The Curious Tale Of Mortimer Jack


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Scene Title The Curious Tale of Mortimer Jack
Synopsis Once upon a time, a man with two minds met a woman who knew his pain…
Date December 19, 2009

Mortimer's Dreamscape

"Jack, wake up."

The revving sound of a torque wrench sliding bolts off of a tire is a sharp and sudden enough sound to wake anyone. Reality comes back into focus with bristling clarity; the way rusted chain-link fencing and corrugated metal hangs overhead is a bit disconcerting, as is the constant trickle of oily water dripping through the links in the fencing used as makeshift ceiling. The sound doesn't happen again, and this isn't a garage, so it makes the noise's origin even more difficult to ascertain. Most unsettling of all, is that this is not where Mortimer Jack went to bed.

He does not often sleep on a work bench.

With a tangle of dark hair in his face, he sits up to take in his surroundings much in the same way an alien abductee might. Wide eyes and hastened breaths come reflexively before the mind can even truly pull the disperate threads of what he sees together into a whole picture. It's a room, of this there is no doubt, but it is one fashioned from the inside of a metal shipping container with its ceiling peeled off like the lid of a sardine can. Chain-link fencing, razor wire and sheets of corrugated metal in different states of mottled rusting make up the new shanty roof, but it is raining and for some reason Mortimer was laying on a dented and nicked old wooden work bench directly under the one hole in the ceiling where only chain-link covers the ink black sky up.

Looking around the room, he can see old televisions stacked up in the far back of the shipping container, cathode-ray tube style televisions with big pot-bellied picture tubes in faux-wood cases with analogue knobs and bent rabbit-ear antennae. It looks like a storage room for a salvage yard in places; loose bolts and screws littering the floor.

One side of the storage container's doors is opened, a chain having been busted from a lock that one hung on it, the lock looks oddly luminous; the metal golden-yellow in color and radiating both light and heat, as if it were just melted off the door. Outside, the sound of rain pinging off of metal is clearly heard, and with just one wary lean towards the door, Mortimer can see the piled up hulks of old rusted cars stacked ten and eleven vehicles high, like the walls of some old labyrinthine junk-yard.

No torque-wrench to be seen anywhere, or anyone else for that matter.

Holding his head as he cautiously begins to exit the container, sliding his tongue around the walls of his mouth to see if Mister Jack did anything unsavory the night before, Mortimer is as satisfied as one can be while living in the midst of a ruined life. He stares down at a gloved hand, opening and closing the clockwork one with a look of distaste, then proceeds to finally try and take in his surroundings. "Now where are we?" He asks this with annoyance, but not surprise; he's been waking up in completely out of context situations lately, but this is the strangest.

At his back, there's a static hiss and a pop, one of those ruined televisions coming on with a warm static glow. The crackling noise of analogue chaos hisses over the old monaural speaker on the front of the television. It's something of an unfamiliar sound in this day and age, since the last analogue television broadcast went off the air. Now all these old televisions can pick up is the white-noise of the airwaves. This television, Mortimer doesn't need his long-lost ability to know: it shouldn't be picking up anything.

"Mortimer Jack, wake up…" Especially not someone's voice.

There's something in that static, the strangest of ghosts, a transmission from somewhere or somewhen else, depicted as little more than a dark silhouette against the monochromatic white-noise displayed on the television. Mortimer can make out the barest suggestion of a hand pressed up against the inside of the television, darker at the center and fading at the edges to static. "Mortimer…"

This is the strangest.

"What the hell?" Mortimer suddenly reaches into his jacket, pulling out a silver 50. Desert Eagle, since it seems he'll never get his gold ones back, then cautiously approaches the television. "Are you a hallucination or a technopath?" he asks, figuring a hallucination probably wouldn't lie. "And what do you mean, wake up?"

Two footsteps closer to the television, and the power goes out. It's right about then Mortimer notices the cord dangling at the side of the television, unplugged like all the others in that stack. There's no picture now, just the faintly lingering glow of a grayed screen fading to black. All he can hear now is the rain pinging off of the metal overhead, the oily texture of it as a bead rolls down his temple and cheek to drip off of his chin. Another droplet lands on the barrel of his extended gun, dribbling down the side in an oily crimson streak.

Wait, rain isn't—

A different television comes on with a crackling pop, showing a perfectly clear image of a cemetery during a burial; a headstone and open grave are surrounded by funeral participants all dressed in dark colors, the black and white screen only serves to emphasize the image. There should be a sound of the priest speaking as the casket is lowered into the ground, instead, there is the crackling pop of young girls singing a jump-rope rhyme with conveniently altered lyrics.

"Miss Mary Jack, Jack, Jack, all dressed in black, black, black!"

The image cuts away to show one of the mourners, a woman with her face shadowed by a black vein, mascara running below her eyes, tears welled up in them and dampening her cheeks, her makeup following the tears like oil-streaks across her pale cheeks. Men and women surround the grave, where a too-small coffin is being lowered down.

"Miss Mary Jack, Jack, Jack! All dressed in black, black, black!"

On the headstone, the name reeks of a Christmas Carol plot-twist, Mortimer Alexander Jack, Beloved Son and below his unfortunately engraved name are a series of years; 1985-1996

"I'm not dead, damnit!" Mortimer starts firing at the television, unloading a good four rounds before wiping the sleeve of his black unbuttoned casual suit jacket. He has a light-blue buttoned up denim shirt on under that, some blue jeans, and black boots.

While true that technically he's the fake personality, despite being the 'good' one, this is not a fact he's willing to even consider, and when he does, well… it's not a happy thought. "Hallucination, that's what this is, I'm having hallucinations again…"

Smoke and poisonous gas issues out of the destroyed television along with a profusion of sparks and dancing lights in the way old televisions like that tend to when they're shot. The picture, understandably, goes out when the television is destroyed, adhering to that logic in the very least. There's nothing to respond to Mortimer's cry though, no debuttal that he is still alive or confirmation of the fact, old the shake of the hand holding his gun and that coppery colored liquid drizzling down the barrel of the gun from the hole in the ceiling.

The shipping container is absolutely silent when the ringing in his ears finally stops. Then, one by one the other televisions in the pile begin popping on, each of them displaying a myriad of images both confusing and disturbing. A child seated at a kitchen table with an empty bowl in front of him, being yelled at to eat and that his dinner is getting cold by a man off-screen, despite there being no food present. A child— the same child— sitting in a high-backed armchair cradling nothing in his arms but making soothing noises as if he were talking to a cat.

Anothet television shows a young woman crying into her hands, fingers wound into her bangs and head shaking from side to side, it's not the same funeral scene. Another image shows a man Mortimer more clearly identifies himself with, kneeling in a brick-laden alley at the feet of an old man in a suit who is holding the side of Mortimer's head. All these images, all these scenarios come flashing rapidly into view.

Then, like some sort of jigsaw-puzzle abomination, all of the screens unify to a black and white depiction of Mortimer's face divided up by the space between the screens, some of them upside down and one missing from having been shot apart, which happens to coincide to the screen that would show Mortimer's mouth.

"Hey there," Mortimer's own voice echoes hollow on the screens. "It's been a while, but I guess it's going to be a little longer now, isn't it?" His voice rings over the screens, and as that jumbled up face moves, Mortimer can see one glaring detail that stands out; his image scattered over those televisions has no eyes, nothing but black sockets behind perfectly normal eyelids.

"I hope you like it here, you're going to be spending a lot more time up here, in the dark, where you put me." The voice is irritated, frustrated, but at the same time liberated and defiant. "You're… really not needed anymore."

"Wake up." Mortimer suddenly repeats, the words making sense now as he runs from the container and out into the rain, trying to see where exactly he is. "I'm dreaming, have to wake up. Either I'm dreaming or this really is a hallucination. Damnit." He doesn't seem all that willing to talk to himself, slamming the container door behind him. "At least I'm dreaming about being a nutjob and not my fucked up love life." is the only real comfort he takes in the situation, catching his panicked breath.

"Not that easy, sorry." Mr.Jack's lips creep up into an unseen smile behind the blown-up screen of a smoking television. "You're here for the remainder, Mort. Thank you for playing, your consolation prize is— " Mr.Jack's hollow eyes narrow, "Who's here?" It's an oddly lobbed accusation, and when it looks like Jack's about to speak again, the television screens all black out one by one, depriving Mortimer of the torment that his alter-ego seemed to be providing.

Outside of the shipping container, in the scrap-yard labyrinth, there's the distant sound of someone calling out. "Mortimer!" It's a woman's voice, distantly heard over the sound of falling rain. Another, distant sound of crunching metal seems even further away, and then nothing but silence and the sound of falling rain.

"Who's there?" Mortimer calls out, running in the direction of the voice, still holding the gun in his fleshy hand while the gloved clockwork one repeatedly wipes water and hair from his eyes. "I can't wake up! Who are you?" Stopping at an intersection of debris, he watches an ominous event; a one foot pixie with tattered wings walks by, dragging a large pumpkin by a chain over her shoulder, straining and struggling until she vanishes into another section of debris.

He continues forward, turning to see if he spots the pixie again, but it's gone, so he runs after the voice again.

The labyrinth is like something out of a fairy-tale, and in a way perhaps there is a Minotaur somewhere in it. But this labyrinth is one made of wrecked memories and dreams more so than stone and mortar. Ruined and rusted hulks of cars are piled up fifteen to twenty feet high, sodden ground underfoot squelches muddily with each of Mortimer's feverish footfalls as he runs. Every turn he takes runs into a dead end, a minagerie of sharp, rusted metal twisting up into a night black sky. It's only by the ambient light of fires burning inside of some of the car heaps that he can see anything at all in the drizzling, oily rain.

Every dead end and wrong turn only serves to further confound the man lost here, but the tell-tale sign of familiar things mixed in with the wreckage add a sense of disorienting surrealism to the journey. A coat-rack hangs out of one of the blown-out cars, a jacket with suede elbow patches that belonged to Mortimer's father hangs on it, fire burning on one shoulder like a torch.

Down another blind passage in the labyrinth, a white plastic mannequin with no head stands at the end, arms raised up and a children's coloring book clutched between plastic fingers. All of the colors are outside of the lines, not a single picture is colored inside, almost as if at complete reversion of the "rules" of coloring books. The picture on both pages is that of Tinkerbell from Peter Pan.

As Mortimer comes into sight of that particular piece of confounding memorabelia from his past, the scream from in the labyrinth rises up again; "Mortimer! Mortimer!" Soon after, the voice is joined by something else, something harrowing.

It sounds like the roar of some horrible monster, but it is not a beast's sound; it is the roar of a powerful V8 engine mixed with scraping metal, snapping wires and jingling chains, a mechanical scream of some otherworldly machine.

His heart practically stops at the mechanical roar, but he grips his gun tighter and tries to press on, trying his best to follow the voice. "I can't find you!" He raises his gun into the air and fires, as if to somehow try and signal the voice. "Where are you?"

The gunshots ring off, three and then a click— looks like he's used up the last round. Unfortunately, when the last bullet is fired, the sound of that mechanical roar seems to draw closer. A howling scream of pistons releasing gas, straining servo motors and the grind of old, wet metal comes shrieking thorugh the labyrinth, and from behind Mortimer, a wall of automobiles explodes outwards in a blast of shrapnel and burning pieces of steel, followed by the crunch and smash of metal and the squelch of mud. Thrown backwards by a car door flung from its chassis, Mortimer lands face-down in the mud, his empty gun splatting somewhere nearby in the mire. As he scrambles and turns to move onto his back, the source of his accosting becomes to very clear to him.

There hath he lain for ages and will lie,

Rising as tall as the wall of cars, this machine is something out of a very familiar nightmare. Made from the bodies of backhoes, cranes and car parts, it looks like it has the body-type of a gorilla, with large forearms and small legs ending with tank treads. But its head is a terrifyingly bulbous thing made from a cement mixer, with two red tail-lights for eyes, and lashing chains for tentacles at its mouth. Behind it, sharp pieces of rusted metal and satellite dishes form wings.

Battening on huge seaworms in his sleep;

The familiar shape is both reassuring and terrifying to Mortimer, save that it is made out of mechanical parts, spinning gears, ticking clockwork pieces. At the beast's heart rests a grandfather clock, broken hands pointing one minute to midnight, pendulum shaped like a key swinging back and forth with a tick-tock-tick-tock, the kind that would drive Captain Hook mad.

Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;

The mechanical monstrosity lumbers forward on its awkward hands and legs, and one of its arms seems so familiar, identical in its design to the mechanical hand Mortimer has found himself cursed with, one that he can hardly maintain now without his ability. The beast lets out a baleful shriek of scraping metal and whining gears, fan-belts spinning inside of its mouth turn gears and wheels that open beak-like jaws made from the bucket of an earth mover.

Then once by man and angels to be seen,

It is the Old One, from the books, from the stories. It's Cthulhu.

In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

"Oh god." are the only words Mortimer can find as he scrambles back across the muddy ground, bumping into a tall wall of cars behind him, heart racing, mind numbing with terror. In many ways he's a stranger to his own mind, and sometimes the things he sees threaten to drive him as insane as the other mind inhabiting his body. "Voice! Where are you? Get me away from here! Hurry up!" he frantically pleads, legs frozen with terror.

Perhaps it was the glimmer of firelight against it, or perhaps it was the result of him calling out to that voice, but Mortimer sees something beyond the Deep One, beyond the physical embodiment of all his fears and what he once was. Glinting in the light, there is a work bench identical to the one that Mortimer had when he led his gang, back when he had his ability. Resting atop it, in fact driven into it like a sword of Arthurian legends, is a gigantic copper key, wedged teeth-first into the wood of the work-bench. His eyes divert from the key back to the advancing behemoth of clockwork minagerie, and he can see where those hands have stopped at the clock in the creature's chest is a gigantic keyhole hidden by the tiny arms.

"Mortimer…" The voice is right beside him, in his ear, whispering. It's a tiny, effervescent ball of light, with tiny fluttering wings flickering back and forth in it; quite literally a faerie on his shoulder. "Mortimer get up. Get up!" She pleads to him, even as the mechanical Old God comes bearing down on him. "Get up and run, Mortimer! Go! You know what you have to do!"

He can see the key through the large path between the lumbering machine's legs, he can see the keyhole, what sense he finds in that is unknown, but somehow— by merit of his bizarre mind— it makes sense. "Mortimer," the fairy whispers to him sharply, "Mortimer you're not helpless. You can do this. You're stronger than you realize!"

"Mister Jack is the strong one!" Mortimer exclaims, but somehow, somewhere, he digs what shred of willpower and courage he has left, balls his fists up, then starts to frantically crawl. His slippery crawling turns into slippery running when he stands, making a break for the key. For whatever reason, he doesn't question the fact that a fairy is telling him to do this, it's the most comforting thing in this terrifying situation.

He grasps the key, yanks it from the bench in both hands, looking it over for a brief few minutes in dream-like awe. He starts rushing back to face the monster, momentarily sliding across the muddy ground and dropping the key. He reaches back, grasping the key once more, struggling to stand on both feet despite the slippery ground, then turns around to face the Clockwork Old One. "But I can be strong too." he declares, running for the clock, then leaping, quickly rotating the key so it's turned down in a stabbing position, attempting to swiftly stab down into the hole.

One lashing tentacle of chain knocks Mortimer out of the air, sending him careening back into a pile of debris that was once the trunk of a car. The lid nearly slams shut, bouncing only by credit of his ankle stopping it from locking down. When the trunk comes bouncing back up, the Clockwork Old One has turned, red tail-light eyes gleaming in the oily rain, and the taste of it is finally in Mortimer's mouth. It isn't blood, it isn't water, it's hydraulic fluid.

"You're not supposed to be here." A voice comes from the Clockwork Old One's shoulder. Climbing up from behind one of the satellite dish wings, Mr.Jack pulls himself to stand, bracing himself at the cement-mixer side of the clockwork's head. His eyes are black, hollow and empty. "Besides, this one can't do anything. He's weak, he's worthless. Look what he did to us!" One of Mr.Jack's hands points up at his missing eyes. "He took everything that made us special, made us useful, made us real away! Because he's weak!" With that taunt, the mechanical beast lets out another industrial roar, chains rattling as the tentacles lash out, wrapping around that one raised leg of Mortimer's, dragging him out of the car trunk and through the mud. The clink-clank of a winch winding back comes with the chain's movement.

"Go away fairy," Mr.Jack hisses, brows furrowed, "you're just as weak as he is." The fairy flutters faintly, nearly winking out of existance, but as her light fades, Mortimer is able to see the femenine silhouette behind the light; thread-thin strands of black hair, a blindfold over her eyes, entirely a blacka dn white figment.

"Mortimer…" She whispers as the light flickers, "Jack's not you." The voice is weak, pained, "You have— you have to confront that. You're you, you're the real one. You're the good one…" She flickers again, curling inwards and clutching her stomach.

"Mortimer…" It's a piteous plea by the fairy, "you never needed your ability. I need you; I need your help, your strength… but you have to stand up for yourself." Yanked up off of his back, Mortimer is held up by the chain-tentacle of the clockwork Monster, dangled under his jaw like a fish reeled out of water.

"You're you…" the fairy whispers, before disappearing in a wisp of smoke. "Believe."

"I know I'm me, I'm trying! Who are yo—" Mortimer's words are promptly cut off, and there's something like the thump of a heartbeat that goes through the dream for a brief moment, and a hand punches through his mouth. Teeth break across an arm, then a second arm, a mechanical one, punches out next to the first, ripping Mortimer's jaw and lips apart completely. The hands continue pulling a second body from Mortimer's, until this person can reach the tentacle, using it to pull himself out completely, covered in blood with a long trenchcoat on. All that's left of him is a gorey husk, but the bloody figure raises his head, flashing his slasher smile as the sky darkens, large dark green tentacles filling the horizon for miles, as if that's simply how it exists.

That blood on his body starts to crawl down to his human hand while the robotic one hangs from a tentacle, the blood extending once his palm closes around on it, forming a long bloody sword. "What crazy ideas are you filling his overtly hopeful head with? And I thought I ripped up all the pixie wings. You're such a sexy one too." His sword comes up with practiced finesse, trying to slash her wings off.

Meanwhile the world around them continues to change as Mortimer's dream crumbles, more of those pixies dragging chained pumpkins, the ground suddenly littered with bodies gutted, decapitated, crushed, stabbed, shot, and killed in all other manner of ways. And so many of them have art or writing carved directly into their body.

"No— " It's a hushed whisper of terror from the fairy form as she winks back into reality in another puff of smoke, flicker-flashing away from the lashing sword. "No! Bring him back!" But laughter rises up so much higher than the fairy's voice. The laughter is familiar, echoing, horrible doubled onto itself. The key in Mortimer's now limp hand falls to the ground when his body does, landing teeth-down in the muck and his body coming slapping down next to it motionless and bloodied.

"Oh look, more useless cretins." Only now that he's halfway through the murderous rampage does Jack hear his own voice fired back at him. One paranoid look over his shoulder shows the figure, standing atop the clockwork Old One's body, hollow eyes narrowed into black slits, staring down at Mortimer with that slasher-smile aimed right back at him. "If it isn't the porcelain mask." Mr.Jack lopes around atop the clockwork's head, pointing down towards the sword-wielding man. "You're just as much to blame!//"

One gigantic steel hand comes sweeping across the narrow car-walled passage, slamming into Jack and sending him crashing into the rusted metal. His sword flips end-over-end through the air, landing blade down next to the giant key, almost perfectly side by side with it. The mechanical hand comes back down again, fingers sliding thorugh the mud as it picks Jack up, squeezing him like a ripe melon before shaking him back and forth like a cat witha mouse.

"You're just the easy way out!" Mr.Jack's tone seems to change, becoming more embittered. "Oh I can't help myself because I'm crazy! Oh look what daddy did to me!" Mr.Jack's eyeless form swings chain-by chain to the other side of the Clockwork Cthulhu, "I can't be held responsible," he whines in a mock tone of voice, "I'm too damaged! That's why I use my ability to fix everything else, because I can't fix myself!" The words come out as sharp as Jack's sword. "And now you can't even fix that can you?"

Motioning to the sword next to the key, the eyeless Mr.Jack asks balefully, "Why don't you just fall on that sword, Mortimer." He called him Mortimer. "Save us all your pitiful life."

"Daddy didn't love me enough! I feel so guilty for killing hundreds of people! I'm so appauled that I intend to bone that fairy when I get out of this!" Mortimer laughs quite maniacally after that 'confession', voice vibrating, head jerking as the mechanical creature shakes him. "Oh please, end it now, end it all, I can't take the burden!" His head jerks back, snapping his head from his neck bone, which protrudes right through his flesh, blood oozing down the machine's appendage.

But even when his body goes limp, his eyes suddenly open again, and he begins to speak, even though his head is simply hanging and wiggling loosely. "Mortimer dreams like a pussy! I hate getting stuck in these things!" His eyes start to swell, rising from his sockets like large wet fleshy bubbles that look as if they'll pop at any moment, stretching and extending until four foot eyes are on both sides of the fairy, staring at her. "But you! I wanna know about you! The only woman he ever dreams about is Cassidy, a great lay, but too judgemental for me. You… you must be my dream. Take your top off. I'm waiting. Oh, and I can't bring him back, don't know how, he's a figment of my imagination anyway, I just wish he'd stay out of my body. Don't you hate when people take over your body?"

It's a surreal experience, he's still talking from his hanging head, but the floating eyes with thin bloody tethers to his sockets continue to follow her, giant irises focusing as they grow redder and redder, beginning to dry out.

"She's just a figment of my imagination," Mr.Jack bellows as he throws the real Jack's broken body to the side, crashing into another pile of twisted metal. "She's nothing like us." With that intonation, the already weakened fairy figure completely disappears in a helpless hiss of smoke and light, leaving nothing but tattered black shreds of cloth where she was. Hollow eyes angle towards Jack, and the mechanical man turns slowly, lips cruelly cutting a thin smile across his face.

"You're different from all the others…" The Clockwork Cthluhu stop its attack, coming to a screeching halt. "You're…" There's a pause, and Mr.Jack hesitates where he stands on the clockwork contraption's outstrectched arm. "Oh, that's a laugh…" He climbs down the arm, drops into the mud, and slowly approaches Jack's toppled figure. "You actually think you're the real you?" Dark brows lift slowly. The figment of Mr.Jack takes a hopscotch step to one side with a splash in the mud, coming over to lay one booted foot down on the chest of his double that has eyes. "Maybe you could be a real boy, if…" Craning his head to the side, Mr.Jack looks over at Mortimer's prone body laying lifeless on the ground. "He's trapped right now." The boot comes off of Jack's chest, hollow eyes looking at Mortimer's form.

"Go ahead," a hand waves towards where the sword and key lay side by side, "kill him here… now and he can never come back." Mr.Jack turns to look from the sword to the broken-necked man. "Drive that sword through him and you really will be the real one, really will be in control."

Over by Mortimer's body, there's a whisper, a quiet, weak whimper of a woman's voice in his lifeless ear. "Wake up Mortimer." The fairy's disembodied voice calls. "Fight him. You can do it…" The sword and key are side by side, an equal distance between Mortimer and Jack, "Get up." Mortimer's fingers twitch. "Get up. Fight this…" Her voice strains, weaker now that it was before. "I need you to be a hero. I need you…"

Mr.Jack slowly turns, hollow eyes narrowed to black slits, he heard her.

"Now now, don't go touching my fairy, she's mine. I'm me, I came first, I remember everything except those months after I blew up the Company's building. But, you're just a dream, you're his pussy dream, psychological crap, hah! You're trying to make me doubt I exist? Your definition, his definition, they're all so… arbitrary. But here…" A hand suddenly rips from Mister Jack's chest, crawling and breaking through yet another gorey mess, stepping up from his broken corpse with a new body, reaching forward to choke the dream him "A God am I!"

Meanwhile, Mortimer's lifeless body starts to stir, his body hurt, but not mutilated, as if Jack never crawled out. He's dirty, but he's still wearing his casual suit, unlike Mister Jack and his trenchcoat. "Who are you?" he weakly asks, trying to wake up, though this doesn't do much to stop Jack, who's still trying to choke the life out of the dream figure.

"A friend." The fairy voice echoes in Mortimer's ear, even as Jack is quickly losing what little grasp on sanity he had left. "//That thing — wearing your face — it's someone who's trying to hurt you. He's called the Nightmare Man, and he's feeding your Id, he's filling him with self-importance and desire, he's trying to kill you, Mortimer."

Turning to look back as Jack digs a hand into his chest, the eyeless Mr.Jack cracks a whisper-thins mile. "You are a God here, aren't you. All-powerful, all-knowing, all-seeing…" Mr.Jack motions towards Mortimer with one hand, a finger twirling in his direction. "He's awake. You should finish him off before he does something stupid." At those words, the Clockwork Old One's red eyes flash to life and he turns, screaming hydraulics and clattering chains coming to life again as it angles towards Mortimer's rising form. The batered man can see a sword now, laying in the mud next to the key, like a choice laid upon a choice.

"He's a bad man, Mortimer. He's going to use you to hurt other people— please— " The fairy-voice pleads, "You have to show him you're not weak, you're not afraid, that you're the real you." A flicker-flash of light appears over Mortimer's shoulder, the tinkerbell fairy back again. "Stand up to yourself, to him and stop this before it's too late, before you do something— hurt someone…" They're face to face now, for the first time, Mortimer and his alter-ego Jack, with the Nightmare Man wearing an eyeless mask between them and a clockwork representation of all of Mortimer's accomplishments and failures barreling down on them all.


"Mortimer," the fairy whispers sharply.



Mortimer slams a fist into the ground, then starts scrambling for the key just as Mister Jack starts running for the sword. "I am the real me! I love Cassidy, I love my sister, I love my mother, Tracy!" He grabs the key, raising it to hit Mortimer in the face with an upward arc.


Mister Jack grabs the sword at the same time, standing over Mortimer's hunched figure with a smile, both pushing with one hand as they try to overpower eachother. "The sad thing is, you really are the fake one. Sure, you dabbled in Cassidy's panties for a while, but you became me, you're what grew into me. To quote one of my father's psychology books…" He flutters his mechanical fingers in the air for a moment as he tries to think of the words. "You're a regression. We have people talking in our ears, but I'm the only one with the maturity to comprehend that it's all crap. I'm nuts, but I'm smarter than you! They're trying to manipulate us, they both have agendas. I'm prone to listen to hot tits over there, but you're just so greedy."

Mister Jack shakes his head, both of them still holding eachother in a stand-still, arms shaking as metal grinds against metal. "Who cares if you're the real one or not? You wanna fuck Cassidy while I'm asleep? Go right ahead, but stop trying to get rid of me, stop getting in my way when I'm having fun!"

"You murder people!"

"I'll compromise and just mutilate people for a while."

The world reels in tandem around their conflict, the mud swirls in a whirlpool at their feet, and the colossal clockwork monster spreads its satellite-dish wings and lets its crimson eyes glow brightly. Mr.Jack's eyeless form climbs up and swings along one of the arms, scrambling up the automaton as he watches the fight between both halves of the psyche. Even in this conflict, there is a fluttering spark of light over his shoulder, the tiny fairy that roused Mortimer to action. "Who are you!?" She demands of the eyeless figure, and as he turns there is a sound of grinding stone, that whisper-thin smile he offers coming with a flick of his hand, knocking the fairy away.

"I am truth," the Eyeless Jack states with a grumbling tone of voice like a distant, rolling earthquake. "I am the lantern-light that reveals shadows…" The eyeless figure stares at the fair as she twirls thorugh the air from the backhand, and as he moves his arm, so too does the mechanical Cthulhu do the same, reaching up to grab the fairy in his palm. There's a crunch sound, and when his fingers spread open, there is not a tiny fairy but a full-sized woman in a black and white kimono, parchment pale skin with ink-black strands of hair, a blindfold covering her eyes. "You are persistant, I will admit that…" His rumbling, grinding stone voice calls out to her, even as metal clashes below where Mortimer and Jack fight.

"I am the truth by which all is revealed." Those clockwork fingers curl around the pale woman's body, having dispelled her protective shell of an illusion, clockwork steel fingers now biting into much more tangible flesh. "And you, Hokuto…" She lets out a whimper of pain as the fingers clench around her, "are nothing but a shadow."

Mortimer can hear her whine of pain, even as he parries Jack's sword with the key. She struggles in the machine's grip, and with one arm held out and Eyeless Jack distracted, Mortimer can see that keyhole in the machine's chest, but getting past Jack to get to it— is he strong enough?

"Mortimer!" Hokuto screams as the metal fingers close around her. "Hurry!"

"He's going to kill her!" Mortimer pleads with Jack, starting to push against the sword with his key. "This body is as much mine as yours! I don't care what you do to criminals, but she's innocent, she's trying to help me!"

Mister Jack backs up slightly at Mortimer's added strength, until they're on equal footing, a dual heart throbbing starting to sound through the entire dream, faster and faster, until finally both hearts throb once in sync before stopping completely. "You're a pussy, but I'll help. And if she's real, I'm laying her, not you." he finally agrees, then suddenly leaps up toward the Nightmare Man, going to behead him completely.


Mortimer is running right below Mister Jack's leap, reaching the Clockwork Cthulhu just as Jack reaches the Nightmare Man's neck, stabbng into the lock and twisting the key with as much force as possible. "I was always more of a Conan Doyle guy anyway!" Mortimer yells as he's driving that key into the beast.

Distracted by Hokuto and his own fascinations, the Nightmare Man fails to realize when the reality of the dream turns on him, when Mortimer and Jack are no longer disconnected and disperate entities of their own identity but one wholly coalesced persona all on their own. The blade of a sword meets flesh with an incongruent scrape of steel on stone despite fleshy appearance. Showers of sparks fly from the cut as the blade leaves a deep notch in the Eyeless Jack's neck. Stumbling back, Eyeless Jack cries out painfully, clutching at the cut on his throat as machine oil spills out from the wound. "You— "


Before anything can be said, the key turns in the machine's heart, and struggle as it will the clockwork creature is left powerless in the face of Mortimer's assault. Working together, against this Nightmareish contraption, they have done what alone they could never do. The moment that key is turned, the moment the face of the grandfather clock is attacked by it being turned, the hands finally click over to midnight, and the entire labyrinth is flooded by a brilliant silvery radiance spilling out from the machine's chest.

The light fills everything, every vision and every corner of reality until nothing but silvery void is left. When the light finally fades down, gone is the darkened skies and rusted metal, gone is the feeling of that oily rain and the thrumming sound of the machine or the grinding cry of the Nightmare Man. Instead, there is just a chaise lounge, the kind of backless sofa a therapist lets their patient rest on.

Mortimer lays there, scarf wound tight around his neck, peacoat buttoned up and hands folded over his stomach. In the chair beside him, a woman in a black kimono sits, one pale leg crossed over the other, inky black hair flowing as if she were underwater, blindfold obscuring her eyes. "Good morning," she says quietly, dark brows lifting from behind the blindfold, "good to see you awake finally." There's something cold in Mortimer's hand; a small copper key in his fleshy palm. "How do you feel?"

Outside the office windows, the city is heavily laden with snow, but here more so than in the Labyrinth, Mortimer can feel that this is certainly dream, even if it looks more real. All around the therapist's office are tall mirrors standing in defiance of gravity on razor thin sides. Each of the twelve mirrors encircling the furniture they sit on reflects them back, except that Mortimer does not recognize himself as such. He is clean shaven, eyes a smooth and reflective silver like a mirror's surface.

"I can feel him inside me, like, he makes sense in there. We were blind before, but now it feels like we have some sort of instinctive understanding, like we know when and how to switch." Mortimer explains, suddenly seeming to be at peace with himself as he looks her over. "If I didn't always have Cassidy on the brain, I'd say you're one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen." Hey, this is a dream, right? "What's wrong with my eyes? Do I have my ability back?" A hand is raised, gently pulling an eyelid down before releasing it, curiously inspecting himself.

There's a strangely empty look afforded by Hokuto, blindfolded and all, to Mortimer. "He's just as much a part of you as you are to him. That… thing was trying to drive you apart, make you choose between one or the other. I knew you were strong enough to reconcile your differences, to… unite what had been broken." At that she offers a worried smile. "Some people… aren't strong enough to let their Id and Ego confront one another."

Looking down to her lap, she deflects the comment of her beauty with nothing but a coy smile. "Here, yes. The renewed strenght of spirit you find yourself with, having confronted yourself… it's given you a measure of control over your mind and heart that you did not have before. Your super-ego, the wholeness of self…" she motions towards Mortimer with one pale hand. "Here, in these dreams, you're the master of your own domain now. That monster, the Nightmare Man, he may try and come for you again… but I'm going to try and stop him."

Shifting her weight to one side, Hokuto rises up to her feet and walks towards Mortimer, offeringo ne of her hands out to him. "I felt your troubled mind, here… in dreams. This is my ability, this is… my duty." Her hand turns around, palm up, revealing a narrow card depicting a man with an infinity sign floating over his head, tools laid out on a bench in front of him. At the top of the card, is the roman numeral I, and at the bottom of the card it reads; The Magician.

"I need your strength," Hokuto states firmly, offering out the card, "to help others that the Nightmare Man is targeting. I can help you, guide you…" her free hand motions to the mirrors, which now all show different dreamscapes and people. "I can take you to the dreams of others, where you can help others do just as you did. Become stronger, protect themselves…" Her dark brows crease together. "Will you help me?"

"I will." Mortimer answers without hesitation, taking her hand to stand in front of her, smiling. "Jack is gonna help too, but he'll probably stalk you when this is all over." he playfully warns, then releases her hand to look into the various mirrors. "Why's he doing all this anyway? That… Nightmare Man?"

When Mortimer's hand stays on that card for a prolonged period of time, it glows softly, discorporating into motes of golden colored light that drift around his hand, then sink into his palm as her fingers wind around his. "I do not know what he wishes…" Hokuto says with a distant tone of voice, turning to look towards one of the mirrors depicting a building on fire. "But he does not sleep, and yet he dreams. I have never felt a force like his before, a dreaming mind I cannot find, a nightmare so profound that I cannot change the shape of it." She turns her head to face towards Mortimer, nodding once to him.

"Jack is, also, welcome to try and find me…" There's a crook of her lips into a smile, playful but at the same time desperately tired, "he may be surprised by what he finds." Turning to look back out to the mirrors, Hokuto breathes in deeply, then releases Mortimer's hand and takes a step towards the chair she was seated in.

"Whenever you find sleep now, I can send your mind to others in need. But remember this, in another's dreamscape you are not in charge. You will likely be unable to affect the reality of it, and you will be forced to operate by their rules. Your ability will be the strength you carry. But if something happens to you in the dream… if you die…"

Hokuto's voice becomes a somber, telling thing. "I do not know if even I could save you."

"If it's a penis, he'll probably kill you, just a warning." Mortimer walks over to the window, staring out at the snowy city now as he opens and closes his human hand. "I'll take the risk. You saved my life, and not just from the Nightmare Man. I consider you a true friend now, I owe you a lot." He suddenly opens the window, letting a cold breeze blow in, then steps one foot out. "But it's been weeks since I had a full night's sleep, so let me start duty tomorrow, alright? I just… need to relax tonight."

One dark brow twitches at Mortimer's words, Hokuto's head hanging and one pale hand coming up to cover her face. "I didn't mean— " She says against her palm, black lips curled into a rueful smile as she shakes her head. "Go…" she adds after a moment taken to collect herself, "rest. The ordeal you just went through will likely leave you exhausted when you awaken. I will not trouble you for aid tonight…" She turns, dark hair blowing in the cold breeze as well as in that watery grace it seems to be possessed of. She walks towards one of the mirrors, one showing the house burning down, and a card forms in her hand.

"I have someone else I must save tonight," Hokuto admits tiredly, placing that hand holding the card up to the glass of the mirror. "Go and rest, Morimer Jack…" she turns her head, just enough to regard him with a blindfolded stare.

"You will feel the call soon enough."

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