Jack O’Lantern and Guy Gardner: Fear Itself, Chapter 1: The Little People

by PDebord

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Day was just breaking over a peaceful Northern Ireland town when two orderlies wheeled a man strapped to a gurney into a hospital emergency room. The man on the gurney was small and elderly, with barely any hair left, and what was left was gray. His eyes stared wildly about him, and he lay giggling and laughing about how the Little People were going to get them all. One of the orderlies, an Englishman named John Calvin, looked over at the other man and kind of laughed.

“You’re new here, aren’t you?” Calvin asked.

“Aye, my first night, and I get this,” the tall, dark man said in a very pronounced Irish accent.

“John Calvin.”

“Daniel Cormac, but my friends call me Dan.”

“All this wild raving about the Little People. I think the whole country is crazy.”

“You don’t believe in the Little People, I gather?” Cormac asked sternly.

“I’m an Englishman; I don’t believe in fairy tales and all that rot. What about you?” Calvin asked. “You’re from around here.”

“I’m a good Irish lad — I believe,” Cormac said with a mysterious smile. “But then I have more reason than most to believe in the Little People.”

“Just take him in the psych ward with the rest of them,” Calvin huffed.

“There are more?

Three more — two yesterday and one early last night,” said Calvin. “They were all found wandering the hills screaming like banshees about how the Little People were going to get us all. I think it’s too much whiskey, myself, but the doctors all think they’re mad. They even called in a vacationing professor of psychology from Gotham City to get his opinion. A bloody American.”

“What did he say?”

“He said he had never seen anything like it before,” Calvin answered.

“Strange for an American to say that.”

“Why do you say that, Dan?” Calvin asked.

“Oh, nothing. What was this professor’s name, anyway?”

“What was that bloody name again? Crane — Professor Jonathan Crane,” Calvin answered. “He seemed a bit miffed that we interrupted his fishing expedition.”

“Oh, I bet he was.” Cormac began droning, “Now would be a good time to forget that you ever saw me. You don’t even know my name.”

Calvin shook his head as if he were in a daze. He looked up at Cormac and frowned. “Who are you, and what are you doing here? Visitors aren’t permitted at this hour.”

“Sorry, orderly, I’ll just be on my way,” Cormac said as he strolled out the door, smiling to himself.

***

Several hours later, at Clancy’s Pub just outside town, Daniel Cormac walked into one of the enclosed phone booths and closed the door behind him. He picked up the receiver and held it to his ear.

“Long distance, please. Give me Detroit, Michigan, USA. The Bunker. I know it’s not used much anymore. I didn’t ask your opinion.”

Daniel waited a few minutes patiently, then began to speak. “Oh, good, it’s you,” Dan said into the mouthpiece. “Bea, this is Dan. I have an emergency over here in Ireland. No, nothing to warrant the attention of the Global Guardians yet, but I need the help of a friend of yours. You know, one of the fly boys with the rings. Oh, and tell him to be discreet.”

He smiled and hung up the phone, then walked back out of the phone booth and to his usual corner booth in the back of the pub.

“Knowing Bea and her charms, he’ll be waltzing in here within the hour,” Dan said with a smile.

Less than thirty minutes later, the door to the bar was almost knocked off its hinges by none other than Guy Gardner, attired in his stylish Green Lantern uniform variation — or, at least as far as he was concerned, it was stylish.

“The very soul of discretion himself,” Daniel muttered to himself upon recognizing the gaudy-looking costume. “I really must talk to Beatriz about the people she associates with.”

Guy strolled the bar and looked at the bartender. “I hear someone needs a Green Lantern,” Guy proclaimed loudly. Suddenly, everyone around Guy stood still as if they were frozen in place. A large book plopped down on the bar beside Guy’s elbow.

“Look up the word discreet sometime,” Daniel said as he walked through the frozen patrons.

“How did you do that?” Guy asked. “My ring tells me they’re all alive, just frozen.”

“I didn’t — a friend of mine did. I’ll explain later, but first we have to get you out of here before it wears off.”

A few minutes later, Daniel and Guy stood in the apartment above the pub. Guy now wore a brown trench coat over his suit, and his white gloves had been removed, but the glowing power ring was still on his right hand.

“Ugh! Brown is definitely not my color,” Guy complained.

“It’s all I’ve got, now shut up and listen to why you’re here,” Daniel ordered.

“You freeze everyone in place, but you can’t come up with anything better than a brown coat?” Guy complained.

I didn’t freeze anyone, Fergus did,” said Dan. “Now would you quit complaining?”

“Who’s Fergus?”

I am,” said a diminutive man in ancient clothes, right down to the pointed shoes and elfin hat, as he stepped out of of the air beside Daniel.

Staring at him for a moment’s worth of wide-eyed astonishment, Guy suddenly fell back on a chair bent over in laughter. “BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA! You look like an elf in that get-up!” Guy laughed.

Fairy, you overgrown jackanape!” Fergus said, taking offense.

“Ha! That’s even better!” Guy laughed.

Daniel pushed a hidden button beside the chair that Guy was still laughing in. A panel in the wall slid upward, revealing a round black lantern with only two visible holes that looked like menacing yellow eyes. Daniel took the lantern in his left hand, and instantly his clothes changed. He now wore blue boots, purple pants, a green shirt, blue gloves and cape, and a purple hood with two yellow eye slits that matched the lantern.

“Say, I’ve heard of you. You’re the Jack O’Lantern, Ireland’s famous hero,” Guy said.

“Aye, that I am, you long-winded buffoon,” Jack O’Lantern said as he walked back toward Fergus. “I asked Beatriz for a Green Lantern, hoping — just hoping maybe she would send the original G.L. or John Stewart, but instead she sends you.”

Those two amateurs? I’m Earth’s one, true Green Lantern! What makes you think a little tin ball and a short man entitles you to push me around?” Guy asked as he stood, suddenly becoming angry.

“For one, Mr. Gardner, my lantern trumps yours,” Jack O’Lantern said as he raised his lantern toward Guy. Yellow beams suddenly shot from the eyes of the lantern, coiling around Guy like twin snakes.

“Secondly, a real Green Lantern isn’t as worried about his image as he is about helping those in need,” said Jack O’Lantern. “Right now we have an epidemic in this country that I hope you can help me with.”

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