lalo.martins at gmail.com
Tue Jun 12 18:33:47 PDT 2007
Cannon Fodder woke up to a strong light bathing his room.
"What the scrad?" He checked the clock: 5am, April 71st.
The light was coming from the window. He walked there and
opened it; but he couldn't see where it came from, as it was
coming directly at him, strong enough to blind him for a minute.
He stepped aside, turned around, and waited for his eyes to
When he opened them again, he immediately noticed the projection
cast by the light on the opposite wall. It was a classic, round
"forbidden" sign. Inside the red circle, on the top half, he
could read the words:
"Who Cares Studios presents
Beige Midnight #"
Presumably, the next thing was a number, but it was obscured by
the diagonal line. The lower half had various gray lines, like
computers often use to represent lots of text in a small font.
"Is this someone's idea of a joke?"
He dressed up in his costume, jumped through the window
("ouch!"), and followed the sign to its source.
Who Cares Studios enigmatically presents...
/ ____( __ ) / ____/
/___ \/ __ | /___ \
____/ / /_/ / ____/ /
The Times, They Are A-Changin'
Lalo Martins -- writer
May Fonseca -- editor
with thanks to the Legion of Net.Authors
Another sunrise in Bingham Valley[*].
[* Erroneously called "Birmingham" by the news girl in #1 --
The "feed the hungry" project was finally over. Everyone
involved was relieved -- even the hungry, who couldn't stand
turtle any more.
The valley, specially the area just outside the fence, had
become a huge camp, a few days ago. Now, it was more properly
described as a shantytown in the making. Many of the volunteers
that helped the project were sticking around, finding new things
The New Misfits had gone to bed early last night, exhausted from
the extra-heavy work of the last day. Now, they were all
waking, or already up.
Analytic and Blackbird were cleaning up the line where the fence
used to be. Green had already removed the trees that made up
the bulk of the fence (by moving them spread around the valley,
which now looked rather nice), but a lot of the reinforcements
were left behind.
"If I smell turtle meat again, I think my mind is going to pop!"
"Oh", replied Analytic. "I'm all right. I avoided eating too
much of the stuff, so I wouldn't hate it too much."
A young man, seemingly in his mid-twenties, strayed in. He had
light gray hair and thick beard, both long, dirty and tangled,
and was wearing mismatched clothes that were clearly handouts.
And he wore those thick, black glasses, that were common for
blind people a few decades ago. His feet were bare.
"I'm sorry, pal", said Analytic. "Food is over."
"Not hungry", he said. "Don't provoke the cat. I mean, the
spotted cat; the other one is actually two. Don't drink the
coffee. No dessert."
Blackbird made a gesture to his friend, with his index finger on
the side of his head.
"Listen to me", the stranger continued. "Beware what you throw
in the fan! Don't ride in submarines with strangers! Don't
read the book! Don't split the team! Don't drown others in
your grief! It's all black, and then it's all beige!"
"He's a net.ahuman of some sort", announced Analytic.
"How do you figure?"
"Little things, in the way he moves, in the way he talks. He's
not some random crazy whino; his mind was broken by seeing
something terrible. And then he tore out his eyes."
"Good Bob! How would you know THAT?"
"Elementary, dear Jones", the ace of perception said with a
smile. "The way the glasses sit on his face tell me he has no
eyes. His hands keep going to his face, pretending to adjust
the glasses. First I thought it was some itch, but that's not
what his body language says. He's still acting on the impulse
of tearing them off, then he remembers he already did."
"All beige", the blind man said. "Your father will be your
death. After the angry one burns out. Or was that before? But
you can't catch the virus. I'm telling you. Put sixteen years
between each two."
"If you're right", said Blackbird, "then maybe we should keep
him around, try to make some sense of this information."
"Away for private tutoring, for just ten years. Third turning
point, he said... the second is coming soon, being seven in all."
"I figure maybe he's a relative of my mom's, or more probably,
All-Knowing-Last-Chance-Whiner-Destiny Woman's", Analytic
"I say we call him Whino Lad, then."
"That's just mean."
"Who cares. Politically Correct Person is already gone."
"Who ate the canary? Some birds can wear kimono. But the older
one will be tested harder."
After almost one hour of walking and searching, Cannon Fodder
reached a rooftop, where a large spotlight was pointed at the
LNHQ, painted with the image he saw on his wall (in reverse, of
course). It was already off; the sun had risen while he
searched, and even if it was on, the light would be hardly
visible on the LNHQ.
"Who's there? One of them Xinema guys?"
"An old friend", said an old friend, stepping out of some
"Not anymore." As he got close, Cannon Fodder could see subtle
changes in his bodysuit. It seemed somehow more modern. Gone
were the black-and-white parts; the whole thing was now an
elegant design of azure and navy. The cape looked the same, but
it was attached to the bodysuit by a beige cord, that seemed
very old, and slightly out of place in relation to the rest.
"One night, not long ago, I woke up from a dream, feeling very
terrified and also quite drained. I was sweating cold rivers.
I got up, and my apartment was slightly different. Different
style, different things, different books. I had a shower, drank
some milk, and decided to put on my costume and go out.
"But when I opened my secret locker, all my costumes looked like
this. And somehow, it seemed right to me. This is what they
were supposed to look like. As I was putting it on, I
remembered bits and pieces of my dream. And I knew who this
costume belongs to."
"Er", said Cannon Fodder. "I thought it belonged to you?"
"Indeed it does, my friend. It's who I am that is in question.
You see, somehow, I've been Revamped. I'm not the net.hero you
"Hmm. I see. So who are you now?"
Cannon Fodder pondered for a while.
"Are you sure you don't mean Beige Noon?"
"So, what the scrad is a Beige Midnight?"
"That, my friend", said the caped wonder, "is what I want you to
help me find out."
There was complete silence on the phone.
"I'm sorry, sir", said Dramatic Pause Lass. "Just a moment,
I'll turn off my powers, or this conversation will take the rest
"Thank you, Lieutenant." Doctor Jogging seemed impatient.
"So. We've been with them for a week now. It was very
convenient, getting them in the middle of this 'feed the hungry'
thing; they were open and in a charitable mood, and it wasn't
hard for us to win some measure of trust."
"In fact, I think there's something else. I don't know where
they come from, but it seems they haven't been here for too
long. I think they're adjusting, and anxious to make new
"And I trust you're exploiting that. But don't waste any time
investigating the whys; the situation is dire, and we need to
keep our priorities straight."
"Continue your report, then."
"Yesterday, a homeless person appeared. He seems to have lost
his eyes, and isn't is full control of his mental faculties
either. He keeps saying the most nonsensical things."
"And why is that interesting?"
"Because the Samuels boy, codename Analytic, believes he's a
net.ahuman. That his mind was broken by some incredible trauma,
and that he may have useful information, if only we can restore
some of his sanity."
"You have a net.ahuman testing kit, Lieutenant."
"Of course, sir. But he won't let me get near. And my orders
are not to disclose the kit to anyone, even Hyperbolic Boy."
"Those orders stand. How come he won't let you close?"
"When he sees me, he gets... autistic. The first time, he
looked me in the eye -- quite an accomplishment, for someone
with no eyes -- and, after a suitable dramatic pause, he said,
very lucidly: 'I don't like you, lady. Not a bit. I'm on to
you.' And then he clammed up."
"Interesting. What kind of things does he say?"
"Well, I'm not keeping record, but here are some off the top of
my head:" She assumed a quoting tone. "Restore the dying one.
May or May not. Death is way too spectacular. I won't stay
around for the countdown." And back to her normal voice: "All
very morbid, generally. And he keeps using the word 'beige' to
describe all sorts of things. 'Pass the beige salt, please.'"
"There may be something there. 'May or May not' obviously
refers to April eventually ending. Keep an eye on him."
"That's all for now, if you have nothing else to report. Resume
The connection was cut. She took a deep breath, while restoring
her powers. .o(Keep an eye on Whino Lad. Great. What I don't
do for my country.) She detached the scrambler that turned a
pay phone into a secure line, and started walking back to the
New Misfits camp.
But the orders came too late. Elsewhere in Bingham Valley,
Whino Lad and Analytic were also walking back to the camp, after
helping settle a dispute. Suddenly, Whino Lad stopped cold.
"What is it?", asked Analytic.
Whino Lad put a hand on his shoulder, and made like staring deep
into the boy's eyes (although in fact he was off to the left by
quite a few degrees).
"Fifty-eight and a half", he said.
Analytic blinked, trying to make sense of that. But when his
eyes opened, Whino Lad was gone.
"I just don't understand", said Cannon Fodder.
"What do you &%*#%@$ mean? It's %&*#$#%& Thursday again, so
it's our turn to bring food to the *&%$(*#& prisoners."
"No, man. The other subject."
"So you were *%&#$(*%&*(# saying?"
"I don't know what's up. Everybody seems to think I'm some kind
of genius now."
"No &%*(*(#$. And this %*%&$* about Kid-Not-Appearing-
Wherever-&%*(#%&**&#%(#$*&-Story? Have you reported to the
leader? I don't think you should %*(#%& keep it..."
"I reported to Harris the kiwi when he was leader Monday. And
Onion Boy on Tuesday. They both decided to keep it secret. And
Kid-Not-Appearing-On-Any-Beige-Midnight-Story asked me to keep
secret, too. So I figure... you, Harris, and Onion, that's
three. It's barely a secret anymore. So I stopped reporting."
"I guess you *%&*(&% have a %&$$%$#ng point."
"Er. Should we really be discussing this in the holding cell
area? If some villain--"
"Don't *(#&%%$%&. I turned on the %&*#&#%^ soundproof field."
"So, any&%*#$&way", Innovative-Offense Boy continued, while he
put a food tray in a slot, without looking.
"Wait, Mack, wait!"
"What the %&*&##^#%&?"
The cell was empty.
"^%&*#@#@^%*&$# %#$&*%^*#$&# $ (%*&&$#(*#*%&!!! Who the
&%%^$&*#$#% was supposed to &*%&%#&#*%%^&*$#ng be here?"
Cannon Fodder checked his list. "Mother Time."
"It gets worse", said the scion of resurrection, walking ahead.
"Melissa's is empty too, and... oh, *%&#%&^%*%$."
"That's my line, man."
"Sorry. But look at the list, and this other empty cell..."
The cursing champion hit a button in a nearby wall.
"Innovative-*&%%*(#&%(#$* Boy to who*%&&$*ever."
<Hey>, Multi-Tasking Man's voice came from a speaker.
"The Time Crapper escaped, with Melissa and Mother Time."
<Er. How come you said that without cursing?>
"&%*#$&%, MTM. Do you really %&&%$%#$& think that *%&&$*#$#%^
sentence requires any *(&%(*#&% further cursing?"
"I have no idea", said Analytic, with a sigh. "I see no
connection, no sense at all."
"This is like the DaVinci code and the Bible put together,
Sammy", said Hyperbolic Boy, leaning back on his chair and
dropping his notebook on the table. "We could go find some way
to become immortal, and then spend the next few centuries trying
to work it out."
"Yeah. I see what you mean."
Dramatic Pause Lass entered the tent. The two boys and
Bandwagon Chick stared at her, none of them actually expecting
her to say anything before the mandatory wait.
"Hey gang. How's it going?"
"Hopeless", said Bonnie. "We collected all the bits we could
remember from Whino Boy. We tried to correlate them to current
and recent events. We tried a few codes. We tried anagrams.
Literary and musical references. Everything."
"The only thing that did", continued Analytic, "is further
convince me that it means SOMEthing. There's some kind of
corrupted sense, some connecting line. I can feel it."
"Well", said Fran. "Maybe we could go do something else for a
bit, and you guys let your subconscious brains work on it, in
the backburner. There's a new lead that I'd like to follow, and
Blackbird said 'cool, why not'. So if you all agree..."
"At this point, any lead would be welcome", answered Sammy.
Fran appreciated the support for a moment.
"Here's the idea. What if, somehow, the Time Crapper got the
idea in his head, that he only had until the end of April to be
with his girlfriend?"
"Good one", said Bonnie. "But his girlfriend already booted
him, back in the beginning of the month."
"Aha, but there it is", retorted the belle of buildup. She
looked around, with a crooked smile, savoring the suspense.
"They're back together. They escaped from the LNHQ yesterday."
Cannon Fodder is wReam's, with special thanks to Dvandom.
Saxon Brenton's. And up goes my line count.
Doctor Valkiria Jogging is my creation but public domain.
Innovative-Offense Boy is upLink's.
wReamHack is wReam's, of course.
The original Footnote Girl is Saxon Brenton's; but she's been
taken already, and replaced with a robot.
Everybody else is mine. Too many to list :-D
Bonus feature: How to Write Analytic
real name: Meredith Samuels
aliases: Analysis (in the LNH2 alt.future), "Sammy" to friends
age: sliding; about 16
appearance: Handsome young man, of uninteresting light-brown
hair, cut in fashion. Always wearing simple, comfortable
clothes, that look very stylish on him for some reason. No
powers: Can perceive things other people can't (with his normal
five senses, not any kind of ESP), and is extremely good at
making deductions and connections with that information. Also
has photographic memory.
personality: "Sammy" believes he has figured the world out --
and maybe he has! His moral code is very simple; stay true to
your friends, protect the innocent except where that conflicts
with rule 1, and don't harm any sentient being except where that
conflicts with rules 1 and 2. Wherever he has freedom of choice
within his rules, he usually goes with whatever will mean the
most fun for his friends.
dialog style: His English is correct to a fault. Any
conversation with him is punctuated with insights from his
power. And most of all, if he doesn't have anything useful to
say, he usually remains quiet.
allies and friends: Blackbird is his best friend. He feels
somewhat protective of Mary (Whatever/SoWhat). Green
(Tree-Hugging Kid) and Blur are also close friends. And in his
two weeks in this era, he developed strong respect for Bandwagon
enemies and dislikes: It's easy to dislike him, with his
"know-it-all" style. However, the inverse is not true; for him,
"bad" people are problems to be solved, and disliking them won't
In the alternate future she came from, his mother was Savannah
Ramey, a.k.a. Out-of-It Lass, of the Misfits; and his father was
Bryan Samuels, a.k.a. Explosion Boy, ex-member of the Junior
Brotherhood of Net.Villains (both owned by Jennifer Whitston --
go to the archives NOW and read or re-read Misfits!). In the
present time, he has never met either.
other: He and the other former Acras have decided not to let
anybody know that they actually come from an alternate future.
More information about the racc