Remember the stories from your childhood? Remember the fairy tales you were told, the cartoons and the talking animals you laughed at? They're real. And they've changed.
Everything that has ever been imagined, every book, every TV show, every movie, every cartoon, exists in another plane of reality. When a TV show airs or a book is written, a new world is born; the world of that book or show given life by the minds and thoughts by all that created and viewed it.
And once a fictional world has been created, it grows. It changes, even if the project that inspired it has ended. The very minute a fictional world comes into being, it absorbs. Duplicating elements from reality, other fictional worlds and the creators' and viewer's thoughts, the world becomes something almost unrecognisable from what it originally was.
And that's where Barking Benjamin comes in. Formally the star of a famous cartoon series, he has learned of his fictional status, and has slowly gone insane from that revelation, how it affected his friends, and how the nature of fictional worlds have transformed the settings of cheerful children's cartoons into warped mirrors of the adult world. As if to add insult to injury, his cartoon is currently being adapted for film, and everyone involved treats the film like a meal ticket and nothing more.
Barking Benjamin is a short story anthology written by Gareth Barsby, documenting Benjamin's travels and documentations of other fictional worlds and reality and what he has found.
- Barking Benjamin: Barking Benjamin was once a happy-go-lucky cartoon dog, causing fun and mischief wherever he went. Now all his friends have committed suicide and he's learned of what his life really is. After years of misery, he's finally going to do something about his situation, targeting a movie adaptation of his cartoon series...
- Little Red Wolf: Set in a world inhabited by anthropomorphic wolves, this story is loosely based on a certain fairytale. Teenage wolf Red has always dreamed of being like her grandmother, a retired policewoman who helped capture the infamous Hood. Now the Hood has returned, apparently out for revenge against those who helped put him away. This news leaves Red anxious and concerned for her grandmother - and leads her to cross paths with the Hood himself.
- The Rock and Roll Rat: Julie Rottson is an aspiring guitar player. She's also a rat with a Scouse accent, torn between her hatred of humans and her wish to become more human herself. When she builds her own guitar, it at first helps soothe her, but it loses its magic when it leads other rats to use her. Can Benjamin and a camel help Julie reignite the magic of her music?
- The Ring of Charlemagne: There is said to be a magic ring that can make everyone fall in love with whoever wears it, and Abraham, a man with the ability to locate mystical objects, is looking for it. The ring, however, may have a story of its own.
- The Gator: A biker's routine of lounging about, taking out his hog for a spin, and having a pint with his mates is rudely interrupted when a talking alligator appears in his house, seeking asylum. Though "Beth" may be more trouble than she's worth...
- The Beast: Aristocratic loner Mortimer Magglesworth has been cursed to be a giant anthropomorphic lizard, but he decides to make lemons out of lemonade, adjusting to a life of solitude and ostracization. Then he meets Cassie...
Barking Benjamin contains examples of:
- Accessory-Wearing Cartoon Animal - Benjamin wears a collar, a tie and nothing else.
- Alliterative Name - Barking Benjamin, as well as his dead girlfriend Dotty Daschund.
- Animation Age Ghetto - A source of angst for Benjamin.
- Antagonist Title
- Anthropomorphic Animal Adaptation - One for Little Red Riding Hood.
- Blithe Spirit - Benjamin tries to be this but it doesn't work.
- Card-Carrying Villain - Upon seeing the bad guy winning one too many times, Benjamin becomes one of these.
- Crappy Carnival - The circus Danny the camel and Beth end up in.
- Dream Land - Entire worlds manifest through the mere creation of TV shows and movies, but they can be influenced by other people's thoughts.
- Driven to Suicide - Benjamin's friends, and later Benjamin himself.
- Fractured Fairy Tale/Grimmification - Little Red Wolf and The Beast.
- Funetik Aksent - Julie's Scouse accent gets written out.
- Hyperlink Story
- I See Dead People - Abraham has this ability.
- Little Dead Riding Hood - Red lives, but doesn't get that happy an ending.
- Little Red Fighting Hood - Red does put up a fight when she's captured by the Hood, though later is horrified that she had it in her to do so.
- Lizard Folk - Mortimer.
- Mature Animal Story
- Pinocchio Syndrome - A lot of rats wish they were human, even trying to recreate things humans have.
- Psychopathic Man Child - Benjamin, of course. The whole reason he's doing what he's doing is so the happy days of his past can return. Also, Mortimer may count too.
- Reality Warper - Benjamin, though he's not that powerful, and his warping is really only temporary.
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent - Mortimer and Beth aren't really evil, but they're not all that nice either.
- Savage Wolf - The Hood. Red fears she will become this.
- Sliding Scale of Animal Communication - Julie and other rats like her can't talk to humans, but most of the other talking animals in this book can.
- Speaks Fluent Animal - Benjamin can communicate with less anthropomorphic animals than himself.
- Subverted Kids Show
- The Big Bad Wolf - In Little Red Wolf, duh.
- Villain Protagonist
- Villainous BSoD - Benjamin at the end.
- You Dirty Rat! - Julie laments how her kind are seen as evil.