by BRADLEY MASON HAMLIN
with art by the almost completely undead ...
Somewhere, in a hidden Sanctuary, far below the city
“Ahrg! He is so stupid!”
Agent Hourglass slumped forward in her chair, burying her pouting face against her yellow gloves. Lucy Hell, Devilgirl, found her this way. Arms crossed on the clean white table, her face concealed in a mess of long black hair and the occasional curse word. Hourglass was not happy, and when Agent Hourglass was not happy, well, things could get dangerous. For you see, this young lady is a time traveler, a traveler with a nasty habit of losing control.
Lucy sat across from her and slid a hot cup of tea toward her friend. “Hour, what’s wrong?”
Hourglass lifted her face in a frown. “Ah, it’s Pig-Man! He’s, he’s … such a pig!”
Lucy laughed. “Yeah, but he’s sort of a man, too, right?”
“Yes, I know.”
“You mean … no way! You and …”
“I don’t want to talk about it!”
“Did he hurt you? He better not have …”
“He hurts feelings. This is crazy. I don’t even care. I do not care about him at all.”
Bloody Maria walked by. “They do that, you know? They hurt the feelings, the men.” She took a deep breath, didn’t stop to chat, and just kept walking.
“So,” said Lucy, “sounds like everybody’s having a nice Valentine’s Day.”
“Exactly,” said Hourglass. “Valentine’s Day, he gives no card; no flowers, no chocolates, no damn thing!”
Lucy smiled. “I didn’t know you two were going out?”
“Ug, would you let everyone know if you were dating the Pig-Man?”
Lucy’s face turned into a similar glare. “You know, I have no idea where Mr. Secret Agent Adams is, either.”
“I hate them,” said Hourglass. “What are we doing here, anyway. We should be in Paris, shopping, drinking wine.”
“Oui,” said Lucy. “You know,” she said, “I thought you were French when we first met. You sounded French. Then Hungarian … Now, maybe more American, but sort of …”
“Russian? Maybe so. Just spent time there. Few years perhaps. When we met first, I am just back from France. Sometimes I go some where, some place, some time, and enjoy culture. Then I come back, here, to this miserable clean underground crazy world where men look like real pigs.”
“Not all of them,” said Lucy. “Dr. Atlantis doesn’t look like a pig.”
“Yes, I know. He is very handsome, but cold. I do not like cold.”
“So,” said Lucy, “how do you think girls like us wound up with a Pig-Man and a guy who gets super powers when he’s drunk?”
For the first time that afternoon Hourglass smiled. “Just lucky, I suppose.”
Deep in the woods of Northern California …
Secret Society Roll Call:
Secret Agent Adams
and the Powerful Pig-Man.
Agent Adams and El Secreto loaded silver bullets into their handguns while Pig-Man prepared a high-powered crossbow with wooden shafts. Adams looked at the bow. “You really think arrows will stop a werewolf?”
“Silver,” said Secreto, “everyone knows this. Silver stops the wolf.”
“The secret,” said Pig-Man, “to killing any monster, is to break its heart.”
“Well, we’ll see," said Adams. "Ramone, are you sure she’s out there?"
“February 14, full moon, ese, and this is where she was spotted last night.”
Pig-Man grunted. “You say, February 14?”
“Si,” said Secreto.
More grunting. “That’s just great.”
Adams laughed. “What’s the problem?”
“Valentine’s Day,” said Pig-Man. “I forgot it was Valentine’s Day and I forgot to …”
“Ha,” said Secreto, “Piggy’s got a girlfriend?”
Even in the dim light under the moon they could see Paul Kowalski’s pink skin turning red.
“You know what?” said Adams. “I saw Pig-Man standing mighty close to Agent Hourglass the other day. They looked like they were getting water from the cooler, but it sure took a long time, and I think I even heard a giggle, but I thought I was imagining things.”
“Giggling,” said Secreto, “that’s fantastico!”
“Shut the hell up, you guys. We’re here to work.”
Secreto continued. “So, Kowalski, you didn’t buy her a present? What’s wrong with you, man? She’s a very beautiful woman. I know, because I am married to a very beautiful woman and if I didn’t get her a present … Adams?”
"You did pick up the earrings from mi amigo downtown, si?"
"Yeah, dude, of course."
"Bueno, and you dropped them off at the Sanctuary before coming all the way out here in the woods, yes?”
“Yeah, I put the package in my jacket, and then … Uh, oh!”
“Ay, they’re still in your coat, cabrón! Aren’t they?”
“Maybe,” said Adams, “but at least we can give them to the girls when we get back. If we get back, that is, but Kowalski over there is obviously screwed.”
Pig-Man grunted: “Valentine’s Day! What a stupid holiday! Who the hell invented the damn thing anyway?”
Secreto raised his hand. “Let me tell you the secret details, mis amigos; for I, El Secreto, know all about the historia de amor.”
“Whatever,” said Adams, “entertain us while we wait to get eaten by demonic wolves.”
“You see,” said Secreto, “Valentine was a priest, way back in the day of the Roman Emperor, Claudius Gothicus, and this cat wanted to turn all the Christians into pagans, and he wanted the men to stay single as long as possible so they would do battle for him as dedicated soldiers.”
“Hey,” said Adams, “don’t knock the pagans, man. Don’t knock my people.”
“Move it along,” said Pig-Man, “but be quiet. Way too still out there. I think we may have a fight on our hands soon.”
“Si,” said Secreto. “Anyway, Valentine, he refused to give up his faith and he performed secret marriages for young couples in love, and in turn, tried to convert the Emperor to Christianity.”
Adams took a drink of something from one of his bottles. “Doesn’t sound like a very good idea.”
“Be quiet, my friend. So, the cruel Claudius, threw the good priest in a jail cell to await execution.”
Pig-Man grunted. “What’s so damn romantic ‘bout that?”
“Patience,” said Secreto. “While suffering behind bars, the daughter of the jailer served Valentine his meals and helped him pass the time. She was young and very beautiful and, unfortunately, totally blind.”
“Okay,” said Adams, “she let him loose or what?”
“No,” said Secreto. “He was executed as planned.”
Pig-Man grunted and laughed.
“Ah, my friends, but before he was killed he performed one godly miracle. He healed the young lady of her blindness, and all she had to remember him was a note he left behind confessing his love for her, his beloved, from her Valentine.”
“He healed her?” said Adams.
“Maybe he had some kind of super power. Maybe that’s why Claudius wanted him on his team. We could use a good healer. I have to just drink red wine and hope for the best.”
A howl broke the night and suddenly the three Society members were surrounded by the three werewolf entities of Trinity Lopez, aka, Wolf-Pack.
Meanwhile, back at the Sanctuary, Devilgirl and Hourglass had broken into Agent Adams’s locker and were currently throwing back shots of tequila …
Bloody Maria started to walk by again and paused.
“Are you two drinking on duty?”
“We’re on a break,” said Lucy.
“You two have been in here for over an hour.”
Hourglass laughed. “You want a shot of tequila or not?”
“What,” said Maria, “you think because I’m Mexican I want a shot of tequila?”
“Yes,” said Lucy.
“You’re right. Set me up.”
As luck would have it there was no immediate metaphysical or supernatural crisis to attend for the following hour as the girls drank and laughed.
“Oh,” said Lucy, “you know what we should totally do?”
“Drink more tequila,” said Maria.
Hourglass added: “And break up with our boyfriends? Hey, remember when the Mushroom Man got inside our heads and we were forced to make-out?"
Hourglass started cracking up. "Your lips are so much softer than Pig-Man's!"
“Totally, Mushroom Man, wow ...” said Lucy, “all those things, but you know what we should really do right away?”
Hourglass smiled. “What?”
“We should totally start a rock band!”
Hourglass slurred. “I like that idea. But I cannot play an instrument.”
“Can you shake a tambourine?” said Lucy.
"Sure, why not?"
Maria poured herself another shot. “Can I do percussion?”
Lucy: "Hell, yeah!"
Meanwhile, back in the forest …
Agents Adams, Kowalski, and Rodriguez lay on the ground, bleeding from multiple scratches and bites, while staring at the moon above.
“Did we get her?” said Adams. “I think we got her.”
“Almost, amigo. One got away. As long as there is one wolf, there will be three again on the next good moon.”
“Okay,” said Pig-Man, “so I was wrong about the wooden arrows.”
“You think,” said Adams, “with all these scratches, we’re gonna turn into werewolves?”
“I hope not,” said Secreto. “Maria says I’m very hard to train at home.”
Adams sat up. “Man, we’ve gotta get back to home base. Maybe the girls planned something nice for us when they realized we had to work.”
“Nah,” said Pig-Man, “they’re probably crying in their coffee right about now. Once we get out of this weird forest we’ll be able to get reception and let Agent Yoshimoto know we’re on our way back.”
Speaking of Agent Yuki Yoko Yoshimoto …
Yoshimoto and Rubbergirl had just discovered the laughing trio of drunken crime-fighting gals.
Agent Yoshimoto: “We heard you ladies are drinking alcohol while on duty?”
“Yup,” said Lucy.
“Wanna shot?” said Hourglass.
Maria held up a shot-glass.
Smiling, Yoshimoto passed it to Rubbergirl and asked for another.
“Hey,” said Lucy, “you wanna join our rock & roll band?”
“Adams,” said Pig-Man, “you said you knew the way outta here!”
“I thought Ramone knew! He’s always fighting that stupid dog girl in the woods. You’d think he’d bring a compass or something!”
“Are you saying,” said Pig-Man, “despite all the modern tech available to the Secret Society working for the internationally famous Dr. Atlantis … we’re lost?”
“Um, well,” said Adams, “I wouldn’t put it exactly like that.”
Pig-Man grunted. “What then?”
“Well, we just don’t currently know where we are or how to get back to the van, but other than that, I wouldn’t say we’re totally without a clue. I’ll drink some tequila and do some quick recon.” Adams searched his coat. “Damn, I think I’m out. That’s dumb, because I know I had a whole bottle back at the Sanctuary. You got any tequila on you, Secreto?”
“What? You think I have tequila cuz I’m Mexican? That’s so racist, man.”
“Do you or not?”
“There’s a flask in my bag next to my spare ammo.”
Soon, the three men were sharing a secret toast to the secret union that bonded them as brothers.
“Man,” said Adams, “that Wolf-Pack sure put up a fight.”
“Yeah,” said Secreto, “but not half as bad as I’m going to get it from Bloody Maria when we get home.”
Pig-Man laughed. “Good to be loved, isn’t it?”
The three men smiled and shared the drink, not wanting to get over sentimental in their dialog with each other, but agreeing none the less.
Agent Yuki Yoko Yoshimoto’s face was glowing. “I have some sake hidden in the communications room,” she said.
“Yay!” said the girls.
“Oh,” said Yoshimoto, “I wonder if the crew has reported in yet. I must get back to my desk.”
“Crew?” said Lucy. “What crew?”
“Adams, Kowalski, and Rodriguez,” she said. “Didn’t I tell you? They’re hunting Wolf-Pack in the northern woods.”
“Hey,” said Rubbergirl, “did you know it’s Valentine’s Day? Mr. Twisted just better be on that mission because I have not seen him all day!”
“My mind must be distracted,” said Yuki. “He too is on a mission with Mr. Eddie Crossbones.”
[Editor's Note: Maybe we'll tell you about that secret team-up someday! Meanwhile, keep those cards and letters comin'!]
At the mention of Agent Crossbones, Yoshimoto looked away as if avoiding something.
“Yuki,” Lucy asked, “do you have a Valentine out there, somewhere?”
“One I admire,” she said, “loves another. His heart is more than one hundred years away from my own.” She then seemed to shrug off the problem. I am dedicated to the honor of the Society,” she said. “Should we give the men chocolate when they arrive? In Japan, we give the men chocolate, and if they have love, they will give you something better than chocolate.”
“That sounds fair,” said Lucy.
Rubbergirl’s lips bent into a frown. “What if the guy just gives you chocolate back?”
“Then,” said Yoshimoto, “he is breaking up the relationship, just a friend, or has not yet learned how to love.”
Suddenly an arm stretched across the room and grabbed Rubbergirl. “Sorry I’m late, R.G.,” said Mr. Twisted. “Those snake people are a real pain in my neck.”
“Oh!” She looked at the marks on his rubber skin. “They bit you!”
He laughed. “Just love bites.”
Eddie Crossbones walked in at that moment and the rest of the wandering crew followed behind. “Look what I found,” he said.
The call went out for pizza and beer and, despite Valentine and his romantic holiday, nobody took off on their own. They sat and talked about snake people and werewolves and getting lost in the forest.
“Oh, yeah,” said Eddie, turning to Agent Yoshimoto, “I’ve got something for you.”
He tossed Yuki a small box.
Her eyes lit up with happiness and a slight confusion. “Eddie, a chocolate bunny? On Valentine's Day?”
“Ah hell,” he said. “Who loves ya, kid? Hahahahaha!”
The End <3
THE SUPER THRILLING TALES OF THE SECRET SOCIETY WILL CONTINUE ...
"A Secret Society Valentine's Day" by Bradley Mason Hamlin.
Art by Mort Todd.
Published February 09, 2012 by Mystery Island.
Copyright © 2012 by Mystery Island Publications.
Edited by Lucy Hell. All rights reserved. Revised: 02.13.16
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