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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
    NOTE: Based very loosely on Jamers Thurber's short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Basically, this is the diary of Walter's son, who has the same penchant for daydreaming. Participant in the Diary Challenge 2013.

    The Secret Diary of Walter Mitty Jr.

    December 2012 (a.k.a., the warm-up thread)
    12/27/12: generic military SF
    12/28/12: The Matrix
    12/29/12: Monster Hunter
    12/30/12: Discworld
    12/31/12: The Dark Half

    1/1/13: Cthlhu Mythos
    1/2/13: Tron: Legacy
    1/3/13: Gremlins
    1/4/13: My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
    1/5/13: Sleeping Beauty
    1/6/13: Total Recall (1990)
    1/7/13: Haddock's Eyes from Through the Looking Glass
    1/8/13: The Incredibles
    1/9/13: Astro Fighter Sunred (天体戦士サンレッド)
    1/10/13: Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl
    1/11/13: 9 to 5 Barbarian by Bill Sutton
    1/12/13: Inception
    1/13/13: Paperback Writer by the Beatles
    1/14/13: Real Steel
    1/15/13: Star Trek
    1/16/13: Space Odyssey
    1/17/13: Magic Circle Guru Guru (魔法陣グルグル)
    1/18/13: The Little Prince
    1/19/13: Back to the Future
    1/20/13: District 9
    1/21/13: Spaceballs
    1/22/13: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen
    1/23/13: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
    1/24/13: The Ant and the Grasshopper
    1/25/13: Bicycle Repair Man
    1/26/13: The Tortoise and the Hare
    1/27/13: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
    1/28/13: The Muppet Show
    1/29/13: Jugemu (寿限無)
    1/30/13: Yellow Submarine
    1/31/13: The Neverending Story

    2/1/13: Rocket Man by Elton John and Bernie Taupin
    2/2/13: A Nightmare on Elm Street
    2/3/13: The Persistence of Memory
    2/4/13: The Menu Song written by Tom Lehrer
    2/5/13: Terminator
    2/6/13: Modern Times
    2/7/13: Starship Titanic
    2/8/13: Fallen Angels
    2/9/13: Rip Van Winkle
    2/10/13: The Pirate Movie
    2/11/13: Ratchet & Clank
    2/12/13: Transformers (Michael Bay)
    2/13/13: Robotix
    2/14/13: Little Shop of Horrors
    2/15/13: Another One Rides the Bus by "Weird Al" Yankovic
    2/16/13: Vocaloid
    2/17/13: Akazukin Chacha (赤ずきんチャチャ)
    2/18/13: The Monk at the Leaky Temple (雨もり寺のおしょうさん)
    2/19/13: Antigonish / Halfway Up the Stairs
    2/20/13: The Far Side
    2/21/13: Neko Me-Waku by Izumi Takemoto (ねこめ~わく)
    2/22/13: The Oblongs
    2/23/13: There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
    2/24/13: The Phantom Tollbooth
    2/25/13: Mr. Roboto
    2/26/13: Airplane II: The Sequel
    2/27/13: Speed
    2/28/13: Dragon Quest IV: Chapters of the Chosen

    3/1/13: 99 Bottles of Beer
  2. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/1/13: Played Monster Hunter 3G. Wrote My Little Pony - Dice Quest. A portentous start to the year, eh?

    I do not know how much time I have left [Walter Mitty Jr. wrote]. It is hours since the New Year has arrived, but what meaning does mere mortal chronology have on those from another world? I can only hope that my calculations are wrong, and that I have become delusional with fear.

    I came across the journal in my youth, when I was playing hide-and-seek in the attic. It was in a stack of ancient books, none of which I could read. When I asked my parents, they told me the books belonged to Great Uncle Raymond, a bibliophile who dared not read for fear of damaging his collection. I, on the other hand, had no reluctance, but not knowing what language they were in prevented me from examining them any further. I had other books, all in English and all more suitable for a boy my age.

    Later, in my adolescent years, I remembered the tomes and decided to have another go. With the help of Ms. Hoffman, a librarian of great intellect, I deciphered the titles and found them to be of texts on alchemy and magic. But there was one I could not, a handwritten journal which was decidedly not as old as the rest. The other books did not hold my attention the way this one did; it was enough that I knew what the others were. The journal, on the other hand - the journal was a gateway to hidden secrets.

    Little did I know how accurate my musings were, and how much I would come to regret them.

    I had already ascertained that the journal was not written in any language known to man. However, the pages were filled with a limited variety of pictograms. I decided to trust my intuition that it was merely a letter-substitution cipher, and proceeded to transcribe them into my computer.

    It was long, arduous work, taking up more of my time than I had bargained for. Indeed, I had little time for anything else, and thus earned a reputation as a loner, an asocial nerd, and one that did not even have the decency to do well academically. I must have looked like a madman then, and perhaps I was. It was not unusual for me to work till I dropped from fatigue. I did not bathe regularly, nor did I change clothing. It was only when my parents threatened me with taking the journal away and burning it that I was shocked into something resembling sanity. And in time, I came to forget about the journal and its mysterious contents.

    Many years later, I was transferring the files in my much dated floppy disks to more contemporary forms of memory when I rediscovered the one that held the object of my forgotten obsession. In a fit of whimsy I ran the incomplete data through a decrypt algorithm which, to my great surprise, yielded the key. Due to incredible progress in computer science, deciphering the journal had become a simple matter of scanning the pages and using the decryption program.

    What I read would have been bad science fiction were it not written with total conviction. They spoke of the stars and their gravitational influence on Earth. There was a formula, a mathematical equation that showed when those forces would align in a way to weaken the magnetosphere considerably. Great Uncle Raymond had not been able to solve the equation by hand. All I required was a web search to find a program that could.

    If I am right - and not a day has passed that I have not prayed to God that I am not - then the stars will be aligned just so on the first of January, 2013. I am not the first to know of this; the ancient Mayan calendar was nothing less than a countdown to this terrible date. For on this day, the Earth's magnetic field will cease to fold time and space in a way to imprison He Who Slumbers. And when He awakens, I know not what will befall mankind.

    The bottles I have drunk in increasing quantities this past year no longer have the effect desired. I have resorted to stronger means, to narcotics that would land me in jail if the authorities found out. But I do not care. In fact, it will be a relief to be merely insane and incarcerated than to be utterly, undeniably correct.

    The drugs do not seem to be working. I feel no drowsiness, no euphoria. Only a growing feeling of horror that what I see is actually happening. Outside the window, the sun is rising - but it cannot be, for there is no way the sun can be that shape and color. Dear Lord in Heaven, please let this be a hallucination, for what I see through the window - the hand in the window - the window . . . !
  3. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/2/13: Tried to make IGN to XF redirect add-on. Gave up, googled, found in ten seconds flat. If I could turn back time, or so the song goes . . . *sigh*

    Walter Mitty Jr. looked at the cloud of raw pixels and groaned. "Do we really have to go in there?"

    "Yep," his companion, a program named Grep, said. "'Fraid so. Don't worry, these anti-virus suits should protect us."

    Walter glanced down at his body. No matter how many times he came to the Grid, he could never get used to the colors, or lack thereof. No matter what fans of the old black-and-white films may say, the human body wasn't made to be seen in shades of grey. What made it worse were the strange symbols covering his skin-tight suit and the way they seemed to glow from within. And as for the blue-white glow around him -

    Definitely not Kansas, he thought. He pointed to a spot where the gridbug activity was less pronounced than the rest. "I say we try there."

    "Are you sure?" Grep asked. "They're not swarming as much there. That means there aren't many subroutines for the bugs to break down."

    "I'm sure. Anyway, I don't expect to find Flynn on the first try, especially not this close to the Edge. I just want to test the anti-virus first."

    Grep shrugged. "You're the User."

    "You better believe it," Walter said as confidently as he could. The truth was, however, that Users were no better informed than programs. Less, probably, here inside the Grid. But since they were the Creators, Users were thought to be all-knowing and all-powerful by the programs who inhabited the Grid. Even after he'd gotten to know Walter better, Grep persisted in assuming that Walter had access to some higher wisdom.

    Sooner or later he was going to find out the truth. Walter hoped it was after they found Kevin Flynn, or what was left of him. Because the sad truth was that he would be lost in cyberspace without Grep as his guide. And he had to find Flynn at all costs, because he was the only one who knew how the isomorphic algorithms could be stopped.

    Before they wiped out the Web with copies of themselves.

    "Ready?" Grep asked.

    "Always," Walter replied.

    He held the control stick in front of him and activated it. Within moments the simulation assembled around him, forming the sealed shell of what appeared to be a deep-sea pressure suit.

    "Let's jack in."
  4. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/3/13: Finished reading Darksaber, one more Callista book to go. The bunnies are multiplying . . .

    When Walter Mitty Jr. finally managed to get out of the attic, he was struck by the urge to go back and lock himself in again.

    His house was a wreck. The walls were covered with food, spray paint, crayon doodles, and a brown substance he did not want to know about. Large patches had been cut out of the carpet. Not a single item of furniture had been left intact. The curtains had been torn from their rails. Someone, or rather something, had managed to get the lawnmower inside and ran it all over the living room.

    "Oh God," he said numbly. He'd been told the creatures were troublesome, but he hadn't thought they were capable of this.

    He went downstairs to the basement where he'd put the cage. It was empty, of course. Something had moved it near the work table where he'd put the key. By the looks of it, the gremlin had rocked the cage until it fell over in the right direction, then repeated the process until the cage was rolled close enough for it to reach the key.

    Ray didn't say it was this intelligent, Walter thought. But it must have been, for how else could it lock him in his own attic?

    It occurred to him that the gremlin was probably gone. Anything that was smart enough to use a key wasn't going to have any trouble opening a door. And while explaining to his friend that his pet escaped was nothing to look forward to, he felt relieved that it was out of his hands now.

    "At least it didn't burn the house down," he said, trying to find a bright side.

    Then he realized he'd spoken too soon, because he smelled something burning upstairs. And he heard the fire alarm. And he heard a shriek as the gremlin was drenched by the sprinkler.

    He grinned, but only for a moment. Hadn't he been told not to get it wet? Under any circumstances?

    He ran up the stairs, dreading what he would find. The relevant scene from Wizard of Oz popped into his mind, and the two thoughts Ray's gonna kill me and I'll never get the stain out vied for attention.

    But they needn't have bothered, because there was no green, vaguely gremlin-shaped puddle. Instead he saw Ray's pet and several smaller gremlins. And as he watched with growing horror, more gremlins were sprouting from them in an obscene parody of mitosis.

    His brain must have shut down, because he couldn't think of a way things could get any worse. But he knew they would.
  5. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/4/13: Headache. Sniffles. A slight fever. I think I'm coming down with something. Finished Planet of Twilight. All kinds of funny thoughts run round my head . . .

    Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum. Ba-dum, ba-dum, ba-dum.

    Walter Mitty Jr. looked up from his book with annoyance. In the bed next to his was a sky-blue pegasus with a rainbow mane, bandaged wings, and an expression of total boredom on her face. She also had a ball that she was throwing against the wall on the far side of the room with amazing accuracy; it always bounced back to land in her hoof.

    She must have felt his eyes on her, because the next time she caught the ball, she turned to glare at him. "What?"

    "Nothing," Walter replied. "Nice aim. But your form needs some work."

    She snorted. "Yeah, right. What are you, an expert?"

    "Wellll," he said, extending the word melodramatically, "I don't mean to brag, but I used to be the trainer for the Manehatten Daredevils in the Equestria Wallball League."

    "Never heard of them."

    Walter pantomimed great shock. "What? You never heard of the Daredevils? They were the runners-up for the EWL Championship four years in a row!"

    The pegasus nodded sagely. "Oh, the losers. Yeah. Gotcha. I guess I might have heard of them once or twice."

    "Once or . . ."

    He couldn't hold it any longer and neither could she. They both burst out laughing.

    "So," she said when they could talk again, "what are you in for?"

    "Blood pressure," Walter said. "At least, that's what I came in for. But after they ran some tests they ran some more tests, and then some experts came in, and next thing I know they tell me I have a rare and interesting disease that's completely benign and they can convince the insurance company my policy covers it."

    "Oh. Does it?"

    "Darned if I know. How about you? What are you in for?"

    She glanced over her shoulder at her wings. "Isn't it obvious?"

    "Well yes, but appearances can be deceiving. I mean, you could be here because of acute bouncyballitis."

    "Sure, of course I got a terminal case of . . . whatever you said. If I stop throwing this ball for even a minute, my legs shrivel up and I die."

    As if to accent her claim, she threw and caught the ball with another ba-dum.

    "They bring a trolley around, you know. With puzzles and books and things. They have a very fine selection of books here. Why don't you give it a try?" And stop driving me crazy with that ball, he didn't say.

    The pegasus rolled her eyes at this suggestion. "Me? No way. Books are for eggheads."

    "And you aren't, I take it?"

    "Yep. I'm Rainbow Dash." She paused. "Head of the Ponyville weather team." Another pause. "Rescuer of ponies in distress." A shorter pause. "Coolest pony alive?"

    "Sorry. I'm not from around here." Walter gestured at his body. Two arms, two legs, no tail. It was a definite contrast from the equine nature of, well, everyone else. "And what does that have to do with books?"

    "Book. Egghead. Uncool," she said, slowly and very carefully pronouncing each word. "Get it?"

    "Oh." Walter blinked. "Oh. Uncool. Of course."
  6. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/5/13: Caught up on MLP:FiM episodes. The rabbits are biting, but I need to get to sleep because I have to work tomorrow. On a Sunday. *grumble*

    "So she's the real thing?" the Duke asked for what had to be the hundredth time.

    "Yes, my lord," Walter Mitty Jr. replied. "All the historical records match up with her testimonies."

    "So it's not a case of being brain-dead because she woke up and hasn't had any coffee? Or an actress trying to pull a fast one?"

    "No, my lord. It is not."

    It was all Walter could do not to roll his eyes. The Duke was a powerful man who was used to getting his own way. Even the royal family bowed down to his demands, at least in a figurative sense. But now something had turned up that he couldn't buy, bully, or brush aside.

    "One hundred years!" the Duke cried. "Why couldn't she have slept for, oh, I don't know, one hundred more? And why did he have to believe that crazy story?"

    The individual in question was Prince Lucian, the third son of the present King and Queen and, as such, mostly ignored by courtroom intrigue. Until a week ago it had been everyone's belief, including the prince's, that he would eventually marry the daughter of a rich merchant and finally be of use. Nobody had expected him to come back with a royal princess.

    The main problem was that the princess came from a bloodline that should have been lost forever. After their daughter had been lost to the curse, the king and queen had become increasingly . . . eccentric. They did not have any other children and refused to name an heir. Upon their deaths, the lords and ladies had given the crown to one of their own. There had been a bloody row about who was going to get it, but at the time there were no objections that nobody actually had a right to the throne. All but a few were relieved that the crown would be placed on a sensible head.

    But now the princess had returned. And since she wasn't dead as everyone had assumed, this meant that, technically, she was the rightful heir. Making Lucian the next King.

    "Is there any way of stopping their marriage?" the Duke asked.

    "I doubt it, my lord. I have seen the two of them together and they are quite besotted with each other. Even if, er, some unprincipled person were to turn him into a frog and toss him into the river, she'd have every frog in the kingdom brought to her to kiss." And you would never get away with killing either of them, he thought in the safety of his own mind. Your enemies would pounce on the opportunity to remove you from power.

    "If only it had been one of his brothers!"

    But they both knew that neither prince would have gone near the castle. And even if they had, they would have scoffed at legends of an ever-sleeping princess. The elder princes were sensible young men. The Duke had seen to that. And the youngest prince was a romantic and not sensible at all. The Duke had seen to that, too.

    "It is probably for the best to give up hopes of monopolizing Prince Lucian and his bride-to-be, my lord. Instead, we should focus on the neighboring kingdoms."

    "Yes . . . yes, I suppose so. They're watching us like vultures, you know."

    "And the man who protects the kingdom from such a dangerous threat would be in a position to demand much, my lord."
  7. NYCitygurl

    NYCitygurl Manager Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Jul 20, 2002
    This is quite interesting. Very different than anything else I've ever read.
  8. lazykbys_left

    lazykbys_left Jedi Padawan star 4

    Feb 17, 2005
    NYCitygurl - What this is, actually, is a place to dump ideas for fics I probably won't complete. I fear this is going to spoil me rotten :D

    And to all you lurkers out there: Thanks for reading!
  9. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/6/13: Went to work. On a Sunday. How can so many things go wrong just cold-starting machines? Searched for and found JA books in my old books' graveyard for gift-fic exchange. Plot bunnies, here I come.

    No matter what the atmospheric scan readings showed, it felt wrong to stand on Martian soil without a pressurized suit. And the sky shouldn't be blue. Earth was blue, the color of water. Mars was red, the color of blood. Walter Mitty Jr. had been brought up on the Martian colonies knowing that everything Out There was deadly. Only human ingenuity made things safe for people.

    But the Martian Artifact had changed everything by making it . . . well, safer. The oxygen and water it released made it possible for people to leave the domes. The air had become breathable, both in terms of oxygen density and pressure. It also absorbed most of the ultraviolet radiation that made it past the planet's magnetosphere, thus doing away with the need for radiation shielding. Even the heavy dust storms that could strip a man to bones had been seriously reduced. For the first time in human history, the planet was safe for mankind.

    But it wasn't Mars.

    At least the landscape's still the same color, he thought.

    "A penny for your thoughts, Professor Mitty?"

    He turned to Laura Wildman, one of the many experts they had flown in from Earth. For a moment he thought about telling her exactly what was on his mind, but decided against it. He doubted she would understand how he felt. About how the Artifact had taken everything the colonists had done and made it unnecessary. About how colonial politics had been thrown to the winds. About how it was now cheaper and easier for Earth to exploit the planet.

    But he didn't. Ranting wouldn't solve anything. And besides, it wasn't her fault that Mars had changed.

    "Just thinking about the Artifact, Dr. Wildman," he replied. He forced a grin. "They just don't make them like they used to, eh?"

    She smiled back. "No, they most certainly don't. I mean, you'd think with all the money they're pouring into this project that they could afford better equipment. My analyzer keeps going out of whack every other day!"

    "That good? I gave up on all electronic measuring devices ages ago." He lowered his voice to a conspiratory whisper. "They say it's the Artifact. It gives off some sort of quantum interference that disrupts electromagnetic fields."

    This elicited a burst of laughter from her. "Well, if there's anything of the sort, we'll be sure to find it. When we're done, we'll know exactly what the Artifact does and how it does it."

    I doubt you will, Walter thought. Because we'll oppose you every step of the way. There won't be any obvious sabotage, but you'd be surprised how much damage we can cause. There will be incompetence. There will be theft. There will be petty rivalries. There will be red tape like you wouldn't believe. And if we ever get the chance, we'll see to it that the Artifact is shut down permanently.

    But he only said, "I wish you luck, Dr. Wildman. I have a feeling you're going to need it."
  10. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/7/13: Worked. Not much more to say. There's little to relate.

    Walter Mitty Jr. watched with growing horror and bemusement as the old man crept silently through the wheat field. He wore a raincoat, but not as protection against rain. It was to keep the morning dew off.

    "Don't want to get wet," the old man said. "You could catch your death that way. Ha, yes. We're out to catch other things, we are."

    Dolittle had been introduced to him as a professional catcher of butterflies. When Walter asked what he did with them, the old man gave him a look that made him feel like he was in fifth grade again under the scornful scrutiny of Miss Gavinson.

    Walter had laughed, pretending his previous question was merely rhetorical. Of course he knew what you did with butterflies! Why, even the dullest schoolchild couldn't fail to answer correctly. And by the way, would Mr. Dolittle mind if he tagged along on his next expedition? He'd always wanted to see how the pros did it . . .

    And here he was, walking in a half-crouch through a wheat field with an empty sack in his hands and wondering what on earth he was doing at four in the morning. In front of him, barely visible in the twilight gloom, Dolittle moved through the stalks like a fish through water although, Walter couldn't help but notice, he didn't seem to be wet at all.

    "Mr. Do-" he began, only to be silenced by a glare. It was only then that he remembered the old man's words.

    "Not a word once we're among the wheat," Dolittle had said. The tone of his voice indicated that he expected Walter to know this already, and that he was reciting it merely for ritual's sake. "They may sluggish from the cold and easy to catch, but they're no use to me awake. The fumes in the sack will keep them knocked out until we get back." He must have noticed Walter's expression, since he asked him, "Are you sure you've done this before?"

    "Of course," Walter had answered. "It's just that I'm a little nervous. Obviously I can't foul up like I could when collecting butterflies for fun."

    "Humph," the old man had grunted. That had been the end of their conversation.

    Walter remembered a phrase the Japanese had to describe his plight: Ask and look a fool. Don't ask and be a fool.

    I really should have asked, he thought. But it was too late now. He could only follow, and hope he didn't make too many mistakes.
  11. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/8/13: Worked. What else is there to say?

    When people asked Walter Mitty Jr. what he did for a living, he usually told them he worked in the automotive industry.

    This was true. Misleading, but true.

    For Walter was one of the few people who worked on the Supers' equipment - weapons, tools, vehicles, and the occasional bit of licensed merchandise. Specifically, his job was to calibrate the inertial nullification systems for their vehicles.

    Put simply, the INS enabled Supers' vehicles to change speed or direction almost instantaneously without having the machine tear itself apart from G-forces. It allowed Supers to make those turns and accelerations without passing out or being laminated over the windshield. And it also let them drink coffee from a cup during such maneuvers without spilling a drop.

    Walter loved what he did. The only fly in the ointment was that he couldn't achieve 100% nullification. This was not because it was impossible. Quantum physics had long since passed the point when it could detect and compensate for the most sudden of velocity changes. In fact, it was possible to put an overripe peach inside a box with an INS unit and drop it from a height of ten miles without bruising it.

    Unfortunately, the human brain is not structured to understand movement without inertia. This is why people lean sideways when playing a racing game - their bodies are trying to compensate for motion that only exists on-screen. Because of this, Walter always adjusted the INS settings so the driver or pilot only felt, say, five percent of what they actually did.

    Most days he didn't mind. A machine that doesn't do the task the users required is useless, even if it is a miracle of modern technology.

    But every once in a while, he wondered why he had to sabotage his work because the Supers were too lazy or incompetent. On those days, he wondered what would happen if he were to make certain . . . changes to the system.

    Suppose UberDaug was in an aerial dogfight. He sees the enemy fighters launch their missiles. He pulls on the control stick for evasive action. And for a split second, the INS kicks in at 100%. And in that split second, his instincts tell him his aircraft isn't responding. Panicking, he pulls the stick back further and flips, not in a graceful loop but an uncontrolled tumble.

    Not that Walter would ever do such a thing, of course.

    But it doesn't stop him from dreaming about it once in a while.
  12. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/9/13: Co-worker called in sick, meaning more overtime for the rest of us. As long as they're payin', I ain't complainin'.

    The Mighty Monolith Marauder was a five-ton mass of malevolent marble. He could withstand anything short of a tactical nuke at point-blank range. He could punch a hole in a six-inch thick lead plate, and crush coal into diamonds with his bare hands. Heat and cold did not faze him. He sneered at poison. He was, in a word, invincible.

    He was also absent from today's fight.

    "Why?" Sun Red asked in a dangerously neutral voice.

    "He said it was a family crisis," General Vamp answered, already cringing at the hero's response he was sure this would invoke.

    "Family," Sun Red said blandly.

    He took a long drag from his cigarette. How he managed this in a helmet that covered his entire face was a mystery no-one wanted to probe.

    "Family," he repeated, slightly louder this time.

    "Um, I could text him for details if you -"

    "You drag me out here on a Sunday to fight a monster who isn't even here?"

    "Excuse me, sir," Walter Mitty Jr. said, "but I would like to point out that -"

    "And in its place is this . . . guy in latex?"

    Walter smiled apologetically out of sheer self defense. He'd been warned about this hero and how violent he could get. It seemed an odd warning, given that they were going to engage in mortal combat, but apparently this was How Things Were Done. Japan, he thought. What a weird country.

    "Not just a guy, Red-san," Vamp said in what he hoped was a placating tone. "The Great Joiner can meld with any substance he comes into contact with. In this case, latex rubber." His voice dropped an octave as he remembered who he was and what he was here for. "He can absorb your best blows without the slightest injury. You can beat on him for hours and he will not feel a thing. He can -"

    At this point Sun Red grew bored of exposition and decided to test the Great Joiner's powers simply by hitting him squarely in the jaw. Walter went down but, owing to his rubberized state, bounced back up.

    In the following hour Walter learned that, while the hero's fists couldn't hurt him, it was still terrifying to be beaten up by a thug in a T-shirt who is laughing continuously as he does so.

    And that was just the beginning.
  13. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/10/13: Co-worker not 100% well yet. More overtime, I guess.

    Ordinarily, Walter Mitty Jr. did not make house calls. This was the twenty-first century, after all. There was no telling what might happen if you entered a total stranger's house.

    But the call had come from the infamous Lynchfast mansion. There were rumors that it was haunted, of course, and people sometimes claimed they saw things or heard voices. But as is the case in most haunted house stories, there was no concrete evidence.

    At least I know there are people living here, he thought as he knocked at the front door. Ghosts don't make phone calls.

    He was greeted by a man wearing what could only be called a taxidermied deer's head. "Lenore's upstairs," the man said. "Sorry I can't show you the way, but I'm going to be late."

    For what, he didn't say. And Walter had no desire to find out.

    The stairs creaked ominously when he climbed them. So did the floorboards. Walter couldn't help glancing back over his shoulder as he walked. He had the feeling someone - or perhaps something - was following him. Which was impossible, of course. If nothing else, the creaks would give them away.

    Unless they were ghosts.

    The lights were out inside Lenore's bedroom. This shouldn't have been a problem; it was still two o'clock and there was ample light coming from the window. But the bed and the little girl in it seemed to be half-hidden in shadows, as though the sun was reluctant to shine its light on them.

    And then there was the smell. It wasn't entirely an unpleasant smell. But after a while, you started thinking that it was hiding something more sinister. Or, at the very least, something more disgusting.

    Nonsense, he told himself. It's is just a little girl. The smell probably comes from quaint folk remedies.

    The little girl was waking up. She gave him a look of puzzlement, not fear.

    "Hello, Lenore," he said. "I'm Dr. Mitty and I'm here to see how you're doing. Where's your Mom and Dad, by the way?"

    "They're gone," she said, her voice thin and raspy.

    "Really?" He knew he had no right to judge them, but he found himself frowning anyway. "And they left here you alone?"

    "I'm not alone. I have Ragamuffin." She showed him her little rag doll. For a moment Walter could swear it was glaring at him.
  14. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/11/13: Spent most of today trying to remember the words to Huey Lewis's Workin' For A Livin'. What a way to earn a living indeed.

    When the rest mist cleared, Walter Mitty Jr. found himself waist-deep in a mud pit.

    "Walter! You all right?"

    "Wha?" was all he managed to say. His tongue was usually the last to recover from his berserker rage. This time was no different. Speaking of which -

    "Wha ty innit?"

    "Three past five. Unless you want to go into overtime, that is," Bob said. Bob, or Robert the Decapitator as his calling card named him, was a great believer in punctuality as far as quitting time was concerned.

    "B'ger da."

    He climbed out of the pit on the second try. His armor squished when he walked, spewing out tiny fountains of goo from his greaves. Damn good thing I don't have to wash the things, he thought.

    Betty from Supplies frowned when she saw the dents in Walter's armor. "You went berserk, didn't you." It wasn't a question. Questions were for things you didn't know the answers to.

    Walter grinned sheepishly. "Sorry. I was behind on my quota and I saw what time it was and . . . I'm sorry."

    Betty rolled her eyes. "Sure you are. Just like you were the last hundred times. Mr. Mitty, how can I get you to understand that -"

    "Uh, Betty?" Bob butted in. "Do you mind? If we don't clock out soon, Mr. Donovan is going to give us hell about timekeeping. So if you'll excuse us . . ."

    "Of course. Of course. Just don't be surprised at your performance review." She gave them a small shooing motion with her hand. "Go on, scoot. I have other people to harangue."

    "See you Monday, Betty," Bob said. As they walked away, he turned to Walter and grinned. "I told you the chocolates would work."

    Walter snorted. "She's just glad she doesn't have to put up with you for two whole days."

    "You sure? Because I think I'm this close to penetrating her outer defenses."

    "Whatever. You want to grab a bite?"
  15. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/12/13: Tried to write gift-fic. Slept. Slept. Slept some more. I must be getting old. *sigh*

    The walls were lined with bookshelves as far as the eye could see, which was quite far. Walter Mitty Jr. knew it was partly an illusion - looped space, probably - but was still impressed with Damian's work. A dream architect with the skills required to create realistic landscapes within someone's dream was rare. Finding someone with the talent to make surreal worlds that the dreamer would accept was a miracle.

    The fact that none of the others in the library paid them no attention whatsoever meant that Damian was that miracle.

    "Nice," he said. "But I think this is a bit too much. It's best to stick to something from the real world, you know. Something Pike's familiar with."

    "I didn't make this up, Mitty. It was already here in his mind."

    "What, all of this?"

    Damian nodded nervously. "I started with the library of his home town. But while I was eschering in the loops, it . . . . um, grew."

    Walter stared at him, hoping Damian would crack a smile. Because if he wasn't joking, then Pike's subconscious had taken control. Which meant that anything could happen.

    Without thinking, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver dollar. He flipped it into the air and let it drop to the floor where it landed on its edge.

    "At least this still works," he muttered as he pocketed it. "Which way's the vault?

    "Thataway. Are we still on?"

    "Definitely. Can't keep the man waiting."

    The look Damian gave him suggested Walter had more than a few bats in the belfry. But he didn't argue. "Right. The sooner we get the job done, the sooner we can leave."

    The job was a simple extraction. A head injury had given Akira Pike a mild case of amnesia. The memory loss was centered around corporate secrets only he knew about. Or rather, secrets that he thought only he knew about. Without knowing what those secrets were, there was no way of finding out who else might know. And if those others found out about his memory loss, they might use them against him.

    Thus Mitty and his team had been hired to retrieve that memory.

    It should have been a simple extraction job. The client was paying them to go inside his head. Even the subconscious guards had been disabled. But the library changed things.

    Walter opened a door and found yet another endless vista of books. "Is it just me, or are there more of them now?"

    "It's not you," Damian said. "There were no TARDIS rooms when we came. I think the dream's starting to go recursive."

    Walter gave his partner a look of pure horror. "Please tell me you're kidding."
  16. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/13/13: Ate, slept, read, wrote. Just another boring Sunday.

    Write what you know.

    Walter Mitty Jr. considered this to be the First Rule of Writing which he practiced rigorously. Its collorary - if you don't know something, research like hell - he wasn't so stringent about.

    He had realized at an early age that he led a dull life. He was born to dull parents in a dull neighborhood. He went to a dull school where he studied dull subjects. He played dull games with his dull friends. He married his dull girlfriend and had a dull son. This dull family he supported with his dull job.

    It was enough to make anyone crazy, except Walter was far too dull to succumb to insanity. At least, not the interesting sort. The madness that befell him was a mundane one that millions are afflicted by: the dream of becoming a professional writer.

    Walter knew he was perfectly ordinary. Thus, he reasoned, if he were to write what he wanted to read, it would be read by all the other ordinary people of the world. It would be as easy as pie - whatever that phrase actually meant.

    Wish fulfillment - that was the key. Put ordinary people in extraordinary situations and watch their hidden talents bloom. It was something he did every day when things got too boring for him. All he had to do now was put it down on paper.

    Which he did. Or tried to do. And discovered, to his dismay, that something that came so naturally to him became unbelievably difficult when conscious effort was required.

    He had confided this dilemma to his co-worker, who had nodded sagely and given Walter his First Rule of Writing.

    Walter thought about it for a few days. Then he started writing about ordinary people in ordinary situations.

    He didn't notice how dull it was until much later.
  17. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/14/13: Crazy day at work due to increased production, which was the result of decreased production in December. Gods how I love accounting madness.

    As a mechanic, Walter Mitty Jr. made it a rule not to apologize for what he found in his customers' vehicles. It wasn't his fault they chose not to check under the hood every now and then. It wasn't his fault they ignored the calls for help from a machine just barely treading water. And it wasn't his fault that repairs cost more than maintenance.

    But Dorian wasn't just a customer. He was a friend from the days when all they had were the shirts on their backs and the dreams in their heads. Besides, customers paid.

    "Sorry, but Sitting Bull won't be fighting this Sunday. Or the next one."

    He glanced over to where the robot was. It had the look of Dr. Frankenstein's operating table, with the robot in various stages of assembly. However, more than a lightning bolt would be required to get Sitting Bull up and running again.

    "Is it the cash?" Dorian asked. "I know we aren't winning like we used to, but if you could loan me a couple thousand I could -"

    Walter looked at him until he wilted. "Look, it's not about money." Though God knows I've thrown enough of it your way. "It's about my workload. Robinson has me working 14-hour days. I sleep through most weekends. Sandy says we never spend any time together. My dog doesn't know me any more. I'm sorry, but that's the way things are right now."

    "So you're giving up? Just like that?"

    "I'm focusing on my job until things settle down."

    "But you're the only one who can calibrate his systems!" Dorian wailed.

    Not if you're willing to pay for it, Walter didn't say. But he knew his friend couldn't afford it. Dorian spent most of his earnings on the robot. Once he'd ignored a growing ulcer because of a hydraulics system that he had to have. When he started cashing in favors from friends, that meant he was starving himself to keep Sitting Bull standing.

    He looked at the robot again. Walter had no idea what the Indian chief had been like, but strong and silent seemed to fit the bill.

    He sighed. "You're crazy. You know that, don't you?"

    And God help me, so am I.
  18. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/15/13: Aforementioned co-worker kept coughing all day. Sure hope he doesn't call in sick tomorrow.

    "Please state the nature of the medical emergency."

    "I'm bored to death," Walter Mitty Jr. said.

    The simulated doctor gave him a look that could have passed for Vulcan irony if it wasn't obviously irritated.

    "I am an Emergency Medical Hologram," it said, giving the capital letters extra emphasis. "If you need entertainment, I suggest you try the holonovels in the virtual library. I understand Watching Paint Dry by Pinkamena is quite riveting. So if you'll excuse me -"

    "No, wait!" Walter shouted. "The main generator was hit by a micrometeor and all power's out except for life support. And you, of course. Anyway, it'll be weeks before anyone comes looking and I'll be this year's model for designer straitjackets by then."

    The EMH gave him a withering stare. "I'm a doctor, not a shrink. I am not programmed for psychiatric therapy. I also do not sing, tell stories, or play chess."

    "But you can talk, right?"

    "Interaction with patients is one of my functions, yes."

    "That's all I want - someone to talk to. Or I'm headed for the loony bin."

    The doctor looked Walter up and down. There was no mistaking the disdain on its face. "Perhaps that is precisely what you need. At least you will be cleaned and shaved regularly."

    Walter grinned. "Ha! So you can do irony. That's great!"

    "You realize, of course, that running a holo-kinetic simulation requires a lot of power. Power which you may not have enough of if you wish to stay alive."

    "Oh, don't worry about that," Walter said with a dismissive wave of his hand. "The generator's patched up as good as new. Problem is, the emergency failsafes won't shut off."
  19. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/16/13: Machine's acting up again. Probably because of the cold.

    It is said that an AI cannot develop a sense of humor. This is usually said by people who are themselves lacking in that trait, who nevertheless pride themselves on having it.

    Walter Mitty Jr., after six months of living with HAL, had long since reached the conclusion that not only did the machine have a sense of humor, it had been playing a practical joke on him since the Argo's launch.

    Take, for example, the emergency drills. These were designed to simulate accidents that might befall the crew in their journey to the edge of the solar system and back. It was Walter's task to find and fix whatever was wrong before HAL announced the mission had "failed".

    Sometimes it was easy. The Argo's self-diagnostic program had been assembled by the best experts. It was so good, in fact, that it could detect equipment failure a month before it happened. When it raised a red flag, all Walter had to do was follow the impossible-to-misunderstand directions.

    Sometimes it was hard. It was unlikely, but still possible, that the diagnostics could fail. In such cases Walter found something was wrong by checking the instruments three times a day, or by the heart-stopping alarms that went off when a piece of the Argo went haywire. And sometimes HAL disabled that as well.

    For obvious reasons, Walter was not told beforehand when these drills would take place, or what kind of emergencies would be simulated. So far he had successfully fielded everything HAL had thrown at him. Except, perhaps, for that odd smell he'd noticed a few days ago.

    "HAL, are you sure nothing's wrong with the filters?"

    "I have run the diagnostics five times," HAL replied. "Unless the program is faulty, the filters are fine."

    "Yeah, right." But Walter had checked and double-checked them himself to find nothing amiss. Perhaps he was jumping at shadows. He had been . . . slightly unnerved after running the gauntlet of twenty consecutive antennae alignment mishaps last week. And waking up at midnight to find an alien invasion fleet demanding him to "Take us to your leader" had made him laugh helplessly until HAL declared that the Argo was destroyed.

    "It could happen," HAL had said at the time. "There is no conclusive evidence to disprove the existence of extra-terrestrial life."
  20. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/17/13: Worked hard today so we won't have to do overtime on Saturday. What is wrong with this picture?

    "Right then, let's see if we got everything. Healing potion?"


    "Magic amulet?"


    "Holy water?"


    "A disgustingly ugly figurine of some minor god that Elva bought from an old peddler with the last of our money that had better provide protection against the monster?"

    Walter Mitty Jr. looked up from his bag of holding to give the leader a look of disbelief. "Hold on, you still have that? I thought we agreed to throw it away three towns ago."

    The leader, a young man in impeccably polished armor, shrugged helplessly. "I tried, but I couldn't."

    The cleric nodded knowingly. "Cursed, eh?"

    The leader shook his head. "Non-combustible trash every other Monday. No exceptions."

    "Couldn't you just drop it in an alley and -"

    "Like I said, I tried. They caught me doing it and fined me 30 coins."

    Walter bit back a rude word. "Don't they know we're going to fight Dark Lord Giri's army?"

    The leader nodded. "I told them. And they said we weren't the only ones, and also to declare all drop items when we come back."

    "At least they didn't say if we come back," the cleric said with a grin, which disappeared when he saw the leader's face. "Wait, you don't mean . . ."


    "You know what we should do? If we meet any ravaging monsters on the way, we should tell them to visit the town of Yakshaw."

    "Pierto, you know we're not allowed to do that sort of thing with our alignment."

    "But what good is being Lawful Good if we let every nitpicking bureaucrat -"

    "Uh, guys?" Walter interjected. "Let's finish the checklist first, okay? You can argue all you want after we beat the boss monster."
  21. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/18/13: Friday. But I have to work tomorrow. Damn.

    "Hi! I'm Walter Mitty Jr."

    The lamplighter shook Walter's proffered hand. "Good morning," he said.

    Walter waited for some hint of recognition. None came in the course of five one-minute days, all of which were punctuated by a "good morning" and a "good evening".

    "Didn't they tell you about me?" Walter asked at last.

    "I don't think so. Good morning."

    "They hired me. To take up the slack, they said."

    "Really? They never said. Good evening."

    Walter glanced around and noted that the only part of the planet he couldn't see was on the opposite side. "Talk about a small world, huh? Is there a cot you go to lie down?"

    "No, there isn't. Good morning. There isn't enough space and I'm too busy with this street lamp to sleep. Good evening."

    Walter nodded. "I know. That's why they hired me."

    Hope dawned on the man's face. "You're my replacement, then? Good morning."

    "Er, not quite."

    "What do you mean? Good evening."

    "I'm the night shift."

    The man gave him a long, hard look. In that time, the planet underwent seven and a half rotations. The lamplighter, a true professional, didn't miss one.

    "Night shift," he said tonelessly. "Good evening."

    "Yeah. Ridiculous, I know."

    "That doesn't even begin to describe things. Good evening."

    "Good evening," Walter agreed.
  22. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/19/13: Forgot to set alarm clock. Woke up anyway at usual time. It seems I didn't not want to go work as much as I thought.

    Walter Mitty Jr. had just returned from patrol when he was accosted by Sheriff O'Brian.

    "Mitty! Just the man I wanted to see."

    Walter tried not to groan. "What is it, Sheriff?"

    "I just got a call from a Concerned Citizen," O'Brian said, waggling his eyebrows.

    "Mrs. Rooney?"

    "Yup. She thought we should know that Emmett Brown was hooking wires to the clock tower last night. That's why the clock stopped ticking, she said."

    "Last night," Walter said numbly.


    "In a storm." He was sure he felt a headache coming.

    "That's right," O'Brian said cheerfully.

    "That's crazy, Sheriff. You could get fried by lightning! Only a complete idiot or a total loon would try something like that."

    O'Brian chuckled. "Well, you know how Mrs. Rooney feels about Doc Brown."

    Walter rolled his eyes. "Sure. He's a godless scientist who meddles in Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. She's convinced he's bound straight for Hell and thinks he should be locked up to protect good, wholesome, church-going folks like her. Sheesh, whatever happened to 'Love thy neighbor'?"

    "Beats me. Anyway, I want you to drive by Doc Brown's place and ask him where he was last night. Don't bother getting an alibi."

    Walter nodded. "Because anyone with an alibi at ten pm is definitely guilty."
  23. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/20/13: Slept. It's either due to working on Saturday or a cold. Or both.

    Walter Mitty Jr. was having a bad dream. He knew it was a bad dream because there was no way it could actually be happening.

    He remembered reading somewhere that having your teeth fall out was a common nightmare brought about by grinding your teeth while you slept. He wasn't sure where he'd read it. He was even less sure that it was possible to remember such things while you were dreaming. But it must be, because the alternative was too horrifying to contemplate.

    He went to the bathroom and splashed water on his face. When this failed to work, he tried slapping himself a few times.

    "Come on, Walter," he told himself. "Wake up." But no matter how hard he hit himself, the nightmare would not end.

    Something in the mirror caught his eye. It was where he'd cut himself while shaving this morning.

    No, he corrected himself, where I dreamed I shaved myself. This is just a dream, remember?

    A scab had formed, but it wasn't the usual reddish brown color. It was dark green, a color Walter usually associated with bugs.

    Or prawns.

    "No way," he said. "Just an infection. Something fungal."

    Knowing he shouldn't - it won't get better if you pick it - he gave the scab a tentative scratch. Thankfully, a large strip of skin didn't peel off to reveal an alien exoskeleton underneath.

    But the dark liquid that welled up when the scab came off was definitely not blood. Not human blood, anyway.

    Walter screamed, hoping someone would hear him and shake him awake.

    But no-one did.
  24. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/21/13: Due to defects in pre-assembly, practically everything I did on Saturday has gone down the drain. Gods, how I love this job . . .

    As a Junior Technician on board the Spaceball One, it was Walter Mitty Jr.'s job to makes sure that certain mechanisms, which would almost certainly never be used, were in prime condition. These included the Arctic mode for the senior officers' waterbeds, the combination locks in the air ducts, and, of course, the self-destruct deactivation button.

    "It's not working," he told R-N3.

    "Have you tried using the Spaceballs Depolarizer?" the robot responded. "It can reverse polarity twice as fast as other depolarizers. If you order now, you can get a discount of -"

    Walter gave the robot a whack on its casing. He wished he didn't have to do this every single time, but only senior techs had the authority to bypass the advertising circuits. There were ways around them, of course, but they did surprise inspections at random intervals. If you were caught fiddling with military equipment, there was no telling what they would do. Besides, it would invalidate the warranty.

    There was a burst of the Spaceball national anthem as the Spaceballs Profanity Filter censored the robot's foul language. Then it said petulantly, "You don't have to hit me, you know."

    "Yes, I do. There's only so much advertising a man can take."

    "In that case, may I suggest the Spaceballs Adblock Helmet? This remarkable piece of head gear allows you to -" Arrent began, then stopped when Walter raised a hand threateningly. "Look, I'm just following my programming, okay? There's nothing I can do about it."

    "Whatever. Can we get back to the job?"

    "If you insist, Mister Workaholic."

    Walter chose not to hear the last remark. "According to the manual, this button should light up when the self destruct's on. I'm feeding the false signal but nothing's happening."

    "Is it plugged in?"

    "Yes," Walter said.

    "Are the cables attached properly?"

    "Yes," he repeated.

    "Are you sure?"

    "Definitely. I checked twice."

    "Then I'm afraid there's nothing I can do. Unless, of course, you upgrade me to -"


    The national anthem blared from the robot's speakers. This went on for quite a long time.
  25. Lazy K

    Lazy K Jedi Knight star 2

    Sep 22, 2012

    1/22/13: Sniffling, sneezing, and . . . snotting? Anyway, some word or another that begins with sn. Yup, it's a cold all right.

    Walter Mitty Jr. peered into the box and suppressed, with some difficulty, a tremendous clearing of his nasal cavity. "What is this stuff?"

    "Pepper," the captain said. "The finest ground black pepper from India. If this doesn't make the wretched sea monster sneeze, nothing will."

    Walter looked around at what he wanted to think was the inside of a huge cavern. But caves weren't made of flesh and bone, and didn't have puckering holes that spewed out corrosive slime every so often. It was only a matter of time before the stomach acids dissolved their ship. Ergo, any action was better than none.

    "But are you sure it will work?" he asked.

    "Of course I am! We get as close to the mouth as we can, release the pepper, and Bob's your uncle."

    "Yes, but . . . what if it only gives the monster heartburn?"

    The captain gave him a look. It clearly said that Walter was not only being overly skeptical but cowardly as well.

    Walter countered with a look that said, hopefully, that he was a man of Science who was just making sure all the angles were considered.

    "Er, excuse me?" the first mate said. "I've been thinking that, too. I mean, we have to get the pepper into its nostrils, right? And we have to get the mouth open to do that."

    The captain glared at what, in his mind, was an act of mutiny. "What do you suggest then, Mr. Bobbin?"

    "When we stopped at those islands last month, I tried out some of the local chow. Hottest things I ever ate. Made me want to keep my jaw propped open just for the cool air."


    "So I reckon, if we take the pepper and paste it on the tongue, it'll open up just to swallow water."

    Walter stared at the first mate in horror. "But that would mean the water would come rushing in! And we can't possibly go against that current."

    "Yes," the captain said, "but the mouth would be open, if only for a moment. If we were to use that opportunity to blow pepper up its nose -"

    "You're mad," Walter said. "You're all mad. Every last one of you."