“A terrible, terrible thing has happened.”
That was what Clarence cried to the doctors at the hospital where he brought his Time Lady friend, Mandy.
The Loki mask.
The mask that turned Mandy into that green-faced monster Clarence feared.
She still had it – hiding it the whole time.
It had started with a gang war Mandy and Clarence happened on while taking a slight detour in their travels. Mandy figured she could do some good and stop the warring gangs, using the Loki mask.
Then the explosion ensued…and Mandy was caught in its path.
She tried to put on the mask as it occurred, only managing to get the accursed thing grafted to her face and scorched into uselessness.
The doctors in the dimension where these events took place were successful in removing the charred mask from Mandy’s face; but the extensiveness of the injury left her without a face, much to the horror of Clarence. She had to be placed on life support.
He spent days of waiting bedside for her to eventually wake out of her coma.
The uncertainty of whether or not he would ever return home crept on him. Thoughts of never seeing Jeff or Sumo again brought tears to his eyes more than the thought of Mandy never recovering.
One day, while drowning out his sorrows over some pudding he got from the cafeteria, he heard commotion from the hallway.
Wandering out of Mandy’s room, he found a group of doctors carting in a hideously burned victim into the emergency room. “Wow,” he muttered. “I wonder what happened to that guy.”
Sometime later, he strolled into a room where the doctors treated the burn victim, bandaging him from head to toe.
He looks like a cool mummy, Clarence thought with great interest.
Clarence heard the doctors spout a bunch of medical terminology he hardly comprehended – stuff that they did to the man to keep him from feeling any pain, which in turn gave him enhanced strength from adrenaline overload.
“He’s like a superhero now,” Clarence verbally observed.
His outburst drew all attention on him.
“How did this little boy get in here?” the lead surgeon asked. “This is no place for children. Get him out of here.”
Clarence was promptly removed from the scene by one of the doctors, who was kind enough to treat him to some candy out of the vending machine down the hall before sending him on his way.
For a while there, Clarence had a little fun.
Discovering the burned man and the experimental procedure that the doctors subjected him to was like being on an adventure with Mandy again.
Alas, the Time Lady had yet to awake.
That night, he said a little prayer for her:
“Dear Santa Claus. This is Clarence again. We haven’t really talked much since last time. Sorry about that. But I just really want my friend Mandy to wake up again. I know she won’t have a face to talk with…or eat with…or breathe with…or maybe even hear with again. But I just want her to rise and shine again, so we can keep going on our fun adventures. Can ya do that for me, Santa?”
Shortly thereafter, he heard movement outside.
Through the window, he was surprised to have seen the mummified burn victim fully conscious, wildly scurrying through the halls.
Clarence stepped out to follow, unintentionally attracting the man’s attention.
He garbled something to him, yet Clarence could not understand him.
“You want something to eat? I think I still got some of that candy left.”
Clarence soon began to get an understanding of what the man tried to tell him, once he saw flashlights in the distance.
“Oh, no,” Clarence gasped. “They’re coming for you, Darkman.”
The man gave a baffled grunt, triggered from Clarence’s nickname of him.
“Darkman,” Clarence repeated. “I don’t know your real name, so I made one up for you. I picked ‘Darkman’ ’cause I found you here in the dark…and you’re a man.”
The voices down the hall grew closer.
“C’mon, Darkman,” Clarence beckoned his new friend. “I know of a way out of this hospital and off world. But you’ve gotta help me back. You gotta help take my friend Mandy with us. Deal?”
The Darkman vaguely understood the boy, but grunted and nodded regardless.
He carried the boy’s comatose friend, who appeared to have sustained severe burns herself, with her entire head bandaged like his.
Clarence neglected to mention that his “way out” was through a heavily occupied first floor. The Darkman’s presence (and appearance) terrified everyone from the front desk to the waiting room. It also didn’t help much that he carried a woman whose limping body seemed dead in his arms.
Despite not being as covert as he planned, Clarence still got them out.
They disappeared into the rainy night and through an alleyway where Mandy’s Type-Z T.A.R.D.I.S. was parked. Since Mandy was the only one capable of opening it, Clarence took her drooping right hand and pressed it to the black solid.
After a long bio-scan process, the alien ship permitted them access.
Clarence operated the T.A.R.D.I.S. controls between guesswork and what he had seen Mandy do.Eventually, the 8-year-old was able to dematerialize from the dimension.