Blue Light Productions presents

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.
  "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
  "No. Maybe. And no," the other replied calmly.
  "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..."
  "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
  "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 In this form I use the 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?"
  "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, 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/, Internet/, 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

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
  And thanks to Descrii (Ian Porell) for revealing that Retcon Lad
can bring himself back to life. That idea hadn't occurred to me.

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