|The Boundaries of Oz
Author: Bar Sira PM
Dealing with a previously unknown Wicked Witch of the North, the bottle of Powder of Life that she sends to southern Florida, and the consequences that result.Rated: Fiction K - English - Humor - Chapters: 14 - Words: 18,481 - Reviews: 1 - Published: 07-05-09 - id: 5192348
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Author's note: I originally posted this story in installments on my main account ("Qoheleth"), but I decided about halfway through that there were better things I could be spending my time on, and deleted it from that account several months ago. In retrospect, however, it seems to me that the chapters I've already written should exist somewhere on the Internet - and, accordingly, I have decided to post them on this, my backup account. This story should, accordingly, be treated as a historical artifact, and not as something that will ever be updated.
Disclaimer: I do not own the Chronicles of Oz, or any part thereof – they belong to the L. Frank Baum estate, if one is still in operation. (No doubt there are a lot of other things in this story that I don't own, either, but these will be dealt with as they appear.)
Ozara the Orange stood in front of her hut and gazed out over the purple countryside below her with an air of cold loathing.
She hated the color purple, mostly because of that miserable dinosaur the Outlanders so loved, but that wasn't the real problem. The real problem was that she knew full well who had imposed the purple hue on the Gillikin Country – the same wretched fairy whose wretched daughter now forbade the use of magic in this or any other Ozzish territory, curse her.
What did the little brute know about magic, anyway? She had spent most of her first twelve years of life under a Gynandrus Spell, and she didn't even know how you brewed up one of those. And this was the little git who was sitting up in her cozy little palace in the Emerald City, feeling so content in her moral superiority that she thought nothing of casually issuing edicts that destroyed a poor woman's entire life's work! It made Ozara fume just thinking about it.
Ah, well, she was getting her revenge today. It had taken her sixty-seven years, of which the last six had been devoted completely to stirring, but she had done it.
Oh, she had made little attacks on the Ozzish orthodoxy before now. She had developed a Magic Helmet that enabled the wearer to travel anywhere on Earth just by thinking about it; she had discovered a way to render anyone immune to the effects of Nomish and Phanfasmal (though not Ozzish or Evvian) magic; and she had once granted will and intelligence to a turnip.
(The turnip thing had turned out to be a mistake. It seems turnips have remarkable oratorical gifts – for vegetables, anyway – and this particular turnip had begun to preach a philosophy of Anti-Torpisticism to the mildew in Ozara's bathroom, which had taken to it with a passion. What Anti-Torpisticists actually believed, Ozara wasn't sure, but it seemed to involve a lot of rejecting any norm or folkway, inherent or imposed, that impeded the growth of an individual into his full potential. In practical terms, this meant that Ozara had to spend a lot more time cleaning out the bathroom.)
Today, though, was the real thing. Today all the boundaries between Oz and the Outlands would come crashing down, and then let Ozma look to her fortunes, and Glinda and Oscar Diggs, too.
And just as she had reached this delightful conclusion, her assistant, whom she called Ernest, came out of the hut.
He wasn't really named Ernest; in fact, he claimed not to have a name at all. He claimed that nobody had a name in the part of Oz he came from, that names were only for people who weren't comfortable with their true selves. Ozara thought that this was the stupidest thing she had ever heard, and had informed him in no uncertain terms that as long as he was in her employ, he would answer to the name of Ernest. Most of the time he didn't, but she kept him anyway.
"Lady Ozara?" he said.
"Yes, Ernest?" said Ozara.
The man said nothing.
"Yes, Ernest?" Ozara repeated, this time with a sharper edge to her voice.
"Oh!" said the Nameless Man, as if he were just realizing it. "Were you speaking to me?"
Ozara glared at him.
"Anyway, what I wanted to say," said the Nameless Man, "is that the You-Know-What is almost ready for bottling."
Ozara's entire countenance changed. Her moment had come at last.
"Lead the way, Ernest," she said.
The Nameless Man just stood there.
Ozara considered giving him a five-minute lecture on the usual subjects – that he was very lucky to be working for her, that the late Wicked Witch of the West would have long since obliterated every trace of him from the face of the Earth, and that, when this was taken into consideration, she really didn't think it unreasonable for him to humor her Gillikin eccentricities on the subject of nomenclature – but she decided that she didn't have the patience for it, and opted instead to kick him. It worked just as well.
The hut of Ozara the Orange was, to be blunt about it, a mess. There was the issue of the Anti-Torpisticist mildew, of course, but there was also an unseemly amount of magical paraphernalia strewn about – six-leaved clovers, crushed Wogglebugs, the balls off of Li-Mon-Eag tails, records that played "I'm Looking Over a Six-Leaf Clover", and a pot containing all the oil in a live man's body. (The live man had later written to thank Ozara, as his acne had cleared up marvelously since her harvest.)
The most interesting spectacle in the hut, however, was undoubtedly the four bubbling, steaming kettles that hung over the fire, and the ape that was stirring all four of them continuously and at a ferocious rate.
The ape's name was Pliny, and he had been Ozara's assistant in magical matters for over eight years. The last six of them had, it was true, been somewhat uneventful, but Pliny consoled himself with the thought that, if Ozara's plan worked and magic were brought back to Oz, this would look fantastic on his resume.
"So," said Ozara to Pliny. "When's it going to be ready?"
Pliny glanced up at the clock. "Twenty-eight seconds," he said.
Ozara and the Nameless Man gathered around the kettles, their minds awhirl with anticipation. Even Voorspoogel, the Anti-Torpisticist turnip, who regarded all forms of emotional excitement as a spiritual disease, condescended to approach the fire and at least look interested. This was a big moment, and everyone in the hut knew it.
As the clock passed the fifteen-second mark, the Nameless Man began to count under his breath. "Fifteen," he whispered. "Fourteen. Thirteen…"
Ozara joined him, and then Pliny. Even Voorspoogel joined in at eight seconds, although there was no hint in his voice that he was particularly thrilled by the nearness of the event.
"FIVE," the four of them chanted. "FOUR. THREE. TWO. ONE…"
A tremendous puff of steam went up from each of the four kettles, and for a moment all four residents of the room found themselves unable to see a thing.
When the steam cleared away, the four of them scrambled to get a glance into the kettles. There, nestled at the bottom of each kettle, was a small handful of fine white powder.
Ozara cackled a traditional Wicked Witch's cackle.
"Behold," she said. "The Powder of Life."