Chapter 1

The bad day.

The alarm clock rang.

Dorothy rolled over and turned it off. She stretched and got up, a smile on her face. She padded toward the bathroom and looked in her mirror.

"Good morning!" She said to her reflection and skipped into the bathroom. She quickly got showered, brushed her teeth, and got dressed.

She went into the small kitchen of her apartment and made a quick breakfast of toast with jam and butter. Dorothy took a quick glance at her calendar. The 16 days before were marked with red X's denoting days worked, with the current day marked with a red smiley face, or a day off. Several of the red X's were over these green smiles, showing where she had to come in. D grabbed her big green shopping bag, images of a day shopping and going to a movie, and maybe supper out dancing through her head. A piece of toast gangling from her mouth, she reached for the door knob, then the phone rang.

For a second, D looked at the phone, thinking of ignoring it, but since her Great Aunt Harriet was prone to what she called "fits", she sighed and picked up the instrument.


"Gale, why the hell aren't you here yet?" Came the high nasal voice of Jerome Strickley, her boss at Pet World.

"It's my day off. Mister Strickley."

"Not anymore, it isn't. Candice and Hillary called in sick. If you aren't here by opening time, you had better start looking for a job tomorrow!"

D began to object, but the phone went dead. She sighed and hung up. Candy and Hill were the junior associated in the Rodent Ranch department at Pet World, and were known to flirt with Strickley and got preferential treatment because of their cheerleader good looks and perkiness, which seemed to make up for their lack of intelligence.

D groaned and took down her work vest, and replaced it with her bag, close to crying. She got the keys to her truck and put on her shoes. D made her way downstairs and out of the apartment building.

D waved at the landlady as she went to the space in front of the building and stopped. Under the windshield wiper was a yellow piece of paper. She climbed up and took the paper, discovering that it was a parking ticket, even though she had a permit clearly displayed in the window. D almost screamed, there was a boot on her back tire, preventing her from driving the vehicle. This was the third time. She would have to go downtown and show her license and permit to get it removed.

She looked at her watch and noticed that there was 30 minutes until work, she looked at the corner and smiled as she saw the 34 bus coming down the road. If it was on schedule, she would get to the mall with 10 minutes to spare!

D ran to the corner, and waved at the bus, which stopped. She got on and smiled at the driver as she fished in her purse for her pass. The driver looked at the pass sceptically, the looked at D.

"what do you think you're trying to pull? This is an adult pass, young lady."

D sighed, used to this, and took out her driver's license. "I'm 19 years old."

The driver looked at the document, then back at her, than back at the license, then finaly handed it back and waved her on with a muttered "sorry ma'am."

D sat and watched the scenery of the city go by as she rode. It was a lot different from her Great Aunt's farm, in the middle of nowhere, and almost alien when compared to her old home in Kyoto.

In her musing, she almost missed the mall, pulling the stop signal late, she was deposited 3 blocks from where she wanted. D looked at her watch, and cringed, 8:53? She only had 7 minutes to clock in!

She ran across the huge mall parking lot and went in through the doors to Pet World, only pausing to push the automatic doors open, them zipped by Janice, the cashier with a rushed "hello" she ran into the break room, and started for the clock, victory in sight! The time clock indicated 8:58!

"Dorothy Gale!"

Dorothy jumped over a chair arm extended reaching for the time card rack, a smile crossing her face, when Jerome Strickley stepped between her and her goal.

D froze 2 feet in front of the man and looked up at him.

He was extremely tall and skinny, with premature balding and a nose that often reminded D of some of the birds in the Bird House section of the store, his watery grey eyes were always looking everywhere, but at the person he was talking to. His pasty skin testified to his private life of sitting at home all the time doing nothing but staring at his TV, or playing with his computer.

D pointed at the time clock and began to ask to clock in, but was interrupted.

"Miss Gale. Do not interrupt me when I am talking to you." His eyes bounced around like hyperactive super balls. "That is rude, young lady. I am your superior here at superior here at Pet World!"

D heard the clock click 9:59.

"I expect a degree of respect from everyone here, young lady. I know your command of English isn't the best." Dorothy groaned inwardly, this was a standard speech from the man, even though she spoke English as well, if not better than him. She kept a neutral face as her eyes flicked to the clock.

Even though she was sure that his eyes hadn't even once looked directly at her, he began haranguing her about her inattentiveness to his correction, and her general disrespectful attitude. Then the clock made an audible thump. 9:00! D attempted to point at the clock again, but was again thwarted, this time with a speech on promptness, and attention to her schedule, ignoring the fact that, as attested by the large board on a wall, she was not due in that day. She missed the end of his dressing down, as he put his hands on his hips, and said "what do you have to say for yourself?"

"I'm sorry Mister Strickley, it won't happen again, sir, I didn't mean to disrespect you sir!" D quickly skirted around him and with a deft motion, grabbed her card and inserted it. The clock clicked to 9:01 just before her hand hit the lever.

S turned quickly and with an evil smile on his face, took her card from her limp fingers. He peered at it as if studying a particularly gross specimen of insect. "After my constructive advice, you are late, miss Gale. I am docking you 15 minutes pay."

He slammed the card into the rack and glared at D again. "Get to your station, we will discuss this later.." S spun on his heel and lurched out of the room.

She stood there for a moment eyes wide in shock. D could feel her face heat up as her face turned red, her fists were clenched in rage. D had no idea why S always targeted her. She made her way to her area of the Rodent Ranch, the Rabbitat, and took a deep breath, She could only think of one way to calm herself. D jumped into the Rabbit Condo, and relaxed as she was deluged with a happy soft pile of rabbits.

D sat up and giggled as the rabbits nuzzled her and nosed her pockets looking for treats. She greeted every one of them by name, making sure to scratch every one between the ears. D was calming down rapidly, when the rabbits all froze, looked in the same direction and rapidly made way to their rabbit dome. D was confused, and looked in the direction that the rabbits were looking, and froze. S was staring at her, a sneer on his lips. "Miss Gale." he said with a lisp through his buck teeth, " since you continue to flaunt company policy, it gives me great plea... sorrow to have to fire you for you constantly ignoring the rules of my store." He shook his head. "I gave you every chance, and tried to mentor you, but..." S almost sniggered, "empty your locker, and leave the store, before I call store security, and have you removed, if I don't do that anyway."

D left the store, almost in tears. She walked aimlessly, arriving at her apartment an hour later, still in a state of shock. She unlocked her door with numb fingers, took off her shoes and sat in her favorite chair. She stared at the wall for half an hour.

Suddenly, she jumped! D looked down and saw a large ball of white fur by her feet. She grabbed it and hugged the large rabbit. "Toto! You bad rabbit! You broke out of your cage again!" She couldn't help but smile as the rabbit touched his nose to hers. She told her pet about the day she had, as she worked out plans in her head. She had no savings, since she sent every extra dollar she had to Aunt Harriet and Uncle Hank, she had very little in savings. She also knew that the owner of Pet World's biggest competitor would hire her quickly. D smiled as she started planning, she would get another job, and everything would work out well, and best yet, no S! She felt like celebrating! She was surprised by a knock at her door. D's landlady was there with a letter from the police apologizing for the boot, and when she got out, she was pleased to see that it was removed. D hugged Toto and grinned. "I knew my luck was going to change! D pulled her keys from her pocket. "You know Toto, there's only one thing I can do to make today much better, lets go get some ice cream!"

D drove towards her apartment, 2 quarts of Hinkelmyer's Best Boysenberry Blitz on the seat beside her. She sang a tune as she made her way through traffic. Stopping at a red light, she looked around, when she was shocked to see that Toto has shook his leash, and was trying to climb out the window! D lunged toward the rabbit, her foot slipped from the clutch and the truck lurched forward. D grabbed the animal and rose. She screamed and froze, her vision filled my an approaching big truck was coming at her from a side street! D dove under the dash and clenched her fists, waiting for impact, the sound of the tractor's horn deafening. It seemed to last forever before it stopped suddenly. D looked up. Had she seen a miraculous event? Did the truck miss her? She noticed that something felt different, just wrong. She rose slowly and was frozen in shock as she looked down on a landscape far below her, then she saw the sign. She giggled a bit as the word on it registered in her mind, then the truck, out of it's element, began to fall.

Winkieland, Oz

1 ½ miles


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