I can’t stand this, I think, tossing another book down. I feel so frustrated with my choices. I am in the mood for fantasy, for dragons and epic heroes, magical Elves, wizards, something to help me escape the drab limiting reality that is my life. But every book I pick up at this over-priced bookstore/café I immediately put back. Weird names, weirder places and everywhere the same lame plot. Sometimes the creatures are traditional, sometimes a pathetic attempt to mask a traditional critter with a bizarre name. All of them make me feel confused and bored just by reading the back cover. Ugh. Are there no original tales anymore?
Everyday I try to see the world through fantasy-tinted glasses. Those are kind of like rose-tinted glasses, but not. My boss, for instance, is an Ogre (in size and disposition). His secretary is a wicked bitch, I mean, witch. My best friend is a kind-hearted Faerie. My boyfriend (coming soon, I’m sure) will be a brave warrior. And what am I? The kick-ass hero with magical powers and all the answers to life’s grand problems? HA! I don’t really know what I am, but sometimes I feel like there is power under my skin aching to break free. I know I could fly if I could jump high enough and not trip over my own feet in the process. Mostly, I wish I was the Elf princess, but I’m more like the humble Hobbit lass. Damnit.
So I have a normal existence that I try to dress up like a fantasy epic. That’s not sad at all. Or at least, that’s what I think as I sit in the imitation brand coffee-house of the over-priced bookstore. I am glaring at a book I am trying to decipher despite the cluttered imaginary universe. Glaring, that is, through my thick-rimmed rectangular glasses, totally chic, with my golden brown eyes. I take another sip of my coffee-that-doesn’t-taste-like-coffee drink and sternly tucked my straight brown hair behind my right ear out of habit.
To my utter chagrin, someone chooses that moment to get thrown through the outer brick wall of the bookstore, knocking my hot drink into my lap. Great. By the time the dust has settled and I have moved into one of the now abandoned comfy couches, the bad guy has been beaten to a pulp by the superhero who had thrown him. People clap. I grab another book. No weird names, but it reads like a medieval romance novel. “Arthur tore at my bodice with eager fingers, his Excalibur yearning for my Holy Grail.” Eew. Gag me.
The next book features Elves 500 years in the future as they travel through space looking for new life and new civilizations. The twist is that the Dwarves are actually taller than the Elves and they prefer fighting for their honor over mining for riches. Oops. Wrong genre. I had accidentally picked up a science fiction book. That could have been disastrous.
Speaking of disastrous, the store is a mess. Books, magazines, movies, and pieces there of, are scattered everywhere. Fortunately, the store manager has several non-killer robots, which he can afford by over pricing his goods. The robots quickly reassemble the debris into the right places so the store looks just as though nothing has happened. Then the shiny metal slaves teleport to their storage units to recharge and reboot. Suddenly everything was 5% more expensive. Damn holographic tags. This is getting me nowhere, I think tersely. I drop the last book down and walked out of the store back into the consumer trap we like to call a mall. The clothing stores were gaudy, their mannequins little more than skeletons with nipples (they think adding nipples makes the clothes more appealing). They don’t carry sizes over four. Being a voluptuous size fourteen, I politely flip them off as I walk past.
As I left the mall squinting balefully at the annoying yellow ball in the sky, I notice that the endless parking garage has been replaced by dark, gloomy trees. Perfect. An Enchanted Forest. Ten steps in I come to a bridge and am challenged by a Troll, of course. Insert ominous chords here. He tells me to tell him a joke or he will eat me. Here it is:
“Knock, knock,” I say coyly.
“Who’s there?” it rasps in predictable response.
“Crossbow,” I continue with a sly smile.
“Crossbow, who?” it asks, eager for the punch line.
“Crossbow dart in your eye, dumb fuck.” It doesn’t laugh.
I shoot him in the eye with by purse-size crossbow.
As it dies, it finally laughed.
“Now I get it! That was a good…one…”
Bored as usual with the daily hassles of life, I pull out my magical keys and press the button that makes the lights flash. My metal steed takes me to the grocery outlest store. My quest is to acquire Tear-Jerker Movie Night snacky-snacks. But there are many obstacles guarding the fluorescent food haven. First, there is the dragon at the gate (how predictable). He asks me for a light and I slay him easily with my trusty crossbow. Dragons have very soft underbellies, you know. Then, next to the last bag of tortilla chips is an evil sorceress in the guise of a blonde teenage girl. Before she can speak an enchantment that could destroy me I blind her with my mystical pepper spray, a gift from the good witch of my self-defense class. The Giant who had been guarding the beer fridge runs forward, clearly at the will of the crippled sorceress. The big oaf is dead with a single stroke of my magnificent sword. The mob of Zombies, standard accessories of such establishments, is dispatched with equal swiftness. I leave the store triumphantly, arms loaded with treasure.
My purple steed takes me home by the swiftest route, finding the smoothest trails with his keen instincts. The castle is dark and empty. My Faerie friend will not be by for at least 30 minutes, so I use that time to make the coveted popcorn and mini pizza treats of our traditional council. The movies are prepped. My bloodied clothes are burned. All is prepared for a night of weeping and stuffing our faces.
She shows up at last in a frantic, excited mood, her invisible wings fluttering nervously. After the exchange of challenge and password, I lower the drawbridge (oh yeah, I have one of those) and greet her with the sacred handshake (to prove that it is her and not an imposter). She rushes straight to the Magic Viewing Box and turns on the news. I hate the news.
“In other news, police reported that a crazed woman murdered a parking valet at the Victoria Mall with a crossbow,” a bland-faced, dark-haired man is saying. I go to grab a couple of beers and the snacks. “Police released this surveillance video of the incident. Parents, make sure your children see this. It is very graphic.” For some reason, my friend gasps, or so I thought. It is hard to hear over the crackling plastic bags of snacky-snacks.
“This just in,” a woman continues in mock urgency. “According to witness accounts, the same woman just massacred all the patrons of a grocery store on 13th and Elm Street, except a young deaf girl. Apparently, she began with a smoker in front of the store, then she sprayed the deaf girl in the eyes with pepper spray and finished off the rest of the customers with a sharpened replica sword.”
“That’s truly gruesome, Wendy,” the man says dully.
“Yes it is, Peter,” the woman replies.
“Do we have the security tape from the grocery store?”
“Yes we do, Peter. We’ll be showing that in just a moment. I hope the kids at home see this. It is an example of what a bad influence violent video games are,” the woman attests severely.
“Don’t forget violent television shows and rap and heavy metal music,” the man said matter-of-factly. There were a few seconds of silence. “Can we play that back again in slow motion? It’s a shame these security cameras don’t have sound.”
I hear my friend sit down heavily on my catalog ordered divan. She must be ready to start, I think. But something is bothering me about that news report. It seems familiar for some reason. Then again, all the news sounds the same to me. I gather up the chips, popcorn, candy, pizza snacks and beers – a feat, believe me – and reenter the living room. The murderer’s composite sketch is on the screen along with a hotline number to report sightings, but I am too focused on not dropping everything to see it. It was probably some soccer mom who had finally snapped. That’s always happening around here. Lunatics.
My friend looks at me with wide, teary eyes. Then there is a loud noise, like a hundred Harpies screaming. Soon after, the living room is flashing blue and red. Obviously, the Barbarians had come back for vengeance! Well, they aren’t going to get me as long as my castle stands around me. Then I remember that I had left the drawbridge down. FIE!
“I must go, my friend!” I called heroically over the clamor.
“No, kind Faerie. You have been my faithful companion for many a glorious adventure, but I must finish this feud alone. You still have time to fly away. They still have to get past the booby traps.” Almost on cue, I hear the cry of an enemy falling into the tiger pit. “Farewell, dear friend! May your wings never tear and may the wind never blow up your skirt, unless you are trying to impress a boy Faerie.”
With that, I charge out the front gate, sword held high, armor gleaming in the flashing lights, banners flying from the ramparts above my crowned head, battle cry echoing into legend.
“And finally, the tragedy comes to an end. Trisha Martin, a 35-year-old secretary for Gary’s Cubicle Architecture, Inc., was gunned down by the Springtown City police at 7:48 this evening, bringing a close to this bloody Friday night. Police opened fire after she charged their ranks with the same replica sword she used to murder the patrons of the Elm Street Grocery Outlet. It took over a hundred bullets to stop her. Several honorable officers are in the hospital recovering from sword wounds. One officer may never recover from the injuries he received when he inadvertently fell into a hidden pit lined with spiked wooden poles. Trisha’s final words were quote, Damn you vile sorceress and your evil magic fire pellets, unquote. I’m on the scene with Trisha’s neighbor, Mr. Dorse. Sir, what reason did you have for turning in your long time neighbor?”
“Well, she still hasn’t given me my rake back, has she? Wait, there it is!” The man runs off camera. The reporter watches him leave and then turns back to the camera, undeterred.
“According to our station psychiatrist, she was obviously stark raving mad. Considering how many of the station employees are patients of said psychiatrist, I imagine that he is quite the expert on lunacy. Back to you, Peter.”
“Thanks, Becky. We have just received word that we have gotten the exclusive rights to the video of the final blood bath, as taken by Mr. Dorse himself. This and the weather after these commercial messages.”
“Plus, we’ll be seeing another installation of Dizzy, the Drunken Cat!”
“That alcoholic rascal. Ha, ha, ha!”
“Yes, he’s still surprisingly funny even with his liver cancer.”
“You can say that again, Wendy!”
“You can lick my shoes, Peter!”
*Insert fake laughter here*