Story by Brian Spiess
Illustration by Toe Keen
Between the times when the oceans drank Atlantis and Robert E. Howard sued the narrator for copyright infringement, the New York Public Library went about its usual day within the fantastic kingdom known as Manhattan. The city itself was a wondrous place, with shining silver skyscrapers, adventure around every corner, and the occasional assortment of hot dog-tacos that both tasted terrible and defied nature itself – but the most wondrous of all lay behind the doors of the seemingly unassuming library…
It was right after Dorothy Quinn’s lunch break when the Cyclops came lunging from behind the corner, eager to taste the flesh of a freshly roasted librarian. The forty-five-year-old keeper of the adventure section rushed behind a corner, both terrified of the monstrous beast, and panting from exhaustion while deeply regretting the Pop-Tarts she had for breakfast that morning. However, some fruit juice and toast would not save her now, as the Cyclops, looking like he had suddenly gained the ability to smell her fear, turned the corner and eyed his prey with a hungry look on his face. Roaring his terrible roar (much like what would have been heard by Odysseus and his men), the one-eyed giant chased Dorothy through the halls, swiping at her left and right as Dorothy Quinn raced towards the checkout desk. She sped left through a sharp corner as the cyclops narrowly missed her once again. As the Cyclops turned the corner to catch up with her, he sniffed around, having no sight of his terrified prey. However, just when he was about to give up and hope that there was a tasty hot dog vendor down the street, he heard a creeeaaak… behind him. The giant turned around to find the one weakness of any monster – a thirty-foot tall bookshelf tilting over and about to crush him flat. Perhaps I underestimated the librarian, the Cyclops thought as the giant shelf fell on top of him, flattening the beast and dispersing his soul into the text from whence he came.
As the dust cleared, Dorothy Quinn, still shaking off the dust and assorted literature, stumbled out from where she had pushed the shelf onto the Cyclops and walked over to where his book lay. Dusting off this first edition copy of The Odyssey, she walked over and put it back on the shelf, double checking to make sure that the book was still in tip-top shape for some random Joe to pick it off the shelf once again. She just hoped it didn’t release any more monsters from now on – it had a nasty habit of releasing fictional beasts into the real world at the worst times – though most of the other books in the library had the same problem. Could be worse, she thought to herself. It could be like last week when the Hound of the Baskervilles escaped and tried to eat those kindergartners! Laughing at the black humor she sometimes valued on days like this, Dorothy Quinn reminded herself to get the janitor to clean up the fallen shelf while going down to check on things at the checkout section. Just another day at the library…she thought.
Things were pretty regular at the checkout section – the occasional pixie giving small children wedgies, another customer borrowing the Necronomicon Ex Mortis for a weekend trip to his cabin in the woods (seriously, when WAS someone going to throw that thing out?), and, most rarely, the occasional teenager asking for computer help. Average stuff that would make the day drag on for someone who dreamed of adventure as much as Dorothy Quinn. As keeper of the adventure section in the library, Dorothy would often have hours on end to pour over the infinite classics under her care – as long as none of the creatures from any of them escaped, but that was a different story. While Dorothy loved her job at the library and would trade it for no other – I mean, where else was she going to work, at Apple? – she often dreamed of going on such adventures as the characters in those stories that she would give out daily. Fighting dragons, riding horses, discovering lost treasures and whatnot – Dorothy wished she could do stuff like that in real life. Alas, though, such fantasies were naught but a fool’s dream…and she did NOT mean that time the Sandman got out and put everyone in magical comas.
It was during this time in the story where Dorothy dreamt of adventure when the greatest enemy of any librarian arrived once again for their daily conflict – the late returner. These fiends from the darkest depths of the library’s nightmares would come in and borrow the books for months on end, rarely even paying the late fee when their stolen property was to be returned. Thou venomous sloth-mongers! Such starveling elf’s tongue stockfish! And as Dorothy hated this part of her job, it was part of her sacred oath (which admittedly she made up herself) to do battle with this army of laziness and thievery whenever any of them reared their ugly head. However, she was a trained professional after all, and always handled any of these situations with the class and dignity as befitted anyone of her valued station.
“Oh, hey, sorry I returned this a little late. I know it’s only a month behind though, so is there any way I can avoid-”
“Hal Grantwood, your crimes against this library have invoked the Trial by Duel. For the act of returning a book late, you are sentenced to combat by fencing. Draw thy sword! Or, you know, you can pay the small fine and avoid the humiliation.”
Dorothy was not surprised when Mr. Grantwood picked the combat. Seriously, they would do anything to avoid paying the late fee.
Oh, who was Dorothy kidding – this was the best part of the job! Whenever a late returner would enter this house of fantasy and learning, looking for an escape from their crimes, she would undergo the classic trial by combat – dueling the late returner to the death! Or, at least, until the guy was scared enough of the crazy librarian with a fencing foil to surrender.
Luckily, this was one of those cowardly days for her opponent, who stood in the lobby shaking like a scared leaf as he tried to hold the epee that Dorothy had tossed to him in the most intimidating manner possible. This would do him no good though, as Dorothy had crossed blades with hundreds of his kind before.
Dorothy looked her opponent square in the eye as she drew her sword. “I’ll give you one last chance here – we can walk away right now if you want. All you have to do is pay the late fee.”
No response. Whether it was fear, defiance, or both, Dorothy frowned at the lack of variety in any of these guys. Still, she smiled at the battle to come.
“So be it.”
The duel, much like any other, was like a ballet for Ms. Quinn – crossing swords the same as an arabesque, each parry and attack like a plie or passé practiced hundreds of times before the big show. She was a master swordswoman in these halls – unlike the fifty-year-old lawyer in front of her who was clearly mimicking any move he had seen from that hack Errol Flynn as he desperately tried to defend himself. With each slash!, clash!, and slice!, the two crossed swords time and time again, the sound of colliding steel echoed throughout the library. Surely this would be a duel for ages…in any other story. However, in the mind of Dorothy Quinn, a fight like this could only end one way. And in one way it did end – with one final flick of her blade, Dorothy knocked the sword from her opponent’s hand, sending the epee flying into the air only for Dorothy to catch it in her free hand. Setting it down on a table with the gentleness of an autumn wind, Dorothy held her own blade to the throat of Hal Grantwood, silently assuring him that despite the massive difference in their bank accounts, the librarian had won this day.
“That’ll be 20.50 for the late fee,” she added to the humiliated lawyer who sulked over to the checkout desk to metaphorically pay the piper. “And thank you for choosing the New York Public Library – where adventure can be found on every page!” If only that were true for the rest of the world, she thought to herself as she trudged back to the adventure section, resigning herself to another average day at the library.
However, as much as Dorothy would expect just that, as she went back up to the adventure section, she realized immediately that something was amiss – the shelf that she knocked over to defeat the Cyclops earlier was set up straight again, the entire room was covered in an ethereal glow, as if from some higher being beyond the limits of time, space, and form – and not to mention, strangest of all…the bottle of water she had left on one of the desks was moved slightly to the left!!! What is going on here? Dorothy thought to herself as she cautiously drew her sword once again, slowly tiptoeing through each corridor as she tried to find the source of all this new weirdness. However, just as she was about to give up, another burst of light emerged from the shadows, wiping away any source of darkness and blowing Dorothy down to the ground as she looked up and witnessed the culmination of all that was truly spectacular in the universe.
Okay, maybe that last line was a bit overkill, but Dorothy still marveled at the cosmic being that had landed in front of her. It looked to her like a giant head, not unlike something from a Judy Garland movie or a Jack Kirby comic book and stared down at the bewildered hero with a sense of ominousness and pure power that Dorothy could not decide to cower in fear of or bow down to like an eldritch god of some ancient tribe. As she was contemplating her next option, the figure spoke, its words echoing throughout the room and reverberating off the ancient wooden walls.
‘DOROTHY QUINN,” the voice boomed. “IN YOUR MANY YEARS GUARDING THESE HALLOWED SHELVES, YOU HAVE PROVEN YOURSELF TO BE A RIGHTEOUS HERO, A BRAVE CRUSADER FOR RIGHT AND JUSTICE…NOT TO MENTION A REALLY GOOD SWORDFIGHTER.”
Dorothy blushed at that last part, but let the strange deity continue.
“FOR YOUR MIGHTY DEEDS AND AMAZING BADASSNESS, YOU ARE TASKED TO EMBARK ON A GREAT AND NOBLE-”
“Wait a minute,” Dorothy chimed in. “How do I know you’re not some massive hallucination? I mean, I’ve seen some pretty weird stuff working here, but Hydras and the Hound of the Baskervilles coming to life and trying to kill you is one thing. Now suddenly I’ve got a giant head in the middle of my library which is starting to make me wonder-”
“ENOUGH!” the giant head interrupted. “I AM AN ANCIENT BEING FROM THE BEGINNINGS OF THE UNIVERSE! I AM OLDER THAN TIME ITSELF AND ONLY THE POWER OF TEN MILLION EXPLODING SUNS WOULD HAVE THE POWER TO CREATE ME! AND BESIDES, YOU’VE SEEN DEMONIC DOGS AND MULTI-HEADED DRAGONS; I DOUBT A TALKING HEAD WOULD REALLY SWAY YOUR BELIEF NOW!”
Dorothy considered the words of the talking head and silently acknowledged that he had a point.
“ANYWAY,” the voice continued. “YOU SHALL GO ON A GREAT AND NOBLE QUEST TO BRING HOPE AND INSPIRATION TO THE PEOPLE OF MANHATTAN IN THESE DARK TIMES. YOU SHALL GO AND FIND THE MACGUFFIN STONE, A MYSTICAL ARTIFACT OF GREAT POWER WHICH SHALL ENGRAVE ANYONE WHO FINDS IT IN THE BOOK OF LEGENDS FOR ALL TIME!”
Dorothy looked shocked at this task set before her. “You know, that sounds like a good idea! I mean, my shift ends in like ten minutes, so that works out perfectly!”
“OF COURSE, IT DOES! I PLANNED IT THAT WAY!” The giant voice boomed once again. “DOROTHY QUINN, IT IS YOUR SACRED TASK TO SEEK THE STONE. INDEED, THIS QUEST IS WHAT YOUR HEROISM HAS ALL BEEN LEADING UP TO – THE QUEST FOR THE MACGUFFIN STONE!”
With these final words for Dorothy Quinn, the head began to vanish into the air from whence it came. Before it completely disappeared, however, Dorothy had one final question.
“Um…quick question before I start out?” the librarian asked the massive behemoth. “If you’re this all-powerful being, where are you from exactly?”
“WHERE IS A DREAM FROM? WHERE IS THAT SPARK OF INSPIRATION BORN THAT LEADS HUMANITY ON THEIR QUESTS FOR GLORY AND ADVENTURE? ADMITTEDLY, I’M NOT QUITE SURE, BUT WHAT I’M TRYING TO SAY IS THAT’S WHERE I’M FROM.”
“Aha!” the librarian concluded. “So, you really ARE from inside my head!”
“WHAT? I…NO! BUT REALLY…OK, THAT’S ACTUALLY A GOOD POINT.” The head bowed to Dorothy as if seeing things from her point of view, before finally vanishing to wherever it came from.
A quest to find the legendary Macguffin Stone! What the giant head had assigned to her suddenly hit Dorothy like a sack of bricks to the cerebellum! The librarian scratched her auburn hair and remembered all of the ancient texts that she had read concerning the powerful artifact. Dating back to Arthurian times, the MacGuffin Stone was said to have been the power behind every miracle and strange occurrence of the last two thousand years – The Tunguska Incident, the creation of Stonehenge, and the rise of Twilight to the top of the bestsellers list! It was a source of power that could be used for great good – or great evil, and Dorothy knew that someone had to find it before it fell into the wrong hands. However, for but a brief moment, a twinge of doubt fell over the librarian’s head. Can I really do this? she thought to herself. Am I ready to leave the relative comfort and safety of this monster-infested library and go out into the world to find a rock that may or may not exist? She contemplated these doubts to herself for a total of thirty seconds and decided not to waste her rejection of the call.
Of course, I can do this! That’s what heroes do!
And with these motivational words to guide her, Dorothy punched out of the library and got her gear together. Dusting off and sheathing her finest epee, a silver sword she had named Checkout, donning some leftover armor from the medieval exhibit that had made a week-long home in the lobby, and grabbing a towel from her office to tie around her neck. After all, no hero is complete without an awesome cape.
Dorothy ran outside in her new knight’s getup and unlocked her faithful scooter from its rack. The scooter, known as Silversharp, had been Dorothy’s faithful companion since the tender age of eighteen, and had carried her everywhere she went in the strange city known as Manhattan. “Are you ready, old boy?” Dorothy asked her steadfast friend.
The scooter vroomed, as if to tell her that it was ready for whatever adventure faced them that day.
“Then let’s go!” Dorothy shouted. Kicking up the scooter stander-upper-thingy, Dorothy raced down the street while ignoring the newfound pebble in her shoe, confident that this adventure would not be one she would soon forget.
Meanwhile, about fifty blocks away, Sunford Patrick Jr. was setting up his makeshift fortune teller booth, hoping the cardboard and stolen curtains would hold this time. Known as “Sunny P” to his friends and enemies alike, he a was a grifter and wannabe con artist by trade, eager to make an easy buck by playing the wise old soothsayer – despite the fact that he was thirty and looked too much like James McAvoy to play the old man archetype.
Nevertheless, Sunny P was confident – people love a good magic show, and there were enough suckers in this city to buy his ridiculousness for just long enough to make a profit. However, as much as he had faith in this philosophy, he did not expect such ridiculousness to come to him.
So, imagine his surprise when a middle-aged woman, dressed as a knight rode up on an old silver scooter, rambling about some magic stone and her quest to find it.
“Please, wise old soothsayer.” Dorothy asked between pants – while also reminding herself to work on her cardio when this whole thing was done – “I beseech thee to tell me the location of the MacGuffin Stone! It is my sacred quest to find it.”
Sunny P had no idea what she was talking about but held back his snarkiness just this once – he had a show to put on! Whipping out a crystal ball that he stole from behind the magic shop, Sunny P grabbed Dorothy’s hands in a fortune teller-like way.
“Now listen closely, dear woman,” Sunny P began in his most over-the-top accent. “If you don’t want to stick around for the three-card monte tournament later, what you seek is in this city! The spirits are telling me such stories about the…Whatever Rock that you look for…”
“What spirits?” Dorothy asked.
Oh boy…Sunny P thought. “Oh, many of them, like…Obsideus the All-Seeing, Marilyn Monroe…Thor, maybe…”
“Of course!” Dorothy realized! Thank God, she’s falling for it…Sunny P thought as he began to continue. “Now then, where was I? Anyway-”
“HEY, SUNNY P! WE TOLD YOU, THIS IS OUR BLOCK!”
Goblins. Why did it always have to be goblins?
“Oh…you must be the mighty goblins that guard this street! I welcome you to my humble temple of mystery! Enter inside where you can…gaze upon such…wonderiffic curiotronics such as my crystal ball!
As if the goblins and readers alike needed more proof that this guy was a humbug, Sunny P whipped out his fake crystal ball, eager to make sure that the turban he fashioned out of an old bath towel did not fall off his head. He was disappointed, though, when one of the goblins swiped the trinket out of his hand, letting it smash to the concrete floor below.
Dorothy wasn’t quite sure what the Goblins wanted – perhaps money, jewels, the key to some ancient artifact to control the universe – though what little she did here involved several curse words and something about the sage owing money. But she knew what she had to do, despite the slight discomfort of a pebble in her shoe. She was a hero, after all.
And so, it came to pass that Sunny P witnessed a truly glorious battle that day, most of which involved a forty-five-year-old librarian chasing around goblins with a sword while dressed in armor and a towel tied around her shoulders like a cape. He wasn’t quite sure whether to be grateful or just plain confused and stared at the battle with a quiet “Whaaaaaaat…?” look on his face as each clash of sword against the back of a goblin rang out in the afternoon sky. Inevitably though, the knight prevailed against such evildoers, and the goblin gang ran off like scared children. Though one of them managed to get back to his feet and throw a punch at the confused con artist, Sunny P dodged the blow and knocked the goblin on his face. The goblin then scampered away to join its foul brethren. Though Sunny P and Dorothy might have heard them say “We’ll be back, we’ll make you wish you’d never ran into us!”, they could not worry about that for now.
Dorothy ran over to the ancient sage and helped the bewildered man to his feet. “Are you alright, wise and gentle sage? I saw you punch that goblin; you demonstrate the heart of a true knight errant.”
Sunny P had no idea what she was talking about, but he was never one to turn down a compliment. “Well, you know, you just gotta fight for right, and… battle ancient demons and… stuff…”
“Well spoken!” Dorothy replied to her new friend. “You know, I could use a brave companion on my quest for the MacGuffin Stone. Will you join me, good sir?”
Sunny P stood silent. On the one hand, it wasn’t every day that he was offered the chance of adventure, but on the other hand, this woman seemed completely bonkers. Sense of curiosity or common sense? What to do, what to do?…
“Now normally, I’d love to go,” Sunny P finally answered. “But considering everything that’s been going on, I have to water my Aunt Petunia, my dog just ate my replacement crystal ball, I’m just going to have to say-”
“It’ll be great! Once we’re done, we’ll have glory and treasure beyond our wildest dreams!”
Sunny P could barely stop himself from replying. “I’m in!”
With that, Dorothy pulled out her sword and poked it into the ground. “Then kneel, wise and definitely genuine fortune teller.” Sunny P did so, assuming that this would be one of those knighting ceremonies kind of thing.
“Good sir…whatever your name is, having displayed a noble heart and mind…”
(Sunny P tried not to chuckle at that last part).
“I hereby make you my honorary squire, to ride with me wherever the wind takes us, and to serve with me in manners of heroism and righteousness throughout the rest of our days.”
Sunny P looked up at the knight in front of him and figured he didn’t have much to lose.
“Sounds good to me. Oh, and by the way, my name’s Sunny P.”
“Dorothy Quinn, keeper of adventures in the New York Library.”
With that, our two heroes rose from where they were and raced off into the heart of Manhattan. Dorothy rode like a true knight on the back of Silversharp, with Sunny P behind her holding on for dear life. As the two then ventured forth in search of adventure, neither had any idea of the strange and wondrous quest that awaited them.
— ♦♦♦ —
After about ten minutes and thirty-seven seconds of writing, Dorothy brought Silversharp to a sudden halt in front of a large silver building that seemed to reach almost to the heavens. The Empire State Building, it was called, and Dorothy just knew that the answers to where she had to go just lay beyond those doors.
“Um…Dorothy, are you sure that this is where you’re supposed to go to get directions?” asked Sunny P, who was already questioning his decision to go on this quest.
“Of course!” Dorothy confidently responded. “This spire of wonder and hope lies in the very center of the city! All the knowledge we seek lies within if we can just get past-”
“Halt!” A booming voice cried out in front of them.
Sunny P gulped as the largest man he had ever seen marched out in front of the door to the Empire State Building. He was dressed in a frock of green and gold, decorated in iron armor that made Sunny P shudder in his boots. The grey-haired behemoth shifted his doorman’s cap while clutching a massive sword in his hand. While Sunny P fought the urge to turn around and return to where he started, Dorothy marched forward with a confident swagger befitting of a knight.
“Halt!” The large man ordered as several more men dressed in his armor and carrying equally large weapons ran out of the building to back him up. “By order of the Knights of Dor-Man, you are hereby ordered to stand down!”
Dorothy gasped! The Knights of Dor-Man! She knew them well, as they were feared far and wide one of the most elite fighting forces in Manhattan. Having guarded the doorways to every skyscraper in the city since the beginning, she knew better than to trifle with such a force.
Dorothy knelt before the knights in a respectful sort of fashion, squirming a bit as the pebble in her shoe shifted to the back, while Sunny P looked on in bewilderment. “Please, good knights, I meant no disrespect – but I must enter the building to gain the answers that I seek.”
For a moment, there was only silence. However, it was momentarily broken by Dorothy whacking Sunny P on the leg. “Kneel, before they slice you up!” Dorothy whispered.
“Relax, I’ve got this.” Sunny P responded. Having spent most of his life exploring the streets of Manhattan, he knew how this sort of thing worked. Getting out his wallet, he approached the knights with a confident and reassuring smile on his face.
Walking up to the knights and putting his arm on one of their shoulders, Sunny P desperately tried to break the ice. “Fellas, fellas,” he began. “What my armored friend is trying to say is that we REALLY need to get inside this building. She thinks that we can find directions to this magic rock inside-”
“MacGuffin Stone!” Dorothy reminded him.
“Right, Macguffin Stone, and I was wondering – could you hook a guy up and just let us in?” Sunny P gave the doormen his best attempt at an innocent smile.
“OK then.” Sunny P pulled out his wallet and fished out some bills to hand to the doormen. “I know how this works. Now let’s see…we’ve got Jackson, Hamilton- Oh, a fifty, sweet! Now then, I think that’s enough to-”
It was at this point where Sunny P started to regret joining this quest. Having a giant sword at your throat will do that to a person.
With that unpleasantness having just begun, Sunny P and Dorothy got back on Silversharp, zooming away as soon as the engine roared to life. Close behind, the angry knights chased after them, keeping a close distance despite running on foot. Pausing from being terrified, Sunny P reminded himself to ask about their exercise techniques.
With Dorothy at the helm, occasionally yelling “Mush!” to her inanimate scooter, the two zoomed through streets and blocks, weaving around different buildings like a taxi with five minutes to reach its destination. As Sunny P thought the chase would never end, though, the two stopped in the middle of one street that was not familiar to him. Meanwhile, the knights continued to run after them, waving their swords in anger. However, just as Dorothy drew her sword, preparing for the fight of the century, the knights stopped dead in their tracks. Dorothy looked at the knights in confusion and frowned as they ran for their lives. Dang it! she thought. I really wanted to fight those guys!
Sunny P, relieved that this was all over, shakily got off Silversharp and walked over to Dorothy. “Well,” he started. “I’m glad that’s over. But where do we go from-”
“Wait.” Dorothy put her hand to Sunny P’s mouth. Though all seemed lost at first, she now knew where they had found themselves. “We’re here.”
“Wait, what?!” Sunny P was even more confused now than ever. “Dorothy, what are you talking about? Where are we?!”
As the two of them looked up, Sunny P’s mouth dropped open as they recognized the building. They stood in the temporarily abandoned Square of Time, which could only mean one thing.
The two heroes gulped as they entered the long-abandoned Castle Toyrus.
“Now this is what I call a stroke of good luck!” Dorothy called out as she and Sunny P wandered the dark and empty castle. “We may not have gotten answers from the Empire Building, but it’s said that the former inhabitants of this place had some knowledge, or a map of some kind, about where the MacGuffin Stone is!”
“Wait…how do you know all of this?” a confused Sunny P asked. “Seems a bit out of nowhere, almost like an omniscient narrator didn’t know how to give you the proper knowledge of this quest and just decided to pull the information out of thin air out of a sense of laziness.”
“Trust me, kid when you’re in my line of work, you can find anything!” Dorothy said proudly.
Sunny P grumbled. Librarians…eh, fair point though, he thought.
As the two wandered farther and farther up the stairs of the long-forgotten castle, Dorothy remembered what she learned about the history of those once-illustrious halls. Once a home of the ancient toymakers of Manhattan, the castle was a paradise for children, as well as those seeking a little more wonder and magic in the world. However, after many years of wonder and fun, it fell into ruin, something about not having enough customers. After that, the castle was abandoned and eventually forgotten – though some said that the former inhabitants haunted the place. Such rumors were dismissed as silly ghost stories, though…
“Hey, Sunny P, look over here!” Dorothy called. Having made her way past the crumbling Ferris wheel and reaching the top floor of the castle, she had found a collection of scrolls and ancient tomes beneath the feet of a giant dinosaur statue. Man, what this place was like in its heyday…Dorothy thought as she fished through different scrolls.
Meanwhile, Sunny P tried to find his own way up to the top floor. Wandering through an abandoned hall of dusty and forgotten dolls, he felt a profound sense of isolation – as well as ä sense of being creeped out. Struggling to find his way out of the hall in the dim light, he thought to himself – Is this quest worth it?
He started leaning his answer towards no when he heard the shuffling of footsteps behind him as several doll-related catchphrases started to echo in the air.
Back on the top floor, Dorothy smiled to herself and let out a cry of triumph! At long last, she had found the map to the MacGuffin Stone! All that was left to do now was to get Sunny P and get out of-
“AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!” Dorothy whipped her head around to hear the sound. Was that Sunny P? she thought. Cautiously drawing her sword, she walked forward, ready for the incoming danger. However, barely had she reached a foot outside of the T-Rex statue when she ran smack into Sunny P!
“Oh, hey!” Dorothy helped Sunny P to his feet with a happy grin. “Good news, I found a map to the MaGuffin Stone! All we have to do is cross through Central Park and-”
“DOROTHY! KILLER DOLLS! CHASING US! NEED TO RUN!”
Clearly, Dorothy’s squire was not in the mood for chitchat. Grabbing Dorothy’s hand, he pulled the two of them towards the exit, as Dorothy battled confusion with the rising fear of that crawling sound behind them.
“Sunny P, what’s going on? If it’s a monster, then we can always do battle! We’ll draw our swords and stand up to those hideous creatures! We can-”
Suddenly, like the scuttling of demonic rats across a porcelain floor, Dorothy and Sunny P turned around to see a giant swarm of toys chase after them! The squeaks, hoots, and tap-taps of the demonic playthings echoed throughout the castle as Dorothy and Sunny P resumed running for their lives.
“Forget it, let’s keep running!” Dorothy shouted in fear, as swords would have no use against this horde. Fleeing down the broken-down escalators and through the dusty and aged halls, Dorothy and Sunny P struggled to make their way towards the exit while the army of playthings slowly caught up to them.
“What do we do?!” Sunny P cried, as he swatted a Baby Alive off of his shoulder.
“I’m not sure!” Dorothy admitted, as she truly had no idea how to defeat the childish legion that pursued them. Suddenly, however, something caught her attention – the rusted and creaking Ferris wheel above them!
“Sunny P, head to the Ferris wheel!” Dorothy shouted. “I’ve got a plan!”
Sunny P, not quite knowing how he was going to get out of this alive, ran over to the Ferris wheel, while Dorothy whipped out her sword and jammed it into the hydraulics. Meanwhile, Sunny P, following her lead, started to knock out some of the heavy metal beams, hoping that whatever Dorothy had in mind would work.
Dorothy had just finished cutting the last wire loose and turning on the mechanical marvel when she heard a sudden CREEEEEEEEAK. Knowing that the wheel would soon fall, she quickly got up and ran, hoping that her plan would work.
“Whew!” Sunny P had just knocked the last beam loose when he heard the same CREEEEEEEEAK directly above his head. Snapping to his feet to run away, he suddenly heard a massive BOOM! as the Ferris wheel began to fall, crashing down on Sunny P like a mighty oak. Closing his eyes, the former con man awaited his end – only for a familiar arm to pull him out of the way. “Come on!” cried Dorothy as the two ran away from the crashing Ferris wheel. Behind them, the swarm of demon toys screamed in a collective high-pitched squeal as several tons of metal and stone crashed down upon their heads with a mighty BOOOOOOMM!!! Paying no mind to the cataclysm, Dorothy and Sunny P ran outside, jumped onto Silversharp, and just drove, not quite knowing or caring where they ended up next.
After another ten minutes of driving, Silversharp came to a slow and awkward stop in front of Central Park. The two heroes shakily dismounted the scooter and stood in front of the vast woods that lay before them.
Looking at the map, Dorothy tapped her foot, hoping to remove that annoying pebble, and pointed straight in front of them to the wooden path. “Alright, if we go over this way through the park, we can get to the Macguffin Stone before the day’s end! Come on, let’s-”
“No.” Dorothy turned around to see Sunny P with a look of resignation on his face.
“What are you talking about, dear squire? We’ve got to find-”
“Open your eyes, Dorothy!!!” For once, Sunny P had had enough of this adventure. After nearly dying thrice so far today, he had finally given up. “This MacGuffin Stone quest – it’s not real! It’s just some random thing in your head!”
Dorothy put down her sword as her face fell. “But Sunny-”
“But nothing! I’ve almost died three times today and I’m sick of it! This insanity isn’t going to kill me today and I’m not going to follow some wannabe knight to find a stupid rock! I am DONE!”
With these final angry words, Sunny P stormed off into the park, leaving Dorothy behind as a light rain started to fall.
The librarian turned knight stared off at her former squire and felt a similar anger rise inside her.
“Well…fine! You wanna go back to that silly cardboard box? Be my guest! I’m going to find that stone with or without you, so…fine, I’m just going!”
Wiping her nose, Dorothy picked up her sword and rode into the forest, hoping that this quest would somehow end on a high note.
— ♦♦♦ —
Ever read a pulp story and come across a word, and you think to yourself, “What the heck does that mean?”. Well, in this article, you’ll get the low-down on some commonly-used terms in Pulp. While you might be familiar with some terms like “the joint”, you might not know that “bird” actually means man. Get more acquainted with pulp terminology next week.