"It's a type of foreshadowing," explained the Writer. "You first meet the gophers when Tiberius describes his expulsion from the Nitwit court, and then we tie it up in a neat little flying package."
"It still wouldn't hold air. It's very similar to the way your plot isn't holding water."
The Writer wrinkled up his face. Plots weren't supposed to hold water. Buckets were supposed to hold water.
"It's magic or something, I guess. Geez. First I'm explaining stuff too much, and now I'm not providing enough detail." The Writer held up his forefinger and thumb, half an inch apart. "I'm this close to scampering into a dark room and pouting," he warned.
"I'm just trying to keep you from being lazy. There's too much of that in fantasy writing already. Don't want to bother explaining how something works? It's magic! Killed off a favorite character by, oh, dropping him into a chasm during a duel with a three-story, fire-breathing demon? Just give him some different colored clothes and bring him back with magic! See where I'm going?"
"On some Tolkien fan's hit list?"
"Not specifically Tolkien. I do, however, like the demon. Ember. He's cute."
"He's supposed to be evil."
"He tries so hard to be vile. Just like a kitten!"
The Writer flicked some granola out of his ear with a most carefree finger. "Duly noted. I have taken your advice, dried it, salted it, smoked it and buried it deep in a concrete bunker for later consideration."
"Just make sure your contrivances are at least half-believable. And put more Ember in there."
"And then I put on eight padlocks," the Writer said with a dramatic snapping-a-padlock-closed motion he repeated seven times.
"Sir! He's barricaded himself in his cave and he's going to take off before we can stop him. Please advise!" one of the dark fairies said, speaking into a flyie-talkie.
"And how is he going to do that?" came the rasping response. "You and about twenty others are standing right outside the launch door, right?"
"Teehee, yes, but he's wily, sir."
"His airship is made out of gophers, Jenkins. He can't be that wily."
As it turned out, Tiberius was a little more resourceful than he looked.
"Roight! Looks like they got us penned in roun' the sides, so we'll scarper out the roof! Press the button, willyer Ember?"
The demon favored Tiberius with a sour look and poked the button of a garage-door remote with a scaly finger. A shower of dust and loose pebbles followed a grinding noise as the ceiling split down the middle. The crack widened. The tubulent night sky was within reach! All they had to do was fly the Zepeppilin straight up!
The fairies swarmed in and surrounded the airship in seconds.
"Bugger," said Tiberius.
"Oh, those lousy fairies!" The Writer keyed in the command to print, waited while his inkjet shook and clattered and snatched the sheet of paper when it landed in the tray. He wadded it up and threw it away.
"Not turning out how you expected?"
The Writer applied the Backspace key. "No. I don't want them to get captured, but it looks like they're going to."
"It really is totally under your control, you know," his lovely spouse said, prodding him encouragingly with a Craftsman® prodding rod.
"A good Writer," said the Writer, leaning on an imaginary podium, "invents characters that write themselves. That's when they really come alive."
"I'll open a window then, shall I? Just in case it's Stubs?"
"Everyone to the dirigibibble!"
Becky vaulted over the low edge of the Zepeppilin's passengerbox. Stubs hesitated.
"Come on Stubs! Tee-damn-hee!"
Stubs noted a duck. It looked malicious.
"Wonk," said the duck with a nasty inflection, and eyed Stubs balefully.
"That's an evil duck," said the stalwart dwarf, pointing. "I know it. I'm not getting on that thing."
"Who, Edward? Evil? Well, ain't that a load of pony!" said Tiberius, patting the duck on the head. Edward tried to bite him.
The fairies gave up trying to catch the doorknob. "Stand back! I'm going to break the door down!" said a voice. There was a frantic buzz of wings and a sharp "tink!" noise, like a teacup being set down on a saucer.
"Ow! My shoulder! My beautiful shoulder!"
"Aw, they'll pay for that, Rufus, don't you worry! They'll pay pretty pennies for damaging your good playful nudgin' shoulder!"
"Another question," said Stubs, taking another hesitant step toward the dirigibibble. "Where did you get what could be only described as a magically annoying doorknob, Tiberius? If that IS your real name."
"Stubs! What are you doing? Get IN here!" shouted Becky.
"Er, yeah, yer lil' mate is right. We're kind of in a Bob Murray here! If we snaps open the launch doors real quick-like, and makes a run fer it, I think we have a chance!"
Stubs was about to make another very pointed argument about not trusting the Zepeppilin and its operator when he saw a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye. It was that rogue duck. The evil one, with nothing but murder on his mind and crackers in his stomach. Edward! Edward reached out a foot and flipped a lever! Under the lever were the words "Throw Lever to Spring Trap."
How could he have missed that?
The air filled with the whine of rope whizzing through pulleys, and a steel cage dropped out of the gloom above, neatly penning in the Zepeppilin and its occupants.
"Ah HA! Good work, Edward! I have you now, dwarf! " said an all-too-familiar voice.
"Um. No you don't," said Stubs. He was standing about six inches from the bars of the cage.
"Fuck!" screeched Tony. "Off by only about six inches. Now I have to haul that cage back up so you can get in."
"Run! Run, Stubs! Teehee! Get out of here while you can!"
Stubs didn't need to be told twice. As the front door began to splinter under the pressure of the fairies' candycane chisels and with Edward's cancerous quacking ringing in his ears, Stubs ran blindly into the the yawning darkness at the back of the cave.
"That sounds like kind of a disturbing turn of events," said the Wife, her chin on the Writer's shoulder.
The Writer stared blankly at the screen. "It is. But hey. This is what they wanted, my characters, and this is what they jolly well get. It's like they were just trying to get captured or split up or eaten or whatever. Now I have at least four separate paths to illustrate with my craft. My craft only goes so far!" he whined.
"Aww, your poor craft. How about you take a break and we go get that ice cream I promised a few chapters back? We'll go get you a twisty cone and a Gunky Dog at that place you like."
"Captain Cholesterol's? They closed that down at least two years ago, hon."
The Wife jerked a thumb over her shoulder at a metal cylinder with what looked like a lot of cooling fins on it.
"Time machine," she said.