Balticon Story in the Round — LIVE!

For the third year in a row, the Baltimore Chapter is here at Balticon, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s annual celebration of science fiction, fantasy, and the allied arts. And once again, we’re doing our popular “story in the round” — in which we invite, beg, persuade, and bribe con attendees to add a sentence (or two or three, or … ) to a collaborative SF epic. This year, we’re blogging the story as it unfolds. Check back throughout the day to watch the story unfold!

And if you want to participate, leave your sentences in the comments and we’ll add them in to the live story at Balticon!

As always, Gary Lester provides the opening sentence…

As he approached the young woman, her smile grew; he hoped that it was genuine and that her fangs were not.

Having left the earth for the first time only a week ago, he had so much to learn about the universe.

“You missed a spot,” he said, gesturing to her chin. She casually brushed the scarlet trail from her pale smile and licked the finger suggestively.

“So, where are you from, big guy?” she queried.

“Nowhere of consequence,” he replied mischievously, his eyes merry behind his mask

“I always wanted to see that. Maybe you could take me there someday?” she asked while trying to size up the gentleman who came to the ball dressed as a super-deformed chibi Ozzie Osbourne.

“Henry? Did you take out the garbage?”

“Mom!” he yelled as she lifted the virtual helmet from his head. “I’ll do it after…”

“You’ll do it right now or I’m taking your new game back to the store.”

“But Mom, I just got started!” he whined loudly.

“Just do it!”

Defeated, he put on his vacuum suit and pushed the trashcan out into the void.

By the void, it means the void of the atmosphere of the planed Archimedes.

Which exists only in the mind of the ALL CREATOR.

“Make it so! Warp Factor 8!”

The engines of the trash pod burst into life and rocketed away from the airlock, winking out of sight. Henry turned back into the house to work on his new assignment unbeknownst to his mother (five million miles away the trash actually ended up crashing on an uninhabited planet, sparking the beginning of life.

“Henry!” his mother shouted. “Are you fiddling with that time machine again?


“Then what are you doing?”


“I worry when he says that.”

Henry’s mother slumped in the communications, chair, staring at the blinking display until meaning faded, leaving only soothing twinkles. “That boy is making my head hurt,” she muttered.

One twinkle sparkled more than the others, an insistent shade of yellow. It finally pulled her from her intense brood.

“Lt. Darian, Lt. Darian, come in.”

Kryss swished her tail angrily at the empty spot where the foolish young had recently vacated.

“Drat. Another tasty morsel gets away … or did he?” she mused as her scanner beeped from within her purse. “It would seem this one left me a trail to follow.”

“If only I could be certain that the scanner is working this time.”

But that was impossible now. They would have to find another way.

“Lt. Darian, we have reports of migrating space-kitties in your sector. They are extremely hungry, and we advise extra caution during EVAs.”

But the space-kitties were not just hungry — they were fleeing an unspeakable horror…

Such an unspeakable horror, it could swallow galaxies in seconds, and it was after only one.

My luck,  for once, I am the one. But I have never trusted in luck, not in any galaxy, certainly not in one so far flung as this lonely outpost.

Five billion years in the future, the high priest of the Sacred Lifegiving Trash Can was shocked from his devotions by the beeping of the Holy Time Portal. After a thousand generations, the portal was at last connected through the causeways of time to its complement, the time machine owned by the mother of Henry the Life Giver. The skeptics were confounded — the existence of the holy source of the Sacred Trash Can and the Garbage of Great Significance now was undeniable. The priest reached for his teleo-phoner, and gasped in horror! His kitten, Floopsy, was poised to leap into the glowing plaid maw of the Portal!

It was a perfectly good glowing maw, and Floopsy was going to ruin it, comma, just as she had his antique chair!

Slowly, irrevocably, a figure coalesced in the center of the maw. It was humanoid — no, it was human, the original ancestral form from which the 37 races of man/mankind were descended. The figure turned to face the priest and raised his hand as if in salute. Then it spoke in the thrice-lost tongue remembered as Anglish, “Can you hear this?”

“What do you think?” The reply was sarcastic and lacked the proper respect that one should show to an Anglish-speaking religious figure.

“I think that you would show me honor, if you knew what I was capable of.”

Floopsy was not impressed.

He bared his teeth, showing dropdown fangs that extended way below normal lip lines.

“You can chew with those?”

“I am Great Priest Bob…”

“Bob?” the look on Floopsy’s face showed her very real confusion… that is, until it cracked with all suppressed humor. “Bob? The Great Priest Bob?”

“What?” he asked, his fangs retracting. “Too campy?”

“Campy?! No way. Too campy would be quoting Shakespeare or something. (*Snort*) Who knows that anymore?” he exclaimed.

“Le gasp! How dare you insult the greatest poet of all time? Ah, the poetry, the smiles, the metaphors, oh my!”

“Greatest poet of –” Floopsy suppressed a guffaw. “– all time?”

“Of course!”

“Please! That’s like awarding a Pulitzer to someone for a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book!”

Bob snorted. “How is it like that, exactly?”

“Shakespeare,” Floopsy said with a flourish, “was a writer of popular entertainments. He was a crowd pleaser at his core. He wasn’t trying to send a profound message, he was trying to put bums in seats!”

“But — the satires. The subtext…”

“Subtext, schmubtext! ‘Say, the audience likes sword fights! I’ll put one in Act II!'”

“I — but –”

“‘Actors love death scenes! Everybody dies at the end!”

“But, but, but –”

“King Lear! What’s the moral? ‘Rich people’s lives suck as bad as poor people’s!'”

“But they feel and look much better!”

“Sure, for a couple of generations. Then the inbreeding kicks in and you’ve got Benny from L.A. Law deciding whether to invade France or not.”


And that, ladies and gentlemen, was all we had time for before we had to close up shop and leave the amazing wonderland that is Balticon 43! But don’t let the story end here.

Who, really, is the fanged Great Priest Bob? What happened to the kid in the vacuum suit? And what the @#$% is this story all about, anyway? Only you can decide! Continue the story in the comments section, and help make this story the Awful Space Epic that Never Dies…


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