23 January 2009

"Spoiler Warnings"

By Curtis C. Chen

"Rosebud," the Spoiler gasped.

The strange flower closed up again, having discharged nerve gas into the Spoiler's nostrils. He tried to identify the scent as his invulnerable skull thudded against hard dirt. Sort of a pungent mint.

He should have known that the Arch Duke wouldn't leave his lair undefended. It had been nearly impossible to find that secret doorway behind the waterfall, but all villains were unreasonably paranoid.

Footsteps approached. The numbness in the Spoiler's face had dissolved into tingling, and he was able to turn his head to see the Arch Duke stepping over the mutant plant. The villain wore a gaudy purple uniform decorated with gold buttons and epaulets that looked like hairbrushes. He was a stark contrast to the Spoiler's form-fitting green unitard.

"You again?" the Arch Duke said. "I thought you'd given up after our last encounter, Mister--Spoilsport, is it?"

"I'm the Spoiler," the hero said.

"That's rather a silly name," the villain said. "Do you cause fresh produce to rot?"

The Spoiler could feel one arm becoming un-paralyzed. "I'm the Spoiler because I spoil your evil plans."

"Don't you mean 'foil?'" the Arch Duke said. "Of course, that makes me think of aluminium..."

"Keep talking," the Spoiler said. "It'll be easier to subdue you while you're distracted."

"Unlikely." The Duke gestured at the hedge. "The moment you come after me, my Botanical Guard will immobilize you once again. I'm quite safe from your misguided attack."

"You're the one who's misguided," the Spoiler said. He almost had the use of his legs back.

"No, you're literally misguided," the Duke said. "You think I destroyed that satellite, the Spider--"

"Sparrow," the Spoiler corrected.

"Yes, well, it wasn't me." The Duke brushed something off his sleeve. "I do not take hostages, or ask for ransom. It's so undignified."

The Spoiler leapt up, launching himself over the hedge. He landed in a crouch, grabbed one of the flowers, and aimed it at the Arch Duke's face. The rosebud opened and released its toxic payload.

A giant boulder fell from above and drove the Spoiler's uncrushable body into the dirt floor, burying all but his head. When the debris had settled, he saw the Duke still standing and clapping his hands.

"Oh, seriously," the Duke laughed, "did you think I wouldn't be prepared for your athletic tendencies?"

"This is only an inconvenience," the Spoiler growled.

"Yes, quite." The Duke pulled an envelope from his jacket and dropped it on the ground. "You really should look at these satellite telemetry logs. They'll tell you who the real culprit is."

"Fake evidence. How original."

The Duke rolled his eyes. "The space agency has the same data. I've merely highlighted some key bits that should be quite telling."

"Wasting my time will only delay the inevitable," the Spoiler said.

But the Arch Duke had already left.

The Spoiler sighed and started wiggling his fingers. He'd be able to dig out of the trap eventually, but sometimes he really wished he had super-strength. Or super-speed. Or a better plan.


Audio: "Spoiler Warnings"


Music: "Traped in the jungle (Sippy Cup rmx)" by DjiZ, licensed under Creative Commons from ccMixter.

As you can probably tell, my laptop is still in the shop. They've confirmed the problem (both wireless and wired networking die after resuming from standby), but don't have a solution yet. Next week, I'll probably call the Lenovo salesman who keeps emailing me and shell out for the extended warranty.

I don't know why the Spoiler sounds like Worf from TNG. I really don't.


I'm Super, Thanks For Asking

My friend Gray recently turned me on to the Superuseless Superpowers blog. It's quite amusing, and is very much in the same spirit as my spec superhero comedy pilot, "Apartment of Champions" (D hates the title). What do you do when your superpower is nearly useless--and the world is already full of superheroes?

I had some trouble generating a story this week, so I went to my VPXII classmate Jeannie's Plot-O-Matik and got some inspiration. After I came up with the names for my hero and villain, the rest fell into place more easily.

And lest you think "The Spoiler" is a name which would not strike fear into the hearts of evildoers, I refer you to writer Mark Evanier:
Murder...arson...mass genocide...these are all ghastly crimes. But to my pal Bob, they are misdemeanors compared to the felony of giving away the ending to a movie. Bob loves movies but he hates nothing more in this world than to have the denouement of a film tipped to him in advance.

-- "POV: Movie Endings"


22 January 2009

The Lateness of the Hour

Just a quick note to let you know this week's installment will be posted later than usual. Normally, I finish writing, recording, and editing sometime on Thursday night and schedule the posts for publication just after midnight on Friday, so you can enjoy some flash fiction first thing in the morning. Tonight, however, D and I are going to have dinner with our friend Acorn, who's in town for a conference and leaving early tomorrow morning. I haven't finished writing this week's story yet, so I won't record my audio until tomorrow, and I will delay posting the text until everything's done. But it will be done sometime Friday (Pacific Time). Thanks for your patience.

Meanwhile: Identify the correct pop culture reference for the title of this post, and win a prize!


18 January 2009

John Scalzi Shows You His Shorts

For a change of pace, how about a taste of someone else's flash fiction?

Here's John Scalzi reading his short story "Missives from Possible Futures #1: Alternate History Search Results" (originally published at Subterranean Press in 2007), last night in San Francisco:


He also promises to post audio recordings of the entire event online "at some point in the near future." Copycat.

(If you're unfamiliar with Scalzi's work, check out his Old Man's War novels. He's also just been hired to be a Creative Consultant for Stargate Universe, which increases my current interest in the series from "approximately zero" to "definitely greater than zero.")