We open on a busy street in what appears to be Neo York City, sometime in the early afternoon. The storefronts are clean and clear of graffiti and iron security bars, and the sidewalks are free from trash and the sort of detritus that usually peppers one's walk. Pedestrians are going this way and that, and cars are caught in the endless start and stop traffic of that time of day. SPYGOD and BEAUTIFUL STRANGER appear on the curb, out of everyone's way. SPYGOD is still wearing what he was wearing, before, and BEAUTIFUL STRANGER now looks like a refugee from a Led Zeppelin concert: an open, paisley shirt and painted on, low-cut blue jeans.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Here we are, (REDACTED). The world as it could be, provided you actually accept our offer.
SPYGOD: I take it they can't see us?
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: That's standard for this sort of thing. What do you think?
SPYGOD: Looks... interesting.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Oh, you haven't seen the half of it, yet.
SPYGOD: Come to think of it, it looks the same. Mostly.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Really? Are you just saying that to rubbish the notion that we may have something to actually offer?
SPYGOD: I'm saying it because I don't see the big !@#$ deal, yet.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: It will become apparent with time.
SPYGOD: I don't have time for a magical mystery tour, mother!@#$.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: (indicating his clothes) Sorry, I can't visit the city without dressing the part.
SPYGOD: You think this is !@#$ all about you, huh? That's nice technique, there. I thought you were the good salesman?
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Well I got you past the front doors, didn't I?
SPYGOD: So you did. Now take me past the salad bar bull!@#$ and show me the prime rib station.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER languidly gestures around him, walking in a circle.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: This is Neo York City, some time from now. Longer than when you had your vision from our competitors, I should add. This is what will happen if you accept our offer and do exactly as we ask.
SPYGOD: Your competitors told me that what I saw was what would happen, not what might.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Our competitors obviously did not count on our direct involvement. Our presence trumps their prescience.
SPYGOD: And you're trying to baffle me with bull!@#$.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: How about this, then. If you do nothing, and decline our offer, their future comes true. We are offering you a different future.
SPYGOD: And that's this? Clean streets? Urban renewal?
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Listen, (REDACTED). Turn those ears of yours to the heavens. Listen to the televisions, radio, the satellites. Listen to the people and what they say, and what they don't say. Tell me what's missing.
SPYGOD shrugs, folds his arms behind his back, closes his eyes, and tilts his head back. BEAUTIFUL STRANGER smiles and watches as SPYGOD seems puzzled, then intrigued, and then incredulous. He opens his eyes and looks around like he's seeing the world for the first time.
SPYGOD: How is that... I mean... what the !@#$?
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: You noticed what's missing, I take it.
SPYGOD: They're gone. All of them, gone.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Yes. No massive threats, anymore. No GORGON. No remnants of what you just smashed underfoot, either. No supercrime or science terrorism of any kind, and no mundane terrorism, either. One world, working together for peace.
SPYGOD: Wait, this isn't one of those UN-inspired, one world government bull!@#$ things, is it?
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER No, not at all. In fact, the United Nations doesn't exist anymore. It's not needed. There's only a global rescue and emergency response team, now. And, well... I think you might recognize the fellow in charge?
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER pulls a rolled up recruitment poster out of his shirt, and hands it to SPYGOD, who unfurls it and looks it over. A bit of a smile creases his face.
SPYGOD: "Come work for a newer, better world."
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: "All countries, all peoples, one planet, one goal."
SPYGOD: So we finally got over the fear of supers, huh?
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Yes. No more drugs in the water to retard powers. Those who are blessed with abilities are specially educated and trained, and then given the option of working for your group, being sent somewhere they can be of great use, or else being allowed to remain in their communities and help where they can. If they stumble, they'll be dealt with, but given how well they're treated...
There's a whooshing noise, and a teenager in a superhero costume lands nearby. COSTUME walks down the sidewalk to get something from one of the stores. As COSTUME passes, people cheer and wave, and a few brave souls shake his hand and get pictures. COSTUME seems happy at his lot, but humbled by their trust and praise.
SPYGOD: Holy !@#$.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: If he'd done that in your world they'd tear him to pieces, wouldn't they?
SPYGOD: Or try and !@#$ him, one way or the other.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Yes. That's what comes from treating humans like bombs. You can't live with them, but surrendering them would mean capitulation to the enemy. And when you make your own...
SPYGOD: They turn into !@#$ cults. Deathtraps made of groupies, fan clubs, and merchandising deals.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: And you, above them all, with a finger on the trigger just in case.
SPYGOD: !@#$ you.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: It's true. I don't need to say his name, do I?
SPYGOD: You do and the show's over.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Oh, it's just begun, friend.
COSTUME comes out with a small bag of groceries. A small girl asks for an autograph and he kindly bends down to give one to her, and talk for a time.
SPYGOD: Make me visible to him, please. I need to ask him something.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: No details of the future, (REDACTED). Some things you will have to discover on your own.
SPYGOD: Nothing like that, !@#$face. I just need to know something.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER sighs, nods, and waves a hand. SPYGOD walks up to COSTUME to ask him a question.
SPYGOD: Excuse me, son. Sorry to bother you, but-
COSTUME: Sir! I didn't know you were here, today. I thought you were in Brazil helping with the relief effort?
SPYGOD: Yeah, well. Tricks of the !@#$ trade. Listen, I need to ask you a question.
COSTUME: Of course, sir.
SPYGOD: And I need a !@#$ honest answer, okay? Don't tell me what you think I want to hear. Tell me what I need to know.
COSTUME: ... Sure, sir. That's what we always try to do.
SPYGOD: Are people... happy?
SPYGOD: Well, you know. "All countries, all peoples..."
COSTUME: "One planet, one goal." Yes, sir. People are happy. Compared with what we had before, and how it didn't work, this is a major improvement.
SPYGOD: And you're happy?
COSTUME: Sir, are you kidding me? The way I understand it, if I'd been born a little earlier, I'd have never even had these abilities. I'd be some average guy. Maybe I could still make a difference, yeah, but not like this.
SPYGOD: And we didn't have to sacrifice anything to get here? Anything essential?
Everyone stops moving and talking. The scene freezes. Cars halt in mid-motion.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: (REDACTED), you cannot ask those kinds of questions.
SPYGOD: I need to know what we've !@#$ lost, okay?
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Who says you lost anything? Who says this didn't just happen?
SPYGOD: I say, !@#$hole. I say you never get something for nothing. And I know your side of things gets something in return that I'm not going to !@#$ like. I need to know what it is.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: You mean this isn't enough to make that something a mere afterthought?
SPYGOD: I mean I don't trust your brimstoney !@#$ any further than I could comfortably spit a dead rat full of !@#$ and maggots, you greasy !@#$.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Well, I see we're off to a promising start.
SPYGOD: The finish is going to !@#$ astound you, especially if you don't let me get back to this conversation.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: No further questions, (REDACTED).
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER waves his hand again. The scene comes to life and motion again. COSTUME looks around, perplexed, and then, shrugging, takes to the sky again with his groceries.
SPYGOD: Okay, no deal. Take me home.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: No.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: No. Not until I've finished my sales pitch.
SPYGOD: I read the fine print or I don't buy.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: So be it, but the fine print does not include forewarning or future events.
SPYGOD: So if I can't ask, how do I see the fine print?
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: That is a good question.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER puts a finger to his lips, walks in a circle, and then snaps his fingers, turning back to face SPYGOD.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: How about this? You made a joke about a magical mystery tour? I'll let you have one of your own.
SPYGOD: What does it entail, !@#$nuts? A band, a camera, and a bus full of circus freaks?
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: I give you 24 hours in this reality. You can not be seen or speak with the people here, and any attempts to learn its history will be blocked, as will attempts to find your current self. But if you watch and listen long enough, I think you will find that this world is as good a world as you're ever going to get.
SPYGOD: Provided I do at least one little, nasty thing that you won't tell me about.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: Well, yes. But you can call that sticker shock. First the carrot, (REDACTED). Then the stick.
SPYGOD: I don't like that !@#$ deal. I refuse to !@#$ cooperate. Take me the !@#$ home.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: No.
SPYGOD: That word, again. I really think your sales technique !@#$ sucks, pal.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: I know. But consider this the song and dance you can't quite interrupt out of a sense of ingrained politeness, plus the fact that the salesman has his arm around your shoulders and is getting you coffee.
SPYGOD: It'll be broken and shoved up your !@#$ along with the whole !@#$ pot if you keep this !@#$ up, !@#$%hole. You haven't dealt with me, before.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: And you haven't dealt with me, before, either.
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER: I'll meet you back here in exactly a day. Have fun, (REDACTED). I look forward to your acceptance.
SPYGOD: I look forward to cramming the pot up your-
BEAUTIFUL STRANGER vanishes, leaving SPYGOD alone.
SPYGOD: Hey, come back here! I wasn't done threatening you, yet!
SPYGOD looks left and right, and then up. He cocks an eyebrow and puts his hands in his pockets.
SPYGOD: Okay, then. 24 !@#$ hours to find out what he won't tell me. I've done more with less.
SPYGOD nods, walks offstage. CURTAIN FALLS.
(SPYGOD is listening to Things Can Only Get Better (Howard Jones) and unable to drink anything right now)