Torquis in Machina, Part 23

Yoru took this in the manner of a man hearing, for example, about super-light-speed particles for the first time. It was a bit of a blow to his world-view, but not something that was remotely relevant to his day-to-day life.

“So where’s the evil Hatboy?”

“That’s … well, I guess you could say he’s departed, too,” I allowed.

“So that’s not him behind you, at all?”

I turned to see Creepy Junior standing in the entrance to the secret tunnel. Apparently, the ability to make me sigh in exasperation was also something capable of being handed down genetically.

“You were meant to find a safe place and wait this out,” I said.

“Was I?”

I walked across and joined him. “Yes.”

“Oh,” Creepy Junior looked troubled, but somehow made it very obvious that the fact that he’d disrupted my plans was not the source of his troublement. “Wait what out?”

“Whatever happens next.”

“Oh,” Creepy Junior repeated, and jerked his head towards Yoru, who was trying to dislodge a tooth from a notch in his sword. “What is he going to do now?”

We watched the giant cobbler as he jiggled at the lump of enamel and swore quietly.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I’m fairly sure he doesn’t know, either.”

“Only he’s made a huge mess here, and there will be more guards and more paperwork than you can possibly imagine.”

“The guards can use the paper to mop up the soggy bits,” I suggested.

“You don’t seem to be taking this as seriously as you could.”

Yoru spared me the trouble of responding.

“What,” he said, sliding down off Torquis’s back and standing briefly on one leg to tug off his left boot, “in the name of Saint Geronius’s gonads, is going on here?” He upended the boot and a certain amount of blood and intestine splattered onto the floor.

“It’s more complicated than I originally let on,” I said, “but it seems as though the false Hatboy set up a system of government over a long period of time, for most of which he wasn’t here at all. But then he came back, and…” I sighed and gave up. “And I knew Saint Geronius,” I went on, “he was a compulsive gambler, which probably explains why he has colloquial proverbs about his gonads.”

“Look, if the false Hatboy is gone, what happens next?” Yoru was not to be distracted.

“I guess,” I said carefully, “I go and make sure he doesn’t come back.”

About Hatboy

I’m not often driven to introspection or reflection, but the question does come up sometimes. The big question. So big, there’s just no containing it within the puny boundaries of a single set of punctuationary bookends. Who are these mysterious and unsung heroes of obscurity and shadow? What is their origin story? Do they have a prequel trilogy? What are their secret identities? What are their public identities, for that matter? What are their powers? Their abilities? Their haunted pasts and troubled futures? Their modus operandi? Where do they live anyway, and when? What do they do for a living? Do they really have these fantastical adventures, or is it a dazzlingly intellectual and overwrought metaphor? Or is it perhaps a smug and post-modern sort of metaphor? Is it a plain stupid metaphor, hedged around with thick wads of plausible deniability, a soap bubble of illusory plot dependent upon readers who don’t dare question it for fear of looking foolish? A flight of fancy, having dozed off in front of the television during an episode of something suitably spaceship-oriented? Do they have a quest, a handler, a mission statement, a department-level development objective in five stages? I am Hatboy.
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