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(written for NaNoWriMo)

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* * *
Ha ha ha ha ha.  Oh, that year's was SO not worth posting all of.  If you, fair reader, wish to find the rest of it... well, tough.

Blort blort fnerk.

* * *

Marian Wesley and Silence Waters decided to go camping together.  It was fall; it was cold out but very beautiful because the cold weather caused the leaves of the trees to turn to all sorts of abnormally brilliant colors, reds and golds and oranges.  They lived fairly near a set of mountains in which there was located a good number of government-managed campgrounds, in state or national parks or forest service areas or wilderness preserves, and so they set a date on which Marian would ride his bike over to Silence's apartment, put his bike inside her apartment, and then he and her would take their stuff and themselves and put them into Silence's car and then drive out to the mountains to the national forest Forest Service campground where they were intending to be staying that night, which is to say the night that they had set for the first of their camping expedition, out across the mountain pass and then up the skirts of the mountains on the other side and then back into the mountains along a long and winding dirt or gravel road which went for miles and miles and miles but actually had no outlet nor civilisation located anywhere along its course.  If, while they were driving along this long and winding dirt or gravel road and something happened to go wrong with the car, such as it having run out of gas or the car having got a flat tire, which Silence did not have a spare replacement for in that event, then the two would be stranded in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by hostile animals and with no way of getting food or shelter or assistance for their poor troubled automobile - but worst of all, they would be stranded miles from the nearest bathroom.  Which would be a bad thing.   But of course nothing would go wrong with the car along that long and winding dirt or gravel road with no outlet and the two of them would arrive at their camping destination without incident, safely, and have a good and fun and happy and romantic weekend out among the trees with a lovely Forest Service pit toilet only a few dozen feet away from their campsite.

            I'm sorry, I oughtn't to mention the presence of bathrooms - waste disposal facilities, if you will - or the necessity thereof so explicitly - such a behaviour isn't usually considered a good and ladylike behaviour in most polite social circles.  However, I am only attempting to add a touch of much-needed realism to the tragic little tale of mine, all right?  I mean, come on now!  It's only freaks like you folks who don't eat or drink and plants and fungi and microbes who don't need some means of sanitarily and modestly disposing of the waste products of their bodies' digestive processes, and among most civilised persons such a place as a bathroom, be it a biffy (a Bathroom In the Forest For You) or a bidet (actually, I lied - that's not for waste disposal, it's just a weird French invention that I kind of tend to find disgusting myself, though my uncle claims to like the fresh clean feeling such a device apparently imparts - which is probably - nay, definitely - way the hell more than you or anybody else, myself included, ever wanted to know about my uncle or anybody else), being a walled enclosure for the deposition and removal of human wastes in a sanitary and modest fashion, is a necessity for life.  Except when backpacking or wilderness camping, but that's beside the point and I've gone on way the hell to long on this rude and digusting topic, and needlessly, too!  Gah!  Just- just listen to the story, okay?  Don't be a five-year-old dumbass, okay?  Jeez louise.

* * *

Her name was Silence, Silence Waters.  She was not old, but again neither was she particularly young.  She was one of those people whose age cannot be accurately guessed at, not from their appearance and not from their bearing, not from their demeanour and not from their speech.  A person might even call her ageless, but that would suggest that she was some kind of peculiar mutant who neither aged nor grew old and died, and who probably didn't eat or drink either, and may even have been able to read minds and possibly even to control the weather, but such a suggestion would be both absurd and erroneous.  Silence Waters was merely a normal female human like you or me (unless you happen to be male, or an alien, or an abnormal human, in which case I do apologise for making such a rude and unfounded assumption as to your nature - I didn't mean to be a bigot or anything, and really I am very sorry - please forgive me), and she ate food just like you or me (unless of course you happen to be some kind of a freak like, ahem ahem, cough cough, in which case I repeat the apologetic message given in the preceding set of rounded brackets - parentheses, I mean - that's what they're called - parentheses) and got older just like you and I (unless you don't age, which although peculiar is a state of being to which I am entirely open and have even a good amount of respect for, and in which case that same apologetic thingy of two sets of parentheses or brackets or whatever earlier is repeated for your benefit), and, eventually, she would die.  But to look upon her one would have some good deal of difficulty in attempting to pin down exactly how old she actually was to within a few decades.  She had grey-brown hair - mousy brown, some call it, because apparently that is the color of the fur of some particular variety of mouse, though which variety it is escapes me.  Her hair had a rather obnoxious tendency to frizz out easily, and so for this reason she most often wore it in a tight bun at the back of her head in the manner that the scary nanny from the original version of The Omen wore her hair, or the German lady Frau Blucher from Mel Brooks' film Young Frankenstein, or pretty much any stereotypical spinster, schoolteacher, nanny, seamstress, upright German lady, or turn of the century ma'am tends to wear her hair in a Hollywood production.  This look, however, fit Silence quite well.  She always got more heads turning in her direction when she wore her hair in a bun as opposed to when she wore it down, or in a ponytail, or in a braid, or in pigtails, or loose and flowing with a headband to keep it out of her eyes.  Also it kept her hair from frizzing, which she didn't like her hair to do, so naturally she preferred it.

            Silence Waters worked at the high school downtown, filing away books and old paperwork and checking children in to the school nurse's office and even occasionally playing at being a substitute teacher when all of the regular substitute teachers seemed to have made a pact amongst themselves to make themselves as scarce and unreachable as possible just when flu season had struck and all of the normal teachers were being struck down ill on the left and on the right and so the school needed to find substitute teachers more than ever to fill up the many myriads of flu-induced teacher voids.  She had a car, but it was old and loud and the muffler was breaking and the brakes squeaked something awful, and they only squeaked worse when the weather was wet and it rained.  Her car was blue, but a person could hardly tell to look at it, what with all of the rusty spots and corroded spots and the bleached out spots from when some random graffiti artist had decided that her beat-up old car would be the perfect surface on which to spray his tag in neon orange paint - his tag being the word "fuck" in huge avant-garde block letters - and then she'd had to wash it off, but her car's paint had come off with the letters, so she'd had to take off a bunch of the car's paint, too, in order to make sure that the ugly white patches the cleaning solution left behind in its wake were simply amorphous blobs and didn't still spell out the word "fuck" in huge block letters or cursive or any other kind of letters at all.  It had worked - the white spots didn't spell out the word "fuck" any longer - but she had been obligated to remove about half of the paint from her car in order to make certain of this.  Silence Waters thus developed a sort of vendetta against graffiti artists after that, but as this peculiar interest or hobby or whatever of hers has actually no bearing on the plot of this anecdote (and there is one, rest assured - a plot, I mean - it simply hasn't had an opportunity to evidence itself as of the moment) I do not intend that we should go into any further detail about it.  Slip it from your mind; it means naught, naught at all.

            Silence Waters had taken tap dance as a child for exactly one year, ballet for exactly one year, gymnastics for exactly one year, ice skating for one year and swim lessons for one year, and piano lessons for one year (these were all different years, too, mind you - she was never taking two extracurricular classes at one time).  She had then discovered the guitar, which she found she had been given an extreme passion for, and after taking guitar lessons for exactly one year, she continued to take guitar lessons until she felt that she had sufficiently mastered the use of the instrument to entertain herself, and others on occasion, with it.  Her guitar was acoustic, painted black, and was bought in a junk shop for ten dollars when she was eleven years old by her parents, Jim and Molly Waters.  Her mother's maiden name was Doran.  Her social security number was lost before she knew it by heart and so was never memorised.  Her debit card's pin number was 2242.  She did not like the taste of avocados and avoided them as if they were carriers of the bubonic plague.  Her eyes were blue.

            Marian Wesley was Silence's boyfriend, or significant other, if you will.  Marian was in his middle twenties - twenty-six, to be exact - and had floppy blonde hair with natural highlights which he detested because he thought they made him look too much like a gay rocker and a member of a teenage boy band like the Backstreet Boys or N*Sync, both of whom he had always hated and despised with as much fervor as that with which his girlfriend, Silence Waters, avoided avocados.  He said that he had green eyes, but really they were kind of muddy yellow-brown - Mexican water, his friend Felipe called it with a hearty laugh.  Felipe was from Ireland.  Marian rode his bike to work, but he had it tuned up once every two months and so made certain that his breaks were always properly adjusted, not worn down, and in otherwise altogether good shape, thus hoping to avoid, except if he happened to be hit by the least probable fluke accident, which he didn't happen to be, a situation in which he found himself, like the unfortunate biker of our earlier runaway metaphor, racing down a wet winding hill in the dark before the dawn without any breaks or batteries in his bike light, whose batteries he made certain to always keep well-charged.  His bike was a Cannondale, and it was blue.

            Marian met Silence at a poetry reading in a small cafe on the south side of downtown.  The poem that was being read was of particularily bad quality, and in the act of rolling their eyes Silence's and Marian's eyes met and locked into each other and the next thing you know they were both going to poetry readings and art shows and live music performances together with a startling amount of frequency, and they were also almost constantly holding hands, as well as kissing in public places and nuzzling each other's necks and doind all kinds of other stupid things like that, which are called Needless Public Displays of Emotion, or "get a room"s, in public places.  Obviously the two were quite violently in love.

            Marian didn't own a car.  Silence didn't own a bike.

* * *

These little anecdotes are just not even remotely related at all, are they?  Not a one of them has anything to do with the others, has it?  I think that the problem is that National Novel Writing Month has tainted my writing with its "Fit as Many Words into as Little a Space as You Can" stain, so that merely due to the fact that the document in which I am typing this nonsense happens to be called by "nano07" and happens to have been choked full of junk writing from the very first day and initiation of this contest like a clear pristine subterranean glacial stream into which a dump truck has dropped, like a bear making a diarrheal excretory deposit on some poor woodsman's car, its entire load of garbage - rotten vegetables, rancid milk, dirty diapers, feminine protection products, used contraceptive aids, broken glass bottles that originally held cheap alcohol, dust-filled vacuum bags and all the like, it has been polluted.  So, in other words, I am attempted, by way of my recent skipping between these many unconnected incidents, to figuratively remove all of this figurative foulness and garbage from the figurative stream of my writing.  Which is to say, in still other words, that I am currently attempting to backpedal and start over, like a bicyclist, racing down that awful steep winding hill a little north of here that I used to have to go down in the early early morning to get to an 8.30 am chemistry class when I used to ride my bike to school at six in the morning in the freezing cold and the pitch black dark that makes you need to have a light on your bike not so much to let the cars and other bikers and pedestrians know that you're coming but even more just so that you can see the road in front of you as you make your way and the wet rainy slippery awfulness that follows a night of downpouring water, who has just discovered that he has no brakes any longer because they have been cut by some undesirable element of a person who has it in for the bicyclist or else he simply let his breaks wear down because he kept meaning to change them, which is to say to get the brake pads replaced, but he kept just never getting around to doing it and procrastinating and so on until, on this fateful pitch dark morning, he realised that it was too late, because now he's careering down a slick winding road in the dark with cars coming out of everywhere and with speedbumps and potholes and stupid raised ridges of pavement intended to direct the flow of the water that runs down the hill at breakneck speeds, like our friend the bicyclist is now running at, during rainstorms.  And then the bicyclist's bike light runs out of batteries and it flickers off and then he crashes and dies and-

            Okay, sorry, but that metaphor got just a little bit carried away, wouldn't you agree?  Good, because if you couldn't agree then I'm afraid I'd have to tell you that you're a freak.  But you agreed, so that's okay.  Anyhow.  Moving on already.

            How about a little bit of trash cleanup, eh?  Metaphorically speaking, of course.  Or was it figuratively speaking?  Oh well, whatever.  You get the idea.

* * *

Dear Lord, make it stop.

            That was what Deneb Blookoblooko D'Bink D'Bonk D'Bank Ganooda Fronsniggle Bing-Tog Fliggitypuss Pop Snot Morglepookie - also known as Kevin - was thinking when the cassette tape finished playing out the silence at its end on Side B and switched back to its start on Side A and began to play over again what it had been playing in an endless horrible continuous loop for the past three days, or maybe it had been months, or maybe it had been years, or maybe it had only been a few hours, or maybe it had been even less than that - but the truth was that he simply couldn't tell because the cassette tape's contents had caused him to lose all sense of time and being and existence and consciousness and volition and defiance and sentience and so on and so forth.

            What has caused poor Kevin to find himself in such a desperate predicament as all of this, you may ask?  Well, in that case, I shall tell you.  You see, poor Kevin happened to be the Chief Executive Officer, or CEO, of a Big and Powerful Company called Big and Powerful Company, or BPC for short - not to be confused with the British Petroleum Corporation, which did not exist in this time and place, or at least not within Kevin's experience, but did however happen to have the same initials as his own Big and Powerful Company, and which was, like Kevin's company, also a Big and Powerful Company, at least in its own time and place, if not in Kevin's experience.  Because Kevin - also known as Deneb Blookoblooko D'Bink D'Bonk D'Bank Ganooda Fronsniggle Bing-Tog Fliggitypuss Pop Snot Morglepookie - jeez louise but I love the copy and paste features on these new-fangled text editors that computing machines have these days - but I digress - because Kevin was the CEO of BPC, he happened to have all of the authorization codes and pin numbers and other top secret information about his company and its finances and funds and so on stocked up in that little head of his, and unfortunately for him there were some other people who wanted to get that information from him even though he was unauthorised to give that information out to them, and so they had locked him in a small windowless cement room with embedded flourescent lights in the ceiling and cameras and speakers hidden somewhere behind the lights and had told him that those hidden speakers were going to continue playing the exact same sounds - there were not a great variety of these sounds, either - on an endless loop until Deneb Blookoblooko D'Bink D'Bonk D'Bank Ganooda Fronsniggle Bing-Tog Fliggitypuss Pop Snot Morglepookie started telling them the codes and other secret information that it was that they wanted to know.  Kevin had been brave - he had told them that he would never tell and that they could do whatever they felt like doing because he wasn't going to even so much as pay attention to it - but then those speakers began blasting those horrid repeating sounds into the room from somewhere that he couldn't sound, the same four awful noises, just repeating again and again and again forever and ever and ever and so on, on unto eternity, and then Kevin almost immediately regretted what he had said to his captors about how he wasn't going to tell the codes and stuff to them no matter what they did, because it was so horrible he couldn't bear it any more, not even so much as another second longer.  And this was why: because of what those four repeating sounds were.

            They were the sounds of the Pikachu.

* * *
* * *

Once upon a time there was an extremely unfortunate young man - well, okay, he was a teenager, really, not so much a young man as an old boy, or actually essentially just a boy boy, but yes - at any rate, there was this very unfortunate young man - boy - whatever - he was fifteen years old, by the way - but anyhow, there was this kid who was from this one world called The Land of Adventure - no shit, that's really what the place he was from was called, officially and certifiably and everything, it really was called the Land of Adventure - anyhow, this kid was from Adventure (The Land of) and he was training to be young badass a la young Marth of Super Smash Brothers Land and other video games made in Japan which I don't actually know the names of - at least one other game besides Super Smash Brothers, anyhow - or a la Roy, Marth's gay brother, and while this kid was training to be a badass he happened to get kicked off of a three hundred foot high cliff.  This is the first reason why he was such an unfortunate young person.

            However, at the base of the cliff, rather than a raging torrent of water or a menacing outcrop of horrid spiky pinnacles of rock or the gaping maw of some ravenous and beastly animal all ready to swallow the poor boy up into its stomach, there was a swirling temporal vortex of time and space and other such multidimensional incomprehensible physics-type nonsense stuff.  And so, rather that falling to his untimely and tragic death, the teenaged boy fell into the time vortex thingie and landed in another world.  Now, this other world was a horrible post-apocalyptic place ruled by bitchy and mostly incompetent teenagers, and this place was called The Place Where Star and Bend Live, because there were two boys who lived there called Star and Bend, interestingly enough.  Anyhow, The Place Where Star and Bend Live was currently, because its creator and controller was currently participating in National Novel Writing Month, and was her friend, the author and controller of this particular and ridiculous narrative, in the middle of a great power struggle between two bitchy teenage girls, one of whom was considerably more incompetent than the other, who were called, respectively, the Empress and the Priestess, or Castania and, uh, some other girl whose name starts with a Pr sound (Preden?).  Unfortunately, because I can't remember the one chick's name and because I don't want to call the friend of mine who happens to be the creator and controller of these particular females, seen as, you know, they live in the world that she created, because she is currently in the middle of matters of much much greater importance than anything so stupid and frivolous as this pathetic little work of literature - such as, dying - and I am pretty darn sure that it would be pretty darn rude and selfish of me to call her and ask what that one Priestess girl's name is at the moment and so I'm not going to call her up and find out what it is until the life and death and horror situation that she is dealing with has been cleared up, and because I don't was to have to go back and find and replace every instance of my possibly (and actually quite likely) erroneous name for the girl at a later date, and because I can't write what it is that I was just about to write because I can't remember that girl's name for the life of me and her name (and, indeed, she herself) were kind of essential to the plot of what it is that I was just about to write and so I can't maintain inspirational drive without it and so can't write the thing that I was just about to write about just now, because of all of these things, I am now going to go and try to write about something else and then return to this later. 

            I am tired.  I wonder if I went to bed right now - it being only seven o'clock in the evening - if I would sleep through the night up until the morning arrived?  Somehow I doubt it.  Oh well.

* * *

Man, okay, so I'm going to do something really really cheap here and go all meta on you all for a space of time.  You see, I had this genius genius wonderful idea for how I was going to possibly be able to make it through this whole stupid National Novel Writing Month without either giving up or shooting myself in the head (or at least wanting to shoot myself in the head) because this stupid dumbass thing that I've been writing for a few days now (I would hardly call it a story, my dear) is so incredibly inconceivably unbearably awful that I simply cannot live with the knowledge that I had some part - indeed, the better part, if not the entire part - in creating it - in creating this- this- abomination!  But now my genius genius wonderful idea seems to have faded and gone up in a whiff and a poof of smoke, smoke and mirrors.  It was nothing, don't you see?  It was all just a stupid cruel illusion!  And I hate it, I hate it all!  I don't want to do this!  ARGH!

* * *

Yes indeed, I really do like to eat potatoes.  Do you know why?  Because they are so amazingly good, that's why!  Especially with salt and olive oil and a tad bit of cilantro or some such similar spice, broiled at five hundred degrees in an oven for twenty minutes.  Or twenty-one, although I kind of doubt that that one extra minute actually makes and kind of meaningful difference in the way that the potatoes actually end up turning out cooking and thus also in the way the potatoes end up tasting.  I mention all of these things because I ate, recently - very recently, actually, at the time of this writing, although I imagine it's a fair bit further back in the past at the time of this reading - the very same potatoes which I have just described to you above, cooked to the same specifications and seasoned in the same manner so lately explained to you.  At any rate, I thought you all might like to know what was the reasoning behind the creation of this little chapter here, which is now finished.  I will now return you to your regular programming, or at least some slight approximation thereof.  Thank you!

* * *

As I said, the world ended long before I was born, but I know how it came to be ended because it has been passed down mother to daughter, father to son, down through all the generations of all the tribes of all the people who remain so that the tale might be preserved as an oral tradition, for we no longer possess the power to write things down as text and thus preserve them indefinitely, and anyhow it's a cautionary tale to the people of the future that they don't do anything that might cause such a bad awful happening to happen again, and it's also just a good story, and it is quite obviously not the sort of thing that one really wants to let it be forgotten.  Not to mention that writing is a tedious and stupid activity, and no one has the time or the expertise to do it anymore.  Never you mind that I'm writing this - I'll get to the reason for that later.  The point is, that I know how the world ended because my mother told me, because her mother told her, and her mother told her, and so on, all the way back to Delicia Macdurgle, who told the story to her daughter, Mareen.  And now I am going to tell you, my most beloved one, how it happened, so that you too might know the tale of the end of the world.

            It was in spring that the world ended - spring was one of four seasons, which were time periods that were characterised by certain suites of meteorological conditions and weather patterns and other such phenomena, that repated themselves in sequence each year.  Spring was the season in which the plants and trees and flowers that had been dormant over the winter, which was cold and dark and not particularly amenable to providing good conditions for the growth of living things, began to emerge from their dormancy, which they had adopted in order that they might cope with the unpleasant weather patterns and such of the winter season.  Because it was spring the flowers were beginning to poke up sprigs of green through the dirt and the trees were beginning to get little delicate pink flowers on them and the weather was starting to get warmer.  It was a pleasant and happy time of year.  The cold dark winter season often caused people to become unhappy for its duration, but the advent of spring allowed these unfortunate people to become cheerful and happy again, as they had been back when the weather patterns were last more amenable to light and sun and warmth and plant growth and so on.  There was a young man who had been made very sad indeed by the darkness and cold of winter - they called it seasonal depression, and said that it really was a disease and not just a stupid state of mind - and he was beginning to be made very happy indeed by the new arrival of the spring season and by the sight of the little green shoots of plant life poking up out of the dirt and by the delicate pink flowers that were popping out of dormancy upon the tree limbs, and his name was Bobby Little.

            Bobby Little didn't know Delicia.  In fact, he never once met her, not once in his whole entire life, but Delicia knew who he was because she happened to find his journal in the wreckage of his destroyed apartment building (an apartment building was an edifice in which many, many people made their homes, with all of their houses connected and stacked up on top of each other, with only thin walls to separate them from each other) after the world ended, after Bobby had died.  She kept the journal, because she read it - Delicia Macgrudle knew how to read, as did most people back then - sometimes, and she liked the way that Bobby wrote, and there was not much else for her to read, as books were made of paper, which as we all know is very easy to set on fire, and so there were many books that were destroyed when the world ended, for there were many fires that raged when it happened.  At any rate, Delicia found Bobby Little's journal (which was a written record of everything that happened to him and how he felt about those things, updated each day - people still make them on occasion, but only the weird people who think it makes sense to write, or the people who record it in pictures on their walls or on bits of plastic or steel - but I digress), and the more she read it, the more she began to feel that she knew Bobby - even more, that she loved him.  Bobby was a lovable person.  He was very quiet, very sensitive, and a little odd.  He had, it seems, few friends.  We still have Bobby's journal, though the pages are cracked and the ink faded, for it was handed down through the family over the years, and indeed I have even read it myself, written in Bobby Little's own hand, and so I can attest that he was a real person, and that this account that I now render you is indeed true and factual, though it may perhaps not seem so to you at times.

            Bobby Little worked at the office of a very wealthy, very powerful man - a politician - whose name was Gariss, Gariss Munkoe.  Gariss Munkoe was unkind and dishonest and did not seem to think much of poor Bobby, though from what I gather from Bobby's writings, Bobby thought very much indeed of Mr Gariss Munkoe.  You see, Gariss Munkoe was tall and dark of hair and blue-eyed and very purposeful, in his middle thirties and very fair to look upon, or so I gather from what it was that Bobby wrote about him.  Indeed, from the way that Bobby writes you might even be led to believe that Bobby liked Gariss in a very different manner than that in which most men like and appreciate other men.  In fact, Bobby Little writes about Gariss Munkoe in much the same way that I will write about your father, Aega Monch, in a few chapters - that is, I believe that Bobby Little was romantically attracted to his employer - indeed, I might even go so far as to say that the poor lad was infatuated with him.  Which is unfortunate, because even through the fog of the journal writer's adoration and love, I can still tell from it that Gariss Munkoe was a real jerk, I mean, really just not a nice guy at all.  And so poor Bobby Little, even if he had been a cute and pretty young girl, would probably just never have stood a chance at fulfilling his romantic dream.  Also the relationship, as the one was in the employ of the other, would have had some bad power relations involved.  But I digress.

            Bobby Little went with some fair frequency to a nearby gym belonging to a man named Jingolf – a gym was, of course, a place where people (mostly men, as it were) went with some fair frequency to use their muscles to do stupid and pointless tasks that required much effort, such as lifting large pieces of metal and setting them back down again, or running on a rotating surface so that you never actually went anywhere but instead were merely running in one place the whole time, for the purpose, ostensibly, of improving the capabilities and strength of those muscles.  The place happened to be called, unsurprisingly, Jingolf’s Gym and Full Body Workout Station, and Bobby loved to go there.  But Bobby’s main reason for going so often to work out at Jingolf’s Gym and Full Body Workout Station was not to improve the state and capacity of his muscles, but rather for the single reason that his employer and romantic interest, Gariss Munkoe, also attended this same gym.  Bobby would go and work out and get very sweaty and hot, and then he would take off his shirt and make lots of grunting noises as he lifted the heavy pieces of metal in hopes that Gariss would hear them and look over to see what it was that could be making such noises and then he would see Bobby and, and this more obviously was Bobby’s intention at doing it, hopefully he would notice that Bobby was fit and attractive and also happened to be glistening with sweat, and Bobby hoped against hope that this observation would make Gariss Munkoe then become interested in pursuing a possible romantic relationship with Bobby.  Unfortunately, this did indeed turn out to be an unfounded hope, and Gariss never once looked up to see what it was that had been making the obnoxious grunting noises that he kept hearing while he himself was working out (and also making grunting noises as he did it, but more subdued than the grunting noises that he kept hearing coming from somewhere nearby were) and so he never noticed that Bobby had taken off his shirt and thus exposed his bulging, glistening, marvelous physique to the world for all (but especially for Gariss Munkoe his particular mad crush) to see and look upon and admire. 

            It was here, at the health club and exercise establishment, that Bobby Little came to meet Bobby Massive.

* * *

The world ended three hundred and fifty years before I was even born.  My mother told me about, as her mother had told her about it before, when my mother was a little child, as my grandmother too had been told by her mother before that, and so on, back to my great-great-great-great-great grandmother, who had lived through it.  Her name was Delicia, Delicia Macgrudle, and she was very beautiful, every person who met her said.  She had long golden hair that fell in great waves about her face, which was formed perfectly and beautifully, as if it had been chiselled out of white marble and then breathed upon by her sculptor to make her warm and soft instead of cold, as stone is wont to be.  She also had lovely eyes, which were pale blue and fringed with long black lashes, like an icy pond in the midst of feathered reeds, and dressed fashionably, for she was doted upon by many wealthy men because of her remarkable good looks.  Delicia eventually married a very rich man named Dongo, Dongo D'bokbok, who came from Norway and was, as I have just said, very rich.  Dongo fell head over heels in love with Delicia at the very moment, the very instant, the very MILLISECOND that he set eyes upon her (which is to say immediately), and he knew right then that he must marry her, for Delicia Macgrudle was the most beautiful, most lovely, most utterly desirable woman that he had ever in his ninety-four long years set his eyes upon, and he could not possibly allow her to escape like a ghost into the reaches of his memory without at least so much as asking her out on a date with him.  So he did ask her out on a date with him, because this was, as I've just said, an opportunity he wasn't about to let himself miss out on.

            As for Delicia, she noticed that there was an old man at another table in the restaurant she was in - she was in a restaurant at the time, by the way, an Italian restaurant, eating spaghetti, or at least that's what my mother called it - a restaurant was a place where people went to eat food that had already been cooked for them by somebody else, which they paid more for than they would have if they had simply bought the food at a market or something and cooked it themselves (the whole concept of the restaurant seems silly to me, but apparently people used to go to them quite frequently, and there used to be quite a lot of them around, as well - I suppose that going to such a place was some way of showing the other people of the world that you were wealthy enough to be able to afford that kind of an excessive activity, which might make them somehow think better of you, or something like that - though I still say it's silly - but I digress) and spaghetti was a dish that looked like worms in blood but was in actuality something made out of grain paste, like thread-shaped bread (which I also can't imagine) in a vegetable sauce made out of an extinct red fruit called a tomato, and Italian was the name of a particular suite of foods made or invented by a particular ethnic group or tribe who came originally from a place called Italy - but I've gotten so far astray now that I have nearly forgotten what I was originally saying - which is that Delicia Macgrudle happened to notice that a man of some years was seated at another table, situated not far from the table where she herself was sitting at, was paying quite a lot of attention to her.  Now, Delicia had had attention directed at her by men of all ages at many times and on many occasions throughout her life of thirty long years, so she had of course come to recognise the signs that told her that this man, like the majority of the other men who had paid her more attention than they really ought to over the years, was romantically interested in her, and she, being a savvy young woman and experienced in the ways of the world and how to turn them to her own advantage, decided that she ought to use this attention, and the man who was giving it to her, to her own personal advantage.  She first summoned the waiter - who was a man who worked at the restaurant bringing cooked food dishes to people and clearing away the empty receptacles which had held the food from the tables where the patrons of the restaurant sat once those patrons had completed the consumption of that food and the dishes were empty - and asked him if he would please to very kindly take a message to that nice old grey-haired fellow sitting at that other table, that man right there, yes, that was the one - if he would be so kind as to tell that man that she was interested to know if he might possibly be so good as to grant her so much as a single dance out on the dance floor - which is to say, a portion of the restaurant set aside for the patrons to dance on when they were not eating their meals, thus allowing men who had taken prospective mates to the restaurant to impress them to further their efforts to achieve a romantic bond with their prospective mate through dance (I have been made to understand that these restaurants, and in particular the better and more expensive of them, were often host to various bands and musical performers, who would serenade the people who went to the restaurants with various songs and melodies while the people ate or danced or waited for their food to be cooked and to be brought to the tables where they sat waiting).  To this request made by Delicia the waiter replied that he would like nothing better than to deliver her message to the old man seated at the nearby table, and with that he went of to that same man and delivered the message which was described just now, and the man, being interested, as we have been told already, in procuring Miss Macgrudle as a prospective mate, and seeing how a dance (he was quite a good dancer, if he did say so himself, which he did) might improve his chances of accomplishing this goal, ultimately, of course knew that he could not have asked for a better means of bringing down upon himself all of this lovely woman's precious affections.  Thinking thus, he instructed the waiter to, if he did not mind (which he of course didn't, as he was a good and helpful waiter and also imagined that serving as the courier between these two patrons of his restaurant, which is to say the restaurant where he had been employed, might incite them to give him some sort of bonus monetary reward, which was called a tip, more than the usual amount, for his troubles), to please go back over to the woman who had given him the original message to relay to him (the old man, Dongo D'bokbok) and to please tell her, if he didn't mind (which he didn't, as it has already been observed, for the reasons which have already been given) that he (Dongo D'bokbok) would be more than pleased to grant her a dance with him.  Moreover, Dongo added, he would be more than willing to give her another dance following that one, and then another, and then another - why, he would like nothing more in the whole entire world, in fact, than to dance with her until the restaurant closed down for the night (because these restaurant places didn't stay open for business constantly, of course, just like markets and peddlers don't cater to customers now at all hours of the night and the early early morning and so on).  So the waiter then relayed this other message, and the woman told him to tell Dongo that she accepted his offer of further dances, and then Dongo stood and went over to Delicia, and then he offered her his hand, and then she took his hand in hers, and then he led her down from her table to the dance floor, and then the band began to play a slow and haunting melody on strange instruments which no one has ever heard of since the world ended and which no one knows how to play anymore, and then Dongo and Delicia held each other close and then they danced, and they danced, and they danced, and they danced until the restaurant staff stopped taking new customers and the people who made the food stopped cooking it and the waiters cleared away the very last of the empty dishes from the empty tables where patrons had been sitting and eating all night long and the other people who worked at the restaurant started stacking up the tables and chairs and sweeping the floor clean and the band stopped playing music and went home.  Then Dongo D'bokbok stopped dancing, and Delicia Macdurgle stopped dancing, and the two of them stood very close to each other and held each the other's hand, and then Dongo said very quietly, "I do believe that you are the most amazing and beautiful and enchanting woman that I have ever met in my entire life of ninety-four years.  I would be exceedingly honored and exceedingly pleased if you would be so kind as to let me see you again, and perhaps go dancing with you again, at some point in time after this."

            Delicia smiled quite warmly back at him, for not only was this exactly as she had planned (for it was obvious to her that Mr D'bokbok was very well off, monetarily speaking, and she knew that that money would most likely benefit her in the event that Dongo decided to attempt to convince her that he would make her a good mate), but also because she found that she actually quite liked the old man after all.  She said to him, "Why, I would like nothing better.  Of course you can see me again, and of course we can go dancing again - dancing until all hours of the night if you should so please.  When would you like to get together and do something, such as dancing, again?  How about tomorrow night?  Surely that will not be too soon - for in my mind there can be no point in time that we see each other again after this that is too soon - indeed, I hardly think that any time will be soon enough."

            Dongo D'bokbok was exceedingly touched to his heart by these kind and tender words, and so he smiled at her (and perhaps a bit more warmly even than she had just smiled at him), and he said, "Tomorrow night will be perfect, and I do declare that, if you so wish it, then we shall dance and dance and dance forever, into all the hours of the night and straight on until morning.  I daresay I could dance with you forever and on into eternity, I do so love it so."

            At any rate, Dongo D'bokbok was to regret this remark, and sorely too indeed, for listening to him expressing this sentiment to his new sweetheart and dearly beloved was an evil spirit named Bingoslick, who very maliciously decided to test out the old man's devotion to such a statement - that is, he imagined that Dongo was making a bit of an hyperbole by saying he'd dearly like to dance with Delicia until all eternity, which is to say until the end of the world, and so waited around until the two people returned to the restaurant on the following night and began to dance with each other.  Then Bingoslick cast an evil and malificent spell upon Delicia and Dongo that would cause them to dance and dance and dance nonstop until the very ending of the world.  Bingoslick the evil spirit had a good feeling in his heart that it wouldn't take very long - perhaps just a single night and day or two - for Dongo to realise how very stupid he had been to make such a claim as he had about dancing forever, because anything - even dancing with a hot chick whom you happen to have a mad crush on - begins to grow pretty darn tiring after you've been doing it constantly for hours and hours and hours, even unto days and weeks and months - and by the time it gets to be years and years that you've been doing it for, by that time the activity, even if it was once upon a time your favorite thing to do in the whole wide world, will begin to seem to you like a living hell.

            Unfortunately for Bingoslick, Delicia and Dongo had been dancing for only a few scant minutes when the world came to an end.

* * *
* * *
ends here.  It's that time of year again, folks, and that means a new story, which will be appearing starting November!  Yee-ha!  Aren't you excited?  I know I am... 
* * *
The chapters are in backwards order cuz I posted 'em as I finished 'em.  For that same reason they're full of typos.  Whatcha gonna do?
* * *
Yes, we know that Bret Farve is not a hockey player but the quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. We had a momentary lapse of memory. Give us a freakin' break, people.
* * *
When Bismuth went to work the next day, feeling forlorn and hopeless and anticipating with glum resignation his upcoming death at the hands of the royal executioners, there were a pair of men in blue business suits and fedoras waiting for him.

"Hello, Bismuth," said one of them, tipping his hat. "I'm Jackalope Demerkle, the head of the royal turkey maintenance bureau, and this is my partner, Jimbo Garneral." The other man tipped his hat. He was bald underneath it. "Do you know why I'm here?"

"Yes," Bis sighed. "It's because I accidentally killed Snookums on my bicycle yesterday. I guess I should get ready to have my head chopped off now, huh?"

The man laughed softly and said, "Well, yes and no, Bismuth. You see, this Snookums was actually the twelfth such bird to bear the name, and the king is none the wiser. So you've really nothing to worry about, you see."

Bismuth stared at the two men from the royal turkey bureau. "What are you talking about?" he asked slowly.

"The turkey has a relatively short lifespan, Mr. Sub-salicylate," the second man, Mr. Garneral, who had not spoken yet, said. "And it would be no good at all for the king's beloved pet turkey to die, and so as each of the Snookumses has met its death, we have replaced it with a similar but younger bird, and the king has thus been kept under the illusion that his pet has never gotten old or sick, much less died. So while it is unfortunate that you and the turkey had that, erm, fatal encounter yesterday, and while you will be asked to register your bicycle under the criminal bicycle offenders list, you will not be executed for your crime. It was, after all, an accident, and it was inevitable that the turkey would die and require replacement, and not to long from now, either. This Snookums was nearing the end of his operational life."

"So... you just replaced Snookums with a new one?"

The men nodded.

"And I'm not going to be killed?"

"No, Mr. Sub-salicylate. You may continue with your life in peace. We do ask that you attempt to pay better attention to your surroundings while on your bicycle in the future."

"Of course!" said Bis. "And thank you. I, uh, I wish you luck in your future turkey-maintenance endeavours."

The men bowed and walked off, and Bismuth Sub-salicylate continued into his hedge mazes with the barrow of mulch, and all was as it should have been. And the king and his half-billion turkeys named Snookums lived happily ever after, as did Bis and Ann-Marie and even Bob, and everybody else as well. And so ended another day in Mirrglbury. And so ends this story.

The words of the poet will ever endeavour
To speak to your hearts and to live on forever.

The end.

(For real this time.)
* * *
"This is ass," said Bismuth Sub-salicylate again.

"What was that you said?" asked Bob Pringle. "Did you just call me an ass? Because if you did, Bis, then I'm going to have to kick your ass."

"I didn't say that you're an ass, I said that this is ass, Bob. You heard me say it: 'This is ass.' I said it twice. But you know what, Bob? You are an ass, while we're on the subject. You are an ass."

"What did you say?" Bob growled.

"I said that you're an ass, Bob! You heard me say it! Now what are you going to do about it, hmm? Why don't you just down here and throw bologna sandwiches at me, huh? Or are you not bad-ass enough? Are you just a smart-ass ass-wipe, BOB? Yeah, you ARE!" Bismuth was standing now, his eyes furious, shouting at Bob, who was growing more and more angry-looking, while Ann-Marie Roche-Moutonnee simply stared at the two testosterone-infused males in their contest of dominance in stunned speechlessness. "It's your fault that Leelee left me, you asshole! She loved me, and you made her leave! Why, I ought to kick your dumbass ass to Nearest Seaprot! How could you do that to me? I thought that we were buddies! And then you had to go and screw everything up! I could have been something, and then you - you - ARGH! OO! You just make me so mad!"

Bob Pringle leaned towards Bismuth, his eyes narrowed in evidence of his fury, and said in a snarly, cautioning tone, "Oh yeah? Well, let me tell you something - Leelee Bingoslick was about the stupidest person that I have ever met, so you ought to thank me for telling her that you were a spy for the government who was going to turn her into a pumpkin at some point! She believed me, you dumbass! And it's not my fault that that piece of ass just happened to choose you instead of me - and you know what? It's just as well, because all I wanted was to get some ass, and let me tell you, BISMUTH, her ass was a FINE ass, and it was MINE ass, not yours! So you can just forget about her having loved you or whatever the hell it is that you've got the crazy-ass idea of what she thought of you. Her ass should have been mine, and I wasn't going to let a jackass like you have her in place of me, no way! Even if we were supposed to be buddies! And do you know what else? Your artistic flower arrangements were UGLY! And I hate you! Gah! I'm going to ride over and tell the royal authorities right now that you killed the royal pet turkey Snookums on your bicycle, and then you'll be beheaded, and then we'll see who owns your ass, won't we? Won't we, BIS?!" And on that note Bob Pringle ran to his blue bicycle and jumped on to it and rode off at his top speed, and Bismuth ran after him shouting, "No! No, you can't! You asshole! No! Get back here! NO!" Then he fell over with his hands on his knees, panting and breathing hard while Bob Pringle rode off into the distance shouting back rude obscenties and cackling cruel laughter. Ann-Marie walked over to him and put a hand on his shoulder.

"Well, Bis, that's too bad. I'm sorry that you're going to die. It was nice to know you," she said.

"Yeah, thanks," Bis replied, glaring over his shoulder at her and speaking in a tone that told exactly how much he really appreciated her remark. "That's such a comfort, oh yeah. You're such a great friend, Ann-Marie. I'm so glad that you were able to help me out in these troubled times. Get your hand off me," he snapped, shrugging her hand off of his shoulder. Then he got onto his bike and rode home, and Ann-Marie dumped the last of the sandwiches on the dead turkey and tossed the bags away and rode off towards her home. The plastic caught a warm, favorable breeze and rose into the air, higher and higher, like the soul of a dandelion in a drifting golden sunset, and eventually joined the heavens like a child's birthday wish, carried on the smoke of dreams. It smelled like Muscovite incense.
* * *
* * *
When Doris Myelin, who was otherwise known as Binky, was born to Donker Block and Fruit Bat Tarcathian in the wee hours of the night one frigid July morning, as the anchovy trees were blooming their pungent fruit and the great composer Mundeka was pressing the first note to his last symphonic composition, the Death of Delilah suite. Fruit Bat had had a long and arduous labor, and she was not feeling in a particularly good mood. Donker, who had never liked Fruit Bat all that much, was really wishing that he could go catch the final minutes of the Nearest Seaprot West vs. Lovely Valley Southeast football game on the radio, but he knew that if he left the room before the child was done being born, if he left Fruit Bat alone before her labor had been fully completed and the screaming, soggy, red-faced little baby was in her arms, then he would never, ever hear the end of it, and that was really not the sort of thing that he wanted or needed right now, to have more nagging from the lousy old bat Fruit Bat. So he stayed therer, glancing out the window repeatedly as if the act of looking outside might magically transport him to the outside, and then he would be able to run away to the castle or one of his friends' houses and then he could watch the end of the football game, and see if the Protoceratopses beat the Tobacco Mosaic Viruses, which he really hoped that they would - they were supposed to, right? - but then again, the critics were saying that the game was going to be a close one, a real good one, and here he was missing it just because his first and only child was about to be brought into the world...

"Donker!" shrieked Fruit Bat. "Quit looking out of the window! I'm in a lot of pain here! Pay attention!"

The king looked mournfully back at her, thinking about how he had not touched a single drop of alcohol since that fateful day when he, under the influence of its horrible after-effects, had so stupidly agreed to marry such an awful, awful woman, and dreaming about sitting next to a radio with all of his pals listening to the football game - which was probably over by now anyhow, and here he had gone and missed the whole thing, no thanks to stupid old Fruit Bat his wife - and then suddenly there was a screaming, crying, red-faced little baby in her arms and she was saying, "Come and look at your son, Donker!"

He did. The child was fat and hideous.

"What are your going to name him, Your Majesty?" asked the midwife.

"Ummm. Binky," said the king.

"No way!" cried Fruit Bat. "We can't name him Binky! Binky is a stupid name! We will name him Doris after my uncle."

"What?" said the king. "Are you nuts? You don't even have an uncle!"

"So what?" snapped Fruit Bat. "I just spent eighteen hours giving birth to this damn kid, and I get to choose what its freaking name is going to be, got it, Donker?!"

"Yeah, yeah," he muttered. "Whatever. Doris. Doris Binky Block."

"No," replied Fruit Bat, "Doris Myelin. After my other uncle."

"Whatever. Doris Myelin Block."

Fruit Bat rolled her eyes.

And so it was that Doris Myelin, also to be known as Binky, first received his name in the midst of his parents' usual marital strife, and it can likely be inferred that this clime of negativity and unhappiness had a certain and definite effect upon the boy. It is also true that as he grew, it became clear that he had the astounding intelligence quotient of a retarded sherpa, which is to say a low one.

Young Binky's favorite activity was a game that he called 'The Chicken Game'. He would sit in the middle of the floor of his nursery with a host of wooden toy dogs and wooden toy horses and wooden toy people and a little wooden toy carriage, and then he would pick up as many of the toys in his two pudgy little six-fingered hands and throw all of the toys into the air, shrieking in glee as the toys clattered to the floor about him - sometimes on him - and often breaking in the process - and then he would scream something unintelligible and do it all over again. He went through a lot of toys this way.

"Why is it called the Chicken Game, Binky?" the nurse would ask. And then young Binky would giggle and shout, "Chicken Game! Chicken Game!" and roll around on the floor cackling maniacally before throwing something - a toy, a priceless porcelain teacup, a valuable piece of furniture, the nurse - across the room. As you can see, he was a highly articulate boy. The saddest part of all of this was that the Chicken Game was the boy's favorite game from about age two until he hit, oh, death. At a very old age. At a point long after this story will have concluded. So you can imagine how helpful it was when Binky was a young man, and the royal bureau chiefs would be trying to talk to him about affairs of state, and he would be, instead of listening to them, sitting on the floor of his old nursery with mounds of toys and things in his hands and throwing them at the ceiling screaming, "Chicken Game! Chicken Game!" like, well, a two-year-old boy. This would be one of the main reasons why Binky, also known as Doris Myelin, was considered to be such an incredibly bad king.

There were other reasons. His compulsion about bologna and mustard sandwiches was one of them. His need to have the royal hedge mazes constantly re-mulched was another. His obsessive worship of a mangy old turkey named (by him) Jim James Jack Billy Betty Boop the Twenty-Third, Esquire, or else, affectionately, known as Snookums, was a third.

Actually, there's an interesting story there, behind the whole turkey thing. But unfortunately I haven't the time to tell it to you here, because, you see, we are fast approaching to conclusion - the long awaited, much anticipated finale of this remarkable tale, which I know that you have been dearly hoping for during the most of your reading thereof. Yeah, don't pretend that you haven't been begging for it to end - oh, please, PLEASE let it end! - but now that it's finally here I bet you're actually sad about it, aren't you? Ha, I knew it. Well, here you go, friend, the time has come, the walrus said, to speak of many things: of shoes, and ships, and sealing wax; of cabbages and kings; and why the sea is boiling hot; and whether pigs have wings.
* * *
His name was Doris Myelin, and he was also known as Binky, and as we mentioned some time before this, he was the king at the time of Bismuth Sub-salicylate and Ann-Marie Roche-Moutonnee and the owner of that prized tom turkey whom he affectionately called Snookums.

Now, after having just read many, many accounts of the various kings of Mirrglbury and of their various reigns, you will have noticed that Mirrglbury has had a lot of very bad kings over the years. Now how, you are asking, how could Doris Myelin possibly have been worse than any of these kings? Like, for instance, how about that guy who burned down the whole city, way back at the beginning, Lars Bockwit? How could anyone possibly be a worse king than him? Or what about the dude we just read about, Dinkplutter Block, who nearly plunged the country into bankruptcy with his outrageous spending? I mean, this Doris Myelin had really better be a bad king in order for you to be claiming that he was the worst king that Mirrglbury had ever had. Because that's really saying something.

Well, I know. And believe me, he was. Allow me to prove it to you.
* * *
Yes, I think that that will do nicely. And it was indeed an unexpected return, oh yes. Because, as you may very well recall, that scheming, self-serving ass that we all know as the former advisor to the king, old Dinkplutter Bump, had told the entire populace that their former king had been tragically gored by a raging bull jackalope while out hunting bunny rabbits in the forest and eaten by its ravenous offspring. So it came as quite a big surprise when Jorkulhaup Bortvelding walked into the royal great dining hall wearing a huge grin on his face and looking as though he had just spent the last one year and one half of a year out wandering the frozen mountain steppes and tundras in search of a wooly mammoth to slay in glorious battle. Dinkplutter Bump, at the head of the great royal banquet table, nearly choked on his wine, dropped the glass and spluttered and sprayed it in all directions with a sort of snorting, spluttering noise, and jumped to his feet, knocking his royal banquet chair to the ground behind him with a tremendous crash. His eyes were enormous; his mouth hung open stupidly, revealing the partially masticated wad of food which was residing therein. He looked as though he had just seen a ghost.

"Jorkulhaup!" he gasped, spluttering. "Wha! What are you doing here? You're supposed to be dead!"

The young man grinned at him and said, "What are you talking about? I'm not dead! I did it! I found the wooly mammoth like you said I had to do! It took me a while, to be sure, and there were more than a few times when I was pretty sure that what you had told me to do was a total setup because, you know, the wooly mammoth is supposed to be extinct and all, and here I was thinking that it was impossible and that you had just told me to do that so that I wouldn't be around, you know? Because then I'd be gone and then you'd be able to take over the throne for yourself and all. But I did it! I totally found the wooly mammoth, just like you said, but, see, he was so nice to me that I just couldn't kill him in glorious battle like you told me I had to do. So instead of bringing back a dead wooly mammoth that I had killed in glorious battle, I brought back a live Wooly Mammoth so that you can talk to him yourself! Isn't that great? I think that's much better than killing it in glorious battle, you know? I mean, don't you think that kindness and exploration is more worthy of greatness, right? What do you think?" He stood there in the front of the royal banquet hall, in front of the great royal doors of the banquet hall, waiting eagerly for assurance that yes, indeed, taking the last living member of a species back home with you to show to people is definitely far and away more worthy of greatness than killing it in glorious battle could ever be. But no such thing came.

King Dinkplutter Bump just stared at him, along with just about everybody else who happened to be in attendance at the royal sumptuous banquet. He was aghast, he was stunned, he was utterly unable to speak. Finally he cried, spluttering, "But how! How can you still be alive?! How can you be here? And how in the name of the holy ponies' flowing manes did you manage to find a wooly mammoth - a living wooly mammoth? They're extinct! EXTINCT!!! That means that there are no longer any living specimens of the species in existence! I think that you've gone crazy! I think that you're full of it! I think that you just made up the wooly mammoth and then you came back here and thought that your fantasy was real and - and - and... And what the hell is that? ...Oh my pony. It's a wooly mammoth, isn't it? Oh, oh..."

For just at that moment young Jorkulhaup had stepped back into the foyer and motioned at something to come over and shouted, "Hey, Wooly Mammoth! Come on in here and show all of the nice people that you're for real, man!" And then through those great big doors into the royal banquet hall had stepped an enormous four-legged animal that was so tall that it had to bend down in order for it to fit through the door, with a great long nose - a trunk - that nearly dragged on the marble floor, and a pair of great curved yellow tusks like teeth sticking perpendicular out of the edges of its mouth, and the creature's entire body was covered all over in thick mats of shaggy brown hair, like dreadlocks. The ground beneath it shook as the creature walked. Clearly this was a wooly mammoth - for it was indeed wooly, and it was incredibly mammoth. And it was definitely, positively, absolutely alive. The many royal guests of the royal sumptuous banquet screamed at the sight of it and cowered under tables and ran in terror from the room, or at least to the back of the room. As to Dinkplutter Bump, well, he was just about ready to have himself a nice myocardial infarction, by which I mean, in strict medical terms (or jargon, as my friend Darrell would put it), a heart attack, or at least to lose control of his kidneys (well, okay, technically, I suppose, it's not the kidneys but the bladder that one would have to lose one's control over in order for one to make oneself wet one's pants, but there's really no need for technicality here, right? I mean, seriously), but he in fact did neither. Instead he stood quite still, gaping and spluttering and making his mouth move as though he might say something but not actually letting himself say anything at all. And as to young Jorkulhaup Bortvelding, well, he just stood there happily next to his friend the wooly mammoth and smiled - or rather I really ought to say he beamed - at everyone in the room. He looked very pleased with himself and with his wooly mammoth and with the reaction that his wooly mammoth had received, and he also looked rather proud of himself and of his wooly mammoth as well. "You see, guys? He is real. And he is really a very nice wooly mammoth, too. So don't you all think that this is really worthy of greatness in the history books? Or at least, if not greatness, then certainly some kind of interest, some kind of real notoriety, right? Right, you guys? Come on, you all, give me a little bit of support here!"

King Dinkplutter Bump had finally found his voice by the time that the other king had said this, and then he spluttered and said, "Well - well - well I don't think that it will really count until you kill it in glorious - in glorious battle! Come on, now, Jorkulhaup, we're all waiting! Prove your greatness! Kill the wooly mammoth!"

"Naw, I don't think so," said Jorkulhaup Bortvelding. "I like him too much to kill him. Wooly Mammoth and I are friends now. We really did try to fight each other, really we did. We made a valiant and serious attempt to have a glorious battle, but you see, man, it just didn't really work out. Our hearts just weren't in it. you know? Because neither of us really wanted to kill the other, you know? So, here he is and here I am, and I guess that is the only way I'm going to be able to achieve my dream of greatness is to kill this wooly mammoth in glorious battle, well, then I guess that I just won't be able to achieve my dream of greatness. Which is too bad, but, well, oh well. You win some, and you lose some. But- Hey, why are you wearing my crown?" he asked suddenly, having noticed for the first time that in his absence the royal advisor had usurped the kingship and driven the country almost into bankruptcy. When Dinkplutter Bump only made more spluttering noises in response, Jorkulhaup began to frown. "I'm serious, Dinkplutter. What did you do? Did you really just make up all that stuff about killing wooly mammoths in glorious battle to achieve greatness and historical notoriety in order to get me out of the country so that you could take control of the country and drive Mirrglbury to the point of nearly bankruptcy with your excesses and corruption? My great ponies, Dinkplutter, how could you do such a thing? Why did you do it? You were supposed to be giving wise and royal advice! I trusted you! I depended on you and then you betrayed me just so that you could be surrounded by pretty young women and throw huge and excessive and sumptuous banquet parties? I can't believe it! Why, I ought to have Wooly Mammoth here trample you underfoot, just to try and teach you a lesson about - well, about something! You're just scheming, self-serving ass, aren't you?!"

"And so what if I am?" King Dinkplutter Bump exploded, spluttering. "If you were gullible enough to believe all of that nonsense I told you about finding wooly mammoths to achieve greatness, well, then you don't really deserve to be the king, either, do you? And - and can you blame me? I mean, all that I ever really wanted was to have beautiful women constantly throwing themselves at me, to be able to buy anything I want for myself without having to worry about how much it's going to cost me or how I'm going to ever pay for it all, and to have the power of life and death in these my two hands! I mean, is that really too much to ask for?"

Everyone stared at him - the wooly mammoth, the true king of Mirrglbury, the beautiful girls, the distinguished guests, everybody - in utter incredulity.

"What?" said Dinkplutter defensively. "What?! Look, I'm sorry, okay?! Get off my back, people! I know you guys want all of that, too! Why don't you just admit it, hey? You're deluding yourselves! You all think that you're so special..."

"You know," said Jorkulhaup, "I guess I do forgive you for taking advantage of my gullibility and sending me out on that wild goose chase - well, okay, wild wooly mammoth chase - just so that you could take over the country from me and drive it into the ground, financially speaking, because, you know, if you hadn't done all of that, then I would have never met my friend Wooly Mammoth here and then, well, I don't know. But it would suck to have never met him, because he really is a cool guy - wooly mammoth - well, you know what it is that I mean. So, you know, you're okay, man. Will you give me back the crown and the kingship of Mirrglbury again?"

The old royal advisor kind of frowned, but then he sighed and shrugged and then nodded. "Yeah, I guess so. Okay. It's yours. Actually, I don't really want to be the king of Mirrglbury any more," Dinkplutter admitted rather sheepishly. "Because really, it's not going to be much fun being king after the country goes bankrupt. So, yeah, you can have it. Here, take it." And he held out the crown to Jorkulhaup, who took it from him and put it on his head and smiled.

"Thanks," he said. "And now I'd like to introduce you all to my friend here, Wooly Mammoth."

"Hi," said the wooly mammoth. "I'm Wooly Mammoth. It's a pleasure to meet you all."

And so it was that a new era of peace and prosperity was entered into by the people of Mirrglbury. Jorkulhaup was made king again, officially, and the old royal giver of wise advice to the king Dinkplutter Bump was given a retirement stipend and sent to live with his nephew, who had of course been taken out of his job as the chief royal treasurer at once and put into a new job as a filing clerk in the royal bureau of census information and very old and very useless records of tax returns, where he performed very well and received many commendations for excellent service from his boss. Eventually he was even promoted to chief filing executive in that very same royal bureau. His uncle never again gave any advice, wise or otherwise, to anyone, especially not to the king. As to Wooly Mammoth, he became an instant celebrity in the town, and spent many years living happily in a large estate on the city's boundaries, where he was often visited by important diplomats and famous personages and, of course, by beautiful girls. Eventually he met an attractive young wooly mammoth who had found her way to Mirrglbury all of the way from some place on the other side of the ocean whose name I do not choose to relate to you at the moment, or, indeed, ever, because she was one of the very last of her species and when she had heard the rumours of a handsome male wooly mammoth in Mirrglbury, she had hurried there at once in hopes that she might have finally reached her soul mate. As it turned out, she had. The two were married and had twelve kids, all of whom they named after glacial and periglacial landforms. Eventually they moved to a vast and sprawling range in the arctic steppes many hundreds of miles north of Mirrglbury, but though they rarely made the long and arduous journey back to Mirrglbury to visit their old friends, they did often write and they managed to stay in touch, and when Jorkulhaup did finally die, Wooly Mammoth and his family were there at his bedside to wish him goodbye and to let him know, in no uncertain terms, that he was the greatest of the Mirrglburian kings that they had ever known. For had it not been for his intervention and kindness, then the two last wooly mammoths would never have met, and the species would have died out with them, alone and sad in the alpine tundra, each having never even known that their soul mate was alive on the other side of the world, and that would have been a real tragedy. The twelve Mammoth children were especially grateful.

And as for King Jorkulhaup Bortvelding? Well, he managed to pull Mirrglbury out of its downward financial spiral and to prevent its falling into bankruptcy once and for all. No, he managed in fact to usher in a new era of prosperity and wealth and well-being for the people of Mirrglbury, and their gratitude knew no bounds. Eventually Jorkulhaup met and fell madly in love with a beautiful artistic flower arranger named Diane, who married him and gave him a son and a daughter, Dinosaur and Phylodont, who grew up to be wise and wonderful young people and to have wonderful and happy families of their own. And as he realised the joy of having children, and grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren, Jorkulhaup Bortvelding, now very old indeed, came to realise something. He realised that he didn't care any more about whether he was remembered as a great king at some distant point in the future, about whether he was recalled as being heroic or anything like that. He realised that what really mattered was that he had made the lives of people - the people of Mirrglbury, his wife and family, and Wooly Mammoth and his family, to name a few - at least a little bit better - that he had made them happier - and that he had given his love and that he had been given love back. Because in the end, what was greatness, really? True greatness - that was in love and kindness, in charity and generosity. True greatness didn't come from killing a fearsome beast or exploring and conquering distant lands - true greatness came from helping Wooly Mammoth and his wife Missy to get together - it came in granting financial aid to Mirrglbury's small business owners so that they might have a chance at becoming great themselves and helping their own families - it came from giving jobs to poor people in the city until the unemployment rate was less than one percent - it came from bettering the national education system so that the literacy rate in Mirrglbury was more that ninety percent - it came from repaving the roads so that people could get to visit their relatives or to tend their fields for food to feed their families easier and faster and safer - and most important, it came from helping the woman that he loved more than anyone else in the world to raise two amazing, wonderful children to become wise and responsible and loving adults, and in helping to care for six beautiful grandchildren, and in being able to make it possible for that one tiny great-grandchild to come into the world, and in the fact that that world - a world that he had helped to create - was a better world than the one that he himself had come into. And that was all that he needed to know.

Although, of course, Jorkulhaup Bortvelding is remembered still today as one of the greatest kings that Mirrglbury has ever had, if not the greatest of all. So it just goes to show that just when you realise that you don't actually need what it is that you've been lusting after for your entire life, that's just when you're going to be able to get it. And that is what they call irony. And speaking of irony, we are nearing the end of the book, so I'm thinking that it's about time that we got back to where we started from, don't you? So we're going to discuss just one last king before we return to Bismuth and the turkey, and that one in brief. And so I ask your attention for one last little history lesson.
* * *
The king of Mirrglbury was at this time having a sumptuous and extremely expensive royal banquet - at the expense of the royal municipal treasury of course - and I of course mean the king of Mirrglbury who had once been the royal giver of wise advice to the king, old Dinkplutter Bump, who had usurped the throne from the true king, young Jorkulhaup Bortvelding, after he had first sent that same true king on a long and arduous and dangerous and very possibly fatal trek into the unknown in search of a living wooly mammoth (which happened to be a member of an extinct species, making the possible discovery of one something which was undoubtably effectively impossible, if not utterly so, so that he might then kill it in glorious battle so that he wouldn't go down in history as a boring, do-nothing king like so many of his predecessors had done before him, which, even if by some fluke of the imagination it actually did happen, would be a suicide mission in and of itself, because everyone knows that a raging bull wooly mammoth is something which is nearly impossible to kill, especially for a small, puny six-fingered human in rabbit-hunting armor and jackalope-proof boots on a horse). Dinkplutter Bump had been enjoying his now somewhat lengthy stint as the king of all Mirrglbury. He had all kinds of pretty girls wanting to spend a bunch of time with him because he was so very rich and powerful, and he did indeed definitely enjoy their sweet company, which was something he would never have been able to before he had become the king, because he was kind of like three hundred years old or something - at least, he looked like he was something like three hundred years old - and he had never actually been particularly good looking in the first place, before he got old. In fact, he had used to be downright ugly. If anything, his getting into old age had actually improved his looks, which was not really saying much except that it was kind of obvious that the girls were going for him because he was the king of Mirrglbury and for no reason other than that. Because it certainly wasn't his looks, and it really very extremely certainly wasn't for his wit or personality either, because as you may have noticed earlier, Dinkplutter Bump was kind of a scheming, self-serving ass. But anyhow. He was also enjoying being able to buy or request anything that he wanted, as he had the entire treasure store of the entire nation at his beck and call. When the royal head of the treasury had complained to him about his constant misuse of it, Dinkplutter Bump, being the king, had had the poor man tossed into the royal dungeon and had hired a new treasurer, who also happened to be his nephew, and therefore... sympathetic to the king's needs and wants and so on. The nephew also profited greatly from this arrangement, so to speak. Ahem. So as you can see, it was really no surprise to find that under Dinkplutter Bump's careful supervision, dear old Mirrglbury was nearing the point of bankruptcy within the one year and one half of a year that King Dinkplutter Bump, the once royal advisor, had been king for. Clearly something would have to be done. But what?
* * *
"Hello," said the wooly mammoth. "I am a wooly mammoth. What are you?"

"I am a great king of Mirrglbury," replied the great king of Mirrglbury.

"What's that?" asked the wooly mammoth.

"Me," said the great king of Mirrglbury.

"Oh," said the wooly mammoth.

There then followed an awkward pause. The wooly mammoth coughed. The great king of Mirrglbury looked at the ground and kind of scuffed his foot around in the dirt.

"So..." said the wooly mammoth.

"So..." said the great king of Mirrglbury.

"So, what's your name?" asked the wooly mammoth after another awkward and uncomfortably silent moment had passed.

"My name is Jorkulhaup Bortvelding," said the great king of Mirrglbury.

"Jorkulhaup?" asked the wooly mammoth in surprise. "Isn't that the Icelandic word for a glacial outburst flood?"

"No," said the great king of Mirrglbury, "that's 'jokulhaup'. My name's pronounced the same way, but it's spelled with an 'r' in between the 'o' and the 'k' instead. There's no 'r' in the Icelandic word for a glacial outburst flood. That's spelled J-O-K-U-L-H-A-U-P. But you were close. Everybody makes that mistake." The great king of Mirrglbury paused to cough and clear his throat (politely behind his hand) and then said, "So, uh, what's your name?"

"Wooly Mammoth," said the wooly mammoth.

"Oh," said the great king of Mirrglbury.

"My parents were extremely literal individuals," the wooly mammoth explained, clearly a little bit regretful of that fact and its results insofar as his name had been concerned with it.

"Well," said the great king of Mirrglbury sympathetically, "I bet no one ever has much trouble in remembering your name. I know that I'll be able to remember it just fine, and I never remember anyone's name at all. So that's okay."

"Yeah, I guess so," said the wooly mammoth, but he still sounded a little bit resentful and forlorn about his name and his literalist parents. It had been kind of hard to grow up with a bunch of people who took everything at its face value. Wooly Mammoth's brother and sister had both been extremely literal individuals as well. None of them had ever once been able to appreciate a single one of his jokes. Thinking of this, the wooly mammoth had a wonderful idea. "Hey," he said, "do you want to hear a joke?"

"Okay," said the great king of Mirrglbury.

"Okay," said the wooly mammoth, getting excited. "Here it is. So this one geologist walks into a bar, right?"

"Yeah, 'ouch'," said the great king of Mirrglbury with a roll of his eyes. "I've heard that one already."

"No, no, no," said the wooly mammoth in a rather dismayed tone. "I don't mean literally! I mean, you know, a bar - a drinking establishment, you know? Sometimes they have food, and sometimes they have music, too."

"Oh," said the great king of Mirrglbury. "You mean like a wand, right?"

"Yeah," said the wooly mammoth, nodding. "A wand. Well, anyhow, this one geologist walks into this wand, and there's another geologist in there having a drink. And this other geologist, the one having the drink, well, he has this rock sample with him. And the the first geologist sees it and he goes over to the second geologist, and he says, 'That rock sample's nice.' Okay?"

"Yeah..." said the great king of Mirrglbury.

The wooly mammoth was getting really very excited now, because he was approaching the punchline of his joke. "Okay, so then the second geologist looks up from his drink and he says, 'No, it's slate.' Ha ha! Get it? It's nice? It's 'gneiss'? Slate? Ha ha ha!"

The great king of Mirrglbury frowned for a moment, then said, "No, I don't - oh, wait. Oh, wait, now I get it. Ha ha! Yeah, yeah, that's pretty funny. Geologists do have the best puns, don't they?"

"Yep, they sure do," the wooly mammoth replied, nodding in agreement. He was very pleased that the great king of Mirrglbury had understood and appreciated his joke.

"That was a pretty good joke," said the great king of Mirrglbury.

"Yeah, I'm glad you liked it," said the wooly mammoth. "I could never tell any jokes to my family, because they were all extreme literalists and none of them ever thought that any of my jokes was funny because they all took them extremely literally. Like, I'd be like, 'This horse walks into a wand,' and then before I could even finish the joke they'd all be interrupting me and they'd be all like, 'That's stupid. That doesn't make any sense. Horses don't go to wands.' And then I could never finish my jokes. So seriously, man, thanks. It really means a lot to me."

"Sure," said the great king of Mirrglbury. "No problem. Glad I could help you out."

"Yeah, me too," said the wooly mammoth. Then there was another long and uncomfortable pause, this one longer and more uncomfortable than the first had been. Finally the wooly mammoth kind of looked around and then he turned to the great king of Mirrglbury and said, "So, um..."

"Yeah..." said the great king of Mirrglbury.

The wooly mammoth coughed again, and then said, "So, uh, what brings you to the Arctic glacial steppe on a, on a day like this?"

"Well..." The great king of Mirrglbury scratched his neck nervously, then sighed and said, "Um, well, I'm kind of supposed to kill you in glorious battle. Um... yeah..."

The wooly mammoth stared at him. "No kidding? That's really why you're here? You're not just lost or anything?"

"Nope," said the great king of Mirrglbury, a little regretfully, with a sort of shrug. "I kind of wish that I was, because you seem like a pretty cool guy... for a wooly mammoth, I mean."

"Thanks, I guess," said the wooly mammoth, looking at the ground.

"I really wish I didn't have to, man, I really do," said the great king of Mirrglbury with a pleading look in his eyes. "Because I don't really want to kill you."

The wooly mammoth looked up. "Then why do you have to?"

"Because if I don't then I'll never go down in history remembered as a great king of Mirrglbury, and then I lied to you about what I am, and I really don't like to lie."

"Oh," said the wooly mammoth. They were both silent for a moment. Then the wooly mammoth said, "I guess I see your point. Yeah, I guess you do have to. But you do know that if you try to kill me, then I'll have to fight back, right?"

"Yeah, I know."

"And I'm not going to be careful. I mean, it'll be a case of kill or be killed, you know? I really don't want to have to kill you, but I may not be able to help it, you know?"

"Yeah, yeah, I know," said the great king of Mirrglbury.

"But, you know, it's nothing personal, man. You're a really cool guy."

"Yeah, thanks. You too."

"Thanks, man."

There was another long silence.

"So, um... I guess we should get started, huh?" But the great king of Mirrglbury didn't look too eager to get started as he said this.

"Yeah, I guess so," said the wooly mammoth, but he didn't look very enthusiastic himself.

A long, long, very awkward silence. The two looked up and met each the other's eyes. Both seemed to be saying, Please think of a way for us to get out of doing this.

Then the great king of Mirrglbury sighed and drew his sword. "Well, I suppose we can't put it off, forever, huh? So, um... You know, man, like I said, really it's nothing personal. I like you. I'm very sorry that I have to kill you."

"Yeah, me too," said the wooly mammoth. "I'm sorry that I have to kill you, too."

"It was nice to meet you."

"Yeah, you too."


And then, at last, at long, long, last, the glorious half-hearted battle began.
* * *
* * *
Isn't "wooly" actually spelled with two 'l's? Like, "woolly"?

Yes. It is. Shut up.

* * *
And meanwhile, way the heck up in the mountains, crossing glaciers and alpine steppes and tundras, was that oft-mentioned young king himself, dear old Jorkulhaup Bortvelding, looking for a living wooly mammoth to kill and getting very rapidly very frustrated. He was just starting to think that maybe, just maybe, he could see it in himself to mistake that crummy old senile royal advisor for a wooly mammoth himself and kill him in glorious battle instead, but then he heard a sound on the wind that sounded - that sounded just like - yes, unmistakably it was - the trumpeting call of a great bull wooly mammoth to its mate! Or maybe it was just the wind, which was strong and heavily laden down with snow, howling around the edge of some stony crag. But whatever it was, the young man who happened to have been the king just moments before, but who had just now been rather unfortunately (but definitely in a situation that told strongly of the young man's extreme well endowment in the gullibilty department) usurped by that same cursed crafty old senile royal advisor, was reinvigorated in his quest and pushed on energetically through the howling, freezing cold storm of wind laden down with snow on a barren icy mountaintop somewhere many miles from and above that fair land of Mirrglbury (which I know that you love dearly, to be sure).

It took Jorkulhaup a year and a half of a year again to find his wooly mammoth. (You knew that he was going to find one, didn't you? I mean, come on, you knew it all along. Extinction means nothing when the fate of a nation and the self-esteem of some random young man who is named after the Icelandic word for a glacial outburst flood, except that his name has an 'r' in it and the Icelandic word for a glacial outburst flood does not have an 'r' in it, is at stake. Of course he was going to find a wooly mammoth, I mean, seriously, folks. Clearly you have not watched enough bad movies or predicatable soap opera television shows in your life. Go and watch more of them. There will be a test on "Predicting Plot Devices" in the morning. If you do not get a perfect one hundred percent on the test, then you will be taken out and summarily shot. I send my apologies to your family in advance. Thank you. That is all.) But he did find it, despite the scheming of the wind and the weather and that stupid old Dinkplutter the so-called wise royal giver of advice to the king. Hmph. What a load of hooey that was. But, yes, anyhow, moving on. Wooly mammoth.
* * *
And as all of you have hopefully and probably figured out was going to be the case by this point, as soon as the king had gotten out of sight and range of the city, old Dinkplutter Bump the royal advisor had all of the people of Mirrglbury gather in that same old courtyard where everything seems to happen anymore, and he announced to all of them that, very sadly for all of them, himself most especially, their charming young king had been killed in a hunting accident that very morning - gored to death by a jackalope, then devoured by its adorable and fuzzy little offspring, which looked like baby bunnies because they hadn't yet grown their horns. So there was no body for him to show them, so sorry. But the beloved king's last words had of course been - no, really? I never guessed - that he, Dinkplutter Bump, the royal giver of advice to the king, was to be the next king upon his (Jorkulhaup's) untimely death. And so it was with great sorrow and solemnity that he fulfilled his final promise to the young king upon the young king's bedside at the young king's death and took up the royal crown which that same young - now dead - king had so recently - and conveniently - vacated. He hoped that everyone was okay with it. They were.
* * *
This is what Dinkplutter Bump said to the young and bewildered king of Mirrglbury, once he finally got around to actually saying it to the young and bewildered king of Mirrglbury:

"You need to go out and find yourself a wooly mammoth to fight and kill in glorious battle. Only then will your noble deeds and heroic life be told of and sung of down throughout the generations of history. This is my advice to you, and I do heartily and solemnly guarantee you that if you can but fulfill it, then all of your dreams of greatness and memorableness will at last be brought to come to fruition, but only if you follow this advice of mine, and to the letter. My blessing is with you, and may luck and fortune be upon you in your quest."

Then the royal chief advisor and giver of advice to the king Dinkplutter Bump bowed his aged head low, and rose, and bade his farewells to the king, again wishing him good fortune on his quest for fame and fortune in the annals of the histories and great kings of Mirrglbury, and left. Jorkulhaup Bortvelding watched him go in bewilderment and dismay.

Now, there are a couple of different things which can make a king good enough to be considered 'great'. One of them is the king's quality and skill at being a statesman, that is, what he does for his country structurally and politically. Mr. Duncan and his wife after him are good examples of that - they set up the municipal structure that was to be maintained in Mirrglbury, and which was in a great part responsible for the maintainment of Mirrglbury itself, with only a very little amount of change made to it, cumulatively, over the many years, and this (the fact that the legal systems that they developed and put into place lasted for ages and ages and made Mirrglbury's great economic and political success possible) is a good measure of and testament to their true greatness - that we (by which I include the people of Mirrglbury) are okay to be calling them (the Duncans) great kings in their own right, because they were, and we're justified, and I'm rambling, sorry. Or else a king could be called great because he led the country out of a horrible situation. An example of this would be Duncan, who overthrew King Tanya when Tanya was making the people of Mirrglbury miserable, and then he turned out to be a pretty okay statesman too, so you would be okay saying that Duncan was a great king too. Which he was. And then, of course, a king can be great because he made he nation great through conquest - the only king of Mirrglbury who would apply in this category would have to be the illustrious and often mentioned Bruce Wendell Frogman the Third, because he founded the nation in the first place. A king can also be great because he fostered cooperation between his own nation and its neighbour nations, which, alas, no one in Mirrglbury ever did, except maybe Duncan when he brought in citizens of the neighbouring nations to assist him in conducting his revolution, but not really, because fortunately for the people of Mirrglbury and the people of their neighbouring nations Lovely Valley and Nearest Seaprot had always gotten along perfectly well and were really not any of them of the sort for going to war with eachother, for conquest or otherwise, defense or boredom. They just didn't do that sort of thing. They were a peaceful lot of peoples, the peoples of Mirrglbury and Nearest Seaprot and Lovely Valley. So that category doesn't apply. And of course a king can be great because he just happens to be a great man whether he is the king or not - like, for instance, maybe he's particularly brave or kind and generous or intelligent and creative, and usually all three of them together at the same time. And I guess that I suppose that the Duncans would apply here, too - all three of them. So, as you can see, Mirrglbury was kind of sort of lacking in the "great kings" department. Even if you count King Tulip, and you would only count her because she invented the worship of the great ponies, which was kind of a big important thing because, thanks to all of her wonderful and possibly utterly insane influence, all of the future generations of the people of Mirrglbury - of which there were many - would grow up worshipping the great ponies themselves, and I suppose that if you're the founder of an enduring state religion of some kind, or any kind of popular religion that lasts for a really long time, well, then maybe it's okay to call you great. But it's kind of iffy. And, you know, greatness is really a very subjective (by which I mean really not objective at all) thing, and whether someone is considered to be great really depends on who it is that you ask, and on what their perspective on the issue or person or whatever happens to be, and on what your personal perspective on the situation also happens to be, and so on and so forth, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. It's kind of a complicated issue, as you can probably see by now. So now you understand why what's-his-head wanted to be great.

But this answer that Dinkplutter the royal advisor had just given him in answer to his question was not exactly the answer that dear old Jorkulhaup had expected, nor was it quite the answer that he was hoping for. Because, as you see, the wooly mammoth had, unfortunately for Jorkulhaup Bortvelding, gone utterly extinct some many hundreds, and possibly thousands, though probably not, of years before Jorkulhaup was even born in the first place, and so the finding of the wooly mammoth seemed at the moment to be impossible, and certainly, at any rate, to be harder to accomplish than the whole "killing it in glorious battle" bit. "I wonder if it's okay if I just find a dead one and stick my sword in it and call it good," wondered Bortvelding rather glumly, but no sooner had he said this to the empty room before him then the old advisor's voice came echoing towards him out of nowhere, and certainly not from within hearing range of such a quiet private remark of despair, "No! It has to be a live one! Quit complaining and do it! I'll take care of Mirrglbury in your stead while you're gone! Now get out and slay your fucking mammoth, kid! Time's a wasting!"

"What the hell," muttered Jorkulhaup to himself in annoyance and chagrin, and then he stood, grudgingly, at further nagging cries from the unseen royal advisor, who was really beginning to get on the young king's nerves, and trudged reluctantly down to the stable, where his royal sacred horse was waiting, looking around stupidly and munching on a wad of hay or alfalfa or something or whatever the hell it is that horses eat. Hay. Hay is for horses. Yeah, that's what it was. Anyhow, Jorkulhaup put a saddle and some armour of the sort that the horses in old movies about knights having jousting tournaments wear, you know, with the mask and the spikes on the mane and all, and then he strapped on a sword and some armour of his own onto himself (this armour being of the sort that the knights wear in those movies, not the horses, except of a less stiff and robotic nature and somewhat lighter, because the Mirrglburians were of a fairly practical nature, and at any rate they hardly ever fought anything, and even when they did fight anything it was bunnies or wolves or rabid jackalopes or some such not-very-dangerous creatures, and so there was not much need for armour in Mirrglbury anyways, and so really all his armour consisted of was a patented Bunny-B-Gon clawproof vest, an Anti-Antelope helmet with polarized UV-blocking visor, and thigh-high Possum-Puncture-Proof riding boots, which might be quite effective against small and adorable woodland animals a la Bambi, but would really not help him very much in the case that he would have to in the future defend himself from the titanic curved ivory tusks of a rampaging bull wooly mammoth, which was too bad, because that was exactly what he was seeking out for himself at the moment - but who ever thinks that far into the future? Right now all he wanted to do was to leave the town as soon as possible so that he might quickly get to some place where he couldn't hear that damned advisor shrieking his damned advice in his ear) and a bag of travel goods onto the saddle, and he hopped up onto the horse and, with a shout of "YAH!", spurred the horse into a gallop and rode off into the mountains to find his damned wooly mammoth and then hopefully to kill it.
* * *
Between Bret Favre and the twenty-sixth king of Mirrglbury, who also happened to be the ill-fated mother of Denise Ugluk Sneferu and her sisters, there was exactly one king, and no more, whose life was interesting enough to warrant our discussing it here in this story at the present moment. And that would be a young man by the name of Jorkulhaup Bortvelding (pronounce YO-koll-ahp BUTT-weld-een), who happened to actually have done some interesting things during the course of his lifetime. He took his heritage seriously, and, according to him, he could trace his family line and ancient ancestors or whatever all the way back to that great and wondrous original founder of that great and wondrous state of Mirrglbury, Bruce Wendell Frogman the Third. When people told Jorkulhaup Bortvelding that Bruce Wendell Frogman the Third had left no living descendents, by which they meant that the Frogman line had died out many hundreds of years before Jorkulhaup was even conceived of in the head of some future-gazing scholastic mind, and that Jorkulhaup could therefore not be descended from Bruce Wendell Frogman the Third at all. But if you were to tell that incorrigible young man as much, he would become very defensive and go into a long tirade describing marriages and second cousins and various rules of primogeniture and so on and so forth until you would be unable to even so much as walk straight, much less be able to think straight. And so it was that very few people attempted to disabuse young Jorkulhaup Bortvelding of the notion which he had so firmly entrenched in the fibers of his young brain that he was descended from the founder of Mirrglbury, if only spiritually or something like that. Although publicly he insisted that the connection was purely genetic, even if he did happen to be down with that whole adventure thing, and especially the whole dying young bit along with it. And as for the whole familial descent connection thing between them, well, it's just way the hell too complicated for us to deal with at the moment, so let us simply suffice it to say that the matter was a point of debate (even if it wasn't) and one which could never actually find resolution - indeed, one which has, even in this present day, not found solution. And so I am afraid that I will have to simply declare this yet another of those great and terrible unsolvable mysteries of the universe. So. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Unless you don't smoke. Because really you shouldn't, at least not very often, because you could easily cause yourself to get lung cancer or emphysema, which are both pretty darn nasty ways to die. So in that case, well, I don't know what you want to do with it, but you don't have to smoke it if you don't want to, honest. I'm not going to force you to do something that you don't want to do. And you should never let anyone do that to you, ever, you know. Because that's not okay. So. Don't let people make you do things that you don't want to do.

Jorkulhaup Bortvelding spoke quietly to his chief minister of the giving of advice to the king, who was also known as the royal chief advisor, whose name was Dinkplutter Bump and who was an older man who had been chief royal advice-giver man to these past three kings, which made him way too old to still be alive, and yet he was still alive after all of these years. And said the young king Jorkulhaup to the chief advisor person Dinkplutter, "My most esteemed chief royal giver of advice to the king, please tell me, if it is within your desire, for certainly it lies within your power, o wisest honored one, of how I may become a hero and a person who has many interesting adventures, that I may not suffer that same sickening fate what fell upon my most unfortunate yet dearly esteemed predecessors in this glorious office, that is, that my reign might be recalled in the years to come by future generations on into the eternal unseen future as a great and heroic reign worthy of songs and tales, rather than a reign so easily written off as not worthy of even the slightest footnote of a mention due to its sheer and desperate lack of event. I have no wish to join the honored company of my dear ancestors in that respect. I would rather be as my true ancestor and father of my soul, the great Bruce Wendell Frogman the Third, whose life and deeds are still spoken of to this day, so many hundreds of years after he once walked this fair land. Please, o wise royal advisor, tell me how this may be done."

Then the royal advisor Dinkplutter Bump furrowed his brow and fell into a deep and serious period of deep and serious thought on how he might be able to answer the young king's posed query, and how he might at that same young king in his (the king's) quest for greatness and memorableness. Dinkplutter the advisor thought on this topic for a very long time, but then one day, after many weeks - or maybe it was months, it's just amazing how the time flies, and it's simply impossible to keep proper track of - he finally had reached his conclusions and he went to visit King Jorkulhaup Bortvelding and to tell him of the answers to his questions that he had given him (the chief advisor).

"My royal majesty the king," said Dinkplutter Bump in an old and wise sounding quiet voice to the young man in question, "I am of the belief that I have finally, at long, long last, arrived myself at an answer for how you are to become brave and famous in a land where the rulers seem perpetually doomed to lead lives of mediocrity and dullness, and where there are no enemies for you to go to war with and subsequently conquer in a glorious and triumphant celebration of the utter superiority of our own fair nation of Mirrglbury over our weak and inaffective neighbours, who would then be a part of what would then be a glorious and fair Empire of Mirrglbury. But as that cannot be done, I have thought of some possible solutions to your despicable and unfortunate quandary of destiny and the creation and control thereof, and they are as I will exposite upon directly, by which I mean I will tell you what they are in just the tiniest of moments. And they are as follows."

He paused to take a deep and relaxing breath, then exhaled slowly, nodding softly, while young King Jorkulhaup Bortvelding watched him doing all of this, his own self not relaxed at all or breathing deep, but instead hardly breathing at all because he was in an agony of suspense because the advisor Dinkplutter Bump took an extremely outrageously long time to actually say anything... rather like to some other people that I, and maybe you as well, may well be able to think of. People like, say... well, I won't mention any names. It might hurt their feelings. Though I doubt it. But certainly you know of what I am alluding to, even if you can't figure out who I am alluding to, which would be really sad because it's kind of really freaking obvious. So. But anyhow. The advisor took a big deep breath and then turned to the king and cleared his throat and began to speak.
* * *
* * *
Quagmire Gambolputty de Von Nackerthrasher Dimwatt. And no, I did not make that up. Well, I mean, maybe I did, but - hey, didn't I just tell you to quit it with your interrupting?! For goodness freaking ponies' sakes! JEEZ!

King Quagmire Gambolputty de Von Nackerthrasher Dimwatt was a little Asian (okay, so really she couldn't have been Asian because there was no Asia in this planet and therefore no Asians, but she looked Asian - Japanese, specifically - and she acted Asian - like a Japanese schoolgirl, specifically - and so by virtue of the ever-classic "if it looks like a duck and it smells like a duck and it swims like a duck and it quacks like a duck, then by gourd it durn well had better be a duck!" argument, I declare that she was in fact Asian even though she couldn't possibly have been, and I will therefore refer to her as Asian, and there is nothing that you can do about it, so there, ha) girl from Nearest Seaprot who just happened to be passing through Mirrglbury on her way to Lovely Valley when somebody handed her a raffle ticket and ran away into the forest, never to be seen again. By anyone. Not even animals. So there. Then the next thing that she knew she was being crowned king of Mirrglbury. So there you have it. How is that for pretty awesome luck. Or bad luck, if you don't actually want to be randomly made into the king of some random country where everybody has six fingers, even though you have six fingers too (in this hypothetical example, not in real life - well, maybe you do in real life, I've got no way of knowing, frankly), but luckily for young Quagmire Gambolputty de Von Nackerthrasher Dimwatt, she actually really did want to be randomly declared the king of some random country where everybody had six fingers, and she, being of this universe (this meaning the one in the story), had six fingers on each hand as well. So it all worked out just fine.

The only point in my mentioning this person (the one introduced to you all in the following two paragraphs) is in the fact that King Quagmire Gambolputty de Von Nackerthrasher Dimwatt had a funny name. Honestly. She did nothing at all, I mean, seriously, nothing whatsoever, of any interest to anyone except possibly hersefl, but probably not. And after the interesting and fortuitous manner in which Quagmire Gambolputty de Von Nackerthrasher Dimwatt became made king in the first place, there really was nothing else of any note whatsoever to have occurred during the course of her reign. This is unfortunate, but alas, there you have it, the girl in question lived, her life was pleasant but sadly uneventful, and there is nothing that any of us can do about it, despite however much we may wish to alter that aforementioned fact of her dull life, because we cannot, sadly, return to the past and change it, for the better or for the worse. And so you will just have to be content with knowing that this chapter, which you likely thought would be leading up to some kind of big long story about adventure and betrayal, love and lust on the high seas, greed and treachery with a good measure of humorous comic relief thrown in to keep things light and the mood happy, is nearing its completetion, having already fulfilled its sole purpose of existence, which was, of course, dual in nature: first objective, to inform you, my readers, of the existence of a young woman who may or may not have been Asian, though not technically; second objective, to inform you, my readers, of the manner in which this young woman at last ascended to the throne of Mirrglbury, and third objective, to let you, my readers, know, as stated at the very start of this chapter, who was the next king of Mirrglbury after Jimmy Buttface, which I did, and so I think that I can safely say that it is now safe and good and so on and so forth to end this chapter once and for all. And so I will. The end. (Of this chapter, not the whole story. Sorry to mislead you there on that point. Moving on...)
* * *
Let me take this brief moment to take a brief break from this story, which is really not very brief at all, not at all. Because, you know what? This is a pain in the patootie, that is what it is. A person can only - can only - can... Arggh! I can't say it! I can't say "write so many words in such a short space of time"! I can't let this thing become meta or my point in doing it is lost... Well, shoot. Never mind, I went and said it anyhow. That being said, I really kind of sort of actually REALLY WISH that I was DONE with the writing of this cursed story or storyish entity for the night, or really actually for forever, but I'm NOT, I'm not even NEAR being done - not as near to being done with it as I want to be, anyhow - and unfortunately at the moment I can think of NOTHING! Not a single thing! Nothing at all! What the heck is up with that, I mean really? I who pride myself on myself? Where is it, that - that magic, that inspiration, that joie de vive? Ah, muse, oh fickle woman, you have gone and left me for another man - woman - um. Never mind, that metaphor isn't working. Dammit, look, will you just quit distracting me? I'm just going to write, I have to write, I need to write or - um - well, actually, if I don't write this nothing will happen except that I'll get kind of annoyed at myself for doing so much of it and then never finishing, you know? Which would kind of be dumb. So why don't you just shut up and listen, oh most esteemed readers, and I mean it this time! No more interruptions, you hear? Jeez Louise. Now, getting back to things... Where were we? Ah, yes. Jimmy Buttface. What a lovely name. Except, no, wait, never mind, he just died and now we move on to somebody else. But who? Now, I know what it is that you are thinking: why not move back to Bis Sub-salicylate and friends, who are still back there talking about ass at the slag heap, while Bis buries the king's dead pet turkey under a mound of bologna samdwiches, where they have been since the very first chapter of this work. But you see, I can't go back there just at this moment because, um, well, just because. Because we're not done talking about the kings of Mirrglbury, darn it! And because I said so, that's why! So just shut up and listen or we'll never get back there! Jeez!
* * *
The people hated their names with a passion. Some were happier because their given names (Dorcas Trash-Heap, Willie Cutter (think about it, people)) were better than their neighbours' given names (Porta-John Lardbutt, Ima Hoare), and so for some reason they felt more secure than their more unfortunate neighbours. Some had some difficulty figuring out their names, but once they did they regretted it at once and decided that something had to be done. And indeed, something drastic, some measure which would be uncalled for at any other time, in any other circumstance, was definitely needed - and badly - in this particular time and case. And so the people began to plot amongst themselves. And meanwhile, the all and totality of Mirrglbury was forced to come to a halt.

You see, it's very difficult to have a normal conversation with someone whose name is something like, oh, I don't know, Gaylord Fairy, especially if he happens to be the butchest, toughest, slobbiest, football-lovingest, most inconsiderate, uncouth, lascivious, objectifying-women-est, fattest, ugliest, baldest, not-gayest straight man that you have ever met in your life, which happened to be the case with the unfortunate Mirrglburian to whom that unfortunate name was assigned by the now-hated Jimmy. And Gaylord Fairy was himself having difficulty dealing with Butch Dike, who happened to be a cheerleader type that played with dolls and dreamt about the captain of the football team and had had a crush on Prince Charming once upon a time and couldn't have been less of a lesbian if you tried to make her one. And then of course neither of them could even so much as speak to Poop Doggy Dog. So you kind of get the idea. The country was falling apart, its infrastructure was collapsing, people were running away to Lovely Valley or Nearest Seaprot or becoming hermits in the mountains or killing themselves at an alarmingly high rate. Obviously, as I have already observed in the previous paragraph, something seriously had to be done to fix this problem with the silly and highly offensive names. So it was decided that something would be done.

And that something was the assassination of King Jimmy Buttface. They knew in their hearts that it had to be done, though of course none of them actually wanted to do it themselves because, no matter how much they didn't like Jimmy, if they killed him then that would make them murderers, and of course no one wants to be a murderer except for psychos. But they also knew that this was just something that somebody had to do, because otherwise the law that had caused everybody in Mirrglbury to be given these horrible obscene names could only be reversed upon the natural death of the king, which would not be for a very long while, because, as Kng Jimmy had so kindly pointed out to everyone on the balcony, he was in perfectly good health - healthy as a horse, one might say, if one were accustomed to using cliched turns of phrase - and in no imminent danger of dying. And no one would be able to live with their new names for any amount of time, much less the numerous reamining years of Jimmy Buttface's natural life. No, they would just have to speed things up a bit. And so it began that they began to plan how they would do away with their evil king with the warped mind and return their names to the way their names had been before he had enacted the law that had changed all of their names in the first place.

But the big problem in their plan was this: who would do the actual assassination part of it? There were no professional killers in Mirrglbury because there was never any need to kill anybody in Mirrglbury, until now. There were not even any real soldiers or any real cops because no one ever tried to invade or cause wrongdoing beyond a little petty theft or blackmail or maybe some indecent exposure. And of course none of the people who was doing the planning or the recommendation of any of these various courses of action was quite willing to do the killing either. So there was a problem.

The discussions over whom amongst the many citizens of the country was going to end up doing the dirty deed and so saving the rest of the populace, and himself, from certain chronic and possibly fatal humiliation, but then also would end up having been a murderer, and might just waste away and die or even commit suicide from all of the guilt (because, as we alluded to not so very long ago, there were few to no psychos in Mirrglbury, and no one but a psycho can commit such a heinous act as murder without feeling guilt and remorse to a great degree afterwards, unless he is defending himself or trained to kill or something, and even then he or she will most likely still feel pretty darn guilty about what they've gone and done. So the days kind of went on and on, and the plan didn't really go anywhere, and no one ever used anyone else's names, and the whole of Mirrglbury was pretty much in a very deep depression. It was beginning to look as though the king would never be killed and the people would be doomed to be Pupus and Heinies forever.

But then somebody had a brilliant idea: why not decide who was going to have to sacrifice their sanity for self-loathing and their goodness for guilt by having another lotto, just like they did when it was time to decide who was going to be the new king? It was a great idea! All of the names of the country's citizens were put in a really big hat and kind of shuffled around, and then a ferret was dropped into the hat with all of the slips of paper with the names on them. When the ferret climbed back out of the hat, whatever name it had stuck to it - in its mouth, between its toes, attracted to its fluffy, fluffy fur by the action of static electricity, whatever - would be the name of the person who would have to kill the king or be executed themselves. (Although no one had yet decided who it would be that would do the executing. Probably the town executioner, who, unfortunately, did not do assassinations, or maybe it was that he was out of town for the weekend on holiday or something, I don't know. But for whatever reason, it just so happened that the town executioner was indisposed for the moment, and so could not be called upon to dispatch the king for everyone.)

The name that the ferret drew out of the hat was Booger Grossman, who happened to be the town rock-climbing enthusiast. He also happened to be the town coward, and don't ask me how those two town identities, which would appear for all purposes to be mutually exclusive, could actually be made compatible, I mean, you know, inhabit the same body without one of them being instantly destroyed and so on. But there it was, that was how things stood. But people had very little hope, once they heard who it was that had been selected to do the killing of the king and realised just exactly who that was, or more, who exactly that had used to be before all of their names had been changed around, that is, Groll Binkhammer, which had been the town rock-climbing enthusiast and town coward's real name that his parents had given him long before any of this had happened and certainly before his name had been altered to become Booger Grossman, which was what his name was now and the name that had been pulled out of the giant hat full of names by the ferret. There was a collective groan from the people as they realised who exactly it was, as they realised that as the town coward Booger (also known once upon a time as Groll Binkhammer) would probably not be able to summon in himself the courage to undertake something so perilous as sneaking into the royal palace and assassinating the king and thus becoming a murderer if he did happen to survive doing it without being killed himself. And so the people began finally to resign themselves with sadness and depression to having to live out the rest of Jimmy's natural life, and some of their own natural lives, with the most horrible and embarassing obscene names possibly imaginable.

And then something miraculous struck. Like a bolt of silver lightning out of a clear green sky on the cloudiest day in March, among flowers and lilacs and tulips and daffodils, and amidst bunnies running cheerfully like bouncing kangaroos through shining fields of glistening orange, only to strike the smallest and most diminutive of stones at the bottom of the babbling blue brook and to have it be magically transformed into a fairy princess, who asks you what your three most desired wishes would be and then gives you not a single one of them, but dumps a bucket of caliche soil upon your balding head, so did this miracle come down upon the people of Mirrglbury. And it came in the form of a massive coronary heart failure, which no one had suspected might threaten the king at all.

Jimmy, you see, ate a diet rich in cholesterol (the bad kind) and saturated fats, and unbeknownst to him the walls of his arteries had begun to coat their insides with plaque. And so, when he was sitting in a long meeting for a long time, or fell asleep sitting up or something, or both, well, a teeny tiny little blood clot formed in his veins, but it was too big to get past his fat-clogged heart, and it blocked his aorta or possibly some kind of valve or something, and then he kind of clutched at his heart and shouted something incoherent that sounded like, "No! Now they'll have their normal names back! My revenge is complete too soooonnnn!!!!! ARG" and fell over dead. The people rejoiced. There were big parties in the streets. People burned any documents which had their fake, that is, recently assigned and now defunct, names written on them, and when the letters came from the royal department of names and nominal issues bureau declaring their legal official names to have been returned to their natural, normal, original state upon the king's natural death of a heart attack, some people - most people - had the documents framed to celebrate and nailed them up in prominent places in their homes on the walls and above mantles. It was a joyous occasion. And it can be truly said that Jimmy Buttface most likely had the most enjoyable, most partying, least sorrowful, sad, or somber funeral in the history of the known universe. But we all know that we will miss him just the same.

Okay, so maybe we won't. And maybe if we do then the only reason why we do is because we found it amusing to read (or write, in the author's case) the name Jimmy Buttface repeatedly written upon this page (and earlier pages). But at least we can say, and this honestly, that truly, he will not be soon or readily forgotten.

If only because his name was Jimmy Buttface.
* * *
King Jimmy Buttface's plan for getting his revenge on the populace of Mirrglbury was as follows: well, actually, it's kind of a surprise, so I'll tell you how it played out as it happened.

Jimmy had called the people all together in the big square that everybody was supposed to gather together in when the king was supposed to give a big important speech or when the troops were rallying (as if Mirgglbury even had an armed forces, which it didn't, but if it had had an army then the plaza was where they would have practiced) or when there was some kind of a big important festival of some sort, right? It also happened to be the same plaza that Jacob Lewis had fallen into when he accidentally skiied off of that cliff in upstate New York and rolled across in a big tumblign mass of man and skis, as we described for you in an earlier chapter. It would also be the plaza that the rebellious mob would gather in some years after all of this when Duncan the good brother came to take over from Tanya the bad brother, et cetera, except that by that time the plaza had been turned into a big grassy field and it would also have had a little royal fish pond installed in the middle of the plaza, or what had once been the plaza by that time which became a big grassy field in front of the royal gardens, and would in even later times be flanked on both sides by the royal hedge mazes that were Bismutch Sub-salicylate eventual responsibilty to mulch diligently and so on and so forth and look what a terrible tangent you've gotten me off on! For goodness sake, people! Let us return to reality, here, or... I mean... Shut up.

Anyhow, it came time for Jimmy to enact his plan, and he stood up there on the balcony overlooking that doomed plaza and stretched his hands out over the people and said, "I, your king, Jimmy Buttface" - the whole lot of them began to snicker and snort and giggle as soon as he uttered his name, and his face darkened into a scowl at the sound - "I have proclaimed a decree and decreed a proclamation, and I am here today, on the day before this new thing that I've begun is to be put into action, to tell the whole ungrateful lot of you all about what is going to be happening as a result of the new thing that is about to begin affecting you starting tomorrow, and what exactly it entails." Jimmy's mouth curled into a mean-spirited grin, and he said, after a sufficient pause to build dramatic suspense, in a very smug tone, "This is what has already been made law, and which you cannot reverse until the day that I finally die. Ha. Ha ha." He stifled his laughter - his grin had broadened, and his eyes shone in delightful anticipation - and returned to his oratory once he had regained his composure. "You see, ladies and gentlemen, if I may suspend my true beliefs momentarily and call you by that, even though I well know that you horrid people are neither ladies nor gentlemen, but overgrown schoolkids who take no greater pleasure than in causing pain and unhappiness and distress to your fellow man. taking your sick amusement at others' expense - oh yes! I have seen your kind a thousand hundred times before. Buttface, yes, that's my name, and I've had nothing but derision and cruelty from your sort all through my life, you wretches! You vagabonds! Ah, but now - now I have my revenge at last! Now you will all be shown just exactly how it feels! Ha! Ha ha!" He glared at them, and then he spoke again, and with this final announcement King Jimmy delivered the cut, the point, the coup de grace, the blow, the climax, the whole message that he had been building up to through all of this speech, the moment that he had been waiting for through all of his life. He said, "From this day out, oh cruel and heartless people of Mirrglbury, your names - your names will not be those names which your kind parents laid upon you, no no no indeed. No! Your names will from now on be Buttface! And Poopbrain! The women will be Fanny! The men will be Dick! The last names will be Cocks! And Gay-Man! Crapper! And Killjoy! And Bastard! And Stupid-Idiot! Fuchs! Focker! Hogg! Gizzard! Dork! Geek! Loophole! Dumbohead! Ridiculous! Thumb-Sucker! FECES!!!! Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!" And Jimmy fell to cruel and raucous laughter, for now his revenge, his ultimate vengeance was finally complete. He had done it! There was nothing they could do! "Do you hear that, all of you horrible, horrible people?! Now you will know what it's like to have a name like Buttface! Now you will feel the wrath of your fellow human beings! NOW YOU WILL KNOW AT LAST WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO BE ME ALL OF THESE HORRIBLE YEARS!!!!" Jimmy was almost collapsed to the balcony deck for laughter, but his voice was the only sound heard, for the gathered populace was staring up at him in disbelief and bewilderment. For how could it be possible? How could the king have actually changed their names as he said that he had? How could that have even been possible?

But when King Jimmy had finally finished laughing maniacally, and when the people were beginning to wonder if he really was delusional and insane, then he straightened and returned to his feet and straightened up his shirt collar and adjusted his robe and brushed back his hair and said, clearing his throat and in a very businesslike and proper tone, "You will all recieve your official changed names tomorrow in the mail. The name change is legal and binding, and you will not be able to alter your assigned name ever, and the name change will only reverse upon my eventual death, which will not be for a long, long time, because I am just about as fit and as healthy as I have ever been, and you can't do anything about it! Ah ha ha! Won't you all just be so surprised! Oh, yes, and by the way, before I forget, anyone caught not using his new name will be shot on sight by my troops, who all happen to be drawn from people who were teased because of their names as children, and so will not hesitate to enact my decree. So you all had better watch out! Ha! Enjoy your new names, suckers! Or should I say Fockers! Ha ha ha ha ha!!!" And then, cackling like a complete loony, the king went back into his royal palace and shut the door to the balcony closed behind him, abruptly cutting off the sound of his laughter, though it could still be heard, just a little bit, very faintly, coming from inside the palace behind the closed door. The sound faded off as he walked away down into the palace, and the people stared after him in utterly confused silence, wondering whether exactly any of this was true or not, or whether the king was just absolutely stark raving mad or what. Maybe all those years of teasing, which none of them really regretted more than a little bit and half-heartedly, had actually gone to his head, had just maybe been too much for him. No one knew. But it wouldn't be so very long before the next day came and then they would all see whether the king had been telling the truth or not. They would go to their mailboxes and then they would know. They would get an official envelope from the royal municipal bureau of names and name changes, and the envelope would have inside of it their new name, the one that they would keep until the king died and the proclamation was reversed. Or else they wouldn't and it wouldn't and none of it was true. But only time would tell.

And, actually, as it turned out, Jimmy was telling the truth and the envelopes were there in the people's mailboxes on the following morning, just as he had told them they would be there. And inside were the new names, and they were just as awful as he had said that they would be. And let me tell you, things had been set in motion, oh yes. Dice were rolling. The knives were out. And fair old Mirrglbury would never after be the same.
* * *
Jimmy was kind of an idiot, and kind of an asshole, also. Which was really all of it too bad, because Jimmy also happened to be king of Mirrglbury, as so many of the people in this book seem to have ended up being. Funny how that happens. Anyhow, Jimmy. Jimmy was a jerk. He was full of himself, he really was. He thought that he was just about the greatest thing to happen to Mirrglbury, and, as you and I both may well know by this point, this sentiment was mistaken. I mean, it simply wasn't true. The Duncans were a pretty good thing to happen to Mirrglbury, and Jacob Lewis Donahue was a pretty good thing to happen to Mirrglbury, and the art school that Your Mom started with Lord Voldemort's advice may well have been the very best thing that ever did happen to Mirrglbury, honest - and of course Mirrglbury would never have existed in the first place had it not been for Bruce Wendell Frogman the Third. But Jimmy was really not even close to being the best thing to happen to Mirrglbury, and that is really unfortunate. One might even say that he was actually a pretty bad thing to happen to Mirrglbury, although he was probably not the very worst thing to ever happen to Mirrglbury, but he was nonetheless right up there with all of the rulers that would probably fall under the heading of "bad kings", and I am sad to say that one would probably be right to think so. Because Jimmy pretty much sucked.

Now, you may be asking why this was. Why Jimmy sucked, I mean, not just as a king but also as a person in general. Well, for whatever reason, Jimmy, whose last name was Buttface, was just a crabby person. Perhaps it was due to some genetic rarity, you know, like a stupid asshole gene or something, or perhaps it was in part due to how he was raised, like maybe he had had an unhappy childhood, except that that wasn't true. Jimmy Buttface had had a very happy and carefree childhood. But for whatever reason, he just got overly defensive whenever somebody tried to talk to him or anything like that.

Maybe it was because his last name was Buttface. Because it would really get old in a very short amount of time to be having people always calling you Buttface, even if that was in fact your name. So maybe that's why Jimmy was such an ass. But that is beside the point. Well, kind of.

Actually, come to think of it, it seems to me that Jimmy should well have been able to get over his awful name and all of the teasing that his having it entailed. Because, really, I mean, come on now. I got teased for my name, which was actually my first name and not my last as was the case with Jimmy, but nonetheless applies - I got teased for my name, which rhymes with just about anything and in a component in a great number of compound words, as well as being a word in and of itself, all through my grade school career, and I have to say that while the teasing really got on my nerves and made me get very upset when I was in second grade, I had kind of gotten to be immune to it all by the time I got into sixth grade, and now when people make puns about my name I don't honestly care all that much, if at all. But then again, my name isn't Buttface, nor will it ever be if I have any say in it. Which I do. So it won't be. So there. But back to Jimmy.

Jimmy Buttface was in fact teased mercilessly throughout pretty much the entirety of his life, even after he became the king of Mirrglbury. So I suppose that, in light of this fact, Jimmy kind of sort of had a kind of vendetta against the people that he was the king of, the people of Mirrglbury, who giggled and snorted and suppressed smiles every time the words "King Buttface" were uttered, which got on poor grumpy Jimmy's nerves from the first day he started out as king. And it didn't get any less obnoxious for him, oh no indeed. The more Jimmy noticed other people laughing or sneering or what have you at the mention of his name, the more angry and resentful he became. "What's so bad about my name?" he wondered. "Why is my name so gosh-darn funny? Why aren't all of their names worthy of provoking snorts and giggles and merciless teasing, huh? What's so gosh-darn special about all of them? Well, one day I'll show them, oh yes I will, one day I'll have my revenge and then they'll all know just how it feels to have a name like Buttface. Oh, I'll show them, those mean, nasty, rotten people who keep on teasing me - they never stop teasing me! OOOO, but I will SHOW them!"

And so it was that Jimmy Buttface began to plan the revenge that he would one day take on the people and the citizens of Mirrglbury. He hatched himself a plan, oh yes, a glorious and wonderful and terribly devious plan, oh yes, oh yes. He was planning on something which would, he knew, go down in Mirrglburian history as the very best prank ever to be played upon anyone to have ever lived in any place, ever. So he was very excited, as you can well surmise. The day for the revenge prank to be played neared at last - and he had been working on planning and developing it for over two years now - and everything was ready, everything was set, and and everything was ready to go for him to put his plan into action. And then the day - that fateful day - had finally arrived, and Jimmy Buttface put his plan into action at last.
* * *
* * *
The doctor's daughter was named Teresa, and Teresa was only a year younger than Lewis Donahue. The two spent all of their time together now, and she could speak English pretty well now, too, so he found that he could communicate with her even better than he was able to communicate with the rest of the townspeople. After Jacob Lewis had been in Mirrglbury for two years, he and the doctor's daughter were married, and she because Teresa Goddamn Donahue, although she never seemed to remember the Donahue part, and the two of them lived at the clinic with the doctor, helping him to take care of the patients, and they were very happy. Within two more years Teresa had had a baby, and they named it Brooklyn, after Lewis' hometown, and because Teresa thought that it was pretty name, Brooklyn Goddamn. And so it was. When Brooklyn was five, the king died withou leaving a spouse or a childe or any kind of a will or an heir behind, and so all of the people of Mirrglbury were entered into a nationwide drawing to discover who would end up being the next king. Lo and behold, Goddamn Goddamn won, and so it was that Jacob Lewis Donahue became the first and only Brooklynite - or New Yorker of any variety - or American of any variety for that matter - or, actually, Earthling of any variety - to become the king of Mirrglbury. People generally agreed that he was one of the best kings they had had yet, and they liked his wife Teresa and their daughter Brooklyn, and Jacob thought that it was fun being the president, as he called it. He created a national parks law that made the woods a protected wildlife area, which is why the brilliant green glowing bunny rabbit was not made extinct before King Rina could see one and be frightened by it, nor the hooting buttbird, nor even the blue-spotted black-striped triple-horned Wilhelminabeast. Thanks to the forward-thinking efforts of King Goddamn Goddamn all of these animals and their native habitat were protected by the state and so remained even unto the days of Bismuth Sub-salicylate and his friends, although in somewhat severly depleted number. He also introduce skiing to the people of Mirrglbury, who became avid fans of it and would often go into the mountains to ski the slopes there. The downhill skiing in Mirrglbury, once it had been established, was much better than the downhill skiing in upstate New York had been.

Eventually, though, as all people eventually do, Goddamn Goddamn died. His wife Teresa died first, in a skiing accident, and when Jacob Lewis, now in his fifties, heard the news about what had happened he was so shocked that he had a heart attack right then and died on the spot, and so Brooklyn his daughter was made king. And because Brooklyn is not Rina, and Rina was the twelfth king of Mirrglbury, and the eleventh king comes before the twelfth, then by process of elimination you my most esteemed readers can now figure out definitively that Goddamn Goddamn must have been the tenth king of Mirrglbury after all, and that his daughted Brooklyn Goddamn must then be the eleventh, and that Rina must have come after Brooklyn.

Well, Brooklyn was a pretty good king herself, having been raised well and set a good example by her parents and her grandfather the doctor, whose profession she had taken over upon his death, and as a doctor she had built up a good strong moral and technical basis for herself prior to being made king upon the death of her parents, which was a very sad and traumatizing event for her, but which she was strong enough to get past and to overcome the grief of well enough to continue living just fine, to continue living a normal and happy life, and she found herself a husband and his name was also, coincidentally, Jacob, except that Brooklyn Goddamn didn't know that it was a coincidence because she had always thought that her father had been named Goddamn Goddamn and had never actually found out, though it had been told to her on many an occasion, that her father's real name - his birth name, his given name, the name that appeared on his social security card and his birth certificate and all of his legal documents back in Brooklyn, where people believed that he had died in a skiing accident, having gone off a cliff (they could see the tracks of his skiis leading off the edge of the cliff), even though they never did find his body) - was actually Jacob Lewis Donahue. And Brooklyn and Jacob decided to go off and start a doctor's office and take care of sick people and so on and so forth instead of her being king, which she found not intellectually stimulating enough, and not really to her liking, because really her calling was medicine. And so it was that King Brooklyn abdicated her throne and went off to start a private practice with her husband Jacob, and they lived happily ever after. The end.

There was a raffle held to determine the new king and the new king was determined to be a teenager named Rina, and you have already heard all about her and her adventures and her ignominious end, and so I don't really need to go into any of that stuff, now do I. No, I don't. So, then, now you know, and we'll be moving on now.
* * *
And then suddenly the nothingness vanished and his skiis hit pavement and Jacob Lewis Donahue felt his legs crumple under him and he pitched forward and rolled over and over several times until he hit something hard - a tree maybe, or a rock, and finally he came to a halt in a convoluted, tangled, very painful knot of skiis and legs and arms and head and torso in there somewhere, all mixed up together, and oh goddamn goddamn goddamn it HURT!!! "Goddamn goddamn goddamn!" he cried, trying not to cry but knowing that he most likely probably was going to because Jacob Lawrence had never been in so much pain before in the entire course of all three and twenty of his years of his young life.

The people who had been standing around on the plaza talking about nothing were startled to hear someone screaming faintly in the distance. And then they all seemed to realise all at once that the far-off distant sound was not only coming closer and becoming louder by the second, and very quickly, but that the sound was also being produced at some point above them, in the air, and all as one the people who had been milling around in the plaza all looked up at the sky, and there, lo and behold, they beheld there a person who was falling from the sky, screaming and flailing his arms about in the air as though he might in that way somehow stop his extremely speedy descent to the earth below him. Then he hit the ground, very hard, and tumbled howling across the plaza until he hit the wall of one of the shops that stood about its exterior perimeter and came to a halt at last, upsidedown and in a tangled messy knot of legs and arms and something else, but he was howling and shrieking, "Goddamn goddamn goddamn!" like an incoherent lunatic, but despite all of this all of the people who happened to have just witnessed this very self-same person falling to earth out of the sky could now see for themselves that the person was, in fact and after all, a young man, perhaps twenty-three years of age, with dark goggles on and blonde hair and an orange jacket made out of some material - acrylic fiber, like Gor-tex, actually - which they could not seem to readily identify, which fit very close to his body, and a pair of narrow black trousers that were apparently made out of the same material, and these funny boots that were all different colors, red and black and blue, and the boots had these peculiar appendages at their tips that were somehow attached to a pair of long flattened painted yellow wooden sticks that extended out from his feet for several feet in both directions, frontwards and backwards, so that he really did come off looking quite unbelievably ridiculous to their minds, with all of his ski gear on, and many would have thought that he really looked like a spaceman if any of them had actually known what a spaceman was, much less what he looked like, in the first place. And come to think of it, they didn't really know what goggles were either, and so they thought that the dark frames that covered his eyes like the visor on a helmet were perhaps some kind of a protective device, which in fact they were, but the people didn't know what they were made out of, and neither did they imagine for even a moment that the new visitor could actually see out of them either. They also decided that his name must be Goddamn because he kept on screaming it out at them. And, because the young man was clearly also badly injured from his fall and because of that he was in a fair amount of pain, they sort of looked at each other and then shrugged and moved forward, all as a unit, and went over to him and then they helped him to right himself and to untangle himself from himself and the skiis, and then they unclipped the skiis from his funny boots and carried him and the skiis both to the nearest doctors' office and took him in to see the doctor, who decreed that this Goddamn Goddamn fellow had broken both of his legs and would have to be laid up for a very long time until he had healed, or else he would never be able to walk properly again, if at all.

To make a long story short (ha ha! This? Are you kidding me?) let us simply suffice it to say that Lewis Donahue was very much bewildered by all of this, as were the people who carried his skiis and found that the long, curved pieces of wood were coated in ice and his boots covered in snow, and then doctor who found that his patient had five fingers on each of his hands instead of the customary six, and similarly was possessed of five toes on each foot instead of the usual six toes, as all of the people of Mirrglbury, Lovely Valley, Nearest Seaprot, and indeed the entire world were themselve in the possession of. They all of them found it very odd. While Lewis was laid up in bed with both of his legs and one of his arms wrapped up in primitive casts until the bones had reset themselves, the doctor's young and attractive daughter, who had taken an immediate interest in this peculiar but young and attractive stranger who had fallen from the sky and wore strange clothing and had only five fingers on each of his hands and only five toes on each of his feet and who didn't understand a word that was spoken to him, would spend hours and hours at his bedside every day, reading to him and talking to him and trying to learn his language even as she was trying to teach him to understand her own. It was a long and difficult project, this breaking down of the language barrier, but luckily for the both of them young Lewis had no lack of spare free time because he couldn't walk or move around until his bones had been finally reset. And so by the time that he was finally given crutches and allowed to walk around on his own again, Jacob Lewis Donahue had developed himself a keen appreciation of the lovely daughter of the doctor, and the both of them were communicating with fair skill and even some moderate accuracy.

Jacob was not particularly thrilled with what had happened to him, whatever that was - and he never was able to figure it out, although you and I both know that dear Jacob Lewis had the good fortune to fall through a hole in the space-time continuum during his fall, or maybe he would have died - probably. We just don't know. But that was kind of what Lewis figured, so he didn't complain all that much, because falling into a weird medieval village where the people all had an extra finger on each hand and an extra toe on each foot and where they all spoke a different language which sounded like no language that he had ever heard before - and mind you, as a taxi driver he had heard a great deal of different languages - and where the doctor's - well, he guessed that the man was a doctor, because he came up and checked on the progress of Jacob's injuries every day - daughter - and he guessed that the girl was the man's daughter because of the way the two treated each other, but then again he could have been wrong here, too - who was absolutely beautiful - attended to him day and night and tried very dilligently to teach him her own language, as well as to learn his language as well, foreign as the two dialects were relative to each other. And Lewis found himself starting to really fall for this girl, even though he could hardly even talk to her, and so he found that each day it was easier for him accept and to be okay with what had happened to him, because he was around this girl who really seemed to like him and who he was really starting to like too himself, and so it was all okay.

Some time passed, and then Lewis was off of the crutches and onto a cane, and then his splints were taken off and the sling on his arm with them, and he hardly had to use the cane at all, and then by the time a year and a half of a year had passed he was back to being able to move around just as easily as he had been able to before he fell out of the sky and broke both of his legs and one arm and one of his skiis, which had been put up on the mantle of the royals hearth in the palace two days after he fell from the sky and which he had not seen since he first arrived at the doctor's office, which was also the doctor's house, which was also the doctor's daughter's house, which was also the house where Jacob Lewis had now been living for a year and a half of a year. And by this time Lewis could actually speak the local language pretty well - well enough to manage, anyways. And he had also begun to notice that, even though he had told people that his name was Jacob Lewis Donahue, people were calling him Goddamn Goddamn. He didn't exactly appreciate this at first, but by the time that he had been there in Mirrglbury for a year and a half of a year he had pretty much gotten used to it and didn't really mind so much anymore. In fact he thought it was kind of amusing. And it had a sort of a catchy ring to it: Goddamn Goddamn Donahue. It was okay. Except of course no one ever had the Donahue part on there, but whatever. He could live with it.
* * *
Jacob Lewis Donahue was twenty-three years old when he became Goddamn Goddamn, and circumstances by which he managed to go through this magical transformation did not, interestingly enough, come about through him, Jacob Lewis, having filled out all of the appropriate legal documents and forms and then submitted those documents and forms to the appropriate legal authorities in order to have effected a legal name change to that effect. No indeed - nothing so mundane. And anyhow, no proper legal authority would ever allow a person, no matter who it might be, to legally and officially change their name to Goddamn Goddamn. It just isn't done.

Now, when Jacob Lewis was twenty-three and had something very odd happen to him, the year was 2006 and the month was January. Jacob Lewis was working as a taxi driver part of the time, going to school at the local university during the rest of his time, and going on skiing trips in his free time. Because, you know, New York gets a surprising lot of snow, it's true. So when Jacob Lewis, who went by the name of Lewis because he liked it better than Jake, which is what he had gone by throughout his entire grade school and high school careers and had elected to change once and for all upon his first entrance into college some years prior to all of this, wasn't driving taxis for grumpy New Yorkers on their way to the airport (La Guardia, you know) or to work if they were very rich and didn't want to take the train or the subway or even the bus and didn't feel like driving their own personal vehicle, or going to school, or doing homework or studying, then he was out in the rural Appalachian Mountains with his old college buddies going on skiing trips. He did both cross-country (or Nordic, as some people like to refer to it as) skiing and downhill skiing, but seen as New York, just like pretty much all of the east coast, is in essence basically flat, especially when one compares it all to the west coast and the spectacular mountains of the Rockies and even the Olympics and the Cascades, and of course the Sierra Nevada, which actually means "snowy mountains" in Spanish, in case you were wondering, well, he pretty much stuck with the Nordic or cross-country variety of skiing.

Lewis was on one such of these cross-country or Nordic skiing trips with some five or six of his old college buddies, and all of them had packed into a single sport utility vehicle (or SUV, as some people choose to refer to them as) and had driven up to the mountains, or at least the east coast equivalent thereof, and they were all staying in a little log cabin of the Adirondack architectural variety for the short week between when they were done with seeing family and so on and so forth in town for the holidays and when they all had to go back to their jobs and their schools and their civilian lives and so on and so forth, and it was the second day to the last of their vacation, the third of January, 2006, and the group were all out skiing together, and Lewis was really going strong - he was way ahead of all of his buddies, who were somewhere behind him, and he knew that this wasn't a safe way to go about Nordic skiing in the mountains on the third day of January in the Adirondack Mountains - or was it the Appalachians? Whatever. The point is that he had gotten separated from the group of fellow skiers that he was with, but that he didn't really care because it was a really lovely day outside and there he was in the beauty of the mountains and he felt good, I mean, he was really in his element, in the skiers' groove, you know? I mean, he just felt like he could keep on skiing forever without even getting a little tiny bit tired. And so he didn't slow down, but instead he just kept going and going and he was almost laughing because he was so happy and then suddenly he skiied through a break in the trees and suddenly there was no more snow under him, he was going so fast, and then suddenly he was flying through thin air and he looked down and there was nothing below him for what looked like forever, just a big deep gaping depression in the earth and the low-lying clouds that filled it. Jacob Lewis Donahue had cross-country skiied over a cliff. He stared in awe and abject terror and horror and disbelief and amazement and, interestingly enough, curiousity and - and peace. He was just soaring through the air - it felt like flying - and everything seemed to be moving in slow motion - and it felt like a dream - and he could really believe right then that he was never going to feel gravity having its usual effect on him, that instead he was just going to keep on flying over that low-lying cloud forever and ever and on into eternity...

But then his ski tips turned downwards and then he turned downwards and then he was plummeting towards that low-lying bank of cloud below him - so very far below him! - and then it was coming up at him so very quickly, and he was screaming, "YAAAAHHHH!!!!" And then everything went totally, utterly, and completely dark, and there was nothing around him at all.
* * *
There was once upon a time, many long years before the first invention of that famous art school, much less its final and inevitable creation, a king of Mirrglbury whose name was Goddamn Goddamn. His reign fell somewhere between the reign of King Tulip and King Zurblat Jimpkins, which is a huge space of time, I mean really an enormous temporal interval really, in which you are meant to figure out when good old Goddamn Goddamn lived, but, well, maybe, just maybe I am not going to be too lazy to try and make the effort to narrow down the many years between these two rulers and so give you a better idea of when our dear friend King Goddamn Goddamn actually had his life and deeds and so on and so forth, so give us a minute, will you? You can spare a minute, can't you? Thanks. Okay then, the reign and life and times and so on and so forth of good old Mr. Goddamn Goddamn happened to fall between Rina and Bobby Duncan. I'll actually be so kind as to narrow the time interval down even further - yes, yet further still! Remarkable! - and tell you that dear old Goddamn Goddamn was the tenth king of Mirrglbury. Or the eleventh. Which it actually was - tenth or eleventh - is really up for debate. Well, okay, so not really, but I am the author and I can tell you that it is an issue that is currently up for debate if I want to tell you so or even if I don't, because as the author it is my prerogative. So. In your face, sexy mama! Take that! Burn! By which I mean, you may decide whether King Goddamn Goddamn was the tenth of Mirrglbury's kings or if he was the eleventh based upon whichever ordinal better suits your means and purposes, and I will not disabuse you of your notion, however mistaken, erroneous, ill-conceived, or ridiculous it may turn out to ultimately be. So. Have fun with that.

The point of this discussion is that Mr. Goddamn Goddamn was once upon a long ago time one of the many kings of Mirrglbury. And now you will be wanting to know from me for what reason this dude was notable, and lo and behold, I will soon now be telling you. Or perhaps instead I will simply be relating in my own little fashion one of the many mundane little events which happened to have at one long ago time colored the dull and pointless existence of Mr. King Goddamn Goddamn, but really you don't know, do you? Well, I will be so kind as to tell you: you don't. So why don't you shut up and listen already, hey? Thank you. Proceeding on.

Mr. Goddamn Goddamn was born in Brooklyn, New York, and his name - the name given to him by his parents and written on his birth certificate and on his social security card and on every one of his legal documents - passports, driver's licenses, income tax forms, health insurance verifications - was not actually, in fact, as you probably were not expecting given my precedent nominal peculiarities, Goddamn Goddamn at all. It was Lewis.

Jacob Lewis Donahue was born in Brooklyn, New York, in the United States of America on the North American continent of the planet Earth in the year of our lord 1982, on the tenth month of the year - that would be October, for those of you my esteemed readers to lazy to do the calculations to figure out exactly which month is the tenth of any year, and especially, and specifically, AD 1982, which just so happens to be the year that Jacob Lewis Donahue was born in Brooklyn, New York - on the thirteenth day. If you are curious as to know whether October 13th, 1982 was a Friday or not, well, unfortunately for you I don't know the answer to that. Look it up on the internets - I am quite certain that you will find the answer there if at all. But anyhow.

Now, I know for a fact that you are currently wondering how the newborn Brooklynite Jacob Lewis Donahue came to be the king of Mirrglbury Goddamn Goddamn, but I do kindly implore you patience, because if you will but wait a moment then I do fully assure you that the answer to this peculiar mystery will soon be revealed, at least in part if not in its entirety, which indeed no one but the supreme being, if you believe in that sort of thing, knows all of, if anyone does at all. I mean, why do things happen at all? Why should he have been named Jacob Lewis Donahue and not Lewis Jacob Donahue? Well, I will tell you - that would be because the former of the name structures sounds better, nay, infinitely superior, to the second and latter of the two possible permutations of the name. And that is why he was named what he was. But why was he created in the first place? I mean, who really knows? (No, no, no! That is not it at all. I'm talking the metaphysical here, not the biological, you pervert. For goodness' sakes, child, I mean really now. Goodness gracious me. Look, you just shut up and listen, will you, or this blasted story's never going to be finished and then won't you regret it! Yes, you will regret it! Don't argue with me!) The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind. The answer is blowing in the wind.
* * *
Hey. Which is why that last chapter was so short. See, I saw a problem and I fixed it. BLAH!!!
* * *
* * *
Bob Pringle was born in a little wayside hut in the mountains, far from any kind of proper birthing facilities. His mother and father were on their long and weary way from Nearest Seaprot, where they lived, to Mirrglbury, where their very wealthy relatives lived. Now, you may think it peculiar and you may ask why it was that Bob Pringle's mother was travelling through the mountains when she was clearly so close to term on her pregnancy - didn't she know that it isn't safe to travel when you are about to give birth? What if the baby comes during the journey and you are impossibly far from any of the proper birthing facilities? And right you are to wonder and inquire about this, because as it turned out this danger of travelling while nearing one's child-labor date was exactly what befell the poor unfortunate parents of Bob Pringle. But, you see, the very wealthy relatives that they were on their way to visit at the time were fairly old - getting on in their years, one might describe them as. And Bob Pringle's parents were hoping to be made their wealthy relatives' sole inheritors, and thus obtain vast amounts of cash and become fabulously wealthy and influential themselves. And so they went to great - some might even say that they were absurd - lengths to humor and flatter those wealthy relatives, and one of those lengths happened to be travelling to visit those wealthy relatives on very short notice despite bad weather and the very clear and present risk of Bob Pringle's mother possibly going into labor while she was still in the midst of her journey and very far from the appropriate birthing facilities, too far to travel before the baby came, which was what happened to her, which is why it was that Bob Pringle had ended up being born in a little wayside hut in the mountains in the middle of a very bad storm and half of the way between Nearest Seaprot and Mirrglbury.
* * *
Ann-Marie Roche-Moutonee's parents consisted of her mom, Lisa-Marie Roche, and her dad, Dunklebean Moutonnee, who were divorced. Her dad was a very quiet man who enjoyed artistic flower arrangement as a hobby to relieve stress in the evenings after he came home from being at work all day, but his real job, the one that he used to support his family and which caused him all of the stress that he had to artistically arrange flowers every night to relieve, was working as a security guard for the International Nearest Seaprot Wine Company warehouses in the industrial district. Nearest Seaprotan wine was very well prized among the peoples of whatever world this was that all of these people you have been hearing about were inhabitants of, and therefore very valuable, and so the International Nearest Seaprot Wine Company warehouses were a prime target for many would-be heist participants, and this was why Dunklebean Moutonnee got so stressed out during the days he spent at his security guard job that he had to relieve it at nights by artistically arranging flowers. Why, in just the few years that he had been working there, the warehouses had already been attempted to be robbed more than three times, although only one of those robbery attempts had occurred not at night, but during the day when he was actually at his job, guarding the warehouses securely, and that had been conducted by exactly one drunk hobo in a trenchcoat, who had shouted, "Gimme all your booze!" before falling over unconscious and throwing up all over the warehouse guard's feet, though not Dunklebean Moutonnee's, because he was on the other side of the warehouse at the time and did not witness the attempted robbery. So had the attempt been thwarted, just as all of the night robberies had been thwarted, although, to be sure, the night robbery threats had been considerably more well-thought-out and therfore much more scary for all parties involved in them. But nonetheless. Ann-Marie's dad was a very high-strung man.

Lisa-Marie Roche, Ann-Marie Roche-Moutonnee's mom, was a professional hairdresser and gossiper at the local hair salon and gossip spreading station, Fabio D'Raunche's Fruit Kingdom. Her specialty was giving scalp rubs and permanents, as well as the latest breaking news updates on which local housewife was having secret liasons with which local traffic cop who was married to the grocer's eldest daughter, whose sister had come down with a nasty rash that the grocer's wife had taken the girl - the youngest of the grocer's children, mind, Eleazar or whatever her name was, poor girl - to the doctor three times about only in the past week, but no one could seem to figure out what had caused it - although apparently that sort of a rash can be gotten from Daansgaard-Obbler plants, which there was a great huge whopping patch of in the woods behind the school, you know, the ones where the Dooglebott girl was found a few years back wandering around simply plum out of her mind, amnesia or something - well, anyhow, the baker's boy, Timmy or Tommy, he apparently has a rash similar to the one that the grocer's girl has, and this sort of a correlation, this kind of a coincidence, well, you know, it leads one to wonder, now doesn't it? And what with the baker's sister having all of those problems these days, what with all of her drinking, well it's really begun to get out of control you know, and her aunt's a member of the Lovely Valley Liberation Front, you know - it's all just a bunch of those loony animal rights people, you know, masquerading as an actual legitimate political organisation, but really they just want to take your money and use it to buy weapons so that they can steal people's pets and let them all free into the forest to live as they are meant to or some such nonsense, you know. Absolute loonies, I say. But of course that's just my opinion. Oh, hon, did you want those highlights to be brown or grey? That was what Lisa-Marie Roche did. She was at work from eight in the morning to ten at night, and she spent most of her time at the bowling alley, which she occasionally took her daughter to, on the occasions when Ann-Marie was in her custody, which was for two weeks out of every month. The other two weeks Ann-Marie spent with her father, Dunklebean.

Lisa-Marie Roche was on a bowling team. She had many boyfriends as well, who drifted in and out of her bowling group and other groups, or no groups of bowlers at all. It seemed to the girl Ann-Marie that every week her mother was on a different boyfriend, but it was probably just as well for both of them that none of the relationships worked out, because most of the guys that Lisa-Marie dated were pretty much losers. The bowling team was called Strike Force Delta, and the members all wore black bomber jackets with the name spray-painted on the back in stencil letters and day-glo neon green, and Lisa-Marie got her daughter a small child-size version of one of these jackets and tried to teach the girl to bowl. Unfortunately, though Ann-Marie enjoyed it, she was no good at bowling, and so her mother one day decreed that young Ann-Marie would not be joining the Strike Force Delta bowling team, thereby crushing the seven-year-old's hopes and dreams of becoming a professional bowler. It was a defining moment in her life. From then on she sat on the cracked vinyl seat with her knees drawn up to her chest, watching in silence as Strike Force Delta talked and laughed and played their matches against other teams or practiced for upcoming matches against other teams and as her mother Lisa-Marie flirted with whomever was her boyfriend at the moment, as well as the majority of the rest of the males present on any given bowling night.

Ann-Marie had very little appreciation for her mother. She enjoyed spending time with her father more, but not much more, because Dunklebean Moutonnee was, as we mentioned before, a highly uptight person. He had to be sure that his little girl was absolutely safe at every moment, which made for a boring, slightly terrifying, paranoia-inducing lifestyle. When Ann-Marie finally got fed up with it all, she ran away to Mirrglbury to attend the art school there. She never saw her parents again.

Oh, sorry. I forgot to mention that Ann-Marie Roche-Moutonnee was born and raised in Lovely Valley, as were both of her parents. Sorry about that.
* * *
Bismuth Sub-salicylate's parents were named Alicia Sub-salicylate - she was his mom - and Maury Sub-salicylate - that was his dad - and they both worked in the giant department store downtown as clerks. His mom was a clerk in the knit items department, and she also knitted items to sell there - bags, bikinis, scarves and hats and gloves and socks, the ever popular afgan blanket, and occasionally other items, such as dishes and ball gowns and pet dogs. She was a very talented knitter.

Bismuth Sub-salicylate's dad worked as a clerk in the garden tools department, and ever since Bis was a little boy he used to show his son each of the various garden tools that the giant department store sold, which is to say every garden tool ever known to mankind and a few that weren't, and he would tell the boy what they each did, and how one went about using them, and how to repair each of them, and how much each of them cost, and so on and so forth until young Bismuth knew just about everything that there was to know about garden tools. It is probably a good hypothesis to make if you are hypothesizing that this childhood indoctrination is where Bis got the interest in royal hedge maze mulching that would overpower him in later life. After all, it is a well-known fact among various psychological professionals that a person will always tend to return to his or her roots when distressed, and Bis in his later life was certainly sorely distressed when that awful girl told him that he was no good at artistic flower arranging, even though, between you and me, he actually was pretty good at it after all, and she just wanted to discourage him from pursuing the field as a career because she was no good at it herself and she was jealous of his talent therein. That one little comment that she made threw Bis into a depression which lasted several years, which, even though it did eventually lead to him discovering what was to be his true calling in life, still there were more pleasant ways that he could have found at as much, and so this just goes to show you, my most esteemed readers, that you should always be nice to everyone that you meet, all of the time, because otherwise you might say something unkind that affects that other person greatly and causes far more damage than ever you expected or intended, even if you were joking in the first place, and then you will have irrevocably damaged someone's life, and that is not a nice thing to do. So you shouldn't take the chance, and you shouldn't say that mean thing in the first place. Just be nice, and then I promise you that the world will end up being a nicer place to live in in its own turn.
* * *
There were leaves everywhere, collected in great drifts in the gutters and splattered in great slimy masses across the sidewalks and the lawn and ground to a nasty brown fibrous pulp under hoof and wheel in the roads. Bismuth Sub-salicylate, ten years old, was walking on his way to school that morning, scuffing his feet in the leaves as he always did on his way to school in the fall walking, although it was not so satisfying an activity now as it had been before it rained and the leaves got all soggy and wet and stuck together like - well, like big wet dirty masses of fallen leaves, which is, incidentally, what they were. Bis didn't really want to go to school that day, nor did he really want to be at school once he got there, because he had a math test that day and he hated subtraction with a passion. Recess would be lame because the other kids would all want to play kickball, which he hated with a passion, though not quite as much as he hated subtraction, because at least he knew the rules to kickball and could even be good at it occasionally - he was no good at subtracting numbers from each other, and he knew it. Plus the playground would be wet, and if he did end up playing kickball with his classmates, he knew that he was liable to slip on the leaves and fall to the pavement and hurt himself, and then all the other kids would probably laugh at him. I wish that it would snow, he thought.

Bismuth Sub-salicylate got to school eventually, on time, as usual, and went to class, on time, as usual, and studied in turn spelling, geography, and then, inevitably, subtraction. And then it was time for the test. And the teacher handed out the test to the students, and Bis got his test, and when the teacher said that they could he and all of the rest of the students flipped their tests over and did the questions in the time that the teacher gave them to do them - a period of about twenty minutes. And Bis did his best to answer all of the questions, but he was unable to complete all of the problems on the test before the teacher finally called time, and then she came around and collected all of the tests, and then she scolded Bis because he was still trying to finish one of the problems on the test that he hadn't been able to finish (of which there were quite a few) and she had called time and he hadn't stoppe when she called time like he was supposed to do, and then she collected his test and put it on the pile with the rest of the tests, and she told him as she did this that she was going to take a point or two off of his test score because he had been working on it after she had called time, which was a kind of cheating, and she was not going to allow or tolerate any kind of cheating in this class, no indeed. And there were at least five questions on the test that he hadn't even started on, much less completed. So Bismuth was more than a little bit depressed over the whole thing. He looked out the window at the last few wet, unhappy leaves that still clung to the almost bare branches of the tree that grew outside of the window, and the grey, overcast sky, and he thought of the wet leaves that were all over the playground and were making it too slippery to play kickball on, and he thought of how he would fall if he played kickball at recess that day, and then he rested his head in his hands rather glumly and thought, I wish that it would snow.

Then the teacher told them about King Zurblat Jimpkins, and then the bell rang for recess. And Bismuth Sub-salicylate walked out of the classroom and down the hall and out the door onto the playground for recess instead of running out there like all of the other kids were doing, and like he always did usually, though not today. And he got outside, and there were the other kids, lo and behold, playing kickball. He just kind of stood there for a while, staring at them playing their game and not making any move to join them. He wanted somebody to play with him, but all of the other kids were playing kickball except for smelly Delilah, and he didn't want to play with him, and he didn't want to play kickball either, because he knew that if he went and played kickball with the other kids then he would slip on the wet leaves and fall and make a fool of himself and all of the other kids would laugh at him, so instead of doing anything he just stood at the edge of the playground and stared at the other kids playing kickball and at smelly Delilah playing whatever he was playing in the dirt next to the fence that surrounded the playground, and then he looked up at the sky and it started to rain. I wish that it would snow, he thought glumly, but he knew that it wasn't going to. The other kids cheered as one of the more athletic students scored a home run. Bismuth made a soft groaning sound and turned around and started to walk very slowly back towards the door to the school. He was halfway down the hall to his classroom when the bell rang to signal the end of recess, and then he was back in class and the teacher was telling them about a new group project that she had assigned for them all to work on, and these were the groups that she had put the students into, and could they please all go and sit with the other members of their groups and begin discussing the project. Then she read off each of the groups in turn, and Bis went and sat with his group on the other side of the classroom. Smelly Delilah was in his groups. So was Deano, the school bully, and Marguerite, the class fat kid. It was a sucky group. Bis looked longingly towards the rain drizzling outside of the window. I wish that it would snow, he thought.

Bis and his group members discussed the group project, or at least tried to. Smelly Delilah wouldn't respond to anything that anybody else said to him, and he spent the entire time that the teacher had given the students to work on their group projects tugging on the toes of his boots, each in turn, and rocking back and forth on his butt and humming tunelessly to himself. Bis stopped trying to include him in the conversation after he asked smelly Delilah five times whether the other wanted to work on the poster or the presentation or what and got only tuneless humming as a response, and then asked if smelly Delilah wanted to have any part in the group's project at all and got no answer from the other at all, and then Bis threw up his hands and rolled his eyes and said, "Fine, then, have it your way, smelly Delilah. We don't want you in our group anyways, so it's just as well that you don't want to help us on the project at all. Whatever." Then he turned to Deano the school bully and tried to get him to help them talk about the group project. But Deano the school bully had no desire to discuss posters and presentations with the other two group members. Instead he interrupted Bismuth and said, "Hey Buttmunch, you want to see something awesome?"

"What is it?" asked Bis, who was really starting to get fed up with these people.

"Look, watch this," said Deano the school bully, and then he punched smelly Delilah in the gut. Smelly Delilah began to shriek, and then the teacher came over to ask what was going on, and then Deano the school bully looked up at her innocently and pointed to Bis and said sweetly to her, "He punched him in the gut, Teacher. I tried to stop him, but he just really wanted to hurt someone who couldn't defend himself, I guess. I'm very sorry that I didn't tell you earlier. I didn't think that he was actually going to do it, Teacher, because he's usually so nonviolent, you know."

Then the teacher got very angry at Bismuth and told him that he was in a very big lot of trouble and that he had better march himself right down to the principal's office right this instant, and that he had better apologise to smelly Delilah at once, or else he was going to be in a lot worse trouble than he was in right now, young man. And throughout the entirety of this Marguerite the class fat kid was giggling uproariously and made no effort to explain to the teacher what had really happened, that Deano the school bully had been the one who actually punched smelly Delilah in the gut and that he had lied when he said that it had been Bis who had punched smelly Delilah in the gut. No indeed - the whole affair was just fun and games for Marguerite the class fat kid, and of course Deano the school bully just smiled at Bis the whole time very smugly. His smile especially broadened when the teacher thanked him for being such a thoughtful student, and of course when, when Bis tried to protest his innocence and explain to the teacher about what had really happened, she just got angrier and told him not to lie or he would be in even worse trouble then he already was. She told him again to apologise to smelly Delilah. Bis sighed and did, grumpily, muttering. The teacher told him that he would have to speak up, that she couldn't hear him. He repeated the apology. Then she told him to say it louder, so that smelly Delilah could hear, and to speak to smelly Delilah, not to her, because he was apologising to smelly Delilah, not to her. By this time most of the class had fallen silent and was watching Bis and giggling softly behind their hands. Bismuth said very clearly, "I'm sorry that Deano the school bully punched you in the gut." Then the teacher got furious and dragged him by the ear down to the principal's office, and sat him down in the big chair in front of the principal's desk, and then the principal gave him an angry talking-to about how it was wrong to hurt people, especially to hurt those who were weaker than you and couldn't defend themselves from you, and of course when Bis told the principal that he had not been the one who hit smelly Delilah, that it had been Deano the school bully and that he'd been framed, and that Marguerite the class fat kid knew the truth because she'd seen it, but that she wouldn't tell the teacher because she thought it was funny to see Bis get in trouble even though he hadn't done anything, then the principal got more angry and told him not to tell lies. Then the principal wrote out on a form, "Bismuth punched a fellow classmate in the gut while they were discussing a group project. He then lied and tried to place the blame for the deed on another classmate." He handed the form to Bis and told him to get both of his parents to sign it, and then to bring the signed form back to school the next day or he would get into more trouble than he was already in. "Now go back to class, and I had better not have you coming back in here again, Mr. Sub-salicylate," said the principal, and he shooed Bis out of his office and back to class. Bis slouched back to class as he was told, thinking about how much all of this day had sucked so far, and when he went into the classroom the teacher had begun talking to the class about something else, and everyone was back at their desks listening quietly, and when he came in every head in the room snapped over to look at him at the sound of the door opening. He froze.

"Go back to your seat, Bismuth," said the teacher coldly, glaring at him. "And don't interrupt my class anymore."

As Bis nodded and walked glumly back to his seat, Marguerite the class fat kid snorted in laughter, along with pretty much the whole class. Deano the school bully laughed loudest, and he smiled sweetly at Bis as Bis took his seat once more. Smelly Delilah stuck his tongue out at Bis as he walked past him. Bis decided that he didn't care. He put his head down on the desk, listening to the rain, which had worsened considerably while he had been in the principal's office, pounding outside and the teacher droning on about something that Bis didn't care about, and he thought, Man, oh, man, I wish that it would snow. But of course it didn't. The rain sort of let up. That was all.

Then finally the bell rang that signalled the end of class. The teacher told them all what the homework assignment was for the next day, and all of the students copied down the assignment in their notebooks, and then Bis packed up his stuff and trudged home through the rain. The leaves were even less fun to shuffle through now that it was actively raining on them, and by the time that Bis got home he was soaked through, bag, books, clothes, hair, everything. When he got home he gave the principal's form to his parents and explained what had happened, but of course they believed the principal instead of their own son, and they scolded Bis and sent him to bed with no supper. Bis went to do his homework, but found the ink smudged beyond readability from the rain, so badly that he couldn't read the homework assignment, much less start it, much less finish it. So then Bis, having no further reason to remain awake, put on his pajamas and brushed his teeth and went to bed. He lay in bed facing his bedroom window, thinking about the rain that he could hear beating on the roof outside and imagining how wonderful it would be if the next day school were cancelled, because he really, really did not want to go to school tomorrow. I wish, I wish, I wish that it would snow, he thought. Then he gradually fell asleep, thinking this phrase like a mantra. The wind blew fiercely outside.

When Bis woke up the next morning he was sure that it had snowed during the night. It was very cold, and the window was all white - but then he touched it and realised that the white was just steam. The window was all steamed up. Outside there was not a drop of snow, not an ice crystal - nothing. He groaned and got up to get ready for another day of ridiculously awful schooling. Maybe I'll go into artistic flower arrangement, he thought glumly. Then I could drop out and I wouldn't have to worry any more about subtraction or group projects. Artistic flower arrangers don't need to know history, spelling and math. And then I'd never have to see smelly Delilah, Deano the school bully, Marguerite the class fat kid, the principal, the teacher, or anyone at that stupid school ever again.

And as it turned out, this idea mulled over and around in Bismuth Sub-salicylate's brain for many weeks after its inception, becoming more and more attractive by the day. The logic behind it seemed impeccable. He went to the library and found out everything that he could about the field of artistic flower arrangement. He visited the art school and talked to the artistic flower arrangement faculty and students, and the more he found out about it, the more the boy realised that his suspicions about the lack of formal education needed to pursue such a career had been exactly right on. And so he did it. Bismuth Sub-salicylate dropped out of school on the day before the group project, which so far no one in his group, himself included, had done any work on, and walked right over to the art school and enrolled in the artistic flower arrangement department of it, and so his dreams were momentarily fulfilled. And he never saw any of the awful people at that horrible school ever again.
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So, okay, obviously that there just now was not the end of this story, because this story is actually not even half of the way to being done, although it certainly is getting there, slowly but surely. I just put in the words, 'the end' at the end of the chapter just now because I liked the way they sounded at the end of that chapter. They wanted to be written there. They asked me to put them there. And, what's more to boot, they just felt right being placed there. It was exactly the right thing to do, yes, it was, placing the words 'the end' at the end of the last chapter, misleading as it may have been. So there you have it, that was why I did it in the first place and I have no regrets, no, not a single one of them. So, enough of that. Let us proceed on, as Meriweather Lewis, the famous American explorer from the turn of the century before last, that is, the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century, and the first half of that famous duo of explorers, Lewis and Clark, for whom so many counties, cities, rivers, buildings, parks, and museums, among so many other things, have been named over the years, although none of them in Mirrglbury as Mirrglbury is kind of sort of in a different and totally separate universe from the one in which Lewis and Clark inhabited and lived and were a part of, said. Which he did, and often, in his travel journals, which you will find if you ever read the journals that he kept throughout the course of his very long and very dangerous and definitely somewhat tedious (at least somewhat, if not more) famous exploratory voyage which he took with his friend William Clark at the turn of that century that I mentioned before, I suppose that it was the eighteenth. Because then you'll read him saying that all of the time - well, okay, not all of it, but a fair amount if not even most of the time - and you will get sick of it, I guarantee it. So there you have it. Proceeding on.

Delwin Dorfwitz's daughter was named Alinila, which is a palindrome, which means that her name could be read both frontwards and backwards and both ways it would sound the same and be spelled the same and, in fact, be the same name: Alinila. Of course, if you added in her last name, which was not a palindrome in and of itself, then her name ceased to be palindromic in its entirety - it it was a palindrome then her full name would have to be Ztiwfrod Alinila Dorfwitz, which her father did consider naming her, but which he decided in the end against, mostly because of the many difficulties inherent in pronouncing a name like "Ztiwfrod", much less spelling it, which he had no real desire to curse his firstborn child with for the whole of her hopefully long and full life. So Alinila Dorfwitz the girl's name was, and Alinila Dorfwitz the girl's name remained. The name "Alinila Dorfwitz" would be the name that was eventually carved onto the stone of her tomb when she eventually died, which she did. Eventually.

There really is no point in my bringing up Alinila Dorfwitz and her palindromic name, because, though she did become king of Mirrglbury before she died, her reign turned out to be even less interesting then her father Delwin Dorfwitz's reign had been, and so there really is no point in my discussing anything about it, except perhaps if my point in writing this was to bore you to death, but if I did that then I would be guilty of murder and then I would be arrested and convicted and have to spend the rest of my life in prison, which would be really very extremely lame, and is something that I really don't want to do. So I will forgo a description of any of the boring events of Alinila Dorfwitz's term as king, the most interesting of which is the fact that her first name is a palindrome, and instead only bore you half to death, which I may actually already have done. Too bad. I'll try not to kill you too badly, for my sake as well as yours. Because I don't think you want to die any more than I want to kill you, unless of course you are suicidal, in which case I strongly urge you to please not kill yourself, because that would be a terribly sad and tragic thing, and I do guarantee that I would be sad, and even if I never found out there is at least one person in your life who would be devastated if you were to do so stupid and selfish a thing, and for that reason you should not do it. I want to kill suicidal people even less than I want to kill other people, which is not very much, because I don't actually want to kill anybody at all, not even the teacher that I had who failed me without telling me or even giving me a clue beforehand that he was going to, or even the friend that I once had who stopped speaking to me for no reason and never told me why, or even any of the many, many obnoxious celebrities out there who make our lives so superficial and pointless at times. I don't even want to kill the president, who is in my opinion the worst president in the history of the universe, except for the Borgia pope, who wasn't a president at all so it doesn't really matter anyhow, and who was in my mind the devil incarnate, and maybe except for Hitler and Stalin, neither of whom was actually a president either, and neither of whom being actually pertinent to this analogy either. I might kick him in the shin, or even in the balls, or maybe punch him in the nose, but I wouldn't kill him. I don't do that sort of thing. So, the point that you should take away from this very long and rather pointless discussion it as follows: don't die. Please and thank you. And I do mean that. Proceeding on.

After the Dorfwitzs came a long line of utterly dull and uninteresting rulers of Mirrglbury, whose lives I will not go into because, as I stated earlier, I've no wish to bore you to death, only half to death, and certainly not twice or thrice to death, and if I were to go into even one of these many ridiculously boring kings then that is what I would be doing. I will not even tell you any of their names, which are in and of themselves enough to put a person into critical boredom, and are therefore much too dangerous even to be mentioned. You probably feel bored even knowing that they had names. So let's not say anything more about it. Forget that I even said anything. Because I didn't. I said nothing. What?
* * *
* * *
About a hundred or less years after the art school was first founded - maybe fifty years after it - there was this one king of Mirrglbury who was named Delwin. Delwin Dorfwitz. Now, Delwin Dorfwitz was not a bad king, but then again neither was he a really good king, either. You see, Delwin Dorfwitz was not really cut out to be a king at all. He was the sort of man who is meant to be a short order cook, or perhaps a pastry chef, or even a washer of dishes in a seedy taco and burrito restaurant in the bad part of town who is paid minimum wage and eats tacos and burritos all of the time because he can have those foods for free at the restaurant that he works at and because he can't really afford to buy other foods for himself because he only makes enough money working at his dead-end job to pay the rent on his rundown apartment and the utilities and the cable bill. Delwin Dorfwitz could very easily have turned out to be any of those things, but he had not been cut out to be the king of Mirrglbury, even though that is exactly what he ended up doing for a living.

Delwin also turned out to be one of those surprisingly rare, or actually rather common, depending on who it is that you ask, Mirgglburian kings who happened to have some interesting adventures during the course of his reign.

One day King Delwin was out and about in his little palatial compound, dreaming, or rather daydreaming, about a situation in which he himself was in the kitchen of a rundown old restaurant on the edge of town, cooking a taco for himself out of the scraps left over from the night's restaurant patrons before he went back to his apartment with its leaky roof and its space heaters that didn't seem to work at all any longer, when suddenly he found himself in the vast and quiet emptiness that was the royal library of books and associated knowledge. (That actually was what it was called - that was the official title, the one that was pasted up just outside the door on a little golden plaque. It was all there on that plaque in little golden letters: The Royal Library of Books and Associated Knowledge. Open whenever the door is unlocked. Every last word of that was printed on the plaque, and if you don't believe me, well, then that is just altogether too bad, because I'm not going to tell you how you can go to the library and see the little plaque for yourself, because, first of all, I don't feel like it, you doubting doubter of doubtfulness, you, and because second of all, I don't actually know how to get there from here, much less to get there from wherever it is that you are currently, so you will just have to take my word for it and believe me that that was, in fact and truthfulness, exactly what the little plaque outside the door of the royal library of books and associated knowledge read.) He shrugged his shoulders, said, "What the heck, it's about time I read a book or two anyhow," and went over to one of the many, many shelves that lined the library's long - indeed, they looked almost infinite to him at the moment - white plaster walls. He pulled out the first book that he saw, which happened to be a rather large and flashy volume on the shelf directly in front of him at almost exactly eye level, and read the title, which was written on both the book's spine and its cover in fancy gold letters (what is it with gold and royal library lettering?), which was as follows: "The Secret Files of the Secret Files of the Secret Files' Flies", although he imagined that that last word was, in fact, a typo. In fact, King Delwin Dorfwitz was pretty well convinced that the entire title was a typo, because, as you may have noticed already, it made absolutely no sense whatsoever. So what did he do? Why, he opened the book up, of course, and began to read.

"[Name redacted] looked angrily at [name redacted] and shouted, '[Censored], [name redacted], what sort of [censored] trick do you think that you're trying to pull?! Because, I swear to the ponies' manes, I will not be made a part of it! This [censored] [censored] is absolutely [censored]! Give me back my [censored] clothes!' His jaw clenched; he looked as though he might strike her. But she only laughed lightly and replied, 'Now, now, [name redacted], we musn't be a sour puss, must we? You still have those very lovely, if I do say myself, polka dot boxer shorts, and, why, if I were you I know that I would be more than delighted to show my lovely polka dot boxer shorts off to the whole entire world if I were given the chance. Why don't you just be content with what you've got on? You look very dashing.' Then she stifled a fit of giggling laughter and skipped off across the brilliant green field towards [name redacted] calling, '[Name redacted]! [Name redacted]! Guess what I have just done! Guess what it is that I've just gone and done! Ha ha ha! I stole [name redacted]'s clothes while he was swimming and now he's [censored] furious at me! I think he just might be mad enough to kill me, but it doesn't matter because he's got on just those absolutely LOVELY polka dot boxer shorts! Aren't these just adorable? Hee hee hee!' [Name redacted] ran after her, shouting her name and numerous threats and demands that she give him back all of his clothes, because he was really getting mad here! But unfortunately for him, he wasn't fast enought to keep up with [name redacted], and by the time he had reached [name redacted], [name redacted] had let her inside and he couldn't get in himself."

"Hmm," thought King Delwin aloud, "what a peculiar story that is. Clearly this 'Name Redacted' person is in the midst of a serious crisis of identity. I suppose that he - or maybe she - is also having a crisis of gender - well, I suppose that's obvious, really. And I suspect that he must be a teleporter as well, for how else would he be able to run after himself like that? Well, perhaps he could have gone back in time to a time when he was running and then chased himself, but then that would just end up being much too weird. Dear me, but that was odd. But interesting. Perhaps I shall skip ahead and see what else it is that happens in this perculiar volume of text. See, now this is why, Delwin Dorfwitz, why you need to read more often, because otherwise you are just going to continue to miss out on wonderful and intriguing bits of peculiarity and such like this particular strange thing that you had today happened upon. Hmm..." And then he turned randomly to another place in the book, except farther along, letting the pages and the cover fall open in his hands and reading aloud from where his eyes fell on the words contained therein. He read:

"[Name redacted] attempted to walk, but as soon as he put weight on his injured leg the broken limb crumpled beneath him and he fell. '[Name redacted]!' cried [name redacted], racing over to offer him assistance. [Name redacted] leaned on his shoulder and together they hobbled into the bounds of the city walls. [Name redacted] hurried to their aid, and along with [name redacted] and [name redacted] they made it to the hospital, where a doctor was fetched to examine [name redacted] and fix up his leg at once."

"My gracious ponies," thought King Delwin aloud once more, "but how many personalities exactly does this poor Name Redacted have? Dear me, but that is a much too confusing tale for my poor old eyes. I ought definitely to choose a different book next time, and one clearer and simpler and much more easy to read, yes indeed, indeed, indeed." Then he carefully replaced the oddly-titled and incomprehensibly-written volume in its original place on the shelf at eye level directly in front of him. He shook his head and clucked disapprovingly to himself as he did this, and continued to behave in this manner even after he had put the book back into its spot and had turned and was walking back out of the royal library of book and associated knowledge and out the door and down the hall and so on on the way back to his royal bedroom. Which is exactly what he did, and when King Delwin Dorfwitz arrived at his royal bedroom, he went inside and shut the door, and he laid himself down on his bed and pulled the bedcovers up over his body and placed his head down upon the pillow, and then - and then, my dear disapproving listeners, you will never guess what it is that he did - and then King Delwin Dorfwitz closed his eyes and went to sleep. He began to snore softly. He dreamt of flipping burgers in a burger joint and garnishing tiny little gourmet salads in a fancy restaurant with radishes that had been cut and trimmed into pretty little shapes and thin slivers of shaved carrot. They were happy dreams for him, and he smiled as he slept, rolling onto his side and pulling all of the blankets closer over his head. It felt so nice to be asleep in a nice warm bed, dreaming of doing all sorts of wonderful things which were, at least to him, only the best of adventures that he could never have in real life, and exactly what he would have wished to have been doing if anyone had ever asked him as much. He drifted on the waves of sleep, his snores carrying him away, and the dreams faded into warm darkness and he floated off and felt no more. The end.
* * *
The village idiot stared up at the clouds, frowning - not in anger, more in thought, it seemed to those who observed at this peculiar task. The king walked up to him and said quietly, "Do you see them, too?"

The village idiot looked up from the clouds and his eyes met the king's in total astonishment. This was the first time his eyes had left off staring up at the clouds in years - in fact, it was the first time his eyes had left the clouds in his memory. But he had done it, and now he was looking at the king, who was looking back at him.

"What are you talking about?" said the village idiot suspiciously, awedly, amazedly.

"You seem them too," the king repeated.

"But... I thought... You mean you can see them as well?" the village idiot replied, his voice still tinged with awe and disbelief.

"Yes, I can see them," the king replied evenly.

"But I thought that I was the only one who could see them," the village idiot said in absolute wonderment, staring at the king with an open mouth.

"No," said the king. "I can see them too. You are not the only one who can see them."

"Wow," said the village idiot. "That's pretty cool." There was an awkward silence, and then the village idiot kind of cocked his head at the king and got this sort of deranged expression on his face. "Hey," he said, "do you want to stare up at the clouds and frown with me? I mean, seen as you can see them, too. It's be cool. I've always wanted someone else to come and stare up at the clouds and frown with me."

The king smiled derangedly himself, cocked his head just a little bit to the side, and said with a sort of insane grin, "You know what, I think that I will do that. I've always wanted to just stare up at the clouds with a frown on my face, just to see what people would do. Yeah, okay. Let's do it."

So the king and the village idiot stood side by side, and both of them looked up at the clouds and both of them frowned, and when people came by both of them remained motionless, without speaking and definitely without adknowledging the presence of these random and uninvited strangers. They stared and stared, and only when an entire day had passed and when there were no people around to see them do it did the king and the village idiot turn to each other and smile and nod and laugh softly and shake each the other's hand and say to each other, "Thank you, my new friend, for staring up and the clouds and frowning with me. That was a wonderful experience, and I am sincerely glad that I did it with you, indeed that I did it at all. It was an unbelievable pleasure and a nice surprise to finally discover that someone else besides me can see them, and I am glad to have met you and to have spent the day with. I do dearly hope that we shall meet each other again, and on that day I promise you that I will look up at the clouds and frown with you, and when that day comes it shall be a glorious day. I shall remember you with only the fondest of thoughts. Take care, my friend. We shall see each other again. Fare thee well." And with that the king turned away and the village idiot turned back to staring at the clouds and frowning, and the king went home to rule the country and the village idiot did not ever move or speak again, at least not so far as any of the villagers could tell - they never saw him move or speak at all, so they just assumed that he never did either. Which was, in fact, a correct assumption, as it were, which is not to say that you should make assumptions and assume that they are correct, which you shouldn't, because as it turns out, assumptions often turn out to be wrong. So. There you have it.

Both the king and the village idiot had attended the art school at some point in their lives for some length of time longer than or equal to a day.
* * *
The completion of this first elimination of one of the milestones they had set for themselves on the way towards making their art school dream turn into a reality left in its wake two more milestones waiting to be knocked down and destroyed, in fact utterly obliterated, or at least set straight, and these two were the election or selection of a faculty and the development and structuring of a curriculum which was to be taught at the school, by the faculty, once it had been actually formed and the faculty put into place. The faculty selection was easy enough, and the building was really already there - all they had to do was to call each of the usurped, or seized, recently vacated homes a separate department or classroom, and then there was the school. And as to the faculty, well, they would each and every one be selected and chosen from among the many members of the enthusiastic crowd. And so it was. Teachers and buildings were chosen for philosophy, political science, poetry, avant garde jazz music, painting, debate, dance, sculpture, music that would not be classified even a little under the headline of avant garde jazz music, drama, fashion design, sketch, and artistic flower arrangement. A large sign was constructed which read, in large and clearly formed black letters, ART SCHOOL, and this sign was placed at the end of the block; another sign just like it (in fact, a sign which was identical to the first in almost every way, except that the A was slightly smaller on the one, and the C perhaps a little bit crooked, but only a little bit, really, and only if you looked at it for quite a long space of time) was also made and placed prominently at the opposite end of the block on which the art school was located. Then the faculty and the principal of the school, who was, as you might guess, not Your Mom, who had elected to be a student instead despite the enormous pressure put upon him by the crowd to be the art school's principal, as he was clearly its founder in their minds, but who had easily resisted because of the fact that the whole reason that he had decided to start up the art school in the first place was in order that he should be able to truthfully call himself an art student, and because he couldn't really be the principal (and therefore a member of the faculty) and a student at the same time in the same school, now could he? This reasoning was accepted by his fellow artsy-type people, and he was enrolled as the very first of the art school's many, many, myriad art students, of which the amount over the years would end up being nearly innumerable. Then the faculty met to discuss and develop a curriculum, which they did, and so the art school began its very first quarter of operation. And the verdict upon the completion of that quarter was as follows: the art school was a rollicking success. These people had found their calling. Lord Voldemort's Wand was getting more business than it had ever gotten since its original creation, and Your Mom was happier than he had ever been in his entire life. All in all, the art school would eventually turn out to be just about the best invention or idea of any sort, for that matter, in the whole entire course of Mirrglburian history, which, as you may well have noticed, is definitely one very long period of time. And so it should be obvious that the art school really was a major thing, and not just for its many students and faculty. In fact, a great number of Mirrglburian kings of the future would turn out to have gone to the school at one time or another. By the time we get back to the time of Bismuth Sub-salicylate and his buddies, which is where we were at the start of this book (so distant, so long ago now!), we find that almost three quarters (and more than two thirds) of the entire population, adult or otherwise, of the entirety of Mirrglbury, and in fact a great deal of folk from Lovely Valley and Nearest Seaprot and all of those many numerous unnamed little tiny outer land countries which you keep hearing about but never getting names for, had attended the art school for at least one day or more at some point in time during the course of their lives. And that is really saying something.
* * *
Aurora Boulevard was a street in Mirrglbury where artsy sorts of people liked to hang out and watch plays and display paintings in galleries and listen to various sorts of avant garde jazz music and drink coffee and smoke cigarettes and drink pretentious alcohols and discuss philosophy and politics and other things which are usually thought of as intelligent topics by the majority of people who self-identify as being intelligent people (which ends up turning out to be just about every person in existence, except for those poor unfortunate souls that are in the posession of great amounts of very low self-esteem), and it was on this street, which later developed into an entire neighbourhood or district which was called simply Aurora, and where, some time later, would be established an art school, that there was located a smoky, pretentious, artsy fartsy little cafe and bar and restaurant (all three combined into one!) that was called simply, "Lord Voldemort's Wand". This peculiar title for a eating and drinking and smoking establishment makes perfect sense when one considers the facts and reasoning behind its selection: first, the word "wand" was local slang for "eating, drinking, and smoking establishment", and second, the proprietor of the place was named, interestingly enough, Lord Voldemort. He was a jolly old man who enjoyed serving people food and drinks and letting them smoke and talk about various intelligent topics in his bar cafe restaurant place while listening to various sorts of avant garde jazz music. He liked nothing better than these activities, which were what he was currently employed in, so everything worked out for him just fine.

It just so happened that a young and disgruntled art student named Your Mom came into the bar restaurant cafe place and ordered a mocha cappuchino cinnamon peppermint double tall soy milk no whip triple shot decaf latte with chai flavor all natural sprinkles and a large, cold glass of Nearest Seaprotan brandy, which he downed in one single gulp with a sigh and a sort of glum look upon his face. Lort Voldemort looked sympathetically over at him from across the bar, which he was standing behind as he usually did when he wasn't waiting tables or taking people to seats or telling the avant garde jazz music players to please, if they didn't mind, tone their avant garde jazz music down just a teeny tiny tad bit, please and thank you kindly?, and said, "Well, hello there, young fellow. You're looking rather glum today. Might I inquire from you as to what exactly is getting you down, friend?"

The boy kind of heaved another sigh and took a long dreg from his coffee drink with an extremely complicated name which I do not care to repeat at the moment even though it would markedly increase my word count, that is, he gulped down more that fifty percent of his fresh hot mocha cappuchino cinnamon peppermint double tall soy milk no whip triple shot decaf latte with chai flavor all natural sprinkles (sorry, I lied about not repeating the name - that's what copy and paste are for) and looked at the bartender with big sad eyes and said mournfully, "Well, Mr. Bar Cafe Restaurant Place Proprietor Man, I will tell you why it is that I am looking so glum on this bright and shiny beautiful day, and that reason is this: because I feel very glum. And allow me to furthermore enlighten you as to why it is that I am feeling so very glum on such a lovely, bright and shiny beautiful day. That reason is as follows: I am an art student and, alas, alack, and oh woe is me, there is not a single art school in the entirety of this fair country of Mirrglbury. Nor is there an art school in Lovely Valley, nor is there such a school in Nearest Seaprot, nor is there even one such educational institution in any of the many as-yet-unmentioned little places in the outer lands that exist even though no one seems to know what their names are. Now, I ask you, how can I possibly be an art student when there isn't a single art school anywhere? Well, I will tell you - I can't be! Dude, man, I'm having a very serious existential crisis here now, man! What am I going to do? I'm an art student, ponies trample it! How can I suddenly alter my identity because I just found out that there's not a single art school in the entirety of the known world? For ponies' sake, man! What'll I do?" And he gave another heavy and depressing sigh and drained the remainder of his somewhat less warm mocha cappuchino cinnamon peppermint double tall soy milk no whip triple shot decaf latte with chai flavor all natural sprinkles and laid his head down on the bar surface and sighed again.

"Gee, my young friend," said Lord Voldemort sympathetically, "that certainly is some doozy of a predicament that you seem to have gotten yourself into somehow."

"It sure is," said the unhappy student from under his head, where his face was pressed up against the bar. His voice came out somewhat muffled.

"Yes," confirmed Lord Voldemort sympathetically. "But it seems to me, friend, that if you can't seem to get yourself to change in response to this new and terrible thing that you've so lately discovered about your environment, so contrary to which you once believed, which looks to have shattered your pre-existing world view, well, friend, if you can't change yourself to fit the world then it seems to me that you'll just simply have to change the world to fit your pre-existing view of it, to go along more swimmingly with the identity that you've already firmly established for yourself as an art student."

The boy lifted his head from the table, his forehead and nose and chin red from pressing up against the hard, flat surface, and said interestedly, "What are you saying?"

"I'm saying," said Lord Voldemort in explanation and clarification of his earlier remarks, "well, why don't you just start an art school and then enroll in it? Then you'll be an art student and you won't have to worry about all of this distasteful existential crisis stuff that you seem to be going through right now and which seems to be causing you so much trouble and pain and anguish and so on at the present moment. I mean, it seems fairly simple and straightforward to me." And then the bartender went back to polishing the clean glasses that sat on the shelf behind the bar, waiting for thirsty patrons to eventually make use of them. Your Mom just stared at him in amazement and joy. He was slightly drunk, and very much high on caffeine, even though his latte (or whatever the heck you would call that thing that he had just drank) had ostensibly been decaf.

"Of course!" he cried aloud, jumping up and startling exactly no one, although he did put the avant garde jazz music players a little bit off of their beat. "You are an absolute genius, old tavern keeper man! Of course! That is exactly what I will do! I'll start an art school!" Then he turned around and shouted at the bar cafe restaurant place's multitudinous patrons as they debated; they all turned, startled, and lifted their heads from their artistic pursuits to stare up at him in astonishment and delight. "Did you hear that, people?" Your Mom shrieked. "I'm going to start an art school! Then all of you can stop pretending and really be what you have been meant to be all of this time! You can be real art students! Isn't that wonderful? I'm going to do it today! Who's with me?"

Now, the majority of the people in this place, as I'm sure you can guess, were shocked and yet elated, because all of this time none of them had actually had even a clue as to what exactly any of them was talking about, and none of them had had a real career or even any kind of occupation that they could self-identify as being participants in beyond "Person Who Sits in a Pretentious Cafe Bar Type Thing Smoking Cigarettes and Talking About Intellectual Topics and Listening to Avant Garde Jazz Music Til All Hours of the Night", which took much too long to say to people when they were trying to introduce themselves to strangers. But "Art Student" and "Art Teacher" - now those were easy to say, and plenty pretentious, too. The people kind of stared at Your Mom for a moment, and then suddenly, collectively, all of them burst into loud and raucous cheers and hoots and hollers, waving their fists and their avant garde jazz music instruments and their typewritten sheets of poetry and philosophical and political treatises in the air and, all as one, the group rose to their feet and followed Your Mom out into the street, chanting, "We're going to start an art school! Who's with us? You're with us!" Soon the mob had swelled to enormous proportions, and it was only a matter of choosing a location, a faculty, and a curriculum, and then the art school would be created and they would finally have a place which they would be able to justifiably call their own.

The location the mob ended up deciding upon turned out to consist of the entirety of a city block in the Aurora Boulevard neighbourhood. Now, this block was of course still covered in a number of privately-owned residential homes, in which the residents were still present and the deeds of which were still firmly in the possession of those residents, but this small and rather minor matter was of no particular consequence to the very determined soon-to-be art school founders in the shouting, marching mob, which was unstoppable, or nearly so, as it was shortly discovered by those aformentioned resident sof the future art schol building site. The members of the pretentious crowd of avant garde jazz music fanatics barrelled down the street from Aurora, chanting their chant and waking up everyone who happened to be sleeping in their homes at this hour and lived along the route of the mob's trek, or at least in the immediate vicinity of it.

"Hey, what's all this blasted commotion that's going on out here?" hollered various awakened persons from out of the opened windows of the various houses which lay on or near the course chosen by the artsy mob, angrily and annoyed, for they had just been awakened by the chant of, "We're going to start an art school! Who's with us? You're with us!", which is kind of a lame thing to wake up to when you are sleeping, as these people had so lately been. "What's all this blasted nonsense about an art school that you blasted hippies are shouting about at such an unreasonable hour? I was sleeping, you blasted rabble, you, and you blasted hippie commie rabble woke me up out of my sleep with all of your blasted chanting about some blasted art school! What in the pretty ponies' blessed names is going on here?!"

To which the crowd of people bent on starting up their own art school replied cheerfully, "We're going to start an art school! Who's with us? You're with us!"

To which the very disgruntled and annoyed and altogether displeased townspeaople who had been recently disturbed from their blissful sleep replied, in voices which one could not seriously consider as being pleasant or particularily friendly, which in fact one might easily classify as having been downright hostile, "We're not blasted with you, you blasted hippie communist red anarchist fascists! Get back to your blasted coffee houses and your blasted philosophical treatises and your blasted avant garde jazz music and leave the blasted hell alone!", and then they slammed their windows shut with a bang and threw themselves back into their recently vacated beds and threw the covers up over their heads and pressed their pillows up against their tortured ears and tried to drown out all of that blasted hippie chanting about art schools and the blasted like. What rot.

The art school creation mob marched right up to the block which they were intent on commandeering and marched one by one into each of the many houses which, to their great annoyance, was still located upon the site on which the mob so desired to build their brand new art school, which had yet to be created and which could not be created until those houses, which, as I mentioned before, already had occupants, or perhaps I ought rather to say still had residents, and those residents had no desire to be evicted and turned into an art school. Which turned out to be just too bad for them because these avant garde jazz music listeners and poetry writers and angry speech composers and so on and so forth were in fact quite an incorrigible and undetterable lot, and they proved this fact when they, as a unit, took each of the homeowners and crowded up against him demanding that he give them the deed to his house so insistently that the man was invariably terribly intimidated and caved in to their angry insistent request and handed over the deed of his hard-won and dearky valued house to the raging, rampaging, art-school-creating mob as they had forcefully requested of him. In this manner did the crowd so gain all of the property which they lusted after to become the future home of their forthcoming art school creation, not sparing even one single house. The whole block was made theirs. It was a triumphant moment for the mob. The first step towards the making of their beloved art school had been completed at last, and they had only really just begun. It was a heartening experience for them, that it truly was.
* * *
Actually, I really have very little idea as to why this chapter is being called by what it is being called by, because as we already discussed earlier in this story, King Zurblat Jimpkins died a long time before any of this happened. Well, okay, so maybe we didn’t actually say that he died, but it was implied in the fact that his children were made into the King after he was, which kind of means that he had to be dead in the first place for the institution of a new king to be necessitated at all.

As it turned out, however, there was another king named Zurblat Jimpkins, or possibly it was the same king, except that he had mysteriously gone through some kind of magic time warp rift thingy, kind of like what Rina went to ages and ages ago, except that that one transported her through space as well as time and this particular time warp had nothing to do with space, except that it didn't move a person caught in it through space at all, only through time. So Zurblat Jimpkins went through the time warp and suddenly found himself several hundred years into what was for him the future, which was now become his present, but he had not moved a single millimetre from the point upon which he had originally been standing.

What this looked like to various innocent bystanders was that they were standing around and then suddenly, FOOM! There was Zurblat Jimpkins, standing in their midst with a startled expression on his face, looking around bewilderedly and wearing very old-fashioned clothes and speaking archaically (kind of like if a guy in ruffs and puffy shorts and tights with a Shakespeare goatee suddenly appeared in the middle of your school cafeteria crying, "Wherefore didst the wode sprites of the moor transport thou hither, O scion of Adam's loins?" for no reason readily apparent). "Oh dear, oh dear!" he cried (he was by now an old man in his time, a very, very, very old man in the time which was now become his present occupation), distraught and in a fairly high-pitched voice. "By the ponies, how didst thou come to be brought hither, O sire of Fate and Destiny, those wildest of twin vagabonds? 'Twas the work of those young scallawags, it was! O, by the ponies' ankles, I do sorely declare that if ever I do lay eyes upon them again, the miscreants shall be at once giv'n such a scolding as 'twere ne'er thought possible by mortal man nor fell spirit! By the ponies' flowing manes!" And he promptly strolled away, frowning and wagging his finger at the thin air in front of him, walked into another time warp thingy that turned out to be the exact reverse of the one he had so lately come through, and vanished. This left the people who had been milling about the square when this happened quite bewildered and just confused in general, but you can be sure that Zurblat Jimpkins' twins certainly got quite the scolding from their father that night, by which I mean the night that Zurblat Jimpkins experienced when he returned to his own time, the night of the day on which he had vanished and returned home, and not the night of the day on which he had appeared and vanished from, which was several hundred years after he had, in fact, passed away long ago. Because King Zurblat Jimpkins did die before his twin children Fate and Destiny came to occupy the throne which he had so lately vacated. So there, now I've said it, Zurblat Jimpkins did die and now you can stop worrying needlessly over it. The issue is resolved.

So actually I was kind of lying to you when I said that there was a second king named Zurblat Jimpkins, because actually, in fact, there was no such person. There was only one Zurblat Jimpkins in the history of Mirrglbury, and he was made king only once, and that one small time-travelling incident was not enough to justify in the least my having made that statement that there was in fact another king named Zurblat Jimpkins, because there in fact wasn't. Sorry for the confusion.
* * *
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