Welcome back to my tour of old Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction. This piece from around 2003 is “Breaking the Barriers”, a Reboot fanfic by Carrie L—. Name truncated because the protagonist is a version of the author. While she was happy with my writing in 2003, I don’t know that this would not be horribly embarrassing eighteen years later.
The entirety of this MiSTing is, or should be, at this link. In the first part a mysterious computer thingy brought Carrie into the world of her computer. In the second part she got to meet Bob and Phong and other characters of the Reboot show she loves.
I come down surprisingly hard on the idea that Reboot is a popular show here. I don’t know; the joke seems quite petty. My recollection is that even at the time it was obvious Reboot would be a show people remembered and that would have influence, even if it wasn’t an Animaniacs-class success. One problem with the MiSTing habit is snarking mindlessly. Good snark, I suspect, needs to target sloppy or malicious thinking. “I like this cartoon” is neither sloppy nor malicious.
> Part Six
> Taking a deep breath,
TOM: Hey, give that back!
> Carrie sat up, but then looked down at
> the floor.
JOEL: The action here has the flow of a game of Arkanoid.
> "What I’m going to tell you is confidential," She
CROW: So I hope you’re just very confident.
> "and it’s going to sound like I’ve gone random.
TOM: But I’m really just sampling voice chip three.
> You have
> got to believe me, I could not just make this up."
[ JOEL pulls out a pillow, bops TOM, CROW. ]
> She looked up to
> find Bob and Phong watching her with rapt attention.
CROW: You got — you got something on — something on your — right —
> Licking her lips
TOM: She’s going to have to get some CyberLip Balm if she keeps doing that.
> Carrie began to run through what she was going to say,
> in her mind.
JOEL: I probably shouldn’t talk too much about radiator fluids, it’s just too much of a diversion.
> "I come from a place called Earth."
CROW: [ As Bob ] You do? Do you know Peter?
> She said, "I am a human,
> not a sprite.
TOM: I am not a binary-coded-decimal number!
> Where I come from, you aren’t supposed to really
JOEL: You’re just a metaphor for improved comprehension.
> she smiled a little at Bob’s startled reaction,
TOM: [ As Bob ] Yeah, well, where we come from *you* don’t exist, so double-dumb nyah on you!
> then kept
> going. "You see, where I am from, you are known only
CROW: To a select group of Cartoon Network junkies.
> as characters in
> a cartoon. Now I’m sure you’re wondering what a cartoon is,
JOEL: And why I’ve brought you here together.
> but I’ll
> have to explain that some other time."
TOM: Next time she’s freakishly pulled into the world of a cartoon?
> She raced through all the
> things she could say,
CROW: I bet there are some things she *could* say that she is *not* considering.
> and all the things she couldn’t say.
JOEL: Saying them would violate the Prime Directive.
> cartoon is called ‘ReBoot’, and it is very popular.
CROW: …mostly among people who ever bid more than thirty dollars on eBay for an SLP recording of the Transformers where Sea Spray meets the mermaid.
> You were
> wondering why I knew who you were, it’s because,
TOM: I’m assembling you into my Impossible Missions force.
> in this show, you are
> the main character.
CROW: Unless it’s that year you don’t appear at all.
> Anyone who’s even seen just part of the show
> knows who Bob is because you’re in every episode."
TOM: OK, OK, Bob’s the king of the world, OK? Good for you.
> It was then that Carrie realized that Phong had moved to his
> retrieval Vid- Window,
TOM: Which immediately crashes.
> and was skimming through the information there.
CROW: Huh … make money fast sending emails to pet kittens at home…
> "What are you looking for, Phong?" Bob asked, curiously.
JOEL: Phong? The fish is ready.
> looked up at him, then at Carrie.
TOM: Sorry, I stumbled on the "Red Hot RS-232C Action" site by mistake.
> "I remembered hearing a story once
JOEL: It was amusing. I liked it.
> about a species called ‘humans’, and I am looking to see if I
> can find a reference to them."
CROW: So far Google’s returned 2,038 billion sites, and a cute cartoon of a guy getting gumballs out of an ‘o’ in its logo.
> Phong began to race through the
> information, as Bob went over to see what he was looking at. "Ah,
> here it is." Phong said,
TOM: Search results found. Entries deleted. Have a nice day.
> "The term ‘human’ was once used by a visitor
> to another system, by the name of Jeff Bridges.
JOEL: A system named Jeff Bridges?
CROW: They’re so advanced they can get the behind-the-scenes documentary of "Tron."
> He claimed to come
> from Earth, just as you do." Phong looked up at Carrie, and she
> swallowed hard.
TOM: [ As Carrie ] I knew I shouldn’t have written all those tank programs!
> "That’s not the only way you know humans." She said, and
> Phong looked surprised.
CROW: Does taking the clown hat off help you recognize us?
> "And how else should we know of ‘humans’?" he
JOEL: Have you tried our web site? http://www.humans.int/ ?
> Carrie looked down at her feet, and stayed silent, not sure
> how to tell them.
TOM: [ As Carrie ] Hey, when’d I get ruby slippers?
> She felt a hand on her shoulder, and looked up.
CROW: Why, thank you, Thing.
> She found herself looking into Bob’s eyes as he sat down next to her.
> "It’s O.K.," he said, quietly, "you can tell us." As he flashed her
> his killer smile, her fears and her heart, began to melt.
TOM: This is what happens when the cooling fan breaks.
CROW: They should’ve packed her on dry ice.
> she whispered, "Not only am I human, but when I am home on Earth, I
> would be known to you as…."
JOEL: Darkwing Duck!
> She swallowed and looked at Bob for
> reassurance. When he smiled and placed his hand on her shoulder
CROW: They’re running out of hands there.
TOM: Shoulders too.
> she looked up at the ceiling and took a deep breath. "I am
> known to you as a ‘User’."
JOEL: I had no respect for individuals, just what I could make them do.
> * * * * * * * *
> * *
CROW: It’s a badly written square root sign.
> Part Seven
> Carrie sat silently as Phong and Bob stared at her in shock
> and disbelief.
TOM: [ As Phong ] Another one of *these*.
CROW: [ As Bob ] I tell ya, full moon, that’s when the crazies come out.
> She had known this was going to happen eventually, and
> she was sure that they would think she was random.
TOM: Why is telling them she’s a User going to make them like her more?
> Instead of smiling
> nicely and then quietly locking her away, Bob stood up. "I don’t know
> what to say." he whispered,
CROW: Perhaps I could use a Markov chain generator to create some generic poetry product for you.
> and then turned slightly, avoiding her
> gaze. Carrie clasped her hands together, and looked at him with
> pleading eyes. "I know how bad it sounds," she whispered, "but you’ve
> got to believe me.
> This is the truth, no matter how weird it sounds."
> She let her eyes trace his gorgeous profile, looking for any signs of
> belief, or slight acceptance.
> As she watched his face began to change, slowly.
JOEL: Uhoh. Morph programs. Trouble.
> Then he did
> something unexpected, he whirled around to face her, his face a mask
> of fierce concentration and withheld emotions.
TOM: Must… be… bland!
> "I can’t accept that
> you’re a User!" He almost shouted, "The User is threat to the sprites
> of Mainframe!"
CROW: This pretty accurately gets how computers feel about their users.
> He looked down at the floor, his hands clenched into
> fists at his sides, breathing hard with the exertion used to hold back
> his anger. Carrie sat back, surprised and shocked at the outburst.
TOM: [ As Carrie ] I just know they’re going to think I’m a Mary Sue…
> Her throat constricted, and she could feel tears begin to burn in her
> eyes. The last thing she had wanted to do was to upset Bob or anyone,
> and now she had done just that.
JOEL: Oh, *that’s* what she did. I forgot.
> She waited for him to storm away or
> hit something, she was sure he was mad at her.
TOM: [ As Bob ] I oughta interrupt your raster vectoring…
> "I just can’t accept
> that." he whispered, then looked up at her, his eyes glistening with
> tears of his own.
JOEL: Hey, there’s no crying in cyberspace!
> "I know you can’t be a User because you just don’t
> come across as one."
CROW: That sounds like a major dis, really.
> Carrie slid gracefully off the bio-bed, and walked forward.
> She stopped just in front of him, and looked up into his eyes.
TOM: Is she shrinking?
CROW: She’s conserving disk space.
> know you don’t believe me," she said, "but you’re going to have to. I
> can’t stay here, I have to return to Earth and my home."
JOEL: So she can get on the ‘net and sit there all week.
> Bob just
> looked at her for a while, but couldn’t say anything. "I know that
> you have the ability to get me back home." Carrie said,
CROW: Yeah, right after he gets the kid from Voyager, the Dungeons and Dragons kids, Samurai Jack, and Kidd Video back home.
TOM: I’m going to stick around until he gets the kid from Liddsville home, and that’s it.
> "I just hope
> you’re willing to believe me enough to do it." Bob looked away for a
> bit, deep in thought, then turned back to face her.
TOM: [ Harshly ] Abort, Retry… [ Softly ] Ignore?
> "I don’t know if
> I can," he sighed, " No Mainframer has ever been to the world of the
> User, so I don’t think there’s anyway you can get there."
JOEL: Well. Can you direct me to Max Headroom, then?
> * * * * * * * *
> * * *
TOM: That’s a signature so abstract nobody knows who it is.
[ To continue … ]