The Omega Supreme

OmegaBoyFinalwDad

High beams made a searchlight-sweep across the stucco ceiling, spider-shadows rearing up on spindly legs, menacing, like any moment they’d pounce right down on him. Jack gripped the mattress. When the car purred up Chase Lane, though, the shadows morphed, stretching, a cartoon army (were they wearing top hats?) stringing to infinity through the wall. His grip softened. The bedroom settled into an exquisite stillness. There would be, it seemed, no spider-shadow attack tonight.

Across the room, Sandy’s breathing deepened, becoming an exotic whistle-gurgle. On any other night, it would have necessitated firing pillows at her face. Tonight, the sound was welcome. It had been excruciating to wait, but it was the right call. Sandy would surely tattle under even the mildest interrogation techniques.

Jack’s body bristled. Slowly, ever so slowly, he peeled the Monsters, Inc. covers from his body, inching a foot onto the bedroom floor. When Sandy did not stir, he inched the other. In elegant, precise movements, indeed, in a fashion remarkably like a ninja, Jack traversed the room. The footy pajamas had been an excellent choice, and the fact that they were Wolverine jammies wasn’t hurting anything.

Jaclk grasped the doorknob, rotating with the aching, precious tempo of a safe cracker. A satisfied smirk glanced across his lips at the soft {click}. The next move was critical. If the door creaked, he was a goner. But there was a trick, at trick he had learned after countless botched operations. The trick: you had to swing the door open fast instead of slow. It didn’t make sense, but it was enough to know it worked.

Jack yanked the door in one swift motion, bringing it to an authoritative halt half-way. Flawless execution! Cool adrenaline coursed through his veins. He stood statue-still, like the silver man in the park before a dollar in the tin made him do the robot.

Mom and Dad had the annoying habit of sleeping with the door open, which had disrupted more than one vital mission. Jack hit the deck, army-crawling the shag carpeting at a medium pace — slow enough to be silent, fast enough to get out of his parent’s line of sight in short order. Past the bedroom, he shot upright, pausing for a full minute. He could hear Mom’s soft breath, and Dad snored worse than Sandy, like a toad choking on a jelly worm.

Cocky, Jack bounced down the staircase, skipping the third and eleventh steps (the squeaky ones) and prancing across the kitchen floor, bunny-hopping the linoleum squares in front of the sink and refrigerator (there’s no substitute for experience).

Across the living room, Jack saw what he sought. Squeezed between the fireplace and the flat-screen, a massive Christmas Tree presided. His jaw dropped. Moonlight glinted across the stoic smiles of the figurines dangling from its branches. Soldiers/nutcrackers/gingerbreadmen, hanging from their necks. Dispatched. Condemned. Jack felt a pang of doubt, but it went {poof!} at the sight of the avant-garde architectural triumph at the tree’s base. He swooned, a familiar tightness gripping his chest. Desire.

Jack dashed to the foot of the tree. There were more than a few candidates! Daintily, he peeled back the tape on the best prospect, cringing when a section of wrapping paper ripped. He had no experience in this area of child-crime.

The first present was a dud – a Barbie Mixin’ Magic Kitchen for Sandy. The second was something for mom, a hair dryer? Who knew, who cared. The third gift was for him, at least — a Hot Wheels T-Wrecks Racetrack with a dinosaur that eats racecars. Jack was not above admitting this was awesome, but he hadn’t even asked for it!

He took a few moments to collect himself. Was it conceivable that he hadn’t adequately conveyed that the Omega Supreme was no ordinary Autobot?

As each suspect was eliminated, a dark resentment began festering. Yes, he remembered it now! He had told his mom very clearly. Omega Supreme, he had explained on the way home from violin, is the largest Autobot there is! He can transform into a rocket to transport Autobots long distances, or turn into a tank if he so desires!

Was she dense?

A maelstrom of wrapping paper, tape and emotion began swirling. Jack devolved into a berserker rage, ripping through presents with extreme prejudice, even tearing open the presents he had so delicately re-wrapped.

It made no sense! Had he not told Dad? Yes, he remembered it vividly! While he was microwaving his ice cream! “Dad,” he had, with clear language, imparted, “Omega Supreme is millions of years old, a former member of the Knights of Cybertron, guardian of the Crystal City!”

Was Dad thick?

They must have at least admired how he said the Omega Supreme would be the only gift he required for Christmas? He had meant it! “It’s all I want for Christmas,” he had said at snack time over Fruit Roll-Ups. Very forthright, very earnest. Several times. They were both there!

Could they be so deaf? So blind? So…evil?

A quickening of moisture welled up in Jack’s eyes as the frenzy reached its zenith. When the last present was torn asunder, he collapsed at the base of the tree in a state of incomprehensible demoralization. Crumpling into a fetal position, Jack wept the mournful tears of a childhood dashed.

It was over. All of it.

*                                           *                                           *

When Jack came to, Dad was standing over him. Bathrobe, cigarette dangling. Morning light cascaded into the living room, where some rare brand of indoor storm had left a swath of destruction centered at the base of the Christmas Tree.

Dad frowned down.

“Goddamn it, Jack!” he said. “What the hell is wrong with you?”

“Ed!” shouted Mom from the kitchen. “Watch the language!” She was cutting a loaf of scrapple into slices, nestling them into neat rows in an oversized frying pan.

Jack winced up through crusty eyes. His mouth gaped, and he let out a feeble squeak. Something poked into his ear. Sandy giggled. She pulled a finger from his ear and offered it to Cat Three, who started licking it.

“Did you see this, Nance?” yelled Dad into the kitchen.

“Kinda hard to miss it, hon,” said Mom.

“Goddamn it!”

“Ed!” said Mom. “Language!”

“Jack,” said Dad, “You realize there’s gonna be no presents to open now, right?”

Jack’s lip trembled. His mouth mutated, like he had just popped the sourest of sourballs, a sourball-contest-winning-sourball that had won the prize for Sourest Sourball, 1992. His eyes squeezed out a torrent of fresh tears. He writhed on the floor in full-blown, guilt-ridden meltdown. Between choked sobs, though, his pride rallied, mounting the only defense it could muster.

“It’s your fault!” Jack said. “I asked for a Transformers Omega Supreme. I told you that’s all I wanted! I TOLD YOU SO MANY TIMES AND YOU DIDN’T LISTEN!”

Jack felt an internal shift, guilt shoved out of the way by anger. Deep inside, he realized that this relationship, so burdened by lack of communication and blatant disregard for his feelings, was broken.

“All I wanted was a Transformers Omega Supreme, and you guys are so stupid you can’t even remember to get it!” Perhaps the insult was unnecessary, but these people didn’t listen unless you got their attention. “It’s not fair! I told you!” Jack had never felt such righteous conviction, not for days. “I hate you! I hate you!” He sprung up from the floor and ran a few steps toward the kitchen, firing a few in at Mom. “I hate you! I hate you!” Harsh words for harsh times.

He summarized: “I HATE YOU BOTH SO MUCH!”

Jack collapsed into a cutting-edge meltdown, arms and legs gesticulating spasmodically, his voice channeling operatic wails and heavy-metal gutterals in equal measure.

Sandy looked from Jack-to-Dad-to-Mom. Her lips puckered into a frown, and soon she was as inconsolable as he was. Cat Three, nonplussed, continued to eat Jack’s earwax from her finger.

“Everybody just calm the hell down!” shouted Dad.

“Ed!”

Scrapple sizzled. The aroma of spiced pork, coffee and cinnamon buns wafted into the living room.

Dad lit up a Winston and plopped down on his recliner. He took a lustful drag and tapped a long ash into the standing ashtray — a relic, the kind Jack remembered seeing in the hotel lobby when they had visited Detroit for an auto show.

“Stop crying like a little girl,” said Dad, exhaling his dragon-smoke. “There’s nothing we can do about it now.”

Jack sat up. He jammed knuckles into his raw eyes. “It’s your fault,” he offered once more, but found his conviction waning. Dad stared at him for the length of the Winston. He crushed the butt into the ancient ash tray, pushing a button in the middle that flipped two semi-circular flanges apart. They closed with a loud SHUNK-DING!, the butt disappearing into the oval recess.

“There’s nothing for it, honey,” said Mom, who had breezed in from the kitchen with a cup of coffee and cinnamon bun. She was humming atonally, a Christmas tune, but Jack couldn’t make out which. She planted a peck on Dad’s cheek. “Let it go, big guy.” She leaned in and whispered something in Dad’s ear, and he grinned. He took a sip of coffee and bit into the cinnamon bun. He raised an eyebrow at her. “Are you making the scrapple crispy?”

Mom nodded. “I’m making it crispy,” she said.

“You know I like it crispy,” said Dad.

“Oh, I know you like it crispy, hon,” she said, disappearing into the kitchen.

Dad craned his neck. “Is it Habbersett’s? Better not be some B.S. brand!” Mom didn’t respond.

“Ticklesticklestickles.” Sandy pulled her finger from Cat Three’s mouth and put it in her own, suckling.

“Sandy!” said Dad. “Nance, are you seeing this? Sandy’s eating Jack’s earwax!”

Mom marched in from the kitchen. “Sandy! Stop eating your brother’s earwax!” She batted Sandy’s finger away from her mouth. “There’s cat spit all over your finger! Oh, honey, there’s germs in that! You don’t want to eat cat germs, do you?”

“Catjerms!” said Sandy. She crawled toward the Christmas Tree. “My Little Pony!”

“Babe, did you cut the scrapple thin?” said Dad. “It won’t get crispy if you don’t cut it thin!”

“For Pete’s sake, Ed!” said Mom. “I cut it thin! It’s Habbersett’s! It’s gonna be crispy!”

“Better be.” Dad lit up another Winston. Wisps of smoke levitated softly. Scrapple sizzled in the kitchen. The floor squeaked as Mom stepped on the square of linoleum in front of the fridge. Sandy picked a moist booger from her nose, squinted at it, then stuck it in her mouth.

“Sandy!” Dad made a flitting gesture, smoke dancing around his hand. “For crying out loud, you can’t eat that!” Sandy pulled her finger from her mouth and wiped it on Cat Three.

“Don’t wipe the damn snot on the cat!” shouted Dad. “Nance, are you seeing this?”

“Ed!” shouted Mom from the kitchen. “Sandy, don’t wipe boogers on the cat!”

Sandy threw her hands into the air. “WORLD PEACE!” she exclaimed.

Dad walked into the kitchen, grumbling something about cats and snots and germs. He pulled a Schlitz from the fridge and cracked it.

“Really, Ed?” said Mom.

“Who cares?” said Dad. He plopped back into his recliner and took a generous gulp. Across the room, Hercules farted himself awake and immediately started licking his rear end.

“Hercules! Are you freaking kidding me?” Dad craned from the recliner. “Nance, did you hear that?”

“What, hon?”

“Hercules just woke himself up with a fart!”

Mom walked out from kitchen, wiping her forehead with her back hand. “Did you fauwt yoself awake Herky?” She grabbed the hound’s jaw, flapping it back and forth. “You did, didn’ cha? You did fauwt yoself awake, didn’cha Herky jerky? Didn’cha? Yes you did good dwaug.” She recoiled, like something had smacked her in the face. “Ah! It stinks!”

“You missed it, Nance,” said Dad.  “It was freaking hilarious.”

Dad took another generous gulp of Schlitz. He surveyed the demolished room, letting out an epic sigh.

“Screw it,” he said. Reaching behind the recliner, he pulled out a box.

A wrapped box.

Jack’s eyes went wide.

A present!

Jack’s mouth dropped.

Right size and shape!

“You tore the rest of ‘em open,” said Dad. He tossed the box to Jack.  “Why don’t you go ahead and tear that one apart.”

Jack caught the box, blinking at it in disbelief.

Behind the recliner?

Is it?

Could it be?

He clawed at the wrapping paper like an animal. Staring back at him through clear plastic, the Omega Supreme shined valiantly.

“The Omega Supreme!” shouted Jack. “Oh my god oh my god oh my god! Thank you thank you thank you! I love you, Dad! I love you!”

“Thank your mom. And don’t get too excited.” He pressed a finger into the middle of Jack’s chest. “You’re in trouble, kid.”

“I love you, Dad!” Jack sprung up and ran a few steps toward the kitchen, firing a few in at Mom. “I LOVE YOU, MOM! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU! I LOVE YOU!”

Jack summarized: “I LOVE YOU BOTH SO MUCH!” He did the wave back and forth a few times, broke into the robot for about thirty seconds, and for the finale, the caterpillar, all while clutching the Omega Supreme.

Mom shook her head. “Merry Christmas, you silly goose,” she said.

Dad took a healthy gulp of Schlitz and a bite of cinnamon bun. Suddenly, a familiar grin cracked across his lips. Mischievous. He stabbed his pointer finger into the air and began spinning his arm in a circle.

Sandy perked up at the sight, giggling expectantly.

Dad puckered his lips and emitted a screech-whistle that sounded like a broken fire alarm. He kept spinning his arm.

Jack started wriggling.

Suddenly, the whistle-siren stopped. Dad held his hand aloft. He clicked his tongue. Jack counted the clicks. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine…

*                                           *                                           *

Dad shot his hand down, slamming his finger into the button on the rusty ash tray. The flanges flung open violently, then clanked shut with a loud SHUNK-DING!

“Alligators!” screamed Dad. “ALLIGATORS!”

Jack and Sandy squealed as the floor transformed into a treacherous swamp teaming with alligators, snakes and multi-colored swamp monsters. They came to consciousness immediately, swarming. A purple alligator broke away from the pack and leapt from the swamp, snapping viciously at Jack’s feet, but Jack sprung to a nearby rock that looked uncannily like a couch cushion. He hopped from rock to rock, drop-kicking dragon beetles and karate-chopping swamp snakes in his path.

Across the room, Sandy clung to a crag, hopelessly surrounded by a horde of alligators, lizard men, and pygmy velociraptors. She clutched Cat Three, who looked like she might be choking despite Sandy’s good intentions.

“Sandy!” cried Jack, “I’m coming!” He snatched a towel from a laundry basket that was floating by. “This is a magic carpet, and I’m coming to save you!” On Jack’s command, the towel shimmered to life, sweeping him across the water just out of reach of a swarm of neon piranhas that nipped at the carpet’s edge.

“Jack, you’re going to save me!” yelled Sandy.

Halfway to her, something terrible happened. The piranhas had chewed away the magic carpet’s engine!

“Oh, no!” cried Jack. “Sandy, the magic carpet isn’t working anymore! The piranhas chewed off the engine!” Now he was stranded. “Now I’m stranded!” he shouted.

A crusty orange alligator with beady eyes lumbered onto the busted magic carpet and took a chomp out of Jack’s leg. “Ahhhh!” yelled Jack. “Sandy, an orange alligator is biting me! Sandy, watch out for the alligators, especially the orange ones!”

Jack kicked the orange alligator off the magic carpet. A lime-green snake slithered onto his leg in the process. It curled up his thigh, sinking its fangs into his stomach, injecting a thick, purple poison.

“Oh, no, Sandy!” cried Jack. “A snake just bit me on the stomach and I’m dying!”

“Oh, no!” yelled Sandy. “A snake just bit me, too, and I’m dying, too!”

When all hope seemed lost, Jack had an idea. He mouthed a CHNG CHNG CHNG PSHHHHKOOO! sound effect. Flying from the heavens came a glorious rocket ship.

“Sandy!” yelled Jack. “Look! The Omega Supreme is coming to save us!”

“Yay!” cried Sandy. “Mega Soopweem, save us!”

The Omega Supreme made a dramatic sweep across the room, assessing the situation. Swamp monsters snarled at him in disgust. On a second pass, he fired a round of machine-gun lasers that scattered the swarm of alligators where Sandy huddled with Cat Three on the pillow island.

“Sandy, Omega Supreme killed all the alligators there!” yelled Jack, pointing. “Jump!”

Sandy leapt onto the magic carpet, still clutching Cat Three. The Omega Supreme made a third pass, firing a volley of heat-seeking missiles that obliterated the monsters surrounding the magic carpet. Jack voiced a crunching interworking of mechanisms…CHNK, CHNK, KRRRRNNNCH! Omega Supreme changed from impressive airship to benevolent robot.

“HELLO!” boomed the Omega Supreme in a voice queerly similar to Jack’s. “I AM THE OMEGA SUPREME! I AM HERE TO SAVE YOU! YOU NEED AN ANTIDOTE FOR THE SNAKE POISON!”

Jack made a SSSWWWWWSSSWWSSSSWWSSSSS noise as the Omega Supreme injected them with the antidote to the snake poison.

“Sandy! That’s the antidote to the snake poison!” said Jack. “We’re cured!”

“The antdote cured us!” squealed Sandy. “No more snake bites!”

“Omega Supreme!” shouted Jack. “The magic carpet is broken! Can you help us?”

“NO PROBLEM!” bellowed the Omega Supreme. “I’LL JUST FLY YOU OUT OF HERE! GRAB ONTO SANDY’S HAND!”

Jack held his sister’s hand, making a FFFFFOOOOOOOSH! sound as the Omega Supreme pulled them aloft, Sandy dangling from his hand and Cat Three dangling from hers. Jack felt them rush skyward.

A pink alligator launched from the swamp and snapped at Cat Three, barely missing her tail. When Jack looked down, he saw an unfortunate sight. My Little Pony was being dragged into the depths of the swamp by a snaggle-toothed goblin. The big-eyed unicorn let out an adorable whinny as its horn slipped slowly beneath the water, the gruesome casualty of a boy’s imagination.

“Sandy!” shouted Jack. “Whatever you do, don’t look down!”

“OH, NO!” said the Omega Supreme. They had ascended for what must have been a few thousand feet. “I’M LOSING POWER! I NEED TO DROP YOU OFF ON THAT ISLAND OVER THERE!”

“Oh!” said Jack.

“DON’T WORRY!” said the Omega Supreme. “IT’S SAFE!”

“Ok!” shouted Jack.

“SANDY, ARE YOU READY?” said the Omega Supreme.

“WORLD PEACE!” shouted Sandy.

“PRECISELY!” said the Omega Supreme. “JACK, ARE YOU READY?”

“Yes!” said Jack.

“ARE YOU REALLY, REALLY READY?” said the Omega Supreme.

“Yes!” Sandy and Jack yelled.

“OK, THEN!”

“Omega Supreme?” said Jack.

“YES?” said the Omega Supreme.

“Thank you!”

“NO PROBLEM, KID!” said the Omega Supreme. “IF YOU BELIEVE IN YOURSELF, THERE’S NOTHING YOU CAN’T DO IF YOU TRY AT IT SUPER-DUPER HARD!”

The Omega Supreme released his grip on Jack’s hand, and he, Sandy and Cat Three fell onto Dad’s recliner, an island floating safely above the swamp. Dad caught them, enveloping them with thick, warm arms.

“Get away from my kids, you goddamn alligators!” shouted Dad. Jack watched in amazement as Dad kicked and stomped, squashing alligators and all category of swamp monsters with ease. As they skulked into the dark recesses, the swamp transformed back into a serene carpeted landscape. Scrapple (Habbersett’s, sliced thin, almost crispy) sizzled in the kitchen, where Mom hummed Jingle Bell Rock off-key.

“There!” said Dad, beaming. “I killed all the alligators!”

Jack and Sandy huddled closer into their father’s arms, screaming with laughter.

 

[centup]

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