Fiction Friday: Matrimony

Huh. My story opens with an image of a vase. Happy coincidence, I suppose.

Most of my writing is totally on the fly with little planning. When I write, it’s with a rough sketch in my head and little else. This especially goes for my writing form, which is basically whatever goes down on the page at that time.

Matrimony, then, was one of the rare times I tried experimenting with the written form. Minor spoilers here, but I tried making the form match the story being told. Two characters literally unite into one, like a gestalt. To match this in form, the story when they’re apart (and fighting) is done in short sentences. When they’re united, the form changes to purposely longer sentences.

And…eh, I don’t know. I liked the idea behind the experiment, just not the execution. I might revisit the concept sometime and play with the form and story combined. This was written in my last year studying English Literature, so I think I was trying to prove  to myself I could do fancy writing tricks like famous writers.

I should note that this story makes references to things within the superhero universe that Dill operates in. It is not, however, considered canon.

Matrimony (2008)

A vase shatters. It was a wedding gift. My mother bought it for us. Water trickles down the wall. They leave long streaks. Still-fresh daisies stick to the wall. We celebrated our twenty-fifth anniversary a few days ago. I had personally delivered the flowers to her work. The invasion started later that evening.

The flowers will leave a stain. The water will leave streak stains.

Great, I think, that will be next week’s fight.

“How could you?” Amy screams. Her fiery temper entices me. It always did.

“This is Day Five of the Androidian occupation,” our TV informed. “Most of the world’s

SPEC population are now hostages. Japan’s Giant Ursa was taken today. Trybal was taken yesterday. Hope is diminishing.”

“Just let me explain!” I plead.

“Explain? Explain!? Are you a pedophile? How old is she, Allan?!”

“Lindsay’s twenty and–”

“No! No ands or buts! You promised me! You would never cheat on me!”

“But –”

“It’s because I’m not as young anymore, isn’t it!?”

I hate seeing her like this. She hates making me angry, too. I need to make her angrier, though. It’s the only way.

“Yes,” I lie. “You’re shrivelled and grey. Things are sagging, Amy. Lindsay is much perkier. She’s perkier than you ever were.”

“The size of the Androidian ship is now much larger. Estimates had put it at a size comparable to two city blocks on Friday. Now, estimates say it’s larger than Texas. As previously reported, any vehicles are absorbed into its technology. U.N. officials, following orders from the Androidian emissary, are meeting today to tender a full, global surrender.”

“You asshole!

She seizes whatever is closest to her. It’s our wedding photo. She biffs it at me. I barely duck. Its glass shatters against the wall behind me. Amy’s face resembles the water-streaked wall.

“She was new to Integrity City, Amy!” I plead. “She had no friends. She was so far from home. I couldn’t help it! She was just another student at first. Honest!”

She’s just a child!

The TV continues its emergency broadcast. Over the last few days, we watched the now dishevelled broadcaster continue for days. “If any remaining SPEC’s can hear us, please do something! The Shatterpack have been captured. Their torture has been broadcasting on every major network!”

I don’t care for the term “SPEC”. Amy doesn’t. The government categorizes anyone with powers as a Specially Powered, Extraordinary Character. They’ve cropped up exponentially over the years. Category levels range from one to ten. Levels eight through ten are only theory. Trybal and Humanity Man are the two highest categorized SPEC’s. They failed to stop the invasion. So did the rest of them.

I know one SPEC that can stop it. The process is excruciatingly painful. It’s mentally exhausting. Worst of all, it’s emotionally destructive.

I love Amy dearly. I would never cheat on her. I had to put on a charade, though. She unknowingly found her own lipstick on my collar. Adding to that was some store-bought sample perfume. I sprayed it on my underwear. How we reached this point was entirely fault. To save the world, we need to fight.

“Amy, darling, if you’d just listen to reason,”

“No, Allan! This is too far!” she shouts. “We’ve done some rotten things to each other. How could cheat on me?! What’s worse is if the university finds out!”

“If you had seen her with her top off, you would’ve –”

That did it. Sometimes, I know exactly what buttons to push.

Amy lunges at me. Her face is scrunched up in a mad fury. I’ve never seen her so furious. She’s so incredibly sexy when she’s mad. I do love my wife, sagging bits included. It breaks my heart we have to endure this just to save a few lives.

Her momentum throws me to the ground. She straddles me right there on the floor. Her assault begins with slaps. They degrade quickly into punches. She always knew how to throw a mean right hook. I try blocking her flurry. After what I put her through, I deserve it.

Then it happens and I’m filled with relief.

One of her punches finally connects, but when her first hits my cheek, it stops. Our flesh is suddenly connected to each other and the area between my cheek and her fist is bathed with a warm, dim and white energy. Amy and I meet each other’s eyes and we gain an understanding. Amy and I fought, but now she can see through me and into me. For a moment, we share a small smile and she remembers why I was making her mad. The beautiful moment is brief because Amy and I begin sharing the agonizing process. She falls on top of me and bites down on my shoulder, hoping to dull the pain. Where she bites down, however, it feels like she’s ripping me open. I turn my head and see a similar white light spewing out of the ethereal wound on my shoulder and her whole mouth is sinking further into me than physically possible. Instinctively, I grab Amy by the arms but my hands disappear into them, which is bathed in more white light.

As more of our bodies touch, more of the warm and white light bathes the entry points. We know what is happening because once again, we are starting to merge.

My memories mix with hers and together, we see the past from both points of view. This memory is one we are always shown when we are merging, as a reminder. During our first year of married, Amy and I were visiting a local carnival across the river in St. Ligeia, which is Integrity City’s sister city. We were celebrating my new tenure at Integrity City University. The memory we share doesn’t let us remember what we were arguing about, but we both remember it being trivial. My wife and I continued fighting, even after an elderly fortune-teller invited us into her tent. So furious, I barely paid attention to the crazy old bat and neither did Amy. The woman sat across from us, calm and peaceful, like a marriage counsellor. She elegantly waved her long and wrinkly fingers around a crystal ball. A dim and warm and white light shined from it. White, shimmering tendrils reached out of the ball, enveloped us both and forcibly pulled us together.

That was the first time we merged.

We remember that Amy coined the name “The Matrimony” and even recall arguing over the name, but I finally caved in and let her win. At first, the smallest of fights would be enough; eventually, they needed to be bigger and bigger. We argued whether sacrificing our marriage was worth it, but after every time The Matrimony was needed, we knew it was necessary.

“Once again, we form the bond of magical matrimony,” our conjoined being says in a deep, echoing voice. “Only in angry passion do we form and only in angry passion can we do what we must.”

Merged, we stand united in our living room and survey the scene with some remorse. Shards of glass and ceramic crunch under out feet. We, The Matrimony, shed a brief for our crumbling marriage because two people must care the burden for the world. We stretch our arms high above our head, the six foot six stature of our being now easily touching the ceiling. We circle our arms that are pointed at the ceiling, creating a white, cascading portal. With little time to spare and the world’s surrender dangling on a precipice, we take off through the portal, through a tunnel of bright light and burst out through another portal on top of our roof. The wind blows through our loose fitting, low cut dress shirt but the cold winds don’t cut through our tight leather pants. The look reminds us both of gypsies that we would read about or see on TV.

We sail over the Atlantic Ocean, our speed cutting the water and leaving great waves in our wake. We’re aware of the kind of power The Matrimony is capable of, although we’ve never run any tests. The power doesn’t last any longer than we need it for, but we know in our hearts that our power could possibly rival even Humanity Man.

Over the horizon, we spot a humungous structure, the Androidian mothership, and increase our speed. The ship barely even looks like a ship anymore because of the conglomeration of different shapes and pieces that the mothership has absorbed. Its edges show hundreds of intact fighter planes and tanks and battleships; everything that every military from every country has thrown at the Androidians. The size of the ship rivals continents now and it has only continued to grow. Humanity Man and The Shatterpack engaged the mothership four days ago, but were lost ever since. Even nuclear armaments have been launched at the mothership, but to no avail. The missiles fizzled out as they had neared the ship and then merged with the ship.

Our first course of action is to free those that are trapped and ensure we have backup. Bullets and lasers explode at us from every weapon on the Androidian ship but we easily dodge the barrage. We hold our hands in front and tangle our fingers together; then, we fling our fingers outwards, creating a giant net composed of bright white light. It stretches and envelops the entire ship within seconds. We snap our hands, the ship rumbles and suddenly, the captured battleships plummet into the sea; before they hit the water, though, we send white energy under them, slowing their descent and ensuring they drop unharmed. The next bits to break away are the fighter jets; their engines roar as they blast away from the ship; some of them immediately begin attacking exposed parts of the ship while others fly away, no doubt to refuel at base. Hundreds of absorbed missiles plunge into the ocean, but not before we deactivate them and then break them apart, atom by atom, to spread back into the ocean and air, avoiding environmental disaster.

Now, with the military rescued and the ship losing its size, our next stage of attack is rescuing our allies. We soar high above the ship and aim for its center. Creating another portal, we rush through the ship, sending shimmering tendrils throughout every part of the ship. Like a fishing line, the tendrils tense when they’ve found their target and we reel our catches in. We burst through the bottom of the ship, towing hundreds of SPECs of varying range in power. Those in need of medical assistance are carried to one of the hundreds of battleships and carriers; others immediately take flight; others scream to be released. I grant them their wish, putting them where they wish. Regardless, every single SPEC in tow immediately return to the fight. They all blast at the ship with everything at their disposal: heat, cold, energy, darkness, copper, iron, vines and so many more.

There is a great roar that briefly stops every SPEC, including us, but rejoin the fight when they see where the roar comes from: growing to the size of the tallest skyscrapers and the widest sports arenas, Japan’s Giant Ursa savagely stomps, bites and fire-breaths the mothership while standing on top of it. Its rage rivals anything the Androidians were ready for, since they had pre-emptively taken out such powerful SPECs.

Every hero from every nation has put aside their differences and has allied to stop this global threat. The power of The Matrimony brings people together in the direst of situations and today is no different. There’s only one more matter to attend and then The Matrimony’s work is done.

We sail high above the ship and view the carnage. More parts of the ship break away and it gradually shrinks. Freed road vehicles like tanks and cars and trucks are pulled out and carried away by SPECs. Spare metal is ripped away, revealing more things to free. The SPECs have so much pent up anger and now they let it all loose. Now, we must end it.

We open another portal through the top of the ship and dive through a shimmering tunnel of light. We send out new tendrils, but they’re different this time; this time, their ends are large and round; sperm-like. The tendrils squeeze through all of the Androidian’s defences, cutting through metal like hot butter. Finally, they stop and their explosions give birth to devastating destruction. The sun breaks through open passages and that’s when we see a raging Humanity Man break through; his costume is so tattered, it’s unable to hide his bruised and battered body. Dozens of the most power SPECs follow his lead and rip the mothership to shreds. Boom, BOOM, boom, BOOM! Explosion after explosion follows in the SPECs’ wake.

Another great roar bellows from the mothership, this one scratchy, metallic and synthesized. We use The Matrimony’s great powers to see all around the world: the smaller, similar ships that had previously held down every major city are now swooping back. The smooth, car-sized cylinder pods come from every direction and fold themselves into the mothership, dissolving into its mainframe.

Today is a glorious success for SPECkind and the world because, with the screaming siren emanating from it, the Androidian mothership rockets off into the atmosphere and is quickly little more than a blip in the sky! Another roar, this one of triumph, rises up among the ranks of SPECs and military and every innocent person around the world. Their eyes trail to where The Matrimony had been floating, but we are long gone.

We streak across the sky, basking in the worldwide jubilations. We accomplish what we always accomplish: bringing people – even great, god-like beings – together in unison to complete a miraculous task. Now that they’re joined, the people around the world, if temporarily, will clean up after the carnage and pick up the pieces; their work is only beginning while ours ends.

We traverse through another bright tunnel and land back into the living room of our apartment, bristling with bright, glowing energy. We dig our hands deep into our chest, glowing white energy creating a thin seam running like a river down the core of our body, from our sternum to the top of our head. Our hands pull in opposite directions of the seam; The Matrimony’s body slowly splits in half, exhaustingly separating us.

It’s over.

Amy collapses onto the couch. I slump onto the floor in front of the TV. I look at my wife. Heavy sweat glistens on her soaked body. I’m panting heavily. The Matrimony only lasts for short time. It exhausts us. We must fight each to create the union. Every consecutive fight needs to be more passionate. The more hostile the fight, the more power is given to us. I remember, at first, the transformation was easy. After the day at the fair, our first union occurred when I left the toilet seat up. It grew worse from there: I came home and dinner wasn’t ready. She spent too much on groceries that week. I worked too late. I insulted her mother. Her dress did make her look fat. Now the conjoining requires so much ferocity.

Yet our marriage has somehow survived.

I crawl on the floor. Broken ceramics crunch under my knees. I join Amy on the couch. I rest my head on her thigh. She wipes my forehead free of sweat. Together, we quietly watch the news. Images of worldwide celebrations are shown. The world is battered. It will mend.

“I didn’t…” I exhale.

“I know,” Amy nods. She leans down. She kisses my forehead. “I love you.”

“I love you. Clean up later?”

“Yes, please.”

We’ve sacrificed a happy marriage to save the world.

Someday we’ll believe it’s all worth it.

About Nick C. Piers

Writer and creator of the Armadillo Mysteries, I've had a passion for the creative arts all his life. I'm an avid comic book fan, a DDP yoga practitioner , and urban cyclist.
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