Thursday, March 2, 2017

Classic Anarchy: Continuity Error

Continuity Error
Mark A Davis

Grandpa Anarchy was just finishing a late breakfast of strawberry pancakes when is current sidekick walked into the kitchen.  She was dressed in blue and white with an unusual patterned symbol on her chest -- a sort of squared-off geometric Celtic knot.  She claimed it was an infinite continuity loop, and that it summed up who she was -- Kid Continuity.

"Grandpa," she said, "I've been going over some of the thornier problems in your backstory...."

Grandpa stood abruptly.  "That's great, Kid," he said, grabbing his hat.  "Keep up the good work.  Would you look at the time?  I"m going to be late for that important meeting...."  He made a beeline for the door, but Kid Continuity blocked his path.

"Wait, Grandpa," she said.  "I have a few important questions that only you can answer."

Grandpa frowned.  "Okay, Kid.  Fire away."

Kid Continuity held out a recorder.  "Grandpa Anarchy, exactly when did you fight The Homeric Nod?  I have a note here that you killed him in a battle in 1956, but then you supposedly fought him again in 1959."

"That's right," said Grandpa.  "I fought him twice."

"And you're sure you killed him the first time?"

"Sure I'm sure.  He just didn't stay dead."

"There's no record of him reincarnating," said Kid Continuity.  "If he's dead, how did you fight him again?  It's a continuity problem, you see."

Grandpa shrugged.  "Who knows?  He showed up again, I took him down again.  Who cares how it happened?"

"I care," replied Kid Continuity.  She thumped her chest.  "I am the keeper of continuity.  I reconcile all of the perceived errors in your timeline."  She frowned, and added, "Also, Anarchyfanforever28 on the AnarchyLives.Net message board keeps asking for an explanation...."

"Look," said Grandpa, "I've died a bunch of times, right?  I'm still here.  Nobody documents each time I come back from the dead."

"Yes they do, Grandpa.  I do.  It's all in your official history."

"Well, I never asked him how he did it.  Maybe you should ask him."

"Yes, but he's dead now..." said Kid Continuity.

"As far as we know," added Grandpa.

"Yes, of course," Kid Continuity replied.  "Well, maybe I can find a relative who knows the backstory...."

"That's the ticket," said Grandpa, trying to force his way past her.  "Keep up the good work.  Now, my meeting...."

"Wait, there's more!" she exclaimed.  "When you fought The Cunningham Syndrome in 1976, he swore that he had bombs planted in six major cities around the world.  But he got away, and we never heard about him or his bomb-threat again.  What exactly happened?"

Grandpa pursed his lips, thinking.  "Weeell.... that was right before that Crisis on Twenty-One and a Half Earths thing, wasn't it?  Me and Unpossible Man and Popeye Khan and Nina Ballerina and Dark Dr. Dark and... oh, I don't remember who else, a whole bunch of us, all got sucked into a series of parallel worlds.  By the time we got back, I'd forgotten all about Cunningham Syndrome and his bombs."  He grinned.  "Nothing ever blew up, so it's all good, right?"

"But where'd he go?  There's no record of him at all.  I've done extensive research and come up empty.  It's like he vanished from existence."

"Kid, he was a boring villain," said Grandpa.  "He deserved to disappear.  Nobody even remembers him."

"Anarchyfanforever28 does.  He wants an explanation."

"Just say he was sucked into a plot hole," said Grandpa.   "That's my go-to answer for all of these questions."

"That's a literary term, Grandpa," said Kid Continuity.  "They don't really exist."

"Really, now?" asked Grandpa.  "You've got a lot to learn, kid."

Kid Continuity glared.  Grandpa sighed.  "Look, maybe I didn't really fight him at all.  Did you consider that?  Maybe it was Alternate History Grandpa Anarchy.  You know, we teamed up in that pan-dimensional city once...."

"Yes, I'm aware," she replied.  "I've accounted for all of your alternate histories, Grandpa.  You're the only Grandpa Anarchy who ever fought Cunningham Syndrome, and it was just that once."

Grandpa thew up his hands.  "Well I ain't got an answer then.  Make something up.  I thought that was the whole point of your hero identity."

"No, it's not!  I'm not supposed to just make stuff up.  This isn't just a comic book story, Grandpa, this is reality.  It has to make sense, or it violates my very reason for being!"

"See, that's where you're wrong," Grandpa replied.  "Things don't make sense.  Reality is a comic book story.  If you ain't figured that out yet then you ain't paying attention."

Kid Continuity rolled her eyes.  "That's just great, Grandpa.  I'll say it was a dream sequence, how about that?"

"That's the spirit," Grandpa said, smiling.  "Now, is there anything else?  I got a card game at the Archons of Excellence to attend."

"That's your very important meeting?" Kid Continuity exclaimed.

"It is important!" said Grandpa.  "The Bronze Beach Bum owes me money, and I mean to win it back!"

Kid Continuity checked her tablet.  "Yes, I guess that's all for now.  There's your battle with the Nefarious Fanwanker, which should have been impossible because you were fighting the Tasmanian Terror in Perth at the time," she said.  "But I managed to come up with an explanation for that."

Grandpa checked his watch.  "Good, good.   I really gotta get going...."

A howl ripped through the kitchen.  Darkness flowed from the corners of the room and pooled into a swirling mass of black-violet shadow that hung in the air before them.  The howl became a scream -- one of the least-convincing screams of pain ever heard.  The shadows expanded into a doorway, through which stepped a muscled man in a costume of blue and black.

"So, Grandpa Anarchy, we meet again!" exclaimed the newcomer.  "But this battle will be your last... against the Wilhelm Scream!"

Grandpa sighed.  "I'm not making my card game, am I?"  He raised his  fists.  "Okay, whoever you are, let's do this."

"Wait!" Kid Continuity exclaimed.  "Who are you, again?"

"I am the Wilhelm Scream," the newcomer replied.  "Surely you've heard of me?"

"Can't say that I have," replied Grandpa.  "But it don't matter, I'm on a tight schedule.  Let's go...."

"No, wait!" exclaimed Kid Continuity.  "Grandpa, you've never fought this guy.  Am I right?"

"Not that I can remember," agreed Grandpa.

"We've fought dozens of times," Wilhelm Scream insisted.  "At least five times, anyway.  I'm nearly his chief nemesis...."

"No, you haven't, and no, you're not," replied Kid Continuity.  "I would know.  Grandpa, this guy doesn't fit the continuity."  She held out her hands.  "By the powers of the Great Editor of Life, and with the guidance of the children of Zeus and Mnemosyne, I call upon the power of Mnēmē!  To make clear the connections to the past, and to set the record straight:  I invoke Absolute Continuity!"

Light exploded.  Sound filled the room, a ringing as if all existence were a church bell.  Somewhere in the distance could be heard a scream of agony, as inauthentic as before.  Then light and sound faded, and Grandpa Anarchy and Kid Continuity were alone in the kitchen.

  Grandpa blinked.  "Dang," he said, "but that power of yours is impressive -- when you actually get to use it."

"Go now," said his sidekick  "But you won't win your money back.  You always lose on game night with the Archons.  Every.  Single.  Time.  Anything else would be against continuity."


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