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How we think the fight will go
When he turns on the webcam, he is alone in his basement, he’s sure of it.
But then he hears the voice. It’s so loud he can barely hear himself videoblogging.
It is singing to him.
“So, super-fans, I totally know it’s been forever since I last posted…”
The sun will come out…tomorrow…tomorrow…
“…and now even Moist’s LiveJournal is getting more traffic. Not that I’m bitter.”
Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow…
“After all, only one person in this house is an actual, official member of the Evil League of Evil, and c’est moi and moi alone…Seriously, does anybody else hear that?”
There’ll be SU-U-U-NNNN!
It takes him a moment to realize that he’s singing along, gazing off into some imaginary sunrise—the most beautiful he’s ever seen!—the sunrise that’s always somewhere just beyond the footlights on the stage…
It occurs to him that it’s just possible that he’s begun to put the “mad” back in “mad scientist.” The thought is not altogether unpleasing to him.
But the show must go on!
“OK. So! E-mails!” He has decided to be extra-contemptuous today. “This one’s from ‘dpomerico’ at Suvudu.com…Suvudu? Are you kidding me? What does that even mean?
“And they’re inviting me to participate in a Cage Match…” He tries on the new sneer he’s been practicing in the mirror. “OK, Suvudu, that just sounds way too Rule 34 for me. Next!
“We have one from…from…Penny…”
He drops the printouts on the floor. They flutter all around him like dryer sheets in the washing machine floating around her socks and towels, like the pages of the petition on her clipboard ruffling in the wind, like the sound of her voice drifting through his mind just before he goes to sleep. Maybe…is it possible…
Tomorrow, tomorrow…The voices are getting louder.
He scrambles desperately to find the e-mail, but his heart sinks when he actually reads it.
“…Actually, it’s from Pennywise the Dancing Clown.”
“…and he says he’s coming here to kill me. That’s just great. That’s just super.” He balls up the paper and tosses it aside. “Ladies and gentlemen, my fanbase—perverts and psychopaths. Stay classy, Internet.”
The singing is so loud he almost doesn’t hear the sickening squish of his roommate’s approaching footsteps. “I know you said I’m not supposed to bother you while you’re blogging, but I think you might want to read this.” Moist hands him an extremely moistened letter, marked with the seal of the Thoroughbred of Sin himself, and then oozes off-camera.
He reads it. Just when he thought it couldn’t get any worse. “So if I don’t win the Suvudu Cage Match, I’ll get kicked out of the Evil League of Evil? But…what…”
He is just about to unleash the most epic supervillain monologue—monologuing is a skill he’s been rehearsing lately—on the entire Internet, but when he turns around, the camera is gone, and with it, the whole worldwide web. And yet, he’s not alone…
They are sitting in rows just beyond the curtains. He can’t see them because he’s blinded by the spotlight…but he can sense them. Feel them. Their longing. Their hunger. Their craving for humiliation, for misery, for love.
They are an Audience.
And as soon as they see him, they start laughing. He is standing there on the stage in a red pinafore, Mary Janes, and a curly ginger wig. Oh, no, he thinks, not again…
But he refuses to be daunted. After all, he’s the right one for the part—the best part in the school play, mind you, the star part—and he’ll show them. The kids at school were always laughing at him, but now he’d make the laughter die in their throats.
Today, Annie at Sunnydale Middle School. Tomorrow, Broadway.
And so, as he was born to do, he sings.
“Tomorrow! Tomorrow! Tomorrow!” He feels himself reaching the song’s crescendo, but his excitement is overtaken by fear when he realizes that he can’t remember the next line.
“Tomorrow! Tomorrow! Tomorrow!”
That’s when the laughter begins to morph into something darker, something that stinks of fresh blood, putrefying wounds, and his own sweating, mortified flesh.
He remembers this day so well. It’s the day when a future Broadway star died…and a supervillain was born.
The lights go up and he sees them. The audience is full of a hundred identical clowns, their lips painted red with blood. As they laugh, their mouths gleam with yellow, pointed teeth, dripping with gore.
The spotlight is shining directly in his eyes—how strange, it’s orange, and brighter than the heart of the sun—and he finds that he can’t look away. Nor can he stop singing, and for a terrible moment, he knows that he will go on singing that one word forever and ever and ever, until the end of the Macroverse…
Then he hears another voice. Her voice.
“Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow…”
He sees Penny walking down the aisle, and as she passes each row, the clowns fall silent. As he sees her, he knows she’s no more real than the shadow play Pennywise has put on for him. But she’s still something powerful: his best memory of his best self.
She joins him on the stage, and they sing the last lines together: “I love you, tomorrow. You’re only a day away!”
When he comes to, he’s alone in his basement again. He turns off the webcam and watches the footage. It consists entirely of him curled up in the fetal position on the floor weeping for an hour straight. Still less depressing than Moist’s LiveJournal, he thinks.
He’s sure it was all just a dream…until a bouquet of wilted roses is delivered to his door, and with it, another note marked with Bad Horse’s seal.
“Congratulations, Doctor! Nice work finishing up Pennywise, though he was never quite good enough for the League, you know. Up next: [Note—David—who’s next?] Make us proud!”
He puts on his favorite scarlet lab coat. His black gloves. The goggles.
This time, he knows he’s singing out loud, and he knows he sounds good:
Now the nightmare’s here
Now DR. HORRIBLE is here
To make you quake with fear,
To make the whole world kneel!