The fifth part of my Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan fiction begins with a tag for commercials. This reflects a tradition, at least in people writing long-form MiSTings, to structure their stories the way the actual show was. Which, in those days, was divided into four pieces. The first piece had two host sketches to start and one to finish, and the rest in the theater. The second had nothing but theater time. The third piece had a host sketch to start and another to end. The last piece had mostly theater time, but a host sketch to conclude, plus credits.
I enjoyed, when I had the energy to write long pieces, respecting this structure. If I ever reorganize the Tale of Fatty Raccoon I’ll try to frame it with host sketches in that way.
This MiSTing is of Carrie L—‘s Reboot fan fiction, “Breaking the Barriers”. Again, while Carrie L— liked my work in around 2002 when it was published, that was a long while ago. And as the protagonist is a version of the author, I’m withholding the name so as to avoid unnecessary humiliation.
The story so far — you can find the whole thing at this link — has seen Carrie mysteriously journey into the world within the computer. She’s met up with the heroes of the pioneering computer-animation show Reboot. And now, with series-hero Bob, she faces one of the great perils of the series. The mysterious User of the Reboot computer has started to play a game. For the user, it’s a pastime. For those trapped within the game, it’s life or deletion.
I have no recollection at all what the “red card key” line refers to. I’m open to nominations for what it could possibly have meant. To help frame your answers please remember this was written, I believe, in late 2002 but certainly no later than 2003. Also while my interests have changed some in the past 18 years, I’ve always thought about things the same way I do now.
[ COMMERCIALS ]
[ THEATER. TOM, JOEL, and CROW file in. ]
> * * * * * * * *
> * *
CROW: This is the toughest piece to play in Tetris.
> Part Ten
> Dot and Enzo stood outside the game cube watching for a sign
> that Bob had won the game.
JOEL: [ As Dot ] They’re watching back at us!
> "Come on, Bob!" Enzo shouted, "Kick their
> bitmaps!!" Dot pulled out her organizer and called Phong.
TOM: Isn’t he busy helping A-tor?
> As his
> face appeared on the small screen, Dot asked him if he knew how things
> were going in the game.
JOEL: [ As Enzo ] The Babylonians just wiped out the Russians, and the Aztecs built Marco Polo’s Embassy so I’m redirecting my project to Leonardo da Vinci’s workshop … I think we can pull this out.
> "Bob is doing quite well, my child," Phong
> assured her, "they should be out soon."
CROW: Just like the last 68 times you asked.
> "Thanks Phong." Dot said, and
> left him to continue scanning the game. Looking up at the cube, she
> frowned. The cube had landed on an empty sector,
TOM: And the only starship in it was the Enterprise.
> yet Phong had said
> ‘they’, was that just a slip up, or did Bob have another sprite in
> there with him.
JOEL: That would imply Mainframe has more than eight people in it.
CROW: This is gonna be a tough "Hangman."
TOM: [ As the narrator from "Dangermouse" ] Look, is that all I’m going to have to say this episode?
> inside the game…..
> Carrie and Bob raced through the corridors. Bob looked down
> at Glitch. "Game Stats."
CROW: The Cubs lost.
> he ordered and Glitch whired to life. "How
> are we doing?" Carrie panted,
JOEL: We checked the game stats almost perfectly.
> as they continued to run down the hall.
> "We’re almost there," He said, "just down this hallway, to the right.
TOM: [ Snickering ] Swing the door wide open, don’t turn the light on!
> "Where’s The User?" she asked.
CROW: The one that isn’t you?
TOM: Yeah, hey, if this is Carrie’s computer then who’s on it?
> Bob pushed one of the buttons on
> Glitch, then laughed. "The User hasn’t even passed the third level
CROW: [ Snorting ] The schmuckle balls they let on computers these days.
JOEL: He’s trying to figure out how to get the red card key.
> He stopped running, and Carrie started to catch her breath.
> "The third level?" She gasped, "That’s five behind us!!" Bob nodded,
> and Carrie laughed.
TOM: Tournament Chutes and Ladders.
> "I guess we have no worries about it beating us
> there!" she giggled. "Let’s get into the chamber."
CROW: Won’t John McEnroe torment them, then?
> He turned towards
> the door, then stopped and faced Carrie again.
TOM: [ As Carrie ] Should we go kick sand in the user’s face some?
> He flashed her his
> killer smile, then grabbed her hand.
JOEL: Aack! Your smile — it’s — poi…son…
> He pushed the heavy door open,
> and they walked in together.
> The room sparkled and shone brightly. The walls of the
> chamber were made of the finest crystal in all colours.
TOM: *This* is where all that money invested in dot-coms went.
> Light was
> reflecting in all directions, the source was a beautifully ingraved
> gold box
JOEL: It’s where Grandmom keeps her sewing kit.
> set on a pedestal that appeared to be able to generate it’s
> own light.
CROW: It’s got Quentin Tarantino’s whole career in there.
> They walked toward it, marvelling in the splendor they
> were witnessing.
TOM: To sum up, it was way cool.
> Bob still hadn’t released Carrie’s hand, but she
> didn’t notice, or care for that matter, she quite enjoyed it.
TOM: She’s enjoying the sensation she’s not experiencing.
> slowly approached the pedestal, staring in awe at this beautiful
CROW: [ As Carrie ] Ahem. The *Box*.
TOM: [ As Bob ] Right, right, sorry.
> "I guess that’s what we’re looking for." Carrie breathed,
JOEL: Now look for the little dot that says "You are here."
> afraid to speak in more than a whisper. "I guess so." Bob whispered,
> then he reached out to touch it.
JOEL: [ As the Wizard of Oz ] COME FORWARD, Cowardly Lion!
> "Wait!" Carrie said, grabbing his
TOM: No! Don’t touch it! It’s EEEEEvil!
> Bob looked at her, confused. "This is the biggest trick of
> all." She explained.
CROW: So remember which is your card.
> "When there’s more than one player, we have to
> touch the box at the same time or it releases the final trap.
TOM: It’s a little trap the game designer put in because he knew it’d be a plot point someday.
> learned that the hard way a few times." Releasing his wrist, she
> smiled at him, then squeezed his other hand gently.
CROW: OK, let’s take a countdown, right? One, two, three …
> He returned her
> smile, and they reached out to the box at the same time.
TOM: I thought you were going to touch on three!
CROW: NO, I was going to count three and then say, "NOW!"
> * * * * * * * *
> * *
> Part Eleven
TOM: Now stepping out onto the high dive…
> The box was small, so when Carrie and Bob touched it, their
> hands overlapped gently.
JOEL: Oh, I think their rasters just interrupted the methods.
> "GAME OVER! GAME OVER!"
TOM: This is a bug hunt, man!
> Carrie closed her eyes as the game cube began to ascend into
> the sky.
JOEL: Cube-on, take me away!
> She could feel the bottom of the cube sweep over her,
CROW: OOh! You naughty, naughty cube.
> her game character with it.
TOM: That just means she changed clothes.
> As she opened her eyes, she looked at Bob
> and smiled.
JOEL: What would happen if they were dropped into a game of The Sims?
> As he returned her smile, they heard a sound behind them.
TOM: [ "Law and Order" type sting ] Dum-dummm!
> Bob and Carrie turned. There stood Dot and Enzo.
CROW: Enzo’s jealous ’cause Bob promised to kiss him next.
> Enzo looked
> as if his jaw was going to hit the ground and Dot looked like she was
> ready to delete someone.
JOEL: Let’s hope it’s Carson Daly.
> "Bob," she said, her anger tightly
> controlled, "Who is that?"
TOM: [ As Carrie ] It’s Bob.
JOEL: [ As Bob ] She means you, dear.
> Bob and Carrie looked at each other, then
> realized that they were still holding each others hands.
JOEL: Quick, pass them back to each other and put them back on.
> pulled her hands away, and stuck them behind her back. Bob smiled
> nervously, trying to lighten the subject.
TOM: So! Any questions?
> "Oh," he said, waving a
> hand at Carrie neutrally. "Dot, this is Carrie.
CROW: Add, this is carry. Clear?
> new to Mainframe." he stammered, "Carrie, this is Dot Matrix."
JOEL: Joan Rivers? Here?
> Carrie smiled at Dot, hoping to change her obvious first
> impression. "Hello."
TOM: She should try ‘READY.’
> Carrie said, "It’s a pleasure to finally meet
CROW: Aw, first dates are so awkward.
> Carrie’s mind raced. *Say something positive!* she thought.
JOEL: [ As Carrie ] Three minus five! D’oh!
> "Bob’s told me so much about you.
TOM: Just don’t ask Bob to tell you what.
> You’re Mainframe’s best
> entrepreneur, aren’t you?"
CROW: Shouldn’t that be info-preneur?
TOM: Not while we have a shred of dignity left in the world.
> Bob and Dot both looked at her surprised.
> "Well," Dot said, "I run a data diner in Baudway."
TOM: So let’s put on a show!
> Carrie smiled.
> *Good! I hit the right subject!*
JOEL: Talk *about* the other person’s interest, it can work!
> Carrie looked at Bob. "Oh yes," she said, "Bob told me about
> that. ‘Fastest food in Mainframe’!"
TOM: And he didn’t say a word about those five dead health inspec– [ Embarassed ] –tors.
> Dot smiled, obviously flattered
> by Carrie’s comments. "Why, thank you."
CROW: To show gratitude? To be polite?
> Dot said, then she frowned
> at Bob. "May I have a word with you?"
TOM: Only if it’s not "factotum."
> she asked him, "Please excuse
> us for a moment."
JOEL: You’re excused.
> she told Carrie and Enzo, and she pulled Bob off to
> the side.
TOM: [ As Dot ] I told you no-more-fanfic-writers!
> "Bob, why were you two in the game together?"
CROW: A big cube fell on them.
> Bob glanced
> over at Carrie, who was talking to an excited Enzo.
JOEL: Enzo’s easily excited.
> Taking a deep
> breath, Bob began to explain what had happened.
CROW: In the beginning, there was FORTRAN.
> * * * * * * * *
TOM: didididit didididit
> * *
CROW: A Muppet News Bulletin.
[ To continue … ]