LNH: Easily-Discovered Man #47

Tom Russell milos_parker at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 13 23:06:46 PDT 2006


Oboyoboyoboy, and here I was worried it was going to be another two
years between issues. :-)

The thing about the best installments of Easily-Discovered Man is that
you don't really have to have read the last issue to "get" the one
you've got in front of you.  By the same token, once you've reached the
end of an issue, you eagerly await the next one.  Really, it's got all
the benefits of the serial format, but none of the drawbacks.

Each issue is always about _something_.  This issue, for example, is
about Easily-Discovered Man Lite being the LEAST important person in
existence.  In fact, in every single itineration of the universe that
Professor Perhaps has witnessed, Lite always ends up the same old,
lonely man who smells like "old milk and mothballs".

On the one hand, this is pretty damn funny, and much of the humour in
this issue comes from contrasting Lite's zen-like sameness with the
whacky outcomes in store for his friends and planet.  (And, of course,
there's always the amusing one-liners and non-sequitors that give EDM
its spice.)

But on the other hand, it's also kind of a downer, in that Lite *is*
established (if we can trust Perhaps) as the least important man in the
multiverse.  I mean, this has existential crisis written all over it.

And, in fact, Rob Rogers is covering the thematic territory he touched
on with the last issue, when EDML had an interior monologue about his
life and where it was going.  In this issue, he develops it further and
along comedic lines, reaching a different slant on the purposelessness
of Lite's life: it's a liberating thing, just what he needs before
bounding off to the Apocryphal Universe to prevent the destruction of
all reality.

See what I mean about wanting to read the next issue?


And now for some backstory...

One of the characters appearing in this issue (and presumably in the
Apocryphal Universe storyline) is Betty Brent, aka Revelry Lass, one of
my creations.  As Rob points out here, she was one of the members of
the New Teenfactor, a storyline which ran from # 100-111.

Basically, the New Teenfactor storyline had two central conceits: one
was to make superheroes out of the Breakfast Club.  Betty took the role
of the Molly Ringwald character ("The Princess").  My idea was to
develop them along deeper lines, and I failed miserably.

My other conceit was that the whole twelve-issue storyline was one big
April Fool's Day gag, and thus the entire story took place in another
universe, never happening in the "prime" Looniverse.  (It was a stupid
reason to do the story.)

But you know what's exciting?  The fact that Rob Rogers is taking a
character from one of my stupid ideas for a story and using her as part
of a good story.  That's exciting.  (So was the Ike the Talking Pipe

Now, the New Teenfactor storyline ended with (I think) three different,
alternate endings.  And in at least one of those Betty Brent died.  (I
believe she was force-fed sugary doughnuts until she went into a
diabetic shock.)  So it's safe to assume that either, a, that ending is
not the one that took place in that universe or, b, it's another
version of Betty Brent.  Which, given the central conceit of this
particular EDM adventure, is certainly possible.

In which case, it's also possible, that Rob has given her new powers.
I hope so: I originally named the character Confetti Lass and gave her
confetti-creating powers until someone told me that there was already a
Confetti Girl in the LNH.  I kept the powers (having already written at
least one story that pivoted on them) but changed the name to Revelry

Looking back at it, I should have changed the powers.   Hell, looking
back, I never should have done the story.  But if Rob's going to get
some mileage out of it, I'm glad I wrote it.


p. s.: WikiBoy cheerfully volunteers to assist Easily-Discovered Man
Lite on his adventure in the Apocryphal Universe, if EDML should
require his WikiHelp.

EDM Lite wrote:
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>     Doused with microwave radiation, Theodore Wong gained the ability
> to glow and be detected at great distances by anyone with a Geiger
> counter.  Together with his sidekick Lite, his intern Cynical Lass,
> and fellow hero Substitute Lad, Wong wages a constant battle against
> the forces of corruption, chaos and common sense as the fabulous
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> -----Previously on "The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man"----------
>     After defeating the G.L.U.R.G.E, a creature built out of living
> syrup at the command of the Waffle Queen, Easily-Discovered Man Lite
> and Cynical Lass have a falling out over Lite's relationship with
> Summer Meadows.  Lite boards the subway, encounters a ghost with a
> cryptic warning, and finds himself face-to-face with Professor
> Perhap of the Brotherhood of Net.Villains -- a man he believed to
> be dead.
>     Dead or alive, however, neither the good Professor nor our
> narrator is going anywhere for a while, which gives us the
> opportunity to present this public service announcement:
> ----------------------------------------------------------------------
>     "Says here she made three calls last week to 'Dial-a-Lumberjack,"
> I said, as Cynical Lass walked into the room.  "Better make a note of
> that.  It could be important."
>     "What could be important?  Why are the two of you dressed in suits
> and sunglasses?" Cynical Lass asked, looking from me to Substitute Lad
> and back.  "And why are you doing whatever it is you're doing in my
> room?"
>    "Lite wants to get to know his girlfriend better," Substitute Lad
> said, using his best Edward R. Murrow monotone.  "So we're looking
> through her phone records for clues that will help him understand
> her."
>     "Look at this!" I said, holding up a document.  "She checked
> _Cucumber: Nature's Most Erotic Vegetable_ out of the library for
> three weeks straight!  I never knew she was into gardening."
>     "Ow!  Ow!" Cynical Lass said, holding her hands over her eyes.
> "Never... rolled... eyes... this... much... before."
>     She sighed.  "So you two idiots are trying to get to know
> Summer by stalking her and going through her private
> communications?"
>     "Not entirely," I said, passing the letter opener to
> Substitute Lad.  "We're also planning on surprising a couple
> of her best friends after work, and taking them to a restaurant
> so that we can ask them questions.  I'm thinking Lukashenko's Deli."
>     "And I suggested Yuschenko's Bar and Grill," Substitute Lad
> said.  "Hey, Lite, has Summer been sick?  She keeps calling a
> 'Dr. Drew.' "
>     "Listen to me!" Cynical Lass thundered.  "You two obviously
> don't know anything about women!"
>     "Well, obviously," I said.
>     "There's still a lot of data to go through," Substitute Lad
> added.
>     "Relationships are supposed to be based on trust!" Cynical Lass
> said.  "When you want someone to trust you, you don't go through
> their phone records, or check on what they've been reading at the
> library, or haul them off to some Eastern European place for
> interrogation!"
>     "You think Cuban might be the way to go?" I asked.
>     "No!" she screamed.  "My God!  You'd have to be some kind of
> megalomaniacal fascist to even think that way."
>     "My guidance counselor did mention something about that,"
> Substitute Lad said.
>     "If you want to get to know a woman -- really get to know a
> woman-- you can't just collect all of her most intimate
> information from her private records," Cynical Lass said.  "You
> need to read about all of it on her MySpace, FaceBook, Friendster,
> Livejournal and Blogspot pages, the way everyone else does."
>     Both Substitute Lad and I slapped our foreheads with our hands.
>     "Now," Cynical Lass said, "would you mind explaining to me why
> you had to bring all of this crap into _my_ room?"
>     "Oh that's easy," Substitute Lad said.  "There's these two
> Polish girls whose apartment is across the street from yours,
> and they're due to get changed any minute now.  Hey!" he added,
> as Cynical Lass grabbed each of us by the throat.
>     "But this was all in the name of security," I gasped.
>     "Let this be a lesson to you," Cynical Lass snapped, as she
> threw both of us from the room.  "You can't expect to run a good
> campaign if you spend all of your time watching the Poles."
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
>     And now, we present episode #47 of "The Adventures of
> Easily-Discovered Man," "The Life You Wreck May Be Your Own,"
> containing 88% more truthiness than the latest James Frey memoir.
> -----------------------------------------------------------------
>         The Adventures of Easily-Discovered Man #47
>             "The Life You Wreck May Be Your Own"
>        Plot:                                   Script:
>       Rob Rogers                               Rob Rogers
>     "So you're Easily-Discovered Man Lite," Professor Perhap said,
> walking in a slow semicircle around my subway seat.  "There's not
> much of you, is there?"
>     "Good question," I said, standing up.  "I'll check in the back.
> Maybe there's more of me in stock."
>     Professor Perhap closed his eyes and inhaled deeply.  "You
> smell of cigarettes and cheap perfume," he said.  "You know, Adolf
> Hitler couldn't abide cigarettes.  He forbade his men to smoke
> them, chastised them when they did.  He thought they were
> degenerate.  Myself, I believe a person is entitled to a few
> vices."
>     I found myself wishing that Easily-Discovered Man was around.
> Not so much for protection -- the Prof was never really much for
> protection -- but because this was exactly the kind of
> super-villain banter he hated to miss.
>     "Adolf certainly had his quirks," I said, edging toward the
> doors of the subway car.  "Tell me, do all professors talk this
> way?  Because I'm thinking about going to college next year, and
> if it turns out I can just skip it, that's $80,000 I can spend on
> stereo equipment and Red Sox tickets."
>     "I see that you're one of those modern types.  You don't
> believe in the costume," he said, continuing his appraisal of
> me.  "Or is that postmodern?  I've always disliked the term.
> So dismissal of the moderns, without really coming to terms
> with any of the questions they posed."
>     "Yes.  Well, I'm sure that your students find all of this
> terribly, terribly boring, but I'm afraid I have to..."
>     "I wonder," Professor Perhap said, "if things would have been
> different for you if you'd worn the costume."
>     As he spoke, I felt the sleeves on my They Might Be Giants
> T-shirt creeping down the length of my arm, saw the fabric
> blanching and brightening to the color of radioactive split-pea
> soup.  I felt a mask on my forehead -- as thin and clammy and
> insubstantial as the skin you lose after a sunburn -- and
> heard something rush down my back that was either a cape, or
> the worst case of dandruff I'd ever had.
>     I saw my reflection in the subway window.  I looked like
> a miniature version of Easily-Discovered Man: too-tight
> neon costume, smiley-face insignia, and that heroic grimace
> that comes with the loss of peripheral vision.  At that moment,
> I understood why people like Batman, Captain America and the
> first George Bush traveled around with dorky-looking kid
> sidekicks.  Anyone who saw me at that moment would have
> thought the Prof looked downright dignified by comparison.
>     "Well," Professor Perhap said, drinking the sight of me in.
> "Perhaps not."  And with that, the costume was gone.
>     "You know, the prom is in two weeks," I said, turning back
> toward the Professor.  "You have anything in a 32 regular?"
>     Tsar Chasm -- this guy who'd been a world-conquering super-
> villain, then a hero, and last I heard was consulting for
> Wal-Mart -- once told me that confrontations between heroes and
> villains were less about powers, weapons or strategies than they
> were about who was able to take control of the situation.
>     "It doesn't matter if he's stronger or faster or able to
> summon twenty demons with the flick of a finger," Tsar Chasm
> said.  "Once you've established that you're in charge, you'll
> be able to determine how the rest of the script is going to go."
>     Normally, I was pretty good at this.  I'd surprise the
> villain, make a few terrible jokes, and keep him off balance
> long enough to... Well, usually, at that point, the villain
> either shot himself in the foot, or another super-hero showed
> up, or something else happened that kept me from having to
> deal with the situation any longer.  But the point was, I
> was in control, even if it was for a little while.
>     Professor Perhap seemed to think otherwise.  Maybe he'd
> shared a locker with Tsar Chasm back in the day, or maybe he
> was just smarter than most of the villains I was used to facing.
> Or maybe Cynical Lass was right, and I had to start thinking
> about people besides myself for a change.
>     "I guess all that stuff about you being dead was just an
> ugly rumor," I said.  "Are you letting the world think you
> are dead, until you can find a way to calm the raging beast
> that dwells within you?  Or is this one of those situations
> where there's an all-powerful entity from another dimension
> punching the walls of reality, and I'm not supposed to
> ask questions?"
>     "Oh please," the Professor said.  "Even I couldn't come
> up with a plotline so ridiculous."  He looked thoughtful for
> a moment, and I wondered if he was going to try to come up
> with a plotline that ridiculous.  That sort of thing
> generally worked in my favor.
>     But he didn't.  "I always wondered what my thoughts
> would be in my last moments upon the earth," he said.
>     "Me too," I said.  "And I've always hoped they would
> involve Molly Ringwald.  And that they wouldn't be awkward.
> Even though Molly Ringwald always seemed to do well in
> awkward situations.  That's part of her appeal."
>     "True," the Professor said, looking distracted for a
> moment.  "Too true.  In my case, however, I found myself
> wondering: what if worlds beyond this one existed?  What
> if it was possible for me to see them all -- to know them
> all?  What if I could stand at the very nexus of
> space and time itself?"
>     I thought about that.  "I'd still take Molly
> Ringwald," I said.
>     "You're only saying that," Professor Perhap said,
> "because you think if you keep repeating the words
> 'Molly Ringwald' over and over, I'll inadvertently
> use my powers to make her appear in front of you."
>     "I did mention that the prom is coming up," I said.
> "Besides, I already know that you're going to tell me
> that you ended up at the nexus of space and time, and
> that for whatever reason, you decided to leave there
> and ride around Net.ropolis on the subway."
>    "Not quite," he said, sliding his hand up and down one
> of the thin metal subway support poles.  "Actually, I
> ended up in the Apocryphal Universe."
>     "Sounds familiar," I said.
>     "I'll refresh your memory," Professor Perhap said.
> "Once upon a time, there was a super-hero called Immortal
> Ken, who became so powerful that he was a threat to
> creation itself.  Your Legion of Net.Heroes felt they had
> to defeat him, once and for all."
>     "So they created Immortal Barbie?"
>     "They created an Apocryphal Universe, an inescapable
> prison at the center of space and time," he continued.
> "Ken's reign of terror had laid waste to the Looniverse.
> Countless thousands had died at his hands.  But once
> he entered the Apocryphal Universe, it was as though
> he had never existed.  His deeds were erased, and even
> his captors are unaware that he ever lived to challenge
> them."
>     "Wait," I said.  "I feel like... I know some of this."
> I scratched my head.  "How do I know this?"
>     The subway slowed as we approached a station.  This was
> probably the best chance I'd have at making a break for it.
> But part of me wanted to hear what the Professor had to say.
>     "No one can know of or remember the Apocryphal Universe
> unless they've been there," he said.  "And then, their memory
> of the place remains cloudy, shrouded by half-remembered
> truths."
>     "Did I...?"
>     "That do not involve Molly Ringwald," he said.
>     "Damn," I said.  "But if the Apocryphal Universe is an
> inescapable prison, how did you escape?  How did I?"
>     "There are always portals between worlds," Professor Perhap
> said.  "This subway car is one of them, as your encounter
> with the ghost should have illustrated."
>     "But why was I trapped there in the first place?" I asked.
> "Am I that important that somebody would stick me in the hardest
> place in all of creation to escape from?  Other than Route 93
> during rush hour?"
>     "Hardly," Professor Perhap said.  "In fact, you have at last
> hit upon the reason for my visit to your dimension.  For you,
> Easily-Discovered Man Lite, are the single least important being
> in the whole length and breadth of creation."
>     The doors of the subway slid open, revealing a small apartment
> with uneven floors, one tiny window, and a faded, framed They
> Might Be Giants poster on the wall.
>     "Would you like me to prove it?" the Professor said.  "Or
> are you still dwelling upon the reality of your vast
> insignificance?"
>     "I'm checking the list of stops," I said, examining the
> brightly-colored, cheerfully-incomprehensible map above the
> subway doors. "There doesn't seem to be a listing for 'dreary
> flophouse' on the Russell line."
>     "Behold your future, Easily-Discovered Man Lite," Professor
> Perhap said, stretching one arm toward the apartment. "Despite
> all of your efforts, all your minor achievements, _this_ is where
> you end up twenty years from now."
>     "And they say you can't get anywhere on public transit," I
> said, taking in the room.  Beneath the poster was a small rounded
> television set showing a baseball game.  Across from the television
> set was a greyish lump that I'd originally taken for a pile of
> blankets. Upon closer inspection, however, I realized that it was
> me: balder, larger, and squatting on a cracked leather La-Z-Boy
> recliner with a Mr. Paprika in one hand and a remote control in the
> other.
>     "Fehhhhhhhurgh," Future Me grunted.
>     "This is my future?" I asked.  "I never upgraded to flat-
> screen?"
>     "It's not a bad future, all told," Professor Perhap said.
> "In this vision of the future, Cynical Lass discovers her own
> beauty at last, and becomes a highly-sought after fashion model,
> as well as a college professor.  Even Easily-Discovered Man
> has a building at Dave Thomas Deluxe University named after
> him, long after he's been shuffled off to a home for the
> demented."
>     "You said this was one vision of the future," I said,
> watching Future Me bury his face in a bag of Frigid Ranch
> Flavored Blubber Chips.  "Are there others?  Is the future
> like HBO?"
>     "In many ways," said the Professor, as the doors snapped
> shut and the train lumbered on.  He had opened a battered
> brown leather satchel and taken out a copy of the _Lonely
> Planet Guide to the Multiverse_.  "Let's see," he said, as
> the subway reached another stop.  "In this version, Cynical
> Lass becomes leader of LNH Europe, while Easily-Discovered
> Man becomes Speaker of the House of Representatives.  Oh,
> and Kid Rock marries Britney Spears' daughter."
>     "This ought to be interesting," I said, as the doors
> opened again.  "What the hell...?"
>     The scene before me was exactly the same as the one I'd
> just left: fat, balding Future Me, watching baseball,
> eating chips and making disgusting noises.  My eyes searched
> the room -- same poster, same cracks and cobwebs in the
> ceiling.  I was even wearing the same T-shirt, an older,
> more threadbare version of the shirt I was currently
> wearing.
>      The doors closed again, and the train lurched forward,
> forcing me to grab one of the ceiling straps.
>     "What was that all about?" I asked.  "I looked exactly
> the same as in the first version."
>     "In this next vision," Professor Perhap said, as the train
> slowed again, "you never make the decision to become a
> sidekick.  You go through life as... let's see," he said,
> thumbing through the well-worn pages of the book.  "Ah yes.
> Well, you do something in sales for a while, and then you end
> up running a pawnshop a couple of blocks from here."
>     "And how does that affect the rest of the universe?"
> I asked.
>     "Well, Cynical Lass never leaves England, but ends up
> becoming the leader of LNH Europe anyway, sometime after the
> second Crisis of Infinite Sidekicks," the Professor said.
> "Easily-Discovered Man takes on a different sidekick, and
> has a long and storied career as... Ah.  Here we are."
>     The doors opened to the same scene as before.
>     "Brrraaaap," Future Me said, sounding satisfied.
>     "I'm beginning to get the picture," I said.
>     Being a professor, however, Professor Perhap was unwilling
> to let the lesson stand until he'd shown me another 15 or so
> examples.  In some of them, I made the decision to become a
> super-hero.  In others, I hadn't.  The results were always the
> same, whether I was in a vision of the future in which the
> Chinese had won World War III, the vision in which President
> Powell had brought the Palestinians and the Israelis together
> for a lasting peace, or the vision in which Emperor Keanu
> Reeves, having survived an assasination attempt by members
> of Congress, consolidated his rule by ordering the conquest of
> Quebec.
>     "Thank goodness Queen Cynical Lass saved them," I said,
> as we prepared to arrive at another stop.  "I'd hate to think
> of what would happen if all of Montreal were forced to speak
> California-accented English."
>     "Cynical Lass does well in almost every vision of the future,
> except for this one," Professor Perhap said.
>     The doors hissed open, and I saw the same scene as before,
> except that Cynical Lass was seated beside me, in an identically-
> broken down chair, with her hair in curlers and an enormous
> orange cat in her lap.
>     "Mmmmegggh," Future Me said, stuffing his mouth with chips.
>     "Piss off," Future Cynical Lass said, reaching for the bag.
>     The doors closed again.
>     "I thought you said I was the least important being in all
> of creation," I said.
>     "Do you remember 'Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins?' "
>     "No."
>     "You are infinitely more insignificant than a yard-sale copy
> of a Betamax tape of an edited-for-broadcast-television version
> of that film," Professor Perhap said.
>     "But," I said, "if Cynical Lass achieves fame, fortune and a
> makeover in every version of the future except the one in which
> she marries me..."
>     "I believe the two of you were merely living in sin."
>     "...then clearly, my existence has some influence on the
> lives of others, even if it's a negative one."
>     "Perhaps," the Professor said.  "In one instance out of
> a hundred billion.  Even a centipede's sneeze makes the wind
> a little colder.  But in no universe are you capable of
> altering the outcome of your own life.  The room behind these
> doors is always the same."
>     The doors opened again.  The same floorboards creaked,
> the same cobwebs quivered.  The television flickered with the
> same patterns.  But in the crackled leather chair beside me,
> looking somewhat the worse for wear, was a face I'd have known
> anywhere.
>     "Molly Ringwald!" I gasped.
>     "Actually, her name is Betty Brent," Professor Perhap said.
> "In this reality, her resemblance to the actress led her to be
> cast as a super-hero in a substitute version of Teenfactor.
> She was laid off when the original team returned, and her life
> has been in a downward spiral ever since.  The two of you met on
> an episode of 'The Surreal Life.' "
>     "So I ruin everything I touch," I said.  "Even her."
>     "Let me see," the Professor said, consulting his book.  "No,
> no.  That's not quite true.  There's nothing in here that
> suggests you ever have the opportunity to touch her.  But
> otherwise, yes.  Your point is quite valid."
>     "Why did you bring me here?" I asked.  "What's the point of
> showing me all of this?  Just to rub my face in it?"
>     "That would have been my point once.  Before I died.  Now,
> I've transcended all of that," Professor Perhap said.  "I'm
> doing this in order to save you."
>     "Save me from what?" I said, watching Betty Brent scratch
> her nose.  "You've shown me yourself.  In every universe we
> visit, in every version of the future we see, I end up in
> exactly the same place, doing exactly the same thing, with
> the same creepy-old-man smell of old milk and mothballs."
>     "Save you the trouble, of course," he said, and I was
> able, at that moment, to picture the kind of teacher he must
> have been: earnest, overeager, willing to spend hours of
> preparation in order to impress a single point upon his
> students.
>     "I've watched you across many of these lifetimes," he said.
> "I've seen you suffer, struggle, torture yourself, push
> yourself beyond the limits of what any human being should
> have to endure.  And in every case, it comes to this.  It
> doesn't have to be that way.  If you know the results are
> going to be the same in any case, you might as well enjoy the
> ride."
>     Betty Brent stood up.
>     "Live it up a little," the Professor said.  "Travel.  Try
> out a few different careers.  Experiment.  Meet some girls.
> Hell, meet some boys.  Believe me, there's nothing you can
> conceive of in your wildest imagination that doesn't lead
> to what you're seeing in front of you.  And when that
> happens, as it must, at least you'll be able to take some
> measure of pleasure in your memories of the past."
>     "And forget about being a super-hero?"
>     "Do you honestly see the point?"
>     "I do," I said.  "Have you noticed that in all of the
> realities we've passed through in which I decided to become
> a super-hero, the Red Sox were ahead by one run?"
>     It took a moment for what I'd said to sink in.
>     "You mean... the baseball game that your future self is
> watching on that decrepit old television?" he asked.
> "You'd consider a lifetime of toil and sacrifice... the
> endless discipline, the never-ending suffering... in order
> that some baseball team might have a one-point advantage
> in a meaningless contest?"
>     "You've obviously never met a Red Sox fan," I said.
> "Every one of us would like to believe that our devotion is
> able to affect the outcome of a game.  And now I actually
> have proof that it works."
>     Betty Brent began walking toward us.
>     "Excuse me," she said.  "Is that subway that the two of
> you are standing and arguing in really capable of moving
> between alternate versions of reality?"
>     "Yes," I said.  "But it skips a few stops on Sundays."
>     "Then I'm coming with you," she said, and stepped through
> the doorway.
>     "This... this is unheard of," the Professor said, flipping
> frantically through his book as the doors closed.
>     "Maybe," Betty said.  "But I think I'm making the right
> decision.  I've certainly made enough of the wrong ones.  And
> I feel younger already."
>     "You look younger, too," I said.  The lines had disappeared
> from her face; her hair had darkened from reddish-gray to a
> deep auburn.
>     "When I realized there was a subway car in existence that
> actually smelled better than my apartment, I knew that it was
> time for a change," she said.  "And I like the idea that there's
> a reality in which an Easily-Discovered Man Lite actually cared
> about something."
>     "So do I," Professor Perhap said.  "Lite, congratulations.
> You've passed the test."
>     "I hear that so rarely from anyone in higher education," I
> said.  "Was it the 'Win a Dream Date With a Molly Ringwald
> Look-Alike Contest?' "
>     "Sorry," Betty said.  "I've been down that road once,
> thanks."
>     "Lite, the Apocryphal Universe is under siege," Professor
> Perhap said.  "Immortal Ken has teamed with your old enemy,
> Can't Get a Break at the Lights, Man..."
>     "Who?" Betty and I asked together.
>     "Apocryphal Universe, remember?  You won't be able to
> recall him in this one," the Professor continued.  "Together,
> the two of them are laying waste to their universe, which
> is in danger of implosion.  If that happens, the surrounding
> multiverse could collapse upon itself."
>     "Sounds like a job for Kid Kirby," I said.  "Or Continuity
> Champ.  Or even Ike the Pike.  Pretty much anybody but me."
>     "It's an impossible task," the Professor said.  "It's a job
> for someone who knows he's doomed to fail before he even begins,
> but is willing to try anyway.  Your friend Apocalypso seemed
> to think that person could be you.  But I had to be sure."
>     "So this whole business was just a test?" I said.  "I don't
> really end up sad, alone, and mostly bald in an apartment that
> smells like old cat pee?"
>     "Oh no," Professor Perhap said.  "That definitely happens."
>     "You caught it on a good day," Betty added.  "Believe me."
>     "Well, then," I said.  "I suppose I have nothing to lose."
>     "That's the spirit!"  the Professor said, clapping me on
> the shoulder.  "Begin assembling your team.  Apocalypso will
> contact you in two weeks' time."
>     "Wait," I said.  "You've shown me the future.  So that
> means it's a given that we defeat Immortal Ken, and we
> don't end up dying in the Apocryphal Universe.  Right?"
>     "None of the Lites you saw today was given the chance
> to do what you are about to do," Professor Perhap said.
> "We are entering into uncharted territory.  The best I can
> say is... perhaps."
>     The subway doors opened one last time, showing the
> cement platforms, brick walls and purple-crayon graffiti of
> the Russell Center station.  Betty and I left the train.
>     "Good luck," the Professor said, as the subway rumbled
> away.
>     "Are you coming?" I asked.
>     "I already told you," Betty said.  "You're a lot younger
> and cuter now, but you're still not my type."
>     "That's not what I meant," I lied.  "Will you help me?"
>     Betty stared at me.  "I was never much of a super-hero,"
> she said.
>     "Neither was I," I said.  "That doesn't seem to be one
> of the qualifications.  You've heard what's at stake."
>     "Can I think about it?"
>     "You've got two weeks," I said, handing her a Legion
> business card.   "What will you do in the mean time?"
>     "I've always wanted to see Net.ropolis," Betty said.
> "What about you?"
>     "I was on my way to ask a friend for help," I said.
> "Now I'm thinking that she and I may be able to help each
> other.  First, though, I'm going to buy a new T-shirt."
>     "Really?" she gasped.  "I've been trying to get you to
> do that for seven years.  Maybe there's hope for you yet."
>     "We both know that there isn't," I said.  "But it never
> hurts to try...  Oh, crap.  I can't believe I forgot."
>     "What's that?"
>     "I was going to ask the Professor about something a
> ghost said to me earlier this morning," I said.  "Oh, well.
> It probably wasn't that important anyway."
> -----------------------------------------------------------
>     NEXT ISSUE: A major character dies!  Another major
> character is changed forever!  And Lite buys a new T-shirt!
> All this, and a few other things, in an episode our
> signing statement declares we'll call "Gloomy Monday."
>     CHARACTERS: Easily-Discovered Man Lite, Cynical Lass
> and Substitute Lad are (c) Rob Rogers.  Professor Perhap is
> (c) Mike Friedman.  Betty Brent is (c) Tom Russell.
> ------------------------------------------------------------
>     "If you can't make your mind up
>     We'll never get started
>     And I don't want to wind up
>     Being parted, broken-hearted
>     So if you really love me
>     Say yes
>     But if you don't dear, confess
>     And please don't tell me
>     Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps"
>         --Cake
> ------------------------------------------------------------

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