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Re: [Jan 2016] - Breaking the fourth wall - Submission Thread I want to play.  Hope the formatting comes through ok, plus I'm not really a grammar person so a lot of what I've written may have been done improperly.  Also this should be 1486 words.

Spoiler for Hiden:
When Gary Stu met Mary Sue

The young man sighed.

"$#%^ it, Gary!  What have I told you about that #@%*& sighing?" rasped Petey.  The young man turned to regard Petey, staring blankly at the parrot.  The parrot in turn glared at Gary, his one eye fiercely burning beneath his crow's nest cap, a cap adorned with a feather from Petey's own butt (the other eye of course being covered by his eyepatch).   The young man mumbled "Sorry."  Then he instinctively tried to put his hands in the pockets of the black pants he wore.  Unfortunately the pants were constructed without pockets, leaving him with no place to put the offending hands.  So he clasped his hands together behind his back, then kicked at a non-existent rock one with one sandalled foot.  The young man gave out another loud sigh.

"You're gonna drive me daft!  Daft Lad! Daft!" roared Petey.  Suddenly the parrot stood very still.  A note of alarm was in his voice when he spoke again.  "The dreams...  It be the dreams agin', right Lad?" he asked.
"Yeah Petey," responded Gary.  "It be the dreams." he said sarcastically, an emotion he had communicated more and more commonly in recent years.

Petey stood on one leg, with the claw of the other scratching beside his beak.  "And it be booty you be dreamin' of?  Not swag, not loot in gen'ral?  But booty, specifically ye be dreamin' of booty?"  Gary nodded his head in confirmation.

Petey opened the claw he had been scratching with and put his extended digits over his eyes.  "This be bad business," he muttered, "Bad bad business."

"Oh knock it off Petey," Gary said in exasperation.  "You've never been outside this monastery, same as me.  So you don't know any more about these dreams than I do."

The claw came away from Petey's eyes, and he extended his leg and pointed an accusing talon at Gary.  "Oh I knows, I knows alright!" he squawked exitedly.  "Blood will tell!  Blood will tell!  Me ancestrical memories be tellin' me what this be about!"

Gary looked at him.  It was true that Petey had a strange ability, one that allowed him to more or less randomly remember things that one of his ancestors had known or experienced.  It was to be expected he guessed; ten thousand generations of trying to breed the perfect parrot had effects like that.  Just as ten thousand generations of breeding pirates to ninjas had produced Gary.  When the Monks of the Grimdark started a project, they were in it for the long haul.

"Lets me guess," Petey said reflectively.  "Ye be dreamin' of gold and silver idols.  All of em' wenches, and none of em' wearin' very much - less'n ye count a chain mail bikini.  An fer varieties' sake ye got the occashanul statue of a maiden all made outta marble with alabastery skin and such!"

Gary said nothing.  With his hands still clasped behind his back he looked at the ground and shuffled his feet.  Suddenly he lifted one hand and lifted the collar of his  black gi - "It's getting a little warm in here."

"Hah! An you said Petey didn't know!  Petey knows lots!  Heck I'll even do yer vanishing trick."  And Petey was gone; hiding himself during a blink of Gary's eyes.

"You're behind the poop bucket Petey.  I can see the shadow of your cap and beak extending to the wall."  Gary said.  And it was true, the torch by the door clearly illuminated the bucket, against the wall the silhouette of a parrot's head with cap was clearly present.

"Smelley thing that," Petey said as he hopped from behind the bucket.  "It's a poop bucket Petey .  They DO that."  The sarcasm coming through strongly.

"Anyway... it's like I'm looking for something.  Something I can't find in a monastery full of  ... monks."  Gary said lamely.  "It's like I have an itch I can't scratch."

"Fleas?" asked Petey.  "No, I strangled all those years ago," Gary said matter-of-factly.  “But the dreams... what does it all mean?"

"Boy," Petey said flatly.  "You got wunnerful gifts for piratin' and ninja'in.  But yer head... it be a cabbage."

Gary sighed and walked aimlessly about the small confines of his cell.  Then it happened.  Something unprecedented, certainly in his world perhaps in any world.  Only a being with his unique heritage and abilities could have possibly have found it.  Only someone with the keen eyes of a ninja and the ability to see the unseen;  only someone trained by the Monks of the Grimdark to find the weaknesses in all things; only someone with a pirate's ability to find trouble no matter what, no matter where.

Suddenly Gary stopped and peered intently at one wall of his small cell.  "What's that?  I've lived in this cell for 16 years and I never noticed that before?"  He knelt along the wall and examined something.
"What it be lad?" Petey asked.  "It's some kind of ... seam." was the reply.  Suddenly whatever Gary was fiddling with separated.  And there was a... dark hole, with cool air wafting into the cell, as though it came from a much larger space.

“I donts suppose there be any way ye not be goin' through that hole?” Petey asked hopefully.  Gary turned to Petey and smirked, then he disappeared through the hole.  “I hates it when he does that,” Petey said, not specifying either the disappearance or the smirk.  With a squawk he took flight and he too disappeared though the hole.

“Whatever I wuz expectin,' this weren't it.”  Petey said.  Gary stood alongside him, his mouth agape and his eyes wide in wonder.  They had found that Gary's manipulation of the “seam” had actually served to move aside the edge of one of a gigantic stack of mats – all apparently made of white paper.  Gary knelt and lifted the edge of the topmost mat and was rewarded with the too familiar view of his cell.  Dropping the mat, he walked across  a flat brown surface which seemed to be one solid piece of wood.  Other large stacks of the mysterious paper mats.

“Wow, that's the biggest cup I've ever seen.  And look the light is soming from that round kind of thing on top of that metal column.” noted Gary.  “Take a gander at that lad.” Petey said as he pointed a talon at something beyond the wooden platform.  It was a chair.  A gigantic chair, one sized for something beyond a simple giant.  Something that would probably consider a Titan to be a small child.  “I'd hate to see what's parkin' it's backside in that great big honkin' thing.  Time to go!” said Petey, but too late – Gary was already in motion.

He sprinted over to another of the cups, an odd one because it was apparently full of ship's masts – or something of the sort.  But Gary and Petey both knew in their bones (and that means they really knew) that no ship had ever sailed with a mast shaved flat on six sides.  Another mystery.

Gary easily scaled the sheer, smooth side of the massive cup.  Then just as quickly clambered up one of the gigantic “masts,” coming to rest atop a kind of pink cushiony thing attached to the top by way of a metal collar.  He squatted on his haunches, with his elbows resting on his knees, his index fingers together, and his thumbs twiddling as he contemplated the scene and said “What – what – what.. Hey! Petey!  Those mats -there's writing on them!  Those are pages!  Big, big pages.”  He stood up and descended to the platform, even more quickly than he ascended.

Petey's curiosity overcame his fear.  He took flight and flew over the platform.  He saw many curious things, but his keen eye was particularly focused on the enigmatic pages with their writing.  After some time he descended and joined Gary who was trying to sound things out as he walked across one of the mammoth pages (reading was not one of Gary's strong points).

“I don't rightly know what's going on.  The stack we come from is kind of older n' dustier than the other uns.”  Petey said.  “And it has all kind of littler yeller paper things stuck to it and.  And them say things like  'I can't believe I did this' an' 'pretty bad worldbuilding' an 'early work, grrrr!'”

Gary's eyes were focused on one stack in the middle of the platform.  “I'm going there Petey.  I'll lift the edge of the page so you can go back to our cell.  But me, I'm going there.”

“Hmmm that one has scribblins on it 'strong female heroine,' 'saleable,' 'mature themes' other odd things.” Petey noted.  “But ye ain't going alone, we be shipmates or well cellmates right nows.”  So he hopped on Gary's shoulder and off they went.

January 23, 2016, 05:11:50 AM
Re: [Feb 2016] - Fanfic - Submission Thread Another late entry.  I found this one very difficult as opposed to the previous one.  Also the characters I am using may not be considered fantasy characters.

Spoiler for Hiden:
Man and Mutant

   Eric opened his eyes, his mind startled to find that action necessary.  He had been reviewing his plans to assault Xavier's mansion.  Then, he was opening his eyes as if waking from a long sleep.  He attempted to rise and investigate matters, but found that he was restrained from doing so.

   Scanning his surroundings, he found that he was secured in a sort of chair, one that reminded him of a dentist's chair.  If -  the dentist were also a madman.  Various ... probes (that was the right word), and instruments surrounded him.  He found that he could move his head, inexplicably could not move his limbs.  Despite this he found it reassuring that most of the gear surrounding him was made of metal.

   He concentrated for a moment, attempting to find ferrous metal in the array of items.  Then more confusion.  He couldn't FEEL anything around him, not the way he normally could with similar things.  It was as though none of the equipment contained iron or steel.  Or - someone had neutralized his special abilities.

   Calming himself, he assessed the situation.  "Concentrate Eric," he thought.   Taking a closer look at the instruments surrounding him he became even more puzzled.  He was no stranger to technology, after all.  But he did not recognize ANYTHING about any of this equipment.  And he had no basis to even make a guess as to what it did - or how apparently it kept him from feeling the particular metals he was certain they contained;  he was sure at least some of the visible screws were steel.  He concentrated again, trying to move one, a simple rotation.  Nothing.

   He scanned the rest of the room.  More incomprehensible equipment, some tables, a blackboard covered in various equations and diagrams.  Blank walls in a kind of offwhite color, the ceiling the same.  The floor might be the same material, but it was apparently covered in tiles, alternating black and white squares.  "Like the restrooms in a chain steakhouse." he thought.

   Suddenly a portion of the wall his chair was facing slid aside.  A man stepped through, apparently engrossed by whatever he was looking at on a tablet computer.  Eric absently noted it appeared to be an eyepad.

   The man wore a purple shirt with a flaring collar.  His pants were green and he wore a harness and belt festooned with various unfamiliar gadgetry.  But what most intrigued Eric was that the man was bald.

   "Xavier" he hissed.  The man looked up.  He said "No," matter-of-factly, then returned his attention to the tablet computer.  The man went over by one of the tables, pulled a stool from underneath it, and casually sat down, while viewing the computer.

   "Fool!" Eric shouted.  "Do you know just who you have crossed?"  The man said nothing, just smirked and continued viewing the tablet.  "Answer me!" Eric continued.  "Who are you?  I do not recognize you at all."

   The man fiddled with the tablet for a moment, then put it down on the table.  "Well no reason to watch video; I've got the mouth that roared right here.  Why get things second hand?"

   "Oh, by the way.  My name is Lex Luthor.  You don't recognize me because I'm from out of town.  WAY out of town."

   Nonplussed, Eric said "You're not the first alien I've dealt with."  He was unprepared for the man's reaction.
   "Do.  Not.  Call.  Me.  That.  Ever!"  The man said coldly.  More cordially he said "I'm as human as you are.  Oh wait, you don't like that do you?  Homo Superior?  Hah!" 

   The man (Lex, he said his name was Lex Luthor Eric thought) put his hand on his chin and smiled.  "You know I'm going to introduce you to Brainiac when I'm done with you.  You two have so much in common.  Of course his cause is the superiority of the machine over organic life, not some artificial and arbitrary way of classifying humans by whether or not they have an expressed metagene.  I'd say his position is more profound; but your tactics are reasonably similar."

   "Anyway, let me tell you what's going on." Lex said.  "I take it you are familiar with the concept of parallel worlds and alternate dimensions?  Well I am from one."  He continued, "Recently I had ... to flee rather quickly from a situation that didn't go as well as I hoped it would.  I used what I call a 'Probability Ship,' which indeed you are on now."

   "My journey was unplanned.  Fortune or perhaps fate brought me to your world." Lex said as he idly slid the tablet computer around the table.  "Not having any particular reason to undertake any endeavors on your world, I simply studied it while I prepared for my return to my home."

   "However this study of your world made me aware of another native of your reality.  I knew I had to meet him."  Lex stood up, "So I went to Latveria."

   "Victor." Eric whispered.  "Yes, Victor."  Lex said calmly.  "I have to say that was one of the most memorable experiences of my life.  What an amazing man.  What an amazing mind."

   "Of course I realized I was going to have to leave after that.  This world isn't big enough for the two of us."  Lex said reflectively "Actually no world would be big enough for the two of us."

   "But we had one heck of a brainstorm session.  We talked about things I've tried to fix... my special problem.  We talked about a problem he has with a fellow called Richards.  I shared with him an idea I had, one I had never been able to make work.  That's when your name came up.

   "Oh I was skeptical.  A second rate Doctor Polaris knockoff?  And what is it with you magnetic guys and wonky headgear?  I don't know who has a worse one, you or Polaris.  But Victor disabused me of that notion."

   Lex looked at Eric.  "You see, you are a little different.  You manipulate extant magnetic fields, most commonly such as the one Earth.  Polaris is more of a standalone, a dynamo if you will, in producing similar effects."

   Lex then looked at the blackboard.  "And this is where you come in.  You are going to be a key component in a little device I'm building.  One that will hopefully deal with my big, blue problem once and for all.  I've spent most of my life dealing with something formidable.  Very formidable.  Rendering you inert and snatching you from that asteroid was child's play really."

   "Anyway I have multiply redundant devices planted in your body already.  You quite simply can't use your abilities unless I allow it.  And frankly there isn't much else to you."

   Lex turned, and walked over to the section of the wall that he entered the room from.  "Don't worry.  When I'm done with you, I'll send you on a one way trip back to your reality when we're done.  IF you live through it. "  He chuckled, "And trust me if you think super powers make you 'Homo Superior,' you are going to see something that will boggle your mind."

   The wall section slid aside, and Lex left the room.  It slid shut leaving Eric alone with his thoughts.

March 01, 2016, 03:29:40 AM
Re: [Feb 2016] - Fanfic - Voting Thread I voted!!!

Where's my sticker?

On another note, apparently I'm not familiar with fantasy, at least most of the popular works anymore.  I think that kind of affected my vote.  I wound up voting for all three of the Conan stories.

However it happened, Howard sure managed to create an iconic character with that one.

I will say as someone who has put up an entry in this one, I kind of find 1500 words... just isn't enough.  Unless you have a very specific thing in mind, it's just too short to set up something and put in all you'd like to say.

I guess that does favor skilled writers, but it also seems to me you have to have a very specific kind of story that can be wrapped up adequately in 1500 words.  If you use original characters, that's not a whole lot of time to introduce someone, some kind of conflict, and wrap it up.

Obviously not impossible, but it seems to me this kind of thing stresses coming up with an appropriate idea more than writing in a way.

And an appropriate idea for this kind of thing... well it is kind of a small subset of writing, that's for sure.

Still if they were too long, you will have less readers.  The internet isn't going to run out of bytes, but attention spans are pretty short with this kind of presentation, the one before the downloadable version.

March 30, 2016, 05:17:52 PM