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James Beamon


Agent Brody Omen doesn’t walk with a little swagger. He swaggers with a little walk. Everyone stops and stares as he enters the agency’s command center. Gay men want him. Straight men want to be him. Women are a finicky demographic.

Brody is all pecs and triceps and locks of fair hair. His smile goes without saying. His name is Brody as in bro. Your big bro. He is the agency’s number one, their lead agent, which makes him a leading man.

He is accompanied by a femme fatale. This is obvious. The curves in the leather catsuit make her femme. Her willingness to shoot men for looking at her ass, even though it’s deliciously on display in a catsuit, makes her fatale.

The general stands in the command center, overseeing all. He is a father-mentor. Gruff is his manner. He has more decorations on his chest than most Christmas trees. He leads soldiers, which makes him a leading man.

The general spots his number one field agent. His eyes light up. He says, “Omen! You can’t bring a civilian in here.”

“General,” Brody says, “Katya saved my life and helped me get that cipher. And if things go as they should, you’re looking at my future ex-girlfriend, so watch how you speak to her.”

The general harrumphs. “Well, we’ve used the cipher to decode M. Vella’s plan. You’ll never guess what that madman has built.”

“Vella is the most dastardly villain I’ve ever matched wits with,” Brody says. “Surely, it’s a doomsday device.”

“Wrong!” exclaims the giant display screen in the heart of the command center. The image jumps to life and there, with his sneer sharp as a knife, is M. Vella.

Satan worships Vella. He is dark eyes, dark suit, dark hair slicked back, dark heart. M. Vella leads a legion of nameless goons, which makes him a leading man.

“I have built a doomverse device,” M. Vella says. “The doomverse device is fueled by quantum computers factoring the crushing despair of child sweatshop laborers, the bleak pessimism of calling customer service and discovering it’s been outsourced, the heady anguish of Cubs fans! All this, and a small helping of contained antimatter. It will not only blow up the Earth, but will travel to every Earth in all alternate universes and blow them up, too.”

“Vella, you fiend!” cries Brody Omen. “This is by far the most heinous plot that anyone has ever seen. Now that you have our attention, what do you want?”

“Glad you asked, Agent Omen. I want the world’s most loved treasures: the Hope Diamond, the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo’s David, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Declaration of Independence, Dorothy’s red slippers, and a mint condition Action Comics issue one. You have twelve hours.”

The screen fades to black. Brody Omen shakes his fist at the inert monitor to utter a curse…

“This plot seems like overkill.” This is not Brody’s curse, but the words of a mysterious stranger.

The voice belongs to a man in plainclothes. He wears a baseball cap and sunglasses, and not cool Secret Service-type glasses, but hard and cheap plastic sunglasses.

“Who’s this guy?” Brody asks.

“He’s your observer,” the general responds. “We received a lot of negative feedback about your last couple of exploits. He’s going with you to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”

The agent and his potential future ex-girlfriend raise their eyebrows. “What do I call you?” Brody asks.

“The Observer.”

This is the last thing the Observer consciously remembers before he is hiding in jungle foliage at the entrance of M. Vella’s secret lair in Laos. Hungry-looking dogs guard the entrance.

“How’d we get here so fast?” the Observer whispers. “Secret government teleporter?”

“Southwest Airlines,” Brody replies. “Chairs so comfortable it’s like riding on air. Knocked you right out.”

“How do we get past the dogs?” Katya asks.

“Like this,” Brody says as he marches over to the dogs.

They surround him, barking, jowls slathering. Then they sniff. And then they run off, tails tucked.

“How’d you do that?” the Observer asks.

“I asserted myself as pack leader. All it took was my insane level of confidence and a dab of Old Spice.”

“Old Spice can’t do that,” the Observer states.

“Oh, you’d be surprised what Old Spice can do,” replies Katya, eyebrow appreciatively raised.

Brody looks at the Observer. “You know what, I hate ‘ob’ words. Observer, obstetrician, obfuscate, obelisk, hate them all. I’m going to find a better name for you.”

“To hate them you sure know a lot of them,” Katya says. “Obfuscate?”

“ word of the day once. But enough playful banter, let’s go foil evil.”

Foiling evil involves stealth in some places, stylish fight moves in others. Brody is an expert on when to apply each technique. The goons either don’t know the team is there, or wish they didn’t. On level three, Brody runs full speed, jumps, and extends both legs so that he is rigidly parallel to the ground when he dropkicks a guard. On level five, Katya kicks a goon and her legs spread like juicy rumors. She holds the pose and she is perfectly balanced on one leg while her other leather-clad toe almost touches the ceiling. The Observer observes.

They reach the doomverse device. They guess. It’s not like any of them have ever seen a doomverse device before, but the giant metal sphere pulsing purple lightning from the seams looks ominous enough. Besides, what else do you keep on the top floor of a secret lair filled with progressively tougher obstacles to surmount? Plus the metal sphere is suspended over an abyss and accessible only by a precarious catwalk. By all accounts, doomverse device is a good guess.

“You both stand back,” Brody says. He walks carefully across the catwalk. Then he hears the hammer of a gun cock back.

This is a needless gesture, as the only guns that require manually cocking to fire are Old West single-action revolvers. But he hears it, and cringes despite the fact that anyone who wanted him dead would have killed him already unless their firearm was made before 1890. Brody turns slowly to face his nemesis.

Brody sees M. Vella on the catwalk. Behind the villain, Katya is tied up. M. Vella has left the Observer alone because observing never hurt anybody. Apparently, stealth is also useful for foiling good.

“And now, Agent Omen, I will explain to you my plan’s finer points,” M. Vella sneers as he raises the gun. “I call them hollow points.”

A shot rings out, loud, jarring. Silence follows.

M. Vella looks down. The slow spread of red from the wound in his chest stains his dark suit. He turns and discovers the source of his distress. It is the Observer, holding the smoking gun.

“Fool!” M. Vella cough-spits. “I’ll never get this blood out without the stain fighting power of Oxi-clean!” He staggers and falls off the catwalk into the abyss below.

“That wasn’t an optimal use of product placement,” observes the Observer. “State Farm would’ve paid through the nose for him to plug their term life policy just then.”

“You did it, Observer!” Katya exclaims.

“That makes you a hero, Observer,” Brody says as he unties Katya. “And I’m not calling a hero the Observer. From now on I’m calling you the Viewer.”

“Suit yourself,” says the Viewer.

“What now?” Katya asks.

“It’s Miller Time!” proclaims Brody.

“Now that I’m thinking about it,” says the Viewer “if the M. Vella in our universe made a doomverse device, then it’s very likely that other M. Vellas in alternate universes also made doomverse devices. If the many worlds interpretation of quantum physics is true, then all possible outcomes exist in their own alternate universe. This means that in one of those universes we fail to stop M. Vella and he destroys our world from an alternate world.”

Silence grows. Brody leans over to Katya and whispers, “I didn’t know the Viewer was so smart.”

“That’s because we haven’t seen his face,” Katya replies. “Take off your glasses and ball cap. Show us your face, Viewer.”

The Viewer shakes his head. “My face is reserved for those who buy the Director’s Cut Special Edition. Those lucky guys can upload their own faces. Then they can be the Viewer and the hero.”

“But what about the ladies?” asks Katya.

No one answers, despite it being a legitimate question. They ignore it, just like they ignore pervading quantum theory, which says this Earth should be nothing but a crusty aftermath of charred rock fragments because Vella succeeding from an alternate universe must exist as a possible outcome. They ignore Katya’s question because that will make it go away. But the answer is simple.

Women are a finicky demographic.


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