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The Nightmare After Gristmas

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The tornado evaporated, dropping John on the roof of the Betty Crocker building, still strewn with wreckage from Hypno-Dave’s Unribbited Blade Works attack. Satisfied that the last of the Earth Felt were defeated, John put away his hammer and stood side by side with Jade to confront their final enemy.

They no longer cringed when looking into the seizure-inducing billiards eyeballs, or shielded their faces from the light of the garish Cairo overcoat. Nor did they retch or heave when beholding the horrible evenly-spaced spikes on the edge of his awful circular head, or covered their noses to ward off invasion by the faint chocolatey odor wafting from his delicious skin. Indeed, there was no room in them left for fear of Lord English. They had no time for it. Every moment now was too precious.

“You can let him talk,” John said quietly. “He’s powerless now. I know how to kill him.”

His sister gasped. “The Ultimate Riddle…?!” Was it too good to be true? Or too late to be of use? Never mind, it doesn’t matter. Planting her fists on her hips, she embraced saidar and unwove the gag of air from the horrendous grinning mouth, the sole deformation in English’s perfectly flat face.

The eldritch world-eater wasted no time enjoying the right to breathe again. “Kukukukuku. So, boy, you’ve figured it out, have you? Yes, I can see it in your eyes. You know. But if you know that much, then you must also know this: The way that I die… is also the way that I reproduce! KUKUKUKUKU!”

Jade recoiled in bemusement, but her brother comforted her with a scratch behind the ears. “Yes, I know. I think I’ve always known, since the day we made you… No, even since the day I first saw your face.” His eyes met Jade’s, and he could see realization dawning already. He said it anyway. “We have to eat his head. Only Sburb players can do it. But once we do… We, too, will become Lord English.”

Lightning forked out of the clear blue sky as English laughed. Behind him, Dave and Rose glared out of their makeshift jail cells, the hypnotic glow of their eyes glinting off of the Sollux Swarm’s glass jar and the bare orange skull of Skelepeta. A single tear trickled down Jade’s furry cheek. “There must be another way,” she whispered.

John frowned. “There isn’t, but…”

English spat on the ground–a gooey brown blob laced with crushed-up peanuts. “There is no ‘but!’ You can choose only defeat now, foolish immortals. So go ahead, choose. Sacrifice your friends and your home planet, or sacrifice reality itself? Truly, that is the ultimate riddle. Kukuku!”

But,” John said once more, his eyes as cold and sharp as fresh gravel. “If it’s you and me, Jade, he won’t come back to life. He can’t, not if we do it to save everybody. We can still beat him, once and for all.”

The monster’s delicious chocolatey face fell as he began to doubt. He swiveled his candied eyeballs back towards John. “…No… It’s impossible.”

“Ah… That’s right,” Jade said. “Your servants forgot to tell you something. Something important. Something John’s friends have known for years.” Hope filled her. They could hear it in her voice, overwhelming everything else. “You see, John’s allergic to peanuts.” She smiled sadly. “And I’m a dog.”

(Cue sad piano music)

Lord English was speechless. At long last, it was his turn to be afraid. John used the Breeze to bring up chairs and a table from the first floor, and Jade found a plate to enlarge. They lowered Lord English’s head onto it like a chopping block.

“You don’t have to do this,” John said as Jade sat down with him.

“You need me. You can’t eat all of him by yourself. Besides, I have to get even… This is for me and Dave, you son of a bitch!” She bared her canines, lunged, and bit both of English’s eyeballs out at once.

“WAGA ME GA! ITAI DE GOZARU! ITAAAAAIIIII!” Lord English screamed in pain, jerking his chocolatey, peanut-buttery head from side to side as a fountain of Skittles gushed from his eye sockets. John grabbed him by the ridges to hold him still while Jade lapped up her taste of the rainbow. Upon feeling the texture of the chocolate face beneath his fingers, memories of a lifetime of Halloweens tempting him with forbidden life-threatening peanut butter candy began to resurface, and he could no longer control himself. He bit off a huge chunk of the world-eater’s abominable candy skull, mashing peanut butter brain between his teeth, howling into his meal with ecstasy. The predator-turned-prey managed one last cry of “YAMERRRROOOO” before he dissolved into senseless babbling.

Their meal lasted only minutes. Jade finished first, slurping up most of the chocolate with a tongue elongated by Space powers. Her eyes had already flickered once or twice when she began foaming at the mouth and chasing her tail, running in smaller and smaller circles until she suddenly spewed blood and vomit from every orifice, dying instantly. John himself was feeling the urge to enslave hapless mortals and start a cult, but his closing windpipe snapped him back to reality just in time to unlock Dave and Rose and leave them a note of explanation. As the light faded from his eyes, Lord English’s body erupted in a tiny green mushroom cloud, and he knew reality was safe.

John Egbert and Jade Harley
April 13, 2009–July 20, 1969