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Sfstory Log 040

Subject:     another posting bytes the dust
From:        Tennessee H. Cowboy (THC8650 at TNTECH)

"When you pass the buck, don't ask for change." -- Solomon Short.

Time Chief 357 ambled into his office feeling very pleased with himself.
The galaxy had been saved, he was in command, and he'd given The Cowboy
something to write about.  He sat contentedly in his chair and called up the
schematics of the new Spam-powered defenses that were being employed around
Time Central, idly going through them so he could sleep better tonight,
knowing that any ship approaching would be blown to smithereens before it
came within light-years.

"Um... 357?  Are you busy?" asked Charlie, Time Central's mainframe.

"Not especially," answered 357.  "What's on your CPU?"

"Are you sure you made the right choice with those two new Time Agents?"

"Of course.  Why do you ask?"

"It's taken them two days and they still haven't gotten out of spacedock."

357 sat up at this.  Checking the security monitors, he discovered the
problem.  "Patch me into the Chrono I," he ordered.

"Chrono I here," responded a voice.  "Time Agent 386 at your service.  Is
tat you, Unc?"

"Yes it is," answered 357.  "What's taking you so long to get under way?"

"Connie's trying to parallel park."

"Paralell park!" shouted 357.  "That could take weeks!"

386 sighed.  "I know, but she insists on showing me she can do it, and she's
in charge of this ship."

357 stood and attempted to sound menacing, which is like Dan Fielding trying
to sound sleezy.  "Time Agent 386, I command you to gain control of the
Chrono I's guidence systems and get under way!"

"Roger," said 386, and moved off to do so.

Not two minutes later, the HMS Chrono I blasted out of the spacedock,
damaging several ships with its afterblast, not to mention scaring the shit
out of several pilots whose ships were almost crashed into by it.  Once free
of the dock, it outran and outflew the various weapons employed by the Spam-
powered defences, for which it had forgotten to broadcast the correct codes.

"Let me out of this closet!" demanded a high-pitched voice.

"Only if you promise to let me drive," came the low-pitched responce.

"I could order you," threatened the closet-voice.

"I could space you next time," countered the other.

"Awright, I promise..."  A quiet and sedate Time Agent Conifer Evergreen was
released from the closet by an equally quiet Time Agent 386.

"What now?" asked 386.

Calling up their orders on the ship computer, they discovered they were
simply to patrol Earth and the surrounding areas.  "Pretty tame," said
Connie.  "They could have at least given us a post with some action."

"I don't know," chuckled 386.  "Life is what you make of it.  Do we have any
aluminum foil on board?"

Back at Time Central, 357 was chuckling over the Chrono's departure.

"Chuckle," said 357.

Charlie was not amused.  "Your nephew is either very brave or very stupid."

"Neither," said 357 between laughs.  "He just has a very unusual concept of
what constitutes a good time."

And in orbit around Earth, the HMS Golden Lance and Doctor Bing Von Spleen
were just leaving for Netherspace, where adventure and good times awaited.

***** Received 01:57:07 on 04/18/89, Posting #   146 *****
Subject:     Straight to my Heart
From:        (LEWIS at ITHACA)

|    Wherein Ian and Janice...blah blah blah...and so forth.  Ad nausea est |
             Straight to my Heart, quoth the Dragon to the Fly
                   or: Fire and Brimstone and Treacle

    The throneroom was quite spacious, with a high gothic ceiling, tall
stained glass windows between the flying butresses, lots of tropical plants
distributed throughout the hall, exotic birds and monkeys chattering at each
other and stealing the grapes from the hands of amused serving wenches,
enticing harp and lyre music drifting from unseen corners, and in the middle of
it all, the throne.
    The throne didn't belong at all.  It was the typical royal affair, straight-
backed, tall, almost unpadded, heavily laden with metal adornment, not a
comfy chair at all.  Cyrelle dispised it.  It was where she was sitting, trying
not to jump up and push the clumsy thing into the pool behind her where it could
sink to the bottom (twenty feet down at least) and rot.  Instead she was...
presiding over the last of a long list of official offices and duties.  She was
tired of listening to her advisors who were really her teachers and regents
either lecturing, petitioning, or complaining.  Now the last of them was up.
    "We will hear you, Minister," she said in a dulled but (hopefully) regal
    The 'minister' was her headmaster (or would be on Earth) and usually one
of her closest friends.  Right now he was also fidgeting a bit, uncomfortable
in the redecorated throneroom.  He was also Chancellor until Cyrelle's official
ascension to the throne.  He was trying to impress upon the young ruler the
importance of a troublesome matter in which she had no interest.
    "Cyrelle, the Beta experiments are proceeding as planned," he began.
    "Good!" Cyrelle stood up, stretching out some of the stiffness in her back.
    "I'm not finished," Chancellor Benes said quickly.  "The side-effects from
the experiments are also proceeding to plan, and even exceeding the original
estimates in some cases."
    "Well?  Meaning what?" Cyrelle asked, refusing to sit down again but instead
leaning over the back of the throne, stretching her arms to the ceiling.
    Benes ignored her improper posture and intensified his report.  "We will
have to abandon the project within two weeks if the current rate of degredation
continues and seek out another planet or asteroid!"
    "So?" Cyrelle finally resumed eye contact with her tutor.
    "We still don't have sufficient energy stored to make the trip to even the
closest possible candidate.  We will be forced to resume planetary exploitation
for energy..."
    "...and we still refuse to allow that!" Cyrelle snapped.  "Look around you,
 Minister.  This room is a testament to seven centuries of work rebuilding
Zynchrony Alpha to its natural splendour after the years of abuse and neglect of
our ancestors.  I will not ruin our efforts by another period of industrial
production within the biosphere.  We must continue to find energy off-planet!"
    "And we are running out of time!" Benes shouted.  "Within two weeks, the
probability curve for a system-wide continum-rend will reach 50 percent.  We
must stop at once!"
    "If we do," Cyrelle shouted back, "we will die off slowly for the next
decade until the fusion batteries run down and we are left in darkness again.
I cannot allow that either!"
    "Then you must allow us to resume planetary exploitation until we have
enough power for intersystem transportation!"
    Cyrelle stopped the shouting match by being silent for several seconds.
Finally she spoke.  "No."
    Benes sighed.  "Then I must intervene before you kill us all with this
reckless abandon of yours.  You are hearby declared unfit for ascension and
placed under house arrest until such time..."
    Six armed guards appeared from behind fern-like bushes and raised their
swords to Benes' throat.  "And I must preserve Zynchrony," Cyrelle said quietly.
"You are under arrest for treason and we will see you on trial after the
critical energy count is attained.  Take him to the house cells," she ordered.
Turning away, she left the hall, curious that Benes refused to plead or say
anything else after her coup.  Well, she thought, I'm still not officially
the ruler of Zynchrony until either he inducts me or full moon [Zynchrony Beta,
remember is Alpha's only moon] so as that is in two days, I must wait it out.

    Ian finally popped back into the corridor.  Now it was lit in red emergency
lighting and still was empty.  For a moment he forgot where he was; then recall
came back.  "Right!  Caught up on the reading, Janice is off to Time Central to
head off the mindinvaders, and I have to stop the time-space distortion around
this planetoid (not the correct technical term I'm sure but Janice ain't here
so screw it) in two weeks!"  Just then, the corridor flexed and shimmered.
Reality was being rewritten again, the old pattern shoved and transformed,
new reality-waveforms and probabilites causing kinks in the warp and weft of
the fabric of space and time, black holes and white holes, protestants and
catholics, jews and gentiles....[oops, wrong monologue]  Anyway, something
profound was occuring as Ian uncertainly whirled around, staring at the now-
strangely translucent walls and floor.  This could only mean...
        "A new author!"  Ian paused in shock.  Then he found his thoughts
again.  "Blast!  All that reading, reviewing, and now someone changes it all
again!  Yaoiu glk ai sldfkssa doiwnsdpawek dskf-wkjdlfjsd'q...." Ian swore
profoundly and throughly in the Time Police special combat tounge, which has
no name and very little grammatic structure or standard syntax (which makes
it nearly impossible to crack but nearly as hard to use for effective
        After a few seconds of this the walls returned to their previous
emergency-lit but normalized appearance.  Ian decided that action was called
for.  Too much time had been spent procrastinating and delaying.  Now The
Author's panthenon was being enlarged; Ian feared that in the new arrangements
he might be found wanting and stuck in a new plotline with a less forgiving
Author or even worse, terminated!  [Seems to be catching, this fear of
extinction.  Not what I had in mind, but an effective expedient: The Author]
Ian grabbed his bolas from the floor, hitched up his Dune-style Combat Jockey
Shorts, and ran down the corridor again.  He passed some intersections entirely
and turned down others.  He opened doors to other rooms and corridors almost
randomly but with an unerring sense of purpose and direction.  Finally he
found a large green door at the end of a very long and featureless (and still
red-lit) corridor.
        It was a huge door.  After quick inspection, it also proved to be
unopenable.  No locks, mechanisms for enterance, noticeable pivots or other
methods of removing the door from its archway upon proper entrance.  Ian thus
decided that it was only openable from the inside.  "So I must get to the
inside to open the door!" Ian deduced.  But he also realized that this door
was overwhelmingly likely the only entrance to the room beyond, barring perhaps
movement outside the defense base exposed to the interstellar void, which would
require finding the proper presurrizing field suits or generators, which would
take far too long for the growing sense of urgency mounting within Ian, so he
could clearly not search for another way in, so he had to get through this door,
this door in front of him, which he couldn't open from the outside, which
clearly meant that he had to get inside to open the door so that....
        "So that...I can enter the room to open the door to open the room...!"
Ian looped. After doing this for about a minute the paradox reached highly
annoying levels, which (in addition to Ian's finding a doorbell hidden in the
paneling beside the door and ringing it repeatedly) finally caused the door to
begin to open.  Several internal locks and force fields could be heard to
deactivate.  Ian immeadiately ceased his trance and backed up several yards
from the door in case of any short-range anti-intruder devices.  He realized
that he was still a sitting duck in the featureless, smooth, straight, now
returning to normal lighting levels corridor, but that couldn't be helped.
His geas to pass the green door and reach the final confrontation of the
subplotline overrode conservative actions.
        The door-unlocking sounds finally ceased.  The door creaked woodenly
and swung open a few inches.  An eerie ultraviolet/electric purple haze
scintillated through the crack.  Sort of a radioactive muave, Ian thought
perversely as he took quick strides back to the door...

NEW POSTING OF SF_STORY..."Shields up! Go to red alert!" THE CAST OF THIS

***** Received 00:04:08 on 04/28/89, Posting #   149 *****
Subject:     in orbit about a boring planet named
From:        Tennessee H. Cowboy (THC8650 at TNTECH)

"I'm bored," cried a whiney, spoiled-brat, female voice.

"Of course," replied a husky male voice.  "I told you that all I needed was
a little aluminum foil..."

"NO!" shouted Time Agent Conifer Evergreen.  "You are not going to dress up
in aluminum foil and beam down and scare the inhabitants of Earth.  It's
degrading.  It's uncivilized.  It's... it's..."

"Unboring?" offered Time Agent 386, 357's paternal nephew.

Conifer threw up her hands in disgust.  "Men!  All you think about is having
fun!"  She stalked loudly out of the control cabin of their timeship, the
HMS Chrono I.

"Hey, I'm not the one sitting around complaining about how bored I am!"
retorted 386 to her fleeing back.  Moral victory, he decided, lay in knowing
when to point out the obvious.

Lacking anything better to do, he set the ship's computer to scan the Solar
System for the umpteenth time.  Normally, the ship's computer would do this
by itself, but 386 didn't like computers to be smarter than he was, so he
had ripped out the sentience circuits before they had left Time Central.  He
browsed through his junk mail while awaiting the results of said scan, fully
expecting said scan of said solar system to be as said dead as the last said
300 said scans, he said to his said self.

Then suddenly, ALL HELL BROOK LOOSE!

386 looked about wildly.  Spotting a spelling error, he pounced on it before
the SF_Proofreaders could flame him for it.

Revised edition--  Then suddenly, ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE!

And now that that disaster had been averted, he turned to face the
viewscreen and face the disaster now facing him in the face, face to face,
up close and personal-like.

***** Received 10:43:05 on 05/02/89, Posting #   151 *****
Subject:     facing Disaster {or however you spell
From:        Tennessee H. Cowboy (THC8650 at TNTECH)

Time Agent 386 stared disaster in the face.  Disaster stare 386 in the face.
Disaster had a pretty face, 386 thought.  And, as Disaster floated away from
the viewport, he thought she had a very nicely formed body.  So enraptured
was 386 that it took him several seconds to realize that Disaster was not
bothered in the least by the vacuum of outer space.

"Hey!" shouted 386, as if by will alone he could make himself be heard
throught the emptiness of space.  "What are you doing out there?"

Strangely enough, Disaster turned as if she could actually hear him.  "Why,
I'm doing nothing.  What should I be doing?"  She tilted her head slightly,
giving 386 that hurt-puppy expression guaranteed to give any man a case of
the sivering heebie-jeebies.

However, 386 was not looking at her face, but was instead observing that
zero-g was much better than a bra.  "You should be turning blue, clutching
at your throat, and dying rather quickly."

"Okay," she said, and promptly did so.  After her legs stopped twitching,
and 386 was almost ready to wonder what the hell was going on, she

Hallucinations? thought 386.  Not likely.  The people of his world were
mostly immune to such things, except in the presence of large amounts of
alcohol.  Why, even the Mindinvaders of Taurus IV couldn't-

"Oh, shit," said 386.  The Mindinvaders.  He'd forgotten all about them.
They were supposed to invade Time Central some time back, he'd remembered
Uncle 357 saying.  357's new Spam-powered defences must have deterred them,
and they'd gone looking for a new way in.

He got up and began pacing.  It all makes sense now, he thought furiously.
Unable to directly influence my mind, they had instead attempted to place
hallucinations in it.  Luckily, I haven't drunk anything in nearly seven
minutes, so I'm cold sober.  So, the Mindinvaders were totally unsucc-

"Capt'n, me wee bairns canna take much more," yelled fellow Time Agent
Conifer Evergreen as she staggered into the control room.

"Oh, shit," said 386 once more.  "Connie, snap out of it!"  He grabbed her
and began shaking her violently, something he had wanted to do ever since he
was assigned to the same ship as her.

"Mr. Worf, get the boy off my bridge," Connie retorted as she backhanded 386
across the room.  "Number One, outfit an Away Team, and I'm going with you
this time!"

"So much for the gentle approach," mumbled 386 as he rolled up his sleeves.
Luckily, his race was quite a bit stronger than the aveage humanoid.
Unluckily {which probably isn't a word but we all know how I feel about
that}, he was trying to contain her without hurting her {too much}.  Connie
was acting under no such compunction.

Connie was no swaggering about the room.  "SIR!  I request permission to
lock phasers on every target within range and blow it to bits as a safety
precaution!" she yelled, conveniently forgetting that a Dracma-class
timeship had no phasers.

"Sure, go ahead," answered 386 as he tackled her.

"Fascinating," Connie said as she ripped a chair free of its holding bolts
and began beating 386 about the head and shoulders with it.  "Captain, I
find no logical reason for your actions."

386 finally secured Connie and began dragging her back to the medical
department.  "Damn you, Spock!" she yelled into his ear.  "This is mutiny.
I am the Captain.  I am the Cap-"

She cut off abruptly as 386 applied the Insta-sleep spray.  As she cuddled
up cutely with the broken chair she was previously using as a blunt
instrument, he considered his next move, which gives me a nice place to end
this posting.  G'nite, all.

***** Received 00:41:54 on 05/04/89, Posting #   152 *****
Subject:     an adventure in dialogue
From:        Tennessee H. Cowboy (THC8650 at TNTECH)

"What's the problem, 386?"

"Kinda hard to explain, Unc."

"Explain anyway!  And don't call me 'Unc'!"

"I've noticed, 357, that you've gotten very bossy since you appointed
yourself head of Time Central operations."

"Don't get smart with me!  Report!"

"Yessir!  I and my fellow Time Agent Conifer Evergreen were attacked by the
Mindinvaders.  I was able to resist their powers, but Connie wasn't.  Right
now she's in Sickbay sleeping off a triple-strength injection of Somnambutane.
It's rated at 24 hours a shot, so I expect her to come around any time now."

"How long ago did you give her the shot?"

"Fifteen minutes."

"Those Mindinvaders must have a potent effect on the system.  My records
here show that Time Agent Conifer Evergreen spends nearly twenty hours a day
in bed, more if she sleeps."

"My experience exactly, 357.  Any guidelines for treating a possessed partner?"

"None of the top of my head.  Let me ask my computer.  Charlie!"

"Yes, 357?"

"What's the treatment for a possessed Time Agent?"

"Accessing...  Treatment:  Humor her, and keep her away from sharp objects."

"Did you get that, 386?"

"Got it, 357.  Don't think it will do me much good though.  Any encounters
with the Mindinvaders at Time Central?"

"Nothing major.  My secretarial staff all think they're Playboy bunnies, but
we're managing to handle them.  Anything else?"

"Nope.  That's all.  Time Agent 386 signing off."

"Time Central out."


"Get back in bed, Connie!  You shouldn't be up!"

"Sheeps, Keptin!  Ve're surrounded by enemy wessels!"

"Connie, put down that laser pistol!"

"Children, Number One.  There are children on my bridge!"

***** Received 12:41:55 on 05/10/89, Posting #   153 *****
Subject:     an important bull-etin.
From:        Tennessee H. Cowboy (THC8650 at TNTECH)

Special Alert to all Time Police and Agents...

Greez Hyperiok (aka Sylvester Fussbonnet, aka Sam the Sleaze, aka Mary the
Merry) has escaped from the Time Central detention area, killing, maiming,
and generally ruining the day of the guards who were guarding him.

Hyperiok recently aided his mother (Priscilla Fussbonnet) in an attempt to
take over Time Central, but was foiled by the combined efforts of then Time
Chief Sean Landorian and still-renegade immortal Omegas.  It is suspected he
will attempt to kill those two before wreaking havoc with the rest of the

Description as follows:

Hyperiok is large, muscular, violent, and generally nasty.  Master of
disguise, he may appear to look like anyone.  Luckily, our psychologists
here tell me that he is very likely to shoot first and ask questions later,
so anyone who kills you before asking your name is a good suspect.

If spotted you are not, repeat not, to attempt capture alone.  Report his
position immediately to Time Central and agents will be dispatched to your

Once again, renegade Time Agent Greez Hyperiok has escaped.


Great, thought Time Agent 386.  Hyperiok is running loose and I have to stay
here and take care of a possessed partner.

"Opening hailing frequencies!" shouted Connie as she scampered by.
"Captain, I'm frightened!"

"Connie, get down off the chanda-... shandel... get down off the fancy light!"

"Aye, sir!  Warp factor five.  Raising shields."

386 drug her across the room.  "We don't have warp drive," he explained
carefully.  "And the shields are up."


The collision alert sirens began screaming, causing Time Agent Conifer
Evergreen to break into a rousing chorus of "I'll take you home again
Kathleen."  386 staggered to the control room as the Author staggered
off to class.

***** Received 10:00:30 on 05/12/89, Posting #   154 *****
Subject:     Dust to dust...
From:        (SMCGUIRE at GMUVAX)

It was nearly twilight in Altiverse #233, the once-proud realm of SF_STORY
authors, and the maid was displeased.  She'd been cleaning all day, as the
altiverse was rather dusty and moldy from all the rampant disuse going on,
and now, now, just when she thought she was finished, she'd found a
discarded author in some overgrown bushes by the poolside.

"Lord, I wish they'd throw these things away when they were done with them!"
she exclaimed.

This particular author had blond hair, glasses, and was wearing a summer
vest and slacks.  He was covered with fallen leaves and dust, as well as
sheets full of discarded plots and gags.  The maid glanced at a few.  "Satan
and the Collect-the-Universe sweepstakes."  "G.X.P. and 4T5 (with 8VTM
option) escape from Time Central."  "Call Cowboy."  "The Planet of Endless
Tofu and Draino Seas."  The sheets were old and yellowed.  By the author's
lawn chair, there were discarded computer printouts, a lot of technical
manuals, a textbook called "Introduction to Chaotical Dynamic Systems," and
a plaque.

The plaque was made from solid gold (quite common in some Altiverses) and
was inscribed:  "To Scott McGuire, SF_STORY author most successful at
leaving plotlines dangling.  Even worse than Sabre."  The maid looked at
this author.  Well, if he hadn't finished them by now, he certainly wasn't
going to do it now.  So she heaved him up over her shoulder, and lugged him
to one of the trashbins, soon to be towed away in an intergalactic garbage
haul and disposed of in a black hole, and subsequently spewed back into the
multiverse as an ultra-compact substance resembling a putrid lunchmeat; in
fact, spewed back out as the infamous Neo-Spam.

But that was when the trash was to be towed away.  For now, the author
sprawled in the dumpster, quite lifeless.  She took his papers and placed
them in the neighboring bin, destined not for a black hole, but in fact for
the recycling plant.

Several hours passed.  If this narrative was a motion picture, the viewer
would be forced to watch several hours of exactly the same shot, that of the
aforementioned author sprawled in the bin, to emphasize the forlornness of
the author's situation.  It would be a good time to go get popcorn.

If this narrative was a TV movie, perhaps there would be several shots of
the author in the trashbin from different angles, mixed in with the setting
suns of Altiverse #233 to show time was passing, and some vaguely mournful
music played.  It would be a good time to visit the bathroom.

As it is, though, this is a narrative, and we will suffice it to say that
several hours passed and the author didn't move during any of them.  You
won't have time to go to the bathroom, or get popcorn.

Then the author stirred.  Perhaps the motion of being picked up and tossed
in the dumpster by the maid had stirred his innards just enough to bring him
out of his coma.  His blood began to flow again and he moaned, shifting
uneasily amongst the trash (mostly discarded beer bottles - alas, there was
no bottle deposit in Altiverse #233), and hearing a roaring noise in his
head as the blood ventured into places it hadn't been for months.

He tried to sit up, and the roaring noise merely got louder.  When lying
back down didn't make things any quieter, the author realized that it wasn't
his head (although it did hurt), it was a spaceship.  In fact, it was an
intergalactic garbage truck, come to take the trash away.  Including him.

Startled, the author (whose name, as the plaque had indicated, was Scott),
stumbled out of the trashcan just in time to escape becoming Neo-Spam and a
plot element of someone else's entry.

He sat on the ground, dazed.  He tried to sort out what had happened to him
over the past few months.  Oh, he'd been at school.  But that was over now -
he'd graduated.  Plenty of time to submit entries.  He'd just pick up where
he'd left off.  Where had he left off?

He'd ask someone else.  There was no one else.  Why was Altiverse #233
always deserted when he came back?  He rubbed his head, and sighed.  But it
was good to be back.  Probably.


What were Scott's plots?

Are there any other authors out there?

Are there any readers out there?

Why is it that Scott's resemblance to Eric, Lord Sabre, is so pronounced?

I mean, why does he keep leaving plots left undone, and suddenly resurfacing
  to finish them, even though no one can possibly remember them?

And also, he's changed accounts.  Just like Sabre.  (Now located at

Could it be that he's really Sabre in disguise?

(Nope.  But the similarities are disturbing!)

Anyway, find out, next time in SF_STORY!  It *is* good to be back.

***** Received 13:37:58 on 06/27/89, Posting #   157 *****
Subject:     Adventures in Alterverse # 233
From:        Nathan Irwin (UD140680 at NDSUVM1)

     All was quiet and dark in Alterverse # 233 (Don't-try-it-
Authors-only), when suddenly, two shapes appeared, and began to
survey the wreckage around them.

     "Hey," said the first shape, a deep, rich alto, "can you see

     "Er, no," replied the second, "Nothing.  Look, we don't even
have our auras."  It was true - these two beings, which were
usually surrounded by shuimmering, golden auras upon entering the
Authors' Alterverse, were now engulfed in the same darkness that
covered the Alterverse itself.

     "Well, let's see if we can turn some lights on."  With that,
the two shapes stumbled alongside the wall, searching for a light
switch.  When at last the lights were activated, the shapes were
revealed as Beth Jones and Nathan Irwin, the only Sfstory authors
who had not left for the summer.

     "My God," exclaimed Beth, "look at this mess!"

     "Yeah, no wonder the maid quit.  That's the fifth one since
school got out, too." Nathan mused.

     "How could the Authors' Alterverse get this messy, when none
of the authors are around?"

     "I think I know," answered Nathan.  "You see, back in
October (in SF_STORY VOL00003 to be specific), Cowboy
accidentally injected himself into the story as a character.
This created a space-time rift between Alterverse # 233 and
Alterverse # 1.  All this stuff has been brought here from the
other end of that rift, which, if my calculations are correct,
lies somewhere in Cowboy's hallway closet."

     Just as Nathan spoke those words, the space-time rift opened
up directly overhead, and the two authors were burried until a
pile of Cowboy's old boots and a Hoover vacuum cleaner.

     After the authors dug themselves out from under the boots,
Beth scooped up an armful of old sweaters.  "We might as well
start cleaning." she exclaimed, and stumbled off towards the
dumpster outside the Authors' Mansion.  Nathan picked up the
vacuum cleaner and a few pairs of boots, and followed her.

     When they reached the dumpster, the authors noticed a figure
lying prone in front of them.

     "Who's THAT?" asked Beth, dumping the sweaters.

     Nathan dumped his own load, then knelt before the body,
checking for a pulse.  "It's SCOTT," he exclaimed.  Beth dropped
into a crouch, to examine Scott, but he turned his head sharply
and vomitted on her shoes.

     "What's happened to him?" Beth asked.  "My new shoes, too!"

     "It looks like he's been seduced by the Dark Side of
Sfstory.  Sorry about the shoes, by the way."

     "The 'Dark Side?'"

     "Yes.  The Dark Side of Sfstory.  Being an Sfstory author is
a tricky business.  Scott started beginning plotlines and not
ending them, disappearing for months at a time, and changing
accounts all the time.  Just like Sabre did.  Eventually, the
Dark Side consumed him."

     "Will he be okay?"

     "Well, I guess so.  We'd better keep an eye on him, though."

     At that moment, one of the mansions proximity alarms
sounded.  Beth and Nathan dropped their colleague, and raced to a
nearby window to locate the cause.  The cause was ambling up the
sidewalk, towards the mansion's front door.

     "It ISN'T!  It CAN'T BE!" shouted Nathan.

     "But It IS!" responded Beth.  "The lowest form of life in
any Alterverse."

     "A UMaine administrator."  The authors shivered.

     The UMaine administrator entered the mansion without even
knocking, brandishing a sheaf of papers in his hand.  "Sorry to
barge in on you, kids, but your lease with us expires tonight at
midnight.  Anyway, I'd suggest that you kids clean up the mess
you made, pack up, and get out."

     "Worm." exclaimed Beth, under her breath.  calling upon her
Author's Powers, she conjured up a Mass-IV-Death, Really Killit
HyperTechnoBlaster.  She fired one shot, and turned the UMaine
administrator into a quivering pile of neo-Spam.

     "Egad!  Was that really necessary?" asked Nathan.

     "It was better than he deserved.  So, what do we do now?"

     As the background music swelled to a dramatic crescendo, a
look of grim resolution crossed Nathan's face.  "It's time." he
declared.  "I've waited long enough, and now it's time for me to
implement The Secret Plan To Save Sfstory (tm)."

     The theme music swelled again, as the scene faded out.




Check tomorrow's edition of USA Today for the answers!

***** Received 21:48:44 on 06/30/89, Posting #   158 *****
Subject:     Who are these guys anyway?
From:        (SMCGUIRE at GMUVAX)

Good evening.  I'm Scott McGuire, and it's time for another fine episode of
SF_STORY.  Now I understand that our time here may be somewhat limited; in
fact, we are on borrowed time already.  But as long as people are loaning
it without obligation, we might as well make use of it, hadn't we?  Why,
we'll just keep SF_STORY going strong until we drop.  And in fact, even if
UMNEWS does dissolve in a few days (which unfortunately is likely), plans
are already afoot to keep you abreast of the latest SF_STORY happenings.
Stay tuned for more information.

Meanwhile, it's time for a character summary of my characters.  Then
following this will be a rerun or two, just to get us back into the action.
Our main characters, at the moment, are G.X.P. Varnyloop, Time Agent 4T5,
and Satan.  I might pick up a few more later, as soon as I figure out who's
available (what are Quooth and Omegas doing these days, I wonder?).


SATAN:  The Devil.  You all know about him, from personal experience or
otherwise, so I need not elaborate on his character any further.
Nevertheless, let it be said that he is, to put it into polite terms, not a
load of laughs.  A long time ago, he was trapped in Altiverse #723, an
altiverse totally populated by fast food restaurants, by the actions of
Time Agent 357 and the Cowboy.  He has sworn vengeance upon them, as well
as God and all of Heaven.  He is currently trying to make his escape by
winning the Vorturian Variety Lunches "Collect the Universe" sweepstakes.

G.X.P. VARNYLOOP LXVII:  The Name-maker and former associate of Satan who's
full name is Gorginforx Xipnapoloop Pargarquackylywinks Varnyloop LXVII,
giving all who know him a keen understanding of why he uses his initials.
Varnyloop is tall, blue, and currently makes his residence on the planet
Anthrax V.  Some of his most famous reputation-inflations are:  The Giant
Space Weasel of Anthrax V, Dorf the Hideous and Thoroughly Evil Body-Basher
of Fructose VII, Hoon the Amazing and Totally Fabulous Wonder-Worker of
Beachcomber VIII, and Ronald Reagan the Great Communicator.

Recently he was caught up in a large space/time disturbance, where he
became a Time Ensign in the Time Police Corps.  His brain was then invaded
by the DestructionVax5 computer during its attempt (failed) to take over
the universe, and betrayed the Time Police while under its influence.  He
too is on the run, trying to escape from Time Central, where the Time
Agents are foaming at the mouth to execute him for his crimes.

His Naming capacity is turning out to be quite useful as it rearranges
reality in accordance with legal guidelines set out by Kolprini lawyers.

4T5:  A janitorial robot (with the 8 VTM option) in Time Central who dreams
of becoming a Time Agent.  Unfortunately, he robots aren't allowing in the
Time Corps.  His daydreaming has just been interrupted by G.X.P. Varnyloop,
who is hiding in 4T5's closet in his effort to escape (q.v.).

NEXT TIME:  The first of two reruns, detailing G.X.P.'s escape from Time

No questions this time.  It's a holiday weekend, after all!

***** Received 15:43:56 on 07/02/89, Posting #   159 *****
Subject:     (Sfstory 4) The Police break up (again)
From:        (GU089AJL at ITHACA)

     Ian suddenly felt once again the irritatingly inevitable presence of God
(well, of The Author but the idea is similiar).  "OK, where's the plotline from
last semester?" he asked.
     "I don't remember the plotline from last semester," the voice rumbled
darkly.  "So we'll just have to erase this one and start over!  So shall it
be!"  Ian saw the corridor around him subjected to a cartoon-like eraser which
removed the walls, then the rest of the space station, then the planet below,
then the stars beyond, then...
     "What happened to Janice!?" he shouted as he viewed this entropy-less
     "She's History, dude!" the Author boomed as the eraser finished it's work.
"Now for a little Picasso..." a paintbrush and palette suddenly appeared in
front of Ian, painting in first the stars, then a nearby sun, then a few
proto planets, then suddenly a dialog box popped up and the 'render' option
was chosen, and creation evolved for a few billion years until the Earth
below Ian's feet showed solid ground and concrete sidewalk, then the paintbrush
added a few people, some trees, a modern office building or six, some trash
barrels and signposts, and a Metro Station escalator entrance.
     Ian was, needless to say, stunned.  "You can't be serious?" he gasped.
     "But...but...Picasso was a cubist/surrealist!  This is throughly realistic!
It isn't Picasso at all!"
     "IF I SAY PICASSO, I MEAN PICASSO!!!"  And suddenly all of the people, Ian
included, felt their bodies suddenly change symmetry, and Ian found that his
head was now square with one eye on either of the front faces.  His limbs were
now blocklike extensions of a boxy torso.  Some of the women who were walking
by turned into the Women of Avignon and Ian suddenly realized from the bomber
aircraft flying above that he was in Guernica, Spain.



If so, please, PLEASE send me a short affirmative memo.  Tell your friends!
I would appriciate knowing whether or not I had an audience.  And if Cowboy
is still out there posting, let me know!
-Andrew GU089AJL at ithaca

***** Received 20:10:37 on 12/17/89, Posting #     1 *****
Subject:     (Sfstory 5) Yowza! A new plotline, check it out!!
From:        Talk is Cheap (JBANKERT at SUNRISE)

                            A long, long time ago
                               by John Bankert

        Well, actually, not that long ago, and in a galaxy remarkable like our
own (that fact that it ACTUALLY was our own not withstanding), two chaps in a
ship were cruising around and being sullen, do their current twist of fate.
They had just come from Time Agent central, where their applications to become
Time Agents had been rejected due to failure to meet entrance requirements. It
is now that we get to meet them.
        Sitting in the pilot's poz was Han Calrisian, who, looked exactly like
Harrison Ford, execpt that his hair was black, somewhat curly, and his skin
was of a complexion almost identical to that of Billy Dee Williams.
        That train having arrived, let us examine the occupant of the
co-pilot's poz.  His name was Lando Solo, and amazingly enough, he looked
exactly like Billy Dee Williams, except that he had blonde hair and he had
a really incredible tan.
        What had them sullen was the fact that they had been rudely pulled from
their own Altiverse to further the plot devices of an author in another
Altiverse, and their ship, the Millenium Eggplant, had blown it's Carrot-Leek
drive, and as anyone knows, carrot-leeks do not exist in our own Altiverse.
Spam would have constituted an accpetible substitute, but these two brave
adventurers have not yet discovered this (and will not until their effective
usefullness has been exhausted).
        For those of you who might have been wondering, yes, the Millenium
Eggplant does, remarkably so, look like an extremly large eggplant with bow
mandibles, a bridge extrusion on the right hand side, and an entrance hatch.


        In a beach situated in Netherspace, a lone figure lay on the
glistening white sand, and the waves gently lapped at the shore line.  If one
were to imagine an idyllic beach of near perfect description, you would have a
perfect mental immage of this one.  The lone figure became quickly annoyed when
a shadow fell on him, blocking those amazing tanning rays from his face and
upper torso.
        "You're blocking the sun, and if you don't stop, I'm going to get
        "So get angry.  In fact, get real angry.  Get as angry as you like, but
you're nothing but an out of work omni-villan, and I'm telling you now to stay
out of my Altiverse."
        Omegas squinted up at the offending sunblock, and was perplexed.  "I
don't know you.  Who are you?"
        "Name's CHAOS Engineer.  I'm a new SFstory author.  Lord Sabre
recruited me, and I'm warning you to stay away from my Altiverse.  I don't need
any hasbeen omnipotent types cluttering it up."
        "Oh REALLY?" Omegas queried, somewhat incredulously.
        "Really"  replied CHAOS Engineer,  "now if you'll excuse me, I need to
bake out this hangover I have"  he continued, and proceeded to pull off his
shirt and lay down in the warm sand to soak up some sun.


        Back at Time Agent Central, Time Agent 357 contemplated his existence
and wondered if his brief cameo would evolve into leading role, since he was
really bored.  Maybe, he thought to himself, I'll look up Omegas and have a few
beers and reminisce about the old days.


        Back onboard the Millenium Eggplant, Han and Lando were getting more
        "Maybe we should go find some babes.  You know, scope out the action.
I've been running a scan on this plant.  It boasts lots of sleazy dives with
loose women."
        "I'd rather find a new Carrot-Leek drive."
        Lando turned back to his instruments and decided to do some







Find out in the next exciting installment of SFstory

***** Received 09:29:25 on 12/19/89, Posting #     2 *****
Subject:     (Sfstory 6) Over our heads
From:        (SMCGUIRE at GMUVAX)

Nestled between the clouds, a largish man with a flowing beard and a face
of infinite wisdom, care, and (fortunately for the world) patience sat at
a desk, inscribing golden script into a huge tome supported on a huge
slab of marble, which was in turn supported by a granite column decorated
with gargoyles and cherubs, which was in turn supported by the clouds.
He wrote with great care, chewing on the end of his quill before each

His peace was shattered by the flutter of wings as a host of angels
descended upon him.  They settled on the clouds and flapped their wings
in an agitated and irritating fashion.

"Yes?" he asked them.

An angel spoke.  "We thought you should know, sir, they've started it

"What, the early Christmas decorations?"


"The decorator tins of Spam?"


"The fighting in the Middle East?"

"Not that."

"What then?" rumbled the Supreme Being, who tired easily of guessing

"SFSTORY, sir.  It's just like everything else... you know, Star Trek:
the Next Generation, Gone With the Wind II, reviving the Brady Bunch.
But now they've gone and brought back SFSTORY!  Nothing is sacred

God, as he was called, sighed.  A small hurricane formed out of season
off the coast of Venezuela as a result.  "You interrupt my work for

The spokesman angel bowed deeply and clasped his hands.  "I am sorry, my
Lord, I thought you should know."  God merely contemplated his work.
Haltingly, the angel asked, "Are you writing... the Book?  Sir?"

The Supreme Being chuckled.  "No, no, this is merely a little something
Hollywood asked me to do.  It's called The Bible III."

"Haven't you skipped part II, sir?"

"Good Lord no, what do you think the New Testament was?  Now, begone!"

But after the angels ascended, God laughed good and long about how
foolish mortals really could be.


LORD KNOWS... BUT WELCOME BACK SFSTORY! (Good riddance to bad hyphens.)

***** Received 09:35:26 on 12/19/89, Posting #     3 *****
Subject:     (Sfstory 7) More things on heaven and earth
From:        (SMCGUIRE at GMUVAX)

In Netherspace, the sun never sets.  Or at least, not upon the beach where
Omegas sat.  Omegas is, or was, an immortal who has been much put upon for
the benefit of this story, and is now trying to retire quietly and live a
life full of sun and tanning lotion.  Unfortunately, he had suffered
several interruptions within the past few days, and was getting rather
cross about it.  Today will not be an exception.

Yet another shadow dared to block the waves of ultraviolet that were
washing over him.  He lifted his Raybans and squinted at the newest figure.
"Go to hell," he suggested to the figure wearing a tasteless combination of
a tie-dyed t-shirt and "Big Dogs" shorts.

"No thanks," the author said.  "About your retirement, Omegas..."

Omegas stood up and towered over the author.  "Don't tell me how I'm not
going to be in your storyline because I'm washed up and outdated.  Don't
tell me how eighties I am, and how amoral immortal characters aren't
needed.  Because, if you do, I will make you into moray morsels..."  He
pointed at the sea, which was full of hungrily snapping eels.

"Okay," the author said.  "Glad to hear you're sick of it, because I'm
picking up your option.  As it were."

"I beg your pardon?" asked Omegas, settling back onto an unshadowed part of
the beach.

"New storyline, Omegas, and you're in it.  No room in the story for lazy
immortals either.  Have fun!"  The author began to fade away.

"Hey, wait, I'm sorry I shouted!  I want to stay retired!  Come back!"  But
the other was gone.  Omegas stomped up and down the beach.  "Damn!"
Suddenly, he felt his molecules dissolving in a wash of silver light and he
was swept away out of Netherspace...


Meanwhile, two figures are madly running down a hallway, being pursued by
the some militant Time Agents, who were marching up and down the corridors
in groups of five, superiors shouting directions, all the Ensigns wearing
freshly-pressed uniforms, and raising their knees high as they scoured Time
Central in a well-organized search pattern.

The two figures are G.X.P. Varnyloop LXVIII, the Name-Maker, and 4T5, a
janitorial robot with the 8VTM option, who is currently lugging a box with
him.  They are running because (a) the Time Agents want to kill at least
one of them, and (b) they would rather escape than let this happen. "Put
down the box, why don't you?" asked the blue-skinned G.X.P. as he and 4T5
paused peered around a corner.

4T5 regarded his box of rocks with his photoreceptors seriously.  "It is my
collection, essentially of minerals and other vital ores.  It is very
important to me."

G.X.P. sighed.  Hours ago, he had awoken in the medical wing of Time
Central with a very bad headache.  He remembered nothing of the claims that
he was a Time Ensign who had betrayed Time Central to the DestructionVax5
computer (an old plot which happily irrelevant to the current story), but
easily surmised that the angry Time Agents wanted to lynch him for it.
Escaping, he hid in a janitor's closet, where he met 4T5, a janitorial
robot who dreamed of becoming a Time Agent.  The robot explained that he
could not, however, because robots are not allowed to enter the Academy
unless their fathers attended.  Which was a rather difficult feat to
accomplish, even in the muddled SFSTORY universe.

But G.X.P. makes his living by Naming people, that is, giving them new
names and lives simply by declaring it to be so.  This talent is half
advertising hype and half re-adjustment of Reality within legal the limits.
So, in return for directing him to the spaceship hanger, G.X.P. had named
4T5 "Time Agent 4T5, the first robotic Time Agent."

"I say it's a bunch of useless rocks," Varnyloop growled as they ran to the
next intersection.

"Do you say that in the same way you say that I am a Time Agent?" asked the

"Yes!  No!  I'm expressing my opinion, not Naming them!"

"It is difficult to tell sometimes," commented 4T5.  "They do not impede my
progress significantly.  I am only using two of my eight grasping limbs, and
as an automation, I do not tire.  I shall make an excellent Time Agent."

"Eight grasping limbs?"

"Yes, I am fully armed."

"Speaking of it, do you happen to have any weaponry on you?"

"I have my scrubbing pad," 4T5 replied, a whirring circle of brushes
appearing from his right leg.  "It would only be useful at short range,

"We keep running past these telechronal blaster depots.  I wonder if we
could open one..."  They ran to the next one.  Three blasters were isolated
behind shatter-proof glass, cushioned in red foam.  There was a handprint
lock next to it.  As the march of hostile feet approached, G.X.P. tried it.

"Access denied," a pleasant computer voice told him.  He swore.


Omegas's molecules reformed on what looked like a stage with six circles
set on it.  A console of some sort was in front of the stage.  He recognized
it instantly, having spent ten years of his immortal life doing nothing but
watching syndicated reruns from that silly little planet Earth.  "Hey, wow,
it's the Enterprise!  And I just got beamed up to it!"  Omegas thought that
this was perhaps not such a bad storyline to get stuck in, even if not the
most original.  He'd head up to the bridge and rap with Captain Kirk, and
have a heated (but most logical) debate with Mr. Spock (which he would win).
He left the transporter room.

Riding the turbolift, Omegas wondered that he hadn't seen any crewmen yet,
but maybe it was night time on the ship.  The doors opened, and he stepped
out on to the bridge.  Much to his disappointment, Kirk was not there.
Spock was not there.  No one was there.  He scratched his head in
puzzlement, and removed his sunglasses, leaving them to dangle from his
neck.  Odd.  Thinking of it, it was odd that he hadn't been picked up as an
alien intruder.  What could be going on?

He went to the command chair and activated the intercom.  "Ahem.  Is there
anybody there?  An alien has penetrated to the bridge and you should come do
something about it, real quick."  He waited for the alarms to go off.  They
didn't.  Omegas ran from the bridge.  He went to engineering.  He went to
sick bay.  No one, but no one, was on the starship.

Suddenly, it hit him.  "I know!  It's like that time Captain Kirk is beamed
to a duplicate of the Enterprise, built on some planet's surface!  Of course
there's no one on board.  And, if memory serves, this planet was a paradise!
Well, I can deal with this in short order!"  He walked to a wall which
diagrams indicated was the outer hull.

Full of hedonistic thoughts of pleasure, Omegas called on his powers and
blasted a whole through the wall.  But instead of walking out into a
tropical paradise (which the planet from that episode wasn't anyway), he was
sucked into the vacuum of space from a starship travelling at warp seven.






Find out next time, in the new SFSTORY!

***** Received 23:07:43 on 12/19/89, Posting #     4 *****
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