The She-Bandit

The She-Bandit

“Once more, from the beginning,” the she-bandit demanded. Her mask muffled her words, but her intentions came out clearly.

Tetris (not the game, the merchant) slowed down her words. “My precious jewel was stolen. A man on a camel stole my cross-hatch gem. It’s a gem made of many other jewels. Please, find it for me, or…”

The she-bandit sighed, muffled. “A man on a camel? Like every man travelling in the desert? How can I identify this man?”

“Well…” Tetris gulped. “That’s the problem. He… or she, maybe… was in disguise, so it could be anyone.”

“Tough break, kid. I can’t waste my time looking for a super-expensive jewel that you can’t even sell without it getting stolen. I suggest you try fishing in sand pits. You’d have more luck.”

As the she-bandit rose, a blinding sparkling object dropped from her boot.

“THE CROSS-HATCH GEM!” Tetris shrieked.

“Oops.” The she-bandit considered her words carefully. “Okay. To be fair, I didn’t steal it. A merchant sold it to me for a fortune, so I’m…”

“And that blood on your knife, I’m led to believe is from a flying cow?”

The she-bandit looked at her weapon.

“Can’t blame me for trying. But I just stabbed him in the arm for it. A murderer I’m not.”

Banging came from the closet.

“Father! You tried to steal from your own daughter?”

A fat man in Arabian garb with a knife wound on his shoulder was tied up in the closet.

“She was trying to steal it from us while you were relieving yourself! She did this to me!”

The she-bandit laughed. “Oh, please. What about the person on the camel?”

Tetris examined the gem. “This is a clever forgery! So you stole the real one from my father and replaced it with a fake, stole the false one back on camel-back while in disguise to shift the blame and…”

“I’m confused,” said the she-bandit. “And this was supposed to be my scheme. Why don’t I just take both and call it a day?” She pulled out a knife. “Unless you don’t like keeping both of your ears.”

“No, I don’t think so,” said Tetris. She pulled out a new kind of weapon. “It’s called a gun. It may look like a horn, but it packs a punch.”

“What could that possibly–”

BANG!

“MY ARM!”

“We’ll be taking our things back, Miss She-Bandit. Rot in Hell, please.”

After they left the she-bandit’s den, she began extracting the bullet.

“Damn coward. Guns. It’ll never catch on.”

“Excuse me?”

A young man with sandy blonde hair approached the bleeding woman.

“Not now, kid. I’m kind of bleeding out here.”

“Can I–”

“NO!” she jerked back. “Look, what is it you want?”

“I have a gem, and I assure you, it’s not worth wounding me over.”

She scratched her head. “So you heard all that. What, what, out with it!”

He opened a gold painted box with a teensy-weensy jewel. It seemed to be a ruby.

“You’re right. It’s not worth the effort. So what’s up?”

“The much-larger part of the jewel was stolen by bandits. As a bandit yourself, I tracked you down–”

“Found one of my advertisements, you mean.”

“Okay, yes. Please help me find the bandits. I think they go by the Graham Bandits.”

“How much are you willing to pay for me to betray my former gang?” she muffled.

“Oh… I had hoped you would have done it out of good will…”

She laughed and laughed and laughed.

“…But I do have 37 thousand kolens. And the use of my flying cow, if you’d like.”

She stopped laughing.

“Is the gem really that valuable?”

“No, but it was my late wife’s favorite.”

The she-bandit shook his hand and took a map to their new hideout. It had been seventeen years since she left the Graham Bandits, and for the better. On the whole, she could swipe gems and get a reward for them better than those chuckleheads could simply steal from others.

She rode the cow as far as a mile before the hideout. No sense in dropping off right in front. She could figure out the traps easily. A flying arrow? No problem. A hole in the sand? She could go around it easy-peasy. She was never particularly perfect at spike traps, which is why she recommended not bothering to put any in her own den. The gang also lacked spike traps at her request, still keeping to it seventeen years later.

When she got to the entrance, she jumped onto a rock. Perfect. The whole gang was there with crossbows aimed right at her.

The young man with sandy blonde hair emerged from the shadows.

“So, the former Graham leader is caught by the new turd,” the she-bandit said. “How did you get here before me?”

“Flying jaguar, of course.”

She smiled under her face mask. “Of course. So what now?”

“Now you admit I’m the better Graham leader and we’ll kill you with crossbows,” he mumbled.

“And if I don’t?”

“Well then, we’ll defile you and then kill you with crossbows.”

“You don’t want to defile me.”

“Oh, but I do. Ever since I saw your portrait on the wall of former leaders, I knew you were the one.”

“Guys,” she groaned, “You don’t want this. You knew me as a little girl.”

“Of course not, She-Bandit. But he’s the leader, and we have to shoot you.” A ruffian with a thick beard turned away from her piercing glare.

“And defile me?”

“I think he means to do it himself. Like the royal we.”

“SILENCE!” The gang leader clapped his palms together. “Now, remove your mask.”

“You’re the better leader, guy. Definitely outstanding. My, my leadership was like, nothing compared to yours.”

“Mask. Off.”

The other Graham Bandits turned away.

“Fine.”

As she lowered her black mask, the Graham leader’s mouth turned downwards.

She had a multitude of zits and pimples scattered across her face and a notable mustache forming above her lip. Her lips themselves were cracked and pale, while the corners of her mouth had white gunk forming.

“Like I wear a mask to disguise myself? No no. At this point, my eyes are gorgeous and recognizable. Still want your way with me?”

The leader yanked a crossbow from a female gang member’s hands. “I’ll end you right now, monster!”

The other members shot the man with sandy blonde hair. He breathed out, “This was supposed to…” and died.

“Nice loyalty, Graham gang.” She hopped off the rock. “But as the most recent living leader, I suggest you disband. If that’s your pick of leader, you really need to reevaluate your lives.” She affixed her mask once more.

“Sorry about…”

“It’s fine. Hey, is there any good gems around here, like a large ruby?”

“No. That tiny ruby is the best we could do under his leadership. He was obsessed with you to the point of ignoring his duties.”

“No gold, any kind of compensation?”

“Uh…”

“How about the flying cow and jaguar?”

“Those are on loan, actually.”

“Ah. I shan’t deprive you of that, Borshnick.”

“Thanks, Gulda.”

“She-Bandit. I’m the She-Bandit. And I’m having a really lousy day.”

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Sourswirls

Sourswirls

The land of Sourswirls was no longer the rich, lush community it had once been. Since the hydra came, the people lived in fear and many starved. The beast ate many crops and just as many inhabitants. The stocks were down and many feared the worst.

Once, the hydra wanted a child sacrifice. When the people presented a watermelon dressed in children’s clothing, she whipped all the children in town with her massive tail, scarring them for life. She ate two of them, as the other five heads weren’t hungry.

The community rallied for a hero, so they sent a letter for one to the Knight’s Guild in Quireton. The knight the Guild chose was Orrick the Ready, who was ready to have his first battle with a serpent. The Guild corrected him, saying a hydra is a hydra, not a serpent, but Orrick just rolled his eyes. “Still ready to fight this creature,” he muttered.

He rode for six hours on the back of an ostrich, until he parked it over at The Ole Ales, a favorite of Orrick’s. Six more hours and he was ready to leave. The ostrich started to flail wildly.

“Sire, this isn’t even the right way to Sourswirls. Must we make this detour each time?”

Orrick laughed heartily. “Trust me, a good ale is what ails me!”

“Ails means it troubles you. Does the drink trouble you?”

“Shut up, steed. Just ride me to Sourswirls.”

The ostrich sighed. “We’ve lost 12 hours and we went in the opposing direction. Get it together, sire.”

“Mmm.”

They rode back and came upon a cliff.

“Okay, steed. FLY!”

“I can’t fly.”

“Just flap those wings.”

“I can’t fly.”

“Run back and–”

“I can’t fly!”

They waited for an idea to form.

“I’m climbing down. Toss down my armor.”

“Sire! It’ll get damaged like that!”

“Do you have a better idea?!” he snapped.

“No, sire. I’ll toss it down first so it doesn’t hit you.” He wanted to hit Orrick.

An hour later, Orrick was on the ground, picking up his helmet, cape, sword, and various pieces of armor.

“The people of Sourswirls need us, steed. We can’t be concerned with ourselves.”

The ostrich raised an eyebrow, if it had them. “What about the detour with the ale?”

“That was confidence-boosting alcohol, steed. I’m… nervous, yes? I don’t know how to defeat the hydra.”

The wind rustled. The ostrich was at a loss for words.

“Let’s get some shut-eye, steed.”

They rested.

In the morning, a swarm of bees loomed overhead.

“Did we sleep under a beehive, steed?”

“I think so.”

A woman wearing yellow and black leggings danced over to them.

“I am the Bee Queen!~” she sang. “I know how to kill a hydra!~”

The companions looked at each other in excitement. “What do you want for this information, your highness?” asked Orrick, gleefully.

“Oh, I didn’t even think about a reward!~ But now that you mention it, I’d like The Flute of Bees!~ It summons bees at your beck and toot!~”

“Where do we find this flute?” asked the ostrich.

“My stupid sister has it.~ She won’t let me have it!~ Find my sister, find the flute.~”

The ostrich whispered to Orrick, “How are we supposed to find this person?”

“Wait, steed. Doesn’t it look like she already has a flute?”

The Bee Queen began shaking wildly. Hair covered her eyes.

“I’m the sister you seek. Malinda’s the name. I will give you the flute in exchange for something.”

“Multiple personalities,” said Orrick, and his steed nodded. “What do you want, Malinda?”

“I want the head of a hydra,” she said. “Bring me one and I’ll give you the flute.”

The companions wandered off.

In the village of Persolia, Orrick asked around if anyone knew how to kill a hydra. No luck, no kindness. Some children made fun of Orrick’s stance and one threw a rock at the ostrich. They left quickly.

The outskirts of Persolia had renegade knights loitering in alleys. “Hey, you been askin’ around about hydras?”

“Yes! Do you know how to kill one?”

“What? You don’t know? Wotta loser!” They laughed at him.

“Thank goodness we don’t have to save this town. Let’s never look back,” said Orrick.

As they stepped outside the town boundary, the entire village of Persolia sank into the ground.

“What was–”

“No looking back, steed.”

Finally, Sourswirls was in view. The hydra’s back was also in view. She was quite large and in charge.

“Time to battle. My sword.” The steed handed him his sword.

“Sire, is this wise? We don’t know how to kill it. And cutting off one head grows two more in its place!”

Orrick laughed. “What a fairy tale, steed. Two more heads. I’ll cut off all the heads and we’ll see–”

“See what?” said the hydra.

The hydra’s body was giant. Giant, yellow, scaly, and each of the seven heads looked exactly like Paget Brewster, but no one in the world could have known that. The heads grinned menacingly at Orrick.

“So, they hired a hero. Tell me hero, do you want to die?” Each of her seven heads spoke in perfect unison. Orrick trembled internally, stood resolutely externally.

“I’m not going to die. You are!” He ran up to her second head and sliced it off. Two more grew in its place. “In a couple of hours. Wait here.” He picked up the head, mounted the ostrich and fled.

“What are we doing, sire… no, not sire. You idiot! She’s bound to take her rage on those townspeople!” He flapped wildly.

“I have the head. See, we give it to Malinda, who gives us the flute. The Bee Queen then tells us how to kill the hydra.”

The ostrich thought about this. “Brilliant.”

“I know,” he smugly beamed.

As they passed through the wasteland of Persolia, confused, the steed gained newfound respect for his master. Finally, they found Malinda.

“You have the flute?~” asked the Bee Queen.

“Where’s Malinda?”

“I’ve never seen her, actually. ~ She just leaves me notes.~ Nice head.~”

“Oh, great. We don’t know when she turns into Malinda.”

“And then we have to wait for her to turn back.”

The Bee Queen looked at the head. “It’s very pretty.~ I’ll tell you the secret for the head instead.~”

“Yes!” they said together.

“Bees.~ A swarm of bees stinging the hydra.~”

“Oh great,” moped Orrick. “Where are we supposed to get and control…”

“The flute!” shouted the ostrich. “May we borrow it?”

“Oh, well…~ You mean this yellow and black flute?~ Sure.~”

They rode back to Sourswirls and Orrick whipped out his sword.

“Attack!”

He then remembered the flute.

“Bees, listen to this!”

He played a jaunty tune as the bees began to swarm the hydra.

“What are you doing, human?”

“Bees are your weakness, right?”

“No. Cut off my middle head and I go down. And I’m only telling you this because you’ll never manage it. I think you’re pathetic. Small. Weak.”

“Heroic!” He screamed, and jumped off the ostrich, diving into the center of the hydra. He split her middle head in two, down the center. The beast collapsed.

The people of Sourswirls cheered. The brave hero had done it! The two were lifted in the air. The priestess approached them.

“Brave sir Orrick, you have saved this land. However, we heard that the Guild also lends aid to devastated towns by supplying them with clean food and water, medical aid, clothes…”

“Oh, uh. That’s not really my department. You have to talk to someone in HR about all that, okay?”

“I see. Well, thank you again, Sir Orrick and his ostrich steed.”

As they walked back to the Bee Queen, Orrick whispered to his ostrich.

“Can you believe the nerve of that lady, putting me on the spot like that?”

“She doesn’t know our ways. We need to put out a Q&A or a handbook.”

They angrily returned the flute to the Bee Queen and headed home.

The Animal Kingdom Scares The Wind

the animal kingdom scares the wind

In the Galloping Forest lived a happy community of animals. From the majestic deer to the diligent beaver, the playful rabbit to the wily fox, the creatures lived in harmony with one another. They never knew from hunger, from hardship, from…

“Hey… what’s that over there?” asked Mrs. Turtle, the elected leader of the Galloping Forest.

“It’s sort of cold and sharp,” said Dr. Badger.

A moose and a mouse that cohabited looked up at the sky. “It’s very cloudy,” they said. “Cloudier than a winter’s day.”

For this conundrum, they decided to call on the help of the mallards.

“We’ve seen this before,” they said. “It’s the wind, or at least a baby wind. It blows around and around, freezing you to the bone and scattering your harvest.”

Everyone got nervous. “I don’t like the wind,” said a baby bear.

“I’ll eat it up for you, honey,” said the papa bear.

“You can’t eat wind,” said the mallards.

“But maybe we can scare it off.” Mrs. Turtle was slowly pacing the lake. “It’s just a baby, correct? Well, maybe it can be frightened into never coming back.” Mrs. Turtle whispered her plan to the other denizens of the forest.

The baby wind wandered around the forest, blowing and breezing along. Then she saw it: Hundreds of animals with pots and pans, banging wooden ladles on them. There were also a number of signs that read “Down with Trump wind!” and “Stop killing each other sunny days!” and “Black lives Animal temperatures matter!” and “I Like Ike Wind To Go Away!” The forest had been littered with signs from various protests over the years and the animals crossed out certain words.

The little wind became scared of the signs (she was used to loud noises from her uncle Thunder, but was not used to being hated). Rain flew from her eyes and she flew off.

The animals cheered with pride. That ought to keep her out of their fur! The adults celebrated with a pint of ale.

One summer day, the animals noticed something odd. It was far hotter than usual. Kites stayed on the ground. Pinwheels just looked pretty. The animals went to complain to the leader, Mrs. Turtle.

“So it’s a little hotter and your toys don’t work! Big deal!” She sighed from the heat. “And anyway, it’s sunny and clear now! Don’t complain to me!”

Without warning, the sky grew dark. It became windy and the kites and pinwheels blew away. A loud booming voice and a small high-pitched one were arguing.

“Auntie Tornado, please leave them alone!”

“No one messes with my precious Windie!”

“They didn’t know no better! They’re just scared!”

“Good! I’ll make them really fear us!”

And with that, Tornado began stomping on trees, hutches, and caves.

“I have to stop her,” worried the wind. “But how?”

The little wind opened her mouth and aimed at Tornado. She blew… and blew… and blew! And do you know what happened?

It didn’t work, of course. How could wind, regardless of size, stop a tornado?

The next day, Tornado left but disarray remained. Wind helped to try and repair the destroyed homes, but it was no use. The animals split up and moved to different parts of the world. And that is why wind exists, but more importantly, why you don’t tamper with nature, but also, why animals don’t live in harmony anymore, but furthermore, why protesting something technically works.

The moral is, it’s okay to protest some things, but not the wind.

Sad King of Leaves

Sad King of Leaves

Found amidst a field of leaves by a lonely entanglement, the beginning of the Sad King of Leaves’ life runs the course of a standard hero. Raised by a non-genetic guardian, only to end up saving and leading his people. Yet the Sad King of Leaves was anything but standard, and was nothing to call heroic. The entanglement raised him until its untimely death, on the King’s 12th birthday, rather on the anniversary when found.

Some might say that he had been quite heroic surviving. The Sad King of Leaves suffered from suicidal thoughts and would frequently escape his sadness by digging an exit through his arm. For the latter fact, few viewed him as heroic, while the few that did were named Mirzha and wore turtlenecks that didn’t properly cover their wrinkly green necks, for everyone in the Sad King of Leaves’ domain was a leaf. A small bit of information that largely attributed to his sadness; with his strawberry-squash hair with a fine texture of hay, saggy lifeless eyes with no discernible color left, and the inability to produce carbon dioxide, the King knew he was different. He was human. And he was alone.

The leaves, being kindly beings at heart, gathered together to find the proper treatment for their king of great lamentation. Noticing constant fluids leaking from their ruler’s eyes, Bondy suggested watering him more. The rest of the leaves made the notion unanimous: The Sad King of Leaves must be properly watered with water suited for a king. This notion, however, was only passed when the other leaves finished yelling at Bondy for being a dumb idiot who doesn’t even know how humans are supposed to work and that the fluid the king leaked were tears.

So the matter had then been disposed. The only proper water for their king was straight from the Proprietor of Precipitation, who lived on the West Leftside Faded Hills, through a series of intricate obstacles including a tunnel made of the pain in your heart (you, the specific reader), a 20-foot snake made up of small mongooses, and the thing that sadly was, which gave the Faded Hills its name. The Proprietor of Precipitation opted to take her Storm-Surfing Pachyderm, Gussman, rather than die. She would also take around three to six frogs with her, but that was unintentional. Frogs, regardless of color, evolutionary divide, convenience of travel size, breath, or poison content loved her. Toads wished she would just drop dead. In response, the young miss Proprietor stuck out her tongue and went on her way.

The old miss Proprietor had left this world entrusted to the child, or had let her believe she had been vanquished. Occasionally, the Proprietor of Precipitation had wondered what “Hold my place, child,” her mentor’s final message of poignancy, had meant. But now was not the right time to ponder. She climbed Gussman’s legs onto his back and tugged his ears. As they flew off, no nobler than their cause, she held her umbrella aloft and let the waters overtake her. Folding the umbrella inside out, the rains neatly gathered for her cause, to replenish the Sad King of Leaves.

She hadn’t seen the king in the longest. Was the entanglement still as kind as ever? Why did they now refer to it as the “sad” king? News of a child reached her last year. Was it the new king? The frogs chirped and croaked as they flew, minding the environmental outbursts of thunder and hail. The Proprietor tipped her umbrella toward a jar, filling it to the roughest brim.

After an hour below the clouds, Gussman decided above the clouds was the insurance he needed to survive. This proved fruitless when after two minutes, the Proprietor realized they had made it. Waving her hands above the jar, she mumbled something with great clarity in mind. The water sparkled brightly, annoyed at its change in properties.

Storms of leaves blasted the Proprietor in powerful elation. She had not been back since she was -20 years old, a negative age she wished not to disclose to the unknown masses. “Please show me to the king,” she asked, yet it was more of a ruthless demand. The leaves, had they had eyes, looked upon one another with great sadness. “He refuses to see any visitors, ma’am.”

She glowered. “Oh. He’ll see me.” She shoved aside the leaves and kicked in the door with her rain boots. “Your highness, I have the water you requested.” A timid and lost voice scratched out, “Just leave it by the door.” She noticed the king was a person, not the entanglement she expected. Feeling that pointing it out would push him over the edge, she questioned his depression.

“I don’t belong here,” he wheezed. “I’m not a leaf. I’m barely even human,” and saying this, he revealed his scratched-out arm. “The subjects are just being polite to me. I know they wish I were dead.” He buried his face into his hands. “Mmmfffmmmuh Fffufiimmm.” “What?” “I wish everyone else were dead,” he said barely more clearly. “Then I would know I have no place to fit in.”

The Proprietor of Precipitation stuck a funnel in the Sad King of Leaves’ mouth and laughed like the young girl she was. She lifted the jar and poured the rainwater into his mouth, still cackling like a small maniac all the while. “I don’t care about your problems. I had a job to do and I did it. You have a job too, and you have no skill at it. Goodbye.” She paused. “Where is your father’s grave so I can visit?” The Sad King of Leaves pointed out the window. “Thanks,” she muttered ungratefully.

His arm froze in place for ten minutes. As he stared at the mutilation, he wondered if, as king, he had to take that rude response from her. He thought about many mistakes in his life, about his father, about his people, about himself. He decided to make up for it. No more crying on the floor. He was going to cry on his throne, like a TRUE king! No more cutting his flesh. Time to cut the flesh of those who were rude to him, like that Proprietor! He gathered the leaves with the royal rake. Time to start a war, he thought. Maybe on the Fifth Soil Kingdom.

“Why do you always treat those depressed royals so shabbily?” asked Gussman. “They’re depressed and really need kindness.” “Ah, not so, my friend. Royals tend to get angrier than most people. I’m trading sad for mad, which is not too bad.” “Okay, so what if the royals go mad with power?” “What?” asked the Proprietor. “Like they’d ever go from that depressed to that upbeat? I’d eat my umbrella if that ever happened.”

Although the water sparkled with magic, there was no true power to alter one’s mood. The jar, however, was laced with anger-inducing honey, so it’s not as though she pulled a fast one on the royals. Speaking of, the Sad King of Leaves conquered many kingdoms and became one of the most cruel, vicious and sad dictators of all time. The Proprietor of Precipitation ate umbrella pie two weeks after their meeting.

A Night To Knight

A Night To Knight

“Miss Lewis… Emily Lewis… time to wake up…”

Drool was dripping down the side of her mouth. She licked it up and swallowed the glob of spit in her mouth. She’d be embarrassed if shame had her number.

She lived for sleep, not Biology. Not boys, but cheesy snacks made her so happy. Her nap was vague yet again. Blurry. Her classmates (for she had no friends) would talk about dreaming of horses or storms or the jungle. Her dreams were always unclear. Blurry… so blurry. Why couldn’t she have dreams?

At home, her parents were nowhere to be seen. Likely still working and overworking. Emily peeled off her stinky, sticky, sweaty shoes and sat in front of the TV with a bowl of cheesy nacho chips.

She spotted some cheese on her fingers. Reaching towards her shirt, she recalled her mother complaining about cheese-stained shirts. She brushed the cheese onto the soles of her feet instead.

Then she wiped the cheese off her soles. Then she licked it. “Mmm… all the oil on my feet made the cheese extra-zesty!”

As if by some divine intervention on behalf of the vomiting ants watching her, Emily Lewis fell asleep. Her snoring alarmed some fireflies mating outside. She gagged a little on some drool. Emily digested the drool, which caused her to belch loudly.

Emily dreamed clearly for the first time. She was in a forest with mushrooms so large that they seemed to have held hands with the sky. Two figures walked up to her, still snoring.

“This fourteen-year-old is the key to our survival?” The statement came from a dark-skinned man holding a crystal ball. “Why are her feet covered in dairy products?” Fortunately, Emily just snored loudly in response.

A pale woman with black energy surrounding her knelt down next to Emily. “Doc Argo, this cheese-soled girl is our salvation.” She rose. “And you mustn’t wake her. If she were to awake, our whole world would vanish. It’s happened many times before, and she never recalls our existence.”

“Duchess of Darkness… aren’t you also fourteen? You look quite mature for your age. Especially next to her.”

She glowered, her dark aura spiking upward. “Call me Natalia. Come, wheel her. We’re almost at Longrus the Wizard’s fortress.”

Doc Argo used his sphere to telepathically move Emily Lewis in her chair.

The trio walked into the Field of Waves, the wet grass bobbing up and down at their knees. Occasionally, Natalia would crush a rat’s head with her boot.

“Doc Argo, do you think Emily is sort of… special?”

The magician scoffed, choking on his own laughter. “No. No I do not.”

“Oh… I don’t know. She’s so sloppy, it’s astounding our sterile world could have been created by her subconscious.”

“Well… strange things always happen. I once saw an orange pumpkin.” In this world, pumpkins are blue and cause diabetes.

Natalia wiped a rat head off her boot. “I’d like to go to the human world, if possible. I bet it has pumpkins of all different colors. I could be as gross as I want without father punishing me for putting my feet on the table or picking my earwax.” She paused. “I think this girl is my new hero.”

Doc Argo stroked his chin. “Do you think we’re here because her subconscious wants her to be clean? I’ve heard of dust, but never seen it. We have brooms, but they’re just used for flying. And what’s the deal with mops?”

The Duchess of Darkness looked at the sky. “Yeah, maybe.”

Finally, they reached the home of Longrus the Wizard. “This is the man who stole the Rock of Permanency. Once we return it to the palace, we can remain tangible without Emily’s aid.” Emily snored at the thought.

A pillar of smoke rose before them and spoke thus, “This is no place for two girls and a black ass-hat. With the Stone of Permanency, I shall be the sole survivor of this world, go to the human world and conquer it!”

Is that possible, wondered Natalia. She didn’t like Longrus one bit, but she admired his know-how. She almost asked how she could be with Emily.

Emily snored and drooled, drooled and snored. Meanwhile, Longrus zapped Natalia’s leg off. At that moment, Doc Argo realized mops could be used to clean up blood.

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!” Natalia undaintily screamed. That was her favorite leg. Had she known it was going to get torn off, she wouldn’t have spent an hour wiping the rats off of it.

Longrus simply slapped Doc Argo and he fell to the ground.

“You magic users and your auras and crystals. True magic comes from the fingers.” He lifted the Stone of Permanency. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a world to destroy.”

Walking towards Emily, he dropped to his knees and began to tickle Emily’s feet. She chuckled.

“NO! You’ll kill us all!” screamed Doc Argo. The Duchess was also screaming, but at the loss of her leg.

Tickling her cheesy feet and drooly chin, Longrus started to shout in the hopes of waking her up. The only issue was the cloud of dirt surrounding Emily Lewis.

Emily’s dirt cloud rapidly spun around and then suddenly fell on Longrus as he dissolved into dust. He was too sterile to handle it.

Natalia crawled towards the stone. She handed it to Doc Argo. “Take this stone to my father at the palace. I’ll stay here with Emily and make sure she never wakes up.”

Doc Argo was taken aback. “Never?”

Duchess Natalia caught herself. “Doesn’t! Doesn’t wake up!”

“She has to go home sometime,” he said softly.

“But… I think I love her. And she doesn’t even know I exist.”

The magician rubbed her back. “She knows. In here.” He tapped his head. Then he went.

Emily woke up. How strange! Her whole night was spent asleep, but she remembered everything. Doc Argo, the forest, Longrus, the stone and… Natalia. It was her first dream and would always be her greatest.

The next Biology class was spent awake. Emily couldn’t fall asleep after what had happened. What if she did make a world in her mind, and it got wiped over and over?

“Class, we have a new student today… Bobby Jones.”

Bobby walked to the seat behind Emily’s and sat down. “Psst,” he said. “Check it out.” He rolled up his pant leg to reveal a wooden leg. “It’s me, Natalia! Look, I really like you, and I want to marry you some day, so I’m dressed like a boy!”

“Um…” whispered Emily, “Actually, girls can marry girls here. Oh, and pumpkins are orange and don’t cause diabetes.” She chuckled at Natalia’s shocked face. “But let’s take it slow, okay?” Drool dripped from her mouth and she wiped it onto Natalia’s lips. “There’s an indirect kiss for ya.”

The Beautiful Monster

 

 

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Most stories happen once upon a time. This story takes place twice upon a time, since the first time ended badly, so time travel was used to fix it.

Twice upon a time, there was a sad monster who was very beautiful. His name was Thomo Wellby, and nobody wanted to rescue him from the fluorescent pink and green tower he was kept in. The totally wicked wizard surfer, Longrus, had kept him there for at least seventeen years.

Thomo longed for the day his savior would come, but he had no idea when that could be. A duck once came into his room, but it only quacked loudly and gave him a feather.

Meanwhile, in the center of the Reunion Kingdom, a knight found a Monster In Distress ad on the town billboard. The ad was for one Thomo Wellby. Fortunately, the knight often found herself turned on by beautiful monsters. So she set forth to save Mr. Thomo Wellby from his captivity and maybe get a little something-something for her trouble.

While carelessly examining her provisions, she came upon a bridge guarded by a bearded demon. However, the demon was either apathetic or distracted, and let the knight cross unharmed. The knight shrugged and went on her way.

The outskirts of the Reunion Kingdom was known hither and yonder for its bizarre perils that usually increased in intensity. Typical as it was, the knight knew that the next obstacle was not quite as easy.

A giant cauldron prevented further access to the road, so the knight attempted going around it. The cauldron, stubborn as most kitchenware, cobbled just enough to confound her. Hopelessness loomed overhead. She tried reasoning with it.

“O lovely cauldron!” Flattery usually won them over to her side. “Why do you cease progress? Hath some wretched Wiccan enchanted you to passive-aggressively get over a poor date?”

The cauldron screamed. “YOU’RE BLACK!”

This was half true. She herself was born in the East, a light-skinned people as they go. But her armor, naturally dark, had suffered many scrapes and bruises that made the metal appear black.

“Cauldron, why must we argue? I wish you no harm.”

“YOU’RE BLACK!”

“Pot, you test my patience. Is the color of my armor the cause of this? If I remove my armor, will you let me pass?”

“YOU’RE BLACK!”

“You tested my patience and hacked it from my core! Pot, you yourself are, in the plainest of terms, black!”

The pot examined its own flesh.

I was black the whole time… Is my bias borne from shame? The pot got too existential to be semi-motionless and walked away on its stubby little penguin feet. The knight ventured forth.

For about seventeen weeks, the knight traveled unhindered, despite the occasional jester throwing pies at her. She didn’t care for this practice at all, even though the pies were her favorite flavor: Spam. When she was about to assault the jesters, the King of Jesters approached her.

“HARK!” he bellowed, “Thou mayst only pass if thou canst solve the riddle!”

“Proceed,” the knight neutrally responded.

“What,” asked the King of Jesters, “is the reason my people have been throwing pies at you?”

The knight sincerely considered the riddle for a moment, then flicked the King of Jesters on the forehead, which lead to a pratfall into a pile of mud.

“I know not, but I believe you likely instructed them to.” With that, she went on her way.

The King of Jesters was subsequently mauled to death by a napping muddy jaguar. He was reincarnated as a chipmunk.

Another month passed by, and the knight was beginning to get hungry. She found a nest with eggs in it, opting to cook up a delicious scrambled egg souffle.

An angry bard approached her. “FORSOOTH! FORSOOTH! THOSE WERE MY EGGS, THOU HARLOT!” The bard’s blind rage intensified until his face turned blood red.

“Hold your wrath, sir,” asked the knight. “Were these your offspring or nourishment?”

The angry bard took a moment to respond with the greatest use of language possible. After fifteen moments, he exclaimed the following: “YES.”

“Were they both?”

The angry bard took a magic wand from his pocket and gave it to her. “That will show thee, thou hopefully promiscuous wench!”

He glared at the knight and waited for her to become uncomfortable. She chewed on a mint leaf. Late for his shift at Grill Jester, the angry bard walked away.

Curiously examining the gift, the knight lazily shook the wand. Nothing happened. She threw it away in the nearest recycling bin. The wand, combined with nineteen other wands in the bin, began to glow. After a few moments of the recycling bin stretching, wobbling, crumpling, and praying, it ceased. The recycling bin turned into an enormous lamb.

The knight decided to keep the lamb and name it Bisley. For two days, she and Bisley were inseparable, taking turns riding on each other’s backs. On the third day, tragedy struck. Despite the knight yelling loudly at her lamb to stay still while she took a pee break, Bisley ate some poison mushrooms and died. The knight mourned over Bisley’s corpse, while the angry bard appeared before the distraught adventurer.

“FORSOOTH! Now you know my suffering!” That’s what the angry bard would have said, if the knight hadn’t pushed him to the ground and stomped his head in. The angry bard was lucky to survive, but not quite as lucky to have been rescued by a bear that forced him to marry her.

Bisley’s death deeply affected the knight’s heart, and she felt as though she couldn’t move forward without her companion. She transmuted the sorrow she felt into purpose, and hoisted Bisley onto her shoulders, taking his rotting corpse with her.

An old crone jumped out at the knight, nearly startling her. The crone wiggly-waggled her finger and made a disapproving clicking noise. “FOOL! Do you not know that you can revive your grotesquely-large lamb for a piece of gold?”

The knight begged the crone to tell her more.

“I have an enchanted map that can lead you to a reviving well. Throw in your gold piece, and your wish will be granted. And you can have the map for seven and three shillings!”

The knight knew a scam when she heard one, and threw hay at the crone. The knight pressed onward.

Nearby in a fluorescent pink and green tower, Thomo Wellby was finding himself growing somewhat depressed. All he had in the world was a duck feather, which couldn’t even grant wishes, which he realized that it would have been odd if it could.

Thomo heard a grunting noise out his window. A woman carrying an enormous lamb was approaching the tower. Thomo was to be saved!

The knight knocked gently on the door. Longrus mellowly questioned the intruder. “Chuh! Who is is, bruh?”

“It is I, the beautiful monster’s savior!”

“Nuh-uh, bruh! That monster is, like, all mine, bruh!” Longrus accidentally opened up the drawbridge. “Whuh-uh, bruh!”

The knight stormed the tower, killing about thirty lingerie models. Finally, the knight found Thomo’s room.

“I’m here to save you, you beautiful monster!” With fiery loins and almost satisfactory passion, the knight picked up the beautiful monster and ran out of the poorly-painted tower. Longrus wasn’t willing to lose Thomo, specifically because having a monster around allowed him certain tax breaks. Longrus flapped his unusually long ears and…

POOF! The knight turned into a potato peel.

“Now, come back, Monster-Man. Like, we can’t end it like this, bruh.”

Thomo clutched his duck feather tightly, and a single tear orange fell from his eye. The tear burned up the feather, exploding into thirty thousand ghosts.

The thirty thousand ghosts spoke as one. “What is your wish?”

The furious vision of the ghosts horrified Thomo into making the wrong wish. “What… what choo…” He meant to say “What are you, exactly?” A small copper watch manifested before him anyway.

Longrus caught Thomo and locked him up in the tower again. Thomo banged his head against the wall for forty-seven years, wishing he had a chance to do it over again. Alas, for forty-seven years, that wish did not come true.

One snowy Wednesday, the battery on his watch died. So Longrus, losing his grasp on evil in his old age, gave him a new battery. The battery had magical properties, and would turn the machine it was placed inside into a terrible pun. So the watch became a time machine.

Thomo reset his watch, which flung him back to the moment when the duck feather started granting his wish. This time, Thomo would enunciate.

Thomo said, “I wish I had a way to save the knight and myself!”

The ghosts melted like fine butter, and covered themselves all over Bisley. The dead lamb rose.

“MAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!” said the enormous zombie lamb. With one swift movement and forty-seven non-swift movements, Bisley ate Longrus and used the power of love and casual indifference to restore the knight back to normal.

The knight seemed to be a tad peeved. “Mister Wellby, it seems you never needed my help at all! If only you knew of my mistrials!” The monster looked so forlorn and sexy to the knight that she was no longer in control of her desires. The knight longingly embraced Thomo.

Afterward a wonderful time for two lonely individuals, the knight with Thomo in her arms and Bisley as her steed rode off back to the Reunion Kingdom.

A group of monks turned Longrus’s tower into a discotheque, but the idea was centuries ahead of its time and only worthwhile for ten years in all of history.

 

Snow Day To Live

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Only 17 hours prior, the entire Northwestern area had received a snowfall that accumulated at levels unparalleled for eight years.

At present, the snow that had once kept many schoolchildren happy at play began to depart. It had completed its task, keeping snow-shovels sold, and an unseasonable sun began to recall the clouds’ excessive shipment. Overall, it had been a fairly balanced snow day, and everyone in the Northwestern area could be considered more or less satisfied.

Not everyone. Not Charlie.

For the past four hours and change, Charlie Stood laid in the snow on his back, waiting to be asked why he was flat on his back in a pile of freezing mush, and also if they could get him a hot dog, as a cart was sixteen feet from his head.

He responded to those who asked that he’s trying to become evaporated with the snow. No one lingered long enough to offer him a hot dog, and the vendor eventually moved his cart to an area less hazardous to his sales.

Out of boredom (yet still fairly lucid, if not misguided in his endeavors), Charlie began pestering a stop sign.

“It’s like this, Ernie,” choosing the name based on his company’s slogan, STOP & EARN!, “Some people wish they could fly. Not me. I’ve always wanted to be pulled up through a straw. A rapture, I suppose.” He paused to give the vendor a dirty look. “I’ve heard that some frogs have been evaporated and rained down to earth.”

A pigeon sat on his head.

“I’m terrified of large bodies of water, so I’ve been waiting for a large enough snowfall.” Ernie politely said nothing. “STOP & EARN!, huh? My company makes its living from stealing potential clients from smaller companies. Stop other businesses from succeeding and we earn. I may not earn today, but I’ll feel good that I stopped.”

“Give me a break! Look, we all have problems, but being pulled into the sky isn’t practical, and if it was possible, it’s not the way we deal with our problems! Take it from me: STOP whining and make some constructive change. You can trust me; part of me was once Sigmund Freud’s spectacles.” This is what the stop sign would have said if it had consciousness.

The pigeon would have nodded. “How many of my brethren have been run over, maliciously slaughtered, devoured, yet not one human removes their remains? It’s disgraceful, sir! It’s, it’s distasteful, sir! But do I mope? No! I relieve myself upon randomly selected members of your species! Get up, you sad-sack!”

Rather than cooing all this, the pigeon relieved itself on Charlie and flew off.

Charlie wiped off the pigeon’s souvenir and closed his eyes.

Three minutes later, a woman’s low-pitched shriek could be heard.

Ten seconds following that, Charlie felt a sharp and wet pain in his face 36 times in succession.

Charlie opened his eyes. A woman somewhere between 46 and 46 and 11 months yanked him by his lapels.

“YOU…” Her nostrils seemed to produce their own smoke. More likely, it was the chilly winter air.

“SENILE…” The woman’s skin, normally the color of cardboard, currently resembled the shade of the hot dogs across the street. The hot dog grease on her hands and mouth added an unintended authenticity.

“FART!” She belched, trying to cover it up after the fact by placing a sheepish hand over her mouth.

“Hello, Ms. Ginley. I can sue you for assault, you know.” This possibility never actually crossed Charlie’s mind, instead begging for her forgiveness regarding whatever it was he did to her.

“You old idiot!” (July Ginley was only ten years younger than her subordinate, but she never liked to waste potential insults.)

“I find you in the snow like some drunkard layabout,” (July Ginley had a habit of drinking six types of alcohol on weeknights, eight if she was with friends.)

“And now look what you did!” She lifted a leg and pointed at her boot. “Your stupid face got kicked so much that it wore down the sole!” July Ginley wiggled her long red toes at her subordinate. Charlie really wanted a hot dog.

(This was a little prank July enjoyed pulling on her employees. All of her shoes were modified by a former college roommate to allow the sole to be detachable from the rest of the shoe. On this occasion, the sole flew from her boot into the hot dog bun of a young boy. The terrible taste of the sole would later be described by the boy as “The greatest thing that could have happened to me.”)

July licked her palm. “Wait… have you been to work today?”

Charlie confirmed he hadn’t with a tremendous lack of motion.

Brown curls flew threw her damp hands. “Do you see the button with our company logo hanging from your coat? DO YOU NOT THINK IT AS AN EMBARRASSMENT TO HAVE MY BUSINESS REPRESENTED THROUGH A FAT OGRE LYING IN THIS… SKY GUNK?!”

Charlie quivered. The “sky gunk” was melting evermore rapidly.

“ANSWER!” She kicked him with her soleless boot.
“ME!” She kicked him with her soleful boot.

“I just… I just wanted to be evaporated.” He had no problem telling strangers, but he turned his gaze when he said it to his boss.

July’s muscles softened.

“E… evaporated? Did you say evaporated?” Her eyes grew dewy.

Charlie’s breathing overtook his ability to speak.

“Ever since I was a girl, I wanted to be evaporated, to see the heavens.”

A pregnant pause was ruined by July’s belch.

Charlie tried speaking. “Do… do you really want to be evaporated?”

July angrily squealed. She began piling snow on his large torso. “NO, YOU FREAKING DIPSTICK! I always wanted to own a large company and stomp on my enemies! There are no more dreams to conquer!” She removed her soleful boot and hit Charlie over the head, the only part she didn’t cover with snow.

“And, and EVAPORATION? Let it be understood, Stood. Under no circumstances will you be permitted to work for my company again. You are FIRED! YOU HEAR ME! FIRED!”

She tossed her boot over his face and checked her watch. Late. She would refer to it as a “company lunch.”

With the boot over his face and unable to speak, Charlie Stood was unable to get up from his snow dungeon. Later in the day, some teens buried the boot for whatever teen reason.


It was a week until the snow was all but forgotten.

July Janice Ginley was meeting with her board of directors to discuss her replacement during her vacation in “sunny Greenland.” No one liked her enough to correct her.

“Board members, my temporary replacement will be the next person to walk into this room!”

July had decided on her cousin. No business acumen, but how much damage could someone do in two and a half months?

“Gentlemen, I present to you…”

Thunder could be heard screaming outside. A sudden downpour trickled against the bricks of the building. The lightning landed through the roof, directly on top of July Janice Ginley.

A rosy-cheeked woman, 52, soaked to the bone, rose from the floor and examined her personal area, oblivious that she was on top of another human being.

The woman swept her faint blonde hair and rang the water out. “That was… that was definitely worth it,” she panted, holding a weary hand to her chest. She looked down at a twitching woman, unconscious. “I’m sorry, did I do that? Let me help you up.” She lifted July and turned to face the board.

“Oh. Hi! Um, have you seen a man with grey hair? Well, half of you have gr… His, uh, it’s Ch–”

In a spectacular bit about lightning striking twice, the woman dropped July, who was immediately crushed by Charlie Stood.

“Lorelei! Th-thank goodness! This was, was the best week of my…” Charlie rubbed an eye. “This is… was my office! Hello, Tommy!”

Tommy scratched an elbow, but Arnold wished Tommy would scratch his own for once.

“What are you… how…”

Lorelei laughed. “Turns out that the human body being made mostly of water has truth to it. And I’m not insane, like my brother accused me of being!”

Charlie clasped her hand. “Insanity runs in pairs.”

Clark cleared his throat, causing him to choke on something in there. “Um, well, they can’t be Ms. Ginley’s replacements. They didn’t WALK into the room. So who is is?”

“Excuse me,” Matt the new hire said, casually walking in. “I have some letters for Ms. Ginley.”

The whole room burst with applause. Matt shrugged.


Lorelei and Charlie live together with a crop of frogs they found in the clouds and rescued from becoming sidewalk residue. They make money through interviews, book deals, X-Treme E-vap-o-RAY-SHUN lessons, and Lorelei’s 3.2 billion dollar inheritance she received from her nephew. No longer having to STOP & EARN!, Charlie’s conscience is at peace.

Matt was so competent while July was in the hospital that the board elected to replace her. In a move lacking full knowledge of the individual, Matt brought his son to thank her and get some advice. The advice she offered them was so unpleasant that it should never be chronicled, and it caused Matt’s son, Lenny, to shove the boot sole he found in a hot dog into her mouth.

This caused her to remark how they should make “edible shoe soles,” causing Matt to take Lenny out and never return. But the remark lingered, as years later, Lenny patented various types of shoes: Shoes with replaceable Velcro straps, shoes where you could slip in a special printable paper to “Customize it to the MAX!”, one size, color, gender, or occasion fits all shoes, and of course, shoes specifically made for evaporation. Lenny never made edible shoe soles, as that would be terrible.

Being The Shoe King, marrying Lenny would have meant his wife would have shoes for life, but he happily married Greta, The Wheelchair Iron Maiden. He never looked back.

July Janice Ginley was unable to return to her office, or any office, due to medical and ethical reasons. However, her injuries are so terrible that she needs to take several painkillers a day, so she’s technically happy.

Ernie the stop sign is still unable to speak.