1405: Beyond Belief – One ShotPosted: May 4, 2016
Hey, patrons! I’ve got a few things going on over here on my side of the monitor, so instead of launching into my next big project, I’m going to be covering a short little one-shot on a canon we haven’t seen much around here: Animal Crossing.
Animal Crossing is pretty open ended, so you generally end up with a pretty eclectic bag of fictions being written for it. This can be good or bad depending on the author, and we wouldn’t be here today if I was going to show you one of the good ones. I could tell you what we’re in for, but I think the summary will capture that very nicely.
And this is one of the rare cases where we’re going to go over the summary in quite a bit of detail.
Mark, a young man with a poor relationship with his parents.
Uhh, author, I think you lost about half that sentence.
Learns that an evil animal, organization is behind their disappearance .
Wait, never mind, found it!
Dude, what the hell is up with your punctuation!?
Also learns that he has super powers!
We didn’t even make it out of the summary before this character turned into a Stu. That’s gotta be a record.
He goes on a quest to rescue them.
Using short sentence fragments. To describe everything.
He’ll need some help!
You sure? Dude’s getting super powers in a canon where they don’t exist. Seems like he’s got things sorted.
From some animal friends.
Author, you can have more than four or five words in a sentence. In fact, they typically work better that way, in that you have a better chance of actually completing a sentence if you use enough words to get to the end of it.
Action, mystery and friendship. Rated T to be safe.
Whew, I don’t think that’s the worst summary I’ve ever read, but it’s up there. Top ten at least. Err, bottom ten?
Words are hard.
I can’t help but feel this is a kind of inception moment.
I do not own Animal Crossing. My first Animal Crossing; fan fic for this site. Enjoy!
So, question for the patrons: what would you prefer, reading a fic with randomly placed punctuation, or a fic with no punctuation?
Regardless of which you chose, I bet you know which one you’re about to get.
Also, does the above imply that the author has written other Animal Crossing fics for other sites? I find that possibility somewhat discouraging.
The sun set brilliantly over the town of Riverdon.
Hey! You leave Riverton out of –
Oh, right, carry on then.
It is a small coastal village. The only human resident, a short brown haired boy named Mark, was out fishing.
Which, while somewhat canon, feels a little too much like the author writing based on game mechanics. I’m sure that’s just my imagi –
He was wearing a flame tee, brown track pants and a blue cap.
Well … shit. So instead of getting an actual character description, you’re just going to list off some of the clothing choices from the game. No, no, I’m sure that’s how writing works.
*Pulls the bottle of whiskey off the shelf and removes the stopper*
I’m just going to be over here, doing stuff.
Along with his friend, Rod. Mark watched his bobber; with impatience.
As somebody who really, really likes to fish, I am pretty realistic how interesting it is to actually be involved in fishing. A lot of it is just sitting there waiting. And drinking while you wait. Can’t forget the drinking.
I cannot think of a pastime better suited for an adventure/drama fic.
Also, hi, Rod.
“Come on, come on.” He said.
*Porno music blasts over the Library’s intercom system*
Dammit, Syl and Swenia must have let themselves into the control room again.
Suddenly, the fish took the bait!
Add as many exclamation points as you want, bucko, doesn’t make it any more interesting.
“You’ve got it ace!” Exclaimed Rod.
Ahh, I see the author also decided to keep the nickname mechanic of the game. While cute within the context of the game, I’m dubious as to whether you can move that particular mechanic into the written work without it becoming irritating.
Mark reeled in the struggling fish. He looked at it. “Sea bass.” He muttered tossing it back.
While this is an accurate commentary on the series’ love of sea bass, I’m struggling to find a reason why it’s here. If you’re looking for a hook in your fic, the high drama of catch-and-release fishing is probably not what you want to go with.
But, maybe pacing is just that thing OTHER authors do.
“It’s getting late.” Said Rod. “I’m headed home.” “I will see you tomorrow.” Said Rod.
Rod often has pleasant conversation with himself. It’s just one of the things that makes Rod, Rod.
It’s also one of the reasons we’re keeping a pretty close eye on him.
Alright, see you!” Mark called out.
Dude, get over yourself. Rod wasn’t talking to you, he was talking to Rod.
As Rod bustled away. Mark stood at the beach, for a few more moments.
So now we’ve gone from fishing, which is large amounts of nothing, to just standing around, which is entirely nothing.
HOW DID THIS THING MANAGE TO GET LESS INTERESTING!?
It is getting late. He thought. Mark too, reluctantly headed home. The walk home to Mark’s house was a quiet one. He did not run into anyone.
*A syringe dart filled with espresso flies into the room and embeds itself in Taco’s neck*
GAH! At least use French-roasted beans next time!
But he did see a few lights on, in his neighbor’s home’s.
In the home’s… what? That better not be lewd, author. I know at least two people who would love to make some back-door jokes.
*Porno music intensifies*
Don’t make me send Jiwe in there to break up the party!
When Mark got home, he felt something; crunch under his shoe.
So, AR, you know how you love my semicolon abuse…
[The fact that someone out there is worse is no excuse for what you used to do! Thank Snark you’ve learned. – AR]
There were two notes. Mark stepped off the notes.
What great sentences! Let me writing too!
“Then he reached down. He put his; fingers around the notes. He slowly retracted his arm. He had picked up the notes.”
I am writed!
Then he picked them up.
I was being sarcastic, author.
This is odd… He thought. Mark looked around, but no one was there.
Sorry, Mark, we told the postal service not to contact the clan with employment opportunities, but they did anyway.
He opened the first one. It was from his parents.
Seriously, Shinobi, the mailbox was right there! *points randomly into the void*
We hope you are well. Please talk to us. We know things weren’t going well at home, and that was why you moved out. But it’s been a year now. We miss you and want things to be better. At least let us know, how you are doing. Wishing you the best. Take care.
Mom & Dad
Wow, what monsters. Now I know why he cut all contact with them. You should change your name and move again, bro. Wouldn’t want to get sucked back into that well of seething drama.
At least we know where he got his punctuation from.
Mark scanned the letter, with anger. Resisting, the urge to tear it up, he pocked it.
How dare they! They don’t understand me! They have no idea what I’m going through! All they care about is their rules! Out here, I get to decide when bedtime is!
After that he, unfolded the other note.
“Ha ha, JK, not actually thinking of you, jerk. Life is so much better now that you’ve moved away. Not missing you, M&D.”
By the time you, read this your parents, will be with us. If you want them safe, you must meet our demands. Meet us at the train station on Thursday night. At midnight. Do not tell anyone. Let’s just say that would not be smart. Come alone. See you then…
*Rubs his forehead*
If this were a clever author, the fact that the grammar is bad in the same way as the first letter would be a way to tell the audience that the same person wrote both letters. The most likely scenario is that his parents are trying to trick him into seeing them.
However, this is a fic where a self-insert gets random super powers. So we know that the above isn’t the case.
No, this is an author who thinks that kidnappers start their ransom letters with “Dear <victim>.” An author who thinks that secret organizations kidnap random unimportant parents to extort [error: motivation not found] from their equally unimportant children. The very same universe where an organization calling themselves “The Retribution” gets taken seriously rather than laughed at and then pantsed.
Mark’s blue eyes widened in shock.
We have more description! Now we know he’s wearing clothing and has blue eyes! It’s like I can actually see him right in front of me!
He was mad at his parents, sure…
I mean, yeah, who wouldn’t be. After the things they did. Or didn’t do. Or stuff.
Look, he’s angry and there are reasons. Good ones, too! They’re deep and nuanced!
But, he didn’t want anything bad to happen to them. All of a sudden this happens… Who had his parents?
Can we pick a thought and maybe follow it all the way through before starting the next one? Sure, you can try to portray him as torn and panicky and everything, but little incomplete blobs of thought is not the way to do that.
Why was this happening to him?
It isn’t. It’s happening to your parents. Not everything is about you, cupcake.
I’ve been hanging out with Swenia too much.
So many questions whirred through his mind.
“Will My Chemical Romance ever open for K.K. Slider? Do I have any black-flame T-shirts that are clean? Is there any Mountain Dew left in the fridge? Did I remember to record the empty void that is my existence in my journal last night? What do I do now that my parents have changed their Netflix password? Is Harry Potter real, and if so, why haven’t I received my Hogwarts letter yet?”
Mark’s first instinct was, to go tell Booker.
But they said that he better not. Something, bad would happen to them.
Pronouns off the port-bow! Prepare the cannons!
Who was this mysterious group, calling themselves The Retribution? Why did they want him to stew on this?
Uh, they don’t want him to stew on it. If they wanted him to stew, the letter would have been more along the lines of, “We have your parents. Do not tell the police or we will kill them. We will be in touch.”
In this case, they told him exactly what they want from him, and when they want him to do it. That’s not stewing.
Head throbbing, Mark headed inside. He locked the door, behind him.
The prose in this fic *twitch* is just so good! *twitch* Very engaging!
; put the notes in his dresser.
The hell kind of formatting is that!? And what’s with that semicolon!?
How did that note from his parent’s get to him? Was this some kind of joke?
Obviously the kidnappers delivered it when they dropped off their own note. They may be kidnappers looking to extort things from you, but they don’t have to be jerks about it.
Mark was up pacing.
Hopefully he’s going to share some of that pacing with the fic.
Debating what he should.
Maybe he can find.
He called his parents house. His old house. For the first time in a year.
As previously implied by his parents’ letter saying they haven’t heard from him in a year.
*If you give me the pie, I’ll pretend I didn’t see that*
You’d steal Living Stone’s pie?
*Pie is pie*
Can’t argue with that. What does a sentient alarm want with pie, anyway?
*Pie is pie*
Right then. *Pushes the pie release button on the console*
No answer. Mark’s heart began to race. His palms felt sweaty, despite the cool ocean, air outside. Grudgingly he layed down, on his bed. Trying to at least calm himself. As his mind swirled with fear. Mark slowly drifted off into a fitful sleep.
*Shakes a bunch of extra punctuation out of the fic into the spare punctuation box*
It was going to come to this sooner or later anyway.
How much time passed.?
Oh look, the ever rare interrostop. This fic has such interesting punctuation. Shame that so little of it is correct punctuation.
Mark wasn’t sure. But the winds, were so strong outside, that they were rattling the door. Mark surveyed his house.
Wha? How did he get outside the house? Is Mark’s super-power teleportation? Has he harnessed the SDQF?
Then there, was a knock on the door.
Wait, there’s somebody in the house knocking on the door to get out? How did they get in there!?
Maybe Mark is simultaneously inside and outside the house at the same time! So, what, his super-power is omnipresence?
Mark was frightened not sure, if he should, respond to the knock or not.
The more agitated Mark becomes, the worse the grammar is! Which would be clever if it was done on purpose, and if the writing didn’t sputter like lawnmower in spring.
Look, I just started up my mower last week and it always runs rough for the first cut or two. Shut up, the metaphor works. It’s you who are wrong!
I think I may need a dart with Wild Turkey in it next.
“It’s Tortimer!” Creaked an elderly voice.
Oh hai, Tortimer! What are you doing in Mark’s house? And do you always knock when leaving a building?
“Open up, I know about your situation, and I brought someone who can help!” Said the mayor.
Apparently the kidnappers also sent a letter to Tortimer. Because BLUE.
Mark walked cautiously up to the door. Opening it nervously.
Normally the “key to the city” is really just a symbol, but in the case of Riverdom, it’s actually a skeleton key that Tortimer uses to sneak into everyone’s houses.
Maybe that’s how he knows about the kidnapping plot: he found the letters while rifling through Mark’s dresser.
Outside the door, stood Mayor Tortimer and Agent S.
Wait, they’re outside the door? Maybe I was right the first time and Mark does have omnipresence! Still doesn’t explain why he didn’t see them while outside surveying the house, but I guess being omnipresent doesn’t necessarily mean you’re observant.
The pair barged past Mark.
C’mon in, I guess. Can I offer either of you a half-eaten jelly sandwich or some warm Mountain Dew?
By the way, Agent S is indeed a canon character. The verdict is still out as to whether it’s a direct nod to Phineas and Ferb or just a coincidence, but the lack of fedora makes me think it’s the latter.
Mark glanced from face to face. Seeing looks of knowing and worry. On the Mayor’s face. Along with calm strength on Agent S’s face.
I want to make fun of the content of this thing, I really do. But it’s so hard to get past just how unbelievably awful the grammar is!
Meanwhile the two of them should really see a doctor about those looks being all over their faces like that.
“How do you know about my situation?” He asked the Mayor. “Your parents, asked me to watch out for you.” “When you moved here” Said Tortimer.
See, it’s kinda like the author knows that grammar and punctuation are things. He knows that there are certain rules that need to be used, and that you need periods, and commas, and other marks, along with occasional capitalization to make sentences. But that’s the extent of his knowledge. He sorta has an idea of what sentences kinda sorta look like, but no real clue on how to actually use these concepts to put together a thought in a coherent fashion. It’s like watching a person without any woodworking or building knowledge try to put together an Ikea furniture set using the picture on the box as the only reference.
And we have yet more evidence that Mark’s parents were horrible, horrible people. Asking a family friend to keep an eye on their kid as he strikes off on his own? The fiends! They probably even gave Tortimer some money to help get Mark set up with anything he was missing. Those conniving bastards.
“They recently went traveling. Having not heard from them ,I feared the worst.” Said Tortimer Mark’s anxiety continued to heighten.
First off, you have to establish this as being abnormal. You didn’t establish how long they were to be gone, if they were overdue, if they said they were checking in regularly, etc. Second, just because you haven’t heard from somebody doesn’t follow that you know exactly what is going on with them.
Still looking calm. Tortimer went on. “There is, an evil origination of animals out there called The Retribution.” Said Tortimer.
Which is completely unrelated to the first point you made about not hearing from Mark’s parents.
The Retribution’s name gets stupider every time I see it, and I know better than to hope the author will ever clue us in on what they’re seeking retribution for. Likely the author here just thought it sounded badass without really thinking beyond that.
“What we know of them is this, they are bent on uprooting towns.”
Uhhh, wha? So they just go and… steal whole towns? The hell for? And how does that help them achieve their retribution!?
You know, The Retribution sounds suspiciously like a guild for an online game. I think I smell a little bit of WoW or LoL here.
“They seek mayhem, against any who they feel has crossed them.”
Which is totally different than the protagonist’s motivations! Totally NOT the same at all! Nope! No sir!
“They wish to rule the animal world.” Tortimer sighed.
So, which is it, mindless mayhem or world conquest? Those are two very different things. It’s actually surprising how authors seem to so easily pour these two opposing ideas into one pot thinking it sounds good. The problem is that they don’t mix together well at all. In the end, all you end up cooking up is a failure bouillabaisse. We saw it with the second “Jedi’s Destiny” where the new world order was somehow being established by dunking the world into absolute chaos. Here, it’s the same thing, sowing chaos because somehow that leads to world conquest.
The trick here was something that took Hollywood a few decades to figure out. Those who desire conquest often do so because they desire to see everything uniform and orderly; the chaos tamed under one ideology. It just so happens that it’s their ideology.
Or, you know, they want more land. Both are valid.
“They are also deeply shrouded in secrecy.”
Despite knowing what they do and what their goals are, of course. I guess the big secret is what the hell they’re getting retribution for.
“I did some work against them when, I was younger.” Tortimer shook his head.
Which could be anything from writing a scathing blog post decrying their actions as rude to assassinating members of their leadership.
I think I like the idea of Tortimer being a retired assassin.
“Now they are at it again.” Said Tortimer.
“You know, ‘it.’ Doing the things to the stuff. Evilly.”
Agent S here can help you.” Said Tortimer, nodding at the younger animal. “I have gotten to old for this.” He finished.
I think we just missed an opportunity to have an Animal Crossing/The Expendables crossover.
*Does a FF.Net search real quick*
Apparently it isn’t a thing yet.
Mark thought he was going to faint. All of this sounded crazy. An evil animal organization. After him and his family?
I’m not sure why fic authors think that openly pointing out how terrible their plot is somehow makes it easier to believe for the reader. That’s like serving somebody a gym sock for dinner, pointing out that it tastes awful, and then expecting them to enjoy it because you were up-front with how bad it tastes.
Agent S finally spoke up. “I am not the only, one who can help you.” Said Agent S. “There are others, but they live in other villages.” Said Agent S.
I guess that whole “don’t involve anyone else or we’ll do the thing” part of the threat is circling the drain at this point, then. Better off forgotten, anyway. It would just have added unneeded tension to this dramatic powerhouse.
“We will rescue your parents.” Said Agent S. “But we have to get ready.” “We have to do some research.” “And Agent S went on.
We need … A MONTAGE!
*Porno music blasts out of the intercom system*
Oh, for crap’s sake.
“You have to be trained.” Said Agent S.
Which is stupid because he’s got at most five days before he has to confront these guys. Though I suppose that’s long enough to become a passable shot with a sidearm.
“What?!” Said Mark.
A sidearm? It’s a gun. A pistol more precisely. It’d be useful for you to consider one right about now.
“Preparation, research, training?!” Matt was in utter disbelief.
Yeah, I know, it’s like your author forgot that there’s a pretty strict time limit here. And it’s likely you’re being watched so doing any of that will get your parents killed.
[Who’s Matt???? – AR]
“What is all this about?” He asked.
About 1,000 pointless, unspecific words. Give or take a few dozen.
Tortimeirer and Agent S exchanged a knowing look. “You have to unlock your power.” They said at once.
So Tortimer and the random Squirrel with superhero delusions know that the resident Stu has untapped super-powers. Yeah, that’s not phoned-in at all. No wonder this pile only has the one chapter.
“Power?” Wondered Mark. “What Power?” Tortimer answered.
This, right here, is why you need carriage returns in dialogue.
“Every human who moves into an animal village has a gift.”
The ability to turn furniture into leaves and back again.
Actually there’s an interesting deconstruction down that line related to the fact that all furniture in Animal Crossing reverts to leaves when picked up and that raccoons and foxes use leaves in their illusion magic. Suffice to say, if we cherry pick like the Game Theorists, it’s easy to prove that the villages in Animal Crossing don’t actually exist and it’s all an elaborate ruse. Or that the whole thing is just Tom Nook’s delusion.
“A special ability, that can only be unlocked, through training.” Said Tortimer.
Apparently that leaf magic stuff is harder than the games make it look.
“And in times of distress.” Added Agent S.
Of course. The inability to concentrate on what you’re trying to do is always the key to super powers.
Someday I’m going to write a superhero fic where the key to everyone’s powers is Scotch.
*Drains his bottle*
It’s certainly the key to mine.
“So asked Agent S. “Are you willing to embark on this mission” Agent S asked.
Don’t stare at that sentence too long. If you spend more than a few minutes trying to work out what is dialogue and what is narrative, you’ll get a nosebleed and pass out.
“Will you choose to unlock your power?” “In order to save your parents?” Agent S said looking at him intensely.
Knowing what the power does is unimportant, just that it’s there. Also, knowing whether he’s got enough time to train up before Thursday is likewise unimportant.
Mark looked back and forth. Between Tortimer and Agent S. “Yes” He said. “I will.”
“I say to you now that I accept this power! And that I will use this power to do the thing to the guys, so that they cannot do the other thing!”
A/N: I hope you liked it. Find out what happens it Chapter 2!
And that’s it, thankfully the fic ends there. It’s been almost a year since that one chapter went up, so it’s likely abandoned at this point. We may never know if the author ever had any specific ideas for this fic.
Anyway, until next week, patrons!