Today's story is Your Stupid, Stupid Minds.
This is, of course, a riff on the ending portion of Plan Nine From Outer Space. I created the file months ago, borrowing the title from one of my favorite sections of dialog from the movie:
Colonel Tom Edwards: ...Why, a particle of sunlight can't even be seen or measured.
Eros: Can you see or measure an atom? Yet you can explode one. A ray of sunlight is made up of many atoms!
Jeff Trent: So what if we do develop this Solanite bomb? We'd be even a stronger nation than now.
Eros: [with disgust] Stronger. You see? You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!
Jeff Trent: That's all I'm taking from you! [pistol-whips Eros upside the head]
My initial idea was "Grandpa Anarchy and Unpossible Man are kidnapped by aliens, who try to warn them about something, but they punch the aliens, damage the space ship, and it crashes. They never learn what they were being warned about."
This idea sat in my files for a long while. I'd thought about working on it this past week because it's the only story file I have that starts with "Y", and I'm kind of working on having a Grandpa Anarchy Story for every letter of the alphabet (I completed Zero Hour and Questionable Judgment yesterday, so I'm closer to my goal). But I really didn't know what to do with the file until I read today about an old hoax:
"The Case of Summerfield" by W.H. Rhodes: On May 13th, 1871, a piece appeared in the Sacramento Daily Union titled "The Case of Summerfield." It began with this note:
We are indebted to a correspondent at San Francisco for the particulars of the most interesting case that has ever come within our observation as public journalists—that of Gregory Summerfield, or, as he was called at the time, 'The Man With a Secret.'
What followed was a bizarre tale, bolstered by a reference to a fake news article from the Auburn Messenger that claimed that a man named Leonidas Parker had murdered one Gregory Summerfield by pushing him in front of a train, only to have his case dismissed by a judge. Parker's documents, the report continued, explained why the judge had let him go free: Summerfield, the report claimed, had invented a substance that could burn water. He then blackmailed the leaders of San Francisco, threatening to set the Pacific Ocean aflame and thus destroy the world unless he received his financial demands.
The story was quickly picked up by other California papers, and readers wondered if such a substance really existed. But it wasn't long before journalists at the Sacramento Reporter had identified the author of the piece from his initials—W.H.R., better known as San Francisco lawyer William Henry Rhodes. Even after he was found out, Rhodes kept up the joke, issuing a statement to the Sacramento Union that he would offer proof of the case to any "honest inquirer."
Then, a few weeks later, the Sacramento Daily Union published "The Summerfield Case Again." This article claimed that one Bartholomew Graham, a bandit known as "Black Bart," was believed to have in his possession a vial of Summerfield's deadly substance. According to Sam Moskowitz's book, Science Fiction in Old San Francisco: History of the Movement from 1854 to 1890, many found the notion of Summerfield's substance too plausible to be pure fiction and it was cause for a great deal of nervousness. Rhodes would continue to publish works of science fiction like these under the pen name Caxton. "The Case of Summerfield" inspired a pseudonym of its own; the outlaw Charles Earl Bowles is said to have taken the name "Black Bart" from Rhodes' bit of fiction.
(This is all quoted directly from an io9 article found here.)
I like borrowing things for my stories from real-life conspiracies and the like, and this Summerfield Substance sounded an awful lot like a 19th Century version of the Solaranite Bomb. Lest we forget, here's how Eros described the bomb:
Colonel Tom Edwards: You speak of Solaranite. But just what is it?
Eros: Take a can of your gasoline. Say this can of gasoline is the sun. Now, you spread a thin line of it to a ball, representing the earth. Now, the gasoline represents the sunlight, the sun particles. Here we saturate the ball with the gasoline, the sunlight. Then we put a flame to the ball. The flame will speedily travel around the earth, back along the line of gasoline to the can, or the sun itself. It will explode this source and spread to every place that gasoline, our sunlight, touches. Explode the sunlight here, gentlemen, you explode the universe. Explode the sunlight here and a chain reaction will occur direct to the sun itself and to all the planets that sunlight touches, to every planet in the universe. This is why you must be stopped. This is why any means must be used to stop you. In a friendly manner or as (it seems) you want it.
So that gave me something for the aliens to warn the heroes about. But of course, by the time I'd written myself to the actual warning, I realized that I couldn't just have Grandpa and Unpossible Man beat up the aliens and destroy the ship. That would be expected by anyone familiar with Plan Nine From Outer Space. So I had to come up with a different way to end it.
I think I managed one that works. Anyway, the story's done. All that's left now is Unpossible and a story beginning with X and I'll have every letter of the alphabet covered. I'm tempted to finish my mecha statue story idea and name it Xtreme Mecha or somesuch, but right now the title is The Statue Got Me High, and I rather like that one. ^_^
Also, I have just realized that one of the stories I wrote in July hasn't been on my list. So in reality I'm at 2 or 3 weeks ahead of my schedule now:
June 30: Dark Anarchy
July 1: Ruse
July 1: The R Word
Aug 3: Space Kraken
Aug 3: Triple Aaar!
Aug 4: Take Me Back to Constantinople
Aug 4: The Chef that Time Forgot
Aug 5: The Time of Your Life
Aug 6: Endangered Species
Aug 7: Anarchy Is Forever
Aug 8: Brothers and Sisters
Aug 12: Self-Made Man
Aug 13: Hackernaut
Aug 15: Gutbucket Magic
Aug 17: Questionable Judgment
Aug 17: Zero Hour
Aug 18: Your Stupid, Stupid Minds