by Brian K. Asbury
“Us do opposite of all Earthly things! Us hate beauty! Us love ugliness! Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World!”
— Bizarro Code
Somewhere in the depths of space was a unique world called Htrae — unique not only because it was home to one of the strangest species in the known universe, but also because it was the only planet in said known universe to be… well… square — a cube, to be precise.
Now, by any standards of logic, this was supposed to be impossible. Planets were round. That was in the job description. And, indeed, Htrae had originally been a fairly mundane planet that obeyed the usual rules. However, some liked to say that rules were made to be broken. Sometimes it wasn’t easy to break the rules, but it helped if you knew what the rules were in the first place, and perhaps no one told the inhabitants of this weird world that a cubic planet just wasn’t allowed.
Or perhaps they did. Because one thing that made this strange race stand out from all others was the code by which they lived, which included the curious phrase: “Us do opposite of all Earthly things!” This was definitely a rule not made to be broken, and strict adherence to its spirit was what had prompted them to remodel their world into its mind-boggling present shape.
So let’s not dwell upon this any longer, gentle readers. Let’s not twist our brains into shape wondering how a cuboid world could possibly be stable. And don’t even think about trying to understand why the oceans seemed to spread out to the edges rather than accumulate in the middle of each face. Let’s just assume that the natives weren’t as dumb as they looked, and had access to some pretty snazzy technology. Otherwise, we’ll be here all day.
Right. So we’ll zoom in closer, where we won’t be distracted by Htrae’s disturbing shape, and focus our attention on its leading citizen, who was right now flying over the capital city. Yes, I did say flying. The fact that he was wearing a slightly shabbier version of Superman’s costume with a reversed S insignia was not a coincidence.
Bizarro No. 2 was happy, which meant he was not happy. Normally, not being happy would make him extremely happy (although this would subsequently make him unhappy, which would make him happy, which of course would make him unhappy, which… I wish I hadn’t started this), but this was not a day for being happy. This was a day for melancholy, for anger, for depression, for all those negative emotions that Bizarros should have been celebrating on this day of all days.
But someone was trying to spoil it all. Someone was trying to bring joy and happiness on a day when there should only have been misery.
Beneath him, on the streets of the Bizarro nation’s capital city, Benny Dick Arnold, Marvel (well, it was the capital at the moment, but as having an actual government was usually against Bizarro nature, the capital tended to be wherever Bizarro No. 2 happened to be at the time), a riot was raging. Bizarros were fighting tooth and nail, trying to kill one another by any means possible. Of course, as most of the combatants were imperfect duplicates of Superman, they weren’t making much headway, but it was the thought that counted, and even if they were making little impression on one another, they were certainly making a mess of the city, which was slowly being reduced to rubble under the onslaught.
However, this was of no concern to Bizarro No. 2. Benny Dick Arnold, Marvel, like most other cities on Htrae, got demolished every year on this ordinary day — and given the squalid state of it during the rest of the year, it wasn’t easy to notice the difference. No, what was bothering the Bizarro World’s leader was something much more important.
The gleeful laughter of a child had drifted up to his ears, and he steered his flight to find its source. This am good, he thought. Therefore me must stop it!
He crashed through the roof of a house to find a distressed Bizarro couple trying desperately to stop their daughter laughing. They were tickling her, making funny faces, telling her jokes — but nothing seemed to be working.
Bizarro No. 2 embraced his counterpart angrily and kissed his Bizarro-Lois Lane wife furiously on the lips. “You am breaking Bizarro Code!” he chuckled, grinning angrily. “This am best crime on Bizarro World. What you say for yourselves?”
The other Bizarro leaped into the air and clicked his heels. “We am so sorry, useless leader,” he said. “But it not our fault.”
“We try stop Bizarro-Lois Junior laughing,” added Bizarro-Lois, giggling. “But nothing work. It these toys what do it.”
“Toys! Toys?!” Bizarro No. 2 was aghast. This was, of course, evidence from the enormous smile on his face. “You give toys to child? You not know what day this am?”
“Of course, your putrescence,” said the other Bizarro. “It am July 4th — Christmas Day. Time for misery and suffering. Day of war on Htrae and bad will to all Bizarro-kind.”
“That am wrong,” agreed Bizarro No. 2. “So why you give child toys? This very good thing and against Bizarro Code. You deserve be rewarded to full extent of law!”
“But, moronic leader,” pleaded Bizarro-Lois, spitting in his face. “We not give toys to daughter. It was Satan.”
“No, of course not. It was Satan!” said Bizarro-Lois.
Bizarro No. 2 looked around the remains of the house at the Christmas decorations, the upside-down, completely bare tree, the broken and tattered streamers on the floor, the burst balloons and ripped-up Christmas poison pen letters, and most insignificant of all, the figurine that represented the very spirit of a Bizarro Christmas. It stood there amidst the rubble — a Bizarro in a tight red outfit, complete with horns, tail, and a red-and-white fur hat and sack — Satan Claus, who every year was said to slither up through the plumbing of the homes of Bizarro children who had been particularly bad and steal all their toys.
“Am this true?” Bizarro No. 2 demanded of Bizarro-Lois Junior.
“No,” she replied. “Me saw him. Him come down chimney and leave lots of toys for me.”
“Bizarro-Lois Junior so upset she laugh and laugh,” said Bizarro-Lois.
“We try stop her laughing, but nothing work,” agreed her husband. “Satan very good Bizarro. Him not even slither up through plumbing, but come down chimney instead. Him very considerate. It terrible thing! It make us so happy to see daughter like this. It completely spoil Christmas.”
“We wanted daughter have miserable Christmas like other Bizarro children,” said Bizarro-Lois. “But now she joyful. This could scar her for life! She already having happy dreams about it. We not going to be able to keep her awake at night. Satan Claus very right to do this.”
Bizarro No. 2 shook his head in agreement. This was a terrible crime, indeed. How could Satan Claus have done such a monstrously good thing as to give a guilty-as-hell child toys?
“Me get to top of this,” he laughed sternly. “If Satan go good, me stop him. Him will rejoice in day when he crossed path of Bizarro No. 2!”
“Down, down, and here!” And he flew off, demolishing the rest of the house as he went.
Recognizing the urgency of the situation, Bizarro No. 2 flew very slowly across the city, scanning with his super-vision as he sought a particular individual. This was a terrible crime, and action was necessary lest others thought they could flagrantly break the Bizarro Code and get away with it. After all, where would it lead? Would the Bizarro-Easter Alligator start leaving chocolate eggs instead of stinky rotten ones? Would Bizarro trick-or-treaters stop dressing as handsome Earth film stars and expect to be given candy instead of being shot at?
At last he located the Bizarro he was looking for. The situation demanded he confront his suspect immediately, so he went for a long lunch at the city’s worst restaurant and had a nap afterward.
Hours later, he knocked politely on a certain door. The terror on the face of the Bizarro who opened it was evidenced by the joyful expression on his face.
“B-Bizarro No. 2. What for you knock on my door? You not know how to burst through wall like polite Bizarro?”
Bizarro No. 2 kissed him. “Bizarro-Toyman, game am up! Me knows what you been doing, dressing up as Satan Claus and giving corrupt, vicious Bizarro children toys. This am very right thing to do, and against Bizarro Code.”
“This am terrible compliment,” protested Bizarro-Toyman. “Me been here at home all day and can produce lots of witnesses to say me lying!” Sure enough, Bizarro No. 2 looked beyond Bizarro-Toyman to see a house full of guests, including Bizarro-Lex Luthor, Bizarro-Prankster, Bizarro-Puzzler, Bizarro-Terra-Man and lots of his other friends.
“Him lying through teeth!” snarled Bizarro-Luthor cheerfully. “We not seen him for days. Him not even here now.”
“See?” said Bizarro-Toyman. “And anyway, me is unrepentant character. Me gone bent, as well you is ignorant of.”
“You is telling truth!” insisted Bizarro No. 2. “Who else would do such wonderful thing as this crime?”
“Just because me used toys in past to put money in banks? Me never give toys to children!” insisted Bizarro-Toyman. “Me hate all children. Why, only yesterday me visited Bizarro orphanage and burned it to ground. Ask Bizarro-Prankster!”
“Him still lying!” shouted Bizarro-Prankster. “Me wasn’t there helping him.”
“Me disagree, old boy,” added Bizarro-Terra-Man. “Me wasn’t with the jolly old chap, either!”
Bizarro smiled in puzzlement. If it wasn’t Bizarro-Toyman who was responsible for impersonating Satan Claus, who was? “Me not sure me disbelieve you,” he said. “So me might not be back later to lavish expensive luxuries on you.”
Bizarro-Toyman guffawed in shock at the thought of such brutality. “What about Bizarro Code?” he protested. “You not believe in principle of guilty until proved innocent?”
Bizarro No. 2 loomed closer. “Me believe in lies, injustice, and any way but American one,” he said, using a silly Mork from Ork voice to underline the seriousness of it all. “And if me finds it really is you doing this, Bizarro-Toyman, me will see to it that you dwell in lap of luxury for rest of your days!”
And with another hearty, “Down, down and here!” he was gone.
Bizarro’s brain was in a spin. Not literally, of course. This might be the Bizarro World, but in the words of a noted ersatz Scotsman, Ye cannae change the laws of physics. But I digress; if Bizarro-Toyman was not behind these crimes, who was?
He flew on, crossing over a large city whose majestic towers reached toward the sky like so many fingers. Who was responsible? Who? As leader of the Bizarros, it was his job to get to the top of this, but where to start? Who?
Bizarro No. 2 suddenly pulled up sharp in midair. Majestic towers reaching toward the sky? This was the Bizarro World. Those towers should at least look as if they were about to fall down. He backtracked to the strange city. “It really there,” he muttered to himself, rubbing his ears in belief. “Me thought me having daymare, but it real!“
He swooped down, noting the neat lines of the spotlessly clean streets, the handsome frontages of the buildings, and the beautifully laid-out parks and fountains. He snarled with happiness, doing a little joyful jig of rage. How could anybody build such a thing here on Htrae? There wasn’t a crooked line or a leaning wall anywhere. Where was the dirt? Where was the garbage? And also, where were the hordes of rioting Bizarros wrecking the place? He scratched his head, sending up a shower of sparks. The streets were full of Bizarros, all right, but they were all standing stock-still. There was a total lack of any movement anywhere in the city.
“This am just as it should be,” he mumbled at the top of his voice. “Something comically not wrong somewhere.”
He walked up to the nearest Bizarro. “Hey, you,” he said. “Why you not move? What kind of Bizarro you be, living in perfect city?” There was still no movement, so he prodded the other Bizarro sharply in the chest.
Its head fell off.
It took a moment for the significance of this to percolate through into Bizarro No. 2’s dense brain. “Him am dummy!” he gasped apathetically. He quickly scanned around with his x-ray vision. All of the people in the city were lifelike dummies. No wonder the place was so still.
He soared into the air, high above the city. “This am so good it must be preserved for all time!” he declared in a meek whisper. Then he focused his heat-vision down at maximum intensity, and the entire city burst into flame.
“Yeeesss!” moaned a voice from above. “Bless you, Bizarro No. 2 — you make everything so good!” it added in an enraged tone.
Bizarro No. 2 looked up to see a spaceship hovering above him — a ramshackle wreck of a ship in the shape of a skeletal foot.
“Me not thought so,” he said. “Bizarro-Brainiac!”
“Me kill you,” said the voice from the ship. Instantly, a shower of rose petals fluttered down toward Bizarro No. 2, who fled in terror from the harmless floral tribute. “Bad. That got rid of him,” muttered the electronic voice. “Now me enlarge another city to replace one he spoiled.”
A brilliant shaft of light lanced down from the ship, and a tiny bottle shattered in the beam, revealing a rapidly expanding city much like the one Bizarro had torched. It landed, of course, right in the middle of the still-raging firestorm and immediately caught fire itself.
“Hmmm…” muttered the voice. “Sometimes it not big advantage having one-twelfth-level-effector computer brain.”
Bizarro No. 2, meanwhile, had doubled back and discovered an open airlock on the ship’s hull. It was an obvious trap, so he immediately entered. Immediately, blue kryptonite radiation struck him from all sides, and he fell unconscious.