Ellen Slayton sat in the cafeteria at the Student Union building and struggled, as always, to hide her excitement. Her friend, Suzie, wouldn’t have understood what Ellen was making such a big deal about. But Ellen Slayton was actually Tharka Zurel from the far distant planet of Zoron, and she found earth foods both delicious and fascinating. As she savored the flavor of the french fries, practically wrapping her tongue around each individual fry as is entered her mouth, she was amazed at the way humans seemed to just stuff this food into their mouths without even bothering to taste it. Didn’t they realize what they were missing?
“Excuse ME, ya freak!”
Ellen and Suzie, and everyone else in the cafeteria, turned to see one of the boys from the Lamda Sigma Delta fraternity bumping into a young woman and knocking her tray from her hand. He was obviously showing off for his two friends. Ellen wished that she had been alone, because she might have been able to use her hyper-speed to zip over and prevent all the food on the tray from dropping to the floor. Instead, she just watched helplessly as the woman lost everything on her tray.
“Why don’t you watch where you’re going?” the girl demanded. Ellen studied the young woman and decided that, under the right circumstances, she was probably very pretty. However, the girl had on a long black dress, clunky black shoes, black lipstick and pale white makeup foundation.
“ME?” the frat-boy asked. “YOU bumped into me!”
The girl just bent down and started to scoop food and utensils back on the tray. “So help me, I ought to…”
“To what, whack job?” the boy snapped back. “Zap me with some of your witchcraft?”
“Maybe,” the girl glared at him. “We’ll just see, wont we?” The she stood up and stormed from the room.
“Poor Dottie,” Suzie sighed. “Do you know her, El?” When Ellen shook her head, the cute, freckled brunette continued. “She’s actually VERY bright. But she’s got this whole ‘Queen of Darkness’ vibe that just freaks out a lot of people.”
“Too bad,” Ellen agreed. “But, they still shouldn’t treat her like that!”
“No,” Suzie said. “I hate to say this, but one of these days she’s liable to just snap!”
Late that night, Dottie Black entered the laboratory of Dr. Franz. She had agreed to be his subject in some experiments involving ESP and telekinesis. Dottie actually thought that Dr. Franz was wasting his time; a putz like him would NEVER understand the greater mysteries! But, the job paid $350 for two days work, so she wasn’t about to turn the opportunity down.
“Good to see you, again, my dear,” Dr. Franz said as he came out of the office, carrying a clipboard and a stack of papers. “I just need to file these notes and then we can get started. Why don’t you hook yourself up, just like last night?”
“Whatever,” Dottie said as the professor continued on his way to the filing cabinet. “Hey, I get paid tonight, right?” When the professor didn’t answer, too engrossed in his work to have even heard her, Dottie sneered, dropped into a leather lounge chair and slipped her right arm into a blood pressure cuff. Then she put the helmet on her head. It resembled a motorcycle helmet, but Dottie couldn’t see or hear anything through it. Aside from generating a “Ganz field,” whatever THAT was, the helmet also contained equipment to monitor her brain waves. Or so the professor had said. As long as she got paid, she didn’t care if it was just a fancy hair dryer!
Hyper-girl streaked through the night sky. She loved the feel of the cool evening air as it caressed the flesh along her arms, legs and belly, as well as the way the breeze tickled her cleavage as she flew above the rooftops. She told Lydia that she was going to “patrol” and see if anyone needed help, but the fact was that she just enjoyed flying! She hoped that nothing would come up to spoil her night.
Just as she had that thought, however, there was the sound of small explosion and a scream of pain from the science lab on the Macropolis U campus! Hyper-girl blasted over to the building as fast as a bolt of lightning and found one of the older professors on the floor, his hands and arms covered with electrical burns. There was a small piece of smoldering equipment on the floor nearby, but Hyper-girl easily blew out the flames like a child blowing out her birthday candles. Then she lifted the man in her arms and leapt through the open window, carrying him towards the university hospital.
The next day, Lydia Long sat opposite her roommate at the breakfast table and sipped her coffee. “What’s wrong with you, Ellen?” she asked. “You may have saved the old guy’s life; you almost definitely saved his hands!”
Ellen sighed. She was dressed in an over-sized t-shirt with Tweety Bird on it, and the sun pouring through the window glistened off her golden-blonde mane. “It’s Dotty,” she said. “The professor said Dotty Black had been in the room when the accident occurred, but I couldn’t find any trace of her. I even checked her apartment, but no luck.”
Lydia downed the rest of her coffee and stood up, smoothing her dark gray suit over her shapely figure. “You can’t save everyone, sweetheart,” she said. “Besides, this Dotty MAY be okay! From what you said, I doubt that the explosion could vaporize her!”
Ellen giggled. “No, it wasn’t THAT bad a blow up.”
“Then she had to have been with it enough to leave on her own accord,” Lydia reasoned. “If she didn’t go to the hospital, she couldn’t have been hurt too bad.”
The girl from the stars nodded; that made sense. “I suppose you’re right. She’ll probably be in class again today, just like always. I guess I’ll see you down at the Dispatch. What are you covering today? Another urban bigfoot story?”
“No, actually, something fairly legit! Getting the scoop on Hyper-girl really helped out the old rag’s reputation! Anyway, you know the singer, Harmony? She’s in town to promote her new album ‘Songs to my Goddesses.’ I’m going to talk to her about it. Have a good day!”
“So, what made you go off on this ‘goddess’ kick?” Lydia asked.
She was sitting across from Harmony, who was dressed in loose-fitting green dress. Harmony’s strawberry-blonde hair flowed around her face in kinky waves and ringlets. She wore little makeup, just a touch of pink lip-gloss.
Harmony grinned. “You mean what made the rock and roll slut go spiritual? Let’s be honest, Miss Long, I’m not a kid any more. Traipsing around on stage in underwear doesn’t have as much appeal to me as it used to. When I decided to remake myself, I decided I wanted to give back something to my fans, especially the female ones. I thought this kind of image could be more empowering to young girls.”
“Interesting,” Lydia said. “But why…”
Her question was cut off by the glass doors to the penthouse balcony being blown open as if by a hurricane wind. Seconds later, a young woman floated gently into the room. Lydia noted that the girl was in her early twenties, probably about Ellen’s age. The intruder’s short black hair was in a pixie haircut that surrounded her round face. The girl wore black lipstick, black jeans, a black bustier and a flowing black coat that flowed gently around her as she touched down to the ground. Her only ornamentation was a black headband, which had a small crystal in the center of the girl’s forehead.
“Harmony,” she said. “I’m your biggest fan. I just HAD to meet you!”
The singer stared in amazement at the girl. “Th…thank you. How did you…?”
“Oh, the levitating? Well, you were right! All we have to do is believe, and we can do ANYTHING! Or, at least I can…”
Just then the door burst open and a security guard rushed in. His right hand was on the gun strapped to his hip. “Miss Harmony? I heard a loud sound, is everything…” Upon seeing the girl in black, he pulled his gun. “Who are you, and how did you get in here?”
The girl glared at the man and waved her hand. A flash of light streaked from her fingers and struck the man, who began to glow. When the glow faded, the guard had been turned to stone!
“I don’t take orders from men anymore,” she spat out. “You could push around Dotty Black, but the Black Witch is another story!”
Something clicked in Lydia’s mind. Dotty Black was the missing girl from Ellen’s school! How did she wind up a witch? She had to get help, maybe even beep Ellen. She slowly inched her way towards the phone.
“Hold it!” the Black Witch roared. “Nobody’s going anywhere! But if you want the phone so bad, HERE!” With another wave of her hand, the Witch sent a blast into the phone. The device leapt off the table and whirled around Lydia, the cords wrapping around her body and digging into her flesh. Lydia tried to struggle, but succeeded only in losing her balance and collapsing to the floor. Before she knew what was happening, the phone’s handset slid into her mouth, with the cord wrapped around her head. She felt, and looked, like a horse with a bit in it’s mouth.
“Hunngg mmmmgggph!” The black plastic wedged between her teeth muffled her speech, making it all but unintelligible.
Harmony, upon seeing this latest display of “her biggest fan’s” powers turned and ran towards the door, screaming. Black Witch waved her hands again, and the carpet sprang to life, strips of it rising from the floor and wrapping around the singer. Just like Lydia, Harmony fell to the floor. Her captor walked up to her.
“Who are you?” Harmony sobbed. “What do you want? Let me go!” <> “I told you who I am. I’m your biggest fan. And I want you. I want your guidance, your wisdom. You’re the only one who ever understood me, Harmony! I have lived my life based on what you’ve said in your music. Now, you can guide me in person! It was fate that brought you to me now. And I can’t ignore that!” Black Witch waved her hands over the woman, and Harmony suddenly found herself floating. The witch pulled a silk scarf from her pocket and tied it over Harmony’s mouth. “This will keep you from making too much noise, until you realize that you were MEANT to be my teacher. Now, come on!” The young girl floated in the air and out the window, with the struggling Harmony floating after her. Lydia watched them go, fighting against the phone cords the whole time.
Ellen Slayton used her hyper-vision to check in on Lydia while they talked on the phone, making sure that she really WAS okay. “And you’re sure it was Dotty?”
Lydia sighed. “I’ve never seen her before, so I can’t be SURE. But she claimed to be Dotty Black. And she fit the description you gave me. Did Dotty have a thing for Harmony?”
“I don’t know,” Ellen said. “Dotty was kind of a loaner. But I think she did belong to the campus’ coven.”
“Your campus has a coven?!?”
“Not like it sounds,” Ellen said. “Just a bunch of girls into Wicca. But I think they might know something about Dotty. Maybe their leader would be willing to talk to Hyper-Girl… I’ll talk to you later!”
“Hi. Mind if I come in?” Hyper-Girl was floating even with the seventh-floor window, looking into the dorm room. The girl sitting on the bed jumped slightly as she looked up from her chemistry book.
“You’re Hyper-Girl! Yeah, come in. I’ll go down and let you in.”
“No need.” The blonde heroine grabbed the frame of the window, which only opened two feet so that nobody would fall out. She bent it slightly and slipped her slender from inside. “I’ll fix that when I leave,” she said with a smile. “Are you Connie Jacobs?”
The girl nodded. She had chestnut hair and wore a pair of blue jeans and a burgundy tee-shirt. She was barefoot. “Yeah, I’m Connie. What’s wrong? Am I in trouble?”
Hyper-Girl sat on the edge of the bed and crossed her long legs, smoothing her miniskirt over her thighs. “No, not at all! I just need some information. I’m trying to find out about Dotty Black, and I heard she was part of your group…?
“You mean my coven. It’s okay to say it, you know. Dotty joined, but she didn’t last too long.”
“We’re a serious Wiccan coven, Hyper-Girl. We honor the sabbats and the esbats, we pray and sing chants to the Lord and the Lady, and we live by the rede: ‘An ye harm none, do as ye will.’ Dotty had seen too many bad movies. She wanted to cast spells and curses. ALL she seemed to want to do was harm others. She seemed to think witchcraft was just an easy way to get power. We were thinking of throwing her out, but she got fed up with us and left on her own after only about two months.”
Hyper-Girl wrinkled her nose. This was all very interesting, but didn’t help her too much now. “Dotty… may have gotten in a little over her head,” she told the pretty co-ed. “Any idea where she might go if she needed to hide out?”
Connie shook her head. “Sorry, no. She never really got close enough to anyone to reveal much personal stuff. Oh, wait! The old church!”
“What old church?”
“In Finnegal’s Woods. It’s an old abandoned church from ages ago. Actually, I don’t think it was a REAL church, just a building used for that purpose by some holy-roller type of preacher. Anyway, Dotty once suggested that we use it for our own place to cast spells. She claimed that we could increase our power but corrupting the energy the churchgoers had left behind. I don’t know where she got this stuff, but we said no. Actually, I think that was what made her decide to leave.”
The girl from Zoron felt a tingle of excitement. Everything told her that the church was the answer. She thanked Connie and slipped from the window, bending the frame back into shape. Then she soared skyward, arcing towards Finnegal’s Woods to the north of the campus.
The “church” was pretty easy to find from the air, and Hyper-Girl could see what Connie meant about it not being a REAL church. The wooden building was in a largely overgrown clearing with only a few paths leading towards it. It was a simple wooden building, with a small spire that must have been the closest thing to a steeple that this place had ever had. One piece of wood stuck up from the top of the spire, and Hyper-Girl guessed that this had once been a cross, but the horizontal piece had long since broken away. She swooped down to land lightly on the porch and push open the door.
Hyper-Girl had to admit that she thought Lydia had been exaggerating; which would make sense, given her state of mind when they spoke. But she doubted ANYONE could have had powers like Lydia had described. When she looked inside the old church, however, she had to reevaluate her assessment, for only powers like she had heard about from Lydia could explain what she saw. The inside of the church, which should have been as run-down as the outside, was covered with red and black hangings. The pews had been moved to the outskirts of the room, and mystic symbols had been drawn on the floor with chalk. On the makeshift stage, in a throne-like chair, sat Dotty Black, the Black Witch. Harmony was bound, gagged and tied to a smaller chair just off the stage. Three large pigs squealed and snorted as they ran around the room. Hyper-girl stepped into the room and stopped with her legs akimbo, her fists resting on her hips, and her chest thrust forward.
“Black Witch, huh? You look to me more like some college girl who’s had a hard time dealing with life! Let Harmony go and we can make this easier on everyone.”
The girl just smiled evilly. “Hyper-Girl! Nice to meet you. We should be on the same side, you and I. I’m also trying to bring some justice to the world. For instance, I righted a wrong that these three did to me.” With this, she indicated the pigs. Hyper-Girl didn’t understand, until she noticed a pile of clothes nearby, that included three Lambda Sigma Delta sweaters. The pigs were the frat boys from the cafeteria! Well, she had to deal with one problem at a time.
“How does kidnapping Harmony come under the heading of justice?”
“Harmony is my guide, my mentor! By keeping her near, I’m sure to be successful in my quest.”
Hyper-Girl sighed. It was obvious to her that Dotty had lost her mind. She doubted reason was even an option. “What makes you think that she’s supposed to be with you?”
“That’s easy! Why else would she have come to town the same night that I received my powers? Fate caused a power feed back in some equipment I was wired to, and all of a sudden I can make whatever I imagine real…just like I’ve tried to do with my magic for years! That same night, the woman whose music has been by guiding light shows up. How do you explain that?”
“As a coincidence taken too far by a sick mind. This is ending here and now!” Hyper-Girl launched herself forward, flying straight at Dotty.
What happened next was so fast that it completely took Hyper-Girl by surprise. One minute, she was flying towards Dotty, prepared to knock her out in the hopes that it would reverse her “spells.” Suddenly, Dotty snatched up a coil of rope from the floor and threw it at Hyper-Girl. The rope seemed to splinter off into a series of grasping tendrils that wrapped around Hyper-Girl’s body and yanked her off course, so that she missed Dotty and smashed through the wall. The tendrils continued to wrap around her, tightening and transforming into heavy dark gray chains. Hyper-Girl flexed her muscles to shatter the chains…and was shocked to have them hold fast!
“What the heck…”
Before the pretty powerhouse could finish her question, Dotty stepped through the hole in the wall and laughed at her predicament.
“What the heck is holding you, Hyper-Girl? MAGIC! MY magic! All it took was for me to think of bonds that would hold you, and it happened! The power of your muscles is NO match for the power of my mind!”
Hyper-Girl flexed, twisted and rolled on the grass, trying to position herself so that she’d have enough leverage to snap the chains. They weren’t thick or heavy; she’d bent, twisted and even snapped chains ten times thicker than this with no difficulty! Somehow, however, her greatest efforts were pointless. These magical chains were holding her just as strongly as ordinary chains would hold an ordinary girl.
“Harmony will eventually realize that she and I were meant to be together, Hyper-Girl. You, however, are just a nuisance. I’m afraid that I’ll have to get rid of you. Won’t you come with me?” As she said this last phrase, Black Witch waved her hand and Hyper-Girl found herself rising up and floating behind the villainess as Black Witch stepped back through the hole and into her headquarters.
The basement of the church had been transformed even more than the upstairs had been. Hyper-Girl was sure that it had once been a tiny room, used for storage. Black Witch’s black magic, however, had transformed it into a dungeon, complete with torture devises. It was in one of these that Hyper-Girl now found herself. Still bound by the bizarre mystical chains, the helpless heroine was strapped into an iron maiden. Hanging above her on a track was the front of the sarcophagus-like contraption. Aimed right at Hyper-Girl’s bound body was a series of sharp, wicked-looking spikes.
“Dotty, this is crazy,” Hyper-Girl said. “You’re sick. Let me help you!”
Black Witch placed her hand over the heroine’s mouth and wiped it sideways. As she did, Hyper-Girl felt something form over her mouth, sealing her lips tightly. It felt like rubber, but adhered to her flesh like duct tape. Her captor sighed. “I’m afraid that you’re the one who needs help, Hyper-Girl. You know, I really didn’t want to hurt you. But I can’t have you interfering with my mission. There’s too much injustice in this world. The strong, preying on the weak. Black Witch will put an end to that. But I’m afraid that you’re too weak to understand that. So you’ll have to go. This arrangement will use a ratcheting system, initiated by water flowing into a bucket, to lower the top of the iron maiden on you. I created these spikes to be powerful enough to pierce anything…even you, Hyper-Girl. Sorry it had to be this way!”
Hyper-Girl watched as Black Witch turned a spigot and started a flow of water into the bucket. The villainess turned and left the room. After a few moments, the bucket shifted down and emptied itself. As it did, the ratchet system to which it was connected caused the top of the iron maiden to drop about six inches. Hyper-Girl focussed on the blades. They would reach her in about ten minutes. Then they would slice into her flesh. They were long enough to pierce right through her body, skewering her from front to back. She didn’t like the odds against her.
The heroine from the stars strained against her bonds, but it was no use. They were as indestructible as Black Witch had said. Even the damned gag resisted her greatest efforts to break free! She heard a soft “ka-chink” sound, and the ratcheting system dropped the spiked lid three inches closer to the helplessly bound girl. The system was working much faster than Hyper-Girl had thought. She had maybe ten minutes before she was a hyper-kabob! She had to find a way out, and she had to find it fast!
Hyper-Girl strained, struggled and flexed her muscles, muscles that held the power of the sun within them, but to no avail! The ratchet dropped again. At least she had managed to keep Lydia out of this one, she thought. And her short time on earth had done SOME good. But there was so much more that she could do, damn it! It wasn’t fair! Tharka felt the tears begin to well up in her sapphire blue eyes and smashed her hand, in frustration against the back of the iron maiden…at least as much as the chains would allow. That’s when it happened.
To Hyper-Girl’s surprise, her fist smashed through the back of the sarcophagus. Her mind whirled with possibilities. Black Witch, Dottie, was new at using her powers. She had been careful to make sure that the chains were strong enough to hold Hyper-Girl. She had made sure that the spikes would pierce anything, even her hyper-skin. But she had made the mistake of using both in conjunction with a standard, steel iron maiden. And steel was no match for Hyper-Girl’s powers! She strained with the chains until the iron maiden literally snapped in half, dropping the Girl of the Future to the ground. She rolled out from under the slowly descending lid and watched as it ratcheted down another notch. She was safe!
Or, at least, she was safe for now. She was still bound and gagged and helpless in the basement of Black Witch’s lair. Eventually, the villainess would come down to investigate, and find Hyper-Girl still alive. When that happened. She would repeat the trick, but eliminate her past mistake. Hyper-Girl had to find a way to free herself from these chains. But how? She had tried all her powers, but it had been to no avail. Black Witch had specifically made created these chains to hold her. Just as she had specifically created those spikes to pierce her flesh. Then she remembered something. Black Witch hadn’t created the spikes to pierce Hyper-Girl! She said she had created them to pierce ANYTHING! Did that, could it, mean the chains as well?
The blond beauty rolled back over to the iron maiden and worked her knees up under her body. She forced herself into a kneeling position and looked over her shoulder so that she could press the chains against the spike and exerted all her strength. She thought about the old question of the irresistible force meeting the immovable object as she offered a prayer to the Zoronian goddess of luck. Her prayer was answered when the chain snapped, freeing Hyper-Girl!
The spikes made quick work of the rest of the chains and the gag. However, Hyper-Girl still had a problem. Black Witch had captured her easily. She had to find another way to stop the girl; a frontal assault was obviously out of the question. She saw only one possibility. No matter what else she was, no matter what powers she had at her command, Black Witch was still a human. She had all the failings of a human. Including the need for air! Hyper-Girl grinned evilly as this thought entered her mind. Then she flew at the wall, spinning like a corkscrew to drill through the wall and the earth, popping to the surface next to the old church. Then she flew upward and began to fly circles around the structure, building up speed as she went.
The hyper-fast flight created a vacuum in the church, sucking the air from it and forcing it upwards. Hyper-Girl used her hyper-senses to watch the inside, focussing on her nemesis. Black Witch suddenly became aware that something was wrong, and tried to get to her feet, gasping as she clutched at her throat. Then she passed out, along with her captives. Hyper-Girl landed and collected everyone from inside before she launched herself skyward again.
“So her mental processes are short circuited by that helmet?” Hyper-Girl asked as she watch Black Witch on the screen in the maximum-security detention center at Macropolis Penitentiary.
“Exactly,” Dr. Franz said. “She can still function normally, but whenever she tries to focus enough to use her powers of molecular alteration, the helmet fills her mind with the mental equivalent of ‘white noise’ to stop the process.”
“And her ‘victims’ are all back to normal?”
“Yes, they are. It was a simple matter to use a limited shielding process to reverse the change. Although I think they are somewhat wiser than they were before!”
“Will you be able to reverse what happened to Dottie?”
The old man sighed. “That I don’t know. I’m trying. And the prison psychologist is working with her to try and eliminate her rage and desire to harm others. But all we can do is hope for the best.”
Hyper-Girl looked at the girl, at the way she seethed with fury. “I just hope that will be enough.”