Ponyboy tries his hand at writing fan fiction… Oneshot for now. Please review! Do it for Johnny. Do it, or Superman will smudge you out. Apologies to Robert Frost. Oh, and I don't own any of these characters, or the Outsiders, or I Am Legend, or... Peanuts.

The Outlandishers

The fifteen year old boy leaned away from his type-writer and studied the page he had been working on. It was a story based upon Richard Matheson's novel, I Am Legend.

"Oh, this sucks!" he cried. "The fans! My fans… My non-existent fans. They will never believe Dally came back to life as a vampire and took possession of Johnny's immortal soul."

Stewing, he took a drag on his cigarette. Finally, he reached for the page to tear it out, but another thought interrupted the motion. After all, the page did represent some of his best work ever. It was just fan fiction, after all…He wouldn't die if someone flamed him. Hmmmm, maybe he would try it out.

Ponyboy Curtis went back to work, putting down whatever came to his mind next. Hey, this was fun. It was interesting to see what would come out of his fingers. Before he knew it he had filled three pages. Chapter three of The Outsiders meet Dr. Robert Neville was complete! And it was actually kind of scary, even if he did say so himself.

Suddenly Darry poked his head in the door. "Ponyboy!"

The kid nearly jumped out of his skin. I hate it when he does that! "What, Darry! Do you have go around sneakin' up on people like that?"

Darry stood there in the doorway looking meekly at his shoes, and Ponyboy's heart melted. Awwww, shucks. Darry was a master of psychological manipulation. He always knew how to make the boy feel guilty.

The twenty-one year old explained with a shrug. "Golly, Ponyboy, I was just checking to see if you were doing your homework like you were supposed to."

Now Ponyboy felt like the worm that he was. He pictured himself crawling out of the cursed earth after feasting upon the corpse of Dallas Winston and then getting stepped upon by one of Two-Bit Matthew's rotten sneakers. Oh, Thank you, Two-Bit! Thank you, Keith Matthews. It is much better than I deserve, oh woe, woe is me…

Darry peered closer at the page still in the typewriter. "Hey, what is this?" he asked, starting to get more curious than his little brother really cared for. "You aren't writing about us again…" He gave Ponyboy a suspicious glare. "…are you?"

"No, heck no! Ha ha," said Ponyboy, trying hard to play it off. "Heck, the last time I tried that I nearly got me and Soda thrown in a boys home." He glanced nervously at the page and waved his hand over it. "This…this is just…uh…an assignment for English class. Yeah, that's what it is."

"Well if you say so," said Darry. He pulled a baseball bat from behind his back and began batting it into the back of his butt.

No, just kidding, actually it was the palm of his hand, but I got stuck on the sound of the letter 'b.'

"Hey!" Darry shouted, pointing the bat at Ponyboy. "I know that look, you are writing things about me in your mind again."

Darry stood there with the bat and bonked himself on his head a few times and fell over. Whoops, I'd better say something.

"Heck!" said Ponyboy, "why would I do that, big brother?"

Darry walked down the hallway, shaking his head. Where's Soda when I need him? he wondered. Sodapop Curtis was supposed to be around for times like this, to help pull them together. Soda was the squiggly line between the yin of Ponyboy and the yang of Darry... or was it the other way around? But Soda was definitely in the middle ground somewhere. Somewheres…but not here, where he belongs…

Anyway, Zzzznnggggg. Ponyboy grabbed the page out of the typewriter. He folded it together with the other pages and stuffed them into his math book. He would take them over to the library right away.

He threw an arm into the sleeve of his brown leather bomber jacket. It was the same one Dally had given him that fateful night that he had killed the Soc and Johnny had taken the blame for it…or, no, it was the other way around. Yeah, sometimes he still forgot. The jacket, Dally hadn't wanted it back since it had all those burned holes in it.

Ponyboy thought about good old Dally as ran from the house, letting the door slam behind him. He headed for the vacant lot. The library was in that direction. Hmmm, Dally. He's probably rummaging around in someone's darkened garage right now, waiting for night to fall so he can come out and get revenge on all those unsuspecting cops. Ponyboy smiled. Yeah, that was what he would put in the next chapter.

The library was nearly abandoned when he got there. Well, actually there were a few nerd types milling around in the stacks, but they didn't count. Ponyboy always got an eerie feeling at the library, although it was where he got most of his inspiration. He gazed blankly at the whitened faces of the nerds, their skin pale from lack of sunlight, and he theorized…They are Soc vampires. They never come out of here in the daylight…The thought gave him the willies, because it seemed so plausible. So true. But he shook his head and plodded on.

The library was indeed a spooky place. However, it was also the only place where he could use a public computer and hack into the military's ARPANET to post his stuff on the fan fiction site. Technically, the precursor to the internet wouldn't be created until 1969, but Ponyboy knew the secret passwords to get around the facts. This was fan fiction, after all!

He sat down and logged into his page, carefully typing his handle: "Wheat Bread" and then his secret passcode (which is a secret).

Then he got up and went to the bathroom, read a Mad Magazine, then a Mickey Mouse comic book or two, and finally he came back and checked on the site. The page was just coming up. Ponyboy waited expectantly. I can hardly wait to see what my fans have written!

Reviews, ahhh, they truly were the best thing that could ever happen to an aspiring writer. He loved this site! Personally, he had gotten a review once. It said, "I think this is an interesting story. Update or die!" That was all. Someone had sent it about a year ago, and Ponyboy would read it every time, milking it for all the good feelings it could afford him, hoping each time to find some more reviews posted. But every time he had logged in since that one glorious day he had left the library dejected. Fans would read, yeah, but they wouldn't post reviews.

But not this time! This time, thought Ponyboy, I've got a good story going. Somebody will post. Somebody…His eyes scanned furtively down the storyboard page...


There were not any new reviews! "Aaaaarrrrggghhhh!" He cried aloud, feeling like Charlie Brown.

Pasty, waxen faces all turned toward him and stared. A librarian's voice cut through his muddled emotions. "Wah wahhh wah wahh wahhhhh."

"Yes, Ma'am," said Ponybrown. He sighed. Good grief, not one new review.

He got an inspiration and hit the key to go to the Statistics menu. Maybe they had troubles logging in. Maybe no one has gotten a chance to read it yet. He knew he was taking an awful chance going to this page. It would show him the number of hits he had received, as well as the number of people who had posted reviews for him.

It was usually a heart break. Why torture yourself? And yet here he sat, waiting for the full half hour that it took computers in his era to process commands. He sat there staring at the screen until the page finally came up and revealed the awful truth.

667 hits! (The Outsiders Meet Dr. Robert Neville)

1 review! (total for all stories) "I think this is an interesting story. Update or die!"

"This is baloney!" said Ponyboy.

He stared down at the folded pages in his math book. It was hardly worth copying them all out again. Were people actually reading his stuff or not? Why didn't they say anything? Why? Why! Don't they even care about me?

Suddenly everything seemed to turn a corner for him. Suddenly he knew the score. Slowly…he let the folded pages fall from his textbook. They glided down under the table and out of sight. Watching them disappear, he felt like he had just died. He would just walk away. His love of writing…it would wither and die and be forgotten…just like everything else...and everyone else he had ever loved…and lost.

In that moment he happened to think of Johnny. "Stay gold, Ponyboy. Stay young and green and golden. Don't get bitter. Don't lose your innocence. Oh yeah, and…I know I've said this a thousand times as penance already, but…sorry about your hair."

Ponyboy was sitting there, facing the grim mask of death, realizing the consequences between which he now felt suspended. He looked one way, and, up ahead…was Maturity. With a capital "M." It stood there, ominous, hulking down over him, ready to befall and to crush the very joy from his soul. Maybe it meant a dead end factory job he would abhor the rest of his life. Maybe depression and the bottle. Perhaps he would even make some retarded children out of wedlock with some scatterbrained broad with no sense, and then support them all to the end of his miserable existence.

He gulped. And just as he was about to step toward that determination, to get up and to leave the library never to return to his dream of being a good writer someday, he happened to look back at the other path.

Behind him was the love of his life. Writing. Writing. Creating things out of nothingness. It had always been such a wonder to him, to see what strange things would escape the tips of his fingers next, to land on that clean white page, and then come rolling out of his big brother's typewriter.

He couldn't help it. A smile tugged at the corner of his lips. And in that moment he chose.

Ponyboy got down on his hands and knees and shouldered a library chair aside. He could feel hateful eyes boring into him once again, but he didn't care. He reached under the table and retrieved the fallen manuscript. He would do this. He would type the entire chapter into the computer. One more time, he would try.

Two roads diverged in a ghoulish wood (between two stacks of library shelves), and I took the most outlandish one…and hopefully, that will make all the difference.

If he didn't start getting some reviews, though…he was going to smash something.