Fri. Jun 14th, 2024

Zyler looked over the edge of the sky-scraping building, breathing into the winds surrounding him. The darkening sky encroached the town, delivering a sense of foreboding. Zyler appreciated this; a sense of foreboding for the town meant a sense of victory for him. Upon hearing a guttural (and somehow posh) cough from behind him, Zyler turned to see the Hipster Gremlin, his closest confidant in this new era, wheezing ferociously. Trying to ignore HG’s fit of sickness, he tried to spawn some small talk before their plans continued.

“So… a skyscraper, here? I never knew this existed. At least not from my time.” Zyler could almost predict Hipster Gremlin’s response, something like, “Oh yeah, not too many people know this exists.”

“Oh yeah, not too many people know this exists,” said Hipster Gremlin.

“I knew it,” Zyler whispered under his breath.

Hipster Gremlin carried the components of the Signal Booster to the center of the tower’s roof, setting up the pieces in a haphazard manner. Zyler approached to help, and together, they began their ultimate plan.

“With this device, no one will escape the Virus. My reign will be endless in this new world order. Everyone will be like me.” Zyler managed a smile, maniacal in its conception.

Hipster Gremlin, still setting up the device, an old ’90s Mac taped to a copy of a DVD of Will Smith’s Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, gave his two cents. “You know, when you think of this plan from an objective standpoint, it’s pretty messed up. Wasn’t your generation, like, all about being different? Doesn’t conforming seem so… typical? So mainstream?”

“My dear HG, not everything has to be so political. Sometimes, being evil can just be fun. Now, come on, I sense a storm coming.”

At this statement, Hipster Gremlin hissed, running behind the HVAC system on the roof with a few barebone components left in the Signal Booster box.

“Um… HG? Is everything okay?”

HG returned, bearing a handmade umbrella over his head, crouching under its shadow. “Yes, yes, it’s nothing. I just don’t like the rain. There’s something so… natural and unpredictable about the rain. Something so inherently… human. I can’t bear the idea of being touched by it. I feel like I’d want to do something, become something human. You know, do a human thing, whatever they do. Run for president maybe? It seems like anyone can do it these days.”

While Hipster Gremlin finished his monologue, Zyler could feel one of his own swelling within him. His plan was driving so close to completion, so dangerously near to the precipice of his ideal world. Hipster Gremlin finished the Signal Booster as the rain began to pour. He hid under the umbrella, seemingly terrified to let any of his bare skin touch the water.

“Zyler, I believe it’s time. We should press the button and head for shelter. This water is seriously not woke to be pouring on us like this,” HG said, growing increasingly more infuriated.

“I’d love to acquiesce, but you had a chance to build your character. Now, it’s my turn: Time for a Monologue!”

Hipster Gremlin sighed with a layer of exasperation but knew better than to interrupt Zyler, who began to engage in deep breathing exercises for his speech.

“So long I’ve waited, my strange friend. So long have I waited in the bowels of a surreal and cramped dimension, biding my time for a chance to once again breathe the air of the world I so horribly missed. The world I left is the only world I understood, one of strangely colored condiments and quirky colloquialisms relating to our angst. The Nightmare Floor was one I could not ever comprehend, chaotic and malicious in its very core. I waited… no, I didn’t just wait. I fought, my friend. I fought to escape that world, and when escape came so close, I transformed into another being. Something not fully human, and not fully beast. I had to become something else. But I still… I still longed for escape. To see the world I once knew long ago.”

Hipster Gremlin gave a reassuring half-smile, getting ready to descend back into the skyscraper. As he turned, Zyler stopped him, uttering various noises to regain HG’s attention. When he finally, reluctantly, turned back around, Zyler continued.

“And I finally achieved the dream, and what did I gain? A world so different I still did not understand. Something so drastically different from the ’90s, and yet, the ’90s is constantly revered as some strange bygone era. HG, they WORSHIP my very existence, but refuse to learn what it TRULY MEANT. And now, I have my chance for revenge. Everyone will understand. I will make sure of it.”

Zyler held the lever in his hands, painted black fingernails contrasting against the bright red of the switch. Hipster Gremlin seemed to grow apprehensive but disregarded his emotions.

“NOW, the world shall know who I am, and where I am meant to be! The world will be brought back to where it was always meant to be!”

As Zyler’s wrist clenched around the switch and victory grew closer, a burning sensation spread from the tips of his fingers across his palms. He screamed in agony and smelled the distinct scent of cappuchino.

“You could say this battle is about to get heated.”

She stood across the roof, fists clenched in resistance. Hipster Gremlin gasped, looking across generations, to Zyler and Zoey. Zyler did naught but smile.

“Good. I was expecting there wouldn’t be a proper fight,” he said, and began to sprint towards her.

Max James is a second-year student majoring in communication studies with a minor in creative writing. He can be reached at

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