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I Did My Best · Original Short Story ·
Organised by RogerDodger
Word limit 2000–8000
Show rules for this event
Tense Times in Toon Town
Through silent space it had travelled, sparkling in the infinite void, straight as an arrow in the absence of gravity. As if determined to wipe away all in its path, it bore onward, zooming towards one tiny speck of light, a small world around a small sun…

ToonWorld was a blue and green globe of bright primary colors surrounded by white puffy clouds. The whole world throbbed and bulged as it spun around, full of manic energy and silly visual puns and random events. Statistical law had stated that there must be one place in the entire universe in which impossible things were more likely to happen than other places, and this indeed was it.

Today, the inhabitants of ToonTown were going about their various pursuits, heedless of the danger hidden in the sky overhead. Anthropoid cats chased hypercephaloid mice, clothes-wearing dogs chased the cats, martians chased after wise-cracking rabbits, zoot-suited wolves were getting clobbered by curvy minks, and all of them occasionally disappeared into a clouds of flying fur and shredded clothing. Oblivious to the daily chaos unfolding around her, Patsy Durm, a young hippo of ways and means, was out for a pleasant stroll on a lovely afternoon, strutting down Clampett street while humming and bopping along to her own inner music.

She spotted a scrap of paper on the sidewalk. “Ooh, is that a Clubways coupon?” she muttered. She picked it up, and found that underneath it was a squirming insect! She raised it to eye level, and saw a large ant, about the size of a grape, hanging from the coupon, which it had been using as a cloak. It bore a tiny gleaming sword in its mandibles and wiggled its burly little legs and antennae in apprehension.

“Ooooh! You’re just adorable!” exclaimed Patsy, turning the tiny warrior gently from side to side for a better view.

“Mmmm mmm mmfffmfmm pfffthmm!” squeaked the ant as the sword jiggled in its mandibles. It quickly sheathed the sword into a tiny scabbard woven of grass blades. “Excuse me. Greetings, macromegalic one! I see that your intentions are not hostile, and so I entreat you to pay me heed. I am Eliant the Doughtygastered, and I am embarked upon a noble quest, upon which the fate of my home colony, SidewalkCrackia, depends. For the sake of justice, for the safety of our brood, I ask you to release me to face relentless danger--”

“I love quests!” said Patsy with a little jump of joy. “Can I help? What are you questing for?”

“Many generations ago,” intonted Eliant in portentious falsetto, “The Perceptiplex, a gem of great wisdom and power crafted by the legendary Queen Opthymen, was treacherously stolen from our nest by warriors of the Bolingalidomstar nest, with whom we have ever been at strife. Many heroes of past ages have set forth to try to recover it, but none ever returned. But at long last, the stars are in their proper courses and the fates are in alignment, for the prophecies of old have long foretold my birth. I fear that none may aid me, for I alone am destined to go forth and retrieve the Perceptiplex from the deepest lair of--”

“Bowling Alley Dumpster, got it. That’s just a few blocks away. Let’s go!” Patsy put Eliant on her shoulder and ran off down the street.

“What?” cried Eliant. “Wait! It was foretold that I would risk the perilous crossing of the Maelgüttür, a swirling torrent that has claimed hundreds of lives--”

Patsy leaped over the circling sludge in a backed up street grating, landing with a little splash at the puddle’s edge.

“Oh,” said Eliant. “And I was to face the impenetrable transparent force field that cannot be pierced by even the stoutest mandibles--”

Patsy nimbly dodged around two workers carrying a plate of glass across the street. “Yeah, we aren’t going to do that old gag today.”

“But–the daunting lengths of the slime-riddled and monster-infested caverns--”

“That sounds like the Eastman Street sewer,” said Patsy. “Believe me, you’re not missing anything. Mostly turtles and rats. We shove pizza through the manholes to keep them quiet. Hang on, we’re almost there!”

Patsy ran down a dim grimy passage. Through the brick walls on one side, ominous rumbling noises were heard, followed by cacophonous crashes and cheers. Soon, she reached a cul-de-sac where sacks of garbage were culled. She shoved aside the rusty old dumpster, and underneath, amid the evil scent of rancid fry grease lay the hole of a monstrously ancient evil lair, surrounded by the exoskeletons of many a brave and foolish warrior ant. The bronze, foreboding Gates of Doom were about the size of a teacup.

“I earnestly thank you for your aid, O mighty one,” said Eliant, “But from here, I must go on alone. The dangers below--”

“Oooh, I know!” said Patsy. She ran into the bowling alley, hit the food counter, and returned with a large slushie and a popsicle. “They always run their slushie machine just a little too cold. Okay, here goes!” She poured the slushie down the hole, then plunged the popsicle into the entrance. There was a crackling in the ground as the popsicle pushed the semi-fluid slushie over the transition edge into solid ice. With a great upheaval of greasy dirt, Patsy pulled the frozen ant’s nest from the ground, and Arthur’s joy in pulling the Sword from the Stone could not have matched her intense emotions.

“Let’s see now…” she mused as she held the nest like an enormous stem of grapes, turning it back and forth, with many ant warriors frozen within, looking miffed to have been denied a good fight. “There!” She pointed to a chamber at the very bottom of the frozen nest, where a sparkling gem protruded. “Does that look Perceptiplexy?”

Eliant’s feelers quivered between reaching out in earnest joy and drooping in dejection. “…Yes. Can I carry it home myself, at least? So I feel like I did something on the most important day of my life?”

Patsy smiled ruefully. “Aw, hey, don’t take it like that. Let me guess, they had more than one of these prophecies in the past? And those who were prophesied about before, they probably just disappeared and were never seen again, right?”

Eliant gave her a curious look. “So I am told.”

“You see? They probably didn’t really expect that you were going to make it at all.” She popped the Perceptiplex free, gave it to Eliant, then jammed the nestsicle back in the ground. “As it stands, you’ve won your quest, you’ll get a whole lot of cred back at the nest, and you’ve made a giant friend, and that’s the best, right?”

“I suppose…?” said Eliant, turning the Perceptiplex slowly around as the facets flashed in the sun.

“Of course!” said Patsy. “Hey, you don’t have to head right back, do you? Let’s go have a little fun. You were probably raised by a gang of humorless old acolytes preaching to you about your holy mission. They probably never fed you birthday cake or let you read the funny papers on Sunday. Now that you’re out in the world, why not see some of it?”

Through space it soared, on a cosmic time table that spanned millennia, but was precise down to the second. Spawned ages ago and at unimaginably remote distances, its course was continuous and inexorable. Bearing its deadly message of doom, it bore down on its unfortunate target…

Hours later, as day turned to evening, they were sitting in a coffee shop named Java Nice Day, at the corner of Avery Avenue and Iwerks Lane. Patsy was sipping a latte and Eliant was politely eating some honey from the tip of a toothpick. On the table around Eliant lay the relics of several of the afternoon’s adventures; a ribbon for second place at the pinewood derby, a bunch of tokens from playing skee ball, and a tiny six-armed t-shirt reading “If you can read this, you’re a Myrmecologist.”

Patsy called out to the barista. “Hey, you’re looking a little drawn today!”

The barista, a cat, gave a sad laugh as his jagged outlines shifted about his body. “Yeah, I’ve really got the jaggies. Someone must have been in a rush. Can I get you some cake?” He gestured, wielding a circular pie-slicer with his enormous right arm.

“Maybe later. So, Eliant, any plans for what you want to do after this whole quest thing?”

Eliant pondered, while slowly cleaning sticky mandibles. “You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about. I’d always thought my life was meant for one purpose. Of course, I attended numerous picnics, considered joining the army, and even tried my skill at carpentry. I wasn’t sure what hill I wanted to die in. Now… I can see this is a world where bottlecaps can be kept in museums, and people buy lots and lots of shoes even if they only have two feet. It’s not all new, I mean, we ants already understood micropayments. Why take a lot of food from one source when you can take a little bit from everyone?”

“All of what you say makes sense,” said Patsy. “It’s good that you’re starting young, but it’s never too late to retool a bit and start making the world better in a different way…” She trailed off and stared out the window. A fire was shining in her eyes. “And maybe we’d better table this for now. Come on!”

Patsy ran outside, Eliant riding on her head, and joined crowds of fellow Toons in staring at the sky. In the darkening sky overhead was a fire that was starting to wash away the stars, as a shape in fiery red flew into the atmosphere. Shutting her ears against the babble of excited voices, Patsy strained to make out what it was. A meteor? An egg?

No, it was… a cluster of large yellow blocks, advancing in rows. Blocks that, from the right angle, showed letters. Letters that read…



Fleeing from the re-emerging Galactic Empire,

the forces of the rebellion find themselves retreading

old ground, seemingly without end. Meanwhile, at the other

side of the galaxy, a new threat emerges…

Patsy was already on her phone. “Yes, my agent’s name is Alex, could you connect me please? Thanks. Alex? Listen, we’ve got a problem here. Those Lucas franchise people still aren’t cleaning up after themselves. Yeah, another one of those rogue intros that they keep shooting off into space. We’ll do what we can here, but it’s going to be messy. Please make our displeasure known. Anyway, gotta go!”

As Patsy hung up the phone, Eliant peered down over her forehead. “I certainly admire your sang froid in the face of catastrophe,” sad Eliant, “But what can we in fact do?”

“Everything we can! Just remember, we’re not alone!”

As the streaming disaster headed to the ground, the Toons of Toonworld were already taking to the skies and gathering on the ground. Some were mighty heroes, some were silly waterfowl; some were flying planes and spacecraft, some were the planes and spacecraft. Some wielded powerful lasers and some held non-dairy cream pies. Some were copy editors, holding huge erasers or driving tankers full of White-Out. One fellow was holding a combination flashlight and umbrella. Patsy for her part was pulling an impossibly huge bazooka from her shirt pocket, and Eliant was furiously trying to unlock the special powers of the Perceptiplex. But all were showing that indomitable spirit, that urge to fight and survive that would make them all immortal, no matter how cheaply they’d been animated or how many of their films had been rendered into guitar picks. They were all in it together.

The circle of view closed down, leaving only a black screen, and then there was a huge kablooey.

And the crashing of broken glass.

And a plaintive voice: “I said we weren’t doing that gag today!”
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#1 ·
That’s all folks!

I like the idea that Patsy and all the rest of them are all in on it. Eliant is a cute name and character but I wish he had more depth to him. We needed a character arc but I’m not sure we really had one because he didn’t say much after they wen to the coffee place.

His ponderous moment inside doesn’t come to fruition and I’m kind of sad for the little man.

Besides that I like the duo and their juxtaposition of personality to each other.

Keep writing ;P
#2 ·
I really liked the little tale we had of Eliant the Antventurer learning about friendship, coffee and pinewood derbys. I did think the ending was a little sudden, and while I liked the Lucas gag I think I lost my emotional investment at that point.

Creatively though, you weaved in all those pictures pretty much seamlessly. Major kudos for that.
#3 ·

But, yeah, the Lucas joke is where things went off the rails for me, too, and the "iris to black" instead of actually showing us the ending got me a little scowly. I do love the call back in the last line, though. As for suggestions--'cause I'm full of 'em!--maybe the power of the Perspectiplex could allow Eliant to shift the angle of the Lucas letters to deflect the meteor and save the world? He's already had his own perspective changed, after all, and if wold be a way to tie the whole piece together.

#4 ·
I feel a slight problem this round was the question of "what is the story being told here" and I think this one is a bit emblematic of it on the whole. Things happen in this story. Events proceed in a sequence. But overall, there is not an overarching narrative direction to the story. There is, at least in my opinion, no real narrative arc, nothing to be taken away from it in the end, etc.

The last scene makes a gesture towards it with this idea of working together, but we don't really -learn- about that over the course of the story, because Patsy honestly just kinda comes in, tells Eliant "yo, you wrong", and that's that. There's no real learning of the importance of togetherness or friendship. Hell, for all we know, he -could- have succeeded on his own.

So yeah. I think that's the big obstacle here. You have good places together, but you need to string them into an arc that sticks together well and builds on itself.

The other thing I'd note (and this one is hard because cartoons are visual and written stories are not), but I don't think you really manage to capture the zaniness of cartoons too well here. Most of the direct stuff is fairly level-headed and mundane. You do express some crazy stuff, but it is generally in the broader "what's happening around Toon Town" sequences. And I think that's -really- important to nail when you're going with something cartoon based. I said it in my other review, but I really do think Necromance captured a cartoony tone a bit better by putting more direct "physical" comedy in the actual sequences, as well as leaning on a more colorful bit of narration.

Still, all that said, this was a pleasant enough read!
#5 ·
I abstained on this one. The zany characters, the cavalcade of pop culture references, the breakneck pace, it's all outside of my preferences. Sorry, Author.

Thank you for submitting, though!