Monday, November 24, 2008

Granola Prose XIII

Dusk found Becky and Stubs at the foot of Mount Vague, the highest peak in the Mysteriolith Mountains. They had already covered a lot of ground since their encounter with the Battle Unicorn and Stubs was breathing heavily from the exertion. The dwarf’s face had turned a startling, but lovely, shade of purple.

 “Are you sure you’re all right?” Becky asked for the twentieth time.

 “Of course I’m all right,” Stubs wheezed, tripping over a small pile of stones. “I’m in the best shape of my life! It’s just the increasing altitude. My lungs are large and powerful, so they need lots of oxygen.”

 Becky looked up at the mountain and frowned. If Stubs was having difficulty with the foothills, there was no way he was going to survive a trek over Mount Vague. The tip of the mountain was swathed in mist, while the sides, which from a distance had appeared somewhat non-threatening, were now seen to be craggy and covered with sharp, broken rock. Although Becky wasn’t laboring as Stubs, even she was feeling the effects of the day’s exertion.

 A loud screech from above jolted them from their lethargy. Stubs dove to the ground and tried to cover himself with small rocks. Searching the skies, Becky spotted a huge bird circling overhead, its long wings flapping slowly. The bird’s body was sequined with Skittles and cotton candy trailed from its wings and tail feathers. On its head it wore a wreath of pansies.

 Becky ducked and held her arms up to shield her face. Her sleeve slipped up toward her shoulder and the Optiglyph branded on her arm began pulsing.

 As if the brand was a beacon, the bird screeched again and dove toward Becky. She tried to leap aside, expecting the bird to attack with beak and talons. Instead, it halted its dive a few feet overhead and Becky felt something wet splatter her arm. She glanced up and saw the bird ascending again. Suddenly, it dropped like a stone and landed heavily on the ground, its head flopping pathetically. It gagged and stretched its neck, straining for air. Stubs scrambled out from his hiding place. He ran over to the creature and tied it up with the strands of cotton candy. He was a little sheepish, but proud of the accomplishment.

“A direct hit!” he announced. “I told you my indiscretions would one day prove use…hey, what’s on your arm?”

 Becky looked at her arm. The bird dropping was unlike anything she had seen. Instead of slimy and loathsome, it was pastel-colored and thick in texture like heated taffy. It had dropped directly on the Optiglyph, which seemed to be absorbing the substance. The branded happy face brightened and the smile seemed to widen.

 Stubs handed her a handkerchief and she rubbed at the spot to no avail. The brand’s pulsing strengthened and a pain shot through Becky’s head. She rubbed her temples and Stubs groaned.

 “Not the headache again!” he said. “Don’t those fairies ever give up?”

 “Apparently not,” Becky said. “Like I said earlier, they probably know we’re coming and are doing everything they can to force me to do their will. We’re taking too long to find the wizards. We’re sitting ducks!” She winced as pain stabbed through her head. “I don’t care what Merbert said about the wizards. We should’ve taken the Loneos, hijacked it if necessary. We’d already be over the stupid teehee.”

 Stubs, who had walked over to inspect his vanquished foe, looked back quizzically as he realized what Becky had said.

 “The stupid teehee?” he asked, swallowing a Skittle. “What the holy mead is a teehee?”

 Becky squeezed her eyes shut, then blinked several times. “I meant the mountain. The stupid mountain. Teehee!” She grabbed her arm. “It burns!”

 The Wife groaned and tapped the Writer on the head with the end of her newly refurbished, shoulder-fired SAM launcher. “Flatulence and defecation? Oh, please.”

 The Writer tried to appear learned, thereby above reproach, but succeeded only in making his eyes cross. “It’s become a part of the plot!” he insisted. “I can’t just start pretending it never happened. It’s part of Stubs’ character. It’s who he is.”

 “I think you may be underestimating Stubs,” the Wife said. “If you were to look deeper into his character he might surprise you with his abilities. You’re holding him down, relegating him to the role of a farting fringe character.”

 “So you’re saying Stubs could be the hero?” The Writer chuckled. “I doubt my readers would buy that.”

 “That’s not what I’m saying,” the Wife said, “but if you expect readers to accept Stubs as part of the team, he’s going to have to start acting like it. Otherwise, why is Stubs even there? Becky would be better off without him. And we can’t have that.”

 The Writer pouted a little. “He defeated the attack bird.”

 “Ah, yes. The terrifying Skittle bird. It had me quaking.”

 The Writer couldn’t be sure, but he thought perhaps he detected a hint of sarcasm in the Wife’s tone. He decided to ignore it. She was, after all, still tapping his head with the launcher.

 “So you’re saying…what are you saying?”

 “Just making suggestions,” said the Wife. “Trying to keep you on track.”

 “I don’t need ‘keeping-on-tracking,’” the Writer insisted, crossing his arms petulantly. “I’m a highly-trained, professional writer of fine literature who—”

 “Uses disgusting bodily functions as salient plot points?” the Wife interrupted.

 “No! Who is perfectly capable of crafting his own fully developed plot without assistance from his non-literary spouse!”

 Incensed, the Writer dove his fingers back at the keyboard.

 As Becky struggled internally, Crapulent Fartwing moved through the halls of the Syndicate’s floating palace, amusing himself by attacking the self-esteem of random strangers. He had just succeeded in causing a group of school children to realize the futility of their futures, when a fairy minion tapped him on the elbow.

 “Excuse me, sir. Teehee.”

 Fartwing tried to turn on his heel, but tripped on his cape. He slapped the minion. “What is it, ugly?”

 Stung by the blow and insult, the minion wept for a moment, before remembering his fairy heritage. He brightened immediately.

 “A call for you, sir,” he tittered, handing Fartwing a telephone crafted from cake icing and fulfilled dreams. “You may eat this when you’re done, if you like!”

 Disgusted, Fartwing grasped the phone between thumb and forefinger and held it to his ear. “Crapulent Fartwing, here. This better be good.”

 “Oh, it is.” The voice was low and, even to Fartwing, a little creepy. “I understand you’re missing one of your number. A renegade who refuses to answer the Call. One Becky Ratite?”

 “Who is this?”

 “Someone who might be able to help reunite you and the prodigal. For the right price.” The voice laughed, but the sound was not pleasant. “Mr. Fartwing, have you ever heard of the Mysteriolith Three?”


Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

Ooh hoo HOO! The Three have shown up!

This could be fun. I'll have to go back to Merbert's little story about his time with The Three to remember what they were supposed to be like. As I recall, one of them was a long-haul trucker.

That's weird.

Now, my favorite bits:

I don't need keeping-on-tracking...

...tried to cover himself with small rocks.

"We're sitting ducks!"
(I just like ducks.)

...crafted from cake icing and fulfilled dreams.

I couldn't help noticing the possible Bob the Optimist-style literary screwery:

"What're you doing here, Dusk?"
(Louie Armstrong voice) "Finding y'all!"

Ha ha! I kill me.

Jack W. Regan said...

Glad you enjoyed it!

Heehee, yep. I thought about the "dusk" joke, too. I was going to have Stubs and Becky discuss how likely it was that they'd be found by Fartwing. Becky was going to say something like, "We couldn't even hide from dusk, how are we supposed to elude someone with Fartwing's resources?"

But I couldn't work it in. As I read it here in my comment, I see that it's just as well.

Paul FooDaddy Brand said...

You're right. It probably wouldn't have gone over as well in the story proper, but it is funny here.

"We couldn't even hide from dusk!"

Indeed! Quite wittish.