9:59 pm

It's nearing ten o'clock. A diminuitive girl sneaks towards the door, a folder tucked in one armpit. With her dirty, torn clothes and twig-filled hair, she's about as close as you can get to Strider-like scruffiness without having the ability to grow stubble. She spots the mail-slot and begins to insert her package -

"I wouldn't put that in there, if I were you," comes a voice from behind her. It is a guard.

The girl's first instinct is to run, but she has nowhere to go. "Why not?" she asks, with venom in her voice. "Because it's not nice?"

She turns around and is shocked to realize that not only is the guard not carrying a weapon, he's also a dandelion.

"No," says the dandelion, very politely, "because that's where we dump all the flames, and I'm sure you wouldn't want your files there incinerated."

Still somewhat stunned, the girl nods her head. "Not after all I've been through. Running from the thought police, almost getting toasted by a hail of flaming, mispelled reviews - it would have been fine if I hadn't tripped that censor - "

"You tripped a sensor?" the dandelion, if it's possible, looks confused.

"No, a sensor."

"A censor?"

"Yes. No. What?"

"You know," says the dandelion thoughtfully. "There should be a censor-sensor."

The girl shakes her head wearily. "If I had one, I could've gotten here days ago." She sniffs the air and frowns. "I haven't had a shower for weeks."

"I think you smell nice," the dandelion says. "But then again, I also like mulch."

"Who are you?" the girl demands, starting to regain her bearings.

"I'm a weed. We guard the grounds - no one else has much use for us. Now who are you?"

The girl sighs. "All I wanted was to help protect the Plot Continuum. You know, do my part for the world - or one of the worlds, anyway. So I did a little research, came up with a manual to help PPC agents." She waves the folder. "But I got lost. And then I got chased. And then I just plain got depressed."

The dandelion 'swish'es sympathetically. "We flowers are more prone to hysteria ourselves, but..."

"Well, anyway. If you can get this to the right place?" She hands the dandelion the folder and starts to leave.

"Are you sure you don't want to come inside? Have a nice, hot cup of fertilizer?" At the look on the girl's face, the dandelion rushes on. "What about filling out a couple of forms? You've lasted this long, you might not make a bad agent yourself."

For the first time, the girl smiles. "Say, that's really sweet of you. But no, I have to get back to school."

"Back to school?"

"Yes. I'm a first-year at OFUM, and I don't want to get on Miss Cam's bad side. Besides, if I got kicked out, I couldn't use the library, and I could never bear that." She looks at the dandelion seriously. "Do you think I'm strange because my lust-object is an eighteen volume series?"

"Well, I do think you're strange," the dandelion admits. "But not necessarily because of that. Eighteen volumes, you say?"

The girl's face grows dreamy. "Yes. It's a chronicle by Pengolodh of the best years of Gondolin. It's my favorite. Although, I've heard tell that there's a slash version of the Silmarillion hidden somewhere in the stacks. They call it the Rainbow Book of Arda."

The dandelion blushes orange. "I wouldn't know about that."

The girl, now immensely cheered up, although still just as smelly, sticks out her hand. "Well, I've got to be off. It was nice meeting you."

The dandelion extends a leaf. "You, too. I'll make sure this gets where it needs to."

The girl disappears into the distance, her stink lingering, and the dandelion carries the package inside. The next day, the file gets passed around, along with a pile of memos which usually are used to feed the flames. But perhaps, through boredom or luck, some agents read it, and somewhere in the deep, dark interior of the building, locked in a cabinet, is a copy:

31 Ways to Kill a Mary Sue (and stay within canon...)

by Shauna

1. Throw the Sue into the Ice Bay of Forochel. You can then relax, sip hot coa-coa (the kind with those nifty axe-shaped marshmellows) and place bets on whether the Sue will drown or freeze to death. Caution: Try not to let the Forodwaith see you. They're pacifists and find assasinations disturbing.

2. Drop the Sue into the Midgewater. The misquito-like creatures that infest the waters are both blood-thirsty and have driven people insane with their continuous "neek-breek, breek-neek".

3. Give them to the Dwimmerlaik, who will steal their bodies. Caution: Make sure you recieve a promise from the Dwimmerlaik to dye their hair from that ridiculous purple color, before you hand the Sue over.

4. Hang her off of Thangodrim. Make sure to discourage any valiant yet bespelled elves/eagles from coming to her rescue.

5. Drop her in the middle of a copse of brambles. The 'PPC Preferred' brambles are those that grow in Mordor, which, according to advertisements are "hideous, with foot-long thorns as barbed and sharp as the daggers of Orcs".

6. Feed her to Shelob. Or, if the sheer number of Sues is making our dear spider of Cirith Ungol overfed and therefore sedentary, you can always portal back in time and feed some to Ungoliant.

7. Roast the Sue in the Imperishable Flame.

8. Hang her with gallows-weed. Caution: Getting this tree-hanging weed from the swamplands of Middle Earth may prove difficult - people seldom return when they venture to the haunted marshes.

9. Bring her before Morannon, the Black Gate. Tell her to knock.

10. Take the Sue for a nice, friendly visit to Tol-in-Guarhoth, the Isle of Werewolves.

11. Tie the Sue up and leave her for the Crebain to peck at.

12. Place her on the top of Orthanc and ask the Lord of the Airs to whip up a nice breeze. Caution: Make sure the offender is truly egregious. Manwe is given to mercy and might take pity on the Sue. A good line of reasoning if he does this is, "Remember what happened when you forgave Morgoth? Yeah. This'll be worse. Morgoth didn't watch MTV."

13. Feed her to trolls. The 'PPC Preferred' race of trolls are the Olog-hai, specifically bred by Sauron for their intelligence, therefore keeping the Sue overmatched in that regard. However, as even the lowliest of trolls will most likely be able to outwit your average Sue, other acceptable races include the Stone-trolls, Cave-trolls, Hill-trolls, Mountain-trolls and Snow-trolls.

14. Bring her to Old Man Willow and tell her to have a nice nap. Caution: There is no caution. If Tom Bombadil rescues her, so much the better. He can recite some poetry to her. Merry dol dong dillo.

15. Locate a swarm of the Flies of Mordor. You can identify them via a red eye-shape on their back and their particularly bloodthirsty tendencies. Deposit Sue accordingly.

16. Set her in front of a herd of charging Oliphaunts.

17. If your Sue is Elven, you can lead her to the western shore and drown her in the sea by dangling Alfirin in front of her. With its golden bell-like blossoms, Alfirin calls the Eldar to the West but most Sues will probably not be bright enough to think of making a ship. If you have neither a patient nor a sadistic nature (in which case, may I ask how you got your current job?) you can simply toss her in the sea and let Osse have his way. Osse is generally partial to hurricanes.

18. Take her to the Barrow-downs. Caution: Be careful that the Barrow-wights do not sense in the Sue a kinship. This is possible: after all, Barrow-wights can animate any form and have voices "horrible yet hypnotic... under the spell of the Barrow-wight the victim has no will of his own."

19. Feed her to the Mewlips. These are cannibal spirits who set up residences in dank and foul swamps. If you're lucky, a flock of Gorcrows will fly along and pick at the Sue's remains.

20. Bannish her to the void. She can keep Morgoth company.

21. Sneak up while she's sleeping and take her sword, replacing it with Anglachel. This un-trusty sword is sure to make her accidentally kill off any Marty-Stu best friends she has, making the job that much easier for you. Warning: Make sure the Sue is not related to anyone nearby (sister of Legolas, sister of Aragorn, etc.) as those who carry Anglachel have a tendency to marry their brothers and sisters. And the Fellowship has already been through enough.

22. Send her through the Forbidden Door to the Paths of the Dead.

23. Put her in a boat, drifting on the Nurnen Sea in Mordor. Either some orcs will find her, or she'll die of thirst within a couple of days. With no drainage, the Nurner sea is very salty. As you leave, be sure to chant, "Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink." (Although, if she answers back, "Water, water everywhere, and all the boards did shrink", you might want to take pity on her and drop her in the Samuel Taylor Coleridge fandom. Which, it must be said, is not having its fair share of Mary Sue problems.)

24. Hand her over to the Easterlings of Rhun. As some of Sauron's staunchest supporters, they'll be happy to torture and kill her for you. Also, once your finished, you can pop over to see the Dorwinions, who make the finest mortal wines.

25. Place her in Barad-dur/Angmar/Utumno/Angband and let her try to find her way out.

26. Dress her up as a Balrog and send her off to Glorfindel. Doubtless in a Sue-fic he hasn't been given anything else to do. Caution: It just might be possible that Glorfindel would see through the disguise and be too kindhearted to kill her. To add to the Sue's costume, use flames you've recieved. Caution #2: Okay, fine, a Balrog in Imladris is not exactly in canon. Do you have to be so picky? Ur so unfair!!1!1!

27. Give her a ride on the sun. Yes, that's right. The sun is actually a ship, steered by a maia named Arien who is a burning, naked flame. I doubt even some non-canon SPF 45 could get her out of that one.

28. If you've got time on your hands, deliver the Sue personally to The Middle-earth Court For Canon Grievances ( Camilla Sandman's OFUM universe). Some PPC agents might enjoy speaking with (or merely staring at in speechless wonder) the judge, Lord Elrond.

29. Drop her in the Burning Briar. (Alright, yes, I know it's only a constellation, but doesn't it sound fun?)

30. Strand her on the Helcaraxe.

31. Beat her to death with a copy of "31 Ways..." A good assasin is resourceful.


Some tips for the aspiring PPC agent. The following canonical tools may be helpful in eliminating Mary Sues:

* Fumellar (or 'Flowers of Sleep') - these red flowers, which glow brightly in the dusk, can be gathered from the gardens of Lorien (he's a Vala, ask politely) and used to capture the Sue sleeping.
* Angainor - this chain, made of a blend of copper, silver, tin, lead, iron and gold, binds forever and has fetters that may not be filed nor cleft. If it can hold Morgoth down, it will keep the Sue secure while figure out exactly how to kill her.
* Bows of Numenor - tired of your everyday poisoned arrows? Come on over to Numenor Umlimited, where the weapons are fatal but the prices are not. Hollow steel bows and black-feathered arrows are only six Canath each.

[A/N - the PPC belongs to Harpwire, OFUM belongs to Camilla Sandman, and the Lord of the Rings universe belongs to the Tolkien estate.]