of activation.

"Just point it skywards and shout 'Shiny Heart'! You'll become Shiny Heart Angel, the savior of this planet!"

I did as he said, and it worked! It was rather awkward to have my clothes all explode like that, but it was just Charlie and I here. It'd be alright. When the technicolor bubble of light surrounding me finally vanished, I found myself dressed most peculiarly. There was now a pink bow in my hair, and I was wearing a poofy, frilly dress garishly colored in pink, purple and white. It was a little tacky, especially the lacy corset...

Come to think of it, this corset was way too tight! I fumbled at it with pink-gloved fingers, but it had not a seam or string on it, let alone any obvious way to release it! I felt my head starting to spin -- the blasted thing was choking me of air...

My vision swam, and I tumbled to the ground, gasping futilely for breath. The second last thing I remembered was the unicorn standing above me holding a scalpel, a false smile on his face. "Let the operation begin!" He proclaimed in triumph.

The last thing I remembered as the blade bit into my flesh was the meaning of the wording on the contract. "I, Gary Shoe, hereby transfer the rights of ownership to my brain, corneas, heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, gall bladder, bone marrow, alimentary canal, spleen, genitalia and miscellaneous viscera to Charlie and Associates, Pte Ltd, in exchange for one Heart Wand. "

When I finally regenerated all my vital organs several days later, there was no sign of Charlie or the Heart Wand. Or my original attire.

First he steals my organs, and then my clothing. What did I ever do to wrong you, Charlie?!

A Few Months Later

The wind rustled through the tall grass as I faced down Cyborg Kabbalah, the black-masked man who had slain me twice already. Like me, he was wielding another Deviant Blade, though his had been somehow reforged into a flexible-hafted scythe.

"Just who are you?!" I shouted.

I'd expected him to remain silent like in our last two confrontations. But instead, he spoke, his voice strangely familiar to my ears. "The time has come where I can face you without hiding behind deception and lies." Dramatically, he cast his mask off, and the air was refused with sparkles of light. Gazing back at me was my own face. "I AM YOU!"

"What." No other words could come to mind.

"I was striving to find a way to mend this broken world, too. But I was poisoned by the very air itself, and my days were numbered, my quest doomed to failure. But the Unicorn came to me and offered me immortality -- the perfect chance to complete my quest! I accepted without a second thought!"

His skin began to sparkle as he struck a dramatic pose. "When I awoke again, I had turned into this form I was cursed with... Into YOU! He had taken away my very humanity itself, replacing my eyes, my heart, even the core of my bones... With YOUR FLESH!"

"What." Still, no words were coming to mind.

Cyborg Kabbalah's exposition flowed thick and fast. "Eventually, these implants began rejecting me. I began to die once again. I came

to the realization that the implants longed to return to the flesh they had been birthed from...

The only way I could reverse this reaction, to regain mastery over my own body... Was to kill you. But it seems that you, too, have a stubborn inability to die."

"Hear me out before trying to kill me again, will you?" I said. "Was the Unicorn you met named Charlie?"

Cyborg Kabbalah -- my warped mirror image -- looked deep in thought. "Indeed, he was."

"I met him as well. He stole my flesh from me."

A moment of understanding dawned between the two of us. "CHARLIEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" We both screamed towards the heavens.

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Gary Shoe meets Mary Sue, the perfect emo cheerleader who is loved by everyone but convinced that she's worthless. She begins to stalk him, convinced that they're soulmates destined to be together for eternity. What does he do?

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Regeneration 8

I was travelling along a riverbank in search of more remnants of civilization when I met the girl. It was near sundown when that chance meeting had occurred -- the skies were painted in lurid hues of red and orange, punctuated by expanses of drifting clouds, their puffy layers glowing pink in the waning light. It was a cruel irony how the disaster that had befallen humanity had granted us such beautiful sunsets -- it might not have been obvious, but these spectacular sunsets were a haunting reminder of how our planet's atmosphere had been poisoned by a deadly miasma of radioactive dust, kept airborne by the upper atmosphere's rushing winds long after the last nuclear weapon had fallen. I hated sunsets.

I had been ruminating on just how depressing this particular Manet-worthy sunset was when I heard the sound of a piano playing. I turned around, to behold a strangely familiar face. She looked exactly the same, down to the little beauty mark below her left eye. There was no mistaking it this time -- but this girl was long dead, her soul torn out by a heartless, ivory-skinned Adonis and used to turn himself into an abomination of thirty-seven wings, four burning hearts and half a brain. Was this reincarnation -- two souls torn apart by the vicissitudes of fate miraculously reunited by chance alone? It wouldn't have struck me as strange -- after all, I'd been poisoned by radiation, shot, burned, slashed into twain, vivisected, harvested for organs and fatally stripped of my dignity more times than I could have recalled, and I'm still narrating this tale today.

However, the moment she opened her mouth, I immediately decided it couldn't have been my dear Ophelia. Besides, I doubt Ophelia would have recognized, let alone worn an American high school cheerleader's uniform. "Oh my god I'm so worthless, even the world didn't want me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

"What." I'd seen many things, but not an exact lookalike of a previous lover suddenly bemoaning her fate in a tone of voice that suggested that if her words had been transcribed, it would have been a monstrosity of a sentence bereft of punctuation and sprinkled with more misspellings than the average post-apocalyptic gangster's attempts at penmanship.

"I tried to kill myself by putting my head in a toilet bowl and flushing but somehow I didn't die but ended up in this strange place!!!!!!!!" She wailed, the air around her suddenly sparkling. The disembodied piano leitmotif I'd been hearing intensified, its rapid arpeggios in the minor key filling my heart with sorrow. Sorrow that was starting to be overridden by confusion and rage at seeing my sweet angel's name dragged in the mud by... whatever she was. Why would you even try to kill yourself by flushing your head in a toilet anyway?

"Can I help you?" I managed, finally. It had taken me great effort to restrain myself from forcing her to face the blood purge.

"Finally someone notices my beautiful, tortured soul in the depths of misery!!!!" she declared out of the blue, as though she'd only just noticed my presence. "Are you the one destined to carry me away from my sorrowful life and appreciate me for the perfect, amazing person I really am?!!!!"

"I doubt so," I muttered, before promptly skedaddling with great alacrity.

"Come back!!!"


For the next few weeks, I'd become aware of someone following me from town to town as I traveled. Haunted by feelings of unease, I'd kept moving, just in case my mysterious stalker brought calamity upon the innocent people whose hospitality I was forced to count on. I'd missed a few chances to meet some nice girls along the way; but if I'd taken the time to tarry while in the midst of evading pursuit, they'd end up as just another casualty, another sacrificial lamb in the saga of endless tribulations and sorrows that was my life.

Finally, I'd found the perfect spot for a counterattack, a spot where I could lure my stalker out into the open for me to confront face to face. Feigning exhaustion, I stopped in the middle of the gulch, and waited.

I'd expected another white-haired pretty boy to accost me, possibly demanding my soul as a sacrifice for whatever world-ending spectacle they had planned that afternoon. Or perhaps Cyborg Kabbalah, that strange man who had stolen my face and was trying to slay me and take my place. Or perhaps, heaven forbid, that accursed unicorn Charlie who had created the monster that was Cyborg Kabbalah. Little did I expect it to be that girl from several weeks back, her face grimy with dirt and her cheerleader uniform in tatters.

"... You followed me all the way out here. For several weeks on end."

"We're soulmates!!! We're Altair and Vega, destined to be reunited at the world's end!!!" It was true in a sense; this ruined, blasted hellscape of a world was as close to the end as one could go. But I sorely hoped she was mistaken about any kind of union between us.

"... How?!" I'd taken at least three shortcuts through barren lands contaminated with lethal amounts of radiation in an attempt to lose my pursuer. How had she gotten through them?

"I'm perfect!!!"

Words failed me at this point, and I remained silent.

"The moment I saw you I was like, totally certain that you were the only one for me, with your beautiful flawless ivory skin like a living marble statue and your shining, soulful and sad amethyst orbs and your rippling, toned and well-defined marble abs and your perfect, marvellous flowing white hair like freshly driven snow and your-"

I began retching. It might have been radiation poisoning, or because what I was hearing was forcing my brain to evacuate.



It had been three days since I'd managed to lose her through the expeditious usage of many of the Forbidden Techniques I had at my disposal -- a gruelling task, considering her inhuman persistence, but I'd managed somehow. I was starting to worry my luck was running out, for I sensed not just one, but two people following me...

"I HAVE COME TO RECLAIM MY FLESH, GARY SHOEEEE!!!!" A black-armored figure screamed as it leapt at me from behind a pile of shattered debris, a scythe raised to deal a killing blow. Our blades met in a shower of multicolored sparks, and with a titanic effort I shoved him backwards, making him skid backwards several feet. There was no mistaking it; it was Cyborg Kabbalah, the madman implanted with buds of my flesh that had slowly turned him into an imperfect fascimile of me. He was my equal or better with that strange scythe-like Deviant Blade of his -- and with the other pursuer close at hand, I couldn't afford to be drawn into a duel...

But then, I heard a familiar piano leitmotif in the air, and an idea came to me.

I lowered my face so my eyes were hidden by my unruly white hair, and said solemnly, "I'm tired of running, Cyborg Kabbalah. But I have one last request before I give my life over to you... I wish to see the face of my killer once before I pass on."

"A strange request, but one within my power to grant. Goodbye, Gary Shoe," he said as he ripped off the black mask, revealing his face -- a perfect copy of mine, down to the very last pore. As he raised his scythe to take my head, a gust of wind blew, letting his perfectly-groomed hair flutter in the air in a burst of inexplicable sparkles...

... And just before he could strike me down, a familiar figure suddenly bounded out of nowhere and caught Cyborg Kabbalah in an clinging hug with a grip stronger than any industrial vice, screaming, "MY LOVE, LET US BE UNITED AS ONE!!!!!"

Leaving Cyborg Kabbalah to his fate, I strode off into the sunset, whistling a merry tune. It was my first moment of merriment in weeks.

He didn't bother me again for a good long time.

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