You remember at the end of last issue:
“Myrna screamed as an unearthly light burst forth from the chamber.”
Now, read on…
*** Hmmmm not bad…***
A Voice deep enough to make Paul Robeson seem a falsetto boomed out of the chamber that was now filled with a Towering Whirlwind emitting an Unearthly Light.
*** Not bad at all ***
Dirk Darringer was used to exposure to, if not necessarily contemplation on or understanding of, powers greater than himself. The Ultimate Collective for instance, who had plucked him from a pressbox in Sausalito and turned him into Paragon the Ultimate Man; or Spurgo the Conquestor, self-repairing child’s toy from a far galaxy, modified by the evil Dr. Malevo, and now grown gigantic and run amuck; even the Ultimate Marble, source of his many powers, was potent and mysterious beyond the limits of his certain knowledge. But none of this experience was adequate preparation for meeting… what had just appeared in that chamber.
*** Verrrrry interesssssting ***
The Voice boomed again. The Light was now too bright to look at, and Dirk had given up trying. He turned his face away and looked straight into the eyes of Mary Lu Retina, the Ultimate Woman, who was trapped in the energy bubble with him. She appeared to have something in her eye…
**** Very interesting indeed ****
The Voice rattled the lab’s foundations like a paper bag. Myrna Maple, born Myrna Malevo, hadn’t counted on being interrupted during the execution of her plot to restore her fiendish father to life by evolving Tito and Tina, the Ultimate Twins, into a shapeless blob of protoplasm ready to assume the properties, powers and personage of the next being named. It was supposed to be her dead father’s name that would be spoken to complete the operation.
***** It’s certainly worked out rather well. All the omnis. Hmmmmmmmm *****
The walls were vibrating like speaker cones in resonance with the Voice; It seemed to get louder with every Utterance. No, Myrna hadn’t planned on a mysterious figure sneaking in unobserved and, shocked, exclaiming “Almighty God!” before Myrna could say “Dr Horst Bock-Pilsener Malevo”. And she was just angry enough to ignore the Manifestation of the Deity and turn towards the mysterious stranger. “I’ll kill you!” she screamed, grabbing the lapels of his coat threateningly.
******* No, I don’t think so *******
Suddenly the stranger disappeared. Dirk had thought the stranger had looked familiar, and now it seemed he would never know who he was. “Stuttering stonefish!” stammered Dirk, “did you see that, Mary Lu?”
“No!” she snapped. “I can’t see anything with this damn potato salad in my eye.” Where, moments ago, she had been blinking slightly reddened and watery, yet essentially clean, eyes, now her entire upper face was covered in what appeared to be potato salad (with extra toluene).
“Interloping iguanas!” interjected Dirk. “That salad only got in your eyes during that weird dream. It wasn’t real!”
“You’d better hope it’s real, buster—it’s the only thing stopping me killing you over this enhancer debacle.”
“But there’d be no point—it’s too late to prevent Myrna from collecting enough information to create it with or without me,” expostulated Dirk. “Killing me now would accomplish nothing.”
“Wrong!” snarled Mary Lu. “It’d give me a warm glow of great satisfaction.”
“Oh, well, fair enough,” replied Dirk, after a moment’s thought. “But doesn’t it bother you that this doesn’t make sense? The entire Belgian episode including the potato salad never happened—it was all only a dream; yet here you are covered in it. My involuntary narrating was part of the same dream, yet it bothers me that this continues now, even as I speak. The entire enhancer time loop was never in a dream, only reality, yet here it is meshed with the potato salad and my narration…”
“Sheesh! I get the point already” complained Mary Lu, wiping another handful of gooey salad from her eyes.
“You think you have problems?!” lamented Myrna. “Only my father had the necessary expertise to reproduce the enhancing drug from the video record of your making the first batch of it.”
“Oh yeah?! Well, look at my situation! Here I am trying to make sense of all this…”
******************************* Enough! *******************************
Everyone except the Voice (which was now louder than ever before) shut up.
******* This is a momentous moment in the history of history **********
The entire laboratory shuddered with every Syllable and seemed on the verge of total collapse.
“Excuse me” said Paragon.
A moment’s silence.
Oh all right, I’ll stop shouting quite so loudly
The Voice continued rather more quietly, yet still louder than a very loud thing.
Another moment of silence.
“Y-yes, thanks. But how did you know I was going to ask th-” ventured Dirk.
I am All mighty, All seeing, All hearing…
“Oh, yes, of course”
… All knowing, All listening, All cogitating…
“All right all ready! So you’re an all knowing all-know-it-all, let’s leave it at that, shall we?”
What I have to say is for your ears only, my dear parents.
“Tito? Tina? Are you in there?”
No they are not. They will soon be needed in Belgium, which is where I have sent them in My infinite wisdom and infinite power.
“Is that as good as Ultimate Wisdom?”
“I don’t know, Tempo the Arch-Wizard was pretty wise.”
Please listen! I wouldn’t want to have to smite you!
Rapt attention from all three humans (and one other).
The universe is immobilised until we have finished this conversation.
Only my parents are spared
Mary Lu wiped a handful of potato salad from her forehead.
Myrna Malevo looked around behind her.
No-one else moved.
“We three can all still move,” they narrated in chorus.
“Wow, this is weird. Did you hear that? We’re all narrating in chorus! Yes, we know,” they continued in almost perfect harmony as well as pretty-good synchronisation. (The tiny imperfection harmony-wise was Dirk’s voice being an eighth of a tone flat.)
The same thought struck the three of them simultaneously.
“Does this mean…?”
Yes… Obviously… You are My parents
Myrna because she biologically amalgamated the Ultimate Twins into what became the Ultimate Biomass
And the Ultimate Man and Ultimate Woman, the Ultimate Parents of the Ultimate Twins
“That was only in my dreams—not reality,” thought Dirk.
He alone said “I thought that was only in my dreams—not reality.” The three way narration had worn off as mysteriously as it had descended upon them.
But reality is what I wish it to be. I am All powerful, All mighty and All lecturing, among All other “All”s
Thus I recreate reality, and turn Myrna Malevo, would-be recreator of fatherly would-be world enslaver…
There was a crackle of what seemed small-scale lightning, and Myrna disappeared.
… into the loving wife of insurance adjuster Larry Lent. As far as she knows she has been happily married and has never wanted to help conquer the world.
“So Myrna Maple a.k.a. Myrna Malevo is now Myrna Lent?” asked Dirk slowly.
Although she took her husband’s name, she hyphenated it with her own
Dirk thought a moment.
“Myrna Lent-Malevo???” he asked curiously?
Myrna Malevo-Lent, actually
“Myrna Malevo-Lent?!?! And yet she has no desire to conquer the world?”
None whatsoever—not a mean bone in her body—well, her left patella can be a bit grumpy, but still…
“Hah!” barked Paragon in a harsh, bitter parody of laughter. Then he sighed. “It’s that old ferricious isotope Iron-E acting up again.”
“Irony?” asked Mary Lu.
“Long story” answered Dirk, shortly.
You still don’t understand the momentousness of this moment. Since humanity has believed in A Supreme Being that created the universe, sceptics have asked “but who created God?”
Well, today you fortunate few know the answer…
“You’re The Supreme Being who created the Universe?” asked Paragon, now close to Ultimate Confusion.
“And you never existed until today?”
“Maybe it’s just me…”
… But you’re wondering how the universe which I created existed before I Myself came into being?
“Yeahhh! Good guess!”
It was nothing. I am All powerful, All knowing, Yadda, Yadda, Yadda. Which is how
“… how you were able to retroactively create the universe!”
Exactly—after all, I Am All Eternal as well as Everything Else. Eternity simultaneously pre- and post-dates any point in time.
But this moment is special…
“… because… because…” Paragon groped towards the answer. The answer metaphorically slapped his face and filed suit. “Because why?”
Because I haven’t yet expanded My Omnipresence throughout all space-time.
Here and now is a point of Ultimate Divinity, analogous to the cosmological and physical egg that preceded the big bang I will create 20 billion years ago.
Here and now is the point from which My Presence will spread through all space-time
“But it hasn’t yet. Your presence, I mean. Hasn’t spread.”
Correct. Though when it does, it will have always have had.
“And when it does the whole universe from creation to destruction will have a sort of continuity?”
Yes. A sort of retroactive continuity, if you will
“And here and now is…?”
The original point of departure, yes.
Paragon and the Deity really seemed to have a real rapport together, even finishing each other’s sentences.
“We really seem to have a rapport together, don’t we?” rhetoricised Dirk.
Surely you’re not surprised that I can link My mind to yours?
“No, but… why?“
I… Am not sure
“Not sure? Then there are things you don’t understand?
Strangely, yes. The reason you laughed at Mary Lu’s new name, for instance.
“Why that was just humour—dark, bitter, ironic humour to be sure, but humour none the less,” explained Dirk.
The concept is… unclear
“But you are Divine!?!”
Oh, that’s easy…
“But comedy is hard?”
Something like that.
A moment’s silence. Again.
Well, I must go and spread throughout the universe and all space-time and all eternity.
And just like that the whirlwind and light disappeared.
And as Almighty God left to create the universe, send forty days and nights of rain crashing down on Noah, and supervise the next Big Crunch, Dirk felt himself drawn with him ever so slightly in sympathy—also spread out across time and space, and with a touch of omniscience—far less than God himself in both phenomena, but enough to find himself in a dozen different “where”s at a dozen different “when”s simultaneously, and understanding just enough of what was happening to not go mad.
The twisting swirls of stars were like sands through the hour glass…
Dirk knew now that all his dreams and recurring hallucinations were merely psychic flash-forwards, a series of unconscious premonitions of actual future events—or at least actual potential future events.
Yes, even the incredibly convoluted dream within a dream, where initially he thought the battle with Spurgo the murderous metallic monster and fledgling baseball manager was part of a dream, only to discover that he really did fight Spurgo and that the entire vividly realistic sequence of events culminating in the super-powerisation of Brussels was the real dream, turned out to be not a dream, but really real. At least at some point in the future it would all eventually happen—probably.
It was the blurring of reality (a natural side-effect of the Supreme Being spreading outwards in all four dimensions from the Point of Departure to attain eternal omnipresence) and realisation of the concretificisation of the “dream” that led to the mysterious arrival of Malevo’s potato salad on Mary Lu’s face earlier when she was trapped in the energy sphere.
And now Dirk found his awareness, his psyche, his very being split into diamond shards scattered along the firetrail that was his life…
Here he is in Dixon City of the far future, chained to an atomic bomb set to detonate in half-a-second…
Here he is at pre-school, not wanting to leave the jungle gym and go home because today his Uncle Horst had arrived to take him home…
Here he is in 2055 A.D. fighting against Tito and Tina, trying to prevent them going back in time to 1995, and failing when they use the Ultimate Yo- Yo against him…
Here he is in disguise, years ago, sabotaging the monitor of the Ultimate Collective so that it would select him by “error” when the collective needed someone to become the Ultimate Man. If only he could finish before the Ultimate Clerk discovered him…
Here he is in 1997, visiting the IVF centre with Mary Lu, where the frozen embryos that one day will become the Ultimate Twins are stored…
Here he is in 2005 battling Malevo (who had indeed gained a new body—a very surprising new body) in an attempt to prevent the distribution of the evil enhancer drug…
Here he is, 12 years old, playing with his new Christmas present: a brightly coloured superball which his adult consciousness, with the benefit of future-hindsight now recognises as the Ultimate Marble…
Here he is at the bottom of the Marianas Trench of the far future, a quarter of a second before an A-bomb obliterates the Dixon City of the far future. He had finally learned to teleport himself—all he lacked was reasonable control of his destination. The immense pressure at the bottom of the ocean began to take it’s toll…
Here he is on a time-traveling mission to the recent past. He has traveled back in time to tell the Ultimate Twins the location of Malevo’s grapefruit warehouse hideaway, so that they will be on hand to rescue him when he needs them to. Unfortunately a quacking duck has distracted him and led him to be hiding in a garbage can in a Dixon City alley one night, surprised and alarmed to realise that the voice he hears sparring verbally with some punk with a ray gun, is his own. This was the punk that squeezed off five shots that all hit garbage cans. ZZZap! One. ZZZap! Two. ZZZap! Three…
Here he is, retired, his identity no longer a secret, explaining to the I.R.S. that he could only afford nine apartments in the U.S. because of all the money the morphing ability of the Ultimate Costume had saved him over the years on laundry bills. The auditor frowns and picks up a rubber stamp marked “Ultimate Tax Cheat”, bearing the logo of a skull and crossbones…
Here he is, bound and gagged in a secret laboratory, where another attempt to give Malevo’s spirit a new body has not reached fruition. “The body is ready”, says Rex Reeves, “but the ghost is not yet ready”…
Here he is at a convention of living dead fans of graphic storytelling, laying eyes for the first time on the legendary “Necrocomicon”. Though he didn’t know it, this would be the day he learned to always bring a towel…
Here he is researching a sports column as Dirk Darringer, interviewing Spurgo the Conquestor, manager of the Dixon City Dodgers, who had led them into the Galactic Series. But Spurgo would not answer his questions!!!…
Here he is battling the Ultimate Menace, powerless except for his Ultimate Danger Sense, which was working overtime: that laser-powered chainsaw was dangerous! If only he could move his arms…
Here he is, relaxing, talking to the Supreme Being over a daiquiri, who explained to him the identity of the shadowy figure in the lab that day of the Point of Departure. “So it was just Henry R. Broaddus, who had dropped in to see how RAC Challenge was going, because he was away from the net for a while?” Yes, and I returned him safely to his own universe with no memory of what had happened “I don’t understand what that means at all” I know - But it doesn’t matter you don’t understand… yet…
And here he is, in Malevo’s lab, ten seconds after the whirlwind had vanished, lying sprawled on the floor after the energy sphere had disappeared. He was dazed and confused, the sensations of a dozen life-threads still coursing through him. He tried to teleport, on a whim.
“Hmm. Still haven’t learnt to teleport yet. That must happen later,” he mused. He pinched himself. “Ouch!” He had felt that Ultimate Pinch, so he wasn’t dreaming. He wasn’t asleep. He saw he was bleeding slightly from a grazed knee.
“Yep, I’m me all right, not an Ultimate Life Model Decoy. They don’t bleed. And since I’m not attracting any loose iron filings, I’m no longer a human electro-magnet. Guess my body absorbed enough of the first four isotopes of iron from the general environment to cancel that effect for the moment.”
He waved a hand in front of his face. “No spots before my eyes, I’m not hallucinating. No injection marks, I’m not drugged. This now is all real, and I’m me. That’s a relief.”
“That’s good. It’ll be nice for you to die relieved!” a low menacing female voice said.
“Mary Lu! I’d forgotten about her!” murmured Dirk to himself.
“So had everyone else, apparently!” she snarled, with a withering look towards Bill Keir, who wrote himself out in an instant, saying “sorry, Dirk, you’re on your own now.”
So he was the one complaining about his situation just before the whirlwind cried ‘enough’ earlier, realised Dirk.
“No hard feelings I hope?” said Dirk with a chuckle to Mary Lu. Better make conversation, try to distract her, he thought. “You know, while I was pinching myself I realised what it was that had happened to the Scarecrow’s brain, you know. See, these cows…”
“I don’t care” snarled Mary. “That was when I lifted the Ultimate Marble from you. You are defenceless and doomed.”
Ultimate Destructive EyeBeams speared out from Mary Lu’s retinas, blasting Paragon full force. And then the entire lab, weakened too much by the Divine Vocal Chords, tons and tons of concrete and steel, collapsed on top of both of them…
To be continued…
Find out about the fiendish plot the cows plan to turn the Scarecrow’s brain to! Discover that in space no-one can hear you stub your toe! Learn Spurgo’s recipe for Hashed Humans!
All this and more in a story that could only be called “The Ultimate Funeral” (unless, of course, it was sub-titled “The Cut of a Thousand Deaths”) in which the unimaginable happens, and everything is followed up!
Special Bonus Next Issue: Sikorski’s Soapbox
all brought to you by “Dashing” Daniel Sikorski!
Phew! Four days is a killer deadline! No apologies for non-American spellings, everyone; the net is international. ;-) I hope everybody has read all the previous chapters recently, or this will have made no sense at all - not that it probably makes much sense even if you have! See, I enjoyed all the previous chapters so much I tried to put as much of all of them back in continuity that I could!
This was a lot of fun to do, and I’d like to offer my gratitude and admiration to all those writers before me (especially Henry R. Broaddus for getting the whole thing off the ground, and Rob Rogers for setting up the introduction of Almighty God amongst a whole bunch of fun stuff), and my sympathies and best wishes for all those to come after (especially Daniel Sikorski, who inherits a whole swagful of crises spread all over space-time, if he cares to claim them). Special thanks also to everyone who sent me copies of chapters when I couldn’t get them off r.a.c.c. (dodgy feed), and to Jerry Franke for his patience and assistance.
I wonder what happens when the end of the author list is reached? Do we keep on going or start all over again? Or will we all be too old and insane to continue by the time that happens? Only time… will tell.