Dave the Normal Guy
Dave Goes to the Deli
Dave had been walking down to the deli for his lunch break when the vampire leapt in front of him.
“I vill suck your blood and transform you into my eternal groom,” she declared.
“Oh, great,” Dave said. “That’s just fantastic. But could you not? I’m kind of in the middle of something.”
The vampire raised an exquisitely crafted eyebrow. “You don’t look like you’re doing anything.”
“Well, I am on my lunch break. But when I’m done I have to go back to work and continue the project I’m working on right now.”
“I’m sure it’s not important,” she said dismissively. “I need you to lead my army of darkness.”
“See, I’m sure that would be lovely,” Dave told her, “but I’ve been through stuff like that before and it never ends well. I’d really rather just keep working at the company. I’ve got a good thing going there.”
“But my love-” protested the vampire.
“And another thing,” he said sternly. “I’m not your love. I’ve never met you before today. I don’t even know your name.”
“My name is-”
“I don’t care what your name is, either.” Dave sighed and glanced at his watch. “Look, I’m sure you’re very nice, and I hope that your army-of-darkness thing works out. But this kind of thing happens to me a lot and I’m getting a little fed-up with it.”
“But vhere vill I find a new husband?” protested the vampire. “He must fit the ancient prophecy! You are the only one!”
Dave glanced around. “How about that guy?” he suggested, pointing.
“He doesn’t fit the prophecy,” she said crossly.
Dave shrugged. “Prophecies are usually bunk, I doubt it’ll make any difference.”
The vampire regarded him appraisingly. “He is rather handsome,” she admitted, turning back to Dave. “But I’m sure you’d be able to do it better.”
“Yeah, probably,” Dave admitted. “But I don’t want to. He has been staring at you since you stepped onto the street.”
The vampire relented. “Fine, I’ll try him. But if it doesn’t vork out, I’m coming back to you.”
“Sure, whatever,” he said dismissively. The vampire began walking towards the other man as Dave finally entered the deli to get his lunch, where he declined the inheritance of an ancient magical blade, refused to go defeat an evil warlord, and convinced an old wizard that he was looking for someone else.
Dave Goes to the Post Office
Dave was on his way to the post office to pick up a package his mother had sent him, when a dragon suddenly appeared and roared at him.
Dave stared at it for a moment. "Do you have anything to say, or are you just going to roar at me?" he asked.
The dragon roared again, this time a little uncertainly. So Dave roared back. "Raar!" he shouted at it. "See, I can roar too," he said calmly. "It's not impressive. Find someone else to roar at."
The dragon blinked, apparently quite confused by Dave, and began to growl. So he slapped it on the snout. "None of that," he said sternly. "Bad dragon! No growling."
Now it was definitely confused. Faced with Dave's unending calm, the dragon flattened itself to the ground, and after a moment, rolled over to expose its belly.
"No, I'm not interested in being your boss either," Dave told it. "Just go bother someone else, I'm busy."
The dragon kept baring its vulnerable belly for a moment, almost hopefully, then seemed to resign itself to the reality Dave wouldn't be cooperating, and it slunk across the street to roar at another passerby.
Dave, meanwhile, continued on to the post office, where he refused to accept delivery of a plain gold ring, ignored the pleas of the young woman who had taken the place of his reflection in the bathroom mirror, and convinced a mysterious old wizard that he was still looking for someone else.
Dave Goes to the Movies
A cloaked and hooded figure approached Dave as he walked down the street towards the movie theater.
"I know you think what you've got to say is very important and the fate of one or more worlds probably depends on it, but I really don't care," Dave said. "I've got to go see the new Moon Skirmish, so if you'll excuse me." He made to step around it.
The hooded figure stepped in the same direction, perfectly in step with Dave. "Quite right, Dave," came a pleasant baritone from somewhere within the shadows of the hood. "The fate of multiple worlds - planets, actually - depends on your assistance. In fact, it would not be an exaggeration to say that the entire galaxy will depend on you in the coming days and weeks. I'm not an alien," he added.
Dave raised an eyebrow. "Well done, good for you," he said. "Everyone should strive to not be an alien. I myself am not an alien. But that's a bit off-topic, Mr. Not-An-Alien. I don't want to have the galaxy depending on a single person, that's a bit heavy and I've done it already. I want to see a a fictionalized version of it in that movie theater, so..." he stepped in the other direction.
The hooded figure stepped with him again. "I really must insist, Dave. I'm sorry to prevent you from seeing this Moon Skirmish of yours, but as you say it is fiction. The reality is far more dangerous and certainly more important. And, as I said, I'm definitely not an alien."
"A little advice for you, Not-An-Alien," Dave said. "Talking up the dangers of something probably isn't the best way to convince someone to join you. Unless they're into extreme sports."
"What are extreme sports?" asked the figure. "I'm not an alien, by the way."
"Yes, I know. Extreme sports are activities for which one of the attractions is the high danger compared to other activities. Stuff like skydiving and bungee jumping."
"Oh, I see. Well, will you come? Also, I'm still not an alien."
Dave shook his head. "No, I'm really looking forward to this new movie."
The hooded figure growled. "I must have you! The fate of the galaxy is at stake! And I'm not an alien!"
"Yeah yeah, I know. Listen, how about that guy?" Dave asked, pointing to someone walking out of the theater in full costume. "He's clearly already seen the movie."
"No, it must be you! Your father-"
"Blah blah blah, copyrighted term starting with j," Dave interrupted as the hooded figure muttered under its breath about not being an alien. "Listen, just talk to that guy. Give him a shot. I guarantee he'll be ecstatic to join you."
"And your whole 'not an alien' spiel doesn't fool me. Methinks the lady doth protest too much." Dave flipped back the figures hood, revealing a perfectly normal human face, with perhaps a slightly unusual forehead. "I knew it! Alien, right there. Now go talk to the nice nerd and take him to space."
"Fine," grumbled the alien, walking over to the costumed nerd. Dave, meanwhile, continued on the movie theater. It was a good thing he had left so much extra time before the film actually started, as before he got there he had to fight off a bounty hunter, give a robot directions to his former owner, and rudely tell off the mysterious old wizard who refused to believe he was looking for someone else.
Dave Goes to the Bar
Dave was drinking in his favorite bar, idly considering starting a game of pool with some other regulars, when he noticed a hooded figure sitting in a dark, shadowy corner. ‘That’s odd,’ he thought, ‘this place has never had dark, shadowy corners before.’ He turned back to his drink and took a sip.
A few minutes later, he became aware that the hooded figure was watching him. Dave turned to glare at them and said, “that only works on people who want to get involved in whatever you’re offering. I don’t.”
“You are already involved, whether you know it or not,” intoned the shadowy figure in a voice that seemed equally likely to have come from a man, a woman, or a lizard.
“No, I don’t think I am,” Dave said. “Look at me, not being involved.” He turned back to his drink and downed it in a single long draft. He slammed it back on the table and saw, in the mirror behind the bar, that the hooded figure was now looming behind him. It seemed to have brought the shadows which had collected in the corner with it - the air around it was filled with a dark, swirling mist.
“You have no choice,” said the figure. “The Dark Lord is already-”
“I’m not sure you understand,” Dave said. “I’ve been involved with too many of these schticks. Defeated dark lords, saved princesses, slain dragons, saved galaxies. I’m rather over it. And if this Dark Lord of yours-”
“He is no Lord of mine-” protested the hooded figure.
Dave held up a finger. “I don’t care. I don’t care. If this Dark Lord wants to do whatever he’s doing, fine. I’m not involved. Find some naive kid to be your hero, that usually works.”
“The prophecy demands that it be you.”
“I seriously doubt it’s that stringent. Or even correct, prophecies are usually bunk. Just grab...” Dave glanced around the bar, looking for someone he didn’t like, “John over there. He’d love to rescue a princess.”
The hooded figure continued looming.
“John! Get over here, let me introduce you to hooded figure here.” While John approached, Dave slipped past the hooded figure and fled the bar. On his way back home, he dodged a group of even more ominous hooded figures, gave a pair of rather short young men directions to the bar, and hid from a mysterious old wizard in a trash dumpster.
No work of art exists in a vacuum. All things have their influences. Although it would be impossible to identify everything which influenced me in the writing of Dave, I do wish to pay tribute to those which I am aware of as well as to those I paid conscious tribute to.
These flash fictions are influenced, clearly, by the entire body of work found in Fantasy and Science Fiction, and were inspired by reading about the David Campbell’s Hero’s Journey and thinking about if the Hero successfully Refused the Call. Dave was named after Dave Davenport from Shaennon Garrity’s webcomic Narbonic, which as I recall once speculated that Dave was the most normal-sounding name in the world.
Dave goes to the Deli is inspired in part by the supernatural romance genre, specifically the many, many books about vampires, and its end nods to three common fantasy tropes: powerful swords handed down through a single family or stumbled upon by prophecied heroes, as seen in such series as David Edding’s Belgariad, Brian Jacques’ Redwall, and Terry Brooks’ Shannara; evil overlords who rule over an area, as seen in everything from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to The Legend of Zelda; and wise old men, most classically in Lord of the Rings.
Dave goes to the Post Office is inspired not by any particular genre, but rather by a prompt on Reddit. Its end nods directly to Lord of the Rings, magic mirrors in general and the trope of being trapped in the mirror, and calls back to Dave goes to the Deli and the wise old man searching for him then.
Dave goes to the Movies is inspired by science fiction more than fantasy, and it references both Star Trek and Star Wars. It was also written as a response to a prompt on Reddit. Its end nods to bounty hunters, R2D2’s search for Obi-Wan Kenobi in the beginning of A New Hope, and calls back to the previous two Dave flash fictions.
Dave goes to the Bar is inspired by the classic “we all meet in a tavern” beginnings of many tabletop rpgs. Its end nods to Lord of the Rings and calls back to the previous Dave stories.