Wicked self-publisher Darth Sinister lies bleeding on the floor of his refurbished DEATH STAR. His Jedi foe Young Vanderkarr shakes off unconsciousness. In a shameless attempt to introduce a flashback, both struggle to remember WTF just happened…
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Overcome these obstacles. It doesn’t have to be about you and the blank page.
DARTH SINISTER: Oh but it does, my Young Apprentice™…
YOUNG VANDERKARR: There is good in you.
DARTH SINISTER: Your plot is lost, your characters are weak, and your description is about to collapse under the ponderous weight of its own gravitational field. Search your feelings. Soon you will turn to the Dark Side of Publishing™. Join me, my Young Apprentice™. Face your Publishing Destiny™. Short stories. Quicker. More seductive. Take the swift path to the Dark Side™. Embrace your fear of editing. And Trademark signs.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Er…
DARTH SINISTER: Your Jedi ways are well-suited to the do-gooder meandering across the surface of a novel. But there is a darker path. Strewn with the bones of the well-intentioned. No room for vacillation. Little time for exposition. Zero space in which to wax lyrical.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: I dunno…
DARTH SINISTER: Cut your writing to the bone, Young Vanderkarr. Sample the discipline of plotting a short story with all the power and ruthlessness that true editing commands. Lose those sub-plots. Kill excessive characterisation. Abandon description of every minor character’s clothes. Do not tell us what he said or she said. Banish those phrases from your vocabulary, and your journey to the Dark Side™ will be complete.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Ulp. We-ell. Maybe I could veer a little to the Dark Side™. You know. A teensy bit. On a trial-basis. Worked for Luke Skywalker. He seemed to do okay. What harm is there in a short story, after all…
DARTH SINISTER: Good, good. Fried Ewok?
YOUNG VANDERKARR: I’ll pass. What of the threat Darth Biozarre poses to your personal carer, Darth Phibes?
DARTH SINISTER: Leave that to me.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: And allow all these Darths to run free in the publishing universe? You can loosen up. Take the day off. Walk by the creek.
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: Pardon me, Your Munificence. A transmission from the Star Destroyer Prophylactic. It would appear that Darth Phibes has ordered full steam ahead in the desire to wipe Darth Biozarre from existence.
DARTH SINISTER: My plan proceeds as anticipated.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Only one will survive. Though which? Things don’t look good for me either way. They are all Darthtastic. I’m going to have to…
NOISES OFF: Bzhwwzumm.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Holy Eff! Put that Typesabre away. I don’t want to fight you.
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: If no one objects, I’ll shut down before I’m cut in half by razor-sharp wordsmithery.
DARTH SINISTER: I am composing a ditty.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: How…unDarthlike. If there is such a word.
DARTH SINISTER: You have coined a word. Good. Now use it at every opportunity. Then mercilessly edit the word from your work.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: No! Wait! Using and unusing unDarthlike would be Darthlike.
DARTH SINISTER: Yes. Give in to temptation.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Never. Not when I can flick this handy switch that throws your entire DEATH STAR into cataclysmic overdrive.
NOISES OFF: CLICK.
DISEMBODIED VOICE OF GLOOMY FEMBOT: WARNING. CATACLYSMIC OVERDRIVE SEQUENCE INITIATED. ALL PERSONNEL NOT COVERED BY DEATH STAR INSURANCE PLEASE MOVE TO THE EMERGENCY FIRE ESCAPE. THANK YOU FOR USING THE FAST LANE.
DARTH SINISTER: A momentary glitch, young fool.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Now you’ll pay for all the clichés you’ve used. Dark Lord™ on his Dark Throne™. What’s that? The Fried Ewok Stand. Also serving bagels. Ew. There’s not a force in the universe that…
NOISES OFF: MAN NARRATING SOUND OF EXPLOSION FOR REASONS OF CHEAPNESS.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: What the Holy Eff just happened?
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: Excuse the mess, Your Commendableness. I appear to be leaking oil. My big end’s gone, I’m afraid. Now I’ll have to seek emergency maintenance round the back.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Where the fudge am I? What the fritz is going on? Who the flip skewed with my sense of reality?
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: The DEATH STAR is deep in the Censored System. Profanity is heavily-shielded here.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Motherfudgers! You’ve got to be flipping kidding me. And this ledge?
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: I believe we were blasted from the control room to the maintenance platform over the main reactor shaft. The platform doubles as an ice cream counter. Would you care for some?
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Fudge, yeah. Wait! The last I remember, I was caught up in my own little world with that motherfudging fear of editing. Say. I didn’t turn to the Dark Side™, did I? There’s this short story on the ground and…
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: Oh, that belongs to Darth Sinister. It appears that you’ve intercepted a transmission meant for Darth Biozarre.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Why the fudge would Darth Sinister send a short story to Darth Biozarre? And why the fudge would he leave a copy for me? That’s just not his way. Why, his whole Darthtastic persona is based around this antiquated notion that it’s just him and the blank page.
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: Is there such a thing as robot wee? I think I may have to visit the lavatory.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: He’s sent out a sample of his fiction. There’s hope for us yet. Darth Sinister may turn to the Light Side™ after all.
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: As I understand things, only his own fear of his personal carer, Darth Phibes, prevents Darth Sinister from acting in this way.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Yes. That’s true. I sense a disturbance in the Force. As though an Evil Presence™ yelled out in pain after taking a sword of buzzy light to the face. Could it be that Darth Phibes and Darth Biozarre clashed? Who won? Does that concern me? I have to face a Darth at the finish, no matter who kicked butt.
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: Fudge?
YOUNG VANDERKARR: What happened?
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: I was offering you ice cream.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Fritz, I knew that. Fudge.
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: What now?
YOUNG VANDERKARR: I was accepting your offer.
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: Ah.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Just give me some fudging ice cream while I read this story. Hm. I know the Dark Lord™ tried to turn me to the Dark Side™ with talk of short stories, but…wow. This really is short.
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: Pardon me, Your Commendableness. I believe that’s only the opening page. There’s a whole chapter here.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Darth Sinister has gone off the deep end. Maybe it’s an Evil Ploy®, designed to lure me to the ways of the Sith. By doing good deeds, he, er, does more evil. Somehow. I dunno. Must think about that.
DROID ESS-H-ONE-TEE: Incoming transmission from Darth Biozarre.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Yeah, I’ll take the call.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Greetings, Darth Sin…aren’t you a little tall to be a Sith Lord?
YOUNG VANDERKARR: I’m Young Vanderkarr – I’m here to rescue you. From yourself.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Scoffing ice cream won’t save you.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: I’ve been mocked by more sarcastic holograms than I care to mention. There was this glazing sales-droid…
DARTH BIOZARRE: Zip it, motherfudger. What the fudge? You’re in the Censored System. How did you end up there?
YOUNG VANDERKARR: A bunch of cocklesuckers designed this DEATH STAR, and…
DARTH BIOZARRE: You know censoring profanity in that way only draws more attention.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Fudging right I do. Long story short…
DARTH BIOZARRE: Taking up the short story. Good, good. Your Destiny™©® grows ever clearer. With each passing second, you make yourself more my servant.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Your servant.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Yes. I’ve just split Darth Phibes in half.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Fucking hell!
DARTH BIOZARRE: Shielding couldn’t contain that outburst. Impressive.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Darth Phibes is all that stands between Darth Sinister and the concept of sharing fiction ahead of publication.
DARTH BIOZARRE: All that stood. Darth Phibes is now in the past tense. If a corpse can be described as tense. Well, maybe going by the look on his false face. Wore a mask. A tense-faced mask. Odd, even by my standards. I’d go for the cliché of the jolly clown.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: You find the task of creeping people out a tad easier dressed as a jolly clown?
DARTH BIOZARRE: Mm. In a paper ruff. That way I crêpe people out, too. Nice use of tad, BTW.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Appreciate that.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Darth Phibes is no more. Well, he’s in two pieces on the floor.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Poetry, now.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Coincidence breeds creativity. Darth Sinister is free. An end to tyranny. Until I take over, with my own evil ideas.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: He’s not that free. Looks like he only sent the opening section of a story to you.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Yes, a mere pittance.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: So it appears. Nice use of pittance, BTW. Commendable.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Well shucks. Look closer, Young Vanderkarr.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Just as the droid said. Darth Sinister’s gone mental. He’s produced a whole chapter. Just for us. I may cry.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Stifle a sob. Turn to the Dark Side™. Write short stories of your own.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Wait!
DARTH BIOZARRE: Am I really meant to fall for that ploy again?
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Duh, yeah!
DARTH BIOZARRE: Bought you some time. I have to cross galaxies to reach you, in any case.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: This isn’t about my turning to the Dark Side™. Fudge no! This is about Darth Sinister having some good in him.
Redemption. And… And.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Were you going to mention kittens? Don’t make me destroy you.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Redemption, not revenge. Recovery, not retribution. And kittens, darn it!
DARTH BIOZARRE: Fudge. Appears to be the fucking ice cream you’re eating.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: I’m drifting clear of the Censorship System, or your hologram would’ve been affected just now.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Why, I’m practically on your doorstep.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: This is the end. Darth Sinister fled the DEATH STAR. His enemy Darth Phibes is dead. I’m still a good guy. You could pack the whole Darth persona in a box and write your own stuff.
DARTH BIOZARRE: That’s a pretty pat ending.
YOUNG VANDERKARR: Yeah. Until Disney comes along and resurrects the whole thing.
DARTH BIOZARRE: Sounds like our cue to fade.
NEXT BLOG: MADONNAS, WITCHES, AND WEREWOLVES, OH MY!