Pure Fiction: “Of Courage, Heart, and Brains…” Chs. 1 & 2

Pure FictionOver the next few months, I am going to post some fictional writings that I have been working on over the years. Many of these, I began prior to becoming a Mason, but interestingly there are elements within them that may seem Masonic in some sense. I have many of these unfinished projects that I am seeking to finish. Help me decide which one I should finish first.

I will post a portion of the beginning of my works and I hope you will leave COMMENTS as to whether you would like to read more. The work that has the most COMMENTS will be the work I will finish first. Also, I will randomly draw the names of FIVE of the commenters to receive prizes, like signed copies of the novel when it is finished.

The current posting is a draft from the first and second chapters of a pseudo-children’s book I am writing within L. Frank Baum’s Oz universe called Of Courage, Heart, and Brains… A Zombie Ozpocalypse. The idea was inspired by my then 8-year-old son who thought it would be cool to see the Tin Man fight off zombies with his axe. I attempted to write a story that would fit within L. Frank Baum’s universe and incorporate the zombie idea that my son had, which resulted in something I called a Betweequel:

Being an account of the immediate happenings after the Wizard left the Emerald City and prior to the triumphant return of Princess Ozma: The story being a betweequel of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz and the Marvelous Land of Oz by our Royal Historian, L. Frank Baum

Leave COMMENTS, letting me know what you think of it.

Remember this is an early draft, so if editing is needed, please email me at freshfromthequarry@gmail.com, so that I may make the necessary changes. Thank you!

Of Courage, Heart, and brains

Chapter 1: Dark Murmurings

Following the horrendously wet death of the Wicked Witch of the West, the unexpected flight of the Wizard from the Emerald City, and Dorothy’s long-awaited return to Kansas, our heroes found themselves in an unfamiliar position of rule.

The Scarecrow assumed the duties of Oz, himself. His first act, in fact, was fastening his favorite of the crowns to his bulging head. This was not an easy task, as the pins and needles poking from his head pricked the fingers of his poor seamstress, Jellia Jamb, who Oz lovingly, if not dismissively, called the little green girl. At first she protested, of course, as she feared to hurt the King in the process, but being the head maid of the Royal Palace in the Emerald City, it was surely her responsibility.

From the windows of his tin castle in the west, the Tin Woodman watched over the Winkies. Bedecked in imperial ornamentation and a bejeweled, golden sash that hung across his chest, he ruled as Emperor Nick Chopper. Although he was a dictator, he was not a tyrant. The Winkies loved him very much, and he was very kind to the Winkies for he had the kindest of hearts.

South of the Emerald City in the north of Quadling Country and just beyond the Fighting Trees, the Cowardly Lion resided as the King of the Forest of Wild Beasts, where he had remained since the Winged Monkeys carried him from Glinda’s beautiful castle. As King, he did nothing all day, but lounge around, admiring his golden collar in the stream by his den. He felt his courage dissipating and longed for adventure, something he often did not admit to openly for it brought him great fear to think of all the dangers in the world.

It had only been a few short days since the departure of Dorothy, and the Land of Oz seemed to be recovering nicely. Along with our three heroes who ruled with courage, heart, and brains, Glinda still ruled the southern lands of the Quadlings with beneficence, and Locasta, sometimes called Tattypoo, ruled the northern lands of the Gillikins under a banner of peace and a ban on magic. Only the Munchkin country recovered slowly, having no one ruling over them. Of course, they welcomed the guidance of Locasta, but she had her own country to attend to.

Because they had yet to choose a new ruler, the Munchkins gathered together a weekly committee made of the finest and brightest of men that Munchkin country had to offer. Of course, Boq, the richest of the Munchkins, was made the committee chair. He would have been crowned ruler, but refused to on grounds of personal interest. He suspected that ruling the country was generally unsafe for his health, as he did not wish for a house to fall on him, as it did on the previous ruler. The other members were Oky and Doky (the vaudevillian twins), Haver Squik (the compost manager), Reginald Ironhoof (the cow farmer), Ipsum Oglestream (the head master), and Ku-Klip (the tinsmith). The committee met each Monday at Boq’s house and many Munchkins from across the land would attend.

Generally, these meetings were full of finery and nonsense with nothing much being accomplished, but on this particular Monday, Ku-Klip was nowhere to be found, and Reginald Ironhoof’s tomboyish daughter, Jinjur, was in attendance.

“There’s a darkness,” a Munchkin river fisherman declared. “It looms from Mount Munch to the White Mountains. Every day it grows bigger, consuming all in its path. What do you expect to do about that?”

The audience shrieked. One lady hollered, “I won’t set foot in that land. There’s an evil there.”

“The evil is gone. The Wicked Witch of the East is dead,” Boq tried calming those in attendance. “Everyone be calm.”

Jinjur stood suddenly, pointed at the committee and shouted, “Priceless! The all-male committee telling the women to be calm. Why are there no women in the committee?”

“Not just the women, dear.” Her father attempted fixing the matter, “Boq meant that all Munchkins should be calm.”

“Regardless father,” Jinjur began, stepping forward to the committee seated in front of the audience. “This is a committee to elect our next ruler. Why are there no women among you? We could just as well have a female ruler.”

“We had one,” Oky blurted out.

“Yes,” followed Doky. “Look how well that turned out.”

Jinjur’s face turned the color of beets, even more red than her short-frocked hair. She railed at the comedians, “What are you two even doing here? No one finds your comedy appealing.” The twins shared the same shocked expression. “Who are you to base the ability of female rule on a single wicked ruler, condemning all females at once?”

“We need someone who is incorruptible,” interjected Headmaster Oglestream. “For power corrupts ultimately.”

“A man is just as corruptible as a woman,” remarked Jinjur.

Usually reserved and quiet, Haver Squik shot to his feet, surprising and silencing Jinjur and everyone else in attendance. He lamented, “It doesn’t matter who the next ruler is or if we even choose to have one. We are now a free people and do not want too quickly to fall under another tyrannical rule. If you think a woman could be our next great leader, then nominate one. If I agree to your choice, I will gladly second it.”

Jinjur stood silently, as everyone stared intently at her. As her rosy complexion faded to snowy white, she quietly stated her true intent for the evening’s attendance, “I nominate myself, Jinjur Ironhoof.”

All the committee members, save her father, burst into fits of laughter, followed by the audience, who pointed and laughed. Tears welled in Jinjur’s eyes as she looked upon her father who humbly dropped his head in apparent disappointment. She could not stand to see her father so and turned on her tail, running out the door of Boq’s large home. She ran and ran until she found herself leaving Munchkin country altogether toward the south-west of Oz.

Chapter 2: A Dark Day for Munchkins

The next day, Haver Squik arrived at the home of Ku-Klip, the tinsmith who built the body for Nick Chopper. Upon arrival, he found no one, and the home looked to have been vacated for nearly a week. Still, Haver knocked on the door as a polite Munchkin would. Receiving no answer, he checked the door lock. Ku-Klip must have left rather quickly for the door was not bolted at all. Haver entered slowly, pushing the door open and peering in.

“Ku-Klip,” he called out. “You weren’t at the meeting last night. I wanted to…”

Haver stopped short at the doorway. Upon the stove, a large pot boiled and what looked like fingers were dancing about at the top. He quickly looked around at the rest of the room. For an instant, he believed the Wicked Witch of the East was still alive and had taken over the home of Ku-Klip. The table was set for dinner and undisturbed, except for the dust collected over the last few days. A large barrel stood in the distance against the wall, near the pantry. A sticky red substance seemed to drip from its lid and puddle around its base. As Haver looked more carefully over the room, he could see the sticky red substance was all over the floor, catching the imprints of many different shoes.

“Boo,” yelled Oky and Doky from behind Haver, still standing in the doorway. He startled fiercely and turned to them with a deathly stare. They paid no attention and Oky began, “We see you had the same idea.”

“What’s that?” Haver straightened himself, a little more settled.

“You’ve come to talk to Ku-Klip about Reggie’s crazy daughter,” continued Doky. “I can’t believe he wasn’t there to enjoy that performance.”

“She does have a way of getting one’s attention, though,” added Oky.

“Yeah, who can miss her fiery head!”

Doky completed the punch line of a joke they must have been practicing since the end of the meeting the night before. Haver ignored them. They looked at one another, dismayed that he did not laugh at their routine.

“What’s got you?” Oky asked.

Haver stepped inside the house and walked toward the pot on the stove, being very careful to not step in the sticky red substance. Oky and Doky followed him.

“What is that stuff?” questioned Doky, as he stepped onto the red goo and had a little difficult pulling his foot from it. “It feels like glue.”

“I don’t know,” acknowledged Haver. He tip-toed closer to the dancing fingers in the boiling water on the stovetop. The closer he got, the more they looked like fingers on hands and hands upon arms. He stood at a distance from the stove, then stretched toward the knob to turn the heat off. The pot continued to boil, but began dying off.

When the bubbles ceased, Haver looked into the pot and found, as he thought, two arms with hands and fingers upon them. The arms were very nearly unrecognizable as such, if not for the barely blistered fingers sticking out of the deep ruddy-colored stew.

Oky and Doky screamed like little Munchkin lasses, playing Hunters and Kalidahs, the tiger-headed bear-bodied beasts of the forest. It’s a Hide and Seek-like game, but the object is for the hidden to scare the seekers before being caught. Haver covered his mouth and nose for the stench was unbearable.

“Do they belong to Ku-Klip?” asked Oky.

“I cannot tell,” answered Haver.

“Who would’ve done such a thing?” questioned Doky.

“I do not know,” answered Haver. “I am certain, however, that this is not Ku-Klip’s doing.”

Oky and Doky nodded in agreement with Haver’s assessment. Haver continued, “It looks like something wicked happened here.” Oky and Doky continued to nod as they followed Haver toward the pantry, all in careful tip-toe to avoid the sticky red substance.

The barrel looked to be quickly latched tight, as the red substance was stained around the lid, dripping down to the floor into a large red, sticky puddle. Haver reached toward it, but was stopped by Doky’s fear, “Don’t touch it.”

Haver stood straight and stared both men squarely in the eyes, “If you are going to continue to be lasses about this, then please exit that way.” He pointed to the door. Oky and Doky looked at the door and then back at Haver. His face was stone-cold, not something they were used to seeing whatsoever. They looked at each other, then back to Haver once more before racing out the door. Haver sighed in relief, then stepped toward the large barrel, gripping the lid tightly.

Suddenly, the same girly scream shrilled from the outside, startling Haver again. He shot a glance out the door, but seeing nothing, he went back to the barrel. Just as he touched the lid, another high-pitched shriek pierced his eardrums. He relented from opening the barrel and walked steadily toward the front door.

From the doorway, he could see Oky, lying on the ground grasping his neck, as his hand quickly reddened. Doky screamed again, caught in the grip of some fearsome looking creature. Haver examined the scene, as he stood too fearful to move. He could only see the back of the creature. It wore short blue tattered pants, but no shirt, hat, socks, or shoes. It seemed to have been split in two down its middle, but sewn back up. Its head was also sewn too the body, as well as the arms and probably the legs.

The beast moved slowly, but with such strength that it had lifted Doky from the ground just by grasping his neck. Haver unable to move, watched as the beast pulled Doky toward him. Doky tried screaming once more, but it fizzled out in a gurgling sound as the beast ate Doky.

Haver could watch no more. He found a tin oil can on the windowsill next to him. He grasped it tightly, then mustered up as much courage as he could possibly muster and he ran at the beast, ready to strike.

He did not mean to scream, as he ran. He meant for the attack to be a silent one, a surprise. Instead, Haver was surprised when the beast dropped Doky and turned facing Haver, reaching out, and grasping his neck. Haver choked as he tried to hit the beast over and over with the oil can to no avail. Haver’s eyes darkened as he looked upon the face of the beast. “A Munchkin?” he thought.

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