Date: Wed, 10 Feb 1999 16:19:57
Subject: tale the first: the multiverse of megafania
Friends, Fegs, countrymen,
lend me your eyes. I have a story of glory and
gory lore, a tale true and bad, and it badly needs telling.
You have received transmissions
before from my colleage, one Dr. Oswald
Fane, Professor of Reknown. There is not much call for this
these days and I fear he had entered into an uneasy retirement and
have died. He has left it to me to complete his dire warning
a Champion who might vanquish the horror that threatens to destroy
I was made aware of him,
as a wizard might, by a strange combination of
magic and technology. Or was he made aware of me? I was
never sure... in
any case, this Champion, whose name I cannot reveal for fear that
manuscript be discovered by the Enemy, contacted me from a land far
distant. "O great wizard," he said to me, "I yearn for an Adventure,
exotic lands and deeds of valor and great Reknown." At these
startled and wondered if this stranger was in fact my friend Fane,
else would seek Reknown in these dark days? "Why do you trouble
replied, for I am something of a curmudgeon. "I know quite
well that your
land has its own wizard, who would be better put to the scut of providing
"Great one, our wizard
is but a charlatan, a fraud, a single-band wiener
in comparison to your mastery of Space and Time," the man replied.
"Mmmm.. I *do* have intimate knowledge of the curvature of Time,
spherical nature of Space..." I mused, accidentally speaking aloud.
you will help me!" the stranger cried. "...Or is it the other
Oh, bosh. Very well!" I shouted. "I will provide you
with a quest. But
it is not without peril. You will very likely perish.
For you will be
seeking the Greatest of All Evils, which can only be found in the
Both Worlds, or should you go very far afield, the Worst of All Possible
"This I shall do, and
"So be it. Your
journey begins... now!"
L'HOTEL DE VERRE WAS,
or rather is, a saloon and boarding house on the
edge of the West, that is to say, the Frontier. Our Traveller
customary swinging doors and a passel of gunfighters whirled guiltily
face him, much like people checking their email at work. "Er....
y'all," said the Traveller.
"Howdy, Stranger," said
the leader of the gang. "My name's Runyin, but
they call me Mike the Viking - I don't know why."
"SHH!" hissed another
cowpoke. "Your name you must not reveal, lest it be
discovered by the Enemy!"
"My name's Lem," said
the cowpoke. "Lem Stanislaw. This here's Terry the
Mark of Normalcy, Dignan Graves, and Tommy Clarkson and Shark Holster
the Apple Plumping Gang. The Viking you've met. Behind
the bar is
'Topher Biggs, the barkeep."
"Please to meet you,"
the Stranger replied. "I come from a distant land
on a vital quest. In interstellar burst, I'm here to save the
I seek the Greatest of All Evils."
A wince shuddered through
the gathered throng. "Greatest - that'd be the
Shirriff, that would," offered Dignan. "Crooked as a shadow
on a broken
mirror, or my name's Eric Broome. Rode up into town with the
Posse many a
year ago, broke off from them and set to ruling this town with an
claw. It's never been the same since!"
"The Posse? Who
is this Posse of which you speak?"
The throng creaked back
in their chairs. "Ah, the Posse," sighed
Clarkson, whose chair seemed to have wheels and an entirely anachronistic
jetpack on the back. "There was a wonderful bunch. The
tales, the dirty
jokes, the all-night revels! The Posse really knew how to party."
"Indeed," agreed Terry
of Normacy. "I've the marks to prove it."
"If only the Posse would
return, and rout that foul Shirriff," lamented
Shark Holster, so named for his sharp teeth and glassy flesh.
"The Posse is headed up
by one Eddie West, also called Wild Eddie,"
offered barkeep Topher Biggs. "A true Re-Evolutionary, that
one, though a
"Why don't you confront
the Shiriff yourselves?" inquired the daring
The cowpoke looked shocked.
"Never!" he gasped. "He has a terrible
bodyguard and thug in Ebony Bill, progessional gunslinger, mudslinger
Insulter. Not to mention certain, ah, photos..." The cowpoke
"The Striped One would
make short work of us all," explained the one
called the Viking. "There is none who can best him, save perhaps
Eddie, who is long gone. And, of course, the legendary Jay,
was never here at all."
"The Jay could do it,"
agreed Dignan Graves. "The Jay and none other.
Even Douglass the Cutlass, Thane of the Pirate nation of Pathetica,
blunderbuss fires bullets of pure pathos, met with disaster when
to defeat Mr. Ebony. Seems Ebony Bill's emotions were just
"Pah," spat the overconfident
Stranger. "I will challenge this Ebony
gunfighter and defeat him handily."
The saloon doors creaked
open behind him and a striped shadow filled the
dusty room. The Traveller felt a chill from within.
"Will you now," came the
gunslinger's mellow tones. "Many have tried, but
none so far have done so -- not handily, nor leggily, nor with any
part of the body."
The Stranger turned to
face this nemesis. Ebony bill wore a black hat,
and a black vest over a garish yellow shirt. His boots were
the bones of wild Newbies. He was indeed a frightening sight!
"Now choose the manner
of your demise," he offered kindly. "Will it be a
contest of quick-draw, insults, or knowledge? How about insults?
quite good at those..."
"Er... not really my thing,
I'm afraid," the Stranger replied. "And I am
unarmed... how about knowledge?"
"Fine," answered Ebony
Bill. "I'll be back at High Noon to defeat and
kill you." He departed hastily, bones clinking on his fegskin
"Well, at least I have
until then," the Traveller sighed.
"It's 11:42," someone
"The Ebony One is undefeated
in all areas of erudition," said the Viking
Runyin. "He ate (for breakfast) even our buxom School Marm,
Danny El, who
was a kind and most knowledgeable soul, despite bring cursed with
"And she quite enjoyed
it," quipped Tom Clarkson.
Terror beginning to set
in, the Traveller begged his newfound companions
for help. "This world is completely new to me," he implored
can I ever hope to answer Ebony Bill's challenge?"
"As the Visitor, you will
ask first, so we need only think of a question
Ebony Bill cannot answer," answered Terry of the Mark.
"Still a daunting task,"
"But we will help you,"
promised Shark Holster.
For the minutes that remain'd
they conferred feverishly, frantically.
Finally Ebony Bill returned, wearing a smile and that accursed shirt.
"Well? What feeble
question have you for me?" he smirked.
The Traveller stood and
faced his adversary. "Draw a link between Carl
Palmer and Robyn Hitchcock," he said, --Ah! Easy, began Ebony
"...using only albums with three or less letters," finished the Stranger.
The gunfighter was confounded.
He wracked his mighty mind to find the
answer, to know avail. He stared at his boots and muttered
"I'll have to
consult the datab..." He looked up, startled, as if he had
not meant to
speak. "You've won this round, Stranger. But mark me
well: we shall meet
in the next world. The Next of all possible worlds!"
He turned on his
spurs and left the Hotel de Verre.
The Traveller was soundly
congratulated all around and Mr. Biggs poured
free drinks all the rest of that day. They made grand plans
to storm the
Shiriff's hideout, now that his guardian was out of the way, but
strong drink made any more heroism, or even HeroSim, completely unlikely.
"Cheers to the gunslingerslayer!"
they cried, and raised a glass of seven
"Cheers to the Goddess,
who provides us Boose!" they shouted, and raised a
glass of Pumpernickel Porter.
"And Cheers to Boose!"
they laughed, and drained another pint of Egyptian
I neglected to tell the
hero that with each sleep would come a new world,
until finally he reached the Worst of All Possible Worlds.
after this drunken revel, he soon was in a fine state of unconscience.
When he awoke, he was in the Next World, leaving the old one unsaved.
But fear not, the prodigal Jay returned and liberated the town from
captors. "El Jay," as she was known south of the Pecos, employed
of wiles and revealed to the world that Ebony Bill was Nice, and
used this power called "The Nice" on the Evil Shirrif, and I'm told
living with him in sin and great happiness to this very day....
NEXT WEEK: The Dark Enchantment
of King Quail (and the answer to the