Instead of Nothing
- Author(s): Helford, Ross
- Advisor(s): Smith, Mark H
- Winer, Andrew
- et al.
The Entity wants to destroy the Universe by taking possession of disturbed teenager Jeff, but misses and instead possesses and grants sentience to Jeff's hamster Sprinkles. In exchange for using Sprinkles' body, the Entity promises to help the lonely hamster mate. Sprinkles at first thinks this is a good deal, but as his moral character deepens, he recants and tries to kill himself to thwart the Entity, but is too late. Through Sprinkles, the Entity summons the Singularity, causing mass destruction, death, and roving bands of maniacs (them). Jeff is knocked unconscious, awakening to learn his parents are dead, that he has lost a leg, and will now be cared for by a grandfather (Walter Rowand) he has never met. Sprinkles is transported to another dimension where his destiny is revealed: he must procreate--the fate of the Universe hangs in the balance.
Sigmund Schmidt and Martin Rowand (Walter's dad) are scientists working on the Manhattan Project. They discover Element Z, a "sympathetic element" that gives Sigmund great powers. Many years later, Sigmund (who can switch bodies at will) is living under an assumed identity at a retirement home when the Singularity hits. The staff makes a cruel decision to lock all seniors in their rooms and rob the place, but Sigmund uses his powers to explode a psycho staffer, and then ventures out, is surrounded by a gang of them and carried away, seeing graffiti on the side of a building indicating his old nemesis, famed superhero the Masked Vengeance (alter-ego: Walter Rowand), is still at large. Later, Sigmund takes over the body of a teen named Muddy who's connected to...
Princess-obsessed Lily, who before her first day of high school, reads a book she is convinced is sending her a message: she's a real princess and must dress the part tomorrow. The next day on the bus, the Singularity hits, causing it to crash. All the kids escape except Lily, as a deep chasm swallows the bus in darkness. Lily awakens in Enchantlandia, a world she made up as a girl, and is tasked with killing the wicked Dirt Queen. Back on Earth, two girls from the bus, Lindsay and Amy, are kidnapped by two men pretending to be cops, who are then attacked by a mob of them and killed. Just as they are about to kill Lindsay and Amy, the Masked Vengeance comes to their rescue.
One hundred fifty years after the fall of humanity, there is a Town high in the mountains. The corrupt political elite consolidates resources, banishing all the young warriors on a "sacred" Quest for the Singularity, including hero David who ten years later rescues four year old Eli from a company of them. David decides to risk taking Eli back to the Town, only to discover everyone's dead. A huge snowstorm traps them in an inn for many months, during which time David discovers Eli has quasi-supernatural powers. He educates Eli and teaches him martial arts. Many years later, Eli feels the presence of the Singularity and convinces David to resume the Quest. An army of them pursues David and Eli, which ultimately leads to a huge battle. David sacrifices himself so that Eli can be taken up by the Singularity and travel back in time, where he meets Lindsay and vows to save the world.
Sigmund (in Muddy's body, and possessed by a much more clever and nefarious Entity than the one inside Sprinkles) enlists Jeff's help as he moves forward with a misguided master plan to save humanity by exterminating all but .1% of the population. Sprinkles, meanwhile, fathers a sentient race of hamsters, while Eli and Jeff engage in a climactic battle atop a volcano, and Lily embraces her destiny as an ethereal goddess who can harness the very creative power of the Universe.