FANTASTIC FOUR, a contemporary re-imagining of Marvel’s original and longest-running superhero team, centers on four young outsiders who teleport to an alternate and dangerous universe, which alters their physical form in shocking ways. Their lives irrevocably upended, the team must learn to harness their daunting new abilities and work together to save Earth from a former friend turned enemy.
In Theaters - August 7, 2015
Cast: Miles Teller, Michael B. Jordan, Kate Mara, Jamie Bell, Toby Kebbell
Directed by Josh Trank
Screenplay by Jeremy Slater and Simon Kinberg & Josh Trank
Based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
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Hells a Poppin
"A to Hell and Back Story"
By John Pirillo
Weed's history is not so great. He joined the Marines in 2010. A high school grad with no desire to excel in anything, somehow he had managed to at least pass with a score high enough to bag him a gig with the Marines. But that wasn't good enough. He had to be the top rifleman in his squad, and the best man in martial arts, the only person to survive (a phone) combat scenario that no one could possibly win, but he had.
So for his efforts he had been awarded a stake in another job. Going to hell and back. Yeah. War's hell, but some wars are in hell, or with hell. And that was his best window of opportunity yet. With just a knife, wide open eyes, and a lot of luck. Luck does count! With luck he had managed to kill three demons that had over run their platoon on a mission in Afghanistan.
The natives had screamed all night about demons coming, and not one of the Americans had bought it then, so instead they bought it later.
Gunfire. Grenades. Rocket launches. Hellfire missiles. None of it worked. The demons were smarter and better armed. Invincible in their stealth mode. They could move invisibly through the ranks and decimate them.
He had seen Jenks, his Captain, a likable fellow with two kids back in Arkansas, a stake in a reasonable farm to retire to, and yet he had been the first one to buy it. He had awakened to the scream, thrown himself out the pup tent, a small hotdog shaped slip of a tube of cloth they all rigged beneath the dirt so they could remain hidden from probing eyes.
He had seen Jenks stabbing at something in the air, and blood spurting, but nothing visible. Jenks had stopped screaming when his head exploded, squashed like a watermelon by a vise like force invisible to the eyes.
Hammer had been next. He was the wise cracking machine gunner of the group. Never missed. This time his weapon was useless. Bullets spun out of the gun at over a thousand rounds a second and everyone struck. Blood spurted in a thousand directions, but in a few moments he was hanging upside down by the hot flaming tube of his gun, his guts ripped out.
Joyce had been last. She had run out in skivvies and had both legs torn off before she could even raise a grenade to toss.
He had been lucky. Luck had been with him.
He had torn through the frigid night, racing like a pig with the butcher after him, and it was. With ten sets of claws, a thousand teeth and an appetite for extreme death and violence. Though at the time he had thought it was some kind of special weapons force that had invaded their platoon. Someone sent in from the crazies running the local wars, but bought from China or Russia.
When it caught up with him, its breath was fetid and hot.
He whipped round, saw nothing and was ready to keep running when he felt two clawed hands grab him by his waist and raise him slowly. He did a stupid thing. He pepper sprayed it. It worked!
It coughed and threw him down. Sounded like a mountain lion going to the bathroom with multiple hemorrhoids. But it was there.
He kicked up a footfall of sand with his boots and for a brief second he saw something that almost stopped his heart, which would have been a blessing at the time, because it was racing so hard it was likely to stop on its own accord anyway.
It was straight from hell. Literally. It stood over ten feet tall. It had teeth by the dozens protruding from its lower jaw over its lips and eyes that were slanted like an Orientals. In fact it was orange all over with a green fur that bristled with shades of red and orange. Its whole being exuded some kind of darkness that etched a line around it. A kind of outline of evil.
He had reacted, not from instinct, but from sheer disgust.
He had thrown his knife. The one his father had given him. The silver one. For Christmas
The knife struck the demon in its chest as it was fading from view and it roared horribly. So hard and furiously that he was blasted from his feet. He rolled over and came up to his feet, scrambling for his second blade. If one could do that.
He threw it.
It was also silver. The second one his father had given him for his birthday. He'd said. "You growing like a weed, son. One day you might have need of a week trimmer. Picker. Something to stop wild things."
Weed had never asked what his father meant, even though he had given him this strange look, as if he were seeing something not there. His family was like that. Some called t hem voodoos, people struck by local magic and cursed. Others called them occultists or psychics. He just called them family.
The demon, for he could tell that now. As it died its form became more and more visible and more and more disgusting to look at. Its blood shot forth from where the two knives had struck over its heart and showered the ground. It spun around and two more demons were marked and visible by the blood.
They had been rushing Weed without him realizing it.
He was dead for sure.
But when the first demon's blood struck them, a funny thing happened. Not ha-ha, but creepy strange. Like Twilight Zone, Lovecraft and Outer Limits Stephen King kind of strange.
They caught on fire.
All three demons exploded in a geyser of blood and fire, which shot straight up towards the cloudless sky, a Vesuvius of grossness and evil that showered back down and struck the desert floor, spearing it with body parts and ichor.
He just stood there, wiping the crap off his face, grinning. Laughing.
He had lived through the worst nightmare of his life.
He walked through the smoking remains and retrieved his two knives.
He kissed them both, ignoring the ichor on them, then wiped them clean on the back of his combat fatigues and sat down. He thrust the small black box hinged to his belt in front of him, keyed in a code, then activated it. A gentle beeping came from it.
Satellites overhead spun and turned, snaking slowly around to sip the binary data flowing into their hungry throats.
Ten days later he was back at Nellis, with the rest of the survivors of that night. Not from his platoon, but the others, who had also been on similar missions. He never learned their names. A very tough older man stood up from the midst of them; walked to the front of the room they were seated in silently and turned to eye them.
"Life is tough."
"Yo." They all answered.
"And then you die."
Everyone was silent. They knew what he meant, but were not going to agree with it.
"Last night you saw something, didn't you?"
Everyone was silent. Where was this going?
"Something that just should not have been."
Everyone nodded, but still remained silent.
"Something that shouldn't be on our planet."
Weed got tired of it. He stood up, scratched his ten day old beard. No one had a chance to shower or shave yet, and it was starting to get to him. "Sir, I don't mean to rattle your cage or anything, but these men are bone tired. Shit-faced with death and ready to drop. Will you just say it?"
The tall man turned to face Weed, his face stern as a block of ice. "Your name, Marine."
"Your real name."
Everyone broke into laughter.
The tall man listened a moment, then raised a hand for silence. Everyone got a frightened look on their faces as he scowled at Weed.
Weed didn't care. He'd seen all his friends murdered in front of his eyes, limbs torn off, guts ripped out, and necks broken. What more could anyone do to him now?
Everyone rose to leave.
The tall man pointed at Weed. "You. Here!"
Weed waited until the others had left, all looking back at him, fearful for what might happen. Though none knew each other, there was a deep bond between them.
"Sir." Weed saluted.
The tall man broke into a grin. "I'm no sir. Sarge will do."
"Sarge, sir!" Weed said with a returning grin.
"Sit here." The Tall Man pointed to a chair near him.
Weed nodded and slumped into the chair, feeling his fatigue rolling over him like a wave again. His eyes fought to stay open as the Tall Man spoke.
"I need you."
"Everyone needs someone, sir."
"Not for what I need you."
Weed's eyes continued to close.
"I'm going to hell and I need you to go with me."
Weed woke up and barked with laughter. "Hell, Sarge, I've just come back from there."
The Tall Man's smile vanished. "No. You haven't."
Then he told Weed what he knew.
Weed's eyes no longer threatened to sew themselves shut. He felt adrenaline rushing through his system, his hair standing up on the back of his neck, and his mouth drier than the Iraqi desert. "Damn!"
"And then some."
Weed shook his head, then stood up and offered his hand. "If it will save more souls from going through what I saw ten nights ago....?"
The Tall Man rose and took his hand. It was warm and firm. Like the grip of a long lost friend.
"Then I'm in. Sarge."
Sarge smiled. "Now go get cleaned up, then chow down. We've got a lot of work to do before we go to hell."
"Yes, Sarge. I'm sure we do." Weed laughed. "I'm sure we do."
Weed walked out of the meeting room, an ominous and foreboding feeling gripping his heart. He had the feeling that he had just chosen to step into the biggest stack of doo doo any Marine could ever step into.
An Interview with Lord Graystone, the Jungle Lord
By John Pirillo
For those of you who are just jumping into this interview, a brief review of the first one.
Lord Graystone is the survivor of a horrible accident, who grew up in Fairie, raised by a bull dragon. Much of his physical prowess and sensibilities come from living in those fierce jungles, which are not only enlivened by lions and crocodiles, but also prehistoric beasts straight from Jurassic Park. This is no surprise, considering that stories that originate here usually take on some kind of physical substance in that parallel universe, which I have named The Baker Street Universe in honor of its heroes.
The man, for surely he is, though quite a remarkable one, is fiercely loyal, powerfully strong, and has a brain as finely tuned as Sherlock's, with a memory equally as daunting. Not a man to make an enemy of. Fierce in battle, fierce in loyalty. Those are his attributes.
When last we spoke, I was about to ask my first question of the interview. I had a certain reluctance at the time, because of his known fierce nature, and surely wanted to accord him the respect such a powerful man of jungle and city deserves.
I pressed the record on button of my phone app, and then leaned back in my chair.
"It is my understanding that you were abandoned as a child. Is that true?"
I waited for him to explode in my face, for it was a very, very personal question and what I had written about him, as you will see, is far different from what actually happened, though close in some ways.
He considered my question a long time, his face clouded with emotion, and then he spoke clearly and precisely as those of a Victorian Manner are wont to do. "Sir."
"Call me John, please." I requested.
"We have not known each other enough to be on first names, sir." He answered, his face bewildered by my boldness. I had asked of him a question as equally as important as asking a fair young maiden of her virtue. Not appropriate. My first mistake.
But to his credit, he smiled. "I will call you, Mister Pirillo. You may address me as Jungle Lord." Here his smile broadened. "Or Lord Graystone."
"Very well." I agreed.
He nodded, and then spoke. "My mother and father were quite famous during the early reign of Queen Mary, who was merely a child at the time, ruled more by her counselors and advisors, than by her own hand.
"I was born to them during the siege of the Demon City."
"Yes. The Demon City was raised from the depths of Qwan Chi, an island off the coast of the mainland by a dark wizard for the purposes of using its inhabitants to terrorize and control the populated world."
"I am not familiar with that war." I said. "Perhaps you could enlighten us with more information about it."
"Is this relevant to my interview?" He asked, his face studying me for honesty, as he usually did to all I have noticed over time.
"Yes. It will put into more perspective how you have grown up and the effect of your childhood upon both your physical stature, as well as your intellectual prowess."
He almost laughed, and then stopped. "You're beginning to sound a lot like Holmes."
I blushed. "That would be an honor."
"Indeed." He agreed, saying no more.
He looked out at the Eiffel Tower, his hand holding a glass of the sparkling grape juice I had given him. He sniffed it, his eyes rolling with pleasure.
"My father and mother met during the war. She was a nurse, and he was a...how shall I describe him...a scientist of the dark arts."
"He practiced dark magic?"
"Oh no." He quickly shook his head. "No, merely the equivalent of an archaeologist or historian of your times. He went there to survey the ruins, and to understand how it had been raised. It was important to her majesty's armies at the time, as they feared the Chinas would rise from the ruins of that dark place to take on the world in another war, as they had in the previous three."
"There have been three wars?" I asked in astonishment. I had no idea.
He frowned. "Yes. Horrible wars. As you know they far outnumber our own Europes by a factor of ten. We could slay them by the millions and hardly make a dent."
He frowned even deeper. "But such slaughter has never been our intent, or that of the queen, as young as she was. We merely sought assurances."
"And what happened next, after your father arrived on the island?"
"He met my mother." He answered, his face brightening with that memory. "It was love at first sight. I remember that much of their history, though everything else, I'm afraid, is taken from other sources, other memories."
He looked sad momentarily, then took a deep breath and resumed his story.
"It was the middle of April, a time when the island would become freezing cold. The natives there used that time of year to catch fresh fish and store them for the summer and spring months, trading them for valuable supplies from the mainland Chinas."
"So how did your parents meet?"
He smiled. "In a dig."
"Really? Doesn't sound very romantic to me."
"Oh, it wasn't. From what Challenger's father told him..."
"Challenger's father was there?"
"Oh yes, indeed. He and Watson's father served in the military. Both men were highly decorated and renowned during that time."
"That explains how John entered the service then." I assumed.
"Oh no. John entered for his own reasons. To serve. He has always led a life of compromise and service. I honor him for that, and that is one of the biggest reasons I have joined the fellows of Baker Street in their administrations of justice throughout the realms."
"I see. So the dig then..." I urged.
He went on. "My father was young and foolish. She was also young, but very, very smart. Bright as the moon at night and the sun during the day. It was told to me that she had memorized every page of the Gita, a famous biblical yarn from the India Isles."
"That's remarkable. It's quite a dense book to read."
"You've read it?"
I nodded. "Yes, but a lot still remains a mystery to me."
"And rightly so, as it has arcane knowledge within it, meant only for the enlightened."
"Wizards and magic?"
At that point of our conversation in the interview my cell phone battery chooses to run out of charge.
I shall post further of this interview after I have had time to digest and review what was said later on.
I remain your humble and loving author and interviewer.
(New) Savage beasts have nothing on him! Edgar Rice Burrough's Beasts of Tarzan Audiobook, Chapter 17
(New) Savage beasts have nothing on him! Edgar Rice Burrough's Beasts of Tarzan Audiobook, Chapter 16
(New) Edgar Rice Burrough's Beasts of Tarzan Audiobook, Chapter 15, terror and adventure in the jungle!
Lord Graystone Triumphant
"A Jungle Lord Story"
By John Pirillo
The Jungle called to him. It urged him to fall down to his hands and feet and scamper like a gorilla, snarling and barking, howling at the huge moon that hovered like a death hawk in the black, velvet skies.
Were one a stranger to the Fairie, one might mistake this human for a beast, the way he scampered about on his knuckles and toes, but he was far from it.
Lord Graystone was neither an ignorant savage, nor a stumbling idiot loose from a psychiatric ward; he was a nobleman of high birth, who sought to live in harmony with the world he lived in.
He had seen enough of the modern world to despise it in many ways. His grey blue eyes shone with an inner light that was brighter than the fog lights of London at night. His intelligence shone through his eyes like a beacon in the night and yet, beneath that strict layer of reasoning was a simpler, plainer man. A man who believed that nature was being raped by the greed of man.
He saw it when he went to the huge coal dumps, the toxic dumps; saw the thousands of birds and sea life that lay floating and dead from exposure to the toxic wastes.
Yes, Tesla, who was a good friend, had made some mistakes on unleashing this new economy. And he was striving to turn it all around to a more green future, where man lived in harmony with nature, but until that day, more and more wild life died needlessly and more innocent children were born with diseases they never had and conflicted with abysmal disorders of the body and spirit they never should have encountered.
So one night a year he allowed his more primitive side to dominate and this was that night.
He clawed at the leafy Jungle ground and found a nest of roly polys. He ate them, making sure he only ate the older, slower ones, leaving the rest to renew their colony.
Then he flung himself into a vine strewn tree and grappled with the vines until he reached a bee’s nest. He scooped a hand into the hive, careful not to break it entirely, and cupped a palm in the sticky, white mess there. He brought it out and sucked and chewed its semi-moist, hardened surface into his throat, savoring the sweet flavor of it.
Next, he swung on vines until he neared a colony of black geese sleeping near a pond. He dropped lightly, so as not to scare them all, then swiftly snatched one of the oldest ones, broke its neck before it could squawk, and then leaped back into the trees. He swung for what seemed like hours, but was in actuality only a few moments, and then he landed on a platform that was about a hundred feet off the Jungle floor. He sat there with his feet over the edge, admiring the dark panorama before him. Slowly, and with great relish he began eating the goose.
He spit the feathers out, and the sharper bones, but pretty much ate everything else. He did not waste. Even the feathers and bones he spit out, he caught and deposited beside him to later be used for arrows and other delicate tools he hand made for his use in the Jungle.
Finished, he lay down on the platform and eyed the silvery moon lighting the canopy overhead. It was a full moon. Dragons would be in flight. Centaurs would be calling to their mates to dance and choose partners. The Great Apes he had helped to flee her from certain destruction in Africa, were calling to each other in their deep, grunting voices, singing in their simple ways their poetry of existence.
Man missed so much because he didn’t listen. But he heard it all. The Jungle was an orchestration of nature that filled in every vibration, nook and cranny of existence with joy and exuberation. He felt it in every bone and muscle of his body, vibrating with a lush frequency that made his heart quiver with joy.
And so he fell asleep on his platform, even though he had a very civil bed inside his home above the Jungle floor. Even though it had pillows, quilts, and blankets. Sheets and pillowcases.Silverware and cooking utensils. This night he slept like the savage beast he had once been before he had been reintroduced to the world of man again.
His dreams were not dark and restless, but deep and rich with fulfillment. When he awoke he would start his new day, working on more ways to preserve the greatness of this new land, to protect it from the greed and avarice of man.
For man had slowly been entering these lands. Not the Elves, nor the gnomes and hobbits and trolls one would expect of Faire, but pirates and explorers, both of whom opened the way for others to enter, by twos, then dozens.
Magic was the key to entering and magic was available to anyone with the right coin in their hand. There were scoundrels who gave the name beast an altogether new meaning, as they came into Fairie and began plundering its natural resources and attempting to conquer its peoples.
The men and women coming into the lands of Fairie were not from his world, but another that lay in parallel with it. He and Tesla had figured that out with a new device that he and Einstein, with the help of DaVinci had come up with. The Italian had come up with the idea of a device that could so fine tuned that it would be able to detect the slightest alteration of magic, such that they could pinpoint which world it was coming from.
That was when he and the other Baker Adventurers, led by Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger, had discovered that not only was there one other parallel world, but there were more than their current technology could measure.
So as he lay there beneath the stars, his mind filtered through the events of the past day and its portent for the future.
He felt a slight movement beneath the home and tensed, his nostrils flaring. He scented something, but it wasn’t clear. It should have been familiar to him, but it was different somehow.
He relaxed, but his right hand fell across his hip and the long blade he kept in its sheath of hardened wood and vine there.
Tesla powered carriages rolled silently past, their bright head beams illuminating the cobbled roads as they swept past.
One of them slowed and did a u turn, causing two figures to be caught in its blades of light for a moment.
Tesla and Lord Graystone.
The driver must have been somewhat startled by what he saw, if he noticed, because Lord Graystone stood naked in the alleyway, except for a lion cloth about his lower waist.
Maybe a pedestrian saw them as well, but if so, being British, they would have pretended it hadn’t really happened. No one in their proper frame of mind would stand almost naked in the freezing London winter.
Graystone didn’t find it distracting at all. Either the weather or the pedestrians and street traffic. He was engaged in a vigorous conversation with his friend, Nicolas Tesla, the inventor of much of modern England’s electrical devices.What seemed like ages ago he had stood at the gateway to this world with Tesla, who in his normal good natured way was joking about the problems of finding a good vine to swing on these days.
He had humored his long time friend with a smile, but inwardly he grimaced. They weren’t vines, but trailers that hung from the giant, old trees that grew so densely in the forests of Fairie.
His friend had never seen the magic that was woven into the strands to keep them strong and flexible; else they would’ve become brittle and snapped, plunging him to his death many times over.
Tesla scratched his red bead a moment in thought, and then as he gazed at the portal that was whirling beside them he spoke. “I know this is your annual retreat, Graystone, but keep your eyes and ears open anyway.”
He had been angry at the time. The last thing he wanted was another mission. He needed to get away from the heavy trappings of civilization, not add more onto his burden.
He waited for the inevitable explanation. If he had learned nothing else during his years of survival in the jungle, it was patience. He, who was not patience, did not survive.
Finally, Tesla had handed him a small object. “Make sure you keep this on you at all times.”
“What is it?” He had asked.
He had given Tesla a quizzical look.
Tesla grinned. “I know. I know. You never get lost. But trust me on this one. Okay?”
He sighed and pocketed it in his small waist bag he kept at his left hip. Some food, some medicinal supplies and now this, he thought as he eyed the small object, and then shoved it deeper into the other objects, shutting the bag up again.
“There’s more.” Tesla went on, his smile vanishing and a look of utter sincerity and solemnness riding to the surface.
“As you know we had that incident with the Hollow Man not that long ago?”
Graystone nodded. “That would be hard to forget.”
“Indeed.” Tesla agreed, then shook himself out of whatever cavern of thoughts he had momentarily got lost in.
He scratched at his red beard again. “I suspect...”
“You?” Graystone asked.
“Well, actually Holmes.” Tesla replied, shaking off Graystone’s look. “No matter. My point is that we think he’s returned.”
Graystone put his right palm over his waist knife. “I’ll be ready for him when I return.”
Tesla shook his head. “Not here. There.”
Graystone’s eyes narrowed for a moment. A sight that would put the fear of death into any creature seeing it. Finally, he relaxed enough to ask the next question.
Tesla gauged Graystone’s mood for a moment, as if suspecting his next words might cause more than he desired. With somewhat of a hesitation his voice he said simply, “Hyde.”
Up and down Baker Street pedestrians and occupants of Tesla cars were startled by a horrible scream that sounded like a bull ape ripping its opponent apart.
But in the alley Tesla stood there, stock still. He knew what had been coming, but he had forgotten how intense it could be.
Lord Graystone finally lowered his hands from his mouth and looked at his longtime friend. “I’m sorry, Nic.”
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