Welcome, one and all, to the first day of Winter Fanon Con! I'm your host,
Killer Keemstar CaT, bringing you the results for the Normal Writing Contest! This season's theme was "Introspective". Let's see how our contestants did!
|Officer #1 (peaking out to fire a couple shots): Why haven't we taken this guy yet?!
He retreats behind a toppled table, startled.
The officer slams the back of his head into the table.
AmpFibian: Seriously, though, what are we dealing with here?
A moment later, the officers and guards shift to face the store straight on. From the side, AmpFibian edges closer. The Santa misses three clean shots on him, before shooting the shut glass doors and making his way inside the store behind him. AmpFibian glances all those firing, saluting them. They stop on his mark as he slows in through the broken glass.
Sparks fly that shut out the lights inside. There's silence, then a verdant glow within the darkness. Squirting. A thud. Outsiders scratch their heads.
Minutes later, the lights come back on, and Spidermonkey emerges from the back room to showcase his masterpiece of webbing. The officers rush in, mall security tending to any remaining bystanders. Spidermonkey becomes XLR8.
XLR8 (to the Santa trapped on the wall): For the record, XLR8 could've swiped (in a flash, takes the gun off the floor) this before you even thought of firing. The Santa just grumbles. Thanks for the fun, though. Call me whenever— (to an officer trying to cut the webbing) when do you think he'll be available? A year? 6 months? 18 months? Throw me a bone.
Ben times out.
Ben (sighing): Seriously, ten minutes— why ten minutes? Can't even run home in ten minutes. Many of the men in uniform, now manually ripping Spidermonkey's work, grate their teeth. Look, I worked hard on that. Unrelated, but can I get a ride home? Kiiinda flew here, and well, you know this thing. ... What, nobody?
[Slurping down Mr. Smoothy, Ben enjoys the ride back home in a squad car. He gets a call, reads the name “Cuz,” and puts down his drink.]
XLR8 races home and in through his open bedroom window, where Gwen and Kevin are standing at the door.
Ben (reverting): “Already in the car.”
Ben moves over to his computer and turns it on. From hibernation, the two monitors show a lengthy form with text at every nook and cranny. He scrolls to the topic and reads the title.
Ben: Financial aid. You gotta fill out this form if you can't just pay for college, and I was thinking you could help me because I'm every known form of lost.
Gwen rolls her hands and pokes her head out like she expects Ben to realize something.
Both mouth “oh.”
Gwen (coming over to the computer): But look, I can try to—
Gwen sighs, then remembers something.
Gwen (rubbing her arm and admiring the door): So... the Dean of Friedkin's about to run for Mayor.
Kevin pleads to Gwen with puppy dog eyes, only for her blank stare to win a silent debate. She removes her wall and gestures he follow her as she heads out.
Kevin (scowling, to Ben): Well, if you do end up selling anything, tell me first. Going after Gwen. There's nowhere I can't get the most out of my— your!— money.
Ben simply nods in response, watching them go from his doorway. A minute on, he scouts around before delicately closing his door. He opens his closet, where dust sure has gathered, just not on the topmost Sumo Slammers toys. He grabs them and very carefully organizes them in one corner, only to leap to his feet and bear out his window. He's not hearing things; a thin layer of mana cloaks Gwen and Kevin just outside, Kevin's snickering unstoppable and Gwen's just slightly less so. He tilts his head toward his car, and with a weak snap of Gwen's finger, the two dissipate into a cloud of dust that swings, swirls, and sings on its way. When it reaches, shifting through the unimaginably thin space between the shut window and the rim, it places them in their seats, bursting out laughing.
Meanwhile, Ben picks through a myriad of trophies, some golden: all gifts, thanks for saving the universe from the Highbreed, depicted as monsters atop each and every one. Ben becomes Brainstorm.
Brainstorm: Now why in the quattuourdecigenarian heavens would the honorable Brainstorm enlist the aid of Kevin Ethan Levin, as plainspoken as they come, for something so trivial as appraisal? Quite certainly these articles are worth more than the GDP of every country combined, and if not, a being such as myself can find the answer in moments. (Eyeing one of the trophies closely) Nevertheless, it's— err, uh— beneficial, yes, to acquire assistance from colleagues insofar as I am concerned!
Tink, tink, tink. The still-reeling Kevin and Gwen look out to see Brainstorm on the hood of the car, tapping his claws about the windshield. The couples straighten out before Kevin rolls the windshield down like a regular window.
Kevin (disturbingly straight): Yes?
Kevin eyes Gwen.
Gwen (grinning): He found something he wants you to help sell.
Kevin nods, smugly eyeing Brainstorm— now featuring
[With the group out, we look back to Ben's computer, particularly a monitor fitted with his bank information. As daylight retreats west, bear witness to his account balances soaring into the hundreds of thousands— and that's no decimal error.
Hours later, XLR8 swings into the window, timing out almost immediately. Shaking his head, he grabs several more knickknacks from a still sprawling pile and trips out of his window toward Kevin's car. Dumping them in his trunk, he takes Kevin's thanks and heads back inside.]
Kevin (sulking, to himself): No need to tell him that these are... probably... counterfeit...
He slams the trunk.
Ben's on the way to the front door.
Ben (to himself): Hundreds of thousands... can finally upgrade the setup. New computer, more monitors, can finally play Sumos II... He finicks with the door, eventually finding the right key. I could move out on this! Stuffing his key in his pocket on the way in: Oh, man... this is just—
Sobbing on the couch: Sandra, holding a family photo from before Ben could walk. Aunt Natalie is at her side.
Catching Ben's eye are the red gleams, green sheens, and white brilliance surrounding the living room. They brighten the night so well, with only a little help from the well-decorated Christmas tree. But the floor is bare, no presents yet. Ben pans about the whole room, smiling in a daze the whole time. His head jumps. Off to his room.
8:31 PM: Inside he takes a piece of paper and heads it “List.” “Mom” is the next line. He pens “new kitchen set,” “dress,” “some new clothes,” “new shoes,” each time crossing out. 8:32 PM.
Ben: Welp, I tried.
He slams the Omnitrix and becomes AmpFibian. He faces his door and focuses on his mother.
8:33 PM: Slamming AmpFibian's arm into a monitor, he manages to start a fire. Becoming Heatblast, he breathes out, then with one strong whiff, bends the fire into his form. Reverting to human, he peaks out his door.
Ben: Nothing to worry about, false alarm!
Although without an answer, he shuts the door and slouches to the floor, partly-burnt list in hand. “Mom” and a bevy of scratches are all that make the page. He pulls out a pen and etches “sleep on it” under her name, only to pen “Gwen” underneath.
[The next day, Ben is back at the mall. At a Terrahard computer store, he picks out a laptop: the Avalanche II with Class-700 processor. At a Control gaming store, he picks out a console: the AG4 Pro. And at a Jay jeweler, a thousands-dollar engraved diamond ring. On the way out of the last, he grabs his list, reading some from the bottom-up: Aunt Vera, Uncle Gordon, Clyde, Ken, Grandma Verdona, Joel, Camille, Uncle Frank, Aunt Lily, Grandpa Max... Gwen and Kevin are above, as is some chicken-scratch name with a heart in it, adjacent check marks. But topping the list still: “Mom,” adorned with “???”
Back from the mall, Ben struggles to pull all the gifts inside, not in trying to hide them from Aunt Natalie and the still-weeping Sandra at the entrance, but just by the volume of things. Having packed everything
Ben jumps to his feet and transforms into AmpFibian once more. A minute of silence. A fist into his wall. A shriek, possibly an “ow.”]
AmpFibian (just narrowly avoiding his desktop with his leg): “It's easy!”
He spins the Omnitrix until it pops out. Projected is a full scale Alien X. He gazes at the hologram then slams down the Omnitrix. Or so his tentacles mean to. They stop just short of hitting it, hovering. Shaking his head, he twists the dial once more and pushes it down. Human again. He slides his back down the wall once more, dropping his head into his palms and brushing his hair into a mess. From his perspective, he's just looking at the underside of his computer desk, but right above is that paper.
Plopping into his chair, he scratches cursive mountains over question marks, trying to find meaning with his ink he alone can't. Until he flies off the page. He doesn't even notice. Straight out of his seat, back on his feet. Partly ripped now and burnt otherwise, that paper's useless. He swings his stronger arm out and twists that dial one more time. Projected: a head shot of the three-horned man of stars.
A green glow. A boom.
[The room around Ben falls away. Space in all its glory is where he hovers before the eminent personas.]
Ben (waving): Bellicus, Serena.
Bellicus groans, turning away a bit and mumbling to himself.
Ben (scattered): I was wondering if—
Bellicus laughs. Serena lowers her head, shrinking away.
Bellicus: Even she's not on your side, kid. You're done.
Silence. Bellicus's head returns to normal.
Bellicus (smug): What? No two cents there, kid?
Her pursed lips quiver, shaking her head vigorously as her eyes shrink under lids. They're just barely open when she breaks the trend, swooping to Ben's side.
Serena (slurring at first): He doesn't mean that; (speaking slower, clearer) she would never do such a thing.
Ben's fake smile twitches, curling down to reflect the cataclysm in his eyes.
Ben (nasally huffing): I don't... see why not.
Bellicus groans, and the bedroom returns. Ben's counterparts recede, leaving him alone. He can't stand, dropping onto his bed. He cups his face once more.
Ben (low): “You truly better look at yourself.”
He wipes his face.
Ben: You know why she's out there, crying. But you're just gonna ignore it, right? Let her keep thinking you don't care?
He leaves one hand over both eyes, rubbing the other on his shirt.
Ben (laughing through a frown): People told you thank you, then you turned around and sold them... Everyone's gonna do the same with your gifts. Of course, he's right, why would anyone want anything you bought them? Took you five minutes right that stupid...
He gives the hand over his eyes to his mouth so he can glance the paper.
Ben (mumbling): Selfish. Both his hands camp on his lap. You're an idiot... you've got nothing going for you. So few months out, and who knows what you'll major in...
He stands up, takes the paper and crumbles it on his way out to the bathroom. There, he turns on the water but only uses the mirror. But he won't look up at himself.
Ben: What are you doing? What are you gonna do if (he glances the Omnitrix) it ends here? What if you don't end up Ben 10,000?
He bangs his fist on the sink sill.
Ben: You can stay here. Lots of people do it: stay at home till their thirties. Yeah, you don't have to trouble yourself with that. You've got time. You've got lots of time. You don't need to go. Do you really need to even go to college? Doesn't need to be this year, doesn't need to be ever.
He turns off the water, but a drop still hits. It's on the sill. He looks up at the mirror, glancing the falls.
Ben (wiping his face): I do.
[Ben's mother's asleep. It's the middle of the night when strong winds birth themselves out of a wormhole in the middle of her bedroom. Sandra wakes to the roar made, but notices no actual gust. She gets up, and intending to approach it, is met by Ben, and to his side, a figure unfamiliar to her.]
Sandra (loopy): What is... Ben, what's going on?
[Sandra raises a brow at Ben, who nods her on to taking hold. The three are whisked away.]
The details of the room— a kitchen and dining room adjacent— start to make sense. The oven reading 5:37. The cracked-up old mahogany dining table, headed at one end up by a high chair. Streamers dangling from some thick paper coated in blue and purple stars, connecting a “3” to the ceiling. And a short blonde attending to her son in the chair. An arch off to her right separates this section of the home from a living room, loud from a large party.
Blonde (young, light, but familiar voice; showing a spoon to the boy): C'mon, Ben, eat.
Sandra gapes, her brows frowning over her eyes.
Paradox: You will have a brief period to relive this memory, relive this time.
Sandra looks to Ben, uncertain.
Ben (to Sandra): Mom, you deserve this, before I leave you... for college.
A man calls from within the memory.
A drop hits the floor in front of her.
She tries to form a “thank you” but a light squeak is all that makes it out from her trembling lips.
Ben: Paradox, after you.
His mother's present self disappears. To her, the younger, nothing has changed. She picks Ben up and proceeds into the living room in search of the man that called her, her husband, in the crowd of names from Ben's Christmas list. Max's hair is still partly brown. Uncle Frank and Aunt Natalie more resemble college freshmen than graduates. But there are also two names we don't know— those of two parents with hair like oil slick— in more ways than one.
Sandra begins to wander, helplessly glancing as she moves, until she accidentally bumps into the woman of the black-haired couple. The man of the two has disappeared somewhere.
Sandra: Charlotte, did you hear my husband call me?
Sandra quits her panicking and looks to the younger Natalie for help. Her pumpkin-haired daughter is almost strapped to her.
Sandra (tapping Natalie's shoulders from behind): Do you know where Carl is?
Natalie whispers something to Frank then begins pacing quickly toward Charlotte, tugging Sandra along and keeping Gwen in a one-handed grip.
Natalie: This is a birthday. No one's going to the hospital! Not again!
Charlotte is crouched on the floor, holding Ben over but not upright. Inches off, he slips out of her hands and onto his back. He breaks out in tears, Sandra already adjacent to pick him up. This is about the time Natalie's kid starts blowing raspberries at Ben, only making him louder.
Charlotte's laughing, and only now does Sandra realize the state of affairs: the plates and cups on the floor, the babies crawling around, the noise. Now, Natalie's trying to ease a nasty Gwen while Ben's weeping crosses wailing territory. Twitching isn't totally out of the question.
Carl (Man, from upstairs, more urgent): Sandra!
Sandra's eyes are wide open, one slightly jittering.
Sandra (a bit loud, unwittingly raising her shoulders and speaking through her teeth): I think we'll put the kids in the pen!
Frank appears at Natalie's side for Sandra to pass Ben to, leaving her to run up to Carl, but at the very bottom stair, he appears.
Sandra (her shoulders drooping): You're... dressed.
Carl (for the whole room to hear): Guys, let's cut the cake! Sandra: I'll go get, um... Ken and Sunny.
Carl nods and proceeds over to the cake with the rest of the family. He grabs the lighter and sets the three candles over the homemade birthday cake, edibly drawn on with simplistic faces of Gwen and Ben. On a moment's notice, Sandra's at her side with Ben now in tow, and everyone's together. Natalie's at one side of Carl with Gwen in her hand.
Natalie (whispering, to Carl): Ken has this thing where... he really likes to blow out other people's candles.
Carl looks down, noticing Ken reaching for the top of the table. Carl kneels to his level.
Carl: Hey, guy, you want to blow out candles? Ken nods. Well, you can't blow these ones out. These are for your little sister, and for your little cousin Ben. And a really good older brother wouldn't blow out these candles. He'd let these two have their birthday, maybe even share his candles on his birthday. Ken twirls his foot, staring at the floor. Can you do that for me, (holds out a sideways hand, curled up) Ken? Ken lifts his head to the fist and bumps it with his own, grinning. Carl rubs in the hair and lifts Ken up. Wow, you're heavy.
Sandra watches Carl, unable to help a grin of some kind of pride.
Ken (proudly): Yes, I am.
Everyone sings. And the toddlers blow out their candles. In what feel like seconds, the minutes lead Carl to the door, everyone waving him off.
Carl: Bye, guys.
Everyone says “bye” almost in unison, not like a class conducted by a teacher to greet their guest speaker, but like a group of fans fighting to be the voice heard by their idol. The whole time Sandra's the one in his sights. She waves him off.
Sandra (older voice): Bye.
She doesn't realize she's out of the memory again, standing by Ben and Paradox's side. Puddles gather at her eyes and slip away when she just can't keep her eyes open anymore. She falls into Ben's arms.
Ben (his eyes heavy, too): I know... I miss him, too.
Not a word until she can adequately wipe her face on his shirt, then she turns to the oven clock: 5:47.
Sandra: Why 10 minutes?
Literally what was this. The formatting makes reading this a strain on the eyes, and the weird writing makes reading it a strain on the brain. I got a headache about halfway through trying to read this thing. The story is hard to follow because of how disjointed the writing is, and the theme of "introspection" is hardly there. I can tell a lot of effort went into this, especially with how many passages are gratingly bolded, but it's just not good.
|"Ben...?" a female voice called from the other side of the door, belonging to Gwen. Ben grunted, hopping off of his bed and swung the door open weakly.
"What is it?" Ben mumbled, holding the watch on his hand with his other hand.
"Ben, I'm getting worried about you ever since..." Gwen stopped, realizing that Ben wouldn't want to hear the name. "Nowadays you're just locked up in here sleeping. Summer vacation with only Grandpa Max was starting to get boring."
Ben chuckled out of amusement. "Did he try to serve you his 'specialty of the day'?"
Gwen pinched her nose with two fingers, fanning herself with another hand. Ben's chuckles turned into laughter, imagining tentacles squirming around on a plate.
"Ben... I know Feedback meant a lot to you, but he was never apart of you. Don't beat yourself up over what happened, it wasn't your fault." Gwen looked down at the Omnitrix. "So don't forget what it means to be you. If you ever wanna talk about it, I'd be happy to."
"Gwen?" Ben cocked his head slightly.
"Yeah?" Gwen looked up instantly.
"I love you," Ben grinned. "Dweeb." he added, rubbing his fist against Gwen's head. Gwen tried grasping for Ben's shirt, but he dodged out of the way with a grin on his face.
Well, at least this one is readable. Unfortunately, it's rather mediocre. It has the same problem of barely following the theme, the writing is awkward in places, and it's not a particularly interesting scene. In addition, it doesn't really end so much as it just...stops. Nice try, but kinda meh. Also, this:
"Gwen?" Ben cocked his head slightly. "Yeah?" Gwen looked up instantly. "I love you," Ben grinned.
I don't think I need to point out the elephant in the room here. Given the internet's interpretation of Ben and Gwen's relationship, this is a very unfortunate bit of dialogue.
At least we know Primal has a bright future in writing Folger's commercials.
|Sometimes you try to do the right things, but you can't.
It's always a kind of struggle with yourself, isn't it?
Knowing what's right and what's wrong?
Sometimes you just sit there and think that-
What am I doing?
What am I doing with my life right now?
It's always about you.
What about them?
What about them?
I'm trying to do the right thing. I'm trying to help them.
But you're not...
I know you better than you know yourself.
You keep trying and trying but there is no doing.
And when you do manage to do something, it's just a disapointment.
When are you going to understand that nothing you do will make a difference?
It might seem like I don't have a chance sometimes.
But I can't stop trying, no matter how many times I tell myself it's not good enough.
But I'm tired.
It's exhausting sometimes.
So don't do anything. Just stay here, nice and safe.
Away from everyone. Away from everything.
Just be here.
What are you doing?
You're always thinking.
I know. It's the only thing that I can do to keep me balanced.
Balanced between decisions and choices and feelings and emotions.
It helps but it also reminds me of the things that I don't want reminding of.
But then again, maybe I do need that reminder.
A reminder of my mistakes in order to move on.
What's this? An introspection-themed entry that's actually...introspective?! BLASPHEMY!
Jokes aside, this is a good entry. It can be a bit hard to follow here and there, and I think it reads more like a Creative contest entry since it doesn't have a traditional structure, but it fits the overall theme and is written fairly well. It definitely deserves first place.
Congratulations to Brandon for winning, and thanks to everyone for participating!That's it for the first day of Fanon Con, folks! Make sure to tune in tomorrow for when we announce the results of the Creative Writing Contest! Have a great day, and I hope you enjoy the rest of Fanon Con!