End of Summer
 
Fanzing's Current

WRITING CHALLENGE!

Current Topic:
Arkham Asylum's Vacation!
Due Date:
May 28, 2000
PRIZE:
A Fanzing T-Shirt, Mug or Mouse Pad
(Your choice of any one item)

Arkham Asylum's Vacation

This Writing Challenge has a short text intro. Rules are at the bottom, in bold.

Prelude
By Michael Hutchison

  "Load 'em up, Mistuh Jay!" Harley Quinn sighed, happy to see her sweetie again. "We gotta get this convoy on the road!" She tried to relax as she sat back in the driver's seat of the truck, her white trucker's coveralls and hat fitting badly over her regular costume. It was not a good disguise.

"10-4, bad buddy!" the Joker said with a snicker as he stepped over the guards' bodies. "Just waiting for the giggle-gas to clear!" The Arkham Asylum loading dock had seen many, many break-outs in its time. Idly, the Joker wondered how they ever found new employees to work there. "All right, you should be able to breathe all the way to the truck. Mind you, I said 'should'!"

With a grand bow and an 'After you!' pantomimed, the Joker stepped aside and let the other inmates run to the white grocery delivery truck. All of them took a deep breath and held it as they ran through the dissipating green gas. Finally, as the Joker began to shut the security door, he saw Mr. Zsasz running to join the escaping inmates. Joker held up his hand and watched Zsasz skid to a stop on his bare feet. "NOT you!" Joker said.

"Might I inquire as to why?" Zsasz asked.

"Simple. You'd slaughter all of us before we cleared the compound. I mean, I'm all for amoral, conscienceless, maniacal killing…but SHEESH!" the Joker replied, slamming the security door behind him. "Toodles! HAHAHAHAHAHA!"

Joker jumped in the back of the truck and pulled the back door closed. "Get going, Harl, and mind the speed limit!" he shouted as he squeezed in amongst the assorted escapees. "Oh, I'm sorry. You don't know my assistants. Where are my manners!?" Joker gasped, as his henchmen hid in a corner of the truck. "Goons, nutjobs. Nutjobs, goons." One of his henchmen gave a thin smile and waved to the growling Killer Croc, who was shoved tightly against him.

"Harley? Is the truck wired like I asked?" Joker queried.

"You bet, Mistah Jay! Look for the big red switch!" Harley sang from the cab as she spun the truck around a corner.

"Which big red switch?" Joker asked, glancing around. Three dozen fingers pointed behind the Joker. He turned and saw a huge red switch with a huge balled knob on the end and a huge sign reading "This big red switch!" hanging from it. "Never mind! I found it!" he called to Harley.

Pulling the switch, there was a loud CH-CHUNK followed by a clanging. Outside the truck, the sides fell away to reveal a yellow body and a new sign. Instead of the nondescript "Ajax Groceries" sign, there was now a "Fast Break Glass Repair" logo. The license plates' false faces fell away, to reveal a custom license plate: "PRZNERZ".

"Hey, Jokah!," Scarface sneered from the Ventriloquist's knee, "tell yer goys to drop us off down gy the Red Grick Tavern on Gaker's Street! I got a hideout where we can lie low for a little git!"

"No no no, my sliver-filled associate!" Joker said, wagging a finger. "I didn't engineer our escape just because I'm a great humanitarian. I need you for my plan!"

There were groans all around.

"Oh! Let me guess," Two-Face said mockingly, "You want us all to go on crime sprees at the same time so that Batman and the cops can't stop all of us."

"Don't be so O'Neill-esque," Joker chided. "This is much better. I have a way that all of us can make a fortune and we won't have to worry about any caped opposition."

"Tch! Please don't waste our time, dear boy," the Mad Hatter said, rolling his eyes. "I think we could all agree that we don't work well together. The plan will be clockwork for about five minutes before one of us stabs the other in the back." There were nods and mumbles of agreement all around.

"This idea of mine won't involve any planning or cooperation whatsoever. In fact, it will be much more successful if we all didn't see each other ever again," Joker postulated. "Intrigued yet?" He took the silence as an answer. "See, there's a basic lesson none of us have learned."

Joker tried to pace the room as he talked, but there was precious little leg room. Nevertheless, tripping and stumbling and picking his steps carefully, the showman continued to lecture, gesturing as he went.

"We try to fight Batman and we get caught," Joker said, looking askance at Killer Croc.

"We try to outwit Batman and we get caught," Joker said, gesturing towards the Riddler.

"We try to kill Batman and we get caught," Joker said, glancing at Two-Face.

"We try to run from Batman and we get caught," Joker said, pointing to Tweedledee and Tweedledum."

"We try to operate under Batman's radar and we get caught," Joker said, nudging the Ventriloquist.

"We try to kidnap Batman and eat his heart and we…well, maybe some of us…okay, only one of us gets caught," Joker said, with a cheesy grin at Cornelius Stirk.

"What's the basic conclusion that we're missing here? Obviously: STAY AWAY FROM BATMAN! We need to get out of Gotham City!"

There was silence in the truck.

"Oh, come on, people. There's a whole wide world out there! Why the hell are we looting and killing in the one city where we're guaranteed to fight Batman and lose?" Joker asked, throwing his arms wide. "Go rob banks in Burkittsville! Derail trains in Tuskegee! Be a kook in Kook-amunga!"

The inmates began to nod, realizing the simple brilliance here.

"For crying out loud, the cops here aren't frightened of us anymore. Here they get scared but they still try to shoot you. But if Mr. Freeze breaks into a jewelry store in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, the cops would take one look at him and go home to change into fresh underwear! So get out of town! Rob some rubes in Rhode Island! Instead of being small fry in Gotham, be Big Man On Campus in Walla Walla Washington. Don't try to rob Wall Street, rob Wall Drug!"

"Where the heck is Wall Drug?" Two-Face asked the Mad Hatter.

Joker pulled the red lever again. A second set of exteriors and license plates fell away to reveal a red body, a logo for "Speedy Getaway Movers, Inc." and the custom plate "S CAPE EZ".

"We're taking the Interstate out of here and catching a train in Utica. I've arranged for a private car. From there, we start disembarking along the way. Everyone spread out, so Bat-Boy can't follow all of us. Then we start hitting the big towns and small cities. Nagadoches, Fort Collins, Yellowstone National Park, Beaver Dam, Niagara Falls, Beloit, Coal City…wherever! Consider it a vacation! We can commit robberies all over America and the yokels won't know what hit 'em! It's like a dream come true!"

Joker grabbed a hanky from his pocket. "Oh, I'm getting too emotional. Excuse me. I'm a little verklempt. Talk amongst yourselves."

The Joker made his way towards the cab as the Arkham Asylum escapees began buzzing with excitement. A nearby road atlas was quickly ripped into sections so that they could all share it.

"This is a GREAT idea. I'm gonna hit Central City. I understand they don't have a Flash no more!"

"I keep up with the news. Last I heard, Opal City is unguarded."

"Manchester. That sounds like a nice place."

"Leesburg. Wot a name! Betcha there's no superheroes in LEEZE-Burg!"

"Happy Harbor? I bet I can make it plenny unhappy!"

"Isn't Mr. Oconomowoc that guy that can't say his name backwards?"

"No superheroes in Los Angeles, right? Why should I think small?"

"New Orleans, man! That's the life! "

"Is the Justice League still in Detroit?"

"Blue Valley! No, no, wait…um…IVY TOWN!"

"Unblemished side: St. Louis. Scarred side: Pittsburgh."

Underneath the truck, the half-naked Zsasz held on to the truck's frame and checked the tightness of the guard's belt which he'd used to secure himself. He wish he'd had time to grab the guard's entire uniform before the truck had left. No matter. He'd snatch a passerby who looked his size and have clothes soon enough.

In a helicopter high above the city, two figures watched the departing truck. "Joker appears to be doing his part. I hope he followed the plan to the letter. If that clown strays from it, I want him dead an hour later."

"Yes, father," the pilot answered.
 

And thus begins Fanzing's first Fiction Challenge for the year 2000. This is like a summer crossover with book-ends. Instead of holding all entries until the end, we'll run them as they arrive.

Your assignment is simple in concept and fun in execution. Batman's Rogues Gallery is on the road. Write up an encounter between a Bat-villain and a NON-Bat-family superhero in a city other than Gotham. This is present day, in-continuity DC Comics characters. You don't need to be tightly bound to continuity in the present title (such as working around Starman's "Grand Guignol"), but don't set the story in 1999 or before!

Nightwing is off limits. So is Robin. I will accept Young Justice and Titans stories if these two characters are kept to only supporting roles.

It is not necessary to claim your characters, as the same hero might encounter several villains in his city, and the same villain might hit several cities. In the unlikely event of, say, two people writing "Starman vs. The Riddler" stories, I'll run them both. (This is only fan fiction!)

It is unlikely that these villains will choose New York or Metropolis, given the hero-heavy quotient of those towns…and you'd think that they'd avoid Opal and Keystone and other cities with hometown superheroes…but remember that these villains are Gotham-centric, out of touch and insane. They don't read "Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E." and "Supergirl", so how do THEY know that Blue Valley and Leesburg are protected?! So don't worry about it. Most of these nut-rolls think anything outside of Gotham is easy pickings. Others, like Riddler, are smart enough to avoid those towns but can't resist the challenge of defeating a superhero.

Bane, Ra's Al Ghul and other "big" villains who aren't usually incarcerated don't count for this contest. Stick to the rogues.

Another consideration is that not all Bat-villains are in Arkham (the Riddler, Cat-Man and others aren't really insane; usually, they're shown in Blackgate, not Arkham). But for our purposes, consider any and all Bat-villains as viable candidates.

At the end of your story, either have the villain get away or put in custody of the local authorities (from which they'll likely escape). This will explain how they might appear in stories by other authors following your story. NEVER have Batman show up to drive them home. As for the Joker, he must get away because he plays an important part in the end of the story.

Multiple entries by the same author are acceptable. This is going to be a lot of fun and I don't want to limit anyone to one story. This isn't a contest, it's just a challenge idea to get your juices flowing.

This idea's a fun one, but DC will probably never do it due to the Bat Office's tight control of the characters. Therefore, don't miss this opportunity to have two characters square off against each other for perhaps the only time ever! This challenge should last us a while, so expect the conclusion in the June issue. That gives you more or less five months to get as many stories completed as you want to do. Final date for publication in the June issue is May 28th.

ONE MORE THING: The winner of this contest gets a prize! That's right, the winner will receive his or her choice of a Fanzing T-shirt, mouse pad or mug. (If something goes wrong with our plans for this merchandise, I will substitute something else of equal value.)

Specifics:
  • Prose form, please. Our readers generally enjoy prose more than scripts.
  • Do your own editing and spell-check. Entries will be posted as-is.
  • Please send your story in either Word format or Rich Text Format (.rtf).
  • It Must Not Suck. We reserve the right to not run entries which we deem not worthy of publication. Don't worry, this is rare…but we need to state that!
  • For any further information on how to submit fiction to Fanzing, read the rules in the F.A.Q.
  • E-mail it to fanzing@fanzing.com
 
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