LNH/LUNA/SW10: WikiLull After #2: "Final Neme.sys/Five Lessons of Cheesecake"
mrfantastic7 at gmail.com
Mon Dec 12 19:12:03 PST 2016
--A F T E R
Issue #2: "Final Neme.sys/Five Lessons of Cheesecake"
by Adrian McClure
The legends of a thousand galaxies speak of a rogue planet that brings
calamity and destruction every time it passes by. On Earth, they call
it Neme.sys. (Not to be confused with Net.mesis, the star orbited by
the world of the Giant Radioactive Hamsters--I've seen both.)
Long before the coming of humanity, the dinosaurs developed their own
advanced civilization. Records show that the dinosaurs were killed by
many different causes--a giant meteor, Apathy, unskippable horror
movie ads, arguments about whether or not they were supposed to have
feathers. But the thing that brought about all these causes, it is
said, is Neme.sys. The science-prophets of Dinotropolis knew that its
coming would be heralded by rains of frogs.
And in a cave beneath Pompeii, there is a statue, whose significance
occult scholars have been trying to sort out for centuries, of a giant
frog standing on a wheel. An inscription is written beneath it:
IBI VENIT ISTE PUER
O STERCUM QUID SURSUM EST
And Maddie "Terrible" Turnip, senior detective of Net.ropolis's
Pseudoscience Police, wakes up with a throbbing headache, the worst
she's had since her first date with her fiancee, who'd broken up with
her a year ago now, where they'd gone to a crowded bar whose Friday
night music act was a percussion group with instruments from all over
the world. They couldn't speak a word to each other over the marimba
and the glockenspiel but that was all right, because they could
communicate with each other on a level deeper than words. Maybe that
was why it had gone wrong--they knew each other too well.
She turns on the television. The weatherman, who looks basically the
same as every other weatherman, says: "Weather today is high of sixty
degrees, cloudy with a chance of frogs..."
Her own unit had pioneered the research on Fortean weather prediction.
That kind of thing is just a part of life. Still it's hard not to be a
bit concerned by all the rains of frogs that happened this year.
Net.ropolis normally has only about one every five years, but there'd
been nine instances of frog rains this year. Back in June the frogs
had been been reciting poetry.
She changes the channel. All the stations are news now, and they're
all showing the same thing--the death of Cheesecake Eater Lad. (The
second one. Most people didn't remember the first one now. [in the
"Death of Cheesecake-Eater Lad" cascade, natch--ed.]) He charges in
with a quantum cheesecake from a recipe made by Doctor Stomper,
designed to stabilize the LNHQ, but it blows up in his face, burning
him to death.
"First David Bowie," says Maddie, "then Prince, now this. Fuck this year."
Elsewhere in Net.ropolis, Escape Lass sees the death play out on
televisions mounted on the walls of the steakhouse where she'd
appeared out of nowhere, and feels a lurch of despair. She felt
prepared coming in for dealing with a world where she had no legal
presence--after all her, mother was an undocumented immigrant. But now
she knew she's come in just after the point where it all went wrong.
It's too late. But she means to go down fighting.
Nonjudgmental Agnostic and Foreshadowing Lad, dressed up for their
date, don't even notice. But Foreshadowing Lad has been feeling queasy
all year. Nonjudgmental Agnostic tells him there's no chance Hillary
would lose, but he's been having uneasy dreams about towers, walls and
Foreshadowing Lad has one foot in time and one foot in eternity. Me,
I'm outside of time and space. I can see everything--past, present,
future--but there isn't much of a future now. The Deplorable Idolon is
a wall that cuts off the future. I can see a few small tenuous threads
leading past it--Escape Lass is due to meet Foreshadowing Lad and
Nonjudmgental Agnostic for the first time when some MicroMACs attack
the steakhouse. If the universe survives, within a month the three of
them will be dating. I cling to these precious threads of
hope--they're all I've got now.
Maddie hasn't taken her meds in too long. She's starting to hear the
voices again. Eventually she starts arguing with them, because she
needs to argue with someone and that's all that's there. Arguing with
the voices in your head, she tells herself, is an old Jewish tradition
that goes back to Abraham.
I'm one of those voices. I'm trying to warn her about what's inside
the Kool Kidz Klub. She's ignoring me, of course. Who am I? I'm
Cheesecake Eater Lad.
I remember the first time I died, feeling the microwave debris pierce
me, I was terrified. The second time, I thought: not this again. But
this is different from my last experience of death. Maybe you can't go
to the same afterlife twice.
I can think thoughts that are completely unimaginable to a mind bound
to time and space. Recipes for cheesecakes made from enlightenment and
unrequited love. If I could bring them back with me, they'd change the
world. But they don't fit in a mortal head. A shame--I want to know
how they would taste.
In the same hotel a week ago, Kristen Stewart is tossing and turning in bed.
In her dream she's back in alt.obituaries, in the Stiff Drink, the
premier watering hole for Idolons of dead celebrities. The bartender
is Humphrey Bogart, of course.
An intensely private person, Kristen Stewart prefers to stay out of
the big gatherings of Idolons, keeping to her own trenchcoated world,
but there's something about its smoky, elegantly dissolute atmosphere
she enjoys. You're not technically supposed to be there if you're not
dead, but Bogey bends the rules for people he respects. So she goes in
disguise wearing an eyepatch, which doesn't actually fool anyone.
She's hoping to flirt with Katharine Hepburn like she usually does,
but two men motion her over to the table. One is a wrinkled, rumpled
man in wrinkled, rumpled clothes, wryly and thoughtfully sipping on
Scotch on the rocks. She recognizes him instantly as Leonard Cohen.
The other is man in a bright purple suit whom the word "fabulous" is
completely inadequate to describe. He seems to have this perpetually
flirtatious eyebrow-raise with which he looks at her, Cohen, and
everyone else. He is drinking a strange glowing purple concoction that
shoots out sparkles into the air. This could only be Prince.
"So it's just like I said all that time ago," says Leonard Cohen. "The
holy dove it will be caught again. Bought and sold and bought again,
the dove is never free."
"So *this* is what it sounds like when doves cry," says Prince.
"What do you want?" says Kristen Stewart.
"U need 2 find the babe," says Prince.
"The babe with the power," says Cohen.
"The power of Bowie," says Prince.
"Who do--never mind."
When David Bowie died at the start of the year on January 8th (1/08,
108 being the number of earthly temptations that a Buddhist must
overcome to achieve Nirvana), that was the first time many people
realized something had gone horribly wrong this year.
"And he's going 2 end it all," said Prince, as if reading her thoughts.
"His Idolon going to manifest," says Cohen, "but we don't know *which
one.* Will it be Ziggy Stardust, rock'n'roll savior of the world?
Major Tom? The Thin White Duke? I wouldn't be surprised considering
the state of the noosphere right now. Will it be the Goblin King, or
god help us, the Laughing Gnome?"
And with that Kristen Stewart jolts awake and rubs her eyes. What was
that about? Celebrities die all the time. This is obviously just her
brain trying to impose some kind of order on all the terrible random
things that happened this year--what the Discordians call the
Aneristic Delusion. It's... that thing where you see patterns that
aren't there. What was that again? She pulls up her phone and looks up
"that thing where you see patterns that aren't there" on Google. The
dictionary gives her:
"Apophenia: (n) the tendency to perceive a connection or meaningful
pattern between unrelated or random things (such as objects or ideas)
and how are you Ms. Stewart?"
She throws the phone across the room and pulls the pillow around her head.
Hundreds of years ago, Leonardo Da Vinci has a dream about having sex
with Jesus. (Occult historians have a centuries long running
disagreement about who topped.) When he wakes, up he understands the
meaning of life, and paints it in code into The Last Supper.
Centuries afterwards, Dan Beige, bestselling conspiracy theory author,
looks at the painting for clues to put in his bestselling novel with
plagiarized theories about the Templars. "I've got it!" he say. "This
proves that Jesus was straight and had a nuclear family!"
The ghost of Leonardo Da Vinci facepalms.
Today, Maddie is woken up by the hotel alarm. (The radio is playing
Modern Love.) She drags herself out of bed and orders some pizza from
the Pizza Pit for old times sake. She thinks about the glory days--the
Radikool Kidz Klub. In the glory days of the LNH, the Pizza Pit had
rocketed on the back of its fame to become a big chain. The Radikool
Kidz Klub was a pre-fab kid gang, in imitation of the kid gangs of old
Net.ropolis, put together to market its kid's meals. It had been
called the Kool Kidz Klub until the one black member objected. Back
then Maddie had been known as Max Megabyte, and she'd still thought of
herself as a boy. It had all ended badly, of course, when the Pizza
Pit chain went out of business, due to trans-dimensional economic
effects of the comic market crash of 1995, and the original restaurant
had been narrowly saved by a campaign. The kids had grown up with all
the former child hero baggage you'd expect. Most of them had tried to
go on and live normal lives, but Maddie had signed up as soon as she
could with the Pseudoscience Police. Now she was a grizzled veteran
working with the heroes she used to look up to as a kid. Comic book
time is a funny thing.
And then there was Shadez Radikal. Well, he used to call himself
Shadez Radikal, world's greatest hacker. Then he went through this
Goth phase and called himself the Lurking Vampire. She'd heard he'd
been a part of this team called the Random Villains [last seen in
President Evil #6--ed.]. Now he calls himself Shadez Radikal again,
but ironically. He's gone from being deep in the closet to a gay
conservative who writes about why it'd be better for gay people if
sodomy was illegal.
They've known that something was going to go wrong for a while, ever
since that message from the sentient comic collection that lives in
the LNHQ's basement. [LNH v2 #58.5] Something has been gathering its
forces in the depths of the internet, sharpening violence and despair.
Maddie has been researching its manifestations for several years now,
with no support from her bosses. It's been recruiting
people--desperate white young men, mainly--to join an organization
called the Kool Kidz Klub. They say it's ironic. It is run by, of
course, Shadez Radkial.
She's sneaking down into the secret sacrificial arena under the club,
because of course it has one. It's lined by Ozymandian statues of
memes and anime girls. Then, too late, she realizes she's not alone.
She hears chanting coming from the seats:
A horde of men--mostly teenagers--in green frog masks swarms down from
the seats. They're weak and weedy individually but taking out all of
them is too much, just like when assholes get into your mentions on
"Hit her with the Manarafier ray!" says one of the frogmen. Another
zaps her with a ray-gun that warps her body into an uncomfortable,
contorted position. She wants to scream but she can't move a muscle.
Grubby green-gloved hands grab at her and haul her off to the
Shadez Radikal waltzes into the room. He's not the slobby geek she'd
last seen--in his suit and conspicuously slicked-back hair, he meets a
certain minimum threshold of "dapper." But his self-loathing screams
in every word he speaks and gesture he makes. If anything, it's even
worse than the old days. Everyone here seems the same way--she almost
feels sorry for these fucked up kids, sweating under their plastic
"Maddie, Maddie!" he says. "Haven't seen you in a while. How are things?"
"What the hell do you think you're doing?"
"I'm bringing about the future, Maddie. We've been manipulating all
the different factions who are fighting it out right now, arranging
the LNHQ catastrophe and the MicroMAC invasion... We're bringing back
the toys we had as kids, the ones that really matter. No more female
Ghostbusters or any of that degenerate crap."
"This isn't about you, Maddie. You're one of the good ones."
"Double fuck off. You're pathetic."
"I'm not pathetic any more," says Shadez Radikal. "I'm not. Look at
me. I lost 500 pounds!"
"Is that the weight of your soul?" says Maddie.
"Listen to me. You're just fighting for a bunch of lies. All that shit
that was forced down our throats as kids about 'diversity'--that was
just corporate swill. Did you really believe it?"
"Yes," says Maddie.
"Then you're sad," says Shadez. "You're brainwashed."
"So what the hell is all this? Look at you. You've never had an
original thought in your goddamn life. You mindlessly rebel against
the things that you get taught as a kid and you think that makes you
free. But the same damn corporations that make the 'fake' 'diversity'
stuff that got you mad also sell the same 'edgy,' 'extreme' shit your
life revolves around now. Speaking of which, I used to date someone
who worked in designing packages for toys. She told me her clients
encouraged her to put in non-white faces but make sure the white men
are always at the center. And that's why so much of the 'diversity' we
had growing up felt fake--it didn't go far enough. That's what the old
Klub was like--we had the one black kid, the one girl--that's what
they thought, anyway--the one wheelchair user, and so on. And those
are all separate things. But it was mostly about the hero--"
"That was you," said Shadez.
"Oh god. You still wish it was you, don't you? I--look, ther'es
nothing I can say I haven't said a million times. I wasn't happy. I
wasn't in control of my life. I was stuck being someone who really
wasn't me, trying to pretend for the whole country. But when I grew
up, I know there were things I valued about the way I was brought up,
and I hung onto those and rejected everything that was holding me
back. But you're just throwing it all away, and that means you're not
mature at all. And another thing--look at that." She points to the
portrait of the Republican candidate on the wall. "He's a giant rat.
Did you notice that? He's literally a rat in a combover."
"Uh, I guess he is at that. I--uh--SJWs! Censorship!" Two frogmen come
over holding a batrachian mask. "Well, let's get this over with." They
lower the mask onto her head. "This is your face now," Shadez Radikal
All the voices in her head start screaming at once. All her guilt and
anxieties rush out at her. She thinks about the Net.ropolis police,
and all the awful stories that are getting harder and harder to
ignore. None of it happenes in her department, she makes sure of
that--but is that enough? Maybe she's a "good cop" herself, but even
with the power she had she can't push back against the people above
her--or she's scared to. She knows she would lose her job, and if she
quits they'll replace her with someone worse. There's no shortage of
people in charge who want to round up all the aliens and DDP
(Dimensionally Displaced Persons, who'd come under a lot of suspicion
ever since the Rift crisis) and put them all in internment camps.
Whatever she does, staying or leaving, it would lead to something
bad--and it wouldn't change a thing.
The world is fucked up in so many different ways, and no one person,
however well meaning they are, can deal with it all. She's been trying
to bear an impossible burden. Maybe it's better to just stop caring.
Then a black woman on a motorcycle, wearing an extremely Golden Age
costume, bursts into the room and fells the frogmen with a hurricane
of punches."Guess I didn't hit you guys hard enough the first time,
huh?" she says.
"You!" hisses Shadez Radikal. "It's--wait, who are you?"
"I'm Forgotten Gal."
Of course. Forgotten Gal, the legendary Golden Age nazi-puncher turned
Random Hero. [Also last seen in PE #6] The Pseudoscience Police has a
file on her but because of her powers no one can remember it when
she's not around. She's utterly gorgeous. Her punches are like poetry.
The frogman helmet spontaneously explodes from the powerful gay
feelings overcoming Maddie.
Forgotten Gal smoothly unlocks the shackles. "Wanna go for a ride?"
She points at the motorbike with her thumb. She's the kind of girl it
would be hard to turn down an offer like that from, even if there
weren't a frog-faced mob out to murder you.
"You bet," said Maddie. "Let's ditch this joint." She gets in on the
seat behind her and wraps her arms around her waist. It doesn't matter
that they're racing through the labyrinthine secret passages of an
evil frog cult. This is a beautiful moment and she wants to hang onto
But before long they reach a dead end. The frogmen are closing in. The
motorbike screeches to a halt, out of gas. Forgotten Gal is trembling
with exhaustion. "This is it, huh?" she whispers.
"I guess so," says Maddie. "You seem pretty great. I wish we could
have gotten to know each other better."
"You and me both, sister," says Forgotten Gal. They lean in and kiss
on the lips, pouring in all their passion and yearning and regret. If
I'm going to die, thinks Maddie, let me be as gay as possible.
But just then someone else bursts throught the ceiling and shoots at
the frogmen with nonlethal exploding rounds. "Is that--" says
"Hillary Clinton dressed as Rambo?" says Maddie. "Sure looks like it..."
And in an office in a tower, a man who is actually a rat fidgets while
the Combover-Thing atop its head is asleep. The drugs its host has had
to take to deal with the awful presence squatting on his mind have
kept him from sleeping since the campaign began. I recognize him. He's
the Giant Sewer Rat, the villain I fought the last time I died.
"Help me," he whispers to me on the psychic plane. "I sent my soul out
into the depths again, I tried to get power, but I went too far. Now
it's too late. I'm trapped. Let me out!"
Then the Combover-Thing wakes up, and hisses at him from atop his
head. The Giant Sewer Rat pets the Combover-Thing gently. "Yes sir. Of
course sir. I didn't meant to do any harm. You're a perfectly
qualified president, sir."
Then I find myself being drawn up and up, into the sky. Following a
hideous, diseased beam of light which was the source of the
Combover-Thing's power, up to its source. It goes up past the Earth's
atmosphere, beyond the Solar System's edge. And then, to my horror, I
It's a hideous thing, the size of Jupiter, that looks like a curdled
orange balloon full of toxic gases. On top of it is a straw-yellow
forest like a combover. Its face is stuck in a perpetual sneer.
It is the planet Neme.sys.
Remember when this was just a fun time-wasting story? Ha ha ha ha ha.
When the election results came in, I couldn't sleep so I read all of
Final Crisis in one sitting to deal with it. This chapter draws a lot
of inspiration from that, specifically the plot thread with Dan
Turpin, since it always low-key bugged me he never got to escape from
Darkseid. Maddie is of course a combination of Dan Turpin and Maggie
Sawyer. Turpin was retconned into being part of the 40s Simon-Kirby
kid gang the Boy Commandos, so I figured Maddie would be part of a 90s
style kid gang, like the Burger King Kid's Club.
The style and storytelling techniques (specifically switching between
different points of view and using a meta-narrator who can encompass
multiple ones) were based on the Illuminatus Trilogy, and Maddie also
took on elements of Saul Goodman. (Interestingly, After #1 was the
17th issue of WikiLull. I wonder what'll happen in the 23rd...)
I've basically brought back all my one-off pre-LNH20 cascade
characters and concepts except one, who is ironically the one who'd
make the most sense in this story (IE, Gren.del's Mother--who was
based on the version of that character played by Angelina Jolie.)
Definition of Apophenia from Merriam-Webster.com
Adrian "The Dark Spaceknight" McClure, now with sig
Tim R. Mortiss, Tim R. Mortiss,
He's a loving friend.
He holds my hand while I'm asleep,
He guides me on my four-day creep,
He's with me to the end.
--Navarth the Mad Poet (from Jack Vance's The Demon Princes)
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