Dr. Cupidico's Revenge: A Meh-rathon Compilation (Full Story with bonus gif of all 200 Meh Buttons)
Scary Rick couldn’t believe they’d put him in with such a loser. Scrawny, short, a real dweeb. And cocky too. The first thing he said when Scary Rick got transferred to the cell was that he needed quiet when he worked. Then, he’d removed a number of vials from a hole cut in his mattress and started mixing stuff together.
How has no one broken this guy? Rick thought to himself.
Well, it didn’t matter why the guy’s previous cell mates had let this kind of behavior slide. None of those cellmates were as big and as scary as Scary Rick, and so it was on him to teach this little jerk some manners.
Problem was, his name wasn’t Smart Rick for a reason. And so he’d taken nearly two whole days stewing on what to say.
Finally, while lifting in the yard, the words came to him, a sudden stroke of imagination, just like those that the poets of yore must’ve experienced. (Though, to be clear, Scary Rick didn’t know the word ‘yore.’ If you’d asked him, he might’ve thought it was something to do with a donkey.)
Here’s what Scary Rick was going to say to the little twerp that kept him up all night clanking beakers and the like together: “Listen up buddy, I think it’s time I kick your ass.” At which point, Scary Rick would kick the little nerd’s ass.
Only, it didn’t go according to plan. After lights out, he got out of his bunk and stood over his cellmate, who was, as usual, working at the makeshift lab in the corner.
“Listen up buddy, I think it’s time I–”
And that’s how far he made it before the guy turned around and, using an eye dropper, squirted something in Scary Rick’s mouth.
“–tell you I love you,” Scary Rick heard himself saying.
And yet, Scary Rick couldn’t deny it. He loved the little guy. Even though he didn’t know his name, he loved him with all of his heart.
“Aww, that’s sweet,” said his cellmate. “But it just can’t work.”
“It can’t?” Scary Rick said.
“Absolutely not,” said his cellmate.
“Why not?” Scary Rick blinked and felt tears forming in his eyes.
“It’s just that, I’ve got a lot of work to do,” the small man said. “And I can’t handle the distraction of a long distance relationship right now?”
“Long distance?” Scary Rick cried. “We’re cellmates!”
“Yes, but only for the next few moments,” said the man.
The comment confused Scary Rick but before he could say as much, an enormous robotic hand smashed through the exterior wall and snatched hold of his cellmate. Alarms rang. Other prisoners called out in panic.
“Well, this is my ride,” the man said, as the arm retracted pulling him out. “Ta ta for now.”
“Good bye,” Scary Rick called. And then in a whisper only he could hear, “I’ll never forget you.”
The robotic arm retracted up through the clouds, into the stealth-copter, a pair of doors sliding closed behind it. In the cargo bay, Sven waited.
“How was my timing, Dr. Cupidico?” Sven asked, unlatching his long-imprisoned boss from the robot hand.
“A minute earlier would’ve been better,” Dr. Cupidico said. “I was in a bit of a bind with my roommate, but no bother. I managed to fend him off with the love potion.”
“Well, sir,” Sven said. “If it were up to me, I would’ve pulled you out of there as soon as you were locked up!”
Dr. Cupidico laughed and patted Sven on the shoulder. “Oh, Sven. How many times do I have to tell you: the longer I stay inside, the more brazen they get. It makes them think they can contain me! Were you to break me out immediately, they’d only find an even more secure prison to put me in next time.”
“There won’t be a next time, sir,” Sven said. “I’ll be sure of it.”
“Yes, yes,” said Dr. Cupidico. “You certainly will. Now, did you get the samples I sent? Of the new potion?”
“Yes,” Sven said. “We used the one bottle for the purpose you outlined, and the other, well, we’ve been in the lab day and night trying to reverse engineer a formula, but alas! No luck!”
“It doesn’t matter,” Dr. Cupidico said. “I’ve got a new recipe that is ten times more powerful. Just one jug to the city’s water supply and everyone will fall wildly, stupidly in love with each other! In the ensuing chaos, no one will be able to stop us from taking power!”
“Sir,” Sven said. “I’m just a bit nervous, about them. I know that you say there’s no possible way that–”
“Don’t even say it, Sven,” Dr. Cupidico said. “You did what you were told, yes?”
“Absolutely,” Sven said.
“Then it’s done,” Dr. Cupidico said. “The city will soon be ours. And from there, the world.”
“Come in! Come in! Amazing Cactus, come in! It’s important!”
The voice came in over the radio crackling with static. Or did it just sound that way because of the hangover? Jim Stone, aka the Amazing Cactus, couldn’t tell.
“Hey man, you mind landing this thing?” said another voice.
“Yeah dude, we gotta get to work,” said another.
Jim Stone rolled over on his cot, crushing an empty pizza box in the process. He opened his eyes to see two men, one with a big bushy beard, the other with an elaborate neck tattoo.
“Who are you?” Jim asked.
“We were at the bar last night,” said the bearded one.
“When they closed, you invited us in here to party some more,” said the tattooed one.
“Huh,” Jim said. He got up and pushed past them, and sat down in the pilots seat. “Where was the bar?”
“Topeka,” one of the guys said.
They were about five hundred miles from there, but it didn’t matter, not with the warp speed he’d finally installed. Sheryl would’ve loved the warp speed, Jim thought, but shook his head, banishing the thought. Sheryl had left him for a semi-professional table tennis player five months ago. She’d made her choice.
He dialed in a few digits and the Zeppelin leapt forward what felt like an inch.
“What was that?” one of the guys asked.
“We’re here,” Jim said, piloting the Zeppelin down to the parking lot and turning on the cloaking device so no one would see it land.
When they touched down, he toggled a few switches and the door opened, lowering the stairs to the asphalt below.
“Awesome, thanks man,” said the bearded guy.
“Yeah, I’ve never partied in a Zeppelin before,” said the guy with the tattoos.
But neither of them made to leave.
“What?” Jim said. He couldn’t read the expressions on their faces. He could barely make out the details. His head was throbbing. Whatever was going on right now, he wanted to be done with it.
“Well, you know, if you fly around in a giant green Zeppelin that turns invisible, that can only mean one thing,” said the bearded guy. “You’re the Amazing Cactus.”
“Also, you told us,” said the tattooed guy. “Like you kept shouting it at the top of your lungs every time you did a shot last night.”
“Dammit,” Jim muttered.
“We’ll totally keep it a secret,” said the bearded guy.
Jim massaged his temples. “Thanks guys, I appreciate it.”
“For a price,” said the tattooed guy.
Jim went to grab his wallet, although it really didn’t matter who they told. Without Sheryl, it wasn’t like he would be fighting crime any time soon
Sure, nothing had technically changed. It was not like Sheryl leaving him had reversed the results of the experiment. That was before the two of them even met.
Back then, he was merely a renegade assistant professor of horticulture at West South State University. He’d designed a machine that used lasers in order to extract a plant’s essence, the undetectable yet definitive coda of what made them unique. Only, as he ran the first test on a common cactus, the machine started to rumble. Before he could get out of the room, it exploded, imbuing him with the essence of the cactus.
He could stand extremely still. He could make himself appear like a cactus. He could live without water for months. And, most importantly, he could sprout sharp spines from his skin when threatened.
Of course, the events of the day were seared into his mind forever. But how he felt had shifted back and forth and finally back again.
At first, it seemed like the worst day of his life.
Then, he met Sheryl and while they were together, it started to seem like, if not the best day, then the beginning of his journey towards true happiness. After all, if he didn’t have any powers, she, Coyote Woman, never would’ve agreed to team up with him to form an unstoppable vaguely Southwestern superhero duo.
And they never would’ve fallen in love.
Now that she was gone, he was back to thinking of his powers like a curse again.
“Hey, Stanley,” Jim Stone said into the radio. “What can I help you with?”
“Turn on the news, right now!” came Stanley’s response.
Jim couldn’t find the remote under all the stained burrito wrappers and empty tall boys strewn around the area of the Zeppelin he’d converted to living quarters–Sheryl had kept the house they shared–so he walked over to the TV and turned it on.
The volume was muted but the text at the bottom of the screen read: PRISON BREAK! TWO INMATES ESCAPE!
“Yikes,” Jim said into the radio’s mouthpiece. “But it’s nothing the local authorities can’t handle.”
“Oh is that right?” Stanley said over the radio. “What if I told you one of those inmates is another former academic, just like you.”
“You can’t possibly mean–” Jim said.
“That’s right,” Stanley said. “Dr. Cupidico is on the loose again.”
The words cut straight through Jim’s hangover. “Stanley, stay where you are. I’ll be right there.”
“Jeez, when’s the last time you showered, Jim?” Stanley said when Jim showed up at the lab.
“Water tank in the Zeppelin’s on the fritz,” Jim said. “And I haven’t gotten it fixed because, well, you know, not super water-reliant with the whole cactus thing.”
Stanley shook his head. “Well, let’s just get straight to it. I’ve got good news and I’ve got bad news. Which do you want first?”
“The bad news,” Jim said.
Stanley sighed. “It actually works better if I tell you the good news first. In terms of narrative.”
“Okay,” Jim said. “Then why’d you ask?”
“It seemed like the right thing to do,” Stanley said. “Anyway, the good news: I was able to sneak into Doctor Cupidico’s former cell disguised as a detective. He’d left some vials and things behind, and I took some samples.”
“Great,” Jim said.
“No, Jim,” Stanley said. “Not great. That actually brings us to the bad news. Take a look at this.”
Stanley led Jim to a microscope in the corner. Jim looked in and saw what appeared to be two tiny blobs.
“What you see,” said Stanley, “are two single-cell organisms. Now, I have a drop of the chemical I found in Dr. Cupidico’s makeshift prison lab. I’m going to put it into the slide.”
“Jeez!” Jim said. “They’re trying to kill each other!”
“No,” said Stanley. “They’re not.”
“They’re not, then what do you call-- Oh, wait are they actually-- Oh jeez, what the hell? Is that natural? I think I’m going to be sick!”
Jim stepped away from the microscope, a sour expression on his face.
“That’s right,” Stanley said. “They’re not trying to kill each other. They’re madly, violently in love.”
“So, more of the same for Dr. Cupidico,” Jim said.
“Only, this is two-hundred times more powerful than any of his previous love potions,” Stanley said. “Just a few drops of this stuff and people will fall head-over-heels in love with the nearest fence post. And, this part is important: its effect cannot be diluted with water.”
“You mean–” Jim said.
“That’s right,” Stanley said. “I have reason to believe Dr. Cupidico plans to taint the city’s water supply with this love potion, thus sending people into wild, chaotic love, allowing him to take over the city, and eventually the world.”
“Okay, the first part I get, because of the water dilution thing,” Jim said. “But the rest seems like a pretty drastic conclusion.”
Stanley shrugged. “He’s tried to do the same thing, like, twenty times.”
“But I imagine you’re already working on an antidote,” Jim said.
“Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough to really analyze,” Stanley said. “Plus, I just used the last drops to show you the weird cell-sex thing.”
“What?” Jim said. “I would’ve believed you! You didn’t have to waste it!”
“I refuse to be the only one who had to see that!” Stanley said, pointing to the microscope. “But it doesn’t matter. We need to assemble a team, infiltrate Dr. Cupidico’s stealth-copter, get our hands on a sample before it’s too late. Which means you need to get in touch with Sheryl.”
“What?” Jim said. “Why?”
“C’mon, Jim,” Stanley said. “I went to your birthday party last year. It was just me and you.”
“What are you trying to say?” Jim said.
“I’m saying, I know who ended up with most of the friends after the breakup,” Stanley said.
“I still talk to The Great Flame all the time,” Jim offered.
Stanley crossed his arms. “All the time?”
Jim looked at his feet. “Fine, we text when there’s a game on.”
“Look, Jim,” Stanley said. “I would’ve called Sheryl myself, but I haven’t been in touch with her. I think this can be good for you. Just because you two broke up and she’s dating a professional table tennis player, doesn’t mean you have to be so petty. You can still be a good team.”
“Okay, first off, Gary’s semi-professional at best,” Jim said.
“This is what I mean about petty,” Stanley said.
“Ugh, fine! But have you even met Gary?” Jim said.
Stanley shook his head.
“Well, he sucks,” Jim said.
“Jim,” Stanley said.
“No, I’m serious,” Jim said. “He really, really sucks. You’ll see.”
Just then, they heard a crash outside.
Rushing out the door, they found two cars had collided on the street in front of the lab.
“Hey!” said one driver, stepping out.
“Hey what?” said the other driver.
“Whoa whoa, let’s all calm down,” Jim said, ready to step between them.
But the two drivers didn’t raise fists. Instead, they embraced each other tightly, and then started making out.
“Oh no,” Stanley said. “It might already be too late!”
“Quick, to the Zeppelin!” Jim said. “Much as it hurts, I can admit: we need to get to Sheryl!”
They landed the Zeppelin in the backyard of the suburban home Sheryl had once shared with Jim, turning on the cloaking device before they got out.
“How’s it hangin’ my bros,” said Gary, answering the door. He wore an Aéropostale shirt and Under Armour athletic shorts. On his forehead, a pair of knock-off Oakley sunglasses. “You guys here for beer pong and movie night? I just invite everyone on my Facebook friends list, so I never know who’s gonna show up.”
Jim and Stanley looked at each other. “No. We’re here to see Sheryl,” Stanley said.
“Oh, cool,” Gary said. “She’s a little busy right now. I lost my table tennis sponsorship with Monster.”
“The job site or the energy drink?” Jim asked.
“I don’t know! As long as they cut the checks, you know what I mean? Which they’re not doing any more on account of some things I Tweeted. Can’t say anything these days, right?”
“What does this have to do with Sheryl?” Stanley asked.
“Oh, well, she’s gotta unstitch all the Monster patches from my table tennis playing shirts. If you want, I can start the movie for movie night early while she finishes up. It’s Wild Things. You ever see that? Some crazy stuff happens in it!”
Jim pushed past him and rushed into the laundry room, knowing the layout of the house by heart. “Sheryl!” he called. “Sheryl, don’t drink the water!”
Sheryl sat at her sewing machine, a pile of shirts on the floor next to her.
“Oh, Jim,” Sheryl said, standing up. “What are you doing here? You’re not going to sing me one of those songs again?”
“Songs?” Stanley said, coming in behind him.
“Or do that interpretive dance of love again,” Sheryl said.
“Interpretive dance of love?!” Stanley said.
“I was going through some stuff,” said Jim to Stanley. He turned back to Sheryl. “Look, that’s not what’s important here. Dr. Cupidico’s out of prison, Sheryl. I know we’re not a couple anymore, but we need to team up and stop him. First, though, tell me you haven’t had any water in the last hour.”
“I’ve had plenty of water,” Sheryl said.
Stanley and Jim Stone exchanged a confused glance. She certainly didn’t look as though she’d been driven mad by love.
“Really?” Jim said.
Sheryl picked up a plastic water bottle and shook it as a show of evidence.
Stanley sighed with relief. “So you haven’t had a drink of water from the faucet.”
“No, silly,” Sheryl said. “Gary doesn’t like tap water. So we buy bottled water.”
“That’s such a waste of money,” Jim muttered.
“Well, Gary says with the money we’ve saved by cancelling the city recycling–”
“Wait, where do you put the bottles?” Jim said.
“We throw them away,” Sheryl said. “Gary told me there’s no such thing as recycling.”
“Okay, you know what,” Stanley said. “On our way over here, Jim said that Gary is the worst–”
“Jim!” Sheryl cried.
Jim Stone looked down at the ground. He couldn’t look her in the eye, out of shame, yes, but also because it hurt too much.
“And honestly,” Stanley said, “he’s right.”
“What?” Sheryl said.
“Sheryl,” Stanley said, “you’re a former award-winning nature photographer who tried to photograph a wild coyote in the desert under a strange never explained light pattern that looked like the aurora borealis on steroids, thus somehow endowing you with the ability to transform into a coyote at will. I know it sounds like basic jealousy when Jim says it, but you have to believe me, your old nerdy friend who fills a vaguely administrative-slash-science-y role in your team of superheroes: Gary is quite honestly the worst dude I’ve ever met. Like, seriously, what do you like about this guy?”
“There’s just something,” Sheryl said. “We’re meant to be together, that’s all.”
“But, like, how did you meet?” Stanley said.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” Sheryl said, looking off into the distance. “I stepped out onto the front porch to see who’d delivered the mouthwash sample, and there he was, across the street, taking a box from the neighbor’s house.”
“He’s a porch pirate too?” Jim said.
“Look, Jim, I loved you for a long time,” Sheryl said. “But you’re also just so predictable.”
“I literally sprout cactus spines out of my skin!” Jim cried.
“See I knew you were going to say that,” Sheryl said.
Stanley stood scratching his head. “Could you go back just a minute? You said something about a mouthwash sample?”
“Oh, yes,” Sheryl said. “It was very odd! I received a vial that day of a mouthwash sample. As you know, one side effect of the coyote DNA fusing with mine is that I sometimes have strange animal-like breath, so I’m always looking for a solution.”
I always loved her animal breath, Jim thought.
“So, of course, when I got a new one, I tried it right away,” Sheryl continued. “But it didn’t have any flavor at all! Then, I noticed the envelope it came in had no return address or postage. So someone must’ve dropped it off. When I stepped outside, a car with tinted windows sped away.”
“And you didn’t think any of this was suspicious?” Stanley said.
“More like serendipitous,” Sheryl said, sighing. “Because at that moment, I met the love of my life!”
Jim and Stanley looked at each other. “Sheryl, do you have that vial still?” Stanley said.
In the bathroom, Sheryl pulled out a large plastic tote from under the sink. “This is where I keep all my mouthwashes. Few have worked, but I never throw them away, just in case! Here’s the one I got that day.”
“We need to get this to a lab for analysis,” Stanley said. “You still have a temporary set up in the Zeppelin?”
Sheryl looked around the Zeppelin aghast. “Jeez, Jim,” she muttered.
“I just need to do a little spring cleaning is all,” Jim said, unable to meet her eyes.
Stanley dropped a few drops from the vial onto a slide and then slid it under the microscope.
“It’s just as I thought,” he said. “Sheryl, you’ve been poisoned! With one of Doctor Cupidico’s love potions. This one’s not nearly as strong as the new one, but it’s strong enough!”
“Now, that’s unfair,” Sheryl said. “I know Gary isn’t everyone’s favorite kind of guy–”
But Stanley was already rooting around through the chemicals. “If I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing… A little bit of this… A drop of that…” He held up a small beaker. “Sheryl, drink this!”
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