But could that really be how the story ended? It’s rather unsatisfying, right? Stories are supposed to unfold in a certain way, and this one’s just wrong. The big climactic showdown - which isn’t even between the hero and the villain - ends in a tie? And after all of this idiocy, everyone just accepts it?
It’s dumb - and I’m not just saying that because Paul Liston and his cronies tried to paint me as some kind of supervillain. I’m certainly not neutral in this, if we’re being honest. Admit, it though - you want to know what came next, don't you?
Well, I know what happened. Or rather, I know of certain possibilities. The future is unwritten, right? It's just a big blank page staring at an author who just wants to tie it up in a nice, neat package. People mess it up, though, and sometimes things happen that are unexpected or just plain crazy. Those, too, are possibilities.
What if I told you that there really was no future because there was disaster on the horizon? That even as Paul and I went head-to-head in that fateful Trivia Master final, a series of events was starting in a town not far from Solace that would end in global catastrophe? That just a few years later, Earth would be a cinder and all of the characters you've just read about would be dead?
What if I went on to explain that this catastrophe was not solely the result of human design? That the whole thing was set in motion by an alien entropy cult with plans to use Earth as a sort of laboratory for a cosmic experiment in creative destruction?
I tend to agree. I've always liked the more grounded stories, the ones that feel real, with relatable characters and situations. So let's thing of a good, realistic follow-up.
For the moment, I'm going to put you into the shoes of the administration of Northwest High School. Your signature event, the one that gave you some amount of fame in a certain subculture, has now made you notorious across the whole country. A year passes (with all of the expected high school misadventures), and it's Trivia Master time once more. What would you do?
Me, I'd just cancel it. What good could possibly come from maintaining a desecrated brand like Trivia Master? Take it out back and quietly take a shotgun to it, is what I say. But that wouldn't make for much of a story, would it?
So let's say that the Northwest people kept Trivia Master - it is famous now, and everyone expects it - but take steps to keep it under control. Oh, but nothing overt - they tried clamping down on cheating and sabotage already, didn't they? How'd that work out? No, they have a new, quieter, more sinister plan to ensure that no one like Aaron Baines Bellamy ever becomes a problem again.
For a while, their evil scheme worked - until someone found out about it. And who might be the best possible person to learn of their secrets? How about the worst possible person?
Ah, but it's too late to think about such things today. We'll pick up again later.