by Brian K. Asbury
Bizarro No. 2 awoke five minutes later to find himself in a comfy armchair. On his lap was a tray loaded with exotic foodstuffs and a glass of fine wine. So Bizarro-Brainiac evidently intended to torture him.
Bizarro-Brainiac trundled into view. Originally, he had been a standard humanoid Bizarro with a faint greenish tinge to his crystalline skin and an array of fairy lights on his bald head. A while back, however, he had been transformed into a more robotic being that looked like the results of an unholy mating between a garbage-disposal unit and Joan Rivers. More recently, however, he had decided to resume his old appearance, albeit with the addition of an obviously false beard that would do a rabbi proud — except that, with typical Bizarro indecision, he had changed his mind, and then changed it back again.
Currently, his appearance was a sort of compromise between the two states. His torso was humanoid (complete with the beard, which he had taken a fancy to, and a Jimmy Olsen-style bow tie), but his bottom-half looked like a pot-bellied stove on rusty, bent bicycle wheels — largely because that’s what it was.
“Aha! Me got you now, Bizarro No. 2. You never escape my fiendish comfy chair, and me ply you with finest food in universe until you tell me big secret.”
“What big secret?” asked Bizarro, his brow furrowed in understanding.
“If me knew that, not need torture you! You supposed to tell me!”
“Me not have secret,” said Bizarro No. 2. “You have secret. You be impersonating Satan Claus and giving children presents, to distract me while you secretly enlarge big, conspicuous, perfect cities all over Bizarro World. This break Bizarro Code big time.”
“Me do that all right,” said Bizarro-Brainiac. “But why me pretend be Satan Claus? Me do it all in open, so nobody notice.”
“That false,” agreed Bizarro No. 2. “But me still think you behind Satan Claus atrocities. It just sort of open and honest scheme your computer brain not capable of.”
“Me got plenty of time for this,” giggled Bizarro-Brainiac irritably. “You tell big secret now, or me give you vintage champagne and caviar!”
“It take less than that to beat Bizarro No. 2,” gushed Bizarro No. 2 defiantly. And with one feeble bound, he staggered away from the comfy chair, scattering the contents of the tray all over the cabin (which, of course, prompted him to gather them all up at super-speed and replace them on the tray — which he then tossed over his shoulder).
As he approached, Bizarro-Brainiac touched a control on his belt. “Hah!” he cried (with real tears, too). “You forget my imperfectly impenetrable force-field!”
“That wrong! Me did forget!” said Bizarro No. 2. And he punched Bizarro-Brainiac with all of his super-strength, knowing that the computerized cretin had just turned the force-field off.
Bizarro-Brainiac shattered into a million pieces. “One day me find way not to get through force-field,” muttered Bizarro No. 2 loudly. “Then me not be able beat him, and me have revenge.”
Ignoring the remains of the megabyte moron, he scanned around the ship with his x-ray vision. There was no sign of a Satan Claus disguise or any toys anywhere.
So if Bizarro-Brainiac wasn’t the bogus Satan, who was? It was still a mystery.
As he flew away from Bizarro-Brainiac’s ship (without bothering to check whether his foe was being imperfectly rebuilt by the ship’s automatic systems, which of course he was), an idea slowly percolated into Bizarro No. 2’s warped brain.
“Me reek-a!” he whispered in triumph suddenly (he thought Archimedes was Italian). “Me know who responsible. No Bizarro do such kind and generous thing, but not everyone on Htrae am Bizarros!”
There was, indeed, one group of sentient creatures presently on the Bizarro World who did not strictly belong there, and they were only mere miles away from his current location. He therefore set off in the opposite direction, flying feet-first around the entire world to get there.
He landed near the Bizarros’ idea of a luxurious palace. Its rotting, crumbling towers looked ready to fall down at any moment, and the paint that they had splashed erratically on its twisted, lop-sided minarets had been specially designed to start peeling immediately. The net effect was that, although the palace had been built only a couple of months before, it looked as if it had been in a state of decay and neglect for at least a century.
Battering his way through the wall, he greeted another Bizarro wearing a back-to-front waiter’s jacket. “Goodbye, Bizarro,” he said, punching the other on the jaw. “How am our alien guests?”
The waiter kneed Bizarro No. 2 where it hurts (or would have, if he hadn’t been invulnerable). “They am having sardine of a time, disgusting leader. We am punishing them good, in direct contravention of your orders.”
“Terrible!” said Bizarro No. 2 approvingly. He followed the other Bizarro into the palace’s banqueting hall, where a group of beings sat miserably around a large table piled high with delicious foodstuffs. If not for the fact that every one of them was grossly overweight and clad in fine silk robes instead of their usual battle armor, they might just have been recognizable as Khunds, one of the fiercest warrior races in the galaxy.
Their leader stood up. “At last! The head lunatic returns!” He waddled up to Bizarro No. 2. “All right! All right! We get the message! Let us out of here, and we’ll leave your planet and never return! We’ll even compensate you for the inconvenience. It was a mistake to try to invade your world, and we’ll make sure all of the Empire knows that!”
“Me care deeply about that,” said Bizarro No. 2. “So me change subject. Why you aliens pretending be Satan Claus and giving abominable Bizarro children toys? Am we not been bad to you? Am this how you spit in our faces?”
“What’s he talking about, Captain Verdskok?” whispered another Khund who had approached behind his chief.
“I’ve no idea, Ghronwak,” replied Verdskok. “Nothing they say ever makes any sense.”
“You answer question,” said Bizarro No. 2 with a pleasantly impatient scowl. “Me got lots of patience, and it growing bigger all time, so you answer now.”
“You seem to be accusing us of something, you moron,” said Verdskok.
“You call me moron? It good compliment, but not answer question.”
Verdskok’s brow furrowed. “Look, whatever you think we’ve done, you insane monster, you’re wrong. We haven’t been allowed out of this ramshackle heap of a barn for weeks! We’ve been forced to sit here, stuffing ourselves with food, with your clones — or whatever they are — standing over us and making sure we swallow every morsel! Look at us! We’re all twice the size we were when we arrived! If we ever get back to Khundia, we’ll be laughingstocks!”
He dropped to his knees in supplication. “It does not behoove a proud Khund warrior to beg, Lord Bizarro, but we have had enough. Let us go. Please…” He grabbed Bizarro’s leg. “Please let us go from here!”
An enlightened expression came over Bizarro No. 2’s face, revealing his confusion over this. “Me understand perfectly,” he said. “You prisoners, so you free to leave at any time. If you want go, just go!”
Verdskok stood up. He waddled to the nearest window and pointed out. “You know perfectly well that we can’t go anywhere until you undo what you’ve done to our ship!”
Bizarro followed his gaze. “What right with ship? We fix it good. It am proud tribute to Bizarro workmanship.”
And indeed, the ship that stood out there was a total wreck. The Bizarros, offended by its streamlined shape, had remodeled it after their own fashion until it looked like a flying junkyard. Where once it might have won prizes for sheer style, bits now stuck out all over the place, the main engines pointed in opposite directions, and it was lying on its side, as the Bizarros had transplanted two of its three main landing struts on top of the hull. Furthermore, the bridge and all of the other interior fittings were now bolted to the outside — not that that made any difference, as the whole structure was so full of holes that any attempt to maintain life-support integrity inside it would have been totally futile.
In short, there was a vague possibility that it might still be able to fly, but nothing save an invulnerable Bizarro-Superman would be likely to survive the experience.
“You am ingrates,” muttered Bizarro No. 2 at about three-hundred decibels. “That good, so we punish you even more. Bizarro!” He snapped his fingers, and the Bizarro in the waiter’s jacket gave him the finger and walked away. “See to it that aliens get even more luxuries.”
“Screw you, cretinous leader,” responded the other Bizarro.
“No… no, please, no!” pleaded Verdskok. “Not that. Please… we’ll do anything you ask… but please, put our ship back the way it was and let us leave…”
But Bizarro No. 2 wasn’t listening. Battering his way through the wall, he took to the sky again. The aliens were not the ones masquerading as Satan Claus. So who was? There was one place where he might be able to learn the truth.
On Earth, Superman had a Fortress of Solitude hidden in the Arctic wastes — a place where he could keep souvenirs and mementos, personal memorabilia, dangerous artifacts from alien planets, and other bits and pieces that he didn’t feel inclined to share with the public at large. It was also a place where he could work out, conduct super-scientific experiments, or just retire to for a rest or to meditate.
So it was on the Bizarro World. Well, not quite. Bizarro No. 2 had built his Fourtriss uv Bizarro (sic) at Htrae’s West Pole (remember, it was a cube — it had eight poles, known as North, South, East, West, Fishing, Peppermint, Stripper, and George). Like Superman’s Fortress, the Fourtriss had a huge golden door that could only be opened with a huge golden key. Unlike Superman’s key, Bizarro’s was not disguised as an airplane marker (did anyone really ever believe that?) but sat on its side next to a big sign saying, Big key to secret Fourtriss. Please use.
Which meant, of course, that no one ever did use it. The mountain in which the Fourtriss was built was riddled with so many holes that from a distance it looked like a big piece of white Swiss cheese. And, of course, it was thronging with people. There were so many Bizarros crammed into the tunnels that No. 2 had to fight his way through to his secret thinking room — which, naturally, was also crowded with Bizarro-Supermen all trying to lay claim to the one chair in the room, despite the fact that it had long since been reduced to splinters.
Ordinarily, Bizarro No. 2 would have joined in the general quarreling. On this occasion, however, his mind was uncharacteristically occupied with the problem of finding the bogus Satan Claus and stopping his nefarious philanthropy. So he left his brawling Bizarro brothers to it and wandered aimlessly around the Fourtriss until he came to a group of Bizarros clustered around a TV set.
They had their backs to the set and were ignoring it in rapt fascination. This piqued No. 2’s curiosity. “What so boring about TV show?” he asked.
“It Buggy’s latest flop show,” explained one. “Fly-on-wall show called Fly On Wall.”
Bizarro peered at the screen. It showed an obviously dead and squashed fly on a wall. There was no movement and no sound except for a voice intoning “buzz buzz buzz” rather obviously.
“This show so great we all hate it,” said another Bizarro. “It was bottom-rated show on whole Bizarro World last week.”
“That Buggy, him so stupid, him genius,” declared another.
“Me disagree,” agreed Bizarro No. 2. “But me busy trying find fake Satan. That why me come here. Me need chaos and noise to think!”
“Well, us hope you not find it, bozo,” said another Bizarro, hitting his leader over the head with a rock.
In fact, Bizarro No. 2 had had an idea. The Buggy his brother Bizarros were referring to was Bizarro World’s bottom-rated TV host, Bizarro-Ambush Bug. (*) And he was smart — so smart he didn’t even understand the Bizarro Code, much less respect it. Maybe he was the phony Satan Claus — or even if he wasn’t, he might have some idea who it could be.
[(*) Editor’s note: See Tales of the Bizarro World: Bizarre Search.]
Without further ado, given the urgency of the situation, he spent a couple of hours not watching the Fly On Wall show and then, after a four-course dinner and another nap, he burst through the wall, urgently making his way to the studios where Bizarro-Ambush Bug worked.