Limp-Asparagus Lad #15 A Metaphysical Discussion With Death Written by Saxon Brenton --------------------------------------------------------------------- Cover shows Retcon Lad alone on a black background, sitting in 'The Thinker' position. Along the bottom is written 'A Date With Death' but 'Date' has been crossed out and 'Metaphysical Discussion' scrawled over the top. --------------------------------------------------------------------- Joe awoke, and found himself in a featureless black void. He wondered where he was. And how he'd come to be here. And why was he in costume when he had the distinct impression that he should be in civvies. "This must be a job for Retcon Lad," he said to himself. He didn't seem to have much recollection of the immediate past. He remembered talking with Terri. And then going to see Special Bonding Boy. And he remembered going for a jog before settling down for some study. After that came the fight, and the falling wall, and then... Oh dear... "I have a bad feeling about this," he murmured. "That is not unexpected under the circumstances," someone said. Retcon Lad spun about. Behind him was a youngish man, with two noteworthy features about him. The first were his wings, which were a black so deep that they seemed to suck up light. The second was the way he was in shadow. RLad noticed that although the void they were in was completely black and without any source of illumination, he himself was well lit, as if from all directions. This other's face, however, was in heavy shadow, as if lit from behind. "And you are?" asked RLad. "I have many names. The one you may best know me by is Death." "Weird sh*t," RLad said. "Pardon?" "Sorry. Just agreeing with Rose Walker. This is one of those weird sh*t moments, isn't it? Are _you_ going to hurt me? Kill me? Mess me up?" "No. Maybe. And no," the other replied calmly. "Maybe?" "You're not actually dead yet. You're having a near death experience. At the moment I'm only a hallucination, but I'll become real if you slip any further." "Oh. Not Rose Walker then. More like Gaspode the Wonder Dog," RLad corrected absently. "In any case, I hardly think dying will mean much to you." "Say what?" "You'll retcon yourself back to life," Death explained patiently. "At which point I'll become a hallucination again." "I can do that?" Death looked puzzled. "Yes. Of course. You've already done so. _Kid Kiwi's Kommandos_ #5." Retcon Lad looked at him." I don't think that's happened yet. This series is kind of running behind in continuity at the moment." "Ah, I see." "Uh, since I already know I'm going to die and come back..." "Yes?" "Is it going to hurt?" "You're going to be flattened by small green birds with hairy feathers and a pathological need to collapse buildings by sitting on them. That's never pretty." "Gruesome," Retcon Lad grimaced. Then he looked at Death curiously. "You said you had many names. What did you mean by that?" "The Looniverse is a parody of various other universes, usually comic-book universes. And there are a number of interpretations of Death that are popular at the moment. Such as this," and he changed into a pale-skinned young woman with black hair wearing an ankh. "Yeah, I know her. Death of the Endless. She's a babe," smiled RLad. Death changed again, and became a skeleton in a purple robe. "And this?" "Marvel Universe version, right." "Correct." Next came a seven foot tall skeleton with glowing blue eye. He held a scythe, and on his shoulder was a smaller, shrouded form with a snout and whiskers that gibbered at him. "Discworld. A bit out of your way, considering the comics are only adaptations," he noted critically. Death changed again. The smaller form vanished, leaving this form as a skeleton in a very tattered dirty black shroud, holding a scythe. Retcon Lad frowned. "I don't think I can pick that one specifi..." "Shut up! Shut up, you American! You always talk, you Americans! You talk, and you talk, and you say, 'Let me tell you something...' and 'I just wanna say this...'! Well, you're dead now, so shut u...ah! Oh! Sorry about that," he said, turning back into the young man with the wings. He rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. "Got carried away with the characterisation." "Uh-huh," agreed Retcon Lad, carefully. "So, uh, how does this fit in with _Grim_ over in Crossroads?" Death shrugged. "I don't know. It hasn't needed to be dealt with yet; Crossroads is still a closed writing universes at this point. Maybe it'll never been to be addressed. I am the Death for the Net, after all, and Crossroads extends out into other universes beyond the Net." He shrugged again. "We'll see." "Okay then, so what form do you usually take for the Looniverse? I mean, you can't use any of those ones you just did, they're copyrighted. What's the preferred parody form?" "There are two which I often use, reflecting both the DC and Marvel versions. This one," and once again he became a black-haired babe, but this time she wore an omega, "is my manifestation as Ending of the Finishless - sister of the Electrocutioner (formerly Entertainment), Dyslexia, and... the others." [_501 Blues: Rattler Hide Special_ #3, part 10 of the 'Electrocutioner's Song' - Footnote Girl] "Cool. So who are 'the others' among the Finishless?" "That has to be left for future storylines," she said. "Crud. It's just like the wait to find out the identity of Destruction all over again, isn't it?" "Something like that," Ending agreed. "Okay then, what's the take on Marvel's Death?" Ending disappeared to be replaced by a skeleton in a cowled, magenta-coloured robe. "In this form I look not so different from the version I parody, but the more obvious difference is in my conceptual basis. Just as Death in the Marvel Universe is a time-based being and the opposite of Eternity, so too am I time-based, and the opposite of Neternity, who is also called Inter.net.e. In this form I use the net.name of Are.Em, or occasionally Logoff." "Hey, wow!" Retcon Lad grinned. "I think I get this. This goes back to the final issue of 'Cosmos In Collision' in _Quasar_ #25, doesn't it? Eternity and Death are the most senior time beings, holding either end of the universe's temporal axis. Eternity is at the positive end and is the embodiment of duration, and represents Life, while Death is at the negative end and personifies cessation and Mortality. So, what, Neternity is the embodiment of duration on the Net, while you represent the cessation of that time, hence the names?" "Correct." "Are there beings who represent the spatial axis?" RLad asked. "Like, Infinity was positive spatial embodiment, and represented Existence, while Oblivion was non-space and represented Nonexistence." Are.Em nodded. "Internet, also known as Infi.net.e, is the embodiment of the Net as a whole; while Killfile, sometimes called Dev null, is the abstract entity personifying deletion and the void." "Cool. It all fits. Well, it does so far. It starts to beak down if you try to take the comparison further." "How so?" "Well, let's suppose we take the 'axes' idea further. The Marvel Uni's Master Order and Lord Chaos would clearly be the major players on either end of that universe's 'organisational' axis, or whatever you want to call it. Master O is the embodiment of positive organisation and represents order, or cosmos; while Lord C is at the negative end and embodies lack of organisation, which is disorder, or chaos. "Now, I do know that the Net has direct counterparts of those two: Master Workload and Lord MUD. There are files on them back at LNHQ from the time Master Workload tried to destroy the Looniverse in the 'Looniverse Adrift Saga'," he sighed sadly, "and from his more recent involvement in Sig.Lad's death." [_Dvandom Force_ #48 - Footnote Girl] "But the point is that Master Workload and Lord MUD don't embody organisational concepts," he continued. "They represent work and play. What would you call that, the 'activity axis'?" "Not necessarily," replied Are.Em. "The comparison isn't as direct as that between the two sets of temporal and spatial embodiments, but in a way Master Workload and Lord MUD can be said to personify organisational concept. In their case the form of organisation isn't physical, but rather social. Users must arrange their activities on the Net between work and play. Sometimes this is done consciously and deliberately, at other times by default - particularly by those who use up their time in recreation, but also by those with so many assignments that they can do nothing but work. The balance between them is therefore one of a pattern of balance between their respective ideals: of how the inhabitants of the Net allocate and arrange their time." "Hmm. I hadn't thought of it that way," mused RLad. "Okay then. How about the intermediaries?" "What specifically do you mean?" "Well, in the Marvel U, there are beings who represent a balancing of the forces at either end of those axes. Galactus is the third force between Eternity and Death. Master Order and Lord Chaos have their intermediary in their creation, the In-Betweener. Presumably there's also a being midway along the spatial axis between Infinity and Oblivion. In fact, I think the idea was brought up in the letterspage of _Quasar_ once." "Yes. _Quasar_ #51." "Yeah, that's it. Some guy wrote in a letter that was too long to be printed, but won a Sci-prize for it. Can't remember the name..." "It was Brenton," Are.Em said. Retcon Lad's eyes went wide. "Oh my Writer." "Do you use that in the exclamatory or descriptive sense?" asked Are.Em, amused. "Either way, you're correct." "I hadn't realised that his ego had gotten out of control so quickly," RLad commented, still a bit stunned. "It requires more than a touch of hubris to be an LNH author," Are.Em agreed. "You're not wrong. Anyway, do those intermediate cosmic entities in the Marvel U have Net counterparts? "Indeed. Alt.Lactus - devourer of dimensions and predator of newsgroups - is the third factor in the trinity of Neternity and myself, and is the force that hurries those groups that have outlived their time to their end. Master Workload and Lord MUD have created their own representative in the Multi-Tasker, who embodies the balance between work and play, and contains within the parameters of its dualities a sample of the entire demographic of Net users, allowing it to be both young and old, male and female, skilled and incompetent, experienced and a newbie. The template of the being holding the balance of the spatial axis is unknown, since such an entity has not been identified in a Marvel comic, but the Net version is Alt.ef, the transfinite being who exists both everywhere and nowhere, and who is the embodiment of crossposting, since all places are immediately accessible to it." "Neat. And I take it there are other cosmic entities?" "Many. But I'm afraid the time for this conversation has come to an end." "Oh. I'm dead, huh?" "No, you're alive. It's time to go back." "Oh. Well. Nice meeting you. Guess I'll be seeing you again, huh?" "At least once more," Are.Em agreed. Joe came to, lying in bed and staring at the ceiling. "How are you feeling?" someone asked. He looked, and saw that it was Terri. "I'm fine," he said. And it was true, he did feel fine. Either he was loaded up with painkillers, or he'd retconned himself back to life with only very minor injuries. She nodded. "I'm afraid you were grazed by a piece of falling masonry. Nothing serious, just knocked you out for a while... What are you grinning about?" "Nothing important. I'll tell you later." Terri gave him an appraising look. "Are you sure you feel all right, Joe?" she asked. "Oh yeah. I'm fine. And I think I found the answers I was looking for too." "What do you mean?" "I mean, being a grim'n'gritty mutant isn't really all that much fun. It may sell comics, but really, that niche is getting pretty full up these days, you know. And anyway, it's a sh*t of a life. But we knew that already. And I just remembered how much fun it is to just sit around and bounce ideas about and generally just wallow in fannish stuff." "So, what, you think you're just going to drop the Angst, just like that?" She sounded dubious. He shook his head. "I don't think that's possible. I mean, from what Dr. Stomper said there's no way I can ever really shake this Angst thing off. The best I can do is try to keep it under control," he replied soberly. Then he grinned. "It' just a matter of positive attitude, and lots of hard work to stay on the wagon. And I think maybe I can use that sense of fun to keep away the Angst bogeyman." --------------------------------------------------------------------- Characters Credits: Neternity/Inter.net.e, Internet/Infi.net.e, Are.Em/Logoff, Killfile/ Dev null, Master Workload, Lord MUD, Alt.Lactus, and the Multi-Tasker are all Public Domain (it says so in _Kid Kirby's Guide to the Cosmos_) but were created by Jameel al Khafiz. Alt.ef is hereby willed to Public Domain as well. The Finishless as a group, and the Electrocutioner (formerly Entertainment) in particular, were apparently created by Scav (Tod Kogutt), but I have no idea what their NWC/PD status is since I was unable to get in touch with Scav. :-( Scav, if I have inadvertently messed with characters you had plans for, my most profuse and abject apologies, and would you please get in touch with me, as I have ideas for other members of the Finishless that I would like to use. I am presuming that the Dyslexia of the Finishless is the same as the villainess of the same name, and so is Public Domain. And Ending is likewise hereby willed to Public Domain, if it is appropriate for me to do so. The various cosmic beings on which the Looniverse versions are based are property of their creators and/or intellectual property owners and are mentioned here purely for comparative reasons with no intention to challenge their ownership. (Joe) Retcon Lad and (Terri) Fourth Wall Lass created by Saxon Brenton. All characters copyright and tm their owners and/or creators --------------------------------------------------------------------- Add Notes: Alt.ef's name is a pun on Alef/Aleph, which when used in mathematics denotes the first transfinite number. Thanks to Jameel for checking the logic behind my ramblings on the cosmic beings. Thanks to Tick (Peter Milan) for consultations, however vague the outcome had to be, on the Crossroads/Looniverse comparison for Grim/Death. And thanks to Descrii (Ian Porell) for revealing that Retcon Lad can bring himself back to life. That idea hadn't occurred to me.Back to the Index.