Blind to the Big Surprise

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« They Laid Down The Law || Blind To The Big Surprise || ??? »

“So what is a ‘Futanari Titwhore Fiasco’,” Gwen asked Iris as they ate dinner in the cramped kitchen of their campus apartment. “Did you get really into esoteric hentai while I was gone?”

Iris shook her head. “It’s a band. They call their genre, uh… Hold on, let me check their bandcamp. Right, ‘tranarchanart synthrash pseudopop’. Think half G.L.O.S.S. and half DEVO. Totally kickass.” A tap on the phone’s screen. Distorted synths howled from the device’s tinny speakers. “I got the shirt before I heard about the band, actually. Stole it from Stella after the afterparty last week. She stopped asking for it back after the first few days. Well, stopped asking explicitly—I think now she’s still trying to seduce me so she can steal it when I'm post-orgasmic.” Iris sighed. “And I’ll be honest, it would work, but her internet presence makes me think she’s not great in bed. Just a vibe, you know?”

Gwen nodded. “Yeah. Got that ‘super-subby-but-bad-at-subbing’ energy. Lots of keysmashing and colon-threes and selfies in cheap-looking collars.” Her next sentence was mumbled through a mouthful of cauliflower. “So, tell me about the foiled kidnapping plot. I got the cliff’s notes version from Morty, but I want the full story.”

Futanari Titwhore Fiasco’s vocalist screamed something about dinosaur orgies, and Iris used the brief distraction to gather her thoughts. Finally, she spoke. "First guy was waiting for me outside the Sizzle Pie way. Had a limo and two bodyguard-clones. 'Chrysophilus Marshall, but my friends call me Skitter'." This last was in an exaggerated Received Pronunciation, rather than her usual Portlands accent. "Spooked him with the bone-sword trick and ran. Another guy was waiting for me under Joan, with two more of the clones. French. Turned down a side street, Skitter skitters out, all fucked-up on demon-drugs. Turned around again, Frenchie is hanging out the window of a pink Rolls Royce, shooting at me. I blast down Chavez with the sling, lose them by ducking under a semi, hop through the sequoia and make it to class on time."

“Some real Vin Diesel shit. Nice. So did you google this Skitter guy? Maybe we could figure out why he was trying to kidnap you or whatever.”

Iris shook her head. "Been busy. The semester is starting to get rough, and some of us can't go on school-sponsored vacations to Mann."

"It was thesis research, and you know it!" Gwen bounced a chunk of yam off Iris' forehead. "The Isle of Man has the last stable breeding population of Black Shucks in the world. Besides, last week was election week, and you know Morty gets testy if I'm here for that. Thinks I'm going to overthrow him, or something. Which, of course, I am, but there are better ways to do it than the democratic process."

"Mmmm. Hey, I've always wondered, is the fight over the presidency like a sex thing for you guys?" Gwen immediately turned bright red, and took an intense interest in her dinner. "Oh my god, it is. Holy shit. What's the deal, whoever's winning gets to top? ‘Oh, Mr. President, I’ve been a bad little seditionist and I need to be punished’?”

Gwen rested her forehead gently on the table. "Ugh, shut up. And for your information? It's the other way around. You know, people in power need to let go sometimes. Oberon's balls, why am I telling you the details of my sex life?"

"Because I have a winning personality and a face you can trust. And you already know everything about mine, so it's only fair I finally figure out what you and Mordecai get up to." Iris speared a Brussels sprout, and paused with it halfway to her mouth. "Hey, wasn't Oberon your grandpa? Isn't it a little weird that you use his privates as swears?"

"Great-great grandfather, and it gets less weird when everyone does it. I think it's technically more blasphemous for me than it is for most people, but I don't really do the ancestor-worship thing after my great-to-the-eighth uncle Mhorfaoedd hit on me from beyond the grave."


"Incredibly so, since I was 19 at the time. Uh, that's like, 14 in elf years." She grabbed their bowls and tossed them into the sink. "Now, before you change the subject again: let's google your stalker!"

Meanwhile, one universe up and three hours north-east, two young men stood before an old oak door. This one had no runic bindings, no channels for sacrificial blood, no locks wrought from meteoric iron by the wise men of ages long ago; but to these young men, what lay behind this door was more frightening than whatever might be lurking beyond that other door, six stories below their feet.

"I can't believe you let her get away," the first one said. He was short and plump, and wore a suit patterned with purple-and-gold pinstripes; his tie was printed with a picture of an anatomically-improbably cartoon woman, her eyes rolling back and mouth hanging open in sexual ecstasy.

The second was tall and thin; his tracksuit was pink camouflage, and his bucket hat proclaimed him to be the World's Best Grandma. With a hint of a French accent, he said, "I am not the one who had her at my mercy and fucked it all up."

"She turned her arm into a flaming sword! How was I supposed to react to that?" The short one ran a hand through his over-gelled hair, and glared at his companion. "I thought she was supposed to be a normal college student, not some sort of roller-skating ninja."

"Did you do any research? Deer is a wizard college. It's like ICSUT, but for people who know what postmodernism is."

"Whatever. Let's get this over with, yeah?"


They stepped forwards, and each turned one of the polished brass doorknobs. The doors creaked open, revealing a well-appointed office; the men's eyes met, but before they could nod at each other dramatically, an old man's voice echoed from within.

"We don't have all day. Get in here, already."

The young men scurried in, and sat in a pair of hideously expensive metal chairs, created specifically for this office by a bald Finnish designer with three PhDs and a wife twenty years his junior. (The chairs were incredibly uncomfortable; that was a feature, not a flaw.) The chairs were positioned in front of two massive desks, which had been made some centuries ago in an Istanbul workshop run by blind eunuchs; each was monogrammed, the left with an "M" and the right with a "C". Behind the desks, of course, sat Marshall and Carter, the former fat and red, the latter pale and thin.

Once the visitors had seated themselves, Carter spoke, with venom in his voice. "I want to know exactly what went wrong with your retrieval of the Black girl. Do not omit anything." When nobody responded, he said, "Chrysophilus. You first."

Skitter Marshall adjusted his tasteless anime tie nervously. "Well, uh, we sent you an email with—"

He was interrupted by the elder Marshall. "Yes, we read the email, boy! And now we are asking you to repeat what was in the email! What about that is so hard to comprehend?"

"Right! Right. Well, she - uh, Iris Black - came out of the Way right where our informant said she would…"

Back in Three Portlands, Iris and Gwen—and Gwen's it's-complicated, Mordecai, who had joined them just after dinner—were getting discouraged. They had gone through half a bottle of wine and two bags of microwave popcorn without making any progress on their search for Skitter, and were close to giving up and letting Deer Community Safety deal with it when there was finally a breakthrough.

"Oh shit, I think I found him." Gwen had been sprawled across Mordecai's lap on a beaten-up leather couch, and now sat straight up, staring at her phone. "Yeah, Skitter Marshall, right? This the guy?"

Iris leaned forward in her armchair and squinted at the screen, then got up to take a closer look. It was an Instagram page, "@goldluvr69"; the most recent post was, without a doubt, the Skitter guy whose limousine she had run into. He was wearing, as far as she could tell, nothing but a tacky aloha shirt, minecraft-branded socks, and a hentai necktie, which thankfully extended far enough to cover his unmentionables. "Ugh. Yeah, that's him. What's his deal?"

Gwen shrugged. "As far as I can tell? Just some trust-fund baby from London. Here's a picture with his Ferrari, here's a picture with a stack of hundred-pound notes, here's him with his other rich asshole friends…" She frowned. "Wait, Iris, didn't you say something about a pink Rolls?"

"Yeah, that was the French guy's ride. Why?"

Gwen turned her phone around again. Another Instagram post, this one showing Marshall posing in the passenger seat of the very same car. The driver was unmistakably the French guy, head-to-toe Supreme gear and all.

"Well shit," Iris said, "yeah, that's him. Is he tagged in the photo?"

Gwen nodded. "Alphonse Cartier. Same deal, just a rich kid from Paris. Most of his photos are of ugly sneakers and random shit with the Supreme logo printed on it."

A chill wind blew through the apartment as Mordecai's maw opened. From within the black pit of his throat, a thousand damned souls howled, their piteous cries coalescing into a dark harmony. As his lips formed words, the souls spoke with him, their cacophony clawing at the eardrums of all who heard it. "Cart-" And then Gwen elbowed him in the stomach, and the awful din ceased.

"Inside voice, Morty!" She glared at him, still half-covering her ears. "Seriously, take it down like, five notches."

"Sorry, sorry!" Without the accompanying spectral chorus, Mordecai's voice was high-pitched and nasal, with just a hint of a Brooklyn accent. "Uh, Cartier sounds familiar. My father has some… Business connections with that family."

"What, like…" Iris gestured vaguely downwards. "That father?"

He shook his head. "No, no, the human one. He's… An import-export specialist."


"Yes, thank you Gwen, love it when you spill my family's deadly secrets everywhere. Didn't you sign the NDA at Thanksgiving? Whatever, doesn't matter. Cartier." He frowned up at the ceiling. "Related to the Carters. As in, Marshall, Carter and Dark."

Gwen winced, but Iris just raised an eyebrow. "I mean, Marshall makes sense, the other guy was named Marshall. But what's Marshall, Carter and Dark?"

"… and by the time we made it to Reed campus, she had already disappeared, and the campus cops were giving us weird looks, so we left."

« They Laid Down The Law || Blind To The Big Surprise || ??? »

tags: tale marshall-carter-and-dark third-law iris-dark three-portlands deer-college

Gwenhwyfar Thistlebranch and Mordecai Diabolus make their triumphant reappearance from the Deer College Hub.

  • Amos and Rupert tell Percival the bad news (When Situations Degenerate)
  • Iris encounters Skitter Marshall and Alphonse Cartier (Get Out Of Her Way)
  • Skitter and Alphonse report back to Amos and Rupert (Blind to the Big Surprise)
  • Iris learns about MC&D, goes into hiding
  • The First Compact (They Laid Down the Law)
  • Iris is made Dark


  • Six Or Eight Thousand Years Ago: Mister Dark is first bound into Jushur, King of Kish
  • c. 2300 BCE: They Laid Down The Law
  • 1968-1972: Percival Dark attends ICSUT Portlands.
  • 1972: Unbeknownst to him, Percival Dark's son, Charles Black, is born.
  • 1975: Percival Dark is made Dark. Amos Marshall and Rupert Carter become Senior Partners of MC&D.
  • 1976: Aaron Czarnacki finishes hunting down the entire Schwarz family for collaborating with Nazi party.
  • 1977: GOC strike team kills Aaron Czarnacki.
  • 1986: Negrescu family purged by Ceausescu.
  • 1991: Duncan MacDuff kills wife, sons, self.
  • 1995: Kurokawa Masuyo dies during Aum Shinrikyo subway attacks.
  • 1999: Charles Black's daughter, Iris, is born.
  • 2010: Lenoir mansion disappears into bayou, whole family goes with it.
  • 2012: Charles Black dies from brain cancer.
  • 2014: Iris Black starts school at Deer College.
  • June 2015: Yin and Jianhong Li are assassinated.
  • May 1, 2016: When Situations Degenerate
  • September 16, 2016: Get Out Of Her Way
  • September 20, 2016: Blind to the Big Surprise

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