Lord Of The Rings and The Chosen One

June 22nd, 2011  |  Published in Comedy, Fantasy, writing

I don’t know how I never noticed it before, but in Lord of the Rings, the hero is not the Chosen One. That is to say that Frodo is not so special as to make me unable to relate to him. He is not part of a prophecy, he is not the rare person born with a one in a million special ability, he is simply a better than average example of his people. How is it that modern fantasy has emulated everything else about Tolkien (trilogies, worldbuilding, obsession with description) but has managed to forget about this one key aspect?

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Waldo, Stealth Assassin

March 22nd, 2007  |  Published in Comedy, Fiction, Interlude, Stories

I need you to believe me. I’m in danger. There’s this man, he has a striped red shirt, glasses- Hey! I’m serious here. OK, OK, I’ll start at the beginning.

It was a joke, an innocuous, harmless little joke. My friend Rudy, he sent it to me. How could anyone expect it to be taken seriously- a guy named Waldo who, for a “nominal fee”, said that he could take out anyone, anytime, anywhere. Even his logo was absurd, a little drawing that was clearly in violation of the Where’s Waldo copyright. That’s right, you remember him, searching through page after page trying to find that naive tourist.

So we flipped a coin, and Rudy won. Or rather, as it turned out, lost. The page was surprisingly smooth, and it was only a couple of minutes before we had taken a hit out on him, with me agreeing to foot the bill.

Don’t look at me like that. How could we have possibly known what would happen?

Fast forward a few days, to the weekend. Rudy and I are sitting at a little burger joint called Mo’s that overlooks this odd little enclosed park in Downtown San Francisco. The two of us were finishing our shakes and talking about the Literary Theory class that Rudy was taking when he stopped in mid sentence.

“What the . . .” he said as his hand shot up to his neck. He winced as tugged at something, and his hand came away with what looked like a tiny dart.

I was about to ask what it was when Rudy’s face went stiff, eyes wide, and his head crashed down, forehead shattering the plate that now only held a couple of fries. I jumped back and out of my seat, panicking and looking for someone to help.

That was when I saw him. Red striped shirt. Glasses. Fuzzy hat. And that ubiquitous sign of tourism, a camera around his neck. It was Waldo. He was smiling and putting what looked like a pen back in his pocket.

It wasn’t like the movies, thankfully, I was treated well by the cops. When they found the dart they let me go.

I don’t exactly know how I got back to my apartement, but I did. I was still in shock when I opened the door, and at first the note on the floor didn’t register. I don’t know how long I just stood there before picking up the envelope. Inside the envelope was an invoice.

I owed Waldo $5,000. Unfortunately, the vast majority of my worth was located in the twenty in my pocket, which I only had because Mo’s didn’t charge for the meal.

Still on autopilot, I changed my clothes so that I wasn’t spattered with ketchup before leaving the apartment. I didn’t want to be around when Waldo came to collect. Slowly, it all came together. Those books that I had so eagerly pored over as a child, they weren’t just entertainment, they were advertisements. I sprinted down the hill to the Borders, and started poring over the books.

The more I looked, the more disturbing it got. Something was going wrong in every one of the pictures. Letting animals out at the zoo, probably paid for by PETA. Sabotaging commercial airliners. In some cases, it even appears that he is directly involved in the enslavement or genocide of entire races and peoples.

Then I got to Waldo World, and my throat went dry. There they were, thousands of the killing machines, an unending tide of Waldos. I hesitate to even think of the implications.

That’s why I’m here. You see, I know your secret. You’re his handler. You have to understand, this was only a joke, a joke that went bad. Let my work something out with you, an installment plan or something. I can have you paid off in a year or two, and-

What do you mean that he’s gone rogue?

Bob: Employee of the Future

February 26th, 2007  |  Published in Comedy, Fiction, Interlude, Stories

At first, none of us took it seriously when management announced that they were going to be replacing us with zombies. We all thought it was some sort of sick joke. Sure, we knew they wanted to replace us, but with technology or something, not zombies. And then we met Bob.

You see, Bob was a zombie. Not like in the movies, though. Sure, he ate brains, shambled, and did the typical zombie stuff, but he also worked at S-Mart. We never figured out how, but it worked. When he was on the clock, open to close, seven days a week, he wouldn’t so much as drool on you.

At first, Bob scared the hell out of us. The obvious conclusion was that the company was planning to use Bob to turn the lot of us into a shambling, decomposing army of retail employees who didn’t require breaks or health insurance. Rumors were even started to the effect that we would eventually be used to attack competitors. Not a pretty picture, really.

Those fears proved to be unfounded, however, as a more chilling truth sank in. Bob and the other zombies that joined him on the selling floor were simply better employees than us. They worked longer, harder, and didn’t complain about lack of decent pay or benefits. In a rational world, it would be fantastic, think of all the lives that are sucked dry by menial jobs. As things are, however, this wasn’t the case, we needed these pointless, soul-crushing jobs.

There was some talk of actually becoming decent employees, taking pride in our work. Fortunately, it didn’t get far. After all, compared to upper management, Bob and his fellow undead were downright sympathetic by comparison, and even if that weren’t true, Bob was better liked than the vast majority of upper management. All of which meant that simply working harder was not an option. Faced with this bleak situation, what choice was there?

We formed a union. All of us, even Bob. When presented with the idea of being able to eat the annoying customers, Bob joined enthusiastically, for a zombie, that is.

You probably wonder how it went.

Well, you never want to mess with a zombie on a picket line, it gets ugly.