This interactive story was written in The Forest on December 5, 1995. VERY minor editing, and a completely spurious title were added later. Please check your Oracle's at the door...
Yvetta paused at the Gothic-style storefront and peeked inside. An intercom outside the door sensed her presence and spoke kindly to her. "Welcome to the Aural Fixation," it said. "Y'all are welcome, hear?"
She smiled a little nervously, not knowing whether or not there was a camera on her also. Yvetta glanced behind her to see if anyone was watching her (in case a rescue would be warranted). No one was walking the streets everyone was still home eating and watching "The Simpsons." Yet Yvette could not contain her curiosity. She stepped inside and barely got the door shut before she was slammed against it again by a megadecibal-sized tidal wave of white noise. No one in the store lifted a head, turned an eye or even moved; though one youngster in the corner did turn a page at the request of his talking book.
Being unnoticed helped Yvette feel more comfortable to wander around the place and adjust to the environment. In one corner was a coffee bar, with listeners comfortably seated in deep upholstered chairs. Each consumer relaxed at his station, complete with head phones, a remote, a newspaper, an ash tray and a nice hot cup of new age Joe. Every so often the coffee drinker would lean forward to change a CD at a column at the base of the glass-covered stereo. But then something happened.
A particularly nice-looking teenage boy leaned forward to change his CD, slipped in a new one, and then proceeded to slide right into his personal stereo along with the CD. Yvette's eyes popped in amazement as she swallowed hard.
Yvette blinked twice, and then blinked twice again.... What the hell was this place? She had heard some weird stories about this place before but none to match what would seem to have just taken place. Yvette's hand began to shake. Her cigarette ash landed on her pinky somehow and woke her up. Looking around (the cd's)... wondering if any one else saw it (the cd's)... slowly, as if the whole world was in stop time (the cd's)... her hand took on a life of it's own and reached for the disc of Peter Gabriel's "So".
As she dropped her cigarette in the ashtray, she fixed the headphones tightly to her head and slipped in the CD, The "So", which apparently stood for SO LONG as her body seemed to slowly elongate, breaking into prisms of Jade light and gently, ever so softly, was slithered into the cd player.
She found herself traveling a road of light and song. She was the song, she was the light and as she dove down into the depths of the electronic gear at fever pitch volume, her heart beating to the rhythm of "Sledgehammer", she noticed an electron with blonde hair and teenage features heading the same way she was.
An old man walked to the stables today, seeking a mule for his heavy burdens. An odd one he was. And even odder yet, he had no money with which to pay. I was about to send him on his way when he made me an odd offer. A tale for a mule. He said it in such a way that I could not refuse. With a cracked smile his tale began.
'Once upon a time, before ancient but not before men, there lived another world. A world of elves and magic and dragons and all other imaginable and indeed unimaginable sorts. In this time, so long ago, there lived a beautiful elven maiden. Hair as silk and gold, face as fair as the eleven seas, heart as pure as the winter snows. Mianara was her name, and she was the daughter of the fifth Great King. She was known far and wide as the most beautiful maiden in all the land, but her heart belonged to only one, the stalwart knight Wiltharion, who, though no comparison in beauty, held a heart of pure silver and gold and strength and bravery to match his every move. Over time, he courted her favor. In time, they were wed. They loved each other more than the sun could envy, but there was yet something more that they did want. A child. Yet not an elven maiden could bear a child of late, all infertile or the like, as it seemed to be with all the things of then. Yet the hero and the maiden could not accept this. So it was the hero set sail to find an oracle, one who was said to know all the answers.
Perilous adventures he faced. Wicked dragons, killer plants. Dungeons as deep as the sea, castles as tall as the sky, Men. Men by the many. And when he reached the summit of the Good dragons mount he found a short bearded elf. Ancient, older than the sky itself. All withered and distant, with eyes that almost speak of madness, then take the wild turn into genius. Even as the sky did cloud, the sun still held strong his eye.
"Good Sage..." Wiltharion began.
"You need not ask your question for already I do know the answer. The time of Elf and Dwarf and Magic and Dragon is gone, and the time of man is come. However, it seems the gods do shine fairer on you, for if take this dagger you do, and plunge it through your wife's silken breast, the time of man shall flee, and the time of magic shall be forever more, and with this a child shall be born from your wife's dead body."
With a confused eye, he wandered off, and not long after, his wife did too. And so it was that the time of magic passed the animals and beasts, and the magical lore. In time the tales did too. All save one. And that, perhaps, is because the end has not yet been written.' And with a toothy smile, the old traveler walked on, his pack on the mule, a dagger at his belt, and pointed ears protruding from the sides of his head.
I'm not sure how I knew it was a blonde electron, but it just seemed right. And I noticed that he kept passing me by in a sort of elliptical rotating sort of way. And then the impulse came... it came with the impulsiveness of youth... Floyd... and I thought... Yeah Floyd... and I stopped moving... for a moment but just a moment... somehow I knew it for dark side of the moon...there was no other choice... it simply was... and with the newly remastered scratchy entrance of an LP... I found myself in the company of a blonde, teenage electron... and together we began to move round and round
...IRIS AND RETINA SCAN IDENTIFICATION...IVETTE FUTURA...NO MONETARY CREDITS REMAINING...ACCOUNT PAST DUE...
The thin man walked through the crowded sidewalks nearing an intersection, he seemed deeply intent He was tall and lanky but under his brown aussie duster he was unreadable. The fall chill that made others head for cover seemed little barrier to him, and he stopped almost sniffing the air, his almond shaped purple eyes searching, he smiled grimly.
"Wil, we know you have it, we can't let you do it." said a voice Wil didn't turn to face.
Wil unbuttoned his coat and spread his stance cocking his head slightly to the right. "I thought I lost you in Bhudapest." He sighed, "Nevertheless, I am close to her now, too close." Prepared for the sight Wil saw the crowd had somehow dispersed, he knew their minds were 'prevented'. He also saw the twelve men in black warrior-priest robes slide in, all wearing their swords at ready. They were spread in a circle with the thirteenth man of the Tsiao-Shing Tain behind him.
"Wiltharion, last chance. Give us the Oracle's Thorn, and we won't have to end it this way."
Wil dashed toward the empty street drawing his ancient Elven longblade and slicing air near a Tain. The other 12 fell in behind fast but much slower than the Elven warrior. Wil half turned and cut into the first man shoulder to sternum and booting him into the group just before diving backward into the storefront behind. Feeling the impact and rolling to his feet Wil smelled the coffee and felt his ears prick at the wall of white noise these humans called music.
Feeling a pang of melancholy for the Thousand strings he dashed left toward an empty table and crossed swords with a Tain who used the door. Wil used his War Dancer's modified twirl in tempo to the beat and spun in a whirling 360 up to the table, completely severing the hapless Tain who blocked in slow motion. Wil then felt the sinking feeling as the table base was chopped and ruined by three KI strikes by the Tain warriors.
Trying to recover he half fell and kicked out at the trio, finally losing his footing and hitting his head perfectly into the blasting headphones. He felt a tremor of fear as he knew a blade was coming then, he felt his body dissolve racing into music, Wil embraced the escape and clutched at the Oracle's Thorn at his shoulder sheath.
Wil started running. He did not have any particular place in mind. He simply knew that he had to run. And he ran with reckless abandon. As he ran, he realized that he did not know where he was going. For that matter, he did not know where he was. All he knew was that he had to get away from the Tain Warriors.
Wil stopped when he reached the Coronado waterfront. He had no clue where to go now. He could not go to the police. He was a stranger in a strange land. He could not go to a church. They may not protect him. Besides, he had lost all faith in God and in God's religion. Wil knew he would not make it out through the airport. The Tain Warriors were looking for him. They would be awaiting him at every possible port of departure. Wil looked down at the sidewalk. He saw a coin sitting next to his right foot. The coin was silver and about the size of a quarter. Wil bent over to pick it up. It had olive branches on one side. The other side had the words "One Cent". Wil slipped the coin into his pocket. As he did, he knew he would escape in one piece. He knew that it was a Heaven Cent.
Wil looked to his left and to his right down the cold, wet, dark street. Under the lone street lamp, he saw a car. In his mind's eye, the car had a sign that called to him. As Wil approached the car, he could hear it calling out to him. "Steal me," it screamed at him. Wil walked up to the car, and upon an initial inspection, noticed that it was an American gas guzzler. He also noticed that the door was unlocked, and the keys were in the ignition. Wil opened the door. He sat in the driver's seat. He looked in the tape deck. There was no tape. Wil decided that the car was a trap.
Wil launched himself from the car onto the sidewalk, and was rewarded with a pain in his side, a minor discomfort, nothing much... and then the ground blew up... He came back to his senses hours later, and was walking down a road he didn't recognize immediately. He had no memory of starting to walk, no memory of even getting up from off the sidewalk, but here he was. Who was he to debate with reality? And it was at that moment that he saw, out of the corner of his eye, a lady yelling, "I don't care what it costs, I want to buy that Stairway NOW!"
He then looked to his left and noticed a man who looked rather lonely, and was scratching himself furiously while perched atop a rather fuzzy tree... and he decided that reality would lose any argument he cared to pose. He continued walking, and the road began to get narrower and narrower, and eventually he was walking a single white line, down into the center of nowhere, getting confused all the more. Where was he? What the heck was all this about? And why was there a huge CD player in front of him?
He admired the CD player, one of those fancy, black, 100 Disc changer jobs that cost ooddles and ooddles of money... After some consideration he decided to un-pause the CD player, just to see what would play, and too late he noticed that the LED was flashing the word "Random... Random... Random..."
He dissolved. And reemerged in inside a huge theater, immensely huge. And in front of him were two elegantly dressed people... a couple, he realized, and as he listened he could hear them singing, "Say you love me every waking moment..." and he came to the conclusion that he was inside the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack. Not a bad place to be, he decided, since he had always enjoyed the music... he just hoped that he wasn't near the part where... and suddenly, from directly above him, he heard someone scream, "GOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!" and a huge chandelier came crashing toward him... and he dissolved... and reappeared between Paul Simon and Chevy Chase as they danced to "You can call me Al."
They were just turning to notice him when he dissolved again... and found himself next to Garth Brooks. He immediately fell to his knees, pleading with anyone who would hear him, "NOOOOO! Not COUNTRY!!!" He dissolved again... and reappeared in his own bedroom, where his wife was entertaining a Tain Soldier. He stared for a moment, and then lost control and tore into both of them, throwing the Tain against the wall so hard he could hear the soft, gooey crunch of bones breaking. He turned on his wife, then, and pulled a small dagger out of his pocket. He advanced on her, smoldering in rage, and raised the dagger high... and an old man was standing in front of him, in a completely white setting. Nothing else but white, all around.
The man raised his eyes to Wil's and said, "And so it was that the time of magic passed. The animals and beasts, and the magical lore. In time, the tales did too. All save one. And that, perhaps, is because the end has not yet been written." Wil then stared after the old man as he placed a pack on a nearby mule, grabbed the dagger out of Wil's hand, and walked away, disappearing into the whiteness.
Wil opened his mouth to call after him but he heard the unmistakable sound of a CD changing instead. "Not agaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnnnnnnn" And he dissolved.....
Wil jumped and shook his head, feeling his waist for the dagger. There it was, on his belt as it had always been. For too long. He leaned over as he rubbed his head, picking up the portable CD player that was, incidentally, slammed into his skull. He looked around, but the streets were still empty. He walked off again, in search of she he lost long ago.
The night was growing dark in Ariapolis, and though she had been alive longer than she care to think, it had been a long night. A very long night. She laid to the side the layers of maps she had been studying and took a sip of her cold coffee. Will I ever find him? The moon shown with radiant force outside the window of the diner and she leaned back and looked at the park across the road.
Why was she still alive? She did not know. She had no idea. She only knew that her love did. She stood suddenly and glanced across the road. There, walking at a searching rate, she saw a tall, thin, handsome man, with pointed ears protruding from the sides of his head, and a box shaped bruise on his forehead.
Will had been through a lot this night... The transformations of his body's matter were having many side effects, and his physical appearance was changing... The surrounding whiteness had at some point changed to darkness, and all that Will could see was the beautiful girl a short distance away... standing on the same street as he... in silence Wil was afraid to move, for fear the music would start up again - and his presence would be unsure...but, he put one foot in front of the other anyway, and in just a few minutes... he reached her.
She embraced him immediately, and Wil sighed. Finally, he'd made it! The two held each other for a long time, saying nothing. It was enough to touch and feel the warmth of the other's body... know that they were no longer alone in this world of every changing scenery. Will pulled away first and cupped the girl's face. "Adrianna, I can't believe you are here. You wouldn't believe what I've been through."
Adrianna smiled warmly, "It shows, Wil... it shows." Wil laughed at her honesty, and rubbed the bruise on his forehead... it was then that the music began again... first just the sound of a classical guitar... strumming softly in the distance... then a flute joined the tune... and Wil took Adrianna into his arms and rocked her gently... afraid he would soon dissolve again.
Wil refused to let Adrianna go. Something told him that, if he did, he would never see her again. To Wil, she was more important than any old Oracle. It did not matter that he had risked his life for the Oracle. That he had almost died over it. He loved Adrianna. That was what mattered. Wil feel asleep from exhaustion with Adrianna in his arms.
His mind drifted to less worrisome days, days that were carefree. In his dream, he looked in the mirror. The face looking back wore white makeup. Over his right eye was a star. Looking down, he saw an outrageous costume and platform boots. Wil awoke. He knew it was a dream. He had been visited by the Night Mare. He looked around for the Night Mare.
...A black-eyed voice, rising out of the darkness of The Forest, interrupts the story: "Imbri, no doubt."...
..."No," replied the narrator, pausing his iteration momentarily, "Not Imbri. Mare Tranquilium."...
The Night Mare was the horse, black as night and sheen as satin who brought bad dreams. But the Night Mare only brought bad dreams at night. Day dreams came from Day Mares. Wil awoke in a cold sweat. He looked at Adrianna. "Did you see her?" he asked.
Adrianna looked at Wil with a quizzical look, lifting her right eyebrow. "See who?" she asked.
"The horse," uttered an excited Wil, for the adrenaline was still flowing.
Adrianna looked at Wil and said, "Whatever your ailment is, medical science has a cure."
Wil grabbed her and shook her. "The Night Mare, I mean. The horse bringing the bad dreams. "I looked in the mirror and saw Paul Stanley staring back at me. I was a scary sight."
Adrianna held her thought on that one, but thought to herself, "At least it was not Gene Simmons."
Meanwhile... A million miles away on the planet Grebabulon, the native aliens were immersed in a rousing game of Oin-Clocket, which consists of taking leaves, setting them on fire, stuffing them down the pants of people in front of you, and then jumping behind the nearest sofa before your intended victim blasts a hole in your chest with a Type B Grebabulonian Blaster set to "Completely Incinerate With Prejudice".
Needless to say, some Grebabulonians do not survive to reach the semifinal round, which is unfortunate because, in the semifinal round, all the leaves are replaced with bananas, the fire is replaced with mustard, the sofas are replaced with Flunknards (a Grebulonian beast of burden that looks like a cross between a horse, a 100-foot snake, and Bette Midler), and the Type B Blasters are replaced with Type A Blasters, whose highest setting is marked, "Stun With Impunity".
The Grebabulonian cable companies believed that their society had finally evolved to the point where the viewing public would definitely prefer the exciting, humiliating, yet painless antics of the semifinals over the exciting, humiliating, yet terribly dangerous and most likely death warrant issuing antics of the pre-games. The Grebabulonian cable companies did not understand... in fact, they would not have comprehended even if someone had walked up to them balanced on their head atop a green Flunknard while singing the Grebabulon planetary anthem (but that is hardly the fault of the cable companies, for ANYbody would be confused as to the purpose of that, and it has only been placed in this paragraph so as to slam the reader back to harsh, cement-like reality), why the ratings always favored the bloodshed of the pre-games.
Well, one of the men working at the cable company went home after the day's Oin-Clocket TV marathon to find his wife fiddling with their Hyupolkin, that is to say, their refrigerator combination pasta maker combination fax machine combination swimming pool. (You'd be surprised how often those things are needed at the same time on Grebabulon).
"What's the matter?" he said.
"I don't know!" she said.
He sighed and turned away, kicking his shoes off as he went.
This story DID connect with the sections before it...
I just forget how.
Meanwhile, back at the Ranch, but on the other side of the globe from Wil, in Washington DC. "What do you mean we can't find Wil?" the President asked.
"That is like telling me that the Space Shuttle blew up and we don't know why!"
"But Mr. Clinton, that IS what we told Reagan. We did not think he could handle the truth."
President Clinton stood, "And I guess that Jackie Kennedy could not handle the truth either, you never told her that President Kennedy actually paid Lee Harvey Oswald to arrange the hit on his life?"
Henry Kissinger glared at the President. "No, Sir. We did not. We thought it was best that she thought that Lyndon Johnson paid Jack Ruby to do it. Well, actually, there is one person who can find Wil. He is on the planet discovered by Sir Enjay Newton."
Clinton looked at Kissinger. "What's his name?"
Kissinger replied, "Grey Prana."
"You mean River Prana, son of Host Brig?"
"The one and the same," replied Kissinger.
"Get him. I want him in the Oval office now." With that Cllinton stood and started to walk away. As he did, he stumbled. Kissinger looked at Clinton and quipped, "And I thought Ford was clumsy."
And the Adventure Continues
The mighty Gods from above the heavens looked down at this confusion and laughed crazily. But when the mighty lord of all Gods, Spamicus, approached the younger gods he spoke, "What is with this confusion in my kingdom? My rightful world cannot be run with confusion."
And the mighty hand of Spamicus reached down upon the planets and carried off Wil and Adrianna, along with Sir NJ Newton, Xiola Prana, and Ric Cntaur. They were all carried off to eternal paradise. A small Forest listening to stories by the campfire. And there they lived happily ever after.