Leftover Levels Up - Part I: Entering The Multiverse
This story is based on the Reedsy.com prompt "Start your story with two people sitting in a movie theater, waiting for the lights to come back on."
Leftover was having a hard time taking it all in. Less than an hour ago, Hypnorc had flown him by jet to the highest peak in the North Pole. Per Hypnorc's tip, he had entered the mountain cave to find the mage that would offer him more power. A few minutes of wandering in the dark led him into a movie theater that looked no different than one that could be found at a mall. Now he was sitting next to a strange old man, watching the credits roll on the big screen in front of him, theoretically moments away from the lights flipping back on in the dark theater.
"Listen sir, I journeyed here because my colleague promised me that you could power me up, but it seems like all we are doing is watching the credits to a movie I missed. If your name is not Multan and I am in the wrong place, please tell me so I can stop wasting my time."
"Hypnorc guided you right, that is indeed my name. Now be patient Lenny.... or should I say Leftover?" The man confirmed to be Multan told the silhouette sitting next to him.
"Wait, I never gave you my name! And I never told you who brought me here! How do you-"
"Shhhhhh, no talking during the movie." Multan scolded. "Think of it like a Marvel movie, the magic happens after the credits."
Leftover sighed and conceded. He was slightly curious what movie had actually played out in this hidden theater. The new Dr. Strange flick perhaps?
"My abilities allow me to read your thoughts. I know all about you. I know you the king of the country Prosperity, and you are stuck in that silhouette form. I know that you have to hide this form from your father and your subjects, and that you blame Hugh and his hero network for your hardships. I know that your goal is to eliminate Hugh and his worldwide team, and form your own hero network that you believe will truly protect others. And Hypnorc is right you know.... he gained his hypnotic abilities by passing my trials."
"Wait, you gave Hypnorc his powers?"
"Shhhhh, the movie isn't over yet!"
"But you're talking!"
"My theater, my rules!"
After what felt like an eternity of credit watching, the screen went dark and the lights flipped back on.
"That's it? Where's the end credits scene?"
"Just wait a second."
The two doors marked EXIT on either side of the screen suddenly flew open, revealing portals pulsating every bright color imaginable.
"Well, I've never seen that happen at the end of a movie in the theater. What happened to the doors Multan?"
"The portals to the Multiverse have opened."
"The Multiverse? That's a real thing, not just a lame comic book cop-out?"
"Is it really that hard to accept?" Multan laughed. "You are a living silhouette, that was flown to this place in a massive jet by an orc that can control people's minds. Don't get me started on all of the other weird things you've observed in the other stories written in this series. Is the Multiverse really that far fetched a concept to be real?"
"I guess not." Leftover cackled. "So how does the Multiverse factor into me becoming stronger?"
"I have been tasked with being the gatekeeper to this entrance of the Multiverse." Multan explained. "I am to grant adventurers like yourself access, and should you pass the trial given to you within the Multiverse and return alive, I am to then grant you a special ability. Be warned though, many never return."
"Well Hypnorc did, and I know I can too." Leftover retorted. "I accept your challenge. Before I go, can you tell me why the gateway is a movie theater?"
"Well, this theater doesn't show Hollywood blockbusters. The credits were a smokescreen - what I was watching on the big screen was my last guest's trip into the Multiverse. Sadly, he died and turned his debut film into a tragedy. Should you choose to proceed Leftover, I will be watching your first feature film on this screen as well. How your story ends will be up to you. Of course, if it isn't worth the risk to you, you are welcome to return to the lobby for a full refund...."
"Very funny." Leftover sneered. "I accept your challenge, and I will make this movie one to remember. Get your popcorn and nachos ready Multan, you are about to witness the greatest superhero flick you have ever seen!"
After passing through the portal within one of the exit doors of the theater, Leftover found himself in a forest. After a moment of taking in his surroundings, a welcoming realization hit him.
"I know these woods!" Leftover laughed out loud. "This forest is a couple miles from the royal castle. I'm back in Prosperity!"
Throwing caution to the wind, Leftover sprinted out of the forest he had explored throughout his childhood. He raced to the castle, curious and excited to see what could be different in this variant version of his home. He wondered if he would meet another version of himself, perhaps one not cursed with a silhouette form. Maybe he could convince himself to return with him, making it easier to hide his curse with another "self" to assist. The possibilities danced in his head as he neared the castle. However, he stopped abruptly once a horrifying sight appeared before him.
There was indeed a version of himself present. Just like he had hoped, this version was his normal human form. But that was it for the good news. The Lenny Overature within his sight was impaled by an orange tentacle coming from the body from another familiar figure. The man who was maiming his variant was none other than his same nemesis from his own world. Hugh himself was killing his Multiverse self before his very eyes.
Leftover quickly made a yellow helmet that sported a toothy smile appear in his hand by thought. He donned the helmet, which covered his body in armor. He then made a sword appear in his hand by thought, and he quickly leaped at the tentacle that was impaling Lenny, slicing it off of Hugh's body. Hugh briefly winced, then followed up by laughing at the new arrival.
"I don't know who you are, but it doesn't matter. Your kingdom is mine now Lenny. Soon my network will control the world, and Prosperity will serve as the perfect nucleus to my empire! It's unfortunate that you won't live long enough to see it. Even if I missed your vital organs, the poison within my tentacle will kill you soon enough!"
"You bastard!" Leftover yelled, lunging at the variant of Hugh smirking at him. Hugh was also an alien in his own world, but he only knew of him showing human characteristics. Once his idol, he considered the Hugh from his world a useless hero incapable of protecting the innocent, and wanted to dispose of him based on that. But in this world, this Hugh appeared to be sinister and cruel. Leftover smiled under his helmet, relishing the opportunity to save two worlds from two different Hugh's, both horrible for different reasons. Before he could strike down this Hugh, his sword was countered by a sword that had quickly appeared in his foe's hand.
"You look like more fun than this pathetic piece of garbage, but am a busy man." Hugh mocked. "My associates will be here to dispose of you soon enough, so I will bid you farewell stranger."
Hugh disappeared in a green cloud of smoke. Leftover quickly raced to his other self laying on the ground.
"Your majesty, stay with me please!" Leftover pleaded. "I am you from another dimension, and Hugh is my enemy too! I'm going to save you, and we will take back Prosperity together!"
"Well hi me, it's nice to meet you.... or is it me?" Lenny cackled weakly. "I'm afraid I don't have much time left, the poison is already kicking in. I'm afraid I have to leave this to you. But don't fret, you won't have to do this alone. I have associates of my own that I will leave in your service...."
To be continued....