NTB/LNH: Beige Countdown #0: The Book of Deus ex Machinas! (Part 1/4)

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at earthlink.net
Tue Apr 29 19:23:15 PDT 2008

[Note for Readers:  Read Beige Countdown #1 before you read this.  This 
is the last issue.  Issue #12 is the first issue!]

[Cover:  A colorful tornado swallows a number of people dressed in 
costumes and trenchcoats into a gigantic book.  On the bottom in bold 
letters is the text, 'THE COUNTDOWN ENDS HERE!!!!!']

                             [B  E  I  G  E]
                                   1 2
                                   1 1
                                   1 0
                                    |                !
                 C     U            |          W
                    O               2             N
                           N        1       O
                             T      -    D
              ***************[#  Z E R O  !!]***************

Written by Arthur Spitzer (and one sentence by Dave Van Domelen -- can 
you guess which one?)




1956 --

On a nearly deserted quiet Net.ropolis street corner, a gang of kids 
wearing helicopter beanie caps and coonskin hats were playing a game of 
stickball.  One of the kids spotted something in the sky.

"Look it's a bird!"  The other kids looked up.

"Nah, it's a plane!"

"You're both wrong!  It's the Reds!  Or Martians!" the kid said as he 
pulled a slingshot out of his back pocket and took aim at it.

"No, dum dum!" another kid said whacking the slingshot kid with a comic 
book.  "That ain't no Martian or Red!  Look here!"  The kid showed the 
rest of the kids the cover on his comic book.  It was issue number 57 of 
Classic Squad Comics.  On the cover was a gigantic golden car that was 
flying in the air even as Net.zi batwinged kangaroos tried to bring it down.

"Gosh Golly!  You think so?!"

"It has to be!  Look!  It's got to be!  If that ain't the 
Big-Flying-Golden-Jalopy.Thingee, I'll eat my hat!"  The kid took off 
his coonskin hat and grabbed a shaker of salt from one of his pockets.

The rest of the kids gazed in spellbound amazement at the golden object 
from the sky that was coming closer and closer.  Like a chariot from the 
heavens it glowed blinding those that gaped at it with awe and wonder. 
It gave a sly wink to the Laws of Physics as it slowly descended to the 

And finally, it touched ground.  For a brief second, everything felt 
frozen as the golden vehicle did nothing.  Nothing at all.  And then one 
of shining golden doors opened.  And out stepped the Golden People.


"Wow!  It's really them!  There's Golden Man and Golden Lord!  And 
Golden Lass!  And Goldy the Golden Mutt!"

Goldy the Golden Mutt barked, "Arf! Arf!" at the mention of his name.

"And there's Mr. Multitask and Comic Swiper Man!  And Captain Backdate! 
  And Kid Presentdaze!" [Kid Presentdaze will be Kid Yesterdaze in the 
present -- Golden Age Footnote Girl]

"And don't forget the 4-Color Kid and our newest member Young Elvis Man, 
kids!" Golden Man said as he walked up to the group of youngsters.

"Thank you, Thank you very much.  You're too kind, Man," Young Elvis Man 
said pointing at Golden Man while winking and giving his hips a little 

"What about those guys in white sheets over there by the tea tray?!" 
questioned the youngsters.

"Umm.. them?  Oh, right!  Those two are members of the Society of 
Wireless Heroes all the way from Great Britian!  I believe they're names 
are The Blue Bottle and Neddie Thunderbox!  They're here for a joint 
mission with us because the American Government asked us to let them 
join us so they could help us with this special mission!  I have no idea 
why they're wearing white sheets over their bodies or why there's a tea 
tray in the middle of the street!"

"I say, Bloody -- I mean Neddie, that bloke with the shiny gold hair has 
blown our undercover operation!"

"I nod my head trying to find profound meaning in Yellow -- I mean Blue 
-- I mean Bottle's gibberish.  But find none.  I steal a few biscuits 
from the table.  Yellow -- I mean Blue -- I mean Bottle steals a cup of 

"Not, bad. I must say that leaving a sheet over my head while drinking 
tea certainly livens me, with almost relief that I can put aside the dry 
cleaning anxiety."

"By God, man I say while watching with fascinating interest while Yellow 
-- I mean Blue -- I mean Bottle's tea stain takes its highly abstract 
shape into that of a famous living royal family member's body part, 
Prince Phillips's Nose?"

"Prince Phillips Knows?  By God, man how?  I know we are both the 
illegitimate children of Winston the Bold and Juanita the Maid, but I've 
always been the dishonest, secret villainous step-uncle to him he never 
had.  How could he?  Is it ..Too late?"

"Who knows?"

"Who Knows too?  By god!  This must then be a conspiracy of the most 
naughty we were told about!"

"I know."

"Eye knows too?  Funny I had an eye named nose once."

"You named your nose Once?"

"Yes, and all the other noses made fun of him.  Never trust a female 
sheep.  By God, man -- if they knows, he knows, she knows, who knows, 
ewe knows, the writer knows, the Shadow knows, Anthony Eden knows.."

"You're fibbing.."

"You caught me again, Bloody -- I mean um -- Neddie.  All right -- 
everyone else knows, but Anthony Eden.  You know what this means, don't 

"Oh my!  Oh my -- you  -- you don't mean...?"


"Oh -- Nobody nose the trouble eye have seen, nobody nose it better.."

"Doesn't organ music get you right there, I say placing dramatically my 
fist onto my heart until the sheer joy knocks my wind!"

"And no, before you ask," Golden Man said interrupting the two sheeted 
men, "I have no idea why the government is forcing us to work with these 
people either..."

"Wow!  Could I get you to sign my comic?!  It would be swell!  My name 
is Mookie!"

"Well, I guess there's no harm in doing that, Mookie!"  Golden Man took 
the comic and flipped through its contents.  Golden Man chuckled while 
he skimmed through the book.  "Here!  Take a look at this!" he said 
tossing it to the other members of the Classic Squad.

Mr. Multi-Task laughed while he read the comic, lit his pipe, made a 
martini for himself, played MailTrek, and handed it back to Golden Man. 
  "Those crazy writers!  Net.zi Batwinged Kangaroos!?  What will they 
think up next!?"

Golden Man nodded in agreement as he pressed his finger against the 
paper scribing in gold the text, 'Keep America Strong, Mookie!  Best 
Wishes from Golden Man and the Classic Squad!' and handed the comic back 
to the kid.

"Now, kids...  We've been getting reports of strange happenings from 
this area!" Golden Man said with a slightly more serious voice.  "Have 
you seen any adults around here lately who've been acting in a 
suspicious manner!?"

"Now that you mention it mister, all this morning spooky guys in 
trenchcoats have been popping up and going into the same house!  They 
kind of looked like high-class hobos!  Does that help!?"

"Which house did they go into?!"

"That one!  Over there!"  The kids pointed to a rather nightmarish 
looking dwelling.

"Okay, thanks kids!  I think it would be best if you run along now 
though!  There might be acts of violence that wouldn't be suitable for 
impressionable youngsters such as yourselves!

"Aww, geeze!  We never get to have any fun!" said little Mookie with 
regret in his eyes.  "Come on fellas!  Let's go hit a malt shop!"  And 
with that the kids left leaving the street empty except for the 
Superheroes and the Golden Jalopy.

"Okay," Captain Backdate said, "With the kids gone I can apprise you of 
the emergency that has brought us all together!  We've gotten word that 
a major magic war is about to begin in Net.ropolis!  Apparently, 
sometime last month a book was smuggled into Net.ropolis!  A magic book! 
  A magic book so gosh darn powerful that it could warp all reality to 
the whims of whoever controls this book!  Everyone wants this book! 
Even countries -- especially Russia!  And from what I've been told a 
number of magically inclined people have been pouring into Net.ropolis! 
  And not just magical supervillains that we've fought like the Schwa 
Khan, Baron Umlaut [Father of the Baron Umlaut that appeared in 
Constellation -- Golden Age Footnote Girl], and Lord Prolixdraft -- but 
many other mysterious trenchcoated occult types!  A lot of whom seem to 
have British accents!  Which I suppose is why the British Government 
sent these two to help us!" he said pointing towards the two sheeted men.

"Oh, look Bloody -- I mean -- hmm --- oh yeah -- Neddie!  That strange 
man is pointing at us!  We should wave at him!"

"I am waving, Yellow -- I mean Blue -- I mean Christ -- umm I mean -- 
Bottle, I say while waving my hand."

"And you think it's in there, the Magic Book!?" said Kid Presentdaze 
pointing to the Spooky Building.

"It has to be!" Comic Swiper Man said.  "I can feel it in there!"

"There's something strange about the perspective of the building and the 
color -- I can't -- Oh god!  I've got a funny feeling in my mind!" 
4-Color Kid said as he winced in pain.

"I don't think we should go in there, Golden Man!" said Golden Lass in a 
distressed tone.  "I'm getting a feeling too!  My woman's intuition is 
going crazy!  Something very bad is in there!"

Golden Man chuckled to himself.  "Women's intuition!  Now you're just 
being silly!"

Golden Lass grabbed Golden Man by the shoulder.  "Please, Golden Man! 
If we go in there, something horrible is going to happen!  Something 
that will end the Classic Squad!  I feel it strongly!  Please listen to 
me!  If we go in there this will be the last adventure of the Classic 

"We have to go in there, Golden Lass!  We need to stop whatever is 
happening there!  We need to get that Book so it can be safe from the 
Hands of Evil!"

"That of course begs the question about whose hands will get the Book 
once we have it!" mused Golden Lord.

"Why, we'll give the book to our government once we have it!" Golden Man 

"Really!?  And why should we do that -- when we could use it for ourselves!"

"I'm not sure I know what you're getting at, Golden Lord!  Why would we 
want to use this book!?"

"To change things!  Can't you see what's happening to this world, Golden 
Man?!  The Golden Age is ending!  We're ending!  The world is becoming 
more morally ambiguous!  Boy Lad, Boy Lad jr., and Commander Comics have 
gone missing! [Commander Comics who will be called Old Comics Man in the 
present day has joined the secret group called the Challengers of the 
Abominable -- Golden Age Footnote Girl] Look at him!" Golden Lord said 
pointing towards Young Elvis Man who was strumming on his guitar.  "Him! 
  With his greasy hair!  And jiggling his hips to that Negro Music!  Is 
that what we want!?  Is this why we fought Hitler and the Japs!?  So his 
generation could destroy everything that has made America great!?"

"Hey now, Man -- Don't be cruel, uhuuh, And uh don't uhuuh you step on 
my Blue Sued Shoes, uhuuhuh!"  Young Elvis Man gave his hips another jiggle.

"We can stop this!  We can bring everything back to the way it should be 
-- like it was back in the 40s!  We just need to use the book and the 
Golden Age will never end!"

"Golden Lord, I'm not sure what to say!" Golden Man replied, "This plan 
of yours sounds like it goes against everything the Classic Squad stands 
for!  Times change, we have to accept that!  A new generation of heroes 
will take our place!  And maybe they'll talk funny and dress in strange 
clothes like Young Elvis Man, but that's they way things go!  We cannot 
halt time!  And I believe in my heart of hearts that the future will 
only get better and better!  When we get that book we're giving it to 
the government!  They'll know how to handle it!  This will be the end of 
this discussion!"

"Arf!  Arf!" barked Goldy the Golden Mutt.

"Well said, Goldy," laughed Golden Man.

"We'll see about that, Golden Man," Golden Lord said in a hushed tone to 
himself.  "We'll see."

Suddenly the 4-Color Kid screamed.  "There!  Can you see it!?  It's a 
Tower!  Oh, lord, it's huge!  It's beyond everything!  It's cracking the 
sky!  Everything's bleeding Beige!  Beige is blotting out everything! 
Everything!  We're too late!  We're too late!"

"4-Color Kid!?  You're seeing things!  There's nothing there -- no 
tower!  Comic Swiper Man, what's wrong with the 4-Color Kid!?"

"I'm afraid that the madness in the building is starting to leak out of 
it!  We've got to go in there and put a stop to it before everyone in 
the world becomes Loony Tunes like 4-Color Kid!"

"Young Elvis Man!" Golden Man said tossing the 
Big-Flying-Golden-Jalopy.Thingee's keys to Young Elvis Man, "You've got 
to get 4-Color Kid to a hospital!  And the rest of us are going in there!"

"Hmm, what do you think, Bottle -- I mean Yellow -- I mean -- oh Christ 
-- I was right the first time -- umm Bottle?!  Should we go in there too?"

"Yes, Yellow Bottle -- oh wait -- that's me -- who are you -- oh yes -- 
Bloody -- I mean -- Neddie!  I can sense it!  The Jolly Mixture of all 
Jolly Mixtures is in there!  And once we get it we'll live like kings, 
umm -- well, you know what your name is!  Or at least we'll live like 
people who pretend to be kings, but aren't really kings!"

"Ah, you know what your name is too!  Always the dreamer, I say while 
secretly resenting you know what your name is too for always being the 
dreamer as I step into the building first"

"And you, you know what your name is, always the person who steps into 
buildings before I can step into buildings, I say with burning jealousy 
over umm -- you know what your name is's ability to walk into buildings 
before I walk into them!"

And when the last hero entered the strange spooky building, Young Elvis 
Man and the 4-Color Kid were left all alone.

"Hey, there 4-Color," said Young Elvis Man grabbing 4-Color Kid by the 
arm, "Let's get you out of this crazy joint!  You're all shook up -- and 
I know how that is!  Man, it was like, Man, this time I was popping 
prescription pain killers while eating fried peanut butter and banana 
sandwiches!  You ever had one of those -- it's crazy, Man!  Like having 
a fried peanut butter and banana sandwich!  Crazy!  And so I was doing 
that and along comes this..."  But before Young Elvis Man could finish 
his amusing anecdote, the 4-Color tore himself free from Young Elvis 
Man's grip.

"Don't you people see!?  They're coming!  They're coming!  Nothing can 
stop them!  Nothing!  They are the death of everything!  Everything!  Oh 
lord!  They're almost through!  They're almost here!  They're..."



                    'The Book of Deus ex Machinas'


2008 --

The taxi cab driver looked into his mirror at who was entering his cab. 
  "Hey.  Another trenchcoated guy, huh?  You're like the fifth one today!"

"Drive me to Net.ropolis," said the Trenchcoated Man.

"Hey, that's where the rest of them wanted me to drive them to, too! 
What's happening there?  Some type of trenchcoat convention?"

The trenchcoated man didn't answer.  He took out a pack of cigarettes 
and lit one.

"Hey!  No smoking -- Net.ropolis is a smoking free zone, fella!"

The trenchcoated man didn't put out his cigarette.  He just glared at 
cab driver and said, "Drive.  Don't talk to me.  Drive."

The cab driver thought about stopping the cab and throwing the bum out, 
but after looking at the man's face in the mirror he decided to just 
shut up and drive the cab.  A chill ran up his spine.  Damn, these 
trenchcoated men and their breaking of smoking rules!


2007 --

"Oh August One!  I need to speak with you about..." Occultism Kid 
started to say.

"Silence!  I need to concentrate -- to focus all of my energy on this 
one important..."  The August One paused.  For a brief second there was 
doubt in his eyes.  Had he chosen the right one?  Perhaps, he had made a 
wrong decision.  Maybe he should choose another.  One that was more 
worthy of the task at hand.  No.  No time for second guessing.  This is 
the one.  The one that will win.  The one that will redeem everything! 
And then with determination in his eyes he gave a grunt.  And took a 
deep breath.  And moved his arms upwards -- for one incredible swing -- 
of the golf club.  The golf club smacked the ball, which sped right into 
a sand pit.

{[Your ball is now ours, August One!  Can you hear it whimpering for 
mercy, August One?!  Can you?!  We shall torture it!  Brand it with the 
Mark of the Seventh Sun of Gulkjababnokto!  Make it our slave!  Yes!  It 
shall be ours -- for all -- *Eternity*!  Muhahahhahhahah!!!!]} cackled 
the very animated sand pit.

"Damn.  Demon Sand Pit.  Gonna need my Nine Iron of Exorcism for this 
shot.  Occultism Kid?"

"Umm, right."  Occultism Kid fished out the club from the golf bag and 
handed it to his teacher.  "Look.  I need to talk with you about the 
Book of Deus ex Machinas."

The August One took his attention off the ball for a moment and looked 
at Occultism Kid.  "The Book?  What about it?"

"Whatever you know about it.  And if possible where it is right now."

"Where it is?  It's gone.  It was destroyed.  Back in the 1950s."

"I have reason to believe otherwise.  Kid Kirby said that I had to find 
the book if we were to defeat Dekay and Diskolor."

"Yes.  It would probably be very helpful in that.  It's a very powerful 
book.  Very dangerous."

"Did you ever see it?"

"Yes.  One time.  You see -- I was there.  I watched it.  I watched them 
destroy it.  I watched it burn into nothingness.  An eternity of 
knowledge gone in a few paltry seconds."  The August One snapped his 


It was Nineteen Fifty -- Umm Six I believe.  Back when I was this 
World's Occultism Kid.  I had been chasing this necromancer named Lord 
Prolixdraft all across the planet and had this tip I got in Rome that 
pointed me to Net.ropolis.

Of course little did I know that every other single sorcerer, 
trenchcoater, occult type, immortal, god, superhero, and demon were also 
headed right to the same place.

This spooky little house.

It was a place where reason and sense didn't exist.  Beyond Time and 
Space.  A place of living dreams and nightmares.  Of Temptation and 
Despair.  Of Never Ending Madness.  A Nexus to everything and everywhere.

And I walked in there knowing nothing of its horrors.


1956 --

The Occultism Kid floated in a void of ever changing colors.  The only 
tangible objects were paintings that were floating around him.  When he 
had first entered here, the place looked like an ordinary hallway -- but 
as soon as he had shut the door the place changed to some surrealist 
nightmare and the door he had come from had vanished.  He had to find 
someway out of this place.  And that's when he spotted another door. 
Quickly, he grabbed the doorknob and yanked it open and threw himself 
into the room.

What was behind the door though surprised the Master of that is Arcane. 
  It looked like a bar, or a wine cellar?  Or both?  And behind the bar 
stood a man in a black trenchcoat who had a crown of grapes on his head 
who poured himself a glass of wine and then put the glass of wine on the 
bar and proceeded to swig from the wine bottle itself instead. 
Underneath the trenchcoat the man appeared to be wearing a toga.  "Care 
for a glass?" he said pointing to the glass of win.  "August?"

"Umm -- no.  I mean -- wait -- How do you know my name?  Have we met...?"

The grape crowned man smiled.  "Names -- names -- names.  They're such 
boring things.  Now wine -- there's something.  Are you sure you're not 
thirsty?  You look like someone who could use a drink?"  The man offered 
the wine glass again.

"No.  I've got more important things to do!  I need to find..." 
Occultism Kid paused.  What was he going to say?  Everything was so 
disorienting here.  Think.  Oh, right.  "Prolixdraft.  Lord Prolixdraft! 
  I need to find him.  Is he here?"

"That boring necromancer?"  The grape crowned man yawned.  "Oh probably. 
  They're all here.  Searching for something that shouldn't be found. 
Sure you don't want a drink?  I've got every kind of wine here.  Wines 
that could make all your dreams come true if you want."

"You're not human, are you?  You're filled with great power.  Who are 
you?  What are you?  Some kind of a demon?"

The grape crowned man bellowed a laugh.  "Demon?  Well, some would think 
so.  I prefer to think of myself as a Professional Drinker though.  The 
Professional Drinker."

"No.  Not a demon.  You're something -- oh lord.  Oh God.  You -- you're 

"A God.  Yes.  That would be me."

"Dionysus?  Greek God of Wine?"

"I prefer to go by my Roman name these days," Bacchus said taking 
another swig from the bottle.  "So.  Are you NTB?"

"The NTB?"

"Oh, you know.  The Trenchcoat."

"The Trenchcoat.  Oh.  Are you talking about the Net.Trenchcoat Brigade? 
  No, I'm not one those people.  I've heard of them, but..."

"Of course the number one sign that someone is a member of the NTB is 
that they deny being a member of NTB."

"Are you a member?"

"Of course not," laughed Bacchus as he took another swig from the 
bottle.  "Now.  Let's talk about this wine glass right here.  Sure you 
don't want it?"

"No.  I really need to be going.  I need to stop whatever is happening 
out there.  What is happening out there?"

Before the God of Wine could speak, the door to the room they were in 
opened again.  A man made of gold briefly looked in at them.  "My eyes! 
  My eyes?  Where are they?  Golden Lass -- Mr. Multitask!  Oh, god. 
They're gone.  All of them.  I'm melting.  I can feel everything melting 
away.  Everything's gone," said the Golden Man and then he shut the door 
leaving Occultism Kid and Bacchus alone again.

"There's someone who's going to be needing lots of therapy when this is 
all over," said Bacchus taking another swig.

"What happened to him?  What's happening here?"

"Someone cast a spell from a book that should have never been cast.  Now 
everything will either be destroyed -- or saved depending on your view 
point.  Never the less, a new age is coming."  Bacchus plucked a grape 
from his crown and popped it into his mouth.  "Some might call this new 
era a Silver Age.  But then this place is a nexus of all Ages.  Golden. 
  Bronze.  Dark.  Beige."

"Beige?  What's that?"

"Oh, just the last Age.  It will take a while for that one to come.  I 
think our Golden friend might have stepped into a room that is 
influenced by the Dark Age."

"I need to stop this," said Occultism Kid reaching for the door.

"You could do that I suppose.  Of course you really haven't a clue of 
what you're up against, now do you?  Now, do you see that bottle up 
there."  Bacchus pointed to a dusty bottle up on the highest shelf.

"Yes.  Your point?"

"That bottle contains all of the secrets and mysteries of the Universe. 
  Or Looniverse if you prefer that name.  Right in that bottle. 
Everything you've ever needed to know.  Right in there.  Why don't you 
take a drink from it?  Of course you shouldn't try to drink all of it. 
That would be bad."

"Every answer?  In that bottle?"

Bacchus nodded.  "Just take it.  No one's looking."

"I can't do that -- that would be -- well, maybe just one drink.  That 
wouldn't be that big of a..." Occultism Kid said staring at the bottle.

"One drink?" Bacchus said with a smirk.

"Yes.  Just one drink."

Bacchus laughed as he reached for the bottle.


2007 -

"And so you spent your time boozing during the greatest Magic Battle of 
the 20th Century?" asked Occultism Kid in disbelief.

"Well, I didn't spend it all drinking.  I was at the final moment of the 
battle and the destruction of the Book of Deus ex Machinas.  The thing 
was -- Bacchus was right about the bottle.  It was an ocean of 
knowledge.  Most of what I know comes from that bottle.  And there was 
so much more that I could have learned.  I could have spent my life 
drinking in that room.  The God of Wine is a very tempting being.  But I 
did manage to free myself from his grip and reach the final battle."

"Well, that's good," Occultism Kid said in a sarcastic manner.  "Are you 
sure you saw the Book's destruction?  Perhaps you were hoodwinked by a 
false one."

"That's possible, I suppose.  And I was pretty drunk at the time.  Who 
knows.  It might be out there still.  Of course even if it is -- it 
might be best if it's never found."

"I have to find it.  It's the only thing that can stop Dekay and Diskolor."

"Is it?  Maybe.  Maybe not.  It's your call.  I cannot tell you more 
than that, young one."

"I understand.  Well, thanks."

"Good luck."

Occultism Kid nodded his head and vanished from the golf course.


End of Part One

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