REPOST: RAC Challenge! #18
arspitzer at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 3 18:56:19 PST 2015
Chapter by Jeff "Drizzt" Barnes who wrote a number of
LNH stories like Cry.Sig and Tales of Continuity as
well as creating a lot of LNH concepts in the early
days of the LNH..
From: franke at indiana.edu (Jerry L Franke)
Subject: REPOST: RAC Challenge! Ch. 18
Date: 1 Dec 1995 16:28:26 GMT
Ok, I screwed up and got our distribution schedule all wrong, so I'm
reposting several chapters today to get us back on track. For those of you
who were wondering what had happened to the Challenge! over the Thanksgiving
holiday, I goofed.
Chapter 18: Ghost, Ghost, Gander
title by Jerry Stratton
The next thing the Ultimate Man knew, he was lying on a couch. To be
certain, it was a nice couch, but it was by no means the perfect couch
that had been the object of his search for so long. Paragon pushed
himself up on one arm and looked around the comfortable office.
"Ah, you're awake at last," an unfamiliar voice said.
Paragon turned to see an older man in a black suit sitting behind a
large wooden desk, peering at him over horn-rimmed glasses. "Who are
you?" the Ultimate Man demanded. "Where am I? How did I get here? What
happened to my Ultimate Marble? Do you think Agent Mulder is really
dead? Will Lois tell Clark yes or no? And is there any mango juice?"
The old man gestured to a small glass on his desk. "We anticipated
your need when you awakened."
Paragon took the glass and eagerly raised it to his lips, then paused
as a suspicious thought crossed his mind. "It is mango juice, right?
The old man nodded. "That's correct." As Paragon drank, he continued
speaking. "And, to answer your questions, I am Thanatos, division head
over superhuman souls in the Grim Reaper Corps. This is my office. You
are dead. Your marble has apparently achieved sentience. Agent Mulder
is not dead. Lois will turn Clark down, but later change her mind. Any
Somewhere in the midst of Thanatos' words, Paragon had choked on his
mango juice. "Ridiculing remora!" he exclaimed, wiping the juice off
his face with a napkin. "Dead?"
Thanatos nodded again. "We're working on getting you a time-share
condo in the Third Heaven as your eternal reward."
"Sweltering swamprats! I can't be dead!"
Thanatos sighed. "You superheroes, all alike. You all think you're
"But I am invulnerable!"
"That's what they all say. Either that or But I've got a healing
factor! I do so detest whiners."
"Listen, there must be some way I can get out of this. I mean,
"All right, all right," Thanatos sighed. "As I was saying before you
interrupted me, you are dead. However, it is customary to give
superheroes a second chance at life, ever since Cheatem, Lye, and
Swindell won that lawsuit on behalf of Superman." He glanced down at
his pocketwatch, then pressed a button on his speakerphone. "Lucy,
hold my calls for a while. I'll be in conference with Mr. Derringer."
He turned back to Paragon.
"All right, then, according to the rules, we have to have some sort of
contest which is equally fair to both of us. Is chess all right with
"I'm afraid I never learned to play. Such are the sacrifices one must
make when one is the scourge of evil, for there is little time for
personal recreation." He paused in thought. "How about one-on-one
Australian rules football?"
"I'm afraid not. Do you play craps?"
"What, dice with Death for my soul? I'm not that stupid. How about
"No, I'm afraid I'm unfamiliar with that, too." Thanatos paused, then
snapped his fingers. "Wait, I know. Are you familiar with Trivia
"I've heard of it," Paragon replied.
"Here's what I propose, then. We'll alternate asking questions of each
other. The first one to miss a question loses if the other gets his
next question right. If I win, you go on to your eternal reward."
Paragon nodded. "And if I win, I return to life."
"Agreed, then." Thanatos pulled a box of game cards out of a drawer in
his desk, then selected a card. "Let us begin, then." He read the
card. "What sports broadcaster graduated Phi Beta Kappa from law
Paragon snorted. "Everyone knows that. Howard Cosell." Thanatos
confirmed his answer with a nod, and it was the Ultimate Man's turn to
ask. "What's the claim to fame of Abraham Zapruder?"
"He filmed John F. Kennedy's death," Thanatos said with a smile. "Next
question: What does a harness racing driver sit in?"
"Easy, again. A sulky." Paragon drew a card. "What does a
"Bodies from graves. Dead bodies."
Paragon looked at him suspiciously. "Are you sure you're not
Thanatos drew himself up officiously. "Death cheats no man; it is men
who cheat death." He shrugged. "Besides, I could ask you the same
thing. I mean, a sulky?!?"
"Well, my secret identity is as a sports reporter..." Paragon said
almost apologetically. Thanatos drew the next card and read it.
"What is a turkey in bowling?"
"Whistling weasels! I... think it's... three consecutive strikes?"
Thanatos cursed under his breath and placed the card with the other
two as a relieved Paragon drew the next question. "Who was the pilot
in the first fatal plane crash?"
"There have been so many over the years," Thanatos said, stalling for
time. "It's really hard to remember them all..."
"Come on, either you know it or you don't."
"I believe it was... Wilbur Wright?"
"Ha!" Paragon shouted. "It was Orville Wright!"
Thanatos sighed. "That's Wright... er, right. I never could keep those
two straight. Them and their crazy flying machines..." He made a
dismissive gesture with his hand, then reached for another card. "All
right then, Mr. Derringer, if you get this one right, you win." He
drew in a breath, then read off the question. "What sport features
kabooms and swivel hip seat drops?"
Paragon had to think for a second, but then the answer came to him. He
smiled widely. "Trampolining."
Thanatos sank back into his chair in defeat. "That's correct." A wan
smile made his way to his lips. "Congratulations, you've won."
"And now I return to life, as we agreed?"
"As we agreed." He sighed. "The paperwork on this is going to be a
mess, though. But first, let's get you back to the mortal realm.
"You're not bitter at losing?"
That odd smile was on the Grim Reaper division head's lips again. "Oh,
no. We'll meet again, and then you'll be dead for good. There's no
third chance, you know. And, besides that, I don't envy you your
future. Make no mistake, Paragon; hard times are upon you. A fate
worse than death awaits you soon, for you are to be written by...
wReam!" Thanatos waved his hand, and Paragon began to fade.
The Ultimate Man's eyes widened in horror as the room vanished around
him. "Nooooo!!!" But it was too late.
Far too late.
Thanatos turned back to his desk and pressed his speakerphone again.
"All right, Lucy. Get me the Derringer file, please. And, while you're
at it, what appointments do I have this afternoon?"
"Well, there's Mr. Richards of the Fantastic Somethingortheother," a
female voice said over the speaker. "He's been quite insistent that
you meet with him for his 'second chance'."
"Ah, yes. It always seems like we're having to reschedule. Anything
"Two others. You remember Mr. Krakatoa?"
"The Living Mutant Island? Yes, he was one of the first to get out of
death on a technicality; what is he doing these days?"
"Well, he had moved to the Caspian Sea and set up shop there. Retired
from the supervillain circuit, y'know? Seems like he came down with a
bad case of Carpathian Tunnel Syndrome, though, so... well, that was
it for him. You're scheduled to meet with him at 2:30."
"All right. And the other?"
"There's some talking goose out here from the Funny Animal Universe.
He says he's got to meet with you.."
"Very good. We'll take Mr. Richards, Mr. Krakatoa, then the goose."
"Ghost, ghost, gander?"
"That's right." And with that, Thanatos returned to his paperwork.
To Be Continued!
Next issue: Can Paragon avoid his dark future? Is there a way for him
to avoid being written by wReam? Oh, yeah, what about that stuff about
the world being taken over and all that from last issue, too? The
answers to all these questions and more skillfully avoided in an issue
we just had to call
* Screaming Dreams of wReam (or, I Have No Nose, And I Must Sneeze!
The perfect couch first debuted in Continuity Champ And The Drizzt's
Defenders #13, and will also be mentioned in passing in issue #21 of
that title. It can be found on IRC's #comics.
Thanatos and the Grim Reaper Corps appeared first in CC&DDs</cite> #5.
Paragon's problems with grapefruit juice chronicled earlier in the
series, and then subsequently retconned away. Gone, but not
wReam, Evil and Entropy Incarnate, (c) 1995 Microsoft.
barnejd at wkuvx1.wku.edu
"The strongest desire is neither love nor hate. It is one person's
need to change another person's copy." - Anonymous
Jerry L. Franke franke at cs.indiana.edu
Computer Science Dept. Indiana University
formerly from Florida State University http://www.cs.fsu.edu/~franke
More information about the racc