Totally Authentic News

Welcome to Totally Authentic News, also known as Parker's Corner.

Jonathan Parker is an award winning freelance journalist, living in Con City. He reports on current events and conducts interviews with prominent people. His articles are published in illustrious journals such as the Con City Times and the Black Lake Gazette. The following are reprints of his most successful articles.

The following article-style interview was conducted by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times

A man in a purple silk shirt occupies a gigantic and very comfortable looking leather office chair behind an elaborate mahogany desk. His sneakered feet rest atop the table as he leans back and plays with a lock of his long hair with one hand and rubs his beard with the other. Some would believe this is a hippie from days gone by. On the contrary. This is the most successful businessman in the town of Desert Rock. He calls himself Hades and he's proud of it.

`I chose the name because it sounded cool,' he explains. `My Vice President Ralphie seems to think I chose it for its Roman origins or something, so that it would radiate a sense of majesty. Yeah, sure, I suppose that helps, but I really just picked it because it sounded good. As for my real name? Well, this interview is on a need-to-know basis, Jonathan, and this is something no one needs to know.'

Arguably the most eccentric millionaire in the county, Hades named not only himself but also his firm after the Greek god of the Underworld. An odd choice considering that the Hades Corporation is basically a retailer of electronic items.

`Computers, tablets, cell phones, if it runs on electricity and you can check your email with it we have it on sale,' Hades elaborates. `We are the biggest retailer of electronic equipment in Con County. No one can touch us, and if they could, well, we would destroy them in an instant with... let's just say, with our aggressive business strategy.'

Indeed, the Hades Corporation knows almost no rivals in the county today. The company launched a mere ten years ago and over this past decade rival companies CompTech Industries, Mason&Mason Computers, and even the former county-wide chain Con County Electronics have all gone out of business. For the past two years the Hades Corporation has had only one rival in ConComp Electronics and the two firms seem to be on good terms. Some have predicted a merger between the two companies but the CEOs of both firms have denied such rumors. Rather, with profits skyrocketing above expectations for the sixth year in a row, the Hades Corporation is looking to expand.

`It's time we went global,' Hades offers. `Supply and demand are the two things that govern sales, and we certainly have the supplies to meet the demands of the entire country. We are about to open several branches in top cities, and the plan is to go overseas within the next two years. Today, the country, tomorrow, the world!'

Expansion plans aside, the eccentric millionaire already has his hands full with managing a multitude of offices across the county. Notably, the Hades Corporation is present in Con City yet the headquarters of the firm are located in Desert Rock, a small town of a mere twenty thousand occupants. An odd choice, some would say, yet the CEO begs to differ.

`I know the rumors,' he explains. `They say we have our headquarters here in Desert Rock in order to pay less taxes. That's a load of bullshit. We are... honest taxpaying citizens, our profits are through the roof, why would we try to evade taxes? No, the reason we are based here is that the CEO must be at the headquarters and I prefer it here over Con City. It's a nice quiet little town. Peaceful, with friendly people, and a wonderful environment. It makes me more productive, and a productive CEO makes for a productive company. In turn, a productive company means more tax income for the county. Everyone wins!'

The productive CEO promptly dismisses the interviewer's suggestion that he may find an even more peaceful and idyllic community in the town of Black Lake on the far side of the county. `Hell no! The coffee and the lemon cake are too good in the cafes of Black Lake for me to live there.'

Moving on to his hobbies, Hades reveals that he is a proud owner and expert pilot of a state-of-the-art helicopter. A large golden trophy is framed on the wall above his desk. He smiles like a giddy teenager as he reminisces about his great victory. `It was a triumph of epic proportions. I had the best pilots in the county as my competition. However, I have the fastest chopper. It can make it from here to Con City in just three hours, in fact. You couldn't do that with a Runamok Mustang what with all the traffic near Con City, not even if you run down all the pedestrians. But me? I'm there and back before the cops could arrest you for irresponsible driving. Winners don't drive cars, Jonathan, they fly helicopters. Remember that.'

In closing, the CEO offers a glimpse into the newest ventures of his firm, which he expects to propel the Hades Corporation to never before seen heights. `Pen drives. You know them, right? Memory sticks, USB sticks, whichever name you prefer. Yeah, some companies want to abolish the damn things, they see the future in cloud storage. Guess what? They're wrong! Everybody likes their data backed up locally, on something they can lock in their safe in the bedroom. Well imagine if we had a pen drive with a capacity bigger than the biggest hard drive on the market today. I'm talking thousands of terabytes here, in the palm of your hand, and at a very affordable price. You can store your entire home made sex video library on it in full HD resolution. In addition, we will bundle them with our custom made anti-virus software at no extra cost, so no one will need to worry about things like that pesky Burnout virus ever again. Which gives us just another reason to go global. We can save the world and make it into a safer place for everyone.'

The man in the purple silk shirt smiles with confidence as he reaffirms his intention to become a global leader of the electronics industry. `Small time is history, Jonathan. Once, we were just a small local retailer. The entire county is in our grasp now. Our virus... killer software, and especially our super-sized pen drive, will make us into market leaders I assure you, and all this while we save the world. With the Hades Corporation, everyone wins!'

Having made his point, the eccentric CEO shoos the interviewer out of his office and goes back to work with the passion of an industrialist of old. Eccentric or no, strange name or no, no one can deny that Hades and his company are changing the world as we know it. Keep an eye out for those pen drives and that anti-virus software, for if the company's reputation is any indication, it will be a killer product.

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times.

If you've taken a walk in the New East Side of Con City in the past months, a notable structure may have caught your eye. Standing 480 feet tall as the new symbol of the New East Side, a brand new skyscraper dominates the eastern half of the city. Its name: the Leonard Building. Its purpose: to boost the economy, encourage tourism, and improve the image of Con City.

Thirty floors of concrete, steel, and glass, the Leonard Building rises to the heavens as a proud monument of the modern age. It should be noted that, despite its impressive size, the massive structure stands out in the city for reasons quite other than its height. While it is the tallest building in the New East Side it cannot compete with the tallest skyscrapers of the Downtown. Rather, its unique and futuristic look and the visionary manner of its construction are what lend it an exceptional, nearly mythical aura. Named for one of the founders of Con City, this new skyscraper pays homage to traditions while being a perfect display of modern technology.

The city has high hopes for the Leonard Building as a center of commerce. Spacious offices are available on almost every floor and a ten level deep garage beneath the building provides parking opportunities for business owners and clients alike. It houses numerous luxury apartments at the penthouse level, offering the most devoted businessmen the chance to literally live in their office. The opening ceremony was attended by the high society of Con City and the high attendance rate proved that there is already tremendous interest in the building.

`About half of the apartments in the penthouse were sold before the ceremony started,' the Mayor of Con City explained after the unveiling. `We have many other businessmen lined up for the remaining apartments. At this rate, we may have to build a few extra floors.'

The Mayor was understandably relieved by the positive reception of the unveiling, as the construction of the Leonard Building was a considerable investment for the City Council. It was also mired in controversy due to rumors of forced relocations in the area prior to constructions, not unlike the relocations in the old East Side many years ago. The Mayor denied all such rumors, stating that `no one was forced to relocate and every family that had to move was given ample compensation as well as a fine apartment that suits their needs nicely.' He also expressed his sadness regarding the protests that took place opposite the Leonard Building during the first hour of the unveiling ceremony.

`I really wish these luddites would understand the need for change,' he said in reference to the people and their `bring back the old East Side' signs. `If they had their way we'd all still be living in caves with no running water or central heating. I am rather pleased that Con City's finest were able to do their job and kept the peace.' Indeed, the Con City Police Department ejected the entire crowd of protesters from the scene with the aid of water cannons after the crowd started chanting `Leonard spins in his grave' and `**** the Mayor.' The disturbance was kept to a minimum.

During the ceremony the Mayor outlined the lengths to which the city went to ensure the safety and durability of the Leonard Building. The most modern Japanese anti-earthquake technology was licensed to ensure that the building would withstand even an earthquake of 9.5 on the Richter scale. While such powerful earthquakes have never been registered in Con City and earthquakes are in general quite rare in these parts, the city spared no expense on safety regardless, citing the importance of prevention. Likewise, state-of-the-art fire prevention systems were installed in the building from the top floor to the bottom of the garage. Arsonists will have a very hard time with this building.

`The Leonard Building is one hundred percent earthquake-proof, typhoon-proof, hurricane-proof, tornado-proof, and fire-proof,' the Mayor said in his speech. `This will be a new trend in modern construction. There will be no need for renovations if the construction is so durable that nothing can do any harm to the building. This structure will be the first of many to use this technology and it will last just as long as all the future skyscrapers will: until the end of time.'

The City Council has tremendous plans for the technology used for the construction of the Leonard Building. If the new symbol of the New East Side lives up to its expectations, the City Council will commission the construction of several other such skyscrapers throughout the city, most of them at least twice or thrice the size of the Leonard Building. `Our experts will re-evaluate the building in a year's time,' the Mayor explained. `If the report is satisfactory, construction of the new skyscrapers will begin immediately. I expect no problems, hence preparations for the constructions are already underway.'

Considering the lengths to which the City Council went to ensure the durability of the Leonard Building it is hard to imagine anything going wrong. Indeed, with state-of-the-art earthquake-prevention, wind-prevention, and fire-prevention installed, the Leonard Building will no doubt stand tall as the symbol of the New East Side for ages to come. Is this the beginning of a new era? Is this a glimpse of the future skyline of Con City? Time will tell, but if what we've seen and heard at the opening ceremony is any indication, the Leonard Building and its future siblings are here to stay and are set to define the landscape of future Con City.

Editor's note: This article was submitted to our journal the day after the opening ceremony of the Leonard Building. Due to the strict review policies of our journal, which are very much essential to ensure that we only give our readers the best-written and most informative articles, this work was not approved for publication until after the Leonard Building burned to the ground in the terrible accident that took place fourteen months after the opening ceremony. We must therefore emphasize that it was not our or the Author's intention to ridicule or criticize either the work of the architects, the builders, or even the Con City Fire Brigade. There is no way the Author could have foreseen the disaster, or the scandal that would surround the ongoing constructions in Con City as a consequence of the fire. We urge you to take no offense at what may well appear to be sarcasm in the article which is merely an unintentional coincidence to do with our strict publication policies. We hope you will continue to appreciate our hard work to bring you high-quality publications despite this unfortunate case of bad timing.

The following review was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Gamers' Magazine. Images were removed due to their offensive nature.

ConSoft LLC has done it again. The company that mocked democracy by allowing you to conquer the world as a corrupt politician has made yet another game that has angry parents petitioning for the reestablishment of a strict censorship system. The game is called Koala Hunting, and it's exactly as offensive as you'd expect.

Koala Hunting: The Game is based upon the popular documentary series of the same title. However, unlike in the documentary where koalas are almost nowhere to be found, the game features them in abundance. Another thing that the documentary lacks but the game offers in spades is weapons. Reason being, that the aim of this game is to exterminate the koalas.

You play as Max Ammo, a former war veteran turned hunter who is called upon by the government to save the world from the koalas who are trying to take over the planet. And by saving the world they mean killing all the koalas before they kill humanity first.

The premise, namely that animals that spend seventy percent of their time sleeping and are in general not very agile are expected to pose a threat to a species that has invented nuclear bombs, selfies, and the internet, is laughable. Yet it is not the implausibility of the premise that offends the most. Rather, it is the fact that you are essentially exterminating an endangered species. Defenders of the game are quick to use phrases such as `satirical game' and `not to be taken seriously,' but the fact remains that poachers and whale hunters around the world are being encouraged by this game and that is not a good thing.

The gameplay itself follows the rules of traditional first person shooters. You run, you shoot, you run, and you shoot some more. You die, you reload, and then you shoot some more. You die again, you yell at the screen, and then you reload and shoot some more. While the difficulty of the game is rather frustrating and prominently displays ConSoft's inability to develop a properly balanced first person shooter, you'll be rather pleased to know that you only have to put up with it for about two hours. That is the total length of the single player campaign. Expect bloggers to flood the internet with angry video reviews and fifteen-minute speedrun videos.

The game offers a staggering variety of weapons. You start out with a shotgun, a most uninspired choice, which you're stuck with for the first half of the game. Eventually, an arsenal of the insane opens up to you including exotic tools of death like the Knifezooka, a rocket launcher that hurls exactly one hundred knives towards your target in a single shot. If you want something with a higher rate of fire there is also a fully automatic machine gun that fires knives instead of bullets, and a pair of submachine guns that also fire knives. In other words this is a game made for knife enthusiasts.

If you liked the sound of the Knifezooka, don't get your hopes up. You don't acquire it until the very last level of the game, leaving you with a limited time to actually use it. A `new game +' mode would have helped, perhaps, except no one in their right mind would play this game a second time.

In terms of presentation, the sound design is tolerable but the music is repetitive and the graphics are worse. The game looks far from realistic with low polygon counts in both the environment and the enemy models. Level design is about as uninspired as your starting weapon. Every level takes place in the jungle. Occasionally you might run across ancient ruins that seem based on ancient South American architecture which, needless to say, makes very little sense and just feels like it was put there for variety's sake. Bushes and rocks can be used as cover and you'll do well to make use of them. While your health regenerates, the enemies do so much damage it's very easy to die.

The koalas you fight in the game throw rocks and sharpened Eucaliptus leaves at you which do a lot more damage than you'd expect. On later stages they throw brown colored rocks which do damage over time; I shall leave it to you to consider the implications of that. However, if you manage to avoid these slow moving projectiles you will have little trouble dispatching the koalas as most of them don't move at all and are therefore easy targets for your barrage of knives and shotgun shells.

You are not limited to massacring koalas, either. Activists of an environmentalist group called Koalahuggers are trying to protect the koalas from you with flame throwers. If that wasn't enough, on later levels you encounter black ops soldiers who appear to be mind controlled by the koalas. These are very dangerous adversaries that can kill you in one hit. The worst enemy is the final boss known as King Koala, a giant koala running around in a secluded glade trying to stomp you into the ground like a worm. It is unrealistically fast and takes a massive amount of punishment. If you enter the final area without full ammunition, don't expect to survive.

Beyond being the most offensive game in recent memory, Koala Hunting's biggest failing lies in the poor game mechanics. The health regeneration kicks in very slowly and there are no health packs anywhere in the game. The tutorial is awful and inaccurate. For example, it claims that you get a damage bonus for headshots, however, in practice a bug in the collision detection prevents you from registering a hit on the heads or limbs of the enemy models. In addition, you cannot jump, cannot swim, and cannot even play the game with a friend in co-op mode. With no one there to share your burden of suffering through the madness of Koala Hunting, playing the game feels like a chore worse than housecleaning.

The final insult comes to you in the form day one paid DLC. Two of them, to boot. The first is a new weapon called the Koala Cannon. As the name implies, it fires koalas. Because the game wasn't offensive enough without it, and because the Knifezooka wasn't outlandish enough, apparently. The second DLC is the Koala Player Skin, which replaces the regular skin on the player character with that of a koala. Allow me to remind you, this is a first person shooter. You're basically paying for a pair of koala fur gloves if you buy this DLC. At least it's not a Kevlar vest for the koalas.

The final verdict for Koala Hunting is a disappointing three out of ten. Not the worst game ever made, but still quite mediocre. Those of you who find pleasure in a game with poor mechanics and/or in the extermination of an endangered species will certainly enjoy ConSoft's Koala Hunting despite its shortcomings. People without such glaring mental issues would however do better to just wait for the next Pipe Software game instead.

The following interview was conducted by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Brickton Herald.

Elections are never a dull matter in the vocal community of Brickton, Con County. No other town in Con County can boast so many protests, riots, and lynchings in its history. This year's by-elections were expected to produce the same amount of excitement and Brickton did not disappoint: the town center literally erupted in flames when the new Mayor, Stanley Greekhorse took to the stage and announced his new agenda. The Mayor and his staff were successfully evacuated from the scene before the crowd could have given reason for a new by-election to follow the next day. Mayor Greekhorse was kind enough to sit down for an interview following his ordeal.

JP: Mayor Greekhorse, thank you for your time. Could you tell us in your words what happened last night?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Certainly. It is my pleasure to engage the press. As for what happened? It was people being people, citizens being citizens. I see it as my first day on the job. Nothing to worry about.

JP: You seem remarkably unfazed by what you went through out there.

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: I'll admit, it was a close call. If the evacuation hadn't been so swift the smoke might have done irrecoverable damage to my suit.

JP: Excuse me?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: This suit costs a fortune. Had it been exposed to all that smoke for too long it would have smelled like a barbecue. Can you imagine sitting at a meeting at the Town Hall in a suit that smells like smoked bacon?

JP: Surely the smoke was not your biggest worry out there, Mayor.

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Of course not. It was the eggs. Most definitely the eggs. Arson does not surprise me, the citizens of Brickton seem to enjoy setting things on fire. It has become a tradition over the years. But throwing eggs at people? Is there no depth to which they will not sink? Do they not realize how much it costs to get this suit cleaned?

JP: I see. Moving on, let's talk about your agenda. Arguably the announcements you made fueled the anger of the protesters. Why did you choose to make these announcements right away?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: I made the announcements right away because I don't like to waste time. We knew something like this might happen. I did announce a whole new set of taxes after all. People don't like taxes, not even when they voted for them.

JP: Speaking of the new taxes, two questions immediately pop up. First, why would you raise taxes on your first day in the office, and second, why do you say the people voted for these taxes? Your campaign slogen was, quote, `down with taxes, trust the Greekhorse.' Can you elaborate on that?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Certainly. The new taxes had to be instated because the by-election will only keep me in office for a little over two years. In the last year of my reign I cannot raise taxes, otherwise no one will vote for me. On the other hand we need the tax income to fund my reelection campaign, hence we had to instate the new taxes as fast as possible. It's as simple as that. As to your second question, but of course the people voted for this. Perhaps they did not understand the subtext in my campaign, but that's no fault of mine. You see, I promised I would lower existing taxes, which I did. I never said I would not instate brand new taxes.

JP: Mayor Greekhorse, your critics are calling you a liar, arguing that the new taxes take more money out of people's pockets than the old ones did. Your critics say this contradicts your aforementioned campaign. Could you comment on that?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Critics will be critics, nothing can be done about that. They try to sound unbiased when in fact they're very clearly biased against me and my agenda. My election campaign clearly stated that I would reduce existing taxes, which I did, and it also stated that I would make the taxation system fair. That's why the new taxes are being introduced. Current taxes are unfair to the people governing this town because the overall tax is too small. If people want public services they have to pay the price. That's fair. Do you agree?

JP: I must remain impartial.

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Yes, but you do have an opinion, don't you?

JP: I do, but I cannot express it in the interview.

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: I admire your professionalism. My staff could use people like you. Would you like a job?

JP: Let's go back to discussing the new taxes. You're instating a total of three new taxes that will impact the people of Brickton. The first one, being instated next week, is called the Bandwidth Tax. What prompted you to put a tax on domestic internet bandwidth usage?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Money. What else? I need money for my reelection campaign. I already told you that.

JP: You did, but why tax internet usage? Why this specifically?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Why not? No one has ever taxed the internet before, at least not in such an effective manner. Think about it. What do people use the internet for? Watching adult films. The internet was invented for sex, this is a fact. Now, if we put a tax on bandwidth usage, we get a great deal of money after each adult film someone watches online. The more people do this, the more money we get. The higher the video quality, the more money we get. When high definition digital video came about, everybody liked it for the improved quality it could provide. Now it's time the viewers paid the price of it.

JP: Are you not worried that the new tax, being local to Brickton, will spark mass exodus from the town?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Not in the slightest. Besides, why would people move? For more competitive salaries? For a better economy? Who cares about such overrated concepts!

JP: The second new tax you are introducing is called the Oxygen Tax. Could you explain this one?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: The Oxygen Tax is about fairness. Deep sea divers purchase oxygen tanks for good money, and they pay taxes after those purchases. So why don't people pay tax after the oxygen they breathe on the surface? Why should divers be the only people paying to breathe?

JP: How will the tax be calculated?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Let me just consult my notes here. Yes, here it is. Oxygen consumption will be estimated based on the volume of the lungs of each individual. So everyone will need to undergo a lung volume measurement before this tax is instated next month.

JP: Measuring people's lung volume? Isn't that a bit excessive?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: I have a scientist on my staff who insists that this is necessary in order to make sure that everyone pays the right amount of tax. I fully trust his expertise.

JP: The last new tax you spoke of in your speech is called the Life Tax. Your critics are calling this the most controversial idea you've ever had. Can you tell us about it?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Of course. The Life Tax is designed to solve numerous issues in one fell swoop. The fragility of the state pension system, the overpopulation of the county, the overburdened hospitals... all of this will be solved by taxing everyone's life at a flat rate of 25%. The way this works in practice is that we calculate exactly how long each individual would naturally live taking environmental and genetic factors into account. When they reach 75% of this expected lifespan, we kill them.

JP: Excuse me, did you say, kill them?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: I did. Oh, I'm sorry, my scientist prefers the term `mandatory eutanasia' but I like to call things what they are.

JP: Yes, you are remarkably honest about your policies.

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Why wouldn't I be? I already won the elections.

JP: Can you tell us how you plan on instating the Life Tax? No doubt there are numerous existing laws which will prohibit you from executing this policy.

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: Law is not a problem. We will change every law we must to make sure everything goes the way I want it. The only practical hurdle in front of us is figuring out a way to reliably calculate how long people would live. We do not want to kill productive, tax paying citizens too soon. It would hurt the economy.

JP: What about the 25% flat rate? How did you come up with the number?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: I did not, all the number crunching is done by my staff. I trust their expertise.

JP: One final question, Mayor. How old are you?

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse: I'm afraid that is classified, but thank you for asking. Likewise, thank you for conducting the interview. As I said, I admire your professionalism. If you are interested in a job, do get in touch. I assure you, you would not regret working for me. Everyone on my staff enjoys benefits such as exemption from the new taxes.

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times. It was checked for scientific accuracy by famous scientist Professor van der Bishop.

The Con City Space Agency is preparing to launch its most advanced automated spacecraft next month. The Heliopiercer space probe is designed to withstand extreme environmental conditions. Its mission, to explore the one celestial body in our solar system that no one has ever tried before: the Heliopiercer will soon begin its voyage towards the Sun.

`This is our most ambitious project to date,' Professor Jared Burns, Director of the Con City Space Agency explains. `No one has ever attempted to land on the Sun. Heliopiercer will do just that. We're going to make those suckers and their tiny little comet-lander look like amateurs. Sure, they will say that landing a probe on a comet is much harder because it's small and fast, whereas the Sun is big and slow. My response: if they think it's so easy to land on the Sun, why haven't they done it yet? I'm sure they will appreciate our efforts once they realize the difficulties involved in landing anything on the surface of the Sun.'

Indeed, the task of landing on the surface of the very heart of our solar system presents tremendous challenges. Fortunately, Professor Burns and his staff have come up with brilliant solutions to all their problems.

`The key, some would say, is to avoid the heat by traveling at night,' explains Scott Freeman, the Chief Engineer of the Con City Space Agency. `But when you think about it, it's always night in space when you look away from the Sun. That's why Heliopiercer will be flying in reverse. Getting there is in fact very easy. Landing, now that's tricky. To this end we have developed a new heat-resistant material that can withstand even the extreme temperatures on the surface of the Sun. We are calling it Koldsteel. With a K, because it makes trademarking it easier.'

Professor Burns and the project team are of course not going to be satisfied with merely landing on the Sun. The probe has a unique purpose, one which speaks volumes of the true ambitions behind the project.

`Heliopiercer will land on the surface of the Sun and take a sample of the soil.' Chief Engineer Freeman elaborates. `Then, it will take off and return to Earth with the sample so that we can examine it in as much detail as possible. In principle we could have stuffed the probe full of equipment, yes, but we never could have put enough spectrometers in there. It's better to bring back a sample.'

As for the ultimate purpose of the expedition? Professor Burns offers a tale of bold ambition, a goal which, once achieved, will change the fate of humanity.

`The soil sample from the Sun will tell us exactly what it would take and how much it would cost to terraform the Sun, which in turn will allow us to form a colony on the Sun,' the Professor boldly states. `This will be the next step in the evolution of humanity, the next age if you will. Just imagine it! The colony on the Sun will never suffer from an energy crisis because everything can be powered by solar cells which will be operational 24/7. Likewise, there will be no need for artificial lighting because it will always be daytime on the Sun. Therefore, we also won't need this, excuse my choice of words here, this bullshit called summer daytime saving which only serves to piss people off and mess with their productivity. Speaking of productivity, since there will be no long nights on the Sun, people will be less prone to depression and will therefore be more efficient at their job. This colony will be a dream come true once it is established.'

Professor Burns's vision is certainly very appealing, but the project will of course face numerous difficulties.

`Most of them are purely technical issues, and we have plenty of bright ideas to deal with them,' the Professor assures. `Yes, it will be difficult to create a breathable atmosphere, not to mention we will require ample amounts of water. However, water should not be a problem once we solve the atmosphere issue; if we take enough oxygen to the Sun we can certainly make water from the plentiful local resources of hydrogen. The biggest challenge I suppose is the installation of an air conditioning system that can create suitable temperatures to sustain human life. Such an air conditioner does not currently exist, but we are already hard at work engineering one.'

The Heliopiercer space probe certainly has the potential to change the world as we know it. Professor Burns and the rest of the Con City Space Agency are firmly convinced that the project will pay dividends. Perhaps their confidence is the reason why they are officially referring to the ambitious space program as the Suck It Icarus Project.

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times.

Bullfighting is a centuries old sport originating from Spain. It is a family pastime activity with well established rules and traditions. The town of Greenwell in Con County has been hosting its own version for over fifty years, yet this is not the traditional form of bullfighting you might expect.

`The aim of the game is of course blood,' Gerald Embers, chairman of the Greenwell Bullfighting Organization explains. `Blood and guts is what the people come here to see. And we give it to them.'

The Greenwell Bullfighting Organization, or GBO, is the premier bullfighting promotion in the entire county. According to their rules, bullfights go on until one of the competitors, be it bull or matador, can no longer continue the fight for whatever reason. The current GBO Heavyweight Champion is Brock the Bull. Note, this is not a matador nicknamed `the Bull.' This is a bull named Brock. He has been champion for five consecutive years.

`Brock is a fierce competitor,' Chairman Embers elaborates. `He has revolutionized the sport, inventing new ways to hurt matadors every month. He has maimed, mauled, and gored his opponents in such a variety of ways the fans have taken to calling him the Bull of a Thousand Disembowelments.'

As one might expect, the popularity of Brock the Bull has reached cosmic heights over the years. He has his own fan club `and' political party, the members of which are trying to have Brock run for Mayor at the next elections. Gerald Embers does not seem to worry too much about Brock's future in politics. He is far more concerned about the bull's age.

`Brock is nearing retirement,' the Chairman explains. `He still has one last match in him, and we are doing everything in our power to make it as memorable as possible. I'm talking about a glorious retirement match! One that will be talked about for decades to come.'

The Chairman, it seems, already has elaborate plans for the retirement match in question.

`We have invited none other than Diego Del Toro, the famous undefeated Spanish matador, to be Brock's last ever opponent. Brock is the GBO Heavyweight Champion `and' he is undefeated. It is only fitting that he fight his last match against another undefeated champion.'

When asked whether he expects any problems to arise due to the vastly different rules the two competitors are used to, Gerald Embers offers a confident outlook.

`There is no reason for concern. I know that Diego Del Toro is used to being the star but if he wants true glory he has to defeat the GBO Heavyweight Champion. Yes, our rules basically guarantee that he is not going to survive the match, but he doesn't need to know that. Besides, we are paying him a lot of money to compete in this match. He has no reason to complain.'

The match is set to take place sometime within the next couple of weeks. It certainly promises to be a classic, a true clash of the titans. If you live near Greenwell, you should not miss it for the world.

The following article was also written by Jonathan Parker and was published in the Con City Times three weeks after the previous article.

The retirement match of GBO Heavyweight Champion Brock the Bull was mired in controversy. The match, which was set to take place last night at the Greenwell All Stars Arena, ended in a scandal not seen since the substance abuse controversy from ten years ago. Brock the Bull was set to face Spanish phenomenon Diego Del Toro in what many expected would be the bloodiest bout since the last world war. Instead the fans were left disappointed as the match never took place.

The challenger walked into the arena appearing to be drunk. While it was later confirmed that Diego Del Toro was in fact sober, the suspicion is that some kind of illegal substance must have been in his system. He was barely standing when Brock the Bull entered at the opposite side of the arena. At that point many predicted a squash match that would last no more than a minute. Fortunately for the challenger, the champion was not quite himself last night, either.

Brock the Bull strolled into the arena looking like he didn't know where he was. One witness described the bull as behaving `like a kitten on catnip,' while a lifelong fan in attendance said Brock had been `in a state of euphoria' which was `unheard of throughout Brock's career.' After entering the arena Brock the Bull casually trotted up to Diego Del Toro and, instead of goring him, merely danced around him, sniffing his crotch before laying down by the Spaniard's foot. Diego Del Toro collapsed beside the bull and the arena soon witnessed the only form of competition they could expect from the two competitors that night: a snoring contest.

Minutes later a full scale riot erupted in the stands across the arena. Many people wanted their money back, others demanded the fight, yet others just demanded `a' fight. The security guards, realizing how little chance they stood, quickly vacated the premises. The end result was several hundred critically injured people who are currently being cared for at Greenwell General Hospital, except for the unfortunate foreign tourists who did not have travel insurance.

Gerald Embers, Chairman of the Greenwell Bullfighting Organization, denied accountability for the incident and did not hesitate to express his intentions to take legal action.

`That Spanish son of a bitch did this to us!' he elaborated. `I'm going to sue his ass so hard he'll have to crawl back to Spain because he'll need to sell his own legs to pay me!'

Diego Del Toro was unavailable for comment but it is widely assumed that he will be taking legal action as well. An unnamed witness reportedly saw the challenger complain about the taste of his supper before the match. Regarding this matter, Gerald Embers had very little to say.

`I don't know anything about that,' he stated. `Not a thing.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Desert Rock Guardian.

The New Year's Eve party held at the Hell Club in the town center of Desert Rock ended in utter disaster. Local authorities described the scene they had found at the event as a battleground. In the aftermath of the party over fifty people had to be detained by the police while thirty-seven others were hospitalized, most with physical injuries and a few with alcohol poisoning.

`Definitely the worst night in the history of this establishment,' stated Stephen Lions, owner of the Hell Club. `I can only hope the Town Council won't shut us down. Not that it was our fault. The patrons were completely out of control. It was World War III with beer bottles instead of nukes. No amount of security guards could keep all those drunk assholes in check.'

`It was the most fun I ever had!' countered a club patron who prefers to be known simply as John. `Me and my mate Jerry had the time of our lives. We were dancing and drinking, making out with the girls, buying them drinks, making friends with the waitresses, drinking... It was the best New Year's Eve ever!'

A waitress called Wendy offered a very different take on John's story.

`Even before the fighting began I knew those two were trouble,' the annoyed waitress explained. `The short fat one was tolerable on his own, but around his friend, that asshole Jerry, the worst came out of him, too. They picked on everybody, insulted half the staff, poured a bottle of beer on a fifteen year old girl, who by the way should not have been allowed into the club in the first place. And that was before they got drunk. Once they did...'

Multiple witnesses reported that two drunk tavern patrons got into a fight with one of the security guards, giving a picture-perfect description of John as one of the men involved in the incident.

`I don't really remember any of that,' John stated. `I'm sure we did nothing wrong. I mean Jerry was about to have sex with this girl that we accidentally spilled some beer on, and I know she was eager to do it because she was screaming at the top of her lungs, and then I remember this security guard coming over and the girl running away. Then... I don't know.'

`The big guy punched Eddie, the security guard,' recounted Wendy. `Then everything went to shit. Other security guards came to Eddie's aid but they had a mass of drunk people to get through. Someone got poked in the eye and then it was a mass brawl. And the worst of it? The two assholes that started it managed to sneak away from the brawl. I don't know what happened after that because I decided this job wasn't worth dying for. I was outside the club five minutes later, along with that poor girl. I wasn't there when... that other thing happened.'

The `other thing' Wendy referred to was an incident that had taken place in the men's room which led to the complete evacuation of the club.

`So after the brawl started, Jerry had this idea to go cherry bomb the toilet while everyone is busy fighting,' John explained. `He had one, I had one, so I thought, cool, we can cherry bomb two toilets. But then when Jerry lit the fuse and dumped his cherry bomb in one of the toilets he told me to throw mine in that one, too. Said, one big fountain is better than two little ones. So I lit the fuse and dropped it in there as he said. That's when he had the urge to take a dump.'

John's companion Jerry, full name Jerry Brown, was pronounced dead on the scene by paramedics who entered the building in the wake of the evacuation. According to the medical report, Mister Brown's death was caused by severe loss of blood and trauma caused by an explosion inside the large bowel.

`Yeah, he blew up,' John confirmed. `I saw the whole thing. One moment Jerry is getting an enema on the toilet, the next his innards are all over the walls. And me. It was awesome! What a way to go!'

Mister Brown was the only casualty of what is now being referred to as `New Year's Eve In Hell.' The club has been closed until further notice while a thorough investigation is under way to determine whether the men's room in the establishment is fit for use.

`It is the most crucial part of the club,' Stephen Lions elaborated. `Without a functional men's room, all the male patrons will either piss on the dance floor or invade the ladies' room. Either way, the ladies would riot and set the club on fire. Trust me, I've seen them do that in Brickton.'

The disgruntled owner was also quick to point fingers at the people who organized the party: Desert Rock's very own electronics retail company, the Hades Corporation.

`The party was arranged for their employees,' Stephen Lions explained. `I'm sure they were responsible for the cherry bombs. I bet they thought it would be funny. Corporate pricks...'

The CEO of the Hades Corporation was unavailable for comment, but a formal statement was issued by the company in which they offered to cover the expenses of the repairs in the men's room and install brand new interactive urinals and smart toilets at no extra cost. They also stated that they were `glad to hear that everyone had fun at the party' and that they would be `sure to organize an even bigger celebration at the next New Year's Eve.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Cinema Magazine.

With the recent release of the five-disc special edition blu-ray of the Round Table franchise, series creator and controversial self-proclaimed action film king Terrence Blunt has every reason to be happy. His critics on the other hand are anything but. The Round Table films are universally hated by film critics all over the world, yet the series lives on due to its increasingly stellar performance at the box office. For those of you who by some miracle have never heard of this franchise, Round Table is a satirical retelling of the King Arthur legend that, according to critics, violates every aspect of the source material, yet proves to be wildly popular and shows no signs of ending even after five movies. Terrence Blunt was kind enough to answer a few questions about this milestone and the future of his franchise.

JP: Mister Blunt, how does it feel to be simultaneously the most loved and most hated film producer in the world?

Terrence Blunt: Feels good, actually. Reaction is the measure of the impact we make on the film industry. Rick and I are arguably the biggest sharks in Hollywood today. Audiences love us, critics hate us, it's perfect. I now have five films that have each grossed over one billion worldwide. Not bad for a kid from Con County.

JP: By Rick you must of course refer to Rick Jackson. Isn't he your arch rival? Most people are under the impression that you and him are not on the best of terms.

Terrence Blunt: Oh, we hate each other's guts, no mistake there. That said, Rick Jackson needs Terrence Blunt just as much as Terrence Blunt needs Rick Jackson. We inspire each other, we bring the best out of each other. We force each other to create an even bigger blockbuster than the last one with each film we make.

JP: Yet somehow Mister Jackson manages to please critics much more than your movies do. Critics universally despise the Round Table franchise. How do you feel about that?

Terrence Blunt: I don't really care. Critics do not understand my art, and they can kiss my billion dollar grossing ass. Next question.

JP: Let's discuss the Round Table movies. The first film in the franchise saw the castle of Camelot crumble to dust in the wake of a nuclear explosion. It is an iconic sequence that at one time was a meme on video hosting sites. How did you come up with the concept? Not even gun powder existed in the time of King Arthur, let alone nuclear bombs.

Terrence Blunt: Well, Merlin's a wizard, right? So, it doesn't matter when gun powder and nukes were invented. A wizard can nuke anything with his mind. Which is why I created Merlin's rival and had him blow up Camelot. I thought it would be memorable, and time proved me right. That's why we nuke Camelot in every Round Table movie.

JP: This brings us to my next question. Your critics often complain about the lack of originality in the series as a whole. Their view is that every installment in the franchise is exactly the same. Do you agree with that?

Terrence Blunt: No. Each installment in the franchise is different. There are different actors in each, they were all filmed at a different location, and, each sequel has a different number at the end of its title. How could they all be the same?

JP: The argument your critics use is that your films follow the same formula.

Terrence Blunt: Of course they follow the same formula. My films rely on the most important elements of success that are key to survival in Hollywood today. It's a formula that says every medieval action movie should feature, in abundance: scantily clad women, juvenile humor, toilet jokes, fast horses, half-naked people on fast horses, people getting impaled on lances, wizard sex, dragons, epic battles on fields, shaky-cam, beheadings, and explosions. Most of all that. Explosions.

JP: So you're saying that your reliance on the aforementioned elements is intentional?

Terrence Blunt: Yes.

JP: Critics have serious issues with your use of several of these elements. In particular they complain that your films are overly sexist. Care to comment on that?

Terrence Blunt: Sure. When I hire actresses, I strictly forbid no-nudity clauses. Much of our audience are adolescent teenage boys. Exposed breasts draw them into the theaters. It's one of the most important elements of my success.

JP: Your critics find this insulting to women, saying that it degrades them into set decorations. Some critics insist that there should be the same amount of male and female nudity in your films. Why isn't it so?

Terrence Blunt: Because no one wants to see King Arthur's dick. Or worse, Merlin's dick. Do you want to see it? No, of course you don't. Next question.

JP: Moving on to the fans of your franchise, they are among the most loyal followers a film producer could ask for. Reports say that over a million copies of your new Round Table box set were sold in the span of a week. What do you think is the reason your fans are so loyal to you?

Terrence Blunt: The answer lies in their IQ. Fans of my movies possess an intelligence that film critics unfortunately lack. They understand my art and crave it with such passion they refuse to pirate my movies. Besides, we have so many extras in the box set it's a bargain no one can refuse.

JP: Can you summarize exactly what's in the box set?

Terrence Blunt: Of course. All five entries in the Round Table franchise, making-of documentaries and other behind the scenes footage, interviews with the cast, and a life size poster of every lead actress in the franchise, in lingerie. I like to reward my core fanbase.

JP: What's next for the Round Table franchise? Rumor has it the next installment is in pre-production.

Terrence Blunt: The rumors are true, Round Table 6 is on the way. I don't want to announce its subtitle just yet but it will be something people will pay attention to. Let's just say, that when the critics hear it, they will declare me the Antichrist.

JP: Any closing comments, Mister Blunt?

Terrence Blunt: Yes. I'd like to send a message to Rick Jackson. Hey Rick! Did you see the charts? I'm killing your ass as we speak! Did you really think you could compete with my Round Table box set with your lousy 2-disc blu-ray of Bombs, Bullets, and Babes 5? You owe me a dollar you dumb son of a bitch!

The following article was written by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Brickton Herald.

The town of Brickton, Con County, is banning the use of airbags in all vehicles effective next month. The controversial decision was met with protests all over town from citizens and human rights groups alike.

`We will not stand for this!' an unnamed protester said at the latest demonstration in front of the Town Hall. `We demand our airbags, we demand the right to survive crashing into school buses at a 100 miles per hour!'

Mayor Stanley Greekhorse, the stongest supporter of the new law, defended his decision to make car travel less safe. In fact, he argues that the move will lead to less accidents.

`People drive more recklessly with airbags installed,' he stated. `They feel too safe and expect to survive any collision. Now imagine if they had no seat belts, no airbags, nothing. Would they still drive over the speed limit? Would they still be so careless on the road? I highly doubt it.'

Mayor Greekhorse's comments sparked further unrest among the citizens of Brickton, though he was quick to point out that seat belts will remain legal for the time being. He also provided a more detailed explanation for the ban on airbags.

`This decision was a necessity,' he explained. `For the past several years the airbags have been the number one reason for car vandalism. Few people know that there is gold in those airbags, but criminal elements are first among them. Last year the Brickton Police have received over two thousand reports of airbag thefts, with the majority of the cars suffering a smashed windshield. While you may think that forcing a car open for a few grams of gold seems excessive, let me remind you that we live in a hard economy. In any case, people have been demanding a solution to this phenomenon, and we have provided it. By removing the airbags we remove the motivation of the thieves. I expect a large drop in car part theft.'

Many of the Mayor's critics argue that items such as car stereos and GPS systems will remain tempting targets, to which the Mayor offered to ban these items as well if citizens are concerned. Protesting groups throughout Brickton have been silent regarding this matter.

A final note of concern for the people of Brickton is the removal of the illegal airbags. While a bit of DIY skill is all it takes to remove the airbag, as demonstrated by Brickton's airbag thieves over the past year, the new law requires that the local authorities issue a certificate proving that the airbag has been removed. A long waiting list prohibits over half the population of Brickton from obtaining the certificate by the deadline, which threatens to land them with a fine.

`Not to worry,' said the Mayor. `I have personally set up a new company called Antiairbag Solutions, to serve the unfortunate citizens on the waiting list. They have skilled mechanics and are officially registered as an airbag ban authority. Antiarbag Solutions can, for a small fee, remove the airbag and provide the legally required certificate to prove that the vehicle complies with the new law. They will also relieve the vehicle owners of the burden of disposing of the airbags.'

When asked what will be done with the gold components salvaged from the airbags by the Town Council and Antiairbag Solutions, Mayor Greekhorse assured that they will be used for a noble cause in his upcoming reelection campaign.

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times. Views expressed within the quoted interviews are those of the quoted individuals alone.

Four teenagers have been hospitalized with severe signs of poisoning after breaking into the Con City Art Gallery and eating some of the exhibits. The culprits ingested several of the famous ice paintings of local artist Warren Baker. Troy Savage, Director of the Con City Art Gallery called the break-in a `baffling act of barbarism.' Mister Baker's world renowned artwork, line paintings made with gold paint on solid blocks of ice and snow, are estimated to be worth over 200 million dollars.

The incident comes just a few days after Warren Baker revealed in an interview that Ambrosia 51, his own brand of golden paint he uses to create his famed ice paintings, relies on alcoholic beverages as one of its key ingredients.

`I use a good variety of drinks,' Mister Baker stated in the interview. `I cannot reveal the exact formula, but let's just say that all the different shades I use in my art come from the use of different beverages of varying alcohol content.'

Following the incident at the Art Gallery, police are conducting an investigation into the exact motive of the teenagers, who are currently comatose and unavailable for interrogation. A surgeon at Con City General Hospital anonymously called for Warren Baker to reveal the precise formula of Ambrosia 51 for the sake of the teenagers at Intensive Care.

`We have no idea what sort of poison they have ingested,' the surgeon stated. `All we know is that it's not the alcohol endangering the patients. There is something highly toxic in the paint which we have not been able to identify. Troy Savage is refusing to allow us to examine the remaining ice paintings and the police are yet to force him to comply. Mister Baker could save lives if he revealed to us exactly what was in Ambrosia 51.'

Director Troy Savage responded in the name the Con City Art Gallery who spend considerable amounts of money on appropriate low temperature refrigerated display cases in which to house Warren Baker's ice paintings.

`The lost art is worth a thousand times more than the lives of petty teenage barbarians,' he stated in a press release. `Mister Baker's paintings make use of extraordinary curves unheard of in line art. His choice of canvas is nothing short of revolutionary. If I were the doctors at Con City General, I'd let those bastards die. In fact, I might just donate some funds to the hospital if those barbarians were to perish.'

Warren Baker himself responded in a live interview with Channel 11 on Uncensored Evening News.

`I will not compromise my artistic integrity for a bunch of thieves,' Mister Baker said. `Those hooligans destroyed Tipsy Angel, which was the first ever ice painting I made. I'll have you know, that one took considerable effort to preserve, since I painted it in the middle of the night on New Year's Eve in my front lawn. I had to shovel the snow into a tray and place it in my freezer and keep it there until I could construct a suitable storage facility.'

When asked whether he was worried about the appearance of counterfeit Ambrosia 51 on the black market with so much buzz surrounding the composition of his paint, Mister Baker responded with a shrug.

`Of course there's far more than mere alcohol in my paint,' he said. `People are welcome to guess what it is and experiment with their own paint compositions, but even if they were to reproduce Ambrosia 51 and attempt to make their own ice paintings, none of them would ever compare to an authentic Warren Baker.'

The Con City Art Gallery is implementing new security measures to ensure that none of Mister Baker's ice paintings would fall victim to vandalism in the future. In addition, Warren Baker offered simple advice to visitors at the Art Gallery.

`People should admire my art from a distance, like they would the works of lesser artists,' he said. `My paintings are not ice cream.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times. Views expressed within the quoted interviews are those of the quoted individuals alone.

The trial of Brian Chambers, the software engineer being accused of trying to start World War III, has reached its eighteenth day. Charges against Mister Chambers are based on records indicating that he hacked into governmental computer servers housing data on the country's nuclear arsenal. In a baffling turn of events Mister Chambers, ignoring the protests of his defense attorney, boldly stated during the trial that he had in fact attempted to start a World War, and would do so again if given the chance.

`Yes, I did it,' Mister Chambers said. `I hacked in, I looked for the launch codes, and when I couldn't find them I looked for a back door to the mainframe so I could generate new ones and go around the existing protocol. My sole regret is not masking my IP well enough. Serves me right for using public wifi at a fast food joint.'

The announcement of Brian Chambers comes not as the first but simply the latest in a long string of controversial events surrounding his case, which started with his arrest. Mister Chambers was arrested two months ago in Downtown Con City by CCPD officers. One of the policemen who apprehended him, Sergeant Jack Westwood, allegedly stated in an interview that he had meant to shoot the unarmed Mister Chambers during the arrest, but he had run out of bullets. In the eight weeks since his incarceration Mister Chambers' case has led to three separate prison riots, multiple assassination attempts including one at the courthouse last week, and protests both against and in favor of his incarceration, from a human rights activist group and the Con County Freemasons, respectively.

With Mister Chambers' unexpected outburst in court, many expect that his case will soon be handed over to the federal courts, though most people don't expect him to live that long. The list of skeptics includes the accused's own sister, Tamara Chambers.

`He's either completely insane, or he got in with the wrong crowd,' she said in an interview. `I mean, did you hear that speech? It hardly even makes sense, for fuck's sake. If it is true, the people he works for will put a bullet in his brain for sure.'

In his statement during the trial, Mister Chambers claimed that the reason for his actions was that he had been hired by an as yet undisclosed software development firm to write a flawless, universal translator program for use in internet browsers, meant to work with a 0% error margin.

`A linguist explained to me that the reason why existing translator algorithms fail is that many words simply don't exist in every language, while some have complex phrases that are difficult to translate by an automated method,' Mister Chambers said. `I thought, that if I could exterminate the people in all the countries that speak those difficult languages, the greatest obstacle before the design of a universal translator would disintegrate. Hence the idea to start World War III. Makes sense, right?'

Mister Chambers' explanation sparked outrage in the internet community, as many of them feel that the very existence of a universal translator would rob them of one of their most valued forms of entertainment, namely horrible translations. Authorities believe that the number of attempts at Mister Chambers' life will see an exponential rise in the coming days.

So far Mister Chambers is yet to reveal the name of the company that contracted him. Many people speculate that, based on the fact that Mister Chambers grew up in the town of Desert Rock, he was in fact working for Desert Rock's number one electronics retail company, the Hades Corporation. The company denies all involvement with the project, and their CEO was quick to put out a press release after Mister Chambers' confession.

`We at the Hades Corporation are responsible, caring people who keep the best interests of all humanity at heart,' the press release stated. `We would never partake in illegal activity, least of all one that would threaten to drastically reduce the number of paying customers in the world.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times.

A man was arrested in South Side Con City after attempting to steal a truck full of waste from the local landfill. The suspect was identified as Jack Mills, an unemployed mechanic living in the outskirts of the South Side. A search of his property led police officers to the baffling discovery of a stolen space shuttle in his back yard.

The space shuttle is none other than Ultra Brutus, the new experimental space shuttle that disappeared from the Con City Space Agency two weeks ago. The shuttle was covered with simple tent sheets and went largely unnoticed by the locals.

`I simply assumed he had relatives camping in his back yard,' said Roger Cohen, the next door neighbor of Jack Mills. `Some people have large families, and Jack's garden is bigger than his house, so it made sense.'

Mister Mills stated during his interrogation that he had intended to use the space shuttle to take the stolen waste into outer space. His destination was to be none other than the planetoid Pluto.

`It's a fucking planet!' he said to the interviewing police officer in the middle of the interrogation. `I don't care what all the asshole scientists have to say, it's a planet, and I'm gonna prove it if it's the last thing I ever do!'

Mister Mills had to be sedated twice during his interrogation, but eventually he revealed his motivation for attempting to fly household waste to Pluto.

`My son had a science exam in which he was asked about the planets in the solar system,' he explained. `The day before he asked me about it to prepare for the exam, and I told him what my teachers told me back in the day, that there are nine planets. My son failed his exam because the teachers wouldn't accept an answer that was deemed true for decades! And you know why? Just because Pluto is too small. Not heavy enough to be a planet, they say. But that's okay. I'm pretty sure I can get the school to reverse the decision on that exam if I can show them that Pluto is in fact heavy enough to be a planet. So I was gonna fly to Pluto and dump a few million tons of garbage on it.'

Professor Jared Burns, Director of the Con City Space Agency expressed his admiration for the creativity of Mister Mills.

`I have two PhDs and I never would have thought of this solution,' the mastermind behind the famous Heliopiercer Space Probe mission said. `Turn Pluto into a planet by dumping millions of tons of household garbage on it. Brilliant, really. I want to hire that man.'

When asked about whether the Space Agency would be pressing charges for the theft of the Ultra Brutus shuttle, Professor Burns firmly declined and stated that `such minor misdemeanors can be forgiven, especially those perpetrated by infinitely creative people.'

Mister Mills is currently in custody awaiting word from the City Council as to whether the city means to press charges against him for attempting to steal a truck full of waste from the South Side Landfill.

`We will take the matter into consideration,' the Mayor of Con City stated in a curt response to multiple press inquiries. `On the one hand, this man has broken the law and should be punished. On the other hand, he would have done this city a service by taking a few tons of trash into space.'

As word of Mister Mills' motivation for stealing a space shuttle became public, several scientific experts opted to point out how futile his attempt was at reclassifying Pluto as a planet. The number one criticism is that the sheer amount of garbage that would need to be taken to Pluto in order to increase its mass to meet the reclassification requirements would take several centuries to transport from Earth to Pluto. Mister Mills has since responded through his appointed public defender.

`Yes, genius, I know the Earth is far from Pluto, I'm not stupid,' he stated. `I wasn't going to take all the trash from here. No, I meant to make several rounds between Pluto and another nearby planet, Uranus. I'm sure I could make it back in time for my son's graduation.'

Famous scientist Professor van der Bishop also offered his advice to Mister Mills, drawing his attention to a problem he may not have considered.

`If Mister Mills manages to increase the mass of Pluto, he will increase its gravitational pull in the process. Therefore, he may find it difficult to reach escape velocity on the way back. If this came to pass, my suggestion to Mister Mills would be to get out of the shuttle and give it a good push.'

The following article was written by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Brickton Herald.

A recent plan to keep the walls of the Brickton Town Hall clean has backfired in a most unexpected way. The exterior of the Town Hall was recently repainted using a revolutionary new liquid repellent paint, meant to prevent urine from staining the walls. While the Town Hall currently faces its biggest crisis in recent memory due to the fallout from applying the new paint, the Mayor was initially very pleased with the performance of the liquid repellent paint.

`This was the only way to stop the dogs and bums from pissing all over the walls,' Mayor Stanley Greekhorse said in his usual blunt and controversial manner. `Liquid repellent paint throws any liquid directed at the wall back at its source. What better way to teach those bastards than with a wall that pisses back?'

Liquid repellent paint is not a new invention but this particular paint was newly designed by a scientist on Mayor Greekhorse's staff. Doctor Stuart Roth appears to have created the most effective liquid repellent paint to date.

`Most paints like this don't repel the liquid very far, but my paint knocks it right back at the source,' Doctor Roth explained. `There is a tiny loss of momentum, yes, but it's negligible. If someone directs let's say a stream of urine at it, the wall sends the stream right back at the perpetrator's dick. Mayor Greekhorse was most pleased with the test results, so of course he ordered the new paint job for the Town Hall. No one could have foreseen where this would lead.'

The new paint job led to dire consequences indeed. Two days after the paint dried, a group of angry protesters surrounded the Town Hall and had to be removed from the scene by police using water cannons. The angry mob demanded the removal of Mayor Greekhorse from power.

`This damn paint is ruining our cars!' an anonymous protester said during his hasty exit from the scene. `Since the drunks figured out they can't piss on the Town Hall walls any more, they started relieving themselves on the cars parked in the area instead. Now we have to wash our cars every day! This is completely unacceptable! Down with Greekhorse! Down with Greekhorse!'

The rioting was followed up by unseen protesters covering the entirety of the town hall with graffiti overnight, depicting obscene imagery and slanderous comments directed at the Mayor and his staff. Doctor Roth is puzzled by the fact that his repellent failed to work on spray paint.

`Admittedly an aerosol does not have the same constitution as a stream of liquid but I still don't understand why my paint failed,' Doctor Roth said. `Now we have the most important symbol of Brickton's government covered in graffiti claiming that the Mayor and I share our beds with monkeys and gorillas, respectively, which, by the way, is not true. And now we have the problem that we can't wash it off because the liquid repellent under the graffiti still works and repels all the water we try to use to clean the walls. Baffling, truly.'

While Doctor Roth tries finding a solution to this unexpected failure, abundant media coverage is being devoted to relaying the new look of Brickton's Town Hall to the entire world. The unknown culprits who applied the graffiti remain at large.

Mayor Greekhorse was unavailable for comment regarding the graffiti, but an unnamed local street sweeper offered a unique solution to the problem, suggesting that `they could just spray paint the wall white or something, if only Greekhorse and Roth had brains bigger than a pea.' Here's to hoping Mayor Greekhorse or Doctor Roth read this article before all of Brickton becomes the laughing stock of the entire world for the one hundred and fourteenth time in its history.

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Desert Rock Guardian.

Moviegoers in the town of Desert Rock were recently treated to a life changing experience in the parking lot of the local cinema. The Screeningator, Desert Rock's iconic cinema theater, is famous for its mascot: a giant alligator staring down at customers from above the main entrance. While visitors are used to the sight of the mascot, they certainly weren't expecting to encounter a real live alligator.

`At first I thought it was just a guy in a costume.' said a local man named John. `Me and some pals went over to congratulate the guy for his realistic costume. But when Gary lost two fingers we started to get suspicious.'

Three other men in the group suffered hand injuries before they realized that they were dealing with a real live alligator. The situation went from bad to worse as the fleeing group ran directly into an audience leaving from the screening of a horror movie.

Mass panic broke out as one member of the audience seemed to mistake one of the wounded men for a character who had died in the zombie movie they had just seen. In the ensuing havoc seventeen people perished and twenty-nine others suffered serious injuries.

Meanwhile the alligator calmly stayed in the corner of the parking lot and simply watched as hundreds of people tried to flee the perceived zombie apocalypse. Of the seventeen who did not survive the incident, two died of heart attacks, fourteen were trampled to death, and the poor soul who resembled an actor from the horror movie was decapitated with a nail file. No one was killed by the alligator.

The investigation that followed quickly revealed that the alligator had been left at the cinema by a local woman named Talia Flynn. Miss Flynn left the alligator to protest against the monthly Terrence Blunt Marathons held at the Screeningator Cinema. `Terrence Blunt is the worst film producer in the world and does not deserve Desert Rock's respect,' she stated in her explanation to the press.

Hours after her interview aired on the local radio, a crowd of approximately three dozen Terrence Blunt fans showed up at the Desert Rock Police Station and attempted to force their way into the building driven by the non-too-veiled desire to lynch Miss Flynn. Police eventually managed to disperse the gathering despite Miss Flynn continuously agitating the crowd with rude gestures from behind the bars of her cell.

The following day Talia Flynn was bailed from the jail by a representative of none other than Hollywood film producer Rick Jackson, Terrence Blunt's arch rival. The self-proclaimed `God of Cinema' is apparently offering Miss Flynn a job in his film production company, in the Marketing Department.

The future of Miss Flynn's alligator also seems unexpectedly bright. Ray Stokes, the owner of the Screeningator Cinema has chosen to adopt the animal and stated his intention to train the alligator to play the part of the cinema's mascot at future Terrence Blunt Marathons. `A live alligator is the perfect cosplayer for me,' he said. `I will never have to spend money on an alligator costume again.'

The following article was written by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Brickton Herald.

The groundbreaking discovery of signs of salt water on Mars has been called into question by an unemployed astronomer. According to the claims of Brickton resident Ned Wilson, while there is indeed water on Mars, the water's origin is not what researchers would have us believe.

`I know for a fact that the water is from a source external to Mars,' he said, `because we took it there. I was part of the project. It's top secret so I shouldn't be telling you this, but I can't let the public be fooled.'

According to Mister Wilson's claims, the water believed to be found on certain areas of Mars was in fact transported there by the Con City Space Agency over the past several decades, in an effort to terraform the Red Planet. `The Space Agency was founded specifically with the colonization of Mars in mind,' Ned Wilson elaborated. `Of course they would want to terraform it with automated spacecraft before sending a manned expedition there.'

The Director of the Con City Space Agency denied Mister Wilson's allegations, citing technical obstacles as proof. `We do not have a sufficiently large spaceship to transport nearly enough water to Mars,' Professor Jared Burns stated. `I can tell you we have never even tried it, otherwise I would know about it. I can neither confirm nor deny that we even had plans to do such a thing in the future, though I am infinitely pleased that we no longer need to worry about it.'

Regarding Ned Wilson's claim that he was part of the Mars terraforming project, Professor Burns said that `no one by this name has ever been employed by the Con City Space Agency, and after such allegations this will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.' The employment records of the Space Agency were not made available to the press to confirm the above statement due to the aforementioned records being classified for a hundred and fifty years.

Mister Wilson has since become unavailable for further comments. His car has been found in the alley behind his apartment block, completely burnt out, and Mister Wilson himself has gone missing. His apartment was found in a state of absolute mess by Brickton Police.

`No idea what happened,' said Mrs. Marsh, Ned Wilson's next door neighbor regarding the ransacking of the apartment. `All I know is that Ned's a popular chap. Why, just after the cops left, a man came by asking for him. He was a very nice, charming man. He was one of those people who like to go for the all black look. You know, black suit, black turtleneck, black gloves, black sunglasses, all of that. Even his car was black. I hope he finds Ned. He seemed like a very nice person.'

Although the allegations of Mister Wilson are unsubstantiated, the media coverage has prompted the Con City Space Agency to ask for an independent expert to provide an analysis of the water deposits on Mars.

`The idea that the human race took that water to Mars on spaceships is complete nonsense,' said the independent expert, Professor van der Bishop, Head of Department at the Department of Bullshitology at the University of Con City. `The water is more likely to be a byproduct of ongoing experiments in my research group. We are building a teleportation device that can take us to other planets. So far we've only been able to teleport water, which is a fine start given that a large percentage of the human body is made of water, but we certainly have a lot more work ahead of us. Now, at least, we know where all the water we've been teleporting away has gone to.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

A man in Greenwell gave Halloween spirit a whole new meaning when he injured himself while trying to fight off ghosts with a baseball bat. Jonah Barnes, an avid fan of the Greenwell Grasshoppers, was hospitalized with multiple self-inflicted injuries after he was found by joggers in a roadside ditch in the outskirts of Greenwell. Mister Barnes is expected to make a full recovery, provided he can afford the associated costs. Following emergency surgery he recounted the tale of `the scariest night of [his] life.'

`It all started right around midnight, when I was cleaning out the toilet,' he said. `I heard a noise outside the front door, scraping sounds on metal, like if someone was trying to pick the lock open. But when I looked out the window there was no one there. Things got weirder when I heard scratching and clawing from the back door, like when you lock out the dog and it's trying to get in. Except I don't have a dog.'

In response to what he perceived as the threat of a rabid stray dog trying to force its way into his home, Mister Barnes quickly armed himself with a baseball bat and took up a batter stance in front of his back door.

`So I waited for the dog to smash the door down,' he said, `and prepared to hit a home run with its drooling head as it bursts into the kitchen. But the thing never came. It was just clawing at the door like it was mating season. So I decided to just take the fight to the damn mutt.'

When Mister Barnes opened the door, he found no dog staring at him. Instead, he saw what in a polite language could be described as `apparitions.'

`It was a motherfucking ghost!' Mister Barnes phrased. `In fact there were three of them. Three motherfucking ghosts! Right there in my back yard, all hovering and transparent and scary as fuck! And they just stood there... well, hovered there, and stared at me with their empty eyes doing nothing. At first I thought I was just seeing things, or maybe it was some weird optical illusion, so I took a step back and rubbed my eyes, but then they followed me into the house. I freaked out.'

Following the initial shock of encountering the ghosts, Mister Barnes did what every self respecting fan of the Greenwell Grasshoppers would have done, and took a swing at the invaders of his home.

`I thought I had them,' he said. `How could I not? The bat was signed by Ben Yeti Hodder, best damn batter in the history of the Grasshoppers. That's like a good luck charm, you know? It could exorcise the devil himself out of your daughter, right? A few pesky ghosts should be a piece of cake for it, I thought. And when I hit the first ghost and it vanished, I thought it really would work. But then the ghost just reappeared. So I thought, maybe I need to swing harder.'

As Mister Barnes proceeded to double his efforts at `cleansing [his] home of evil spirits,' he ended up destroying most of his kitchen furniture, as well as some of his utensils, including a microwave oven, a kettle, and a blender. He also damaged a designer knife rack, which resulted in his first injury.

`So the doctors tell me I must have, they said, must have, knocked one of the knives into the air in such a way that when it fell back down it cut off my index finger. But I tell you, that's not how it happened! It was the ghosts that did it. They attacked me with the knives! Why do you think I made a run for it?!'

After the loss of his right index finger Mister Barnes abandoned the house, grabbing a kitchen towel on his way out which he used to bandage up his hand while he was running from what he described as `kitchen samurai ghosts.' He suffered the rest of his injuries between his house and the roadside ditch where he was found three miles away from his home.

`When the ghosts ran out of knives to throw at me, they chased after me,' he explained. `They were all over me, trying to strangle me or suffocate me, or plain old scare me to death with their mere touch. You ever stuck your hand in the freezer? Yeah, that's like the hot summer sun compared to the touch of those blasted ghosts. So I did what I had to do.'

Mister Barnes used his autographed baseball bat to try and `force the ghosts off [his] body,' which resulted in his broken nose and cracked rib, his concussion, and the fracturing of his skull. Despite the heavy self-inflicted wounds, he was happy because, in his words, `[he] was winning the fight.'

`I got rid of two of them by the time I ended up in that ditch,' he said. `But the last one just wouldn't go away. I was sitting in the ditch, back against the dirt, and the son of a bitch was sitting on my crotch. On my crotch for fuck's sake! But, a man's gotta go what a man's gotta do.'

The amputation of his crushed left testicle did not break the spirit of Mister Barnes at all. Rather, he feels proud that he managed to `fight off the spirits of the dead,' and would use the phrase, `you should see the other guy,' when asked about his injuries.

The medical staff at the Greenwell General Hospital stated that they have not found any hallucinogenic substances in the system of Mister Barnes, but they will continue looking under the suspicion that the patient was the victim of an experimental, possibly homemade drug, which, as this incident proves, must be taken off the streets as fast as possible. Mister Barnes denied that he had been on any kind of drugs, but doctors insist that the patient may have suffered partial memory loss due to his concussion. Police have found no trace of illegal substances in his home, which has led doctors to suspect that `he may have just consumed his entire stash.' No one on the hospital staff is taking the story of the ghosts seriously.

A patient sharing the room of Mister Barnes, Con City resident Travis Bennett being treated in Greenwell for a hand injury suffered in a bar fight, offered his own take on the ghost story.

`I feel with the man, I do,' Travis Bennett said, `but I gotta say the truth: he's an idiot. Fighting off ghosts with a baseball bat? How stupid is that? He should have used a shotgun.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

A man was nearly mauled to death by a family of bears near a cave outside Greenwell while he tried to install heating pipes for the bears. Alec Robertson, who is currently being cared for at Greenwell General Hospital, apparently tried to install central heating radiators inside the bear cave. To his misfortune, the bears were not quite deeply asleep, and did not take kindly to the racket caused by the building work. Mister Robertson was forced to run for his life through the forest where he eventually ended up in a bear trap of all things.

`He was lucky the bears didn't chase him,' said Doctor Nancy Carroll at Greenwell General. `He might still lose his leg. Serves him right if you ask me. What kind of idiot tries to install central heating in a bear cave?'

`We are truly baffled,' said Detective Eve Rhodes of the Greenwell Police Department. `We've seen people do all sorts of ill advised things, but this takes the cake. The guy even laid the gas and water pipes from Greenwell all the way to the cave. Points for dedication, I guess.'

Mister Robertson initially refused to comment his ordeal to the press. His reluctance to be interviewed led to widespread speculations as to the reason behind his actions. Greenwell talk show host Gloria Pine dedicated an entire hour to discussing how Mister Robertson must have meant to influence Greenwell weather forecasts, which to this day heavily rely on whether bears remain inside their caves in February. Following a similar logic, others have speculated that a winter coat manufacturing company may have hired Alec Robertson in an effort to improve sales. Mister Robertson broke his silence only when he heard that someone accused him of being a supporter of the Con City Bears, Con City's baseball team.

`The truth is the complete opposite,' Alec Robertson said. `If you don't believe me, just go to my house and have a look at the memorabilia I have collected over the years. Hell, even my wallpaper is green for crying out loud! You prick my skin, I will bleed green, that's how much I love the Greenwell Grasshoppers!'

While Doctor Carroll was quick to dismiss some of her patient's claims as medically nonsensical, a group of Greenwell Grasshoppers fans has in fact verified, by means of forced entry, that Mister Robertson has indeed been a lifelong fan of Greenwell's baseball team. With the threat of being lynched alive in his hospital bed by the townsfolk evaporated, he returned to his former stance of refusing to give interviews. Had it been up to him, the general public would never have learned the reasons behind his central heated bear cave project. As it turned out, the Greenwell Police Department was able to solve the mystery through long days of thorough investigation.

`We found his journal,' Detective Rhodes explained. `Everything is in there. He didn't just want to install central heating, he also meant to supply the bears with fresh fish every day once they woke up from hibernation. He had detailed plans to do this at every bear cave in the area. He hoped that if the caves were warmer than the outside and stocked with food, the bears would stay inside forever, and then when the Con City Bears come to Greenwell to face the Grasshoppers in the summer, they would not be able to find a local bear in the wild to use as a mascot, and would then be forced to borrow one from the zoo. He was going to arrange for the zoo to loan them their oldest, slowest bear, one that would never be able to perform the traditional cheerleading dance of the Con City Bears at the game, and then the Grasshoppers would mop up the floor with them. I have to admit, it's kind of brilliant, in its own... unique way. He certainly gets points for creativity.'

Since the interview with Detective Rhodes aired on television, Greenwell General has been on lockdown. The hospital staff fears the inevitable retaliation of the Con City Bears, or rather, their rabid fans, and are eager to discharge Alec Robertson from the hospital as soon as possible. Mister Robertson's troubles are barely just starting, as Greenwell Police intend to press charges against him for attempting to install central heating in a wildlife reserve area without a permit.

As for the family of bears in the cave, they have been calmly asleep ever since the incident, much to the displeasure of the army of tourists camped day and night in front of the cave entrance.

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Black Lake Gazette.

A young man is awaiting surgery at the Con City General Hospital after being admitted with a three-foot-long, twelve-inch-wide carbon dioxide canister sticking out of his rectum. Jeremy Sloan, nephew of famous fishery magnate Albert Sloan and son of the late industry tycoon Robert Sloan, was taken to Con City General by private helicopter from Black Lake. While the young man is currently unavailable for comment due to being heavily sedated and laying between life and death at the Intensive Care, several eye witnesses have come forward in Black Lake offering an account of his story.

Mister Sloan was hosting a party by the shores of the lake for which the town of Black Lake was named, in the garden of his uncle's lakeside luxury cabin. According to multiple attendees of the party, the highlight of the evening was meant to be a soda bath of epic proportions.

`So Jeremy had this idea to turn the entire lake into a soda bath,' one witness who preferred to remain anonymous said. `He had a hundred canisters of carbon dioxide ready for the occasion. The plan was to release the gas into the lake at midnight and then have a swimming competition in the soda lake. It would have been the greatest party ever! A shame things turned out the way they did.'

Another witness who chose to remain anonymous offered a more detailed account of what had prevented the midnight soda attraction.

`It was all because of those bloody environmentalist pricks,' the witness stated. `They said the gas would endanger the wildlife. They said the gas would endanger the town. But what do they know? All we wanted was to have some fun.'

Shortly after 11 PM, the party was crashed by a group of environmentalist scientists and their bodyguards in an effort to confiscate the carbon dioxide canisters.

`We did it in the name of good sense and decency,' said Doctor Marcus Pitchford, the leader of Brains of the Earth, the environmentalist group that had interrupted the soda lake party. `For starters, this dumb little brat had no business trying to turn the lake into his personal soda bath. Imagine if the gas somehow managed to accumulate to form one gigantic bubble in the water. Do you know what would have happened? Carbon dioxide is lighter than water, but heavier than air. If that bubble had surfaced in one go, the gas would have spread across the town of Black Lake and suffocated everyone. We would have had a new Black Falls incident on our hands.'

The Black Falls incident, that is, the day when a few years ago a massive amount of lethal gas was released from a chemical plant in the town of Black Falls on the opposite shore of the lake and exterminated the entire population of Black Falls, still lives quite vividly in the locals' memory, as does the fact that the chemical plant had been owned by the late father of Jeremy Sloan. For this reason it came as no surprise that the Sheriff of Black Lake granted Doctor Pitchford's request to stop the party by any means necessary.

`We respect Albert Sloan,' the Sheriff stated. `He means a lot to this town. He has made us famous through his fishery. But I'll be damned if I let that prick nephew of his kill us all. A good thing the little brat never asked for a permit from my office. And I guarantee you that you would never find its remains in our paper shredder.'

Witnesses report that the Sheriff himself led the bust, during which the environmentalist group did its very best to take possession of the carbon dioxide canisters and dissuade the guests at the party from going anywhere near the lake. Despite their efforts, Jeremy Sloan somehow managed to get his hands on one of the canisters and make one desperate attempt to go through with his party plan.

`It went by with a blur,' said a friend of Mister Sloan who preferred to remain anonymous. `Jeremy was running for the lake with the canister over his shoulder, the Deputy was chasing him with a shotgun, and then... he slipped. Landed in the worst way imaginable, ass first on the canister. Man, he was whining like a bitch.'

Following the incident Jeremy Sloan was transported to Con City General with his uncle's private chopper. His condition is deemed `worrying, but stable,' yet surgeons are holding off on the removal of the canister.

`The problem lies in his diet,' explained Doctor Donna Williams, one of the senior surgeons at Con City General. You see, this young man has paid no heed to a healthy diet and as a result his fecal matter is rock solid. That is why the valve broke off the canister when it penetrated his backside and crashed into a blob of brown concrete. Fortunately for him, his rock hard feces have also clogged up the nozzle of the canister, so the gas is not leaking, at least not yet. Removing the canister on the other hand presents a problem.'

Doctor Williams explained with a series of X-ray images and pictograms that if they were to move the canister, it would become unclogged before they could pull it out all the way, and then one of two things would happen. One possibility is that the gas that would inevitably escape the canister would propel Mister Sloan `all the way back to Black Lake.' The second, less fortunate outcome would result in the gas `popping the young man open like a cherry.' While either outcome would be fine with the hospital staff, Albert Sloan has donated a considerable sum to Con City General to ensure his nephew's survival.

`We are looking into options as we speak,' Doctor Williams elaborated. `An intern suggested that we drill a hole into the canister and drain the carbon dioxide from it, but we need to do it safely which obviously requires a skilled engineer, and we have no such thing on hand. We have tried consulting an expert over the phone, but all he said about the drilling is that we should be doing it very carefully.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

A man is being treated at the Psychiatric Care of the Greenwell General Hospital following an incident in his home. Joseph Glenn purchased a house in the outskirts of Greenwell less than a month prior to the traumatic event, a house that is supposedly haunted.

`The previous owner told me the house was haunted by the ghosts of samurai warriors,' Mister Glenn said during one of his calmer moments at the hospital. `The bloke was missing an index finger, said the ghosts cut it off with his own kitchen knife, and he didn't look like he was joking, either. I always wanted to live in a haunted house, so I bought it.'

Following his investment into haunted house real estate, Mister Glenn spent several weeks trying to acquire video footage of the aforementioned ghosts in the kitchen. He set up camcorders in the kitchen and ran them all day to record the ghosts, but the spirits never came. After the first week he planted cameras all over the house, to no avail. Suspecting that he had been tricked, Mister Glenn considered taking legal action against the previous owner.

`I went back to that asshole and threatened to sue his ass,' Mister Glenn said, `but the guy looked genuinely shocked that his kitchen samurai ghosts hadn't shown up. He convinced me to give it another week. The very next night, the... incident... happened.'

According to what memories Mister Glenn retains of the incident, he had been attacked in the kitchen by a seven foot tall zombie. The trauma of this event led to his admission to the Psychiatric Care at Greenwell General.

`The thing broke down the back door,' Mister Glenn recounted. `It had this really foul breath and this rubbery ugly face, and it was wearing a baseball pitcher's helmet. It had a samurai sword in one hand and a baseball bat with the word Yeti scrawled on it in his other hand. It was constantly growling braaaaaaaaaains as it was swinging its weapons, tearing my kitchen to pieces.'

The police found the entirety of Mister Glenn's kitchen in a state of disarray, littered with broken dishes and destroyed kitchen appliances. No weapons or dead zombies were found at the scene to corroborate Mister Glenn's story.

`Of course I had all the cameras running,' Mister Glenn said, `but those were among the first things that the zombie destroyed with the samurai sword. It never went further into the house than the kitchen, so none of the other cameras caught a glimpse of it. I tried to film it on my cell phone but it just knocked the phone out of my hand and smashed it with the baseball bat.'

Police investigators stand baffled before the curious case of Mister Glenn's kitchen. A similar incident which we have reported on several months ago had already taken place in the same house. Doctors insist that the number one suspect for such experiences are hallucinogenic substances but none were found in either Mister Glenn's system or his house. He is expected to make a full recovery, albeit he may need to be prescribed sedatives for the rest of his life. As for the house, Mister Glenn seems to have had his fill of the supernatural and has decided to sell. He already has a firm idea where to find a buyer.

`I'm going to sell it to Reaper Travels so they can turn it into a tourist attraction,' Mister Glenn said. `I'm sure they'll love the idea. The house is clearly haunted, whether by ghosts or zombies is hardly relevant.'

Reaper Travels have yet to officially respond to Mister Glenn's offer, but their reputation suggests that they would never turn down a new opportunity to scare tourists out of their pants.

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Scientist.

Following the recent discovery of gravitational waves, the Con City Space Agency is already looking into a variety of applications for the exotic phenomenon. The most interesting of them appears to be the graviton surf board, which, according to Professor Jared Burns, is going to enable us to literally ride the gravitational waves... in space.

`This is the greatest discovery ever,' the Director of the Space Agency said about the gravitational waves. `We've long known that gravity holds the solar system together, but now we also know that it creates waves in space-time itself. And the possibilities of what we can do with those waves is limitless.'

While the majority of astronomers around the world are more intrigued about using the gravitational waves for discovering the secrets of the universe, the Con City Space Agency is clearly leaning towards commercial applications.

`Gravitational waves allow a new form of transport in space,' explained Chief Engineer Scott Freeman. `We could, in principle, build a graviton engine that could revolutionize space travel. But, we already have the Ultra Brutus space shuttle for that, so we'll just build a surf board instead.'

The at first glance baffling suggestion to build a surf board to use in space appears to resonate with the entire staff of the Con City Space Agency, all the way up to the Director himself.

`Who wouldn't want it?' Professor Burns said in an effort to convey the mass appeal of their new project. `I mean, honestly, who wouldn't want to go surfing in space? Everyone would. Sadly, in space, there is no water, nor air, and so surfing in the traditional sense is impossible. And that is what makes the discovery of gravitational waves truly groundbreaking.'

The project will of course face numerous difficulties. Gravitational waves penetrate all known forms of matter, hence building a surf board that can hover on these waves will be a challenge.

`So what if there is no suitable material for this purpose?' Chief Engineer Freeman said. `We'll invent it. That's what we do.'

Professor Burns is rather confident in the abilities of his staff and is instead looking into more technical challenges that the team must overcome.

`Well we obviously need to establish space tourism to make this work,' he said. `That requires the Ultra Brutus space shuttle to finally be ready for a launch, but I'm sure we'll sort that out by the time we construct the surf board.'

Critics of the new project call the graviton surf board a `complete waste of taxpayer money' and refer to the one man leadership of the Space Agency as `a lame excuse for a would-be scientist.' Director Burns does not seem bothered by the criticism and is already eager to build upon the project once it is completed.

`The obvious next step will be windsurfing in space,' he explained. `It really begs for itself. Once we have a suitable surf board, we just add a solar sail and use it to ride on the gravitational waves with the solar wind at our backs. True, we will still need to wear space suits and all that, but that's a small price to pay for windsurfing in space. Just imagine the sailing races we can have around the Moon!'

While the announcement of the graviton surf board builds controversy in scientific circles around the world, it seems to be making very different waves elsewhere. Numerous millionaires have made donations to the Con City Space Agency to support the project, and several high ranking military officials in the country have expressed their interest in the development of a graviton beam weapon at the Space Agency. Professor Burns was quick to respond in kind to the support.

`We will of course offer free rides on the prototype graviton surf board to everyone who supported the development,' he stated. `As for the graviton cannon, I'm not in the business of building weapons that could destroy entire planets so I must respectfully decline. However, I am most grateful for the moral support. It feels good that our military leaders can recognize true intelligence.'

The following interview with Jonathan Parker was conducted by Jonathan Parker. It has never been published before, since no self respecting media outlet would print such a spectacular display of self-indulgence. Except for us. Because we have no standards.

When the name of Con City is brought up, the common man thinks of one thing and one thing only: tourism. A constant member on every top ten list of hottest holiday destinations, Con City attracts tourists from around the world. Hence it was timely for someone to write a travel guide about it. The following Q/A session with Jonathan Parker, author of Hitchhiker's Guide To Con City, sheds light on the circumstances of the birth of the much needed tourist guide.

JP: `How did you become involved with the project?'

Jonathan Parker: `I was contacted by Reaper Travels to join one of their tours of Con County. They wanted me to join the tourists and document their journey in a travelogue.'

JP: `How much of Con County did the tour cover?'

Jonathan Parker: `Every major settlement. Brickton, Desert Rock, Greenwell, Black Lake, Ghost Town, and as the last stop, Con City, where we spent half the tour.'

JP: `What was it like, sightseeing in your place of birth?'

Jonathan Parker: `It was surprisingly rewarding. I was born in Con City and lived all my life here, but I had not been to every corner of the county. Of course I knew all about what there was to see, I just never had the time to actually go and see them. I had never been to the Greenwell All Stars Arena, for example, or the Con City Nuke Plant for that matter. I am truly grateful to Reaper Travels for the opportunity.'

JP: `How accommodating was Reaper Travels?'

Jonathan Parker: `The best I could ask for. They devised the tour with precision, provided us a luxury tour bus for the journey, along with a highly experienced driver, and even arranged for a couple of very special treats such as the Adrenaline Walk at the Crash-o-ring race track or the visit to the Con City Space Harbor. They are the best touristic company I have ever worked with. I am contractually obliged to say that, by the way.'

JP: `Can you tell us more about the bus driver you mentioned?'

Jonathan Parker: `Sure. Larry has been doing these tours for years so he doubled as the tour guide. He demonstrated good driving skills and knew the best places to visit. I won't claim he had the best social skills but he certainly did his job.'

JP: `But your book is called Hitchhiker's Guide To Con City. Why, if you took a bus?'

Jonathan Parker: `I don't want to give away why or how but we took a part of the journey by hitchhiking. This, in fact, is a fundamentally important message in my tourist guide: you can never avoid hitchhiking in Con County, no matter how you plan your journey.'

JP: `Tell us about the tourist group. What kind of people come to Con City for vacation?'

Jonathan Parker: `It's either people who have heard the stories of life around here and don't believe a word of it, or thrillseekers who want to participate in the extreme conditions of life in Con City and its surroundings. This particular group was a little of both and culturally quite diverse; it included people from Asia, Europe, South America, and Australia, representing various walks of life. We had truck drivers, stock brokers, and even a sculptress. The message here is clear: everyone wants to see Con City.'

JP: `Thank you for spelling that out for the audience. What can we expect from Hitchhiker's Guide To Con City?'

Jonathan Parker: `What can I say, Con City has a reputation for being the most exciting place in the world, which is in part due to the extreme levels of violent and not so violent crime in the area. My tourist guide does nothing to tarnish that reputation. Con City is a dangerous place and everyone should take the utmost care when visiting it. I offer a convenient checklist for prospective travelers that everyone should heed. Unlike the eleven extremely brave tourists whom I accompanied on this tour.'

JP: `Just out of curiosity, does your checklist include a towel?'

Jonathan Parker: `No. In fact, a motto of every tour of Con City could be: no towel can save you.'

JP: `So provided one adheres to the suggestions in your checklist, what can prospective tourists expect to see in Con County?'

Jonathan Parker: `In a nutshell: thrills, excitement, and mayhem. I could elaborate, but that would require the hundred or so pages that my tourist guide spans. It's easier if people just read my guide, instead.'

JP: `So you're saying that the guide is there for people to get a glimpse of what they could expect on a tour of the area?'

Jonathan Parker: `Yes, that's what any good tourist guide does. I can assure you, those who read Hitchhiker's Guide To Con City will know exactly what to expect if they ever set foot in the most exciting and dangerous plot of land in the known universe.'

JP: `Last question: would you ever write a sequel?'

Jonathan Parker: `No. I have no desire to go on another tour under any circumstances. If Reaper Travels wants one, which I doubt very much, they'll have to hire someone else to write it. Unless of course I can join the next tour via a remote controlled drone, observing everything that happens from the safety of a bunker three miles beneath the streets of Con City.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Brickton Herald

Public outrage over the recent decision of Brickton Town Council to demolish Berry Field, a park in the outskirts of town, in order to build a new parking garage, has reached cataclysmic levels. One reason for the outcry is that O'Connell and O'Connell Demolitions, the company contracted to carry out the removal of nineteen trees spanning Berry Field, is planning to employ plastic explosives for the job.

`Chainsaws are so yesterday,' said Charles O'Connell, one half of the founders of the demolition company. `And don't even get me started on axes and shovels and whatnot. Tree demolition goes much faster if you just blow them up.'

`Of course sometimes we use more old school stuff, like dynamite or gunpowder barrels,' added Edward O'Connell, the other co-founder of the company. `I like to drill a little hole into the trunk and put the stick of dynamite in there with a long fuse, then light it and just watch it burn... but the Mayor paid us a hefty sum for this job so we'll just go and use the plastic. When the man pays for first class, the man rides first class.'

The O'Connell brothers are likely to experience a couple of road bumps due to the mass of protesters that have surrounded Berry Field with a barbed wire fence and a human chain, and have let loose a Bengali tiger in the park, if rumors are to be believed.

`We will save these trees,' said Rachel Donovan, the spokesperson of the Brickton Tree Avengers activist group. `Berry Field is one of the last parks in town, we will not allow it to die. Don't we have enough parking garages in Brickton already?'

Charles O'Connell has requested the assistance of the Brickton Police Department in order to remove the protesters from the construction site, but the Chief of Police has so far declined their request.

`Yes, we could deploy riot police,' the Chief stated, `but only if we remove the riot police from the town center where they are in a far more dire need due to the daily clashes between the fanboys and haters of Mayor Greekhorse. And the fact is, we are on the Mayor's payroll, so until the demolition crew coughs up a large enough bribe, we are not moving a little finger for them.'

Edward O'Connell is not particularly worried about the situation. He sees a potential solution, albeit one that may not sit too well with the authorities.

`I have already sent for a big game hunter to get rid of the tiger for us,' he said. `I'm sure he could gun down the protesters for a little extra. Why should we spend money on bribing the police when we have already paid for a hunter?'

The obvious legality issues of the aforementioned solution do not seem to concern either of the O'Connell brothers.

`The cops don't care what we do,' Charles O'Connell said. `And even if they did, how would they find out? There will be no witnesses, and we'll just vaporize the bodies when we blow the trees up. And on the off chance that the police do become involved, well... then we'll bribe them.'

The Brickton Tree Avengers are very much aware of the impending arrival of the big game hunter yet they show no sign of concern. They have, apparently, had the foresight to invest in an insurance policy.

`We have hired a professional hitman,' Miss Donovan explained. `Can't have those bastards shoot Tabitha. And more importantly, we need to save those trees.'

When asked how the protesters were able to afford a Bengali tiger, hundreds of yards of barbed wire fence, and a professional hitman, Miss Donovan expressed her gratitude to all the people who have donated funds to her `save the orphans of Brickton' charity campaign.

The following article was written by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times.

A manhunt is in progress to apprehend Mitch Young, Con County's current public enemy number one, for stealing one hundred tons of molten steel, abducting fifteen young women, and hijacking a hot air balloon. The baffling series of events leading to the initiation of the manhunt started with the break-in at the steel mill in Brickton a few weeks ago. Vincent Roarke, the owner of Roarke Steel, was quick to assist the investigation by all means.

`No one robs Vincent Roarke and gets away with it,' he stated. `I've handed a copy of the security camera footage over to the police and another to a private detective, and one more to a professional hitman. Let's see who finds those bastards first.'

The security camera recordings showed a group of men dressed in black robes and Halloween skull masks breaking into the steel mill with an entire convoy of tanker trucks, which they loaded up with the molten steel. Before leaving, they spray painted the gates with a sloppy graffiti of a white skull.

`The tankers were obviously custom made,' Vincent Roarke explained. `They clearly wanted the steel in molten form, but once removed from the furnace the steel starts to cool off. The tankers must have been made to keep the temperature as high as possible, as long as possible. That's an easy lead to go on.'

Despite Mister Roarke's advice, the investigations hit a dead end. A week later a seemingly unrelated abduction of fifteen female students of Greenwell University was quickly linked to the theft at the steel mill when a white skull graffiti was found at the student dormitory. Detective Eve Rhodes of Greenwell Police was quick to initiate a joint investigation of the two cases with Brickton's police force. In the end she was given complete control over both investigations along with temporary jurisdiction in Brickton.

`They told me they couldn't work the case because they were too busy maintaining order in the streets amidst the newest riots,' she said. `Which is good for everyone. I wouldn't want the incompetent Brickton cops to jeopardize the lives of the missing students.'

As the investigation went on, Detective Rhodes was forced to collaborate with the police of Desert Rock when a hot air balloon went missing from the border town and a white skull graffiti was left at the scene of the crime.

`They took my livelihood, the bastards!' Adam White, founder of Desert Rock's Soaring Skyrides sightseeing company said about the theft of his only hot air balloon. `When I find them, I'm gonna take them up to a thousand feet and give them a taste of what Icarus felt like on his way down!'

The investigation progressed very slowly until a backpacker who chose to remain anonymous spotted an unlikely sight in the mountains north of Brickton: a volcano.

Con County's mountains, known to locals as the Peaks, are non-volcanic mountains, which led to skepticism on the part of the authorities, until the backpacker showed them a photo of a lava pool. The photo eventually landed on the desk of Detective Rhodes who quickly put two and two together.

`They are trying to make an artificial volcano,' she explained on her way to the bust. `Just think about it, they use molten steel in place of lava, and use the hot air from the balloon to cause an eruption. Brilliant, really. Baffling, but brilliant.'

When police arrived at the Peaks, they found a facility built into the side of the mountain next to the artificial lava pit. There they found a group of men in worker's outfits who immediately surrendered without a fight. The fifteen young women from Greenwell were recovered unharmed from a cage in the basement. Unfortunately, the mastermind behind the operation was on the opposite side of the lava pit and managed to escape in a helicopter.

He was later identified as Mitch Young, founder and CEO of Young Constructions, a builder company based in West Side Con City. The men apprehended in the Peaks were identified as the employees of Young Constructions, and they were more than eager to shed light on their boss's true plans.

`Mister Young is crazy,' Senior Overseer Jim Lemmon summarized curtly. `He's into this whole occult shit, you see. At first we found it amusing, how he would decorate his office with voodoo dolls and shit, but then this rejuvenation ritual thing came up and we were no longer laughing.'

Several other employees of Young Constructions made the same accusations in their testimonies as the Senior Overseer, which lends credibility to his statements. It is at this point that the reader should take note that the rest of this article, although not explicit in nature, may cause serious mental distress to people with a vivid imagination, and even more distress to people with the ability to think.

`The boss is pushing fifty,' Mister Lemmon explained. `He's terrified of growing old. But he found this rejuvenation ritual in one of his occult books. It said, that he could live for a thousand years if he sacrificed a virgin by throwing her into a volcano, at the time of a full solar eclipse. And he was hell bent on performing that ritual, within Con County.'

The astute observer may find numerous flaws with Mitch Young's plan. The lack of volcanoes in Con County chief among them, but let's not ignore the fact that the next full solar eclipse over Con County is not due for another hundred and sixty years. But he proved that a desperate man will not back down from anything.

`The boss had us dress up in these idiotic costumes and raid the steel mill in Brickton for molten steel,' the Senior Overseer elaborated. `He figured we didn't need an actual volcano, just a lava pit, which we could make if we dug a pit and filled it up with red hot molten steel. Of course we had to build a furnace the size of a small lake, not just merely a pit, but we're builders, we can do that. But then he sent us out for virgins.'

The fifteen female students abducted from Greenwell University were, apparently, taken with the purpose of being thrown into the makeshift lava pool. As for why they took so many women when they only needed one, the answer is simple.

`We needed a virgin, and it took us fifteen attempts to find one at the University,' Mister Lemmon said. `We couldn't tell just by looking at them, after all. And by the time we could check, they knew we were up to no good, so we had to bring them all with us. We couldn't let them go to the cops, and we didn't want to kill them. We're not assholes. That's the boss's privilege.'

And so it happened that the material elements of the rejuvenation ritual all came together in the Peaks. Mister Young was still missing his solar eclipse, however. That's where the hot air balloon came in.

`He was going to block out the sun over the Peaks with the balloon during the ritual,' the Overseer explained. `He figured, if he could get away with faking a volcano for the ritual, no harm would come from faking an eclipse.'

Fortunately for the abducted virgin from Greenwell, the operation took too long and by the time everything was ready, she was able to persuade one of her captors to save her life by taking away her virginity. This was two days before police burst into the facility in the Peaks.

`The boss was livid,' Mister Lemmon recounted. `He wanted to throw the girls, all the girls, into the molten steel just to see if the ritual would work without virginity, but then he convinced himself that it would spoil the lava pit if it didn't work, and then he'd have to start over. So he decided to look for a virgin in Brickton instead. Didn't have much luck there, unsurprisingly. I'm just glad he didn't consider that the ritual never specified the age of the sacrifice.'

Mitch Young is on the run as we speak, and police forces all over Con County are hard at work trying to find him. So are the private detective and professional hitman on the payroll of Vincent Roarke, and so is Adam White, who seems to be even angrier now that he has recovered his hot air balloon.

`The sons of bitches scratched the finish on the pipes and left muddy footprints all over the passenger seats,' he said. `I'm gonna find this Mitch fellow and carpet bomb his ass from my balloon!'

Detective Rhodes in Greenwell is confident that one way or the other, justice will be served.

`We have our specialist task force on the case,' she said. `The guy is as good as dead. I mean, as good as in custody. Which, I am sure, will give those poor students plenty of comfort after their ordeal.'

The students refused to comment the abduction, but reports state that since their return home, the number of single females at Greenwell University has dropped to zero.

The following article was written by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times.

A leisure exercise at Con City Penitentiary led to disastrous results for nearly one hundred inmates. Warden Quentin Jones had organized a reading challenge for the more than six thousand convicted felons incarcerated at the prison in an effort to spice up their lives with literature, which led to a riot breaking out within fifteen minutes of starting the event.

`I thought a little Shakespeare would liven the boys up, but I didn't think they would go this far,' the Warden said about the event. `Perhaps we should have started the reading challenge with Romeo and Juliet, and not with Macbeth.'

According to members of the prison staff who were closest to the action, the riot broke out over an argument regarding who would get to read from a supposedly autographed copy of Macbeth, printed in 1987. The fisticuffs quickly escalated into a full scale riot.

The death toll started to mount when several fires broke out in Cell Block B and dozens of inmates ended up stuck inside while the prison staff tried to simultaneously combat the flames and contain the riot.

`It was Hell on Earth,' Warden Quentin Jones said. `Firefighters couldn't get to the prison in time due to the traffic in the city, so it spread to the entire block before we could even try to douse the flames. The smell of burning flesh was everywhere, like the fart you make after eating a hot dog. We lost good men in there. May they rest in peace, the poor bastards. At least we managed to save all the books.'

Warden Jones and his staff fortunately managed to get the situation under control before it could have turned into an outright catastrophe. While their efforts saved the lives of over six thousand inmates, they couldn't save the thirty-four people who burned alive in Cell Block B, nor could they stop a shockingly large group of sixty prisoners from walking right out the front gate at the height of the chaos.

`No one expected them to make a run for it,' Warden Jones said. `Why, most these people have been here so long it's like their home. But I suppose there are always a few deviants who just don't like their parents' stew.'

The sixty escaped inmates successfully made it so far out the walls that the prison staff could not pursue them any more. While the Warden contacted the police as soon as he was made aware of the escape, the prisoners had plenty of time to make a successful getaway. Their only mistake was to run in a poorly chosen direction.

`They went straight for the Crash-o-ring,' stated a prison guard who chose to remain anonymous. `Saw the whole thing from the tower. Asked the boss if I should snipe them off or something but he kept going on about those guys being like children to him and threatened to fire my ass if I so much as grazed them. So I just watched as they ran to the race track.'

The Crash-o-ring, the race track in the outermost regions of West Side Con City, is barely a mile from the prison facility. Race cars are regularly left parked in the garages inside the pit stalls at the trace track, which made the Crash-o-ring an obvious choice for securing getaway vehicles. The escaped prisoners stopped half way to the race track when the sounds made them realize that a race was in progress.

`I saw the whole thing through the sniper scope,' the anonymous prison guard said. `They spent two minutes standing around and waving their arms about, arguing what to do, most like. And then they ran for the Crash-o-ring even faster. My guess is they realized that although they wouldn't have much of a chance stealing the race cars any more, they would have a very easy time stealing the cars of the audience from the parking lot.'

The group of inmates circled around the race track to the parking lot, but found it guarded by electrified barbed wire fences, patrolling security guards, and pitbulls. Having found considerably higher security measures than the ones which they were used to at the prison, they quickly turned around and headed into the Crash-o-ring to try and hijack the race cars in the middle of the race. Much to their misfortune, the ongoing race was a junk derby.

`It was quite a sight to behold,' the anonymous prison guard recounted. `I only saw half the race track through my scope because the tribune was obscuring the rest of it, but it was enough. Those idiots jumped the barriers and ran straight into the race track, carrying crowbars, lead pipes, and massive bolt cutters that they must have found inside the garages. They stood in the path of the race cars and waved their weapons to force the cars to stop. I don't know if they saw in the dust cloud that the first vehicle was a monster truck, but I somehow doubt it.'

Witnesses at the race confirmed the above statements and reported that the race quickly transitioned from a junk derby into who can run over more escaped inmates. As law in Con County states that anyone who enters the Crash-o-ring without a valid ticket automatically loses the right to exist, the racers and the organizers wasted no time exercising their law-given rights.

The audience erupted in cheers as the driver of the monster truck, known by the stage name Big Bully, quickly took the lead on the scoreboard. One lap later Big Bully was so far ahead he was sure to be crowned the winner, until the surviving prisoners managed to make a run for it into the ticket offices.

A rival racer known as Swift Harry, driving an armor plated Cutler Firebird, managed to make it into the ticket offices ahead of him. As Big Bully's monster truck was significantly harder to maneuver inside the narrow corridors, Swift Harry was racking up kills and eventually overtook Big Bully on the scoreboard. The action inside the ticket offices was captured by the security cameras and transmitted to a hastily erected canvas in the middle of the race track with a projector, much to the delight of the audience.

In a last ditch effort to save the contest, Big Bully reverted to the junk derby routine and tried to ram the Firebird. Swift Harry saved himself by executing a well timed drift, and the monster truck smashed through the wall of the offices and came to a halt in the showers. Swift Harry picked up the victory by five points, and was hailed as a hero by the crowd when he drove back out to the race track.

`It was a sad day,' said Warden Quentin Jones about the events at the Crash-o-ring. `Some of those poor souls were good men at heart.'

Sergeant Jack Westwood of the Con City Police Department, who was on the tribune at the Crash-o-ring on his day off when the massacre happened, stated that he was `very happy that all the drivers at the race saw the opportunity to fix some of the mistakes of the justice system.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

The intellectuals of Greenwell are seething with outrage following a break-in at the Greenwell Museum. Part of the outrage is fueled by the method of forced entry: the thief made his way into the museum not by picking locks but by breaking down the back wall with a bulldozer stolen from a nearby construction site.

`It's absolutely despicable,' said Lawrence Curtis, the Curator of Greenwell Museum. `To have such a filthy machine within the very walls of this fine establishment is an insult to culture itself.'

The bigger reason for the outrage is that the only items that were stolen are the most prized possessions of the museum, namely the original manuscripts of Greenwell's revolutionary 19th century poet, C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks). Poets and literary critics all over Con County stand baffled and furious over the theft, not willing to believe that anyone would dare to lay a finger on the manuscripts.

`He was one of the great innovators,' said Howard Pretentious, esteemed literary critic, poet, and Editor-in-Chief of the Con City Times. `He gave the world the famous One Word Poems. Had it not been for him, we would not have such fantastic masterpieces such as his debut poem This or its sequel That, let alone his epic magnum opus, the trilogy of the poems Here, There and Everywhere. Shame on the villain who would dare to take such holy relics from the world!'

Greenwell Police forces stand baffled before the theft. While security cameras have caught good footage of the thief, who appears to be a man of average build, his face is unrecognizable due to the hoodie over his head and the thick scarf covering his face. He also left no fingerprints behind, as he was wearing garden gloves.

`We have no idea why anyone would take those scraps of old papers,' said Detective Eve Rhodes about the case. `They're barely even legible now. It's not like old Johnny wrote them with a mind for the historians.'

The Curator of Greenwell Museum is none too thrilled with the status of the investigation, or the enthusiasm of Detective Rhodes.

`I bet she cares more about the bulldozer than the manuscripts,' Lawrence Curtis said. `We should hire a private detective, if only we could afford it. Perhaps we can count on all the decent people out there who love the One Word Poems. So please, if anyone finds this despicable goon, wrest the sacred manuscripts from his cold dead hands!'

The only person who seems to have at least some idea what the thief's motivation might have been is Howard Pretentious, albeit his theory is nothing more than wild guessing at this point.

`In his waning years, C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks) wrote especially innovative One Word Poems by inventing his own words,' he explained. `One of these is Frequencymoratorium, a true classic that was far ahead of its time. Now, there is a film producer in Hollywood, Terrence Blunt, a real hack, with zero artistic sense and even less respect for literature. He's been meaning to adapt Frequencymoratorium into a movie for years, and for some reason he insists on having the original manuscript appear in the movie. The museum would of course never allow it, but if it were stolen? Huge change to the landscape, to say the least. Now, I'm not saying Terrence Blunt stole the manuscripts, but whoever did, may well be trying to sell it to him as we speak.'

Terrence Blunt, known to many as the man who butchered the legacy of King Arthur in his Round Table movies, refused to comment the speculations of Howard Pretentious. The town of Desert Rock on the other hand, the birthplace of Terrence Blunt, has lit up in celebration of their anticipation of a whole new franchise of Terrence Blunt action films. Police sources believe that if the thief had not been intent on selling the manuscripts to Terrence Blunt, by now he most certainly is.

`Except of course if the guy was just a failed poet or a critic who hated Johnny Brooks,' Detective Rhodes considered. `He might have already burned the manuscripts if that's the case. He must be regretting it by now if he knows about the Blunt movie.'

Curator Lawrence Curtis, upon hearing the comments of Detective Rhodes entertaining the thought of the manuscripts' destruction, suffered a heart attack and was subsequently taken to Greenwell General Hospital where he is currently at the Intensive Care. The investigation continues as all fans of the One Word Poems eagerly await news of the manuscripts turning up somewhere.

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Con City Times.

A simple exchange of goods in Downtown Con City degenerated into a slugfest leaving dozens critically injured at the City Hall. The transaction in question was the sale of a used car, which, in parts of the world that are not within the borders of Con County, is a simple and quick process. Since both the seller and the buyer were residents in the county, they had to abide by the local laws during the sale. The resulting personal injuries and property damage are deemed by many as mere inconveniences that inevitably accompany used vehicle sales in Con County, albeit the injured people awaiting surgery at Con City General Hospital may feel otherwise.

The failed transaction was initiated over two years ago, when the seller, Michael Spears, made a verbal agreement with the buyer, William Charleston, about the sale of his four year old neon green Cutler Firebird. As both the seller and the buyer were Greenwell residents, they expected to be able to finalize the paperwork in a span of days within their home town. However, law states that if the buyer and seller do not have the same address, the same surname, and the same first and middle names, the paperwork must be filed at the City Hall in Downtown Con City, in person. Thus began the two year crusade of Mister Spears and Mister Charleston which eventually led them to what locals in Con City are now calling the City Hall Rumble.

According to the accountants involved in the sale of the Firebird, both the buyer and the seller followed legal procedure to the letter. Upon understanding the relevant laws, Mister Spears first submitted a Declaration of Intent to Submit a Declaration of Intent to Sell, on form DS9853, signed and dated in six copies, to the City Hall by post. At the same time, Mister Charleston submitted a Declaration of Intent to Submit a Declaration of Intent to Purchase, on form DS9853A, also signed and dated in six copies, in the same manner. The City Hall responded with a receipt of the Declarations eight weeks later, requesting the seller and buyer to now submit their Declaration of Intent to Sell and Declaration of Intent to Purchase, respectively, in six copies each, and pay the associated fees. That was when the difficulties began.

`The City Hall sat on the Declarations for six months,' said Donald Fort, the seller's accountant. `We complained, of course, first by submitting the Declaration of Intent to Submit a Declaration of Intent to Complain, then by submitting the Declaration of Intent to Complain, and finally by submitting the actual Complaint Form, all of it in six hard copies. They wrote back to us that the buyer needs to submit the forms simultaneously with us, which William Charleston did not do, so we had to go through the complaint process a second time.'

`It took the fuckers a year to find our paperwork,' said Jackson Dewitt, the buyer's accountant. `All the explanation we got for the delay was that if we had wanted to expedite the process we should have sent in the forms with first class stamps on the envelopes. Which we did, by the way.'

Fifteen months after the verbal agreement between the buyer and seller, officials finally made an appointment for the signature of the sales contract, to be conducted at the City Hall in Downtown Con City. And while Mister Spears and Mister Charleston hoped they could finally seal the deal, their enthusiasm was quickly curbed by the legal proceedings.

`At the first appointment they had my client put another signature on the Declaration of Intent to Sell in the presence of a city official,' explained Donald Fort. `Same thing happened to the seller. Then they sent everyone home and told us to await letters confirming our appointment for the contract negotiation. That didn't go smoothly, either.'

When the buyer showed up at the aforementioned appointment two months later, he was greeted with the less than pleasant news that the seller had not shown up. A quick phonecall to Mister Spears revealed that he had not received the appointment notification.

`My client was quick to suggest that the seller should get in a car and drive up from Greenwell right away,' Jackson Dewitt said. `To his credit, the man did just that, and was at the city limits in less than two hours. From Greenwell. Says a lot about the engine in that Firebird.'

Mister Spears was forced to leave the car in the outskirts of Con City and use the subway system to reach the City Hall, owing to the dense traffic in the streets. When he arrived for the appointment a little over three hours late, he and Mister Charleston still had to wait one more hour for city officials to arrive for the contract negotiation. In the end, the meeting never took place, as Mister Spears was not allowed to attend without the official appointment notification that had, apparently, been lost in the post.

`My client was livid,' Donald Fort recounted. `Wanted to set the City Hall on fire. I was able to calm him down. That day.'

Another two months went by before the contract negotiation took place, which was a five hour appointment during which a clerk at City Hall wrote the contract for the sale on a laptop, typing with two fingers. When the contract was finished, the clerk informed all those in attendance to return after city officials have checked the contract.

`And that wasn't the end of it, either,' said Jackson Dewitt. `They spent two months reading that one page document and had us return for corrections, twice, and both times they just changed the wording of a sentence. The second time my client noted several typing errors in the document, but I advised him against pointing them out if he wanted to own the Firebird in his lifetime.'

Mister Charleston did not regret heeding his accountant's advice as city officials approved the contract and scheduled the contract signing. Several months after the contract negotiation everyone gathered at the City Hall one last time to sign the document and complete the purchase. There was only one problem.

`My client and the buyer signed the contract and shook hands with the happiest smiles I had ever seen,' Donald Fort said about the day of the City Hall Rumble. `Then the Mayor's secretary walked in. She told us that since more than two calendar years had elapsed since the signature on the Declaration of Intent to Submit a Declaration of Intent to Sell, the sales contract was invalid and we had to start the process from the very beginning. This was exactly two days and two years after the date on the aforementioned Declaration. My client didn't take the news well.'

Miss Harriet Block, the Mayor's secretary, was the first of many clerks at the City Hall to suffer life threatening injuries at the hands of Michael Spears. The dissatisfied seller took hold of Miss Block and powerbombed her onto the parlor table. The massive oak table did not collapse, but when the buyer joined in on the action and assisted Mister Spears in powerbombing the clerk who had witnessed the contract signing, the table gave in. The pair then picked up chairs and proceeded to smash up the office, and ran through the building to let off as much steam as possible on as many city officials as possible.

`They were of course looking for the Mayor,' Jackson Dewitt said. `The guy was lucky he was at a ceremony on the other side of the city. The rest of the employees weren't that fortunate.'

Michael Spears and William Charleston went through the City Hall in an epic rampage that left dozens of offices fit for demolition and over forty employees hospitalized with various injuries. Their accountants did not try to stop them, albeit it is questionable that the accountants could have achieved anything other than putting themselves in harm's way.

The property damage to the building includes broken windows, shattered furniture, dismantled filing cabinets, and also smoke damage to the walls and fire damage to the carpet. The latter applied to the Mayor's office where Mister Spears and Mister Charleston built a fire and fueled it with wine and brandy found in the Mayor's liquor cabinet. They even took the time to build a life size paper doll resembling the Mayor out of various documents in his desk drawer and burned it in effigy.

The total damage is estimated at approximately one hundred million dollars, not including the bribes government officials will take for expediting the paperwork of the renovation process. Lawson & Lawson, the company which had insured the building, stated that the policy did not cover any destruction caused by vandalism and therefore the City Hall would not be able to make a claim. The company is however more than happy to amend the insurance policy in case such things happen again in the future.

The carnage lasted over four hours and ended when the Con City Police Department showed up at the City Hall and gunned down the two men. They are currently being treated at the Intensive Care at Con City General, one floor below the army of recovering City Hall officials. For this reason, doctors do not expect that either Mister Spears or Mister Charleston will make it out of the hospital alive.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City TV Guide.

Channel 11 aired the pilot episode of their new dating show last night. Hosted by Joseph Dodgson, better known as serial killer Flamer Joe, the new show is looking to set the world on fire.

`Joe's Gonna Kiss You is a brilliant program,' said Marketing Director Jeremy Edwards at Channel 11. `No serial killer has ever been the host of any show, let alone one that aims to bring people together. The word revolutionary barely begins to describe it.'

Ratings have certainly been through the roof as viewers flocked to witness how a man convicted for ninety-six murders, most of them committed with a flamethrower, can lead a romantic TV show.

`It actually works very well,' said Anna Fulton, one of the show's contestants. `Joe is a charming man. I'm surprised no one thought of this before.'

The format of the show follows the established formula. Three men and three women compete for each other's affections by answering questions about their interests, personalities, and love lives. Novelty is injected into the show by the provocative questions of the host.

`Joe asked me which of the women I would like to murder and with the help of which of the other two women,' said Nathan Hurt, one of the male contestants of the show. `Which was a very interesting question, since I'm not a murderous psychopath or anything like that. But just to entertain the idea helped figure out just which of the women I would make a good couple with. It was great!'

Other controversial questions touched upon whether any of the contestants had dreams in which they murdered other people, or if any of them had ever set or wanted to set someone on fire. The latter question proved rather ineffective in working out the matchings of the contestants as they all gave the same answer, one which suggests that no one present was particularly fond of lawyers. Other questions such as which celebrity the contestants would like to see burned at the stake worked exceedingly well for determining match compatibilities.

By the end of the show the six contestants were successfully transformed into three couples who quickly agreed to go on a triple date at a barbecue. The host was happy with the result of his newfound work as matchmaker, and Marketing Director Jeremy Edwards was exceptionally pleased with the first episode.

`Ratings are skyrocketing,' he said. `Channel 11 is already talking about extending the show to at least ten seasons and giving Joe a bonus for his outstanding work.'

Not everyone is happy with the show, however. Some critics call it a derivative television program; Howard Pretentious, the Editor-in-Chief of the Con City Times found Joe's Gonna Kiss You underwhelming and boring, and stated that `with a host like Joe, this show should have broken a lot more taboos.'

The Con City Police Department on the other hand wishes the show had not aired at all. After the broadcast, police were alerted to the parking lot of a 24 hour supermarket in West Side Con City where an unidentified assailant used a flamethrower to murder ten people.

`The resemblance of the events to Joe's work is unmistakable,' Detective Bill Jacobs said about the murder. `He would, in fact, be our number one suspect, were it not for his ironclad alibi.'

The `ironclad alibi' the Detective refers to is of course the incarceration of Flamer Joe. The serial killer has been behind bars for over a year, and performed his newfound duties as dating show host via satellite from his cell. Channel 11 expects he will continue to do so for many years to come.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

A burst pipe at the Onn Lee Megastore in Downtown Con City turned the lives of customers and employees upside down. The pipework in the basement gave in and completely flooded the underground parking garage, forcing customers to leave the building on foot and in a foul mood.

`I'm gonna sue these bastards,' an angry customer said about the management of the superstore after leaving the flooded building. `Not only do I have to come back for my car later and have it cleaned out and repainted, I have to walk two whole blocks to get back home. I am never shopping at this dump again!'

The shops in the basement level of the shopping center were also flooded, causing millions of dollars worth of damage to goods.

`It's bad, but we can fix it,' said Oscar Lee, the owner of the Onn Lee Megastore. `This is a sturdy, modern building that was made to withstand the elements. We just need to pump the water out, replace the electrics, apply a new paint job, and the superstore will be as good as new.'

Traders renting space in the basement of the Onn Lee Megastore tend to disagree. In particular a branch of ConComp Electronics operated within the shopping center, selling computers of all shapes and sizes, as well as smartphones. They appear to be among the biggest victims of the flood.

`The destruction of our desktop computer stock is a terrible blow,' said a representative of ConComp Electronics named John Simpson. `We kept those in the cupboards below the desks because they're heavy. All of them got submerged, and now they're full of mud and rust. But what happened to our mobile computing merchandise, the stuff that remained as dry as the desert... That was even worse.'

During the flood the power was cut in the building but the backup generators housed in the top level kept the emergency lighting and the security cameras in operation. The cameras recorded how a middle aged man remained in the building after the evacuation and entered the sports store on the third floor. There he picked up an inflatable boat, a pump, and a paddle, which he carried with him to the stairs leading to the basement. He inflated the boat and used it to navigate the flooded basement level.

He quickly found his way into the ConComp Electronics shop where he removed all the tablets and smartphones from the shelves and piled them up in the inflatable boat. He pretty much cleared out the store, then moved on to explore the entire basement and successfully raided a tobacco shop for cigars and a liquor store for three bottles of Scotch.

He took his loot back to the stairs where he calmly unloaded, then deflated the boat and piled his spoils into it and used it as a carrying bag. He went back to the sports store where he picked up a hang glider and made his way to the roof. He assembled the hang glider and tied the stolen merchandise to the control bar, then launched himself over the roof and glided out of the view of the security cameras.

`We never found the bastard,' said Jefferson Masters, the Chief of Security at the Onn Lee Megastore. `He knew where all the cameras were in the streets and avoided them like the plague. No idea where he landed. Police never found the hang glider, either. Guy must have disassembled it and took it with him. It's almost like he planned the whole thing.'

While maintenance crew have found no evidence that the flood was caused by deliberate sabotage, they have yet to rule out this possibility. For this reason the Con City Police Department is looking for the unidentified thief with great effort. Despite having captured his face on camera, police have no clue about his identity and are referring to him as `Inventive Guy.'

Meanwhile Oscar Lee is trying to make a claim from his building insurance. The Lawson & Lawson insurance company has so far refused his claim, with an explanation that the insurance policy `did not cover for flooding of the premises if that was caused by faulty or sabotaged pipework,' and stated that they were more than willing to amend the policy to cover for such events `in case they happened again in the future.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

A brand new self defense course at the University of Con City is raising the eyebrows of concerned parents all over the county. The BFA, short for Brute Force Academy, is offering students at the University a crash course in self defense with tools such as knives, high caliber armor piercing bullets, and over the shoulder rocket launchers.

`This is how Brutus Force would do it,' explains Jamie Ace, founder of the Brute Force Academy. `I have seen too many innocent people suffer at the hands of petty criminals. After my the latest movie, I thought to myself, it's completely unfair that only I should know all these nifty tricks of survival in the urban jungle. I owe it my fans, and to all humanity, to teach everyone how it's done.'

Jamie Ace, better known as `the guy who plays Brutus Force in the Bombs, Bullets & Babes movies,' or as `the man of a thousand identical facial expressions,' is an accomplished martial arts expert outside of the silver screen. He believes that the combination of his fighting skills and the countless hours of shooting guns on the movie sets makes him the perfect man for training university students how to defend themselves. Many question his suitability for the job due to his lack of teaching credentials. Ace himself disagrees, and considers his celebrity status the most important of the credentials he does possess.

`See, these boys and girls look up to me,' he elaborates. `Would they attend a self defense course run by Joe Schmoe? Of course not. But would they sign up to train with Brutus Force? Hell yeah they would!'

Attendance records show that his logic may not be flawed, as five hundred students signed up for the course in the first week, ninety percent of which returned to continue the course in the second week, and a further three hundred new students signed up by then to swell the ranks. The students seem to be very satisfied with the tutelage of Jamie Ace.

`We get to blow shit up with bazookas and rip dummies to shreds with fully automatics,' reports Andy Crawford, a computer science student at the University. `It's both useful and fun! I can't wait until we get to use drone mounted turrets!'

While the BFA's self defense course may seem out of place at an institution of higher education, the Brute Force Academy in fact received funding from the Rector himself. His decision came after a recent incident on the University Campus that resulted in numerous casualties, many of the victims torn apart by machine gun fire, some blown to bits by explosives, and one man reportedly falling to his death from a helicopter. While none of the deceased were students or employees of the University, the Rector believes it was time to do something about campus safety.

`I will not have the intellectual elite live in fear,' Rector Brenner states. `Mister Ace is a godsend, and I am happy to have him on board. The next time some illiterate thugs invade the campus and have a shootout with Con City's finest, our students will be perfectly equipped to protect themselves.'

Critics of the new course have taken to referring to the University of Con City as the University of Violence. Members of the police department on the other hand have expressed their firm support.

`I think it's a fine start,' says Sergeant Jack Westwood about the initiative. `If everyone was trained in the use of high caliber firearms, the citizens of Con City could clean up the streets in no time.'

Long time rival institution, Greenwell University, is keeping a close eye on the new course. Not to be left behind, Greenwell's intellectual center is already considering one-upping the University of Con City.

`We're negotiating with Russel Hunt, the actor who plays Merlin in Terrence Blunt's Round Table movies,' the Rector of Greenwell University boldly proclaims. `That guy farts nukes and belches napalm. Who needs guns and knives when we have a guy that can teach our students how to incinerate petty thugs with but a thought?'

Jamie Ace is not worried about the competition. Rather, he wishes the very best for his Hollywood colleague.

`Good luck, Russel. I hope you can draw a big enough crowd for your course. I'd love to arrange for a friendly sparring match between my students and yours.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

A parking offense is making headlines all over the county after a man was given a parking ticket in Desert Rock. His crime was parking a hot air balloon in the handicap zone opposite the Screeningator Cinema.

Adam White, the owner of the hot air balloon is outraged.

`I did not park there, for fuck's sake,' he stated. `I made an emergency landing after my idiot passenger punched a hole in my balloon with a butter knife.'

The hot air balloon is Mister White's bread and butter. He uses the vehicle to carry passengers as part of his Soaring Skyrides sightseeing company. He is no stranger to misfortune, as his hot air balloon was recently stolen by Con County's public enemy number one for the purpose of faking a solar eclipse over a similarly fake volcano.

`That wasn't even the worst of it,' Adam White said. `A while ago a bunch of drunks came out of the Hell Club, stumbled their way to my back yard where I keep the balloon, and vomited all over the seats. It took two hours to shovel the puke out of the cabin, and three days to fully disinfect it. But at least they didn't throw a fucking knife at the balloon while we were two thousand feet in the air.'

After the landing, Adam White spent hours fixing the damage to his balloon. It was during this time that a police officer came by and gave him a ticket. Customers of the Screeningator Cinema have recorded the incident on their cell phones. Their recordings depict a distressed Adam White making insulting gestures in response to being fined, most of them to the police officer's back. Internet video sharing sites have scored tens of millions of views on these videos. No one bothered to record the landing itself, but it is widely expected that no one would bother watching it.

Local press is also having a field day with Adam White's parking ticket. The Desert Rock Inquirer called his emergency landing `an impressive display of incompetence.' Ray Stokes, owner of the Screeningator Cinema, saw the landing from his office across the street and said to the press, `poor sucker could have saved himself that parking ticket if he had gone just fifty yards to the right and landed in the parking lot of my cinema.'

As for what became of the irresponsible passenger who had caused the accident? Adam White was alone in his balloon when he landed, and in light of his story everyone assumed the passenger had run away. Until Desert Rock Police have located a male dead body a mile outside town, having died from blunt trauma consistent with falling out of a hot air balloon. Adam White was quickly interviewed about the matter, a reporter for the local radio station posing him the question of whether the man jumped or accidentally fell to his death.

`Neither. I tossed his sorry ass overboard,' Adam White explained. `That'll teach my future passengers not to fuck with my balloon!'

A number of shocked listeners of Desert Rock Radio contacted the police, inquiring about the upcoming prosecution of Adam White.

`We are only prosecuting him about his parking offense,' a representative of the Police stated. `There were no witnesses to what transpired in the air. Any lawyer would tear murder charges to pieces, in spite of his confession on live radio.'

Adam White himself refused to offer further comments on the incident, stating that he was `working day and night to scrounge together the money to pay the parking ticket.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

The trial of Trey Isaacs, better known as the Anti Smoking Vigilante, is nearing its final stage at the Brickton Courthouse. Mister Isaacs is on trial for a staggering seventy-nine counts of attempted first degree murder, all instances of which took place at the front entrance of Brickton General Hospital, where visitors and patients alike often smoke cigarettes in spite of the elaborate no smoking signs on the walls.

`The first time I saw him brandishing that sword, I thought he was some psychopath here to kill everybody,' said Grace Rock, a long time receptionist at Brickton General. `In the end, he attacked only the people that were smoking. I guess he wanted to teach those assholes a lesson.'

Miss Rock is just one of many hundreds of witnesses who watched in horror over the weeks as Mister Isaacs inflicted serious injuries upon anyone and everyone who had the audacity to light a cigarette in front of the hospital, after which he slipped away in the ensuing chaos. Security camera footage proves that he showed no mercy to anyone, be they visitors, hospital staff, or patients, including several teenage patients of Brickton General and an amputee patient who has since become a double amputee.

Trey Isaacs was arrested after he was identified thanks to the camera footage as one of the employees of the fast food restaurant across the street from the hospital. Since his arrest he has maintained his silence, as advised by his court appointed lawyer, Matthew Green.

`Smoking is bad for everyone, but especially for hospital patients,' the lawyer stated during the trial. `It is therefore no surprise that my client would wish to persuade people to abandon this horrible habit. The fact that his discouragement attempts led to a few minor accidental injuries is of course unfortunate, but given his goal to save vulnerable people's lives from cigarette smoke it is clear that my client had no intention to hurt anyone.'

The District Attorney argued against Mister Green's assessment of Trey Isaacs' intentions, pointing out the uncommonly large number of victims and the nature of the injuries. `All of the victims suffered multiple, deep, sword-inflicted wounds,' DA Frank Johnson stated. `Forty-six of the seventy-nine injured remain at Brickton General, fifteen of them still at Intensive Care. I believe it's safe to say that Mister Isaacs meant to do more than wave his katana around in the air.'

In true Brickton tradition, a group of protesters gathered in front of the courthouse as soon as the trial began, armed with transparencies prominently displaying the no smoking symbol, and demanding the release of Trey Isaacs. `The man is a hero,' one of the protesters said. `He's saving us from the evils of second hand smoking. He shouldn't be on trial, he should be getting a medal.'

Within hours a second crowd showed up to support the prosecution, consisting of friends and family members of the victims, as well as members of the Con County Chain Smokers' Association. `Lock that monster up and throw away the key,' one of them stated. Both crowds of protesters have remained in front of the Courthouse ever since. City officials fear that regardless of the outcome of the trial, one of those groups will attempt to storm the building as soon as the verdict is announced. As a precaution, ten police officers in full riot gear have been stationed at the gates of the Courthouse in order to defend the building from the hundreds of angry people.

Adding to the tensions that have been running high since the trial began is the letter which was delivered to the local news outlet just the day before. The envelope contained a message made up of words cut out from newspapers and glued on a sheet of paper. The message was in essence a letter of support from Brickton's most famous vigilante, the man the public has named the Train Guardian, who patrols the Brickton Central train station with a baseball bat and beats up anyone who attempts to board the trains without a ticket.

`Set him free or feel my wrath,' the letter stated. Authorities worry that the Train Guardian, who remains at large and whose identity is unknown, may attempt to free the Anti Smoking Vigilante by means of extreme violence. DA Johnson, who along with Matthew Green is expected to make his final case to the jury later this afternoon, is more worried that the jurors, all of whom regularly travel by train, have already made up their minds on the verdict upon reading the news report discussing the Train Guardian's letter in the Brickton Herald.

Officials at Brickton General Hospital expect Trey Isaacs to be acquitted and have already made plans to license the use of his likeness on posters at the front entrance of the hospital to bolster their anti smoking campaign. They have also told members of staff to anticipate a large number of admissions after the trial. The Chief of Police has also been made aware of the combustible situation expected to unravel at the Courthouse. He has demonstrated remarkable wisdom by taking the situation very seriously, and has increased the number of police officers stationed in front of the Courthouse from ten to a much more reasonable twelve.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Tensions are running high in Greenwell, Con County, as cyclists have been running wild on the sidewalks for nearly a month. With over two hundred people admitted to Greenwell General Hospital with injuries ranging from minor bruises to broken bones, fractured skulls, and concussions, victims have been demanding for over two weeks that police take action against the cyclists.

`Those psychopaths are running us into the concrete,' said Marianne Winston, a senior who suffered two broken ribs after being hit by a cyclist on her way home from the supermarket. `Is this what Greenwell has turned into? It's bad enough to risk our lives when crossing the street but now we can't even tread on the sidewalks without having to fear for our lives. Somebody needs to stop these two-wheeled freaks!'

Greenwell Police are already on the case and have instructed their specialist task force, the Fragcamper Unit, to deal with the hit and run cyclists. Detective Eve Rhodes spoke to the press about the ongoing efforts of the task force.

`The Fragcamper Unit is looking into the solution of placing landmines in the path of the cyclists,' she explained. `Obviously this is just in the planning stage, as they need to ensure that the mines don't hurt any of the pedestrians, or the cyclists who obey the law. Such smart mines are in heavily experimental stage and the Police Department can't afford them, but the Fragcamper Unit is trying to get the initiative funded by donations from the hit and run victims. Until then, the plan is to position a sniper on the rooftop of the Town Hall to at least deal with the offenders in the middle of the city center. It's a start.'

The task force is also putting effort into trying to identify the offending cyclists. The investigation faces difficulties as the faces of the cyclists are obscured on CCTV footage due to the helmets they are wearing. Further hindering the investigation is the fact that no bicycles are equipped with license plates; in light of the serious injuries suffered by the scores of pedestrians run over by cyclists, the Chief of Police has suggested to city officials to equip all bicycles with license plates from now on. The Mayor has rejected the proposal, stating that `this is not Brickton,' and denied that his decision was influenced by the fact that he is a cyclist himself.

Gloria Pine, host of Greenwell's most watched talk show The Pining Hour, has interviewed psychiatrist Sebastian Fink about the probable cause of what the public has come to call the Psycho Cyclist Phenomenon. `It is undoubtedly a form of post traumatic stress disorder,' Doctor Fink stated, and went on to explain that he bases his diagnosis on a matter of timing. `This phenomenon started a month ago, and I believe it is the direct consequence of the monster truck incident that I'm sure everyone remembers.'

The monster truck incident Doctor Fink refers to is of course the mass accident that took place at the annual Greenwell Cyclist Parade where a monster truck ran into the bicycle convoy. The truck had been on the way from Black Lake to a junk derby taking place at the Crash-o-ring in Con City, but took a wrong turn on the highway and ended up in Greenwell instead. Sixty-seven bicycles were crushed into scrap metal and their cyclists hospitalized with life threatening injuries. Doctor Fink believes that the monster truck incident was a traumatic experience for the hundreds of cyclists who attended the Parade, and is therefore a highly probable cause for their insistence to use the sidewalks instead of the inadequate cycle lanes on the roads.

The Chief of Police refused to acknowledge the connection between the two events and urged the specialist task force to put an end to the cyclist mayhem as soon as possible. `He is considering authorizing the use of traditional trip mines if we can't get funding for the smart mines,' said Detective Rhodes. `Obviously there will be collateral damage, which I would personally like to avoid. So please, send your donations to the Fragcamper Unit so we can deploy the experimental smart mines and avoid any needless loss of life.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

A brawl broke out at the Brickton Central train station two days ago on the express train due for Con City, leaving several people critically injured. Early reports claimed that Brickton's famous vigilante, the Train Guardian, had been responsible for the violence. These reports have since been proven false, as the four hospitalized victims were all members of the train staff, and the Train Guardian has never been known to attack railway employees.

`It is not his M.O.,' said Detective Robert Corino of Brickton Police. `He hunts the freeloaders who board the trains without a valid ticket. So it had to be one of the passengers. And since all the victims are still in a coma, all the CCTV cameras on the train were out of order, and no one would volunteer any testimonies, we just arrested all of the passengers. Sooner or later, one of them will squeal.'

The forty-seven passengers are currently held at Brickton Jail in the company of over two hundred rioters who were arrested just two days earlier for protesting against the new Door Knob Tax. Their lawyers are hard at work trying to affect their release, but as none of them are willing to offer testimonies, the authorities are reluctant to set any of them free.

Marcia Knowles, Station Manager at Brickton Central, has since given an interview to the Brickton Herald which seems to shed some light on what provoked the brawl.

`This was one of our old, Diesel powered engines,' Miss Knowles explained. `We got a call from the conductor that someone had, apparently, drained the engine dry overnight. How they made it out of the station with all that fuel, I don't know, but they left us in a bad spot. We were not prepared to refuel the engine. The station had just run out of Diesel, and the next shipment was due three hours after the scheduled start of the train. So I told the conductor to inform the passengers of the expected delay and extend our sincerest apologies. I suspect the passengers did not take it well.'

Renowned Greenwell psychiatrist Sebastian Fink offered his take on the events, and stated that `the fact that not a single one of the forty-seven passengers is willing to talk is a sure sign of collective guilt. Clearly, they were all involved, whether as active participants or simply providing moral support, hence police has chosen well to incarcerate them all.'

Many Brickton residents do not share Doctor Fink's sentiments and have taken to the streets with transparencies condoning what they perceive as police brutality and demanding the release of the passengers.

The most recent development in this story is the discovery of an unconscious, badly bruised man who was found last night duct taped to the steel railing in front of the Police Station. A sheet of paper with the words `I stole the Diesel fuel' was stapled to his forehead.

`Now that was definitely the handiwork of the Train Guardian,' said Detective Corino about the man who is being treated at Brickton General Hospital for broken bones and a severe concussion. `Of course we can't prove it, but we don't need to. We know he is always watching, keeping the trains safe.'

The hospital has released no information on the status of the recovery of the injured train staff, but Brickton Police are keeping the suspected fuel thief under guard in case the recovering patients try to finish what the Train Guardian started.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Public outrage is growing against new startup company Sparks Matches. The Desert Rock based company is trying to break into the match manufacturing business with a revolutionary new formula involving the processing of human urine. The reason for the outrage is that the company is paying its employees to consume and vomit up their own urine.

`This is the most disgusting company I have ever seen,' says Malcolm Parkinson, spokesperson of the human rights activist group known as Fuck Industry. `They hire unemployed people for minimum wage and force them to drink their own piss, several times a day. The damage they are doing to these people's health is appalling! They need to be put out of business!'

`We are not forcing anyone to do anything,' says Buford Sparks, founder of Sparks Matches. `We tell them exactly what we need them to do and how much we are going to pay them to do it. I don't see the problem. My lawyers don't see the problem. And besides, this new method of urine processing is our only way to fight the completely illegal monopoly on match trade in Con County.'

The monopoly on match trade in the county is currently held by Aaron Telford, owner of TelfordChem. The company owns the only match manufacturing plant in the county, located in West Side Con City, and also owns the county-wide patent for every phosphorous manufacturing method known to man. Aaron Telford also owns a completely separate company called TelfordSped, which holds the exclusive right on import of matches from outside the county. The two companies together hold a firm control over match trade in Con County, and is the reason why a box of matches costs the same as a barely used car.

`They're exploiting a legal loophole,' Buford Sparks believes,`but any half-competent DA would force them to abandon their stranglehold on the match market. The reason that doesn't happen is that they have the money to bribe the entire court. Well, I found a way to show them that they can't mess with the little man!'

Sparks Matches advertises itself as a manufacturer of novelty matches, produced with a new and freshly patented method that the company has named `uracid processing.'

`This was the only way we could compete with TelfordChem,' says Lead Chemical Engineer Jane Leaver. `We need phosphorous to produce matches since all alternative match production materials are banned in the county. TelforChem holds the exclusive rights to all means of producing or importing phosphorous, including the patent to extract it from urine. So we had to invent a whole new phosphorous-rich material in order to have our own patent. We call it uracid. We make it by feeding our employees with phosphorous-rich food supplements, which we bought in bulk at a considerable discount from TelfordChem before we started our business, and then make them drink their urine and vomit it back up. The result is a mixture of urine and stomach acid that we managed to classify as a new substance. As it is a new substance, we were able to file for our own patent for both its production and for extracting phosphorous out of it.'

The patent for the production and processing of uracid has been granted to Sparks Matches with no opposition from the Con County Patent Office, and Buford Sparks is extremely pleased.

`There was a risk that TelfordChem would sabotage the patent application, but in the end, they simply didn't see us as a threat,' he states. `I bet they think we'll be dependent on their food supplements, but the fact is, we made sure to have a stockpile that will last twenty years, and by then we'll put those fuckers out of business with our supercheap matches. Why would you spend a fortune on a box of Telford matches when you can get our novelty matches for half the price?'

Despite Buford Sparks trying to morally justify his business practice as a means of fighting for the little man against a large corporation that holds a legally questionable monopoly, the number of people speaking out against Sparks Matches is rapidly increasing.

`We got the Brickton Tree Avengers to join us in the fight,' says Malcolm Parkinson. `Combining their forces with Fuck Industry is only the beginning, of course. We are already trying to convince the Con County Freemasons to have them support us in our quest. Soon, we will put those Sparks Matches bastards out of business.'

Some rumors have begun to circulate that the activist groups in opposition of Sparks Matches are running extremely low on funds due to the county wide television ad campaign they're running. Related rumors claim that TelfordChem will be supporting the cause of Fuck Industry and their allies with hundreds of millions of dollars. Malcolm Parkinson has so far refused to comment on these rumors.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

Greenwell's specialist police task force, known as the Fragcamper Unit, is making headlines all over the county after their successful operation to apprehend Con County's public enemy number two. The elusive criminal known as the Greenwell Bank Buster, finally identified as local accountant Brandon Murphy, was cornered in the town center of Greenwell and gunned down with the utmost precision. He is currently awaiting trial in a coma at Greenwell General Hospital, while the Fragcamper Unit is awaiting the medals the Mayor is expected to award them in the coming days.

`This seems like a great accomplishment, but it's just another day on the job for those four police officers,' says Detective Eve Rhodes, designated spokesperson for the Fragcamper Unit. `Granted, it was a high profile criminal, and they certainly deserve medals for it, but honestly, catching dangerous criminals is what they do on a daily basis. It's why the unit was formed in the first place.'

The Fragcamper Unit was established a few years ago after the Chief of Police and the Mayor of Greenwell agreed that the police needed a specialist task force to tackle the most dangerous criminal elements in town in order to prevent Greenwell from overtaking Brickton and Con City in the crime statistics. The person chosen to assemble the group was Detective Rhodes.

`So I had this idea to hold a first person shooter deathmatch tournament,' she explains. `Every police officer in Greenwell was eligible. They would create gamer tags so as to protect everyone's identity, and the top four players would get to form the Fragcamper Unit. I am not a member myself, but I am personally quite proud that half of them are women. Goes to show you that girls can be both outstanding gamers and excellent police officers.'

The four members of the team are known as Sn!p3rB!tch, Sh0tgunFr3ak, Gunn3rKill3r, and Gr3nad3at3r.

`Sn!p3rB!tch is the brains of the group,' Detective Rhodes elaborates. `She's also the most accurate shooter of the unit, hence she typically operates as a sniper. Sh0tgunFr3ak likes to get up close and personal in the heaviest body armor we can afford. Gunn3rKill3r specializes on medium range combat with high rate of fire assault rifles. And Gr3nad3at3r is the explosives expert, good with grenades, rocket launchers, and even plastic. Not that the Chief likes it when the group uses anything beyond smoke grenades, but trust me, Gr3nad3at3r's skills see plenty of use against the assorted assholes the unit has to face.'

Over the years the unit has demonstrated that the unorthodox selection method of Detecive Rhodes had been spot on. The members of the Fragcamper Unit boast the highest success rate and highest kill count among all the police officers in Greenwell, and they have the honor of being the only police unit to ever take down multiple top ten wanted criminals in Con County.

`The Greenwell Bank Buster was in fact the fifth top ten criminal the group brought to justice,' Detective Rhodes states. `And I guarantee you, there will be many more, until all the top ten criminals in Con County are either behind bars, six feet under, or operate exclusively outside the town limits of Greenwell.'

During the sting operation on the Greenwell Bank Buster, the Fragcamper Unit pulled out all the stops and left nothing in the tank. They traced the suspect to an apartment just two blocks from one of Greenwell's banks which had been robbed just the day before. Once the group confirmed that the suspect was inside, Gr3nad3at3r used plastic explosives to break down the door, then Sh0tgunFr3ak and Gunn3rKill3r stormed into the apartment to apprehend the suspect while Sn!p3rB!tch waited on the rooftop of the building across the street with her sights on the window. The Greenwell Bank Buster went down in a hail of assault rifle bullets, shotgun shells, and sniper rifle rounds, without ever managing to fire back. Official reports state that not a single one of the bullets missed the target, and doctors at Greenwell General believe it is a miracle that the suspect did not die on the spot.

`Precision is what the unit is known for,' Detective Rhodes explains. `They pumped him full of lead and still managed to bring him in alive. I'd like to see that gun toting madman in Downtown Con City pull this off.'

The `gun toting madman' the Detective refers to is Sergeant Jack Westwood of the Con City Police Department, whose kill count exceeds the total combined kill count of the entire Fragcamper Unit. As the Sergeant is currently suspended for excessive expenditure of ammunition, he is unavailable to address the comments of Detective Rhodes, but the Captain at the Downtown Precinct believes that `that barbarian Westwood does not even know what a Fragcamper Unit is, and quite frankly, neither do I, and nor do I care. We have enough problems in this city without having to worry about the petty criminals of a pissant village like Greenwell.'

The Chief of Police in Greenwell finds the Downtown Captain's words amusing. `I am proud that the crime rate in our fair town is now so low that Con City Police believes it's not even worth mentioning,' he states. `All the more reason to keep the Fragcamper Unit running and reward their members with due recognition of their hard work.'

The unit is expected to receive the Greenwell Medal of Valor from the Mayor in just three days' time at a closed door ceremony from which the public is banned in order to preserve the anonymity of the four heroic police officers. As for how they spend their time leading up to the ceremony? Detective Rhodes has the answer.

`To date the members of the Fragcamper Unit actively participate in online first person shooter tournaments,' she says. `They are regulars in the upper half of the list of top one hundred players around the world, and by tomorrow night they will be in the top ten. All this while fighting crime and keeping Greenwell's streets safe. Let that be a lesson to parents the world over: nothing turns children into heroic role models more than playing ultraviolent first person shooters eight hours a day.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times, on page 9.

The Bright Rocks jewelery store in Downtown Con City remains closed after last week's brutal robbery which left the premises unfit for business. As previously reported, two armed men, one wearing a trench coat and a ski mask, the other dressed in a checkered suit with a white T-shirt and a tie, wearing no mask, entered the store in broad daylight and demanded that the store clerk hand over the entire stock. Despite cooperation from the store clerk, the robber in the checkered suit shot up the store with a shotgun before police arrived at the scene. The two made a bloody getaway after the man in the trench coat gunned down the two arriving police officers, who miraculously survived the shootout but were left in critical condition.

Police have issued a request to citizens to provide information on the two suspects. In the week passed since the robbery, only one man came forward: one of the robbers himself, the man in the checkered suit. He turned up at the office building of the Con City Times demanding to be interviewed at a private, secret location. Convinced by the man's eloquence and loaded shotgun, the staff of the Con City Times called on their most regular freelance journalist to honor the request.

The interview took place in the sewers underneath the Downtown, where the man in the checkered suit introduced himself as Randall Lee.

`My peers know me as Randall the Jerk,' he added, `and I wear the title proudly. Jealous fools labeled me as such, on account of fearing the inevitable, which is my impending rise to kingpin of the criminal underworld.'

Randall the Jerk proceeded to elaborate his grand plan to become the most feared criminal in Con City.

`That jewelery store was just the beginning,' he said. `Me and Jules went in there for the diamonds, but as soon as I was inside I knew we needed to do more than clear out the place. That's why I used up half my shotgun shells to redecorate the store. To send a message to the entire city that Randall the Jerk is the most dangerous man around here. And Jules did a fine job teaching the cops a lesson on our way out, so he deserves some credit, too.'

When asked about his accomplice, Mister Lee provided an incredible amount of detail.

`He's Jules the Monk,' he said about the man in the trench coat. `They call him that because he's bald and has all these weird tattoos on his scalp. That's why he wore a mask, so no one could identify him. He's a damn good shot, too. It was great that I could convince him to help me out. He lives in Oldtown, you see, and normally stays clear of the Downtown. But Randall the Persuader explained to him how lucrative this opportunity was, and he decided that he could not pass it up. It was truly the best decision of his life.'

Throughout the interview, the self proclaimed future kingpin of Con City remained adamant that the robbery had been a complete success, despite the fact that he and his accomplice left all the jewelery behind. The fact that his face wound up on posters and televised public service announcements did not trouble him, either. Rather, he considered this his biggest accomplishment.

`Now everyone knows who Randall the Jerk is,' he said. `Do you see? The robbery was a perfect marketing opportunity. And so is this interview, for both me and your newspaper. You put my interview on the front page, all those people who saw me on TV will subscribe to the Con City Times. You tell your Editor that I'm more than happy to make myself available for further interviews in the future. Just remember: front page.'

The interview came to an abrupt halt at this point when numerous men in hard hats and high visibility vests approached from one of the sewer tunnels, and Randall the Jerk decided to make a hasty retreat from what he believed was a police squad but was in fact a sewer maintenance crew.

Randall Lee remains at large at the time of this writing. The whereabouts of his accomplice are likewise unknown, albeit the Con City Police Department, who were given the opportunity to read a transcript of the interview prior to publication and just about managed to do so without breaking out in laughter, are convinced that it's only a matter of time before they apprehend both would-be jewelery thieves.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was published in the Black Lake Gazette after careful consideration.

The town of Black Lake in Con County is in contention for the Peaceful Excellence Award. Given each year to the safest settlement with less than fifteen thousand inhabitants, the Peaceful Excellence Award is tailor made for a town like Black Lake. While Black Lake has long earned itself a reputation of being the safest settlement in Con County, many are still puzzled by the nomination for such a prestigious award. Chief among them is Deputy Carl, one half of the police force in Black Lake.

`This is a nice quiet little town by Con County standards,' he states, `but let's face it, that's not saying much. Just because we don't have shootouts, explosions, stabbings, bank robberies, and mass murder on a daily basis, does not mean we don't have our fair share of problems.'

The Deputy cites the most recent crime statistics of Black Lake as to why he believes the town is not quite ready for the Peaceful Excellence Award.

`The past month we have had fourteen counts of jaywalking, seventeen counts of littering, and eight counts of dogs defecating in the streets. The latter is especially dangerous as the elderly may easily slip on canine droppings and could suffer severe injuries. Jaywalking is also a horrific offense that endangers the lives of vehicle drivers across the town. I do my best to fight this terrible crime wave, but the Sheriff insists that our efforts are better directed elsewhere.'

Sheriff Paxton, the other half of the Black Lake police force, is more optimistic about his town and its chances at winning the Peaceful Excellence Award.

`Carl exaggerates,' the Sheriff says. `Black Lake more than deserves the award. First of all, no one breaks the speed limit in Black Lake, so jaywalkers do not endanger anyone. Second, if people didn't litter, street sweepers would be out of a job, and then they'd turn to crime to put bread on their table, so I think having people litter is a great way to reduce crime. And as for dog shit on the pavement... Let's just say the day dogs stop shitting anywhere in the world is going to mark the end for us all.'

Sheriff Paxton believes that the crime statistics confirm his view. No violent crimes have been reported in Black Lake in over a year, and the last recorded incident before that left only one person injured by a firearm and one person dead by food poisoning. Deputy Carl, however, insists that as long as there is any crime in town, no matter how minor, his job is not finished.

`Every crime must be punished,' he says. `I hope that we will come last in the rankings for the award because, frankly, we do not deserve it, and if we come in last, perhaps the Sheriff will finally allow the use of tear gas grenades on jaywalkers and cattle prods on careless dog owners.'

Sheriff Paxton remains confident that Black Lake will win the Peaceful Excellence Award, and refuses to allow his Deputy to take drastic measures against people who neglect to clean up after their pets.

`I'm pretty sure the dogs don't just shit on the pavement but also on the carpets in the dog owners' homes, and that should be punishment enough,' he says. `As for the award... We'll win. How could we not? Do you see any gun toting madmen around here? Any psychopaths? All we have is a weirdo who wears sunglasses at night and frequents the Shark's Fin Diner, but he's harmless and we haven't seen him in six months or so. Seriously, there is no way the award could slip from our grasp.'

Note from the Editor of the Black Lake Gazette: This article was submitted to our journal two days before the now infamous events of chaos, bloodshed, and violence which immediately catapulted Black Lake to the number one spot on the global list of most violent towns under a population of fifteen thousand. Nevertheless we chose to publish this article after the one week review process was completed, in the name of journalistic integrity.

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Desert Rock Guardian.

A new locally developed cat security system is now available for purchase in the town of Desert Rock. Aimed at cat owners whose house is equipped with a cat flap on the front or back door, the Antistray 3000 home security system is designed to protect the homes, and their occupants, from the threat of being invaded by stray cats. The development comes in response to months of distress that cat owners have had to endure in Desert Rock.

`These opportunistic little rascals have been stealing Mister Fluffy's food for six months,' says Maggie Travers, a local pensioner and owner of a Persian cat. `Every time I leave the house the stray cats know. They go inside and cause all sorts of mischief. At first I blamed Mister Fluffy, but one time I found the fridge door wide open and all the yogurt cups empty. Mister Fluffy doesn't like yogurt so I knew something was wrong. That's when I asked my grandson to install a camera in the kitchen.'

The video camera in the house of Mrs. Travers successfully recorded how a gang of no less than six stray housecats (a gray and an orange tabby, two black and whites, a calico, and a black cat) invaded the house through the cat flap on the back door, chased off her own cat, forced the cupboard open, and ate all the dry cat food they could get their paws on. They stayed in the house until Mrs. Travers returned home, and then vacated the premises so fast she did not see them until she watched the video camera footage.

Since then, dozens of households have recorded similar incidents, all perpetrated by the same group of stray cats, whom the locals have taken to referring to as the Naughty Kitty Gang.

While cat owners feel too affectionate towards cats in general to take any drastic measures against the strays, a local electronics firm known as the Hades Corporation has taken it upon itself to develop a home security system that can solve the problem.

`Our system consists of a set of smart cameras, locks, and multimedia devices,' says Malcolm Dallas, lead engineer of the Antistray 3000. `We have a camera outside the door, which monitors the cats that approach the cat flap. The system uses state-of-the-art facial recognition to match the cats to the ones registered as living on the premises. If there is a match, the system unlocks the cat flap, allowing the cat to enter.'

At first glance, the above security system sounds sufficient, but the Hades corporation went the extra mile to ensure that their system is foolproof.

`We have additional cameras on the inside,' Mr. Dallas elaborates. `In case some strays manage to enter the house through let's say the window, or the chimney. If intruders are detected, Antistray 3000 activates the alarm, which is a recording of the barking of a pack of angry pitbulls. The volume gradually intensifies to give off the illusion that the pack is getting closer. After the strays leave the house, the audio is rerouted to the external speakers in order to chase the strays even further. The system is therefore flawless, so much so that we offer a one year money back guarantee. This guarantee of course does not extend to invasion by hearing impaired stray cats.'

The Mayor of Desert Rock, himself a victim of stray cat invasion, applauds the Hades Corporation for their effort to innovate, but believes that Antistray 3000 will prove to be a hard sell.

`Most cat owners, myself included, would not want to install an alarm system that sounds like a pack of rabid dogs ready to murder them and their pets. While it may chase off the strays, it will also scare the living daylights out of the cats who live in the house. I think the trade-off is not worth it. Better to just nail the cat flap shut, or buy another five cats so they can fight off the Naughty Kitty Gang. That's what I did.'

While it is early to judge whether the Mayor's expectation will prove correct, in the three days passed since the official release of Antistray 3000 the Hades Corporation has not sold a single unit. Malcolm Dallas remains confident that the product will eventually become a success, and that he will not be fired at the end of the month.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Over the past three weeks leading up to the imminent reopening of the Onn Lee Megastore in Downtown Con City, all out war has broken out between the superstore and the city's premiere discount supermarket, the Deal Mart. Since the closure of the Onn Lee Megastore due to flooding a few months ago, customers flocked to the Deal Mart to do all their grocery shopping. Oscar Lee, owner of the Onn Lee Megastore expressed his worries that the months his former customers spent at the Deal Mart have made them accustomed to the discount prices and this may keep them from returning to the superstore next week.

`That is why we launched our new marketing campaign,' he explained three weeks earlier. `I admit that the slogan may be a little bit controversial, but this is business. I'm sure the management of the Deal Mart will understand.'

The initial marketing campaign ran with the slogan, `don't buy shit, come to the Megastore,' which drew the ire of Albert Flanders, owner of the Deal Mart.

`I don't know why that rude scoundrel is so worried about the loss of customers,' he said in response to the advert. `The Deal Mart is a supermarket, specialized in groceries and related products. The Onn Lee Megastore is a shopping center. They sell everything including the kitchen sink. So what if their grocery store operates at a loss? They'll make up for it in the profits made in the rest of the Megastore. But you know what? If Oscar Lee wants a fight, I'll give him one.'

Days after the launch of the `don't buy shit, come to the Megastore' ad campaign, the Deal Mart began a television campaign on Channel 11. The ad consisted of archived news footage showing the flooded Onn Lee Megastore, with the narration, `do you really want to go back there?' and closed with a slide show of smiling customers at the Deal Mart. Oscar Lee found the advert distasteful.

`No decent human being would mock the misery of another man,' he stated. `Part of me is glad that Albert Flanders showed us who he really is, because now I will have no problem taking off the gloves!'

The second marketing campaign of the Onn Lee Megastore followed the formula of the Deal Mart's advert. The television ad displayed numerous homeless people sleeping right next to the entrance of the Deal Mart in the early hours of the morning. The narration at the end of the advert said, `don't shop in the shitty neighborhood, come to the Megastore.'

`Tasteless and elitist,' Albert Flanders summarized his opinion of the ad, days before launching a new television advert for his supermarket, in which a man standing in water up to his neck tried in vain to reach a box of cereals on the top shelf inside a small room meant to symbolize the Onn Lee Megastore's grocery department. Oscar Lee refused to issue a statement regarding the advert. Days after the first airing, however, a new ad campaign of the Onn Lee Megastore ran on Channel 11.

The thirty second advert, like its predecessor, started with an exterior shot of the Deal Mart in the early morning hours. Instead of homeless people, numerous unsavory characters stood near the entrance, forming two groups. They eyed each other for ten seconds before they drew various firearms. Then the ad cut to black for fifteen seconds during which time loud gunfire, sounds of explosions, and painful screams filled the air. `Don't put your life on the line for your groceries, come to the Megastore,' the narration said at the end.

Albert Flanders was furious over the advert, and called it `a declaration of war.' While one would assume he had meant those words in the marketing sense, it turned out he had been quite literal. He reached out to his returning customers, much of them residents of the Oldtown district, and within days a convoy of no less than fifty cars surrounded the Onn Lee Megastore. Men and women looking many times more unsavory than the actors in the offending advert sat in the cars, eying the superstore from dawn till dusk, only to be replaced by another convoy of fifty cars that would stay from dusk till dawn. A van bearing the logo of the Deal Mart came by at noon and midnight, and supplied free food for the people in the cars.

The building contractors working on the refurbishment refused to go anywhere near the superstore as they did not dare to walk past the Oldtown vehicles, causing severe delay to the repairs being undertaken.

`I called the police,' said a distressed Oscar Lee, `but they said they couldn't do jack shit. Not until one of those hooligans draws a gun. Bullshit! Whatever happened to prevention? Well, that's okay. Albert Flanders isn't the only one who has friends.'

Two days after the non-stop blockade of the Onn Lee Megastore began, three black helicopters landed on the roof of the superstore, delivering a platoon of private military contractors armed with assault rifles to the scene. They took positions around the building, standing guard and waiting for the Oldtown residents to engage them or drive away.

At the time of writing the standoff between the presumably armed associates of Albert Flanders and the most definitely heavily armed private military contractors has been ongoing for four days and shows no signs of ending. Meanwhile Oscar Lee relies on the helicopters to transport the building contractors to and from the superstore, and remains confident that the building will be ready for the scheduled reopening. Whether the customers will be willing to enter the Onn Lee Megastore in the middle of the standoff remains to be seen, albeit Oscar Lee seems to be prepared for the worst.

`If all else fails, I'll just use the helicopters to get the customers through the door,' he states. When asked how much the private military contractors and the use of the helicopters cost him and whether these expenses may be far greater than any profit he could hope to gain by luring back the customers of the Deal Mart, he refused to comment.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

A man in Greenwell is facing charges of producing an unsafe work environment and endangering the lives of his neighbors. The charges come after Hank Brennan, a resident in the southern suburbs of town, hired a construction company to dig a ten foot deep trench around his house for the purpose of eventually digging under the building to enable the contractors to lift the entire house with a crane.

`It's a nonsensical idea, but we do what the client pays us to do,' says Ron Smith, owner of Smith's Bricks, the local building contractor hired to do the work. `I told him we'd need to disconnect the electricity supply and the water supply, which would leave the house unfit to live in, but he still wanted us to do the job. So we did it. But then we got to phase two.'

Phase two of the building project was to place a set of high power spring loaded launchers underneath the foundations of Mister Brennan's house, then lower the house onto the launchers. The idea being, according to Ron Smith, to allow the house to jump.

`So this nutjob says to us, he wants his house to be able to jump,' Mister Smith explains. `Says he wants at least eight feet of elevation. Thinks he can achieve that with these spring powered launchers. So I tell him, there's no spring strong enough to do the job. Then he says, just use a lot of them. I tell him, even if we manage it, there's no way to control the precise motion of the house. That thing could fall on my workers during testing, or crash into a neighboring house. So he says, it'll be fine as long as I buy some expensive springs, and proceeds to write me a check. Honestly, can you blame me for calling the police?'

The investigation of the Greenwell Police Department has shown that the construction project was doomed to begin with, and that phase two would have put the lives of workers and neighbors into serious jeopardy.

`We've ordered the constructions to cease,' says Detective Malcolm Shepard, `and arrested Mister Brennan. Greenwell will clearly be safer with him off the streets.'

Hank Brennan awaits trial at the jail in Greenwell, and insists that his personal rights have been violated. Moreover, he believes that there was nothing wrong with his construction project.

`It's just an innocent home improvement project,' he says. `I mean, come on. Do you even know why I'm doing it? It's a matter of family pride, you see. My cousin lives in Australia, and the last time he came for a visit he told me a joke. Can a kangaroo jump higher than a house? Of course, he says, because houses can't jump. Get it? Because houses can't jump! Well, I'll show him and the rest of those Down Under comedians!'

Mister Brennan believes that he will be found innocent in the charges levied against him and is adamant to give his house the ability to jump. He has already found a new building company for the job, Con City based Young Constructions.

`Of course we'd be willing to do the job,' says Jim Lemmon, Senior Overseer and acting CEO of Young Constructions. `We don't have a lot of clients these days, not since the fiasco with our former CEO and his attempt to sacrifice virgins in a fake volcano. Until we earn back the trust of the community, we can't be picky with the jobs we get. Guy wants his house to jump, we can do that, sure. As long as he pays us in advance and signs the paperwork that he takes full responsibility for any property damage, injuries, or fatalities incurred due to the construction. Of course he has to make bail first.'

Bail for the release of Hank Brennan has been set to one hundred million dollars. There is no date set for his trial at the time of writing.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Tourist discussion groups all over the internet are on fire in wake of the recent announcement by Con City Airlines about their comprehensive ban on taking carry on items on board their planes. The controversial restriction, announced yesterday, comes into force this coming weekend.

`We realize that the new rules are being implemented on a short notice,' said Con City Airlines spokesman Dick Butler, `but we believe it is in the best interest of our passengers not to wait any longer. We have been preparing this move for a very long time.'

The words of Mister Butler bring no solace to distressed travelers who had purchased tickets for Con City Airlines flights in advance without having any clue how these restrictions would affect their upcoming journey. Given the policy of Con City Airlines to charge their passengers extra for checked baggage, a great many of their travelers choose to take only cabin baggage with them. These passengers are now forced to either leave all their belongings at home, or purchase checked baggage allowance.

`We will of course offer all affected passengers a discount of twenty percent on hold baggage costs,' Mister Butler said. `It is the least we can do for our customers. We hope they understand that the new rules are for their own benefit.'

As for why the airline chose to implement the harsh restrictions on carry on items, the spokesman offered a quite detailed explanation.

`At first we just wanted to ban laptops,' he stated. `Those things are heavy and made of metal. A drunk passenger in a fit of rage could rip one out of any of their fellow passengers' hands and use them to inflict serious injury, broken bones, concussions, that sort of thing. We cannot subject our customers to such dangers, so we chose to ban all laptops from being brought on board as carry on luggage. But then we realized, that laptops are not the only dangerous items people usually take on board.'

Mister Butler proceeded to explain that tablets are being banned because of their glass surfaces which, the airline fears, may break if passengers were to drop such devices, and upon picking them up the broken glass may cut their hands. Cellphones join the list of banned items due to the adverse effects of stress caused by the batteries being depleted over the duration of the flights.

`Of course, we couldn't stop there,' Mister Butler continued. `We realized that lots of people come on board wearing glasses. If they knock their heads into the seat in front of them when the plane encounters turbulence, the lenses might break and severely injure their eyes, might even blind them. Clearly, if we ban tablets, we have to ban glasses, too. We thought we could allow contact lenses, but then we realized that people might accidentally swallow them and choke on them. That is a severe health hazard, so we are banning both glasses and contacts. And then we thought about belts and shoelaces.'

Following reasoning borrowed from prison facilities, Con City Airlines has decided to ban belts and shoelaces from being taken on board their planes for fear that mentally unstable passengers may harm themselves with them due to the distress caused by frequent delays of the airline's flights. It is perhaps not altogether surprising that this decision led to a further set of items being added to the banned list, including stilettos which the airline fears may injure people's eyes should they trip and fall on the heels of such shoes the wrong way, and scarves which they believe to be a severe choking hazard.

`We also decided to ban all forms of medication, so as to prevent people from accidentally overdosing on things like insulin; and we're banning paper tissues which, like many other items, are a serious choking hazard. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The more we thought about what puts the lives of our passengers in danger, the more items we had to add to the list. And when the list of banned items grew to ten pages, we realized that it made more sense to just simply ban everything.'

The upcoming ban on carry on items thus extends to literally everything, which means that passengers will no longer be allowed to take any items with them into the cabin. No hand luggage of any size, no purses, no shoes, and, most alarmingly, no clothes, either in hand or on their person. It is for this reason that many believe the airline is taking their new cabin baggage rule a little too far.

`Am I really supposed to sit on the plane naked?' asked Judy Shaw, a member of the Con County Tourist Club. `This is complete nonsense! What if I get hypothermia in the cold?'

The health concerns of Miss Shaw are shared by Doctor Donna Williams, senior surgeon at Con City General Hospital. `Temperatures aboard airplanes can fluctuate considerably, especially when the air conditioner is not working properly, which is a constant problem on these flights,' she stated. `Also, the risk of infection is quite high when multiple people with exposed buttocks use the same seat.'

`We will of course use disinfectants to wipe the seats clean after each flight,' Dick Butler assured. `We will also make sure that all our air conditioners are in top notch condition, and that the temperature is set to a convenient level. In the unlikely event of a malfunction, we will distribute complementary hot beverages to keep the passengers warm.'

When asked whether the airline will put measures in place to ensure the privacy and dignity of their passengers during boarding and on board the flights, Dick Butler offered a guarantee that there will be no cameras recording the passengers at any time and that everyone will be given a towel which they can wear wrapped around themselves while they go from the check-in desk to the door of the aircraft, where blindfolded staff will collect the towels and allow passengers to board the aircraft single file.

`We assure you that no incidents such as harassment or public sexual intercourse will occur on our flights,' the spokesman added. `At Con City Airlines, the safety and comfort of our passengers always comes first.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

A month prior airline travelers in Con County faced shock when Con City Airlines introduced its new cabin baggage policy, which forced all passengers to place all their belongings in the hold, including any clothes they had on their person at check-in. Travel discussion forums are abuzz once more due to the Con County Travel Bureau having announced a new set of guidelines to be imposed on all air travel firms operating in the county. (Editor's note: the list of such airlines currently comprises Con City Airlines alone).

`We need to do something about the chaos,' said Laura Turner, a senior executive at the Travel Bureau. `In the month passed since Con City Airlines implemented its controversial cabin baggage ban, sixty-two incidents occurred on the airline's flights that can be directly linked to the new rules. A lot of people have been injured, offended, or forced to watch their fellow passengers engage in indecent activities. We cannot allow this to go on.'

The list of incidents Miss Turner mentioned include fourteen brawls that broke out between passengers who were left irritable by being forced to board the plane without their cell phones, nineteen cases of hypothermia caused by the failure of the air conditioning system, one medical emergency related to insulin withdrawal, and twenty-eight instances of what flight attendants recorded in their reports as `orgies.'

`All these incidents are minor issues, and we have had less than a hundred of them in total,' said Dick Butler, spokesman of Con City Airlines. `I think the Travel Bureau is failing to see the bigger picture. Did people suffer a few bruises? Maybe. Were they forced to cover their eyes due to a few unruly couples on board? Sure. But the fact is, that all thanks to our new rules, no one overdosed on insulin, no one cut their hand on broken glass, no one choked on swallowed contact lenses or paper tissues, no one was strangled by a scarf or any other piece of clothing, and no one got beaten to death with a laptop. I think our cabin baggage ban is doing great!'

The aforementioned incidents are only part of the reason why the Con City Travel Bureau decided to step in. Since the new cabin baggage ban, the Bureau received over five thousand complaints from distressed passengers.

`About half of the complaints relate to the aforementioned incidents,' explained Miss Turner, `but the other half touch upon other issues. For example, a lot of people complain that they are not allowed to take their firearms on board, and in light of the violent brawls they now fear for their lives on the plane. This is of course nonsense, as no one but the sky marshal should be armed, but it does raise the question: where does the sky marshal keep his gun? The airline has not given us a satisfactory answer regarding this question.'

Other complaints include the problems caused by infants not being allowed to wear diapers on Con City Airlines flights. Thus far no parents have opted to take their infant children aboard the flights since the new rules came into force, due to the unenviable task of having to clean up after their children on board without any diapers, towels, or tissues on hand. Many of them also fear that the airline would simply classify the infants as cabin baggage and hence force them to be transported in the hold.

`And there's more,' Miss Turner said. `After the first week we started getting complaints from passengers that the cabin exuded a terrible odor, and later also that some of the seats were covered in sticky white stains. When we tried to carry out a health inspection the airline told us the inspection team would have to comply with the same rules as the passengers themselves, which is nonsense. We decided to intervene so that reason may prevail. We are, as of next week, forcing Con City Airlines to comply with our new guidelines or cease operation within the county.'

In an unprecedented and some would say unexpected move, the Travel Bureau has decided to ban passengers from being on board Con City Airlines flights. As of next Monday it will be illegal for anyone other than flight staff to be on board the planes within Con County. Travelers stand baffled before the decision, as they fail to see how this will solve anything.

`This is like trying to put out a forest fire with gasoline,' said Judy Shaw, speaking for the Con County Tourist Club. `Am I supposed to travel in the hold now? I guess that means I don't have to undress anymore, but come on! Travel in the hold?! Are they crazy?!'

`Miss Shaw misunderstands,' Laura Turner of the Con County Travel Bureau said regarding the new rules. `We are not simply banning people from entering the cabin, we are banning them from being anywhere inside the plane. This is the only way to make the flights safe again. It's not the banned objects that cause the problem, it's the people. The troublemakers, that is. But since we have no way of telling apart the troublemakers from the proper passengers, the best solution is to ban all of them from boarding the plane.'

Con City Airlines has yet to respond to the new legislation, which leaves travelers in a state of uncertainty as to the status of their upcoming flights. The airline has, however, started to explore its options.

`We talked to some lawyers about having the passengers ride on the wings,' Dick Butler said. `The Bureau banned people from being inside the plane, but not from traveling on top of it, or indeed on the wings. The lawyers think this is a gray area, so it might work, albeit there will be some... practical challenges. We are also looking into establishing a new landing strip a couple of miles east of Con County. The legislation no longer applies outside the county, so we could just hire a travel agency to transport our passengers to the new air strip with buses, and then proceed as before.'

The airline has already reached out to Reaper Travels, who often book charter flights from Con City Airlines to bring enthusiastic tourists to the county. Their veteran driver Larry offered his own two cents on the matter.

`Sure, we could do the job,' he said, `but it'd be slow. We don't have enough buses and drivers to take everyone in one go, and even if we did, it's a long drive. I'd say, if you want to travel, just drive. Or take the train up north and board a plane someplace else. That's what I always do. Who in their right mind wants to fly with Con City Airlines, anyway? Have you seen their safety records?'

In light of the uncertainty surrounding the fate of Con City Airlines flights, passengers are advised not to keep their expectations too high.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

The Greenwell Bullfighting Organization continues to refuse to submit in their ongoing, many would say futile legal battle at the Con City Courthouse. It has now been four months since Gerald Embers, Chairman of the GBO, filed a request to the Con County Television Broadcasting Association to have bullfighting programs given a relaxed age certification. `We believe that bullfighting is a noble, inspirational sport that our youth should not be banned from watching,' the Chairman stated in his request. `Hence, we would like the minimum age requirements for watching bullfights to be reduced from the current, most unreasonable seventeen years to twelve.' The CCTBA rejected the request, to which Gerald Embers responded by filing a lawsuit against the agency.

Over the past four months, the GBO pulled no punches in their efforts to convince the court to force the CCTBA into compliance. Gerald Embers reminded everyone present at the first court hearing that `bullfighting is Greenwell's national pastime, commemorating the tragic death of thirty-one school children in 1837. Our sport is a tradition that serves to remind everyone of how a raging bull chased an entire herd of cattle towards the unsuspecting participants of that school picnic. This tradition should be taught from a very young age, and who better to teach it to our children than the GBO?'

The District Attorney disagreed with the GBO Chairman, stating his belief that `a bullfighting promotion that allows the bull to be the champion and makes its money on the blood thirst of its barbaric audience has no business talking about commemorating the death of the stampede victims.'

The DA's words prompted a tirade of insults from Gerald Embers which earned him a hefty fine. From that moment forward the Chairman sat the rest of the court hearings out and allowed his lawyer, Nigel Finch, to do all the talking. Mister Finch proceeded to attack the credibility of the DA and pointed out that `the District Attorney was not born and has never lived in Greenwell and therefore cannot judge how to adequately commemorate the tragic happenings of 1837, nor is he qualified to judge the character of Greenwell's people.' He also pointed out that `the undeniable realism of the GBO bullfights presents them as the most authentic form of reenactment of the stampede that is possible within the confines of the law, and should therefore be respected.'

Nigel Finch finished his argument with the written statement of Gerald Embers in which the GBO Chairman argued that `surely, it is in the best interest of our children to learn the history of Greenwell by watching the only authentic depiction of that fateful June afternoon.'

Three and a half months and many carefully worded statements later the court reached its decision and ruled in favor of the Con County Television Broadcasting Association. `No matter the importance of this tradition to the people of Greenwell, we should not be showing blood sports to twelve-year-olds,' presiding Judge Hershey stated as justification for the ruling.

Gerald Embers immediately appealed the ruling and sent his lawyer back to the court room with a new strategy. Believing that he could meet the CCTBA half way, he instructed Mister Finch to offer the introduction of some changes into GBO programs that would make them more family friendly.

`My client is willing to drop the cheerleaders from the show, or at least have them wear some clothes over their bikinis,' Nigel Finch stated at the Courthouse when the latest hearing began earlier today. `He is also willing to ban all profanity from the show by introducing a ten second delay to the live broadcast which would provide ample time to bleep out any sensitive words from anything spoken by veteran color commentator Tom Stone. While Mister Stone is very popular with our audience, which is the reason why he hasn't been fired, my client is willing to put the reins on the man in order to make bullfighting available to a younger audience.'

The Con County Television Broadcasting Association flat out refused the offer with the words, `this is not Hollywood.' Judge Hershey recommended Mister Finch to advise his client to give up on the idea of a relaxed age certification for bullfights. Gerald Embers and his lawyer are yet to respond but sources close to the GBO Chairman believe that `he will fight tooth and nail until the bitter end, and win or lose, he will make a documentary about the court war and sell it for top dollar on pay-per-view.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published on the front page of the Con City Times

The Con City Art Gallery is hosting a new exhibition called `The Art of Overexposition,' consisting of the deliberately overexposed photos of Brickton photographer Walter T. Glass. Mister Glass burst onto the scene in recent months with overexposed photos of wildlife, and while his work stayed largely out of the mainstream spotlight, his recent photograph of a house cat made him one of the most famous people on the planet. Just a week ago he posted the photo he entitled Shy Tabby on social media, shown below in low resolution with permission from the artist.

Shy Tabby

Walter T. Glass received over fifty million comments to his photo over the course of twenty-four hours. Advertisers flocked to his social media account and just three days removed from the original post he was already in talks with the Con City Art Gallery about an exhibition, which opened two days later.

`It's all about being experimental,' Walter T. Glass stated in an interview on the day of the opening when he was asked to reveal to what he attributed his success. `My first overexposed photo of a tulip was largely an accident. But as soon as I saw how unique the result looked, I realized that I was on my way to create the kind of art that had never been seen before. I decided to further play with the exposition time, until Shy Tabby was born. The rest is history.'

Over the two days passed since the opening of the exhibition, the overexposed paintings made a lot of noise in mainstream media, though not quite the way the Con City Art Gallery might have hoped. Art critics and photographers have called out the Art Gallery over the photographs, calling the exhibition a `scam' and repeatedly referring to Mister Glass as a `hack.' Director Troy Savage, head of the Art Gallery came to the defense of the exhibition and the artist.

`The overexposed photos of Walter T. Glass can only be compared to the likes of Warren Baker's ice paintings,' the Director stated. `Revolutionary art of the highest form, far ahead of its time. No wonder the unsophisticated barbarians of the internet who don't know the first thing about art, or even the clueless idiots who call themselves art critics, fail to understand them. Give it a hundred years, and the world will look back at Shy Tabby as the modern day Mona Lisa.'

Critics and internet personalities remained unfazed by the comments of Troy Savage and continued to question the legitimacy of the exhibition, quoting some of the millions of comments earned by Shy Tabby on social media. Examples include:

`LMFAO. Is this guy for real?'

`It's a white wall you jackass!'

`Yo, dipshit, where's the cat you promised me?! I need my fix!'

`Worst photomanipulation ever. F for EFF-ort.'

`The cat could make a better photo than that. If there is a cat, that is.'

`This is what happens when you give an idiot a camera. Give it to a drunk instead.'

`That's probably the leftover dope he snorted. Should have used macro mode so we could see the grains.'

`Snow? Clouds? Shaving foam? Either way it's just white pixels, bro!'

Amid the continuing barrage of vocal disapproval, Con City's famed painter Warren Baker himself came to the exhibition's defense as well. `When I first made ice paintings out of snow and my unique gold paint in my front lawn one fateful New Year's Eve, no one believed that my creations would one day make Rembrandt look like an amateur,' he said. `Ignore the haters, Walter. You'll make it, trust me; I know true talent when I see it.'

In addition to the encouraging words of his contemporary, Walter T. Glass has also received the unwavering support of the people of Brickton. Nearly four hundred of his townsfolk have made the trip to Con City on tourist buses in response to the growing internet criticism, and have surrounded the Con City Art Gallery with baskets of rotten eggs and large transparencies displaying words such as `fuck the haters,' `hail Glass,' `Walter's my hero,' and `criticize Brickton art and die.' The protesters have made it abundantly clear that they will not allow anyone other than people who appreciate the overexposed photos to enter the building.

Concerned citizens in Con City have turned to the police, requesting their assistance in peacefully sending back the protesters to Brickton. The Con City Police Department have responded that they cannot spare the manpower to oversee the loud but thus far peaceful gathering around the Art Gallery, as they need to keep a large number of police officers on standby in case the ongoing marketing war between the Deal Mart and the Onn Lee Megastore gets out of hand.

Meanwhile, Walter T. Glass has offered the following words on social media regarding his success one week after the original posting of the photo that made him famous: `I am humbled by the sudden outpouring of love and support. As a sign of my gratitude, I will do my best to post a new overexposed cat photo every week from now on.'

He accompanied his post with another image, shown below in low resolution with permission from the artist. The current number of comments on the image, six hours after the time of posting, is just over sixty-eight million and counting.

Shy Tabby

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Several months passed since the violent yet profoundly unsuccessful robbery at the Bright Rocks jewelery store in Downtown Con City, which left two police officers critically injured during the getaway of the would-be robbers. Of the two culprits, one wore a ski mask while the other wore no mask and was garbed in an easily identifiable checkered suit. The latter criminal, Randall Lee, better known as Randall the Jerk, revealed himself to the public within a week of the robbery in an interview for the Con City Times, in which he gave up a surprising amount of information, including the name and appearance of his masked associate, Jules the Monk. After the interview, Randall Lee disappeared and police forces failed to locate either him or his associate. The Bright Rocks jewelery store chose to invest in extensive security measures in preparation for their upcoming reopening. Meanwhile, just three days ago, a bald man matching the description provided by Randall Lee and claiming to be Jules the Monk unexpectedly gave himself up to the authorities at the Downtown Police Precinct.

Although the Con City Police Department could not confirm his identity, they did determine that the man's build matched that of the masked figure in the security camera footage from the jewelery store. During his initial interrogation the suspect refused to explain himself unless members of the press were allowed to participate. The Captain of the Downtown Police Precinct decided to comply, despite disapproval of several of his Detectives.

`I wish to set the record straight,' Jules the Monk said in his opening statement. `I want the truth out there. I don't want the city to have a false impression of me based on the words of a useless waste of space like Randall the Jerk. I have not come here out of regret or some illusions of morality. I chose to give myself up in the name of enlightenment.'

The suspect went on to explain that his choice of the word `enlightenment' had been deliberate. He did not simply mean that in terms of shedding light on the truth, but also in the sense of spirituality.

`I have chosen to embrace enlightenment. I wish for a life devoid of violence. It is why I have chosen not to chase Randall the Jerk, despite that after he ratted me out in his interview I should blow his brains out on general principle. I expect you'll find him and hand him his due punishment soon enough, anyway.'

Jules the Monk, true to the principles of a career criminal, refused to divulge the location of Randall Lee despite their apparent grudge. He did, however, offer insight into the nature of their working relationship.

`I owed him a favor,' he said in an embarrassed tone. `I shall not provide specifics, but a year ago I and my crew at the time found ourselves in need of a getaway driver, and Randall was the only man available for the job. We took his help, despite the fact that everyone knew he couldn't drive, but it was either that or letting him have a gun, and we knew better than to do that. It had been a poor decision, as only he and I walked away from the wreckage after he crashed us into a concrete wall, but he technically did get us away from the police, and I'm a man of my word, so when he asked me to help him with the jewelery store in return for his help, I did. And you know how that one went.'

During the now infamous robbery, Randall the Jerk shot up the store with a shotgun despite cooperation from the store clerk, and both he and Jules the Monk were forced to vacate the premises without any jewelery. On their way out, Jules gunned down two police officers who wound up in hospital in critical condition, but have since recovered and will be returning to active duty soon. Jules the Monk offered no apology for his actions during the robbery.

`I know where to shoot a man if I want him to die, I know where to shoot him if I want him to live, and I don't miss,' he said instead. `Of course they survived. I don't like it when innocent bystanders or policemen die. Why do you think I shot them in the first place? If I hadn't, Randall would have, with the shotgun, and although there's a very high probability that he'd have missed, I did not want to take the chance that he wouldn't.'

After repeatedly refusing to provide the whereabouts of Randall Lee or any useful information about him, Jules the Monk was told in no uncertain terms that he could expect a very harsh sentence at his impending trial. In response, the suspect shook his head and offered a brief explanation.

`I'm not here to make deals or rat out my peers, not even that scumbag Randall the Jerk,' he said. `I simply came to explain to the world why a professional was forced to work with a complete amateur, and to assure you all that this would never happen again. As a matter of fact, as soon as I get out of here, I will leave the life of crime behind and dedicate my existence to reaching true enlightenment.'

When the suspect was told that he would not be getting out for a very long time, he simply smiled and bowed, then refused to say another word.

The next day his cell was found empty, its door locked, the key laid on the floor in the center of the cell. The police have since resumed their search for both Jules the Monk and Randall Lee. The Captain of the Downtown Police Precinct gave his personal guarantee to the public that the pair would be found and brought to justice. Meanwhile the Bright Rocks jewelery store is considering hiring private military contractors to provide additional security for their upcoming reopening which is scheduled to take place in just two days.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

West Side Con City remains under lockdown following the recent escape of twenty inmates from Con City Penitentiary. The ongoing lockdown comes at the request of Quentin Jones, Warden of the prison facility, who is worried about the escaped prisoners.

`Dangerous? No, they're not dangerous, they're in danger,' he says about the missing inmates. `I worry for their safety. Poor fools wandered off the premises and no doubt got lost in the vast urban jungle out there. We must find them before they come to harm.'

The lockdown, which has been in force for five days, involves helicopters circling over the district, a police cordon surrounding literally the entire West Side, and armed police officers patrolling the streets with dogs. Citizens hoping to go in or out of the district must pass through security checks, and anyone not able to display a valid form of identification will be detained. Locals are none too happy about the security measures.

`Traffic is worse than ever,' says Andrew Porter, a pensioner living in the outskirts of the district. `Takes a day to get into the Downtown to see my son. And the non-stop racket from the blasted choppers is even worse. Can't an old man get some sleep around here any more?'

Detective Bill Jacobs, one of the officers in charge of the manhunt, sympathizes with the senior citizen. `I know the feeling,' he says, `it takes me forever just to get lunch in the middle of all this. But we have to find those inmates, and until we do, the lockdown remains. Although, from what I hear, it might be over very soon. Mayor's fed up with the costs of the lockdown, so he's calling in some specialists from Greenwell. Honestly, we could use the help. That Fragcamper Unit they have is pretty good.'

The Mayor of Con City has indeed called in assistance from Greenwell, but not from the police, thanks to ongoing tension between top officials of the Con City Police Department and Chief Woods of Greenwell Police. Instead, the Mayor has called on the help of a trio of experts known as the Lake Brothers.

Bob, Eli, and Joe Lake are triplets, sharing a tight connection which they proudly put on display by dressing alike and having beards of identical length. Born and raised in Greenwell, the three brothers are no strangers to danger. While they have, over the years, managed to earn quite a reputation as trackers and trappers, they did so not in law enforcement, but in a very different trade.

`We're big game hunters, Mister,' says Joe Lake, the trapper expert in the trio. `Ain't no beast big enough for us to handle. Course we ain't never hunted men before, but we've trapped elephants, rhinos, gorillas, pandas, anything you can think of. Ain't nothing we can't catch.'

`Yeah, and ain't nothing we can't shoot dead at a thousand yards,' adds Eli Lake, the marksman of the Lake Brothers. `Them inmates better not resist, 'cause I'll be watching Joe and Bob's back through my scope. One false move, and we take 'em in like roadkill.'

`Won't come to that,' assures Bob Lake, who claims to have wrestled more alligators than he can count. `Any of 'em avoids Joe's bear traps, I'll sneak up on 'em and beat 'em unconscious. Never see me comin'.'

The Lake Brothers are clearly not lacking in confidence. As for whether they worry about any difficulties finding the escaped inmates in the streets of Con City, the three brothers offer a simultaneous shrug.

`Jungle's a jungle, Mister,' Joe Lake states. `Trees or skyscrapers, makes no difference. Just gotta watch the bystanders, is all. We'll just use subtlety and precision, so no land mines or grenade launchers.'

The Lake Brothers are set to commence their hunt for the escaped inmates shortly, and while local residents are no doubt overjoyed by the prospect of hopefully being able to return to their normal lives soon, Warden Quentin Jones in infinitely worried that the Mayor called in the wrong kind of assistance.

`Big game hunters? Really?' he says. `This makes no sense. My poor boys are rabbits, not lions. Well, I hope they'll find their way home soon. I'm preparing a special welcome home party for them. We'll have pies, and stew, and limbo dancing. It'll be fun, you'll see.'

Others at Con City Penitentiary are also skeptical, not just about the Lake Brothers, but the manhunt in general. A prison guard who wishes to remain anonymous paints a vivid picture about the prisoners' escape.

`They had it all figured out,' he states. `Found a way to override the door controls in their corridor, combined all their bed sheets into a makeshift rope and escaped through a window in the middle of the night. We only noticed in the morning. They had at least six hours to get away before the lockdown happened. Did I mention that the prison is on the very edge of the city? They could have walked all the way to Brickton by now.'

Despite the ill boding words of the anonymous prison guard, the Lake Brothers remain confident in their abilities.

`We's no strangers to elusive prey,' says Eli Lake. `That's why we got see at night scopes on our rifles. It'll be like snatching eggs from a condor's nest. Nothin' to it.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Controversy has rocked Con City Penitentiary for the second time in recent memory. It has only been a month since the wildly successful prison break which saw twenty inmates escape the prison facility. While all of those fugitives were successfully apprehended by a trio of big game hunters contracted by the Mayor of Con City, the success of the manhunt is now overshadowed by the disappearance of Joseph Dodgson, better known as serial killer Flamer Joe. His cell was found empty and the security camera footage offers no clues as to when and how he escaped.

`It's like he vanished into thin air,' says Warden Quentin Jones about Flamer Joe's escape. `Maybe he's a magician. Well, I hope he comes back. We just had the welcome back party for those poor boys who finally came home. We planned all sorts of fun and games for them, like limbo dancing, but since those three brutes from Greenwell brought my boys back with concussions, broken limbs, and shattered kneecaps, we had to give up on most of that. A magician would have livened up the party a great deal.'

While the Warden appears impressed, others are terrified of the vanishing of one of the most notorious serial killers in the history of Con County. Flamer Joe stands guilty of ninety-six counts of first degree murder, the majority of them committed with a flamethrower. Detective Bill Jacobs of the Con City Police Department fears that the fugitive will continue where he left off before his arrest.

`A man like Joe is like the bubonic plague,' the Detective states. `No way he's gonna stop. Ninety-six murders? Why would he stop there when he could go all the way to ninety-six thousand, or hell, even ninety-six million? All he needs is time and a big flamethrower, and given how ingenious he has been, I'm sure he can find or even build a very big flamethrower.'

Despite the warning words of Detective Jacobs, the man who appears to be the most terrified in the wake of Flamer Joe's escape is in fact Marketing Director Jeremy Edwards at Channel 11. Edwards is one of the executives in charge of the controversial dating show Joe's Gonna Kiss You, which was launched just last year, and which saw Flamer Joe act as its host via satellite from his cell.

`This is our most popular program by far,' Mister Edwards says. `Everybody wants to see how Joe brings people together. No, I mean, everybody wants to see Joe. Do you honestly think viewers actually care about the contestants? About whether or not the poor sods can find true love? No! The audience watches because Joe asks the kind of mindblowingly inappropriate questions that only a serial killer would think to ask. Without Joe, there is no show. And without the show, me and most of my crew are out of a job! He has to come back! He just has to!'

At the time of writing the whereabouts of Flamer Joe are unknown. While the lack of news of flamethrower related murders is encouraging, the Con City Police Department urges the public to take care, as `it's just a matter of time before Joe strikes.'

As for his escape, Detective Bill Jacobs has a theory as to how the infamous serial killer might have made it out.

`It's all that stupid Warden's fault,' the Detective says. `Just add up the numbers. He hosts this ridiculous welcome home party of his for the fugitives that the hunters dragged back to the prison, and somehow, that very night, Flamer Joe manages to just walk out of there without anyone taking notice? Oh, did I mention that the Warden had the ingenious idea to make it a reunion gathering of sorts, and invited a bunch of former inmates to this stupid party, including several known associates of Flamer Joe? But you know what, maybe I'm reading too much into it. Maybe it's all just a coincidence. Right?'

Warden Quentin Jones refuses to comment the Detective's theory, but he urges the escaped serial killer to give himself up to the authorities, and promises to host `a welcome home party of epic proportions that will make last night's event pale in comparison.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

A newly discovered manuscript currently attributed to famous Greenwell poet C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks) is stirring up tension in the self-styled Green City. Lawrence Curtis, Curator of Greenwell Museum and local Whitaker (Brooks) expert believes that the manuscript is of revolutionary significance.

`Forensic linguists and graphologists agree that the discovered piece of writing bears the unmistakable characteristics of C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks)'s handwriting,' he states. `And yet, it is unlike anything ever created by the great poet. As you no doubt know, Whitaker (Brooks) is the inventor of the world famous One Word Poems. But this manuscript contains two words. Two! That's one word too many! How?! Why?! We must rethink everything we thought we knew about the father of single word poetry.'

The contents of the manuscript, the words `Buy Milk,' are believed by many to be an experimental piece of poetry by Whitaker (Brooks). In particular, Howard Pretentious, esteemed literary critic, poet, and Editor-in-Chief of the Con City Times, says `there is technically no reason to rule out that C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks) wrote poems comprising more than one word. Consider, also, that the man invented his own words late in his career. How else could he have done that if not by experimentation? I am firmly convinced that Buy Milk is an authentic poem by C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks).'

The questionable authenticity of the manuscript aside, the discovery has put additional pressure on Greenwell Museum. The original One Word Poem manuscripts of Whitaker (Brooks), previously kept on display at the museum, are still missing after an as yet unidentified culprit stole them from the exhibit with the assistance of a bulldozer. Many fear that as long as the thief remains at large, the new manuscript is at risk of being stolen as well.

`The Curator has asked us to provide 24/7 police protection,' says Detective Malcolm Shepard of Greenwell Police. `We are happy to oblige. Chief Woods is an avid fan of Whitaker (Brooks). He's got the poem Now framed and hung on the wall in his office.'

In addition to the eight police officers who now patrol the museum grounds all day, every day, Detective Shepard has installed infrared motion sensors throughout the museum and surrounded the display case with electrified barbed wire.

`Yes, I am very happy with the Detective's work,' says Curator Lawrence Curtis. `Unlike that other one, what's her name, Detective Rhodes. She's supposed to be one of the best on the force, so why hasn't she caught the thief yet? I'll tell you why, because she's an illiterate barbarian who doesn't appreciate art. If she were as enthusiastic as the Chief of Police and Detective Shepard are, she'd have found the missing manuscripts long ago.'

Detective Eve Rhodes offers a brief two-sentence comment to the Curator's words: `I'm glad he's happy with Shepard. It lets me focus on real police work.'

While the manuscript appears to be in good hands, fans continue to debate its authenticity on social media. Comments such as `Whitaker (Brooks) would never write an extra word' wage war with opinions such as `a revolutionary poet like Whitaker (Brooks) can write as many words as he wants, possibly even three.' The latter statement in particular has sparked a heated debate spanning over fifty thousand comments and counting, with the heavy use of phrases such as `preposterous suggestion,' `let's stone this heathen,' and `you're full of shit, bro.'

Tensions are in fact running so high that some fear the fans of Whitaker (Brooks) will soon come to blows in the streets of Greenwell, sparking a riot the likes of which could only be seen in Brickton. To get ahead of the violence, Detective Malcolm Shepard offers a simple solution to the heated dilemma.

`Why don't we just use a hyphen and write it as ``Buy-milk?'' ' he says. `Then it's just one word and automatically a One Word Poem.'

Since hearing this suggestion, Curator Lawrence Curtis is actively requesting the Chief of Police to hand the duties of guarding the new manuscript over to Detective Rhodes.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Entrepreneur Mike Winner earned himself multiple headlines in leading news outlets in recent weeks thanks to his legal battle against the Con County Television Broadcasting Association. Several months ago, Mister Winner purchased the name of the station Radio Con City, which had gone out of business a few weeks prior. He applied to the CCTBA for a permit to launch his own radio station and brand it the new and improved Radio Con City, but the CCTBA declined his request. Mike Winner refused to back down and took the matter to court.

During the lengthy trial, numerous controversial details saw the light of day. The most notorious of these was the quote taken out of the refusal letter sent by the CCTBA to Mike Winner, stating that `radio is dead.' Every major radio station in Con County vehemently objected. Desert Rock Radio called it `the worst scandal since that nutjob tried to sacrifice virgins in a fake volcano.' Radio Brickton actively urged its listeners to take to the streets in support of Mike Winner, which led to three separate riots in the streets of Brickton. And the residents of Con City, who had been without a radio station since the bankruptcy of the original Radio Con City, sent threatening letters to the CCTBA containing remarkably sophisticated words like `eviscerate,' `castrate,' `defenestrate,' and `decapitate.'

Equally controversial was the evidence presented by the CCTBA that Mike Winner was being sponsored by the company ConnqWest Futuristics, a firm currently under investigation for questionable employment practices. The CCTBA argued that a man funded by a company that made a habit of firing its employees after 364 days of employment in order to cut down on severance pays and annual raises could not be counted on to run a reputable radio station. The end result was a complex civil trial that threatened to last decades. That was until Mike Winner, seemingly taking a page out of popular fiction, challenged the CCTBA to settle their dispute in a trial by combat. Specifically, in a boxing match.

`My lawyer deserves all the credit for it,' Mister Winner said. `He found an old law, from the 19th century, which said that any trial that took too long could be replaced with a mano a mano fistfight. It turns out, as old as that law is, it's still in effect. So we took full advantage of it.'

The law in question, instated by Con City's Mayor Buford Salter in 1849, states that any criminal or civil trial that takes longer than two weeks may optionally be resolved by a fistfight. It also states that either party may request to invoke the law and that the other party may not refuse to comply, otherwise they would be imprisoned for twenty years. Mike Winner's attorney argued that if the CCTBA were to turn down the challenge, their Director would face the imprisonment. It is perhaps no surprise that after a brief argument, the CCTBA accepted the challenge.

The boxing match between Mike Winner and CCTBA Director Robert Howell took place at Rollo Stadium in South Side Con City. The over eighty thousand seat venue was reserved by ConnqWest Futuristics as a gesture of faith in the man whose future radio station they were sponsoring. The attendance rate at the event was extremely low with a mere one hundred and seventeen people making up the audience. The match itself, however, proved to be an instant classic, as Mike Winner floored Robert Howell a minute into the first round, and the Director of the CCTBA had to be carted out on a stretcher.

The court thus ruled that the CCTBA had to give Mike Winner a permit to start his radio station. However, details were left to the CCTBA's discretion, and Director Howell instructed his staff from his hospital bed to give Mister Winner's radio station a total of five minutes of allowed airtime each month.

While Mike Winner's attorney intends to file a lawsuit against the CCTBA in order to force them to extend the monthly airtime, and has made it known that he would invoke the trial by combat law as soon as possible, the legal team of the CCTBA has stated that they would use every technicality imaginable to prevent the case from ever making it to an actual civil trial. Without a trial, no trial by combat may be initiated, hence for the foreseeable future the new and improved Radio Con City would have to make do with being on the air for no more than five minutes every month.

When asked what he would broadcast during his monthly five minutes, Mike Winner simply said: `The news. What else?'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Ever since the discovery of gravitational waves, the Con City Space Agency has been hard at work developing a so-called graviton surf board: a high-tech surf board designed to ride the gravitational waves... in space. While the project received plenty of criticism from various sources, mainly numerous scientists calling it `a complete waste of time,' plenty of investors have supported the development. Now, that investment seems to have paid off, as the Con City Space Agency has made a stunning announcement.

`We've done it,' said Professor Jared Burns, Director of the Agency in his opening sentence at a press conference. `We have built the prototype of the graviton surf board!'

The announcement came just a few months after the Nobel Prize was awarded for the discovery of gravitational waves. Professor Burns admitted that the timing was no coincidence.

`When they handed the Nobel out for the gravitational waves, interest in our graviton surf board project spiked,' he explained. `Donations quadrupled within three days, and we gathered so much funding that we managed to speed up the research and development cycle quite a bit. That is why I am proud to say that we finally have a finished, ready to use prototype of the graviton surf board!'

As for how the Agency managed to build an object to ride waves that penetrate all known forms of matter, Chief Engineer Scott Freeman provided additional explanation.

`We invented a new material that can hover on gravitational waves,' he stated. `I know many of our colleagues around the world will be skeptical -- hell, I would be skeptical if someone else had designed this material -- but take my word for it, the thing works. The thing actually works. As for how, I'm afraid I cannot disclose that until our patent application is approved, which might take a couple of years or even decades. But once we demonstrate that the graviton surf board works, there will be no doubt left in anyone's mind that our invention is groundbreaking, revolutionary, and just as worthy of the Nobel as the waves themselves.'

Regarding the demonstration of the graviton surf board's operation, Professor Burns admitted at the press conference that they have not been able to test their prototype just yet.

`To use a surf board, we need a wave to ride,' he said. `This is no different from surfing on ocean waves. We can't go surfing when the seas are calm. With gravitational waves, there is the added complication that we need to find gravitational waves in space. All waves detected thus far have been found by detectors on Earth. To make matters worse, months passed between each detection. That's just not sufficient for our surf board. We need a better means of detecting gravitational waves, and in particular, we need to detect them in space. This is currently not possible, hence we have started a new project, aiming to build a gravitational wave detector in space. Yes, I'm aware the Europeans want to do the same thing, but we can do it better!'

The new project faces its own difficulties, in particular with its required functions.

`We have to not only detect but predict gravitational waves before they hit,' explained Chief Engineer Freeman. `Otherwise, we cannot prepare the graviton surf board in time to actually catch the waves. Existing detection procedures can't really do that, so we need to devise a whole new way of detecting gravitational waves. And we need to put the detector on a satellite, or a space station. That is the other difficulty. We need the Ultra Brutus space shuttle to be operational in order to deploy the new detector when it's ready, and right now Ultra Brutus is far from completion. I fear the prototype graviton surf board will be sitting in our lab for the foreseeable future.'

Despite the difficulties, the Director of the Con City Space Agency expressed confidence that it won't be long before we can go surfing in space.

`Soon, very soon, gravitational surfing will be more popular than traditional surfing,' Professor Burns said at the end of the press conference. `After all, our computer simulations clearly say that our prototype graviton surf board should work as intended.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Chaos and anarchy have taken hold of the streets of Brickton in wake of the recent manhunt for the vigilante known as the Train Guardian. Last night, twenty police officers in pursuit of a suspect whom they believed to be the Train Guardian were attacked by a mob of one hundred and fifty-two civilians. The suspect evaded capture, while most of the police officers have been hospitalized with serious injuries. Their attackers remain at large, and Brickton Police are already considering calling off the manhunt for the Train Guardian.

`Honestly, this manhunt was doomed to turn into a catastrophe,' said Detective Robert Corino, the head of the Train Guardian Task Force at Brickton PD. `People love the Train Guardian. He keeps our trains safe in a time when Brickton city officials couldn't care less about the railway. As soon as the press got wind of the manhunt, it was simply a matter of time before the people would rise up to protect their hero.'

The Train Guardian is Brickton's most well known vigilante. At large for over five years, he patrols the grounds of Brickton Central armed with a baseball bat and beats up anyone who does not have a valid ticket. Despite his status as a local folk hero, a manhunt was called for his capture four days earlier after he assaulted the Chief of Police at Brickton Central station. While the Chief is being treated at Brickton General Hospital in a medically induced coma, Mayor Stanley Greekhorse himself called for the manhunt, stating that `figures of authority cannot be assaulted without consequences, especially the ones on my payroll.' Mayor Greekhorse insisted that the Train Guardian be captured and made an example of, which prompted the Train Guardian Task Force of Brikcton PD to lay a trap for the vigilante.

Last night the Task Force sent an undercover police officer to Brickton Central to attempt to board a train without a valid ticket. He was confronted by a figure in a trench coat, wearing a balaclava under a wide brim fedora, and carrying a baseball bat. The undercover officer made a run for it and led the suspect towards nineteen of his colleagues. When the Train Guardian spotted the ambush, he turned tail and ran into the train yard, where he succeeded to elude his pursuers but was spotted leaving the train yard and running towards the town center. The police officers chased him on foot until they were intercepted by a group of one hundred and fifty-two civilians, all of whom wore trench coats with hats and carried baseball bats. A brawl ensued which allowed the suspect to escape. Sixteen of the twenty police officers caught in the hands of the mob were hospitalized with broken bones, concussions, and shattered teeth; the remaining four officers suffered mild bruises, and two of them sprained their ankles. The assailants fled the scene and left their baseball bats behind, all of which had the words `We are all the Train Guardian' glued on them using words cut out of newspapers and magazines.

`This kind of public support is admirable,' said Detective Corino about the incident. `Of course we have to prosecute all of those people for assaulting members of Brickton PD, which we will as soon as we identify and apprehend them, but nevertheless the unity and fighting spirit of these people is truly inspiring. This is what the Train Guardian does. He protects our trains and brings people together. He creates community spirit. You ask me, we shouldn't be chasing the poor man at all. But the rules are the rules, and we can't have vigilantes assaulting police officers. Although, given the Train Guardian's M.O., he must have had good reason for beating up the Chief. Who knows, maybe the Chief actually tried to board a train without a ticket.'

The speculations of Detective Corino seem to be seconded by an article published in the Brickton Herald the day before the clash between Brickton Police and the Train Guardian's supporters. In the article, Brickton Central's Station Manager Marcia Knowles was interviewed about the attack on the Chief of Police. `We have no witnesses to what happened, since the Chief of Police was the only passenger on the train to Con City,' she said. `What we do know is that the ticket office has no records of anyone purchasing a ticket for that train. And that a member of the train crew on the service to Con City said that the Chief flashed his badge to her and stated that he was there on police business before taking a seat in first class.'

Whether the Chief of Police truly meant to get a free ride on the train remains unknown, and the Train Guardian remains at large. Mayor Greekhorse has urged Brickton Police to `either catch the bastard or cease the manhunt' the moment he saw the estimated medical bills of the injured police officers.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

By day, Doctor Terrence Walker works as a psychiatrist for Greenwell Police; his job is to help police officers through times of mental stress. By night, he spreads love on the airwaves to the lonely souls of Greenwell.

`Love On The Air With Doctor Walker is one of our most popular programs,' says Michael Josephson, owner of Green City Radio. `The show has been running for three years and we get more callers every week. We're very happy to have Doctor Walker.'

The unlikely combination of being a police psychiatrist and a matchmaker seems to have worked out well for Doctor Walker, who believes there is great synergy between his two occupations.

`It's all about getting to know people,' he explains. `In my line of work, we dig deep into the psyche of our patients, we come to understand them better than they understand themselves. It is the only way to truly help them overcome the burden of all the horrible things they see in the field. Helping people find love follows the same principles. If we understand who they really are, inside, we can match them up with compatible people. I'm actually surprised no other police psychiatrist moonlights as a matchmaker.'

The idea of working on the side while trying to maintain the mental health of the police force may seem out of place in the county that tourist guides call `the most violent plot of land in the Republic of North America,' but in Greenwell itself the situation is not quite that dire.

`I don't get a lot of work at the police station, in fact,' Doctor Walker states. `Greenwell is one of the safest places in Con County. We do have violent crime, but nothing like in Con City or Brickton, and our police force has the very best specialist task force in the country. The most mentally damaging incidents normally involve brawls in the audience at the live events of the Greenwell Bullfighting Organization, and such riots don't happen more than twice a year. It's easy to find the time to help out lonesome souls on the air.'

The success of the program, during which singles call into the show to talk to Doctor Walker who then determines which callers are compatible with each other and facilitates first contact between them, has been recognized by the Con County Television Broadcasting Association. The CCTBA, albeit not very popular with radio audiences due to their opinion of radio in general, do still hand out annual awards for the best programs on both television and radio channels. Love On The Air With Doctor Walker has won the Best Live Dating Show award, even beating the televised and immensely popular Joe's Gonna Kiss You, which has taken a hit in ratings after serial killer Joseph Dodgson, better known as Flamer Joe, escaped from Con City Penitentiary, and thereby stepped down from his duties of hosting the show live via satellite from his cell.

`We are all very proud of Doctor Walker's success, and we are grateful to the CCTBA for their recognition,' Michael Josephson says. `Especially against such stiff competition like Joe's Gonna Kiss You. Then again, such controversial programs shouldn't be given awards, no matter how popular they may be.'

Despite the critical words of the Green City Radio owner towards the competition, Doctor Walker's show is no stranger to controversy, either. Reports state that of the more than five thousand people who have called into the show during the three years it's been on the air, a significant fraction of one hundred and ninety-six have gone missing, all of them within a month of calling into the show. While Greenwell Police have found no evidence of foul play in the disappearances, members of the press have called attention to the uncomfortable statistics. Doctor Walker has chosen to address the matter, stating his belief that the string of missing persons cases connected to his program is just a coincidence.

`It is of course very sad because we will perhaps never know how or why these people went missing, whether they are even still alive, but as cruel as it may sound, this is just the way of life,' Doctor Walker argues. `Sometimes, love finds you. Sometimes, something else does. That shouldn't stop anyone from looking for love on my show.'

Those of you who would like Doctor Walker's help to find love can call him on Love On The Air With Doctor Walker between 8 PM and 11 PM every Monday and Friday. Calls are recorded and callers are required to leave their name, phone number, and home address with Doctor Walker, who will treat all personal information with complete confidentiality.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Con County's top tourist resort Camp Black Lake has closed its doors for the foreseeable future after campers were attacked by what witnesses describe as `a flock of sharks and piranhas.' While Black Lake is known to host a vast array of dangerous fish, no one in the history of Con County has ever been attacked by such predators on the shore until now. Due to the severity of the incident, local law enforcement forces expect that the camp may need to remain closed for a long time, at the very least one week.

`It's going to take a while to analyze that crime scene,' Sheriff Paxton explains. `There's a lot of blood to clean up, and a lot of mangled limbs to identify. It's a miracle no one died. Yet.'

Numerous people have been hospitalized following the incident with severe injuries ranging from broken bones to bitten off hands or feet. One victim of the incident lies in critical condition, that individual being none other than Jeremy Sloan. The nephew of local fishery magnate Albert Sloan, and son of the late and infamous Robert Sloan, managed to avoid losing any limbs but has lost a huge amount of blood and sizable chunks of his flesh from various parts of his body. Reportedly, he was the first to be attacked by the piranhas.

`I've never seen anything like it,' says Lucy Hall, the lifeguard at Camp Black Lake. `Mister Sloan was dancing by the shore with his friends when five or ten piranhas just jumped out of the water and leaped on him. Lucky for him that he didn't fall into the water. He screamed for help, and his friends tried to pull the piranhas off of him, but all they achieved was that some of the piranhas jumped onto them instead. There was blood everywhere. And then the sharks came. As big as dolphins, and twice as agile. I swear, they jumped out onto the shore, and hopped from camper to camper like frogs, taking a bite out of anyone they could. Except Mister Sloan. Him they left for the piranhas for some reason.'

Several other witnesses support Miss Hall's account of the jumping sharks, and all agree that after the incident the piranhas and sharks returned to the water and swam away. It is not known at this time what provoked the attack on the campers, but given the track record of Jeremy Sloan, the Sheriff of Black Lake speculates that the young man may have done something to agitate the wildlife.

`I was there when this little shit tried to turn the lake into a giant soda bath with carbon dioxide canisters,' he said. `For all we know, he might have poured something into the water that pissed off the sharks and the piranhas. Maybe even some chemical or another his damn father invented. This is one of the reasons we had to close the camp. We don't want people going anywhere near the water until the fish calm down.'

Jeremy Sloan is at present unavailable for comment, but the Sheriff's concerns are shared by the victim's uncle Albert Sloan. `I would not put it past him,' the fishery magnate states. `He wanted to use my lakeside cabin for another party, but after what he did last time I refused to let him. Should have known he'd just go to the camp instead and get high there with his lewd friends. But getting the fish high? That's a new low, even by his standards. And he wonders why I don't let him work at my fishery.'

The environmentalist group known as Brains of the Earth, however, fears that the attack may not have been caused by Jeremy Sloan. Doctor Marcus Pitchford, who back in the day led the protest against Jeremy Sloan's attempt to pump carbon dioxide into the lake, admits having no sympathy for the young man but believes that he is, in fact, not to blame.

`I'd be the last person on the planet to defend that irresponsible youngster,' Doctor Pitchford says, `but I suspect we are dealing with something far more sinister than a party animal. Even if he did pour something into the water that made the fish aggressive, it is inconceivable that he gave the sharks the ability to jump on land like rabbits. No, I believe we are dealing with a mutation here, caused no doubt by chemicals leaking into the water from the defunct chemical plant on the opposite shore. Clearly, the plant needs to be cleaned up and demolished before it could cause even more harm to the environment.'

Doctor Pitchford refers to the ruins of the late Robert Sloan's facility, Sloan Chemicals, located in the ruins of the abandoned Black Falls, now known as Ghost Town, which has been abandoned and locked down ever since toxic chemicals escaped from the plant several years ago and killed everyone in Black Falls. The very reason why Ghost Town is abandoned is the fear that residual toxic gases may still remain in the chemical plant, which is why Doctor Pitchford believes that the time has come for the town of Black Lake to invest in a thorough cleanup of the ruins. Sheriff Paxton, on the other hand, believes this would be a waste.

`Old coot is just paranoid,' the Sheriff states. `It was all the Sloan kid's doing. As long as we don't let the brat near the lake ever again, everything will be fine. And if, if, I said, if the incident still repeats itself and we get another bunch of campers crippled by sharks and piranhas, well, then we can start entertaining the thought that maybe the treehuggers were right all along. But I tell you, it had to be the Sloan kid. And I'm sure he'll admit it to Carl as soon as he wakes up.'

At the time of writing Deputy Carl stands guard outside Jeremy Sloan's hospital room with a loaded shotgun in hand. When asked whether he believes the theory of Doctor Pitchford, he states, `all I know is we have a repeat offender in the room behind me and the son of a bitch will pay. Every crime must be punished!'

In the mean time, staff at Camp Black Lake await the decision regarding the camp's future. Lucy Hall is confident that they will not remain closed very long.

`We've had worse incidents before,' the lifeguard says. `Often, campers get a little carried away. They get high, they puke all over the grass, they defecate in the parking lot, that sort of thing. At times like that we had to close down to clean up the camp for guests, but never very long. The longest the Sheriff ever closed us down was two weeks, and that was well before my time, when we had a serial killer loose in the camp. Really, I think Camp Black Lake will very soon open its doors and provide a relaxing escape from the stress of weekdays for the whole family.'

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

The Hades Corporation, Desert Rock's premier electronics firm, caused quite a stir when they opened a new mine in the outskirts of town early last week. The mine was established over the site of the long abandoned gold mine of Desert Rock. Locals stood baffled before the company's decision to reopen the gold mine, which had closed down in 1821 after failing to produce even an ounce of gold during its fifteen years of operation. The tale of the ill-fated gold mining endeavor has long been taught in local schools as a cautionary tale, which led to local media outlets wondering why the Hades Corporation, a firm best known for its interactive urinals, would reopen the facility. Two days after the opening of the new mine, a local man added fuel to the fire in the form of an airborne mockery campaign.

Adam White, owner of the Soaring Skyrides sightseeing company, took to the air in his hot air balloon and hovered above town for several hours with a large banner hanging from the balloon with the words `Hades Corp digs gold' written on it and the image of a casket beneath. Locals recorded videos of Mister White's flight and took to social media to ridicule the Hades Corporation. The most watched video reached over four million views in the span of six hours and spawned a sea of comments including examples such as `they're only two centuries late to the gold rush,' `should have stuck to making nerdy urinals,' and `losers would find more gold in the CEO's mouth.' When interviewed by Desert Rock Radio the day after, Adam White revealed about his controversy-stirring banner ad that he had in fact been simply a messenger.

`I run a business, and business has been pretty bad lately,' he explained. `So when this guy came by and offered a sizable sum for flying over town with this banner of his, of course I accepted. And guess what? People are flocking to ride on my balloon now, and they're paying extra if I fly with the banner. Best business decision I ever made.'

As for the individual who hired him, Adam White refused to `rat out' this person. Two days later, he took to the sky once more with a new banner, this one bearing the logo of the Hades Corporation, and the words `we mine tantalum so you can mine ConCurrency on your phone.' On the same day, the Hades Corporation issued a press release in which they confirmed that they have signed Mister White to an exclusive contract to display banner ads for them in exchange for an undisclosed sum, and that they in fact reopened the old mine not to mine gold, but to mine tantalum.

`Tantalum is an essential metal for the design of cutting edge GPUs,' the press release stated. `While gold indeed cannot be found anywhere near or below Desert Rock, deposits of tantalum are abundant, and we will use the new mine to acquire substantial amounts of this rare metal. The tantalum will be used in our upcoming new cellphones which will feature state-of-the-art GPU chips that will, for the first time ever in the history of cellular phones, enable users to mine ConCurrency on the go.'

ConCurrency is the most popular cryptocurrency in Con County, developed by ConSoft LLC, creators of the infamous strategy game Conspiracy: The Game, and more recently, the scandalous Koala Hunting: The Game. Mining of ConCurrency requires heavy computational capacity most often supplied by GPU chips, hence the ability to mine it on a cellphone in your pocket would be an easy way to make money for anyone who owns a phone.

The press release and the new banner ad had the desired effect. Within a day, social media was flooded by videos of Adam White's balloon displaying the Hades Corporation's advert, which accumulated comments such as `it all makes sense now,' `jackasses should have said so sooner,' and the occasional `wait fifteen years until we find out there was never any tantalum in the mine to begin with.'

Two days later the media craze surrounding the opening of the mine seemed to die down, yet the story took an unexpected turn. A man assaulted Adam White when he was about to take off with his balloon. During the brawl, the pair wound up in the passenger cabin of the balloon which took off with them, and when it reached about fifty feet in the air the assailant fell out of the balloon.

Adam White's attacker has since been identified as Malcolm Dallas, an engineer who was laid off by the Hades Corporation a year ago after the infamous Antistray 3000 debacle. He has not yet been interrogated since the fall confined him to a room at the local medical facility in a comatose state. Adam White refused to address his attacker and limited his comments regarding the incident, which is eerily similar to the time when he threw one of his unruly passengers overboard, to the words `get off my back, it was self defense.'

Local police have stated that they believe the matter is trivial, dismissing Malcolm Dallas as `a disgruntled jobless man who wanted revenge on his former employers and then took offense on Adam White making a deal with the Hades Corporation at his expense.'

In the three days passed since the incident between Malcolm Dallas and Adam White, social media almost completely forgot the new mine in Desert Rock, save for the heated discussion on tech forums about the feasibility of mining ConCurrency on a cellphone. An anonymous commenter under the pseudonym `SensibleTechie123' pointed out that mining any kind of cryptocurrency on a cellphone, no matter how modern the processing unit inside, would deplete the battery in half an hour. In response, the Hades Corporation issued a press release stating that they were `aware of the battery problem' and that they were `working on a solution.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

Visitors to Greenwell Museum can soon expect the reopening of the One Word Poems exhibit, as Greenwell Police have finally located the poems that had been previously stolen from the museum. The poems, works of Greenwell's revolutionary poet C. Thomas Whitaker (born John Brooks), had been violently taken from the museum two years ago, when a man broke into the building with a bulldozer. Curator Lawrence Curtis is relieved that the One Word Poems have at last been recovered.

`I was afraid I'd have another heart attack if the police wouldn't find them,' the Curator says. `I'd like to thank Greenwell Police, especially the Detective who led the investigation, for finally finding the masterpieces of Whitaker (Brooks). I know Detective Rhodes and myself have never seen eye to eye, but I am truly grateful that she finally caught the thief.'

`Actually, I had nothing to do with it,' says Detective Eve Rhodes about the recovery of the poems. `One of our beat cops pulled over a car in the suburbs for a broken taillight, and the driver went ballistic on him for being stopped, so he had to bring the guy in. And then he found the manuscripts in the glove compartment, so the case was passed over to me. What can I say, I love it when criminals are too stupid for their own good, especially when they're famous actors.'

The arrested man, currently suspected of having been the person who had broken into the museum, is none other than veteran actor Russel Hunt, better known as Merlin from the Round Table movie franchise. Following his arrest, his home was searched where two items of note, a scarf and a pair of garden gloves were found, which are remarkably similar in appearance to the scarf and gloves worn by the thief in the security camera footage of the break-in. Russel Hunt has been advised against speaking to the media by his legal representative Nigel Finch, which fans of the One Word Poems equate to an admission of guilt.

`Of course he did it,' says Howard Pretentious, esteemed literary critic, poet, and Editor-in-Chief of the Con City Times. `It's common knowledge that his career is held afloat by the Round Table movies. Should Blunt Films decide to stop making those movies, he'd never make another movie again. And we've known for a while that Terrence Blunt wants to produce a movie out of the poems of Whitaker (Brooks), and wants to use the original manuscripts in the movie. Clearly, Russel Hunt feared that the museum might actually allow Blunt Films to use the manuscripts, and in turn the new movie franchise would put him out of a job. A shame, really. He used to be a terrific actor many years ago. He was excellent as Hamlet. It's a real travesty what became of him over the years.'

The producer of the Round Table movies, Terrence Blunt, refuses to comment the matter, albeit his production company Bunt Films has issued a press release stating that `Russel Hunt is responsible for his own actions outside a Blunt Films movie set.' While the press release did not clarify whether or not Mister Hunt's services would be retained, at the time of writing Russel Hunt remains under contract with Blunt Films and is set to reprise his role as Merlin in the upcoming Round Table 6. In contrast, Greenwell University has severed all ties with the actor, bringing an end to the long rumored launch of a self defense class which was meant to be run by the actor, in character as Merlin.

One person who has a very vocal opinion on the matter is film producer Rick Jackson, Terrence Hunt's biggest rival. `I don't know what they'll do with Russel,' he says, `but if you're hoping this scandal will spell the end of the abomination that is the Round Table movie franchise, well, we should be so lucky. No, there is no way Terrence Blunt would stop making those movies, even if Hunt were to be found guilty. Worst case scenario, he'll hire another actor to play Merlin, probably another washed up has-been, and then claim in the next movie that Merlin had to use magic to change his appearance. Or that Merlin had plastic surgery; oh yeah, I would not put that past Terrence Blunt.'

Russel Hunt remains in custody during the investigation and his bail has been set at an unprecedented amount of one billion dollars, by order of Judge Andrew Curtis. While Mister Hunt's attorney has expressed disappointment regarding the decision of Judge Curtis to set the bail so high, the Curator of Greenwell Museum believes this to be the right decision.

`No one can be allowed to ruin the reputation of the greatest poet in Greenwell's history, and I am quite glad that the justice system is in capable and unbiased hands,' Curator Lawrence Curtis, brother of Judge Curtis, states.

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Brickton Herald.

Renowned video game developer ConSoft LLC has announced the ongoing development of their new game, Steel Tycoon 1, tentatively scheduled for release in twelve months. Still reeling from the failure of their infamous first person shooter, Koala Hunting: The Game, the company has decided to return to its roots by developing a strategy game. As opposed to the game that made them famous, Conspiracy: The Game, in this you will not be playing a corrupt politician hell bent on world domination. Instead, you will wear the hat of a ruthless industrialist, and your job will be to build an empire in the steel industry at the expense of your competitors and workers.

Set in Brickton, Con County, the game will take place in the mid 19th century and the player will control none other than the infamous Jeremiah Roarke, former Mayor of Brickton and the founder of the Roarke Steel Mill. ConSoft LLC has bought the right to use the Roarke Steel Mill in the game and Jeremiah Roarke as the protagonist from his great-grandson, the current owner of the Roarke steel empire, Vincent Roarke.

`My son, Jeffrey, talked me into it,' Vincent Roarke says about his decision to sell the necessary rights to ConSoft. `He keeps talking about how good Conspiracy: The Game is, and how much it makes him want to run for Mayor when he grows up. Granted, we could use another Roarke as Mayor of Brickton, so I am thankful to ConSoft for planting the seeds of ambition in Jeffrey. And I figure, lots of young people will come to appreciate the steel industry more if they play a game based on how my great-grandfather built his empire from nothing.'

Vincent Roarke's exaggeration refers to the fact that before establishing the Roarke Steel Mill, Jeremiah Roarke began his life as a banker, then went into politics in 1848 when he took the freshly vacated seat of Mayor of Brickton. In Steel Tycoon 1, the player will begin the game as Mayor of Brickton, and will have to pass various new tax laws that will ensure that all existing steel mills and coal and iron mines will struggle to stay afloat. The player will also have to establish a bank account that city officials and the public do not know about, and transfer as much of the collected taxes to this account as possible without arousing suspicion. The goal of the player is to accumulate a large enough starting capital to effectively buy as many of the struggling companies in the steel industry as they can by the year 1853, which is when the player leaves politics and starts the Roarke Steel Mill, just as Jeremiah Roarke did in real life.

`I am glad the developers are dedicated to historical accuracy,' Vincent Roarke states about the inclusion of his great-grandfather's largely unethical reign as Mayor. `Of course, this part of history should be nothing but a prologue in the game. The meat of it should be how the steel mill grew into the biggest in the Republic of North America.'

In the second stage of Steel Tycoon 1, the player will have to manage the Roarke Steel Mill, carefully balancing material and human resources to ensure that the business turns a profit and is able to grow. The player must keep an eye on the yield of the mines and the efficiency of steel production in the mills, oversee construction of blast furnaces, and ensure that workers are utilized to their maximum efficiency. In particular, they will need to reduce working hours before the exhausted workers could go on strike.

`I can give players a free tip,' Vincent Roarke offers. `They would do well not to have the workers in the mill do shifts longer than fifteen hours under any circumstances. But also no less than twelve hours. As for miners, they can take longer shifts because in the darkness they can't really keep track of time anyway. But even they shouldn't work more than eighteen hours a day, because otherwise, they'll become prone to causing accidents, and that would put production on hold. You never want to risk that, trust me.'

The ultimate goal of the game will be to lead the Roarke Steel Mill until all competitors within Brickton go out of business. ConSoft is promising an online leaderboard where players will be ranked in two categories: how long it took them to achieve complete monopoly, and what the annual profit margin is at the end of the game. Top ten players in each category are expected to be given in-game rewards, though the nature of those rewards is at this time not known. What is known is that there will be no DLC for Steel Tycoon 1, and players have Vincent Roarke himself to thank for that.

`I explicitly forbade ConSoft to make any DLCs,' he states. `My son told me all about these things, said it was a way of releasing an unfinished product and cheat players out of their money. Granted, I can appreciate a good monetization strategy, but I will not give my family's name to a half finished video game. Instead, I made an agreement with ConSoft that if the game is successful, they will expand it into a trilogy.'

Steel Tycoon 1 is, apparently, expected to be just the first of many in a new video game franchise. The culmination of the planned trilogy will take the series into the present day, where the player will step into the shoes of Vincent Roarke himself.

`Just another reason not to have DLCs,' Vincent Roarke states. `I would not want a game mode where you play as me to be a cheap add-on. I would want it to be a main feature. And I would want it to be as authentic as possible. We are already in talks about using motion capture technology to put my likeness into the game for cutscenes of board meetings. I am quite looking forward to it.'

And as for why the current head of Roarke Steel didn't want ConSoft to set the first game in the present day? The answer is profoundly disturbing.

`Playing a simulation of the current steel industry, especially in Brickton, should be a very difficult game,' he explains. `Consider, that these days I have to pay my workers for overtime if they pull long shifts. The blasted social media age makes it essential to invest in worker satisfaction. But worst of all, players will have to put up with the extremely unfair taxes of that greedy bastard Stanley Greekhorse. Like I said before, it's high time we had another Roarke as Mayor of Brickton.'

The following article was penned by Jonathan Parker and was originally published in the Greenwell Inquirer.

Doctor Terrence Walker, controversial psychiatrist at the Greenwell Police Department, made the headlines amid speculations regarding the identity of one of his patients. A week earlier, members of the public alerted Greenwell Police to the sighting of a man resembling escaped convict Joseph Dodgson. Better known as Flamer Joe, Dodgson escaped from Con City Penitentiary several months ago. Authorities have been eager to recapture the escaped serial killer, who is guilty of murdering ninety-six people, most of them with a flamethrower. Law enforcement officers found the suspect selling household items from a dirty old van in the suburbs of Greenwell, and quickly brought him in for questioning. When the man identified himself as Joseph Smith, traveling salesman, the Chief of Police asked Doctor Walker to interview him.

`I did what I could,' Doctor Walker said about the interview. `At the end of the day, I am no detective, so figuring out his identity was beyond me. Which is why I subjected him to a psychiatric evaluation instead, to ascertain whether or not he may be a psychopath who enjoys murdering people with a flamethrower. As I stated in my report to Chief Woods, Mister Smith showed no signs of being interested in murder. He simply wanted to earn a living by selling his merchandise in a peaceful community like Greenwell.'

Upon recommendation from Doctor Walker, the man known at the time as Joseph Smith was allowed to leave but asked to remain in Greenwell while his ID was being thoroughly checked. Three days later, the document turned out to be a forgery, and a warrant was issued for the suspect's arrest. Unfortunately, no one was found at the motel address the suspect had given as his contact information.

`I think we can pretty much conclude that it was Flamer Joe,' said Detective Eve Rhodes about the suspect. `This is the problem with shrinks. If the Chief had given the job to me or any other Detective in the building instead of Doctor Quack, we'd have found it suspicious that a traveling salesman with the face of Flamer Joe was trying to sell cigarette lighters, blowtorches, crates of matches, and army surplus flamethrowers out of an unmarked van that looks tailor made for a serial killer.'

Chief Woods of Greenwell Police has defended Doctor Walker's diagnosis, despite the damning words of Detective Rhodes. `I have full confidence in the abilities of all my staff, including Detective Rhodes and Doctor Walker,' he stated. `I agree with the Detective that perhaps we should have investigated the suspect's business in more detail, but we had limited information at the time, and Doctor Walker is our foremost expert on the human mind, hence I have no reason to doubt his diagnosis. I am in fact relieved, that albeit Flamer Joe remains at large, he has apparently changed his life, stopped being a serial killer, and is trying to build a reputable business using his old tools.'

The rest of the Greenwell Police Department does not quite share the Chief's enthusiasm about the matter. `I'm almost never on the same page with Rhodes,' said Detective Malcolm Shepard, `but in this case, I have to side with her. There's no way Flamer Joe's gone straight, and even if he has, he should be back behind bars for the crimes he committed in the past. Doctor Walker should be ashamed of himself for this blunder.'

The police psychiatrist, who was recently himself a subject of controversy due to the string of missing person's cases linked to the dating show he hosts on Green City Radio, decided not to comment on the words of the police staff, and instead wrote an open letter to the escaped convict and aired it as a public service announcement during the commercial break on his dating show.

`As one dating show host to another,' he said in a reference to the televised dating program Flamer Joe used to host on Channel 11 via satellite from his cell prior to his escape, `I wish you nothing but the best in your future life. I honestly do not know whether or not the person I recently interviewed really was you, but if it was, I do wish you had revealed yourself to me so we could have shared our experiences as peers. And of course, in the name of both justice and professionalism, please turn yourself in. I'm sure your fans would like nothing better than for you to resume your duties as host of Joe's Gonna Kiss You.'

The words of Doctor Walker have failed to resonate with most listeners, and have alienated the entirety of Greenwell Police, with the exception of Chief Woods who remains confident in his abilities as a psychiatrist. One person who has given his most vocal support to Doctor Walker's PSA is Marketing Director Jeremy Edwards at Channel 11. Mister Edwards had been one of the executives who created Flamer Joe's controversial dating program Joe's Gonna Kiss You, and his career has been on a downward spiral ever since the show was canceled after the host's escape from prison. `Please, Joe, listen to the good doctor and turn yourself in,' he wrote on social media after Doctor Walker's PSA. `I'll get the show relaunched and you can go back to creeping people out on live television. I know you miss doing that as much as I miss my monthly bonus the ratings used to earn me.'

Despite the words of both Doctor Walker and Mister Edwards, two days removed from the broadcast Flamer Joe remains at large, along with the sizable inventory of his new business.

The following article by Jonathan Parker was originally published in the Con City Times.

Veteran action movie actor Jamie Ace is seething with rage over the fate of his new animated television show, which currently airs on Desert Rock Radio. The show, called Brutus Catus, is about an animated crime fighting cat who keeps the streets of Cat City safe from thuggish giant rats, cheese smuggling crows, and sidewalk fouling poodles. The name of the protagonist, Brutus Catus, is a mild reference to the character of Brutus Force portrayed by Jamie Ace in the Bombs, Bullets & Babes movies. This, many believe, may have caused the show's cancellation on Channel 11, the television station that had produced the show in the first place.

`It was a good plan, honestly,' says Jeremy Edwards, Marketing Director at Channel 11. `Everyone knows and loves Brutus Force. Little kids wish they were old enough to watch those movies. So why not produce a family friendly animated show about a cat who does the same thing Brutus Force does, just with a lot less violence and a lot less exposed breasts? It was a recipe for success, for sure. And obviously, we had to get Jamie Ace to voice the cat. But then the animators said we should have Brutus Catus resemble Jamie Ace as closely as possible. That, too, sounded like an excellent idea. We never expected it would backfire in the end.'

Jamie Ace is often referred to as `the man of a thousand identical facial expressions,' and has won several awards for his ability to `keep his face so rigid in emotional scenes it could only be done with great effort and dedication.' To do his acting skills justice, the animators at Channel 11 decided that Brutus Catus should have the exact same facial expression in every frame. Due to this, the cat's face was rendered as a static image in the entirety of the show.

`It was the only way,' says Kyle Gomez, lead animator on Brutus Catus. `How else were we supposed to make this damn cat look like Jamie Ace? Even the slightest bit of animation in the cat's head would have meant that no one would recognize him as Jamie Ace's feline equivalent. But I don't understand why people complain so much. Sure, Brutus Catus's head is not animated. But everything else is. So what's all the fuss about?'

The stark contrast between the static face of Brutus Catus and the speed with which he claws his way through his adversaries apparently did not sit well with audiences who complained about nausea, lack of immersion, and boredom. Ratings plummeted after the second episode, and by the fourth Channel 11 decided to take the show off the air and replace it with reruns of old Joe's Gonna Kiss You episodes.

`It was a catastrophe,' says Jeremy Edwards about the cancellation. `In retrospect, we should have used puppets. Or made a live action kid's show with Jamie Ace. Although that would have been a lot more expensive to make. And the channel's not doing so great these days.'

Still reeling from the cancellation of one of their leading programs, Channel 11 decided to try and salvage the fiasco with Brutus Catus by offering up the rights to broadcast the show to the highest bidder. Desert Rock Radio secured the rights for an undisclosed sum. Other stations expressed their interest in the show as well, including Radio Con City, albeit their application was turned down due to the limited amount of airtime they have every month. No television channels made a serious bid.

Desert Rock Radio now airs the show every Saturday at 10 AM, in audio only format for obvious reasons. Jamie Ace is furious over the fact that his first foray into animation met such an inglorious end, and is demanding on social media that the show be given a release on internet video hosting sites. Channel 11 has thus far refused to comply, while Desert Rock Radio are unable to as they only purchased the rights to the audio track of the series.

Rick Jackson, producer of the Bombs, Bullets & Babes movies, believes that the fault lies with the actor himself. `I told Jamie this would happen,' the producer says. `He goes and gives his voice and his face to a lame ripoff of Bombs, Bullets & Babes with a title that's barely legal, produced by some second rate television channel, and he's surprised his show bombs? Of course it bombed, it was not produced by me. Not that I wanted to, but if I had, the show would have made billions and would have been released theatrically. And we wouldn't have called it Brutus Catus, either. It would have been called: If Brutus Force Were A Cat. But it wasn't. So, tough luck, Jamie. Now get your ass back on the set of the next Bombs, Bullets & Babes before your career follows this animated show into oblivion.'

Jamie Ace continues his social media crusade to try and get Brutus Catus a wider, on-screen release. He has launched a crowd funding campaign to gather enough funds to purchase the rights to the show for himself so he could binge watch it in his living room and live stream it to the entire world on the internet. After the first twenty-four hours, the total amount of funding he has accumulated is one dollar, donated by a user named `notJamieAce' and accompanied by a comment that says, `I'd pay more but I gotta save for the coke I'll need to watch this shit.' Jamie Ace remains confident that his campaign will pick up in the near future.