NOTE: This story takes place in 1984.
Jennie-Lynn Hayden cranked up the volume of her car stereo as the opening fanfare of Van Halen’s “Jump” blasted from the radio. She felt like she was on the top of the world – the endless tortures of high school were finally over now that she had graduated, and her parents had not only given her a hot pink car as her graduation present, they had also given her permission to go see the city’s hottest unsigned band, Dreamhouse, at a downtown club that night. As she sped down steep hills and winding roads, heading for the suburban house where she still lived with her parents, she cracked her bubblegum, adjusted her mirrored sunglasses, and began to tingle as she savored the all-too-rare perfection of this moment.
Once she was safely inside the house and all the curtains were drawn, Jennie-Lynn was able to drop the illusion that made her appear like a normal girl. Actually, she was mostly normal looking to begin with, except that her skin was bright green instead of Caucasian pink. This was, for the time being at least, a secret she shared only with her unconditionally loving and accepting parents, and her closest confidant, Todd Rice. The unvarnished truth was that Todd was more than Jennie-Lynn’s confidant. He was also her twin brother; they both knew it, but they had as yet been unable to prove it; for now, this secret would be the one that neither of them would reveal to anyone else.
As Jennie-Lynn tried on one outfit after another in front of the full-length mirror in her bedroom, she lost track of time. Suddenly, she heard the phone ring. If her parents had been home, she would have expected them to answer it, but as she knew they were out for the rest of the afternoon and night, she ran downstairs to pick up the phone.
“Hello?” she said.
“It’s Todd.” came the reply. “I have bad news.”
“What is it?”
“My car was stolen today. I’m all right, it happened while I was in the store, but I’m not going to be able to drive us to the concert, so…um…I don’t suppose you’d consider driving us in your car?”
“Todd, you know I can’t risk taking my car downtown! It’s a gift, and it’s brand new!”
“That’s what I figured, but I thought I’d ask anyway. It’ll be a shame to miss the Dreamhouse concert, though.”
“To be honest, they’re a lot more your kind of band than mine.”
“Yeah…so what are you gonna do tonight?”
“Hmmm…I guess I’ll pop some popcorn, pour myself a soda, and watch MTV until my parents get home.”
“Sounds nice. I’m going to listen to music, too. I got the debut album by this new group from England, the Smiths. It’s really great, although I don’t think it’d be your cup of tea….”
“The Smiths? That’s not much of a name.”
“It’s a better name than Duran Duran.”
“Hee, hee. To each their own.”
“Yeah…well, take care of yourself.”
“You, too. Sorry about your car.”
“I’ll get by. Good night.”
Much later, after Dreamhouse had played an explosive set of confrontational art-punk, the group’s lead singer, Jackie Jaguar, took a seat at one of the club’s tables for an exclusive interview with a local music publication.
“I’m Yolanda Montez.” said the interviewer, who wasn’t much older than Jackie. “It’s nice to meet you. Great show you played just now.”
“It wasn’t that great.” muttered Jackie. “But then, I’ve never been satisfied with any of our shows. I could pick them apart to the smallest detail…”
“It’s good to be a perfectionist.” offered Yolanda.
“Thanks. Yeah, I guess I am.”
“There’s a rumor going round that I wanted to address. That you’re the daughter of the famous scientist, Ted Knight…”
“There’s nothing wrong with…”
“If you don’t move on to the next question, the interview’s over!”
Any hope that Yolanda had of defusing the tension between her and Jackie came to an end when, with a loud bang, a band of gaudily garbed gate-crashers barged into the club.
They were so strange-looking that they stood out even among the denizens of downtown clubland. Their leader appeared to be an attractive young blonde woman wearing garish sunglasses and carrying a mandolin. “We’re the Injustice Society!” she announced, “And we’re here to take Jackie Jaguar with us! If she’ll come join us, nobody’ll get hurt, but if she refuses, all bets are off.”
“Go screw yourselves, you posers!” shouted Jackie.
Other club patrons and the club’s bouncers began approaching the strangers with the intention of beating them up and throwing them out. Suddenly, one of the strangers, a long-haired, spandex-clad young man, pointed his keytar at them like it was a weapon – which, indeed it turned out to be, pushing back his would-be assailants with deafening waves of ultrasound. Another young man, dressed in an old-fashioned magician’s outfit, waved his wand and transformed the bouncers into bullfrogs. The leader appeared to vanish amid the commotion, while an androgynous pair of pasty-faced, black-clad twins turned their bodies into mist, their heads flying through the air towards Jackie. Once they were upon her, they re-solidified their bodies and came crashing down on her.
As Jackie struggled to break free, Yolanda seemed surprisingly unsure of whether or not to help her. Before she could change her mind, she felt a sharp pain in her shoulder. She turned around to see the leader and her mandolin reappear behind her. “This is no joke,” said the leader, “my mandolin is a gun, loaded with wooden stakes. You try to be a heroine, and the next one goes into your brain!”
By now, the twins had subdued Jackie and began carrying her out. Nobody in the club was foolhardy enough to offer resistance. Within seconds, the Injustice Society was gone.
Yolanda grinded her teeth as a friendly fellow patron pulled out the stake. Inside, she was seething. She was a born fighter, and she also had special powers that allowed her to sprout claws like a wild animal, but she worried her journalism career would end the moment she publicly revealed those powers. Right now, she cursed herself for her selfishness and resolved to do the next best thing. She headed for the club’s public phone.
As she neared the phone, someone else was walking away and said, “I already called the cops.” Yolanda doubted the cops would be of much use, but she knew someone who could be.
After a few rings, Yolanda heard somebody pick up, and she said into the receiver, “This is urgent! I need to talk to Wildcat!”
TO BE CONTINUED