The Second Slippery Slope
This AU fanfiction explores what would have happened if the
Baudelaires and Quigley had trapped Esmé Squalor as they originally
planned. It contains spoilers for The Slippery Slope and the
Unauthorized Autobiography. Disclaimer: none of the characters belong
All that night, while they were digging the deep dark pit, Violet,
Klaus,and Quigley had had many qualms (which here means "guilty
feeling about how villainous is to try to trap someone in a deep dark
pit, even someone as wicked as Esmé Squalor"). If only the fire had
not been so sooty, smudging out the motto of the V.F.D. on the library
arch, they might have had second thoughts.
"Maybe this is important," Klaus said, pointing up at the archway.
All three looked up and read the two words that were still unsmudged
underneath the large letters that spelled "V.F.D. Library."
"Quiet here," Quigley read. "What do you think it means?"
"It's probably just telling people to be quiet in the library," said
Violet. "And now we'd better be quiet ourselves, or Esmé will hear us
and not fall into our trap."
And so, the three children failed to have second thoughts and
therefore took a step onto a second slippery slope that changed their
lives forever. When I say "slippery slope" in this case, I am not
referring to a rocky surface covered in ice such as the one Esmé was
sledding down to her fate, but to the principle that after doing one
wrong thing it becomes easier to do a worse one, and then another
worse still, and so on.
For example, someone once told me that if I start writing theater
criticism in order to pass messages to a secret society, the next
thing I knew I would be writing secret messages in anthropomorphic
treatises (which here means "long books about a wee little elf and his
talking forest friends"), and after that I'd be hiding messages in
stories about the miserable lives of children while running from the
It was a fallacious (which here means "silly") argument, because each
step doesn't necessarily lead to the next. But in my case the person
was absolutely right.
And likewise I am right when I say that their decision to trap Esmé
was a step down a slippery slope from which there was no return. You
may want to stop reading this story right now and imagine that the
Baudelaires warned Esmé away from the trap and found some other way of
saving Sunny. Don't say you weren't warned, because you were.
They waited quietly behind the arch and heard the footsteps of Esmé
approach, then her little scream of delight as she found what she
thought were fashionable green cigarettes, then a crashing noise and
a louder scream, and then a strange muffled "Mmph! Mmmph!" sound.
Klaus ran out and peered down into the pit.
"We didn't make the pit wide enough," Klaus said. "Her enormous skirt
got caught on the sides and pulled up over her head. I'm not sure she
"Oh no!" cried Violet. She and Quigley ran to the edge and looked in
"Do you smell smoke?" Quigley asked. "I do."
"The Verdant Flammable Devices!" said Violet. "She picked them up
before she fell in. Now they're down there with her. I hope..."
But it was too late to hope. With a sudden roar, the flame-colored
dress was engulfed in a mass of genuine scorching flame!
As the muffled screams of Esmé came to their ears, the children
realized that they had indeed fought fire with fire.