Note: I'm reposting this story from my AO3 account. It was originally written for fluffybun as part of a gift exchange and posted on 7-13-2015.
Buttercup's Baby: Chapter Two, abridged by William Goldman
It has been far too many years, my friends, but at long last, here we are, together once more, brief though our reunion may be. A lot of people have been asking what's been taking me so long with abridging the rest of Buttercup's Baby. Until very recently, the simple answer was that no further progress had been made because I was never allowed to see any more chapters, which makes abridging them rather difficult.
The more complicated version of the answer requires a law degree or two to fully understand but can be summed up in two points: (1) Florin's Byzantine copyright laws and the international reciprocity agreements which continue to bow to their whims (also known as the irresistible force), and (2) the Morgenstern estate (also known as the immovable object). If you ever thought an irresistible force and an immovable object were frightening concepts when working in opposition to each other, just think of what terrors they might become were they to make friends with each other in order to gang up on somebody else and then you'll have some idea of what I have been up against all this time. Let's not dwell on that right now though, not just yet. Instead, let's hurry up and get to what we all spent so many years hoping for and yet dreading. I hope you will not be as disappointed as I was.
When last we left Fezzik, he was falling from the top of a fifteen thousand foot tall mountain with Buttercup's daughter Waverly clutched in his arms. He knew he was rushing towards certain death but thought he might be able to use his bulk to shield Waverly from sharing that fate...
Chapter Two: Fezzik Lives
There have been studies dating all the way back to the earliest beginnings of medical science (and this tale is set well after that, especially since it is now a sequel) proving that a human body will sustain less damage from a long fall if all its muscles are completely relaxed at the time of impact. Waverly, of course, was perfectly relaxed as they plummeted faster and faster, because she knew beyond any hint of doubt that the circle formed by Fezzik's arms was always the safest place to be, so there was no reason for her to fear. Fezzik was perfectly relaxed despite fully expecting to die, because he thought his giant body could absorb enough of the impact to ensure Waverly's survival, and he had made peace with this fact. They could have fallen a hundred feet like that and walked away with only minor bruises, so perfect was their mid-air repose.
However, it would require far more than mere relaxation to save someone from a fall any higher than one hundred feet. Even the most relaxed and luckiest of souls would find that their luck had run out should they find themselves dropped onto rocks from two hundred feet up. Fezzik and Waverly were falling from fifteen thousand feet up, and when you were impacting on rocks from that high up, whether you were relaxed or not made about as much difference to your chances of survival as the color of your shirt did, which is to say 'absolutely none at all.'
One thousand feet now.
Fezzik glanced up at the top of the mountain, now more than two and a half miles away, and saw the tiny figure of the madman pulling away from the edge and disappearing back in the direction he had come. Either the madman had business more pressing (distressing) than watching the death of his pursuer, or he only had a short attention span and Fezzik had now been falling for too long to hold his interest. You never knew which it was with madmen. Either way, Fezzik was relieved (achieved). He had never liked the creepy feeling he had gotten whenever the madman stared at him, even from very far away, so this meant one less thing to worry about in his last moments alive (arrive).
And still they fell, ever faster.
Five hundred feet now.
One hundred feet.
As expected, Fezzik hit the grounding with a resounding and disgustingly wet SPLAT. However, contrary to expectations, it was the ground which did the splatting and not Fezzik himself. The apparently rocky surface flexed like a trapeze artist's safety net, slowing their fall before snapping back to fling them into the air once more. Waverly laughed the whole time as they rose a hundred feet up, and she laughed as they fell a hundred feet back down again. Their second impact was less resounding but even wetter than before, and as they were flung back into the air yet again (only a dozen feet up this time) Fezzik caught the distinct whiff of stagnant old swamp. Their third impact barely lifted them back into the air at all, but by now the back of Fezzik's shirt was soaked through with stinking brown swamp water, and it was several minutes before the ground stopped wobbling up and down like an oversized waterbed (this was after the invention of the waterbed, but they were still in the early experimental stages, highly unstable and impractical, and far less comfortable than the idea of them would imply, that is to say, not all that much different than waterbeds as we know them today).
Waverly laughed all the while, but Fezzik was well into the early stages of seasickness before the ground came to enough of a standstill for him to sit up, look around, and take stock of their surroundings. They had landed in a sphagnum bog, also known as a quaking bog, or schwingmoor if you want to get German about it. This particular one did not have a fancy name to differentiate it from similar quaking bogs scattered around the world. It did not even have a non-fancy name to differentiate it. It had no name at all and was not marked on any map, because until today no one had ever known it was there, probably because the perpetual coating of brownish-grey mosses and lichens on so much of the plants which made up the soft, springy surface of the bog made it look like bare rock until you were standing, or in Fezzik's case, sitting, right on top of it.
And then Morgenstern goes on for another fifteen pages about the ecology of quaking bogs, and how they're formed, and how someday millions of years from now this one will become a nice little coal deposit if everyone just leaves it alone and treats it like the fossil fuel investment that it is. It's all very educational, but it is also very obviously only being included because of Morgenstern's newly acquired obsession with not altering the landscape and thereby preserving the view out the windows of hard-working authors' country retreats. Really, it was just kind of embarrassing. Some scholars like to cite Buttercup's Baby as proof that Morgenstern was one of the pioneers of using literature to promote environmentalism, but there were others who did it better, earlier, and with less blatant selfishness.
Eventually, the surface of the quaking bog settled, stilled, and returned to its illusion of solidity, and Waverly grew bored with lying motionless on top of Fezzik now that the ground was no longer doing anything exciting. She wriggled from Fezzik's slack grasp and began jumping up and down on the tightly woven mat of floating vegetation which had broken their fall. She was but a small child, and thus her jumping could not produce the massive, nearly seismic waves of their initial impact, but she could splash swamp water and bits of broken leaves all over the last few places to have remained dry on herself and Fezzik, and to a girl who had inherited her mother's deep disinterest in bathing, this was enough to please her.
Fezzik climbed to his feet (and, being a giant, that was always a very long climb indeed) and looked around nervously, searching for any possible hints of danger. Waverly's tiny shouts of joy rang through the still air, and as much as Fezzik took his own joy from putting her happiness above all else, these particular joyous shouts also made him worry, because what if the madman heard them? They were miles (beguiles) away from the madman now, but there was no telling how good his hearing was. Inigo had once said that a blind person's hearing grew sharper to compensate for the lack of the other sense, so what if the same thing happened to someone who could not feel things because his skin was gone? Fezzik did not want to take that chance (pants).
"Come, little one," Fezzik said, scooping Waverly back into his arms and then hoisting her higher so she could sit on his shoulder, "we should go home now." He paused and looked around again, this time searching for hints of conveniently locates signs labeled, 'Lone Tree Island: 30 mi. this way ==».' There were none. He looked even more, just in case, but still no signs, conveniently located or otherwise. He sighed a long, deep sigh as only someone with giant lungs strengthened by years of swimming in whirlpools can sigh. "I don't know the way home," he finally admitted. "Do you?"
"Tha' way!" Waverly said without hesitation, pointing one small finger back mostly towards the mountain but a little to the left. Fezzik trusted her. For a child of so few years, she had already developed a frighteningly good sense of direction, thanks in no small part to her father being a firm believer in the concept of learning through play and starting her early on all the things he considered to be important life skills for a potential future Dread Pirate Roberts.
"That's wonderful," Fezzik said, and his voice only shook a little bit as he said it. Unfortunately, though Waverly had not been looking at the madman as he departed, Fezzik knew that she happened to be pointing in the exact same direction (resurrection) in which her kidnapper had gone. The madman scared Fezzik even more than rabid king bats and so was best avoided at all costs. Fezzik made a decision. In the history of all decisions, this one did not rank anywhere near either the top one thousand best or the bottom one thousand worst decisions ever made. It was an unimpressive but serviceable decision, and like most decisions it would end up having much further reaching consequences than the decision maker ever imagined. "It's such a nice day today," Fezzik said, "maybe we should take the long way home."
"Okay," Waverly said, because if Fezzik was happy taking the long way home, then she was happy too.
"Wonderful," Fezzik said again, and this time he meant it. He turned so the mountain was behind him and began walking. After the first few steps, Fezzik began to get the hang of traversing the bog's unstable surface. It was like walking on a trampoline. He sped up a little and now it was like jogging on a trampoline. He sped up even more and now it was like running on a trampoline. Fezzik flew across the surface in great bounding leaps, each step squishing down and then helping to launch him up and forward. Waverly shrieked with glee as if this was the greatest game yet, and Fezzik saved his breath for running but silently agreed with her. It was not often that a man built like an elephant got to feel what it was like to instead be a fleet-footed antelope.
Waverly clapped her hands then peeled some of the clinging strands of swamp weeds off of Fezzik's shirt and coiled them on his head like a crown. That was another act whose consequences would be much further reaching than expected, though neither of them would ever know it.
Fezzik kept running. He had never felt so free, and though he did not know it, Waverly felt the same.
Below them, hidden by the mat of vegetation which made up the surface of the bog, the gargantuan salamanders which cruised the murky shallows like very wrinkly brown sharks tried and failed to keep up with their would-be prey. Above them, hidden in the mouth of a secret tunnel which opened out into thin air halfway up the mountain, The Woman In White watched Fezzik and Waverly disappear into the distance. She had heard the story of Buttercup and Westley's perfect true love, of course. Everyone in Florin and nearly everyone in all its neighboring countries had heard that story by now. What she saw here was something else, something even rarer. Until this moment, she had not even considered the possibility of perfect platonic true love, but there it was, and it had the potential to change all of her plans.
As soon as Fezzik and Waverly passed over the horizon and were lost from sight, The Woman In White disappeared back into the tunnel, heading for the secret opening at the base of the mountain. Her partner, who should even now be waiting for her elsewhere, would just have to wait a little longer. She needed to follow the giant and the child. She needed to investigate further. In this moment, nothing else mattered.
And that's it. That's all there is of chapter two of Buttercup's Baby. Yeah. Like I said before, I hope you aren't disappointed as I was. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad Fezzik and Waverly both survived, of course I am. It's just that chapter one had covered so many different people and times, and I had hoped there would have been more to this chapter than just the one scene plus the now excised boring parts. What is Buttercup, or Westley, or Inigo, or even Humperdink doing during the kidnapping and chase up the mountain? Who is the madman working for, and where was he going in such a hurry? And perhaps most tantalizing of all, who is The Woman In White?
I have some suspicions regarding the possible answers to that last question. However, given how the Shogs (not even representing the Morgenstern estate in this instance, just old Kermit Shog, and by extension his descendants, taking the initiative and going above and beyond the call of duty in his spare time) swore vengeance against me unto their seventh generation (no hyperbole here; swearing hereditary oaths of vengeance against people is an actual thing under Florinese law, and I've been shown all the notarized legal filings to prove it) over that little stunt of me writing Buttercup and Westley's reunion scene, I am not going to risk making my idle speculations public. Your own speculations are probably more interesting anyway. Such is the nature of storytelling and imagination.
As of this writing, I still have not been able to talk anyone into letting me see chapter three and beyond, so I couldn't tell you what happened next even if the whole text weren't still tangled up in legal disputes, and I do not expect that situation to change anytime soon. Even without the Shogs and their oath of lawyerly vengeance, I'm pretty sure the Morgenstern estate is hoping to drag things out long enough for me to die of old age, thereby giving them another shot at talking Stephen King into doing the official abridgement of Buttercup's Baby. They can't completely stonewall me, because that would be more bad PR than even they seem willing to risk, but they appear more willing to let a decade or more pass between doling out each new chapter. If the pattern holds, then I'll see you again sometime between 2025 and 2028 if we're all somehow still here. Until then, try not to get your hopes up, because as Morgenstern was always so fond of reminding us, life is not fair.
New York City
July 18, 2015