On a small, cheap television sitting precariously upon a plastic stool, a brunette Amazonian warrior (1) instructed him with a contemptuous dominance that he was a pathetic worm and had better pick up the phone and not keep her waiting any longer. Before the sneering Goddess, a set of professional looking copper-bottomed pots and pans continued to accumulate mass even as the price perversely shrunk. Watching transfixed from a simple bunk, an old-man's fingers worked frantically in his lap.
Captivated by the broadcast, he failed to notice the quicksilver disc that pooled on the lush, woven carpet of his cell until it began to transform. Its surface stretched, stole volume from hidden dimensions, attenuated in to a pair of mercury arms and hands that slapped down to either side with electric detonations and pushed until the puddle had become instead a kneeling, silver, naked man. The argent hue faded to Caucasian pink as the man rose to his feet, though not in the man's eyes or his extremities (2).
The old-man's hands stopped their activity. He smiled, and raised the odd, beige trousers he had been knitting. "Robert," he said. "Kind of you to drop by. Would you mind?" He shook the trousers at the naked man. "You'll find they're your size."
"Knitwit," said the naked man, tonelessly. There was something faintly robotic in his voice, an electric modulation (3) that had always irritated the Knitwit (4). After the birth and death of an awkward moment, Robert nodded, stepped forward to take the trousers and put them on.
"My gratitude, Robert. Difficult to concentrate with your phallus flopping about like an electric eel. And why so formal with your old friend Victor? Or should I call you Arclight? Now wouldn't that would be silly?"
"Knit... Victor," said Robert, tightening the woolen belt that the Knitwit had thoughtfully included in the trousers, "I need... we need - "
"- my help," finished Victor. "Oh don't look so incredulous. Don't the trousers tell you I knew you were coming? I may have been in one cell or another for over twenty years, Robert, but I am up with current affairs. Pun intended. I know the world is fraying, becoming undone. Who else would you turn to, to patch it up?"
Arclight, undisputed world champion hero for a generation (5), a man with a tiny, spinning neutron-star for a heart (6), actually looked abashed. He scuffed a toe-nail across the stone. Lightning flashed across the room, incinerating hair-woven tapestries, leaving little sparks burning in the lint carpet.
"Robert, I saw the telethon. You, The Funk, She-Might, Captain Infeasible... sitting there, all of you, uttering inanities on the phone to morons. I saw the desperation in you all. You're unnecessary. Obsolete. You can't fight the bad guys, Robert. They don't exist. The world is woven from grey wool now. Terrorists and governments, and nobody can tell them apart. Which ones are you working for now Robert? Do you even know?"
"Actually, they're pensioning us off. If anybody will offer us an annuity worth the paper it's written on.