So I have another Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction to share here. This is a really old one, first published on Usenet in the 1990s. You’ll only be able to tell by how dated some particular riffs are but, you know? I like just how extremely dated they are.
This pair of stories — the incomplete “Dreams of a Lost Past” and the complete “Loss” — are fan fiction for the Legion of Superheroes, a comic book I had never read at the time and knew almost nothing about. I have since learned a bit more about the bonkiest superhero group outside the Metal Men. It turns out everything preposterous I made up about Brainiac-5 and his gang was pretty much real and actually literally true. So that’s fun.
I believe that this pair of stories was volunteered by their author, Doug Atkinson, to the Web Site Number Nine Dibs List, an e-mail chain that tried to match up original fanfic authors and Mystery Science Theater 3000 fanfic writers. I can say that, at least back then, Atkinson was pleased with my work. I hope that, wherever he is, he still is, or at least that he is no more embarrassed by his youthful writing than I am by mine.
[ OPENING SEQUENCE ]
[ 1.. 2.. 3.. 4.. 5.. 6.. ]
[ SOL DESK. CROW is wearing a polyester suit and has a card propped up in his hand. TOM is standing in front of JOEL, with the cap on his head replaced with a balloon-like pad. JOEL is holding his hands over TOM’s head. TOM is making sound effects. Sketch is fast paced; no break between lines. ]
JOEL: Come on, big money, big money, no whammies… [ Hitting TOM’s head ] STOP!
CROW: OK, you stop on our survey question; we asked 100 people at random the following question; top five answers on the board. ‘What is a refreshing treat on a hot summer’s day?’
JOEL: I’m gonna say… an ice cream soda!
TOM: Good answer, good answer.
CROW: Show meeeeeeee…ice cream soda!
TOM: Ding ding ding ding ding!
CROW: Bringing you to the Speed Round; seven-letter word on the board, you start with an L and a D and twenty-five seconds.
TOM: Ding ding ding ding ding!
CROW: That puts you on the board with a Five.
JOEL: I’m gonna say, 300 dollars, higher! [ Pointing up with both thumbs. ]
CROW: Reveals a Three.
JOEL: 250 dollars, Lower, lower. [ Again motions with his thumbs. ]
CROW: Got a Jack.
JOEL: Everything I got, higher!
CROW: And we have an Eight!
JOEL: Gonna freeze.
CROW: Freeze, freeze at four cards in, and that takes you to the prizes.
JOEL: [ Looking around ] I’d like the Amana freezer for three hundred forty-nine dollars…
JOEL: The microwave oven for one hundred eighty-five…
CROW: It’s yours.
JOEL: The Presidential chess set replica for seventy dollars…and the rest on a gift certificate.
[ CAMBOT pulls back to reveal GYPSY ]
GYPSY: Things you see on the Game Show Network. Things that were junk the first time around. Things you remember too well.
TOM: Ding ding ding ding ding!
[ TOM, CROW, GYPSY, and JOEL start jumping gleefuly as CAMBOT flashes $25,000 on the bottom of the screen and a simulacrum of the $25,000 Pyramid plays. ]
JOEL: We did it!
[ COMMERCIAL SIGN flashes ]
MAGIC VOICE: Thanks for playing, and we’ll be right back after this word from our sponsors.
[ COMMERCIAL BREAK ]
[ SOL. Calmed down considerably from above. JOEL is polishing CROW’s beak.TOM is reading a comic book. ]
JOEL: We ever figure out what to buy with that gift certificate?
TOM: They gave us a service certificate instead.
CROW: What’s the difference?
TOM: This wasn’t good for anything.
JOEL: Still, that was fun.
CROW: We should do that more often.
TOM: Can’t. You can’t be on another game show for at least ninety days.
JOEL: Says who?
TOM: It’s a rule.
CROW: I never heard that rule.
TOM: You dare question me?
JOEL: Hang on, boys, the trylon and the perisphere are on the line.
[ JOEL taps MADS SIGN ]
[ DEEP 13. DR. FORRESTER and TV’S FRANK are wearing large sacks covering some kind of globes on top of their heads. ]
DR. F: Ahoy, hoy, lackeys and layabouts. Are you prepared to see yourselves bested in yet another Invention Exchange?
FRANK: I know I am!
[ SOL DESK. JOEL and the bots have a model spaceship covered by a piece of velvet. The desk is cleaned and TOM has nothing in his hands ]
JOEL: You bet.
TOM: We were thinking, as we often do, about the 70s.
CROW: And we realized there were some stylistic touches about that much maligned decade which, while goofy, were still kind of fun.
JOEL: So, combining that with our own precarious situation in space, we decided to create… [ Pulls off the velvet to reveal…]
ALL: The courderoy starship!
CROW: Warm, durable, and easily washed, this vision of tomorrow from the days of yesterday is sure to keep you at least as comfortable as a wood-paneled station wagon while waiting in line at the antimatter refilling module.
JOEL: Plus it makes the cutest little "fwit-fwit" noise when you go into warp.
TOM: [ Disclaimer voice ] Stephen Collins and Robert Forster sold separately. James Brolin not available in all areas.
[ DEEP 13. As before; their heads are still covered. ]
DR. F:Fascinating. Now then: Many, many — perhaps too many — science fiction and comic book writers have tried to look into the future of human evolution and concluded that in the future, people willhave vastly larger brains.
FRANK: Which means they’re going to need bigger heads.
DR. F: Right. But since evolution is slow, inexact, and ugly, we’re giving it a little hand up.
[ DR. FORRESTER and TV’S FRANK pull of the sacks, revealing snow globe-like shapes on their heads. ]
FRANK: But rather than fill this extra space with hair, we got creative!
[ They turn around, revealing cityscapes with the white snowflakes. ]
DR. F: So that you can display civic pride or make an amusing conversation piece while you wait for superhuman intelligence and psychic powers.
FRANK: We call them, ‘Snow brains.’
[ They turn back to the camera. ]
DR. F: Now then. Your medicine this week is a pair of "Legion of Superheros" works by one Doug Atkinson — the start of a story called "Dreams of a Lost Past," in which events almost happen, and "Loss," in which the main character is argued out of doing something interesting. Read ’em and weep, boyos.
[ SOL DESK. JOEL is holding the starship and making fwit-fwit noises ]
TOM: I think they stole my look.
CROW: They can keep it.
[ MOVIE SIGN flashes. General chaos. ]
JOEL: We got movie sign!
[ 6.. 5.. 4.. 3.. 2.. 1.. ]
[ ALL enter theater ]
> DREAMS OF A LOST PAST
CROW: An untold tale of another tomorrow in which "Squiddly Diddly" rules the world!
> An untold story of the Legion of Super-Heroes
TOM: Not any more. Thanks *so much*, Doug Atkinson.
> by Doug Atkinson
JOEL: Oh, the defendants have to go talk to him after they see Rusty the bailiff.
> Jacques Foccart tossed on his bed as his slumbering
> brain was wracked by uneasy dreams.
CROW: [ As if talking in his sleep ] Scott Adams…stairmaster…horse shampoo…term life insurance…AAAUGH!
> In his sleeping visions,
> he was in a vague land of mists and shadows, seen as if out
> of the corner of the eye.
TOM: So he’s mostly seeing the annoying network logo.
> He wandered aimlessly, but there
> seemed no escape.
JOEL: Danged foolproof travelers’ alarm clocks…
> A blurred, humanoid figure drifted in front of him. It
> began to say something…
CROW: [ Gasping ] Warranty restrictions…may not be valid…in some states.
> Jacques awoke and sat bolt upright. _Sacre couer…what
> a dream. I cannot say why it disturbed me so,
TOM: Maybe ’cause it was a *bad* dream?
> but my sheets
> are soaked in sweat. Perhaps it reminded me of something?_
CROW: I know…it’s a signal. This time, I must be serious. I must reorganize my spice drawer.
> He shook his head and resolved to put it out of his
> mind. Element Lad had assigned him to Mission Monitor Board
TOM: Element Lad really knows how to let other folks in on the party.
> and it would not do to be distracted when other
> Legionnaires’ lives depended on him.
JOEL: He should be asleep instead.
> Blearily he pulled on
> his yellow-and-black costume and wandered to the command
CROW: Commander honeybee is on the job!
> * * * * *
> Blok looked up from the Legion history holo he was
JOEL: Those who do not study their history are doomed to see it in flashbacks.
> "Good morning, Invisible Kid," he rumbled. "Are you
> here to relieve me?"
> "Yes," said Jacques, rubbing his eyes. "Oh, good
CROW: That’s a relief.
> Forgive my not observing the pleasantries, but I
> had an uneasy sleep, with strange dreams."
TOM: Hey, does it mean anything in your dream when your parents become 500 foot tall giants moaning about how you’ve failed them in everything you’ve ever tried and then when they notice you they think you’re a fly and stomp on you repeatedly?
> "Curious. I confess I do not fully understand these
> ‘dreams’ you organic beings experience. If you wish, I could
> take your turn at Board duty."
> "No, thank you." He suppressed a yawn. "I should not be
> derelict in my duty.
JOEL: It’s much better if I do it in an inattentive and distracted manner.
> Which Legionnaires are on missions?"
> Blok instructed the board to show current mission
> status. "Lightning Lass, Polar Boy,
CROW: And his sidekick, the amazing Cartesian Kid.
> Phantom Girl, Sun Boy,
> and Magnetic Kid are investigating a solar-powered satellite
> on Mars.
JOEL: Superheros just never stop having a good time.
> Tellus, Quislet, Wildfire, and the White Witch are
> undertaking extended duty on Tellus’ homeworld of Hykraius.
TOM: Rock me, Hykraius!
> Shadow Lass and Mon-El are returning from investigating
> Starfinger’s corpse on Labyrinth. Dream Girl is off-duty and
> somewhere in Metropolis, I believe."
CROW: You know how those Dream Girls get.
> "Thank you." Blok left, and Jacques pulled a normal
> chair to the Board to replace the heavy-duty and
> uncomfortable one Blok used. Idly he ran a duty check,
> confirming Blok’s information.
JOEL: Well. I’m done for the day. Anyone wanna hit Friendly’s? Got a coupon for free Fribbles.
> He saw that Star Boy had not
> been removed from the list of active Legionnaires, and began
> to instruct Computo to make the correction. _No. It is not
> my place–it should be left to Element Lad or Brainiac Five._
TOM: Red-hot protocol activity!
> He looked at the holo Blok had left behind. It was an
> account of one of the Legion’s earliest missions, when they
> captured the Concentrator from Lucifer Seven.
CROW: Finally, the orange juice consortium will bend to our will!
> He remembered
> the Concentrator–a fabulously powerful weapon that could
> take energy from any source and focus it against any target.
> It hadn’t been around the arsenal lately, however.
TOM: It had dropped out of its afterschool activities and rarely talked to its old friends. Many suspected it was depressed.
> A quick
> check with Computo told him that Element Lad had decided it
> was too dangerous to keep active; he’d turned its wires into
> Inertron and moved it to the trophy room.
JOEL: Isn’t Inertron the thing that makes tires resist hydroplaning?
> The holo was one
> he’d seen before, so he put it aside with a mental note to
> make sure Blok returned it to the library.
> That just about exhausted his ready sources of
CROW: [ As Jacques ] I wonder what joysticks taste like.
> Unless there was some emergency requiring the
> Legionnaires’ presence, Monitor Board duty didn’t take a lot
> of thought.
TOM: Uhm…I like twine.
> He yawned again, not suppressing it this time.
[ JOEL pantomimes throwing something into his yawn. ]
> Slowly his eyelids began drifting downwards. His head
> And he was back in the land of mists.
CROW: *And* honey.
> The figure
> hovered before him again. Although it was transparent, it
> was now distinct enough to be seen as female.
> *who are you?* he asked/thought.
TOM: [ Pleading ] Please say Mary Tyler Moore. Please say Mary Tyler Moore. Please say Mary Tyler Moore.
> Sound didn’t seem to
> work in this strange land, but he made himself understood
CROW: Finally his habit of carrying semaphore flags everywhere pays off!
> *ask lyle norg,* she responded. *he knew.*
> *lyle is dead,* he thought in alarm.
TOM: [ Chanting ] Long live the Lyle.
> *are you the dream
JOEL: The acid queen? Who’ll tear your soul apart?
> She shook her head. *no. just one who is unjustly
> condemned to an eternity in the beyond.
CROW: Uhm…wait. This is Ebeneezer’s house, right? The afterlife has lousy maps, y’know.
> my time had come…*
> *what do you need?*
> *free me…*
TOM: Well, 50 percent off me and the rest is a mail-in rebate.
> She drifted away, and Jacques was alone. A soft hand
> was on his shoulder. "Jacques…Jacques…wake up!"
CROW: You’re missing your boring, mind-crushingly routine job!
> His eyes opened and looked into a blue, long-lashed
ALL: [ Jumping back ] Aaaugh!
> "Trying to take my niche? Jan wouldn’t like it if he
> found you napping on duty."
> "Dream Girl…" He blinked a few more times, bringing
> himself to full consciousness. "You are right.
CROW: You’re the only one who’s good at sleeping on duty.
> I should
> have some stim-bev.
TOM: Stim-bev: An exciting new flavorful liquid from TechCorp Inc.
> Oh, by the way…I must ask you about
> "Sure." She gently ran her hand down his arm.
JOEL: [ As Jacques ] Remember they did this remake of "Duck Amuck," only it’s Bugs Bunny who gets tormented by the animator who turns out to be Elmer Fudd? How come they never show that anymore?
> Monitor Board duty is that dull, I’m sure I could keep
CROW: Have you ever played…Go Fish?
> _Sacre bleu, if only she were still with Star Boy she
> might be under control…_ "Just talk, please, Nura. Your
> powers are the closest to what I have just experienced."
TOM: Only superpowers can match a bad dream.
> "All right." She sat in the chair next to him, crossing
> her long legs. "Shoot."
JOEL: [ Shuffling around, slightly embarassed ] I got my legs tied in a knot again…sorry about this. Won’t be a second.
> "A woman has been speaking to me in my dreams. She says
> she is entrapped, and that the first Invisible Kid, Lyle,
> knew her. I do not know what to make of this."
JOEL: I suspect she may have been his sled.
> "Hmmm. You’ve read about Lyle’s death, right?"
> "Of course. I have studied everything about my
> predecesor, in the hopes of emulating him."
CROW: Except I think I can do a cooler death than him.
> "I wasn’t in headquarters when it happened, but I heard
> about it. There was something about an interdimensional
> realm and a ghost…
TOM: Oh, the usual.
> that could be your mystery woman. Let’s
> look it up. Computo!"
JOEL: [ As if suddenly waking up ] Mommy! Oh, uh, nothing, nothing.
> The energy-and-metal sphere drifted to her. "*breep* May
> I serve you, Nura Nal? *breep*"
> "Connect the Monitor Board to the Legion holo-library
> and Brainiac Five’s log reports.
CROW: We need everything he’s got on dutch elm disease by five o’clock or we’re dead!
> We need June and July of
> 2981. Oh, and get Jacques a stim-bev."
> "*breep* Connecting…"
> Nura’s manicured fingers slid deftly across the control
> panel. "Okay. This seems useful."
TOM: Must’ve gone to http://www.what’s_wrong_with_Jacques.com.
> The board lit up with scrolling Interlac text. Nura
> pressed a key, and the system began transmitting the vocals.
> "Brainiac Five’s medical log, 26 June 2981.
JOEL: About…call it sixish.
> Report on
> condition of Lyle Norg.
> "Norg collapsed in the trophy room for no apparent
TOM: On second examination it was determined his head was chopped off.
> When connected to the mento-scanner, he displayed
> memories of the realm he sometimes enters when becoming
> invisible (ref. log entry, 19 September 2978).
JOEL: In the Arts and Leisure section, page four.
> "Subject encountered humanoid woman (species unclear),
> addressed as ‘Myla.’
CROW: Which is of course ‘Alym’ spelled backwards.
> Interaction indicated several previous
> meetings and apparent mutual attraction. Myla stated she had
> a revelation for the subject. At that moment, the screen
> shattered and subject awakened.
TOM: He reported his faith in professional wrestling was shattered forever.
> He became upset when
> confronted with Myla, and refused to speak further.
JOEL: Subject was unable to tell a cabbage from a lettuce.
> "Suggested to Mon-El that subject was experiencing
> hysterical amnesia, causing scanner overload. Recommended
> placing Norg under surveillance.
CROW: Noted he was a boogerhead.
> Mon-El agreed to discuss
> matter with Phantom Girl." Nura pressed another key, and the
> screen faded.
> "Yes, it has occurred to me that Myla might have been
> the one to whom I spoke," said Jacques, rubbing his chin.
TOM: Hey…if I glued a big box of tissue paper to my chin, would it get me invited to more parties?
> am unsure if it is her, however…she spoke of her time
> having come, and being unjustly entrapped."
> "Well, let’s take a look at the holo-record.
JOEL: Oh, yeah, if you have an adaptor you can play those on a hi-fi turntable.
> I think we
> have one of her…June 27, 2981."
> An image appeared of the old Legion headquarters. Lyle
> lay unmoving and crushed on the floor, while Phantom Girl
> wept and Mon-El and Superboy consoled her.
TOM: [ As Superboy ] It’s all right, Phantom Girl…we’ll get a new Tamagotchi.
> Nura fast-
> forwarded until the spectral form of a long-haired woman in a
> dress appeared.
CROW: The Spirit of Saint Louis, graphically depicted.
> "Myla–the girl from the invisible world!" said Mon-El,
> his jaw dropping in astonishment.
> "Not a girl, Mon-El…but a ghost! When I told Lyle
> what I really was…he couldn’t accept the truth!
JOEL: But I must follow my heart! I must edit plastic scale modeling magazines!
> He went
> into shock and collapsed at your feet!
> "I, myself, died several years ago…
CROW: That really hurt my ability to participate in community bake-offs.
> but my spirit-form
> was stranded in this dimensional realm Lyle discovered when
> he became invisible!
JOEL: Cool beans, huh?
> I-I loved him…but I had to tell him I
> wasn’t among the living!"
TOM: Oh. Civil service.
> Myla faded out. "Sh-she’s fading…" Mon-El began.
> The scene vanished abruptly as Nura stopped the replay.
CROW: I’ll need a note from your mother to show you more.
> "That’s the relevant part. That thing about her time
> coming could refer to her death, and she’s obviously trapped
> "Perhaps. My experience was somewhat different,
JOEL: Like it occured later, under a different writer.
> although the mists were somewhat similar to what Lyle
> described. I entered other dimensions with my power myself,
> you know, until Brainiac Five removed that ability.
TOM: I was kinda peeved, but I guess I earned it when I transported a miniature solar system into his ear lobes.
> Could my
> dreaming mind still be able to reach into other worlds?"
> "Well, I know about reaching through time and space in
> dreams firsthand.
JOEL: It’s a neat way to gain valuable experience points and impress your Dungeon Master.
> There’s another possibility, though…"
> Her face went grim.
> "What is it?"
CROW: Space donkeys.
> "Lyle only encountered Myla a little while before
> Validus killed him. What if she’s some sort of banshee…a
> being who can only be seen by those who will die soon?"
TOM: What if she’s a lively puppet portrayed by a highly trained team of Brady siblings?
> "That is tres ridiculous, Dream Girl. Unless–have you
> had a vision of my death?"
> "No." She looked uncomfortable.
TOM: [ As Dream Girl ] That means the same thing as yes, right?
> "What are you not telling me?"
JOEL: Uhm…I’m not telling you "yes."
> "I have had a vague dream about some sort of death or
> destruction. I didn’t sense any details, though…which
> means it might not have been a prophetic dream.
CROW: It might just have been foreshadowing.
> Those are
> usually pretty clear." She waved her hand. "It’s probably
JOEL: [ As Dream Girl ] By the way, long as we’re talking, next Thursday at 4:17 p.m., I’d avoid going to the Blockbuster Video and loitering around the fourth row, and absolutely don’t lean towards the stand of Comedy movies, accidentally knocking it over, dropping down on a display table causing it to fling a package of "Power Rangers" episode tapes into the ceiling, where it shorts out the electrical system and starts the sprinkers, which accidentally pour into just the spot to cause a massive sinkhole that swallows you and the building and the rest of the postal subdivision, killing you instantly. But you knew not to do that anyway.
TOM: C’mon, Joel, breathe.
[ JOEL gasps ]
> She’s not the dream demon you fought before, is
[ JOEL coughs ]
> "I do not think so. I would know the feel of that mind
> if it attacked me again, and it is too clever to raise my
> suspicions this quickly.
CROW: So this would be a good disguise for you.
[ JOEL gulps ]
TOM: You all right, man?
JOEL: Yeah, I am.
> Perhaps I should wait until I have
> another dream to make a decision."
TOM: But I’m going to wait before making up my mind to do that.
> "I’d talk to Phantom Girl, too. There’s no record of
> what Lyle told her. Where is Tinya, anyway?"
CROW: You know, ‘Tinya’ is an anagram of ‘Viola.’
TOM: No, it isn’t.
CROW: Oh, right. I was confused.
JOEL: That was a good place for the dramatic release.
[ To be continued … ]