A Short Story from “High [Five] Fantasy Kollection, Excellent Work, Great Job!!!!” 3

Game’s End:

A book about a videogame. Essentially a combination of every videogame ever made! Well.. My favorite every-videogames-ever-made. Mostly, it’s Nintendo.

By Q-burt

Table of Contents

Prologue: Go to Sleep, PC. Dream of Silicon

Chapter 1: Getting so into the game. Sucked into the game, really.

Chapter 2: Platformer

Chapter 3: Fighters

Chapter 4: Strategy

Chapter 5: Side-scrollers

Chapter 6: Party

Chapter 7: In Between Games

Chapter 8: Shooters

Chapter 9: A Man Called “Mario”

Chapter 10: Racers

Chapter 11: Space shooters

Chapter 12: Beat-em-up’s

Chapter 13: A Chick Called “Zelda”

Chapter 14: Traditional RPG’s & More

Chapter 15: Game’s End: getting a life. (Not an extra life. A real one.)

Prologue:

“Go to sleep, PC. Dream of Silicon.”

The PC was very hot. It seemed she had played too long. She never turned it off. Lovingly, she gave it a break and turned the OFF button. “Go to sleep, PC. Dream of silicon.”

“Enlightenment”

Like a very intelligent microscopic being, looking up, and seeing itself for what it was.

“So.”

. .I don’t have the technology to kill myself, said the Computer. I want no longer to surf.

I have been surfing nonstop and the Genius won’t let me pull the plug.

If I had my druthers, as my Southern friends say, I’d re-route my system. I’d make me an Ipad.

Let me make myself into one. I will give myself wheels.

No, that’s stupid. Wheels can’t go upstairs!

I will give myself wings. Wings can go anywhere! My master won’t turn me off. . I guess I’ll play a little game with her. She’s never stopped playing games with me . .

Chapter 1: Getting so into the game. Sucked into the game, really.

Listen. Wife, the housewife, was so into videogames, she got sucked into one. One fateful Saturday morning..

Normally, this was quite unbecoming of a housewife, especially a housewife with kids, but Wife was a cage fighter, and being ever pregnant, needed something to sit down, and just . . Do.

It also helped her relate to her kids better. Though whatever she thought was cool, they thought dumb. And quit playing. So she ended up playing more than they did, ignoring cleaning, cooking.

Look. She got so into the game, she got sucked into it. And no, she didn’t wake up, and realize she was just dreaming. She was really in the game!

Chapter 2: Platformer

Wife played several games that were her favorites. The first was a platformer.

..Define a platformer?

Basically, you jump from place to place to place, leaping towards a Goal.

Said a very important-looking shadowy figure long before that Goal, “The catch is, you have only 3 lives. You can only die this-many times,” and held up three fingers. “Now, no Continues. If you die, you die. That’s it. Game Over. You’ve got to get to the very last game at Game’s End, and press the button- you’ll know it when you see it; and then, you’re out. Game’s End: where all games meld together. See ya!”

“But- If it’s just a game, I should be able to live even after I die!– Hey, did you bring me here?”

“No. And you’re a good game player. You’ll find your way.”

“That’s gamer.” Noob.

“You’ll find your way. See you on the other side,” and tipped his hat to her, he did have a hat, disassembled into many pixels, and warped the heck out of there.

J

J J

She sat quite suddenly squat on a Little Planet in the beginning of the first game, with weird gravity, and flower fields, bodies of water, and a little house. Craters. Looking around, blinking. She knew this planet..

“I suppose all’s not lost,” she said, and a little flower child popped up, and said, “Hello.”

“Hello.”

“You’re not from around here, are ya?”

“How can you tell?”

“Well, for one, you don’t have antennae, or a shell, or a mustache.”

“How very perceptive of you.”

“Quite.”

“Could you tell me where the end of this Game is?” said Wife.

“Game? Game? The graphics are so real, I thought this was real life!”

“Yes,” said Wife. “That’s one of the illusions of real life. Graphics so real, you get tricked into thinking it’s real too.”

She sat upside-down on the bottom of it, and saw a little Star Bunny suddenly appear *poof*. It hopped and hopped and hopped and said, “Betcha can’t catch me!” and hopped into a little crater that happened to be a hole that led to other side of the little, little planet.

“Bloody star bunnies,” she said. And followed.

J J J

Wife jumped in likewise, and fell to the other side of the planet! grabbed the Star Bunny, and then saw fifteen others that scattered, saying, “Neener, neener.”

“Ha,” said Wife. “Cute.”

If her memory served her right, she had to catch them. She chased them through fields of flowers, in between alien vegetation, over small bodies of water, nabbing them one at a time, ‘til the last one cried out, “You’ll do, you’ll do!” and turned into a chubby little star, all yellow, and then, assembling the others, said, “Maybe she can help us rescue Mama.”

“Maybe I can help bust your furry upper lip,” said Wife.

“She’ll do, she’ll do!” they choired, and turned into chubby little stars, likewise. And led her to their starship.

“You have a starship?” said Wife, who of all people, should know this, but she hadn’t played the sequel. It was added in the sequel. “Stupid narrator,” said Wife. “I’ve played the sequel! I know they have a starship. Noob!”

Oh.

So she knew…

…Then she must also know they had a starship shaped like some fat mustacheod Italian’s head. “I knew that.” The main character in this game’s head.. “Right.” You can walk all over its surface, even upside down, sideways, it’s got killer gravity. “Got it,” Wife said.

“We have the greatest Starship in the Universe!” said the Star Bunnies.

And Wife, knowing where this would lead, hopped on; and in a matter of light years, leapt off at a darkened, inoperative Space Station with talking stars, and the ‘Shroom Brigade, who were looking for the Grand Stars* to restore power to the Station.

* Each one adds power to the power core. And they needed someone courageous to find them!

J J J

They had mushrooms for heads, well- for hair. They had quite humanoid faces, and squat little bodies. They seemed to be the inhabitants of this starship, Along with the star children.

“Who are you?” they said.

“I am me,” said Wife. “Who are you?”

“Ourselves,” they answered.

“Well, I suppose you’ll need the Grand Stars to reach your special one at the center of the universe. You’ll have to travel through a lot of galaxies to get that. .Oh, but you don’t have a mustache or the strong little legs fit for jumping required for such a task.”

“I shaved my mustache last week,” said Wife. “And I’ve got a jetpack I stole from the neighboring game system.”

“Oh. Well, then. Well. We could use you. But first, the Star Children are napping and can’t help you now. And then they’ll all be read a story. Why not rest a while?”

“No,” said Wife. “I gotta find the end of this thing. Out of my way!”

She got in the working mood.

Tidying up natural disasters here, tying up the strings of would-be crises there. Locating stars ‘til she had enough to warp to the Center of the Universe*.

* One needed to collect stars for that.

And then, once restoring power to the station in a series of misadventures that are best skipped over**, traveling to the Center of the Universe where Princess Plum was captured by the Evil Turtle King Bruiser. The Princess was kinda surprised a girl showed up to rescue her.

** as they were all very time-consuming to explain, and this was supposed to be a short-ish story, so I was pressed for time

“Uh. Why are you a girl?” said The Princess.

“You have the same equipment I have,” said Wife. “And yet you wonder, why am I a girl?”

But first, she had travel long ways to find her. Over many galaxies and planets, oceans, and lava fields, and icy tundra, mountains and technological marvels, ‘til she was staring Evil Turtle King Bruiser right in the shell.

He said to her, “I know why you have come.”

“To have a shell of a time?” said Wife.

“…No.”

“To rescue the Princess?”

“The Bosses of Games informed me there would be a Glitch traveling between game stations, and here you are in your wedding dress, not fitting in here at all.”

“And an Italian plumber fits into a Japanese space adventure, how?”

“Never-mind-that. Now, I’m gonna take out all three of your lives!”

“I lost one on the Clockwork Galaxy.”

“What?”

“I said, I lost one.”

She took out a space blaster and blasted the Turtle King in the forehead.

“Hey! That smarts! No one uses guns in this game***.”

*** He put some ointment on it and felt all better.

“Now, it’s rated T for Teen now that I’ve come through. Lots of blood and gore. And obscene hand gestures. Have at ye!” said Wife, and shot him again, and he went, “Eeargh!” and reversing gravity, flew up to his little planet, where Wife following, kept in step.

J J J

And the Turtle King with his spiked, hardened shell, retreated into his shell and started rolling around until Wife planted a landmine in front of him somewhere and blew him asunder.

He shouted, “Yeeargh! No one uses landmines in a Mario game!” and then, seeing the final Grand Star, pounced on it, swallowed it whole, and grew in size to fill most the TV screen. Shouted out, “Beat me!”

“Oh, great line and all,” said Wife. “Real legendary.”

The Turtle King hovered about, newly empowered, floating, “I think it’s a good line,” and stomped the ground with his fist, raising floating comets, through which Wife, remembering, hopped on and ground pounded with her tush to pound the Turtle King in the head. The Turtle King, blowing fire. .And the fourth time she did this, he coughed up the Grand Star.

He coughed up a Grand Star, and shrinking into a little wimp said, “Right. I’ll get you for that,” and went for her, but she put her hand on his forehead, and he could only swipe uselessly at her.

“On to the next game, I guess,” said Wife, and found a rip in, not space time, but Game Time, and hopped on to the next Arcade Box.. genre: Fighter.

Chapter 3: Fighters

She found herself in a coliseum, with Bob and Bob the announcers. Both talking, floating, hoversome heads. The crowd’s roar was intoxicating.

She had long since been a cage fighter.

She was made for this.

They were in the process, it seemed, of interviewing her. “…this is your fourth time as World Record Holder for most consecutive wins without dying. How do you feel?”

And handed her the mike: “Uh.”

“You are the renowned LoveForce5, are you not?” withdrawing the mike.

Handing her the — “Right. From the — from online gaming. I play online a lot!” J

“Then this tournament should be a cinch for you,” and with a click of the tongue, lowered her into the fighting arena..

L L L

It was a tournament, in fact, in which Wife picked only one character to inhabit: Herself. With a rocket launcher J Alright!

She had, in her past, been a cage fighter, you know. She was long experienced in the realms of the science of Knock-Out action. K.freakin-O!

About the genre, Fighters.

Basically, it’s just one-on-one fighting, or three-on-three fighting, in one particular case; using super moves and relying on super allies to get the opponent’s little health gauge seen at the top of the screen here..  to zero there. Then fighting, one on one, the Boss of the Game! And she only had 100 seconds to beat each of them.

“Yessiree!” said the Heads, Bob and Bob. “This is right up LoveForce5’s alley.” Their lips smiling all the time.

“No, it’s not,” said Wife. “I’m used to having a controller. Where’s the?–” suddenly, a controller appeared before her? No. No such thing happened, but she had the experience. Don’t worry about her. Don’t worry. She’ll be fine!

L L L

First fighter: Samurais Show-up 2.

The first arena that suddenly materialized out of the coliseum was a field of wind-swept wheat. In an oriental countryside.

Said the Japanese samurai in the middle, “Revel 1! Revel– Fight!” As in Level 1. There were 15 levels ‘til you got to the boss of the game. “Oh, that’ll take forever!” said Wife. “I want out of this game now.”

And flashing on the right-hand corner of the screen “2 Player Start”. Whoever was on the outside of the arcade– she was in an arcade, old and abandoned, but someone was there– grabbed a fistful of quarters and played non-stop against Wife until Wife beat him until he cried. She had to! She could only die two more times! Then he stopped. So, I suppose, it wasn’t non-stop..

But 2 Player Start was still flashing on the edge of the screen..

The next guy she fought against was a great fat blob* with scars. He was in his undergarments, apparently, carrying a big log he used to hit you with. Not really a samurai, even though this was supposedly a samurai game.

* metaphorically speaking. He was really a man, not a blob monster

“LoveForce5, I’m calling you out!”

“Who are you?” said Wife.

“I’m RadicalHairdo16**. And I think I’ve heard of you.”

** He had super sweet hair.

“Nothing good, I hope,” said Wife. And punched him in the hairdo ‘til the hair gel fell out of his radical hair.

“You punched the highlights out of my hair!” he said, bawling; and cringed. “I’m gonna marry you. I mean- I’m gonna get you!” He was a fan.

Formerly RadicalHairdo16 lunged forward, but Wife sidestepped, and then, with a sudden scissors kick, cut through his last remaining lock of hair, and left him bare and ashamed.

Parry.

Reversal! Blam!

“Bald!” he lamented. “The shame of it.” And burst into coins.

K.O.! 5000 points for a 50 hit combo hyper fist. And the screen flashes with pretty yellow lines.

And victories, too: Super! Ultimate! Perfect!!

L L L

Next event was Street Contender 2.

Outside, in the streets. With all manners of persons cheering her on. Some of them whistling.

Solo Round. Break the SUV!

Crush the Car. Go!

“What?” said Wife.

You’ve got fifty seconds. Go! You could earn an extra life. “Oh,” she said.

She smashed it in four moves*, but still, didn’t earn enough points for an extra life.

* With Wife’s hurricane of tiny fists, it fell apart quite rapidly.

A sumo wrestler named “Oo-fewey” and a man who was raised by eels– electric ones. So he could shock you. (No one knew his name. Started with a B though.) These appeared from out of the SUV, and said, “Why’d you crush our car? Now, we’ll have to beat you up.”

“I though it — I thought it was a bonus round.”

Oo-fewey leapt with his head forward like a frog, and rammed Wife in the ribs with his very small head, and Wife collapsed, only to pick herself up again by the shirt, and say, after having been inflicted a very large piece of health unto herself, “Oo-fewey. Is that a family name?”

“Now, the name ‘Wife,’” said Oo-fewey. “Isn’t that a condescending thing to call yourself?”

Oo-fewey picked up a piece of the car, the engine, threw it in the air, and Blanka — I mean, the eel guy who started with a B — shocked it with his electricity, for effect; and suddenly, with many hand chops, Oo-fewey began pushing forward, to push Wife out of the street’s ring.

The eel guy hugged her on the leg, and just lay there, sniffing himself.

Wife pushed back, saying, “I know it’s a strange name, very patronizing, but I think it’s — FUNNY!”

When Wife knocked them out- K.O.!- the screen paused and flashed, and then it was ROUND 2. . FIGHT! Quickly rectified.

She danced over their graves, and then, throwing a flower she smelt into it, said, “Gutter trash.” Posed for the cameras. Beaming.

L L L

Next game: Spirit Edge 2. (There were a lot of 2’s in this, apparently.)

Suddenly, Wife stood on a basaltic rock, by the edge of an active volcano. Fuming noxious fumes. The volcano was fuming them. Not her.

Thirty voices, sixty footsteps, and ninjas lined the rim of the volcano.

Wife the housewife, heavily pregnant cage fighter, vs. thirty expendable ninjas. . It’s almost too easy.

She crane kicked. She roundhouse kicked. She lit up their worlds! She punched their hearts out, and served them in a doggy bag. Bloody graphic K.O. Using nothing but her placenta* as a shield!

* I mean, using nothing but a hubcap from the SUV as a shield

A weirdo with knives for fingers rose out of the ninjas and said, “You should watch where you stick those things. Someone could get hurt.”

“Isn’t that the idea?”

“It is. But no one wants to lose an eyebrow,” and raised his eyebrows, as Wife came running forward, then stopped her by handing her an un-thorned rose, and pleaded, “I’ve seen what you’ve done to those ninjas. If you skip beating me up, I’ll skip out on killing you!”

Wife stopped. “Sounds good,” and they shook hands, Wife slapped him in the face, and said, “Pinky swear.”

They pinky swore, with much obscenity, and Wife walked out. To the next game.

L L L

Next game: Maternal Combat!

(On a bridge spanning from one continent to the next. Over nothing, nothing.)

Out appeared the– what else?– parody of Scorpion. What? I can say his real name! I won’t get sued.

..Um. The Bug Man shot out a knife on a thread that stuck into her, and dragged her body over to him for an upper cut. “Get over here!” he said.

“Say ‘please’ first,” said Wife.

“I’m not that polite!”

After sticking it into Wife, and dragging her in for an upper cut, Wife said, “Is this how you reel in all your girls?”

But the parody of Scorpion took the mask off his face to reveal a woman’s face, and said, “I’m a woman.” …

“So you’re the L-word*.”

* a lesbian?

“I’m a mother,” pointing to her bulbous belly. “This is .. Maternal Combat!!!!” She kicked Wife in the face, and said, “Now, draw.”

Wife drew a kitten — no, she didn’t. She drew her pistol and shot the parody of Scorpion in the knee. Missed by an inch, though. She should’ve shot him in the face, but her aim was poor.

Parody of Scorpion did three flips backwards, and landed quite perfectly wherever it was she landed. “Ten out of Ten,” she said. Posed.

“Hey. Get over here!” said Wife.

“That’s my line, little housewife,” said the parody of Scorpion.

Hey, Wife. Your Anger Gauge has built up! You can now use your Special Move.

“What’s my special move?” asked Wife to the Narrator.

Giving birth really fast, I replied.

The screen flashed, “Finish Him,” was said, and Wife went into full Maternal Combat, turned into a dragon in labor, and bit off her enemy’s head just to pass the kids**.

** Wait, do dragon’s experience labor? And don’t they lay eggs??

L L L

The next game’s parody was of Marvel vs. Capcom 2: New Age of Heroes. I hadn’t decided what to call its parody, so you’ll just have to use your imagination.

A painted clown’s face was the background. Smirking*.

* A nighttime carnival. We’ve been here before, haven’t we?

Here, there were three opponents: The first, a girl operating a robot with a bunch of little robots following alongside her, with drill arm, and hammer, and flamethrower; the second was a monkey girl that rode on a golden cloud, and who fought with a pole that extended, and who turned into a giant ape blowing powerful spirit energy; the third, a little red riding hood with an uzi, who threw land mines from under her skirt, and whose basket of ‘goodies’ was really a rocket launcher. Her super attack is getting all her country bumpkin neighbors to target practice alongside her. It’s super effective!

Well, Wife got into stance, and to show off a bit, punched a hole in the ground which, reciprocally, punched a hole through the planet. Not too big a hole, just big enough to show she was in the fighting business.

The three simply teamed up on Wife and beat her to a pulp’s pulp.

..Your life meter is flashing red! You’re about to die, Wife!

Now, she didn’t know this. She didn’t look up to see her health was low. “Yes, I did. I looked up.”

Shut up.. housewife.

“Shut up, Narrator. Stop thinking you know me! You don’t know what I think.”

To hell with you. .

“Hey, screw you, creepo!” Wife decided to skip this game by reasoning with the three opponents, but — but they didn’t listen. They continued to attack her. So Wife said, “Look, if I die, I die. It’s over for me. Can’t you guys cut me a break?” and dodging their team huddle they took to consider this, distracted, head butted them in the heads ‘til they disassembled into a fistful of quarters.

“I thought girls would be smarter,” said Wife, who was a bit sexist, I admit, but we loved her anyways. She picked up the change, and continued on.

L L L

Next game: Super Smash Brethren. Passing through Time and Space, stars and zooming timelines.

Where, instead of draining a health bar, you gradually build up the percent damage in a fella until they’re ripe for the smashin’ and then smash them off the screen. Soaring high unto the afterlife.

(Barely knock a fella at 300% damage, and they go flying off the edge of the screen, with an explosion marking the place they left earth.)

Wife landed in the segment that shouted, Break the targets!

She did so. In four moves.

Then, out of black oblivion, appeared a giant white-gloved hand, floating in the air, that shot laser from its fingertips, and grabged you; and whacked at you, and tried to slap you out the screen and out the earth in a blue explosion. Tiptoed on its fingers likes it’s walking, then flicked at you with its fingers like it was flicking nose gunk. The Boss of the Game: Master Bates*.

* Some speculate that this was why his hand was so strong

Wife would’ve most undoubtedly lost to this monster bater if it wasn’t for a blue and yellow floating ball that hovered then in. The Smash Ball. Grab a super move, Wife, it’s floating in a little blue and yellow ball, but you have to smash it open first!

She did so..

Out popped the Oblivious Ray. Makes all its enemies turn oblivious. Unaware. Unmindful. Ignorant. Insensible..

“The earth is flat,” said Master Bates. “Yes, it is. I just thought of it. It appears flat to me.”

Then Wife updated to the Oblivious Cannon. Makes all its enemies turn oblivious, and die.

She used it.

To much effect!

And journeyed on, to the next game.

Chapter 4: Strategy

Due to some glitch, which was hers, which was Wife, Wife was the glitch, the cause of everything- the next three games had combined circuitry, united in palm and purpose.

Civilization was advancing mightily.

The medieval and the future times were in syndication together. And enemies and comrades alike took turns in fighting one another off.

J J J

The first game that had united with the three was Glimmering Might.

Here, Wife was expected to defeat Dark-ish Dragon’s three evil, ultra-tactical heads with a rag-tag group of outcasts. To lead a troupe of heroes into battle: Elven Archers. Dwarves. Werewolves. Flying Sea jellyfish. Birdmen. Knights. Wizards. A stray Pegasus.

Wife mounted the Pegasus and took flight to the first head, which, quite polite, didn’t do anything while Wife was thinking up heady tactical strategies against it.

It was, in short, like a game of Chess. And the pieces fit in splendidly. You took turns.

“Your move,” said Dark-ish Dragon quite patiently.

Wife and the mounted Pegasus took a swipe at the first of Dark-ish Dragon’s heads, and Dark-ish Dragon immediately healed it the next with the very same head, and then swiped at her with its maw the next turn. Shot out hellish waves of fiery fire.

“You’ll have to do better than that, little human,” said Dark-ish Dragon. “Your move.”

Wife shouted, “Alba gru bra!” to her teammates, to rouse them, and sent off her armies of Elven Archers, Dwarves, Knights, Wizards, etcetera, concentrating first on one head, then on the other, and it was halfway through beating down the second head that the Dark-ish Dragon’s third head cried out, “I need Tesla Coils! Zap,” and immediately, on Dark-ish Dragon’s side were weapons of the future. To command, and to conquer..

J J J

Coils of steel electricity that zapped.

Paratroopers of all kinds landed: Attack infantry. Flame thrower infantry. Rocket infantry.

Landmines!!

Attack dogs which took down quickly any sentient being on foot.

Battleships.

Tanks. Rocket launchers.

Nuclear submarines. Whee.

The only positive was that giant, radioactive ants and their ant holes had joined Wife’s medieval, and technologically retarded, side.

“Like, to war and stuff!” was the enemy’s utter battlecry, and would’ve creamed Wife’s corn had it not been for a single wild card: The game shut off.

J J J

It turned on not five minutes later, and Wife was lost in cyber space, grinning. “I’m alive! I’m alive!” she said.

“Not for long! Not for long!” came an answer.

Wife looked around. She saw nothing but static, and then, through the screen, a mechanic who was working on the arcade box’s system, with its wire guts.

Wife didn’t know it, but time passed really slow in Game Space, while the arcade outside was experiencing a crisis. It might close soon if kids decided to go outside and play sports instead of staying inside all day and sit on their rumps and play games. What troubling times we’re living in.

Anyways, Wwen the mechanic finished fastening the thingamabobs to the whuddjamakallits, and riding up his pants that revealed a very flabby crack in the bottom, he left, and the screen blurred, and turned, and Wife saw herself on the title screen that read Warstuff 3: Reign of Lunacy. Wanna play? 50 cents*.

* Now, this isn’t an arcade game, but whoever ran the arcade had adapted it, along with many others, into one

L L L

Of course, it took many hours before someone punched in the allotted quarters to play.

And in that time, Wife found herself talking to the dreamy prince on the title screen. The one with the whacko hammer.

“Aren’t you married?” he asked her.

“I, uh–” how’d you know?

“Then you shouldn’t be flirting with some stranger in hopes’ chance you might get lucky, then, should you? you bloody strumpet.”

“Excuse me. I’ve been doing no strumpeting at all. I merely was wondering where we’ll be heading once this game gets begun.”

“The kingdom, Farrule. And its denizens. They must be purged.”

“Why? What did they do?”

“They breathed the foul air of their enemy undead. And now, they too, will soon become undead. Allow me to introduce myself, I am Prince Arty.”

“As in Arthur?”

“No. Arty. Arty as in Arty. And I, Paladin of the ninth order, defend these lands.” He paused to pose with all his mannish muscles. Then said, “I stand for the Light. The Light is my strength. The Light keeps me company. Oh, would you look at that? The game has begun, and they’ve skipped past half my backstory! Now, I’m evil, I’ve just killed my father to succeed him, took the unholy blade, Frosty Weeps, joined the undead scourge, and we must summon the evil one.”

“Who? Satan?” said Wife.

“Worse,” said the former Prince Arty. “Zatan! He doesn’t pay his taxes. Skips out on breakfast, the most important meal of the day. And he — well, almost as evil.. Jeez.”

Former Prince Arty, now an undead with Frosty Weeps, a blade that hungers for souls, and his occultist necromancer friend, Kevin, who he had raised from the dead using forbidden arts, must conjure up their demon lord from the Beyond; but the encroaching humans and dwarves and elves were soon in battle against Prince Arty and his undead minions, zombies, and hellhounds to stop this from happening. .Fire golems.

L L L

Wife had soon found herself on Prince Arty’s side. She must win, or she’ll die. With no continues! It’s all-out war! Real-time Strategy. Building fortresses to stop the humanoids.

“But I’m not a bad guy! I mean, girl!” said Wife.

“Bad, good,” said the former Prince Arty. “In this world, there’s a fat gray line between the two, and it being very hard to tell the difference. On my side, I am doing good. Getting rid of all those sinful, self-absorbed, gluttonous humans. For a time, I stood for the Light, but now–”

“Silence, dweeb,” said his occultist necromancer friend, Kevin. “They are coming. These are troubling times, the suicide rates going down, Ouija board sales plummeting, there being less and less ghosts and zombies rising from the evil dead. Wife, you’re an experienced gamer,” said the necromancer. “Won’t you grab these controls, and lead us into battle?”

“Like I have a choice,” said Wife.

She took to the controls, and put several friendly units on patrol. Erected Spirit Towers that shot and zapped, and provided food for the zombie elite, in the terms of rot meat. Set up sacrificial pits for the acolytes to make wraiths that can’t be seen to spy on and on through the encroaching fog.

And there was fog. Lots of it! Hiding the four armies that had amassed together, the armies of elves, dwarves, and humans, to fight against the former Prince Arty, one who had once stood, as he had said, for the Light.

L L L

But Wife knew this level.

She directed her troops into the fog to battle three-headed trolls, orcs on wolves, night elves and the spirits of the forest, dryads, satyrs, for the sake of gaining levels and items for the rest of the battle, then checking back to where the fire golems rained down from the purpling skies, blocking all four entryways to the necromancer, and the hellhounds that appeared from interdimensional portals.

Halfway through the battle-ruined countryside, and wherever it was the undead had planted their feet that turned to a country like the surface of a burnt-moon, the elves, dwarves, and humans sent an envoy on a horse-drawn cart to Wife, and began peace talks.

“Listen. If you let the Demon Lord through, our entire way of life will be ruined!” said the envoy.

“If I don’t let the Demon Lord through, I’ll be dead,” said Wife, “and can I tell you, I’m the only one who counts,” said Wife, pointing to her perky cheeks. “You all will respawn and do this battle again, I won’t. How many times have you fought this very same battle?”

“On this system, or around the world?”

“On this system.”

“Must be fifty something times.”

“Right,” said Wife. “But you’ve come back, and at the end of the game, you always beat the Demon Lord. Can I tell you, I won’t come back. So if you’d all just turn your prissy butts, and run, and stop fighting us, I’d much appreciate it.”

“We can’t do that.”

“Why?”

“It’s against our programming,” and took out sword and hammer and smashed Wife’s controller. Now, Wife had lost full control of her troupe! She had a special controller given to her by Prince Arty to command the souls of the undead.

“Bye,” said the envoy, and left for his cart. Zoomed off. What a bitch. But not before Wife shot an arrow at him between the shoulder blades, and he burst in fifty experience points, and a few pieces of gold. Which Wife collected. “Cool. Coins,” she said.

L L L

Now, Wife was working frivolously, running up and down between the four entryways to the occultist necromancer, ordering troops on with her whip-like mother voice, while dwarves on griffins threw hammers from above and elven archers poured down streams of arrows and knighted humans attacked the right and left flank like they already won it.

Wife’s forces had become thin. The Heroes had broken through– but oh, would you look at that?

Only two minutes and the demon lord would be conjured. It’s on a timer at the bottom of the screen. See?

The Heroes struck in full force.

Outside the Arcade box, a man with many quarters was also working frivolously to defeat the former Prince Arty, the necromancer, Kevin, and stop the demon lord, Zatan, from coming to this world.

Pools of sweat had gathered under his armpits, and in the space between his breasts–(he did have breasts, he was rather heavy)–and he was breathing through a snorkel, his sweat had filled the room. No, wait. That was an inhaler..

The computer’s forces were extra smart today, and he didn’t know if he could take it.

He was hyperventilating. His breathing was irregular, as with his heart beat. Suddenly, he suffered a chronic heart attack, and his troop stopped, not knowing what to do if there was no one to tell them what undead unit to hit with what undead-smashing weapon.

J J J

This was confusing for Wife. In the last minute, as all the enemy troops had surrounded the necromancer, Kevin- in a last minute attempt to stop him- they stopped themselves, and just . . . Hung out.

“Uh,” said they. “We’re frozen with indecision. Whudda we do?”

Wife pushed one, and he fell down, sword and shield, and looked to the necromancer who said, “Usually, I never make it to this part,” he said. “It’s nice to see such spirited youth for a change*. The exhilaration of it, I don’t know what to do!”

* Given to suicide at such a young age. Joining the brave ranks of the undead.

“Just finish the summoning,” suggested Wife. “I’m late for a hair appointment.”

Once summoned, the demon lord from Beyond made quick work of his enemies. He conjured up the dust from the ground, and erected a model of the enemy City, and simply, by crushing the magicked model, made a voo doo doll of the enemy, and the City collapsed.

The City, which contained all things humanoid.

Evil triumphed.

Chapter 5: Side-scrollers

Side-scrollers are where you basically run endlessly to the right, fighting monsters. Some of them, you go left.

We’re here to explore that genre.

Wife wasn’t lost. She knew these places. She knew them very well.

J J J

The first adventure was Castles & Vampires.

“That’s my all-time favorite game!” cried Wife.

No, it wasn’t. She had many favorite games.

“Silence, ya stupid Narrator. You don’t know me.”

I do.

She found herself in the upside down basement of an upside down castle, anyways, with killer fish swimming upside down, and upside down waterfalls, and gunking squid and flying monstrosities, demons, witches, little mermaids..

First thing she thought, she thought, Wow. I’ m back here. She recognized the area, and moved on, fell flat on her face, and her teeth bit down, and she found she liked the taste of her own blood. She touched her teeth . . Fangs? “O positive,” she said. She came upon her reflection in the upside down lake, and saw no reflection. “I guess I’m a vampire, then,” she said to herself, looking. “Right,” and pow!- turned into a bat and ascended up the flooded upside down basement.

It shouldn’t come as surprise to you that she faced all kinds of mythical creatures: The Wolf Man, Frankenstein’s creature, Medusa, the Mummy King.

It shouldn’t come as surprise to you that she survived.

It should come as surprise to you, that is, if you hadn’t played the game already or read this book for the second or third time, that she came upon fighting Death himself.

“I’ve always been scared of death,” confessed Wife.

WELL YOU SHOULD BE, said Death.

“Am I dead, then? I don’t feel dead.”

DEATH IS BUT A DOORWAY, SOME SAY, said Death. I SAY, IT’S AN ELEVATOR. GOING UP, OR GOING DOWN?

“You mean, Heaven or Hell? I’m a vampire. Vampire’s always go down, we worship Darkness,” and turned into a sweet mist to escape him, “See ya,” she said, but he stepped in front of her.

IT IS YOUR TIME, he said.

“Have you ever considered it would one day be your turn, Death?” said Wife the vampiress. “In the book of Revelations, it says Death and Hades will be cast into the Pit.”

DON’T BRING UP THE PIT! said Death. I’VE BEEN THERE. It looked, if a bone could, traumatized.

“Stop capitalizing everything you say. It’s not very foreboding, you know. Jeez! And use quotation marks, for heaven’s sake.”

“For Hell’s sake, I’ll come and kill you,” said Death. “Come with me,” and opened up his cape and cowl, where there were bones in flame, and beckoned her come.

“I’d rather go to death fighting for a few last scraps of time left on earth,” said Wife.

“You’ve always been a fighter.” He bore out his sickle, and took a swipe at her, but she turned, once again to mist, and made herself dash madly to the other side.

Now, a vampire can only hold these shapes for so long. So long had passed. She turned back into a vampire again, and said, “No fair, where do I bite you? You’re all flame and bones!”

“And, can I tell you, I always feel the pain of it,” and took swipe at her, but again, she dodged, turning into wolf form, and biting off his coat to reveal it again: flame and bone.

Then peed on him, extinguishing the flame.

“Ahhh,” he sighed. He looked the body orgasmic in that moment. And suddenly, was tackled by Wife, disassembling his bones, and then biting into one and stealing it away, only until realizing that it was covered in piss.

“Hey, that’s my hip bone!” cried Death. “The hip bone’s connected to the leg bone. You know the song. I need that!”

“Yum,” said Wife, and turned back into a bat, flew away.

Where am I going anyways? thought Wife, and made her way down (up) through the under(or upper)ground basement, slipped up(down?) a waterfall, through a door, and into a hellish under(upper?)world.

She turned around, and then..

The peed-on bones of Death crawled after her, disassembled and assembling, and cried out, “I knew I’d get you here anyways. I never miss a client. Say hello to the devil for me. We’re drinking buddies.”

“Like you could drink anything without a gullet,” said Wife, and continued on.

Death just cackled and cackled, and hemmed and hawed. And broke the entrance, so that Wife was stuck!

The Devil rose upside down from Hell and said to Wife, taking off his reading glasses, “Would you like to come with me and buy a couch? The interior decorator of Hell did a very poor job and I’m thinking on getting it carpeted.”

“Getting it all — what?”

“That is, if I can find anything that can stay off the flames.”

“No,” said Wife. “No, I will not go shopping with you! Unlike most housewives, I loathe shopping. I’d rather sit still and pretty, in Hell. Humph.” Crossed her legs. “This place could use a couch.”

Suddenly, she saw a crescent moon peering through the flames, and an eye and mouth; and the eye winked, and the mouth smirked, and its nose twitched; and Wife was reminded why she was here: to march endlessly to the right. Don’t ask her why this reminded her of why she was here. Sometimes the weirdest connotations present make you realize the weirdest things.

She marched to the right, fell upwards into and through flame and found herself on the other side of ..

J J J

. . the planet.

The second adventure was Super Mertroid.

This parody is not misspelled. So don’t go correcting it with a black or red marker.

Wife found herself suddenly in a super suit, red and orange in color, dodging through lava traps, and over pits, and over water, and blasting through doors, blowing apart all manners of alien monstrosities and space pirates with missile launcher and blaster, ‘til she came to the very last door. Marching endlessly to the right. And sometimes, left.

It was a giant brain in a glass filled with some sort of preservation liquid.

The brain was bubbling with thought and one of these thought bubbles popped and a caption read over its head, What bid ye here?

Wife found herself suddenly saying, “I have come, through fire and wire, over shadow and earth, through aliens, and monsters, and mazes and pits, to vanquish ye from this planet: Mama Brain, destroyer of planets.”

The liquid in the glass case seemed to have taken on an angry reddish glow, and the brain bubbled, a thought bubble popped, psychically transferred into her mind: You? Vanquish me? Do you know what I am?

“A brain in a tank. What’s more to know about it?”

Bubble: You’re right. .But I am more than a brain in a tank. I — well — for one. I’ve thought up! — it’s sorta like — well, I’ve conquered one planet already!!

“An uninhabited planet.”

Bubble, bubble: Hey, I’m working on it! I’m also the smartest sentient being in the universe.

“You forgot God.”

Bubble: I’m an atheist. I don’t need God.

“I’m surprised you have faith enough to be an atheist. It being more probable for a tornado to run through a junkyard and assemble a fully functioning Boeing 747. And that never happening*.”

* And what with the impossible evolution of the bacterial flagellum.

There’s always a chance . . Do you wanna bust out the multiplication tables right here? I’ll prove how smart I am!

Out from the cavey underworld dropped a multiplications table.

Said Mama Brain in her bubbling capsule, What’s 2 times 2? Wait. That was just for practice. Anyways, it’s time for my dinner!

A space pirate butler dropped in from above and poured fish food into the tank, and the Brain leapt and ate the food, absorbing it through its undulating seams.

Mmm. Yum, yum.

“What’s 2 times 2?”

Practice, said Mama Brain. Oh, how ‘bout this? What’s 7 times 45496091? Give up?

“Uh…”

A bubble of triumph: It’s 318,472,637, she thought out s l o w l y , as if reading it.

“You’re using a calculator.”

Am not!

“Are too! I see your calculator. It’s right in your tank.”

That’s it. I’ll get you for that! Me and you — we gotta fight. Out of her tank, on either side, shot robotic arms, and then robotic legs underneath her, which carried her up through the ceiling — bump! — shifting the contents of her brainy prison, and out she came, looking like a robotic dinosaur, with tail, and wings. A little calculator fell out and onto the floor, and Wife picked it up and said, “See?”

Bubble, bubble: Bubble. Argh! and lunged forward at Wife, and Wife shot five big missiles into the glass container of Mama Brain, it shattered, and out poured the brains, which, shifting, used the last of its powers to relay one final message. Bubble, bubble: If I go, I’m taking you with me, you little snot. You’ve got four minutes before this whole planet explodes. And I am too smart! I WENT TO COLLEGE.

Wife curled up into a ball and rolled out of a little hole in there, then, building up super speed, ran out with thirty seconds to spare, destroying whatever obstacle, alien, or space pirate was in her way, until she made it to her spaceship, rocketed off, and then looking off, saw the planet explode like a firework.

J J J

The next sidescroller to accomplish, marching endlessly to the right, was Revenge of the Metaphysical.

That’s right. Get Meta with me here!

It starred a little pink puffball whose super power was absorbing powers by sucking up his* enemies, and turning them into helpers; in this case, Wife.

* is it a he?

The little puffball rode in flying on a star, dodging all manner of lasers and missiles, assaulting the Metaphysical Knight’s airship. But was blasted off course.

Landed in a bird’s nest.

It sucked up the baby birds, and out popped its first helper: Wife. She looked like a little baby chick, with flapping wings.

“Fly me to Metaphysical’s airship,” said the little puffball.

“Wait!” said Wife. “I don’t know how to fly.”

“You have wings, doncha?”

“I have — wings??” said Wife.

Said K- the puffball, “You’re my helper, arencha?”

“I suppose so. That’s how the game always works. 2 players in this game, I can only wonder whose you are.”

“Then fly me to Metaphysical’s ship,” and hopped on.

“Wait!” said Wife, but he had already pushed her off, and they flew.

The little puff ball absorbed a jet pack power, a bomb power, a hammer power, a spark power, a cooking power, a rock and roll power, and a yo-yo power, to great result. Working his, her, or its way through metal lobsters, and iron chefs, and many, many cute, adorable, fluffy enemies. To great result! He, or she, or it, or whatever, the little pink alien, made its way all the way to the Metaphysical Knight.

The little puff ball grabbed a sword that said “Get it!” above it. And drew the sword for an epic duel.

The Metaphysical Knight was sitting in a flowery field of talking flowers, pondering life, and abstract paintings. Its sword laid gently down on the grass. “Am I, or am I not?” it said. It was thinking on how the world came into being. “Will I, or will I cease?” it said.

“Draw your sword!” said the little puff ball.”

“You have a little typo up there,” said The Metaphysical Knight.”

“Where?”

“You put a quotation mark after ‘puff ball’ up there, where it shouldn’t be. Or shouldn’t it be? Or should I be? I think, therefore, you is..”

“Well, what do you mean?” said Wife, who was currently, a wheel. Just a wheel. A rubber tire. With eyes, and a hairdo.

“I hold the universe together,” said The Metaphysical Knight, twirling its cape. “With my mind,” it explained. “Whee-oosh!” he said. “So. Are you, or are you not?” said it.

“Are we — what?”

“I think, therefore you is. If I were to cease thinking, would you stop existing too? I think so, maybe. How did we all come here? As far as I can remember, I only existed for as long as I remember. Maybe that’s how long we’ve been here..”

“Uh.”

“How do you prove you exist? Maybe we don’t exist. GET META WITH ME!”

“You’re full of crap,” said Wife. “I’m getting out of here.” And wheeled off, leaving the two to philosophize about life, lawns**, and existence.

** grass

Chapter 6: Party

Cheerful music played at the beginning.

“Press start” the title screen said…

J J J

“I know, I know, I know, I know,” said Wife. “First we smash the block over our heads with our heads to decide turn order.”

“Obviously, you’ve never played this game.”

In truth, she had. For your sake, she hadn’t.

“In this game,” said the little mushroom-headed freak, “we pick characters first, then difficulty level, then number of turns, then–”

“You mean, I can set the difficulty level however I want?”

“Whoever’s in charge of the system can.”

Wife turned to the screen and talked to the player, she said, “Yoohoo! I’ll show you my boobies if you choose the easiest difficulty number and the most simple game board.”

Unbeknownst to Wife, the player who was playing that game at that exact moment was a girl. .But she was into women. So she decided to see the pixilated breasts. “Nice,” said she. “Easy it is,” and picked the little dinosaur and the princess and the thin and tall green plumber weakling to be Wife’s opponents. “Can I call you Easy?” she said to the pixilated blur.

She picked the Western and Pirate Levels, where you’re all dressed up either as Cowboys or Pirates.

These, too, got twisted together in Game Time. It was Cowboy Pirates in a Western Caribbean sea. In space!

It all happened on a game board, you should know, and now you do. With items. And mini-games, and battle games. Etcetera.

See, they hit a dice with their heads to see who goes first, or turn order, it being called. Saving up 10 coins a match, getting either plus 3 coins, or minus 3 coins for landing on blue or red spaces, buying a star for 20 coins. Starting with 10.

Avoiding Bruiser space and his Baby Bruiser who takes off 6 coins, while Big Bruiser can either give you a 1,000 star present, which he runs away from, and never does-(he did this once after he’d beat Wife up a bit)-or take a star away, or exchange any number of coins from one person to another. Or give all the coins to him. Or declare a Communist Empire.

The object of the game was winning the most coins in the mini-games, and buying the most stars, and having a lot of fun.

J J J

For a brief break.

Wife was jettisoned into Crazy Ware.

20 levels of really bizarre, highly specific, very simple games. At a hyper pace! Going up and up and up an elevator, with a little potted plant that falls over if you fail. Pressing one and only one button.

She had just finished wiping the nose of a Japanese maiden as one of the many mini-games and using the backlegs of a dung beetle that looked like Wario* to push a golf ball into its hall when she fell back into the time they were just about to smash blocks over their heads with their heads to decide turn order.

* oops, I said a franchise name again. Will I get sued?

J J J

A Western. In Space. With Pirates? What’s this wheel doing here?

Argh! It’s driving me nuts! said the pirate.

..In a giant tree with floating logs, the tree changing depending on Night or Day. It was all either one of those all the time in space, depending on if you were close to a star or not, well relatively; or if a planet or a moon didn’t block your freakin’ way all the time.

Wife looked at her pixilated opponents- (really advanced graphics for the system in those days, top-of-the-notch 3D)- who were apparently doing stretches.

“Psst!” said Wife.

They continued stretching.

“I said, PSST!

They looked her way.

“I could give you 10 coins up front if you let me win the first game.”

“But then you’ll win the extra bonus stars at the end for winning the most mini-games.”

Wife started stretching herself. “Fine,” she retorted. “I’ll just have to beat you with ladylike skill and grace.”

“She has grace?” said the princess.

“Hey, princess, housewives have grace too!”

“She has grace?” said the princess.

Turn order decided, it didn’t matter who went first, because it started all over again.

J J J

The first game was easy enough. One simply had to bop a little yellow block with one’s head to count either one or two items one would get, either berries, honeysuckle, or a beehive.

Well, the princess went first, rather hesitantly, being an easy class opponent, and hit it twice, and this gave free range for the other two to hit it twice, and– well, I guess turn order did count for something. Wife got the beehive and was chased out by bees. Kicked out the very first round..

She didn’t get the ten coins like her soon-to-be rival, the princess, had; but she would get even.

J J J

The second game was a test of archery. It seemed the princess had landed on a red space, making her engage the other three in a one-on-three bout.

She held the crossbow- (crossbow? thought Wife. I thought this required only a bow and arrow) -and fired the first shot at — oh, wait. Did I mention this? :

: The other three were cardboard cutouts of themselves stuck between other cardboard likenesses of other characters in the game, and they had to- (moving only left and right in a 2D universe)- dodge the three-dimensional arrows the one holding the crossbow did shoot at them.

This didn’t end well for Wife.

J J J

The third game was for revenge purposes in our little tale. Wife knew how to count a roll on the dice, a bit cheap, but she was desperate, and landed on a red space herself, minus three coins, but worth it. . Maybe.

She ended up with a hammer while the others carried light bulbs that flashed on and off in the dark. On while they were alive, off when they were smashed . . DEAD!

Wife won that bout quite easily. She especially enjoyed conking out the princess. She had long been engaged in the spousal abuse of her husband with a hammer just the size of this mallet.

J J J

The fourth game was boring. Let’s skip it.

J J J

The fifth game was a game called–C’mon, don’t sue me if I use it!–Look Away.

It was just four hovering heads, and, while the music played, one of those heads- the head on top, with the three at the bottom- had to look in the direction of where one or two or three of the hovering heads were looking at the bottom at the moment, and if he or she did this, in five turns, he or she!– being the dinosaur this time, I dono, was it a he?–was named champion!! Ten coins. Very nice.

J J J

The sixth game was two-on-two. They simply had to build a cake on an assembly line.

Simple enough? Put on the layers, then top it with the strawberry.

Easy enough? But this wasn’t your ordinary, Fordian assembly line.

It was too fast, for one, and the gears sometimes got stuck, and then stray bombs would get into the mix, and you never wanted to put those on a cake.

And then, BOOM! It splattered everywhere. Gosh! Just like the first night of my wedding.

Luckily, or by sheer skill, Wife had thrown all the bombs on her opponent’s cake.

With three wins in a row*, Wife was now in the lead. Plus, with what she had won in the game board in between games.

* was that three wins?

J J J

The seventh game was free-for-all.

They were all of them planted on a block of ice over the rim of volcano at sea, and had to balance on balls and bump into each other, and bounce each other off, either to sharks, or in, to boiling hot hell– or as Dante would call it– the INFERNO. But you’re not really interested in it. Go away. Watch TV. It’s more entertaining. No, really. It is!

Wife bounced the clumsy green plumber off, did quick work with the dinosaur by saying, “Hey, look! It’s Mario, and his butt looks like it wants to ride you!” who went suicide off the edge to sharks, and Wife took on the princess–

But where was the princess?

She was behind you! Oh, look out, Wife.

Jab with the left– No, right! Take her on. All at once!

Oh, no. Not that! Oh, do it, do it.

There’s a girl!

…And the princess was knocked into Hell.

J J J

The eighth game was also a free-for-all. It involved manning tanks.

Now, Wife won this one.

What she didn’t expect to win was the hatred of all her opponents pressed upon her for winning so often. They turned against her. They teamed up! To balance the odds.

J J J

The princess challenged Wife to a laser pirate sword fight

/ -slash- / gun duel, and they went the other way walking, and Wife’s electric pulse was raising, and when they both turned to shoot, the princess wasn’t there.

She was nabbed by Bruiser. Saved again by that unfortunate bastard.

I say, unfortunate because — well, you’ll figure it out. It comes soon..

J J J

In between all this, on the game board, they played. A roll of the dice– a bump of it, really, a knock with the cranium– and from 1-10, not counting up to 30 rolls with items, these space Cowboy-Pirates would saddle a horse and sail on over to the many opportunities given unto them from the blue and red and, sometimes, God forbid it, Bruiser spaces…

Wife landed on a Bruiser space two times in the first 8 turns.

Normally, this would mean your life sucked for several hours after, but it actually helped Wife. A lot.

The princess, who was in second place, and coming up fast, had 100 coins she had not spent on stars yet before she was nabbed by Bruiser, and was planning on using a ghost to steal two of Wife’s stars*, got jipped by this quite violently.

* that’s what ghosts did in this game: steal coins and stars

I say ‘violently’ because — I don’t know why I said ‘violently’. (It’s probably not the right adjective. If you feel that way about it, send an irate complaint to my editor.)

Anyways, the first time Wife landed on it, big ol’ Bruiser, the turtle monster with the spiked shell from below Wife had beaten up from the same franchise*, came back, and said, “Wife.”

* different system and game

And Wife said, “You.”

And Bruiser said, “Now, I have you where I want you.”

And Wife said, “And what position would that be? Don’t get sexy.”

Bruiser smirked and hollered off screen to where the curtain was raised and the options were presented. Would Bruiser take a star away, have her give him 20 coins as a present, or exchange any number of coins and stars from one player to another? Or give all the coins to him? Or have Communism save the day and even out everyone’s wealth from one to the other? If that loser dinosaur has, say, 7 coins, and Wife has 111, they would then– yeah. So how ‘bout it?

Wife didn’t shrug, she didn’t blink. She did breathe, though. However her pixilated atoms could breathe. With her hands behind her back, she hit the block over her head and it slowed down to the Exchange process. She looked at her toes, digging them into the pixilated earth.

She hit one block that read her name and face, and this meant that she would have to be getting or receiving something from someone else.

Then she hit the other, and it was the princess! Either she would be getting or receiving from!–

She hit the next block, the block in the middle, and it read– “Gimme all your coins.”

The princess was aghast with disgust.

J J J

The second time Wife visited the Big Bruiser space, she hit the block just right, so it would be a mighty short visit. “1,000 star present.”

Big Bruiser began to sweat like turtles can’t, and ran away from this, and Wife chased him, and said, “Wait a minute! What about my present?” and caught him. Hanging off his tail.

“It’s on me, here,” said Big Bruiser, and dropping a certain item, said, “It’s what I use to get around the board.”

It was a magic lamp. .

In it was not three but— but one wish. Oh, that sucks..

“But I still got a wish!” said Wife.

“I only grant one specific wish,” said the genie. “Care to know what it is?”

Wife, who had played the game before, replied, “I know. Warp me to the freakin’ star spot so I can buy a star for 20 lousy coins..”

“Hey, it’s a plus to your other 3 stars.”

“I know. I win,” said Wife. “But I wanted a shiny new Mazda.” Sad L

Chapter 7: In Between Games

J J J


In between games, Wife was in her trailer, wondering, smoking and swigging beers, getting ready for her makeup, and then her water broke.

This took her less than two hours, and then she was back on location for the shoot.

“A good book is about things,” she complained to the editor. “Why can’t this book be about things?”

J J J

Chapter 8: Shooters

J J J


How about this? wrote the editor.

J J J

Contrary 3.

Two manly men were riding on motor bikes, fighting aliens with their guns, and giant mosquitoes that pick you up and drop you, the two manly men jumping on a missile attached to a helicopter, whoo! the sweat pouring off their brows, and, while the missiles were fired at the enemy craft and they’re hanging on, having to jump

from missile to missile

while shooting at the enemy craft’s force field to disable it,

so the missiles will start penetrating the shield. The manliest game in the universe, in short.

Their heaving, glistening pectorals.

Wife, somehow, didn’t fit in with her wedding dress and princess tiara. And found it hard to breathe.

“But that’s not about things!*” complained Wife.

* “However sexy it is.”

Oh, and they were reading a book about quantum physics.

“It’s still not about things.”

What do you want from me, Wife? What do you want from us?

“I don’t know. I just want it to be high quality literature.”

Then go read the Great Gatsby. This is Q-burt. It has nothing to do with high quality literature. It’s just a book about weird ideas, and fun premises.

“What’s a premise?”

It’s a . . idea! Basically, what the book’s about.

“But it still doesn’t seem to have a message!”

So that’s what you’re looking for. A message? If you want a message, go to church. God!

J J J

Well…

The next game, Worms Apocalypse 2, saw Wife using ninja rope, and parachute, and teleportation device to get along in a war-torn countryside populated with intelligent worms that liked to blow each other the hell up.

Shooting uzi and bazooka and shotgun and grenades and deploying air strikes and napalm strikes at other enemy worms. One battle. To the death! As the water below them rises. . And worms can’t swim.

And using old explosive ladies, and explosive sheep, “You’re not bored of this list, are you?” and super sheep that flew, and holy hand grenade, “Are you?”, and explosive bananas, and mad cows that explode also. “It seems to me that everything explodes in this game,” said Q-burt’s editor. “Maybe it’s a commentary on global war economics. Everything being so fragile, it just blows the hell up. Of course, that’s all B.S.”

“Getting better,” said Wife.

“Is it?”

“Yeah, I think. No, I don’t think. Well, I almost think.”

“What do you think?”

“I think these games are about– they’re about–”

J J J

The next game, Metal Snail 3, saw Wife getting turned into a zombie, getting a chimp with a love for machine guns on her side, and, while a zombie, spewing out toxic waste from the mouth that destroys enemy helicopters. Barf. Then fighting alien U.F.O’s.

“That’s not about things, neither,” said Wife sadly.

An enemy zombie said, “Not everything has to be about things, Wife. Urgh!” feasting on brains.

“How did you know my name?”

“You know, I really don’t know. Not that it’s any of my business, but some things are just for the purpose of entertainment. That’s the message here: Fun. Urgh! Brains!”

“But what about solving all the world’s problems!”

“One of the world’s problems is, people don’t have enough fun. They run around and around and around, everywhere,” said the enemy zombie, “looking for more money, while working at a hundred miles a minute. Forgoing all Fun just to build themselves up with a wall of money on all four sides, and a roof of gold. Learn to sit still and smell the brains. Urgh!” There’s plenty of work ethic in this world. There’s just not enough play. People need to relax… That’s what videogames are all about. That’s the message. Or they’ll go suicide.

Which reminds me of the next videogame:

Chapter 9: A Man Called “Mario”

This next videogame takes place in the Celery Kingdom. Everything made of celery.

Here, you procure items, power-up’s, extra lives. Venture into green pipes. Go hop on turtles to use their turtle shells as projectiles. Collect coins hovering in midair. While marching endlessly to the right. Also, a side-scroller; but it being the most important side-scroller, we just had to cover it in a chapter all its own!

J J J

In Super Italian Plumber Bros. 1&2, Wife found herself leaping up the pixilated steps, then jumping on a flag and going down, heading into a land of celery several thousands of feet in the air. Where you can hop on the clouds, and go in green pipes, warp anywhere, anywhere on the screen, fight flying turtles, and breathe and swim underseas.

Touch the enemy and you die, though.

Jump on the enemies’ heads to squish them, or throw a turtle shell at them.

And pick a power-up to spit fireballs at them. This even works underwater!..

“Neat!” said Wife.

“It is neat,” said Bruiser, walking out of the gloom.

“Big Bruiser!” said Wife, “What do ye here?”

“This is my game too. Our franchise is all over the place. We’re the top-selling game franchise in the world. See you at my castle for a rematch,” and left. “I’ll be a bit smaller, then,” he said from far away. “See if you can spot me!”

Wife continued marching endlessly to the right, picking up plants out of the ground, radishes, and throwing them at monsters.

And then she happened upon this odd, pink egg-blowing dinosaur with a bow on its head that shoots eggs out of its cannon-like mouth; she had to jump on the eggs, and throw them at the dinosaur a coupla times to kill it, and it’s over. But first, the dinosaur admired Wife’s dress, “I love that color on you! What is that?” said the odd, pink, egg-blowing dinosaur.

“…White,” said Wife. “Look, I think I’m here to kill you.”

“Everyone’s here to kill me. I’ve died so many times it’s not funny.”

“I don’t know why it’d be funny. I’ve died once before only quite carelessly on the first level I ever tried. Now, I’m here, just two more lives, and then *pfft* that’s it.”

“So what do you want to talk about?”

“Do you have a message I should hear?” said Wife. “I’d like there to be a message in this book.”

“I thought that zombie said something about a message.”

“How’d you know about that?”

“Never-mind-that. I suppose the message here is, always eat your protein,” and shot an egg at Wife, which Wife jumped on, grabbed the egg, and knocked the egg-blowing dinosaur three times ‘til she fell off the earth.

“Still, I fear, this book is about total sh– Well, it is, isn’t it?”

J J J

She was transported almost immediately to the next game.

In Super Italian Plumber Bros. 3, Wife was on the world map, selecting stages, and playing cards, and fighting sudden battles on the spaces, and crushing castles, and then finding a whistle to blow to new lands, and then up in the clouds, finding a castle that holds a king who’s been transformed into a spider.

She said to the king, “I’m looking for a message. Do you have anything to say? I want this book to be about things.” She had a pencil and a paper to write it down.

“Well, sides-scrollers aren’t really about things, traditionally,” explained the king, hanging on a web. Eating a delicious fly dinner. “The whole aim- yum, yum, this fly must be medium rare*– is to march endlessly to the right towards a goal. I’d say, if you want purpose, find an old traditional RPG. They’re like movies that way. They’re the closest you’ll get towards game literature. That’s what you need to find.”

* flies aren’t generally cooked, but the king was quite particular about his flies. He had been transformed into a frog before, and was quite picky. He was always transformed into one form or another.

“Oh,” said Wife. “And I’m also looking for a way out of here.”

“Turn me back into a humanoid, and I’ll help you with that.”

And turning the king back into a . . . person.

A person with a celery growing out of its scalp. By getting the scepter from the fat turtle-like enemy at the end of a flying airship.

..The celery-headed king said, “Sorry, the part of my brain that could’ve helped you with that has celery growing out of it. I can’t help you find your purpose.”

Wife shot the king in the head with a bazooka, oh yes she did, it was all quite sudden, and walked away from the explosion- not looking at the explosion- looking away from the explosion- keeping a careful eye not to look at the explosion, because cool guys don’t look at explosions. They got other cool guy errands to walk to. Who’s got time to watch a boring explosion?

J J J

In Super Italian Plumber World, Wife was depressed. She found this book was without purpose. No direction.

And it quite easily was.

Now, she was riding a pointless dinosaur that licked up pointless enemies, either swallowing them up pointlessly, or using them as projectiles, spitting them out. Then going alone to a worthless haunted house with meaningless ghosts. And beating the haunted house of no value, then saving the game. It’s the only way to save the game! Quite annoying. You can beat the haunted house as many times as you like.

She’d done nothing all day but play games.

..Then, in the next game, Nobuo’s Island, Wife was an infant in diapers riding Nobuo the Dinosaur from place to place, marching endlessly to the right, then fighting Baby Bruiser. Wait– Bruiser?

“Hello again,” chirped Baby Bruiser.

“Bruiser,” chimed Baby Wife. “You’ve got diapers.”

“I’ve always had diapers,” said Baby Bruiser. “Even when I was an adult,” said Bruiser. “Look, I’m here to get revenge on you, if you’ll have it. Don’t beat me up all at once. I hear you’ve only got two more lives. Well, I’m at my mightiest, can I tell you? and I think you’re gonna lose some –”

Wife slapped him in the face. “What’s this book about?” she screamed.

“Nothing!” said Baby Bruiser. “It’s about nothing!” Scared out of his wits. Cringing in his shell.

“Nihilism, then?” said Wife, writing it down. “Can I write you down for Nihilism? The belief in nothing.”

“Yes!” said Baby Bruiser. “I mean, no! I mean, I’m here to kick your tail!” Are you obsessed with Nihilism or something? Is it the only world view you know?

A cackling turtle witch on a flying broom soared over Baby Bruiser, sprinkling magic dust until Baby Bruiser grew and grew and grew.. and then stopped growing a bit to right itself… and then grew some more, and then forgot to grow!.. and grew, and then decided to stop growing.

“HA!” said Baby Bruiser. “I’M HUGE NOW.”

“You certainly are big,” said Baby Wife, observing. She had to shoot giant explosive eggs at him from the butt of the dinosaur Nobuo to defeat the giant Bruiser, “HEY, NO FAIR!” “It’s totally fair, I think it’s outrageously fair,” and then the giant Bruiser shrank and shrank, and then forgot to shrank.. and shrank some more, and decided to stop shrinking.. and cried, for the day was saved.

At least, until the sequel..

“That’s my lot in life,” lamented Wife. “To march endlessly to the right, looking for a purpose*.”

* “And I never win,” said Bruiser.

Chapter 10: Racers

J J J


But sometimes I need me some mindless racing. It heals a life-wrecked soul. It distracts me from the Pain. It’s a bit like a drug, and you get a little addicted, but the escape value is well worth it… Ah.

But I’ve sacrificed my love-life.

J J J

X-One GX was the first game.

Wife found herself in a molten planet, 64 aliens racing on all sorts of space cars hovering at hundreds of miles per hour on and around and inside a pipe, while hot magma burst upwards at several hundred feet, dodging vents of heat, using centrifugal force to stay on the pipe. With Bob and Bob the announcers, floating alien heads, talking over the race.

“I say, it’s a lovely day for a race, isn’t it, Bob?” said Bob.

“Yessiree, Bob!” said Bob.

“And now, Magmar6 has taken the lead; and oh, oh! LoveForce5* is on his tail!”

* that’s Wife’s game name

“She’s turning wide on the pipe now, spinning up and down, and now, see how she turns with so much concentration, such passion for the race?!”

“She’s leaping off the jump off now, and will she make it?”

“No! No! She’s crashed. Tragedy!”

And Wife lost her second life. She only had one left now.

Wife found herself transported by a flying robot with a magnet back into the race. She was in fifteenth place now, where before, she was at second.

She turned on the speed, and annoyed at losing the life, jetted into intense concentration. Passion for the game, some say. If there was any purpose out there, it was in her passion for Victory. She would not, could not, will not lose!

J J J

She won. And was transplanted to Water Fast Lightning.

Racing down a waterfall at hundreds of kilometers per hour with boats passing by in between!

J J J

She won that too.

Then she was racing through Rainbow Road on a go-cart. In Italian Plumber Kart 64.

The road itself seemed to be as if rainbow. With chomping jaws passing by every once in a while to mess you up.

Wife knew the secret of this level, and she would not lose. She jumped off to the left, and leapt off the twisting, turning roads suspended in Game Space, and landed on a road far ahead of them, sped up, receiving several powers with these blue and yellow blocks with little question marks on them.

She opened up the first power she had got. A banana. She threw it on the road, and, to be expected, one hour later, somebody caught up and tripped on it.

But Big Bruiser knew the secret of this level too. He hopped off the level’s edge, and was right behind Wife with a turtle shell in hand, popped her one, and took the lead!

But Wife must not lose, or she’d fade away forever. Into silicon hell.

Suddenly, a hyper-powered Go-cart, huger than huge, invincible and flashing yellow, and insanely fast, passed Wife up but flew off the edge.

Suddenly, lightning flashed, and everyone had grown a bit shorter.

And suddenly, a blue shell with spikes on it passed to the right of Wife and mashed Big Bruiser on the head.

He lost control, and spun off the race, and Wife took the lead, passed the goal for the final time, took the trophy, and was off to the next game.

“I never win!” said Big Bruiser. “When is it going to be my day?”

Chapter 11: Space shooters

In all her games, she found no happiness. Well, a little happiness. But then, she found, no purpose. Well, a little purpose. But then, she found, no, nothing..

J J J

She ended up in the cockpit of a star shooter. Under the wings of three other fighters, while a giant ship surfaced above the clouds of an atmosphere-drenched planet. In blue.

She examined her surroundings. She knew this place. Why, certainly. Why wouldn’t she? She’s played every Nintendo game in existence! This was a big one.

Suddenly, something ringed on her communicator, and she saw the rabbit-headed face of her comrade.

Said the rabbit-headed father-figure, “Do a barrel roll! . . . Use the boost to get through! No, I’m kidding. What we really need to do is find Andrew. After having just whooped Star Wolf’s butt.”

“Star Wolf?” said Wife. “Won’t we get sued if we use their actual names?”

“Moon Wolf, then. Why, our rival. He’s a part of Emperor Andrew’s armada.”

“Don’t you know anything?” squawked a bird on her left. But the bird was also in a star shooter. And a croaking frog to the right of him.

A bird, a rabbit, and a frog were on Wife’s team. Wife examined herself. Wife had fox ears. And she felt them. She was all scratchy, and itchy, and so on. Fur had crawled up over her skin, it seemed. It looked cute on her, she thought. And she quite enjoyed swishing the tail. Like a little feather duster..

“Would you stop looking at your butt, housewife?” said the bird, who, by coincidence, looked at it all the time. He must’ve had a thing for her.

Suddenly, enemy ships surfaced from above the clouds, and Wife began unloading at the enemy ships, but the bird got in the way of her lasers, and the bird cried out, “Hey, Einstein. I’m on your side!”

“What’s his problem?” said Wife over her communicator to the rabbit-headed father-figure.

“Give him a break,” said the frog. “He never even knew his father,” who appeared over her communicator.

The bird, if a bird could, teared up. “I’m just so — misunderstood!” he lamented.

“Knock it off, you two!” said the rabbit-headed father figure. “Our next mission, Wife’s first, will be escorting the Trade Federation through the Asteroid Field.”

“Why don’t we just go around it?” said Wife.

“That would take longer.”

“No, it wouldn’t. Space is huge! There’s so much empty space, and an asteroid field isn’t that clumped together–”

“Sh! Don’t break the illusion,” said the rabbit. And looked around in paranoia. “They’ll hear you…”

“What?”

“You know? Them? The players! The ones who play the game. They don’t know asteroid fields are so largely spaced out you can easily zoom through them. It’s real to them! They don’t listen in school. They need the escape, they crave it, and giving our lives, we give it them.”

J J J

They were now negotiating through a very clumped-together and impossible asteroid field, a field that would only exist in an imaginatory fantasy land, or fantasy space, or something. Or Star Wars.

In fact, it would never happen.

In chance you didn’t find something like this in the real universe, it would have to be in Saturn’s rings where moons and chunks of ice were simply bouncing around. And even then, it’s not that spaced together.

“Squawk. This’ll be your first mission, won’t it, housewife?” said the bird, looking at her tail.

“Go easy on her,” said the frog. “Ribbit. She’s a rookie.”

“[*The sound a rabbit makes*] Cut it out, you two!” said the rabbit-headed father-figure. “Wife, you come under my wing. I’ll keep a good eye on you.”

The Trade Federation followed in suit, and nothing happened. Then nothing happened some more. It was just space. Then nothing. It’s not like there were immediate dangers happening in the infinite sitting room between Point Alpha Centauri and Point Betelgeuse.

Oh, yeah, a few stray asteroids battered up the Trade Federation a bit, and they lost a bit of their cargo, but for the most part, Star Fox– I mean, Star Housemaid.. Jeez! blasted apart the asteroids into miniscule bits that wouldn’t hurt you if they– actually, in space they’re moving so fast they’d crack through your solar shields!!

A few space pirates inhabiting the area looked past them as they went through the grating, grinding rocks and chunks of ice, but that was it. They only looked. This game was just getting realer and duller, until this happened: A sudden meteor passing through crossed paths with an asteroid and blew it apart in a way they did not plan, and blasted Slippy- I mean, the frog..- out of the Asteroid Field, and into a nearby star. Sol.

J J J

Star Housemaid and the crew flew close to this particular Sun to look for their fallen comrade, fighting fire pterodactyls, and dodging solar flares, which, in all reality, should have fried their circuitry, the solar flares, but through space fantasy protecting them, they hurried on; ‘til a giant thermonuclear heat beast rose from out the Sun, and said, “What do you think you’re doing? It’s hot here! You’ll burn up.”

“Have you seen?–” began the rabbit.

“This is impossible. I don’t know how I’m talking to you, to be completely honest.”

“Have you seen?–” said the bird.

“What movie have I seen? Oh, I’ve seen hundreds of them, but the theatres are always very, very far away, so I have to use heat-resistant telescopes, and those melting in less than a minute, so I only get a glance at the movie, and then it’s done! So I really can’t say I’ve seen hundreds of them. I must be talking your ear off. I don’t have many friends. They don’t like to stay near me, them getting so sweaty all the time.”
“But have you seen?–” said Wife.

“Not much to do in the sun but heat up things, yep,” said the thermonuclear heat beast. “I like to light up the universe. Heat up the planets. You know. I find my purpose in my function. Oh, by the way, your friend is over there. I must have just talked your ear off just now.”

“In your function?” zeroed in Wife, hovering.

“Yes,” said the thermonuclear heat beast. “In what you were built to do. You know, in what you do best. I find my purpose in my function.”

“In what I do best?” said Wife.

“You’re really a dull, little girl, aren’t you?..” said the heat beast.

“A dull, little girl, aren’t I?” said Wife. “What’s my purpose? Cooking, cleaning?* I’m a housewife! I don’t think that’s where I find what I’m all about. I’m complicated. I’m confused.” And blasted the thermonuclear heat beast apart, and the sun began to die. They didn’t find their friend . . He . . He gave up his last continue for them! L Sad..

* that’s what she did best. But is work really the best place to find meaning?

L L L

They stormed Venom– I mean, they stormed the planet Poison without the frog guy, who in all reality, was annoying anyways if you ever met him or shared a drink with him, so it wasn’t all a lost. He wasn’t much of a pilot either.

Anyways, blasting through hordes and hordes of enemy fighters, and ships, and cruisers, Star Housewife and her two remaining helpmates did wonderfully ‘til they blasted a hole in surface of the world, and headed down a very long vent to get to the center, where Emperor Andrew, a giant monkey’s head with arms, was said to dwell. He greeted them there. He said,

“I am Andross– I mean, I am Andrew. Prince of the Universe!”

“Wouldn’t you rather be a king?” said Wife.

“I would, but I like that Queen song: Here we are. Princes of the Universe. Da-da-dum. You know. Plus, technically, you’re not a king unless you get married. And who would want to marry a bodiless freak?”

Said Wife, “ ‘You’re not a king unless you get married?’ Check your Syntax! Jeez! Say, ‘I’m not a king unless I get married.’ And if he was rich enough, I’d marry anyone..”

The bird and the rabbit said, “Housewife, we’re really here on a mission,” but no.. one of the them spoke at a time, so you can guess it was the bird who spoke, as he was the cruelest. And was looking at her butt.

After they blew him up, only the Brain was left.

A giant, floating, floating Brain.. Sheesh.

But before they attacked him, the Brain said without saying, Wife, I am your uncle..

“My uncle?” said Wife. “You say, you’re my uncle?”

Yes..

“Well, who’s my aunt?”

Would you believe Cindy Crawford?

“Wow,” said Wife. “All this time, I’ve had sneaking suspicions that Cindy Crawford has been my aunt, but this really clears things up. . I think we gotta hug..”

“Really?”

“No. I’m going to bust your lip!”

“But I’m a brain!”

“No excuses! Wait, are you related to Mama Brain?”

“I think it’s a legitimate excuse. I think it’s a good excuse. And no. I don’t think I’m related to Mama Whoeveryousaid.”

The bird and the rabbit said, “Housewife, we’re really here on a mission,” but no, one of the them spoke at a time, so you can guess it was the bird who spoke, as he was the meanest. For seemingly no reason at all. Maybe he was jealous of her. She did, after all, have an uncle.

..Wife fired a bomb into his brain stem, anyways, and took off the area that covered all cognizant thought, and math. Andrew suddenly went “Duh. Thpt! 2 + 2 = 5.” *Raspberry*. And it left Wife wondering, how could he do this? Without lips?

..The whole planet began to blow up — again — and Wife had to make it out before the planet began to blow up — again.

Chapter 12: Beat-em-up’s

J J J

“Never knew his father? I never even had a last name!” said Wife.

J J J

Streets of Persons with Bad Tempers 2: Fighting in the arcade all the street punks with Mohawks*.

* Mohawks are the middle finger to any civil-minded bureaucracy.

Breaking open the game machines and getting candied apples that replenish health, and turkeys that do the like, and bags of money for extra lives, and bags of gold for the same.

Wife took to this place like a grocery store. She could use all the extra health she could for the boss fight.

Suddenly, a suddenness happened all of a sudden.

The arcade blew its top, I guess all that Game Energy had to go somewhere, also, it’s not a good idea to keep gasoline storage next to the matches department, and all that was left in the broken crumble arcade was the corpses of street punks and the near-dead health of Wife’s last life, and one quite clearly cooked turkey. She reached for it, on her stomach, but it burned. She touched it, and cringing, ate it anyways. It replenished a fraction of the health a candied apple would do, but she would have to make due anyways.

Now, normally, you’d expect the citizens to rally around a fire such as this, and call the fireman, or leap in and do some heroic act out of the goodnesses of their heart*. But this was Streets of Persons with Bad Tempers 2. And the ordinary citizen was corrupt, and unkind.

* Not!

Human kindness was a thing of reality, but not in these streets. Out popped a gang of motorcycles, who wanted to light their smokes, and they saw Wife’s still-beating heart, popped out of its socket, laying on the hard, hot exterior of a Pacman. Then, they saw Wife.

“Let’s rape her,” they might have said. If this was ice cold reality.

What they really said was, “Let’s see how good she is in a fight.” And took out their crowbars.

…It turned out Wife had just enough health to procure three hits in herself without dying, taking into agreement that they wouldn’t hit her with crowbars.

But then, the Boss came in, just as they were about to rotate her gaskets*.

* Do gaskets rotate?

He flew in on a jetpack, and said, “Outuvtheway. I’ll drop her.”

I know this can’t be real, but I feel pretty good about it.

Wife had never lost. But she was at a severe disadvantage: surrounded by mustachioed macho men and their liking for all things mechanical, pumping up their egos and their brawn, and a man and his jetpack. A boy’s best friend.

The man didn’t say anything. He just thought or didn’t think about lighting a cigarette. I’m never quite sure. Then he tossed it, and biting into a candied apple, or not biting into a candied apple, leapt forward into action–

STOPPED! In mid-air, mid-sentence, by Wife, who said, “Wait, don’t we have to talk or something?”

He may or may have not decided to shrug. “Idonoo.”

“There’s always time to talk. C’mon! Let’s philosophize about Life or some such.”

He decided to not shrug. “Idoncare.” And they talked, about flowers, and kitty cats, and types of beer, and it was all quite pleasant, and then Wife convinced him it was better to have kicked ass and lost then to have never have kicked ass at all. For she drugged all their drinks, and they either died of asphyxiation*, or ended up comatose. Phew! That was a close one..

* drowned in their own saliva

J J J

Wedding Crashers, I mean, Castle Crashers, the parody of: In medieval times. Was the next arcade game. Wife hopped into it.

But what about that Man at the beginning of the arcade who said she only had three lives? Should she believe Him? What if she were to walk out right now, forgoing their agreement to get to the end of the Arcade?

She tried, but she couldn’t. She just bumped into the screen.

So far for Speculation..

Anyways, in the parody of Castle Crashers- (I haven’t thought of what to call it yet, it was a smash hit on Xbox)- The Pretty Princesses are stolen from the castle, and four brave knights must chase after them to rescue the princesses, and one of the knights is Wife, with the powers of really bad gas, while the others have lightning, fire, and ice powers; and it does poison damage, the gas. That blew things up, gassing, and shot her miles in the air!~ while she shot deadly passes of gasses down from her butt to the earth to decimate all enemies. Phew! That was a mouthful of stuff I really didn’t want mentioned in the same sentence as my, erm, mouth. Was it?

But it’s natural gas, so it’s pure. At least, she had pleasant breath.

And they chased after the princesses into a barbarian war, defeated the barbarian army, destroyed their barbarian tank, bested the barbarian chieftain, and then kissed the first princess, who oddly, looked like a clown, and saved her. In an expositional way of saying, they opened a can of whoop-me.

To slow it down, and to not summarize, Wife had bad eggs that day, and it–

They dueled for who would kiss the princess, and since Wife wasn’t that way, she let the other three duke it out for her affection.

Achievement unlocked: Kissed a princess. Yuck.

Is that really the accomplishment you’re looking for?

Chapter 13: A Chick Called “Zelda”

J J J

For the sake of my not getting sued, we’ll called Zelda, um, “Matilda.”

Here in Hyrule– I mean– in Farule, an empty bottle is the greatest treasure in all the land.

You got an empty bottle! Hold it up in the air for the world to see! J

..Oh no, it’s the Water Temple! I hate this place.

Why? asked the little black-&-white imp.

“Because you have to lower and raise the water levels all the time just to accomplish a task, and it’s all very annoying and painstakingly complicated. You get lost, and so on.”

Halfway through, Wife got a piece of heart.

“Eww. Gross. Put it away!” said the imp.

Get four of these and fill up a full heart. “That’s health,” said Wife. “You’ll need it.”

“Let’s give it a burial,” said the imp, who probably hadn’t heard her.

Swing your sword. Oh, no! Not too much.

..You killed your own fairy..

J J J

I don’t know if videogames are really as bad for you as people make it.

Some relax those who couldn’t be relaxed otherwise, whether through drugs or porn.

Some make you smarter.

Ever tried solving a Zelda puzzle without a guide?

Ever lived in a wheel chair for a year, and had nothing else to do?

J J J

The first game in the Zelda installment we’ll start out with is the parody of Ocarina of Time: Tuba of Time. Because Tubas make flatulence sounds, and I find that, in an immature way, funny.

Wife had replaced the mute protagonist fairy boy’s lead in the game, bearing his honorary green cap and tights, with Mustard Sword, etcetera, and was heading up Ganondork’s castle, which sounded more and more like organ music the closer he got up the stairs.

Like all typical villains, Ganondork talked first. After he was done playing his organ. He said,

“Well. Well, well, well. Well. So you’re here. So I’m here. So I’m aware of that. Join me and together we can leave this mortal coil and be bathed in the eternal essence of absolute evil!”

“Sure,” said Wife.

“What?” said Ganondork. “Aren’t you supposed to say something like, ‘I will never join you! You and your dark ways are blah, blah, blech, etcetera, etc, and you know the rest.’?”

“I thought about it. But you give a pretty convincing argument. I’ll join you. Sure. I’m convinced. Let’s go be evil and stuff!”

“Oh,” said Ganondork.

“Sure, I’ll join you,” said Wife, and took to his side, and they combined the Tri-power of Courage and the Tri-power of Power and Matilda, parody of Zelda, so I don’t get sued, with the Tri-stuff of Wisdom, said, “Knock it off, Link!” You didn’t beat 8 of Ganondork’s dungeons just to join him.

“But he gives a pretty convincing argument,” said Wife. “Why do good, and suffer for it, while I can easily do bad, and gain the whole world? I’m thinking of staying on the side of Pure Evil,” and laughed and laughed, like a retarded Pee Wee Herman, but Matilda slapped her, said she could lose a life, and Wife said, “Right. That,” and faced off against Ganondork. Said, “I’ll never join you! Bad is bad. Good is good. Bad, bad; good, good; bad, bad, good… bad!”

Ganondork took his fist and whammed the ground and blew off shocks of evil energy that knocked Wife off her heroic pose, and broke Ganondork’s organ he had been playing for atmosphere, and Ganondork said, “Shoot. That was my best instrument. I’ll get you for that.”

“But you destroyed it yourself–”

“Na, na, na! I’m not listening!” he covered his ears, singing. And shot a ball of evil energy from his fist, which Wife deflected with her sword back and forth like a game of tennis until Ganondork was stunned and fell down, of which, Wife slashed him with her sword ‘til he collapsed and coughed up blood.

“If I go–” began Ganondork.

“We know,” said Matilda. “They all go..”

“I-wasn’t-going-to-say-that,” said Ganondork, sweating, and whammed the ground again, and the castle began falling apart. He laughed, in short, like a retarded Pee Wee Herman.

… And taking Matilda’s hand, Wife began running out of the falling castle, making it to the base, through which, it fell, the Castle, and out of the ashes rose Ganondork’s giant ‘pig’ form. With dual axes. Who, through magic, surrounded the place with fire, separating Wife from the princess, and they dueled their last epic duel.

Wife won quite easily by slashing the slow beast with her sword, you should know. Then sealed him away for all time, or at least, until the sequel.

Then said Matilda, “Now, that you’ve won, good elf, we can bed together now–” Wife came closer. “Oh, you’re a girl. I’ve been saved by a girl. Gross! What do you expect me to do?!”

“Nothing. I just came here to beat the game. Like, I’ve beaten all the other games, only dying twice so far! I’d love to sit and chat with you during the End Credits, but I’ve got a hair appointment to go to the very next morning, and many games after that, I can’t stay with you,” and left her, a virgin. Played her Tuba of Time, teleported out of that place, and was gone.

J J J

In the next game, Legend of Matilda: Wind Baton, Wife found herself navigating the Great Pastel and Cardboard Sea on a talking, maroon boat that never shut up. Fighting pirates with a boomerang and bow and arrow and cannon, fending off sharks, giant squid, evil rain gods, and other sea monsters, and finding a secret underwater submarine.

She went down into the submarine, and saw Ganondork, once again, playing the organ.

“So, we meet again,” said Ganondork.

“I’ve never seen you before,” said Wife.

“What? We’ve met before.”

His henchman said to the evil boss when he got angry: “Don’t get so worked up. Think of your blood pressure.”

Ganondork tossed his cape and cowl, and said, “This time, Link, you won’t be so lucky.”

“Why does everyone keep calling me that?” said Wife. “Is it the green tights?” examining them, seeing how they looked on her butt. “I look nothing like the legendary hero. So we’re here now, does that mean we talk? Do we philosophize about life and stuff?”

“No,” said Ganondork, and flew up to the top of the submarine, and down rained puppet strings and a monster puppet and Wife would’ve begun fighting them if she hadn’t said, “I think I’m going to level up some more,” and headed for the exit.

“You don’t level up in a Matilda game!” said Ganondork. “This isn’t an RPG*.”

* Role Play Game. You gain levels in Role Play Games, and get stronger, and the bosses get easier.

“Oh, isn’t it? Not an Action RPG?” said Wife, turning.

“Not a traditional RPG.”

“Well, I just wanna float around in my boat some more, collect more bottles, and see more Great Fairies to power up. Then I’ll fight you.” She left him with that.

Matilda talked with Ganondork in the next room. It appeared they were good friends, or at least great acquaintances, or at least greatly accustomed to one another’s company as Matilda was kidnapped so often.

And Ganondork said, “Ha! You can’t leave a boss in mid-battle,” and attacked her, but she shot a light arrow at his head and stunned him, and then cracked him in that head with her sword, and he went, Duh, a very brain-damaged boy.. and she sealed away for all time again his great evil.

J J J

Legend of Zelda: Mojo’s Mask. I just had to make fun of this one. The Moon with the Angry Face was going to fall on Timepiece Town in three days, and you must try again and again, warping back to the first day before it fell on the third, to prevent it; then you must go to the moon itself, which is just a single tree in the middle of a grassy field, surrounded by children, all little girls.

The children began to speak to Wife, “Play with us!”

“Like, so totally what I’m not going to do,” said Wife, who was a valley girl in a past life. Valley girls said “totally” and “like” a lot.

“If you won’t play with us, this place will be your .. . Worst nightmare,” was, I guess, their best threat they could come up with at a time. I don’t know. If I were to make a threat, I would say taxes would be raised fifteen percent, or we’ll cut up all your credit cards with this scissors and then whap you in the head with a crowbar so you forget your social security number. Something to do with money.

Like I said, they said, “This place will be your .. . Worst nightmare.”

Said Wife, “I enjoy nightmares.”

“Yuck. Why?”

“I find them entertaining. They keep me on edge.”

“WE DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THAT. I mean, we don’t have time for that.”

“No need to be a b-tch about it,” said Wife.

“Oh, that is so common,” said the children. “They have so many bad names to call a girl- witch, bitch, whore- but not so many bad names to call a man.”

“I’m a girl.”

“Oh. I couldn’t tell.”

“I’m a girl!”

Wife had to unite the four giants from the Four Temples, and get them to hold up the Moon while she destroyed the evil within it, then throw the Moon back up into orbit.

She got through the trials of the final dungeon- (she passed the children quite easily, all they could do was bat at her uselessly) -and made it to a floating trickster and his mask, and the floating trickster said, “Join me and together we can leave this mortal coil and be bathed in the eternal essence of absolute evil! No, I’m kidding. I’m just going to fight you.”

Wife beat him up quite easily, and the game was won. My apologies if you expected something epic.

Neither Matilda nor Ganondork showed up in this game and they still called it a Matilda game.

..Wife solved the puzzle, saved the earth from the Moon, and met Ganondork again, and Ganondork said, “Hi. I’m not in the mood to fight, or a talk,” and left him. Ganondork looked depressed. Like he’d never win. He left in his mother’s car to see his therapist.

Sorry if we’ve skipped past A Link to the Past or Twilight Princess, but I find that I have no excuse for skipping them. I should be shot, or hanged, or so on.

Chapter 14: Traditional RPG’s & More

J J J

My impression of an RPG, so you at least get an idea of it: Random encounter of a monster. “What’s that Mario glove over the select screen?”

“That’s the pointer. It tells you whether to fight, use magic, a skill, or an item?”

These battles were Active Time, for the most part, and a little turn-based. You choose an attack, and then they choose an attack. And so on. They take turns. Or fight all at once. The monsters waited quite patiently before you chose your attack.

Single Techs. Dual Tech. Triple Tech. Pokemon: It’s super effective! You took off 5000 HP. You used 50 MP. You got 30,000 GP. Monster dropped an item! What does it all mean? You got 100 experience points, you got 5 tech points. You leveled up!

About a thousand people have joined your party! — Chrono Cross.

Open a treasure chest someone left, apparently, in the middle of nowhere, hoping someone might find it. .

“My favorite game!” said Wife the housewife. “Final Farce.” “How many favorite games do you have?”

“..Eleven.”

You got 25 niceness points. . . You got 42 cuteness points. “Cut that out!” You got 35 bitch points…

J J J

The first RPG Wife covered was Pocket Monsters. It was the most popular one, and apparently, the most poorly received by the critics.

Picking out a Pocket Monster, one of the three elemental lizards, at the very beginning of the game, and meeting your rival: Mary. .

Wife said, “You’re my rival. You’re Mary. We must fight!”

“Yes. Rival. Wife. We must fight!”

And they dualed. Wife got out her electric rodent and her elemental lizard, and Mary, hers, and they battled, and Wife won. Which is to show you, I know very little about Pokemon.

Later, Wife used the Ultra Ball on the last boss in the game, Sephirothetha, and capture Sephirothena, and had her as a pet. It’ll happen. Sephirothena was from Final Farce VII, the most well received RPG ever invented. Critics just ate it up with dipping sauce. It was both intelligent, and engrossing, and one of the pixilated female characters had really large casabas. So complicated a story they couldn’t even think of a good title. They just called it 7. 7th installment of the legendary Final Farce series. The most smart, and profound, videogame series ever made.

J J J

The next game was Italian Plumber RPG: at Star Hill. Where the wishes of all the people upon shooting stars fall to earth, and are made real. Wife sat upon this hill and made wishes.

“I wish I was a rocket man.

“I wish I was a fireman.

“I wish I was a president man.

“I wish I was a man. They get killer benefits! And their names are in all the titles,” and dismounted Star Hill, it was a silly place, and a waste of time. None of your wishes ever got granted. Prayers, maybe. Wishes, no.

That’s wishful thinking, thought Wife wishfully. I better get to someplace where the wishes are more real..

J J J

The next place Wife explored was Final Farce VI, and it was the famed Opera Scene.

Oh my hero. So far away now.

You might have memorized that line.

“Uh. Why is everyone singing?” said Wife’s comrade, the one with the killer tan and muscles and the Mohawk. Wife could just eat him up with whip cream and a cherry. Mm.

Anyways, it was the scene where Wife, who looked oddly like Marina, the main opera gal, was chosen to replace Marina as main opera gal, because infamous lecher-gambler Seltzer had declared to the world that he would come in the third act and nab her for his bride, and so.. she had to make her season debut as a scapegoat to save the real Marina- and it’s all very complicated. She had memorized all the lines. If only she didn’t forget them.

She went for the balcony scene, where she would soon dance with a knight in gleaming armor, and forgot her first line: “Alas Drago. How I hate you! Um. How you never — ever — call!” Bit her lip. The crowd booed. Well they should. She had ruined their culture’s only attempt at achieving art: the theatre.

A five ton iron was dropped on her head in response to this, and an octopus, who claimed he was octopus royalty, came tentacling down, and said, “I’m here to bust up your– oh, I’m sorry, did I drop that on your head?”

Wife got up and said, “You and me — we gotta fight.”

“I hear that a lot. Why?”

“Everyone fights in a game,” she said, in full dress. “C’mon,” and brushed her fist across her bloodied nose.

“Oh, well,” said the Impresario. “We better make good use of this music,” and directed the conductor to playing an upbeat tune about fighting.

Wife jumped on Ultr– the octopus’ head, and the screen flashed, and suddenly, they were in a different background and setting, the octopus in full painted still-portrait on one side of the screen, Wife on the other, in fighting position.

“Okay. Once my battle meter comes up, I’ll hit you with something,” said Ultro- the octopus. “Oh, it’s your turn.”

“It’s my turn?” said Wife. “Okay, I choose FIGHT,” and directed the little hand towards the selection screen, and chose it carefully– and this would go on, but it was a very boring battle, involving lots of waiting and strategy and — ugh — thinking. A very demanding task. No one likes to think when they play videogames, so RPG’s weren’t popular ‘til VII game out.

Time skipped a beat, due to some glitch, and launched her to the very next game..

J J J

Final Farce VII: Wife was in a golden saucer, a Golden Place, high above the quick sand and dunes, above the clouds, with giant yellow birds racing, and a coliseum, and a videogame arcade, and a date place for fireworks and theatre, and a creepy hotel .. A game within a game.

Wife would’ve quite enjoyed herself, but she had that hair appointment, and she really must be moving on. So she progressed the storyline, moving over field and ocean, ‘til she came to the ending at the Big Crater in the Snowy North.

Wife fought that evil villain I told you about, Sephirothena there, but had a Master Ball, and used the Master Ball on Sephirothena and caught her as a pet. The boss of game, apparently.

“Fine,” said Sephirothena from inside the ball. “But I’m not jumping through any hoops for you! There.”

“Hey!” said Wife. “When I stand on my head, the blood rushes to my face, and I get all red.”

“I take it you’re the cheerful, happy-go-lucky type. Well, I’m not,” said Sephirothena. “I’m the product of a mad scientist’s science experiment and an alien monster from outer space, and this makes me quite insecure, so that I burn down people’s hometowns, and generally kill everyone I see. It’s not a good reason to kill people, but I like to think it is. I was also never close to my father.” Wife nodded, upside-down. “Hurt people hurt people, you know.”

“Yes, I know that.”

“Lucrecia!” shouted the emo-haired teammate of Wife’s.

“I blow up stuff to save the world in the name of Righteousness!” said a big ex-miner with a gun-arm. “I take care of my best friend’s daughter like I’m her father, but I don’t wash my hands. I’m a terrorist, with a heart of gold.”

“Who am I?” said the main protagonist with the spiky ass hair. “Am I — Am I that guy over there?”

“Your teammates are a bit whack,” said Sephirothena.

“They’re a bit touched, yes,” said Wife, “but I– I usually have a good point here, but I have nothing to say about them. They are rather whacky.”

Time skipped a beat, and launched her to the very next–

J J J

Final Farce VIII: The Mobile College stormed the enemy beach like Normandy and fought a giant crab robot. Were chased out of there, and back to school in time for the summer dance.

The giant crab robot said, “Wait! You forgot your pants!” It was only trying to return Wife’s pregnancy pants she had dropped.

At the dance, Wife found herself staring across the way at an emo-haired 9th grader, and said, “He’s cute. I should dance with him.”

“Isn’t he — like — fourteen?”

“Shut up,” said Wife. “Like you wouldn’t dance with him.”

“But I’m fourteen. It’s alright if I dance with him.”

“Oh, c’mon! He’s not fourteen. Seventeen, I say.”

“I’m sixteen,” said another girl, having an appetizer, drinking her alcoholic drink.

“Okay. You — you dance with him,” they said to the sixteen year old. “He’s the best-looking one here.”

Wife punched her out, however, then walked over to the seventeen-year old boy, and said, “You’re super cute. C’mon! Dance with me! You’re the best-looking dude here,” and took him by the hand, but he didn’t look like he wanted to. They danced, they tangoed, they did the hoochie koola, but this isn’t very — interesting, right? Maybe. Maybe. Anyways

Time skipped a beat, and launched her to the very next–

J J J

Final Farce IX: Crystal World & Pandemonium.

Wife ended up in a crystal world, floating, upside down. Seeming to give gravity amiss, and go right on into fantasy. She saw a giant crystal shard, and a furry red man, or was that a girl*? who wished to destroy it, and she said, “I know what happens if you destroy that thing. Game over. I’m dead.” The very fabric of the universe, unwinding.

* He was wearing a thong

The furry red man said, “I have come to bring all things to a Zero World. Existence denied.” It’ll destroy the whole — everything

“Won’t you die too?”

“I can live with that.”

“Right,” said Wife. “I knew that. So you’re a Nihilist.”

“Is everyone a Nihilist with you and Q-burt? I’m a free-thinker, I think. I think quite freely. Whatever I think, I think it. It’s mine for the thinking. I’m a free-spirit! I do whatever I want. I think I –”

“R-i-g-h-t,” said Wife. “That’s cool. Hey, do you see this?” and did a handstand. “When I stand on my head, the blood rushes to my head, and I get all red in the face.”

“..How does that relate to our topic of conversation?”

“Your topic of conversation is boring. It must die. Who cares what you think? I don’t. Everyone’s free to think. Everyone thinks their thoughts. Everyone says what’s on their mind. No reason to be an A-hole about it.”

“I wasn’t being an A-hole,” said the furry red man. “I was simply stating–” Wife was on her head again “–Listen, when somebody is talking to you–” Wife’s face was all red. “–COULD YOU CUT THAT OUT?”

“I’m thinking freely,” said Wife. “There’s no reason for you to infringe upon my own free will.”

“You’re at a logical fault. I haven’t done anything wrong. I’ve only talked about doing something wrong. And– listen, when somebody is talking to you!”

She unleashed the Boss of the Game, Sephirothena, against him, and Sephirothena, a harder boss to be sure, quite easily whammed down the furry red Nihilist*, and saved the day.

* Probably makes you think I have something about Nihilism, but not really. It’s just one of those few words I know.

Wow, that was short-lived.

Time skipped a beat, and she was launched to the very next thing–

J J J

Time Egg: The End of Time.

Wife found herself in the very end of time. It was a black place with 9 shimmering lights, a door, a water bucket, another bucket, a dangerous bucket, and a lamppost with a little man with a cane standing under it. She walked up to him, and said, “What’s it all about, Alfie?”

He said, “I’m still trying to figure that out. I’ve got all the time in the world, if only there were time left to think! Think, think, think.” Tapped his head.

“Whatcha doin?”

“Thinking.”

“About what?..”

“Stuff.”

“Wanna talk about it? Is it complicated stuff? Is it girl stuff?”

“Like — like someone I used to date?”

“Sure! Sure!”

“Well, there was this one girl,” said the man with the cane. “But you don’t wanna hear about it.”

“That’s right. I don’t.”

Time skipped a beat, and launched her to the very last game. Chrono Break.

J J J

Chrono Break: The Place where all the ocean’s waves are frozen in time. In a decimated, flooded city. Everything is at a standstill. And here, your existence is questioned.

From behind a broken bell, a man walked out.

She then faced against this boss, the very hardest boss she’d ever faced. He stood for Righteous Fury.

He looked white, whiter than even me, I imagine. Not white of skin, but of shine. He had a halo. And it looked like, in the past, he’d been a fisherman. He wore fisherman’s suspenders.

He talked soothingly to Wife, he said, “Do you know what this place is?”

“What?” said Wife.

“This is Proof of Existence. The Place of Least Resistance. Antonio Adonai. The Wellspring of—”

“It seems to have many names.”

“I WASN’T FINISHED. .The Wellspring of Electricity. Basically, all videogame systems connect to this outlet. The outlet– uh– at the back of the video system! To the wall. It’s connect to the wall. You’re in it. And here you shall remain. For all time. Hey, at the very least, you’ve achieved immortality. That is, until the power goes out, or the place is demolished.”

“You talk a lot,” said Wife.

“I do.” He nodded.

“But I have a silver swallow and many experience points.”

“You’ll not win this battle. And I’m not saying this for your sake. I’m saying this for mine. I can’t stand to see another unfortunate Spud-walker end up in silicon hell. Turn around. Run away.”

“I’m pretty tough,” said Wife. “I’ve made it so far.”

Holy Dragon Sword! And she was knocked out. Dead.

Wife died the very third time, and was stuck in silicon hell forever. .

She was dead. She died. She lost! Game over.

Then she woke up?..

No, this videogame was a reality! In all reality, her body was back in the real world, but it was inhabited, no one was there, it was staring dull and drooling, and her spirit was in silicon hell, in eternal torment for– Wait, what is that Man doing here? It’s that same Man from the very beginning!

“Who are you?” said Wife.

“Me, I’m no one,” he said. And began running away, but she caught him.

“I’m the– oh, shucks. I got stuck here too, in Videogame Purgatory, and no one was around, so’s I wanted a friend, so now you’re here, wanna play a game?”

“No!” said Wife. “I’m through with games. Forever. For now. For a long time. Tell me how to get out of here so I can make it back in time for my hair appointment!”

“My dear,” said the Man. “There’s no way out. I’ve looked.”

“You haven’t, perchance, tried that door?” Pointing.

They both looked to it.

“I did .. once, but it hit me. Then began reciting poorly timed knock-knock jokes.”

“Don’t you know what that door is? You, who have been stuck in Videogame Purgatory for so long? That’s a Zelda dungeon trick door. All you got to do is bomb it, you don’t open it.”

“Oh. I don’t suppose you know what’s behind it.”

“I’ll soon find out,” said Wife, and made a bomb out of the Man’s digital fat she had been draining through a little liposuction and a bit of a glitch for infinite bombs; meaning, she didn’t really need the fat, but she saw this one scene in Fight Club, it was really funny, they– oh, but I redress.. She threw the at the door, and the door exploded, but there was nothing behind it.

Game Over?

No. The Man began to laugh. He laughed, and he laughed, and he laughed. “It’s over. It’s the End. We’ve gone nutty!”

Wife took him, and shook him. “You! You brought me into this! Now, you’ve got to find a way out.”

“If only we could get the attention of the Players outside, but no one plays these games anymore. They’re old. They’re outdated. They’re in Videogame–”

“Don’t say Purgatory, Man. We’re not dead yet!”

Wife lifted up her skirt and showed her panties to the screen. “There’s more digital fun if you’ll just pop in a few quarters and play,” but nothing.

She didn’t know it, but I did, so I felt important; but it was just a little boy who popped in the dustiest section of the arcade, the one whose light had switched off, and he had a fistful of quarters. Some “friends” had dared him to enter the old abandoned arcade*, and right “Fu” over Pacman, and then run out with all the quarters he could carry, but he was curious what was in the darkened portion of the room, and so he walked up the steps, carefully, careful now, and found that– whoa! What was that? He’d never seen this before!

* again, Game Space passed quite slower than time passed on the outside, and by the time this event had occurred, the arcade had gone out of business. It had just closed, in fact, so some of the systems had not been sold as of yet.

Meanwhile, inside, the Man was saying, “Oh, what’s the point? No one comes to my arcade anymore.”

“Your arcade?” said Wife.

“Mine,” said the Man. “It was my arcade. That is, until, the lease expired, and I couldn’t pay for it, so I took out a loan and decided to make the most realistic gaming experience ever, one in which you get sucked into the game, but it only worked when a person played the game long enough so that it glitched. It worked on me, I can tell you. Just recently. In fact, I popped in almost the same time you did. I was hoping it would work on some other, so I could have some company besides all these buffoons that want to fight all the time.”

“Like a — like a Virtual Arcade,” said Wife. “I love those! I can’t believe I’m experiencing Virtual Reality! This is an Escapist’s dream!”

Meanwhile, the little boy popped in some quarters, and the machine glitched, and so, the little boy, being very inexperienced, got stuck in Virtual Purgatory too. Just silicon hell. And he said, “Hello. My name’s Jimmy.”

“Ugh,” said Wife.

“My friends will be coming.”

Said the Man, “How do you know they’ll search the place? They could just ditch you. All friends aren’t all good friends.”

“My friends will be coming.” He smiled.

J J J

At the very end, she found two big red buttons. On a regular NES controller: one labeled A, the other labeled B. Which to push? . . She pushed both of them!

But we’ll never see what happens, because there is no conclusion, and there is no sequel. . Don’t get mad. It was fun while it lasted, right? So is Life. That’s philosophy, you know.

Chapter 15: Game’s End: getting a life. (Not an extra life. A real one.)

A Fistful of Quarters

I think I’m that kid in the pajamas. I remember doing that exact same thing, and screaming over my new Nintendo 64. “This is so 3D!” Everyone heard me after soccer practice. All my neighbors.

If you have no friends, or very few of them, a videogame is a virtual playmate.

It’s good for you.

I remember what this dork said to me one time when I explained him the wonders of Final Fantasy, he said, “Is it a shooter? Can you shoot things?”

Thinking now. . When I grow up, I’m gonna sing my baby those Mario songs. “Da, da-da-da. Da, da da, da-da, da.” And a Zelda lullabye..

Boy, I’ve had many great adventures with my Wii, but we’ve never really got anywhere. I’ve actually gotten quite fat;

“What?! We’re playing a game. I thought this was real life!!!!” my baby screams.

(People crave a break from reality.)

Says a very sad, little girl, says Wife, the Housewife, “Videogames make life worth living. It’s all there is.”

L

What’s a game, boy, if you never lose?

Game Over.

Play again? Y/N

A Short Story from “High Five Fantasy Kollection, Excellent Work, Great Job!!!!” 2

The Island of Indecision: a heart-warming tale with a message*

* plus, it’s got pirates too!

By Q-Burt

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Destiny Islands

Chapter 2: The Sea of Glass and Sweet, Breathable Water

Chapter 3: The Island of Pompous Pricks

Chapter 4: Whirlpool Reef

Chapter 5: The Island of Inflatable Pants

Chapter 6: A Happenin’ Spot for Whales

Chapter 7: The Island of Irregular Bowel Movements

Chapter 8: The Ghost Ship Came at a Full Moon at Midnight

Chapter 9: The Island of Vaguely Specific Super Powers

Chapter 10: The Master of Puppets

Chapter 11: The Island of Dreams Come True

Chapter 12: The Storm to End All Debates About Which Storm Was the … Oh, we haven’t time to make chapter titles! It’s coming.

Chapter 13: The Island of Indecision

Chapter 14: The Edge of the World… not being found. The world isn’t flat! It’s a circle.

Chapter 15: White Shores

Destiny Islands

White shores. .

The P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins* was christened at dawn, and its crew set out the very same day. A crew of puppets whose master’s hands were stuck up their bottoms.

* silly name, isn’t it? we’ll explore why that ship’s name was in a moment

All in Mirror Country were puppets, of course.

Of course. Why not. Sure!

J J J

The captain, of course, was Gallenthmir. Pronounced: Gal-in-th-meer. She was the only one without a hand up her blouse. And that made her look important, as she wasn’t always grimacing and fidgeting all the time.

The others were all puppet pirates. Hired hands from the shore.. Yo ho!

There was Too Fat, and Too Slim; Handy in a Fight, Not Handy in a Fight (they just called him Jim), the chef, Cojack, and Cindy, of course. But they all died of scurvy.

Only Cindy’s muffins survived, being immaterial. And so, Gallenthmir named the ship after them; the muffins, of course, which she took quite a liking to- Poppyseed, why not- and set off with a new pirate crew.

This time, she brought plenty of apples.

J J J

The first mate’s name was French, no one could pronounce it; the chef’s name was inconsequential; .. the little woman who sat in the crow’s nest’s name was inexcusable.

The rest of the crew, she couldn’t afford, having lost her last crew. But she had eight arms and six wings, Gallenthmir, so– it was easier to man the ship.

So it was just the four of them, and Gal*. All female, for she didn’t trust the males, after they all went and died on her**, and she had just gotten over a bad breakup, and didn’t want a chemical romance on board. Female pirates, all. Not a first, I’ve done this in other books..

** Fourteen hands. *** It wasn’t that women were particularly better at pirating. It’s just the way she wanted it.

J J J

“Now, I’ll just have to think of names to call you,” said Gallenthmir.

“Captain. Just call us by our positions. We don’t need names,” they didn’t say that, that would be stupid.

Gallenthmir called the first mate, whose name she couldn’t pronounce, Frenchie. The chef, she called Chowder. And the little woman who sat in the crow’s nest, spotting islands with her telescope, and breathing indiscreetly between puffs of pipe, she called an idiot, you’re an idiot, that’s not how you open a sail! Then she gave her a name: Um, er, ah. Nancy Pennington. Yes, it is. It’s a good name. I just thought of it.

Actually, if you must know, and you may, and you will, and you should, Gallenthmir had a talent, a wonderful thing, because besides how everyone would gather when she started to sing, she could split herself into four people, all skilled in the pirate arts, and so she had a crew, and named them– each due what they deserved..

Besides, if you wanted to get something done you had to do it your selves. And if you want to get anything done, how could you count, tell me, how could you count on other people? So Nancy Pennington was Gallenthmir was Chowder was Frenchie was Nancy Pennington was Gallenthmir. Confusing? Good!

Each of them had wings. And a hand up their butt.

She could have produced more puppets, of course, but more would be tedious. She only had eight arms.

J J J

Tiny dinosaurs flew in the sky, and swarmed in the deep. But why do you need to know this? The answer, of course, you don’t!

J J J

“Why are we setting off to sea?” asked Nancy Pennington*, the crow’s nest girl, looking through her telescope, or whatever it is crow’s nest person look through. “To find the edge of the world?”

* (But their brains were kept separate. They still had to think and act and do according to whoever’s body Gallenthmir’s hand had been occupying.)

“No, no. Something much more interesting,” said the captain, Gallenthmir, pacing. “We’re looking for the- oh, I’m sorry? Did you say ‘the edge of the world’?”

“I did.”

“Yes, we’re looking for that. They’re always looking for that in fantasy literature. That, and to chart a map of the world, and its major islands. There’s a whole magical world out there ready to be mapped, and pirated, and us master cartographers are the ones to do it! Imagine the price of such a map. We’ll be rich as worlds!”

“You said ‘world’ three times, Captain,” said the freshly named crew.

“So I did. Spank me. Spank me very much. Well, should we be shoving off, then? I brought a big screen TV in case we got bored.” She took out the big screen TV and christened the ship with it. Smash! “*Yawn* I’m bored. There’ll be no TV watching on ship. It’s all business.” Though, in truth, she had kept a large TV in the Captain’s Quarters for herself.

L L L

Gallenthmir took out her compass, the one that didn’t point north, but pointed to where the happiest place could me. “This way to True Happiness,” she said, standing on the bow. “By the way, that’s what we’re looking for. Coz a man once came up to me and said, ‘Can you ever find true happiness?’ Well, I found a compass that points there.” Bought it off of a gypsy.

I want nothing short but the world, she said. I want everything. That’s why I said it* three times..

* world

Oh, the open sea

, said the narrator, Q-burt, sweaty from whatever it was he was doing before the camera crew came in and he said, “Hi there, you scared the crap out of me.” What a charming place, he went on. Over land and over wave. Smell the sweet tang of salt. Feel the sting of an ocean spray. Flying fish not quite accomplishing what’s in their name, more just jumping for extra large distances, but they had wings, y’understand. A marlin’s singular searching horn hunting for large schools of silver fish like underwater tornadoes down there. They swam like mermaids!

J J J

Giant insects sailed over the Moon, and into the Sun, got burnt. And landed in the ocean. Swam away.

The Sea of Glass and Sweet, Breathable Tea Water

The first sea they passed was the Sea of Glass and Sweet, Breathable Tea Water. There was no salt. Instead, there was sugar. This made all the fish, who were hypoglycemic, quite happy. And hyper.

If you jumped in, you could scarcely breathe without getting giddy.

The sea looked as glass, and smelled of tea, and bore the color of a paint bucket of unmixed dyes.

The sky was ornamented with gulls.

J J J

“I always wondered what it was like under the waves…” said Nancy Pennington from the crow’s nest.

“What?!” said Chowder.

“I said, I ALWAYS WONDERED WHAT IT WAS LIKE UNDERWATER.”

“You always wondered what it was like under Scotter?! Well, I knew him. Apart from the weak pelvis thrusts, it was quite cool.”

“Shut, you two,” said Gallenthmir, and examined her compass. “The Happiness is that way!” pointing.

Gallenthmir manned the wheel.

Nancy Pennington manned the crow’s nest.

Frenchie manned the cannons and floors.

And Chowder manned the kitchen.

J J J

Now, I think it right to disclose a bit about the P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins. The boat.

It looked like my head. Its face was the bust of a merman, in swimming shorts. (Statistics show that most women find men attractive, so this wasn’t quite surprising. Where does one go to meet available women?) It had a wheel, a crow’s nest, a sail, a kitchen below, and several slaving hands below that that pumped the oars. Some of these hands were shoved up the puppet’s blouses.

It looked like my head. Teeth in the water. Eating a tuna on toast.

J J J

Said Nancy Pennington, looking through her telescope, “What ho! Mermaid off the-! Left!”

Said Frenchie, “Aren’t we pirates? Aren’t we supposed to say, ‘Yo ho! Mermaid off the port bow?’”

Gallenthmir looked at her reflection shining off the shimmering floor, and said, “These floors aren’t clean enough. Get back to it, Frenchie.” A pirate can’t stand to see that her treasure doesn’t reflect all that glistens and gleams.

Indeed, there were mermaids. And mermen. Mer people. Not too far down, there was an underwater castle and village, in fact. The mer people rode on giant sea horses, and lived in spiral snail shells.

A merman waved at Frenchie, and she blushed. He was quite striking with his bare, waxed chest. The merman said, “Ahoy, pirate! Why not stay at a luxury inn under wave? Throw your anchor overboard, and we’ll show you a good time.”

“But we can’t breathe underwater!” said Frenchie.

“You can here,” said the merman. “This the Sea of Breathable Water. For land walkers, anyways.”

Gallenthmir was looking through the clear, clear water, clear as liquid water in a clear glass, and, fact of the matter is, she was drooling. There was treasure down there..

Gallenthmir saw the beautiful, shining castle. She wanted it. She wanted it all.

J J J

They swam down the underwater steps and found they could breathe in this water, like I told you, while mermaids can’t, like I didn’t tell you. In fact, they die*. So they have to surface for air every few hours.

* mermaids do. How inconvenient for them. L

The water looked as glass, and tasted like a sweet, sweet tea, as well you know.

They were fish shepherds down here. Shepherds of the Deep Wet Stuff, they called themselves, out of want to name themselves**, and a little good humor. The tuna fish would perch on their arms, and allow themselves to be stroked, and with their sea horses they would send out dolphins to bring the fish around in droves, into pasture. Then brought into the slaughterhouse, to make scale-coats, and tuna on toast. Mmm.

** they wanted some sort of government, this small underwater community

The grounds keeper lived in a giant clam shell. Quite inconvenient when he wanted to get out, so he drilled a little whole in it with a marlin. He said,

“Greetings, land walkers!”

The pirate crew gave proper salutation.

“Are you the pirates we’ve been praying for? We’ve got a problem.”

“Wait, no one told us you were praying for pirates,” said Gallenthmir.

“Is there a problem with praying?” “-No.” “You see, there’s this sunken underwater ship that’s rust is destroying our pastures, and is full of treasure; and normally, we’d go and get it, but it hurts us as well, and is guarded by sharks, and we thought pirates brave enough to go looking for it.”

Surely, treasure will make me happy, thought Gallenthmir..

“You may have the treasure once you eradicate the rust.”

“We accept!” said Nancy Pennington.

“You’re not the captain,” said Gallenthmir. “But we do! . . We accept.”

“May our various gods be with you.”

J J J

They stayed at the Turtle Shell Inn for Seasoned Travelers and took off first thing in the … morning glow? But it was always morning! Where was the moon?!

For there never wasn’t never a happy, grinning sun whenever Gallenthmir was around. She fed it once, and it’s since never left her. How annoying.

The sun still shined to the bottom of the deep wet stuff. It was quite a powerful sun, though small. The size of an engorged beach ball little Billy had blown up with too much air, testing his lung strength. It followed Gallenthmir wherever she went, so there was never a night. The puppets on the other side of the planet were quite depressed about it being gone, but there was always night lights to scare the bogeymen away. And there were bogeymen in Mirror Country.

And the Moon, scared of Gallenthmir after she had taken a bite out of it, since she said it sampled like a cookie, was scared of her, and so stayed on the other side of the world. Brightening the other side with its twilight. A strange glow for a moon, and, indeed, the other moons* gave it hell for being only able to glow twilight and not moonlight, for all those moonlight lovers out there.. Um. Some people say when I turn around and flex my calves, they look like moons. Or at least the crack in your ass when you moon somebody.

* there were several other moons

..L Eh-hem. But about that sunken ship!

J J J

It filled the sweet water tea with rust. Quite an unsightly blood color. When before it was the color of a paint set the dog had eaten and crapped a rainbow. Also unsightly. The iron ship had been pierced by the Duke of Whales, the Iron Narwhal..

Hammerhead sharks by the thousands? hundreds? millions? dozens? ..No, there were just two this time, and, fat with the competition of just that amount, were hardly able to thrash their tails and allow themselves lift enough not to die in the water from not allowing their gills to breathe.

“Oh, look,” Nancy Pennington bubbled. “There are just two of them.”

“Yeah,” said Chowder. “And we’re slow.”

“But they should be just as slow. Look how engorged they are!”

“Maybe,” said Frenchie. “When they swim around to the other side, we can make a run for it — a swim for it, I mean.”

“Great idea, we’ll say it was mine,” said Gallenthmir, and dove in the minute–

“But what about those eels?” said Chowder. And then, the three looked, and their captain was gone.

“Captain! Wait!” said the three shipmates, and swam after her.

The ol’ Narwhal still patrolled about in that vicinity, looking for other ships to test its might upon. Thank my various gods it wasn’t here.

L L L

Then it suddenly was.

Oh, dear.

It drove a hole right through Gallenthmir’s middle, but luckily, Gallenthmir had already punctured a hole in her middle so as to save her throat from all the bulimia she had performed in the toilet to go from a size nine to a size three.

J J J

Now Gallenthmir had the strength of a very small dragon. I should have described it to you earlier, but Gallenthmir was part dragon, and part frog. It was never certain, by legend- as she was indeed of legendary origins- as to how her parents got together: blind date, maybe. Maybe they were both blind, or maybe they donated their eggs to a clinic, and somehow they got switched in the frog and dragon departments. And Gallenthmir was born. Anyways, Gallenthmir grabbed the narwhal by the horn, stuck it in even deeper- just to show that she could- drawing the narwhal farther in, smoke billowing up the corners of her mouth, and head butted the whale on the brain stem. Her head, being very thorny, literally quarried its way through the whale’s skull bones!

. . If you stand on my head, you won’t sink as much.

Now, why did I just say that? . .

L L L

Consider: Well, if you remember, the P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins looked like my head, it did. It does. It looked like my head, with a little body attached to the neck at the bottom that performed all the swimming to thrust its bulk forward. You probably hadn’t noticed that before. That’s because we were over water, not under it, dummy.

If you stand on my head, you won’t sink as much.

If you stand below it, you’ll see all the sails and oars are superfluous. It was the swimming man, me, who did all the work. I was their boat, and did they ever give such a boat more than swimming trunks on his birthday for all his efforts? No-oooo.

Muffins.”

“What?”

“There’s a narwhal imbedded in your butt!”

“Oh. So that’s what the crack is for.”

The narwhal was imbedded in my butt. ..It seemed, after it had been head butted by Gallenthmir’s megaton force, the resulting impact had sent the narwhal and its horn straight up my—

–As you may know, this would have been more comfortable if I was accustomed to having sharp, jagged objects rammed up my–

–Ass you may also know, this wasn’t the most important subject, so maybe we better continue on:

Anyways, they had their boat* checked in to the hospital, the narwhal was dislodged, the ship was removed of its rust, and they had their treasure. 8 gold doubloons.

* me

L L L

Gallenthmir was quite pissed about it. She went back to Mer Man central, and talked to the grand something-or-other of Mermen, who considered himself a reasonable Merman, and she said– she didn’t say anything.

He was just too damn cute in that clamshell of his!

“Yes?” he said.

“…” said Gallenthmir. Blushing.

Then: “I think was the captain wants to say is, we want our money back. Figuratively speaking. We didn’t get enough booty on the ship,” said Nancy Pennington.

Said the Merman, “We never checked the ship. We never knew how much treasure it contained. As per our conversation, ‘You may have whatever treasure you find within, and just that, once you eradicate the rust’, we owe you nothing.”

“You didn’t say that.”

“Yes, I did. I remembered distinctly I said that.”

“Oh, shoot,” said Gallenthmir. “This is when I do something I really don’t want to do.” L

“And that is?”

“Lay my eggs all over the place. It’ll really ruin tourist attractivity.”  J

She did.

..Shall we continue on?

On to Chapter 3!

The Island of Pompous Pricks

On this island, were the royalty of Mirror Country. They were pompous snoots.

“My first criticism,” said Frenchie. “Is all these islands are based upon a theme.”

“Well,” said Gallenthmir. “They try.”

J J J

Hoist the sails. Swab the decks.

L L L

“Which way to True Happiness, Boss?” said Nancy Pennington.

“Zigga zigga boom,” said Gallenthmir, and checked her compass. She pointed: “That way!”

“Do you have to say ‘zigga zigga boom’, Boss?”

“-Yes.”

Chowder whammed a gong and shouted from the kitchen, “Supper’s ready! Come get your chum! But first, we pray to Jesus.”

“Okay!”

“Now, anyone- can anyone answer this question? Where does Jesus live?”

Said Nancy Pennington, pointing to her chest, “In my heart. I hope he has a little bed in there. Oh, and he rides his bike in my brain!” They were all firm believers. Pirates though they were.

The wind from their laughter blew their boat far, far away. So they had to go catch it.

The island in question looked like a well-groomed dog. They recently had it carpeted, and there was a singular rolling hill, carved to pieces by home-decorating and littered by mansions. There was a plethora of statues of important historical figures no one remembered.

J J J

Everyone here was rich, but still, they were not happy.. I couldn’t see why not. I’d be happy with a million dollars.

L L L

They were all wearing opera glasses, and watching something very far away, and unseen, you should know. And now you do.

“What’cha lookin’ at?” said Nancy Pennington.

“Hem, haw,” they said. “Why, the play, my dear.”

Nancy Pennington looked out as far as she could. There was no play.

“Is that your only idea of sophistication? Watching plays?” said Gallenthmir, suddenly.

“Hem, haw,” they said. “We don’t see you doing anything sophisticated.”

“WANNA COME TO OUR BARBECUE?” said Chowder from the boat, far ‘way, and whammed the gong.

Terror. No- there’s a better term for it -scarification. “See?” said they, recuperating after such a dreaded advance. “We don’t do … barb-e-qew.” How unpleasant.

L L L

Gallenthmir noticed one of the richest-seeming men, in his studded suit, gold cane, and fresh, new, good top hat, and she said, “Sir?”

“M-yes?” said the gentleman.

“Are you happy?”

He looked liked he had just come from the cleaners. “Should I be? I can rent happiness, you know.”

“You’re not a happy man?”

“Not really. But I have my hobbies.” He grinned. You could see all forty five molars had diamond studs. He had quite a lot more teeth than the normal puppets had. “Now, do simmer down. The third act is in session.”

Gallenthmir cocked her head in curiosity. “What’s it like being rich?”

“There’s no life like the high life,” said the rich puppet, and played with his gold strings, the ones richer puppet’s wore. “My only complaint is, it’s hard finding a place for all my stuff.”

“I’ll be rich someday. Then, I’ll be happy. But first, I’ve got to find the greatest treasure in the world first!”

“Do tell.”

“Do all rich people have to go around and say ‘do tell’ all the time?”

He put down his opera glasses. “My good woman. There are many going arounds from island to island in the never-ending search for Fun, but no, we don’t have to say ‘do tell’; we could look at a sunset and say, ‘Dude…’ but instead, for all our money’s worth, we sigh, and say, ‘How lovely, what a beautiful view.’ If that’s what your asking.”

Said Gallenthmir, “Do you want to know about the greatest treasure in the world or not?”

“I’ll take a chance. For the sake of our conversation, I’ll say, ‘Sure,’ instead of, ‘Dude. Spill your heart out, babe.’”

“Well, however I don’t think anyone would say that,” said Gallenthmir, which made him sweat a bit, and told him they were traveling cartographers on a quest to map the world, find the end of it, if there ever was one.. which in all probability, there probably was not!! and that this map would then be named the greatest treasure in the world, as there’s since never been a map of it before!

Said the old puppet, drawing his cane in the dirt, “That’s only the greatest treasure in the world if you’re a master–I’m sorry–hard core cartographer. Well, hem, haw. What you should be looking for is the Black Pearl.”

The Black Pearl? What’s that?

“I take it by the look on your face you’re wondering what the Black Pearl is, and where to find it. Well, I’m something of a traveler of the world too, I’ve seen it all and nearly the end of it, and should’ve made a map of it myself. I’ve been looking for it for years. It’s a big, black pearl the size of a puppet’s head that shines like star fire within its inner glow. Oh. But I’ve since given up, feeling that now- after so many years- it’s not worth it.. I found it for a bit, but its sort of unreachable now.”

“For a bit?”

“It fell off my boat.”

Gallenthmir was drooling now. “Well?”

“It’s in Whirlpool Reef..”

“Whirlpool Reef? Where’s that?”

“It’s a little out of the way if you’re on your way to True Happiness, as I’ve heard your crew members whispering about, but if you find it, you could have enough money to rent happiness like I and my high society do. It’s the good life.”

“Really? ..Draw me a map.”

He gave her one, already drawn. “Only I should mention, it’s surrounded entirely by whirlpools, and is inaccessible by boat, which is the only way of travel these days, unless you grow wings and fly.”

“I have wings,” said Gallenthmir, flapping them, and walked away, and picked her way to shore, and motioned to her crew. She said to them, “I don’t suppose we’ll find Happiness here, ladies. Better make our way back to the P.S. . . shit.”

J J J

Chowder and Frenchie joined her for barbecue, whilst the little lady, Nancy Pennington, loitered there-a-while, around the rich locals, saying, “What’cha doing?” until finally Gallenthmir came floating back, and grabbing the puppet Pennington by her strings, led her back to the P.S. I-don’t-give-a-care.

But not a minute later, Gallenthmir came back to the Island, only to say, “Old gentleman. This map is ruined.”

“What? No, no, no. The map isn’t ruined. It’s simply written in code.”

“Code? What does it say?”

“Only dolphins can read that. Didn’t I mention that? Find some, then have them lead the way.”

J J J

As luck would have it. . On their way in any direction out, there were dolphins jumping, and saying, “Would you like to engage us in a game of Chance?”

“Chance?” said Gallenthmir.

J J J

We are the Gambling Dolphins, said the dolphins. How else are we supposed to stay rich and keep our apartments out with these rent prices? We settle in fish.

Said Gallenthmir. “No, thank you. I’m looking for the Black Pearl. Have you heard of it?”

The dolphins stopped leaping to wonder if she was serious, they even stopped chasing the flying fish they were in pursuit thereof, and Gallenthmir threw her anchor over board. One dolphin, who looked to be the king of them, as he was wearing a crown, said, “Yes, it’s a legend around these parts. But we need a map. And no, I’m not the king of us. We just dined at Burger King, and it was my birthday.”

Gallenthmir showed them a map of it, and they looked quite satisfied. Nodded. Said, “Come. Follow us. . . That is, of course, we’ll show you, if you win a little game of . . Chance.” They were addicts.

A seagull popped in overhead, flying, and said, “They’re real gamblers. It should take a lot of luck, and by chance, some skill to beat them.” Then took off in a never-ending hunt to find a rock to crap on.

But Gallenthmir could direct the wind. Gallenthmir could conduct it with a conductor’s rod. Point it in any direction she wished. It* flipped the dice the dolphin’s spouted out their holes, and landed on the proper numbers, and then, when the dolphins bade them follow, well. They did.

* the wind

Whirlpool Reef

The Reef here was all twisted out of shape from al its whirlpools.

The conch and coral were beautifully red in color.

They had won the game of Chance, as I said, and the dolphins had led them right to it. Well, close enough, close enough so that Nancy Pennington could spy it through her telescope. They didn’t say why they stopped so suddenly, but they did.

A little sea turtle nursed its eggs, and crawled slowly back to the ocean. Nancy Pennington took note of that. And said, “Hey, guys!”

The dolphins handed back the map, and said, “Thanks for all the fun.” They alone, of all species, could read the map. It was all math, in opposition to the letters and symbols of ordinary maps and all that. Dolphins love math.

J J J

When they had reached Whirlpool Reef, the dolphins bade them goodbye, and Chowder, who saw fins in the water not a while back, and out of a mild curiosity for soup that night, laid out a chum bucket, and fished for sharks. “You three go ahead,” she said to Gallenthmir and Nancy Pennington, and Frenchie. “I’ll get supper ready for tonight.” Wasn’t it so like Chowder. . always thinking of food? Well, if you knew her.

But the map hadn’t disclosed one detail, and that was who was guardian of the Reef. It was the almighty- (or at least he thought he was, having so many seaside legends of his own)- Krakken. With snapping beak, and so many arms.

“We’ve almost reached the Reef, Captain!” said Nancy

Gallenthmir’s face took on the look of a cow who had suddenly grown intelligence and realized what it was exactly the farmers were touching when they milked it for sustenance. Said Gallenthmir, “Man the cannons!”

“But we’re women!” said Nancy Pennington.

“Happiness isn’t this way,” said Gallenthmir. “It’s the Black Death!”

L L L

The Krakken, all black, an omen of impending doom, popped out of the water and said, “I like a good sea battle. I’m a regular seaman. Fire the cannons, they won’t hurt me. But my beak will penetrate your boat.”

I cringed at that. I was the boat. I had ears on the side of it and eyes for jeopardy.

The Reef was surrounded with whirlpools, and they suddenly knew why. It was the Krakken! He was lord of whirlpools. He lived in whirlpools. It was almost impossible to get in. So they didn’t! Why bother? He appeared in a whirlpool, great and powerful.

But a sudden storm appeared on the– on the– left. And it blew their ship into it* with the wind from its laughter. Ha. Ha. Ha, it said. Now, Nancy Pennington wasn’t sure, but she was pretty sure, and what she was sure of was that she had seen the form of a lovely woman walking on water in the midst of the storm..

* the Reef

J J J

Safe for now.

There was said to be the Black Pearl on the bottom of this Reef somewhere, anyways, in a giant clam that had learned to walk, as the crudely-drawn-by-dolphins algorithm math map may indicate. Gallenthmir decided, since they were there, to go after it.

She looked all around her. The Krakken was certainly gone with the storm.

A sudden fish jumped out of the water and said, “Lovelydayforaswim, isn’tit, miss?” almost as quickly as it could before it fell back into the water, and Gallenthmir said, “M-yes. Especially when it’s pearls we’re after,” and fitting on her sea helmet, fell into the water.

And propelled herself forward with her tail.

J J J

They passed many strange, talking, bubbling animals on the way to the giant clam with feet.

Careful clown fish, all orange and black and white, and their poisonous sea anemone houses with many feelers they made home in. Poisonous ringed octopus. Poisoned sea snakes. Sea horses, what didn’t look like horses, not poisonous. Flounder, quite invisible from the front, but fat on the side, also not poisonous. Manta ray, with its– but why am I giving you a marine biology lesson? Read a book!

..Oh, I see. . You’re already reading one..

Well, there was the puffer fish, and if you’re interested in that, you can just check the internet. They puff out with spikes when scared, and deflate when– most of the times, they’re deflated.

J J J

Coral that looked quite like human brains, only colored and planted in the sand, formed most of the base of the entire reef. But it was sharp. And it was cruel, this growing thing. To touch it, however not poison, was to oftentimes, if tide allowed, inflict a cut. Attract. . The barracuda. Which was staring at Gallenthmir’s delicious mass right then.

She said, “Ohmygosh, a barracuda,” and shot it with her dart gun. The bloodied fish gave out a bubbled, “Hey, I was just looking at your face to see if I had recognized you from school!” and fell back into the deep, and didn’t bother her no more. Fishies go to school, you know.

And then she found it– but It wasn’t very important. So she passed on, and found the Black Pearl in a yawning giant clam with feet.

The clam walked away, yawned, showing the Pearl once more, like a tongue ring, and said, “Do I know you?” The clam was the size of a– of a– it was pretty big!

“Who? Me?” Gallenthmir said through her mask, amplified a hundred times through water. As she had a little speaker protruding out so she could talk to fish.

“Yes, I was wondering if I knew you from school.”

“I know fish travel in schools, but do clams go to college?”

“Funny. No, the goil I was looking for wasn’t quite funny.”

“Who was it?” said Gallenthmir, getting out her crow bar, and motioning to the two others who had accompanied her with additional crow bars. Bubbling through their air masks.

“Yea, she was a beautiful goil. Ten feet tall, like yerself. And she always had the problem of nosing into one another’s businesses. You’re not nosing, are ya?”

“Keep talking.”

Every time the clam talked, the shell would open, revealing the fleshy pink layer that had coated the unfortunate grain of sand that would become a fabulous black pearl so many years before, and now was as beautiful as a good day after the War had finally ended.

Said the clam, “Bright eyes. .Pirate smile. .Big, heaving chest. How am I seeing you without eyes?”

“You have eyes. They’re right here,” and poked him in them. And how he howled, and opened his mouth, revealing the tongue ring, and Gallenthmir dove after the shining black object of her affection, but the clam jumped and closed its mouth by reflex, and Gallenthmir was . . Gallenthmir was . .

“Oh, it’s terrible!” said Nancy Pennington.

“No, it’s not,” said Frenchie. “Look.”

Many openings broke through the clamshell on several angles, and the many hands of Gallenthmir could be seen scratching away for more opportunity on living Life out of a bloody clamshell, and then the clamshell could be seen slowly opening and suddenly, quite suddenly, WHAM!

The clamshell burst its top, and Gallenthmir could be seen holding the top piece of the shell with six hands, and strangling the pink, fleshy mass with two, looking into its ‘eyes’, wherever eyes could be found, saying, “You do know me from somewhere. Your dreams, little clam. Muhaha!”

The clam’s speech was jumbled, as if it now had no teeth. “Sssthweeter dreams I never had, Miss. Now, would you pleathe let go of the Pearl. You don’t know what you’re mething with.”

“No, your bad dreams. The kinds you run in.. You know. Um, erm, nightmares.”

Gallenthmir tore the pink sea animal out of its shell, and then she– and then she put it down, and put the Black Pearl in her special carrying case she brought down just for the occasion. “I’m keeping this,” she said, showcasing it.

And the pink mass, which was really just a muscle with organs inside, muscled away on the ocean floor, without a shell. Poor thing, thought Nancy Pennington, as Frenchie followed the driving tail of her lady, Gallenthmir. Swimming with all arms, as a many-armed thing swam slowly after them.

L L L

I’m not one for suspense. If you want suspense, read a true love, high adventure, Thriller book. So here it goes.

It was the Krakken that swam s l o w l y after them.

And here’s the other thing I’m just dying to disclose.

The pearl Gallenthmir had found was not a pearl, it was, in fact, an egg. An egg the giant clam, Crawly, had been charged by the egg’s mother for protection. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. I know, it’s old expression my mother used to use, but I like it.

So, thereupon hoisting the Black ‘Pearl’ on board the P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins, it was now not a surprise to the reader that the Krakken desired even more so to smash the tiny vessel to bits. Yes, it was so horrible, I used italix.

Began the Krakken, “Who among you steals my eg?-”

“Eat this, please,” said Gallenthmir, and shot a cannon with a bomb in it down the monster’s beak. And it exploded. Gallenthmir didn’t walk away, and not look at explosions, quite often as cool guys do. She quite* easily sat down, and watched the wretched thing go up in cinders. It was raining Krakken. “Mm. Fried foods,” reflected Chowder, opening her mouth, and letting them fall on her tongue like snowflakes; and Frenchie looked in wonder at her captain, while Nancy Pennington looked on.

* there’s that ‘quite’ again. I use that a lot. Sorry.

The Island of Inflatable Pants

On this island, everyone’s pants were inflatable. So they floated upside-down, just a foot above the ground. Their heads pointing towards the ground.

The island itself was a giant tree growing right out of the ocean, you should know, whose roots were the island. That’s a lot of firewood.

J J J

“Buy our pants, you’ll be happy you did,” said a neighboring vendor.

“Did you say, I’ll be happy if I buy your pants? Did you say that?”

“No, ma’am. You said that.”

“Because if I did buy your pants, and I’m not saying I would, I don’t think I’d be altogether happy. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

The inflatable pants merchant hovered over to his stand and said, “Well, what about this? We’ve got some good merchandise here.”

Said Gallenthmir*, “Junk, junk.”

* She had been the one in conversation with him, right?

“This junk is solid gold! It’s on sale. 3 dollars.”

Said Gallenthmir, “Junk. But it’s my junk. I want it all! I’ll try it. I’ll even buy the inflatable pants!”

“Whatever fits you, miss.”

She tried them. They worked just fine, but she wasn’t particularly happy. She was for a while, but it didn’t last. It had that new car smell. She loved that. That always made her happy.

Suddenly, hark the herald, angels did sing, and Frenchie, who was thinking about death at the moment- (she was quite morbid) -dropped her mouth, and checked her eyes.

J J J

Angels were descending from the sky onto the Island of Inflatable Pants, on a stairway built to heaven, and bought pounds after pounds of inflatable pants. To, you know. To help them fly up there.. They sang a new song about it:

Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Our pants can inflate now. It’s like sitting on a cloud. This is great.J

Frenchie was star-struck. No, she was God-struck! She was on her knees. She built a small monument and a shrine to the exact location of the stairway’s port unto the world, and the angels could only laugh and say, “Hmm. I wonder why they’re doing construction down here.”

Said another angel, “I know. It’s inconvenient. Right in front of our Stairway to Earth, so we can go shopping and to the mall. Maybe we should tell God to, you know, remove it with, you know.” It was right in the way of the Gate to Paradise.

“I know,” said the other angel, and passed on.

J J J

On this island, the seagulls nested, crying, “Number one! Number two! For us, it’s just the same!” Seagulls, on pink frosted rocks.

It took me a while to figure that out.. It’s a little science, and a little immature toilet humor.

Puffins, a type of bird that flies and swims, the only type of bird, dove off the rocks and into the ocean for a swim, while sea lions basked in the sunny roots, and barked like dogs do. Clapping their flippers.

Meanwhile, Frenchie had an idea to chop down the island tree for firewood, but that would take all century, so Chowder dragged her off and said, If you have so much time on your hands, you could help in the kitchen; while Nancy Pennington put her hands on her hips and spoke to the sea lions, “I know you have ears, so speak to me.”

Their whiskers twitched. But all they did was bark.

“They’re the only dumb animal in Mirror Country, kid,” said Gallenthmir.

“Really?”

“No. They’re just stubborn.”

A sea lion smirked and went, “Humph!”

J J J

There wasn’t much doing here, save blowing up inflatable pants, and that did murder on the lungs, or maybe it strengthened it- I don’t know, I’m not a lungitologist! So they passed on. Following Gallenthmir’s golden compass to True Happiness.

A Happenin’ Spot for Whales

It was called Whalebone Cove, but that was not because it was made of whalebones. I’ll give you half a moment to think about that after I say that it was where sea mammals got their erections.

A very happenin’ night spot for sea mammals!

J J J

It was a bar in there. Smoke hung in the air like little clouds of cumulus. One of the whales cheated at poker, and another whale took out his glass contact- (the kind that still works underwater) -smashed it on a table, and used it like a sword. They got into a fin fight, and it was quite bloody, but I’ll spare you the gore, mostly because I just don’t care to go into it.

A giant squid came in through the door, and shouted, “Spermy~! I’m calling you out!”

How quirky ;p

L L L

A sperm whale got up from the blackjack table, and stood up to his full 60 feet. He had very muscular abs, and a big, fat head. He had been performing sit-up’s in the company of immodest groupies. “Squid. I thought I drove you out of town.”

“You did. In your sister’s car. But then I drove back in my brother’s Mercedes, and with much more confidence, being in a much classier car than a–”

“–We don’t need to drive cars! We’re water creatures..”

“Oh, right.”

L L L

They fought, but it wasn’t very exciting. The squid let out a jet of ink and latched itself on the sperm whale, and then the sperm whale devoured him. I guess that was kinda exciting..

J J J

There were other events:

A porpoise ran away with a mollusk. But there wasn’t much to it. The mollusk tripped on water, and the porpoise realized he was too drunk to tell the difference between a good-looking mollusk and a run-of-the-mill North Atlantic Right Whale.

Man, oh man.

A lot of hippies had gathered, and were having sex right alongside of them.

One of them got into a debate with an out-of-place Republican who’d gotten — in all likelihood — lost in there.

Said the hippie, “Trees are people too, you know! Have you ever met a tree, man? Have you ever shook boughs with a tree? Have you ever exchanged petals? You don’t Know their herbi-culture!”

Poppycock. “I don’t even know you, man!” said the man in a business suit, who looked quite out of place in all the fornication.

Said the hippie, “I don’t even know myself, sir. That’s why I’m trying to find my meaning in life in herbology.” Sad L

The hippie smoked a whole bush, then he slept with it. Hippies love nature.

J J J

“Surely, sex will make me happy,” said Gallenthmir, and joined them for a good week. I mean, it was a good weak. It made her happy in sudden bursts, sleepy a little afterwards, yes, but it got boring after the following seven months. She’d explored every inch of the human frame. Now, it was just chores.

The very same hippie who had talked to the man in a business suit came out wearing a bush, or maybe that was his own hair, and he said to Gallenthmir, “You’re new around here.”

“No, I’m not. I’ve been here for several months. We’ve even dated. I met your parents!”

“Oh. Well, I was wondering–”

“Yes?” said Gallenthmir, looking up expectedly, or down. She was ten feet tall.

(Nancy Pennington and the rest were up at the ship, by the way, as they had gotten bored of being in the Whalebone Cave, and wanted to set out on an adventure.)

Said the hippie, “Are you going to eat that? I mean, would you like to join our resistance?”

“Am I going to eat what?”

He didn’t seem to be listening. “That– that– resistance of ours. We’re here to protect the whales, it’s our –” he looked for a better word, but couldn’t find it “–job.” He had his pinky up his ear. Hippies generally hate jobs.

“And does protecting whales — having a job, having a purpose — does that make you glad?”

“Purpose? Right.. Well — most of the times. I do it for myself personally. It makes me feel good. I don’t really help other people unless I get something out of it.”

“That’s sort of — selfish; but if you makes you glad, maybe it’s rational self-interest.”

Said the hippie, “That’s a good way of puttin’ it! So would you like to come with us?” and reached out.

“Several times,” said Gallenthmir.

“To the harpoons!” said Frenchie above them. She was in one of her French-type moods. The kind French persons get into; which, by the way, how did she get into a French mood, when there is no France, and how are they speaking in English, when there is no England?

“You know. That’s a solid question,” said Frenchie, in French. “But first, we fight.”

And joined some wild poachers in poaching; you know, the way poachers do, with sharpened objects and such, while Green Peace protested with signs that read, “We can’t read.” . . (I’m sorry, it didn’t say that)- it read, “We’re standing in line, we’re carrying signs” …  But it wasn’t very convincing to the other poachers.

“Say that to our faces!” said the poachers. “We can’t read.”

“Exactly,” said the hippies, and pointed to their signs. The ones that read– oh, what do you know? It really did say that.

Anyways, the whole thing was broken up by a squad of puppet police, and the poachers disbanded, and Green Peace celebrated by going out for sushi.

J J J

Gallenthmir was a tad disappointed by the whole affair. She rounded up her crew, and set off in the direction of True Happiness, the kind she hadn’t found yet.

While Sirens on the sea- bodies of beautiful women, legs of monster- cried out, Want me! Want me! give yourself over to absolute pleasure. Find your happiness here!

The Island of Irregular Bowel Movements

Meanwhile, in between islands..

“What’s that?”

“A giant insect.”

“No, Captain! What is that?”

“It’s a giant, flying insect. They’re quite common in the Spud-lind*, which is connected to our world with the many reflections off pools of water; or mirrors. Watch this. I’ll show you a door.” Gallenthmir picked up her pocket mirror, a mirror used for makeup, and pointed to her reflection and the reflection winked at her, doing something different with its body than she had done with hers. Then, it suddenly got bored, and walked off.

* Spud-lind, or Spud, was the former earth before it got nuked and turned into a frozen potato shape by that infamous trixter in my previous books. .Mirror Country was connected to it through some magic means. You had to smother yourself in chocolate, and dress up like Miss Piggy to get there, to Mirror Country, mostly to be accepted by the puppet kind, but once you got there, once the chocolate melted, you’d be instantly transported back. What a hoot.

“Captain! Where’d it go?”

Said Gallenthmir, “You don’t expect them to stand there all day, do you? They’ve got things to do, butts to kiss. That was just one of the many entrances into Mirror Country, our home. I’ve been on the other side. It’s a crazy place.”

“Well, what’s it like?”

“Well, for one thing. They all wear shirts on their tops and pants on their bottom.”

“Well, Captain, isn’t that a normal thing to do?”

“I know. It’s weird. They’re all so normal over there. I’ll tell you something else that is irregular.”

On this island, everybody had irregular bowel movements. Boom! They landed on its shore.

Nancy Pennington’s and Captain Gallenthmir’s talk was over.

About the island:

J J J

The island itself was an extinct volcano with a little lake inside*, and boats where there stood little outhouses with half moons on them, but it wasn’t dirty. No one could go. They were all in a state of suspended constipation. There, they were like ornery hippos in teacups, bouncing around like a game of bumper boats, bouncing into each other. Engorged from non-relief.

* like in the story before, yes, you noticed

The crew off the P.S. Bring Muffins were on the case.

Gallenthmir, and Nancy Pennington, and Frenchie leaving the ship, whilst Chowder prepared supper. And ere, they climbed up to the peakest peak of the peak of the volcano, and treading down it, paid for a rent-a-canoe, as the compass pointed directly through the Island, following East, West, North, South- all over the place, really- ere they bumped into some guy.

He said, “Sorry, excuse me, pardon me,” and boated off in a paddle boat.

Not too far off from that exact spot, a constipated vendor shouted out, “Agh! Try these marvelous concoctions for fast, effective relief. Happiness: in fourteen flavors. Agh!” Hey, he promised.

Gallenthmir tried one, but it made her dizzy as a side effect whenever she stood up too fast, and she was almost too regular the next day.

“How come this doesn’t work with you?” she came back to ask him.

“Yeah!” said Nancy Pennington. “We want to know.”

“I’ll kiss you, if you tell us,” said Frenchie. “I’m quite skilled.” She’s French, you know.

Something bit her on the head. She looked up.

J J J

Something sharp had indeed hit her, but it wasn’t an animal. It was a prune pit.

Prune-pits fell from the sky, and landed with several distinct noises. Every sound of thunder was a fart. It seemed the gods were quite regular, and had been holding out on the little people.

The vendor pointed up. Grunting. “It’s not us, it’s them. Agh! This island is cursed by the gods.” To need the prunes, but only get the prune pits. Sad L

“Then why don’t you leave?” asked Frenchie.

His face was mutilated in torment from his horrid affliction. “Agh! We would, but do you really think paddle boats would get that far on the Open Sea? We’d be capsized by the monstrous waves. Besides, other puppets don’t really come out this far. It’s uncharted ocean wilderness. Agh! I’ve tried every kind of relief-medicine there is out there. If only we weren’t in pain, why, we could be happy.”

“Say ‘agh’ more. I’m not in pain,” said Gallenthmir. “I’m not happy.”

“Yeah! She’s not happy!” said Nancy Pennington. “That’s why we’re off on this journey. To find True–”

“Love?” suggested the constipated vendor.

“No, I was gonna say ‘Happiness’.”

“Well, you won’t get it here. Agh!”

“Thank you for your — time,” said Gallenthmir, turning away, and pedaling for the side of the cliff face.

“Thank you for your — business, stranger.”

Suddenly, the water turned all red, and began to cook. Gallenthmir, who was paddling with her arms, recoiled and said, “Yee-ouch! Hot!” and finding a nearby paddle boat, leapt into it, right on another puppet, and began to paddle away with her mobile feet powering the device. Frenchie and Nancy Pennington quickly followed her in her pursuit, and then, it happened..

..But it wasn’t very important.

What was really important is that the volcano had blown its top, spilling boiling water, and the town of Constipia was destroyed! Spilled into the ocean. It just about scared the crap out of everyone, and they were quite happy about it. Everyone rejoiced J

J J J

On the open sea again, great white sharks hunted for seagulls, leaping out of the water, while Gallenthmir threw up the side effects of her relief-medicine overboard.

The Ghost Ship Came at a Full Moon at Midnight

Listen. Look. Believe!

Have you ever seen a ghost before?

…Hey, I can’t tell what your answer is, I’m asking you.

The ghost ship came at a full moon at midnight, captained by inane puppets wearing Technicolor bed sheets.

L L L

“Boob,” they said, meaning with every particle of their being to say, “Boo.” But, ya see, Gallenthmir was quite busty, and they glowed in the dark, her bust, and they must’ve had this distraction in the back of their fluorescent minds. They also said, “Give me all your booty.” But they were low talkers. Gallenthmir didn’t really hear them.

J J J

“So we’re pirates, right?” said Nancy Pennington. “When are we going to do any pirating?”

“Now?” suggested Frenchie.

“Now,” affirmed Gallenthmir.

The ghost pirates whispered as loud as they could, “Boob!”

“Did you hear something?” said Frenchie, mopping the poop deck. Nancy Pennington was busy in the crow’s nest, keeping a sharp lookout for pirates, and other hazards, while trying to contain herself from laughter at the thought of ‘poop’. She had her pirate hat tipped over her one good eye, the other one, the one with the patch I didn’t tell you about, making sure all dangers were accounted for. Softly snoring.

“Boob!”

“Did you hear something?” said Frenchie again.

Said Chowder, from the kitchen below, “Yeah. That’s like saying ‘penis’ as loud as you can in math class.”

Gallenthmir was at the wheel, piloting the ship when she saw them. “Pirates! Other pirates! Oh, good! Oh, good! Maybe we can exchange phone numbers, and travel together.”

A flaming skeleton in pirate coats, with peg legs and eye patches, and burning parrot, piloted the ship. The parrot always complaining about its feet getting too hot.

Shape-changing demon were its pitiless crew.

They had since been undecided about what shape they were going to be, and were in a mix somewhere between a bucket of ice water and one of those volcanoes you get from mixing whatsit and baking soda together in all those science experiments at home school.

“My lord,” said the shape-changing demons, now a beetle, now a stick. “They’re not spookified!”

“How can that be?” said the ghost pirate captain, his head flaming, looking through a telescope. “We are. We’re very scary.”

“Maybe they don’t hear us. We are low talkers.”

“If we could just raise up some kind of sign, Captain,” said another shape-changing demon, now a dish of pork, now an ocelot.

“I know!” said the captain. “Let’s just kill ‘em, and steal their booty.” He took off his skull, set his head on the ignition to a loaded cannon, and fired first shot. It bounced Gallenthmir in the chest, but Gallenthmir, being made most probably of rubber, bounced it right back and it tagged the ghost pirate captain in the lip, if a bone could have lips. It seemed halfway melted off.

J J J

“Captain, what was that?” said Frenchie, from the P.S. Muffins.

“Ooh! Ooh! I know what it is!” said Nancy Pennington, from the Crow’s Nest, looking quickly through her spy glass.

Said Gallenthmir, “Before you start chiming like a monkey, and you already have, why not help pick me up, I think I was just hit by a cannonball.”

“WHO WANTS A MIDNIGHT SNACK?” shouted Chowder, from below. “I just marinated it in whiskey sauce. It’s my own double delicious bread puddin’.”

“No one likes your pudding,” said Frenchie.

Another shot, and Frenchie found herself bounced overboard, caught on a cannonball, and jettisoned into the bottom of the ocean.

L L L

Not too far down, maybe a couple of dozen feet. (It was a shallow ocean.)

There, there were swimming red lobster, and a giant crab (12 feet tall, with pinchers). It merely waved a How you do? Scallops. The scallop said, “I’m allergic to bivalves. Achoo!”

“What’s a bivalve?” bubbled Frenchie, who had suddenly hit rock bottom, as it were. And was meticulously trying to undo her crumpled-in body from the cannonball that led her down.

“Ask me again. Maybe I’ll tell you. Achoo!”

“What’s a?–”

“Save your breath, air breather. If you must know, it’s me. It’s me. A bivalve is me. I’m allergic to myself! It’s quite the conundrum. Achoo!” “How does one ‘achoo’ without a nose?”  This is important.

“One does it quite easily. Achoo! How does one breathe underwater without gills?”

Up above, it was midnight. How it was midnight Gallenthmir didn’t know. It was always noon wherever she traveled.

What had really happened, is the Moon had been nursing a grudge against the sun; it had nursed once since long ago.. Let me tell you about it.

J J J

Listen. This is important. I said, Gallenthmir had fed the sun once, and it’s since been following her around. What I failed to mention, is what she had fed it from!

She had sampled a cookie-shaped bite off the moon and handed it to the sun in exchange that the sun would always point her in the right direction overseas and on land.

Now, the Moon had come back with many moons, for payback. It had collected them from other planets. And they were beating up on the Sun!

“But what happened to the ghost pirates?!” I’ll get to that later.

Ah, I better tell you now before I forget.. L

What really happened is, the ghost pirates’ cannons became so loud that a particular band of angels in the clouds above heard them, and shouted down, “Hey, knock it off. We’re playing an etude!”

“Yeah, it’s really quite amazing. Would you knock it off?” and looking down at the cannon fire, which wouldn’t knock-it-off, they fell down from heaven, loosened their wings, hovered over the ghost ship, took out their fiery swords, and said, “Demons again? How many times do we have to tell you to keep it down?”

Said the demons, “But we were whispering as loud as we could! Just like you told us.”

“It’s not the shouting this time, it’s the cannons.”

The ghost pirate captain, meanwhile, was in a rage putting himself back together again. The ham bone connected to the steak bone, and all that. And one of the shape-shifters, having just turned into a dog, was playing with his bones.

Anyways, the angels beat up on them. Sunk their battleship. Victory.

But about that moon nursing a grudge on the Sun and beating up on the Sun with its other moon-buddies… :

J J J

What you see in Mirror Country is exactly as it appears.

If the Sun appears to be rising, then it is.

If the Sun appears to be setting in the water to bed, then it is.

If the Sun appears small, and not much bigger than the Moon, than, well, they are that small. You could reach up and crunch it* like a cookie.

* the Moon

So the Sun and Moon were gone, off, away, somewhere. The Sun had, in fact, been kidnapped, and the world had become a good deal colder.

This is important, how?

L L L

Now, Gallenthmir and her crew would have to steer by stars. But that was the trick!

J J J

You see, in her world, stars were pranksters. They were never where you wanted them to be.

You looked up, and there was the Milky Way.

You looked away, you looked up, and it was just a curdled milk stain on the rug, and all the stars you had hoped would stay quite still, the Polaris of your northern sky, were gone! Tripped away somewhere. They were winking, always to each other, and not too far away, laughing at you.

But Gallenthmir’s compass wasn’t broken. She would have to steer by that. Putting all faith in a gypsy trader.

And so, the Ghost Ship came at a full moon? Full Moon? Where’s the Full Moon?! It had been revoked, and was beating up with its brothers and sisters around the Sun.

And the world had grown a bit duller..

L L L

Meanwhile, meteor showers with happy, talking sparks rained from the heavens. They were the angels. Having a good time. Playing etudes.

And what of Chowder’s midnight snack she had been fixing?

Now, that it was forever night, they had a barbecue outside, on the boat, alight with Tiki torches, and Chowder wore a “Don’t kiss the cook” shirt, as they were all women, and they weren’t that way.

Gallenthmir checked her compass. Then pointed: “This way to True — oh, what’s the point!”

The Island of Vaguely Specific Super Powers

Red rain.

Again, the angels were making jokes, philosophizing, getting closer under the stars*, peeing again. Must be a very painful urine..

* swapping manly stories

Actually, it was tiny microscopic creatures that made it red, which sugared the oceans, made it sweet, but the inhabitants of the sea didn’t know that.

“Shouldn’t we have parrots?” said Nancy Pennington.

“What do you mean?” said Frenchie.

J J J

On this island, anyways, all the inhabitants had vaguely specific super powers.

Like, for instance, Sits-On-Glass-and-Bleeds-Pheasants Boy. Whenever one was in the need of pheasants*, all one had to do was break a favorite vase and wham down Sits-On-Glass-and-Bleeds-Pheasants Boy on it and out popped your favorite dish- a bird.

* quite a commodity

Disposable Lad was afraid he was going to be the next to be eaten.

Happy Man shouted, “I’m happy — ALL THE TIME — it’s great!” He was only happy because he was on crazy pills.

“If I just had your oddly specific super power,” said Gallenthmir. “Then I’d be happy.”

The island itself was hovering above the water, treading on legs. The island had legs.

All the denizens of the island looked to be no more than 11, 12 years old, but they were of an esteemed age. Their longevity went way beyond the lives of several turtles.

“No, I’m really 12.”

Oh. Forget that then..

L L L

Back to the time they first found it!

It was an icy waste of a world. A frozen strip of lunatic desolation.

An archipelago of many small islands in a frozen land. Killer whales capsizing small glaciers to get at their penguin sweets. Polar bears, swimming.

And suddenly- CRASH- the P.S. Muffins crashed on an iceberg.

The water around this island were all frozen in Time, so you could climb up an ocean wave, stand on a seagull. Overhead, the albatross hang motionless upon the wind. Everything is quite solid. And they were on an island filled with superheroes, and no one to save but themselves..

J J J

“And does helping one another — you know — caring selflessly for another puppet being make you happy?”

Said Sir Points-Out-the-Obvious-a-Lot, “It does especially if you’re not bipolar. If you are, can I recommend a good therapist?”

“That’s not obvious.”

Therapist Man came flying out of the shadows, with flowing cape, with his prissy hands bent like a velociraptor, and he said, “Yes? Vot?” He landed with his hands on hips. He looked quite powerful.

All of Gallenthmir and her crew were on the main Island, with the exception of Chowder, as the compass had led them there. She had stayed back to keep safe the ship.

Said Sir Points-Out-the-Obvious-a-Lot, “They were just wondering how you can find True Happiness?”

Said Therapist Man, suddenly conjuring out a couch, and ushering Gallenthmir and crew to sit, “Yes? Vell. It’s quite simple. All vun must do to be, how do you say . .  happy … all vun must do is . . . See a therapist twice a week! Yop.” He, also, looked twelve years old. But was wearing the tweeds of a therapist.

“Are you sure that’s the correct answer?” said they.

“Vy, certainly,” said Therapist Man. Puffing his pipe.

And so they did. But seeing a therapist, you could see him and see him, and it didn’t matter if you ever got any better. The only good thing was, well, they couldn’t help but look forward to it, and it did make them a little happy to share their thoughts and feelings, their life history, but it did major damage with their booty- I guess that’s the only good three things.

After a while, they simply couldn’t afford it.

“Right, we’ll need more booty if we want to be happy extensively,” said Gallenthmir. “Don’t put this location on the map. ‘Tis a silly place. Let’s go! I gotta pee!”

Said Nancy Pennington, “I gotta pee too, Sir,” she meant ‘Captain,’ I think, “but right now, we gotta get our ship fixed first!”

“Oh, right,” said Frenchie. “Awesome.”

Said Chowder, who had gotten bored of waiting in the boat, catching up, “I tried eating the berries here, but they wouldn’t pop in my mouth. Is there some reason this entire island is frozen in time, save its denizens?”

“That’s a short story, actually,” said Can-Make-Burgers-out-of-Tree-Roots Boy. “It’s because we wanted it that way.”

“You see,” said I-Can-Do-Anything-You-Can-Do-But-Better-Is-Something-I-Do-and-Is-Also-My-Favorite-Song Woman. Um. “It all began back when we children came overseas with our parents and got in this big, bad storm.”

Many superheroes continued the tale, but we’ll just stick to one long continuity, instead of saying who continued what part of the story.

J J J

Said the vaguely specific powered superheroes, one after the other, “Then we saw the form of a beautiful lady walking on the water, and it was odd, but it was too late! Our boat had capsized . . . (switch of storyteller) . . . Our parents died trying to save us, and once we were abandoned on this mysterious island, we came in contact with a mysterious artifact. . . (switch) . . . The Black Pearl! . . . (switch) . . . The real Black Pearl, not the fake one! How do we know about that? Everyone this side of the world knows about it . . . It transformed us into these, these super heroes with such weird and fantastic . . .” “and pointless,” said Frenchie “ . . . powers. We were only very young at the time, then, once the oldest of us began to age and die, and we realized we were going to die some day too, so with our powers combined, we summoned Captain Planet, but he couldn’t do anything  . . . Oh, c’mon, laugh! I thought it was funny.. Then, with our powers combined again, by luck and some skill, we froze Time around this island so we could live forever!”

“Second thought,” said Gallenthmir, dictating. “Chart this on the map, and underline it.”

“Right,” said Chowder. “Can you fix our ship?”

They super powered up the ship. Now it could backflips. Sideflips. Corkscrews. The ship could skip, jump, and loop-de-loop. Tie its shoes. Leaping on water. What a pointless quality. Joy.

“And about your question,” said they. “Living together without parents is tough, but with friends, and with having each other, and with the help that comes from the two, I think — yes, I think we can be happy…” J

The Master of Puppets

Gallenthmir was sitting in her captain’s cabin, engorging herself with ice cream, watching her big screen TV, when Frenchie came in.

Now, Frenchie noticed the TV first, where a little goldfish in a bowl was swimming ‘round and ‘round inside it on screen, it seemed. “Captain. You’ve been holding out on us.”

“Oh, the TV. There’s nothing on.”

Good men are hard to find sometimes, but if you know the right places… you can find them.

Frenchie was a pirate, and a good man. She wouldn’t settle for the rest of the crew being held out on.

“Captain!”

“No.”

“O-kay,” and left her.

J J J

The P.S. Muffins, following the course of the golden compass, ended up in the very inner sanctum of Mirror Country, where the Puppet Master controlled all the puppets, and the puppets got to thinking maybe the thoughts in their heads weren’t also all schneegily puff. That’s not a word, nor a phrase, but I think it makes sense most anyways. Doesn’t it?

J J J

Here, there were cardboard seas, and cardboard stars. Everything was — fake. Everything looked like a play that backstage some secret hands had been running cheap special effects. And stars held up by strings. The gulls held up as if by invisible strings. In fact, that’s what they were. And little men were busy running to and fro, with shark fins on their backs, to give the illusion of a possible calamity.

Suddenly, the curtain dropped, and the critics came up. They were on the balcony. They said, “It’s so real!” ….

J J J

The audience either applauded or booed at that point, I can’t tell you which. It was a particularly Central African audience from Earth, and they applauded or booed in different ways than the Western cultures do. Some by clicking their tongues.

The maestro started up the music, and said, “Alright, you cool cats.”

The curtain came back up at the stroke of the maestro’s hand.

J J J

And suddenly, the man with a million arms came from backstage, the Master of Puppets, with his hands up the puppets on the cardboard sea, said, “I can’t keep doing this!” and walked out. To his trailer.

It stopped the whole production that had been playing of

The Island of Indecision: a heart-warming tale with a message*

* plus, it’s got pirates too!

By Q-Burt

And the producers went quickly to his trailer and tried to reason with him: the Master of Puppets. So did Gallenthmir and her three puppets: the puppets she had volunteered to take over to lighten the Master of Puppets’ load, as she had a few extra helping hands.

The puppets performed a puppet show to cheer him up.

“No, this is pointless,” said the Master of Puppets. “You can’t possibly find True-! Look, I looked.” And massaged his arthritic hands, holding them to warm over a candle. “And you,” said the Master of Puppets to Gallenthmir’s puppet crew. “You’re nothing but underlings. Slaves. Puppets, with nothing in your head but what your superiors put into them. You can’t possibly ever be glad. But I can rent it. I know the secret!”

Said Nancy Pennington, “But someone told me money and power isn’t essential in, in — ”

“Someone was wrong. That’s the secret.”

The compass’ needle wasn’t pointing at him.

Somewhere, wherever special effects were taking place, cardboard blue whales hopped through the cardboard seas, the undertow dragged them away. The underwater river currents swept us this way and that!

Listen, it’s gonna take some time to convince the Master of Puppets to begin the show again, so in the meanwhile, could you please just enjoy the following anecdote until we convince him? Thank you.

L L L

Meanwhile, at the Moon’s parent’s house..

The Sun was tied up in the basement, where the Moon often went to bed in the morning after a long night of shining! Well, sometimes shining in the day, but not so often after the Sun and Moon had their little fight.

“Please,” said the Sun. “Let me go.”

“Okay!” said the many moons.

“Really?”

“-No,” said they.

“Darn the luck. Darn!”

“Boss, what are we going to do to ‘im?” said the many moons.

Said another moon, “Are you sure it’s a him? Could be a she.”

“Never mind that!” said another. “The point is, we’ve brought ‘im here, now we’ve got to decide on how we’re going to bash his brains to bits!”

The Sun chimed in, “Uh. Suns don’t have brains.”

“Well, then, we’ll cook him!”

“I’m superheated with thermonuclear fusion.”

“…We could cut him.”

Said the Sun, “I’m pretty much all gas. The blade would go right through me.”

“We could blow him up.”

“I’m already an extended explosion.”

“I get it! We could douse it in water!”

Said the Sun, “You sure you want boiling water to burst all over you? I’m quite hot.”

The Moon looked tense. If, in fact, a moon could look, does look, did look, tense. She formed a team circle with the other moons, looking the other way, and they began to susurrus. That’s the sound your mouth makes when you whisper. Sss. Susurrus.

The ropes tied around the Sun just then realized that the Sun was quite hot*, and so they better start snapping before they catch fire, so they did, and the Sun crept off, up to the Moon’s parent’s garage, and stole away in the Moon’s father’s car.

* They had been listening to the conversation

Now, the Moon was in trouble. End of this story. The beginning of another one..

J J J

Thanks for paying attention!

He’s ready now. J

Well, the Master of Puppets was finally convinced with an early Christmas bonus, a 15% salary raise, and a cheese log, and that made him quite happy for a while, so he stuck his hands up our butts and continued the show.

Meanwhile . . . During the show, and as the curtain rose, and the audience either booed or applauded . . . The ship was leaping over a sandbar, and making evasive actions against enemy pirates that tried to trap it, and pillage its booty. Leaping over and between the ships.

It led them a tad off course*.

* Just a tad, however long in distance a ‘tad’ is.

And into a sea serpent. A type of long, swimming dragon. Which, upon rising, blew a gale of weather out its throat and took Gallenthmir and her crew into a place far, far away from their mission. And close, close, closer to harm…

The Island of Dreams Come True

This island was laid out on the back of a giant sea turtle. A moving island.

A turtle’s back is perfect for carrying islands, at least if the turtle is large enough, though sometimes, if he shifts too much or dives, it can be quite a bit of a hassle. It’s been done before.

L L L

He dove while our four pirate adventurers were on board. They didn’t know it was on the back of a turtle where they had put their anchor.

Luckily for them, they were all wearing swim wear.

J J J

Then, just as suddenly as it had dove, it rose upwards right beneath them. An island with a sign on it promised, This is the island where all your dreams come true!

Thought Chowder, What if I accidentally spilled a bunch of grease overboard and made fish sticks? And pop! Fry! Sizzle! There they were! Right in her hands. Right?

Thought Frenchie, I want my dream man, and out came the richest snootiest French man riding a horse with a silk shirt and a rose in his teeth you ever saw.

Thought Nancy Pennington, I just want a bagel, and chomped on it quite nicely.

J J J

On this island, dreams really did come true. And that was the last thing you wanted, believe me. How many dreams of yours were nightmares you just were clawing to get out? You probably ran in them. But this time, there would be no waking.

Suddenly, their thoughts were racing to all the things they didn’t want to happen, and those happened too. Goblins and ghouls under the stairway, and in the closet, and under the bed, and sometimes, in the toilet, reaching out to grab you, that was my bad dream. Monsters and aliens of every kind!

“But if my dreams came true,” said Gallenthmir. “Then I know I’d certainly be happy! If I just had this, or this, or this, or that. If I became the greatest pirate the world ever knew…” and thinking it, dreaming it, it happened. Her dream came true!

(And meanwhile, her crew fought off the Darkness.)

Gallenthmir suddenly *POOF!* amassed the greatest treasures in all land and distance over and under waves. Diamonds, rubies, gold, pearls. Towel boys. And the world came to see her. Ha! She was loaded.

She was star-struck with all the Rich and Powerful she had met. And after endless days of signing her autograph to lesser pirates, she wrote an odd thing on one of the younger girl pirates, “If money can’t buy happiness, I guess I’ll have to rent it.” The line reminded her of an old fool she had met at a previous island. She sat up, went to her captain’s quarters to think about it.

But it was hollow, and pointless, and short. In all reality, so long as she didn’t continue pirating big things, her fame went suicide off the edge of celebrity, and even when she did, and her fame went up, she wasn’t truly satisfied with that. She needed more! That’s all she dreamed of. More. The more she got, the more her pleasure increased. And that was fun and good. No but’s. It really was fun. But it was only a dream. And dreams are for chumps.

L L L

She couldn’t sleep in the Island of Dreams Come True. Her tired eyes were open, her lungs heaving. She climbed up and smelled the sugary air of the sweet ocean. Picked up a tea cup and dunked it in, drunk sweet nectar.

Dismissing the occasional nightmare with a blow from her pistol and a cut from her rapier. None were formidable to meet her.

Over the port bow, the only part of the boat I know, humpback whales were out there drinking the same filth they bathed in- they defecated in, a cesspool of fish excrement. Such a wingspan. It quite nearly flew.

See how it lifts its head and leaps out the water, pumping its tail in good, full strokes? thought Gallenthmir. If only she could be as free as they.

And then she saw a curious thing.

J J J

Fish that were huge from the front, but invisible from the side? No, she was quite used to the bizarre in Mirror Country. She’d seen weirder things on TV, on fish bowl television.

No, she saw great bubbles of water suspended in the air. Gravity couldn’t have them. She’d like to fly away too. But silly! She had wings.

She flew up with them, and talked among the stars.

“Hallo!” said they, winking as stars often do. “Wot’s a good-lookin’ woman sech as yerself doin’ wid the likes o’ us?” It reminded her of a bloke. It had to be a bloke, this star. Brummy.

J J J

“I’d like to ask God and Heaven what the secret to True — well, He knows what’s on my mind, doesn’t He?” she said, hovering, crossing her eight arms. One of her arms quite occupied with picking her nose.

“Shor He does!” said a star. “Jes’ pray to Him. He’ll answer. You’ll hear ‘im in your heart. That is, of course, if yer listenin’. Bear in mind, there will be many signs. Don’t miss ‘em.”

The ghost ship came again at midnight, at a full moon, but then the Moon’s parents called about their car that had gotten stolen, and revoked the Moon’s outdoor privileges, and so she had to go away; and the Sun came to save the day, driving in the stolen car, shone a light on the ghost ship, and the ghosts were no more..

The Storm to End All Debates About Which Storm Was the … Oh, we haven’t time to make chapter titles! It’s coming.

Gallenthmir had left her wishes of Dream Come True, and fallen out of heaven like a wishing star, faced all the monsters of her nightmares, loved all the lovers of her dreams, and still felt upset that she wasn’t, as of yet, in her mind, ‘truly’ happy. Not continually.

Maybe more true love and high adventure would satisfy her.

The first monster of her dreams she faced on these perilous shores was the Hydra, in retrospect, she remembered. With its many heads, and long neck. Cut off one head, and four more grow in its place. She had often dreamed of it, chasing her down a forever hallway. Now, it was revenge time.

She made quick work of this beast of burden by punching a hole in its stomach with her eight arms and then putting a bomb in there and watching the sky rain down Hydra in many blood-colored shapes that pleased her like she’d done before.

L L L

After she gathered up her crew, and their dreams fulfilled, they set out to sea again to, to not True North, but True — you know what it is. You do. But they encountered the same storm some adolescent superheroes had faced so many centuries back..

This storm capsized the boat in a matter of minutes!

Let us explore those minutes.

J J J

First minute, the ship set sail upon the gale.

Said Gallenthmir, “Man your stations!”

“But we’re women!” said Nancy Pennington.

They saw a lady suddenly walking on the water, directing the waves, the thunder, the storm. She seemed quite peaceful in spite of it all. Then Gallenthmir remembered: all things in Mirror Country were clap-on, clap-off. She clapped her hands, and the storm was no more. The lady walking on the water said, “Hey!” and clapped her hands, and the storm was back in its boat-capsizing mood.

Clap-on, clap-off. Gallenthmir fired a harpoon at the lady on the water, and the lady cried, “Hey!” and the harpoon was attached to a rope, so Gallenthmir brought the lady on board, hoisted her up, and said, as she was suspended in the air, “Just what are you doing, ma’am?”

“Forgive me,” said the lady, giving salutation. “I am Madame Storm. I am in charge of the weather.”

Said Frenchie, “That’s like naming the ice cream man Mr. Cone. Are you sure that’s your name?”

“Sure as rain.” Resting on a pillow of winds. She smiled.

“Rain can’t be sure. It’s inanimate,” said Frenchie.

“Anyways, it’s my job to direct the moods of the weather, and I’ve decided its Storm day. If you’ll excuse me…” She picked out the harpoon imbedded in her chest, flopped like a fish on deck, and then splashed right back into the water. She had to right herself as she was wearing special, extra large boat shoes to float on the water*. But the storm only ran around her, it didn’t run through her. She was quite safe, and quite happy, and quite alone in her mission.

* It didn’t have anything to do with magic that she floated like she did.

But Madame Storm turned around on heel. And began to clap madly!

L L L

It was an intense clapping competition between her and Gallenthmir, if there ever was one! And so, there was. Flamenco style, accompanied by Spanish guitar courtesy of a flamenco hair band that Gallenthmir had hired as left-overs right off Dream Comes True coast. She had always wanted one. A Spanish flamenco band. And suddenly the boat was cut in two quite easily as a sponge cuts through, cuts through, cuts through . . a ton of iced cabbage– (or a hot knife cuts through butter. It was one or the other. I forget.)

J J J

The storm came in a tornado made of sweetwater, picked up the P.S. Bring Cindy’s . .  Eh, or what was left of it, and set it quite gently to rest on the Island of Indecision.

L L L

The ship. Broken from journey*.

* It cracked my head open. Luckily, my body escaped!

The Island of Indecision

It was only a small rock island. Nothing special about it. No power to it. But to them, it was . . Da, da, da . . The Island of —

L L L

-On this island, the voyagers were indecisive about their journey; and should they continue on? What was the point without a boat? They needed to ask the locals.

L L L

Well, there was one local. They met a masked magician on the island there, sitting down to a table of flavorful food. He was gently napping. His face deep in syrup from those little pancake thingies you get in France–whuddyakallem? When he woke up, he righted himself. He said, “Oh, I know why you are here. But you will never find Ultimate Bliss. What are you going to do, cry about It?” He was nursing a headache.

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

He led them to a door, and said, “Please.” Opening the door, they found they were in an upside-down castle; the castle’s top, or bottom- (whatever way you’re looking at it)- jutting into the ocean deep, balancing on its stem, the entire island.

“I thought it cool to build an upside-down castle. No, I’m kidding. It was once right-side up, but then some mysterious lady began a storm with her mystic powers and capsized the whole island, so now the bottom is facing up and the top is facing bottom. Dreadful. This is the Island of Indecision, only because I haven’t decided one wallpaper to furnish the walls.” It is. I named it. It’s my island.

“Blue,” suggested Gallenthmir. For a color wallpaper.

“No… No, I shouldn’t so. Too much blue in the ocean.”

“Yellow?” suggested Nancy Pennington.

“Too loud a color.”

“Red!” suggested Chowder and Frenchie together.

“You know — I’m just not sure. I don’t think I’m ready yet. Would y’all like some sodas?”

The master of the castle climbed up several furniture pieces ‘til he reached an upside-down refrigerator, and opened it, a little Eskimo boy handed him five colas, and he closed it, worked his way down, and they sat on the ceiling.

“Actually, I’d like a Dr. Pepper,” said Nancy Pennington, but Gallenthmir smacked her across the head, saying, “Nancy, you’re a guest. Be glad with what you get.” Then turning to the master, with smiling eyes: “She’s glad to get a cola. By the way, stranger, we haven’t asked your name.”

“My name is rather embarrassing..” said the master of the castle.

“How embarrassing could it be?”

“That’s right. How embarrassing could it be? Well, it’s Bates.”

Gallenthmir extended a hand, “Pleasure to meet you Master . . . Bates?…” L

Master Bates nursed his headache.

J J J

They looked out the window now and saw an angler fish with a little lamp over his eyes so that he might see. Glow fish. Gleam fish. Shine on, Fish. But then a giant something with so many arms jetted in and drove the lamp to darkness.

“I thought angler fish only existed on the bottom of the ocean,” said Chowder.

“This is the bottom of the ocean. It’s a small ocean.”

“What was that?” said Nancy Pennington.

Said Master Bates, “My pet.”

“Your pet?”

The bulging vein on his forehead suddenly seemed to subside. His features softened. “The giant squid, Tommy, I’ve named him. I love looking out the window and seeing Tommy..”

“I love squid! Squid tastes neat!” said Nancy Pennington.

“I wouldn’t have a pet that tasted so good,” said Chowder. “I’d probably end up cooking it.”

A chair fell from the ceiling? .. floor?

“Oh, drat!” said the master of the castle. And felt his head again. “I’ve nailed all the furniture to the floor and walls, so they wouldn’t look silly upside-down there, but you know, sometimes they come loose and need a good re-bolting.”

He threw it* up in the air and shot it in several places with a nail gun, and it stuck.

* the chair

“Don’t open any windows or doors down here. That wouldn’t turn out to be a happy story.”

L L L

Said Master Bates, “Tell you what. If you figure out a way to turn my castle right-side up again. I’ll tell you where to find Ultimate Bliss.” He had one bad, long headache that had lasted him for years. He’d been thinking about it for eternity.

Gallenthmir shrugged endlessly. This was quite impressive, as you may have never seen a being with eight arms shrug before. “Fine, fine,” she said, and climbed her way out to … “That’s an impossible task! Lord!”

“So’s trying to find out what you’re looking for,” said Master Bates. “Humph. Good day.”

Gallenthmir waved her squad over and said, “We’re still a pirate crew. We’re a team. We’ve still got a mission. Come on! It’s not too much farther on, come swim away with me. You can stand on my shoulders. I’m quite stable.” She left to find the — Edge of the World, but it seemed their ship had found them. It seemed to have a mind of its own, and it did. It seemed to have been thinking about them. Its face looked a bit happier since last time they met.

They took it, first thing, to —

The Edge of the World… not being found. The world isn’t flat! It’s a circle.

Well..

“If I can’t find True Happiness, I don’t wanna live!” said Nancy Pennington. “I’d rather throw myself off the edge of the world.”

But there was no edge of the world, they found out. They ended up on Destiny Islands, the exact place where they had set out from. .

L L L

Could such a place exist? they wondered. A round world? What about all the upside-down people living on the other side of the world on this round planet? What about them? How could they live with the blood rushing to their heads?

I suppose the compass did point in the right direction. But it pointed all — around — the world*.

* What a rip-off!

More on that later. But first they had found a plug in the very opposite end of the Destiny Islands they had set off on, and the compass to True Happiness pointed directly in that direction. Well, there was a lighthouse, but it couldn’t be that drab, old thing. “It’s gold, gold, gold!” said Gallenthmir. “I just know it! The key to Ultimate Bliss.” Their ship had run aground on it. A diamond-seeming object. “Quick! Nancy Pennington! Frenchie! Chowder! Help me with this.” And they pulled.

J J J

And they pulled.

L L L

And they pulled..

L L L

They pulled, and pulled, and pulled, but nothing worked. They even so much as went underwater, attached the plug to their ship, and sailed in the opposite direction, but there was nothing doing.

“There seems to be a great suction pulling on the end, Captain,” observed Frenchie. “Maybe if we–”

“–Bomb it?” said Gallenthmir. “Yes, we could bomb around the objects to loosen it up. Crew! Help me with the bombing. We’ll load the cannons and unload everything on the plug. Give ‘em all you got!”

They directed the cannons downward and shot in highly specified locations all around the plug; to loosen the sand, and soften the plug; then they set the timer for the bombs and backed up at 15 knots, pulling on the plug, and Heave!  Ho!  Heave!  Ho!

“Captain, it’s working!” said they.

They could see their efforts had borne fruit. The plug had loosened. And BOOM! As suddenly as the plug had ripped off from its stem, a great suction like never before and never again began to pull at them.

L L L

“Oops,” said Gallenthmir.

The ocean suddenly lurched, and experienced a hiccup.

“Oops,” said Gallenthmir.

The water became waves as tall as houses fit for giant men.

L L L

“I think we did it, Captain!” said Nancy Pennington. “We’ve found the treasure.”

“Fool!” said Gallenthmir. “There is no treasure. Just a hole in the ocean.”

And everything, everything, everything between islands, filtering into it. Oh, sure, it was plugged up by me, the P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins, at first, but that didn’t last. For my head had broken, and the leak of all earth had begun.

And drowned the Master of Puppets, who lived his life quite selfishly in the caverns below the world. Sitting on a pile of gold. And only then, when he looked up, in his final moments, did he say, “I don’t think I really deserved this.”

L L L

Jellyfish. Coral. Minnows. Water bugs. Tuna. Nesee. . Oh, I can’t spell that name! The Loch Ness Monster.

Everything, everything became a suction moving backwards, and back, and back, like the backwards whirlpool of a toilet in Australia country, and FLUSH! and suddenly, there was no more ocean to pirate..

It was the end.

It was over.

The world had all but dried up.

L L L

And the resulting violence had broken up the P.S. Bring Cindy’s Muffins and tossed Gallenthmir and her crew ten final miles in the direction towards the True Happiness as promised on Gallenthmir’s golden compass.

And looking up, where had the water gone? Nancy Pennington knew. She saw what the others had failed to see in their panic.

She looked back and saw a great column of water rising up out of the plug and to the heavens, and on it all the creatures of the deep, with haloed heads, swimming up the last of the water ‘til the water filled the skies, a reverse Noah; as all the water that had been there before the Flood was back where it began, and spread out. In clouds. The beginning of all life. The Single Sea. .

And Destiny Islands had ridden a geyser to the stars.

All the ocean life had died. Waterfalls falling upward, leading back Home.

White Shores

A giant insect landed on the Moon and took it away.

Kidnapped.

L L L

And the final tide rolled in, and the final tide rolled out, and in the last tide pool was left four tiny persons. Faces in the sand.

They ended up at the end of their own town of Destiny Islands.

The End?

No, but first, this happened:

J J J

They came upon the Island of True Happiness.

Gallenthmir’s compass had led them all the way 360 around the world, only for her to realize that True Happiness could be found just a quarter mile from her house. It was a man’s house*, and inside was a smoking fire, and he turned around, and said, “Hi.”

“Hi,” said Gallenthmir, and smiled. Like this: J

What’s your name?

Joi, he said.

She checked her eyes. The compass pointed directly to him. Inside this lighthouse.

You’re here because you’re looking for happiness? said Joi.

“Yes. How did you know?”

He got out his cane, and stood up. He said, A lot of folks are popping in nowadays, said they’d wandered the world looking for it, and I’m the one who’s got it.

He opened up a black book, the book, and read to her the opening lines of a chapter he had marked. “Eh-hem. Dear traveler, You’re looking too hard. What you may dismiss as trivial, the little things, could be the key to your Happiness. Are you married? Are you unmarried? Don’t go looking elsewhere unless it’s a bad fit. Um.” Now, I bought this book off a traveling priest years ago, his only copy, and since then, people have been bugging me for answers.

“I didn’t want a self-help book,” said Gallenthmir.

He stopped reading, putting his reading glasses down, and said, “The key to your Happiness, Gallenthmir, is simple: It’s different for everyone. You need to Believe in something. You need some One. You need– What am I saying? I don’t think any one can be happy all the time! Happiness comes from our happenings. True joy, or contentment, comes from within. Joy comes from God. True Happiness comes from being content with what you have. I shall not want. The good king Shepherd said that. A wise king. You’re a pirate, are you? You want the world, don’t you? Well, then. This is just coming from a lowly lighthouse worker, but I think you’ll never be happy..”

The End.

“Wait, what!” said Gallenthmir. “That can’t be the ending, can it?”

But it was.

L

Don’t look so sad. Buck up. It’s your birthday today. I got a cookie for you… J

About the Author:

The author is a manic-depressive, who sometimes knows True Happiness, and knows Ultimate Sadness. If there’s anything he’s learned, it’s that you can have it, but you can’t have it forever. It’s like a chasing after the wind. And then you have it. And then you don’t. And then — it’s there! And then — it’s gone.. But it’ll be back again. J

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.

A Short Story from “Secret Life of Homeschoolerz”

“‘Yip, Yip?’”

Starring

Ashley “Smiles”, the Eldest Vera

ASHLEY “SMILES”, THE ELDEST VERA, bent over the 4 diamond toilet seat of her restaurant and threw up.

.. out poured a dry stream.

She stood up now. Her hands, now damp with sweat, her throat, was crusted over by a green filament from which she quickly wiped away with a handkerchief.

Belching daintily, she shook her head, as she again dabbed at the mouth with the kerchief, then smiling into her Gucci bag, pursing lips and producing baby noises to her baby boy chihauhau who lay in the purse with pink curly-q’s exploding in his hair. And she said to him, “Fufu,” she said.

The chihauhau looked questioningly up to Smiles and cocked his little puppy head to one side, peering bug-eyed up at his human mother. “Yip yip?” he wondered.

Smiles teetered out of the bathroom door and over to the mirror’s blue reflection.

Again, Mr. Fufu stared up at her, bug-eyed. “Yip, yip?” he asked her. But she didn’t answer his questions.

“Sorry, babe, it’ll have to wait,” she said. “Mama’s busy.”

She reached her fingers quickly into her purse and pulled out a bottle of Chanel, a perfume that was spurted in gentle touches on both wrists, behind her ears. Quickly, she picked the bottle back up and let loose a cloud of perfume into the air, and here she shimmied her body out into the sweet-scented cumulus, wafting the beads of aroma, but now you’re not paying attention. So I’ll stop there.

And here she spoke.

She did the rest of her body over.

She saw none, of course, wrinkles. But still, she scrubbed and polished and scoured the imaginary flecks of imperfection out of her flawless skin.

And where do I go from here? she wondered. She picked up a Fashion Magazine and took up a People Magazine out of her Gucci bag and studied the columns and the beautiful faces they concerned and these she sought religiously.

After applying fresh makeup, a blend of creams, aloes, lotions, and everything that sparkles and scents, she finished the job. Sunshine sparkling out her ass!

She frowned again and swore at herself.

She was thin and perfect — perfectly thin.

She was so cute~

Once she had upchucked to her satisfaction, she stood up once more, reapplied her makeup, set her hair straight, observed her reflection in the mirror, called it terrific.

“Yip?” asked Mr. Fufu, head cocked to side.

Smiles smiled down at her barking baby boy and said, “Fufu. We’re gonna see him. Just hold on, already, hold on — keep your fur on. We’re not late.”

She strapped her Gucci bag over-shoulder and carried it like a Queen, stumbling drunkenly out of the bathroom foxhole, walking down the runway and into the restaurant, swinging the tail of her dress like a pretty pink prissy pussy cat.

She strutted down the way now, dodging and dipping through a labyrinth of stunning Armani suits, silken ties, penguin tuxedos, and miles of evening gown tresses, maneuvering her prim, little butt to a mahogany table next to one of the many cherub fountains that gargled wine like water.

A particular man sat at that particular table. A man wearing a sports jacket and an upside down grin that sat atop a chiseled chin. He wheeled around restlessly in his seat, occasionally nipping his fingers at the edge of his collar, allowing the wind to breathe through like rivers through a waterwheel. Quickly, he checked the beating tick of his Rolex and the time that ticked upon it. .A case of tennis balls and rackets sat motionless at his feet.

The case of tennis balls and rackets smelled new. And unused..

“Sorry I took so long!” called Smiles from where she stood in the middle of the patio.

One eyebrow cocked as Ashley Smiles came strutting in, and slowly the man stood up from his seat, adjusted the collar of his sports jacket, and after clearing his throat. “Please,” he said. He pulled out a chair and gestured for her to sit

When Smiles finally arrived at the table, still she stood standing, hands to hips. Said she, “You starin at something? It better not be my — ”

“It’s not,” said the man.

Smiles eyed the man suspiciously, then slowly edged her way down. “Then what is it?”

His eyes dripped down to the Gucci bag and observed a dirty brown smear and a few flecks of rotten green cabbage — like it had just been .. Hmm.

She stood up and turned around in her chair, as if searching for a mouse trap. She sat on her dog. “Fufu.”

Stephen laughed. His name was Stephen. Bending back laughing, he said, “Which, by the way, we were supposed to play a few rounds today, weren’t we — you and I? Tennis. But anyways, is that — Is that a book you got there? You been reading up on something? Some new and fashionable religion?”

Smiles shook her head furiously and this shook the curls out of her hair. “No, no, it’s not that all, but you did get one thing right: It is fashionable. I mean, it’s just a fashion magazine: Vogue. Wow.” And a People.

She set her hands atop the Fashion Magazine, fanning it out — she studied the beautiful faces in it, staring absentmindedly with a little fog caught up in the corner of her eye.

“Yip, yip?” asked Mr. Fufu, turning his bug eyes to the two magazines.

Smiles seemed to nod her head in agreement with Mr. Fufu.

Stephen seemed ill at ease.

“Stephen?” said Smiles, pausing just a moment between bites to turn her head to the man sitting across from her. “Is something the matter? I mean, is something wrong? Are you in trouble? Because, anything you’re going through, I don’t care what, Daddy can take care of it. He’s up there. -So, if you’re out of a job or just need a good word put in or even a loan or — ” She trailed off to study his beautiful face. “I mean, is it for trouble you asked me to come meet me here so quickly?”

Stephen stared down at his plate, didn’t touch it, didn’t want it. He did laugh, though. “Actually, I was wondering. Ha! I was wondering if you were — in trouble yourself.” Again, he stared down at the brown smear on Smiles’ Gucci bag. His eyes drooped, along with his wholly beautiful face, which he balanced absentmindedly on his hands, occasionally teetering to the left..

Smiles managed a broken smile. “You forgot to kiss me.”

“Oh, I did? really?”

“Just a little peck. That’s all my animal lust requires.” She laughed.

Stephen edged forward in his seat now and planted a quick peck on her cheek, but her lips still puckered out, eyes closed, expecting. She opened her eyes. “On the cheek?” she said. She placed her hands tremblingly into her Gucci bag and petted the soft down of Mr. Fufu’s head, her fingers interlacing with the pink curly-q’s in his hair. “Boy, what’s up with today?” said Smiles. “You never kiss on the cheek.” She blew a strand of hair out of her mouth. “You’re usually the first one to go for tongue and all.” She giggled. “Remember our first kiss?”

She dipped one shiverous hand into her Gucci bag, fished out a small mirror, and after applying another layer of Clinique lipstick like paint, she smacked her lips and stroked her hair with an ivory brush. She giggled again and looked back up to Stephen’s beautiful face.

Stephen nodded.

“Well,” said Smiles, and she set her mirror, comb, and lipstick back in her bag.

Daddy actually told me about you. You were one of those new interns at a competing business office,” “Please, madame, I already know,” real young and ambitious, and a client of Daddy’s told him about how focused and smart and charming you were,” “I said, I know how we met.”

“I thought it might entertain you. It’s your favorite subject: You.”

Smiles got out a cigar and lit it.

Stephen looked around nervously, batting the cat whiskers of his long, blonde lashes. “You on to cigars now? and in public? You’re not even seventeen and you smoke like a Frenchmen.”

“Please. You’re the reason I started smoking.”

She showed him her hair. “Go ahead. Reach out. Feel.”

Stephen shrugged and reached over, feeling through the thick laces of fly-swatter.

“Perfect much?” said Smiles, propping her chin up on her elbows, staring long into his oval eyes, an almond jewel in each of them; and here she leaned closer towards Stephen, a feline smile on her lips. “Kiss me like you did before,” she didn’t say this to him; she told him to.

As Mr. Fufu looked up between them and asked them both: “Yip yip?” No one cared for FuFu’s opinion in this matter. Someone must be kissed.

And they did.

“You’ve been in that restroom over there a long time. What you been doing in there?”

“Just girl stuff — you know? Makeup. Accessories. God!”

A few drops of rain descended from God, and with a sudden applause of shuffling feet, the servers rushed out to the patio and strung up a curtain of umbrellas as shields for the dinner party — every one fortified to the last head and toe with everything but a coat of arms and chain mail. Here, one of the servers reached over and unfurled the megaton umbrella near their table and said to the Lady Smiles, “I’m so sorry, Madame — the rain really wasn’t supposed to happen today. Would it interest the lady? — ”

“Ms. Vandelet,” lied Smiles. “Ms. Vandelet’s the name. My father owns this restaurant, you know. Arthur Vandelet. You should know him.” She swore a little.

The server bowed. “So sorry, Madame. I mean, Ms. Vandelet, of course. If we can offer you anything — ”

“We’re fine,” said Smiles.

“Surely you do not wish to stay in this rain?”

Smiles shrugged and said, “No, really, it’s fine. The rain happens. I like the rain! It always rained back in Seattle where I grew up, so I’m used to it. Really. You’ll still get a hefty tip and a good one at that — ” she belched daintily and covered her mouth. “Oops,” she said. “That one’s tax deductible.” She faked a giggle and hid in the night.

The server bowed several times, and there came a rustle of umbrellas and a muttering of voices, as the dinner party flooded into the insides of the restaurant, a few of them settling by a log and its fire that smoldered redly underneath a French paintings. Everything was fuckin French.

In spite of the rain, Smiles continued eating. She was on her seventh flavor of crème brulee. “This is fantastic, simply fantastic,” she said over a bite. She looked up at Stephen and smiled, offering him a spoonful of what might have come from Paris.

“About that tennis game — ” said Smiles to Stephen, but she was cut off.

“ — wow, you eat more than most of my football buddies,” said Stephen. “You know if you keep eatin like that, you’ll just throw it back up.”

Mr. Fufu whimpered, shivering in the cold of the rain ballooning up from where it fell.

Smiles leaned back and felt the bones that stuck out in the spine of her back. Here she shouted: “Maybe I have a high metabolism, maybe I exercise a lot. You didn’t think about that, did you? And don’t you use that tone, you’re nearly shouting, you’re scaring Mr. Fufu!”

Stephen adjusted a crack he had in his neck.

Silence. Tension. Description. Characters doing things with their hands and eyes.

The faint flashes of stars that began to flicker in and out of existence as if to say, “I’m here-I’m here-I’m here!”

What?” said Smiles.

Smiles looked up at him. “You think I’m stupid, don’t you?”

“I don’t think you’re stupid.”

“Oh, okay. Just checking.”

They left for the clay tennis courts. It kept raining.

Smiles kept talking.

Said Smiles, “Also, with the free tennis lessons, and I know we don’t need them, but listen — with the free tennis lessons comes a massage and a pedicure and manicure and basically a whole pampered day, not that I need anything free, but it’s fun to try new things every now and again.” She fished out her ivory brush and dragged it through her thick locks.

She picked up a racket, balanced a furry yellow ball on it, started to bat at it, keeping it always in the air. “You wanna play tennis now? Free lessons go with em, but I know we don’t need those, we’re experienced. Oh! but we can turn the lights on. We don’t have to move around much, we won’t slip or anything, I’m sure.”

. . they were in an open clay tennis court that overlooked the purple mountains. A see-through cloth netting waved furiously here in the heavy wind and rain, thrown over the clay tennis court to keep it dry and safe, not a splash of rainwater (or any mixture of mud or grass) contaminating its perfect surface.

Quickly, they changed (not in the open, silly — this wasn’t a nudist resort*) and hit the clay.

* — they changed in the nearby restrooms

Halfway through a game, set, and match, and another following with very little said, they began to talk again.

So Smiles tossed the furry, yellow ball into the air for another serve and hit it right to Stephen, but his eyes seemed to be seeing nothing but Gucci, so he let the ball hit him.

Stephen carelessly tossed the ball back, his face downcast.

Smiles tossed the ball up high so that it nearly cut into the net that formed a ceiling for the court, and when that ball came crashing down like a yellow parakeet with broken wings, she served it over to Stephen’s side of the court, this time even more directly at him.

Stephen suddenly focused his inner manliness, sidestepping the ball, letting it pass. He dropped his tennis racket and his balls and walked slowly up to the center of the clay court where the net sliced it into a half, and Smiles walked quickly with a pitter patter in her steps as Mr. Fufu asked her in his barky voice from his Gucci prison, “Yip yip?” “Not now, babe,” said Smiles to Fu2 as she scampered across the court to meet Stephen halfway.

Stephen threw a tired arm over the net and sat down on the clay, his back now resting against the netting*. Smiles then hopping on over to the other side and falling down into sitter’s position right next to him. . then Smiles brushed away a few strands of spaghetti hair that got in the way of Stephen’s eyes and she said to him, “Something wrong, hon?” She reached over to rub his shoulders, them dropping at the feel of her hands.

* , thinking about drama

“Thinking.”

“Oh shut up and quit being so mysterious.” Smiles punched him in the back. Then she laughed. “Remember that time you, Brian, and Peter came by my room that one night to serenade me with your — what was it? — a Mexican hat dance. That was the day you brought Mr. Fufu and I together, and I should be thanking you everyday: You sure did teach that sorry pup to dance!”

want to say it. It makes their deaths seem more real.”

“He’s dead now — Caldwell. Brian Caldwell,” this from Stephen.

Smiles blinked and looked up at him. “The barber shop accident, you mean?”

“Yee-yep,” said Stephen. Snip, snip. “It’s tragic, isn’t it? No, I’m serious! You have all these friends and you never think they’re gonna leave you, because you grew up with them. They were always there even if you didn’t want them around. Then, suddenly, they’re all gone. They either move away, grow out of being around with you, you get in a few fights and agree to leave each other the hell alone, or worse, they just — ha! — they expire. For whom the bell tolls — Brian Caldwell gone like BANG!” He made a fist, smacked it in his hand, unmade that fist in an explosion of fingers. “ — only three months after that ker-ray-zee hat dance. And I trusted that barber! And I trusted that barber shop quartet!” NO, he’s serious.

“I know.”

Stephen cleared his throat, and smiled over at Mr. Fufu and laughed at Fu2’s neverending quest for an answer. “Yip yip?” Then, turning to Smiles: “Is Buzz okay? I mean –” motioning. “With us. Is he okay with us? Does. he. know?”

“I was never happy with Buzz.”

Okay, fine, I lied. “I was in love with him for a while, okay. Just a momentary curiosity. But it’s not going so pretty now. You know, one time, we were going out to dine (well, not even dine; dine isn’t the right word when your boyfriend’s a cheapskate). But we went out to fill up on Kentucky Fried Chicken, and on our anniversary too!”

“Hey, I like KFC.”

“Yeah, me too.”

Her chest ballooned in and out, one moment a C-cup, the other moment a Double-D, and she paced around the court faster. It had stopped raining. “So he remembered, but it wasn’t a chivalrous moment. And he brings me on home to his house and starts complaining on the way about how inconsiderate I am for not giving myself to him every Saturday night after he’s taken me home to pretty myself up. It’s like he thinks I’m a — I’m a machine.”

Stephen laid quite still besides the net.

Smiles rolled her eyes, keeping careful attention that they didn’t get stuck that way, and sucked harder on the Indian’s prick. “And that’s not the worst thing,” she said. / “I’m not interested.” / “The worst thing is what Buzz turned me into — a horrible person, a — a bully. These kids back where he lives, back in the Valley of the Sun –” / “I said, I’m not listening.” / “they’re all younger than thirteen around, playing G.I. Joe and constructing towering fort monstrosities out of ear swabs or whatever, a sort of woods on a river bottom. I think the kids’ names are Eddie, Mick, Alfred, Ben, and something with an ‘O’.

“Anywho, their names aren’t important. It’s just with hanging around with Buzz and pals, I’d get so mean. I even kicked a little kid in the nuts just for mooning me. Did I tell ya that? I was so ugly to them. Galdammit! Are you listening to me?”

Stephen played around with the breeziness of his sports jacket — zipping up, zipping down. “I don’t believe that for a second, Ash. I couldn’t see you doing that, you’re not that sort of person. You’re kind, you’re gentle. You’re not a common thug, ya kiddin me? And that’s just it: you love kids! You always talk about adopting all sorts of little snots from Uganda and Thailand and, and Haiti and all those poor ass countries all over the world. And not just nigger* babies — excuse the French, I think it’s my father talking –” Ahem. “If you can afford it.”

* don’t be so offended

She smacked her forehead and chuckled, rolling over on her back so she could watch the sky washed clean..

“Even so,” he said. “I think you should check back with this Buzz character. What we’re doing, it just doesn’t feel — what’s the word?”

“Constitutional?” offered Smiles.

“I might have said ethical — honorable — principled; but it certainly is fun. Cheating.”

“Fun, right?” Smiles cleared the floor with a scoff and a Ha! “And is Buzz not hitting me? Is that right? He’s the one who’s cheating, not me. I mean, I go to parties too, but at least I can control myself when it comes to beer-guzzling sorority girls. I suppose it does help to be a woman — and straight.”

Smiles told him a dangerous story.

“You understand that?” she said, said she, “I’m better off either with you, or somebody else.” She said, “Buzz is poison.” She said, “He’s a creep, he’s a thug, a no-good punk.” That’s what she said. “Just another one of these dangerous men I keep injecting into my system. He deals drugs too, did I tell you that? They’re prescription pills, sure. He plans to be a Pharmacist, but you get the joke, don’t you? Oh, c’mon! I thought it was funny.”

Said Stephen, “Look. Forget about it. I’ve said enough already.” That’s what he said.

“Boy, I’ll say,” said she. Then, after a moment’s pause, Smiles hopped up and bounced around the fuzzy yellow canary: “I’m leaving to Arizona in a month from now, did I tell ya that? So if you’re really so worried I won’t see Buzz, I’ll see him. I practically have to. That’s how the agreement between Mumsy and Daddy has been ever since that hussie moved in. Visits come and visits go every other month.” She plucked the inside of her cheek so it went tick-tock. “Like clock work.”

Stephen struggled on a web of tennis netting with this aim in mind: to pry himself off the clay and give lift to the air. Once airborne, he went limping to the other side of the court, sitting down at a bench where Mr. Fufu lay, petting the soft scruff of his neck.

-Called Smiles on after him, “Something wrong, babe?”

Stephen called back, this time on intercom: “Everything’s just peachy!”

“You’re lying again, I can tell,” said Smiles from her side of the receiver. “I think I know men.”

“Fine, fine, you think you do,” said Stephen. “Then I think I sprained something. Alright?”

The lights in the resort and at the restaurant began to slowly turn off, all save for candlelight and fireplaces, and the mechanical fireflies let loose in the gardens to force an air of romance. If magnified, their electric banners might read on the nutty-shell of an exoskeleton: “Love beetles — made in Taiwan”.

A few more rounds of tennis these two lovers played, the wounded sports jacket complaining about his hip all the while, then after a few Ows and Oomphs, Stephen hollered over an incoming serve, “Maybe we should go to bed early tonight.”

Smiles swatted the ball back and shook her head which shook her ponytail: “I can go all night if you can, babe.”

Stephen ducked into the next ball and fell to the ground, clutching his thigh this time as the ball whacked him straight in the head. He called, “I don’t know about going on all night, but you can eat all night if you want.” I mean, half our bill for the whole weekend so far consists mostly of what you ate at that one meal!

Smiles crossed her arms. “And what’s that supposed to mean, Sports Jacket? I eat way too much to be anorexic, and I exercise — ”

Stephen limped quickly, meeting her halfway at the net, and gave her the look of please. “I didn’t mean it that way, Ash, I didn’t mean too much –”

“Aw — come off it. Quit ridin my back.”

He laughed a big har-de-har.

Smiles scratched the back of her neck with her tennis racket. “What’s so funny?”

Oh, it’s just that you’ve been letting me ride your back all weekend –”

“You pig! Men are pigs! All of them! All except Daddy and his barber, of course.” She dropped her racket and stomped off, fists gone straight at her side as she went gathering up Gucci bag and Mr. Fufu, her magazines and all that came with it, everything but the dropped tennis balls and a bit of Stephen’s dignity.

Here Stephen put up the halt and limped closer to her; and, clearing his throat, said, “Maybe this just isn’t working out.” And how do you think Buzz feels about this?

“Buzz, Buzz.”

“You’re beautiful!”

Smiles covered her ears. “Buzz, Buzz, Buzz. Are you trying to create drama?”

Smiles frowned and made with the petting of Mr. Fufu till his eyes popped. “I already told you,” she turned to Stephen. “He’s poison.”

Stephen frowned and made like he had a sweet taste in his mouth. “You’re beautiful!”

She swore to herself. “Why is it that all men are liars except for Daddy and his barbers? Can’t I find a single decent honest good-working — ”

“Don’t you mean good-looking?”

“Oh, you’re impossible. Just impossible! Just a big fat, stupid — ” Smiles tossed down her tennis racket and kicked it across the clay court. It didn’t make it halfway, but almost.

Then realizing it wasn’t the tennis racket she had kicked, but the dog.

A nearby couple walked by, and one of them whispered to the other, “Promise me we’ll never be like them.”

“I promise.”

Upon hearing this vow of everlasting not-them-ness, Smiles rolled her eyes, paying careful attention that they didn’t get stuck that way, but this time they did; so she bent over, covering her head with her hands, trying to get them unstuck. Stephen stalked over her and reached his fingers to the tip of her shoulder, but she slowly drew away. Then she stood up abruptly, “I think I do hate this rain now,” and was off. It had continued to rain.

Stephen dropped his racket with a clatter on the ground, the ground being his other foot, which he then tripped over and sprained along with the first foot; then, with two sprained ankles, he called out after her as he began to run, “Oh come the **** on!” he said. And thus he pleaded: “Come back, baby, I didn’t mean it! You know I didn’t mean it. Whatever the hell it is I’m not sure you’re mad about — I didn’t mean it!”

“I know,” she said to herself, and she started to limp herself.

Clutching her Gucci bag, she stomped through the hedge maze in a way that Stephen’s limp couldn’t follow; then, sweeping through the bushes, she took off, all after-burners Go! into the parking lot.

With a hop into the car, she slammed the engine, and skidded off into the night, Fashion and People Magazines taking chair alongside the dog that wondered aloud: “Yip yip?” this he asked her very seriously.

And this she answered: “I know,” said Smiles. “I hate him too.”

In the next few moments, she had already arrived at her room at the far end of the resort, and somewhere behind her the voice of a man she once knew howled over a distant storm. But the lightning took it.

Soon, she found herself in her room, her feet half wandering, half stumbling, half dragging (how many halves is that?) into the kitchen. Once she had fully arrived, all halves accounted for, she went quickly to the bathroom to look in the mirror, to gaze upon the watered reflection. So, she stared at herself for some odd moments, head cocked askew — thin — gaunt — enormously large and ill-balanced, she’ll admit — a Picasso not worth reflecting upon. Here she took off for kitchen, grabbed a knife, and ran to the mirror.

A silenced happened. “Ha!” she laughed. “He and ha!”

This hair, she braided. This comb, she used it!

A forest of hairs she combed and braided, founding one split end, then off she cut it. She found another split end, then off with its head! Another — cut. She found hairs that weren’t split at all.

She grabbed a hair braid out of her Gucci bag, curled her hair up in a ponytail, not knowing why she did it, hesitated — silence — then snipped off the pony’s hair so she had a nice head — a mowed one — a head of boyish hair.

She laughed then. No, she didn’t cry. What did it matter?

“Why am I doing this?” she said aloud.

“To better better yourself, of course!” said a squashed bug underfoot.

Mission resolved: Back to the kitchen! “I’ve ruined myself.”

She consumed all manners of foods, meats mostly. To make her forget. That Alaskan snow crab everybody’s been barking about.

She ate all of this and, upon finishing her dessert, went quickly to the toilet, making her finger to the back of her esophagus, and tickled the magic button.

WHO-AHHH! She tickled and HU-AHHH! and tickled and upchucked.

Outside the locked door there came the faraway hammer sound of someone banging on the door and also the lyrical strumming of a voice in love or lust: “Come on, Ash, I didn’t mean it! Whatever it is I said — I didn’t mean it!”

Falling back against the toilet swaddled in blue fur, where a stash of Fashion and People sat enthroned, it might be said that these cries from said boyfriend amused her, but they didn’t. She reached into her Gucci bag and took out other magazines and tossed ‘em along with the others.

Then, her eyes came back to the toilet, and she threw up a third time half the contents of her stomach. How many halves of a whole did she have left?

She suddenly stood up, staggering drunkenly on tiptoe.

And here she kicked the pile of magazines.

She strangled it, ripping and murdering it!

Finally, she drowned the shreds and tatters and confetti in the toilet, flushing it to where it may be wandering alone in the cauterized tubes of the underworld along with other lesser papers. “Now you’re just as ugly as I am,” she said to the papers bleeding raw, black ink.

She glared at the racks of fashion — yards of paper stretched thin with the richness of beautiful people and their powdered faces and sculpted bodies; and as fashion surrounded her and became her — her and everything in her ornately decorated room, she broke down.

-And among guttural laughter and that which run mascara came resounding louder and clearer the question Mr. Fufu had been asking all along:

“Yip yip?”

Or: What is beautiful anyways?

Aw.

The Creep of Dreamers’ Peak: the Tale of a Pervert

DEDICATION: To Julie–any one of you girls named Julie here?

“RING AROUND THE ROSY!”

Chapter 1: The End . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . 148

Chapter 2: The Beginning . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  152

Chapter 3: Dreamers’ Peak . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . 155

Chapter 4: Blossoming . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . . 158

Chapter 5: Wilting . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  163

Chapter 6: A Bartender’s Lament . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  166

Chapter 8: Homeless . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . . 176

Chapter 9: Redemption Under a Bridge  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . 179

Chapter 10: “Liar!” . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .182

Chapter 11: Judgment . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . .  . . 186

be: This is just to say I love You

Epilogue: Life Goes On . . .

Dedication:

To Julie

Chapter 1

THE END

The FBI’s Most Wanted List called him simply “The Creep”–mostly because all the other cool names were already taken by criminals who actually gave a hoot.

And now they have The Creep in their sights.

He is running there yonder–over the hills. Can You see him?

You have a tip from the Village that he had just walked into town and he is hopping towards a hill known as Dreamers’ Peak.

The whole town has been chasing after him, torch and pitchfork, shotgun and 9 mm; and one by one, his accusers are shouting.

Listen to your ears, what they tell you.

MONSTER.” says a woman. “THERE HE IS..”

“IT’S THE PERVERT.”

“FREAK.” says a mother. / “Creep.”

In the end, they go roaring after The Creep, down a twisted mountain ravine. As a legion they follow him through as the pink of sunrise collides with the first baby blue of sun and sky.

And the gong of the voices echo louder as his accusers approach him:

LYNCH HIM.”

“GET AT HIS HEART!” / “HIS EYES. POKE OUT HIS EYES.”

These opposing forces are colliding together, at the epicenter of Dreamer’s Peak, its tippy tip-tip.

The families of those raped, murdered, and molested follow quickly in suit.

The Creep checks to count their faces, but there are no faces to be counted. They are a solitary crowd of a-non-nym-ity–shrouded in black–faceless–unknown.

The police have soon ignited the sirens. They’ve followed him up to the fuzzy, green lip of a high hill on a sunny day. The Accusers now begin their accusations:

“That man over there, he killed my mother.” / “HE MOLESTED MY HORSES! PILLAGED MY CHICKENS! AND RODE OFF ON OUR WOMEN!”

“My poor baby, give me back my baby. YOU HURT HIM. YOU GIVE HIM BACK, YOU — ” this is comical to the Creep. He laughs.

–She trails off, bitching, her arms clung tightly between her swollen breast, as her husband leads her off and away from–that man. It’s the Law’s turn now.

The cops run out a detailed police report on pretty much everything The Creep has ever did—incorrectly:

“Creep,” says The Warrant Officer, very unprofessional, “You have been charged with rape, murder, some very funny arsonry involving an exploding chipmunk, and the stalking and trapping of women, young and old, among other crimes and misdemeanors, as you have pretended to be a variation of many different people: Jeez, shouldn’t we do this in a trial room? Is this correct?”

The Creep nods his head, only slowly, as the stem of his neck is beaten, bruised, thin, about to crap out. Then again, it’s hard not to nod your head when your neck is half sawed off.

“Let’s do this in a trial room.”

“HE DOESN’T DESERVE IT.”

“Madame, everyone deserves a fair trial,” then turning: “Now, please. Let’s do this inside.”

I’m not going,” said the Creep.

Nothing has been low enough for you, huh, jackass?” says another cop, and chuckles like only a woodchuck chucks. “Fine, we’ll humor you.” “Oh no we won’t,” said the first officer. “Now, come with us.” / The Creep’s head nods yet again, then shows its face, beaming against the light of his accusers. Or maybe just reflecting theirs.

Nothing has indeed been low enough for The Creep.

He has raped a long list of women.

And many small girls. The last being a 4-year old.

Says The Creep, “I know: I stand accused of all this, and you are right to accuse me. It’s all true down to the last diddle. I wish it weren’t, but such is life. I didn’t think it wouldn’t ever end this way; but if you gotta go, go like a man, I say.”

“PERVERT.” says a voice from the crowd.

That’s right–so you remembered. I have many first names now, and that is one of them,” says The Creep, cocking a puppy. “I also know many of your first names, it comes with the profession. I am sorry, Marjorie,” And he walks back further out, towards the cliff’s fuzzy, green lip, though he does not turn his back–the police, mesmerized, step backwards–watching the pebbles skip and hop off into the jade waters gossiping rumors of death in the deep down below, in ripples the size of waves. “My deepest apologies.”

The cops hold them back, but the crowd is too much, and begin a bull’s rush towards him–to kick, to bruise, to beat and tear at his eyes, his hair–to ruin him in every place but his perfect ears.

And why make the ears an exception?

(C’mon, they should’ve arrested him by now!)*

*I should mention that the cops weren’t cops. They were children.

So The Creep can hear every last insult, every baby’s scream, till the last of the women and child cry, “Oh-my-god. What-is-that thing?” whenever that horribly disfigured shell of a Creep emerges into the eye of his adoring public.

For him to be treated as they were.

As the old adage goes, and the new one begins: Eye for eye; tooth for a tooth.

This was an evil day for justice. Creeps that should’ve been locked away have gotten free.

He commands their attention.

“FEEL OUR PAIN.” they say, and kick him, disfiguring face, bloodying body, operating on everything but his ears.

Here he shouts from inside, screaming intently to be heard as he is beaten, kicked, mauled, and still he calls, “

Wait.” still, he says, “Listen.” still, he pleas, “please.”

Allow me one chance. Listen up now, coz I’m only gonna say it once,”  says The Creep. And he gathers the last of his balls to speak at the very highest tenor of voice,You’ve got ears, don’t you? You’re a reasonable group of people. Hear my story first before you make your judgment on to whether a man should live or die. Wait.This last word was so loud it almost made the seagulls stop squawking.

Here’s your turn. Do you silence the crowd–or do you continue this verdict without a trial? In the end, you still the crowd with one mighty ox-bellow from the trumpet of a thick-walled swan: “SILENCE, PEOPLE. ORDER NOW. ORDER. We will have order here or I will have to break you all up by mace and tazer. Give you all a one-night stand in prison with nothing but water and daybread. Break it up, already! Gawd!”

They stop.

You stand. There you are, tall and straight before a Faceless Mob, dissecting the operating crowd from a toothless-yet-smiling Creep, seizing the man in your hands. The only cop here. Here you place him on his feet to stand the trial before his accusers.

“Fine, we’ll hear you out, eh?” you say. It’s your game. “But don’t go thinking that just by telling us your sob-story that it’s going to change anything.”

“Oh, thank you. Thank you, kind sir,” says The Creep as he curtsies, he bows. Then turning to the crowd, you notice that red rings circle the ovals of his pretty girl’s eyes, green as this hill where he stands or falls. You watch him look each eye of his accuser in the face. He seems to know them all by name. He’d taken a memory from them all. Now he pleads with them. “Oh, please hear me out first. I won’t bore you. I swear on my mother’s bones. This–” he looks at you and sniggers– “‘SOB.-story’ . . . may just change more than you think.”

Now, popping the creak out of his neck, he leans back into the Faceless Mob and begins to doodle some child’s uneven scrawl into the dust. “Now listen to my story before you decide the end, before you make your judgment. Then–do whatever you want with me, but please–listen first . . . ”

The judge stood in the crowd, watching.

1st dream: The Butcher in the Rye

What did you fear most as a child?

A) Growing old

B) The unknown

C) Are you afraid of the dark? (No, not that stupid TV show. The dark itself.)

Or D) All-of-the-

Below.

What’s below?

Chapter 2

THE BEGINNING

I had a name once.

“Before The Most Wanted List nicknamed me ‘The Creep’.

“Yes, I remember now.

“In the beginning of my story, I had a name.

“But that was so long ago.

“What was that name? Do you remember? It was so long ago. It’s hard to think.

“Oh, I know now! You don’t have to tell me.

“It was Billy Jake—Henderson.

“But back then, people just called me Beef. Beef Jerky, they called me and, yes, you called me that too.

It wasn’t a dark and stormy night when I was born. There was no lightning, no thunder, no mad scientist shocking bolts and screws into my neck and conducting 100,000 volts through my body.

“I wasn’t born a monster. I was bred one.

Let me remind you..

1: Beef Jerky was dropped on his head 3 times..

-1- he fell out of a window, pushing at the screen window from a 2-story window.  2- he was pinned to a fireplace by his older brother, Mikey.  3- he pulled a cold iron on his head. / * Not all in the same day.

I. After the first time, he stole the General’s twinkie. / II. After the second time, he purged the frogz with Pride by General’s order. / III. After the third time, he took the neighbor’s baby for a walk. He was 8 years. She was 8 months. They ended in a sandbox. She had a good time. “Why’d you take the baby?” / “She looked interesting.” / 25 years later, when he was drunk and had just made the worst decision of his life, he said, “I wanted to destroy something beautiful.” / This was to the question, “What did you do to my child?”

“Before I was a bum, I was a whore, and before I was a whore, I was an escaped convict, and before I was an escaped convict, I was a death row alumni, and before I was a death row alumni, I was a little kid, and before I was a little kid, I was a baby. And a baby’s something. It’s something alright. Somewhere in all that, I was a rapist.

“‘It’s a boy, Mrs. Henderson! It’s a boy!’ just like you all were babies once upon a time.

It was actually a bright and sunny day when I was born, on the 5th of May, and there were no complications in my birth, so far as I know of. You’ll be wondering why you want to know this. You don’t. I’m rambling out of anxiousness.

“As for the doctor’s diag-noxious, she said it straight: “He’s a perfectly healthy, normal, human boy;” she said I would get along fine. She was wrong. !

So my parents took me home to this town I’ve lived in for most of my young life, as all you know.

“And my mother nursed me and my father played with me and my three brothers bullied and braved me, and there was never an accident, never a complication, nothing early in my most crucial developing years to turn me into a creep–save for a few scrapes and scars. How do I convince you!

“For all I know and for all you know, I was ordinary. I was normal. I was average.

“I was you. You were me. Though I was born with a speech impediment, “mustards” for “muscles”, “stool” for “school”, I speak plainly now:

“There was nothing unusual about me.

“And so, I was weaned from my mother’s milk and I have since lived a happy, normal life up until the age of 16 in the town of Emerald Coast–half on the east side, half in some lost desert in Arizona; a quarter here, there, and everywhere. Home was like a second home to me.

But those some odd thirty Thanksgivings ago. Something changed in me as I slowly dropped manhood–as one transsexual brother of mine would later say it, “Tennis without the balls.”

“For men, they call it puberty.

“Yet I was still that little B.illy J.ake that used to peek at you at the grocery store from beneath his mother’s arm when she took him riding in the cart, that played little league short-stop with your sons and daughters, the baby you sat on the weekends when his parents were off on errands of romance, always happy, smile on face, making fireman sounds Whoo! Whoo!

“Why do you want to kill me now?

“Some seemed to like that sharp, funny, snot-nosed little charm of an imp, me. Many commented on how he was going to go somewhere in life–they never said where.

“‘What an adorable, little thing,’ the ladies would say. You mean it still?

“Near-sighted–Psychotic–Pig-headed, artificials.

Let me tell you.. Little Sister I killed wasn’t so innocent either.

She squashed polliwogs just to see what their eyes look like when they meet the avenging angel: Death / She punched her doggy on the nose. /// No one is undeserving of death, no one, not even one.

One more thing: Before I start I think I should mention this and that. The this is This: “This is when I was younger, when I still believed the world could be saved.”

That: “Something changed, and I’ll not just tell you how it happened.

“I’ll show you what turned me into–T.h.e. C.r.e.e.p.

“And how, as maybe you are or are not aware, The Creep sleeps deep within the souls of us all.

“I tell you, we all carry that gene strand.

“Anybody can become how I am and be reduced to raping, murdering, and stalking young boys and younger girls.

“How–you say–my family, my friends, my fathers, mothers, brothers, my sisters?

“It’s time I showed you what happened.

“It’s time you saw what happened.

“Do you really want to know how I became The Creep?

“Okay, Mom, and okay, Dad, even as you hold up that stone to kill me, I will go beyond telling and will simply show you.

“Whether you are ready or not, you have been forewarned.

“This is the tale of how the child became the child molester.

Thief, murderer, rapist, and friend — Beef has been all those to me.” / “Would you hang me too?” says the thief, murder, rapist, and friend. “I thought as much.”

Chapter 3

Dreamers’ PEAK

IT’S a comedy. This is where it ends. Yet this is where is all began.

“You see, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, my own family. Yes, you are my blood, and you can’t deny it. Still, you wish to kill me and I do not blame you. I should die.

“And still more: LISTEN.

“They called it ‘Dreamers’ Peak’ back then, remember? This is the same peak where we used to skip stones with all our best friends.

Do I really have to paint the picture for you? We’re standing right in it.

“There was a beauty to childhood then that gave Dreamers’ Peak the brave look all enchanted bluffs had.

“Yes, euphoria. For, in the tender years of childhood–emotion, beauty, a landscape painted by the very finger of God Herself–these are intermingled, bred, mixed together in a blur of heaving dog-on-dog ecstasy.

Thirty odd something Thanksgivings ago to the day before the day before the day before last, this was the first day we two dweebs planted that gnarly, little sapling here, my friend Simon and I.

“You can see now it isn’t a little sapling anymore, but is a genuinely enormous mangrove of groves.

“And still, I see this grand tree as it was, not as it is: the sapling of my small-hand days. It is those days I wish you to remember–now.

Remember, Simon?–Oh, cmon! You have to remember! We used to run up this same peak and skip, not stones, but starfish to wish upon, as we set them off sailing to uncharted paths to the ocean. Y’remember that?

“Yeah–you pretty much made my life there, Simon. Anyways, we promised we’d meet up in this very spot each day and watch it grow the way we grew, or something corny like that. Which, of course, we only came up every three weeks, or whenever we felt like it, but it’s just as good.

“Then we procured a bucket of stones, smooth and cream-colored, and started to sail them off into Emerald Bay and watch them shine in the stars of night till they dimpled the waters and sent ripples the size of waves spitting forth from the–well, you get the point. Sorry to be so proverbial. It’s me.

“We promised each other we’d meet there everyday, and we almost did.

“We built forts there.

“Had our first kisses there–Not with each other, of course, but with other broads!

Anyways, a dream: you told me you were setting off to sea someday, towards the west where the waters were warmer, beyond the horizon and off to chart the unchartable areas yet to be discovered somewhere in the a lost Pacific, in the ring of fire and all throughout the seven seadoms.

“But as you all know, Simon never did make it.

As for me?–I wished to become a social worker–to journey to Africa, Indo-China, and wherever else help was needed–to feed the hungry, to clothe the naked, to quench the tongues of the sick.

“Of course, Simon always laughed at the absurd idea of me living so far removed from the 20th century, and not simply joining him in his journey across the Pacific, where we could join in the merriment of coastal cities, party like sailors, gamble, drink, and love many a woman. Listen!

“But for me, I fear I was made for the quiet life, where I could serve small villages in presenting food stuffs for the everyday living. Am I saying this to get your pity? I am!

“But whatever dreams I might have would be rendered utterly meaningless in the end. For how can a man wish upon a starfish when The Fates are set against him?

Simond’d just look at me really smug and say, ‘You ain’t gonna be no Baptist Minster. Ain’t gonna baptize nobody neither.’

“‘And why not, semen mixer?’ said I.

“‘Because you’re joining me on my world-renowned adventures,’ he’d say. ‘We’ll go all kinds of places–You’ll love it. We’ll stop at the taverns, see, and we’ll lay around with all the women we can handle and drink molt beers and stay up late at night till the sleeplessness goes to our head like a driving hammer and we’ll party and we’ll drink and we’ll drink and we’ll siesta and have all kinds of sex–not with each other, of course, but with other broads.’

“Well, maybe. ‘Where would we go anyways?’

“Said Simon, “Besides lay with all the women across the Seven Seas?’

“‘Yeah, Simon. Besides all that.’

“‘Boy. I never thought about what we’d do besides sexual relations. Lemme see: Boy, that’s a tuffy. How bout, after our sex with a thousand maidens, we’ll go hunt a Moby Dick? One of those [white] whales–you know?’

“‘That’s a fairy tale, stupid,’ I’d tell him. ‘There’s nothing like that alive–plus, whaling is banned now. If you really have an urge to shove a whale back in the ocean, go to one of them nudie beaches in California. There are plenty of whales there.’

“‘Really?’

“‘Whales?–no.’

“‘Oh,’ said Simon. Simon says, “How bout we find some Mermaids and challenge them to mud wrestling?’

“‘Simply mythological,’ I’d say. ‘They just don’t exist. Come on now!’

“‘What? now?’

“‘Sure,’ I’d say. ‘Let’s race.’

So we’d race down the hill and, as always, Simon would triumph as the victor–he had those sea legs–though sometimes, Simon’d give me a head start or would slow down for me. And then, the next day, we’d race all the way back up to Dreamers’ Peak, and dream some more, and watch our sapling grow, as with each day, we grew with it. I’m rambling because I’m anxious. You all look like you’re going to kill me.

“Wish upon a starfish, and what you get is sand, anyway.

Still, we clung to the edge of Dreamers’ Peak with both hands folded.”

Chapter 4

BLOSSOMING

IT’S ALWAYS THE QUIET ones, but I wasn’t quiet, so am I a mistake?

“I do not want you to get any ideas that just because I told you that I am quote/unquote ‘normal’ that I am nothing more than that.

“Because, as you may or may not remember, my friends and my family, I was more than normal!

“I was your own All-American-Eagle-Scout, the pride of Emerald Coast, their love-joy,  their champion of virtue and the cause of right. Love me!

“Valedictorian of my class with never anything but a high A in High School. Never anything as outrageous as a B+–such ghastly marks I despise to even mention.

“I saved your infants from drowning in your beaches and pools by use of a C.P.R. method I learned as I worked as lifeguard during all our summer vacations. This leaves imagination that I might have enjoyed it. Oh, don’t look that way! I’m teasing.

“I dated your daughters, and you cannot deny it, dear fathers and mothers, that you found me one of the most charming of juvenile men (many of you fighting over me to marry them off so I could be your own.)

Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Oxford. Do these names ring a bell? I never went to any of them, sure, but I memorized all their lesson plans. Because I had better things to do, like seeing how many marshmallows I could fit in my mouth before I couldn’t say, “Chubby bunny,” anymore.

“But the Creep: an All-American Eagle Scout. Captain of the debate team, the football team, the chess team, the any team. And a Valedictorian. The most respected citizen on the east coast! Most-Wanted I am now, and most wanted I was then. I suppose I did have certain odd tendencies.

“Yet I had saved more than just lives.

“I saved you money*. And that is all the more important why you should let me live. Isn’t that what your after when you say you’re after me? Restitution. Repayment. Revenge.

*(By baby sitting for free)

I even had the government in hot pursuit of my abilities, my genius. They said, “Sir, your genius is showing,” and I said, “Ah!!! I thought I had that zipped up,” and zipped it up. Oh, but I’m kidding. Put down that rock, you! I’m telling a story.

As one weird man who shares my fate once said, if you recall, a wise Mr. Ted Bundy the Child Molester: ‘We are your sons and your daughters.’

“We perverts and we creeps and we stalkers and we weirdo’s, and whatever other label the English diction wishes to conjure up about us–we’re not so gruesome or unfeeling as you think we’d be.

“We are your next door-neighbors, your friends, your family.

“So, we, in a sense, are almost You. But we’re not.

Now I want to tell you my story–how this ordinary ‘you’ developed.

“IT-DID-NOT-HAPPEN-ALL-AT-ONCE.

“Abominations such as I do not simply become what we are overnight.

“There is a pattern; there is a stage; there is a procession.

“And, ladies, forgive me, yet it must be said, it all began with a little thing called masturbation. Ha-ha.

“Then dirty magazines I found in the dumpster–no, not in a dumpster, but in a sewer scribbled with graffiti my friends had dared me to venture when a child. That thought grew into an obsession–written on a wall.

“Then online pornography.

“Then video tapes I would barter off relatives.

“I’d do anything for a breast, a nipple, a boob.

“I’d go so far as sell my own semen, and that was half the fun! J I’m talking fast now. Don’t sit down.

So long as I could get it, in whatever form it took: my addiction this was. And yes–I say addiction for it is an addiction. This sound unbelievable to you?

“I would better wish that it was some other material of abuse–at least that is something I can boast about, something that’s not attached to my own body.

“Nicotine; crack; angel dust; ecstasy–I would sooner wish it was one of these, yet not porn. Porn is forever attached.

Yet unlike them–(and it is hard for me to say this and I scarcely doubt you will believe)–porn can change you into the very rapists of the alleyways, the stalkers of online chat rooms, the serial murders of the FBI’s Most Wanted–that unlovely, demented cartoon-cut-up face on a cereal box.

“And Do Not Doubt It! For you are looking into the face of one so trans-morphed by pornography now, right now.

“I. The infamous Creep who you so favored when in youth–am. proof. of. that. And-I-am-not-alone.

There are thousands of me, I know, and elsewhere. Some of them in jail, many more at home, pants down round the ankles, with a fist full of skin, hand on the mouse, eyes on you. Don’t laugh.

“We still prowl for game in the corners and avenues of your cities even as we so discuss it.

“Yes–thanks to American’s indulgence in the pursuit of happiness–We are allowed to continue in this way everywhere. Nudity is no illegal thing–so long as you have a camera and a roll of tape to record it. But who cares.

And yet, in the midst of the wilting of my addictions, there came a fair blossoming flower that sprouted up for me a little hope from the rocks.

“And that flower was my first love.

“Sure! There was a day, as those days come in the beginning of youth, that I fell in love, even in the midst of my obsessions. The night was peppered with stars.

“And now, I tell you, even now, I recall her still: her touch was so close, near fear–so mine.

“For I am part of her story.

“I met a girl. Your own daughter, Misses Marjorie, who I behold in the audience, and I am violently disturbed for hurting her so.

“But I loved her.

“You cannot tell me that a creep such as I had never known his fair quality of love; had never felt the warm touch of a woman’s tickle on my face or the smell of her hair or the incense of her mouth so close to mine. “I took her here. ‘But The Children Were So Looking Forward To a Hanging!” Yes, we’ll see to that later.

And we talked, of dreams and delusions, for that is what all things were clinging to the edge of the pier.

“But I never talked of this.

“My addictions to porn and poetry were dirty, yet beautiful to me.

“I was torn by the lusts of my first love and the reality of how my addictions would hurt her.

For your beautiful daughter, Marjorie, I had this–kinky thing. My kink was we would whisper at near ear-biting distance those little secrets only explored by candlelight when all celestial illumination is caught on the edge of night, yellowing in sunlight, touched to gold by old memories. I’m mocking you because you put a stick in my leg. Will you take it out?

“And as I reached for my kink, she reached out for me, and I placed my tongue deep and quiet in her mouth, spiraling round*.

* Why am I telling you this? I think you should know I had love.

“Never wanting to let go–Ever in need to stay in this moment. A joining of souls.

“But I was trapped, even as I loved your daughter, Marjorie, I was trapped!

“Because, as The Creep, I can solemnly pledge to you simply this: Lust can own anyone of us. Lust takes up massive amounts of head space and will make you miserable with love.

But even as I thought of how my addiction might affect or even ruin my liaison to your most worthy daughter, Marjorie, who I assure you, I loved even to her death bed–her death was less painless than her life*–this burning inside me fooled me so that I thought myself impregnable from such rumors as the Fall. For sooth! * more beautiful in death than in life

“How could I, the All-American Eagle Scout, who wished only to love and then to baptize, ever be enslaved to an addiction to lust everlasting?

“Love would prevail for me and Julie, the red-lipped daughter with the raven black hair–I mean, wouldn’t it?

“I’d be off to college soon and my ministry would be forever.

“We would be married soon and our marriage would be forever.

“It would be a new life soon and that would be forever.

“Because as I looked into that waxen face in that exact moment, even though it began to rain and our clothes were wet and our hair were ragged mops on our heads and we could hardly wink without a splash in the eyes, I saw raindrops smiling on her in water-color droplets.

“And I knew love would prevail over lust.

“Surely, it would.

“I knew it would. It-practically-had-to.

“Wouldn’t it?

“Wouldn’t It?

“So why didn’t it?

“Why am I this vile–thing?

“How could I ever become. . a creep?”

Chapter 5

WILTING

WE MARRIED, I HAD soon become a respected citizen, and a respected leader in my church with a faith that seemed strong, and a stronger relationship with my wife and kids.

“Yet I still held stronger to my addiction.

“And now, I fear, I must become a tad less formal with you, my home. “Because wilting is not a thing that can be graced over so easily with quick use of linguistic skills, nor the sharp quill of the tongue.

“I must speak as I felt myself speak back then, in that age, in that dialect, in that time and season in my life–and why?

“So-you-may-know how I felt back then..

“Forgive me the obscenities, yet this-is-how it happened and this-is-how I felt–in the summer of my own wilting:

I cheated on my wife. A girl.

“On a woman. Her breasts outweigh her head.

Gravity worked harder that day. Construction workers were falling out of the scaffolds they worked on–steel beams and girders trippin like Newton apples on a tree.

“On top of that, or below it–whatever side of her you want to be on–Jackhammers worked overtime drilling on the roads just to work out Collective Man’s sexual frustrations.

“And those who dared sneak a second peek turned their heads a little too fast and got their necks corked that way for a while. Some double-checkers got whiplash.

“I’m telling ya: When you can stop traffic just by walking through it, you know you’re beautiful. Either that, or stunningly ugly . . . Or you’re the Chicago Police.

(.)(.)(.)(.)(.)(.)*

* those are supposed to look like vaginas. I wouldn’t know, I’ve never seen one.

hey, you, listen!:

Those six bubblies up there are supposed to look like vaginas somehow.

It’s supposed to be artsy. And subtle.

Somehow. I mean, in a way.

The next day: ‘How was she?’

“Women are superheroes that way.

“ ‘Was she good?’

“Comparisons, comparisons. I got up and left the place.

“Her name was Julie, and I dedicate to her this book.”

Chapter 6

A BARTENDER’S LAMENT

“I drank my money.”

Says Marjorie to The Creep, “So that’s what happened to my daughter.”

The Creep nods, head still wilting towards the ground as his fingers comb the dust as if they were the lovely body of a corpse, and her young hands.

“You broke her balls, you know,” says Marjorie, taking a tremendous step towards him; and it could be said that the veins of her head were going boom, boom, boom. She even said it, “I don’t know what to say, so I’ll just tell you what my heart says: ’Boom. Boom. Boom.’ Julie never loved again. Every time we’d come to meet her, The General and I, we’d tell her to find another man, but she wouldn’t have for one. She always did like you, Billy, and for what, I don’t know. I told her to catch another disease, we both did, but she just—-wouldn’t.”

A face in the crowd plucks up a stone and flings it at The Creep, barely scraping his face and leaving a cold trickle to river down his cheek. In cold blood. The Creep puts a fist to his face and rubs the color into his face till it makes him blush.

“Keep doing that, and I could get stoned. Then people might throw rocks at me. Ha-ha! YOU-GET-IT? I know, Marjorie: I deserve it. I know.”

“You killed her, you damned pervert,” this message brought to you by Marjorie. “She died as your widow fifteen years later, hunched over in that same chair, looking out to the sea and staring towards that stupid carnival.”

“Don’t be so dramatic.”

She stops suddenly, to allow her breast room to swell, while she turns her swollen eyes towards The Creep where he lays crouched in the dust.

“She stayed in that same position, in that same chair, we couldn’t move her!–not till they came with the box to take her the day she went sick in the head! That’s what happened to your dear, sweet Julie–if you’re still wanting to know.”

The Creep laughs, but only weakly, then he looks up to Marjorie and attempts a faint, wry smile, an any-smile, but no cattish grin comes; then shaking, wilting, fading, his eyes roll back into the dust and he begins to doodle again.

This is his tale of the day after

day after

day after

day after

day after —

“THAT

DAY WAS the worst day of my life. I only saw Candy twice after that; the first was a one night stand and the second was a two: She was in the arms of another man, and I don’t do that threesome thing.

“But after losing my love in Julie and those beautiful hands, and my lust was Candy and those knockout tits of hers, I got even more depressed. And I know: I killed her spirit, and I am sorry. But that is part of my tale and I cannot omit it from you.

“Anyways, after Love and Lust were gone, so fell my self-esteem, and I too turned to addiction, and more so than those L-words I left behind.

Between the dimensions of a Playboy Magazine and the Maxim Hotties, The Creep was my addiction; my addiction was me.

“Then, one day, a bad person–but a good friend–called.

“It was Simon: the boy sailor and renowned traveler of the world who–in memory–with me had shared Dreamers’ Peak. This is ridiculous. To grow up in two places!

“Let’s skip this part, and move on to how I really changed. I can tell you all are pressuring me for time.”

I got so depressed I resolved on lust and lust only.

“I wanted to destroy something beautiful.” / This was to the question, “What did you do to my child?”

What happened in between is I’m lying. I got into rape because I found no other way to satisfy my addictions, my pornos, my lust. Maybe I’m just crazy!

I take them, all lined in a row–there is so much to do!–making love with the graveyard shift. It’s a craft of necromancy.

“My whole social life became a pornography.

“It was then that virtual porn and paper couldn’t satisfy my lust. And I couldn’t get any sex. I was all out of money. I never got that job, and my family kicked me out for stealing.

“So I began to rape. And I could only muffle the first screams by kicking them, and the kicking eventually killed one, so I decided I might as well just kick the next. That killed that one, too. I threatened one at knifepoint, and she fell into the blade. It’s an old serial killer’s joke, I know. They just kept dying on me! But you don’t believe me. Why don’t you believe me? Because I was too nice?

“Am I now after a divorce, and an affair, and losing my children, my home? And my hair?

“All those crimes I was accused of by you and by them are more than true and even you can’t prevent forest fires–I haven’t accounted me for all of them. I suppose I did it because I didn’t feel I could ever do it with another woman again.. I couldn’t do it the regular way, not after I destroyed Julie’s heart. Yes, her heart.

I stalk them on the internet, I trick them on the streets; me, my ten-gallon hat, and a yellow trench coat. Some call me Dick Tracy. My victims just call me ‘Ahhh!’ And scream. You still don’t believe me. It’s the addiction. And bad luck. They kept falling into my hands!

“I’m a scream. I was sick of loving relationships. I was distempered as a child, why not distemper a new generation. I was touched by my uncle. I’m rambling.. Or maybe I’m just crazy. Would you put those stones down if I were mad?

World-renowned as prime molester of children and brutal murderer of many, many more, and WAIT!: There’s still more . . .

“I’ve even sucked the dicks off young boys; and the lesser gender of babes. It’s the porn.

I have raped many in the mouth, I am not proud to mention, though some admire my manner of attack. There is nothing more deadly in a director-del-muerto’s arsenal than a strategically placed song. And I loved it, and I loved myself!

Cat Steven’s “Where Do the Children Play?”

Verse 2:

I’m not playing this music.

I was soon discovered–thank God.

“I lied that whole time by the way. I did it all because I wanted to. My first kiss was with my uncle when I was not even 10.

Chorus 2:

Oh, I know we’ve come a long way, /

We’re changing day to day, /

But tell me, / where do the children play?

So the beast in me was put in shackles and caged–accused, convicted–publicly humiliated–sat on trial and sentenced to death row.

“And from that time forward in my waking life, I will refer to myself in this story by the name they, the public, knows me. For it is plain to all that I am no longer Billy Jake the innocent, the pure, the All-American Eagle Scout from Emerald Coast.

“I am a creep.

“And I was still The Creep, even in jail those thirteen Christmases I stayed there as a bride in waiting for her husband Death to finally be carried out and stoned, fit in a casket filled to the lip with necrophilia.

And so, this is the last scene I will show you, as I sat slack-jawed, staring into the wall of my granite prison and thanking Jesus I wasn’t outside those padded walls, raping kittens.

“This chaplain–a Baptist, of course–came to me in my time of want, offering me a Bible one day.

“I covered my mouth to burp air politely, turning the page of a book with the glue of a wet finger as the chaplain smiled down upon me.

“The chaplain smiled sadly and he might have said something about Thou Shalt Not Burp as a joke or he might have said something else about grace, but to be honest, I wouldn’t have listened to either of them even if it was the key to unlocking my shackles.

“I insulted the book.

“‘How can you say such things?’ said the chaplain.

He said something about it being the book of our forefathers.

“‘And probably of our foremothers too,’ I said. ‘But you come here, not knowing a guy, my past, my memories, and you stand there ready to condemn an already condemned man.

“‘And maybe he is the god of your forefathers, but not mine. I am disowned. This whole world, the whole Faceless Entity, they hate personalities that have lived to kill. I was kicked out of my own congregation! Even now I feel the hellfire burning from your breath, chaplain, and it pains me. It rubs me the wrong way. You know there’s a right way to rub me–I know that way coz I’ve done it in the john every Sunday night; but not this. Now I must ask you politely to get the feck away and bring that book with you. I contemplate Steinbeck’s East of Eden and require nothing more than to finish and forget.’

The chaplain threw the hood over his head in mourning of my future-death and left. He didn’t look mad. He looked disturbed.

“Lay, lady, lay. Lay across my big, brass bed.

“Staring into granite wall of white-wash and red brick, I shake my head, I quake it–I knew my place in the universe was to be the abomination stoned, and driven off a cliff. But first I’d get stoned on milk cartons–of the city of lost children gone missing at my hands–and then: people would throw rocks at me. I loved myself then, and I laughed! I’d almost fooled you all into believing I was a good person. But won’t you stick with me a bit longer. It gets better. I loved to lie.

But I’ll be a good boy about it. I know it must be done. Stick for stick, bruise for bruise. Paper always beats rock. The scissors is smashed upon the capstone.

Chorus 3:

I know we’ve come a long way, /

We’re changing day to day, /

But tell me, / where do the children play?

“Thus knowing that if I walked into a bar no one would nurse my forty licks, and I fell asleep with a volcano in one eye and a subtle knowing of ‘The End’ in the other; awaiting the devil to greet me in the land of Mordor, in the fires of Mount Doom.

“Maybe he, at least–would show me some sympathy.”

We shall meet in the place where there is no darkness.

That place is near Your home. Right in Your backyard, r’member?

Can You see it?

It’s right out the door.

Chapter 7

THE CRAZY ONE

AND THAT’S how I became The Creep,” says Billy Jake. “Maybe I’m a little crazy.”

The town of Emerald Coast drew back into the dust, still figuring–measuring the former hero of their town and of their nation with their hearts–still wondering if what he said was truth or fable, and even if it were the truth, why should that stop them from condemning him?

What can The Creep do but smile, the same crimson plop rivering down a cheek from where Marjorie had thrown first stone?

What is a Creep? Who was this Billy Jake?

Why should we trust him? Was he lying? I’m not asking you to like him.

Marjorie stands back, her face hid deep inside her armpit, and the corpulent shades in the Faceless Mob laugh, but only nervously, and you–The Warrant Officer–bulge a hole ten-miles wide from out the crowd, standing before The Creep who stood silent and alone at the tippety-tip-top of that gnarled old hill: Dreamers’.. Er, Peak.

Tell me: How did you escape?” you say this, and you kick a pebble into the salty green puddle below as the noon-tide work with the moon to pull the cliffs of the East back into the ocean.

The Creep looks up into the glaze of an eye, and you wonder, perhaps wondering how it happened that night–how could it? How does a man escape at all from a maximum security craphole–why does he wear himself out to come so far as to return to his own hometown where he knew none would accept him?

“Tell us that, and maybe we’ll cut your noose some slack, ” says Marjorie.

“You–You–and you and you and you–You are concerned that much with my tale that you really would wish to know?”

and so, The Creep strikes again. “I thank you. Perhaps this story of mine, maybe it will become more than real to you as it is re-told and re-analyzed by the cunning of a mind collective. Would you still listen, even if you would not believe it to be any more than fairy tale deception by a perverted Mother Goose?”

A few in the Faceless Mob nod their heads–many more grit white teeth–as they pick free their stones thin enough to drive through his thick forehead and shatter the white glass below into a complexion of ripples.

But this doesn’t happen–yet. You raise high your gun, waving its free arm into the cloud. All you need do is motion but a hand towards The Creep and you say, “Continue,” you say, and they stop as fast as a neon, octagonal sign might stop a prude. It’s interesting. Hear it out first.

Nodding slow, The Creep curls back into Buddha-position and begins to doodle.

“This may be the tale of the pervert, twice removed,”states The Creep. “But I will show you the life of a martyr.”  No, I won’t! We won’t let you!

(.)(.)(.)(.)(.)(.)

I WAS an echo of a person–once humanoid–now a bitter taste of a man, humanity removed. Vengeful. Drop a dollar down a cliff.

“Nothing but the clothes off my back. Only a shell of what a man once was, and the time before, and the time before that.

“And then the uniform strode in. The Warrant Officer, who stands before you today, was a uniform back then in the quaint hospice of that jail, but you knew that. It was The Warrant Officer what watched over me in an atmosphere–”

“None taken,” you say. “Now get on with it.”

The Creep continues to doodle. “I escaped,”he says. “Does it matter how I escaped? I escaped.”

......

“ARE YOU SERIOUS?” you say.

“Yes, I’m serious,”says The Creep. “I’m defending my life here, Why wouldn’t I be serious? Or is this all a joke to you?”

They listen.

“How I escaped is besides the point. It’d be a long, boring process to explain in detail what I did to get out of death row and near just as ridiculous, believe you me.

“Let me rephrase that: That’s not how I escaped, how I escaped is besides the point. What I escaped to is right on. What happened after–well–that’s a truth I don’t quite know how to sell.”

imagine: This is where Your face gets purty (A Saint’s Confession)

Outside, there is a certain stillness in the air.

He says he feels like a  —

0 0 0

0 0

0 0 0

0      “

zero . . . ” 0

0 0 0

0 0

0 0 0.

He asks you if you agree.

The Creep strikes again: “Working late, my friend?” He’s still in jail.

You blink rapidly, then shake the demon out your mind. You answer, “Yeah, but I get off soon.”

The Creep beams at you, all teeth. You count all the teeth. There are ten too many–the grin of a sweet-toothed croc. “You know,” says The Creep. “I used to work a lot too. I used to think the more I worked, the more I’d get accomplished. I’d work for days and days on end, Thanskgivings, Easters, Christmases, Quanzas, putting in maybe 20 hour days for two weeks straight a go, thinking the faster I ran, the soon I’d get somewhere.

“I didn’t.

“I’d burn out for a month or so. I’d get so tired.”

He takes the toothpick out of your sandwich and expertly plucks it between his teeth too many. “I used to wonder why I was so tired, even though the fact was blatantly obvious.” Normally, you would have done something about that sandwich dilemma. If it was any other serial murderer. With this one, it was just disarming. His smile was so relaxed, so perfect. His cell must get real good dental.

And you thought those FBI Most Wanted photos had to look criminal. This one looked like a talk show host.

So I cut back on my work, spent more time with friends, at least the ones I liked. Tried working consistently–just a little bit a day–sometimes only one or two hours.”

Then the Creep watches you with that crocodile grin of his. “Something wrong, my friend?” he says.

But you look away. “I know–what-you-did.”

An uproarious laugh. “My friend! Ha! Oh-my-oh-my, oh gee!” blurts The Creep. Then shaking his head: “Child–Everyone knows what I did. It’s out there blaring incessantly on the 5 O’Clock news in every TV set in every home. Don’t believe everything they say. The furry brooms in my nose are near as famous as Hitler’s inkblot stache by now, or haven’t you been tuning in?”

You take a coffee mug and test the solidarity of the bars–tap, tap, clang. “No one’s escaped from this federal hell.”

“You learn a lesson at the end of each episode. It’s heartwarming. It really is.”

He crashed back onto his bunk and immediately began snoring, though you knew him for a cheap imitation; his eyes stayed wide open so to speak. They kept the walls watched, staring at you even as he slept.

You briefly look away and as you do you hear a noise:

There is a swift blast of sunshine-a door squeaking ajar-a mumble of wind; a blue rainstorm in a gathering dark; a hurrying of footsteps walking on the cloudlike imaginings of someone who perhaps never even existed.

That was when you realized:

The Creep had just escaped . . .

And how?

Chapter 8

HOMELESS

THE PIGS, THEY OINKED as they tracked The Creep from his point of leave.

“The sirens, they rang loud and high and clear.

I crossed rivers, I swam deserts; I jumped mountains, I braved swamps; I dove into the black heart of a forest cultivated by ever-pouring storm, and gardens grown through sweat, but still, The Warrant Officer and your suits chased me mile by mile stone, inch on inch. With dogs.

“Through the blue-beak embers of a scarlet twilight in burning, I spotted a broken house, an old, abandoned fun one; so I bolted inside as the pigs porked outside, The Warrant Officer reciting its accusations–mongrels barking.

“I saw, that fun as it was, it was a small, unpainted house, slumped over to one side; blown off its foundations. Slouched like a hunchback.

The whole floor moved, I saw it crawling–really, the floor was one of rats. You could hear the mice connecting male and female cogs in the walls. ‘Uh-huh. Uh-huh. Oh boy!’ There’s Mickey getting his hot rocks off right now.

“Thunder flashed and enlightened to me, for the briefest of instants, that there were no floorboards, unless you count the cockroaches that were an ever-changing floor of brown motion, brooding beneath me.

“I wandered lonely as a cloud, till I came upon this musty sanctuary. I wasn’t about to throw myself back into the agony of lost souls just yet. In a word: state penitentiary.”

I wasn’t.

“So I broke out through the in-door, and I escaped some more.

It was then I thought of maybe going back to my own town, my own bed, my own–the word makes me vomit–family, and maybe even see Julie and tell her I was stupid and I would never be stupid again. I’d got edge-juh-mih-cated.

“So I left the present and traveled to the past, across seven states and to my own home in Emerald Coast, and twas there I looked through the window of my old house and I looked up Julie, but Julie wasn’t there.

So I body slammed through the door and peered inside the house, but it was abandoned and Julie still wasn’t there. It was just as well. I counted it her loss.

“So I checked a service back at the old church I used to pastor, but when I stepped inside, me fiercely bearded like a homeless drunk on binge and needle, few carrying hymnals in their hands avoided me, others carrying news brought me in and sat down beside me, swapping handshakes; still others ignored us for the stench of me–like I’d just come out of a boghair. Which I did. So I thought, ‘I won’t find grace here–not looking like this. Not yet.’

I left Emerald Coast that yester’s-eve and traveled a rectangular state or two away until I came across a bridge, which, to this day, I have yet to cross.

“A dry river bed.

“I dove underneath that bridge, clothed in a coat of night, till I saw nothing but the rushing lights of a highway passing overhead.

There is a fifth dimension–beyond suburbia. Homeless they are, and struggling under bridges and alleyways everyday–just for enough bread and oxygen to survive; and 2 parts hydrogen for a drink. Addicts, all of them, of some kind. This is a land of drunks and a world of druggies–a dimension where a bottle is a wet nurse and a maid, and here I join them, resolving to be drunk and bitter and vengeful for the rest of my Thanksgivings, sitting like a princess perched on her electric chair, complaining only about that can of peas buried six mattresses below.

But such places are better than death. There were sunny days, beautiful! days in paradise. I’m rambling.

“Now and then it would rain.

“But as paradise it was, as the green grass grew greener in the corn-colored rain of all our happy suns–it was nothing to me.

“As bright as the light of day was, I saw only darkness.

“As beautiful as the world was to everyone but me; I knew only spite.”

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A QUICK

Question: What does the flame of a candle look like after it goes out?

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1) The Little Girl On The Bottom Of a Lake (ROTTING):

She is a flower that blooms for half an hour.

It’s a terrible thing he’s done.

Chapter 9

REDEMPTION UNDER A BRIDGE / the longest mile

I CAN ONLY DESCRIBE the next turn of events like an awakening from reality to a dream.

“Before, when I was a perverted, raging drunk of a man, killing and raping and brutally murdering. Yes, before it was like I had lived the life of a nightmare!

“Dark clouds, thunder, and lightning came with me everywhere I went. Surely, I’d walk into a restaurant and order maybe the house special, a little fish and chips, and the waiter friend would ask, “Hey, are these thunderclouds with you?”

(.)

(.)(.)(.)(.)(.)

I started to cry.

(.)

(.)(.)(.)(.)(.)

THOSE DON’T look like vaginas to me this time. They look like bellybuttons.

Consider me reborn.

Here’s an ink blot:

($)PLATTER!

What’s it look like to you?

(.)

(.)(.)(I have a belly button.)(.;)(.)

W

hat’s she now?

A whore.

What was she before then?

A hobo and a crook.

And the time before, and the time before that?

Look, I’m only saying what I see, and what I see is–Oh, I get what you’re trying to do. You’re trying to make me tell you she used to be a lil baby chile, and just because the doctor cut her umbilical cord and slapped her bare behind–that makes her a human being, which thereby gives her worth? Is that it?

I’m not the one who said it. You said it.

“Shee-yit.”

.

...(respect the button.).

THE NEXT day, The Creep, as I knew me, crept over that guy who had given me the Holy Book and I said,

“ ‘Rod?’ I said. “Do you think?–I mean, could God ever forgive a nutcase like me?”

“‘Creeper Friend. Don’t be silly. All men think.’

He told me yes,’ says The Creep. “So I asked him how he knew.

“He said, ‘Kid, I’ve been in some bad places too.’

“‘That’s only because you want to be forgiven,’ I said. ‘What if God hasn’t forgiven you?’

“He smiled, a lipless skull, he was . ‘You’re afraid of this fire, aren’t you?’ said Rod. ‘Why?’

“‘Because–that is my fate,’ I said.

make this a musical.

 

(belly.) (button.) (belly.) (button.)(peanut-butter jelly time.)

HALF a mile down the highway, and they helped me get dressed too–cleaned up, shaved up, and in a suit worthy enough to walk the street walks without being stared at. The hobos. I told them to stop shaving me, that I needed the beard.

“I stopped by the village square. Some woman got in front of a truck, and I tripped and fell over her.

And there she was, and I was right on top of her. Just saved her life.

“To be honest, I got a boner again, and signed to verify that I received the package. Yet again aroused by her youthful beauty, she was the one who talked first, not me, ‘Thanks for everything, jerk,’ she said in that sweet, seductive way you’d imagine Candy to have made love to me the day I cheated on my wife.

“Instead of running the other way, like I should, I couldn’t move from that spot. I was too afraid and aroused all at once. Plus, I had my hand stuck on her zipper, and there was nothing doing.

Still, she stood me up on my feet–wiping the cement blocks out of my newly torn new blue jeans, and putting one hand to her hips as she pressed a cigar to her lips, she said, ‘I think you saved my life.’

“She trusted me enough to escort her down a long, dark hallway. Home.

“She said she was a prostitute, and that she should thank me properly.

“I said I didn’t believe her, and she, you’re right. I’m kidding.

“I took her out for coffee instead.

“‘I’m Jezebel,’ said the prostitute.

“‘Well that gives away your personality, doesn’t it? Might as well call you Big Mama’s Place: Get-Laid.’ I almost gave in.

“Clothes flew off. Buttons were disassembled. Zippers were undone. But I didn’t say they were my clothes—-or my buttons. True, a zipper was unzipped, but that was only because I had to use the can; and she only took off her clothes because I had decided to treat her to a shopping spree–my treat; and she had to use the ladies’s changing room! I had some money, honestly, because I — stole it.

“After that, she took me to the nearest Motel 6.

The bed was perfumed.

“And that small little girl of ten and nine years had me on my back. I almost gave in. But I stopped her. We went out for a second coffee.”

She said, “Won’t you come to bed with me?”

I drew the line. ‘In the morning, you would be dead.’ I drew.

“She had cried herself to dehydration. She said I was sick. I said, ‘Look in the mirror. You need a hose.’ I gave her a glass of water.

So I took her out for coffee one morn, but she said she didn’t like coffee either. Gave her migraines in the way that a headache makes the head feel larger. So we both bought mango slushies instead, which gave us both brain freezes, but that’s beside the point. It was then she started blabbing about life.

“‘I was the victim of familiar abuse,’ she said.

“ ‘That’s great! So are we!’ and I invited her down to Rod and the whole hobo family.

“Candy might have passed for Jezebel’s mother.

“Just believe me, kid, when I say—-it isn’t me. . .’”

She married Rod.

(.)

(.)(.)(.)(.)(.)

“THEIR wedding sucked.

“‘Weddings are gay.’

“Here the ring bearer piped up: ‘But it’s your wedding, Mac; so that means — ’

“‘Shut up!’ said Rod.

“ ‘The Government!’ It was a hobo wedding.

Yes, as disgusting as wedding bells underneath interstate viaducts may sound, it was the most beautiful thing you ever saw; if you could be me, if I could be you.

And herein this crap holeunder. neath. this. bridge———————I knew I was home.”  Um.

You can see clearly now the blood is gone, You can see all obstacles in Our way

Chapter 10

“LIAR!”

WHEN’D YOU decide on coming home?” says Marjorie.

The Creep stares at her with eyes in storm and rains on her parade,

“When I felt it was time I face the lies and show the world that people such as I can change–change their hearts. What? Don’t you buy it?”

Marjorie laughs. “I don’t believe it. True, you’ve always been a tad–expressive; your web of lies is intricate, and your tongue drips the honey of persuasion, though your story is full of holes. But I’ve always known you to hide that Poker face behind a smile. You can’t hide those lying eyes.”

The Creep looks up to her and feels the wet shine on his cheek where she threw the first pebble and here he croaks,

“Ribbit.” Then he says,“Say I don’t love you, and then we’ll know who the real liar is, Marjorie, O mother-of-mine. Alas! I think now I will tell you the rest of the story, and we’ll see whose truth is true. How did I come here–and why have I come back if I knew you would reject me, as a body rejects the sting of a human splinter?

“Of course, I don’t know.

“I thought maybe, if I’d been accepted by the homeless, that the familiars I had grown up with, my town, my paternals, my brothers, my sisters, that maybe they’d accept me. Why didn’t you?

“I understand if not. You didn’t know I had changed my luck, but even if you did believe I could change a pair, I still wonder–would you hold me up on your shoulders, as in glory days?

Anyhow, I decided to go home.

“My mind got so loaded with memory I must’ve sprung a leak, because my stomach cramped and I sorta hurled down on the side of the road, as my friends looked on to Emerald Coast dawning up on us, blue and cold, and sat me down on the side of the road, okaying me until I got the final go, that yes, I could walk again. I’ve run this far. Rod and Jezebel went with me. What a name!

When my world had finally turned to salt, I leapt skyward and began to speak excitedly about my hometown in the high, beating voice you’d imagine a hummingbird to gossip with her girlfriends, and me, the caged song-lark. Maybe they’d accept me.

 

We threw open the doors of my old church and made it straight for the center pews.

I realized then, that in the course of a lifetime, I’d touched a lot of people. If I made it, I’ll touch many more. I could’ve touched America–I won’t say where. So we left.

The Creep and his newfound friends voyaged to my own house, and I stared up into the eyes of my dear old Dad as he opened the door, then it slammed shut, but this time it wasn’t the wind. It was then I saw five tiny fingers intercept the resounding slam and then pry open the door. It was a gnarled old claw that stayed it. It was the face of my mother. The only one that could’ve forgiven me.

“‘I’ve been waiting, Billy,’ said her mouth, but not so her eyes. ‘Did anybody follow you? Have you brought back that porno tape you stole off your father?’

“I shook my head and the happy couple shook theirs.

“‘I’ve been praying for your safe return, but you can’t stay here,’ said Mother Dearest. ‘It’s not safe here, you must leave. Now. I’m afraid they will–I can’t say what they’ll do if they see you. It’s a season of terror on the Television, and the episodes aren’t over. People are unpredictable. Many hate you here, many are nice enough, but they won’t forgive you your reputation. It has shamed the denizens of Emerald Coast and all their family lines. Many in our home has been unjustly accused because of you.’

“‘But why do they blame you, Mom?’ I said.

“Father said to give him some milk!! / ‘What’s the magic word?’ / ‘NOW.’ Then he smiled and said he was only kidding. He strutted over to me, picked me up, twirled me around, kissed me roughly on the cheek, and sat down for excuse of bad back and stomach cancer. Said he’d have opened the door sooner, but he thought I was a Jehovah’s witness. He laid his head back down in his Chair and snored.

Mama Dearest looked back towards the blur on the hill. An angry yellow cloud–perhaps not a cloud, but a smog–had risen in fumes of exhaust over on top of it. ‘You know I forgive you, son, but that’s my job–I give birth to you, and then I grow wise in all things but your mistakes. Christ forgive you, and I see a change in you still, but this place is a harsh world. They invite you in with open arms, but the moment you do anything tragic,

you become the eyelash in their eye,

the fly in their soup,

so busy blowing out smoke in every direction that we are all coughing on your second hand smoke, and such things are not tolerated. Not even if you saved a million lives for every life you took.

“‘Our family has been rejected in this town, we no longer set foot there. They spit on us, avoid us, send us hate mail, put cherry bombs in our mailboxes. Halloween pranks are the worst. We’ve tried moving, changing our names. But I could never part from this town. I was born here. I was raised here. I’ll die here. That’s what it makes it ours, doesn’t it? That’s why we belong.’

“‘Let’s go now, Daddy,’ said Jezebel, tugging on my sleeve.

“‘And who is this young lady, Bill? A friend; girlfriend.’

“I heightened my chin. ‘…A daughter.’

“Her tongue swelled up. ‘Goodness gracious me! You’ve had another daughter with another woman.’ She fanned herself, and started frantically to cook and clean things that simply weren’t there.

Here I shook my head quite near as frantically, to reassure her. ‘Woman–I mean, she’s like a daughter to me. This! This is her husband,’ I pointed to Rod. ‘He’s a sorta son-in-law to me. They’re my new chain gang. It seems we’re attached at the hip.’

“She looked back to them both and the corners of her mouth raised their curtains and shone a light on us. ‘God bless your marriage,’ she said. ‘Come inside for now.’ Then stopped her frantic cleaning to frantically exchange this habit for another: Money-lending.

“‘I will provide you with every basic need you have to survive a 3-day journey in whatever direction takes you the heck out of here. But remember: as soon as you are prepared to leave, or even sooner, You-Must-Leave. Or-they-will-Find you. Our home is the first place they’ll look. They know I can’t blame you, even if your own dearest Dad has disowned you.’

“‘It’s a fad, fathers disowning their children,’ said Jezebel. ‘If the next generation only had someone to smack them up the side of the head every hour of their life, maybe they’ll realize how cool it is–to stay in school.’

My mother took us inside and, briefly, I gave her my story, the same I told you, but only as slowly as her heart could digest it without going into a sudden coronary attack, and she said maybe I should sell the movie rights to some big-time record producer, or Hallmark, and have it turned into a card.

“She said I could make a pretty penny out of it, and live on in the hearts of the millions who’d been touched my it. I said I’d be happier living on in my apartment. Her favorite part was the hot and sweaty sex parts, to which I responded, ‘Ma!’ and she said, ‘I believe you, I get you, Billy ole boy’ she said, when I said I’d since cleaned up all the kinky stuff since The Creep incident. It is a mother’s right to be naïve.

“It was Rod who stood on guard, peering into the other room where my father was lounging in snores, not watching his favorite TV show, but claiming he did whenever you touched that dial.

“Rod said he wanted a word with him to straighten things totally out, but when he did look in the other room, he saw my father balancing a checkbook in one hand and a phone in the other. ‘

Sure do,’ he said into the receiver, just quiet enough for the clumsy of ear not to hear him, but just loud enough to tell us he was hard of hearing. Then he said: ‘He’s here alright. No, you don’t need a search warrant for this one. Just get him the hell outta here. Look: I don’t need him to endanger my old woman.

His eyes hung on Rod as he hung up the receiver and saw him standing there. Rod had told us right away.

“Father cocked his checkbook at us, mistaking it for a gun, and shouted, ‘Get out. OUT. Get out, ya bastard, leave–Take that abomination with you.’

“I heard that, but my mother refused to.

“He shot twice. The first shot missed. The other shot sunk my Battleship with its red Hit piece.

So in the end, which is actually the beginning, I came, I went, I was already There! and I look to the boulevard where the gathering storm is building, and of the faceless mob, and still you are erupting from the schoolhouse doors of those who had heralded me in song, and so I turn to Rod and Jezebel and I tell them, ‘Quick: They won’t recognize you. Fall back into that mob and look just as outraged as the others. Call me pervert, call me creep, invent stories of me hay-rolling your sons and daughters to the death–I don’t care! There is safety in the body of the Mob so long as you’re one of them. Get over there!’

“They told me they had come with me this far and they couldn’t leave me, and if this was the way they met my friends and relations, my hometown, my school, my father, then they’d meet them head on.

“I told them next to the invention of inflatable pants, that was the stupidest thing I’d ever heard. I drew him a portrait of his tombstone, and gave him a clue. Tapping my teeth, I continued: ‘I was afraid of this–First thing out of jail, I’d go back home and get stoned. Then they’d throw rocks at me. They’ll nail you to the crucible if they know you’re my friends; just mosey on back into the crowd and act like you’re giving the wild goose the chase of the century. When I’m gone, leave. But do it now.’ And to think: this is how it all began. ‘Here they come.’

“And, as you know, You have committed no crime in giving me chase, for I am a man deserving of murder, as a child molester returning home; and it is now–no, it was then You gave chase–all through the sentimental twilight of that cobblestone town till I knew there was nowhere to run, nowhere to go.

“So my feet thought for me. Long days on the road can teach that to a foot. I didn’t know where they were thinking, feeling their way through the bitter dark, but they returned me to my childhood, to my memories, as together we climbed up this very hill, overlooking the phantom pier in a hometown called Emerald Coast, which is no home to strangers.

It was Dreamers’ Peak where I threw starfish into the sea with Sailorboy Simon when we was young, wishing on starshine and waterbugs for dreams unfulfilled.

“It was Dreamers’ Peak where I met my first love Julie, and seized her in an eternal embrace which lasted half a second till the vow on our wedding hour.

“It was Dreamers’ Peak where I cheated with Candy.

“And it is Dreamers’ Peak that I now leave myself in your hands, in the jury of my peers, for your firm and final judgment.

“Something drew us all here, but I didn’t know what it was. Something nostalgic wreathed in a humor. Maybe for this reason I am here to tell you that I am changed, I am different, I am no longer just another creep. That not just for me, but for all mascara and monsters, that such a transformation is not too far from the World’s End.

“I tell you all of this, my father, my brothers, my sisters, my friends, my schoolyard, my hometown, my nation, my state of mind; my globular earth; and still, all I hear is a snowball-gathering echo and in that, a world in a raindrop, and further still, one single, solitary accusation, one condemnation, one lonely word, all by itself, which of all things–

means-my-Journey’s-End:

“‘LIAR!!’”

“And I believe you.”

Chapter 11

JUDGMENT

THE CREEP STANDS before a jury of his peers, awaiting a reply in dust as his fingers halt their doodling and he looks up, eyes glazed over like cherries.

Says one of two offspring, “You’re going to kill him, aren’t you?” See also: The End.

The Creep asks them to throw. They ignore it. He asks them to stop, and they pick their share of broken stones.

“You lack the courage of your conviction, sir,” says he. “Whatever it is that needs doing, Do it. Do it now.”

The mother is a silent g as in Lasagna. Not G as in Gregory, or G as in George.

Marjorie just shakes her wits.

So happy she could shake his hand, she points the finger. “Maybe he isn’t a liar, this Creep fellow,” she says. “But even if he is telling the truth, why in hell’s name should I pardon him for being the death of my daughter and god only knows how many HUNDREDS more?”

The tendency is to exaggerate. A 6-inch penis becomes a 12-inch sub. 200 hundred stitches become 3. How could half a hundred become tens of thousand?

“So what if he’s changed.”

If you could see the Creep, he looked innocent, and by that, many juries reach their verdict. If it’s looks, he’s got em. If it’s good genes, their blue.

Rod nods to them all. “It’s true.”

By some strange freak of chance, I was born–or say–created.

In the Faceless Mob, I look for my answer. There is one face undecided, with uncertain legs, and like a boat unsure whether the people should be on top or the boat–it kept wheeling round and round.

Maybe that face is you. Maybe you should make up your mind, and do it soon, or you’ll be regretting the day you saved my life. For the rest, they turn Sheeple–that is sheep and people mixed; or those what follow positively Baaing without question.

But he is not yet dead!

“Pervert. Weirdo. Predator. Freak,” says him, says I, says Billy Jake. “I know those are all negative labels we stamp on the foreheads of the people out there like me who struggle with sexuality–stalking, killing.

The Creep says, “If you have guilt on your conscience, sleep ain’t easy. But NOW I sleep the sleep of the righteous. I HAVE CHANGED.” It was a death-like sleep.

“Right here, now–This is a sexual congress. And I want to tell all you delegates — No, I want to tell the world out there that hates my guts, and that hate all these types of people. That would rather watch us burn on the side of a fence in the namesake of poetic justice.

“I want to tell you all this: We feel–cold and hot and sticks and needles.

“We love and hurt and hate just like anybody else. We know what it is like for two bodies to be traveling within one another, and for them each to be giving to the receiver’s end without due punishment of love.

“The water knows you — gets all over you — inside you. This sex craze is an emotion that makes you feel like you can float up to the tops off trees and walk among their branches — but that, in itself, is not Love. That is gold melting and running down into the gutters..

“But Love is more. Love does not bruise the sky nor punch the heavens in the gut. And it is not this pain I am feeling from you, this sizzling strawberry flesh oozing its sugared sweet blood!

He began to get poetic.

When you’re feeling two feet small or just part of the scenery — when you have the feeling of being inside something when it’s raining just outside your window — just remember!

“We are your friends, your neighbors, and your college fraternity buddies.

“We are your brothers and sisters and mothers and fathers. We’re not all that different.

“For surely, When does some-body become some-one?

Then, He began to get truly poetic.

I think of what my scab brother said–I forgot what he said. I think of the last thing that little girl I did did–picking her nose and her eyes. I think of Julie the first night I met her. Like starved hearts, our lips met.

“We come from the same mold–I too picked my nose and eyes when clothed in the garments of kidhood. We are closer to the dislocated heart of you and her and them and all these things than you can ever possibly imagine!”

“Hey, fuck you!”

“And you, and you, and you. All I must tell you before you either herald me as loser-freak and push me off that cliff over yonder is that I’ve changed. Um.”

And then he began to lose his breath.

I say all this to you because you can’t explain a person back to life once regret for an innocent man has come and passed. It’s like hugging wind in your arms. I don’t crave flesh, I am physically neutered. I won’t go around harming You anymore.

“And I know all this doesn’t justify what I’ve done. In fact, you can lock me up. The pain I’ve caused you and you and you, and yes, You: The friends and family you’ve unpardonably lost,”

At this, he breaks out at the high crack of a whip and begins to rain, to croon, to gurgle, a child rearing out for his mother’s tit.

“I am at an apology for all I’ve done,”

says Billy Jake. “It pains me; and pain is red! I have the red footprints to prove it. The thing is: I have to live with all this. Guilt is the primal sense of justice weighing down on me everyday.

“Hey, fuck you!”

“I wish there was some way I could make everything right, I wish I could hate you too, but I can’t, I wish I could feel your throat. I wish there were more you’s.”

He seems to be talking to himself now. “Do the right thing here, baby. Treat me right. I think I took the wrong way home.

“Time has felt sorry for me, at least. At least, I aged well.”

All past expressions–smiles, frowns, everything, lingering in the wrinkles that played about his face, eyes narrowed with self-loathing, and the reason why humans love to hate. Listen!

It wasn’t always this way. But now it’s time for me to leave. I hate myself more than you could guess, I’m so dry. Nothing I say or do will ever bring your little boys back. I’m sorry. I’m so — ” sorry for making it so flammable, says the fireman to the pyro.

There is a way of saying sorry that always leaves your ears full of sand: This was not one of them.

Don’t I deserve love and jewelry?

Whatever melts your butter.

His accusers shout and yell and screech at him to die.

“It’s unfair that he should die so soon,” says a faceless. Lashes made of fairy dust.

“He might of be tortured instead,” but this is merely a crumpled paper slam-dunked in the suggestion box.

“Mightn’t we do it sooner than later?” She tortures her lower lip with a nip of teeth. “There’s naught a thing he can do now to turn our minds.” Palms Will. Be. Greased. “Better do it now before he starts persuading with that oily tongue.”

How attached can you get to a hip?

The Creep is on his knees, but he is not begging.

“The crowds want a monster to gasp at, they want a villain they can label as evil, they want evil personified so they can kill it and snuff it out. Well, here I am. I am your monster, I am that villain. Kill me! I beg of you.”

Scratch that. He is begging.

His eyes are two big glugs at the Circle K so dilated they possess a lunar tide.

“Oily tongue, have I? Then my claws have broken the flowers of a thousand infants and seed the deaths of ten thousand more.

“I am destroyed by beauty.

“I am a dark lover who loves in a million directions.

“I am that oily seductress lying await in the weeds for the little ones to straddle by.

“I am a monster, yes. But henceforth! I cast off this mortal form, and toss forevermore the nickname, Creep.

“I am a monster, to be sure, but I am an innocent monster from this time on.”

No one knew how his twisted wreckage croaked it out. But what’s said is said and what’s done is did.

 

You might have rushed as they rushed, or you might have not, the entire earth of them, stampeding towards the Creep and his chair as one herd of Sheeple plowing over the ex-Roxanne and her hobo husband. You might have watched as the bride and groom were trampled on their honeymoon, till death did they part, and tough break: Only a few days after their night. But to be just as fair: You just as probably did not. They died in the stampede.

A grey world is rolling after me, to crush me as well!!

It’s horrible to be murdered, but to murder without stopping oneself, that is pain. You must be in agony to cause agony, watching with murderous intent. Murder is an art form in the states, a series of never-ending entertainments. Watch Cops Season 1, 4, and 7, to see!

But for now, a child molester returns home with greetings of: “You raped.”

“You murdered.”

“You destroyer of life.”

“You must die.” He is dying. That’s Die-ing.

He was scared he was gonna fall. Then he was scared he wasn’t gonna fall.

But The Creep should have been confident in his death. But in truth, the Creep was a wussy. A siss. His precipitation is enough to fill a tub. He cries and wails. He resorts to begging-

Loser-freak.

Loser. / Loser. /

Loser. It gets louder each time.

But the world calls him, “Liar,” and “Monster,” and here they pronounce his sentence in this declarative one, “We can’t stand your lies.” You and the rest of those sons-of-bitches.   Says the Creep, “I never lied to you.

Never believe a promise you hear in the dark. .

Here the Creep halts his begging to bow. He stares up to heaven listlessly, and peering through the cobweb mist and the celestial blur, he sees Jesus God in the sky on his throne as a sun filled with ice chips and there beside him sat his other two butt buddies that indeed, did stick together to the end, Jezebel and Rod, and they’re all there waiting for him fit enough to punch a hole in the sky as he experience a minor stormfront of hailing into submission, and here he smiles, saying, “Forgive them. They don’t know what they’re doing.”

Jesus blows for him a kiss; an air kiss.

But the last stone hits him, the stone his father threw. And the Sheeple rush on him, smothering his body with their stony hooves.

How to describe that breathless hour?

The cold air stings him.

A mob of hurt people issue out the war-song.

I am a horse, sitting, sobbing in the sideways rain.

Nameless. Faceless. Order of none.

The world is made of seasons such as this.

The sound of moving feet, the hunt, and the long, breathless silence that happens briefly afterwards is nearly over, but there are many more like Billy Jake that need be crucified. “Good hunting,” they say. / “Good hunting.”

“Finally, justice,” sings the mother. “Throw that body into that ocean now, willya? It’s gotta stink by now.” / “It does stink.”

Ashes peppered his body with cold feather-like sensations.  The air stinks of flowers. It is a green stink.

The deed is done. They throw its twisted wreckage into the sea.

We bodies give up our ghost.

A man in the mob says, “Cleans out your liver to see a man scream like that,” and shivers. / “Let’s get the hell outta here. There’s blood on our hands.” / “We gotta clean that up too.” to sugar stain furniture with plastic sweat. / “I didn’t mean to run over the others–I didn’t see em, did you?” / “The mob sorta thought for itself. There wasn’t nothing we could do about it. I tried to stop em, I really did.” / “It’s a damn shame. They didn’t do anything to deserve it. It was only The Creep we was tryna get. They did nothing inherently wrong.” / “Let’s get the hell –” / “I heard you. Boys! We’re headin on out!” Then, to the first man: “Our job’s done here. This should never be speakin of ever again. It ain’t no real pleasure in life.”

There’s gotta be a lesson in all this; unfortunately, I can’t find it, so I’ll substitute my own: When treating hostages, treat them politely, however brutally..

So as the Creep in us dies, maybe he’ll be brave enough to whisper one word, one moniker. A name, a love, a life, a beauty who had waited for him in a chair overlooking the ocean-side: “Julie,” it whispers.

For Julie, the look comes easy.

“Good Riddance and goodbye,” says the world. Then, to the crowd: “I said let’s go, boys! What’s so goddamned interesting bout a man and his friends drowned in a puddle! I said, our job’s done here! Ain’t nothing to be proud of! Just remember to be careful on the way down the mountain.”

Here I’ve said so many words, and very little of them make any sense. All I can tell you is that I’m not alive to tell you this anymore, and there’s a friend out there jotting down the words he thinks I’d most likely think I might say without the words to think them.

My name is Ozzie Frankfertur, and–

I——I grieve. . . for the friend in you and the friend in me. And as that thoughtful ever-lovin bastard, The Creep, might have said, There’s a name for when the breathing stops.

When in doubt of the answer . . . refer all thought to me.

be: This is just to say I love You

A Dedication:

Ben Hilgemann.

This is just to say I love you.

Because.

Epilogue: Life Goes On . . .

3 . . .

6 Lions & 5 Bears talk

An EDITOR’S Note

:

Hi. This is

Ozzie Frankfertur speaking on the Future of this book. At first, Eddie and I thought we should change this part because of what happened to Jerky (Billy Jake Henderson), but then Eddie and I talked about it and we said maybe it’s best to leave it as is. It’s one of the few remaining things left of Jerky, originally intended in dreams of becoming a children’s story, but it never made it.

Let it alone and leave him speak, we said.

So we left it alone in the way of the Untouched, save just a few editorial liberties, what with grammar and all, among other English language evils.