LimitsBy Marian Mendez
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"Not another one where everybody- and I do mean every body -survives Gauda Prime. Honestly, Marian, you've got to admit that Blake looked extremely dead. And you've got to stretch the old "Federation was using stun guns" theory awfully thin in Dayna's case. Arlen was using a gun she got from the rebels when Dayna bit the bullet."
"Well, Arlen was a Federation agent- excuse me- Federation officer. She might have had orders to take them in alive," I rationalized, taking back my maligned manuscript.
"You ought to try your hand at something more in line with the Blake's Seven pessimistic universe. After all, part of the fun of writing is controlling, even killing, the characters."
"No, I can't. There are limits." I sighed, realizing that my visitor remained unconvinced. "I can't help it. Really. There is a reason, but it wouldn't do any good to tell you. It's a rather involved, unbelievable story."
"Great." My guest settled into a more comfortable position at the dining room table, shoving a stack of zines to one side. "I love a good story."
"Where have I heard that before?" I muttered. "All right, I suppose I may as well tell you. A couple of years back when I started writing B-7, I had an idea for a story in which all the good guys die on G.P. and Servalan wins.
"I hadn't decided yet if she was going to use the status she got for killing them to rise to power in the Federation once again, and discover that she could run the Federation more efficiently by relaxing the harsher policies. Those zombies on Pylene 50 couldn't have made decent workers, and vaporizing entire populations didn't add to the Gross Galactic Product. So, she would have eventually instituted most of the changes Blake had been fighting for, making the whole revolution pointless.
"On the other hand, I could have had her pretend to be on the side of the remaining rebels. As Sleer she could pose as a disillusioned Federation officer and take over the revolution, depose the current Federation leaders and gradually pervert the revolution, creating another Federation as corrupt as the previous one, with her firmly in charge.
"Either way, the villains were going to win and the heroes were going to have died in vain. Except that I couldn't seem to make it work. Every time I started to come up with a good plot supporting one of Servalan's futures, it came to a dead end.
"I was typing in my bedroom and when I got really frustrated I decided to lie down on the bed for a few minutes with the lights off. Sometimes that helps me concentrate. This time all it did was make me sleepy. I'm still not sure whether I actually did fall asleep, or just got into an in-between dozing state..."
It was dark and quiet. Not entirely silent, though. I heard papers rustling and a soft "tch, tch," sort of noise. I was only half awake and I thought one of the cats had gotten into mischief. I bolted out of bed and yanked on the light cord dangling from my ceiling fan. (From habit, I can find that in the dark.) I stopped, shocked. Standing before me was a strange man- a very large, strange man. I took a step backward, landing on the bed, through a miscalculation of the area in which I had to maneuver. The man didn't follow me which was not much reassurance as he was between me and the only door.
"Sorry," he said. He had a gruff voice, but a kindly tone. "I didn't mean to frighten you. I came to talk with you."
"What?" I don't know why, but I looked down at that moment to see my dog and three cats cuddled around the man's feet, vying for his attention. That angered me. After all these years feeding them and taking them to the vet for every little sniffle, the least they could do was growl at the intruder. I hadn't expected much of the dog, as she likes everybody, but the cats were usually more particular. Especially Sarah Jane, but there she was, curving her twenty-seven pound body into absurdly kittenish contortions.
"Who are you?" I hoped the man was only a little crazy, in a non-violent way. He certainly wasn't a crook; no thief would take the time to read my story, which I saw dangling from one of his massive paws. I was angry about that, too, as I hate people to read my stuff in its larval stage. However, I wasn't brave enough to point that out to him.
"Don't you know me?" The big man chuckled and bent down to pet Sarah, who was butting against his ankles so insistently that he was in danger of losing his balance. I saw the top of his head, and the glint of metal half-hidden in his curly hair brought my dazed mind to an impossible conclusion.
"Gan!" I blurted out. "No, you're David Jackson.
No, that's not a whole lot more likely. This must be a very weird
"The actor who played Gan... this is ridiculous. You know who you are. What I want to know is, how did you get here and what do you want with me?"
"I do know who I am. You were right the first time. I
am Olag Gan." He shook his head and waved the sheaf of typescript
he held in one hand. "As I said, I came to talk to you. About this
story. Don't you think it is unnecessarily cruel?"
"It's my story and I'll do what I want with it. I'm not scared of you. You're not really here, and even if you were, you couldn't do anything to me. Not you." I was beginning to enjoy this dream. On the rare occasions when I had this much self-awareness during a dream, I had been able to influence events in it. I wondered if I could bring in other characters. If it was all going to take place in my bedroom, I knew who I'd invite. I'd get rid of the big lunk first, though. Three's a crowd, even in a dream.
"Be reasonable. I'm not asking you to stop writing, you know. We need to be remembered. I understand that conflict is an important part of writing, but you needn't kill my friends. Anything but that." Gan smiled at me, but I was adamant.
"There are a lot of Post Gauda Prime stories. Very few of them have all the good guys surviving. Why didn't you bother those authors?"
"I tried." Gan shrugged. "Most of them couldn't see me, and the ones who could catch a glimpse of me couldn't hear me at all."
"So you must be used to failure by this time. Why don't you go back where you came from? You can't force me to do anything, not with the limiter implant of yours." I was, I admit it, obnoxious and smug. I reasoned that this was either a dream, in which case I was safe, or Gan was some sort of extra-dimensional materialization based on the big man of Blake's Seven. In either case, he could do me no harm.
"Don't make me do something we'll both regret."
"What? You don't exist. Now, shoo, you're beginning to bore me." I waved my hands at Gan and waited for him to de-materialize or fade away or disappear like a popped soap bubble.
He didn't. Instead he shook his head ruefully and approached me. "I didn't want to do this, but you haven't given me any choice. Now, hold still."
I found myself unable to move as his big hand came down to rest lightly on the top of my head. There was a sudden sharp pain, then the hand lifted and I could move. Reflexively, I brought up my hand to feel at the sore spot on my skill. To the touch, my head felt as it always did.
"What did you do?" Suddenly, I wasn't quite so sure about my safety, or the unreality of these events.
"I did ask you politely, but you wouldn't listen." Gan frowned. "Limiters are evil things, but they are effective. No one will be able to see or feel the one I've given you, but you'll know it's there."
I was finally truly frightened. "You mean..."
"Every time you try to kill one of my friends it will activate. It won't hurt as much as mine. After all, you won't be physically trying to kill someone. But it will give you enough of a headache to make it very hard for you to kill `characters'." Gan began to fade. "I suppose if you can grit your teeth and ignore the pain you might be able to do it, but it will make you think twice about it." Like the Cheshire Cat, the last thing I saw of him was his grin.
I woke up from my nap. "Craziest dream I ever had. Even stranger than the one where I flap my arms and fly off the roof." I stretched and yawned. "Too much B-7. But why Gan? Could have been worse, I suppose, like Servalan or Travis."
I picked up the scattered pages of my manuscript, swearing at the cats as I sorted pages. It was odd, though; I thought I had put the story in a fresh manila envelope and crimped over the metal tabs. I picked up the empty envelope and stared at the tab. It showed unmistakable crinkling from being bent, then unbent. That was definitely not a feline skill: it was even beyond Zsa-Zsa's agile monkey-like paws.
"Must have done it myself." I sat down to reread what I
had written, attempting to decide which of Servalan's triumphs to
chronicle. It was strangely difficult. The death scene on G.P. which had
seemed full of pathos to me, now was simply painful- in more ways than
one. I rubbed my forehead where tension had formed an aching band
directly behind my eyes. "No," I protested, "no, it was
only a dream!"
"I don't know," my guest said after I finished talking. "I never cared for Mary Sue's, even when they're Mari-an's. I would like to read the story where Servalan wins, though."
"Sorry. I never did finish it." I shrugged. "More tea?"
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