From “High Five Fantasy Kollection, Excellent Work, Great Job!!!!”

It was just Couch Face, Gallenthmir, Manly Man, Wife, Captain Sex, Captain Peppersprouts, Robot, Abel Manning, Kill Joy, and Mr. Ylgu. And they were all in a bit of a pickle…

Listen. This is the book where everyone from the previous books meet everybody, and have an adventure of mild proportions.

The Book Where Everybody Shows Up: a mild curiosity

Q-burt

-And they were all in a bit of a pickle… Which of them would receive the most money from the royalties once all Q-burt’s novels hopped aboard the gravy train? When they hit pay dirt?

But now, I fear, we must introduce all the characters. I fear this since I’ve never done this before. I’ve never put so many queer and unnecessary characters in the same room! One never knows what just may happen, does one? I mean, doesn’t one?

Table of Flippin’ Contents

Prologue: Who needs a prologue? Let’s just start it already!

Chapter One: Is this all just one joke?

Chapter Two: Let’s forget the table of contents and move right on into story. Scrap it. Let’s start it all over again. This time, we’ve hired a new writer.

Episode One: The Book Where Everybody Shows Up.

Episode 2?: There are no further episodes.

Prologue: Who needs a prologue? Let’s just start it already!

Chapter One: Is this all just one joke?

No. It’s not. Some people take literature serious. Such people usually end up with highly thick-rimmed glasses.

Chapter Two: Let’s forget the table of contents and move right on into story. Scrap it. (Let’s start it all over again. This time, we’ve hired a new writer.)

I’ll be replacing the old writer. You probably won’t notice the difference.

Episode One: The Book Where Everybody Shows Up.

Meet the cast.

I’ve selected some of my favorite characters from my past works so far. If your favorite hasn’t showed up, send an irate complaint to my editor.

It was just Couch Face, Gallenthmir, Manly Man, Wife, Captain Sex, Captain Peppersprouts, Robot, Abel Manning, Kill Joy, and Mr. Ylgu. And they were all in a bit of a pickle…

Which of them would receive the most money from the royalties once all Q-burt’s novels hopped aboard the gravy train? When they hit pay dirt?

(They didn’t know it, but Q-burt’s books don’t make any money. Don’t tell nobody, okay? They may strike.)

But now, I fear, we must introduce all the characters. One never knows what just may happen, does one? I mean, doesn’t one?

Let’s start in the order they were introduced.

Couch Face..  Oh, I’m forgetting some, aren’t one?

There was also Ozzie Frankfurter, The General, Alfredo Valentine, The Vera Sisters’ own Jewels McVee and her troupe, and Zane and Kiki.

Eh-hem. Let’s start in the order they were introduced to the world.

J J (remember those? If so, there’s a distinct probability you’re a finding waldo fan.) J

Abel ManningJ . He’s a central protagonist, hobo, vampire, zombie, alien, prince, and all-around good guy. With the power of two galaxies weaved up in one banana yellow umbrella riddled with holes, and a J and a L hanging off of it with clasped mouths.

J So Abel Manning.. There’s a Q-burt legend. He was my very first character. The first sketch, of whom, I did while I was mentally masturbating at a Southwestern food restaurant on some dinner napkins in front of my best friends’ entire family. Excuse the potty mouth, Mom, if you’re reading this.

Kill Joy (otherwise known as Murdoc, the Doctor of Murder, or Kenny Boy). He’s a crippled paraplegic giant by now. 11 feet, and counting if I’m not consistent and say 12. In a motorized, flying rocket chair. He’s mostly all beard. It covered his internal organs which, would otherwise, be exposed to air.

Mr. Ylgu. He’s a central antagonist, giant demon, with wings, father of Kill Joy, spawn of Satan, and all-around bad guy. And cannibal..

All finding waldo alumnis. My first book, and my favorite book. I’m even so vain to say it is my favorite book, excluding the Last Unicorn, the Princess Bride, and Peter and Wendy.

Sorry if there weren’t many girls in that book, but Mr. Ylgu counts, I think. He was a rock ‘N roll cross dresser, I think. That’s all, I hope.

And on and on, ‘til Secret Life of Homeschoolerz.

* * *

Secret Life of Homeschoolerz.

Alfredo Valentine. Nicknamed “The Elephant”. He’s as round as he is round. People have names for his kind of people. Some say ‘jokester’, ‘trickster’, ‘idiot’, but no, no. I say ‘hero.’ He saved us all from everybody monotony using only a laugh, tickle, and a giggle. Yes, I understand laughing and giggling are one in the same genre.

The General. He’s not really a general. More like a pimply adolescent, freckled, be-spectacled, wannabe leader of children and a fan of Dungeons & Dragons who leads his band of riffraff down a superstitious trail of certain destruction.

Ozzie Frankfurter. A snot-nosed hometeached twit of bubbly innocence who sat around in a puddle of blue and yellow flowers, counting pulled petals, saying, “She hates me. I hate her. She hates me. I hate her. She hates me?! That jerk!” (A 5-year old as based on my now-grown up best friend.)

The Vera Sisters’ own Jewels McVee, and her two cronies, Ashley and Ashley and Ashley. They were all named ‘Ashley’. (Remember when everyone was all named ‘Ashley’ and ‘Michael’? Very popular names.) They were bullies inspired of me when I was a child, and-they-beat-me-up, and-I-fell-down-a-lot.

And on and then on, ‘til Couch Face: the Closet-Case Heterosexual was released.

? ? ?

Couch Face: the Closet-Case Heterosexual. Possibly my favorite character, mostly because he has a couch for a face, and a little man who sits on top with his knees crossed as if he has to potty, twiddling his thumbs and toes, and laughing wildly.

Couch Face works at the YMCA in the children’s department, this couch-headed individual, and has to laminate the upholstery in the pool where he lifeguards the children he hates. This picture was always on my mind, but it never made it into the book. He’s a brilliant super villain whose secret lab is under his neighbor’s pool, right next to his house which is a stormy, floating volcano in the middle of a picture perfect neighborhood.

Manly Man, the Ultimate Male. His only super power is that he’s . . . super strong, but that’s okay . . . I mean, isn’t it? Isn’t it? FORGIVE ME! But he does have the ability to correct grammatical errors without a moment’s qualm. Oh, I’m sorry, that was his wife. The Politard.

The Politard. The Political Retard.

He did have two wives, and an alter ego. Steve the Accountant in the medieval knight helmet who was married to ..

.. Wife, the housewife. Ceaselessly pregnant. And a cage fighter.

.. and his true identity, Manly Man the Ultimate Male, with the piggy nose, and the piggy ears, and the screw-on tail, and the ability to open pickle jars without a moment’s qualm. (In fact, on his uniform, the Spanish nighties a Don would wear in his harem, with cape, was a portrait of a man opening a jar of pickles while kicking a pregnant woman off the top of a high hill.)

Gallenthmir. (The Witch of the Waste in some novels.) She bears a striking resemblance to a dragon and a frog, but no one can tell the difference, can one?

And her butt lights up, and she flies, butt-end first. Gallenthmir. Gal-in-the-mirror. Gal-len-th-mir.

Resident of Mirror Country, trapped forever for all time until she can get that accursed woman Commando Kiss to free her.

You can really tell I favor these characters the best now, can’t one?

And on and then on, ‘til Moons of Galileo: Letters from a Robot got published.

… … …

Moons of Galileo: Letters from a Robot got published, I hope.

Robot. A female robot, and narrator. I, Robot. I a bit lonely right now.

Captain Peppersprouts. A space pirate ‘round the four moons of Galileo. Jupiter.

Captain Sex. The captain who loved her. With two personalities, one a feeble janitor, and one a brave space captain.

And on and then on, ‘til Final Farce: the Last Roman Numeral was born.

! ! !

Final Farce: the Last Roman Numeral.

Zane.

Kiki.

I forget them. OH yeah! Zane was an anthrophomoric- (I can’t spel that wurd, but I can spel all kindss of elses)- eco terrorist with a heart of gold, who above all, loves children, and his daughter, and the blowing up of ‘villainous companies and countries’ with big budgets in the habit of tree uprootal.

Kiki. She’s a furry blue girl with a tail. What’s to know?

And now, together, finally together, they were all off on a brand-new adventure.

Oh, but don’t get ahead of oneself. First, we must finish introducing the characters! They’ve all got to shake hands, slap backs, examine one another’s name tags, and play a kind, good, happy game of Red Rover, Red Rover, bring Gallenthmir’s fat, amphibious ass right over.

None of my books would be complete without all the minor characters that made those books so grand.

So here they are.

..I forgot them. I guess they weren’t very important.

And now, together, finally together, they were all off on a brand-new adventure!

Oh, what? The book’s over? .. L

Episode 2?: There are no further episodes.

Ah, but you see, this isn’t man vs. nature, and this isn’t man vs. self, so this must be man vs. man.

Let’s establish villains.

Villains:

The Wy People. The Great Eye. Aliens. All of them.

They look like question marks. And ride the Hoo Dragons. Residents of Mars. And observer of the Sleepers of earth through the Lady in the Moon. Peacekeeper of the Galaxies (finding waldo).

A volunteer organization of concerned citizens dedicated on doing right in the foulest ways possible, and dream-experimenting on their dreamy, evil prisoners.

They’re misunderstood villains, really. More ‘antagonists’, really.

The Company. Shady underhand deals isn’t what I was thinking of, but it’ll do (Final Farce: the Last Roman Numeral). They generally cut down trees and build up advanced strip malls suspended in domes five hundred feet in the air with liquid, drinkable, sweetwater roads of bumper boat traffic, and wherever they go, there must be Coke and Pepsi I suppose is the message here. If there weren’t Coke or Pepsi, why, one would have a monopoly over the other and control all our money!

Does that make sense? I hope it does. It probably doesn’t.

The Good Ship Orphan.

And its Shivring: the pirate-cannibal spawn of the dreaded Mr. Ylgu, once a villain (finding waldo).

The Tweenagerz. The black Buzz Mitchell, the midget, Marvin Cheddarhead, and the giant, Tubbs McGee (Secret Life of Homeschoolerz). With BB guns. Smoking down in the Wash’s soggy underbelly. Terrible, dreadful, no-good Bullies.

Cain (finding waldo). Yes, all you ‘finding waldo’ fans, he didn’t get hardly a cameo in the original book, but his mark could be felt all throughout ‘finding waldo’ if you stepped in the right places, are you smelling what I’m stepping in? How’s the smell?

The Politard (Couch Face: the Closet-Case Heterosexual.) The Political Retard. She’s rich, you know. Rich; powerful. Her servants get lost on her front lawn. Had to camp out to survive.

Cameo Appearances of Other Major Characters on the side of good! :

Uh…

Good! The book’s over.

No. The adventure starts here!

J J J

It was just Couch Face, Gallenthmir, Manly Man, Wife, Captain Sex, Captain Peppersprouts, Robot, Abel Manning, Kill Joy, and Mr. Ylgu. And they were all in a bit of a pickle…

A pickle the size of America’s debt problems. Ha. L

Which of them would receive the most money from the royalties Sir Q-burt made upon making big success with his books?

“Well, fellas,” said Q-burt. “Don’t you know?” he said, I said, “There’s no money to be made in it.”

“What?” said Abel Manning, hobo. “I narrated a whole near-500 page book, and I think I’ve earned something!”

Zane the terrorist, Kiki the funny blue girl with the tail, Alfredo “The Elephant” Valentine, The General, and Ozzie Frankfurter joined them. “Whoa, phew! Are we late? You owe us big time, pal!”

“You frighten me terribly,” said Q-burt. “Sorry, guys, as I was saying, there’s no money to be made in it,” said Q-burt.

“You’ll hear from my attorney!” said Abel Manning, all-around central protagonist man.

“Look, I live under the same roof of the house I was raised in. My parents sleep not very far off from where I rest my head and shut my pretty little eyes. I’m telling ya, there’s no money to be made in it.”

“This could be a problem, Mr. Manning,” said Mr. Ylgu, the giant demon with the wolfish grin.

“How ‘bout this, guys?” said Q-burt. “I write you in one last adventure, see if it makes any money. If it does, I’ll give you each a share.”

“Fair,” said Couch Face, Gallenthmir, Manly Man, Wife, Captain Sex, Captain Peppersprouts, uh, Robot, Abel Manning, Kill Joy, um, and Mr. Ylgu; Zane, Kiki, and The General, and Alfredo Valentine, and Ozzie Frankfurter, phew! I memorized that! They said that not all at once, as you’d expect but eventually, thereupon shaking my hand. The hand that wrote them. Not a clean hand. Not a good hand. But a sensible hand.

“So how ‘bout this, guys?” said Q-burt. “So you were all lost and wandering on a distant star, on a planet filled with friends and villains of your past and future, who had all gotten together .. To form a scheme. To make more money….”

L L L

The villains were in conference.

“How do we make more money? We want a cut of the deal.”

J J J

The heroes gathered in their rebel sector.

“We better do something heroic.”

J J J

The villains, led by Cain, formed a circle in the Tower of a 1,000 Guesses, and Cain said, “I don’t like how the heroes beat us in their previous novels.. We better do something villainous and oust them.”

“What does ‘oust’ mean?” said the boy giant Tubbs McGee, picking some bodily orifice. Several Shivring joined them in this question.

“It means exactly what it means,” said the leader of the Company, Professor Fish, adjusting his spectacles. Smart people often adjust their glasses.

The Wy People. The Great Eye. Aliens. All of them*. They were all in circle, in white lab coats, jotting down notes about their rivals. “We’re not bad guys here, Cain.”

* They looked like question marks. And rode the Hoo Dragons.

“No one considers you ‘bad’ here,” said Cain, and flew up into the air, hovered. He could fly. Hovered there for a while, tapping his teeth. “We just have a rival, the protagonists. We’re antagonists, it’s not necessarily bad to be antagonists.”

The Good Ship Orphan- not bad– hovered at the top of the Tower of 1,000 Guesses, and they began to guess what might happen next if they oust them. While the Tweenagerz, led by the black Buzz Mitchell, prodded his midget friend, Marvin Cheddarhead, and the boy giant, Tubbs McGee; and smoking, BB gun in hand, Buzz said, “I’m a bad guy.. Hey, if you want to feel like a good guy, you can just let me and my gang oust them, and get it all off your conscience.”

“Cute,” said Cain, looking down. “But you’re just kids. Your BB guns will prove fruitless against Abel Manning’s magic and guile.”

“They’re infused with kryptonite, sir,” said Buzz Mitchell.

“That’s Superman’s weakness.”

“..Does the yellow paper make them dizzy, sir?”

“That’s the Green Lantern’s.”

“What if I spray them with water, sir?! ‘Are you melting, my friend?’”

“That’s the Wicked Witch. Look, we can do this all day–” / “–No, we can’t, I’ve run out of weaknesses…–” / “–but we need to come to a conclusion. How do we best oust the central protagonists?”

The Politard thought of a solution. The Political Retard. She’s rich, you know. Rich, powerful. “We have money. They don’t have money. I suggest we combine the Company’s assets with my own and form an ousting militia, and Professor Fish can science us up some giant robots–”

“What about our BB guns?” said Marvin Cheddarhead.

“Cute,” said the Politard and Cain. “You’re just kids.”

Marvin Cheddarhead hung his miniature shoulders.

“It’s settled, then,” said Cain. “We strike at dawn!”

“Dawn. Why dawn?” said the Politard.

“Have you no sense of theatre?” said Cain. “Look, man!” / “Woman…” / “We best beat them in a gory sunset over a forest fire than in the middle of night. It’s– it’s–”

“What about catching them off guard?” said the Wy People. Their Hoo Dragons’ babies cooed in their laps. The Great Eye put in a contact.

“To make all things fair..” said Cain.

J J J

Meanwhile, the protagonist team was lost and wondering (not ‘wandering’) in the Forest of 100 Truths. No one could lie here. Well, they could, but first they had to say 100 Truths about themselves no one knew about them, and in payment, they could lie two times two, which is 4, then the cycle started all over again.

As compulsive liars, all of them, this proved hard–

“I’m not a compulsive liar,” said Ozzie Frankfurter.

“Truth or dare…” said the giant creature in the forest glade.

“Well, Truth,” said Abel Manning.

“Dare,” said Couch Face.

“Hey, I’m the central protagonist!” said Abel Manning.

“We’re all central protagonists,” said Captain Peppersprouts. “Well, mostly. Some are side characters..”

“Truth,” said Abel Manning, nodding.

“Very well,” said the giant creature in the forest glade. “What are you wearing under there?”

“Under where*?” said Abel Manning.

* this joke only works in the English language

“Dare,” said Couch Face.

“Very well,” said the giant creature in the forest glade, resting his magical shoulders on some magical dirt. The dirt was all pixie dust. “I dare you to take off your couch.”

Couch Face took off his head to reveal beautiful frost blue eyes and chiseled cheek bones.

“I knew he was cute!” said Commando Kiss.

“Who are you?” said the giant creature in the forest glade, turning around.

Said Commando Kiss from out of the glade, “Oh, dare! Mine’s a dare! The fans of Couch Face: the Closet-Case Heterosexual dared me if I wouldn’t steal into the story and make a surprise cameo, but after arriving, I’ve decided to stay. I’m adding myself to the cast. By popular vote.”

(It was just Couch Face, Gallenthmir, Manly Man, Wife, Captain Sex, Captain Peppersprouts, Robot, Abel Manning, Kill Joy, and Mr. Ylgu; Zane, Kiki, and the rest…  And Commando Kiss.)

“Truth,” said Zane to the giant creature in the forest glade. “You won’t live to see tomorrow,” and opened his shirt to reveal a strapped vest of dynamite and ran to the giant creature, pulled the trigger, and blew himself up, and blew them all out of the Forest of 100 Truths quite insensibly, and lacking purpose, the trees torn up by the roots, and them all left in cartoon casts and bandages.

“Ow. Hot,” said Kiki. “Our first act of terrorism in how many years?” Captain Sex died in the explosion, and Captain Peppersprouts was left weeping over his–

“I’m not quite dead,” he said, opening his eyes. “I think I’ll sit this book out, or maybe make myself a minor character. I’ll be recovering in the Hospital of — what planet are we on?”

“Planet Spud,” said Couch Face. “It’s shaped like a potato. My mistake. Sorry!”

“It was one of his madcap schemes of world domination,” explained Manly Man, the Ultimate Male, posing, cape in the wind. “I tried to stop him.”

“Yes. If you want to visit me, I’ll be there.”

(It was just Couch Face, Gallenthmir, Manly Man, one, two, three, four…) That’s fifteen people! 8 boys, 7 girls, if you included Mr. Ylgu as a girl. Mr. Ylgu was a rock ‘N roll cross dresser. He’ll be played by Tim Curry.

J J J

Captain Peppersprouts visited Captain Sex in the hospital. He was taking a bath in several sponges that were dabbing him up. “Yes, play me like a drum,” he said to the nurses. “Oh, Peppy? So, you’re here.”

“You seem to be enjoying yourself.”

“I am. Yes, I am.”

“How’s life as a minor character?”

“It’s not so bad. The pay’s just the same, but I do a lot less. Q-burt doesn’t make any money, you see.”

Oh, but that was much later. Later was  NOW.

They were all recuperating in the First National Hospital of Spud, the Right Wing from the explosion, when this happened.

I forgot what ‘this’ was, though, so we’ll have to continue on to ‘that’s’ and ‘though’s’.

That was the villains had given them a gift, signing them all a card. The one who delivered it was Buzz Mitchell and the Tweenagerz. “Go ahead. Open it up,” said Buzz Mitchell and ran out.

Abel Manning, considering himself the chief character, gave his shot on opening it up, but Couch Face, also considering himself the most important character, also opened it up. “It says ‘congratulations’,” they chorused together. “For what?”

“For losing the tooth and getting the money under your pillow the next day,” said the card. A boxing glove popped out of the card and punched three of the central protagonists in the lip. Abel Manning, who was a hobo, and hardly hadn’t any, didn’t mind so much. Couch Face had a couch for a head, so it cushioned the blow. Captain Peppersprouts, however, missed her gold filling, which she had since been quite attached to. “Look,” she lisped, if a lisp could perform without a lucky ‘s’ in the word. “There’th a methage,” she said. She opened it up and read, Courtesy of the Politard and Professor Fish.

“I knew my wife was behind this!” said Manly Man, the Ultimate Male.

“You have another wife?” said Wife, who happened to be his wife, a housewife. She punched him on the side of the head. It was a pretty good punch, but Manly Man was nigh invulnerable.

“Yes, I have another wife. Does this concern you?”

“You’re supposed to be going with me!”

“In Bible times, this happened all the time.”

“Oh, if it’s Biblical, then of course you can have another wife, Steve.”

“Shh! That’s my secret alter ego.”

“And your super identity is Manly Man, I do suppose,” said Wife, the housewife, named Wife.

“Of course!” said the Politard, who had entered the room.

One day in hell is like five times fifty-eight days in the Congo. There’s nothing quite like it.

Politard was rigid, and cold as hell; and calm as a tea cup in its drawer. “Manly.”

“Politard.”

“Manly, us central antagonists have decided to do something rather dreadful to you. As you are my wife–” / “Husband,” said Manly / “–husband, I thought I’d tell you.”

“And whose side are you on?” said Wife.

“Whose side do you hope I’m on?” said the Politard. She shot Wife five times in the chest, stabbed her husband in the neck, poisoned all their lunches, and backflipped out the glass window onto a private gyrocopter, and flew off to the Tower of 1,000 Guesses.

Wife, luckily, was already a zombie by that time, and zombies don’t go down so easily.

“Does she really think we’re going to eat all those poisoned lunches?” said The General.

Ozzie Frankfurter had already eaten one out of naivety, and The Elephant (Alfredo Valentine) had eaten four out of pure gluttony. They collapsed onto the floor. Alfredo Valentine cried, “Cool beans! I’ve been poisoned!” and Ozzie Frankfertur cried out, “That jerk!”

L L L

“Tut, tut. At least we’re in a hospital,” said The General.

“Ohmygosh, it’s not a children’s hospital, is it?” said Kiki.

Said The General, “It is. Why?”

Kiki slapped her facial bones. “Zane the Terrorist blows up children’s hospitals.”

Zane, realizing it was a children’s hospital, opened up his vest to reveal several layers of dynamite. “I’m gonna do it!”

“No, Zane! Think of the children.”

“-I am,” and blew them all up.

L L L

They awoke in the wreckage of the children’s hospital, in flames, and crying, and sniveling, in several cartoon bandages and casts and crutches. Quite surprising, really.

Captain Sex was even deader after the explosion. “How come he’s in the hospital if it’s for children?” said Ozzie Frankfertur, who had eaten the poisoned quiche, and only wasn’t feeling its affects out of pure naivety. Then fainted.

“Your mama!” said The Elephant. “It’s the only hospital we could find on short notice, nerd,” and fainted.

“Manly Man, my husband, is the Steve part of you I married alright?” said Wife, the housewife, in her tattered wedding gown riddled with bullets, and collapsed. She never took that wedding dress off.

“I think so,” he said, and the sudden loss of blood- well, he was stabbed but he was nigh invulnerable. So he wasn’t feeling the least bit woozy.

The Steve part of him picked his wife, Wife, up, and noticing they were naked all save their bandages, he picked up the two poisoned children, and began walking out of the crater, where he met Zane, quite content, quite satisfied, and quite alive. Fully clothed. “Don’t worry, it’s a bomb-proof vest,” said Zane, and Manly Man punched him, where he collapsed into the dirt, going, “Mama!”; and in cape, Manly continued around the wreckage wherever children could be found, a bit mangled maybe, but some were alive, and saved a whole village of them. “I’m putting him on the villain list,” said Manly Man, of Zane.

Said Kiki half-heartedly, like she didn’t believe it, like it was rehearsed, say memorized.. beaten into her.. read on a cue card, “But the Company owns this children’s hospital. The Company is evil..” She picked up her zealous leader, Zane, and moved to the edge of the crater and looked up. A star had fallen, and she made a wish on it, and coming into form, the star became a flying ship, where a big man like a rather large sow in a blanket hopped out with several children and yelled, “Yo, baby! Achoo!”

(That would be Kiki’s husband. There are a lot of characters in this book. It’s confusing. )

“Hubby!” cried Kiki, dropping Zane and running up to him, leaping into his stubby arms. “It’s the Flying Theatre,” said Kiki. “My husband’s ship. This’ll get us back to– where are we going, hubby?” said Kiki.

“Achoo!”

“I know you’re allergic, but use a Kleenex next time.”

Zane recovered and said, “Gosh, use a towel.” He was the only one wearing clothes at the time.

Manly Man finished saving the rest of the children, put out the fire with one final blow of wind from his lungs, the first blow that uprooted mighty cedars from their–what else?–roots, and threw the collapsed children on the flying ship, christened it, called it beautiful, and said, “Hi ho silver. You’re beautiful. Take these children away, find them another hospital. I’ll throw this mighty fool into the Adriatic ocean,” and picking up Zane, rotated like a shot put putter and even as Kiki cried “No, Wait!” he threw him with superhuman strength into the Adriatic ocean so that, up in the sky, Zane saw the curvature of the earth, got forty five nose bleeds, and landed exactly where Manly Man wanted him to be: somewhere he could never find himself out of: the ocean, maybe..

Said Kiki, “Zane had the key and map to the writer’s room, Manly Man! Now we’ll not know how to get back to Q-burt and sign the deal. We’ll never get out of this world he has created for us.”

“Who gave him the key?”

“He stole it from Ozzie? It was like taking candy from a–”

“-Who trusted Ozzie?”

“He didn’t trust Ozzie. He doesn’t trust children, unless they’re his daughter.”

“-He has a daughter?”

Commando Kiss was sitting on Couch Face’s couch cushions at that time. They hadn’t been burned in the accident at all. They were laminated in fire-proof suede. Couch Face was sleeping, so he didn’t mind that much.

Gallenthmir flew up, butt-end first, into the air, and said, “Hey, fellas, it’s not all bad, we can look for Zane on the air ship.”

Captain Peppersprouts grabbed hold of the ladder leading up, “At any rate, we can find some clothes, and–”

“Captain! Do you require assistance?” said Robot.

“Oh, get me a soda. Will you be alright, Kissy?”

Said Commando Kiss, “I was born this way. I live inside my skin. I don’t require clothes. I–”

“–I get it.”

They all left to find Zane. It was, really, the only thing they could do if they ever wanted to see Money– see Home again.

The mute Kill Joy flew up on his flying wheel chair and entered the ship, saying nothing, while Abel Manning entered a giant yellow bubble his drool had formed as encapsulated in his banana yellow umbrella and floated high up. “I do better in the stars, by myself. I’ll search for him on my own.”

“Shall I join you, then, Mr. Manning?” said Mr. Ylgu, applying some lipstick, adjusting his wig. His wings unfurled, he turned into a demon bat, his teeth breaking a jelly of skin and his mouth become gaping wide monstrosity and howled and howled in a cross-fire hurricane. “I can fly too. Plus, I’m wicked scary.”

J J J

All were given clothes by Buffoon, the allergy-ridden husband of Kiki, allergic to her blue fur, and pilot of the Flying Theatre, and then set off on a brand new adventure: To find that insensitive jerk who held the key and map to the writer’s room: to Money. And the only way off of this planet: to Home.

(Like, I said, and such was the object of their search, they all left to find Zane, no matter how unlikable a character he was.)

Naturally, to cover more ground, they separated. Looking over the world’s oceans, and lands. To have adventures all their own.

I suppose it’s necessary to say what the search parties would be.

Zane was all by himself, we’ll get to that later. That’s no search party. He was in some unnamed ocean, the Single Sea, as there was only one in all of Spud and a Pangaea of continental girth stretching all across the surface tension of the world. And they must find him, as he still held the key to getting out of this planet, and finding the Writer so they could sign a deal, and make more money, right?

Now, the parties couldn’t be just those they knew, as it wouldn’t be safe to pair up all the children together (namely, The General, Alfredo Valentine, and Ozzie Frankfertur) and send them into the wilds; though they were much accustomed to living in the desert wilderness. No, they needed a babysitter, so teams were formed.

They picked Buffoon to baby sit the kiddos aboard the Flying Theatre, but they escaped, wanting to go on an adventure for themselves, and Manly Man, who was strong enough to go on his own- he was a superhero- found them, and kept them safe thereabouts.

So it was Manly Man, The General, The Elephant, and Ozzie Frankfertur, the first party.

Abel Manning, who was much accustomed to going alone, and who was known among them to be the most powerful, flew up in a giant yellow bubble full of drool and went alone.

So it was Abel Manning, the second party.

Kill Joy would’ve gone with him, he was his brother, sort of, but Mr. Ylgu was his dad, and he would’ve gone with him, but the remaining parties were decided by straws.

So it was Robot, Kill Joy, and Couch Face, the third party. Robot was team leader.

So it was Gallenthmir, Kiki, and Mr. Ylgu, the fourth party. Mr. Ylgu was team leader.

And I guess it was Wife, Commando Kiss, and Captain Peppersprouts, the all-girl fifth party. Captain Peppersprouts was team leader.

“We’ll cover all ends of the earth better this way, I hope,” said Abel Manning. “Well, I’m much used to wandering. I’m The Hitchhiker. Goodbye!”

Adventure 1: In Which The Children Fall Out of the Flying Theatre’s Babysitting Service and Land in the Desert, Which is the Best Place Where They Knew Where to Be, and Manly Man Soars After Them to their Dismay

So it was Manly Man, The General, The Elephant, and Ozzie Frankfertur, the first party.

The children were watched by Buffoon ‘til they fell out of the sky and Manly Man soared down to meet them, but Manly Man couldn’t fly. Buffoon didn’t realize they were even gone, however, and just kept on chugging.

They landed in the desert. The General, and them. Manly Man following.

“It’s okay, men,” said The General, age eleven or thirteen, I can’t remember which. “We’re used to these conditions. This is our town.”

“This is not our town,” said Alfredo Valentine, age nine.

“I want ice cream!” said Ozzie Frankfertur, just five years old by that time.

Their cheeks had begun to freckle.

Suddenly. Just then! Meanwhile… Later.

A polar bear attacked.

“Here’s a joke,” said Alfredo. “How did that bear from the Coka Cola commercials arrive on our doorstep? He’ll probably eat me first. I’m the fattest. The funny one always goes first.”

“No one’s saying your funny..” said The General.

“I need tacos!” cried the poor child, Ozzie.

But Manly Man. How heroic and manly he is, the ultimate male, really. Skinned the bear, ate the meat, chewed the fat, wore his coat. “We’ve got to get moving,” he told them, taking off the layers, realizing a fur coat was pointless in the desert. But needing some covering, skinned his sunburn and wore that like a second–for lack of a better word, or I’m just lazy–skin. “The Wy People are on the move.”

“Well, they can join us,” said Alfredo. “If we’re both moving.”

J J J

Meanwhile, somewhere in the Spud-lind desert.

“So how you doing, Nala? Do you talk? Are you a talking dog?”

The dog said nothing.

“Captain, it’s pointless,” said a Wy Person to the Great Eye. A great eyeball, who’d just recently gone from a monocle to a colored contact lens, as was befitting the human culture. Hey, it was trendy. “The dog won’t talk.”

“The dog refuses to talk,” said another Wy Person, the first mate.

The Wy People. The Great Eye. Aliens. All of them. They look like question marks. And ride the Hoo Dragons. Residents of Mars. And observer of the Sleepers of earth through the Lady in the Moon. Peacekeeper of the Galaxies (finding waldo). A volunteer organization of concerned citizens dedicated on doing right in the foulest ways possible. They’re misunderstood villains, really. More ‘antagonists’ actually.

“No, I just don’t like you,” said the dog.

“What?”

The dog had talked.

“I can choose whom to speak to. And when to speak. But don’t say I can’t talk.”

“So which way did they go?”

“Which way did who go?” said the dog, wearing a wicked, wolfish grin, littered with alliterations. A bitch, really. Female. They have so many negative synonyms for women and so very few negative names for men.

Said the first mate, “The People We’re After. Oh, Captain. This is pointless! The dog simply won’t tell us what’s what, who’s who.”

“I have a solution, Captain.”

“Stop calling me ‘Captain’,” said the Great Eye. “I’m a volunteer worker.”

“But we have to call you something.”

“How ‘bout Kevin?”

“Kevin? Is that your nomenclature?”

The Great Eye looked at them funny, if, in fact, an eyeball out of its socket and without eyebrows and eye muscles could perform such a task; and said, “If you’re going to say a name, say my name. No, my real name’s really hard to pronounce, so I changed it to Kevin.”

J J

Meanwhile, in some other desert…

“This must be an allusion,” said Manly Man.

“Illusion, sir,” said The General.

“What?” said Manly Man.

Wise One and Old Man Painter were playing a game of chess in this illusion. The chessboard, made of polar bear teeth, apparently, well the pieces were; was balanced on the top of a saguaro cactus. And the two old fogies were– well, I wouldn’t call it sitting, so much as floating, hovering, loitering– loitering, that’s the word— mum’s the word– mum’s a word for British persons– and Manly Man said, “Hey!”

“Hey yourself,” said Old Man Painter.

“Ho, ho, ho!” said Wise One. “King me!”

“There is no ‘King me’ in chess!”

“Hey, Old Man Painter. It’s been a long time,” said Manly Man.

“You know I’m just an illusion,” said Old Man Painter, and moved his piece.

“Of– of course,” said Manly Man.

“Well, check my friends, I think I won!” said the floating, hovering, sage-like Wise One. “Go on, ask them.”

“..It’s check mate,” said Old Man Painter, then turning to Manly Man. “Look. Did you want some advice?”

Said Wise One, “Yes, old people can oftentimes give good advice. Ho, ho, ho!”

“In fact, I’m quite in the need for–”

Said Old Man Painter, “Stop talking to illusions, it’ll get you nowhere. Fast. I win!”

Wise One checked the board. “Ho, ho, ho! So you did,” and both sank into the mud. The only mud for miles around. We’re lucky. In fact, it was quick sand. Which is rather slow-sinking sand, but for the most part, since most sand moves rather slow lest it be in a sandstorm, this was quick enough.

“Told you,” said Old Man Painter, as Manly Man fought for his life.

The cactus stood sentry, quite content to balance a game of chess on its crown, while the three children cried for help.

L L L

The three children cried for help.

Ozzie cried for extra ketchup with his .. Pweh .. tacos.

A mummy in a business suit walked by, with briefcase, and said to the three boys, instead of an expected, “Ugh, erg, and how you do?”, it said, “Just checking in for work, elevator’s going down,” and stepped into the middle of the quicksand and slowly began to sink. “That’s terrific,” said the mummy, checking the sun. “What do you know, I’m early?”

“It’s another allusion,” said Ozzie.

“Illusion, little sir,” said The General, who, as a brother, was oftentimes concerned for his little brother’s word choice. Actually, most brothers aren’t. This one was running a little odd.

“Won’t you be joining me?” said the mummy. “It’s Take Your Children to Work day, and since I don’t have any eggs hatching, you all look about 1,000 years old apiece, wanna be my kids?”

“No way, creepo,” said Alfredo. “Help!”

“Help!” “Help!” said Ozzie and The General.

“It’s warm down here,” said the slowly-sinking mummy.

“Yeah, I’m sure it is, with all your urine difficulties, sicko,” said Alfredo.

“Our dead friend*’s down there,” said Ozzie, beaming. And screamed, and howled. And alerted the Wy People that they were there.

* Manly Man had already sunk.

“He’s in a very mystifying place,” said the mummy, and now his preserved-&-shrunken mouth let out the last eek between its bandages, “You should come and join him,” and sunk forever into the mystery.

But the boys wouldn’t be dooped. Or at least, they thought they wouldn’t be the ones having the dooping.

“Oh, shi– take mushrooms,” said Alfredo. “We lost another creepo– hey there, hi there!” he said, quite suddenly, and you’ll know why when I tell you. “How’s it hanging? Do they hang in space? Or do they hover? C’mon.”

The Wy People that had found them looked quite please. “Found ya.”

“Yeah, ya did,” said Alfredo.

“What are you going to do with them after you eat their souls?” said The General. “Dissection?”

“Come with us and find out,” said the Wy People.

Not at that moment, but a bit later, a quicker sand moved in from the South, blown on a breeze as if God had inhaled the universe and let out a dry goober, and all the stars were painted out. It was the nose hairs of Jehova that drew obscene pictures on the Big Dipper and sneezed out the Milky Way.

All of them were quickly covered, and the children almost got away, or they would, but the Great Eye got sand between the colored contact and his eye, and how he screamed, I couldn’t tell you, but he did; and his words somehow confused “Get it out of here!” with “Get them out of here!” and the Wy People quickly beamed the children up on their mother’s ship. It wasn’t a mother ship. It wasn’t a mother ship. Don’t even worry, it’s not a mother ship. It was their mom’s ship. Usually, they took their sister’s car between galaxies.

Now the children were in a bit of a tizzy.

L L L

TearyEyes and Muddle of the terrorist group called, uh…. They never gave it* a name, do you think that’s important?

* the Terrorist Organization, actually- called “LANDSLIDE”- they had just forgotten the name

TearyEyes was an ex professional ball player who got hurtled five something million years into the future, and he cries a lot, but he’s terribly athletic. Muddle is an imperial she-witch- (what other gender would she be?)- and part guardian spirit who can turn into a [removed for mystery] at any moment. Oh, you just missed it (Final Farce: the Last Roman Numeral).

They were quite lazy and in the habit of leaning against walls, their eyes cast sidelong as they watched Manly Man try to jettison his way up through the quicksand, but each time he tried, he bumped his head. The liquid entrance to the temple had frozen over like liquid mercury if it had finally decided to stop being so silly and rebellious as a cool, cold metal while all its contemporaries were only liquid when they were fire hot.

“You’ll never get out that way,” said Muddle. “Don’t you think we tried?”

“Oh, we’ll never get out of here! It’s hopeless! It’s without hope!” said TearyEyes, and blew his brains out. Sneezing, not shooting. But Muddle kindly put the brains back in through their hole, and said, “So what’s your name, Stranger? Mine’s Alice. Well, it’s not Alice. But I always felt like an Alice.”

“Aw, you’re not an ass, Alice,” said Manly Man.

The mummy from before landed with a thud, without them noticing, checked his card in the wall, and an impossibly hard gate that even Manly Man’s head couldn’t dent thereupon opened, and he passed on through, ere it closed.

“Let’s see what we can use here,” said Muddle, helping. “Oh, we’ve got a pretty bottle. Maybe–” she rubbed it really hard, but all that came out was beer. The genie looked drunk and quite incapable of granting wishes at the moment. He was still drowning in that bottle. “Oh, shoot,” said Muddle and threw the bottle lengthwise, pegging TearyEyes in the head.

TearyEyes didn’t notice. He just said, “It’s my lot in life, to lose. From a losing team. Born and raised in a losing family. It’s hopeless. It is without hope!”

“But TearyEyes, don’t you remember?” said Alice– uh– Muddle. “You once had four million dollars.”

“I lost it.”

“Oh, really? Sad. How did you spend it?”

“I had it in my hands, a wind blew, it swept it into the air, I realized no one carried around 1 million dollar bills, nonetheless, four of them, and that was it.”

A great Sphinx statue- (with the body of a lion, and the head of a major world leader, this time Teddy Roosevelt, made of stone)- roared from out the shadows and said, “Infidels! Who is it that doth grace my halls with his human stink? If he wants to survive this day, he must pass the test! The test of absolute–!”

“Oh, shut up,” said TearyEyes.

“Yes! We’re not answering any more of your riddles.”

The Sphinx hissed, and catted away.

“He does that a lot,” explained Muddle, turning.

“What? Hissing?” said Manly Man.

“Both, I do suppose.”

TearyEyes lifted up his hand to the quicksand entrance and yelled, “I give up! Death, you can take me. I can’t fight you.”

“Submissive to the scythe-point of death, I see,” said Muddle.

Condors, vultures, and ravens soared in the evil heaven above, pecked at the vulnerable flesh below. Doggish rats feasted on the bones below that, where a mummy worked frivolously, dotting the i’s with hearts on all Madame M’s love letters, crossing the t’s with kisses.

“There, I’m done. Finally,” said the mummy, and sealed it with a well-preserved kiss like beef jerky kept in a jar and sealed in a vacuum packed what-have-it. And walked off through the door, punched his card in, and said to the others, “You don’t have to stay here, you know.”

“Stay where?” said Muddle.

“Doomed! We are DOOMED!” said TearyEyes.
Said the mummy, “You can take the elevator up,” and flicked on the switch, to reveal a light bulb tossing gently in the air, moving only for a faint, dry wind that pushed and tugged on it.

The elevator sprang to life, and the mummy said, “Gentlemen. And broad,” and bowed thusly. “Follow me. I’d like you to meet someone.”

“I haven’t the time!” said Manly Man. “See, I’ve got to save this terrorist I threw to Lord Knows Where, and get from him the keys to–”

“–the money the Author owes you for all those books you’ve been in, but you haven’t received yet. Yes, I know. People are whispering about it all over Spud. Even people’s ghosts. It’s a riot. Truly. Madame M. will be waiting. She wants to have a slice of cake with you, no more. She has a fascination with — muscles. Will you all be coming?”

“Me?” said Muddle. “Oh, nonono. We’re on a different adventure.”

TearyEyes pointed. “I’m with her.”

“But we will be using the elevator.”

“Of course,” and led them all to the surface. Zane wasn’t down there.

J J J

“Those exorcists must be in good shape,” said Ozzie.

“How?”

“Exorcizing all the time,” said Ozzie.

“I hate jokes like that.”

“Jokes like what?”

“I had to introduce the next chapter some way.”

“We’re not in the next chapter!”

His mouth said, “Oh.”

The Great Eye was delivering a pyramid to the superstitious and utterly fascinating races of the world who still worshipped … super villains, of course, and the aliens’ mother’s ship had landed on a pack, pod, or whatever-you-call-it, of wild horses, and a camel.

Tiny dinosaurs poked their heads up from every rock, and slithered away.

There would be an exorcism tonight, but it wouldn’t be on this sand top.

“Is it hot in here, or am I just good looking?” said Alfredo.

“You’re an elephant,” said Ozzie.

“Who wants to be exorcised first?” said the shaman.

(Oh, wrong story. We’re talking about aliens, not The Exorcist.)

“How disappointing,” said The General, who above all else, believed in spirits. Ghosts. Demons. He had a Oiuja Board (I can’t spell that word) and he talked to it all the time. Mostly, about girls. “I was hoping for an exorcism,” adjusted his duct-taped glasses.

L L L

Manly Man had climbed out of the sand and said, “I’ve got to find those kids.”

“Sit down and rest for a while, Muscles,” said a mysterious woman. Called Madame M. Only believed to be mysterious because no one knew what the M stood for, and there was always the adjective “mysterious” in front of her name whenever people made reference.

Said Manly, “Oh, I get it. It stands for ‘Mysterious’.”

“Now, you’ve ruined it. That’s it, Muscles. Get out of her house!” said the mummy.

“Nonsense!” said the Madame. “Sit down and rest a while.” Your muscles must ache, need a shoulder rub? Manly thought he heard her say, but it was only in his mind.

“That’s because I’m– well, I’m a bit psychic,” said Madame M. “A smidge,” she said, pinching her two pink, pearled fingers together. “You’ve got to find those children, well I know where they are.”

“The children? How did you know I was looking for kids?”

“You just said it, not seven paragraphs ago.” She wriggled her nose like that hot genie from the genie show. Or was that?– “that was Bewitched,” said Madame M., reading my book, tossing it away, as it deserved, and after wriggling her nose again, a disco ball hovered up from the middle of the room, and she put her curling nails over it and shouted, “Zigga zigga boom!”

“Do you have to say that?”

“Yes, I have to say that, Muscles, it’s thee-ate-rrr. Now do shut up, and have a look at the kiddos.” Nothing happened. She bumped the disco ball three times– “Why is it a disco ball?” “What?” “I said!–” “Modern Day Oracles Depot were out of crystal balls. Oh, would you look at that? The reception’s not in. Oh, Mummy! I’m going to have to ask you to handle the antennas.”

“Then ask me to handle the antennas.”

Madame M. sneered. “..Will you please handle the antennas?”

“Why, shor!” said the mummy, and picked up the antennas from the ceiling, adjusted them, and the blizzard of black and white on the disco ball suddenly became a Technicolor vision of the children’s exact location. On the mother’s ship’s bridge of the Wy’s Volunteer Organization for Concerned Citizens of the neighboring galaxy.

“Oh, there they are,” said Madame M. “Well.”

“I had better go get them,” said Manly Man.

“I had thought as much,” she said, drawing him a map to the where the mother’s ship had touched down. On the top of a pyramid like the back of a U.S. dollar. Great Eye formed the Optical. “Here. You’ll be leaving already, Muscles? Without so much as a hug?” and handed him the map.

“I’m married, you know.”

“I knew that,” said Madame M. “Ta, ta!”

“To two women,” said Manly Man.

“I know,” said Madame M. “Goodbye!”

And he left them.

J J J

The children were having adventures all their own.

Now, they weren’t saying “What does this button do?” and pressing all the mother’s ship’s buttons, giving the aliens a god-awful headache, but it was just as such. They were singing show tunes, slapping their knees, and dancing poorly, and it aggravated the aliens something terrible. They screeled with pain, in fact, so much so that they had to turn the ship around and say, “Do you want us to call your parents?”

“Yes, please,” said Ozzie.

What they meant to say was “Do you want us to call on your parents, figure out what speck of dirt they live on, and blow their home planet to smithereens?”

“That too,” said Ozzie. “I never cared much for the planet.”

“He was never much of an environmentalist,” his big brother*- who should know things- explained.

* The General

In the end, they duct taped the children’s mouths shut. The wonders of duct tape were known throughout the galaxy.

“What are we going to do with the babies?” said the first mate to Kevin, the big, hovering eyeball.

“Dump ‘em.”

They dumped several babies out of the cargo hull.

“What are we going to do with the kiddos?” said the first mate to Kevin.

“Eat them.”

(Kiddos were a type of “corn” ship, if indeed they could grow corn on Mars, which is where they were from.)

“But what are we going to do with the children?” said the first mate to Kevin.

“Incinerate them. No, I mean, we’re not bad people, right?! Though we do have a thing against babies, ha-ha, I thought it was funny,” said Kevin. “Change never suited our kind. We don’t like to change things in our culture,” said Kevin. “Do you get the joke? I’m joking. We’ll use the children as bait to lead Prince Leba into a trap.”

“Who’s Prince Leba?” said the first mate.

“If you’ve read the book, that’s who Abel Manning’s secret identity is. Duh. Now, shoot! Hasn’t anyone read finding waldo?”

“Should we?”

“..Yes! It’s the Author’s best book.”

“That’s subjective. I like Couch Face.

“It wasn’t on any reading lists,” added another Wy person.

The Hoo Dragons screamed in the back room. Something was ripping right through them. It was the beans they fed them.

“What should we do with the dragons?” said the first mate to Kevin.

“They’re what we’re going to trap Prince Leba in. Whoever goes into their yawning mobs, yawns twice also, and goes to sleep forever. Going down? Let’s land on the tomb we’ve planned to trap Prince Leba.”

They landed on the top of a pyramid, the kind darkly-tanned people’s couldn’t possibly build, as they’re too dark and stupid, and needed help from smarter, less tan aliens. The Wy people were quite pink. Yes, they landed on a pyramid.

The pyramid Madame M. had drawn a map to. The pyramid Madame M. had predicted. Madame M. should be given some type of flowers for being so clever. She was right every time.

J J J

“Strap the children to the top of the pyramid,” said Kevin, the floating, hovering eyeball thing.

They had just un-taped the children’s pie holes, just in time to hear Alfredo scream, “Is it hot out here, or am I just gorgeous? Well, cool my beans! If it isn’t Manly Man come to save us. He’s just a pimple on the horizon now.”

“Manly Man? Who’s he?” said Kevin.

“My dear, don’t you know?” said Alfredo. “He’s the Ultimate Male in every way. He wrestles bears. He opens extra-hard-to-open pickle jars. He’s even put global warming in a headlock. He’s quite the fella.”

“You have pretty advanced speech patterns for a three year old.”

“I’m seven.”

“Nine,” corrected The General.

“Right. Nine. That’s what I said.”

Manly Man couldn’t fly, but with those extra strong legs of his, he sure could jump! Out of the stratosphere, sometimes choking in space. Feeling his pipes. He had bounded across the Spudlind desert in three bounds. Hopping like a flea on a very small muffin. In one more bound he was on the top of the pyramid, poking Kevin in the — everywhere. “Look, pal,” he said. “No one picks on my kids and— I didn’t think up the, the rest.”

“Gets away with it?” was Kevin’s suggestion.

“Gets away with what?” said Manly Man.

“Help us! We’re dying!” screamed Ozzie.

“You’re so cute, Ozzie,” said The General, then turning to Manly. “Really, Manly Man, we couldn’t be happier that you’ve found us. Now, could you start with the saving already?”

“Right. The saving,” said Manly Man. “Where are the cameras?”

“What cameras?” said Kevin’s first mate, who had just climbed his way up the pyramid.

L L L

“The news cameras,” explained Manly Man. “To document my heroic deeds. There should be a news chopper around here, or something.”

“Hey, you’re not Abel Manning.”

“And you’re not a walrus. Look, there’s gotta be some way I can get credit for this, or else I’m not saving the children. Humph!” and sat down on the top of the pyramid, but by that time the Hoo Dragons had flown their way up to the pyramid’s summit, and blown flame and ice at Manly Man.

Manly Man wrestled the flame. He swallowed the ice. He skinned the Hoo Dragons, as was his custom with many of God’s animals, and wore their coats for a very large European carry-all. He was quite the stylist. Poor action sequence, I know.

“Sometimes I save myself without credit,” said Manly Man. He called up the local news station on his cell phone. “Look, Sam, I’ve got three children held hostage on the top of a pyramid, can you get some choppers over here? Over.”

“Be right on it, hero. Over.”

“Over,” he said, meaning with every fiber in his being to say, albeit, chaio. However you spell that word. It means “goodbye.”

“They are coming,” said Manly, hanging up the phone. “Before I kick your behinds, in my own heroic ways, we can talk and tea a bit.” He took out a tea kettle set and said, “Don’t tell the reporters about this, about me not being manly, and having tea time, they’ll never believe it.”

Kevin said, “I’d love some!” and then, said sadly, “But I am only an eye. I haven’t a mouth..”

“I could tear you a hole. Ha! Joking! I’m joking! Oh, look at that, they’re here.” The sound of choppers filled the air, and Manly put away his tea kettle set in a very cartoonish fashion. (In cartoons you never know where they get them, all these gadgets. ACME, some say. They’re a company that exists only inside the Luney Tune universe.) Manly took one step forward and slipped off the pyramid, and luckily, landed on his head. “If I landed on my feet,” he told the reporters not four minutes after. “I’d be a goner!”

Not four minutes before, he righted himself, hopped right back up the pyramid and punched injustice in the eye.

J J J

He clobbered the criminals. He busted the balls of the belligerents. He mangled the Mandarins. He used so many alliterations all the children who loved them in their children’s books said “Yay.”

Five minutes after, Manly Man was making love to the camera in a very sensual way, and he used his muscles, and he was a jerk, and the people loved him.

“You may have just saved the day again, hero,” said Sam, the reporter.

“Well, nobody’s perfect,” said Kevin, as he was wheeled away in the back of a squad car.

And Manly Man kissed the doll-face reporter, Sam, or Samantha, who was a girl.

And the children were freed. And they all had cake J

The End of this story. The beginning of the next..

Adventure 2: In Which the Vampire, Zombie, Hobo, Abel Manning, Goes On One Last Adventure in the Mountains

So it was Abel Manning, the second party.

He decided that since he once climbed Everest and he alone had the strength to do it, he would scour the mountaintops for the miserable lout, Zane.

Mount– well, he’d check them all. He’d traveled space, he was fast enough. Floating in his yellow bubble, full of drool.

And so, Abel Manning scoured the tops of the planet for good ol’ terrorist head. In the frosted-like-sweet-cereal mountains.

He heard a scream immediately and flew down to where a young maiden was being chased by The Morlaq. The god fish, if you’ve read that novel. Punishing the world for its vanity, halting all technological progress.

It was about three miles wide, the god fish, and Abel laughed– at a joke he remembered that had nothing to do with the current crisis. That happens, you know.

The woman had fled to the hole in an extinct volcano filled with lake and a quiet village on its outer lip that closed its gate to the outside world.

Things weren’t going to be so quiet once Abel arrived. Things always turned out — wrong — once Abel came around. Chaos followed him wherever he went. But you should know that, having read my novel. Well, haven’t you? I’m promoting. Finding Waldo. You’ve read it, haven’t you? C’mon! L

L L L

Sorry for that outburst. My therapist says I should express myself more often, and I say, why not? but I can’t help expressing myself into a very dark side of myself, and that’s bad, my therapist also tells me, though some say “Whatever it is that you’re feeling, feel it. That’s good too.” And I say, why not?

J J J

Anyhoo.

J J J

The Morlaq’s four faces screamed like a woman. All in terror.

Abel Manning said the magic word, not “Please,” or “Thank you, Miss, I enjoyed the strudel,” but “Guella Gal.” It was in the book I told you about. It’s a Jewish code, I think..

The resulting pressure from the magic pulled apart Abel’s arm like two freight trains pulling in opposite ways, and he popped the bubble — SPLASH! — drool everywhere, dripping off him — and hovered down between the girl and the mountains and God and heaven and Satan and hell and the Morlaq and the quiet little village that didn’t know, that in a second, its world would change! “Die, fish lips,” was all Abel Manning said, and pointed his banana yellow umbrella in the direction of the god fish called “Morlaq”, which means “the Cruel Logic,” and with the power of ill-reason, shot a blast of blue and green impossibility that appeared as if light at the creature and the whole country exploded in fireworks of the purest day.

It was night at that time. It was day for four full minutes until the show was over.

And the land in that direction looked like the leveled surface of the Moon. Though craterless.

Old Abel Manning touched down to the ground, watched the explosion come to its completion, the little fires that caught on the prairie he doused with pee quite mechanically as his banana yellow umbrella full of holes turned into something of a backwards vacuum, blowing winds. And then turned around, touched the hand of the young maiden, and helping her up, said, “Impressed? Your phone number?”

“Yes?” said the young maiden.

“Could I call it some time?”

“Sir! You must be 110 years old.”

“I know I look it, but I’m very immature, and I was thinking of reconnecting with my roots. You know, younger days. Would you look at that? That extinct volcano’s blown its top!”

“What?” said the girl, and turned around, but it was just the same. “Why, you wretched man! You can die for all I care.”

Abel laughed.

The girl pushed him and he fell over, rolling down a hill, shouting, “As — You — Wish!” You know, you know. From. From The Princess Bride.

L L L

Anyhow.

J J J

Abel Manning dusted himself off, flew up to the girl, and said, “You wouldn’t, by chance, know if there are any terrorists in the area.”

“Look, I’m very grateful,” said the girl, continuing. “But please don’t follow me.”

“For heaven’s sake, why not?”

“For one, you’re a mess. And for B, our village is very un-accepting of other cultures.”

“Well, that’s downright bigoted.”

“I know. But it’s where I sleep, and where I put my head, my alliances lie.”

“I oftentimes sleep out under the stars, on corn fields, or on rocks,” said Abel Manning, looking up. “My alliances lie with the earth. The whole earth.” And took out his umbrella with the moonlight shining through it, and rubbed it between his hands, and sent the thing off spinning high out the atmosphere, the J and the L hanging off it going “Whee.” “Or with that moon you see up there,” pointing. “It’s always looking down on me. As parents often do, as I’ve had none. Watching over us — forgive me for sounding so stupid — orphans.”

The girl stopped to sympathize. “You’re an orphan?”

“M-hm.”

“I’m sorry. How did it happen?”

“Quite suddenly, really. My parents sold me to a pet store. Thought I was a turtle. I’m a skin condition. No! But you can find out about it in my book: Finding Waldo.”

“They keep promoting that book..”

“I know. Isn’t it annoying?”

“Well, you can’t follow me.”

“Very well,” and Abel clicked his tongue, and spoke in an alien tongue, “Le. Ba! Vuh Jon-a-Jon!” and bowed to the lady thusly, and said, “My lady,” and did a sudden backflip, which was too early to catch the umbrella in time as it spun back to catch him, and unlike Manly Man, it wasn’t healthy for Abel to land on his head. He landed on his head.

“What a dufus,” said the girl. “And somehow, I like him,” and hurried off to her quiet village.

J J J

Abel Manning was floating over the Moon when he suddenly saw something quite spectacular.

The lake inside the extinct volcano had changed from blue to red in a matter of No Time at All. He gently glided down to inspect this, out of mild curiosity and a sense for adventure, popped his bubble, shook off the drool dribbling down his torso, and landed gently in the lake on the bottom of his umbrella like a boat, which sunk quite suddenly on the surface tension of the red water as the umbrella was full of holes. But no matter. Abel Manning climbed his way up on top of the lake, and walked on water, inspecting his shoes. “This isn’t normal drink,” he spoke softly, and then looked at the lip of the volcano, a ring of country cottages built right into the mountaintop. My, my. What if it exploded?

He suddenly saw two spots in dresses plunge off the side of the lip and hit a rock, and land into water.

Abel began running, then not quite after, conjured up a yellow bubble made out of drool*, and flew to them.

* he was always drooling, you know, it bothered him a lot, especially when people called him on it. Be kind to him.

In a matter of moments, he was resuscitating two fallen beauties, one a first mate, the other, a second. They were space pirates, but that had fallen in from another world. Jupiter, really. Or one of the moons. But he didn’t know that.

Once resuscitated, they opened their eyes, smiled, reached for Abel Manning’s face, touched a finger on his nose, and grabbing his head, head butted him, and said,

“Jeez! We were committing suicide, and you ruined it! Now, you listen here,” said the first one.

Said the second one, “We’re quite committed to suicide. We always stick to what we’ve planned to carry out, so go away!” said the second.

“Well, shoot! I thought you two needed rescuing,” said Abel.

“You think we felt like failures before,” said the first one, whose name was Cricket.

“Now, we’re the Arizona Cardinals,” said the second one, whose name was Flopsy. They weren’t from here.

“Are you two from around here?” said Abel, observing their clothes were a bit out of fashion in every side of the planet.

“No,” they said, sitting up. “But we know of Here, we’ve been inspecting this village.”

“What’s the redness of the lake — what’s that all about?”

“Oh, the ‘reddening’?” said Flopsy. “That’s what the locals call it. That’s when — well, when the smart, little microscopic creatures in the lake sense some impending doom is coming to torment the citizens of this village. For all its isolation with the outside world, it’s a very scientific community here. Very technologically advanced. They’re always studying things. Observing. The stars, the space. That’s why we were attracted here. Our starship–”

“You — have a starship?”

Said Cricket, “Yes, it landed on the outer boundaries of the village, and we were hoping to rebuild it, but now knowing that they refuse to help foreigners, especially aliens like us; well, we couldn’t live without getting back to our work! See, like, we’re space desperados! Work gives our lives meaning. It always has.”

“You two are absolutely nutty. Here, I’ll help you. I’ll kill you. Then this’ll be the end of this foolishness. I’m kidding.. What can I do to convince you that life is worth living as you’re tight-rope walking on suicide’s edge?” Forgive him for being overly poetic. He often talked pretty.

“Quite well-spoken for a hobo, now, aren’t you?” said Flopsy.

“How’d you know I was a bum?”

“No teeth, and we know of your famous exploits, Abel Manning. Your journey is known throughout the galaxy,” said Cricket. “Yes, sir!” and saluted. “Prince Leba.”

Flopsy winked in the cute way she does.

“Okay, you two still trying to kill yourselves? I couldn’t live with myself if I left you here to kill yourselves.”

“No,” said Cricket. “But we will next week.”

“Really?” said Abel. “Why?”

“We try this every week,” said Flopsy. “But we always fail. This is the third time someone’s rescued us. And the fourth closest we’ve ever gotten to death. .Don’t we feel like losers? Ah, would you look at that, the reddening has dissipated. The lake is blue again!”

“What do you think caused the .. Reddening?” said Abel.

“Who knows?” said Flopsy. “There’s always some impending doom descending down to torment this poor town every other week. It usually warns us not two minutes before. Oh, no! The two minutes are over!”

“Hey, I–” Abel was trying to say, “have a starship,” when suddenly an avalanche poured over onto his leg, and he cried out to his God, and looking down, noticed the leg was pinned and useless; so he cut it off with one laser swipe of his umbrella and reformed it by– “Hey, is there a graveyard near here?”

“There are several. What with the impending dooms all the time. Why?”

“Can I borrow a stiff leg? I’ve lost one.” This happened all the time.

J J J

Abel Manning hopped up to the graveyard, found the spot where the two space chicks had pointed out was a freshly planted body from the day before, and Abel started digging with his hands.

“So, you’ve got a starship?” said Flopsy, observing him digging.

“-It’s a booger.”

“What?”

“-It’s a booger. A giant, flying booger.”

“Hm,” said Cricket. “Unique. How does it work?”

“Magic.”

“We of the Toto 2 believe everything works by the powers of Science.”

“Well, I dono. Science, then,” and picked himself a new leg, chopped it off with the umbrella, and, using his magic, connected the leg on, said, “Sorry, old friend,” and put the freshly dead body back in its coffin. Turned around at the sound of “You have a starship? Then we’re joining you,” and said, “No. I travel alone..”

“We may just know where this terrorist of yours you’d mention is,” said Cricket.

“Go on.”

“Swear on it!” said Flopsy, and spit on the ground.

“Fine,” said Abel. “I swear on this spitty piece of ground here, I’ll let you come without leaving you, so long as you lead me to the terrorist you probably don’t know where he is, and for that matter, why should I believe you? No, you can’t come along.”

“Come on!” they both said together.

“Fine. You’re both cute. You can come. If you find me the terrorist, I’ll let you use my starship to get back home.”

“Great, then!” said they, and frolicked in the flowers. Linking arms.

The volcano’s lake turned from blue to red and the villagers screamed, “What is it this time?”

L L L

The volcano had blown its top. But no matter. Abel Manning saved them, and they all had cake.

The End of this story. The beginning of others..

Actually, this story’s not over, so sit down.

-Flopsy and Cricket were drenched up to their necks in drool inside that flying yellow bubble before they cried out, “Abel, we can’t take this!”

“Now you know why I travel alone,” said Abel. “It’s disgusting, traveling in a bubble full of your own mouth stuff,” and touched down. “If you dislike it that much, we can always use my old ship. It’s just a bit farther, I think. Now, where did I put that?”

Flopsy whispered to Cricket, “The ship, eh? Cricket, we can steal it and fly off when Abel’s out doing his business. I’ve heard it has no bathrooms.”

Are you sure that’s quite logical, Flopsy? We’ll have made a very powerful enemy,” said Cricket.

They both smiled and grinned at him. “That sounds wonderful. Bubble us away!”

L L L

They touched down at the starship– no, they didn’t. Abel had solved the problem. He put a cork in his mouth and didn’t talk while they were flying, so the bubble didn’t fill up with drool.

Flopsy and Cricket were disappointed. Their plan failed. Boy, didn’t they feel like losers?!

I’m sorry, are we introduced?

Flopsy and “Captain!” and Cricket “Captain! Don’t forget about us!”

-Girl subordinates of the dread Captain Peppersprouts of the all-female crew of the starship Toto 2, pirate rival of the duteous Eye of Galileo, orbiting around Jupiter-thereabouts (Moons of Galileo: Letters from a Robot). They tagged along with Abel Manning and bugged the buzoobers out of him.

On their way, as Flopsy and Cricket used their navigation skills to scour the mountaintops, they saw an encampment of goblins on wolves swarming around a trio of mountain goats they were to sacrifice to their evil god, Neo-Baal, the fertility cow. In sensual ritual. Which, if you ever saw a goblin getting sensual, you knew it was a terribly bad thing to see.

“Bring us down! Bring us down!” chanted Flopsy and Cricket together.

Abel popped his cork, and the drool poured out. “But we’re looking for the terrorist.”

“They’re hurting those poor, defenseless creatures!” said Flopsy.

“They probably deserved it,” said Abel, and put the cork back in like a binky.

But Flopsy punched Abel on the side of the head, and Cricket grabbed his hair, and Abel spun out of control, popped his bubble on a nearby tree, and conked out. Went unconscious, as narrative protagonists so often do. He used to be the narrator in his past adventures. They do that all the time!

L L L

He awoke as a kabob over a fire, when he suddenly smelled this aroma of sizzling hobo perfuming the mountaintops, and looked sidelong to where goblins in number incalculable were dancing around the flame. The goats were tied to their kennels; they were pets, not sacrifices. And the two cute space girls were gone.

They were, in fact, hiding behind a tree.

Abel Manning would have blown half the mountain apart with one fell shot, but, of course, his umbrella had dropped in the accident*, and whoever had picked it up didn’t know how to use it.

*He was quite feeble and helpless without it.

They were banging it against a rock.

L L L

Flopsy had it. She said to Cricket, “Now, Cricket, you’ve read the book, how does this work?”

“He either shouts out, ‘Guella Gal,’ or bops some unlucky monster on the top of the head, and it slices them to pieces.”

“We have our lasers.”

“Yes, but our space lasers won’t do much against an army of so many. We need to save him. He has the starship at home.” There were hundreds of goblins, and Abel was beginning to feel quite sweaty.

The goblins danced around and sang songs about meat. It was night at that time, goblins never come out at day.

Now, the rock Flopsy was banging the banana yellow umbrella against suddenly had eyes for them. It didn’t have eyes. Now, it did. It said to Flopsy, “Excuse me, Madame, but could you stop hitting on me?”

“I beg your pardon, Rock, but I didn’t know you could talk. Plus, I’m not hitting on you. I’m hitting you.”

“Oh. I meant that.” The rock sat up, but the goblins didn’t notice, they were too busy cutting carrots and onions and mushrooms into the pot of stew they were going to boil certain meaty parts of the hobo. And dancing around quite madly. Singing about meat. It would be more horrifying to Abel if this sort of thing didn’t happen all the time, getting in a situation, but he always had the luck, and some say craziness, to get out of it.

The rock said to the others, “But pardon me. I am Golan Gigas.” Golan Gigas. He looked every bit how you expected a Golan Gigas to look (Final Farce: the Last Roman Numeral). For those who want to know what he looks like, I’ll describe it to you. He looked like he was made of a landslide..

It was a zoo on and down the mountain, that is why Flopsy and Cricket didn’t flee.

Siberian tigers. Penguins.

Polar bears.

Killer whale.

A walrus.

Adventure 3: In Which Robot, Kill Joy, and Couch Face Check Back in the Forests

So it was Robot, Kill Joy, and Couch Face, the third party. Robot was team leader.

They checked back at the Forest of 100 Truths. The haunted Forest of 100 Truths, but the residents here were craving tourism and didn’t put ‘haunted’ in front of–

Oops, we didn’t finish the second adventure, did we?

Hold onto your butts!

Adventure 2, part 2: In Which Flopsy and Cricket Join Abel on an Adventure Worth Having

Well, Golan Gigas, who was very critical about details, and pointed out that all you had to do to activate the powers of the umbrella was to touch the umbrella to the magic fingers of the fabled Prince Leba, and that would set off a chain event that would spoil the countryside of goblins forever, whatever that means to you..

So the best thing, asked Cricket. Is to run in, willy nilly, shooting right and left, and touching the umbrella to Abel’s fabled fingertips?

No, said Golan Gigas, the best thing would be for you two to start a diversion, and then–

But they had already gunned it.

Shooting right and left, and got trapped themselves in a kabob.

How did they get out of this? They didn’t.

They got cooked alive!

Golan Gigas ran off, he was scared. Was a landslide down the mountain.

But there’s no sense in danger in death with Abel, he’s died twice before. (They had gotten the umbrella to touch the fabled fingertips of Abel Manning.)

The J on Abel’s umbrella merely said, “Well, we’ll piece him back together like we always do. It’ll be a cinch!”

L on Abel’s umbrella said, “You always seem to brighten my day. How I loathe it.” And after a good week in sorting out the pieces of them inside the goblins bellies after they digest and crap the remaining DNA out.. It’ll be the runs, I just know it.

The DNA strands they found were perfect for knitting new bodies, and the memory of certain spinal cords the goblins had picked their teeth with, up to the discarded brains, worked just nicely to retain memory. To retain personality.

And in a week’s time, they were back on the top of the mountain! This time, naked. Shivering in a cold that was so — shiver-some.

The Smiley’s could weave DNA, they just couldn’t knit clothes.

“And what’s this adventure worth having?” said Flopsy.

“You already missed it,” said Abel, pretending he was smoking with those little clouds of air you get when the weather’s cold. “It happened just last week. We’ll have to travel back in time to have it. Hold my hand. Zigga zigga boom!”

“Is it necessary that you say ‘zigga zigga boom’?”

“Yes..” said Abel.

They all said it, and Abel, tapping his naked feet with the umbrella, traveled back precisely one week in time, found the goblins that were just about to cook them alive, and said, “I love payback. It’s so winning,” and balancing his umbrella on his shoulder blade, flew in, slicing and dicing and blowing the goblin’s mother flubbin’ heads to pieces. Cooked them, leastways.

J J J

“Was that the adventure?”

“No. The adventure is soon. The adventure starts now.”

J J

Now..

The trio of them set off for a ski trip down the mountain at a ski lodge, looking this way, sometimes that, for the terrorist’s be-toweled head, but they never saw a sign of the crazy Arab. Just cute, furry mountain goats, goblins, and the occasional cave Troll that wandered out, looking for polar bear meat.

They scoured the mountainside, and on their way down, Abel flew off course, broke his new leg, said, “Heavens to murgertroy! Why do things like this always happen to such good-looking people?”

“Was that the adventure?”

Said Abel, cringing, “Hey, guys. Look up.”

The two cyber chicks looked up to where Abel’s finger was pointing and saw a giant moon booger- no, that’s what it was– flying, hovering, floating. Above them. With a furry, orange, orangutan arm waving, and the tampered cyborg claw of an alien giving Abel the ol’ thumbs up the best it could without thumbs.

Said Abel, “We’re going on a little world trip to find that terrorist, I can’t travel  much with a broken leg, and then I’m sending y’all home. The adventure- that’ll be had on our way there. The transitional life- life on the road, on the edge, on the border. Staring down off a cliff face. That’s the adventure you’re looking for, yes?”

“We just wanna go home, sir.” .. said Flopsy and Cricket.

Adventure 3: In Which Robot, Kill Joy, and Couch Face Check Back in the Forests

So it was Robot, Kill Joy, and Couch Face, the third party. Robot was team leader.

They checked back at the Forest of 100 Truths. The haunted Forest of 100 Truths, but the residents here were craving tourism and didn’t put ‘haunted’ in front of its name.

The forest sighed, inhaled, exhaled.

It was the great air-breathing dragon. He was having a breathing contest with the giants of the forest. Quite self-conscious that he couldn’t breathe fire, and this made him terribly temperamental.

Thereupon, spotting the three adventures, he said, “Truth or dare.”

L L L

“Dare.”

J J J

Kill Joy said Dare. He was usually mute, but this time, he said it.

The dragon replied in turn, “I dare you to look behind you.”

Kill Joy revolved his wheel chair- (he had a wheel chair with a rocket attached to it) -and he saw Ghosts. Werewolves. Zombies. Vampires. This forest was haunted.

“Bye,” said the dragon, and slithered off.

“I suppose we’ll have to stay and fight,” said Robot, taking off her head and oiling herself.

“Can I call you Roberta?” said Couch Face. “I really want to call you Roberta.”

Robot punched Couch Face on the side of the couch. But only because she wanted to. She said, “Shor.”

Couch Face screamed, but only because he wanted to. “Roberta, then. Ah!” The ghosts had surrounded them. “I’ll have to tell you, I really stink in a fight.”

“Then don’t use your armpits, butt boy,” said Kill Joy.

Said Couch Face, “Hey, I thought you were mute.”

“..I’ve decided to talk.”

Roberta stepped in between the two debaters, and fumed. Her humor circuitry was fizzing. “As funny as this all is, I can’t allow you two sirs to go about nipping each other’s heels all day, metaphorically speaking! I’m the team leader. I say we run.”

“Run? Are you sure? We can take ‘em,” said Kill Joy.

Said Couch Face, “I think we can walk right through them. They’re ghosts, right?”

They walked right through. Of course, Kill Joy rolled, the crippled gimp.

-Suddenly. Later. Just then..

L L L

Little tombs of the aborted popped out of the ground, and zombie babies clawed their torn-apart corpses out, many of them missing heads or legs or what have you, some of them hanging off by a string. It was quite surprising.

“It really was,” said Kill Joy.

“I think this forest was seeded over an Indian Burial Abortion Clinic,” said Couch Face.

“Cool! Can I see?” said Roberta, who was fascinated in the subject. Then suddenly righting herself. “..We had better run.”

They began to run.

Roberta fell over a tree root. “My ankle!” Couch Face picked her up, and carried her on. She fell again. “My other ankle!”

“Right. The trick is to walk,” said Couch Face. “They’re zombies. They can’t walk so fast.”

The aborted started running.

“It’s time we jet,” said Couch Face to the little man on his face, and the little man crossed his arms and nodded, hopped off the couch, picked up both Couch Face and Roberta and Kill Joy*, who sat back on the couch- (there was plenty of room for everyone, it wasn’t a love seat, it was quite comfortable); and off they went at hundreds of miles per hour, heading towards the haunted bog. The little man and his tiny, vrooming legs sped over the water like a human Jesus, and ere the ghosts followed, they couldn’t keep up, and Couch Face couldn’t help but say, “Victory is mine!”

* so I guess that isn’t both, both means two

J J

The little man hopped off from under them and began to huff and puff. He didn’t say anything, he helped the lady Roberta Robot off the couch, dismissed Kill Joy, and took his seat back on Couch’s face, complaining about his back. I guess he did talk. He said he needed a masseuse.

“Is your ankle alright?” said Couch Face. “It’s always the girls who sprain their ankles. I didn’t know a robot could sprain an ankle.”

Roberta answered.

“Say again?”

“I said, it’s fine, I just needed to tamper with it with my tools. Is there a shack out here we can hide in ‘til the morrow?”

The full moon was out and they heard the howling of wolves, werewolves, and suddenly there came to them a speck on the moon, a red speck with wings, blood on the moon; and it sailed down to there exact location, huger than they wanted it to be. It was a great red fruit bat, and poof! It became a man, twice as tall as the bat. He said, noticing he had nothing but a cape on, and hanging upside down, “It’s a bit chilly tonight.”

“Who are you?” said Couch Face.

“I am me. Who are you?” said the hung caper.

Roberta was, if a robot could, blushing. She stripped off a rag she had made from the ghosts they passed by- (all wore bed sheets, stepping through them was like stepping through a wardrobe)- and handed it to him.

“I see,” said the caper, hanging upside, and put the rags on. “Allow me to introduce myself. I am the Baron Penelope- don’t laugh, it’s a name passed on to me by my forefathers, it’s a good name, especially for girls. Would y’all like to seek shelter in my castle?”

Kill Joy tittered in his chair.

“Sure,” said Roberta.

“This way, children of the night,” and the Baron Penelope re-transformed into a bat, his cape becoming wings, his pants becoming pants, and flew slowly off ahead of them, going, “Eee, eee,” his favorite letter. And ran into a tree!

“That good ol’ slapstick humor,” said Kill Joy. “How I loathe it.”

The Tweenagerz, meanwhile, were not too far behind. Peeking behind a bush. The black Buzz Mitchell, the midget, Marvin Cheddarhead, and the giant, Tubbs McGee (Secret Life of Homeschoolerz). With BB guns. Smoking down in the Wash’s soggy underbelly. Terrible, dreadful, no-good Bullies. The Vera Sisters, their girlfriends, behind them. “We’ve got to inform King Zombie,” said they to each other, and meandered off.

L L L

The castle looked like Vlad the Impaler’s head. In homage to the good Count Dracula.

“My father knew him,” said the Baron Penelope, as his wings became cape, his pants became pants, and he softly landed at the door. Three knocks at the knocker, and the door opened all itself. “I think you’d better — come inside.”

“Your father couldn’t have known him,” said Couch Face. “That was thousands of years ago!”

“Aye,” said Kill Joy, who was a bit Irish. “Dinnae ye ken that is impossible?”

“I don’t ken anything you say,” said the vampire. “Yes, I know. ‘Ken’ means ‘know’.”

The castle looked huge on the outside, but on the inside, it was only two floors. The first room a library and fireplace with a chair, and a kitchen, and a little coffin for a bed. It was a studio apartment, practically.

The second floor was where he kept the bodies.

“The dead bodies,” affirmed the Baron Penelope.

“Crivens! What’s with all the dead bodies?” said Kill Joy, who had apparently rocketed* to the second floor. He couldn’t use the stairs.

* his wheel chair had a rocket pack on it

“They’re my relatives,” said the Baron Penelope. “We don’t bury the dead here, we preserve those about to die. DON’T TALK! I’ll tell you why! It’s because the ground is seeded with mystic powers here. Every buried body soon becomes a zombie every hour at midnight, and do I really want my relatives living such an existence? I tell you, no! We had better bar the gate, and close the draw bridge to the castle. They are coming. The moat has hippos– I know they’re not alligators, but it was the best I could find.”

“Who’s coming?” said Roberta.

“Why, sweet pea,” said the Baron. “King Zombie and his aborted troupe. His ghosts, his werewolves. His traitorous vampires.”

“His vampires?”

“They were once my subjects; but betrayed me when they learned they could make a buck million terrorizing nearby villages at night and adding to the rank of the army of the dead.” Said the Baron Penelope, “I have an army of animals at my disposal in my kingdom. And no subjects. Yes, I have no friends, only servants. Mr. Chimp Chimp! Their luggage.”

A Mr. Chimp Chimp, the female warring Russian cosmonaut orangutan- (not a monkey, she informed them)- walked in, in full space git-up, and took their luggage.

“She recently came by with her alien friend, and said she was looking for some towel head here, I said I’d pay her service with information. Dr. Payne!”

And Dr. Payne, the alien with the real bad mother–shut your mouth–mouth problem. They had been piloting The Starship of the Left Nostril, a gelatinous flying moon booger the size of America’s debt problems (finding waldo).

Among their passengers was the good prince Abel Manning, and Flopsy and Cricket, of the pirates of Galileo, you should know. But they won’t be joining us in this tale. Only Mr. Chimp Chimp and Dr. Payne will. The others were currently using the Starship of the Left Nostril to search the planet for Zane the terrorist.

“Dr. Payne is a world-class chef, he’ll prepare the dinner. The animals will accompany him in the cooking and setting the table, serving the courses. Shall we dine?”

“I pity the fool who don’t dine of my world-class quiche!” said Dr. Payne.

“That Mr. T impersonation is never funny..” said the Baron.

“But I thought you told me the bad people were coming?” said Roberta.

“Ah. Erm. What I say and what I mean are two different things,” said the vampire. “We are in no immediate danger. Look!”

“$%*#,” said Dr. Payne, and served them. “Drink your @%*^in tea.”

“Look,” the vampire reaffirmed.

At his disposal was an army. An army of animals.

J J J

Elephants. Rhinos. Lions. And monkeys. A giant tortoise. Gazelles. Giraffes.

Exotic birds of every color– (of course, they were only exotic if you weren’t from here). These popped out of the environs and began serving dinner.

Halfway into the meal, the Baron Penelope rose, his fists clenching the table, and stated, “I suppose you are not in some kind of danger, but I am. You see, this is my last day on Spud, and then I will die. I have seen my fated death a thousand years ahead, and it is tonight, but I will not go without one last go at it. I thought I needed the company of those who could talk for strength, and not servants. Maybe I do need friends. Will you join me?”

“In what?” said the three adventurers. The maid (Mr. Chimp Chimp) and the butler (Dr. Payne) listened in.

“In doing my first and final act of courage I have ever had. Saving the towns of this good forest from the wreaking havoc of King Zombie and his troupe. I suppose up ‘til now I have lived a nursed and wasted existence. Only being served, and never serving. But tonight being my last night, and out of selfish rage against King Zombie, who has stolen all my faithless subjects, I could do one selfless act in my life, don’t you think?!” ..

J J J

We will see.

L L L

King Zombie struck the castle walls at around two in the morning.

They needed to do more than just fend them off ‘til morning light. They needed to kill King Zombie, and stop his spell. Only a moron would try to kill something that was already dead, King Zombie had told his armies twice before. That’s why we’ve conquered so much.

Plus, their numbers were added to by the day. Every fallen man or woman added a number to the ranks.

Baron Penelope stood at the top of the parapet, by a cannon, with torch in hand, and shouted down, “Vampires! You wretched betrayers! This carnage is for you tonight!” And fired first shot.

L L L

The gate open, the draw bridge lowered, and the animals rushed through the opening. Elephants trampled them. Rhinos gored them. Lions devoured them. And monkeys threw their feces. A giant tortoise walked really slowly. Gazelles hopped like they do. And giraffes made giraffe sounds, wondering who in heck ‘them’ was. .

The birds escaped into the air and clawed at the vampires. Wowie. If this was made into a movie, it’d cost so much money, but books are cheap! All one must do is vaguely describe it.

Let’s vaguely describe some more of the man-slaughter. Dr. Payne bounced out on a giant purple rubber ducky, and bounded into the killing field, and Mr. Chimp Chimp tore and clawed, and used all four arms in brute mutilation.. Gross.

* * *

Couch Face changed his shorts.

Kill Joy took off on his rocket chair, and hid in the castle.

Roberta said to the Baron Penelope, “This tickles me.”

The zombies were biting her in the thigh and neck, but she was all metal.

J J J

If you must know. Baron Penelope died at the hand of King Zombie, but found a way to seal away the already dead King Zombie in return, and destroy his power, and all the zombies turned to dust, and the vampires surrendered, and the werewolves ran away, and the ghosts were no more- (having no leader to lead them and no tailor to tailor their bed sheets, as King Zombie was an excellent tailor. He was. He was an excellent tailor, so they tell me).

L L L

On their way out, the three adventurers got lost in the forest again..

“Where are we?” asked Couch Face.

“Certain death,” replied Kill Joy.

Jungle vines tried to entangle them, and plants and flowers tried to shoot poison needles and make them lay quite quiet and dead. Great venus fly trap batted them and tried to gobble them up. A long lost Life Insurance salesman tried to sell them insurance, “Hey, pal. You’re going to need it.”

On their way, they came into a sudden clearing. They discovered a hidden temple full of cultists, circling around their sacrifice: three boys, and three girls: the druggies, Buzz and gang. And the Vera Sisters.

The cultists were trying to sacrifice them to their painted idol!

“Isn’t that the same group we saw on the battlefield, the ones that fled after King Zombie was ‘killed’? Yes, it was. They were with King Zombie!” Couch Face said all this.

A temple led by a little boy prince. The boy said, “Halt!” he said, in their native tongue, he said to them, raising his priestly scepter, and pointing it to them. “You are not welcome here.” He was well schooled in the tongues of Spud-lind. He went to little boy college.

Said Couch Face, “We just want to know if you’ve seen a terrorist here. You haven’t? Well, we’re going now. Back to certain death in the forest.”

They left the children to die in the wilderness.

But they didn’t die. That is something you needed to know..

Adventure 4: In Which Gallenthmir, Kill Joy, and Mr. Ylgu Try Their Luck in the City

So it was Gallenthmir, Kiki, and Mr. Ylgu, the fourth party. Mr. Ylgu was team leader.

They tried their luck in the City, Neo-Phoenix. But it was destroyed. Overrun. Inhabited by giant insects and their encroaching habitat.

L L L

I suppose I could write about The Company.

The Company. Shady underhand deals isn’t what I was thinking of, but it’ll do.

They generally cut down trees and build up advanced strip malls suspended in domes five hundred feet in the air with liquid, drinkable, sweetwater roads of bumper boat traffic, and wherever they go, there must be Coke and Pepsi I suppose is the message here.

If there weren’t Coke or Pepsi, why, one would have a monopoly over the other and control all our money (Final Farce: the Last Roman Numeral)!

This was led by The Politard (Couch Face: the Closet-Case Heterosexual), who had bought them. The Political Retard.

She’s rich, you know. Rich, powerful. Her servants get lost on her front lawn. Had to camp out to survive..

L L L

I suppose I could also tell you that whole city of Neo-Phoenix was on fire. But don’t worry. It did this every century or so, and then magically built itself back up.

I use the word ‘magically’ loosely, of course. The skeletons for the buildings were raised, the floors and windows were put in, the roads were paved with sweet, drinkable water like sweet tea, and domes suspended five hundred feet in the air, with strip malls, zoos, parks, and coliseums, came about all by themselves, seemingly. Newer.

This whole fire was led by the demolition crew, usually, but this time, the Insects decided to do it a month earlier, before the residents were evacuated out.

L L L

And now the Company’s Giant Robots- with laser swords and capes, and guns with bullets so large the shells that fell on cars were more or less the same size- fell from the Company’s zeppelins like red whales pumping their wings and fins, and began to either sword* or bullet-apart* the bugs. They had been fighting for a month’s time by the time the flames died out.

* used like verbs

Not just then, but a moment later, Faceless — she had no face (finding waldo)– descended from out of space, landed with a hard pop on the ground, and in the crater she had made, landed ‘face’-down, got out a giant spatula and spatula’d** herself off the sidewalk. Then said to them, “Whoa.”

** also used like verbs

J J J

Said Kiki, the blue-haired cat demon, “Your face.”

Faceless picked her nose- or where her nose would have been. “Yeah, what about it? I have a condition. It’s very embarrassing.”

Said Gallenthmir, “Was it blown off in an accident or something?” “Now, you are currently from the third dimension,” Faceless softly explained. “I am from the fourth and fifth. All those creatures from my dimension can see my face clearly, but can’t comprehend it.”

“I’m from a dimension,” said Gallenthmir proudly. Beaming.

“My dear,” said Faceless. “Everyone’s from a dimension. .Okay, so I’ve come from the Galactic Counsel and they’ve told me to tell you that the events you take place in these next fifteen hours on Spud may decide the course of the universe — forgive me.. — galaxy — pardon me — world — scratch that! — city.. That’s right. It’s a very important city.” Smoldering rubble. And you still want it?

Said Mr. Ylgu, strumming out on his electric guitar he had hoped would be plugged in so he could impress the ladies, “Forgive me for not leaping for joy at our newfound importance, but what does the safety of a single city concern a Galactic Counsel?”

“They’re quite nosy, bugging into everyone’s business,” said Faceless. “Look. There’s one of them now.”
A Giant Insect fell and landed, and said, “Pardon me. Would you let us win?”

“Sir, or madame,” said Mr. Ylgu. “What do you mean?”

J J J

“We have powers of precognition, and we see, that if you help out these — these — people — the Insects. Will lose. And we want this City. It’s a very nice city.” Apparently, they were on the side of the Bugs.

“Ew,” said Kiki. “I hate Bugs..”

The ‘Bug’ hissed.

“Careful,” said Faceless. “ ‘Bug’, forgive me Chancellor, is these insects ‘nigger’.”

“Oh, I see,” said Kiki. “I hate Insects.”

The Insect nodded, if an insect could nod. And said, “That’s better.”

“Okay, you win,” said Mr. Ylgu, and punched the insect in the face, so that it splattered*.

* As a demon angel giant, he was pretty strong.

“What?!” said Faceless. “That was the Supreme Head Chancellor. He came with me all the way to tell you– Ugh!”

Mr. Ylgu punched her out too, and said, “Forget them,” he said, “We’re saving this City for ourselves!” Now, he didn’t care to save it for the people who lived there, he wanted it all for himself.

But then he was reminded of his mission: We’re here to look for Zane, alright? said Kiki.

“Oh.. Right,” said Mr. Ylgu. “Punching out women, however fun, always gets me in the mood for world conquest, being a former villain. We should hide the bodies.”

“Good idea,” said Kiki. Going, Ick, at the bug body.

“Wait, guys — what is that?” said Gallenthmir, pointing. “Looks like a storm,” said Gallenthmir, shielding her eyes in the midday sun.

It was, in fact, a storm of giant insects. Looking for their leader.

J J J

Faceless woke up, and said, “Ugh. Wait, guys, we’re not evil, the Company’s evil–” but Mr. Ylgu punched her out again. And hid her body, and the splattered body of the Chancellor, under a bush.

“Good,” said Kiki. “We’ll be safe for now.”

J J J

Anthromorphic mutant people ran for scared like something out of a Godzilla picture while the Giant Insects invaded their town. They looked like humans, for the most part, the mutant people, with animal heads, and sometimes tails and hooves and flippers, etcetera. Anything you can think of, it’s not there. Anything I can think, is present..

.. “We’d better dodge this crowd, and head inside, gents,” said Mr. Ylgu, running.

Kiki tagged along. “Like, good idea!”

“Doesn’t anyone care what I think?” said Gallenthmir. Who hadn’t stopped to think of why running was such a good idea.

They looked at her, then looked away; then ran for the Strip Mall. Zane loved blowing up malls with children inside. They thought they’d check it.

“Hey, guys! Wait up!” said Gallenthmir, and ran after them.

J J J

They visited a forsaken mall at the top of a dome suspended five hundred feet in the air and all the mannequins looked quite still; that is, until they came to life and their ‘representative’ said, “Hello. Are you for the Bugs, or the Company?”

“The — The Company,” said Gallenthmir.

Kiki butted her in the — ribs. She had no ribs.

“Right,” said the mannequins, and hopped out of their spots. “We hate both,” and chased after them. Over escalators, and through retail. Perfume shops.

It was all quite sudden.

This would have been an intense action scene if a Giant Insect and a Robot had not fallen through the glass roof, landing not only on the mannequins, but on Gallenthmir’s whole bulbous body.

This would have ended in a ‘squish’, in fact, but it only depressed Gallenthmir, as being an other-dimensional creature, she didn’t have any bones, and she wanted to feel ‘normal’ like the others, and occasionally break a femur. She crawled out of the mess and mutilation, and said, “Well, fellas. I’m flat as a crepe.”

“What’s a crepe?” said Kiki.

“Why, madame. It’s like a little French pancake,” said Mr. Ylgu. “It’s totally flat and tastes –”

“Don’t say ‘superb’,” said Kiki. “I hate it when sophisticated people call everything ‘superb’. It’s so pretentious.”

“I was going to say — heavenly,” said Mr. Ylgu. “Oh, poo.”

“What?”

“The Insect’s not quite dead. Look!” The Insect got up, fluttered its wings a little, and said, “Hi there — are you with the Chancellor or The Politard? We’ve been observing your earth, we are your friends; and we’d like to make a contact with you.”

“Why, my good chap,” he loved picking nicknames for everybody. “What’s so friendly about burning down a city? Fun, but not friendly,” said Mr. Ylgu. “I have a good mind to bash you over the head with my bass guitar.” He took out the bass guitar, and said, “If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s destroying beautiful architecture!”

The Insect fluttered its wings, said, “If that’s the way you want it,” then left through the roof.

L L L

A little man crawled out the giant robot, in full pilot outfit, and took off its broken helmet, and it turned out not to be a little man but an average sized woman, brushing her hair. “Who-are-you?” she said, all at once.

“We’re the .. We’re the cleaning crew,” lied Kiki.

“We clean things,” explained Gallenthmir quickly.

“..I’m not with them,” said Mr. Ylgu, minding his bass guitar.

“What-are-you-doing-in-this-mall, it’s-condemned-to-be-demolitioned-at-once?” said the average sized woman.

“Well, who are you?” said Gallenthmir.

“I’m the . . uh. . . I can’t remember who I am..”

She was, in fact, the Politard, but she had received a heavy pounding on her head. And lost her long term memory, while her short term stayed intact.

Said she, “All I remember is that I was supposed to lead these giant robots against these troublesome Bugs who wished to have my city.”

“This is your city?” said Mr. Ylgu. “An entire city? You own it?”

“I . . I think I do. That is, I’m not sure..”

“Tell you what,” said Kiki. “You don’t seem to remember who you are, you can join us, we’re–”

The Mannequins hopped up from where they were broken underneath the Giant Robot, and said, in a crushed dialect, “Must destroy, must destroy,” and headed for the Politard.

“Well, we have to call you something,” said Kiki, ignoring the Mannequins.

“Nancy Pennington,” suggested Gallenthmir.

“Nancy Pennington?” said Mr. Ylgu. “That’s a dumb name!”

“Well, we don’t have much time, the Mannequins are after us!” said Gallenthmir.

“Come this way, Nancy Pennington. We’ll explain on the way,” said Mr. Ylgu, and taking her hand, transmorphed into a demon, with fiery tail, and flapping wings, and sailed out the ceiling with her, while Gallenthmir, who had six wings herself, flapped hers and went out the ceiling, “Explain what? I’m always left in the dark!” she said, while Kiki, who had no wings, said, “Hey!” and Gallenthmir heard her, and had to come back.

..And so, they set off. On a brand new adventure. With the Politard in hands..

J J J

“We have a problem,” said the President of the Company. In conference room. Not turning around. Looking through the window at all the carnage. Like a sunset over a forest fire. He was a handsome man. A business man. A smart man. “Our owner has been found missing.”
“How can one be found missing, Mr. President?” said an underling.

The President turned around, “Ugh! It means, we found that she was missing. She said, if she owned us, she wanted to lead the attack, and so, unable to refuse her gesture, we haven’t seen her since. She was last seen flying through the atmosphere, piercing the lake above the clouds, fighting a Giant Insect two or three times the size of one King Kong. Some citizens said they saw a Giant Robot falling from the sky. Now, it could be her. I want every last one of you to go and find her.”

“Sir!” and saluting, left him, to where he was turning his back to the Company logo. “Yes indeed. Now, I’ll be the leader of the Company. No one knows I sent her out there on a suicide mission. Now, I’ll be in full charge. Heh, heh, heh.”

“Did I hear you say you’ll be the leader of the Company? That you sent the Politard out on a suicide mission? You’re fired.”

The President turned around to see his Board of Directors. Blushing. “You can’t fire the President!”

“You’re impeached. By your Board of Directors,” stripped him of his Presidential clothes, and leaving him in his underwear, said, “Good day.” A noise was heard of an opening of the door and a flutter of wings. Then: “You should’ve whispered it, or at least said inside your mind. Jeez! Don’t you know how to be a bad guy these days? Who are you talking to?” said Mr. Ylgu, from behind him. Standing downward, hanging on the ceiling.

L L

The embarrassed former president turned around and said, “Eek! A fruit bat~!”

“A demon.”

“How did you find me here?”

“You could learn a lot from my master, Satan, on being a true villain, he never monologues,” said Mr. Ylgu. “How ‘bout I join you? I’ve found the Politard. If I return her to you, you may just be re-instated as president.”

“No, I won’t. They’d never reinstate me as President after hearing what they’ve heard.”

“Well, how ‘bout we kill the Board of Directors before they can tell anyone,” said Mr. Ylgu, floating down. “Actually, I lied about knowing where the Politard is. The others have her. They took her away from me after a fight. I underestimated the power of the fat one. The skinny one put up quite a fight too.”

“The fat one?”

“My comrades: Gallenthmir, the fat one. And the skinny one. That blue girl, I can’t remember her name. Funny that I remembered the hard-to-pronounce name.”

Said the former president, “So, you’re saying . . If we kill them?”

Suddenly Mr. Ylgu’s lipstick was whispering into the President’s ear, “That you’ll be President again. Right. And in exchange, I want to be Captain over those Giant Robots.”

“Ahh!” screamed the squeamish, yet good-looking former president. “How will I know you won’t betray me?”

Suddenly Mr. Ylgu was whamming his electric guitar in the window, and said, “Think about it! President!” and was almost gone by the time the former President caught up behind him, and shouted, “Wait!”

L L L

There wasn’t much to it. Mr. Ylgu left the side of Good, and joined the Evil President, and the Board of Directors were killed.

Mr. Ylgu now put on his helmet, and led the Giant Robots against the encroaching armies of Insectia. A planet that’s not very far, far away. It’s just hard to spot in the Universe because it’s inside a dimensional warp, and warps are opaque in this universe.

The Politard, Gallenthmir, and Kiki were walking in the burning City below, and the Politard was saying, “And still, I wonder . . What happened to that burly transvestite, Mr. Ylgu, I wonder?”

Gallenthmir shrugged. “He comes and goes like the wind, some say. Now I’m starting to believe them.”

Kiki said, “And good luck to him! He hasn’t got the balls, like we do, to look around a burning City for a terrorist that could blow things up any minute!”

Something exploded.

“Kiki,” said Gallenthmir. “We don’t have balls.. We’re women..”

“Oh, that’s just prejudice,” said Kiki. “To say women can’t have balls.”

“Strange for a woman to be prejudice against herself,” muttered the Politard.

Not just then, but a little while later, the Giant Robots fell from the heavens, and with their laser swords, splattered through clouds of large Insects that filled the air so much so it was hard to breathe without saying, “Ew. Ugh. Spit!”

L L L

“Those are the babies,” said The Politard. “That’s one thing I remember from basic training. The Insects don’t care about their young enough to put them in a daycare like we do. They just carry them with them, and expect them to go off to war just alongside them. That’s why I call their pointless battle ‘The Children’s Crusade’.. Did you know?-”

“I wish I hadn’t brought this dress,” said Gallenthmir, examining a dress that was too small for her.

“Shut-up-I’m-talking,” said The Politard. “Did you know, baby Insects and adult Insects look almost exactly alike?”

“What about larvae and pupae and caterpillars and such?” said Kiki.

“Oh, right,” said The Politard. “I guess that was crocodiles..”

J J J

Meanwhile.

Mr. Ylgu was surveying the City with a grimaced lip, piloting his Giant Robot, the kind you just had to stand on, and all these wires attached to your muscles and nervous system that judged by how you moved was how the Robot outside should move, and he held a metal rod in his hand which transposed to the Robot’s giant laser sword. He said, “Booyah,” splattered another bug, and then to the President, who was hiding in a chair in the corner of the very same robot, fidgeted a little. The President was saying, “I’m never going to get used to that splatter! And I can’t believe we killed the Board of the Directors! They’re going to kill me if they ever find out!”

“Oh, me and Satan do it all the time. Kill, steal, and destroy. That sort of thing. Don’t use so many exclamation points. Oh, look! The Insects are waving the white flag. Shall I press the red button, and drop the bomb anyways?” He did so. Said, “Boom! I like a good explosion.”

Ylgu,” said the President. “Some of are citizens are still running around below. You just vaporized thousands of people..”

“Sheeple. Miserable followers of the government, like sheep. Oh, bah! Bah!” he called down to them. “Worthless,” said Ylgu, smelling a rose, then tossing it to the vermin below, directing his Robot to hover down to meet the radioactivity that was welling up from the ground. “Besides, the evacuation took place weeks ago. They should all be out by now. If they haven’t left already, they have proved their worthlessness.”

J J J

Gallenthmir cried out as the bomb dropped, “Stop! Drop! And roll!”

“No, that’s for if a fire breaks out, idiot,” said Kiki. “It’s find-something-to-duck-under.”

“..I can stop this,” said The Politard.

“How? You’ve got three seconds? How?” 3.

“I’ll write it a check, and ask it not to explode on us. I’m quite rich, if I remember.” 2.

“That’s a stupid idea. Stupid!” 1.

She wrote the explosion a check as the bomb just dropped and the explosion, usually quite apathetic, said, “For that much?! I guess I won’t blow up after all!” and rose back to where it was dropped and made its way to Spud’s equivalent of Las Vegas. “It was really because I was feeling depressed,” it explained. Suicide mission.

“It . . . It worked?” said Kiki.

“Of course it worked,” said The Politard. “Everybody loves money.”

“But that was a thing,” said Kiki.

“Stop! Drop! And Roll!” cried Gallenthmir, still in explosion mode. Rolling all over the place.

“Oh, would you just shut up?” said The Politard, and Kiki.

“I don’t like your tone, Nancy Pennington,” said Gallenthmir. Suddenly stopped rolling just to say it. Pausing.

“That’s not my name! My name is — My name — I don’t remember who I am,” said The Politard.

Then rolling again.

L L L

After a little while in walking out the City, the Giant Robots touched down and high-fived one another, the world covered in the blue goo from Giant Insects exploding, and Mr. Ylgu said to where the handsome man stood behind him, “I think I just remembered something just now, Mr. President. As fun as this all was,” he said.

The President was drinking a carton of chocolate milk. “And what is that?”

“I’m after more money, but all the money in this book is fake money, it’s not real. I want real money.”

“What do you mean?”

“I want the author’s money. The author of this book.”

“How in heck you thinkin’ on getting the author’s money?!”

“I don’t know yet,” said Mr. Ylgu. “But I was traveling with some people who knew how, and– I just remembered something else. The Politard, the one you said looked like this,” and showed him the portrait. “I found her. See?”

The President got up, and said, “You found her? What?!”

“..She’s still alive.”

“She’s still alive! Oh, I’m ruined!” All the President could do was pull the hair from his head.

“You’re ruined? How do you think this makes me feel? Now, I’ll have to kill you too. And we’re friends.”

“Why do you have to kill me?”

Mr. Ylgu turned around, whamming his electric guitar, and said, “Because you stepped on my shoe, and I just realized too — You’re the author in disguise.”

The President was sweating. “What?! What?! No, that’s impossible!”

“And a poor actor,” said Mr. Ylgu, and tore off the President’s rubber mask to reveal . . . Q-burt. The Author. It was quite surprising.

Q-burt shouted out, “Hey, I just thought I’d make a cameo, and be ruler of my world for a while,” and ran out to the back of the Giant Robot to where there was a big red button that read, “Go ahead. Try me. Figure out what I do,” and he pushed it, and Mr. Ylgu was jettisoned right back into the company of The Politard, Gallenthmir, and Kiki; and, hanging upside down in a big, big tree, said, “Hello.”

“Hello,” said Gallenthmir.

J J J

“I thought I’d come back and join you guys,” lied Mr. Ylgu.

“Oh, did I tell you?” said Kiki. “We found the Politard! Now that she’s friends with us, and after Gallenthmir accidentally knocked her on the head, playing a one-man game of Rock Ball, going for a long pass, she’s promised to get us a Giant Robot so long as we leave now and never come back to this side of the world again! Isn’t that great?”

“Why’s she being so nice?” said Mr. Ylgu, from his tree, trying to get the leaves out of his girly wig. “I thought the Politard was as cold as — as — for lack of a better word — well, ice!”

“For one thing, we threatened her life,” said Gallenthmir. “Once we found out who she was. .There was no other thing..”

“Oh, baby,” said Mr. Ylgu. “Well, that’s just great! Get me out of this tree.”

Gallenthmir hit the tree once with her hip and caught Mr. Ylgu as he fell down, and Mr. Ylgu said, “Now, put me down.”

Gallenthmir batted her eyes. “Gosh. For a man, you sure are pretty.”

“Now, put me down.”

She knocked him on the side of the head, said, “Why’d you abandon us?!”

“Coz I — Coz I — Coz I got a tip from a beautiful lady, and I found Zane!”

“You found Zane?” said Kiki. “Where is he?”

“Follow me!” said Mr. Ylgu. And led the way.

They got in their Giant Robot, and flew off..

But you should know now, Mr. Ylgu didn’t really know the way..

Intermission #1&Only: A Momentary Lapse in Reason

The Author couldn’t sleep.

He sat up in his bed. And walked out the door, into his parents’ living room, where he played six hours of Nintendo daily.

The Author couldn’t sleep. After all, the characters in his book could mutinee, find his house, find where he sleeps, and torture him for all the money he’d been holding out on them.

He played a videogame, and decided to go back to sleep, so he took extra melatonin and hit the bed. .

Adventure 5: In Which Wife, Commando Kiss, and Captain Peppersprouts Keep a Lookout in the Heavens

And I guess it was Wife, Commando Kiss, and Captain Peppersprouts, the all-girl fifth party. Captain Peppersprouts was team leader.

They thought they’d try the skies. Maybe Manly had thrown Zane so high up there, he was still floating about the earth.

They stayed aboard the Flying Theatre, anyways, and one of them said, I think it was Wife, “Hey, it’s awful quiet back there, do you think the kids are napping?”

“I put in a movie. Achoo!” said Buffoon. “Finding Nemo.”

“No wonder they’re asleep, that was a boring movie..”

“No, it’s not. It’s a pretty good movie. I like it. It’s a good movie.”

“No, it’s not. Dumb. Dumb, dumb, DUMB!”

The Flying Theatre, with Buffoon, Carrot, Tomato, Plum, and Olive. Kiki married Buffoon. The rest were their ‘kids’. A flying theatre of British spelling. Think of it! Glorious..

A flying theatre.

To be a thousand feet in the air and have to sit through boring Shakespeare rantings. “To suicide or not to suicide… I get this way whenever I watch Shakespeare”.. (Final Farce: the Last Roman Numeral).

J J J

Anyhoo, there was a brute storm heading up, and inside of it, walking on air, seemingly, was Cain (finding waldo). Yes, all you ‘finding waldo’ fans, he didn’t get hardly a cameo in the original book, but his mark could be felt all throughout ‘finding waldo’ if you stepped in the right places; are you smelling what I’m stepping in? How’s the smell?

He shouted over the thunder, or maybe it was just the thunder, for his voice sounded just like thunder, “YOUR  JOURNEY  STOPS  HERE, KNUCKLEHEADS,” and weaving a cloud into a knuckle sandwich, taught the wind to push it, and blew them off course. “Heh. Heh, heh. Heh,” he said. And walked off. On air, seemingly.

And that storm blowing, Buffoon cried out, “I don’t think the Flying Theatre can take it! We’re going down, or up, or sideways, whatever!”

L L L

Yes, the storm threw them off course, and they found themselves inside a giant cloud. The cloud contained a magical, flying, shining castle.

And a little blue kitty wearing a cape and diaper was there to greet them. “Hi, I’m Boo-Cat. Meow.”
Buffoon said to Wife, Commando Kiss, and Captain Peppersprouts, “You three better not wander off and go on an adventure. We need your help fixing the ship.”

“Don’t worry!” said Captain Peppersprouts.

“Boo-Cat,” said Commando Kiss, getting down to pet her. “Is that you?”

“I just said who I am,” said Boo-Cat, licking itself. “You’re in trouble! Meow.”

“How are we in trouble?” said Wife. “Oh, Boo-Cat, it’s you!”

“Isn’t that just what I said?” said the blue cat. And flew off to the top of the buttresses of the castle, and said, “Follow me. There’s much I need to tell you. Meow.”

“No, we’re not following you,” said Captain Peppersprouts. “We’re here to fix ship.”

“Oh. Then don’t follow me. But I should tell you. There are air pirates up in this castle! Yes, it is. This is their castle,” and was off.

“What do you suppose she meant?” said Captain Peppersprouts. “Air pirates?”

L L L

They didn’t venture into the castle. That would be stupid*.

* Who knows what could be lurking in there? Besides, they had to fix their ship.

But here on the inside of a cloud, as the dark black of heavy cumulus was growing, they saw all sorts of monstrosities. Bird-winged ladies called harpies shrieking through the air, chasing bug-winged fairies.

Sky dolphins leaping downwards out of sky to catch a bird out of the air. And sky whales, metallic fins pumping. Sky sharks. Sky turtles, with wings. And squid. Jellyfish. The obligatory flying fish. Sky anything-that-swam-on-the-earth.

They caught a few birds and had a campfire.

J J J

Not just then, but a little while later, air pirates came running out of the magical flying castle, yelling, “Argh!” and captured all the girls. It was all quite sudden. Yo ho.

Brought them into their shining castle, and at the feet of their lord and master: King of Pirates.

Cain was sitting on a throne inside, balancing his head on his chin, and said, “I trust you received my invitation.”

“It was a crummy invitation,” said Captain Peppersprouts. “But we received it.” And spat on his toes.

“Temper, temper,” said Cain.

“Cain!” said Commando Kiss, who knew him through Abel Manning. “Why do ye bid us here?”

“Yeah, we’re intrigued. We’re fuggin captivated,” said Wife, batting off the pirates who were holding her hands.

J J J

“!Dios mio!” said Cain. “A temper isn’t very becoming of young ladies. And profanity isn’t tolerated here. You see, I know why it is you have come. You’re looking for Zane, is that right? He holds the key to the Author’s room. And I know where he is.”

“He’s bluffing,” said Wife, struggling against her chains. They had them in chains. “That’s right, he’s bluffing.”

“My good woman,” said Cain. “I never bluff. Zane is right here,” and snapped his fingers, and brought before them a liquid washing tub, and inside was a very tiny storm, and in that storm was a little man. Struggling for all like.

“I don’t see him,” said Captain Peppersprouts, looking.

“Look — harder,” said Cain and spun the waters with his breath. And a little whirlpool spilled the contents of the washing tub. And on the bottom of the tub was a struggling little individual. And Wife cried, “Ohmigosh!”

Zane was coughing violently on the bottom of the dried-up sea.

“Cool!” said Commando Kiss.

“You see, I direct the seas, and I’ve been searching for him too..” said Cain.  Do you want a gander into his progress?

Adventure 6: In Which Zane Is Lost in the Ocean and Doesn’t Know Where to Go

Zane was all alone..

He was afloat in the ocean and wondering if what he had done wasn’t wrong. Well, he knew children were greedy, selfish, sniveling little creatures who needed to be taught a lesson but would killing them give them enough thought to turn their ways?

The Good Ship Orphan and its all-kid cannibal pirate crew of giants and demons and such, yo ho (finding waldo), picked him up.

It’s ridden the seas of Mediterranean, it’s crawled the sands of the Sahara, it’s soared to the peaks of Everest, it’s dipped to the reaches of the Bering Streit. It’s inconsequential in this story,

It’s even journeyed to the center of the earth, ripping a hole in H.G. Wells’ masterpieces and deciding on marrying it if it loves it so much. Um.

The pirates found him, anyhow, and he was currently traveling with them.

That is, until the storm came…

Adventure 5 Again: In Which Wife, Commando Kiss, and Captain Peppersprouts Continue a Lookout in the Heavens .. Then fall from the skies.

“So there, you see. There he is,” said Cain, closing off the sight of it.

“Very well, it’s all very impressive,” said Captain Peppersprouts. “Can you let us go now?”

“Not until you admit one thing.”

“And what is that?” said Captain Peppersprouts.

“I’ll have to check the script,” said Cain, and taking out his bifocals, checked. “Ah, you see. . .No! This is stupid,” and threw it away. “I’ll not say it.”

“What was it?” said the three girls.

“I’m not going to say it! It’s stupid!” said Cain.

“Oh c’mon! It can’t be that stupid!” prompted Commando Kiss.

“Fine. You know. I won’t say it. But I’ll let you go on another condition: That you bring Abel Manning’s head to me on a — on a plate.”

Commando Kiss showed Cain Abel Manning’s head on a plate. Right out of her pocket. “Here it is.” Its eyes were crossed- dead. Pht!

“HOW’D YOU GET THAT?!”

“I found it.”

“You can’t just have — found — Abel Manning’s head. He’s a super entity, you’d have to have killed him*.”

* “Which is darn right impossible, I’ve tried”

Abel Manning winked from where his head was and suddenly his body ascended from underneath the floor, connected with the head, and he said, “Hi, Cain.”

“Hi, brother,” gulped Cain. “I thought, well, if you were separated from her head, why, you’d die.”

“I’ve had worse,” said Abel Manning.

“How have you ever had worse?” said Cain. “Your head was off!”

Abel Manning stepped a foot forward and the pirates backed off and ran. “So it seems it’s just you and me, and these three girls. That’s plenty enough help to kick your little tail. Alright!”

Cain said, “Right,” and shot a storm of lightnings into Abel Manning’s eyes, and Abel cringed and shot back a string of blue and green electricity, and then!–

“Wait! This is our story!” said Captain Peppersprouts. “Abel, you already had a story.”

“Yeah!” said Wife.

“That’s correct,” said Commando Kiss.

L L L

“Here’s an adventure,” said Cain, “Hey, what’s that?” pointing.

Abel fell for the oldest trick in several bad joke books, and Cain split apart Abel’s head with a blast from his psychic powers, then pushed him over the edge*. Then pushed the three girls then also.

* of the clouds

L L L

Abel Manning was unconscious until he hit the sea.

But that’s later.

L L L

The three girls tried waking him up, but there was nothing doing. His head had a major rip in it, and his brains were falling out. His eyes were closed then. They were falling out of heaven. He passes out all the time.

The three girls tried an impossible conversation in the air.

“Now, what do we do?” said Captain Peppersprouts, falling like a comet.

“We fall,” said Commando Kiss. “Then we die.”

“Great plan!” said Wife.

“This isn’t turning out to be the adventure I had hoped it would be,” chorused they.

And they hit water. It seemed hard as brick, and all their bones were broken.

L L L

Unconscious for a while, they woke up and realized they were underwater, and coughed, and coughed, and– but wait! They could breathe in this water!

They looked up and found they were resting in a clamshell, and a cute boy mermaid, hitherto known as a merman, was looking down at them, nursing their broken bodies. Set in casts.

They tried to say, “Hi there,” to the merman, to even bubble, but their broken bodies wouldn’t allow them.

It took two full months before they could move again, and then the merman who had nursed them led them up to the surface.

J J ;0

You see, I was going to have the mermaids lead the Good Ship Orphan and its crew, with Zane, to the bottom of the sea, where they have an underwater adventure of some sort. With swimming, underwater dinosaurs, and giant octopi. And they even find a great underwater . . Um . .

-Where underwater currents take a hold of Zane and Zane gets lost in the belly of a sea dragon, who-makes-port-in-an-underwater-cove!

But they had already gotten an idea to find him. All it took was a good bump in the head for the idea.

“Wait! That’s all the adventure we get?!” said Captain Peppersprouts, Wife, and Commando Kiss.

Um. Yes. It is when it’s over..

Adventure 7: In Which Zane Is Found and the Parties Are Reunited

But about that idea.

“Wait a second.” They all called Zane up by phone and found him that way. “We should’ve done this earlier.”

It was just Couch Face, Gallenthmir, Manly Man, Wife, Commando Kiss, Captain Peppersprouts, Robot, phew! Abel Manning, Kill Joy, and Mr. Ylgu; Whee! Zane, Kiki, and The General, and Alfredo Valentine, and Ozzie Frankfurter, they were reunited.

Good.

Off to a new start.

J J J

The Wy People were conquered.

The Company was no more.

The Good Ship Orphan and its all-kid cannibal pirate crew of giants and demons and such, yo ho, had reformed and started a charity. Not that it mattered. They had hardly made it into the story.

The Tweenagerz were sent to extended detention.

And I didn’t mention it, but Cain, who had since been a major pain in the @$$, got married off, and his wife was Christian, and this changed him.

And The Politard had gone back to scheming evil political schemes within her mansion until the police came up with a knock on the door and arrested her for being a major bitch.

“You can be arrested for being a bitch?”

“Sure!” said the Author to his mother.

J J J

The Author heard a sharp knock on the door, too. Rat-tat-tat.

He opened up his bedroom door, where he had been reading his own books, trying to decide the salaries he was going to give the major players, when they arrived.

“You’ve been holding out on us,” said the main characters, the protagonists, the villains. “Where’s our money?”

“Now, now,” said the Author. “I don’t want a mutinee on my hands. I created you. You should be grateful.”

“I went through hell because of you!” said Abel Manning. “Looking for something I could not find.”

“My life was miserable,” said Couch Face. “A closet-case heterosexual.”

“The bullies tormented me endlessly,” said The General. “And you wrote it that way.”

“We want our share!” they chorused together.

And then, they were upon them.

J J J

Thinking quickly . . “Um…”

(I s-a-I-d, thinking quickly!)

“Right!” said Q-burt.

Thinking quickly, Q-burt dodged to the right to where he kept his laptop and smacked it over the mob of manic lynchers so that they were now in his computer. He then wrote them either into death or in prison so they couldn’t bother me.

Here’s how they ended out…

J J J

The little man on Couch Face’s face ended up getting so depressed about his place in the Universe, he started eating and eating and eating, and suddenly got so huge, the next time he sat on Couch Face, it crushed him to death.

..Manly Man ended up in debtor’s prison for causing too much property damage whenever he saved the day.

..Wife ended up dying from childbirth. It was going to happen eventually, she’d had so many births.

..Gallenthmir ended up in prison for chasing little boys around.

Commando Kiss ended up dying from STD’s from being in the porn industry too long.

J J J

Captain Peppersprouts ended up dying from an illness she’d been dying from for 200 years. (You’ll only know why if you read her book.)

Robot ran out of battery.

Zane ended up in prison for being a terrorist, and was executed not too long after!

Kiki ended up in prison for accompanying him, but wasn’t given the electric chair based on she was operating out of ‘ignorance’.

J J J

Blah.

Mr. Ylgu-ended-up-dying from his pirate crew of kidnapped children realizing he was a total douche and leading mutinee against him.

Blah, blah, blah.

(Kill Joy ended up dying from heart attack once he realized he wasn’t real. This was just a story. It wasn’t real!)

Abel Manning ended up leaving the planet before anyone could kill or arrest him..

J J J

And The General, and Alfredo Valentine, and Ozzie Frankfurter were just children. They couldn’t even go to juvenile hall yet, and to kill them so young would be badly received by mothers everywhere, not that mothers read these books, but I want to be sensitive to my audience everywhere; so I just called their mothers and had them sent home to their rooms for trying to assassinate a lonely old man ..  in his lonely old room ..  with his lonely old parents.

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