January 16, 2008
By David Vanderheyden, Clarkston, MI

In this city, things aren’t always as they seem. At first glance everything appears normal, everything is “just peachy”, “couldn’t be better”. Old-fashioned forms of business and life in general are losing value in this city. The majority of the populace follows preconceived notions of what’s acceptable and what’s “real”. Reality TV is what it is, but it’s definitely not real as they would have you think. The changes and “advancements” in lifestyle need a trustworthy source from which to rely on, and sadly that is not the case. I guess it’s like that other old saying goes; “1 step forward, 2 steps back”
This city isn’t what it used to be – that is why I have taken it upon myself to do what is simply undoubtedly obvious. They call me Captain because I spearhead what’s left of our resistance movement. I bring forth the dirty deeds being done to the city, without any strings attached. My direct, to-the-point philosophies have also earned me another moniker; “Captain Obvious”..
He listened to the message he had sent what seemed to be a life time ago, not entirely convinced what he’d said back then would really make the kind of impact there needed to be. The Captain sat back in his comfortable broadcasting chair and gazed (seemingly) absentmindedly to his ceiling, letting the calm, synthesized waves of light dance across the ceiling to the sounds of the hypnotic beat he often like to listen to. It was not an uncommon feature to have in a typical bedroom; most citizens of Neuksem had similar technologies in their homes on walls. Over the last few years it became odd to see a simple, static image in the ever-changing, fast paced and high tech world of Neuksem – even such simplicities as a blank ceiling became too dull for the people of Neuksem.

Such screens fill the city with everything from 5 minute advertisements to full 2 hour talk shows, constantly bombarding everyone from five year olds to senior citizens. And all but a few played one thing: MTV Mashed Television (a.k.a The Network). MTV’s polycentric network of sports, news, weather, reality shows, and just about any other conceivable appetition could be found on any of their 14 diverse channels, and all of them seamlessly integrated into the viewing screens of every home in the city. It all started with the concept of “real TV, mashed for your enjoyment” What spawned off of a harmless station became a malignant network of shows bought out and twisted (or “mashed”) “for your enjoyment”.
The ebullient, hazel eyes studied the designs intently – it was perfect, and with the touch of his screen the man watched his plans set forth into action.
“See if you can figure this one out, Captain.”
He clenched his fists and waved one menacingly towards an imaginary foe.
“The Puzzler’s back,” he smirked.
And this time he won’t get away.
This would be the last time he need worry – soon the last step in his plan would commence...
The steady beat of the music was interrupted by the sound of a familiar aversive tone – an MTV Breaking News Update – these updates were so vital to the populace of Neuksem that eventually they found there way onto almost any screen in the city worth broadcasting on. The Captain stood up abruptly and walked to the door, grabbing his jacket on the way to his docked hover bike – it was too obvious – another strike to the masses – the latest news on MTV’s sponsored party being held in downtown Neuksem. The event was so huge that most people took off work just to come down and celebrate “The Success of Neuksem” in the past few years.
It was all so conveniently timed – the Captain would see to it that the real cause of this distraction was made for the whole city to see. It was his mission, his duty, his life’s never-ending quest for justice in the city he’d loved ever since he was a child. Back then things were different.. The city was dire need of his help. With every day the Network was in operation, the Puzzler was that much closer to gaining total control.
He flew across the city to the one place he knew the Puzzler would need control of – NCC (Neuksem Communication Commission). Tapping his wireless uplink, he called the one man he’d kept as his trump card for situations like these – the only problem, of course, being that it’d be a difficult card to play.
Police Chief Geoff Zimmerman hung up the phone. He let his stout figure sink back into the sleek armchair, running his hands through his wavy gray hair. He couldn’t decided who sounded crazier – this reccurring figure some people were calling Captain Obvious – or the even more nutty-sounding “Puzzler” who the Captain claimed was behind recent crimes against the city. In the last few weeks, the Mayor had become deafly ill after attending another event that was sponsored by MTV, and there were more and more reports coming in that suggested most crime related incidents were being covered up in some way by the #1 watched news network – also ran by MTV. It all seemed too coincidental, but without any real proof, or even a solid suspect they couldn’t really do anything. And now this “Captain” was telling him something so crazy, he thought he might as well be reading some comic book about a crazy villain trying to take over a city.
How could a television network lead to a city coup? Could it all just be a coincidence?
It couldn’t, he assured himself.
The Captain fish-tailed his bike into a long tunnel-shaped hallway connecting the east and west towers of the NCC, maneuvering through the security check stations. He was sure no one would mind the sudden entrance through the window – considering almost everyone working the FCC was invited to take a day off to celebrate the good relations with MTV. The FCC’s entire workload decreased drastically ever since MTV’s “cultural expansion” that caused to their monopolistic hold over the TV stations.
It was obvious to the Captain, as always; the upper tunnel that connected the two towers would be the perfect spot for his foe’s carefully planned sabotage – by collapsing the highest tunnel of the 3 central connectors, it would cause the whole infrastructure to be severely damaged.
Suddenly a man clad in black walked in the direct path of the Captain’s bike, causing him to swerve violently into the wall, knocking out yet another pane of glass.
He slowly stood up from the to face the figure standing calmly next the small alcove from which it emerged.
“Puzzler,” he growled.
“You sure do know how to make an entrance”, he cooed, gesturing towards the hallway.
“Yeah, well mind the clichés - I’m here to stop you from whatever you’re doing to this building”
“Come to emancipate the poor citizens of Neuksem from their own inevitable destruction, have you?”
“Isn’t it obvious? A better question would be: what are you doing here when you could be at your fancy little party?”
The Puzzler took a moment to enjoy the look on his nemesis’s face. He enjoyed toying with his prey, and he took the time to explain his plan aloud. MTV was to strike a hushed partnership with the FCC, and after the building’s unfortunate “structural malfunction” MTV would graciously help out in the reconstruction of the tunnels along with the communication’s motherboard.
“…From there, who knows what could happen. They always did say TV would be downfall, didn’t they? By simply getting them to tune in every day, I’ll be able to influence the entire city. Perhaps the tragic death of their mayor will be eased by knowing that the lovely folks over at MTV, who have always provided security and comfort over the many years, have just the man for the job. Someone like …oh I know! Myself!”
“And you really think this will work? That those who know the truth will just let you walk all over them?”
“Well in due time, yes, I do. There’s no chance of you convincing people in the city that I’m wrong, when everything I give them is what they already want...total control. It’s just a pleasant bonus for me, you see. You know how this will end, Captain...” The Puzzler walked calmly over to the window where the Captain had just made his own entrance.. He stepped on the vehicle and pressed the button to trigger the explosions.
“…Don’t you watch TV?”
The Captain felt the floor give way as he pushed with all his strength towards the cackling blur speeding away from him, stretching his arm out as if he could somehow grasp the Puzzler with his hand. It had been so simple for him to be fooled, the Puzzler always used the most clever, intricately planned ways to escape from the scene of crime – one of the reasons the Captain could never catch him. And now, as he began to slowly sink into the night, he knew he had been duped for the last time by a plan so simple he hadn’t even seen it coming. He had failed, and he clenched his eyes shut and prepared for the most purely obvious thing he had ever encountered – his imminent demise. Waves of heat washed over his backside and a bone crushing wall slam into his side, as the Captain’s body ejected out into the horizon.

Wind whipped across his suit as he opened his eyes again. He saw bright lights lining the dark night sky, and wondered whether he was still alive. He tried to sit up and felt pain shoot across his broken ribcage.
Nope, definitely still here, He thought.
“So you thought you could jump buildings with a single bound, eh?”
The Captain looked up over the metallic hull of the hover craft he was on and squinted at the now proximal lights of the police cruiser in front of him. At the driver’s side a grinning face of NCD’s finest; Police Chief Zimmerman. In the back was a securely strapped down Puzzler. The Captain knew it was time for things to change, and finally, after a confession and an investigation or two, he knew that time would be soon.

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