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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Fragments and Feedback for Short Works » Trapped in Dallas (Page 1)

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Author Topic: Trapped in Dallas
MaryRobinette
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MaryRobinette sat in the Dallas airport, cursing the bizarre keyboard layout on the highspeed internet access kiosk. She just wanted to check email while she was trapped by an unending limbo of foul weather. The seemingly simple technology conspired with the elements to make her return trip home as needlessly difficult as possible.

Her mouth tightened as they announced yet another delay to her flight. Her new flight, her old one had been canceled long before connecting flight had made its way through the storm. Would she ever get home?


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HSO
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Oooh, I'll play!

***

Disgruntled and weary from her long trip, unable to accept yet another delay, MaryRobinette removed her disintegrator-ray gun from her carry-on and blasted the kiosk. A blinding white light engulfed the kiosk, sparkling and electric, until it vaporized and became no more.

Not yet satisfied, MaryRobinette made her way back to the check-in counters: that smarmy attendant with her impossibly red hair would soon be a little more forthcoming in suggesting an alternate flight.

****


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MaryRobinette
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Faced with the business end of a disintegrator, the attendent handed her a boarding pass and announced that the flight might leave at 2:00 am. If she was lucky.

After hours of delay, MaryRobinette found herself on a plane headed for an unknown destination. An infant screamed next to her. The hours passed in a monsoon of howling cries, driving her to retreat inside herself. When she woke, she was in San Diego.

This was not on her itinerary.

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited July 29, 2004).]


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HSO
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***

Newly-graduated Sailors and Marines filled the airport terminals. Bah, she thought, guess I'll have to fight my way through them...

***


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Christine
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MaryRobinette disembarked from the plane, noticing, as she did, a grating noise coming from somewhere nearby. Her own Teeth, she realized an instanat later. She checked to make sure her ray gun was still armed and ready, and then headed for the ticket counter.

A team of federal agents intercepted her en route. She went for the gun, but they already had their projectile weapons aimed at her head and chest. She could probably disintegrate one or two of them before they got a shot off, but certainly not all 6. So instead she thumbed the invisibility booster hitched to her belt and flickered out of sight.


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djvdakota
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Rolling her eyes at yet another time-wasting inconvenience, Mary Robinette dropped to the ground as the air where her chest had been sizzled with blasts from the officers' weapons. The screams of travelers and the groans of agents caught in cross-fire masked the thump thump thump of her invisible bags as she rolled over and over and over, squeezing through a gap to the safety of...what? Oh, damn! Another internet kiosk!
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MaryRobinette
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Wasting no time, MaryRobinette slid her credit card into the machine's slot, hoping that the Marines would not notice the chime as she desperately tried to reach the Hatrack homebase. There was no one else who could save her from this insanity.

"Help!" she typed, "I've been travelling since noon on Wednesday. I should be home by now, but have been hijacked--," She suddenly realized that she had no idea where her invisible bags were. "And lost my luggage. Please advise. Trying to catch flight to Portland." With that, she signed off and retrieved her card from the slot. Moving quickly, she hurtled the rows of chairs between her and the gate home.

Could she make this flight or would she face yet another delay?


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Robyn_Hood
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Reaching the gate she noticed the plane begin its taxi over to the runway.

Damn, MaryRobinette thought.

Glancing around at the other gates she noticed a flight boarding for Seattle. If she could get to Seattle, she could drive and probably still make it to Portland on time. Probably faster than waiting for another flight.

Not wanting to attract more guards, MaryRobinette decided to leave her invisibility booster on and sneak onto the plane.


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djvdakota
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MaryRobinette groaned. Not a single empty seat. Overbooked. How typical!

Her invisibility booster humming with the strain of such prolongued use, she dodged flight attendants and old ladies still trying to stuff oversized carry-ons into the overhead compartments and slipped into the restroom at the rear of the plane.

Click. Locked. Safe.

No. Not safe. The flight attendants would check the johns before take-off.

Click. Unlocked. Invisibility booster humming louder and smelling like singed nylon.


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shadowynd
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MaryRobinette froze for a fleeting second as her mind processed the new sounds behind her. In the distance of the terminal she had left behind she could hear the excited clicks and whistles of ferbin on the trail: her trail. The spider-like alien creatures, with their vastly superiour sense of smell, had long since replaced canines for tracking in police work. Invisible or not, it wouldn’t take them long to find her. She had to get away, to get on any flight that was leaving NOW, even if it took her away from her destination yet again. Seattle would have to do.

The ferbin and their handlers were gaining, and MaryRobinette’s feet flew once more, desperation lending them wings. Misfortune was still the measure of the day, for as she glanced back yet again, MaryRobinette careened full force into an enormously rotund gentleman. Both collapsed in a heap, with the slight woman on top, much to her relief.

“My glasses,” cried the man, groping blindly. “I can’t see a thing!”

The questing hands were a little too close for comfort. MaryRobinette slid off of the huge belly and onto her feet.

To the left lay the briefcase the man had been carrying, rich-grained leather bound with brass.


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shadowynd
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(( LOL!!! I think we posted too close together!! *G*

Susan ))


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J. Alfred Prufrock
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(not too much of a problem; just switch the order around. she froze in the terminal, dashed for the plane, found no empty seats, went in the bathroom. )

No more than two and a half moments after she'd unlocked the bathroom door, it opened, and it wasn't a stewardess that greeted her. Instead, a four-foot asian woman crept inside, intending to get this over with as quickly as possible, as the plane around them was warming up fast.

Fortunately for MaryRobinette, the woman caught a whiff of a stench, wrinkled her nose, and turned away, muttering, "Is that nylon?" As the door closed, MaryRobinette let out a breath of relief -- just before the lavatory door opened a second time.


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djvdakota
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OK, Prufrock, but then we lose the fat man's briefcase, but what must come next is...


The fat man. In the terminal MaryRobinette hadn't realized just how far the definition of fat could go. But here in the cramped quarters of the airplane john...

But he didn't give her much time to consider. He was coming in, he was coming fast. He was unbuckling his pants. He was--Oh NO! He was turning around!

Desperate now, MaryRobinette climbed atop the polished aluminum sink, and prayed.


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Robyn_Hood
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She didn't dare to look but the man was taking forever and she was beginning to lose her grip.

Preparing for the worst, she slowly opened one eye and was shocked to see that the fat man was no longer there. Well, he was there but he was a she who had been wearing a chamaeleon suit.

No doubt she needed to cool off before sitting on the plane for an hour or so, MaryRobinette thought.

Then she noticed that peculiar leather bag again. The woman was rummaging through it and MaryRobinette thought she saw something that nearly made her heart stop.

If only I could have gotten through to Hatrack.

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited July 29, 2004).]


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MaryRobinette
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If MaryRobinette had gotten through to Hatrack she could have made it easier for them to find her. The glorious leather bag should have tipped her off in the airport, but she had been so frantic that she had not recognized the case for a portable Underwood.

She cleared her throat, "Shadow, I presume?"

The other woman jumped, not easy to do in the confined space of the lavratory. "MaryRobinette! You've created quite enough chaos, there are misplaced modifiers everywhere out there."

"Sorry. I was desperate."

Shadow shrugged. "It's lucky the Admin sent me." She hauled the Underwood out of the leather case and positioned it on the edge of the sink. Outside, they could hear the scratching of the ferbin as the creatures began to search the plane.

Shadow studied the paper sticking out of the top of the typewriter and began to backspace. The scratching ceased.

In the sudden silence she began typing and within the lighting speed of the keys, MaryRobinette found herself in a first class seat on her way to Portland. Time hurtled forward with the subtle clicks of the keyboard and in no time she was home.

Now if she could just find out what happened to her invisible luggage...

[Co-author's note: Seriously guys, this little thread has kept my humor up for the past day while I tried to get home. Thanks for sticking by me as only writers can. I am, finally, home.]

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited July 29, 2004).]


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HSO
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A knock at the door. MaryRobinette answered it and saw a frumpy man in an airlines uniform. He appeared to be heavily weighted down by something, yet nothing was in his hands or on his back as far as she could tell. MaryRobinette scratched her head.

"Yes?" she asked suspiciously. It could be a trap.

"I believe these are yours, ma'am." With much effort, he threw his arms forward.

MaryRobinette heard two thumps at her feet, but still saw nothing.

"We had a heck of a time finding these. Good day, ma'am."

The curious man, who never gave his name or asked her to sign anything, walked away and returned to his van. She waited until he drove away before probing her doorstep for the things that made the noise.

Ah! Her invisible luggage. Of course. What else would it be? She hauled them into her home and deactivated the invisibility mechanisms.

MaryRobinette quickly spilled the contents of each case onto the floor. Where is it? she wondered. I cannot take over the world without it. Desperation and panic consumed her as she tore through dirty clothes and travel guides.

What she did find surprised her...

[This message has been edited by HSO (edited July 30, 2004).]


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goatboy
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Okay, what happened! You can't just leave me hanging like this.
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MaryRobinette
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Right. Well you asked for it.

----
Two furry grey ears poked over the edge of the bag followed by brilliant green eyes. Green eyes, so vibrant, they glowed with an unearthly light.

MaryRobinette took a step back as the geiger counter built into her Hatrack-Utility belt went wild. Somehow, a radioactive cat had gotten into her luggage.


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mikemunsil
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But then, a SECOND set of glowing green orbs appeared; this pair topped with (could it be?)Texas Big Hair!!

So! No WONDER the geiger counter was going wild.

[ ROTFL! You guys are a riot. Hey, when you have time, check out Universalis, http://universalis.actionroll.com/ ]

[This message has been edited by mikemunsil (edited August 02, 2004).]


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goatboy
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Hey! How come I didn't get one of those utility belt thingys?
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mikemunsil
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You didn't get one? Mine has a BS detector but the darned thing keeps going off. Must've been made in Detroit.
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MaryRobinette
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Wasting no time, MaryRobinette split an infinitive to quickly escape the evil radioactive socialite.

---
See how handy the Hatrak-Utility belt is? I have the same problem with my BS detector. I think the setting is too sensitive. I just discovered the 'handwavium' pellets which are really useful for getting through sticky science scenes.

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited August 03, 2004).]


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HSO
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The split infinitive rattled windows for three blocks, but did nothing to halt the advancement of the radioactive kitties -- though it did singe a few whiskers and it managed to tame the Texas Big Hair's coif somewhat.

"Crumbs!" she exclaimed, and ran for the kitchen.

Hidden in a box of family-sized Kraft Macaroni and Cheese was an insta-teleporter -- a handy device from Hatrack, like her utility belt, that could beam these two mutant felines into an alternate universe. If only MaryRobinette could get to it in time.

She needed to distract the green-eyed "meowers" while she opened the mac-and-cheese packaging and she was out of tuna!

Whiskers twitched and tails formed themselves into a question mark shape. These kitties would not be deterred, MaryRobinette knew.

MaryRobinette wiped the sweat from her brow, her hands shaking.

[Could this be the end for our heroine? Stay tuned...]

[This message has been edited by HSO (edited August 03, 2004).]


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Robyn_Hood
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Grabbing the box of macaroni she tore the top off and grabbed the packet of cheese.

Radio-active cheese for radio-active cats, she mused.

She cheese managed to slow down the Texan long enough for her to use the transporter but the little ball of fur wasn't so easily distracted. MaryRobinette tried to get a lock on the little green-eyed monster but her insta-teleporter had been completely drained by Miss Kittie.

Pulling out her handy-dandy Hatrack Pen (the one mightier than the sword ) MaryRobinette prepared to face the cat in a duel.

The cat attacked; its claws were like daggers as it swiped at her.


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bladeofwords
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The tiny little kitty swelled to the size of a feline gladiator. MaryRobinette gasped as it extended its ferocious claws to the length of daggers. She closed her eyes and felt that mystical "muse" force flow through her. When she oppened them again the hatrack pen had turned into a glowing blade of words. (I couldn't resist)

The cat lunged and as MaryRobinette stepped aside she jabbed down between the huge mutant's shoulder blades something very strange happened...

[This message has been edited by bladeofwords (edited August 03, 2004).]


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Warrior Poet
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The pulsing Blade Of Words sank into the heart of the feline entity stalking the desperate Miss Robinette, but some inexorable force began to draw poor Mary into the lycanthropic creature, though try as she might to stop it.

Sweet Mary felt herself meld with the lithe and graceful feline, and suddenly like a washing wave of sensory perception, an new, yet familiar awareness enveloped her. Her vision crystalized, her hearing reached far out into hidden corners, smell, touch, and taste heightened to an astonishing degree as her brain blended with the Catgirl.

The light glowing from the cat's eyes she had thought to be radioactivy was in fact the Light of Curiousity about Everything of Life in the Universe.

And now she also found she was also one with the Blade Of Words, and its mightiest desciptive forces. The words of innumerable minds were at Mary's tongue and fingertips; written like fluid fire in her mind's eye.

She realized that the Cat of Curiosity, so often malined, was a part of her, which she had misplaced on her journey, never knowing even that she had lost it, until it once again sought her out.

She reclined lanquidly upon her couch reveling in her recovered erudition, vision of tales and yarns bursting in her head, ready to be told. Stories that would exalt the soul, tear one's heart, fill the visera with terror, blaze piercing, ecstatic joy, engender peaceful comfort of mind, opening vistas never dreamed by others, but which she would share with all by freely. This and much more strained to be laid down for posterity, as she purred in anticipation at the raptureous rigor it would take to create these tomes and volumes. Her mind was fixed upon this singular objective...

When the siblant sound of a sword leaving its scabbard arrested her attention with a steely ring.

"En guard, cherie." intoned a smooth, sonorous male voice. "So you wish to cross literary swords with the Master, eh child? Then, my fine lass, let your education begin here."

She looked up to see two burning eyes gazing down on her svelt form, eyes filled withe same Light of Curiousity that dwelt in her very own. That dangerous Curiousity that could, if not checked when neccessary, lead one down the primrose path to the very Gates of Hell.

Her luminous eyes narrowed in challenge, and she smirked. MaryRobinette, rose from her berth with sinuous confidence, donned her Nom De Plume, Le Tigra, raised her Rapier of Rhetoric, and saluted her opponent.

"Who is this cur who invades my domain with his trite bombast?" She hissed. "One best beware what he asks for, for he is liable to get it!"

With that, two vaunted Samurai of Sentance, Warriors of Words, Paladins of Prose, crashed together like lethal lexicons; nouns, verbs and adjectives sprayed in every direction; metaphors, similes, and personifications whipped and cracked about them; antonyms layden quips lashed and smashed synonym buttressed paragraphs, and on it went.

It was battle of epic proportions, as they left the small confines of erstwhile Mary's, now the lightning quick Le Tigra, humble abode, as intricate plots and sequences from the minds of these two masters intertwined in a dynamic and dramatic ebb and flow across the literary landscape.

Neither backed down an inch, and no one know who would have triumphed in this storied conflict, for unawares a trump sounded, long and clear. A clarion echoing from the soaring mountains of the west to the to the edge of the wide, blue ocean of the east.

The two wordsmasters turned toward to harbinger sound of the horn, and beheld...

[This message has been edited by Warrior Poet (edited August 03, 2004).]

[This message has been edited by Warrior Poet (edited August 03, 2004).]


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Robyn_Hood
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The Penmanship, the Hatrack sloop was under full sail and heading toward the two combatants (the initial clash of these titans had caused part of the state to fall off into the ocean following the faultline created by the split infinitive).

At the helm of The Penmanship was none other than the mighty Survivor, the man with an answer for everything. Even though MaryRobinette's Hatrack utility belt couldn't help her now, a general alarm had sounded at Hatrack when she had been forced to use that powerful split infinitive.

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited August 03, 2004).]


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MaryRobinette
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MaryRobinette knew that in the flurry of blades Survivor would be hard pressed to identify her, so she took advantage of Word Warrior's brief distraction and strengthened her assault. She knew that she had but one chance. If she could force him to stretch his attention to the point that he had to use multiple POV's to combat her, then Survivor's mighty skill could pinpoint the Word Warrior with ease.

Parry, thrust, riposte, thrust-- Without warning, I felt the shift in POV occur. I knew that the Word Warrior felt beleagured as he tried to share my POV. Survivor instantly sensed the rift in the continuum and sailed the Penmanship directly at the fiend.

The prow of the Penmanship forced the Word Warrior back, down into the fault line like Rumpelstiltskin. With an onamadipaeic snap, the rift in POV closed and MaryRobinette heaved a sigh of relief.

"Hail, Survivor! Well met."

[Robyn_Hood, I laughed and clapped my hands when the Penmanship appeared. Where's the emoticon for that?]


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Survivor
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Survivor spun the helm to bring the sloop into the wind, and backed sail.

"Well met indeed. But the sea beckons and the winds are favorable, dear lady."

Even as he spoke, the rearward motion of the Penmanship brought her about again, and her sails caught the wind.


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MaryRobinette
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MaryRobinette grabbed a rope that Survivor threw over the port side and clambered aboard. She cocked her head at him and said, "You know we have a problem, don't you?"

He shrugged his burly shoulders, "What? You mean the fact that the landscape has completely been obliterated by the multiplicity of authors."

MaryRobinette shook her head as she drew the Blade of Words. "No." She blocked a shooting star. "Ninjas!"

[This message has been edited by MaryRobinette (edited August 04, 2004).]


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HSO
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Ninjas everywhere! And not just armed with stars and katanas, but also the dreaded double negatives!

Indeed, Survivor was not pleased. "Have at you!" he yelled while procuring his battered copy of "The Chicago Manual of Style."

Survivor, the great and wise Mage, opened the tome to a bookmarked page and incanted softly. The sea swelled; dark clouds formed above the Penmanship.

MaryRobinette braced herself against the main mast, her Blade of Words at the ready.


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Robyn_Hood
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The ninjas were caught completely off guard. Here was one whose magics even they could not fathom.

As MaryRobinette reached out with her Blade of Words, Survivor continued to chant, calling down lightning from the tumultuous sky, trying to zapp the ninjas as flew through the air.

Try as they might Survivor and MaryRobinette couldn't seem to beat back the tide. The ninjas swarmed like locusts; as one was defeated two took his place.

It was only a matter of time before our heros were subdued by the shear number of double negatives and cheesy sub-titles.

The leader of the ninjas emerged from the pack to address his captives.

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited August 04, 2004).]


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goatboy
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“For the next thirty-nine days, this group of strangers will try to survive on this desert Island.” The Ninja leader said, staggering a bit as the Penmanship struck ground on a reef and began sinking.

“Every week we will vote one member off and they will be ERASED!

With that, the Ninja’s jumped overboard and began swimming toward the beckoning tropical beach that lay beyond the reef.

Sighing, MaryRobinette and Survivor leaped into the surf and began their own swim to escape the rapidly sinking ship.


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HSO
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They reached the shore and collapsed into the soft, warm sand. A camera crew rushed to welcome them. MaryRobinette ignored them.

"Don't you think it's odd that we're in the Survivor show, Survivor?" Mary asked. She pinched herself to see if she was dreaming all of this.

Survivor chuckled. "Doesn't surprise me one bit, actually."

"Really?"

"Really. You see: I'm not really Survivor."

"Who are you then?"

"How about I just show you?"

The man who she thought was Survivor stood and brushed the sand from hands, then smiled. Without further delay, he pulled at the false skin on his face, slowly revealing his true identity.

MaryRobinette gasped for breath as the realization hit her like a stone dropped from a great height.

The man behind the mask was....

[This message has been edited by HSO (edited August 04, 2004).]


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Robyn_Hood
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None other than...
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djvdakota
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Oh, that was a cheat, Robyn Hood!


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Robyn_Hood
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(I know but my mind went blank when I went to post ... Besides, there's nothing like dragging out the suspense )
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djvdakota
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(OOOOHHHHH!!! So you're dragging out the suspense!! So no one will mind if I...)


...the intrepid...

(I couldn't think of anything either. I guess because I don't watch Survivor--the show OR the Hatracker)

[This message has been edited by djvdakota (edited August 04, 2004).]


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HSO
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[Folks, the idea is to pick some zany character... anyone at all. Somebody could have said Elvis Presley or Ed McMahon or someone... They don't have to be from the Survivor show (which I've never seen one episode I'm proud to say).]
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goatboy
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Slowly, the stranger pulled off the latex mask to reveal... MaryRobinette!

From her place in the sand, MaryRobinette stared open mouthed at herself. Suddenly, she felt the ground sway as her POV changed to that of the standing MaryRobinette.

Now looking down at herself, she was surprised to see the other MaryRobinette begin pulling off a latex mask revealing her to be... Jeff Probst from Survivor!. Oh no! MaryRobinette realized, this must be the Island of re-run Reality Shows! Quickly she drew the blade of words, knowing her only hope was to...

[This message has been edited by goatboy (edited August 04, 2004).]

[This message has been edited by goatboy (edited August 04, 2004).]


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Robyn_Hood
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[this post has moved ]

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited August 04, 2004).]


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djvdakota
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[See, now here I was tryng to come up with someone relevant to the thread of the story (like the double reference to Survivor) and I missed out on one heck of an opportunity. Because once ...the intrepid... popped into my head I immediately thought ...Spaceman Spiff!

Any other Calvin and Hobbes junkies out there?

Man! ]

Quickly she drew the blade of words, knowing her only hope was to cut the cable!

Ah, the bliss, she thought. The freedom from the temptation to sit on the couch in front of the tube eating bon-bons and letting her mind turn to mush.

She shook her head just to be sure it hadn't already, then raised the Blade of Words and...


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Robyn_Hood
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Uh-oh, I think we simul-posted. How do we proceed? I suppose I could revise my post to come after Dakota.
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Robyn_Hood
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[Post moved here ]

...created a portal through space and time. Checking her literary license to make sure it was still valid, MaryRobinette ripped through the fabric of the universe and emerged at a most curious spot.

[This message has been edited by Robyn_Hood (edited August 04, 2004).]


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mikemunsil
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Dallas!
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MaryRobinette
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"@#$#*&&!#&*#@!!!!!!!!" said MaryRobinette, "Not again!"

A team of federal agents spotted her and drew their weapons. "Hey!" one of them shouted, "How'd you get that through security?"

MaryRobinette sheathed the Blade of Words, and thumbed the invisibility booster on her Hatrack-Utility belt. She smirked as the agents stopped in their tracks and spun, looking for her. Strolling casually down the concourse, she looked for the next flight departing to Portland, OR.


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babylonfreek
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And as the horribly familiar music rose around her, MaryRobinette realized she wasn't in Dallas, the city, she was in Dallas, the SHOW.

The Blade of Words wavered in her hands. It couldn't be, it simply couldn't be. The Land of Forsaken Writers, where all the lines were heavy with exposition, with melodrama, with dangling modifiers!

She scanned the horizon, in vain. The <i>Penmanship</i> was nowhere to be seen. And in this rift world of bad writing, her Hatrack Utility Belt, even her Bladeof Words, would never work.

She crossed her fingers, hoping it was a dream.

To her horror, she realized it was the season that was a dream!

As she collapsed on her knees, the mighty sword clattering to the floor, she knew only a miracle could save her from having to write the next episode.


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babylonfreek
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oh darn
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MaryRobinette
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She shook her head. "By all the gods of literature!" MaryRobinette reeled from the dizziness caused by the lingering effects of the multiple POV's. Federal agents ran through the oil fields in ten gallon hats, while J.R. Eweing checked passengers onto airplanes.

MaryRobinette raised her invisible hands to the sky. "Can no one help me?"


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TruHero
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"Ma'am? Ma'am?" MaryRobinette looked up to see Aaron Spelling standing over her. "Your name doesn't happen to be MaryRobinette, does it?" Aaron said with a smile.

"Why yes it is," she replied. "Aren't you Aaron Spelling?"
"Yes I am. I'm the King of the Land of Forsaken Writers," he said with chagrin. "We're so glad to finally find you. It was foretold that you would come and save us."
"It was?" MaryRobinette was stunned.
"Yes, our sage, Michael Bolton, saw the signs in his thinning hair."
"Your sage is Michael Bolton?"
"Yes," replied Mr. Spelling. "Who were you expecting, Barry Manilow?"
"I wasn't expecting anyone," MaryRobinette shouted. "Just tell me what I have to do to get out of here!"
"All you have to do is get Pamela Ewing to wake up, and we can all go home! You see, it's her dream that we are all caught up in. Just don't call her Victoria Principal, she's pretty sensitive about that."


Sorry, had it backwards Pamela/Bobby

[This message has been edited by TruHero (edited August 04, 2004).]


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