Abyssus Abyssum Invocat
Mark A Davis
Sweet scents of sugar, cinnamon and licorice drifted on the breeze. Overhead silver leaves of thistle trees tinkled like wind chimes. Yellow cotton candy bunnies hopped amid lemon-lime grass. Candy bees buzzed amid delicate candy forget-me-nots in all the colors of a confectioner's shop. A gumdrop path which led into a forest of periwinkle thistles towering thirty feet into a rose pink sky.
The candy forget-me-nots were an especially nice touch, I thought as I waited just inside the woods which were not there.
With a puff of candy smoke, Grandpa Anarchy, world's oldest hero and my hated enemy, appeared on the path, followed by his current sidekick. I could see them clearly -- the young woman in a spandex suit of red with yellow highlights and the words OMG in large white Impact letters on her chest, within a stylized lightning bolt, and the old man in that stupid gray suit with the silver anarchy symbol stitched over the left breast. You would think a famous hero would dress better than that. Show some style. What you wear is your calling card -- such as my wide-brimmed pointed hat of green, with the clock on the front. Grandpa always knows me when he sees the hat.
He did not appear to have any strawberries. I smiled. My illusion was perfect. He would never know.
The two glanced about. "Ahmguh!" exclaimed OMG (pronounced Ahmguh) Girl. "Where are we? We were in the Grand Vizer's palace...."
"He has sent us after our quarry," Grandpa Anarchy replied. This was, of course, true -- the Grand Vizer was a wizard and had teleported them to this desolate place. Well, I say desolate, but it did not look so to them.
"Ah!" Grandpa said, "if it isn't the Enchanted Thistle Forrest of Lavenderlandia, in the land of Hopsibayrne, near Eiderdown Town on the shores of Crystalcola Sea. If I've been here once, I've been here a million times."
"You have?" asked OMG Girl in surprise.
"Generally speaking," Grandpa replied, waving his hand vaguely. "I may not have been to this specific place before, but all these fantasy fairyland realms kind of blend together after a while. You've been to one, you've been to them all."
I almost laughed at that. Yes, I thought. This is why you believe the illusion, because it is so exactly like things you have seen before....
"If you've never been here," said OMG Girl, "then how did...."
"I read that sign over there," Grandpa said. "The You Are Here sign? By the way it says to be wary of bubblegum spiders and insurance salesmen. Sound advice if you ask me." Grandpa frowned. "Although where Miss Mixelthpthpthpthp has disappeared to, I got no idea. See, this is why I like fighting mad scientists, psychopathic masterminds and super thugs. With criminals like that you know where you stand. It's often atop a deadly dirigible or an abandoned roller coaster, mind you, but still. Magical villains like Miss Mixelthpthpthpthp are a problem for me -- chasing bad guys like that through magical realms is more the domain of Dark Dr. Dark or Black Dahlia."
It's just like that idiot, I thought, to notice the sign but fail to notice the Forbidden Fountain at the center of the map. Isn't he supposed to be an investigator?
"She stole the Ear of Mumblestilken," said OMG (pronounced Ahmguh) Girl. "We promised Grand Vizer Zel Gotti we'd get it back."
Ah! The Ear of Mumblestilken! I felt for the bronze artifact in my pocket. You will never get it back, I thought. It is now mine! I had gone to great lengths to snatch this thing -- a wonderful little item of magic which allowed the wearer to understand any spoken words, no matter the language or how poorly they were spoken. I had a shelf in my home where I planned to place this thing, next to Eisenheimer's Amazing Eyeglasses and the False Nose of Ashurbanipal.
My home is its own dimension -- a pocket dimension, full of all of the trinkets and magical items that I've acquired over the years. It is a place that fills me with joy.
"That's another thing!" Grandpa muttered. "Why are we helping a Grand Vizer? Those guys are always up to no good! Fantasy and fairylands, they're all bad news. Next thing you know we'll be expected to slay a dragon!"
"She can't have gotten far," said OMG Girl. "We need to hurry!"
"Okay, but we can't just run about randomly," Grandpa replied.
This was my cue! I imagined myself as some sort of gnome creature -- a short man, bent, with lavender lederhosen, shoes with large brass buckles, a white shirt with blousey sleeves, and a feathered cap. Just like you'd expect in a candy fairyland! Perhaps I could even sing and dance to a tune about candy, like the Munchkins from the Lollipop Guild? No, that would be far too obvious -- and there was only me.
Mr. Anarchy's eyes alighted on me as I came walking down the path. "Excuse me, Mr. Gnome Person Sir," he said. "Or elf, or citizen of Lavenderlandia...."
"I am a Tekilander," I replied indignantly. "I come from Teki Town. Can you not tell by my distinctive Tekilander cap?"
"Ah, yes," Grandpa replied. "My mistake. Tell me, have you seen a strange woman pass by here? Someone who was obviously not a... Tekilander, was it?"
I pointed at OMG Girl. "Besides her," Grandpa added.
I placed my hands in my suspenders. It was too bad I hadn't thought to include a pipe -- puffing on a pipe seemed like the thing to do. What kind of pipe would a Tekilander from the candy fairyland of Lavenderlandia smoke, I wonder? One that produced candy bubbles?
"This strange woman," I asked, "was she about my height, but with strange yellow skin and blue hair?"
"Yes, that's her," Grandpa replied.
"Was she wearing a long green dress," I asked, "and a tall pointed hat with a broad brim, with silver charms dangling from that brim?"
"Yes," exactly," replied Grandpa.
"Was there a large brass clock on her hat?"
"Yes!" said Grandpa. "Which way did she go?"
"Oh, I'd have no idea," I said. "I haven't seen anyone like that."
I delighted in the frustration on the man's face, although of course I didn't show it. But this was the foe who had prevented me from obtaining the Ring of Hanubatum, the Undying Sapphire Vase (which could keep flowers alive indefinitely), the Silver Lamp of Eternal Flame, and even the fabled Crystal Weenie -- a maguffin of immense power. I loathed the man and would never forgive him for these slights. And now he wished to deprive me of the Ear of Mumblestilken as well? The nerve!
Well, fun was fun, but I could not stall him forever or he might become suspicious. "Wait, now I remember," I added. I think she was headed directly for the Forbidden Fountain...."
Grandpa Anarchy pounded one fist into his palm. "Of course!" he exclaimed. "In many fairylands, you can not be held culpable for crimes which you've magically forgotten!"
Well, I thought, at least he remembers why the fountain is important.... Not, of course, that I would go to such lengths to avoid prosecution for theft; what good is stealing a magical trinket if you don't remember what it is or that you've stolen it? But the threat that I might do so would send Grandpa Anarchy chasing after me, and right into my trap -- for there was no Enchanted Thistle Forrest of Lavenderlandia, no Land of Hopsibayrne, no Eiderdown Town and no Crystalcola Sea. It was all part of my illusion. In truth, there was just a desolate flat plain and then a cliff, the edge of which Grandpa Anarchy and his ridiculous sidekick would soon walk off. I would be rid of him forever.
Abyssus abyssum invocat, thought I. Abyss calls to abyss; one false step leads to the next -- literally.
"It's easy to get there," I said. "Just go down this path past the phantom tollbooth and take a right at the second wardrobe you see. Then it's first star on the right and straight on until morning... no I tell a lie, just a little gnome humor there; I meant to say you go through the first looking glass on the right and Oz is your wizard."
"What's that?" Grandpa exclaimed. "The Wizard of Oz is involved? I didn't think we were in Oz...."
"No, Sir," I said patiently, "it's just a phrase. It means and there you are."
"Ah," said Grandpa. "Similar to the phrase Bob's your uncle then."
"Bob is not my uncle," I exclaimed severely. "My uncle is Candleblast the Unsteady. He's the milner over in Eiderdown Town, where I've lived all my life."
I realized my mistake immediately. Was I a Tekilander from Teki Town, or a gnome from Eiderdown Town? Or was I Miss Mixelthpthpthpthp, a magical alien from the planet Rah S'bahrii?
Grandpa Anarchy drew and fired. "Ahmguh!" his sidekick exclaimed, as my brains splattered the suddenly barren landscape.
A bullet in the brain gives me such a headache -- but it's one sure way to be rid of me, at least temporarily. When I awoke in my home, hale and whole again but without the Ear of Mumblestilken, I cursed the name of Grandpa Anarchy. This marked the fifth time he'd thwarted me!
Abyssus abussum invocat, thought I. But next time, Mr. Anarchy! Next time I will get you for sure!