General Fiction posted January 1, 2015 Chapters: 3 4 -5- 


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A chapter in the book Fanstory fiction and truth

The Fanstory Matrix

by Michaelk

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.
 


The glow of the computer screen lit his face in a surreal green. Sitting alone in his dingy apartment, he searched. For years he had looked for the perfect writers website. He had long heard rumors of the eccentric maverick writer named MikeyC, but had never been able to find him. Little did he know that MikeyC had been looking for him too.

Yet another Friday night had come and gone and he had fallen asleep at his computer. He woke to a dark screen with three words on it.

"Knock, knock, Newbie," scrolled across his screen.

"Who the hell are you?" he typed back.

"It’s MikeyC, I hear you’ve been looking for me.”

“How do I know it’s really you and not some weird cyber-cop trying to entrap me?”

“Umm…”

“Exactly.” Newbie turned off the computer.

It turned right back on.

“I promise I am who I say I am,” MikeyC typed, “plus if you don’t believe me, I’ll just hound you through all your favorite chat rooms.”

“All right, but you better not be some weirdo running around in sunglasses at night.”

"Umm…Just meet me at this place and time," he typed out instructions.

Newbie hesitated, but in the end curiosity won over caution. He went to the place at the appointed time and met the elusive MikeyC.

"It's an honor to meet you," Newbie said, scanning the room for exits.

"The honor is mine," MikeyC smiled. "Have you been frustrated, feeling like no one understands you or your writing?"

"Yes."

"Have you been searching for a place where others like you share stories all the time?"

"Yes."

"I know how you feel. I felt that same way not long ago. Then I found it."

"What is it?”

"Unfortunately no one can be told what the Fanstory Matrix is, you have to see it for yourself."

"Really?"

“No, actually that’s just a ploy to make it sound all mysterious.”

“Oh.”

"You take the blue pill, you can review as much as you care to, but never post. You take the red pill and you can post all your stories, poems, whatever you want."

"Sounds great," Newbie said, "what's the catch?"

"Come with me and I'll show you."

Newbie followed him into a room filled with a hodge-podge of technology. It was as if they emptied out the prop room of a movie studio. He was led to an old, decrepit dentist’s chair.

“You’re kidding, right?” Newbie looked at the seat with disdain.

“Just quit bitching and have a seat.”

They produced a large metal spike, tied him down and said, "The catch is, you have to pay to post your works."

"What?," Newbie cried, struggling to get out of the chair as they shoved the metal spike into the back of his skull. Newbie began a direct correlation between the symbolism of the spike and the real screwing he received by having to pay to for a membership and pay even more to promote his works.

But suddenly all that was forgotten as he entered the Fanstory Matrix and posted his first story. He waited in nervous anticipation. Finally he received his first review, then his second, then his third. Readers were hailing his work as extraordinary and original. Soon he was entering his first contest. Others looked on in anticipation.

"What if he wins?"

"No one wins their first contest."

"I know, but what if he does?"

"He won't."

Sure enough, he finished in seventh place.

"I want out," Newbie said despondently.

"But you've already paid, just give it some time," MikeyC encouraged.

In time it grew to be an addiction. Newbie had to be on the site every hour of every day. Constantly posting, checking for reviews, reviewing other works, posting on the forum. The Fanstory Matrix had become his life. He found kindred spirits in others who occupied this world. He fanned them and they fanned him back. He began to win, place, and show in contests. His portfolio continued to grow and his ranking consistently rose. Finally, he had found a place where he felt like he belonged.

Slowly the shine began to wear off of the site. Newbie felt a dark presence. They were called grammarnazis, or GN's. These agents of the system took great pleasure in bringing him down. They went far beyond the normal pointing out of mistakes. They quoted obscure rules that no one had ever heard of.

He put out his best works, his writing improved, but still the GN's ran him down. It was as if they were fighting against him.

"You can't put a comma there!" as a figurative fist smashed into his face.

"Your story makes no sense." They would say after reading chapter twenty-seven of a novel that they had read none of the previous twenty-six chapters.

Newbie fought against these attitudes and inequities because even through it, the Fanstory Matrix truly was the best writers site he had ever been on. So he soldiered on, finding others who reviewed from the heart the way he did.

Then one day a great heaviness fell over the Fanstory Matrix. A massive rumbling throughout the land gave all a sense of great foreboding. Everything ceased to work, and the land fell into darkness.

When the lights came back on, all the land was covered in a purple ooze. Fanstorians tried to navigate through it, but it was like glue, it got stuck everywhere.

A great wailing and gnashing of teeth rang out through the land as the inhabitants tried to post their stories, and review, but nothing would work. They cried out to Architect, the being who had created this world, begging for him to remove the ooze and return them to their utopia that they had enjoyed for so long.

The Architect said that he had heard their pleas and would do something to make it right. Fanstorians relaxed, knowing all would be well. But instead of banishing the purple ooze to the hell it deserved, he split the land. Half kept the ooze and half returned to the way things were. But it wasn't the same. The inhabitants of this new land would lash out and deride those in the other. They never once stopped to realize that the ooze had been forced upon those very people who had made this land prosper.

Some who had lived in the land from the very beginning were saddened to see the Fanstory Matrix torn apart. They left the land in despair.

Newbie fought to return the land to its former glory and banish the ooze, but it was not to be.

In desperation, he went on a journey to see the Architect.

After a long trek filled with lots of violence and many expensive special effects, he finally arrived at his destination...a door.

He entered the room which was covered with monitors, countless thousands of them. He looked closely, each one had a poem or story on it. He saw one of his own stories along with all the others. Dizziness nearly took him as he tried to look at every screen. His eyes settled on the chair in the middle of the room that he hadn't noticed at first. Suddenly the chair spun, revealing an older man, sitting there holding a pen.

"Hello, Newbie," he said.

"Who are you?"

"I am the Architect, you may call me Tom. I’m sure you have many questions. The process of arriving here has irrevocably changed you, so while your first question may be the most pertinent you may or may not realize it is also the most irrelevant."

"Why did you change the look of the site?"

"The updates that were recommended were necessary to facilitate that we did not fall too far behind the technology curve."

"You still haven't answered my question."

"Quite right. That was quicker than the others."

"Others? How many others?"

"Since the site was founded fourteen years ago, there have been many upgrades, each one representing certain challenges."

Newbie looked around at the writings on the screens.

"Choice. The problem is choice."

"Quite so. If given the choice, members would have all reviews be free of cost. They would be freely given to all with quality ruling over quantity. I cannot allow that."

"So you inflicted your will over everyone else, only this time the backlash was too strong."

Tom bowed his head, heavy in thought.

"It nearly tore the Fanstory Matrix apart. I had to act."

"So you re-instated the real site and called it 'Classic'."

"It was my only hope for survival."

"But when we demanded our site back, you refused."

"I gave each of you the choice, just because you refuse to change doesn't mean I should."

"It's never going away is it? The purple terror will always be with us, won't it."

"Yes. And now comes the time when you must make your choice. The door to your right leads to the new site and the salvation of the Fanstory Matrix, the door to your left leads you back to the classic site and to your destruction."

Newbie hesitated, taking a long glance at each door.

"I can already see it in you, the chemical precursors that signal the onset of an emotion designed specifically to overwhelm logic and reason. An emotion that is already blinding you from the simple and obvious truth. The new Fanstory Matrix isn't going anywhere."

He took his first step to the right, and was rewarded with a derisive snort.

"Hope, it is at the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength and your greatest weakness."

"If I were you, I would hope I never again make such sweeping changes without regarding my membership."

"I won't."

Newbie opened the door, saddened, and returned to the classic site.

***

This is where I would love to tell you that Newbie performed some amazing and selfless act that defied reason and restored order to the Fanstory Matrix by destroying the purple ooze.

Unfortunately, that would be untrue. Just like a really crappy, convoluted final movie of a trilogy, Newbie suffered the fate of every other Fanstorian and just dealt with it the best he could.

Like so many others, one day he will simply fade away and post no more.



 


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