Mark A Davis
Smoke arose from the black pile of cloth. Grandpa Anarchy, an old man in a rumpled gray suit and fedora, nudged the dress with his shoe. A breeze tugged at the fabric and scattered dust across paving stones.
"Well," he said, "so much for Jamanthara, Witch of the Azure Woods. Are there any other witches we need to defeat before we can leave this stupid fairyland?"
Next to him, a massive seven-foot-tall, four-hundred-pound man in blue and black spandex puffed on his cigar thoughtfully. "Don't know," Unpossible Man said. "That's the beauty of an adventure, ain't it?"
Their other companions gathered around -- Circuit Boy, dressed in white tights, go-go boots and a skirted green leotard with a circuit pattern; Tony the fry cook, in a grease-stained tee shirt and apron; a living wooden statue of Abraham Lincoln; the ghost of the Bleacher Creature, a strange being with googly eyes, shaggy green fur and a toothless smile; and the ghost of Chief Nokahoma, dressed as a Lakota Indian.
Winged monkeys emerged from the surrounding forest. They wore red vests and fez hats. They surrounded Grandpa and the other adventurers. Their king approached and bowed. "Greetings to the Man With The Yellow Sombrero," he said. "You are our new master. We await your command. Just wear the yellow sombrero and say the magic words..."
Grandpa Anarchy glanced at the yellow hat he'd snatched from the witch. "Danged if I'm going to have a hundred monkeys following me about," he said. "I ain't gonna enslave nobody. From this day forward you are all free to do as you like. So says the Man With the Yellow Sombrero."
The king's eyes grew wide. He shrieked with joy. Instantly all of the monkeys were screeching, jumping and flying about.
Unpossible Man puffed his cigar thoughtfully. "You sure about this?" he asked.
"Sure I'm sure," said Grandpa.
"Only, they could have carried us straight to Amethyst City," the big blue man said. "It would have saved us a great deal of time. We don't even know the way out of the Azure Woods...."
Grandpa watched as the monkeys faded back into the forest. "Too late for that," he said.
One monkey remained behind. This one had wire-rimmed glasses and a pipe clenched between his teeth. He bowed low to Grandpa. "If it pleases you, your Eminence...."
"Name's Grandpa Anarchy, kid. I ain't no king or sorcerer, just a regular, down-to-earth super hero."
The monkey nodded. "If it pleases you, Oh Great Grandpa Anarchy, my name is Nikko. I can lead you out...."
"We could use a guide," said Circuit Boy.
"In return," said Nikko, "I wish to travel with you to this fantastic world of yours."
"Son, there ain't nothing fantastic about earth," said Grandpa. "It's a world of science and industry -- it's no place for a winged monkey."
"I am a scientist," the monkey said. "The others mock me for my scholarly pursuits. I don't fit in. Please take me from this backwater fairyland...."
Grandpa stroked his chin thoughtfully. "Well, Princess here is my main sidekick, but I'll probably be in the market for another soon...."
"Thank you!" Nikko exclaimed. "You won't regret this! Oh, but there's just one stipulation... when you desire that I do something, can you please wear the sombrero and recite the words...."
Grandpa frowned. "Look, I ain't reciting no silly magic words, and that's final."
"Please, Sir," Nikko pleaded. "It means a great deal to me."
Grandpa frowned. "Well, okay," he said. "But you need a proper sidekick name...."
"My goodness!" exclaimed Scientifically Curious Nikko. He drifted in a sea of stars. "Architeuthis Sidereus! A magnificent specimen! I must get a closer look...."
Dark red tentacles wrapped about the derelict starship. An eye the size of an asteroid glared down at them. Grandpa Anarchy, wearing his usual suit and fedora with a bubble helmet over his head and a jet pack strapped to his back, drifted back from the massive creature. "I can't fight that thing!" he said.
A young girl in a silver bikini and go-go boots jetted into view. "Kuh! Let it have the salvage ship, Grandpa," Jennie Nova yelled. "We totally don't want it attacking ours." She tapped her bracelet. "Llahna? Prepare to leave!"
A holo display appeared showing a blue-skinned girl, in a similar silver bikini. "Way ahead of you, Jennie," she said. "Engines are prepped. As soon as you're on board we're blasting out of here."
"You don't gotta tell me twice," Grandpa replied. "Nikko! Back to the ship! Move!"
The monkey's red fez and pipe were squashed within a smaller bubble helmet. He stared at the kraken over wire-rimmed glasses. "No," he said. "I must study this creature! This is the opportunity of a lifetime!"
"Nikko," said Grandpa, "That's an order."
The monkey glared over his shoulder. "Rules are rules, Grandpa Anarchy," he said, "I do not take orders from the man with the gray fedora...."
There was silence save for their breathing. Behind Nikko, like a ballet of destruction, the space squid ripped the older ship apart.
"Oh, very well!" Grandpa growled. He pulled from his jacket a battered yellow sombrero and placed it atop his helmet. "There! Satisfied?"
"Say the words," said the monkey patiently.
"Feel like a damned fool," Grandpa muttered. He extended his left foot and began. "Ep-pe, Pep-pe, Kak-ke...."