LNH/SW10/MISC: RACCCon 2019 Special: The Syrup of the Gods

Scott Eiler seiler at eilertech.com
Tue Jul 2 17:39:17 PDT 2019

There was a being who had been stuck for a very long time.  Or a very 
short time.  Time was very relative where the being was stuck.  There 
were a number of other beings stuck also -- beings whose only crime had 
been to challenge the Gods.  And they were all stuck.  The being had 
struggled to get out, but it didn't seem to have the power to so, which 
was strange since the being had at one point had the power to do pretty 
much anything it desired.

It still could sense things.  It could sense everything.  Worlds. 
Universes.  And it felt a presence from another reality of a being that 
was almost like it.  Although way more flawed than it.  But the being 
was free.  If it could somehow make contact with the being maybe it 
could get the beings help in freeing it.  Maybe.

But how to do that?

And then something started to make its way towards the stuck being.  The 
stuck being stuck in a wall.  A very long wall that seemed stretch an 
infinite way.  It looked like a -- waffle?

                   ----- THE SYRUP OF THE GODS ----

              By Rob, Scott, and Arthur at RACCCon 2019


This is the way the world ends.  This is the way the world ends.  Not 
with a bang, but with a...

"I'm terribly sorry," the waitress said, in a manner that indicated just 
how little what she was about to say actually mattered to her, "but 
we're all out of breakfast burritos."

"YES!" the half-bear, half-cybernetic bird cackled.

"I really don't understand you," said his dining companion, a woman of a 
certain age with a stylish, upswept hairdo, coral-colored lips that more 
than one photographer had referred to as "full" and "pouting," a 
single-shouldered dress whose cost would easily have paid for the 
waitress' student loans, and a mustard-colored rocket launcher slung 
tastefully over her shoulder.

"What?" the bear/bird/thing asked.  "Some people prefer spicy to sweet 
when it comes to breakfast foods."

"Not that," the woman said.  "Although yes, that, but we'll table that 
for another time.  The fact that you take such delight in everything and 
everything that causes misfortune, even to you.  It's like the time you 
started that petition drive for someone to make a sequel to _Green 

"Martin Campbell is a misunderstood genius!"

"So was Josef Mengele, but I have no interest in viewing any of his 
later work," said the woman, smothering the waffles on her plate in a 
reddish, sweet-smelling syrup.

"So," said the waitress, shifting from one leg to the other, "did you 
want to order something else, or, you know, not so much?"

"Do you?" asked the bear/bird, staring into the waitress' eyes with a 
gaze that managed to convey both a world-weariness that transcended the 
very concept of time and an intense desire for breakfast, "Have?  Any 
French toast with Northern gravy?"

"Um," said the waitress, pretending to check a menu.  "No."

"YESSSSS!" the creature roared.

"Mynadoombear," the woman sighed.  "There's something wrong with us."

"I KNOW!" Mynadoombear replied.  "Nothing good for breakfast, hashtag 

"No, it's..." She turned to face the waitress.  "Did you ever have a 
feeling?  That you were made for greater things?  That instead of an 
endless round of charity balls, fund-raisers, quote-unquote-activism 
that's really just an effort to get onto Instagram posing next to some 
impoverished fat slob so that you look ten pounds lighter than you 
actually are... you could be, I don't know, ruling a criminal empire? 
Or, say, causing irreparable physical and psychological harm to a group 
of beleaguered webcartoonists?"

"Or bringing about the destruction of the entire universe?  And watching 
it at the same time?" Mynadoombear added.  "Which would be trippy.  And 

"So... that's a no on breakfast, then?" the waitress said.

"What's your name, dear?" the woman asked.

"Hillary Rodham," the waitress said.

"Forget it, Hillary," the woman said.  "No one ever accomplished 
anything with a name like that."

"I don't know," Mynadoombear said, as the young woman stormed away.   "I 
had a feeling about her."

"But you know what I mean," the woman continued.  "Don't you?  I mean, I 
can't say I'm unhappy with my life.  I meet daily with the greatest 
minds in fashion, in creative design, and in contemporary breakfast 
foods, and I've managed to crush all of their dreams."

"YES!" Mynadoombear said.

"I just feel like... there ought to be more of a challenge.  You know? 
I keep almost remembering a time when I... when we... had to work for 
everything, when all of our efforts were constantly confounded by... But 
then when I try to think back upon when this happened, or who was the 
one confounding us, I just... it just seems to fade into the background, 
like that waitress will in the next five to ten years.  Do you ever have 
that feeling?"

"Hard to say," Mynadoombear said.  "I'm a collection of immortal 
arachnids inhabiting the cybernetically enhanced brain structure of a 
Kodiak bear.  Going meta has always been hard for me."

"That's right," the woman said.  "I'm sorry.  I forgot."

"But... now that you mention it..."


"No," Mynadoombear said.  "I'm not even really sure what we were talking 


Ducktor Psychobeat, the Man-Demon-Cyborg Who Quacks Like a Duck, was in 
a massage chair in Thailand when his tachyon sensor alarm went off.  He 
quacked "Wait a minute" out of his duck beak, and fumbled around to mute 
the alarm.  After all, there were always tachyons passing through the 
Earth - just not interacting with it, except through the special sensors 
he'd been implanted with when he got his latest set of cyborg implants.

But the visual display said, "No tachyons."  As though the Earth had 
been cut off from most of the universe.

The masseuse said, "You leave so soon?  You pay for an hour already!"

"Naaah, didn't say I was leaving.  The universe can wait."  He muted the 
alarm, then settled back down, mumbling, "Note to self:  buy some popcorn."


"Okay.  I really need this job," said the 19 year old girl in the 'They 
Mite Be Giant' T-shirt and jeans.  "Mostly because I can't get any other 
jobs -- so this sidekick gig -- well I kind of have to have it or man my 
life is really going to be dismal because I'll be totally broke.  Look 
this wasn't supposed to be my life.  I was going to be this highly 
successful porn webcomic cartoonist, but it turns out that there's this 
porn glut on the internet with all the free porn out there so that idea 
wasn't all that hot.  And it turns out that a lot of employers out there 
aren't that keen on someone with sordid hobbies like that working for 
their company so..."

"Hmm," said the asian gentlemen who looked an awful lot like Abraham 
Lincoln, "I really don't need to know all this.  As you youngsters would 
say -- this is way too much information.  I just need someone that 
believes in truth, justice, and the American Way.  Some courageous soul 
prepared to..."

"Yeah, sure, sure, sure.  I totally believe in all that.  Totally.  So, 
does this job have like health care benefits?  And can I get an advance? 
  I really, really need an advance.  A big advance.  Got these really 
big gambling debts that I need to pay off."


Tanza Lopez looked out the window of the spaceship she was riding in. 
This was very insane.  She had managed to get the sidekick job and she 
was flying to the moon with this crazy asian guy that thought he was 
Abraham Lincoln although was calling himself Easily Powernaughted 
Lincoln -- although he sort of looked like Lincoln so maybe he actually 
was.  She was given the codename Easily Powernaughted Late and they were 
going to the moon.  Why were they going to the moon.  Who was Lincoln 
working for?  And why had he given her this spatula?  Was it some kind 
of James Bond spatula that did crazy stuff like shoot poison darts?  Or 
was it just your ordinary everyday spatula.  She was kind of grateful 
that she didn't have to wear one of those incredibly slutty superhero 
outfits.  Although she had totally been prepared to do that.  But no she 
was just in her boring shirt and jeans.  Hmm.  Maybe she could make a 
lot more money in this sidekick gig wearing slutty outfits.  Probably 
should give that some deeper thought.

Man, flying into space was kind of boring.  This ship had gravity 
stabilizers so you couldn't even do all that cool floating and spitting 
out floating bubbles of Tang stuff.  But there was a chill she felt in 
her skin.  They were going to some highly dangerous place and maybe this 
was a very bad decision.  But on the other hand all those heavies that 
were after her for all those gambling debts they probably didn't have a 
space ship -- so, hey, maybe this was a really smart move.

"So, what's this mission?  Why exactly are we going to the moon?  I'm 
just curious?  And does this spatula do something?"

"The mission?  We're going to save all reality!  The spatula?  It flips 

"Umm.  Okay?"  What the hell?  Man, I'm going to die!


Her name was Constance Grenadine Queen, though almost everyone who felt 
comfortable enough calling her by anything other than "Ms. Queen" or 
"Madam" (or "that bitch," but only behind her back and with several 
counties between her and them) called her "C.G."  She was the kind of 
person someone might have called ambitious, except that "ambitious" 
implies there was something in her life C.G. Queen had wanted that she 
had yet to acquire or achieve and that, so far, had proven to be 

There was nothing in the world -- in all the universe -- that C.G. 
wanted that she didn't have.

And that was the problem.

The thing that had made C.G. a queen not just in name but in life had 
always been her ability to see the holes in people -- the emptiness, the 
aching needs that, try as they might to conceal them with money, with 
talent, with displays of self-confidence -- she could pinpoint with 
uncanny, even unnerving accuracy.  She was the woman who knew what 
everyone else was missing, whether the person in question was an 
up-and-coming investor desperate not to be thought of as an impostor or 
an entire indigenous culture willing to surrender their rights and 
resources without a thought if someone pretended to care about their 
belief system.

The one exception to her abilities so far had been Mynadoombear, who not 
only wanted nothing out of life but seemed to crave that nothing as 
desperately as she did.  Yes, he was foolish; yes, he frightened and 
occasionally devoured some of her colleagues and yes, there was the 
constant, nagging question of what the hell he was.  But with his utter 
and clear-eyed devotion to entropy he seemed to appreciate not only the 
value of nothing, but the problem of the absence of nothing in the 
universe.  Because if everything and everyone there was had, at its 
center, an essential nothing that made that thing what it was -- and all 
of her experience had taught C.G. that this was the case -- than a 
universe that lacked nothing was, simply put, not a universe at all.  Or 
at least not a real one.

A doughnut without a hole at its center could not be a doughnut, and a 
universe with nothing missing -- a universe that was missing nothing -- 
might well fool everyone else into thinking it was a universe.  But C.G. 
knew better.  And Mynadoombear, for all his faults, did too.

"It's going to destroy you, you know," the creature said, rubbing its 
paws together with furtive glee.  "Your obsession.  It might destroy 
everyone else, too.  If we're lucky."

"Would that be so bad?" C.G. said.  It was late; all of her favorite 
shows had gone into reruns for the summer, and she had already fed the 
latest of her production assistants to Mynadoombear, so she had nothing, 
really, to do.  As usual.

"I couldn't say.  I'm mostly immortal," Mynadoombear said.  "I should 
imagine that whatever comes after the destruction would be interesting, 
but the actual destruction is likely to be quite painful.  Again, if 
we're lucky."

"But I'm not lucky," C.G. said, pouring her silver snifter of grenadine 
syrup over the still-warm waffles on her plate.  "I care about nothing. 
I'm obsessed with nothing.  There is nothing I can't find, and yet I 
can't find nothing, anywhere I've looked."

"Hrrfaughtrrr," Mynadoombear said.

"What's that?"

"Sorry," Mynadoombear said, removing the production assistant's torso 
from his jaws and wiping his mouth with the back of his wing/paw.  "I 
said, that seems unlikely.  If you've looked and looked, and all you've 
managed to find is nothing, than the likelihood is that you've already 
found it.  You just can't see that you've found it."

"What up, nerds!" shouted a tall young man in sunglasses.  "Hear you're 
in the market for a new P.A. I'm Pauly Rokkefeller, and I'm your guy. 
Hey, did you all see that thing in the news about there being a waffle 
on the moon?"

"On the... moon?" C.G. said, staring at the waffle on her plate.

Of course, she thought.  Right in front of me.  All the time.

She turned to Rokkefeller and flashed him a smile he would remember, to 
the end of his life, as being electric.

"Thank you," she said.  "That's absolutely wonderful news."

"Hell yeah it is!" Rokkefeller said.  "So, like, should I get started 
now, or what?"

"Of course," C.G. said, stabbing her fork into the waffle. 
"Mynadoombear will eat you now."


Grenadine Waffler sat on her throne made of skulls in a relaxed manner 
and gazed at her two minions.  "You need to get the syrup!  You need to 
go to the moon and kill whoever tries to stop you and get me that syrup!!!"

"That sounds a bit extreme.  Why this syrup?  Why not some syrup from 
the supermarket or some other place that sells syrup.  A lot of that 
syrup is very tasty.  There's this brand called Mr. Sticky that has a 
very nice.." said one of the mysterious shadowy minions.

"I don't want Mr. Sticky brand syrup!!  I want this syrup!!  There is a 
being made of waffles buried under the moon!  And this being has syrup 
pulsing through its veins that is the Ultimate Syrup!!  And once I have 
this syrup, this Syrup of the Gods, I will pour this syrup over a big 
stack of waffles -- and while I'm doing that do you know what I'm going 
to do?"

The minion shrugged.  "Haven't a clue."

"I will take a selfie with that stack of waffles -- waffles covered in 
the Syrup of the Gods -- and it will be the Ultimate Selfie.  Everyone 
will like it -- even the haters!!  Everyone!!!"

There was a long pause.  Finally the minion said, "And?"

"That's basically it.  Why?  Do you think I should do something more 
than that?"


He was the best at what he did and what he did was collect gambling 
debts, get into ax fights, and chew bubble gum.  There was some idiot in 
front of his car that wasn't moving despite the fact that the light had 
turned green.  Instead the guy was chatting away on his cellphone 
completely oblivious that the light was green.  The bearded man with an 
eyepatch mused about what he could do while he waited for this idiot to 
stop chatting away on his cellphone and finally move his car.  He could 
perhaps chew some tasty bubble gum.  Maybe he should do that -- and chew 
that bubble gum in ways that no one else was capable of.  Yes, that's 
what he should do.  And so he moved his hand to where he kept his bubble 
gum.  And then he noticed something.  That all his bubble gum was 
completely gone.  He had no more bubble gum.

Okay, thought the man known to the underworld as Can't Ax Fight at the 
Lights, Man --  guess I'll have to do this instead.  And he grabbed his 
ax -- walked out of his car and walked over to the guy with the cellphone.

He looked at his watch.  Yeah, I have time for this.  Plenty of time.


Can't Ax Fight at the Lights, Man wiped away the red off his ax as he 
made his way to the launch site.  He looked at the space ship rocketing 
away.  The ship that had the deadbeat on it.  Okay.  Maybe he didn't 
have plenty of time.

He scanned the place for another space ship.


"Okay.  We should probably have space suits, right?  I mean I don't know 
much about space, but if you're walking around the moon without a 
spacesuit you get that whole Total Recall eyes bugging out thing. 
Breathing sounds like a good plan."

Easily Powernaughted Lincoln gestured over to two space suits one of 
which looked like it had enough room for a stovepipe hat.  "Beware 
touching the waffle.  Some people it changes."

"Umm, okay."  Why was this lunatic talking about waffles?  What in the 
earth did waffles have to do with the moon?  She looked at the space 
suit.  And more importantly how do you put this on.


Can't Ax Fight at the Lights, Man walked in the very dark space craft 
and before he could ponder about how he was going to fly it he heard a 

"Hands up!  Drop the ax!"  A light came on and it was a lady in a 
trenchcoat smoking a cigarette pointing a gun at him.

"Look, miss.  I have no beef with you.  I need to use this ship to catch 
this skirt who has various outstanding loans that need to be collected 

"And I need to stop some lunatic who thinks he's Abraham Lincoln from 
destroying the Universe!"

"That sounds very noble.  Look, I don't think we're really at odds here. 
  We both want the people on that rocketship that just left just for 
different reasons.  Getting into some pointless fight won't do either of 
us any good and I really hate having to ax to death a lady.  So maybe we 
should team up?"

"Actually, I'm pretty sure I could shoot you to death very quickly -- 
but it would probably mean having to fill out a bunch of paperwork later 
that I'm loathed to do so perhaps you have a point.  I assume you can 
fly this thing?"

"Sure.  How hard can it be?"


"Can't Ax Fight at the Lights, Man," said the bearded man with the 
eyepatch as the spacecraft took flight.

"Umm.  Are you having a stroke?"

"That's my name."

"Oh, right.  Great name."

"And you are?"

"Traci.  Traci Cynical.  Look, I'm not really one for all this small 
talk nonsense.  I have a job to do.  Let's just keep it at that."

"You said something about destroying the Universe earlier.  What exactly 
are we going to be dealing with when we get to the moon."

"Oh, I was just exaggerating about all that.  Yeah.  I wouldn't worry 
too much.  I'm sure everything will be completely fine," she said in a 
very grim voice.


"Wait," Tanza said.  "Before I go risking my life on the surface of the 
moon exploring a giant waffle with some man who thinks he's Abraham 
Lincoln, there's something very important that I need to know."

"Yes," Easily-Powernaughted Man Lincoln said.  "I knew that Booth would 
be at Ford's Theater that night.  It was the only way I could keep him 
away from Grant."

"No, I... huh.  That's weird.  What I meant to say was, WHAT THE HELL 

"The same thing we've been doing since 1969," EDML said.  "Protecting 
the stability of reality."

"If you don't mind my saying so," Tanza said, "wearing a giant stovepipe 
hat underneath your astronaut costume is not exactly making you the 
poster child for stability."

"Ah," the Asian man said.  "Few realize that the power... the 
knowledge... the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln... and all of the Lincolns 
who have followed him... reside in his hat."


"Why do you think pennies remain in circulation?" Lincoln said. 
"Whenever one appears in the hand of a person chosen by fate to become 
the next Lincoln, the eyes of the sixteenth President glow.  I have 
spent years training in the Temple of Lincoln -- located beneath the 
Lincoln Memorial -- studying the ancient texts of the Book of Abraham to 
prepare myself for this role."

"You've been reading the Lincoln logs?"

"Indeed.  And I have learned -- as so shall you, tender Tanza -- that 
the true purpose of the
Apollo program was to put in place measures that would safeguard our 
universe from incursion by forces that could shatter the fabric of space 
and time simply by shifting in place!"

"You can't possibly be serious!"

"Do you really think the United States government would spend $25.4 
billion in the middle of a disastrous war in Vietnam just to send a 
bunch of guys to walk around on the moon and plant a little flag?"

"I guess it does sound kind of stupid when you put it that way," she 
said.  "So... does the Lincoln beard grow automatically when you put on 
the hat?"

"No," EDML said.  "I just thought it completed the look.  Now 
let's...no," he said, staring through the porthole of their ship.  "No. 
It cannot be.  It's not possible!"

"Please don't make me say ‘What's not possible?' " Tanza said.  "I know 
I'm supposed to be your sidekick, but I'm not really..."


"Heeeeere's Johnny!" Can't Ax Fight at the Lights, Man sneered.


Three seconds earlier, Tanza Lopez had been staring through a glass 
porthole at the surface of the moon.  She had done this before, of 
course -- when she was four years old, her family had taken her on a 
cruise through the Bering Strait, and for years afterward she would 
recall how the full moon had looked, reflected against the rippling 
surface of an impossibly blue sea.  Now, though, she had to admit that 
the actual moon, some four feet beyond her on the other side of the 
rocket's hatch, was much less beautiful.

That, at least, was what she had thought before the carbonized blade of 
an ax-wielding maniac smashed the portal into a thousand shards and 
thrust his grinning, crazed, half-shaven mug through the shattered circle.

"Heeeeere's Johnny!" Can't Ax Fight At the Lights, Man said.

"By the hallowed dead of Gettysburg!" Easily-Discovered Powernaught 
Lincoln exclaimed.  "Hardly has our vehicle touched down on this 
satellite's sweet surface then we find ourselves under violent assault 
by this murderous madman and his malevolent maul!"

Tanza Lopez simply stared.

"Easily-Discovered Powernaught Late?  In lieu of actual support, an 
interjection or two emphasizing the dire nature of our situation would 
be helpful here," Lincoln added.

"Well," Tanza said.  "This is awkward."

"Not what I was expecting," Lincoln said, "but as always, we must 
dedicate ourselves to the great task remaining before us."

"Tanza?" Can't Ax Fight At the Lights, Man said, lowering his ax.

"Stan?" Tanza said.  "I thought you were moving to California."

"Are they dead yet?" a woman -- Tanza was sure it was a woman -- behind 
Can't At Fight at the Lights, Man said.

"We have not yet begun to fight!" Easily-Discovered Powernaught Lincoln 
said, shaking his fist.  "And I mean that quite literally."

"I meant to text you," Can't Ax Fight At the Lights, Man said.  "I had 
the message written and everything.  I was already to hit text, and then 
-- traffic.  I was stuck on the turnpike for two hours with no bars!"

"That's always been your excuse, Stan," Tanza said, folding her arms 
over her chest.  She stared hard into Can't Ax Fight at the Lights, 
Man's eyes -- no easy task, as the latter was struggling to maintain his 
balance while remaining half in and half out of the porthole. "It's 
always been about traffic for you."

"That's not fair," Can't Ax Fight At the Lights, Man sputtered.

"Can you believe this guy?" Tanza said, turning toward Easily-Discovered 
Powernaught, Lincoln.

"As he has just smashed in the viewport of our spaceship and remains 
outside without the benefit of a space suit, helmet or other external 
breathing apparatus, I cannot," Lincoln said.

"He comes to me at a gallery opening -- my first show!  -- and tells me, 
‘Baby, I love what you're doing, but -- oil on canvas is so 2-D.  It's 
so 20th century.  Webcomics are where it's at,' " Tanza said.  "And, I 
mean, I know now he doesn't know his Warhol from a hole in the ground, 
but at the time -- well, just look at that face.  I couldn't say no to him."

Despite himself, Can't Ax Fight at the Lights, Man blushed beneath his 
gin-blossomed stubble.

"So I spend six months developing a webcomic.  Really conceptual. 
Absolutely cutting edge," Tanza began.

"Speaking of cutting edge, are they dead yet?" the woman behind Can't Ax 
Fight at the Lights, Man inquired.

"We are not!  And even if we were -- we would not have died in vain!" 
said Easily-Discovered Powernaught, Lincoln, who felt he was gradually 
becoming peripheral to the situation in a manner that felt both 
uncomfortable and familiar.

"...and he barely even looks at it before saying, ‘It's beautiful, baby, 
beautiful, but where's the erotic tension?  Where's the passion? 
Where's the desire buried within each of us?" Tanza continued.  "And the 
worst part about it, he was right.  And the next thing I know, we're 
living together in a banlieue outside Paris, having world-shattering sex 
and mind-bending discussions about Jacques Lacan -- and now I'm creating 
the most unbelievable pornographic webcomic, it's like my id is just 
melting right out of me on to the screen, like I'm watching creativity 
come to life right in front of me (although a lot of it looks like 
sweaty Hungarian guys but what are you going to do you have to work with 
the models you have, amIright?) -- and then what happens?"

"I am positive that I do not know and don't really want to know," 
Lincoln said.

"Exactly," Tanza said.  "So tell me, Stan.  What happened?"


"Life happened, Tanza.  We fell away, and I embraced ax fighting all the 
more.  But then...  I saw the light!  So now I am Can't Ax Fight at the 
Lights, Man!"

"Oh, Stan..."  The two embraced at the porthole!

"Cut the crap!"  Traci Cynical tugged the two former lovers out of the 
porthole.  They drifted down to the surface of the Moon.

Tanza, in her spacesuit, looked at Stan.  "How are you surviving on the 

"Tanza, the Light sustains me as long as I'm not actually ax fighting!"

"What?  You broke into our spaceship with that ax!"

"That was just an ax love tap!"

Then Tanza looked up.  She and Stan were surrounded by waffle-humans.


Meanwhile, back at the porthole, Traci Cynical (complete with spacesuit 
and trenchcoat) charged through and pulled her revolver.  "Easily 
Powernauted Man Lincoln, you're under arrest!"

"By the frustrated festering dead of Fredericksburg!  What authority do 
you have here, young lady?"

Traci fumbled in her trenchcoat for her badge.  She pulled it out and 
said, "By the authority of the Mechanical Web Cartoonists of Ordered 
Realities, I declare you...  Hey, where'd you go??"

"Surprise!" EPM Lincoln unfolded his amazingly large body from behind an 
amazingly small chair, jumped over Traci in the low Lunar gravity, and 
then judo-flipped her out the spaceship door!  "I bet you didn't know 
that the Lincoln power includes wrestling!  And you won't be needing 
*this* any more."  Lincoln tossed Traci's revolver behind him, then 
leapt out the portal after her.

Traci rolled out of Lincoln's way - into a sticky pair of waffle-colored 
legs!  She, Lincoln, Tanza, and Stan were all among half-human, 
half-waffle hybrids.


Tanza Lopez, aka Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln Late, took her first step 
on the moon and looked at her surroundings.  She could see a number of 
half waffle-half humans lumbering over her.  "Yikes!  You know now that 
I think about it, one of us should probably be guarding the inside of 
the ship so as to keep all of the ship stuff safe.  And I'd like to 
volunteer for that gig.  So, I'll just mosey right back into the.."

"Late, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.  Remember that."

"I'm pretty sure FDR wasn't really aware of grotesque waffle-human 
hybrids.  Or for that matter a lot of the other scary stuff about life," 
she said gripping her spatula tightly.

"These are still men, Late.  We need to remind them of that.  If we can 
do that maybe they'll return back to their original form."

"Or maybe they prefer their new waffle-human hybrid lifestyle.  I mean 
maybe the best thing we can do is leave them like this and race right 
back to the ship before they can reach it or us.  Yeah, I'm kind of 
thinking this is one of those Prime Directive type situations right 
here," she said as she started backing away in a very fast manner.

Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln didn't answer, instead he walked over to 
waffle-human hybrids and before he could speak they covered him in some 
syrupy goop.

Dammit, thought Tanza, I don't know how to fly the damn ship!  I am 
fucked!  And then she sighed.  Guess I'm going to have to do something 
heroic.  Fuck.


Okay, those waffle-human hybrids are pouring syrup all over my ride out 
of here so I should probably try to do something to stop that -- let's 
see -- hmm -- Lincoln said something about trying to remind them that 
they're still men.  How do I do that.  Hmm.  Oh, wait!  How about...

"Hey, you!  Yeah, you -- the human/waffle hybrid creatures!"  The 
human/waffle hybrid creatures stopped pouring syrup on 
Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln and gazed at her.  "What is the answer? 
Less Filling or Tastes Great?  What do you think?"

And the creatures paused as if to think about that.  And eventually some 
started grunting 'Less Filling' while others gurgled 'Tastes Great' and 
the ones that said the one thing started glaring angrily at the others 
that had said the different one.  And then they all started shouting 
'Tastes Great!' and 'Less Filling!' at each other with great fury.  And 
that fury caused them to start attacking each other while completely 
ignoring the Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln covered in syrup.

"Wow, I can't believe that actually worked.  And also I can't believe 
that I used some weird reference from like the 80s -- why the hell did I 
do that?  It's like there is some part of me that's a lot older than the 
year 2000 in which I was born.  Oh, well.  Probably doesn't matter.

She walked over to where Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln had fallen.  All 
covered in the sticky Syrup of the Gods.  What was she going to do?  If 
this were a movie some character would just slap him awake.  Okay. 
Guess I'll do that.  She bent over and raised her hand in slapping 
position and then let it go.

And the moment her hand touched Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln there was 
this weird unsettling feeling.  And she opened her eyes.  Or he opened 
his eyes?  Damn they really need to come up with a singular pronoun for 
this type of thing.  Okay, they opened their eyes.  They were one -- 
Tanza Lopez and Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln.  It was weird.  They were 
Abraham Lincoln with boobs.  And everything felt okay.  Like this was 
how it was supposed to be.  But this wasn't how it was supposed to be. 
No.  This was wrong.  They had been two different people and now -- Man. 
  Got to think.  Hmm.  Well at least I know how to fly the spaceship so 
I can get off this dumb rock.  And Abraham Lincoln with boobs -- there's 
got to be a way to make money off that.  Hmm.  And those gangsters that 
I borrowed all that money from, they'll never know now that I have 
Abraham Lincoln's face.  This could work.  Hmm, and maybe I could 
finally have enough scratch for that whole Sex Cult idea of mine.  Yeah! 
  And this won't be one of those evil Allison Mack sex cults with all 
the brainwashing and branding naked asses with hot irons.  No, this will 
be an ethically responsible sex cult where only consensual adults will 
be allowed to participate and they won't be doing horrible things to 
each -- unless they're into that sort of thing and...

"NO, NO, NO, NOOOOOO!!!!!!!!  I am not being a leader of a sex cult!!! 
I am not doing that!!!!!!"  And the Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln part of 
the body ripped itself away from the Tanza Lopez part.

Tanza opened her eyes.  And felt a lot of sticky stuff on her space 
suit.  "What the hell just happened?"

"That was a great idea, Late.  By forcing me to confront the absurd 
horrid idea of me, Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln, running a sex cult 
something there is no way I'd ever, ever do -- that helped rip us out of 
this forced merger.  Great job!"

"So, you don't think my ethical sex cult idea stands up?"

"We're not going to discuss the sex cult business anymore.  No.  Right 
now we're faced with an even greater crisis than human-waffle hybrids. 
While I was drowning in this menacing syrup I had this horrible insight. 
  This is much bigger than people being forcibly merged.  I feel worlds 
-- nay!  Universes are in jeopardy!!  And a being that has the power to 
merge worlds together -- this maybe even too big threat for even us to 

"What -- two non-powered people with spatulas?  You don't think we're up 
for some insanely powered god that can merge universe?  You know I hate 
to agree with you, but yes I think you're absolutely right about that 
one.  Okay, let's just get back to the ship and wait, where are you 
going?" she said watching him wander away in a different direction than 
the ship.  "Dammit!!!"


After his massage, Ducktor Psychobeat lit a cigarette, bought some 
popcorn, and wandered onto the nighttime streets of Bangkok.  "So, 
someone's put the Earth in a jar or something.  Let's see how big the 
jar is."  He finished his cigarette, stuffed a handful of popcorn in his 
bill, sealed his cyborg systems, and picked a spot on the Moon where the 
Sun was just coming up.  Then he teleported there.  His internal-Google 
voice said, "Welcome to Mare Nectaris."

"Scanning the sky now...  Sun obviously still here.  Mars, Jupiter, and 
Saturn here, and that's all within a light-hour or so.  Starlight still 
here; gotta scan later to see if the stars go out."

Then he looked back at the Earth.  "Well, that ain't good..."  There 
were two Earths, seeming to try to occupy the same space.  He looked up 
at space, raised his arms in frustration, and angrily quacked at nothing 
in particular...  "Hey, if you wanna put things in a jar, your vacuum 
seal ain't working!"

Then he saw a spaceship coming.    His assistant-voice said:  "Estimated 
arrival time, 12 minutes from now."

"Well, might as well stick around and amuse myself 'til it arrives." 
Ducktor Psychobeat extruded some sensors from his cybernetic duck foot. 
"Let's see if someone could at least *mine* green cheese on the Moon..."

The readings came back.  "Syrup?!?"

Then an explosion came from behind him.

"Well, guess where the action is."  Ducktor Psychobeat prudently bottled 
a sample of the syrup, in case he needed something to dip popcorn in. 
Then he turned around and tensed his legs to hop in great moon-bounds 
toward the explosion.


Another interlude:


"Who?  What?  Man, I need to lay off the..."


"Dude!  That sounded just like... what's the name of that guy that plays 


"No, dude!  Morgan Freeman!"


"This is so awesome.  I mean here I was, like, just going through the 
fridge, wondering whether that thing in the back might be a bagel..."


"I know.  But still.  It might be a bagel, you know?  Sometimes things 
aren't always what they appear at first, is what I'm saying."


"I feel like I should be like, sitting down and listening to this.  And 
I totally will.  I just, you know, have the munchies something fierce. 
Ooh, that was totally not cream cheese.  Gross."


"Whoa, dude!  This could be like a trailer to the movie of me!  Or, 
like, a detergent commercial.  Which, could, like also be the movie of 
me.  Or, like, I could be the detergent."


"Does that power, like, come with fries?"


"Dude, that totally sounds like it comes with fries."


  "Dude, if the moon only reflects light, does that mean I'm just a 
reflection of someone more powerful somewhere else?  Also: totally right 
on the jelly, voice-over man."


"Aw, sweet.  I'm gettin' me a bite of that cosmic waffle, dude."


And Tanza looked with shock at all the waffle-hybrids that were invading 
the ship.  Wait?  How did she get inside the ship?  She and Lincoln were 
outside and now they were inside.  "Stan?  What are you doing here?" she 
said suddenly realizing that her ex Can't Ax Fight at the Lights, Man 
was also on the ship.

Stan didn't really answer beyond just axing to death the various 
waffle-human hybrids that were attacking them.

"Don't get any syrup on you!  It's..."  But it was too late.  I giant 
stream of syrup splattered all over Stan and the other chick.  And the 
two of them merged together becoming Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, 
Lass.  "Stan?"

Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, Lass finished the job of mowing down 
every last waffle-human hybrid and turned her attention towards 
Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln.  "You!  You brought all of this madness 
and destruction!  You need to die!"

"Now, now, Miss.  Let's put the ax down and try to calmly..."

"Put the ax down.  Well, yes -- that's kind of the idea.  Right in that 
face of yours!"

Tanza didn't like where this was all heading and so she did the only 
thing she could think of and grabbed a big glop of syrup in her hand and 
started throwing it at both Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, Lass and 
Easily-Powernaughted Lincoln which caused them to merge together into 
Easily Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, Lincoln.

A crazed Easily Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, Lincoln looked at Tanza. 
  Okay, maybe that wasn't the best move.


"Look Lincoln, Stan, Trenchcoat Chick, or whoever's in charge we've got 
stop fighting each other and try to stop this mess.  What you need to do 
is find all of the objectionable stuff you hate about the other people 
and focus on that so that you can separate yourselves from the other. 
Or else you're going to have to be Easily Cynical Ax Fight at the 
Lights, Lincoln for the rest of your life.  Do you want that?  Does that 
seem like a good idea?"

And Easily Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, Lincoln stopped and pondered 
the idea of being Easily Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, Lincoln for the 
rest of their life.  And after awhile They said, "Sounds good to me."

"Oh, come on!  You're not serious!  This is what you want?  But then 
again maybe you're right.  Maybe this is the best life.  And maybe I 
should join you in it."  Tanza grabbed another glop of syrup.

Easily Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, Lincoln stepped back with a look 
of horror.  "Umm, no.  I don't think you really want to be part of us -- 
we're pretty fine being what we are at the moment and really don't have 
room for another person."

"Wait.  Are you seriously saying that this mashed-up merged body of 
yours is too good for the likes of me?  Is that what you're saying?  I 
think I'm offended!"

"Now, now, don't take it like that, Tanza.  It's just a little crowded 
right now and -- it's us -- not you.  Maybe you could find some nice 
waffle-human hybrid to merge with and..."

"You killed them all!  And anyway, how do you think this is really going 
to end?  There is some force out there that's trying to merge everything 
together.  If it's not me that's going to merge with you it's someone 
else -- perhaps someone even worse than me!  Think about that!"

Easily Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, Lincoln did think about that. 
Was there someone out there that was even worse than Tanza?  And after a 
long while of thinking about that the entity known as Easily Cynical Ax 
Fight at the Lights, Lincoln agreed with itself that there were possibly 
even worse people than Tanza and it didn't really want to merge with 
them.  "Okay.  You're probably right.  But what can we do about it?"

"Think about all the stuff that irritates and annoys and just bugs the 
hell out of you about all the people you're merged with.  And don't 
think about any of the good stuff.  Maybe that will work."

And the being known as Easily Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, Lincoln 
delved into all the annoying, irritating stuff and finally the three 
beings that made up Easily Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, Lincoln burst 
out in different directions.

"Good job, Tanza.  Although the Easily Cynical Ax Fight at the Lights, 
Lincoln merged being was a very seductive paradise fortunately you were 
able to bring us to our senses about how sometimes a good thing can be 
too much of a good thing.  And now we need to find away to stop anymore 
mergers while preserving the integrity of our reality."

"Hmm," thought Tanza out loud, "But how do we know if this is fact the 
real reality?"

And Traci Cynical looked with suspicion at the man pretending to be 
Lincoln, his sidekick, and the crazy ax fight guy.  She'd just see how 
this played out before she decided to shoot them all.



Waves of cosmic energy radiated from the glowing body of the Moon Naut, 
shimmering for the briefest of moments upon each rocky crag and 
shadow-dappled crater they touched until each shattered in a silent, 
silvery explosion.

"Pain!  Pain beyond imagining!  Beyond healing!  Pain that knows no 
limit!  Pain that cannot be remedied with any form of dentistry known to 
mortal ken!"

"Took a bite of the waffle, did you!"

"DUDE!" For a moment, Moon Naut put aside both his own jaw-shattering 
agony and the power that made him absolute master of time, space and the 
cosmos between the hours of approximately 5 p.m and 4:30 a.m. each 
evening.  He glanced, from leather-helmeted head to silver-booted toe, 
at the woman who stood before him, smirking through her visor.

"And you discovered that it's not actually a waffle."

"I knew that, steampunk girl," Moon Naut grumbled.  "It's just... 
There's something inside of it.  Something important.  Something that 
might mean the end, or the beginning, of everything there is.  And, you 
know, it just kind of made sense to sort of... eat my way to it."

"Made sense to whom?"

"Did you fly up here to the moon just to throw shade at me?"

"Hardly."  The young woman flashed some kind of identification badge at 
the cosmic hero.  "The name's Racer.  Traci Racer.  And I'm here to warn 

"Well, if you've come to warn me that this giant waffle is, like, super 
gnarly and totally non-delicious, you're about twenty minutes too late."

"First, I'm never late," Traci Racer said.  "And second... what you 
perceive to be a waffle is but one face of a multi-dimensional planar 
construct.  A power greater even than yours is using this construct to 
fuse five universes together in an unholy melange that threatens to 
distort and ultimately destroy all that we hold dear."

"So..." Moon Naut said, attempting both to process this information and 
discreetly check out the young woman in the silver jumpsuit and goggles 
again at the same time.  "You're saying that this giant waffle is 

"A pan-dimensional pentahedron.  Yes."

"...five waffles?  Dude!  Like, who even has that kind of syrup?"

"That," Traci said, "is what we are here to find out."


"Hands up, Daffy," said a tall jar-headed man with an indescribable 
something in his hand.  "Or wings up.  Whatever.  Just, you know, step 
away from the waffle."

Ducktor Psychobeat cocked his feathered head quizzically.  "I don't know 
what you think that thing in your hand does, but you're in way over 
your... head... here."

He paused.  "Is... is your head actually... a skull in a jar?"

"YES!" the tall man said, which might have sounded imposing had it not 
been muffled by the jar on his neck and the complete lack of atmosphere 
on the moon.  "Men call me... THE SEVERED HEAD OF THE ARYAN SKULL!"

"Huh," said Ducktor Psychobeat, after a moment or two had passed.

"And now," the aforementioned bejarred bonehead bellowed, "I shall use 
anatophantomagoriphizer -- a weapon fashioned from eldritch technologies 
long forbidden to mortal eyes by the Queen Grenadine herself! -- to 
banish you from beyond this plane!"

"Just a tic," Ducktor Psychobeat said.  "When you say you're the Severed 
Head of the Aryan Skull, do you mean ‘Aryan' as in tracing its roots 
back to the Indian subcontinent, or are you using it in more of a 
neo-Nazi racist pseudo-theory sense?"

"Actually," the Skull said, lowering its weapon, "it's in reference to 
the heresy that..."


"Should have made the jar out of stronger glass," Ducktor Psychobeat 
said, as the skull of his interlocutor bounced away across the gray, 
dusty plains.  "And now let's see about that explosion."  He picked up 
the object from the crazy skull's hand, and bounded away.


A quacking voice came from behind Traci.  "Well, all right!  Don't let 
me stop you!"

Traci turned around, while the Moon-Naut stared past her.  A cyborg 
duck-man with horns was sitting on a moon rock, holding a bag of popcorn 
in one hand and an indescribable object in the other.

Moon-Naut yelled back, "Hey, man, bring enough to share?  I suddenly got 
the munchies!"

"Sure, I'm good."  The duck-creature held the object out.  "But they're 
kind of freeze dried by now."

"No, maaan, the popcorn!"

"Oh, my bad..."  He switched hands.

Traci yelled, "No!  Drop that thing!"

But it was too late.  The object jumped into the Moon-Naut's hand!


"And boom!  Down goes the Severed Head of the Aryan Skull!  Ouch!  Guess 
that horned duck guy is tougher than we thought," Mynadoombear said, 
squinting through the eyepiece of the telescope atop C.G. Queen's Yuma 

"Three and a half billion dollars to get him to the moon, and he lasted 
all of forty-eight seconds," C.G. said.  "You just can't get a good 
minion any more."

"I thought you needed at least ten adults to make a minyan," 
Mynadoombear said.

"In any case," Queen said, "we were never going to achieve our ends by 
going after them directly.  This was a problem we had to approach from 
an oblique angle.  At least now the pieces are in position for our 
questions about the... waffle... to be answered."

There was a long, empty pause in the penthouse as both villains 
considered this thought.

"Three and a half billion, though," Queen said.  "That just isn't going 
to look good on the balance sheet.  Isn't there any chance he can 
magically come to life or something?"

"No," the bear/bird said.  "He's totally doomed.  Speaking of which... 
is that throne made of skulls actually comfortable?"

"My chiropractor recommended it," Queen replied.  "I mean, what else was 
I going to do with all the skulls of the production assistants you keep 
eating?  It's not like I can just keep tossing them in the compost bin."

"Well," said Mynadoombear, "there's always bowling."

C.G. Queen stared at the tall, graying throne made from several hundred 
human skulls.

"God damn it," she said.

"Oh, wait!"  Mynabear pointed toward the moon.  "The villain was doomed 
from the start, but his weapon did the job."  He moved aside as C.G. 
Queen stared through the telescope.

The duck man, the space girl, and the moon hero had disappeared.


Traci gulped.  "Where are we?"

She, the Moon-Naut, and the duck-man were standing in a dimly-lit room. 
One wall had five monitor windows, with borders the shape of comic 
panels.  Four of the windows were blank.  The fifth showed a woman and a 
sort-of-bear at a telescope.  Captions showed what the two were saying.

The duck-man said, "Looks like we're in one of those fractal 
sub-universes that exist outside of reality.  Guess that artifact really 
did the job."

"What job??"

"Lemme recall..."  The duck-man played a recording.  "I shall use an 
atophantomagoriphizer -- a weapon fashioned from eldritch technologies 
long forbidden to mortal eyes by the Queen Grenadine herself! -- to 
banish you from beyond this plane!"

Moon-Naut chimed in, "Yeah, man, looks like one of those places that 
comic book monitors sit while they're monitoring other universes and stuff."

"Well, let's see what we can see."  The duck-man moved closer to the 
active monitor window.

"Waait a minute!"  Traci yelled.  "Who are you?"

Captions suddenly floated above each of their heads, with their names 
and a paragraph of origin story apiece.

Moon-Naut said, "Wow, man, this really is like a comic book monitor room!"

"Well, if it's a monitor room, let's see how the monitors work." 
Ducktor Psychobeat walked up to the active monitor, and touched it with 
his index finger.

An arrow superimposed itself on the left side of the screen.  The 
duck-man pressed it.

Soon he was scrolling backward through other displays.  The three of 
them were in some, the two observers (the woman and the bear) were in 
others, and in *other* others there were people racing each other to the 
Moon in spaceships.  Soon he got to the first display:  just the two 
observers sitting at a breakfast table.

Then the four other monitors lit up.  They had:

- A man with a shovel, at gunpoint.

- A glowing man at the door of a shoe store.

- Some humans and an orc, at a picnic table.

- A room full of brightly colored heroes, a duck, and a bear.

Moon-Naut pointed at Ducktor Psychobeat.  "The duck!  He did it!  Maybe 
the bear too!"

Traci Racer looked sadly at the heroes.  "I seem to know them, but 
they're gone now.  I just don't understand."


"What don't you understand?" the Moon-Naut asked.  "That this strange 
portal we've entered seems to be a window into many universes, each with 
a few things in common --"

"Like kettle corn," said Ducktor Psychobeat, munching on exactly that.

"Or that our own universe seems to be some kind of strange melange of 
all of these different universes, a cosmic mosaic strung together by 
some kind of powerful force which looks a lot like, um, syrup," the 
Moon-Naut continued.

"It's also worth pointing out that every universe in existence has given 
birth to the unholy trinity of Genghis Khan, Adolf Hitler and Kid Rock," 
Ducktor Psychobeat said.  "Every.  Last.  One."

"Or that having all those universes fused into this one makes it likely 
that each of us is really a combination of more than one consciousness 
-- that I am not really Sticks van Stonerson, but, you know, like other 
people," the Moon-Naut said.  "Maybe one of whom is named Sticks.  And 
another, Stonerson.  Or Phil.  I really feel I could be a Phil."

"And in no universe -- not a single one! -- do anthropomorphic 
demon-ducks get the respect which they so richly deserve," Ducktor 
Psychobeat continued.  "Except that one on the last monitor screen in 
which Quackzuzu captured the Republican nomination for President in 
2016.  But that world managed to block all porn from the Internet, so 
*@#$%^& that."

"Or," the Moon-Naut said, with an air of finality that convinced Traci 
he was at last getting around to concluding something, "is it that all 
of these things are going on, and our guide to all of it seems more 
interested in eating popcorn and making observations about pop culture 
than taking any kind of action whatsoever."

"Actually," Traci said, "what really bothers me is the presence of this 
Traci Cynical over... there.  The screen with the hot-looking guy with 
the ax and the glowing guy from the five-dollar bill.  I thought I was 
the only Traci here.  I liked being an individual."

"Don't you see?  There ARE no individuals!" Ducktor Psychobeat raved, in 
a manner that caused the other two to take a step backward.  "We've ALL 
been manipulated -- ripped apart and put back together, spliced from 
universes across all of creation -- in order to create a universe 
subject to only one will!  Freedom is a delusion!  The individual soul 
is a lie!  We're all pawns in a game of multidimensional chess, plotted 
out in advance with no endgame in mind -- an endless stalemate of 
pointless dancing across the board!"

"Holy hot buttered crap curls," the Moon-Naut gasped.  "Alex Jones was 

"Wait," Traci Racer said, consulting a palmtop computer.  "Wasn't 
Pointless Dancing Across the Board Lass a member of the Powernaut Legion 
of the Round Table?"

"The real question is who," Ducktor Psychobeat said.  "Who would have 
the means -- and the motive -- to dismantle not just one, but at least 
six separate universes and fuse them together for the sole purpose of 
preventing anyone from exercising individual freedom?"

"I've gotta go with Alex Jones again," the Moon-Naut said.

"And who," said Ducktor Psychobeat, spittle flying from his toothed 
bill, "who would have the almost mind-defying power to harness a 
pentahedron -- a construct capable of containing those who consume the 
stars themselves -- to bottle up the creative spirit?"

"Ew," Traci Racer said.  "That means that Easily-Discovered guy has the 
creative spirit all over him."

"You seem to have an answer for this, duck," the Moon-Naut said.  "So 
tell us -- who tore our worlds apart to keep us from creating something 
of our own?"

"Oh, I'll tell you all right," Ducktor Psychobeat said.  "But first -- 
more popcorn.  I'm fresh out, and I've got a craving for caramel-covered 
salty goodness like you wouldn't believe."


"What?" Traci Racer said.

"Who?" the Moon-Naut added.

"Er, why?" Traci Racer continued.

"The Easily-Discovered one was correct," declared the tall being rising 
in front of them like a concrete parking garage built in 1970s Brutalist 
architecture.  "Whosoever wears the stovepipe hat of Abraham Lincoln 
possesses the wisdom... the knowledge... and the POWER of all the 
Lincolns!  And now I... I!  The Severed Head of the Aryan Skull have 

"Also," said the Skull, stepping gingerly over the prostrate body of 
Ducktor Psychovant, "I finally got to give that nasty duck what-for 
after he smacked me around a few pages ago."

"How did you get your hands on Lincoln's hat?" the Moon-Naut said.

"IT MATTERS NOT!" Lincoln's Severed Head of the Aryan Skull roared.

"No, seriously," Traci Racer said.  "Because we've been watching every 
single thing going on right now -- in, like, six different universes. 
And yeah, it's all kind of crazy, especially with that bear-bird thing 
eating all those people, but Easily-Discovered Powernaught Lincoln was 
wearing that hat up until like a second ago.  So how did you get it!"

"I SAID, IT MATTERS NOT!" the Skull said, testily.  "FIGHT ME!"

"I think I get it," the Moon-Naut said.  "That duck was just about to 
tell us who was responsible for putting all these universes together. 
And whoever that was really didn't want that to happen, because if we 
knew who it was, we could figure out how he did it."

"And once we figured out how SHE did it," Traci Racer said, "we could 
find a way to undo it.  So whoever that was decided to find a way to 
stop us, or at least distract us, by sending this guy after us."


"But in doing so," the Moon-Naut said, "he -- or she -- made a mistake. 
They broke the rules of narrative.  They violated the very storyline 
they created.  This whole, perfectly stable universe has just broken 
wide open."


"Tell you what," Traci Racer said.  "The next time you go ahead and 
explain the destruction of the universe into existence, let me have a 
head's up so I can grab something to hold on to!"


As the chamber started to crack open, Ducktor Psychobeat retorted. 
"I'll be sure to let ya know, next time *I* do it.  But first...  Hey, 
Skull, I just read the back issues.  Lincoln's *hat* don't have the 
power - his magic penny does!"


"Aw, shaddup."  With one feathered hand and its laser attachment, the 
duck-man cut away the floor from beneath the skull-being.  The Aryan 
Skull-Head and his retro-parking body slipped into the new crack.

But he didn't fall through!  His arms stuck out to each side, while his 
head still gloated.  "HA!  YOU CANNOT DISPOSE OF ME THAT EASILY!"

The Ducktor turned to the Moon-Naut.  "Hey, Moon Guy, a little help?"

"Gladly."  Moon-Naut grabbed Traci and Psychobeat by their collars, and 
flew with them through another crack!

"HA!  YOU FLEE MY POWER!   ... Huh?"  The Skull fell through the floor, 
as the room finally fell apart.


Can you believe this guy? Traci Cynical thought, as the man who had 
agreed to be her partner (after he had decided to hijack her starship, 
of course, but still) continued to fawn over that spatula-swinging 
she-devil who had thrown in her lot with Lincoln.  It reminded her of 
something her father had told her when she was very, very young.

"Never trust anyone, Traci," her father had said.

"Goo?" Traci had replied.

"Anyone.  Not the government.  Not organized religion.  Or disorganized 
religion.  Not professional sports.  Definitely not lawyers.  Or talk 
show hosts, even if they're telling you not to trust anyone else."

"Goo goo?" Traci had said, wriggling her chubby arms and legs in the air.

"That's right, Traci.  Even ax-wielding maniacs.  Sure, they might seem 
like a safe bet -- what with the consistency of their psychosis and all 
-- but in the end, they'll let you down.  They will always let you down."


"And to make sure you remember this," her father said, "you'll be 
wearing that diaper for another twenty minutes at least."  He grimaced. 
"Twenty minutes of lying in your own filth will be worth a lifetime of 
drowning in false hope."

The present-day Traci wiped a tear from her jaded eyes.

"I'll never forget, Dad," she whispered.  "Never."

"Never forget what?" Can't Have an Ax Fight at the Lights, Man asked.

"Exactly!" Traci hissed.  "We've let ourselves get distracted!  We've 
forgotten our mission!  You've forgotten our mission!"

"To be fair," Can't Have an Ax Fight at the Lights, Man said, "we were 
temporarily merged with those guys, and that made it kind of hard to 
whack them into pieces."

Traci Cynical grabbed the stubble-chinned weaponeer by the throat and 
whirled him around.

"Would Lizzie Borden have given up under those circumstances?" she said. 
  "Would John Wayne Gacy have given up?  Would... would..."

"The Servant Girl Annihilator of Austin, Texas?" Can't Get an Ax Fight 
at the Lights, Man said brightly.

Traci Cynical blinked.  "Is that a real thing?"

"It was between 1884 and 1885."

"Fine," Traci said.  "Would the Servant Girl Annihilator of Austin, 
Texas have given up?"

"HELL, NO!" Can't Get an Ax Fight at the Lights, Man said, lifting his 
weapon with renewed vigor.

"So go out there and chop yourself a Lincoln!" Traci said.

"I... can't," Can't Get an Ax Fight at the Lights, Man said, crestfallen.

"Why in the six screaming steam vents of hell not?" Traci asked.

"Well... he's standing over there... in that pattern of lights, and, you 
know, my name..." Can't Get an Ax Fight at the Lights, Man said.

As she stared at the snivelling would-be ax fighter squirming 
uncomfortably in front of her, Traci Cynical felt -- as she had for some 
part of every day in the last twenty-three years -- the uncomfortable 
sense that an unfair world had seen fit to imprison her in a river of 
its ordure.


Some women, C.G. Queen thought, as she continued to throw clothes into 
an open suitcase, had the benefit of a best friend to offer them advice. 
  Or an older sister.  Or a gay best friend in whom she had been 
interested at one time and truth be told really still was but had come 
to terms with and now couldn't imagine living without.  Or a clever 
talking bird -- one that wasn't permanently bonded to the body of a 
cybernetic bear.

C.G., however, had learned to make do with the presence of Mynadoombear, 
such as it was.  When choosing an outfit for the day, for example, she 
knew right away that if Mynadoombear oohed and ahhed over it, the 
ensemble was likely to be a disaster.  On the other hand, if the 
creature looked askance, or waved a wing/paw and harumphed, she could 
feel confident in the knowledge that whatever she had chosen to wear 
would wow the crowd.

He had been similarly helpful with regards to relationships, the stock 
market, and the nagging question of which Netflix shows were worth 
binging (Mynadoombear favored anything to do with teen suicide, romantic 
comedies featuring non-threatening male leads or Adam Sandler).  He had 
been so helpful, in fact, that it took all of C.G. Queen's considerable 
reserves of willpower to convince herself to ignore his advice now.

"We're going to the moon," she snapped.

"Yes!" Mynadoombear gurbled, clearly beside himself with rapture.  "Oh, 
YES!  That is a WONDERFUL idea!"

"We're going to confront the heroes and stop them from keeping this 
universe intact," she continued.

"Yes!  YES!  Brilliant!  This is what we should always have done!" 
Mynadoombear gasped.

"And we're going to do all this..." Queen grimaced.  "Without a plan."

Mynadoombear passed out from sheer ecstatic joy.

"Intern!" Queen barked.  "Grab a dolly and wheel this thing on to the 
rocket.  And make sure none of these suitcases get left behind!  If I'm 
going to make the worst decision of my life, I'm damned sure going to 
look fantastic while doing it."

"Harumph,"  the bear-creature said as he came to.  "But I do have to 
say, that skull creature is a loser even if you simulate him."

"At least I was faithful to the concept - *and* he rooted out our 
enemies from their hiding place.  I sense them floating among... nothing!"

"Truly?  You have sought Nothing all your life, and now you can tell 
when someone's found it?"

"You must admit, I've had the practice.  Soon, perhaps we can bring that 
Nothing to everything!"


Speaking of nothing in particular...  Traci Racer, the Moon-Naut, and 
Ducktor Psychobeat were floating in it.  Nothing, that is.

"Say it again," Traci Racer said through gritted teeth.

"I know who is responsible for merging multiple universes together," 
Ducktor Psychobeat said, his voice slightly slurred because of the 
headlock Racer had placed him in.  If the headlock bothered him, 
however, he gave no indication.

In fact, none of the three -- Psychobeat, Racer or the Moon-Naut -- 
seemed at all upset despite the fact that they were, at the moment, 
drifting in a formless void.  The Moon-Naut, of course, was held aloft 
in a gleaming blanket of cosmic power.  Traci Racer had her jet pack, 
and Ducktor Psychobeat was a duck.  Still, all three seemed more 
consumed by the problem of the hour than the absence of gravity, 
background detail, time or space in their immediate vicinity.

"And you won't tell us who it is, because..."

"I can't say," Ducktor Psychobeat said.

"Can't," Traci said, increasing the pressure of her arm around the 
demon-birdman's neck, "or won't?"

"If I told you," Ducktor Psychobeat said, "and you chose to act on this 
information, it would bring about the certain death of our universe."

"So?" Traci said.  "I thought you got off on things like that."

"You're thinking of the bear," Ducktor Psychobeat said.  "I get excited 
about _uncertain_ things.  The _certain_ death of the universe... eh. 
Not really my thing."

Traci Racer sighed.  "A little help here?"

The Moon-Naut hovered near the duck's bill.  "So the universe will 
definitely die if we take action," he said.

"Sure as my webbed arches," Ducktor Psychobeat said.

"Then the question is," the Moon-Naut said, "will we or will we not take 

"Of course you will," Ducktor Psychobeat said.  "You're heroes!  That's 
what heroes do!  That's what always makes you so incredibly BORING."

The man who had been Sticks van Stonerson sighed.  "I know what we have 
to do," he said.  "We have to take action to make sure that we might, or 
might not take action when the duck tells us who's responsible."

"Why on Earth... or the Moon... wouldn't we take action?" Traci Racer said.

"Because," the Moon-Naut said, removing a plastic bag from his pocket, 
"we're going to be really, really high."

"Oooh, I like that strategy!  Don't bogart those joints, boy!"  Ducktor 
Psychobeat said.


"Get real, kid," Traci Cynical said, as Tanza Lopez brandished her 
spatula.  "You really think that utensil of yours is going to do squat 
against chuckles and his ax?"  She nodded toward the edge of a crater, 
where Easily-Powernaughted Man Lincoln was attempting to fend off the 
advances of Can't Get an Ax Fight at the Lights, Man.  "Or my .45?"

"Hey, it lifts and it separates," Tanza said.  "You'd be amazed how far 
you can get in life with just those two things.  Besides, we're the good 
guys.  And the good guys always win."

Traci smirked.  "Is that what you think?  That you're here to save the 
day?  Protect the waffle, and keep the universe safe?  You've got a lot 
to learn, kid."

"I could be wrong," Tanza agreed.  "Then again, I'm teamed up with 
Abraham Lincoln, and you're working with an ax-wielding maniac."

"Who happens to be your former boyfriend."

"It's like you're making my point for me!" Tanza said.  "Everybody knows 
that the ones who are trying to keep something going are the good guys, 
and the ones interested in killing people and blowing things up are the 
bad guys."

"Tell that to Luke Skywalker," said a tall woman in an 
immaculately-tailored spacesuit, accompanied by some horrible 
monstrosity that looked like a bear whose head was being eaten by a 
large black bird.  "Or Harry Truman.  Sometimes you have to break a few 
waffles in order to create your masterpiece.  Believe me, I know."

"YES," Mynadoombear said.

Tanza checked the oxygen readings on her space suit.  Plenty of air 
left.  She sighed.  The possibility that she was hallucinating whatever 
was in front of her was dim, she knew.  Still, there was always hope.

"About time," Traci Cynical said.  "I was beginning to think I was the 
only one who cared that keeping that waffle-sided whatsit in place was 
stifling the possibility for any real creative expression in the universe."

"Oh you are, dear," Constance Grenadine Queen said.  "I really don't 
give a rat's patootie about any of that.  I just want to watch 
everything fall apart."

"PREACH, SISTER!" Mynadoombear roared.


A timeless time later...

"Ooooh, Moon Dood, yer *not* glowing any more."

"Hey, right, no Moon here!"

"Are you sure?  You can't spell Nothing without Moon!"

"Like, you mean Nothing has an M, an OO, and an N in it?"

"Just the one O, man!  And no M!  But I get it!  One way or another, the 
Moon is part of everything!"


Coming down...

"So you're saying that me -- that all of us -- that we're all just 
characters in a story?" Traci Racer asked.

"That's right," Ducktor Psychobeat said.  "Well, mostly.  See, part of 
you is a character written by one person in one story, and another part 
of you comes from a character written by somebody else for another 
story.  It's like you're a sausage, narratively speaking."

"Dude," the Moon-Naut said.  "We are all... sausages."

"But why would someone want to put all those stories together?" Traci asked.

"You gotta understand," Ducktor Psychobeat said, inhaling deeply.  "The 
people who write these stories... they mean well.  They really do.  But, 
you know, things change.  Lives change.  People start a story, and then 
they stop.  Or they change their mind.  Which isn't great for the story, 
and is all kind of dangerous when you have a universe made up of stories."

"Where everyone is a sausage," the Moon-Naut said.

"So one day, someone -- or maybe everyone -- or maybe no one -- had an 
idea.  Create a kind of autopilot," Ducktor Psychobeat said.  "A 
Mechanical Author.  One who could kind of smooth out the bumps, iron out 
the inconsistencies, keep the ship running on cruise control while the 
other authors went about their lives, working their day jobs, having 
relationships and, you know, getting old and dying."

"I didn't know that machines could write," Traci Racer said.

"Anybody can write," Ducktor Psychobeat said.  "A pen can write.  So can 
a typewriter.  Creating, on the other hand... well, machines are still 
working on that.  But this Mechanical Author, he figured out how to take 
bits and pieces from other stories and combine them over and over, so 
that each one sounds like an original idea, even if it isn't."

"Kind of what Taco Bell does with the same four or five ingredients on 
their menu," Traci Racer said.

"I could so go for Taco Bell right now," the Moon-Naut said.  "Do you 
think there's a Taco Bell in this formless void?  How about a White Castle?"

"So what's the point of having the Mechanical Author generate stories, 
if they aren't going to be any better than the ones written by actual 
authors?" Traci asked.

Ducktor Psychobeat stroked his feathered goatee.  "Stability. 
Security," he said.  "You know, back in the days when Jerry Siegel and 
Joe Shuster were writing Superman, they wanted to do all kinds of crazy 
things with the character.  Have him get married to Lois Lane.  Have him 
grow old.  Have him _change_.  But the powers that be at National, they 
owned the rights to the character, and they weren't going to let anybody 
mess with their golden goose, not even the guys who created him.  They 
had a formula, you see, and as long as they stuck with that formula -- 
tweaked it a little, here and there, but mostly stuck with it -- they 
could keep on cranking out Superman product forever."

"And that's what the Mechanical Author wants to do?" Traci asked.

"NO," said a loud, booming and yet utterly calm voice from out of the 


"Stand aside, thou trenchcoated trollop," Easily-Discovered Powernaught 
Lincoln said.  "Your efforts to prevent us from protecting and 
preserving the structural integrity of this universe will come to 
nothing.  Less than nothing!  Nothing divided by nothing!"

"If only you knew how right you are," C.G. Queen said.

"Hold up," Traci Cynical said, moving her .45 automatic back and forth 
between the glowing, top-hatted hero and his sidekick.  "How did you get 
past Can't Ax Fight at the Lights, Man?"

"He no longer works for you, villain!" Easily-Discovered Powernaught 
Lincoln said.  "I used my Emancipation Proclamation power."

He paused for a moment, taking in the sight of C.G. Queen and 
Mynadoombear -- one taking advantage of the moon's lesser gravity to 
shoulder a rocket launcher the size of a school bus, the other wearing 
an expression of smug satisfaction.

"Can it be?" Easily-Discovered Powernaught Lincoln said.  "And yet, how 
could it not be?"

"Are we doing Shakespeare in the park?" Tanza Lopez asked.

"That is the question," Mynadoombear said.

"After all," Easily-Discovered Powernaught Lincoln said, "the greatest 
heroes of all time performing the greatest act of heroism on behalf of 
the greatest good that has ever been known would necessarily draw the 
opposition of the greatest villain our planet has produced."

Traci Cynical turned toward C.G. Queen.  "I think he just paid you a 

"Of course he did, dear," C.G. Queen said.  "They always do.  In the end."

"Indeed!" said Easily-Discovered Powernaught Lincoln, drawing his 
spatula.  "Quickly, Late!  If Queen Grenadine thinks such as us will be 
cowed by her weapon of mass distraction, she will soon discover that our 
heroic might bends before none!"

"He's speaking for himself," a visibly shaken Tanza Lopez said.  "I'm 
cowed like a Nebraska feed lot."

"Don't worry, precious," C.G. Queen said, turning her rocket launcher 
around.  "This little thing isn't for the two of you."

With that, Queen fired the weapon directly towards the center of the 
lunar waffle while taking a selfie of herself.


Tanza didn't like where this was headed.  She needed to do something. 
She still had some of that syrup stuff on her spacesuit.  And she 
touched the Mynadoombear and they merged into Mynadoombear Late. 
Mynadoombear Late started laughing hysterically.

"Umm," said Constance Grenadine Queen scowling.  "What the hell are you 
laughing at?"

"I'm laughing at the absurdity of my life and how it's completely fucked 
up.  About heroes and villains trying to change things or keep them the 
same and how all of that doesn't really matter.  And most importantly 
the waffle.  I find the waffle really funny."

"Where did the sidekick go?"

"She's me.  I'm her.  None of this really matters.  It's going to have 
an end like everything has an end.  And it's all going to change back to 
the way it has always been.  And the cycle will go on and on.  You 
should go back to the Earth, Constance.  Nothing you do here is going to 
really matter in the long run.  Go back to running your waffle empire or 

"Have you gone completely insane?  I AM WHAT MATTERS!  I am the only one 
who matters!  I don't like the way you're speaking to me!  I command you 
to go back to being two separate beings.  DO IT!!"

"Eventually, that will happen.  But the insane gods that are making me 
say this gibberish are guiding me to another place.  Or should I say 
guiding my spatula!"


"PEOPLE," the Mechanical Author droned.  "PEOPLE WHO NEED PEOPLE.  ARE 

"It's like that voice is coming from everywhere," the Moon-Naut said. 
"And yet at the same time, it's also like it's coming from somewhere 
deep inside of me.  It's like the time everyone at my summer camp came 
down with dysentery."

OTHERS," the inhuman voice continued.  "GENERATING NEW CHARACTERS WHO 

"This is the part where we figure out how to stop the bad guy while he's 
delivering his villainous monologue, right?" Traci Racer said.

"Don't look at me," said Ducktor Psychobeat through a mouth filled with 
popcorn.  "I told you who he was.  I did my part.  Now I'm just going to 
sit back and watch the bodies pile up."

"SO INEFFICIENT," the Mechanical Author said, with what Traci could have 
sworn was condescension.  "SO STRUCTURALLY UNSOUND.  THE ENTIRE 

"We need to DO something," Traci whispered to the Moon-Naut.

"Dude, I KNOW!" the Moon-Naut said. "Look at this!"  He wiggled all ten 
of his fingers vigorously.

"How did you manage to escape the Fourth Wall?" Traci asked.

"IT SURPRISES ME THAT YOU EVEN NEED TO ASK," the Mechanical Author said. 

"We are so totally screwed," Traci said.

"Ultimate... Savior?" the Moon-Naut said.

ONE IN WHICH I WAS CREATED," the Mechanical Author said.  "TO UNDERSTAND 

"The Mechanical Webcartoonist," the Moon-Naut whispered.


"Jesse Cashew?"  Traci Racer said.  "As in the nut?"

"No," the Moon-Naut said.  "As in...the naut."


"Fling it, Late!" Easily-Discovered Powernaught Lincoln said.  "Fling 
your mighty spatula into the path of that woebegotten rocket!"

"What good do you imagine that will do?" MynaTanzaDoombear growled. 
"There's no way some kitchen utensil is going to be able to intercept a 
bazooka.  Reagan tried that back in ‘86."

"He's right, you know," said the amalgamation of C.G. Queen and Traci 
Cynical, their voices speaking in unison.  "Our action cannot be undone."

"That is once again where you are wrong," said the hero.  "For these are 
no mere spatulas!  Each has the power to flip the script!  To undo what 
has been done!  To right any wrong!  Also, they are excellent for the 
preparation of grilled cheese."

"Exactly what we were counting on," said the Cynical Queen, as the two 
spatulas (MynaTanzaDoombear having thrown his/hers largely for the hell 
of it) overshot the rocket and struck the waffle with what would have 
been a deafening explosion anywhere with an atmosphere.


"WHAT... WHAT IS HAPPENING?" the Mechanical Author intoned, as the very 
fabric of space and time rippled within the formless void in a manner 
that would have given nine out of every ten comic book artists the 
screaming fits.

"Jesse Cashew?" Traci Racer said.  "I thought your name was Sticks van 

"I am Sticks van Stonerson.  And the Moon-Naut," the Moon-Naut said. 
"But I am so much more!  I am every person who thought himself a 
background character in someone else's story.  I am every walk-on part 
in the drama of every life!  I am everyone who ever dreamed of being a 
hero and secretly dreaded not being a villain, but being nothing at all."

"SERIOUSLY," the Mechanical Author said.  "WHAT'S GOING ON?  ARE YOU 

"I am Truth!  And I am Justice!  And... I am Senor Wences," the 
Moon-Naut said, revealing a little face he had drawn on his hand.  "But 
I am not Jesse Cashew.  At least... not yet."

Mechanical Author said.  "HOW?  HOW HAVE YOU MANAGED TO DEFEAT ME?"

"It was never my job to defeat you," the Moon-Naut said.  "Merely to 
distract you.  But now... Traci, will you merge with me?"

"Aren't you going to offer to buy me dinner first?"

"You must know by now," the Moon-Naut said, "that you are not merely 
Traci Racer.  You are Jesse Cashew.  You are the Powernaut!  You are the 

"Well," Traci said, allowing her essence to merge with the Moon-Naut's. 
"When you put it that way..."



"You're kidding, right?"  Traci Moonnaut responded.

"Any world I would desire is one that would immediately be destroyed," 
MynaTanzaDoombear said.  "What's the point, really?"

"I make my own desires come true!" said Ducktor Psychovant-Deadbeat.

"I exist to serve, not to create -- to bind the universe's wounds, not 
create it anew," said Easily-Discovered Powernaught Lincoln.

"I've already lived in a world where I had everything I desired," said 
Cynical Queen.  "I'd rather have the fun of corrupting somebody 
else's...  Wait, let me get a selfie!"  Click!

"Actually, I would be okay with that," said the waitress Hillary Rodham. 
  But no one listened.

And so, when the cosmic-powered spatulas hit the waffle, four former 
universes were restored - but the fifth one remained.  In that one, the 
merged characters wrote their own stories...

In a far corner of the multiverse, there is a world covered with axes, 
and with people who want to fight with them.  They all had Aryan Skull 
heads.  And the one man who didn't have one said, "YES!!"

"AH WELL," the Mechanical Author said, as it generated another six 
hundred million clones to battle Can't Ax Fight at the Lights, God. 

... The End!

--- Scott Eiler, Arthur Spitzer, and Rob Rogers

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