Author has written 6 stories for Fantasy, Fantasy, Essay, and Humor.
In the past year or so, I've been more active on FanFiction.net than I have been on here. (Of course, losing a job with zero notice and zero severance pay, and frantically searching for another one, also interrupted my creative flow for awhile.) If you want to see what stories I've been writing and posting about characters created by other people, just follow this link:
Here is a quick explanation about the general setting of the only serial fiction I currently have going on FictionPress. It is followed by a Character Roster.
Down the Dark Alleys is set in a world much like our own, in a city (not yet identified to the reader) somewhere in the United States of America. With one major difference: superpowered human beings (and a wide range of supernatural monsters and sorcerers and extraterrestrial visitors and so on and so forth) have been running around this world in significant numbers since at least the 1940s. (I have deliberately left the details of this world’s divergent “alternate history” very obscure thus far. In part because I haven’t worked them all out myself, and in part because I feel that starting out this type of story with a longwinded history lesson would be a hideous mistake. Several things have already been written out in advance for future chapters, and I’ll splice them into the narrative when the time is right.)
To put it another way, this world roughly resembles the Marvel Universe or the DC Universe if you are familiar with those places, but is distinct from them. Every character in my ongoing story was created by Yours Truly, in accordance with the FictionPress rules. You definitely won’t see any Very Familiar Superhero Names (such as ‘Batman’ or ‘Spider-Man’) attached to anybody who walks onstage and starts yakking away within the pages of this story.
Down the Dark Alleys: Character Roster
Since all characters are original, I finally decided I ought to provide a listing of the significant ones to date, for the benefit of anyone who ends up reading Chapter 5 (which I've finally posted!), but has long since forgotten the nitpicking details of Who’s Who from the previous four chapters! I actually hope to start posting future installments on a more regular basis for awhile, instead of the once-in-a-blue-moon approach I seem to have followed lately.
(Don’t bother reading this unless you’ve already read the first four chapters of “Down the Dark Alleys.” No need to ruin a few minor surprises, after all!)
Okay, here’s a quick scorecard.
Amp, the central character, is the super-strong hero who narrates this story in a tough-talking style that suggests that in his misspent youth he read far too many Mickey Spillane novels. Apparently no one warned the poor boy what could come of this and the psychological scars are still apparent in his speech patterns to some degree (at least, if I’m doing it right). Don’t take this too seriously—Amp is not my attempt to “copy” Mike Hammer. He does not live the same hard-drinking, womanizing lifestyle that Spillane’s famous detective revels in. He merely admires the man’s way with words.
Amp’s costume has not been described in detail, but it apparently covers most of his body, includes pouches for carrying various items, and also includes a mask that does not cover his mouth and chin. People can see him smile, for instance. Aside from his exceptional strength, he has a few other powers and gimmicks, some of which have been hinted at and some of which I’m still keeping up my sleeve. Nothing so flashy as being able to run faster than a speeding bullet, however. Nor would the bullet bounce harmlessly off his skin if it connected. We’re not talking “Superman knockoff” here.
Note: The name “Amp” probably started out as an abbreviated version of something else—Amp has hinted as much—but no one else seems to know of what. And Amp ain’t telling. He apparently enjoys having a short, tough, monosyllablic name for himself that’s fairly unusual (as opposed to “John” or “Bob”) .
Maccabee is the girl with electrical powers who wears a costume that includes a big visor (to conceal the upper portion of her face) and a Star of David on a gilded chain around her neck. She is presumably Jewish. For reasons of her own, she is tagging along with Amp during this investigation. They’ve known each other for at least a couple of years and have occasionally worked together—but only in their costumed personas; no sharing of secret identities. Neither one has ever seen the other unmasked. They are not and never have been “an item.” Just friends. Amp, in his deliberately hard-boiled way, keeps calling her by the affectionate nickname Mac. She doesn’t object. (If she did, he’d stop!)
Marjaneh is the female Muslim hero who specializes in tracking down and fighting anyone who uses what she perceives as unfair and immoral “mind control” tactics. Something about any variation of hypnotism, mind-altering drugs, mind-controlling magic, intrusive telepathy, brainwashing and torture techniques, etc., just rubs her the wrong way. She may have strong personal reasons for concentrating on that sort of behavior, but if so, she’s never shared them with Amp—nor anyone else to the best of our knowledge. She wears a djellaba and a veil, and carries a scimitar. She speaks fluent Arabic, probably (but not definitely) as her “native tongue” (or one of multiple “native tongues,” perhaps?). Beyond this, very little is known about her powers and origins. Amp firmly believes that she is well-shielded against a wide range of “mind control” activities but he doesn’t know exactly how her shielding works. (Let’s face it: If she wasn’t, and if she ran around in a superhero/supervillain world always seeking out bad guys who can exercise mind control, her career would probably have been cut tragically short a long time ago!) Beyond that, precious little has been explained to the reader regarding what powers Marjaneh has, either “naturally” or via her scimitar. She does have some; I just haven’t told you what they are yet!
The Gypsy Rover, often called the Rover for short, is a costumed hero and traveling trader in oddball items that his fellow costumed characters are willing to pay through the nose to obtain. We do not know any of his powers. We do know that he loves to use different slang, dialects, etc., from cultures around the world as the mood strikes him (and he may not be a Gypsy at all). The real Gypsy Rover has not yet appeared onstage—although an impersonator did. However, the Rover is a friend of Amp’s and at this moment he serves as Our Hero’s primary motivation for pressing onward with his investigation without bothering to go home and catch a little sleep. (Thus far the story is taking place in the course of a single night. Fortunately, Amp is a night owl by choice.) Amp is worried sick about what the (unnamed) Forces of Evil may have done to this guy offstage after they captured him and disguised someone else to look like him. It is not even known if the real Rover is still alive.
Detective Brennan has no superpowers. Never did; never will. However, he is working on the “Gypsy Rover” case and he is also a cop whom Amp trusts from past experience.
Note: The following characters all debuted together in Chapter 4 and at the time it ends they have done very little so far. But Amp was still in the same room with them as we open Chapter 5 (now available), so that could change at any moment! All of them allegedly have abilities that make it easy for them to unfairly manipulate other people’s thoughts, emotions, and/or perceptions. Several of them have criminal records.
The Brain Baron. Allegedly reformed (after a colorful criminal career) and now making an “honest” living with his powers to influence people’s brains; this time around, he only does it on patients who specifically request his help in solving a psychological problem and are willing to pay for his valuable time and special skills.
The Fugue Master. Wears special lenses over his eyes, which may (or may not) be vital to the exercise of whatever type of mind-control powers he has. There is a strong rumor that he made some sort of deal with Uncle Sam once, to get his past sins forgotten in exchange for some Top Secret work. Beyond this, we know almost nothing about him.
Lady Hysteria. Received a Presidential pardon several years ago and hasn’t been caught breaking the law since then.
Nevermore. Apparently took his name from Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” and that’s about all we know.
Phobos. An elderly man in a tuxedo. Allegedly a retired superhero who was a big name back in the 1940s and 50s, when he was young and frisky. His name and a few of Amp’s thoughts about his reputation suggest that Phobos specializes in creating and amplifying fears within a target’s mind. We haven’t actually seen him do this onstage, however, which raises another point: Amp has never met Phobos before, and although he respects the man’s reputation, he is far from certain that this is really the same man who earned that proud reputation back in the good old days.
Psychedelia. Claims to be a daughter of Dionysus of Greek myth. At this time, we don’t know if there’s any proof of that (such as DNA tests, or Dionysus publicly saying, “Yep, she’s one of my by-blows, all right!”). Nor, come to think of it, do we know for a fact that Dionysus exists in this world as anything more substantial than an ancient myth! Be that as it may, the girl is definitely weird. Amp’s impression is that her physical appearance is either A) constantly changing, or else B) constantly masked by a series of shifting illusions. Amp would probably bet on B) if he had to pick one or the other, but he doesn’t actually know what Psychedelia “really” looks like (even assuming there is a special “default appearance” for her body, which there may not be). We do not yet know what happens when, for example, security cameras capture Psychedelia on videotape. Would it capture her changes, or would it consistently show her “real” face? (Someone in this world probably knows the answer by now, but Amp doesn’t, so neither does the reader!)
Troubadour. Dresses in clothing reminiscent of a medieval musician. Carries an instrument that reminds Amp of a banjo more than a medieval lute. He is either the fourth or the fifth person to use that alias over the past several decades—Amp isn’t sure which!
Amp, the narrator, seems to know at least some of them by reputation but none of them from previous face-to-face encounters. He did, however, express relief (just in his own thoughts) that someone known as Aisha Qandisha was nowhere in sight at this gathering. Presumably her powers run along similar lines of mind-control, and apparently there is very bad blood between the two of them. (Yes, I know the full story, and I have even typed some of it for future use, but I make no promises as to when it will be revealed!)
Various other costumed characters, good and bad, have been referred to in passing—sometimes even getting a few words of dialogue and sometimes not, but they have not yet made any truly significant contributions to the plot, so I won’t bother listing them. If one of them pops up again to play a more significant role, I'll try to quickly bring you up to speed on the bare essentials about this character.