The Intro - Or - Everything except the actual HOW I ended up in Middle Earth

Author's Notes:

This entire story was lost during the "great crash". I did not have a backup on my harddrive and was only able to retrieve the first two chapters from Google's "cached" pages. Those two chapters are original, with very little editing. The rest of the story up to chapter 16 is re-written from memory. If any of my previous readers see that I have left out anything, please let me know and I will do my best to fix it. After chapter 16, I resumed the story where I left off.

Thank you to aelfwine and Wyn Telemnar for your help and support. Your encouragement has brought me out of my depression over the loss of my story and helped me decide to re-write it and not just give up altogether.

Thank you to my other reviewers for encouraging me the first time through.

My heart goes out to everyone else who lost their accounts as well as their stories.

Original Author's Notes: First attempt. That will be obvious. possible Mary Sue . . . at least the POV is a female OC . . . but as the title suggests, she ain't typical. Don't really know where this is going, either.

I claim ownership of none of J.R.R. Tolkien's original plot or characters; however, Elaura and her story Typically Atypical are Copyrighted 2008.

So, I was sitting at my computer as I had done so many days before, reading LOTR fanfiction. I hadn't slept after getting off night shift and I had been smoking a LOT and drinking a couple beers with nothing more substantial on my stomach than an apple, an overripe kiwi and a few grapes. Naturally, insanity began to overtake me. I'd begun my daily readings with angsty, tragic stuff . . . you know the drill . . . rape, torture, character death. When I found a particularly well-written one that struck a little too close to my heart, so I switched to more light-hearted fare and ended up with a few humorous "death to Mary-Sue" ficlets. I learned a long time ago to limit my searches to the ones marked "completed" but by the time I had read my fifth single chapter parody I was pretty sick of all the poorly written, poorly spelled, slang-type fics that have Elladan and Elrohir calling each other 'Dan and 'Ro and I finally felt like I was going to lose a few slices of overripe kiwi when I got to one that referred to Arwen as "Winnie".

I jumped when the phone rang, tempted to let yet another message register on my answering machine so that it could blink at me just that much faster . . . I haven't actually checked my messages in nearly a month and it's been longer since I checked my snail-mail. I'm afraid to even look at my Outlook Express! Six email accounts full of penile and herbal breast enhancement spam. So the phone was ringing. Which one? Was it the vonage or the local phone? What did it matter anyway? In this modern world of communication and travel all I really wanted to do was shut it all off and crawl into my bed and hide under the blankets. So I gave into temptation and watched the blinking number 9 become a number 10 and wondered fleetingly why I could no longer hear the messages as they were recording and what would happen when it reached 100 when there is only room on the display for two digits.

I spend my time when I am not reading fanfiction living in my imagination. Sometimes I am living as a makeup artist on the set of the LOTR (buddy-buddy with all the actors whose names I can remember) and sometimes I am living in Middle Earth pretending I am NOT a Mary Sue and changing sad little details of the story that do not fit into my "happily ever after" sensibilities. Oh, when I'm not doing that, I'm actually a soldier. Meaning, I put on ACUs or BDUs every day and crawl into a different kind of cave and answer phones and type reports on a computer - your tax dollars at work.

Back to the story, such as it is:

I finished another beer as the phone began to blink 10 and opened another pack of Marlboros. It was 12:37 in the afternoon . . . Okinawa time. 37 minutes past my daily dose of Zoloft and pain medication. I groped around the freezer for another 90 second microwaveable wonder of modern science, popped it in and waited impatiently for the tasteless entree to become way too hot to eat because as we all know if we drop the heating time by ONE second it'll be cold as ice in the center. I was overtired and not particularly hungry but I had to eat because the medicine bottle tells me I have to (although it also says not to drink while I'm taking it and I ignore that). So I thought to myself "what the fuck?" and let my vision tunnel. Then came the sparklies. Anyone who knows what a migraine is like knows what the "sparklies" are. When your peripheral vision starts to go dark and little sparks of light begin to shoot in from all sides like white hot metal from a grinding wheel. I had two choices, choke down a little food, take the pills and make the room as dark as possible, or stare at the computer, reading the little white type against the black background and ride out the headache. Again I thought, "what the fuck?" and decided to ride it out. There was a pattern of bad choices developing and although I recognized it, I just didn't much care anymore, so I switched to whisky and went with it.

Naturally, my old mind just couldn't take it and I spun out. At this point I don't care what neuropathy or quantum temporal physics landed me in Middle Earth. I just opened my eyes to a bright sun where it shouldn't have been, and a headache worse than any I'd ever had before. How did I know I was in Middle Earth? I didn't. The Nine Walkers did NOT wander up to me and introduce themselves, nor did I find a mall-map with a big YOU ARE HERE arrow on it. I just pretty much figured I had to be in Middle Earth because I wasn't in my barracks room in Okinawa anymore and it seems like everyone ends up in ME eventually anyway. Besides, it LOOKED like Middle Earth, or at least what I've always imagined Middle Earth to look like.

There I was, laying in the middle of a disused dirt road, wearing a set of old blue cotton pajamas with tiny flowers all over them, terrycloth slippers and no underwear. Not a pretty sight, considering I'm 36 years old, six-foot tall, 185 lbs and looked like I had had too much to drink and not enough sleep. At my best I can turn a few heads, but au naturel I look pretty, well natural. And I had a blistering headache.

Now, I've read all of Tolkien's published works and seen all the films (including the extended versions) as well as read too many fanfics to count . . . and they all have meshed in my addled mind to the point that I have no idea what is book-verse or movie-verse or alternate universe anymore. I couldn't even tell you which elves were original Tolkien creations and which were developed later. I also don't know any more Elvish than "hannon le" and "mellon nín" and the occasional noun. I might be able to wring "mae govannen" out of my little grey cells if it will keep me from being riddled with long straight arrows with pretty feathers on one end and sharp points on the other . . . maybe.

There I was, in the midst of my very own fanfic, with a "what the fuck?" attitude and a head filled with tiny dwarves with hammers and pickaxes mining their way through my skull.

Although the road seemed dusty and disused I had the sense to roll off of it and ended up in a shallow ditch with my back leaning against the side towards the road in a semi-sitting position taking feeble stock of myself:

First: I'm not in great shape for a soldier, I spend too much time on my ass and I feel older than I am most of the time.

Second: I'm lousy at land navigation and since the sun is a little off of high noon I have no idea whether it is morning or afternoon or which way is east or west.

Third: Assuming this IS Middle Earth and I DON'T wake up from this insanity, I might have to figure out how to get water and food. If I'm going to be in this reality, I might as well stay alive, after all.

Fourth: Since I can't readily recognize any distinguishing landmarks; there are mountains and valleys and rolling plains and no apparent deepening shadows or deadly-looking marshes or talking forests in the vicinity; I have no idea where or WHEN I am in Middle Earth.

Fifth: I have none of the things that I have come to depend on for survival, ie. coffee, cigarettes, chapstick, my medication, my handy-dandy Gerber, sunscreen, or toilet paper.

On the plus side, it's not winter, I did just eat something and at least I hadn't decided to sleep naked today.

That said I came to the conclusion that I was obviously not in Kansas anymore Toto and since roads generally go from one populated place to another I figured I might as well follow this one and keep an eye out for scarecrows, tinmen and cowardly lions. I was hoping that I would run across SOMETHING useful before monkeys started flying out of my ass. Or at least before the caffeine and nicotine withdrawal turned me into the tenth Nazgûl.

I stood up and looked up and down the road. My memory of Tolkien's maps was so fuzzy it didn't matter which way I went and since I couldn't see anything promising in either direction I went left. Why left? Why not?

As I walked at a fairly leisurely pace, I retreated back into my mind as is my tendency. "What usually happens in fanfics?" I asked myself. Frighteningly, I answered myself, "The OC eventually bumps into a main character somewhere and they exchange a lot of confused dialogue in languages that neither understands until someone's universal translator kicks in and they understand one another." Hm, it could happen.

After all, if this is a dream I should be able to control it somewhat, right? So at that point I decided to test my theory. Usually in the dreams that I am self-aware I can fly. I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a go so I attempted a few Superman-style "up, up and away" moves and nothing happened. Not promising. OK, if I were in a dream, I've just busted the myth that people can control their dreams when they realize they are dreaming. People say you can't feel pain in dreams . . . I pinched myself. It hurt, go figure. Myth two busted. People also say that you can't read in dreams. I squatted down in the road and wrote my name in the dirt with my finger. I could write it and read it. Myth three busted. Or maybe this wasn't a dream?

I stood up and continued walking and talking to myself. I think I was talking out loud to myself at this point; there wasn't anyone around so I can't be sure. Not a dream . . . maybe I'm in a coma and this is my brain giving me a new reality to pass the time as I veg-out. I couldn't think of a good way to test that theory so I went with it. I said to myself, "Self, you are in a coma and as your brain turns to mashed potatoes you are entertaining yourself, so far, so good. Don't fuck it up."

My next thought was about what I would do if I found myself entwined in the major happenings at the end of the third age. For some reason Katherine Janeway entered my internal dialogue and muttered something about the "prime directive" and again the words "don't fuck it up" came back to me. I began to consider two possibilities :

One, that I am a major player and I am here for a reason and I CAN change things for the better.

Two, that I am a major player and I might not want to face the consequences of messing with Master Tolkien's life's work.

A third possibility flitted through my mind that I was a minor character and that I was going to die of exposure a nameless, faceless extra whose bones were going to end up bleached in the sun on this very road, but I quickly put that out of my head because it would suck royally.

All the while I continued walking. The sun was bright and I made an attempt to mark which way my shadow was lengthening. The road I was traveling seemed to be heading east-west with me going east. I was glad of that mercy; at least I wasn't traveling into the sun. In the distance, I could see what looked like the dust trail of a car driving up a dirt road. I knew there were no cars in Middle Earth so I decided it must be a rider on horseback traveling at least at a gallop, if not all out running like a bat out of Hell. I kept my eyes on it but I knew that there was a 50 chance it was not a friendly so I decided to get off the road. There was some scrub growing a little ways off to the side so I got myself on the other side of it and kept the road on my right, hoping that I would have the chance to flag down the rider before it whizzed past me - if I could tell soon enough whether or not it was a good guy. As the dust trail approached, I could see that it wasn't just one rider and although colors are a little tough to distinguish at a distance I could at least see that these were not brightly clad people. Dark green or blue maybe and the horses were probably brown or black. I didn't see the sunlight glinting off armor either, indicating that they were probably not riders of Rohan or knights of any reputable army. Still holding out hope that they might be rangers or elves I stood behind the scrub and watched them speeding towards me. I was still making my way forward slowly along the scrub when I realized there were three riders and there was something about them that just wasn't right. They weren't reflecting any light at all. Not good.

As they approached at a quick pace I was becoming concerned about what I would do if they stopped. I was pretty sure by this time they were Black Riders . . . would they smell me? Did they know at this point that I was of no interest to them or would they kill me for sport? I remembered a fanfic about a fox that was killed by a Black Rider for sport and I wasn't exactly a match for anyone, let alone three nasties on horseback. The first two sped past me as I crouched behind the bushes, but the third slowed. It came to a stop in the road and turned to face where I was hiding. I knew that by this time I was smelling pretty ripe and even if I wasn't the shampoo and conditioner I had used when I showered before going to work last night was heavily scented. I couldn't hide so I stood up and faced the Dementor wanna-be.

"Shire . . . Baggins . . ." it hissed at me.

Two things flew through my mind at that moment: Farmer Maggot did NOT get killed and the hobbits were NOT on the road. So I pointed my thumb in the direction I had been walking away from (west, if you were paying attention) and didn't say a word.

Now at this point you might be thinking that was a shitty thing to do . . . after all anyone who knows ANYTHING about the LOTR knows that if the Black Riders were still asking for Baggins they were on their way to the Shire and most likely I was on the road between the Shire and Rivendell. However, give me a fucking break. They were ALREADY going west and I had no idea where the hobbits might be at this time. If I had pointed north or south or even east I might have been pointing directly at them as they are NOT on the road . . . right? I had no idea where exactly I was, if I was between Buckland and Bree or between Bree and Rivendell and I also had no idea whether they were ahead of me or behind me. I figured the best thing to do is keep the riders going in the direction they were going, because as Tolkien wrote it, the Black Riders were going to be late either way.

My blood was running cold but I stood there trying to appear expressionless and the rider turned and started after his comrades. I was paralyzed for a bit and when they were nothing but dust trails in the distance, I realized I really had to relieve myself . . . fast! I drew on some long-forgotten camping skills and began looking for some leafy bush or tree nearby to use as toilet paper. Preferably something wide, soft, without fuzzies or pricklies and moistureless. Last thing I needed was a Middle Earth version of poison ivy on my nether regions. Suddenly, I realized that I didn't even have my towel. What kind of multiple-reality hitchhiker goes off without their towel?! I laughed at myself and the lame Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference and continued to look around for some fairly soft and dead foliage. Although my pj's had three pieces: long bottoms, a tank top and a three-quarter sleeve shirt that snapped up the front, I was loath to use any part of it to clean myself because with night coming on I had the feeling I would need every stitch I was wearing. Shortly (thank God . . . or the Valar . . . or my twisted imagination), I found a bush that had some broad, dead leaves and grabbed a sturdy branch, pulled down my bottoms and leaned away from it. I finished my business, let myself air-dry as long as I could keep myself from falling over and grabbed a few leaves. I figured if I used my left hand, I might just remember to not rub my face with it or eat with it until I found some water to wash up in.

At this point, as I had had no sleep and little food or water, reality began to creep into my brain. I needed cover, I needed water and I needed food. This was no dream. I was beginning to feel a chill in the shadows as the sun continued it's trek into the West and my mouth was dry and my stomach was getting noisy.

I also began to wonder if there were trolls, orcs or wargs around these parts. I was now certain only that I had entered this story before Weathertop, and my brain was feeding me information that I couldn't be sure was from the LOTR or maybe from The Hobbit. I could really only be sure that I was on an east-west road somewhere between Mordor and the Shire, since I couldn't really know at what point the Riders were in their search. There were mountains way off in the east, but I couldn't be certain whether they were the Misty Mountains or the Mountains surrounding Mordor (Ephel Duath, although I couldn't recall the name at the time).

I decided I would think about that tomorrow and started looking for a place to sleep. Water and food could wait, I was just so tired. I knew two things about Middle Earth . . . stay away from strange forests and stay off the road. So basically, I trudged up the road another thirty minutes or so and found a soft spot under the scrub. I couldn't see any other cover close enough to the road to keep it in sight and at least the bushes provided a little concealment. Exhausted, I dug a little into the leaf litter, curled up and fell asleep hoping that it wouldn't get so cold during the night that I would wake.