Dave dropped the mop into the bucket. Finally. He thought he'd never finish.
He pushed his janitor's cart back to the closet and dumped the dirty water down the drain, still feeling that same tug towards the vault, almost like the cylinder was calling him. But opening the crate would be a breach of trust. If anyone found out, he'd lose his job.
The chances of discovery were almost nil, though. The FBI came by maybe three times annually. The security guards were supposed to do rounds inside the warehouse, but hadn't in years. He could pry it open for a peek, nail it back, and nobody would know.
Yeah, one little peek. One little peek wouldn't hurt.
He grabbed a crowbar off the wall and tiptoed into the vault. Bingo. He pried open the crate and pulled out the cylinder. It seemed to pulsate in his hands.
Wow. Imagine the power it could give him. Instead of, "Today, three children died in a three-alarm fire," reporters would say, "Today, a Real Life Superhero rescued three children from a three-alarm fire."
Dave slid the cylinder up his arm. Maybe this wasn't a good idea. He didn't have time to fight an evil symbiote. He had a softball tournament on Sunday.
The world swirled around him. His stomach lurched, and he closed his eyes.
Once the dizziness subsided, he opened his eyes and gasped. A hundred yards away, a massive waterfall roared like the Boulder Dam, booming in time with his racing heartbeat. Six moons reflected in the waves lapping at his feet. Beside him, a neon orange tree shaped kind of like a curly fry grew bent over, as if bowing to the waterfall.
"Where am I?" Dave asked.
A purple light flashed, and a gray-skinned man at least eight feet tall appeared before the bowing curly fry tree. In his black armor and green cloak, the giant looked like he could snap Dave in half with his pinky. And Dave wore a 2XL in shirts.
He clapped. "Wow, can you do that again?"
The gray figure glared. "I am Zolgron, Champion of the Karonites, not a trained baboon. Fifteen hundred years ago, I was one of eight of my kind. We were a powerful race with strength and abilities far surpassing those of the common Gorlen.
"I resolved to make myself King of the Karonites, vanquish the champions of the seven other nations, and take their lands for my own. Before I even raised my hand to do this, the Creator seized me. He said he had made me and my brethren as guardians, not lords. He took a common, weak Gorlen and made him the new champion.
"As for me, he said I must learn a great lesson. Until I do, I can only empower others. I've had three thousand hosts on fifty planets. When I attach to a host, I become part of it. When the host dies, I live on, taking another form. My shape-changing ability is the one power he has left me."
Attach? Dave touched the arm the cylinder had attached to. "You're the cylinder?"
"That is the shape I took. I can be as tiny as a mouse or as large as a Doberman."
"How did you travel from planet to planet?"
Zolgron laughed. "Most of the galaxy has possessed the secret to space travel for six hundred years. And not to merely create something in space to fly up to in the ship you built so you can fly to the thing you created."
Huh? The International Space Station was cool. Then again, Zolgron was cooler. "So, with you attached to my arm, I get some great powers."
"You can run faster than one of your sports cars. You have the strength of a hundred ordinary humans, can change shapes, and materialize objects at will."
"Can I fly?" Dave flapped his arms.
"Not naturally. You could materialize a jet pack on your back, though."
"This is so cool!"
Zolgron buried his head in his hands. "Creator, have I learned the lesson yet?"
"Wait a second." Dave folded his arms. "How do I know you're not evil?"
"I'm neither good nor evil. I'm simply a tool to be used as my host sees fit, like one of your handguns."
"But guns are evil!"
Zolgron snorted. "Oh, one of those. Let me try this again. I'm like your mop. Your mop can be used for good or for evil."
Dave laughed, shaking his head. "How could mops be used for evil?"
Zolgron smiled. "Watch."
Seven mops appeared and bludgeoned Dave.
"Vile cleansing instruments, you shall not defeat me!" Dave karate chopped one of the mops, knocking it to the ground. He jumped in mid-air and decapitated another. He turned. Hundreds, no thousands of mops came at him from all sides, like a horror film shot in a cleaning supply store. He screamed like a cheerleader.
The world spun. Again his stomach lurched and he squeezed his eyes shut.