The Writer couldn't help but feel a little sorry for the poor echoes. But, alas, they were fodder for his story and perish in the chasm they must. He fortified himself with granola and the fiber stiffened his spine.
"How are we going to make it across this great chasm?" asked Becky. She sounded really lame, but had delivered the line so as to keep the reader apprised of the situation. "Oh, if only I had wings." She sat down on a nearby rock and began to weep piteously.
The Writer sat back from the keyboard. Should he say 'piteously'? Wasn't all weeping piteous? He had heard many writing instructors issue stern warnings against the use of adverbs, but he liked the word 'piteous.' He really liked it. He liked it intensely. The hell with it, he was going to say 'piteous.'
Becky sat down on a nearby rock...
Of course it would be a nearby rock. Why would Becky go on a long journey merely to find a rock suitable for sitting and piteous weeping?
Becky sat down on a conveniently located rock and wept piteously. Stubs, who fancied himself the strong, silent type, was unsure how to handle the situation. What would John Wayne do? He'd probably slap the woman, who would then dry her tears and become the woman she was always meant to be. But Stubs was no John Wayne. He wasn't even Wayne's younger brother Herman, who was always getting slapped by women.
The Writer groaned. This rambling had nothing to do with the story. He squeezed his eyes shut and tried to envision the chasm. Large, deep, dark, rocky...made of harmless rubber? No, too easy. Did he dare have Becky and Stubs wake up from a dream? He glanced over to where The Wife/Girlfriend was greasing the turret to her Abrams tank and decided against it. She hated it when The Writer used 'the dream.'
"It's lazy writing!" she always said. These words were usually followed by an energetic boxing of The Writer's ears. Yeah. The dream was out.
Stubs surveyed the scene with a gimlet eye. "I once signed up for a class on how to construct rope bridges using gravel and sunbeams," he said. "There's plenty of gravel here and the sun is just now coming over the mountains."
"So the problem is solved!" Overjoyed, Becky leaped from the rock and gave Stubs a hug.
"Well...not really solved, per se."
Becky paused in her celebratory fairy dance and looked pensive. "But you took a class."
"I signed up for a class. I'm ashamed to say that I found the class very confusing and I neglected the homework."
"You flunked a class on sunbeams? How could you!"
Her tone put Stubs on the defensive and he crossed his arms truculently. "How was I to know my future would require me to capture sunbeams? That's the kind of thing fairies are supposed to do."
"Don't try blaming this on me," Becky said, her voice rising in anger. "If you hadn't been so lazy, we'd be across this stupid chasm by now and on our way."
"Oh, so this is all my fault, is it?" Stubs grabbed a handful of rocks and hurled them angrily into the dark abyss. "If I'm so stupid, why are you even wasting your time on me?"
Becky emitted a hard, angry laugh. "That's an excellent question. I felt sorry for you, that's why! If it weren't for me, you'd still be stumbling around in the swamp with your ass on fire."
"Oh, sure!" Stubs was shouting now. His face was red with fury and his beard was bristling. "This is all about revenge to you, Becky. Getting back at the Fairy Syndicate. Speaking of which, why don't you set to work and perform some sort of fairy magic, here. Oh, wait, I forgot. You're not a real fairy because you don't have wings!"
The Writer gasped. How could Stubs have been so cruel?
"You'll regret that remark once the sun goes down," Becky replied coldly. "I hear it gets really dark in these mountains."
And now sweet little Becky? She of the gentle pink machine gun? The Writer flung his fingers back onto the keyboard, hoping to arrest the terrible momentum that had taken over the story.
From a granite ledge overlooking Becky and Stubs, Tony the Antagonist watched the awful scene, an equally awful sneer slithering across his face like a viper through a pool of ooze. "I have them right where I want them," he gloated, rubbing his slimy hands together. "Soon they'll part ways and be forced to abandon their stupid quest. Then I shall be able to go back to the Fairy Syndicate and collect my exorbitant wage."
Ah-ha! So Tony was working for the Syndicate. His job was to stop Stubs from finding the magic stick and taking it back to the Dirty Forest Man. The Writer patted himself on the shoulder and took the opportunity to forage for more granola. The trip to the kitchen took scarcely an hour and once he had returned to his laptop, he ripped open a packet of deep-fried granola and gobbled a few morsels. As the life-giving potion entered his body, The Writer sat back in his writer's chair with a sigh of deep contentment.
"Ah, granola...my soul's balm!"
The Writer jumped and looked at the laptop screen, upon which more words had somehow appeared. "Stubs?"
"Yeah. How about getting back to business? The story's in something of a crisis, here."
"But I was balming my soul."
"Dang your soul! Start typing, fella, or I'll balm you with my giant hammer."
Becky collapsed back onto the convenient rock and buried her face in her hands. "What's happening to us? We have to stick together!"
After a moment, Stubs relented and, leaving his hammer behind, joined her by the rock. "You're right. I'm sorry for my uncouth and calloused remark. I don't care that you have no wings. You'd look silly with wings, actually. You're better off without them. Besides, if you'd been a normal, I mean, an ordinary fairy, I never would have met you."
"And I'm sorry I mentioned your ridiculous fear of the dark," said Becky. There was a moment of silence and then they both erupted in gales of laughter.
On the ledge, Tony gritted his tooth and crushed a piece of granite in his hands. Why, oh why, did the protagonists always have to prevail? Well, not this time. No retarded fairy or charred-ass dwarf was going to humiliate Tony the Antagonist. He climbed to the top of the ridge where sat a giant boulder. With the sounds of merry laughter still burning his ears, Tony began rocking the boulder back and forth, slowly loosening it from its purchase. The boulder teetered...
Below, Stubs and Becky had completely forgotten their squabble. "We still need a solution to the problem," Becky said. "What about your hammer? Does it do anything?"
Stubs thought. "Not really," he finally admitted. "I mean, it's nice as far as hammers go and if you need anything hammed, then it's great, but for crossing scary chasms, it's pretty useless."
"Well, that's it, then," Becky sighed. "We can't cross the chasm and by the time we walked around it, our quest would be in vain. The fairy warlord, Crapulent Fartwing, is due to arrive at the Fairy Syndicate's headquarters within a few days at the most. After that, they'll march on the Dirty Forest Man. It looks like we're finished."
As these seemingly prophetic words left Becky's mouth, the boulder trembled on the edge of the cliff, dislodging loose rocks and a few dozing hamsters. Because they were both too steeped in despair, neither Stubs nor Becky noticed the falling debris. The boulder of doom rolled slowly forward and seemed to pause a moment on the very lip of the ridge.
"Why, hello, there! Ahh-yuh-yuh-yuh! You 'uns need a lift?"
They looked up and rubbed the misery from their eyes. Could it be? Rising from the chasm was a huge, brightly-colored hot air balloon, piloted by a jovial-looking man wearing a tuxedo and coonskin cap. He halted the basket of the balloon just even with the edge of the chasm.
"I say, I say! You 'uns need a lift?"
"Well, yes!" Stubs said. He and Becky exchanged glances, then traded back again, because they weren't the same size. "But...who are you?"
"Well, sonny, I wouldn't waste time askin' fool questions, 'cause there's a helluva boulder headed your way. Ahh-yuh-yuh-yuh!"
Both Stubs and Becky glanced up and saw the boulder hurtling toward them. Just in time, they leaped aside as it crashed onto the smaller rock where they'd been sitting and crushed it into dust.
"Ahh-yuh-yuh-yuh! That was a close 'un. Damn, you're both white as ghosts! And...do ya'll smell somethin' burnin'?"
Becky covered her nose with a handkerchief. "That's just my friend, here. He has difficulty dealing with moments of extreme crisis."
"Oh! A farter! Ahh-yuh-yuh-yuh! I used to be one o' them, 'til I had my bum sewed shut. Where you two headed?"
"At the moment, just crossing this abyss would suit us," said Becky, since Stubs was still too humiliated to join in the conversation. "Could you ferry us across?"
"Well, little lady, could be. But first you'll have to answer a coupla questions..."