Mario Lopez exists. Mario Lopez is among us. Mario Lopez advances.
"And lo, his coming shall make Vlad the Impaler's butchery look like a Zack Attack."
So, once again, it falls to me to lead the charge. In yet another of what I can only assume will be vain attempts to shake the hypnotic control that Mario Lopez exerts over the world, I will illustrate my tale with the thing's own actual, unaltered words, taken directly from various interviews, as well as its own Twitter feed.
It was a balmy spring day when I first decided to undertake the actions that would end up costing me everything. It was not a decision that I made lightly, or without considerable deliberation. For even now I am not a man wholly without love or happiness in his life, despite the horrors that I have borne witness to. I have a home, a career, a wife, a family, hopes and dreams, and like eight beers still left in the fridge. I have things to live for, and so I want you to understand that I did not choose to discard my life on a whim.
So it was not with frivolity that I went to that storage locker on Glendale that night. It was not with gaiety that I pulled the fraying string on the overhead light, unlocked the corrugated metal gate and surveyed my equipment. Indeed, it was with a heavy heart that I hefted my shotgun loaded with consecrated Earth, coiled my whip braided from Nepalese prayer beads and sheathed my twin daggers (forged on the Winter Solstice and cooled in the waters of the Nile's Source) inside of my wife's bright purple velvet mini robe. That last part especially was just chock full of deliberation and intent and was absolutely on purpose, I promise. I was not at all intending to don my sweet black leather duster and opened the wrong closet because I was still next-day drunk -- no, the robe was a talisman; it was, like, blessed by a Canadian Frost Monk or something. Word is bond.
"Hey, I snap pictures of accidents that I pass on the highway! I'm normal, amigos!" -- Mario Lopez
And so laden with sacred weaponry and profane intent did I mount my steed -- a beaten and ill-used 2005 Kia Optima -- my grim purpose beating inside of me like a second heart. With even grimmer purpose did I then mount the 4 Line toward downtown after the Optima refused to start. With the grimmest of all purposes did I stumble off that bus in West Hollywood, after being rudely awakened and shoved toward the exit by the surly Vietnamese driver who bizarrely muttered of "inhuman wails" and "terrible screeching" and "too many farts."
When I eventually arrived at my frightful terminus, I clambered over the towering brick wall to the Lopez compound, fell onto a tree, caught my "protective" mini robe on an errant branch and went stealthily spinning into the wet earth below. I cunningly feigned unconsciousness for an indeterminate period of time. When I at last awoke, it was dark.
Sweet, sheltering dark.
No, seriously, Mario Lopez takes pictures of gruesome traffic accidents that he "passes." That's the actual photo from his Twitter feed.
The night is oft reviled as a sinister cloak enshrouding a litany of evils, but this is not always the case. For remember that the light can blind as effectively as any shadow, and that it is the sun's rays -- not the moon's -- which seep into our pores and poison us with cancers. Yes, there are ghouls in this world that feed off of the sun, and as is plainly evidenced by his bitchin' tan, Mario Lopez counts itself among them. After I'd staggered to my feet and steeled my resolve with a liberal application of expired Four Loko (I get a deal), I mentally bade farewell to this mortal coil, and set forth into the monster's lair.
What I saw there shocked me to my very core, and nearly drove me to madness. For there sat the beast, with his dead, black eyes and that easy grin which spoke more of savagely bared teeth than mirth ...
Playing Monopoly with his giggling family.
I am ashamed to tell you, dear reader, that at that sight, my determination was very nearly broken. I reeled and staggered, and sat heavily on the ground. I took mental stock: Was I truly just in this task? Or was it yet another fever dream brought about by a night spent devouring old episodes of Saved by the Bell, vainly attempting to spot Kelly Kapowski upskirts whilst binging on caffeinated malt liquor of questionable integrity?
Was I truly here to slay a dragon, or was I just inappropriately obsessed with a B-list celebrity, for reasons mostly having to do with my own ether addiction?
Look: Mario Lopez only respects God for the power he wields. Isn't that the primary sign of sociopathy?
But then I saw it: It was just after Mario Lopez rolled the dice, comically pantomiming shock for his clapping and squealing daughter as he moved the little car over to the jail space. His wife, Courtney, laughed and reached over to slap his arm playfully, inadvertently revealing that tiny, quivering thing -- nearly invisible to the naked eye -- which assured me of the righteousness of my dreadful path.
It was then that I saw the strings.
I watched in creeping horror as the trick became clear: His family -- his own wife and baby daughter -- moved only with him. Every draw of a card, every surreptitious glance, every affectionate gesture -- they were all carefully choreographed by the movements of none other than Lopez himself. The illusion shattered abruptly every few seconds, when he would stop and stare silently ahead, as if carefully considering what a real human being might do next, and his entire family simply froze with him. It was apparent then that these were merely lifeless husks, animated exclusively by the pulleys and strings which adjoined them to Mario Lopez. So lost was I in shock that I forgot, if only momentarily, to cloak my own presence. I very nearly succumbed when he mechanically inclined his head to stare up at me standing outside of his living room window, and the heads of his wife and daughter swiveled with him as one.
Oh. I didn't have to infer anything from the last tweet at all: He outright says it.
"This is it," I thought to myself, "this is the only chance the world has. Nobody is more prepared for this moment than you are. Nobody has undergone more extensive training. Nobody has conducted more careful study. Nobody will strike now, if you do not. Push the horror away, Brockway, push it away and down, and strike. Strike, for all of mankind turns on your next action!"
With a yelp consisting of equal parts fear and fury, I stood and charged. I was ready to fulfill my destiny at any cost. I channeled the entirety of my soul's energy into these small and frail limbs, imbuing them with all the might and potentiality of a human life. I swung my arm back, felt it surge hot with the righteous fervor of every pure and good thing in the world worth protecting, and readied it to strike the blow that would send Corruption reeling.
I took two and a half steps before slamming face-first into the closed window. I instantly collapsed, my vision gone iridescent from the pain in my surely broken nose.
Look! I'm not the only one who sees it. Also: Notice how he says "thanks" after being compared to a vampire.
"What foolish heroics," something like a voice droned from behind me. O, God, how did he get out here so fast?!
"Ackmblnnn," I coolly retorted, and sneezed blood all over my legs.
"You persist," he said, his words so completely lacking in intonation that it took me a moment to realize this was a question.
"I have to! You started releasing children's books!" I spat defiantly, and by defiantly, I mean bloodily, and by spat, I mean sobbed.
"Yes. Children learn much more quickly. They are more ... susceptible ... to information," it spoke, and it was then that my vision cleared and I saw what dwelled behind me.
It was nothing.
I did not, as expected, turn and bear witness to the smarmy, smirking form of Mario Lopez hovering over me, wearing his usual crude, mocking impression of a human face. There was only damp soil and empty cans of Uva Berry. I slowly pivoted back around, and there found the entire Lopez family, standing shoulder to shoulder just inches away from me, beyond the glass: Lopez in the center, his daughter and wife to either side. Their heads were cocked uniformly, in a gesture of raptorial curiosity.
Nope: Nothing weird about that second response at all. Certainly nothing that hints at a Lovecraftian cult following Lopez or anything ...
"Why are you presenting yourself as a role model to little kids?" I screamed at the line of deathly still Lopezii.
When its answer came, I realized that it had, in fact, never been behind me at all. The voice had been inside of me all along, resonating in the painful space where my childhood once lived: "Why not me. I have bred. I have spawned. I have created children and therefore may speak on the subject."
"This has to stop!"
"Progeny exist to advance the race. I am the race. They advance me. Besides, have you even read my books."
"Of course not!" I answered, trying to take my feet but finding that Lopez had cast some sort of vertiginous spell on me that quite resembled Four Loko poisoning in its effects. "You think I'm stupid enough to let your mad words inside of me?"
You can feel the evil ebbing off of it! It's like the Necronomicon of the beanbag section!
"Clever." Mario Lopez replied. But chillingly, it was the daughter who feigned his humorless, sardonic smile.
"That's right! It was super clever and not at all because I'm mostly illiterate!" I affirmed. "But I had somebody read me a synopsis of your books on Amazon -- you know, so as not to expose myself directly to the madness, and not because I don't understand how to make that sound with the crossy thing next to the field goal mark -- and it's clear that they teach the most terrible lessons!"
"Such as." Mario Lopez's voice inquired; it was the wife whose brow knit in feigned innocence.
"Such as everything! Every word of it! This was what the hobo with the smart-making glasses read to me":
"I do not understand the issue." It spoke at last with its physical mouth, and I instantly longed for the nostalgic pain its psychic transmissions had brought, for now the three heads spoke as one, forming a flat, toneless choir of dead voices.
"Setting all racist caricatures aside, one of the kids in your book Mud Tacos starts showing off, so the others deal with this by immediately revenging themselves upon him. What kind of lesson is that for little kids?"
"A simple one." the chorus chanted. "If weak beings aspire beyond their station, choke them in filth until they die. This is necessary."
"This is correct. This is food for human beings." -- Mario Lopez
But I noticed something that gave me hope, if only a twinge: When Lopez spoke, the others seemed to be losing sync -- the wife spoke too early, the daughter spoke just a moment too late.
"You won't get away with this!" I whipped the tight, form-fitting mini robe off and held it before me like a shield, but then I got cold, so I put it back on and just kind of held one end of the belt out at the Lopez triumvirate.
"Wh- what are you ..." Courtney slurred. She was shaking her head from side to side, as if trying to clear the fog from a long-drugged stupor. She did not control the entirety of her body, it was clear, but with a Sisyphean effort she did manage to turn her head to stare accusingly back at Lopez.
Mario turned to meet her gaze, and for an instant, I swore there was a hint of surprise in those lifeless shark eyes. But it was gone before it even resolved, and the Lopez trio suddenly began screeching and frantically thrashing about. It danced a mad jig across the living room, the limbs of the wife and daughter slashing and clawing at the central controlling body, the central body snapping and twisting upon itself as a wolf caught in a snare. At this sight, my faltering courage at last failed me. To my shame, and humanity's assured damnation, I fled the scene in senseless terror. The last thing I heard, as I scrambled up the tree and back out to the blissfully unaware world slumbering beyond those walls, was a short, sharp female cry, and then a long, low whistle -- like an ancient steam engine, building upon itself and building upon itself until it ceased to be a sound at all, and instead became a fathomless vibration echoing in the very stones beneath my fleeing feet.
And then pristine, unbroken silence.
This is how Mario Lopez says "run."
But just before I scrabbled back onto that divine bus, and home, to safety and salvation, I once again felt the rotten, sickly weight inside of my brain that signified Mario Lopez was speaking. It had lapsed into the same disingenuously enthusiastic persona it adopts when it knows the cameras are rolling. It said:
"Heeeey, muchacho! Thanks for the advice on passing for human! You keep being useful like that, hombre, and there might be a space for you in the world that follows What Must Be Done! Ha ha ha, I'm just joshing with you, cabron! All will be fuel. All will be fuel. ALL WILL BE FUEL. ALL WILL BE FUEL, AMIGO!"
And so, though I did live to relate my tale to you, please know that all of my days from now until the absolution that only death can grant me shall be hollow. I find that the world which surrounds my waking hours is now like the painted backdrop of a theater -- to be seen from a distance, but never enjoyed. I am a man forever apart, existing in a dimension that looks in on but does not intersect with your own. Even in my slumbering hours, I likewise find no respite, for I still hear that woeful clattering, as of women rolling dice, and drawing cards, and sliding thimbles, and dancing eternally to the vibrations of the strings that Mario Lopez holds.
You can pre-order the next episodes of Rx right here, or buy Robert's other book, Everything Is Going to Kill Everybody: The Terrifyingly Real Ways the World Wants You Dead. Follow him on Tumblr, Twitter and Facebook.
For more from Brockway, check out A Life-Changing Seminar on Empowerment, Leadership and Boobs and A Typical Day at the Office, As Told Through Police Reports.