REPOST: RAC Challenge! #13

Arthur Spitzer arspitzer at earthlink.net
Tue Oct 27 19:52:01 PDT 2015


Chapter by Dan Sikorski...

From: franke at ucs.indiana.edu (Jerry L Franke)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.comics.creative
Subject: REPOST: RAC Challenge! Ch. 13
Date: 13 Nov 1995 20:33:27 GMT

Continuing the Challenge! retrospective...

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                                 RAC CHALLENGE
                                       
Chapter 13: The Ultimate Funeral

   by Dan "No relation to Igor" Sikorski
   title by Bill Keir
   
     _________________________________________________________________
   
   It had been a moment that, had it been observed by anyone else, would
   have left cosmologists babbling and theologians openly weeping.
   Perhaps thankfully, it was not observed by anyone but a select few.
   
   Those select few were not particularly delighted at having been so
   honored.
   
   In fact, Dirk would have been delighted for just a little bit more
   divine intervention at that moment. There was an awful lot of ceiling
   on its way toward him, in strict accordance with the laws of gravity.
   And for perhaps the first time in his life, Dirk wanted to willingly
   break a law.
   
   Gravity, as any high school physics student will tell you, is not
   optional.
   
   And several tons of steel and concrete, operating under that law, were
   going to hurt a lot.
   
   Mary Lu, in possession of The Ultimate Marble, could afford to just
   stand there, laughing evilly, welcoming the onrush of broken building
   like a warm April rain.
   
   Dirk did not have that luxury, at least not at the moment. Nothing
   sturdy enough to hide under...
   
   ... except...
   
   ... Dirk smiled. One thing sturdy enough to hide under.
   
   In the split second before the ceiling hit, Mary Lu didn't even have
   time to register the fact that Dirk was in a place he hadn't been for
   a very long time.
   
   The dust hadn't even had a chance to settle when Mary Lu discovered
   exactly at how much of a disadvantage she suddenly was. "What do you
   think you're doing?" she screeched, turning a marvelous shade of
   crimson as she glowered at Dirk. He'd found the one thing to hide
   under that could withstand the impact--Mary Lu herself!
   
   Dirk stood up behind her. No grapefruit, no potato salad... but there
   was one weakness she had that needed no external help. Never mind that
   it was neither a dignified way to beat an opponent, nor something that
   anyone should ever do to a lady.
   
   He remembered that she was very, very ticklish.
   
   She let out a satisfying squawk of surprise, jerking backwards and
   throwing the Ultimate Marble high into the air.
   
    Viewpoint: High Above
    
   Two people and a lot of rubble. The rubble is largely motionless; the
   two people are both moving in the same direction toward a tiny object
   glinting brightly in the daylight filtering in through the gaping
   wound in the ceiling.
   
    Viewpoint: Worm's-Eye View
    
   Not much. The wreckage would have squashed any worms that were there
   to see.
   
    Viewpoint: Sidelong
    
   Two people racing to the same objective.
   
   Two people who don't know that they're also racing physics.
   
   And physics rarely loses.
   
    Viewpoint: Pause Scene
    
   Dirk, one leg stretched out long behind him, the other coiled and
   ready to strike, to push him faster forward and closer to his goal.
   
   Mary Lu, leaping over an inconveniently placed chunk of ceiling,
   caught half-way through a mid-air roll.
   
   A large block of concrete, separated only a split second ago from its
   tenuous grasp on a bracing beam above, seemingly motionless.
   
    Viewpoint: Moving Images
    
   
   
   Dirk lunged forward; the gap between himself and the Ultimate Marble
   was measured now only in the tens of feet.
   
   Mary Lu: the same.
   
   The large block of concrete: hurtling downwards at a steady
   acceleration of 9.6 meters per squared second.
   
   The Ultimate Marble: slowly settling to rest in the hollow of a
   gouged-out chunk of steel, and the focal point of all the activity.
   
   "Ultimate" is a word, much like "new" and "improved", that gets badly
   misused by advertising agencies.
   
   So it should be no surprise that "ultimate" just isn't as ultimate as
   it used to be. Familiarity takes all the potency of the concept away.
   There's an "ultimate" dish-washing detergent introduced every other
   week. There's the "ultimate" in luxury cars introduced every fall.
   "Ultimate" is no more meaningful than "slightly improved" or "better
   marketed".
   
   Perhaps the creator of The Ultimate Marble had fallen prey to this
   sloppy way of thinking. Or perhaps whoever it was simply didn't think
   of all the possibilities in a quantum universe.
   
   In any case, it does not speak well for the concept of "ultimate"
   when, a split second later, The Ultimate Marble is shattered into dust
   by the aforementioned block of concrete.
   
   Its d├łnouement was impressive, at least, if not predictable:
   pyrotechnics, shafts of light in innumerable colors, and an explosion
   of enough force to fling two very surprised people a good hundred
   yards away.
   
   Mary Lu sat up first, shaking her head. "It's gone! You idiot," she
   yelled, turning angrily on Dirk, "this is your fault!"
   
   Dirk Darringer barely heard her. He watched the dust settle. He
   watched some more ceiling collapse. He watched a small fire begin in a
   corner of the ruins. But he only barely heard her.
   
   Finally, he managed to make himself stand up. Mary Lu was still
   heaping verbal abuse on him; he still hadn't registered a word of it.
   She was starting to get painfully shrill, though, and he snapped,
   "Shut. Up. Now."
   
   Mary Lu, shocked by the sudden ice in his voice, shut up.
   
   "Do you have any idea what this means?" he asked quietly.
   
   "Yes. It means I'm going to have to kill you in a really imaginative,
   really painful way."
   
   He turned slowly and glared down at her. "Oh? And with what powers?
   The Ultimate Marble is gone. Smashed. Destroyed. No longer in
   existence. Pushing up the daisies. Extinct. It - is - an - ex -
   marble!"
   
   She cast a glance back over to the smoking hole where The Ultimate
   Marble had been scant seconds before.
   
   Dirk leaned closer. "That means no more Ultimate Man. No more Ultimate
   Woman. For all I know, no more Ultimate Twins! No Fluffy the Ultimate
   Dog, no Mittens the Ultimate Cat, no Ultimate anything!"
   
   "No... " she said weakly. She had no desire at all to going back to
   being a normal human being again, and all that entailed: dead-end job
   at the local Kwikie-Mart, paying bills, riding the bus. "... no..."
   
   "The Ultimate Woman and the Ultimate Man are dead," Dirk said coldly.
   "It's the Ultimate Funeral."
   
   Mary Lu Retina didn't remember when, exactly, she started running, but
   she ran for a very long time. Past the local Kwikie-Mart, where she'd
   have to go to apply for her old job back. Past the theater advertising
   the director's cut of "A Thousand Deaths". Past the city limits, even.
   And she kept on running, even though she knew she'd have to come back
   eventually.
   
   Dirk was wholly unaware of this.
   
   He had only one thing on his mind--a good night's sleep. Maybe even a
   beer. A mutilation of an old ad ran through his mind: You've just lost
   every super power you've ever had. Now it's Miller Time.
   
   All this and more in a story that could only be called...
     * Next issue: Chapter 14: "Sing a Song of Six-Packs" by Chad
       Imbrogno
       
   
     _________________________________________________________________
   
   Hoo-boy. Lucky number 13 ...
   
   First, the mea culpas--I know, I know, I know it's supposed to be a
   four-day deadline, but as I explained to The Powers That Be (TM, pat.
   pend.), my turn caught me at an awkward life's moment. Rather than go
   into detail, let's just say I had a good excuse.
   
   Second, there is no Sikorski's Soapbox. There is, however, ikaros'
   eyrie, from whence I speak from On High... :)
   
   Now. The story.
   
   Jeez. I thought our magazine was loaded with warped people ... this
   has been a real stretch.
   
   Bill, sorry, no Scarecrow's Brain, no recipes for Hashed Humans, and
   everybody knows that in space no one can hear you stub your toe...
   unless, of course, you're in space inside a starship or space station,
   and you yell real loud--then, you just might alert the crew... :)
   
   Are you folks sure that character shouldn't be Mary Lu Retcon? I
   couldn't even make the whole thing a dream sequence! So I did the next
   best thing and tried to explain things just enough to make it worse
   for the next victim... er, author. So now we have a superheroes story
   with no more superheroes. Good luck, Chad!
   
   So here 'tis. Have fun. Good luck. If and when it comes back around to
   me, I promise to make deadline, really I do...
   
   
    Daniel J. Sikorski
    http://www.infinet.com/~ikaros

============================================================================

--

Jerry L. Franke                        franke at cs.indiana.edu
Computer Science Dept.                 Indiana University
formerly from Florida State University http://www.cs.fsu.edu/~franke



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