Editor's Note: Putting these posts into a book collection at the end of the year is going to be weird. If you only print your own work, then these are going to be oddly disjointed. Please reconsider your direction with this Blog.
The Writer ignored this and kept it right the hell up.
Parts THREE TWO ONE.
The Writer put one of the granola bars into his mouth and chewed daintily. "Hints of cedar and loganberry, if my tongue-buds deceiveth me not!" he squealed. "That hardware store sells a dang fine granola log. Honey, you've done marvelously! Remind me to send you out on more errands."
His wife looked up from the pile of sink parts she had spread out on a tarp on the kitchen table. "Excellent. Something else to add to my list of things not to think about."
"That's hardly the team spirit. Being helpful becomes you, my lightly frosted pastry of glee. You should be it more often."
"How about some helpful advice then? I'm going to have to shut the water off to the whole place, so no laundry tonight. If you try, you'll be down there yelling at the washing machine again, and the neighbors'll get mad."
"Happened once. Once," the Writer clarified, using his forceful voice and a stern expression that was slightly diminished in its remonstrative power by the scattering of granola shrapnel around his mouth. His wife smiled at him and loaded her caulking gun.
The Writer salved his bruised ego by thinking about all the nice dirty socks he was going to have, and his spirits soared as he turned to his keyboard again. He'd given the fairy sidekick girl a motive and a pleasant tolerance of pooting dwarves, but not a name...
"So," said Stubs, striding randomly off into the swamp, "I'll settle for just getting your name then, shall I?"
The Writer tittered happily. Snappy! Good dialogue always had a benignly competitive undertone, and he was always pleased when one of his characters said something clever. "Becky," indeed!
"Becky? Isn't that kind of a common name? I mean, aren't fairies supposed to have lofty, fluttery names like, uh, Loftwyn or Flutterella?"
Becky deftly steered Stubs around a puddle of oozy bog water. "That's part of the humiliation. Please. Let's just concentrate on getting out of this swamp for now. What made you charge into here in the first place?"
"My pants were on fire. See? Char marks?"
"I see. How'd that happen?"
"Well, this car horn startled me, and--"
"Never mind. Let's just continue our quest, shall we?" Becky said, nudging Stubs gently Eastward as he threatened to veer off the path. "With your fearsome hammer and my pretty wings, we can--"
Ooh, that sounded really fruity. The Writer liked the dynamic between the wise, driven Becky and the stocky, bumbling dwarf. He thought about Stubs bonking into trees and tripping over squirrels if he were left on his own and laughed some granola bits onto his LCD. But that last bit had to go.
"Never mind. Here! I made you a friendship ring!"
Crap. Even worse. That was the problem with having a fairy for a protagonist. It was a constant battle to keep from stereotyping her as a witless sack of giggles. He decided he'd make her one of those fairies with machine guns he'd seen in the comic books.
"Never mind. But the sooner we get out of here and into enemy territory, the happier I'll be. I can't wait to put paid to that lot of witless gigglers, and my trusty machine gun should help even the score."
Stubs was impressed. The gun Becky held out for his inspection was a beautiful piece of hardware. It was pink and sparkly, and had etchings of dancing bears on the muzzle. It fired chocolate--
The Writer stared at the screen and then down at his traitorous hands with dumbstruck amazement. "Weren't you guys listening? Nobody's going to get any ass-kicking done with a sparkly pink machine gun!" he scolded.
"That's telling 'em, dear," his wife shouted from under the kitchen sink. "Wisdom and sanity. That's why I married you."
The Writer gave her protruding legs the stink-eye and returned to the fray.
"Never mind. If we continue East, we will get out of this place in short order and be well on our way to a land ruled by one who may aid us."
"Does the Dirty Forest Man have many allies? I was kind of under the impression that he was just a hateful man who liked being dirty and hated giggling, winged optimists. It's not like I have a really clear objective here. You wanna know the full extent of my orders?"
"Perhaps it might be valuable information," considered Becky.
"He just scratched his armpit, leaned over, and said 'Fetch me a proper whompin' stick whut fer I kin swat me some fairies. And make sure it be a magic one!' and then all he did was fall over."
"No. Just too hateful to stand."
"Sounds like you need all the help you can get. It's not like you can find magic sticks laying around just anywhere. They're rare, and it takes a very special kind of person to actively seek something like that."
"I thought the idea of a 'magic stick' was kind of stupid, myself. It's almost as if he'd told me to 'go forth and seek the Enchanted Jockstrap, for I have a chafing of epic proportions!' Honestly, it's pretty lame."
"That settles it! I know just the person who can help us seek lame objects imbued with preposterously disproportionate importance. Can you guess?"
"You don't mean..."
"But I do! I speak of none other than Sticky Jake, Lord of the Nitwits!"
The Writer was immensely pleased with this crafty bit of recycling. He remembered briefly writing this character into a previous story, but (strategically, it now seemed) never developing him. All he had was a name, and the rest was a blank canvas. He chuckled oatily to himself and bit another granola bar.
The Lord of the Nitwits lived on his royal ranch at the edge of the swamp. Herds of gophers roamed the perimeter pastures, and the center was dominated by a massive structure made of trailer homes stapled together. A drawbridge (permanently nailed down in the open position, Stubs saw) crossed a truncated moat of vanilla pudding. The entrance was flanked by a single fat man with a canoe paddle.
"Howdy!" the man said. "Nice to see you again, Becky. Just go right on in! Jake's in the throne room or some such. I reckon he'll be mighty pleased to have him some visitors. Say, ain't you a dwarf?" he said, indicating Stubs with a pudgy finger.
"See the hammer?"
"Well, I'll be!" said the fat man, chewing on the business end of his paddle. "And I do believe that's one of them beard things I heard about on the radio!"
"Mutton," said Stubs, bowing.
"That's Tiberius the Chunky," explained Becky as she and Stubs entered a wide hall. "He's awful proud of his ability to flank an entrance by himself."
"This is truly the dwelling place of a great man," breathed Stubs, awed by the photographs on the wall of the Lord's prized racing turtles, and his collection of Pogs in a glass case.
Sticky Jake was slouching regally on his royal recliner, two beautiful young women in bikinis feeding him from a big mixing bowl full of socks. He was a gangly man with a curly mop of untidy hair and a voice like a duck burping into a kazoo.
"Blah! Brunky! How mellifluous to see you again! Have a sock! And I see you have brung an acquiescence with you! Stimply benchtaking weather we have had as of lately! Come in, come in. Ladies, if you could exclude us please."
The two young women sashayed off into the castle recesses. Stubs watched them go, and emitted a long, mournful poot of lust. Becky grimaced and sidestepped.
"We come to you in hope of receiving your help, Lord," she said.
"Ah! So you sneak aid and rancor, do you? In which case, I shall be preened to blender you all the imprudence I have at my reposal, my good Brunky. But you have yet to induce me to this strumpling fellow you have trundled here with!"
"My apologies, Lord. This is Stubs the Dwarf, and I have recently joined him on a quest of moderate importance," said Becky, pushing Stubs into the royal presence.
"It is an honor to meet such a storied personage," said Stubs, bowing. "Your Pogs shine with a luster to be envied."
"Knuckles, good dwurf! The homage is enticingly mine," the Lord of the Nitwits said, donning his favorite corduroy cape and prancing slightly. "You are both ignited to dine with me tonight upon roast swine and grumble salad, an incrementally deciduous repost, if I do say so myself! After we have construmed our fill, you can tell me of your difficrumbly."
The meal was indeed good, and the Lord of the Nitwits told many a joke and made many a strange noise with his drinking straw. When he had finished the connect-the-dots picture on his placemat, he looked solemnly up at Stubs and Becky.
"Now, my wisdom reaches far and vertical," he said, "and I have a stinkling that 'tis a quest of great malfeasance you have overtaken. Am I constipate, or do I bargle the truth?"
Stubs stood and began his tale...