by Dan Swanson
Wotan, the most recently promoted Lord of Chaos, was bored. Although he had a number of projects in the works that would significantly add to the chaos of the universe, none of them required his immediate attention. “A newly appointed Lord of Chaos shouldn’t be bored,” he mused. “What’s the use of having all this power if I can’t use it to have a little fun?!”
He realized that now would be the perfect time to complete an amusing little project he had set in motion recently. He didn’t have time right now to give his full attention to creating chaos on Earth, but there was no reason not to send along a little reminder of the chaos that was always waiting for its turn, everywhere in the universe.
Wotan dispatched a minor minion to Earth to carry out a minor task.
Kool McCoo wasn’t his real name, of course. Growing up, his name had been Evan, and he had lived in so many different foster homes that he was never really sure what his last name might be at any time. When he stole some money from his latest foster parents and ran away from home at age fourteen, he also chose his new name, based on an old cartoon he’d liked as a kid. No one who knew him now dared to call him anything else.
As an orphan, he had been found in a paper bag in a cemetery, and no one knew who his parents had been. From his dark skin but otherwise Caucasian appearance, the people at the orphanage had figured he might be Pakistani. Kool didn’t care. Growing up an orphan with brown skin was tough, and his tough life had made Kool tough as well. He learned to fight, and then he learned to fight dirty, and then he learned not to fight unless he was sure he was going to win. He learned how to get the guys he didn’t dare fight some other way. He went through a series of foster homes, and at the age of fourteen he had beat up the old couple who were his current foster parents, taken everything he could carry and fence, and begun a life on his own on the streets.
Kool lived on his own, rather than joining a street gang. Mostly, the other street people and the gangs left him alone. Sometimes he would offend somebody who didn’t know his reputation, and that somebody would try to hassle him. Sometime shortly afterward, that somebody would end up in the hospital all broken up, and Kool’s reputation would grow.
Wotan sent his minion to Earth to recruit Kool McCoo as an agent of Chaos.
Kool was coming off a big score, and he was just now sleeping off a four-day bender. He awoke with a tremendous hangover to find a strange being staring at him intently. He was in too much pain to question this being, but he figured it might be part of a flashback or a drug-induced hallucination. He had seen similar visions before, although most of them seemed less real than this one, for the specific reason that this one actually was real.
As he lay in bed, groaning from his hangover, the thing spoke with a voice in Kool’s head. The young man was glad he wasn’t speaking aloud — the various minor noises in his room were enough to make his ears pound. Adding this to his throbbing headache, he wasn’t very lucid and could barely understand what the thing was saying.
“Kool McCoo, in payment for your past services to the cause of Chaos, Lord Wotan would like to grant you powers as an agent of Chaos. There are many super-powered beings on Earth, so you have some idea of the kinds of powers I can grant. You need but articulate for me the powers you desire, and I will grant them to you.”
“Who the hell are you? What the @*&#^$% do you want?” Kool wasn’t at his best, dealing with talking hallucinations and a hangover at the same time.
“I am a minion of Wotan, a Lord of Chaos. Your prior services to the cause of Chaos have gained Lord Wotan’s approval, and he wishes to reward you for these services. If you can articulate your desires for power, I can grant them to you.”
“I want my own %@*&#$ power ring.” Actually, what he wanted most of all was for this jerk to go away, and also for his hangover to go away. That’s what he wanted, and he wanted it now.
“I need more information from you. What is the purpose of the ring?”
“To give me power, you freaking @$$#*&#! What else would a @%*&#$ power ring do?”
“Since you are unable to articulate your desires for power, I will have to extract them from your mind. Think about what powers you would like to have.”
Kool was having trouble thinking about anything at all through the pounding headache. After a few seconds, the voice spoke again.
“Here are the powers I grant you via this magic ring: You can fly. When you wear the ring, you are invulnerable, no one can touch you, and nothing can harm you. Your ring can cure hangovers. You can become invisible. You can create unlimited amounts of any alcoholic liquid you desire. You can see through women’s clothing. Many of these powers are petty, and it is unfortunate that you were unable to articulate your desires more clearly. However, Lord Wotan feels that you will likely be an able agent of Chaos, anyway. Better than his other most recent selection, at least. Here is your gift. Chaos forever!”
Instantly, Kool’s hangover was gone. Instant hangover cure! he thought. What a trip! He figured he could get rich easy, just by curing hangovers for the drunken rich. Thinking some more about what had just happened, he swore at himself over the stupid powers his wish had granted him. If he hadn’t had such a terrible headache, he would have asked for a lot more, like the power to create gold and diamonds, or the power to control other people’s minds. But Kool was a man who lived in the present. If he really had the powers he had been promised, he would make the best of them.
The first thing Kool wanted was a drink to help him think. He wished for whiskey. Suddenly, a globe of amber liquid surrounded his hand, then splashed to the floor. His hand remained dry.
“This sucks!” he said out loud. “I want a Jimmy Strider Black, in the bottle!” And there it was. He picked up the bottle to open it. He noticed that he couldn’t actually touch the bottle. A little experimentation showed him that he was surrounded by some kind of invisible armor, and that he couldn’t actually touch anything, and that nothing outside the armor could touch him. This took a little getting used to, and for a while he was a little clumsy, but he liked the idea of being invulnerable. The only problem was that the booze wouldn’t pass through the armor, and he couldn’t make the armor go away as long as he wore the ring. If he wanted to take a drink, he had to take the ring off. What a stupid magic ring. Kool wondered what else would be wrong with it?
Kool wasn’t stupid, although he wasn’t all that used to solving complex problems. He didn’t really want to take the ring off now. He wanted to learn more about his new powers. But he really wanted that drink. He knew his ring could create whiskey without a container, so he said another order. “Create some Jimmy Strider Black whiskey directly in my mouth, but not so much to choke me.” He had started to realize that he should be careful using the ring before he had really learned how to control it.
He had a mouthful of good whiskey, so he swallowed. And he was surprised again. Although it tasted like good whiskey, it had no effect when he swallowed it. He was used to the hot feel of a gulp of whiskey; it felt hot going down, and when it hit your stomach, you felt that heat exploding throughout your body. This whiskey had no more effect on him than swallowing water. Something was wrong, and he wanted to find out what it was.
Reluctantly, he took off the ring. He opened the bottle and took a swig. Wow, that was good stuff, and it affected him just as he remembered. He had a couple more drinks while he thought about what was happening. As he started to feel a little high, he thought he had figured it out. The ring was supposed to protect him from harm when he was wearing it, and booze was supposed to be bad for you, not that he believed that crap. That was just what the do-gooders told you to try to get you to quit. Seems like the ring wouldn’t let him drink alcohol, though. Well, that was all right, although kind of a pain in the butt. He could live with that. Take the ring off and get drunk, put the ring back on when he woke up with a hangover. No problems, mon!
Being a little drunk right now, he realized that he was also pretty turned on. He decided he wanted to test another of his new powers. So he slipped the ring back on as he was trying to decide where would be the best place to go to check out the chicks. Instantly, he was sober again.
“$#@^*% this ring!” he said. “It really does think being drunk is hurting me! This isn’t anywhere near as great as I thought it was. This guy Wotan sure screwed up!”
Still, even though he was angry, he realized that being able to sober up instantly might have some real value in the life he wanted to lead. Still angry, he flew through the window, shattering the glass, and headed for the shopping mall. He was going to check out some of those classy uptown witches. At least he was able to fly without any problems.
As he flew over his city, he realized that none of the women on the street below had clothes on. “Well, $#!^, man! This is fan-freaking-tastic!” All of the men appeared fully clothed, and he couldn’t see through the walls of buildings, or the tops of cars or anything. Just for kicks, he told the ring to stop showing him naked women. It sort of worked. He could now see their lingerie, and by concentrating, he found that he could see through as much or as little of their clothing as he wanted. Unlike the armor protection, he had control over this power. He again wished he had thought more carefully before he made his wishes.