AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is a very silly piece I wrote several years ago. It should absolutely not be taken seriously. :-)

DISCLAIMER: I own only the plot, and sadly, that itself is rather meagre.

The Quest for a Coat

The Fellowship of the Ring has set out from Rivendell, and is now hiding from the piercing sight of the Crebain under the plants and bushes in the Ruins of Hollin. The birds pass overheard and the Fellowship crawls out.

"Oh, drat!" Frodo laments, seeing his sleeve is badly torn.

"What is it?" Gandalf asks.

"I ripped this sleeve," Frodo replies, exhibiting it. "And I can't keep going with a sleeve ripped from nearly the wrist to halfway up my arm!"

"We shall have to take the pass of Burlington Coat Factory," Gandalf says, glancing up at the looming mall with the coat factory at the top a couple hundred yards away. All the Fellowship cringes at the prospect.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

"For a coat factory, it is mighty cold in here!" Boromir yells, struggling against the frigidly cold air conditioner.

"They make it that way so that once you put a coat on, you feel so much warmer that you think that you have to buy it," Aragorn cries back, also trying to walk under the intense blast of frosty air. A water pipe busts the entire length of the walkway they are going on, and in the cold air it literally begins to snow.

The white stuff begins to pile up, making it difficult to walk through. Legolas easily steps atop the fluffy mass. He hears something.

"There is a fell voice on the loud-speaker," he says after listening closely.

"It's Saruman!" Gandalf yells. A coat rack crashes overtop the Fellowship, burying them in polar fleece, down, and leather jackets.

They dig their way upward and out and finally breaking through the top layer of coats. After a brief council, Gimli says,

"If we cannot go through the top floor of the mall, let us go under it! Let us go through the mines of JC Penny. My cousin, Balin, would give us a royal price cut."

Gandalf hears a voice in his head, "JC Penny. There the landowners dug too deep and too greedily and awakened something that should not have been. You know of what I speak."

"Let the Ringbearer decide," Gandalf says. Frodo looks up nervously, then down at his arm, the ripped sleeve still clinging pathetically to it.

"We will go through the Mines of JC Penny," he says.

"So be it," Gandalf replies.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

The Fellowship stands outside the doors of JC Penny, having just arrived. Gandalf looks up and reads the inscription above the doors.

"It reads, 'JC Penny. Biggest sale ever - 50 off everything. Closed till ten a.m.' Whatever that means," he says. He tries several different codes to no avail.

The rest of the Fellowship waits, before growing bored. They sit in the murky dawn, waiting for Gandalf to open the doors.

Aragorn stands up and goes over to Sam and Bill. He pats the pony's shoulder and begins to take off the many packs strapped onto him.

"The Mines are no place for a pony, even one so brave as Bill. Besides, there's a 'No Pets' sign over there," he says.

"Bye, Bill," Sam says, giving the pony a pat.

"Go on," Aragorn says kindly as Bill calmly walks away.

Meanwhile, Frodo walks over to Gandalf, who has given up on the password.

"It's a riddle," Frodo says, looking up at the words. "Gandalf, what's the Elvish word for on sale?"

Gandalf supplies the word, and with a creak the electric doors whoosh open. The Fellowship stands happily and goes forward.

The Fellowship has gotten into JC Penny before opening hours.

They glance around at the Halloween costumes on display, and notice the many ghosts and skeletons. Gimli, who has yet to notice the lack of life, is merrily declaring they call this place a clothing store.

"This is no clothing store," Boromir comments, looking around suspiciously. "It's a tomb."

The others all gasp as they look around more closely and the four Hobbits crowd against the door. The racks of clothes and shelves of shoes have gained an ominous look.

"We make for the Gap of Raleigh," Boromir says. "Get out of here, get out!"

Suddenly, "There's Elijah Wood!" and Frodo is grabbed and jerked backwards by literally frothing fangirls. Sam looks back in time to see the teenage girls all pushing each other away in the attempt to get close to Frodo.

"Strider!" Sam yells, drawing out his sword. Merry and Pippin do the same. Excited yelps erupt from the crowd of girls.

"Sean Astin! Billy Boyd! Dominic Moneghan!" The throng surges forward and Sam, Merry, and Pippin are forced away from Frodo and each other as the girls squeal and beg for autographs.

Aragorn wheels around, hearing Sam's cry, and also draws his sword. He runs out of the JC Penny, only to be attacked by the fangirls.

"What are these creatures?" he cries to Boromir, who has also rushed out. Both are loath to strike the monsters, seeing that they are unarmed females.

"They have no weapons, Aragorn," Boromir replies before ducking around a large banner to avoid the clutching hands of several fangirls.

"Speak for yourself!" Aragorn comments, having been accidentally raked across the face from a manicured set of fingernails. "Where's that Elf?"

Legolas comes out, an arrow notched in the string. He stops in utter amazement, seeing the hordes of girls.

"Like, omigosh!" One screams at the top of her lungs. "Orlando Bloom!" Aragorn, Boromir, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin are practically knocked to the ground and trampled as the shrieking mob grows and presses toward Legolas. He swerves out of the way, but is pursued.

"Aragorn? Where are you?" Legolas cries, searching for his friends amidst the throng. A hand shoots up from the ground and Legolas realizes that Aragorn is on the pavement.

Legolas lightly jumps up onto a car, trying to get away from the fangirls, but they just surround it and reach up. With horror, Legolas comprehends that they are intent upon getting scraps of his clothes.

"Gandalf!" he yells in fear. The wizard, who had accidentally caught the edge of his robe in the electronic doors, rips free and looks up to see the churning flock of teenage girls.

"Isildur's Bane, what's this?" he says, staring in disbelief.

"If I get, like, a piece of his, like, clothing, I'm gonna, like, keep it, like, for, like, ever!" chatters one girl into a cellphone. Legolas, hearing, rapidly surveys his options, which are few. But there is little need, for Gandalf has chanted something and all the girls fall to the ground, sound asleep.

The members of the Fellowship that have been crushed to the ground rise slowly, their clothing looking a little more dusty and tattered. Frodo looks at his sleeve, and groans.

"That rip has gotten bigger!" he complains.

Unexpectedly they hear screams, and looking down the street they see more of the fangirls rushing towards them and they notice that several of the monsters are stirring and waking from the spell Gandalf had put on them.

The Fellowship rushes into JC Penny and Gandalf uses a closing spell to shut the electronic doors behind them.

And so the screaming fangirls are left behind as they plaster themselves against the tinted glass of the door. They dare not break the glass, and the manager isn't due to arrive until the store opens, another three hours away.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&

And so the Fellowship is going through the dreaded depths of JC Penny. They emerge from there and go on through the length of the mall, amazed with the sheer size of each shop. It is two days before they finally get out of the smaller shops and into the actual middle of the mall.

They come upon a room. It is filled with designers' catalogs and magazines and newspapers. Gandalf lifts a newspaper and is surprised when a few leaves fall out.

"Bad binding," Boromir comments. Gandalf sets it down on the counter and flips open a page.

"It reads, 'Lord of the Rings a major hit' in bold, and, 'Rings actors make big bucks during production.' How could Sauron be a 'major hit'?" he says, confused.

"This is a place that had been overrun by foul Orcs and servants of the Dark Lord," Aragorn says.

"I suppose so," Gandalf replies. He continues through the newspaper, not comprehending much of what is said.

Pippin, being curiously attracted to the large switch on the wall, edges over to it and presses a button. The Fellowship hears rumbling echoes as what Gandalf says booms across the entire mall from the loudspeaker: "This small room is very strange - I wonder what it is for?"

"They're in the café!"

High pitched screams also echo, not from the loudspeaker but rather from the sheer volume of their tone.

Yes, indeed, the fangirls have found their way into the mall and are tracking the Fellowship. And now, thanks to dear Pippin, they have found them.

Boromir throws himself against the doors, but peers out for a moment.

"They have a store manager," he says, sarcasm evident in his voice. Legolas and Aragorn help him to stack chairs against the doors, and the Fellowship, seeing no way of escape, waits for the looming onslaught. The screams and cries can be heard more clearly now, and eventually a several clawing hands break through the door. Aragorn and Boromir, again unwilling to harm the creatures, throw a few potted plants and the hands fell away as squeals about broken nails rose above the other shrieks.

Then the store manager comes. With deadly speed, he unlocks the door and the horde of fangirls rush in. Instead of using blades or arrows, the Fellowship simply work on knocking the girls unconscious. At last, they have all of the monsters - including the store manager - out cold, and take a minute to catch their breath. They hear more shrieks within a minute, and they rush out to avoid the oncoming rush.

"To the Bridge of OnSale Doom!" Gandalf shouts, leading the way.

They run down the main hall, only to be surrounded by fangirls. The blinding light emanating from Gandalf's staff keeps them at bay for a while, though. Then a monstrous growl is heard.

"What devilry is this?" Boromir queries in a low tone as the fangirls cower in fear then scatter and disappear. Far down the hall, they see a dark red light.

"An Overpriced Food Item of the Food Court," Gandalf replies, his face pained.

"Ai, ai! An Overpriced Food Item! An Overpriced Food Item of the Food Court is come!" Legolas cries, distressed.

Everyone else, not knowing the horrifying depth of the terror that awaits them if they stay, is confused.

"Run!" Gandalf adds, and with that, they all jump back to their senses and begin to sprint down the hall, following the Wizard. At last they get to the Bridge of OnSale Doom, and by then the Overpriced Food Item has caught up with them. In the middle of the bridge, Gandalf whirls around, facing the Overpriced Food Item of the Food Court. It grunts and steps out onto the bridge. Gandalf lifts his staff aloft.

"You shall not pass," he says. "I am a servant of the Secret Buyer, and will not pay five dollars for a soft drink! Go back to the shadow!" He strikes the bridge with his staff, apparently to add affect.

The Overpriced Food Item sniffs contemptuously, and goes further out onto the bridge. It immediately crumbles and the Overpriced Food Item falls with a long, angry grumble. Gandalf turns, thinking he has prevailed, but the flaming food-wrapper in the Overpriced Food Item's hand twists around his ankle and drags him down. He grasps the edge of the bridge, but cannot pull himself up.

"Gandalf!" Frodo cries. He tries to run out, but Boromir catches him before the Hobbit goes very far.

"I cannot buy, you fools!" Gandalf mutters, before letting go and falling into the abyss. Frodo screams Gandalf's name, but the Fellowship is forced to flee as the fangirls swarm on the other side. The monsters begin to shoot love-letters in the direction of the Company.

Aragorn, shocked and saddened by the death of his longtime friend, is the last to leave. He ducks the flying love-letters and dashes after the rest of the Fellowship. They burst out into the sunlight, and there they stop.

For a moment, they all grieve the loss of Gandalf, but Aragorn quickly gets them going again. It takes them a bit to get to Lórien, but the journey is well worth it.

And can you guess what happens?

Galadriel gave Frodo a new coat!

And the moral:

Don't go to JC Penny or Burlington Coat Factory. Go to Lothlórien.

THE END