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The Punisher's Song of Evangelion and I Must Scream: Season 1, Episode 7. Preceded by Strangled by the Red Noose, followed by The Raped Crusader.


"Why would they make such callous changes?" Bonnie asked. The Janissary replied, "they claimed that the children had to be protected. They told us that children must not be exposed to violence, cursing or death, lest their 'fragile psyches' be fucked. What sort of idiotic reasoning lead to that conclusion? A government that takes our freedom to speak and enjoy harmless activities is not a Democracy and a corporation that does the same must, truly be run by a Corrupt Corporate Executive."

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Bonnie remembered her youth: the playgrounds were, often, the scenes of brutal fights, children used every curse word, even ones they did not understand, with impunity. "How can a child grow up without learning the concept of death? He will, either, be crippled by grief and confusion when a death affects him or he will become a sociopath, perhaps a serial killer.

"I agree, and that is why we must expose the corporation's corruption."

To Be Continued...

"What are you reading, Punisher?"

Our scene lies at a subway stop beneath Neo York's luxe shopping/bearbaiting district. Johnny and Baronessy sit on a black varnished bench in the middle of the platform, which, but for them, the bench, a quantity of graffiti, and a few tattered posters for that one Christmas movie where Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon run a gauntlet of sub-Meet the Parents hijinx, is completely empty.

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Johnny clicks off his iPhone knock-off and reclines as far as the aggressively uncomfortable bench allows. "Just catching up on recaps for the episodes of Bonnie Punitive and the Videodrome of Dark Machinist Watchmen I missed while your bosses had me in storage. Best show ever!"

"What's it about?" asks Baronessy, in a tone that suggests she's continuing the conversation only to stave off boredom.

"Well, it follows this stone cold killer named Bonnie Punitive as she fights to spread the truth about fluoridated drinking water. The premise is a little novel, because even though she's a woman, she's also really independent and intelligent. Wild, I know; but she's hot, so it's a'ight."

Baronessy looks as though she wishes she'd chosen boredom.

"The current arc" - Johnny blathers on - "has her hunting her estranged mother in the company of the enigmatic Janissary. Looks like I woke up just in time - the next ep's gonna have a guest shot from the Brian Blessed!"

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"Is there any possibility," says Baronessy, "that the endlessly antagonized sidekick will turn on and kill the main character in the near future? Perhaps by emptying several guns into their head?"

"Hey, I thought so too! But talk on the forums is that theory's been Jossed. Looks like they're together until the end of the line."

As though wordplay had power to command the universe, a thundering now rolls down the tracks in advance of the 3:12 A.M. northbound Red Line.

The car they enter is, of necessity, standing room only: the seats have been removed, and pallets of medical marker isotopes, oxygen tanks, and syringes piled ceiling-high in their place.

"That's weird," says Baronessy.

"I know," says Johnny. "Usually all of the needles are rolling loose on the floor. It's good to see the Transit Authority finally got their act together."

The doors close with a plaintive BING-DOONG, and a nearby speaker crackles to life, with a voice less-automated than usual.

"DOOR'S CLOSING... THIS IS A NON-STOP RED LINE TRAIN TO THE FIERY DESTRUCTION OF KENDO TOWERS... DOORS OPEN ON THE LEFT AT YOUR DEATH, JACK."

"Huh." says Johnny. "That's vaguely suspicious."

The train rumbles to life with a lurch, a very-British laugh emanating from the conductor's compartment at the end of the train.

"Should we investigate, Johnny?"

"Eh. It's probably nothing."

Though evidently uneasy, Baronessy shrugs and finds herself a perch between two crates of scalpels. After unfolding a battered issue of Time Out Neo York from a shoulder holster, she tries to lose herself in the theatre reviews.

Johnny hunkers down on the floor of the car, produces one of the Still Beating Human Hearts from the buffet [two episodes ago, True Believers! -ed.], and sets to eating it. Noisily.

Wet squelching sounds dominate the next minute, as Baronessy tries to force her way through the magazine and the loudspeaker emits increasingly impatient throat-clearing noises.

"Really, Johnny?" Baronessy finally says. "Carrying off buffet food in your pockets? Not even waiting until you get home to eat it?"

It's difficult to look indignant with a mouth full to dripping with human muscle tissue, but Johnny beats the odds.

"Well, it just seems a little déclassé, that's all," says Baronessy. "I don't know. Maybe you were raised differently, but I was brought up to believe that you don't take leftovers unless they're offered to you."

Johnny's first attempt at rebuttal only sprays a great deal of blood about the car. He tries again after swallowing a bit of aorta, and manages "Whhwssgndh 'ofr?' Ervrynwssfckngddrdng!" [Closed-captioning (provided for this episode by Epple, makers of the kPhone) transcribes this as "Who, exactly, was there to 'offer?' All who might have filled that office were dead, or soon to be!"]

"All the same, you could have erred on the side of not being a dick."

Johnny gulps down more heart. "Jeeze, you got some kinda chip on you about dinner manners. You Mormon, or something?" [Closed-captioning: "My, but you would seem to attach an almost religious importance to the etiquette of the table. Am I correct in supposing you an adherent of the Church of Latter-Day Saints?"]

"What the hell does my being-"

The door to the car suddenly slides open. Baronessy and Johnny turn to face an immense, Falstaffian figure in a conductor's cap, a sort of pigeon-gray poncho, and a truly remarkable beard.

"I SET THE STAGE PERFECTLY!" booms the newcomer. "HAD YOU JUST DONE THE OBVIOUS, HAD YOU ONLY COME TO THE CONDUCTOR'S CAR TO INVESTIGATE, YOU WOULD HAVE FOUND A SCENE TO MAKE THE MARQUIS DE SADE WEEP! A BRILLIANT GROUND FOR BATTLE!"

Johnny and Baronessy exchange puzzled glances.

"BUT YOU SPURNED MY STAGECRAFT, LIKE A FAITHLESS FRIEND WITH BENEFITS! TOO BUSY WITH YOUR TONGUE WRESTLING, I WARRANT!"

"Look," says Baronessy, "we've been fighting for our lives about once every forty minutes for all day long. Excuse us if we can't muster up-"

"MESSED HER UP?!" He grins evilly. "I HARDLY KNEW HER!"

"What does that even mean?"

"I'll handle this, 'Nessy." Johnny strides up to the conductor and prods him in the chest with a middle finger. "Listen up, Limey, 'cuz I'm only going to say this once."

"CAREFUL, YOUNG MAN! YOU COULD LOSE YOUR FINGER, POKING IT THERE. (THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID, BY THE WAY.)"

"Whatever," says Johnny. He hauls back and lands a killing punch on the conductor's chest, who inexplicably fails to crumple like a wet paper towel while his rib cage splinters into his lungs. Equally inexplicably, Johnny recoils, clutching his hand, almost as though he were in pain. "Wow," he says. "What's that raincoat made of?!"

"BEHOLD!" Suddenly, the conductor's gray garment quivers and parts: it's not, after all, a poncho, but an enormous pair of furled wings. Our two heroes stare as they stretch across the aisle; where the pinions strain against the crates, they splinter the planks and spills the contents.

However, it's not the wings that Johnny and Baronessy are staring at. Bleached is now, apart from his cap, stark naked.

[This, by the way, is the episode that got TPSOEAIMS banned in Finland, Utah, Haiti, and Andorra.]

"YES! GAZE, GAZE ON'T! WONDER AT THE GLORY THAT IS - BRIAN BLEACHED!"

Johnny and Baronessy pause in utter shock as the soundtrack plays what can only be described as the sound of a mind vomiting.

"NO MAN O' WOMAN BORN CAN HANDLE ME!"

Baronessy recoils a bit in horror. "Don't think this woman o' woman born wants anything to do with the situation either... Jeez, is all that black stuff floating around him hair or evil?"

Johnny clamps his hand over his already squinted-closed eyes and ask. "As much as I barely want to share oxygen with you, Brain, let alone words, I have to know... What the hell are you trying to accomplish?"

"SIMPLE! CURRENTLY THE WATER SYSTEM IS FILLED WITH THE LIQUID FORM OF THE HIGHLY VOLATILE 1D10CY]-VAPOR PROVIDED BY MY DEAR FRIEND, STRAWMAN! WHEN..."

Baronessy expression starts vacillating between confusion and dry heaves: "Wait... Straw Man? Who the hell is he?"

Johnny, currently breathing in a paper-bag, replies "I think he appeared in one of our Japan-Only radio dramas. Real name is Aarkin Soron, disgraced professor of psychology, debate and knee-jerk liberalism at Neo York University. He was discredited when it was revealed he was paying off students to give intentionally poor arguments in class. Eventually, he came up with a gas that gave people a -6 to rebuttals. Ever since, he's been been a merc whenever he's not trying to hijack prime-time television."

"AND I'VE PURCHASED HIS SERVICES! AFTER A BLAST OF THE VAPOR, I WAS ABLE TO EASILY ABLE TO TALK MY WAY ON THIS TRAIN, AND CLEAR OUT ALL THE STOPS TO THE STATION AT THE BASED OF KENDO TOWERS! ON THE WAY THERE, THE MICROWAVE EMITTER IN THE NEXT CAR WILL EVAPORATE 1D01CY INTO THE ATMOSPHERE. WHEN I CRASH INTO THE BUILDING, NOT ONLY WILL I COLLECT THE BOUNTY ON THE FATHER, BUT THE WHOLE CITY WILL BE READY TO WORSHIP ME AS THEIR EXTREMELY HAIRY GOD!


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