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Story [various] The Secret Diary of Walter Mitty Jr. (Diary Challenge 2013 - 3/1 - 99 Bottles of Beer)

Discussion in 'Non Star Wars Fan Fiction' started by Lazy K, Jan 1, 2013.

  1. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/23/13: Sneezed through most of today. Ah-choo.

    Walter Mitty Jr. sat shackled in a chair, trying to keep his mind calm. Two things made this impossible: first-hand knowledge of what Inquisitors could do to suspected heretics, and the overwhelming stench coming from Balava Doorp's armpits.

    "So," Doorp said from behind him, "you were the spy in our midst. I never would have guessed you were a Yellow."

    Several pairs of Doorp's hands gripped the chair's frame. Walter felt the Inquisitor's breath on his ear. This close, you could almost make out each individual underarm odor. It said a lot about Walter's state of mind that he found this preferable to the interrogation.

    "The Book states that the universe was created inside the nose of the Great Green Arkleseizure. Do you deny this?"

    "N - no," Walter stammered.

    "The Book also states that the universe was sneezed out when its expanding borders tickled the sinuses of the Great Green Arkleseizure. Do you deny this?"

    "No," Walter answered.

    "And the Book clearly states that the End shall be upon us with the Coming of the Great White Handkerchief. Do you deny this?"

    The rational part of Walter's mind wanted to scream no. It was just words, after all. Did it matter what he said as long as he believed in the truth?

    And yet -

    "'s yellow," he muttered.

    Doorp slapped him. Since the natives of Viltvodle VI had anywhere from fifty to seventy arms each, this went on for quite some time. When he was done, Walter felt like he'd been taken through the gauntlet.

    "You are mistaken," Doorp said softly. "The Handkerchief is White. Only fools, infidels, and foreigners believe otherwise." He sighed. "You have been careless, my friend. You should have repeated the Litany after each interrogation. Only the truth can drive out the lies they try to implant in our minds."

    "But . . . it's yellow."

    "Only because heretics have stained it. But don't worry. We will make it pure once more."
  2. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/24/13: Worked an extra hour today so I won't have to work as much on Saturday. Still have to work, though . . .

    Walter Mitty Jr. looked upon the garbage heap and wanted to scream.

    "It's not fair," he told his partner. "We worked hard all summer gathering food. So why is it that we have to work hard all winter getting rid of this?"

    His partner was a giant worker ant whom Walter had become friends with over the past few months. That is to say, he thought they were friends. What went on in the ant's mind was a mystery.

    "I mean, look at all this!"

    He made a sweeping gesture with his arm. The ant followed its movement for a while, then went back to carrying the trash out of the colony without a single word of complaint. Or any other word, actually.

    Right, he thought. So it's no use trying to appeal to proletariat solidarity with a creature evolved for labor. Right.

    He squatted down and poked at what appeared to be a walnut shell the size of his head. Beside it was a rat skull, only rats didn't grow this big. If he ever came across one of these in the ants' tunnels, he would be lunch.

    "What am I doing here," he muttered.

    He vaguely remembered a life among his own species. He recalled, with some difficulty, becoming thoroughly disillusioned with whatever he had chosen for his career. He had craved the simplicity of a life in the country, away from the hypocrisy of civilization.

    How he'd ended up as a worker in a giant ant colony was definitely a puzzle. Possibly he'd been drunk at the time.
  3. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/25/13: Friday? Can't be Friday because I have to work tomorrow. Therefore it's still Thursday. QED.

    It happened too quickly for the human - or even superhuman - mind to react. One moment, the bicycles were lined up outside the supermarket in a neat, orderly fashion; the next, there was a hideous tangle of metal, plastic, and rubber in the parking lot.

    Walter Mitty Jr. stood frozen in place, his hand still gripping his bicycle's handle bar. Unfortunately, the rest of the bicycle was on the ground with the others.

    "My God, what a mess!" someone cried out.

    "How will we ever get this straightened out?" another asked plaintively.

    "If only he were here!" several others chorused.

    Walter could only stand and stare, helpless in his tights and cape. The power to bend steel with his bare hands was useless without the knowledge of how they were supposed to be shaped. The only thing his X-ray vision told him was that it would be simpler to sell the remains as scrap metal. And no amount of super speed would separate his bicycle from the rest.

    I should have flown instead, he thought bitterly.

    "Look! It's him!"

    There was a small cascade of sonic booms as heads snapped around to see a living legend: Bicycle Repair Man, the only man in the world blessed with the ability to fix broken bicycles with his own hands. But there was no mistaking the grimness in his eyes as he took in the scene of carnage.

    "Thank God you're here, Bicycle Repair Man! Can you fix these bicycles?"

    Bicycle Repair Man's brows furrowed. "Tricky," he said. "It would be easier to cut them apart and weld them back together, you know?"

    There was horror in the gathered faces as they considered this. "But our heat vision is too intense for welding! It would boil the metal instead of fusing it together!"

    "And we lack the accuracy for such a precision job!"

    "If only she were here!"
  4. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/26/13: Forgot to set alarm clock again. Almost didn't make it on time.

    Walter Mitty Jr. sat on a bench by the finish line, wondering where the hare was.

    "Shouldn't he be here already?" he asked. According to his watch, it was ten minutes to noon. Sure the rabbit wasn't a long distance runner, but this wasn't a full marathon, for goodness sake.

    "Maybe he's taking the time to smell the roses," the cow replied from the other end of the bench. "Or eating them."

    "Lucky him, then. Wish I brought a sandwich."

    He checked the time again. The old saying about a watched pot came to his mind and he wondered if it applied to clocks as well. So would time come to a stop if I kept staring at my watch? Or would it just become broken while time goes on?

    His stomach growled in not-so-silent protest. He turned to the cow and said, "I'm going to go grab a bite. Do you mind covering for me?"

    She looked at him with sleepy eyes. "Sorry. I feel a nap attack coming on."

    Walter's eyes dropped to the ground, then followed the road as it stretched out over the hill. He'd been telling himself that the rabbit would come running down the hill any minute now for the last hour or so. He was starting to think it would be dark before anything happened.

    "I don't suppose you'd be willing to trot on over and see what's going on?"

    The cow raised an eyebrow at him while chewing her cud. Walter felt a stab of murderous envy at this, but chose to remain silent.

    I never should have volunteered to be the judge . . .
  5. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/27/13: Slept through most of the day. Apparently my body isn't made for working six days a week.

    The courtroom was in an uproar. The Queen was screaming at the top of her lungs. Her soldiers ran about breathlessly, so intent on doing something that they weren't actually doing anything. A fight had broken out among the jurors over the ownership of the tarts. The bailiffs, unsure of how to deal with the chaos, had begun a systematic suppressing of everyone they could stuff into canvas bags.

    In the middle of it all, Walter Mitty Jr. sat bemused, wondering when he was going to wake up.

    There was no doubt in his mind that this was just a dream. If nothing else, the fact that a small girl had suddenly grown in size and then disappeared in a shower of card soldiers was solid proof that this could not be real.

    "Come on, Walter," he told himself. "Wake up!"

    But he didn't. No matter how many times he slapped himself, he remained trapped inside this dream.

    He glanced up and saw several beings being hauled away by soldiers. As far as he could tell, they consisted of the Knave, two witnesses, a lawyer, several jurors, and an unlucky soldier who had stumbled into the Queen.

    "I need to get out of here," he muttered. For the last few minutes, the Queen had said, "Off with his head!" left and right without a pause. It was only a matter of time before Walter came to her attention.

    "Sorry," he said as he elbowed a fellow spectator out of his way. "Excuse me. Sorry about that . . ."

    He had reached the aisle when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around and saw a mouse pointing down at her tail, which was beginning to swell where Walter had stepped on it.

    "Look, I'm sorry I -" he managed to get out before the mouse tackled him, squeaking loud curses as she did so.

    Walter flailed about wildly, trying desperately to grab something so he could remain upright. All he succeeded in doing, however, was pulling a large centipede down with him.

    This would be a good time to wake up, he thought. Then he looked up from the floor to see a soldier glaring down at him. A very good time . . .
  6. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/28/13: Last night - or possibly this morning - my brother and his wife had a baby. Welcome to the world, kiddo.

    Walter Mitty Jr. didn't know which was stranger - that he was talking to a three-foot-tall bipedal frog, or that he was becoming used to it.

    Then again, compared to some of the really weird things that went on in this theater, a frog as a showrunner was downright normal.

    "So, Walter," the frog said, "I hear you got a new nephew."

    "Yes," he replied. "My brother's second kid. He hasn't told me his name yet. Say, you have a nephew too, right?"

    The frog nodded. "Robin."

    "How old is he now? Four?"

    "Five, actually. It seems like only yesterday, you know? They grow up so fast these days."

    "Yeah, I know the feeling. So what was he like as a tadpole?"

    In the silence that followed, you could have heard a pin drop.

    "Uh, Kermit? Did you -"

    "I heard you," the frog answered. There was more than a touch of frost to his voice. "You do realize that this is a family-friendly show, right?"

    "Of course!"

    "Then I'll thank you to leave certain topics off the air."

    Walter frowned, clearly lost at sea. "But I only asked -"

    "Yes, and since you're a human, I'll let it go. This time."

    "Is it the word? How about polly-"

  7. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/29/13: Aside from his name, no update on the nephew. No news is good news, right?

    "So you're the new guy? Nice to meet you. I'm Walter Mitty Jr."

    The Asian took Walter's hand and shook it. There was a firmness to his grip that suggested he had practised this before coming abroad.

    "I am glad to meet you, too, Mr. Mitty. My name is Hayashi."

    There was a pause in which Walter went over Hayashi's words and realized that something was missing.

    "Hayashi, huh? Is that a first or last name?"

    A puzzled look crossed Hayashi's face. You could almost see the Japanese/English glossary scrolling past his glasses. "It is my family name," he said at last.

    "So what's your first?"

    "First? Excuse me, I do not understand."

    "Um, your first name? Given name, Christian - hold on, you're probably Buddhist. Scratch that. What do people call you when they get to know you better?"

    "Oh, you mean what is my nickname? They used to call me Professor back in Japan." With a practiced move he put his right middle finger to the bridge of his glasses and gave it a quick upward push.

    "Um, no. Not that."

    Hayashi frowned. The puzzled look was evolving into a perplexed one. "I do not understand."

    "Um you have - you don't have a middle name, right? So you have two names, and Hayashi is one of them. I want to know the other one."

    "Do you wish to know if I have an alias?"

    "No. I mean - uh, do you know what a full name is? Please say yes."

    "Yes, of course I do."

    Walter let out a sigh of relief. "Okay, I want to know the part of your full name that isn't Hayashi. Please?"

    Hayashi blinked. Every part of him seemed to shout Then why didn't you say so? The only part that didn't was his mouth, which said, "Oh, I see. My - first name? - is Jugemu Jugemu Goko-no surikire Kaijarisuigyo-no Suigyomatsu Unraimatsu Furaimatsu Kuunerutokoro-ni Sumutokoro Yaburakoji-no burakoji Paipopaipo Paipo-no-shuringan Shuringan-no Gurindai Gurindai-no Ponpokopi-no Ponpokona-no Chokyumei-no Chosuke."

    "I think," Walter said slowly, "I'll just call you Hayashi. To save time."
  8. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/30/13: Found I had a hole in my pants pocket when my keys slid down to my socks. There's probably a god for this sort of thing.

    It was flat, black, and round. This was what they knew before studying the object. And, after a week of extensive research, this was still pretty much all they knew.

    "It's a hole," Walter Mitty Jr. told the violinist. "It's not a hole in anything, just a circle where something isn't. You can pick it up, put it in your pocket, stick it wherever you like . . . It doesn't make any sense, really."

    The violinist raised her eyebrows. "Does it have to?"

    "Yes," Walter snapped. Then he shrugged and said, "Well, actually, no. But it would help."

    The hole had been instrumental - pardon the pun - in the counterattack against the Blue Meanies. There was even talk of putting up a statue in its honor, though God only knew what it would look like.

    Walter poked his hand in it and waggled his fingers. At least, he felt his fingers waggling. Presumably, somewhere in the world a hand was sticking out of nowhere. He didn't have the courage to put his head in it yet. Maybe after a couple of drinks . . .

    The violinist went around to the other side to have a look. Walter knew that it was just as black and just as bewildering. Perhaps even more so, given that you could put things in the hole from either end.

    "Hello!" the violinist shouted. Then she waited for an echo that didn't come. "I guess it must be very deep."

    "Extremely. There doesn't seem to be a limit on how much you can put in." He very carefully didn't mention all the things that had gone in the hole before they realized there was no way of getting them back again. At least, not until someone went in with a rope tied around their middle.

    "is this the only one you have?"

    "I'm afraid so. We've been discussing an expedition to the Sea of Holes, only no-one knows where it is."
  9. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/31/13: Nothing. Except that I actually kept this diary going for an entire month. Pretty astounding, considering my usual track record.

    Walter Mitty Jr. stood on top of the cliff, his pen poised defiantly over his notebook. In the distance he saw dark clouds churning wildly as they were swallowed up by the Nothing.

    "I don't think this will work, Walter," the sand slug said.

    "It will," Walter replied. "Trust me."

    "Are you sure?"

    "Yes. Absolutely, positively sure."

    The sand slug peered at him skeptically. "I hope you're right."

    So do I, Walter thought. Because truthfully, he didn't have a clue whether or not his crazy idea would work.

    It had seemed so obvious when he'd first thought of it. Fantastica was the realm of human fantasy and imagination. The Nothing was an entity that came into being when the cynicism in the world became self-propagating. Therefore it was necessary to push the level of disbelief back below the critical threshold. As an aspiring writer with an overactive imagination, Walter felt that he was uniquely qualified for the task.

    It was too bad, then, that nobody else did.

    "I think we should go back," the sand slug suggested. "You know, let Atreyu save Fantastica. It's his quest, remember? And besides, we're no heroes."

    "Atreyu isn't here right now."

    "That's because he has more sense than to try and face off an avalanche of total nonexistence!"

    Walter took his eyes off the disturbing horizon to give his companion a stern look. "Haven't you ever heard it said that the only thing required for evil to win is for good people to stand back and do nothing?"

    The sand slug looked away. "I'm no hero," he said. "I get wobbly telling the waiter to bring me a spoon. And maybe you haven't heard that discretion is the better part of valor."
  10. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/1/13: Working eleven-hour days because Someone Up There bit off almost more than we can chew. Those famous words keep echoing in my head: would you rather not have a job?

    When Walter Mitty Jr. woke up that morning, Glenda had already left for work. His breakfast was waiting for him on the kitchen table, his luggage by the front door.

    Not even a note to say good-bye, he thought.

    It was no secret that their relationship had turned sour ages ago. It wasn't his fault his job took him away from Earth for months at a time. And it wasn't her fault that she found it difficult to relate to someone who was stuck in relativistic time dilation. The only reason they were still together was because it would be too much trouble to file a divorce.

    He tried to remember what it was like when they'd first met. He tried to remember being in love with her. He still was, actually. Unfortunately, the Glenda he still loved was the woman he met twelve years ago. Since then, two subjective years had passed for him. It might as well have been forever.

    Breakfast was a simple sandwich of tomatoes, cheese, and whatever was left over from last night. The bread was different from what he was used to. So was the butter.

    Everything changes, Walter, he told himself. Get used to it.

    Except it was impossible. The human body may be able to withstand traveling at a respectable fraction of the speed of light, but the human mind wasn't. Even at the best of times, it had difficulty accepting that time passed for other people, too. Thus it always came as a shock when he came back and found Glenda looking older than she should.

    Of course, the last could be attributed to psychological strains. But that was a can of worms Walter had no intention of opening.
  11. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/2/13: Slept through most of today - though I may have been dreaming it.

    It was dark, hot, and steamy. A shame then, that Walter Mitty Jr. didn't have a girlfriend with him.

    But he wasn't alone. He had seen glimpses of someone who was always just out of sight. He had heard footsteps and a shrill screeching that was like having fingernails raked across his eardrums.

    He didn't need anyone to tell him that this was a dream. Or rather, a nightmare. And a notoriously famous one, at that . . .

    He turned a corner and almost screamed as he bumped into a small girl. Then she started to scream, stopping only because Walter clamped a hand over her mouth.

    "Quiet," he whispered urgently. "He'll hear you."

    "Who will?" she asked when Walter removed the hand.

    "You know. Him."

    "Him who?"

    Walter rolled his eyes. This was the Age of the Internet, for crying out loud! Surely even a little girl like her would know about the man with the burned face.

    Unless, of course, she was just a figment of his unconscious mind, mirroring something from one of the films.

    "A bad man," Walter told her. "A very bad man who does terrible things to children." And probably adults, too, he added silently. He came back for Nancy, didn't he?

    He looked down into her eyes and saw fear. He wasn't sure what scared her more, the unseen bad man or Walter himself. But she wasn't trying to run away from him. And thank the gods she wasn't screaming.

    "Stay with me," he said. "I'll keep you safe." And if he gets you, it'll be over my dead body. Literally.

    Two, three, Freddy's coming for me . . .
  12. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/3/13: The clock in my bedroom stopped. That is to say, it got stuck at 3:24 because the batteries are too weak to push the second hand up against the pull of gravity. Didn't Einstein have something to say about that?

    The clock was ticking. Against all logic and common sense, the clock was still ticking.

    Walter Mitty Jr. gave the drooping pocket watch a suspicious glare as the second hand continued to tick its way around the watch's face. "How is this possible?" he asked.

    Henry McAdam shrugged. "Beats me. Offhand, I'd say it's because Sal knows that mechanical watches tick."

    "But it's bent ninety degrees! There's no way the cogs could fit together, let alone function properly!"

    "Not everyone's like you, Walter. I mean, Sal might have been convinced a tiny imp was inside, peddling a bicycle to keep the hands moving."

    It said a lot about Walter that he actually considered this possibility before dismissing it. "No. We aren't living in the Dark Ages. Magical event horizon or not, nobody can be that technologically illiterate."

    "Whatever you say. Laura! Did you find anything?"

    This was directed at Laura Smith, the last member of their trio, who was bent down at the sea shore about thirty yards away. She glanced up, shook her head, and went back to whatever she was studying.

    "Look on the bright side," he told Walter. "At least we don't have to worry about being attacked by monsters in the closet."

    "Easy for you to say," Walter grumbled. "You're not the one who was ambushed by a ten-foot-tall trenchcoat. I still have nightmares."

    "You knew the dangers going in. Or weren't you paying attention during the briefing?"

    "The director mentioned a boogyman under the bed. Which I stayed clear of."

    Henry rolled his eyes. "Monsters are monsters. And just because we can't see them doesn't mean the dreamer isn't aware of them. Which means they can exist. Have you considered going back for remedial training?"


    "Walter, I know it's none of my business, but - Holy Moses, will you look at that!"

    Walter turned around and saw Laura lifting up the sea water at the shoreline as if it were a carpet. Underneath, various fishes were flopping around, apparently caught unaware by this turn of events.

    "Okay," Walter said, in the steady tones of someone who doesn't want to set off the avalanche. "You may be right. Sal's grasp of reality may not be as firm as I thought."
  13. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/4/13: Apparently my insane workload comes from too many people ordering Toyota's newest car. Why can't they buy bicycles instead? *grumbles*

    Walter Mitty Jr. had been studying the menu for the better part of an hour when his stomach growled its disapproval at his indecisiveness. Hurry up and order something already, it seemed to be saying. Anything will do.

    "Uh, Miss?" he said.

    The waitress leaned over the counter and smirked. "Yes? Finally figured out what you want?"

    Walter chose to ignore the sarcasm in her voice. "I was wondering, what's the special today?"

    "That would be the gasoline salad. A gorgeous spread of lettuce, cucumbers, and cauliflower topped with bacon bits and high-octane fuel. Not only is it delicious, they change the oil in your dressing every six hundred miles!"

    "Sounds good. But where's it from? Texas, Alaska, Arab . . . ?"

    She leaned closer and said in a conspiratory whisper, "I'm not supposed to tell you this, but - it's Japanese. Some genetic wiz-kid mixed up a batch of E. coli that makes pure gasoline."

    "No way!" Walter cried. "If that's true, then it would be all over the news."

    "Oh, it's true all right. The only reason it hasn't gone public is because the Japanese government put a lid on it."

    Walter raised an eyebrow in his best Spock impression. "And your boss found out about it how?"

    "They were roommates in college. Real close, if you know what I mean."

    "I'm sure I don't want to. Do you have something closer to home? And approved by the FDA?"

    The waitress shrugged. "Well, there's always the kerosene soup. But I have to warn you, it's pretty close to the sell-by date."

    "I'll take my chances."
  14. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/5/13: Some days I get the feeling humans exist to service the machines. Domo arigatto Mr. Roboto . . .

    Walter Mitty Jr. hated having to check the sentry alarms. The magnetic sensors could run for years without a recharge. It would take more than an inconvenient insect to make it glitch. There was even a failsafe built in that would send an error message should anything go wrong with its systems. So basically, he didn't need to expose himself to Skynet's orbital eyes every week to make a visual check.

    Still, orders were orders. And besides, everyone knew you couldn't trust a machine.

    "What we should do," he told the third and, in his mind, most reliable member of his team, "is let you and Yoshi and Rover have a wild orgy with the lady dogs. Be fruitful and multiply and be a early warning system for us humans. What do you think, Krypto?"

    The doberman gave him a short yap that could have meant anything.

    "See, Wilkins? Krypto agrees with me."

    Bob Wilkins rolled his eyes. "Of course he agrees with you. So would we, if they ordered us to go on a sex spree."

    "I guess. But the concept's sound. More hounds, less machines."

    "Mitty, do you have any idea how long it takes to train these mutts? And how much they eat?"

    "But wouldn't they be worth it?"

    Wilkins took out his binoculars and scanned the skies for hostiles. "Try convincing the bean counters that. Not that we have that many beans these days."
  15. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/6/13: Was asked, at the end of an eleven-hour work day, if I could do another half hour of overtime. Sure, it's not like I have anything else to do with my time . . .

    When Walter Mitty Jr. heard of Charlie going bonkers, his first thought was Great, more overtime for the rest of us.

    It happened all the time, really. Someone would fail to show up for work due to sickness, family emergency, train bombing, or just getting sick and tired of it all and quitting, and the others would be shuffled around to take up the slack. And since you couldn't take on another task without proper training - an hour, if you were lucky - that meant more work for everyone else.

    "Why couldn't he have waited another day?" he complained to Lawrence as they worked. "At least we'd get a weekend before things got crazy. You think he did it on purpose?"

    Lawrence would have shrugged if the assembly line had permitted such gestures. The last time he'd tried, seven widgets had gone past without clamping. They'd had to stop the machine for an entire ten minutes so they could get to the widgets before they left for the next step.

    Later that day, their boss had come down from his office to yell at Lawrence. Then his boss descended from whatever heaven he usually occupied in an attempt to boost morale which, both of them agreed, was worse than the shouting. And then the accountants from Finance had paid Lawrence a visit, using flow charts and diagrams to explain just how much damage his moment of carelessness had caused the company and how he and his family would suffer for all eternity for his sin.

    Needless to say, Lawrence had been extra careful since then.
  16. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/7/13: Malfunctions, human errors, just plain bad luck - sometimes it seems like a miracle that things work without exploding.

    "Mega-Scuttler Corporation help desk, how may I help you?"

    "I have a bomb that won't go off."

    "Is is a product of Mega-Scuttler Corporation?"

    "Dunno. I think so. Let me check . . . yes. It is."

    "Thank you for purchasing a Mega-Scuttler detonating device," Walter Mitty Jr. read from a thick manual. "We value your feedback which allows us to keep Mega-Scuttler Corporation at the forefront of explosive technology. What is your bomb's name?"

    A muffled conversation could be heard through Walter's headset. "It says it doesn't have a name because it's so very happy to be at my service. Does that help?"

    It did. Walter's finger ran down the list of reasons the bomb is nameless until he found the relevant indexing number, then flipped to that page. "I believe you have purchased the Party Favor, model 34-L. Please wait for the optimizers to run."

    He hit the mute button and waited the twenty-three seconds required by the current Head of Management.

    "Thank you for your patience. What is the precise nature of your problem?"

    "It won't blow up."

    Of course it is, Walter thought. This is the help desk for a hideously rich bomb manufacturer, you know . . .
  17. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/8/13: Cold. I shouldn't be surprised, but I am.

    Walter Mitty Jr. woke up one morning to find his driveway buried under three feet of snow. Not that it mattered, actually, because the roads were also buried as far as he could see.

    He turned on the radio and listened to the morning news as he ate breakfast. According to the announcer, more than half the city was in a similar condition. The snowplows that should have been at work before dawn hadn't been because their ethanol-based engines wouldn't start. This, the radio claimed, was proof that technology was unreliable. The fact that the city had switched last year from gasoline to ethanol due to "environmental concerns" was never mentioned.

    "Figures," Walter grumbled. "Damned doublethinking politicians."

    His friends at work had laughed derisively when the change had been announced. "Still, it's genius," Allen Moore had said. "This way they appease both the environmentalists and closet technophiles. A pure win-win scenario."

    Except now the streets were unsafe for driving. Which, Walter had to admit, would lead to less burning of fuel. And thus Mother Earth is saved from technophilic ravaging once more. Hurrah.

    He wondered if he should call the office. But nobody would be there to answer the phone except maybe the security guard, and he probably had his hands full with his own problems right now.

    The sound of laughter made him look out the window, where a couple of kids were running, falling down, throwing snowballs at each other - they seemed genuinely happy that their world had turned into a snowball.

    "The weather outside is frightful," Walter sang in a low voice. "Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow . . ."
  18. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/9/13: Slept. Damn good things I have no social life, or I would be extremely ticked off by now.

    When Walter Mitty Jr. woke up from his artificial state of hibernation, it came as quite a shock to find that nothing had changed.

    "But it's been a hundred years!" he protested.

    "Yes," Dr. Washburn said. "However, due to advances in medical science, people live longer - much longer - than when you went into cryosleep. But other than that, technology has plateaued. People don't want things to change, you see."

    Walter frowned. "I did. That's why I had myself frozen. I wanted to see what the future was going to be like."

    Dr. Washburn's smile was a mixture of sympathy and irony. "In that case, Mr. Mitty, welcome to the future. I'm sorry it doesn't live up to your expectations."

    "Oh well . . . at least I made sure I wouldn't have to worry about money." Walter said, then stopped when he saw the expression on the cryogenics expert's face. "Please tell me the trust fund hasn't run out."

    "It hasn't," Dr. Washburn assured him. "But on the other hand, well . . ."


    "Taxes have gone up. Prices have gone up. Interest rates haven't. The bottom line, I'm afraid, is that right now you're worth more as a living specimen."

    "Oh. Is that tax deductible?"

    "The cryo laws are vague on that subject," Dr. Washburn admitted.

    "That means no, I guess."

    "I'm afraid so."
  19. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/10/13: Kept going in and out of sleep. Played video games in between. And tomorrow is a Monday. Hurrah.

    There are times when you want to believe that you are still asleep in bed and that, in fact, your life has been a long, continuous dream since that unfortunate decision you made in college.

    Constable Walter Mitty Jr. had been telling himself to Wake up, for God's sake! for the last few hours.

    Ever since they'd learned of the Pirate King's raid, the Sergeant had been crafting plan after useless plan to defeat this fierce, well-weaponed foe. It didn't help that his best tactic was to "slap our chests and sing". And while it may have been true that there was nothing to bring them 'round like the trumpet marshal's sound, those buglers were nowhere in sight.

    Walter gave his truncheon a long, hard stare. It was eighteen inches of solid oak that could dish out pure misery to any miscreants who were too drunk, meek, or stupid to fight back.

    "What use are these things against swords, spears, and muskets?" he asked in a purely rhetorical fashion.

    His superior officer, Corporal O'Reily, gave him a resigned shrug. "Maybe they'll laugh themselves to death. Cheer up, Mitty. At least we'll go out as heroes."

    "I'd rather stay alive as a coward, sir."

    "And what kind of life is that? A coward dies a thousand deaths, eh?"

    "So long as I'm alive till the next death, I don't think I give a damn. Sir."

    This earned him a snigger from the rest of the squad. The Corporal didn't even bother to reprimand them for their poor attitude. In a way, this made it worse.

    "I want a happy ending," Walter muttered under his breath.
  20. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/11/13: I keep buying books and games that I don't have the time for. I do it to relieve the stress at work, but how do I cope with the stress of unread books?

    "A hundred and fifty big ones? Are you crazy?"

    "Nope," the salesman - if that was what he truly was - said. His eyes were hidden behind optic goggles, but it didn't take a genius to figure out that they were the color of greed. "Crazy is what you are for turning down the opportunity of a lifetime."

    Walter Mitty Jr. raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Yeah, sure. To buy a weapon they'll throw you in jail just for owning."

    "That's where you're wrong. With the RYNO, you don't need to worry about getting nabbed. And even if you are, a blast from this baby will set you free."

    "And how am I supposed to fire a gun they've confiscated?"

    The salesman waved this inconvenient fact aside. "Only way they'll take the RYNO away from you is over a mountain of bodies."

    Walter gave the weapon another covetous look. Yes, it had an outrageous price. Yes, owning it was illegal. And yes, pure overkill was the only term that even began to describe it in any acceptable fashion.

    But he had to have it. Even if he had to sell his mother and firstborn son, he had to have it.

    "Do you give cash discounts?" he asked weakly.
  21. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/12/13: Machines break down. This is inevitable. Doesn't keep me from getting mad when they do, though.

    For quite some time, Walter Mitty Jr. had been convinced the machines at work were out to get him. For example, he was sure the time clock ran early when he punched in and late when he punched out. The air conditioner always took a minimum of five minutes before it actually started working. The machines at his workspace waited until five minutes before the end of the work day to start exhibiting glitches.

    And now his cell phone had turned into a mechanical insect that was bristling with weapons.

    He peered out over the top of the desk and was greeted by gunfire. One bullet actually struck his glasses, creating a spiderweb of cracks.

    It's a good thing it only has miniature guns, he thought as he ducked back down. Otherwise we'd be dead by now.

    "What happened?" Roland Nesmith asked from the floor. Then he saw the state of Walter's glasses and said, "Oh. Not good, huh?"

    "No. Not good at all." Walter hooked his fingers around the frame and pushed at the fractured lens with his thumbs until it came out. When he put the glasses back on, he saw an overlapping image of two worlds, one in focus and the other blurred. But it was better than trying to see through the cracks.

    "Why is this happening?" Roland asked.

    Walter shrugged. "Beats me. Maybe Mother Nature decided to go cyberpunk."

    He rummaged through the desk drawer and found a ruler. When he stuck it up over the top of the desk, it was immediately shot full of holes.

    "I wonder why it doesn't fly over," he mused.

    "Shhh!" Roland hissed. "Don't give it ideas!"
  22. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/13/13: Just one of those days. Amused myself pretending to be an "independent organic component". Which may well be true aside from the independent bit.

    Walter Mitty Jr. had lost count of the times he had interfaced with a Robotix, but he had yet to get used to it. It was like having pieces of another brain spliced into his own, to become something more than just a human mind in a human body. He felt like he was controlling a body that wasn't his, and that someone was using his brain to think with.

    The techs in white had explained the phenomenon to him in great detail, using words he had been too embarrassed to ask the meanings of. And while each individual sentence made perfect sense, they lost all meaning when taken as a whole.

    As far as he could tell, organic interface had been developed because of the limitations in Protecton technology. Put simply, their AIs weren't good enough to deal with situations outside the laboratory. But living cerebral tissue could be used to augment them, thus enabling computations that were otherwise beyond the AIs' grasp.

    Walter remembered reading somewhere that the average human only used thirty percent of his brain. He wondered how much was used to interface.

    "Are you ready, Walter?" Jordak asked. Due to their cyberorganic link, he "heard" the question in his mind before the Robotix's vocoder actually spoke the words. It was like telepathy, only Jordak's thoughts were dumped into his head as a single block of data. Somehow he had gotten used to it.

    "Always," he replied, both with his mind and his voice. He was still not sure just how sensitive the interface was as a data conduit. Hopefully the threshold on how strong the thoughts had to be before they were transmitted was high. Otherwise he might as well have been broadcasting his feelings for Jen Struve each time she called.

    There was a strange sensation of crouching down before a sprint while sitting perfectly still. Part of him recognized the sound of Jordak's engines gunning.

    "And we're off!" he shouted.
  23. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/14/13: Found out today that a store I used to frequent had gone out of business. Damn.

    Walter Mitty Jr. stood in front of the pile of rubble, wondering what he was doing here.

    This was - used to be - the site of Mushnik's Flower Shop, home of the strange and interesting plant known as Audrey II. The store had been destroyed in an explosion that was reported in the news as an electric fire that had ignited the plant's compost, or possibly a methane buildup inside the plant itself.

    Or something like that. Walter wasn't interested in forensic details.

    He kicked aside a brick, hoping to discover . . . something. He didn't know what he was looking for or what he would do once he found it. He had vague recollections of growing plants from leaf cuttings, but as with most things he knew, he was hazy on the details.

    "Should've come when I could," he muttered.

    God knew he'd had plenty of chances. He worked two blocks away and bought hot dogs from a cart that was usually just around the corner. If he'd taken the time to walk over, he would have had the chance to see the strange and interesting plant that everyone in the office was talking about.

    But now it was gone, maybe forever.

    "Figures. Just my luck."

    His eye caught a piece of green. It turned out to be part of a sign proclaiming that this was the plant and its name was Audrey II. Walter found himself wondering if this would be enough of a souvenir.

    Probably not, he thought.
  24. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/15/13: Took the bus to work because it was raining too hard to commute by bicycle.

    There are some situations in life that nothing will prepare you for. Among them is being trapped inside a crowded bus that is being driven by a circus clown.

    Walter Mitty Jr. had to look twice, the second time after cleaning his glasses, to make sure that there was indeed a clown in the driver's seat.

    What the hell . . . ?

    When he at last tore his eyes off the clown, he noticed that the other passengers were equally strange. A man in scuba gear. A boy with a large stack of pizza boxes. Two men arm wrestling. An honest-to-God bear. And these were the relatively normal ones.

    "That's it," he said. "I'm getting off at the next stop."

    But the view outside the windows had changed from a city street to what appeared to be a tropical rain forest. Vines, moss, and even snakes hung from trees he couldn't recognize. Birds of unbelievable plumage were startled out of the foliage. Walter even caught a glimpse of a tiger, though it disappeared so quickly he might have been imagining it.

    Where the hell am I?

    There was a skidding of brakes as the bus pulled up alongside an ordinary bus stop sign. The bear got off; half a dozen monkeys got in. There weren't enough seats left, but this presented no difficulties to a creature who would rather jump from branch to branch than walk on the ground.

    As the bus began to move, Walter heard a shout. Looking back, he saw a man clad only in a loincloth running after them. The clown driver merely grinned evilly underneath his sad makeup and put the pedal to the metal. An ululating howl rose from the Tarzan wannabe's throat but was drowned out by the monkeys' laughter.

    "I want to go home," he whispered.
  25. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    2/16/13: Checked thumb drives I haven't used in a while. I can't remember what half the files are for.

    When Walter Mitty Jr. clicked on his filk folder, he found Hatsune Miku glaring at him accusingly.

    "Welcome to Vocaloid Editor 2, Insert Name," she said in an emotionless monotone.

    "Um, Miku," Walter stammered. "Look, I know it's been a while, but -"

    She cocked her head to one side. "'Miku'? What is that?"

    "Er, it's your name. And mine is Walter. You do remember who I am, right? You're just playing with me, right?"

    A muscle twitched by Miku's eye as the glare intensified. "I am sorry, but I am not authorized to interact with unregistered users after the trial period is over. If you have forgotten your user name or password, please click the link below."

    "Miku -"

    Walter felt a headache coming on. He had purchased the vocaloid singing voice synthesizer a year ago - or was it two? He rememberd making Miku sing Three Blind Mice as a tribute to Douglas Adams, then Row, Row, Row Your Boat, and then . . .

    That was it, actually. He'd become bored or busy and stopped using the application like he had with so many others over the years. But this was the first time one of them was looking at him like he was something sticky she found on the sole of her shoe.

    "Is it too late to say I'm sorry?" he asked.

    An eyebrow rose. Walter half expected a hidden compartment to open up and start firing missiles at him.

    "Look - I know I was a jerk."

    Was? the eyebrow seemed to say.

    "Okay, so I still am. But I swear I'll make it up to you! I mean, I got all these songs I want you to sing."

    The eyebrow lowered a fraction of an inch. The laser bolts that were not, in reality, shooting out of her eyes seemed to lessen.