Sunday, August 28, 2016

Just A Story

Just A Story
Mark A Davis

The bright and merciless orb of the day dangled in the vast expanse of iridescent azure like a celebratory pinata at a natal day celebratory extravaganza.  Doctor Zero Hour fixed his organs of sight upon the sinewy-thewed soldier of truth and justice, the hero of the hallowed Pentagon halls, the rowdy and resourceful ringleader of that rough and ready ratpack known as Sgt Anarchy and his Roaring Rangers.  "Patriarch of Pandemonium," the brilliant Nazi scientist and vile axis villain exclaimed.  "Rue the day that your accursed orbs set sight upon this, my greatest triumph -- my fifteen-foot thermonuclear walking cadaver, my towering testament that I, a mere civilized anthropoid have become like unto the great and absolute being of the cosmos, the universal life force, the creator and maker and maintainer of all!"

"Yeesh," Grandpa Anarchy said.  "Talk about purple prose...."

Deep in the Anarchy Cave, situated below the Anarchy Mansion in Frosthaven NJ, Grandpa was seated before the Anarchy Computer -- a device that had been built by one of his sidekicks in the mid 1960's, and then occasionally updated over the years but -- this part was important -- never actually replaced.  It remained a control panel large enough to seat three, full of blinking lights and physical switches and dials, with card slots and dot-matrix printouts and side-scroll digital readers, and with an attached bank of reel-to-reel tape machines against the nearby wall.  A couple of much more modern video monitors had been added and, one could only hope, modern hard drives and computer processors were possibly hidden beneath the surface.  One monitor displayed a website with a wall of text.

Grandpa was dressed in his usual rumpled gray suit with the silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast.  The young girl beside him wore a long gown of purple, with a silver tiara with a quill pen studded with amethysts on her head.   "Oh, Grandfather Anarchy," she said, "I shall take that as the highest of compliments.  While the style may be somewhat overly ornate and ostentatious, I am merely trying to emulate the highest standards of decorative prose laid down by the masters of nineteenth century literature.  I am, after all, attempting to live up to my name -- the Princess of Purple Prose!"

"Yes, okay," said Grandpa.  "But Patriarch of Pandemonium?  No one's ever called me that in my entire life!"

The sidekick sighed.  "Yes, I can see that that one may just be a slight bit overboard...."

"Yes, okay," said Grandpa.  "Story quality aside -- what's this?  Grandpa Anarchy Tales?  Is this some kind of intertube thing?"

"Exactly so!" the girl said.  "It is an internet blog -- a web log, a kind of journal that you publish online so that others may read and appreciate it.  As your sidekick I thought it would be quite appropriate to pen stories and tales detailing your many exciting adventures.  Of course I am well aware that there are such things as Grandpa Anarchy comic books and movies in this world, but your first adventures were documented in t he prose stylings of Evron Lempel, that essential scribe of the pulp novel.   Therefore the Grandpa Anarchy tale has its feet firmly planted in the tradition of the written story and novel, an American artistic pursuit which has sadly been on the wane for many years. Besides," she added, rolling her eyes, "I mean, comics?  Seriously?"

Grandpa frowned.  "What do I need something like that for?" he asked.  "If people want to know what I'm up to, they can read the newspaper like everyone else."

"Newspapers?"  The sidekick rolled her eyes again.  "Grandfather Anarchy, as much as I appreciate the essential last century nature of the printed newspaper, those are even more out of favor in this day and age.  Why, you might literally be the only individual who still subscribes to the local daily news!"

"Then I need to hire them to manage my finances," Grandpa replied, "because they're getting amazing results out of my $20.00 a month."  He frowned and added, "But I still don't get what you're doing here.  Why the need for a separate story site?  Isn't this something that should go on the official Grandpa Anarchy website?"

The Princess of Purple Prose's eyes narrowed.  "That will never happen so long as that Kid Continuity is in charge," she replied darkly.  "That wicked woman is entirely too obsessed with documenting actual events and actual published comics and stories.  She does not favor prose and does not allow for fan fiction or anything that did not actually happen -- or wasn't actually published elsewhere.  It is as if she is running the Wikipedia of the Grandpa Anarchy world."

"The wackywhatsit?" Grandpa asked.

"The... Encyclopedia Britannica of the Grandpa Anarchy world," the sidekick amended.

"Oh.  Yes, I see," said Grandpa.  "She certainly is doing that.  Still, she knows how to make one word do the work of five, if you catch my drift...."

"Grandfather Anarchy!" exclaimed the Princess of Purple Prose, "It has literally been ages since Kid Continuity was your sidekick!  She is practically an old woman!  All that I am asking is permission to publish on my own website a few simple stories of fiction based on your adventures with me, or adventures that you have related directly to me.  I am your sidekick now, so I ought to be allowed, and as it is clearly a service that Kid Continuity is not providing on the official web site, I do not see the problem with my own plans."

"Yeah, okay," Grandpa said.  "I don't see that it could do any harm, provided you clean up your prose a bit.  I mean, I know it's built into your name, but the stuff you post should be at least readable.  Edgar Allen Poe was prone to purple prose but that didn't prevent him from writing a good story, am I right?  Just so long as you don't go around making up stuff, is all.  Write stories if you want to, publish them on the intertubes, but write about things that actually happened.  That's all I ask."

The Princess of Purple Prose frowned.  "Is there some reason they must be events that actually happened?  My stories, after all, are based on the events of your life, but I am a writer of fiction...."

"Sure," said Grandpa, "but like this story here:  me against Doctor Zero Hour and his Atomic Zombie.  Classic story from my days as Sgt. Anarchy in World War II.  Writing about that's perfectly fine.  But stories affect the world we live in, so if you'd set this story in modern times, with a somehow-revived Doctor Zero Hour and a rebuilt atomic zombie...."

His voice trailed off as he saw the guilt in the girl's face.  "You... did set this in the present day, didn't you?" he asked.

"But it's just a story!" she exclaimed.


Over two dozen heroes gathered on the front lawn of the Anarchy mansion as the tanks and troop transports emblazoned with Swastikas rolled into view.  Behind them came the loud thud thud thud of a fifteen-foot-tall atomic zombie as it lurched towards destiny.  Popyeye Khan, leader of the Archons of Excellence, looked to his left where the Black Moon Maidens and a half-dozen of the Electric Bluejay's Order of the Second Banana Commandos were lined up.  On his right was the rest of his team and Grandpa's own League of Two-Fisted Justice.

"So," he said, turning to Grandpa, "Doctor Zero Hour's back from the dead and teamed up with his great grandson and great granddaughter, and they're marching on you with a rebuilt zombie monster... and you knew this ahead of time -- how?"

Grandpa shrugged.  "Professional hunch.  I've been at this a very, very long time."

"Well," said Popeye, grinning, "you are, after all, the Patriarch of Pandemonium...."