In which Marilyn finds herself caught between a rock and hard place, or, to be more precise, an old-school gloved heavy and one of the million incarnations of Groucho Marx. It’s a predicament of cosmic proportions, and, in the background a hatstand is observing. Both basic training and simple common sense have taught her never to trust a man in a cheap suit and black gloves. They never mean you any good especially if they’re holding a pistol. And yet the Groucho multiples are a danger in themselves, especially if you don’t know the secret word and can’t summon The Duck. With the Grouchos, you bet your life and there isn’t a sanity clause.
In which, for some days, Marilyn has been followed everywhere by the wholly inane and annoyingly butch drag-queen Jane Russell replicant, who not only shows off her legs and wears identical clothing to Marilyn, but insists on looking at herself in a small mirror at approximate three minute intervals. Marilyn first theorized that the replicant was some kind of infiltrated Apollonian psyops device, but this was rejected out of hand by Dionysian Intelligence. (An oxy-moron, Marilyn thought, if every there was one.) They informed her that the Russell was a model 20, back-up guardian, and that Marilyn was lucky to have such singular personal protection. Realizing that she has no immediate way of ridding herself of the unwelcome presence, she turns her back on the thing and drinks a Coke.
In which Marilyn finds herself sitting beside the Big Fat Bastard. The Big Fat Bastard hasthe girth of a Dionysian, but is really something else. The Big Fat Bastard reaches for Marilyn’s knee, and she attempts to halt him with a withering look, but she knows the Big Fat Bastard is not so easily stopped. The Big Fat Bastard has the ability to affect minds. The Big Fat Bastard is able to make others think in shorter and shorter sentences. Even a Blonde Goddess cannot easily resist. She sends out a counter-though. “Get away from me. You are a big fat four-sandwich eating motherfucker.” But it doesn’t work. Marilyn finds it harder and harder. Her thoughts are too simple. Too simple. It is not good. What shall she do? The Big Fat Bastard closes. Marilyn scowls. To be. Continued?
In which Marilyn finds herself both outraged and distressed. Without the slightest hint of what might be coming or any suggestion of transition, she materializes seated on a bed in a less-than-luxury hotel room, next to a cyborg, drag-queen replicant of Jane Russell. The environment is, of course, total illusion, and she has no doubt that this is the work of the lizard thugees from Zeta Reticuli, but she also has no clue how to reverse the process and get the hell out of there. It wasn’t by any means the first time that she had been abducted by aliens, but the lizard thugees, who usually liked to gloat from behind the rectal probe, are refusing to show themselves, and that is much more disturbing.
In which Marilyn, expansive and gorgeous, excitedly leads the celebrations. Santa Clara has fallen, the armored train is derailed, the British Homosexual in the burnoose and white robes takes no prisoners, Zombie Bankers have packed their gold and uranium and taken it on the lam. The Mugwumps scatter in confusion. Apollonians put down their weapons and surrender in their thousands. Drinks are on the house and victorious Dionysians are as drunk as skunks in twenty dimensions. The files of the Secret Police are burning. The Men In Hats have gone with the wind. Princess Aura has been arrested and will be tried by The People’s Courts. Birds sing. Cats dance. Dogs have their day. But Marilyn is well aware that, in the reality streams of the multiverse, it only takes one inadvertently stomped butterfly to change everything.
In which Marilyn learns that motivating an Ent is easier said that done. The Dionysian High Command had decided in its drunken wisdom that the Ent in question was crucial to the assault on the Apollonian fortresses, but no one so much as knew it’s name, let alone how to enlist its aide, because the Ent in question hadn’t spoken in seventy-three years. Marilyn had been dispatched by her handlers to motivate the tree-creature with her goddess wiles, but she had her doubts. Pressing herself with total abandon against the rough, unyielding outer bark, she felt no response, and was at a loss to know if she and the Ent were in any way bio-compatible, even on the most basic and pedestrian level. Then, very slowly, something moved inside the Ent, and, rumbling low, from somewhere deep in its core, came what sounded like a creaking sigh. “Haaarooommm!”
In which Marilyn boosts the amperage of her wide-eyed, innocent, attentive charm to its highest and most deceptive level. Such behavior was always expected of from the Incredibly Powerful Man Who Never Cared To Give His Name, and she always gave him what he expected. He believed that she was nothing more than inane and decorative, and it was an error that betrayed the weakness of his deeply rooted stupidity. The Incredibly Powerful Man Who Never Cared To Give His Name could move armies on a whim, control continents if he so desired, and vaporize cities with a single order. He would sit in his shirtsleeves in his bizarre bunker, deep beneath the megacity, with its incongruously bourgeois décor and its steel and concrete, lead-lined walls, holding one of his offensive books on warfare, and talk glibly of particle beam weapons, and kill ratios, of mass drivers, and megatons, smart bombs and collateral damage, acceptable loses and multiple reentry, but he was totally unable to recognize a goddess when he saw one. It was this lack of perception and even the most fundamental intellect that had stiffened Marilyn’s resolve to nullify his authority. The plan was watertight in its simplicity. In a few hours, the Kali-worshippers would come for him with their knives and silk ropes. They would descend the compromised airshaft, enter the bunker, and, after little more on his part than a strangled gasp, the Incredibly Powerful Man Who Never Cared To Give His Name would be removed from power. Permanently.
In which Marilyn realizes that the Molemen have infiltrated the party. She is not fooled by their ploy of disguising themselves in cheap wigs, striped suits and glasses. She is well aware that, while claiming neutrality, the Molemen rarely visit the surface with anything other than malign intent, and have too much in common with the C.H.U.D.s. To avoid an incident, however, Marilyn agrees to dance with one who claims his name is Truman, but who she recognizes as being, beneath the disguise, the notorious Cavern Master Sllubeelyx of the Great Fissure. Marilyn is tempted to complain about the vice-like grip Truman/Sllubeelyx places on her wrist, but again she opts to keep the peace. Then, while Marilyn is distracted, turning to smile at the French Homosexual, the Moleman makes his move. Will Marilyn turn back in time, before he bites off her hand?
In which Marilyn checks into the Leader Hotel. Her plan is to take a shower, swallow a handful of Nembutal, chase them with a couple of martinis, and then repeat as needed. If her luck holds, she should be able to sleep for a week and let the Inter-dimensional Great Game go on very well without her. Unfortunately, just as soon as she steps out of the shower, the room turns disastrously Stephen King. The lights go out, the TV turns itself on, and appears to be self-aware and hostile. Clutching a towel, but maintaining her goddess equilibrium, she reaches for the phone. Even though it is now plugged into thin air, she speaks into the handset anyway because the TV refuses to show a program and is advancing in her direction. “Please organize me an extraction. And organize it right now. I think we have a cliff-hanger in progress.”
In which Marilyn is confronted by an untenable situation but decides to make the best of it. The Reptile Kings of Xanku had, with a burst of their all too frequent capacity for increasing the difficulty of already difficult situations, insisted that not only did Marilyn wear the truly absurd super-heroine costume for the upcoming mission against the Brain Eaters, but that the wholly incongruous garment should be initiated and energized in a ritual ceremony to be performed in front the Xanku I-Corps, who, as far as Marilyn was concerned, resembled nothing more than a scaly crowd of belly-slithering, illiterate sociopaths, seemingly high on cheap energy-enhancing chemical products. As if this wasn’t bad enough, she had only discovered that the accursed outfit was topless just minutes before the start of the festivities at which she had clearly been promised as the star attraction. Under more normal circumstances, she would have dug in her heels and refused to go any further with the charade. The Reptile Kings of Xanku were, however, a crucial – if less than reliable – segment of The Grand Alliance, and, in the interests of the mission, she decided to play along. As she told herself while she smiled her widest, most engaging, if secretly mocking smile, gripped her power-sword, and raised the costume’s vision-mask, it wasn’t the first time she had stood topless in the presence of loathsome snakes.
Marilyn sits pensive and discontented. “They send me on all these wretched adventures but do they really give a damn about me?” She reflects upon how untenable her role in the multiverse has become, and how weary she is with the ceaselessly shifting set up and the irrationality of the Random Flips. She grimly fumes at the nonsensical orders from the 14th International, and the constant reminders, transmitted by jackbooted chorus boys at Timereich S7 Macro, of the apocalyptic consequences of an accidental meeting with any of the infinite number of her Norma Jean Variables. And if that wasn’t bad enough, she finds herself in the perpetual vice between the too-certain, judgmental, goddess-hating Apollolonians to the right of her, and the too-horny, drunken, trigger-happy Dionysian to the left. Meanwhile the middle ground just squirms like a slimy clone vat with the likes of The Unspeakable Zero Brothers, Archbishop Moriarty and his Diamond Dogs, plus all the benighted hick-demons who are too stupid to recognize they're locked in the repeating depression killer-cycles of a Kellogg Rift. And, finally, floating over everything, are the tedious goddamned aliens, with their anal probes, their temporal calibrators, and their deathrays. Marilyn sighs deeply. “How long to they seriously expect me to keep on doing this?”
In which Marilyn, working as a fifth columnist for the Albert Hoffman Brigade of the Dionysian Red Legion, infiltrates the CAPCOM base of the government troops with the intention of using her goddess wiles for subvert the rank and file grunts, and sapping their will to fight before the inevitable battle when the rebels come down from the mountains. She experiences a moment of panic, however, when the sergeant wraps the silk scarf around her neck. Could he be a Thugee-trained strangler of Kali? But no. He has no idea of her true identity or mission. He’s just trying to buy her good will with gifts. Next thing, he’ll be offering her cigarettes, chocolate, and nylons. She knows she will easily bend him to her will. Hasta la victoria siempre.
In which Marilyn attempts to make conversation with the other guests at the banquet for assembled sentients. “What have they done to the Earth?” She asks. “What have they done to our fair sister? Ravaged and plundered, and ripped her, and bit her, stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn, and tied her with fences, and dragged her down. I hear a very gentle sound, with your ear down to the ground. We want the world and we want it...” She pauses and frowns. Something is very wrong. “Oh dear. That’s not me. I’m channeling Jim Morrison. We must have had an iconographic poetry distort.” She attempts to dismiss the glitch with a bright disarming smile. “At least we’re still speaking English…aren’t we?”
In which Marilyn confronts the Inner Circle of the Secret Legion. She positions herself with her back to the fireplace, and with a picture of the Dowager Empress at her elbow. Speaking nervously at first, but with increasing authority, she makes her demands. “You have left me without any form of logistic support. I have no supplies, no food or ammunition, no replacements, no gasoline for my tanks, and communications constantly fail. My temporal grinders are down to their nubs, I barely have enough fusion power to reach the end of the episode, the Reality Generators fail, the Mugwumps revert to loathsome originality, and the towers do not open fire. I have to warn you if this situation is permitted to continue, I will have no option but to switch my allegiance to The Dionysian Federation, and you all know what that would mean.”The ultimatum causes uproar. The Inner Circle of the Secret Legion vocally protests. “Blonde Goddess, such a realignment would fly in the face of everything you stand for.”At this, Marilyn’s expression is bleak. “Gentlemen, you have no idea what I might stand for.”
In which Marilyn taps her perfect teeth impatiently. She is anxious, although trying to maintain a calm demeanor in front of the Green Warriors. She knows that, without power, and unable to flee the Barsoomian reality quadrant, she will soon fall under the spell of the Therns from the River Iss, who – led by the assassin Gor Hajus – will undoubtedly sell her as a warmbody to Vobis Kan, the Mastermind, for his evil research in the laboratories of Morbus. Marilyn is nervous. What has become of Thuvia, her airship, and her banths? Is Tul Axatar still sacking Raxar to make himself the Second Padwar? Most important, where is Tars Tarkas, the Jeddak of Thark, and the crucial relief column?
In which Marilyn, stranded by the total inefficiency of Post-Apocalypse Airlines and missing her shoes, finds herself confined in the backroom of the Happy Skull Casino and Roadhouse, guarded by two very stupid deputy sheriffs from Parsec 19347494738/W – also know as the Exceptionally Dumb Dimension – that has an economy based on implausibly fixed gambling and ancient pork, and a political structure of down-home, beer-drunk fascism. Knowing this is not a happy situation, and these hick cops are wholly unaware of her Goddess Status, she employs the only tactical alternative left in her arsenal. She ignores them in the hope that they will vanish.
In which Marilyn lights a symbolic cigarette and takes stock of the shambles left after the Beasts ceased howling. Perhaps there is light on the quasi-horizon, she muses, but the inter-dimension continuum is such a fucked up mess after all that’s been inflicted on it. The frag-snappers have done their worst, the pseudo-Lords have been acting with total irresponsibility. Slan has woken, and the Old Dark Gods are only kept from running loose and wreaking the ultimate havoc by the most flimsy of virtual membranes. “Oh dear,” she murmurs, quietly exhaling, “but how is one over-worked twentieth century blonde goddess supposed to cope with it all?” And then she smiles, "But the light really is on the horizon, isn't it?"
In which Marilyn, after being tediously trapped on either side by the Well Groomed Men In The Cheap Seats, discovers to her delight that her old and dear friend, Quagmar the Destroyer, has finally arrived from Planet J, where he had been disporting and dissipating in the Andromeda Galaxy. Marilyn is doubly pleased that Quagmar the Destroyer, along with his vast retinue, plus numerous extra and irregular thralls, concubines, and body helots, has managed to make the trip without incinerating his Beamship, or doing any more cosmic damage to the polymorphous reality.
In which Marilyn, after two martinis and three Nembutal have caused a momentary lapse of her normal vigilance, and lulled her into believing herself safe in transient sub-reality, is taken by surprise by one of the Tweed Elite of the Evil Men in Hats. With his hands around her throat, she screams desperately. But, as everybody knows, in transient sub-reality no one can hear you scream. Oh no! Can this the end of Marilyn?
In which Marilyn, although know for her unpunctuality, lives to adventure yet another-day. Ramp-amping her super-wiles in the Room-With-Chequered-Wallpaper, she easily distracts and overpowers a slack-faced Bob-Dobbs simulacra, sent by the Pink Boys to restrain her from serving the invertebrate-satisfaction of Mr. Squid. The simulacra foolishly betrays himself by leaving his dark-hat in plain-sight on the smooth-couch. And also neglecting to bring his briar-pipe. What him worry? The rare-aphides all cry, “Return to the time-stream.” And Marilyn obliges as they knew she would.
In which Marilyn is left momentarily without functional shields and blind-minded in the hyperdyne backwash of overdrive. In that exposed instant she is captured by the Satrap of New Pangaea and held in a confinement capsule rigged to resemble the back of a circa mid-1950s Coupe De Ville. Hosed with alpha rays and beta-rhythm barbiturate surrogates, she is presented with the Omega Candle under the false guise that it is her birthday. Marilyn is too hammered to know that, if the Omega Candle is extinguished, one hundred and forty seven thousand congruent realities are extinguished right along with it, plus the lives of incalculable quadrillions of sentient entities. The neuron snappers urge her to blow it out. It is their mission.“Blow, Marilyn! Blow! ““Blow, Marilyn! Blow! “But a sliver of Marilyn’s reality reasserts itself. “This doesn’t quite seem right. There is a disruption in The Force.”“Blow, Marilyn! Blow! ““Blow, Marilyn! Blow! ““I don’t know…”But, under immense pressure, she puts her lips together anyway…
(Can the French Homosexual and the Dionysian Mob arrive in time to avert disaster?)
In which Marilyn – aware of the threat posed to all sentient life for at least a hundred parsecs in any direction by the combined forces of The Amorphous Blight, Azathoth 3, Fat Men in Hats, and the Alaskan Energy Drain – enlists in D Corps of the People’s Army of the Fourteenth International and volunteers for agent training. But when expected to lift weights, right outside the Doors of Perception, she is less than happy. “All I need to learn is a few simple techniques like the Configuration of Yian so I can create the Tesla/ Yuggoth Particle Beam. I’m Marilyn. I kinda know the rest.” To which the Drill Instructor, who is configured to look like Ernest Borgnine, responds that she needs to complete the simple essentials before she moves on to combat metaphysics. He had smiled unpleasantly. “That’s why they call it basic training.”
In which Marilyn, finds herself without air cover or infantry support, and cut off from the People’s Army of the Fourteenth International. She moves swiftly back up the timestream to Episode Nine. Using the disguised Blasco Ladder, and simultaneously employing the hidden power of the Calendar of Xvexulacapa the Sun Hammer, she calculates that the secret of life, the universe, and everything is not 42 after all but in fact 30! (But she keeps smiling, and wears her gloves. The Fat Men in Hats are closing in on critical vectors.)