The Jester: Laughter in the Dark, Chapter 1: Day of the Ray

by CSyphrett

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The man sat in his chair working on a projector of some kind. A set of radios and televisions were on, and recording devices were taping everything while he worked. Occasionally, a news item chirped from the new Nazi Intranet they had set up after his meddling with it. He had hidden some surprises there, he thought with a wide smile.

He placed some batteries inside the projector and activated it. An image of a man in black appeared. Instead of a normal head, the image had a yellow smiley face.

The man the Nazis had taken to calling the Jester laughed at the sight.

***

Wilhelm Schultz, former corporal in the German Army, waited beside a tree. Night had cloaked the English countryside while he had stood there waiting. It had given him time to consider the things that had brought him to this moment.

A once-loyal German, Willie now fought with the English to help them drive their oppressors from their shores. It was an irony not lost on the ex-corporal. He had gone from a non-violent desk job to fighting tooth and nail due to chance and the workings of a madman coded by both sides as the Jester due to his penchant for gruesome practical jokes.

Willie admitted that he had contributed to his own downfall with a thirst for revenge against the man who had ruined him. Colonel Wolf, Willie still thought in hatred, I hope you burn where you are now, you jackal.

A pair of lights cut the dark, alerting Willie to deal with his current responsibilities. He waited for the line of trucks to pass before running out into the road. Grabbing the extended mirror of the last one, he swung up onto its running board, then leveled the pistol in his hand at the driver.

“Halt,” Willie said quietly.

The truck slowed to a stop. Willie swung the door open and pulled the driver out, then slid in behind the wheel and backed up enough to turn around. The driver went for a sidearm, but Willie was already heading away as he began to shoot at the disappearing truck.

“Well done, 711,” Willie said to himself. Now to deliver the load as promised. He drove to a junkyard on the outskirts of London, where he left the truck with the owners and vanished into the city. Within minutes, the truck and contents would be scattered across England to help those who needed it most.

***

Colonel Wolf had been killed by a binary drug introduced into his system in the den of the manor house he had commandeered. Now the house belonged to his replacement, Colonel Joseph Krause.

Krause was considered both as expendable by his commanders and as the perfect bait for the Jester. He knew that but still intended to perform to the utmost of his abilities. After all, he had the ersatz Ray of the SS Ubermenschen to help keep the country in line and intended to use him in ways Wolf had not. But first he had to learn which of his new command could be counted on. Colonel Wolf’s aide, Lieutenant Hoffmann, had committed suicide when his request for a transfer had been denied. He didn’t want anything like that to happen while he was in command.

He was grateful that the only additional load he had on his plate was a madman with a taste for practical jokes and a very successful hijacker. He didn’t want to see anything close to a member of the Freedom Fighters while he was in command.

***

The portly Corporal Andreas Richter unhappily doled out the food on the cafeteria line. Everything came from a box with the single instruction, add water. He was in the middle of his shift, and the line was full of personnel. Everything was going on as usual.

Then the potatoes started laughing. Then the other vegetables. Then the meats. Andreas jumped back from the serving line as the food shook with unheard-of mirth. Everyone looked at him. When they saw the food was laughing, and it was spreading to the dining room tables, a mass squealing erupted as the men stood away from their dinners.

Finally, the laughing quietly died away. Some of the men scrambled from the room holding their mouths. Andreas Richter reached for the phone in the office so that he could report what he had seen, just hoping his superior officer would believe the tale he had to relate.

***

Colonel Krause read the report from the cafeteria. He put it aside and rubbed his eyes. Laughing food. What would that mad man do next? He was afraid of the answer.

“Sir?” said Sgt. Freling. “Internal security believes that they have found this 711. A confidential informant reported he was here in London. They are moving to arrest him.”

“Send in the Ray,” said Krause.

“Sir?” said Freling, shocked at the request.

“Launch the Ray,” Krause repeated, annoyance in his voice, “and tell him I want this hijacker dead as soon as possible.”

“Yes, sir,” said Freling, exiting the room with a sense of urgency. The non-com almost felt sorry for this 711, whomever he was. The Ray was a mad dog.

Krause rubbed his face again, hoping he hadn’t just made a disastrous blunder.

***

Willie Schultz knew he had a serious problem when he saw the maniacal Ray lance over the skyline approaching his boarding house. He fled out the back of the building and down an alley. He didn’t have long if reports about the SS super-agent were true. Although he was identical to the American Ray, who was a member of the Freedom Fighters, everyone knew that the Ray of the SS Ubermenschen currently operating as a German super-agent in occuped Britain was a propaganda tool, and a sloppy one at that. Although he followed orders like a soldier, the faux Nazi Ray was given almost free reign to do whatever he liked within the acceptable boundaries of those orders. Mostly, that meant killing people and destroying things using his super-powers.

The Ray blasted the empty house with powerful laser beams from his hands. As soon as the building was reduced to kindling, the Nazi agent stopped firing. Now all he had to do was wait for the regular soldiers to come and dig the traitor’s body out from under the scorched wood.

Willie made his way carefully from the scene, knowing it wouldn’t do to wise the idiot up to his mistake. A troop truck went by, and the hijacker averted his face from casual inspection.

Arriving at Willie’s old residence, the troops quickly sorted through the rubble in hopes of finding a body. The sergeant in charge of the platoon soon shook his head in the negative.

The Ray took to the air, flying straight up and then into a wide ellipse. He hoped to catch his quarry yet.

Willie Schultz remained calm as he watched the light show in the sky. All he had to do was blend in with the pedestrians until he found some kind of transport away from the neighborhood. Obviously someone had turned him in. He went over a small list of the usual suspects as he saw a car that might get him away in time.

The Ray twisted around in the air, pausing in his flight to watch the people below. One of the men seemed familiar to him as he walked toward a parked car. The man had been looking up but was now intent on the parked car ahead of him. The Ray smiled under his cowl. Here his elusive pray was just waiting to die for the Führer.

As the Ray circled around to attack, Willie knew he was going to die. He shook his head and ran for cover, lasers slicing at him as he headed for an underground entrance. Willie jumped over the top five steps as he headed down to the platform. He pulled out his rag mask and tied it on, seeing he was in luck — a train was now pulling out of the station.

Willie bounded after the moving conveyance. His shadow was in front of him suddenly, and he jumped for the last car. Twin beams cut into the stone behind him as his hands wrapped around the ladder used to climb to the top of the train. Willie pulled himself to the top and started down the length of the train.

The Ray was behind him, and coming up fast. He needed to get off the train and away from the arrogant, glowing idiot. Willie looked around for a way out of the trap. He was desperate and would not go back to his cell peacefully.

Willie grabbed the next set of lights that came his way. He swung forward, letting the train move forward without him. He then swung back, kicking with his legs as hard as he could.

The Ray flew into the impact with a look of surprise, crashing into the track bed. Willie let go of the lights and dropped to the track, rolling with the impact before he sprang to his feet. The Ray was just trying to get to his feet when Willie suddenly put his lights out with a clubbing fist.

He kicked his fallen foe in the head two times before he became aware of lights and voices coming down the tunnel. Taking a deep breath, he vaulted onto the concrete walkway that ran beside the track and — finding a service ladder — climbed out of the Underground.

Willie doffed his mask and headed for a parked car. Troopers were just arriving as he opened the car’s door with a simple twist of a multi-tool. He stuck a blade in the ignition and started the motor, then calmly drove away as men were setting up roadblocks. He wiped the sweat from his brow as he cleared the area.

Maybe it was time to get out of the city proper for a while, Willie thought as he watched his speed and surroundings. He had made a clean escape and could abandon the car somewhere before the cops started looking for it. He knew they would. They would look at every stolen car eventually, but hopefully Willie would be away from the city with the help of public transportation.

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