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Stan Lee’s Work Force Book 1, Chapter 7: Lock and Key

Dorothy sprints through the office, deftly ducking and dodging everything in her path. She rounds a corner and freezes in her tracks, eyes wide in terror. In front of her is a man in a worn trench coat hanging half in, half out of a free-floating wooden doorframe. Inside the open door is a shimmering blue portal.

The man is struggling to pull himself out of the blue light, but much to Dorothy’s horror, a monstrous slimy green tentacle is tugging him back inside.

To make matters weirder, a beautiful blonde girl with large angelic wings is flying above the bizarre scene. She’s the very same one who flew over Dorothy as she crossed the street on her way into work this morning. She flaps her feathers, blowing office supplies and papers everywhere.

The man frantically tries to relay the monster’s description to the angel as he bobs in and out of the radiant entryway. The girl sketches the creature in a notepad from his hurried depiction.

“He’s definitely green! Scaly! With red eyes! Very scary red eyes…” the man describes.

Dorothy looks back and forth between the two, astonished. “What is going on here!?” she demands, out of breath. The two finally notice Dorothy in their vicinity.

“W-who the h-heck are y-you!?” the doorway guy asks as a tentacle yanks him around by the neck.

“I’m the new Office Manager! Dorothy Su! Who are you!?”

The angel’s eyes light up and she drops to the ground. With the voice of, yes, an angel, she engages Dorothy. “Oh, I apologize, ma’am. We sometimes get so caught up in our work that we forget about manners.” She extends her hand as the tentacle fight escalates in the background. “I’m ANGEL OF JUSTICE!” she proudly declares.

Meanwhile, the tentacle has begun whopping the man on the floor over and over. Having been caught up in Angel’s virtuous voice, Dorothy smiles back. “Oh that’s a divine name.”

Angel’s beams, almost emanating a corporeal warmth. “You’re completely right, Ms. Su, I’m glad they picked it.” Dorothy is slightly confused, Who picked a name for her? 

Meanwhile, the portal man can’t take the beating any longer and grasps a nearby computer keyboard to try and pull himself free. Holding on for dear life and speaking in between wallops, he manages to say, “Hey. Hi. Howdy. I’m Portal, the staff writer. Great to make your acquaintance during this traumatic life or death experience. Any chance of a little help here?”

Dorothy shakes her head vigorously and snaps out of Angel’s trance. “Oh goodness! Yes!” She rolls up her sleeves and spits into each hand. Dorothy then grabs onto Portal and starts to pulllllll. The tentacle creature yanks back in a rough game of tug of war. Dorothy puts both of her feet on either side of the door frame for stability and makes one great big heave, pulling Portal free.

They tumble to the ground, but Portal springs up as fast as he can. He pushes the door closed and takes a shiny golden skeleton key that’s tied around his neck into his hand. He attempts to lock the door with the key, but a tentacle squeezes through the door crack and wraps itself around Portal’s waist!

He doubles his effort, finally managing to insert the end of the key into the lock and turn, just like he was locking a regular door. The floating door snaps closed, and the frame shrinks down to nothingness in a pop, similar to the sound of a lightbulb blowing out. The persisting tentacle is severed, but still remains coiled around Portal’s midsection.

They all drop to their knees out of breath. Portal gets his wind back and speaks while trying to unravel the still wriggling tentacle from his body. “Not bad — for an Office Manager. Like I said, I’m Portal, hence the portal. It’s kind of an on the nose name, I know.” Dorothy wipes slime off of her hands and nods.

Portal pulls the sticky tentacle off and throws it into a wastepaper basket. “Angel, you’ve met…”

Angel of Justice bows her head again and warmly grins. “Yep, yep! I can’t open portals like Portal, but I have these wonderful wings. And I can shoot energy beams out of my hands and eyes. So that’s something!”

“Something I could have used a minute ago, Angel,” Portal coughs out.

Angel just smiles and continues: “Oh yeah. I can be a little forgetful you see. I don’t even know how I got these feather dusters. I just woke up with them one day!”

Dorothy is surprised. “Wow, well what were you guys doing over here anyway?”

Portal gets to his feet and brushes himself off. “I use portals to enter other dimensions and get inspiration for stories. I was trying to describe that octopus baboon to Angel here, so she can put pencil to paper on a new villain I’m cooking up to pitch Stan.”

“Oh goodness, wow! That all sounds very exciting,” Dorothy politely comments. “But…”

“Hey, how’d the drawing come out by the by?” Portal inquires, cutting Dorothy off.

Angel looks around the disheveled cubicle and finds her sketchbook. She picks it up and shows off a drawing of the monster. It’s an incredibly detailed illustration of a lizard-monkey-tentacle hybrid beast. “Just as I described,” Portal compliments.

Dorothy looks back and forth from the picture of the monster to the wrecked cubicle. “That is very impressive, you’ve got a lot of talent, Angel. But… Portal, why didn’t you just take a picture of the thing instead of bringing it back with you?”

The suggestion dawns on Portal like an epiphany. He’s completely flabbergasted. “Huh. I never thought of that before. You’re right! Good idea, O-M.” Dorothy sighs and blows away a strand of hair hanging in her face.

Chapter 8 will be released this Thursday!

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