Friday, November 09, 2007

Dick and Zedd's Objectivist Adventure

Swirly lights. Jangly music. People wearing shiny clothing. Yes, this is the future. Some men sit in a circle as a mysterious object drifts to the ground. Many of them have yeards.

"It is time," says the leader. "Their separation is imminent."

A man in a long leather coat and a yeard steps forward, and puts on some wraparound shades to complete the mid-life crisis look. He strikes a pose.

"Passion rules reason," he declares, and steps into the mysterious booth.

"Pity for the guilty is treason to the innocent," says the leader, and they both strike poses again. Lights flash and the booth disappears into the ground.


Our yearded narrator now speaks to the camera.

"Welcome to the future. We love it here. Everyone talks in speeches and meaningless platitudes, and almost-rape is the normal courting procedure. Vigilante killings are way up, charity contributions are way down. It's a great place to live... but it almost wasn't..."

[cut to two adolescents mucking about in a garage, talking into a video camera]

The skinny one in the robe brandished a wand. "I'm Zeddicus Zu'l Zorander, Esquire..."

There was a quick scuffle while he swapped places with the tall one, who was taller than most men, though not as tall as some men, who then raised a sword and declared, "And I'm Dick Richard Rahl... and together we are... the Seekers of Truth!" They both struck poses and waved around their chosen implements, until Richard's sword caught on the video camera and sent it crashing to the ground.

"Whoah," said Dick.
"Bagus," said Zedd. They nobly mooched outside.

"How are we going to get people to choose life if we can't even get our Sword'n'Sorcery show to work?" asked Dick.
"Well, we can't get it to work unless we include some Real Human Issues," said Zedd, stuffing his face with food.
"But our Real Human Issues don't make any sense unless we make everyone choose life!" argued Dick, sternly.
"And that is why we need to make our swords and sorcery work!" said Zedd. They both grinned at each other and struck noble poses, like they were posing for statues of themselves.

"Whoah!" said Dick, suddenly. "We're late, dude!"
"For what?" asked Zedd.
"School, dude!"
"Oh yeah!"

They rushed off.


The history class was a washout. Dick's brain was far too full of Real Human Issues to take any notice of what the teacher was saying, and his suggestion that Napoleon's victory was achieved by stripping naked and painting himself white caused the class to fall about laughing. The two teenagers were glad when the bell rang, but not so glad when the teacher, Mr Billington, asked them to stay behind for a moment.

Dick's attempt to head his teacher off with a cunning speech failed. Mr Billington glared at them from beneath his eyebrows.

"Boys, your performance in this history class has been abysmal. Your views on battle-tactics, and your opinions that history has been entirely the work of "individuals" rather than societal movements, have little basis in actual historical fact, and yet you continue to make speeches about it in every single class without doing a scrap of research. I'm afraid that if you don't pass tomorrow's History Report, you'll be flunking out of school. That is all." He turned back to his books.

"Bagus," said Zedd, once they were outside and such foul language could no longer be heard by the teacher. "We're in trouble now. Let's go back to my place and wait until we deserve victory."

Just then a red convertible pulled up, driven by a stunning blonde with massive hooters. It was Nicci, Zedd's young stepmom!

"Wanna ride, boys?" she asked, suggestively
"Whoah!" said Dick. They piled into the back of the car and drove off, with a camera shot of the "NICCI" numberplate as the car sped away.


Part 2

The boys' attempts at studying at home had been thwarted - Zedd's dad, Nathan, had been so distracted by the boobies of his nubile young wife that both Dick and Zedd were instantly thrown out of the house.

"Your stepmom is hot, Zedd" said Dick, on the way down the stairs.
"Shut up, Dick" said Zedd
"Remember when she was the mistress of death and we were her prisoners?"
"Shut UP, Dick!"
"Remember when you tried to almost-rape her at the prom?"
Dick, finally (and uncharacteristically) realising that this was not the time or place for a speech, struck a pose instead, and they headed outside.

Like good capitalists, they continued their research at the local convenience store, the D'Hara K. Surely anyone spending their good, American money in the defence of freedom would have all the information all they needed to pass their history report. So far, from asking random customers, they had gleaned the information that every other country in the world was an oppressive police state, and every non-American spoke something called "jibber-jabber". This was all very interesting, but not much use for their report, and they were about to move on to the next convenience store when a phone booth shot down from the sky and instantly landed in front of them. Pine needles tumbled from the trees.

"Whoah," said Dick.
"Strange things are afoot at the D'Hara K," said Zedd.

The door opened and the yearded man from the prologue stepped out, striking a manly pose.

"Hi, I'm Terry Goodkind," he said. "I'm here to help you with your history report. My phonebox can travel through time!"

The boys gaped at him in awe. Zedd's brows furrowed with a sudden thought.

"Time-travelling phoneboxes? Haven't I heard of that from somewhere else? Doctor something? And while we're on the subject, a couple of dumb slacker metal kids seems quite familiar too... Someone's World?"

Terry's brows furrowed with sudden anger. "What are you talking about? This can't possibly be compared with anything else, because this is the work of an individual, and all individuals are different! Unlike Commies, individuals can never be compared with each other, because they have no similarities - that's why we call them individuals. If you can't understand this simple concept, you're obviously too young or you hate goodness because it exists. Besides, I've never even heard of any of that other stuff, and I don't own a TV and I've never read a book or been to a film."

Dick's mind raced. "How do we know you're telling the truth?" he asked. He felt as if he were in a dream. But he wasn't.

Terry froze for an instant and then unfroze. "Why don't you ask them," he suggested, as another phonebox rocketed to the ground. Out streamed two other boys who looked exactly like Dick and Zedd. The other Dick was taller than most men, but he wasn't taller than Dick, and he wasn't shorter than him either, because he was exactly the same height.

"Listen to this guy Terry," said the other Dick, "He knows what he's talking about."
Zedd's eyes radiated suspicion. "What number are we thinking of?" he asked suspiciously.
All four boys looked at each other. "Sixty-seven!" said the two from the future, just as the other two said "seventy-six!"
Ignoring the glaring continuity error, they all struck manly poses in delight.

The future Dick and Zedd headed back to their phonebox, leaving Terry smiling at the present-day boys who smiled back. This was a man they could trust. They climbed into the phonebox beside Terry and he dialled a number. Suddenly it was flying through time!

The phonebox landed in a ruined village. Obviously this was in the middle of a war, but both Dick and Zedd were surprised at the lack of slaughtered rape victims that they imagined would be there.

"This is Napoleon's invasion of Russia," said Terry. "Look over there and you'll see him leading his naked troops to victory!"

The boys peered through the mist, the white fangs of death. Fangs of white steel ripped into flesh and death squeals poured from the mist as soldiers fled from the white death. Fearless men tasted fear and ran heedlessly onto cold white steel. What wasn't wet from the white mist was soaked with red blood.

"Whoah," said Dick. "Totally unglamourous war, dude."
"Yah," agreed Zedd. "Most non-overwritten."

Terry was making notes; Zedd looked over and saw the words "...the white steel fangs now were coated with blood and gore; white snow became a soggy mat of red splashes...". He finally put down his pen and said "Right, let's get you back to San Dimas then!"

"Dude, this must be how he makes his battle-scenes so realistic!" whispered Zedd. Dick nodded.

The phonebox landed back in San Dimas. They all got out. Terry looked at them. They looked back at him.

"Now remember, time exists, and has its own identity, which can only go in one direction, and that's forwards, even if you go back and forth in time in the meantime. You have to get to your history report on time, and time will keep going forwards until you do."

Dick and Zedd didn't quite understand that, but before they could ask him to explain, Terry had entered the phonebox again and it vanished into the ground. Another one instantly shot from the sky and landed where it had been, followed by the sight of Napoleon crashing to the ground beside them. He had been caught in the time-field. And now he was here.
In San Dimas.
In the present.

They looked at each other. A plan was slowly forming in their minds.

"Dude," said Dick, slowly, as the plan formed in his mind, "Why don't we go back and, like, grab us some historological figures? That way, we wouldn't have to do any actual work!"
"Awesome!" said Zedd. "First, let's dump this Napoleon dude off with your brother, and then we can get going!"

Dick's brother Michael was not impressed with Napoleon. The French general was shorter than most men. Some men were even shorter than Napoleon. But not all of them. Most men were taller.

"Michael, take Mr Napoleon out on the town tonight and show him a good time," said Dick, unaware of any innuendo in his words.
Michael sulked. "Don't wanna!" he bawled. "I was going to ban fire tonight, you know that, you big meanie!"
Zedd gave him a cuff round the ear. "Shut up kid, and do as you're told."
Michael's shifty eyes shifted evilly. He squinted sideways at his big brother with an evil glint in his shifty eyes.

The two boys headed back through the house.

"Wait right there!" called the ominous voice of Darken, Dick's evil dad. "Dick, if you get kicked out of school tomorrow, I'll have no choice but to send you to Commie Camp! In Siberia!"

"Whoah," said Dick, his face a wooden mask of horror. "Dude, we have to pass this test!"


Part 3

"So, this phonebox can travel through time," said Zedd, recapping the plot for readers who are a bit slow on the uptake, "and we've just decided to go back into history and kidnap some famous dudes to do our homework for us." He turned to face his friend. "If we fail, you will get turned into a commie by your evil dad!"

"Yah," agreed Dick. "Where shall we go first, dude?"

"How about... a time when men were men, and women were whores." said Zedd. His voice took on a ringing tone. "Where individuals walked proud along noble streets, and the fruit of their labours was shared with no other. A time of heroism. A time of individuality. The Wild West, symbol of all we hold dear!"

Dick, already striking a noble pose at this catalogue of individual nobility, tried to make it even nobler, but he couldn't suck his gut in any further. He picked up the phonebook and dialled a number. The phone box began to travel.
Through time.
Into the past.

The old gnarly cowboy entered the outhouse and prepared to "do his business". He could hear the smells and sights of his Wild West town through the door; all was the normal way that it usually was. He hummed idly to himself, when suddenly a mighty crash rang out from next to where the outhouse was. What could it be? he wondered. He burst forth from the wooden door and stared with horror at the shiny glass box that had suddenly landed. Two strangely clad boys, glowing with inner nobility, stepped forth.

"Whoah," said Dick.
"Excellent!" said Zedd.

They sauntered across to the bar, making sure they didn't step in the authentic horseshit, though it was probably a bit late for that. Ordering some beers with manly flair, they looked around the dingy bar and tried to decide which cowboy would be best to bring back with them.

"Dude, maybe we could teach one of them how to make roofs," suggested Zedd in a whisper.
"How can we do that if we don't know how to do it ourselves?" Dick said.

Just then, a young, handsome, yet rugged man stepped into the bar. It was the famous outlaw, Chase the Kid! "I need two men to play cards!" he declared.

Dick knew a lot about representational designs involving poker. And he knew no fear.
"We're with you, Mr the Kid!" he said. Zedd nodded.

A game of cards is like a battle. When you are surrounded on all sides, you have no option but to attack! In this case, it involved cheating. Dick's wooden poker-face gave away no hint of his emotions, even when he was trying really hard to act, but Zedd was not so fortunate. His bushy eyebrows could not contain their excitement at the sight of so many aces, and their scheme was rumbled.

Chase the Kid, like any good Objectivist, instantly saved himself by choosing life and jumping out of the window. Dick and Zedd were not so lucky. A menacing crowd backed them into a corner. The crowd was full of menace. They smiled cruelly as they closed on the two boys. Dick's mind raced. How could he escape from this terrible fate that the men wanted to do to him?

But then Zedd spoke. "Look out, all your testicles have vanished!" he shouted. Instantly there was confusion. Men grabbed at their crotches in terror. Fear was etched onto every face. Dick and Zedd seized the moment and ran for the door.

"I can't believe they fell for that," said Zedd.

Chase was waiting for them outside, and together they ran for the phonebox.


Part 4

The next person on the list was the First Philosopher, Socrates. Zedd looked him up in his book.

"Listen to this, Dick," he said. "'A system of morality which is based on relative emotional values is a mere illusion, a thoroughly vulgar conception which has nothing sound in it and nothing true.' That's so deep! And how about this one: 'False words are not only evil in themselves, but they infect the soul with evil.'"

"Whoah," said Dick. "Dude, this So-crates sounds like our kind of dude. He hates moral relativism and likes truth, like we do! Let's bag him."

A group of elderly philosophisers were sitting around in the place where they usually went to do philosophy. Dick and Zedd approached, admiring all the marble statues that surrounded the plaza. Socrates was in the middle of a speech, and they stopped to listen for a moment.

"What's he saying, dude?" whispered Dick. Zedd craned his ears.
"Don't know, dude. He's not speaking American. It sounds like some kind of jibber-jabber!"

Dick's expression of horror was interrupted by Socrates himself, who gestured for him to speak. Dick cleared his throat. This was the chance he had been waiting for, to impress these old men of learning!

"Life is there to be lived, so rise up and do the living with your life, and bow not down to the brute forces of mean little men who want to destroy life because it is good, who will offer you not a bowl of soup but the empty promise of a full bowl of soup provided by someone else; life cannot be divided, and what about a child's laughter? You can't divide it up, you just make more laughter!"

Tears of passion glistened in his eyes as he made this moving speech. To emphasise his final point, he started to laugh. Then Zedd laughed. Socrates laughed. All the philosophers laughed, until tears were running down every cheek. Obviously they were overcome with joy at his dazzling insights, thought Dick, and ignored all the rude gestures made in his direction. These were simple folk from an earlier time, and clearly had unusual ways of appreciating deep philosophy.

Socrates was so overcome with laughter at Dick's attempts to philosophise that he was easy to grab, and the two boys bundled him into the phonebox and sped away. They were going back.
Back to the future.
Though not actually the future, just what would have been the future from where Socrates was. Because he lived in the past.


Part 5

The phonebox touched down in a forest. It was an odd-looking forest, full of grubby peasants; goats and chickens lived together in harmony, in defiance of the laws of nature and morality.

Dick, Zedd, Chase and Socrates stepped out of the box. Dick looked strong. Zedd looked confused. Chase and Socrates looked at each other.

"Where are we, dude?" asked Richard, chewing on a hunk of meat that he'd found somewhere, just to show he wasn't a girly vegetarian and was a real man.
"Mediaeval England," said Zedd, "and these dirty poor people are probably known as Mud People, or something."
That sounded logical to Dick. "Mud people!" he declared. "Show me to your king!"

An old man pointed to a large castle immediately behind them, that Dick had somehow failed to spot. Dick looked up. He thought the roofs looked leaky. This could be the opening he was looking for. He was just about to explain his awesome roof-repair plan to his friend, in painstaking and mind-numbing detail, when his Seeker-senses began to tingle. Tearing his raptor-like gaze away from the roof, his eyes lit upon.... boobs!

Zedd had seen them too. A couple of scantily-clad princesses were strolling along the battlements. The two boys looked at each other. Without saying a word, they both knew what the other was thinking. However, this didn't stop Richard from unnecessarily saying it out loud.

"Dude, those are babes. And they're from history. And we're collecting people from history. And we like babes. So why don't we collect the babes. We can pretend to each other that we're doing it for our history report, when actually it's just because we like looking at their boobs."

The slower readers thus enlightened on the plan, the boys sneaked into the castle, by pretending to stretch and stealing some suits of armour. Zedd, being the clumsy comic relief character, tripped over his own feet and tumbled down some stairs. Dick ran down after him, and was just in time to see an iron-clad Mudman stick a sword into Zedd's prone back.

Dick was suddenly blind with rage. He could feel the white-hot anger rise within him. The rage roared through him like thunder. His ire was blindingly hot. The heat of his anger was blinding him. With fury darkening his eyes, he roared "YOU KILLED ZEDD, YOU MEDIAEVAL DICKWEED!", and thrust his mighty sword into the body of his enemy, ripping out his spine with one fell swoosh. The man recovered, and raised his sword to attack Dick back with, when Zedd rose up behind him and clunked him on the head with a bough of mighty oak.

Stepping over the rapidly-cooling corpse, Dick grabbed his friend in a totally non-homoerotic embrace. "Dude, I thought you were dead!" he cried, tears of pure manliness running down his raptor-like cheeks. They let go of each other and struck noble poses.

"No way, dude," said Zedd, "That was just, um, a spell or something. Don't worry about it. Anyway, let's go and find those babes!"

They found the babes in the garden. One of them was tall, though not as tall as Dick, and had a long white dress and long brown hair. The other was scrawny and quite old; she would do for Zedd. Dick had never been this close to a real woman, and didn't know what to say. His mind was blank. He tried to remember his favourite lines from Ayn Rand, but his mind was blank.

"Wizard's rules, dude!" whispered Zedd, "Quote them some rules!"

Of course! Dick cleared his throat. "People are stupid!" he declared. "I deserve victory! Passion rules reason! What exists, exists! Contradictions do not exist, either in whole or in part! Passion doesn't rule reason! Good intentions have bad results, sometimes! If you fear or hope that something is true, it probably isn't! Er... passion rules reason, again!"

The babes gasped with delight. "You have to help us!" cried the tall one with the boobs. "Our evil father wants to send us off to a nunnery, where we will be forced to do good works and help the poor and sick! What kind of life is that for a princess?"

The horror overwhelmed Dick. He and Zedd grabbed the girls by the hands, and were about to run off with them, when pine needles fell from the trees ominously and King Henry appeared.

Zedd struck a pose. "Greetings, your highness, I am Ruben, the earl of Rybnik."

Ruben Rybnik! That was always the name that Zedd used when he needed a disguise. Dick's mind raced. He needed a disguise too!

"I am the Duke of Ruben Rybnik," he declared.

King Henry was not impressed. "Torture them!" he cried.

The two boys looked at each other with glee, and struck poses.

"On second thoughts, execute them!" said the king.

"Bagus," said Zedd, as they were dragged away.


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