"The Cause"- Episode 9: "The Doppelganger"
" My friends are gonna be there too…
I’m on the Highway to Hell…"
AC/DC, Highway to Hell
The elevator crept slowly up into the sky. Aliciana stood near the baggage and looked out the window in amazement, Pixel lying on her shoulders. Ed slept, and Ash was talking to Fate.
" So how’s the battle preparations going, Fate? Good, I hope."
" Umm, that’s classified information. I can’t tell you.’
" You feeling all right, Fate? Your voice sounds a little, you know, mannish."
" I’m feeling quite all right. It’s just a little hot in here, that’s all."
" Oh. That makes sense."
The elevator was about ten feet in the air. A small line appeared on Fate’s nose. Ash pretended not to notice.
" So, Fate, why is the elevator going so slow?"
" Technical difficulties."
The face-line got bigger steadily, and developed into a full-fledged scar. Ash realized all too slowly what was going on. The numbers were going backwards. The elevator was falling! He acted quickly, dodging the Fate-Thing and pressing the ‘Open door’ button.
" Ash? What are you doing?" asked Aliciana.
" I’ll explain later. Tuck and roll!"
Aliciana, Pixel, and the baggage fell out of the elevator and into a heap on the ground.
A fissure opened up in the ground. Whatever cord was holding up the elevator snapped, and it fell into the fissure.
" Are we there yet?" asked Ed.
Ash turned to face the Fate-Thing. Its face had completely transformed into a lizard-like kind of look. It had a long snout, huge black eyes, a forked tongue, and greenish-black scales. It looked hungry.
" We're on our way to the promised land."
" Right. What the hell is goin’ on? Don’t make me kill you."
" You cannot kill me, Pawn of Gaia. You are not yet advanced enough."
" I’m sure as hell gonna try!"
Ash tried to summon his alter ego, but a field of pure energy formed around him, keeping the winds of change out. The Fate-Thing lifted Ash up with a claw, and with its other hand, slashed his cheek. Blood dripped down on to the elevator floor. The Fate-Thing batted Ash’s head around with the claw. Ash tried to counter with a right hook, and failed. The Fate-Thing threw him against the wall, where he fell beside Ed. Invisible bars held him down.
" Nice try, Pawn of Gaia, but I told you. You are far too pathetic to contest me."
The elevator stopped. Doors appeared behind Ash, and he fell through them. The Fate-Thing picked him up, slung him over its arm, and dragged Ed and Ash out of the elevator.
" Try and wriggle free, dude!"
Ed would not respond.
" What did you do to him, you monster?"
" I took the liberty of slitting his throat while your back was turned. He will make a worthy sacrifice. Now be quiet! We're entering the Temple Of Evil."
" I think you mean the Temple of Doom, Short Round."
" That was a bad idea, Ash, or should I say, Indy."
The Fate-Thing carefully put Ed’s body down, and threw Ash at a nearby pillar. He broke a couple ribs, and no longer could squirm. The Fate-Thing resumed its course, now dragging both Ed and Ash by their heads. Ash could only look up at the ceiling. He noticed that it was made out of human skulls. How attractive. Very Avant-Nouveau Evil. The Fate-Thing shed completely the skin it had formerly inhabited while it walked. Ash could now see, if he strained himself, what he’d been up against. The Fate-Thing was now eight feet tall, with muscles rippling on every surface. Spikes protruded from its head and arms, and its ears had grown to tremendous length.
" We've arrived."
Large doors opened into a large room. A bloodstained altar stood in front of an obsidian throne. And sitting on the throne was…
" Master. I bring sacrifices."
"You sniveling fool! I requested they be alive! How am I supposed to kill them on the altar now? Hold, the pointy haired one stirs. Zounds! Is that Gaia’s Pawn?"
" What is going on?" wheezed Ash.
" Well hello there, foolish Ash. I am Ev’Ash, Champion of Evil, Disciple of Darkness, and High Generalissimo in the Legions of Doom. So glad for you to have joined us. Rise, so I can have a look at my opponent."
Ash’s bonds loosened, and he floated to a level where he could look into the eyes of his malevolent twin. Ev’Ash wore a helmet that resembled a skull, and black lorica segmentata (the armor of a Roman Legionary). A large scimitar lay beside the throne, and a shield beside it. The throne was made of skulls.
" What a pathetic specimen of a man. I cannot believe that you could become this, with a gene-seed so perfect as mine. Gaia has really struck the bottom of the barrel this time, hasn’t she? Lenrock, take this idiot, and store him somewhere convenient. Oh, and use the Rite of Reanimation to bring the other one back, if but for a brief moment. We shall sacrifice the other one."
Lenrock resumed his course, and dragged Ash into a small, dank room. He took Ed next door and began to chant the Rite of Reanimation. Ash fell asleep on a stone slab. He woke up looking at a wall full of torture devices. It was right next to the door into the next room. There was a bat-like object, some sort of medieval chainsaw, and a sword that resembled a Japanese ‘naginata’ (A sword very similar to a katana, but a little longer. Comparable to the European ‘hand and a half’ sword, or ‘bastard’ sword.) Clutching his swollen side, Ash stumbled over to the rack. He picked up the naginata, and waited, his ear against the door.
" Klaatus, Veraticulon, Niktina! Ghirteh, Tyrod, Coagulus..."
Ash heard a scream. He burst through the door, brandishing his new acquisition.
" Spoon!" Ash borrowed the battle cry of the Tick.
The naginata sliced the lizardman’s head off cleanly. It fell on to the ground with a look of surprise still on its face. Ash turned to look at Ed’s body. It wasn’t there. Suddenly, a chair struck Ash from behind, followed by a "whoops".
Ash came to on the slab. Looking up, he saw Ed. Unfortunately, he smelled him too.
" Oh man, Ed, it’s nice to see you alive again, but ya smell horrible."
" Yeah, decomposition does that to a guy."
" You mean, you’re still…"
" Yeah, I too, am one of the living dead. Lock up your children."
" I am so sorry I dragged you into this, Ed.’
" Hey, it’s better than being back up there, and being all dead. Those other zombies would have got me if you hadn’t saved me.’
" I guess this gives ‘if you can’t beat ‘em join ‘em’ a new meaning, eh?’
" Great. I’m a friggin’ zombie because you interrupted the Rite, and you’re making jokes all ready."
" Sorry, Ed."
" Help me get out of here, and I’ll call it even.’
" I guess this means that you work for the Cause now, too.’
" Never mind, Fate’ll tell you later. Open the door so we can get out of here.’
Ed reached towards the door and pulled. His arm immediately fell off.
" Don’t say it. If you do, I’ll kill you."
" Here, let me give you a hand."
Ash fell over, crumpled with laughter.
They stepped out into the hallway, Ash leading the way, Ed holding on to his arm with the other.
" I think we came in this way."
Ash walked into a room filled with drunken ogres.
" Okay, maybe not."
He sneaked out of the room, and back into the hall.
" Maybe that huge stairwell with light comin’ out of it over there would do it." Remarked Ed.
" Rot in hell, you lippy zombie.’
" Way ahead of you. Been there, done that."
The stairwell eventually came out as a subway stairway at the crossing where Highway 3 became 56th street, near where the bus crashed.
" Who would have thought that Highway 3 was actually Route 666."
" Lots of lost AC/DC opportunities lost there, man."
" No doubt. Let’s get a car and find Aliciana and get off this stupid planet."
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