Other Tales in Fantastica
Once upon a time, a boy found a book that led him to Fantastica. His name was Bastian Balthazar Bux. He became the wielder of AURYN, and he met a troupe of creatures who yearned for him to tell them their stories. Because he was too bent on other matters, he never got around to telling a single being who traveled in his procession where it came from. My job is to eradicate this error, and I will start with the twee.
The twee is a beast which can have its forelegs and hind legs move independently on one another. It resembles a hippo except for being red with white stripes, though some scientists will tell you twees are really white with red stripes.
Once, the twee used to be a whole creature, whose parts were not able to separate and reform. During those days, the twee had a dangy, brown color and was no different from a giant guinea pig. Its diet consisted of bananas dipped in honey, and it did not chew feathers birds had dropped and abandoned. They traveled together in a camp, living a very socialistic life.
On the twelfth day of the month of Never in the year W.I. 543, the entire camp of the twees was destroyed by a pack of werewolves, and with it all of the twee members. Only one survived, because he had not been at camp that day, for he had gone to try to learn to fly, since a robin had bragged about how easy it was. When the twee returned after forty-six failed attempts, it found all of its comrades dead.
Crying bitter tears, the twee went to roam the earth. One day it met a scarecrow who seemed to think that it was in a place called Oz, and the twee had to correct him. "This is not Oz; it is the Pathway to the Stream of Consciousness."
"The Steam of Whatwhozitts?" asked the scarecrow.
"Consciousness. It means you just write whatever comes to mind."
"I never learned how to write."
"Neither did I," said the twee.
"Maybe we could teach each other," said the scarecrow.
"Yeah, that might work!" exclaimed the twee, happily. "We begin with the letter A."
"No, no," said the scarecrow, shaking his head. "Z comes first."
"No, Z comes last."
"Z comes last!" said the scarecrow.
"No, Z comes first!" said the twee.
"See, I told you Z comes first."
"You tricked me into saying that!"
"Hey, let's give each other epithets," suggested the scarecrow.
"Okay. I'll call you Scarecrow the Prevaricator."
"I don't know what that means. But you are certainly Twee the Stupid."
"Hey! Twee is not my name, it is what I am. Who's stupid now?"
""You are. You called me Scarecrow. It is what I am, not my name."
"What is your name?"
"But you just said—"
Just then a trumpet blared. This sent the scarerow running so fast that he forgot that there were two C's in his name rather than one.
The twee hoped he'd never meet the scarecrow again. But he didn't like the trumpet sound either. He went to a nearby candy store to block out the noise, for it is twee superstition that once you are behind a glass door, nothing in the outside world can be heard.
We interrupt this narrative to announce that we hate people who think it's okay to interrupt stories so that they can advertise their stupid products, or tell us that Hurricane Katrina has demolished a city in Louisiana that we don't care about. (Yes, we feel compassionate and sympathetic for those who lost everything in New Orleans, but we don't really care about them. Just as long as it isn't us.) Anyhow, we think it is unfair. These words, "We interrupt this program to bring you a special announcement" make us want to vomit our breakfast on the idiots who say it. We throw the remote at the TV and smash the glass by accident, after which a real emergency presents itself, for without a television we will not be able to watch Saturday Morning Cartoons. Not that it matters, since the old Saturday Morning Cartoons—the good ones—don't air anymore. After Jackie Chan Adventures, kids must suffer through—
We are terribly sorry you had to wade through that. Our Earthly announcer likes to make a nuisance of himself. We are now applying thirty-nine stripes to him, and he is bleeding freely. Please enjoy the rest of the feature.
The twee had reached the candy store, shutting the door behind him. At the precise moment when the door closed, the trumpet stopped. The twee believed his superstition had been correct, but the truth was that the trumpeter had finished what he was doing. His name was Naxxor, and he had blown the trumpet to summon a band of one-inch tall elves called Yeeworks to help him fend off a swarm of fire-mosquitoes. That is, however, another story and shall be told another time.
The twee looked around in the toy shop. It saw tin soldiers and Mr. Mikes and Potato Head families, as well as actions figures that ranged in size from two inches to seven feet tall. (The latter could play with the children instead of children playing with it.) Remote-control cars raced around the twee, and a giant Barbie doll bent down to pet it, cooing. The twee had found her touch repulsive, and it ran down the aisles until it came to one where there was nothing but stuffed animals. Or so the twee thought…
For on top of one of the shelves, there was a can of DNA paint, just waiting to be pushed over by a plush grasshopper. DNA paint is worse than ordinary paint, for if it gets on you, all of your descendants will be the same color. And as the twee passed the spot, the plush grasshopper swung its hairy legs forward, knocking the paint can over. Its contents completely covered the twee, making him all red except for the eyes, for a twee's eyes repel liquids.
The twee passed a toy mirror. What it saw startled it. How could there be a being that looked exactly like the twee except for its strange hue? It ran into a plastic brick wall. Then came the wind-up mice…
Wind-up mice have to do whatever their Contragular Officer tells them to do. The Contragular Officer had told the wind-up mice that they must shear the twee until it looked like a candy cane, though they were not to make it skinny. As long as it was red-and-white striped by the end of the shearing, they would have done their job.
The wind-up mice climbed up on the twee's back and ran a razor along it. The twee shrieked in agony and struggled to get away from them, but they wouldn't release. Before long, the twee was red with white stripes, and so would his descendants be, to the end of time.
When the wing-up mice finished their task and scampered off, the twee was shivering. A Jack-in-the-box popped out and spoke to him. "Why are you shivering?" Jask asked.
"Because I have just lost some of my beautiful fur coat."
"Go to the boiler row to warm up," Jack advised. "It's three aisles thataway." He pointed to the right.
The twee followed his advice, and soon reached the boiler row, which felt like it was 164 degrees Fahrenheit. Deciding that he wouldn't be able to take it, he tried to back out, but he didn't manage it before a stamping machine came down on his nose and flattened it.
In the next aisle, a turtle was sleeping in its shell. It was awakened by the twee's footsteps. "How dare you wake me up!" the turtle shouted, irritably. "I was having the best dream ever! For that, you shall pay."
The turtle climbed out of its shell and put it under the twee's flattened nose, applying it with glue. Two generations later, the snout would resemble a hippo's, and all future generations would retain this character trait.
In another aisle a metallic robot looked at the twee's skimpy legs and tsked. "That will have to be eradicated," it said. The robot has some tiny rubber worms help it apply plaster to the twee's legs, till they were fat and bulky. These plaster legs would become rough skin in the twee's sons and daughters.
By now, the twee was sick and tired of all these changes to its physique. It began to search for the exit, but quickly discovered that it was lost. Panicking, it asked a passing piggy bank if it knew the way out. "Up your butt and around the corner," said the piggy bank. It was not one of its good days, for it had misplaced its cork, and all of its change had tumbled out. A piggy bank without change is like a farmer without a cow.
Trying to ignore this rude comment, the twee found an aisle that interested him. It was called The Aisle of No Change. Little did he know that going down it would mean he would undergo the biggest and worst changes of all.
That's a brilliant way to advertise! Say that your product does exactly the opposite of what it actually does! Say a carton of milk that says it helps you lose weight, but instead it helps you add pounds to your body fat! Or a candy bar that is supposed to be extremely healthy, but instead makes you go to the doctor more! Spuriousness is just the funniest thing in the—
Thank you, Krisberrin. We know, you are tired of his shenanigans as much as we are. Unfortunately, he has his way of butting into our stories. But since this tale is almost at its culmination, we can reasonably conclude that he won't interrupt us again.
The twee made its way down the Aisle of No Change. But about two yards along, a box was dropped on it from above. It covered the twee's whole body. At first, everything was fine. But then the twee felt the box shrinking and shrinking. Ere long, the twee was unable to mover around in the box. Yet it continued to shrink…
The twee's middle shrunk along with the box. This kept continuing until there was only four inches of chest separating the twee's forelegs and its hind legs. Then somebody pulled the box off of the twee. This is why twee's have so little stomach. They use the bathroom almost as soon as they eat, for the food digests very rapidly.
Relieved, the twee turned to thank its savior. He saw that it was a green lobster with red eyes. However, these were not friendly eyes, and the twee had to start running as fast as its new legs would carry it. Halfway down the aisle, a mirror jumped in front of the lobster as the twee ran past. A loud cacophony resounded when the lobster smashed into the mirror. It could come no further, for the glass had pierced its heart. The twee sighed contentedly, glad of its escape, not knowing that the real danger awaited it ahead.
For three feet on, a saw came down and cut the twee down its middle. The twee could not go down and roll away, for its body was paralyzed. The saw chopped away at the twee's middle until there was only a tiny string remaining. Then the saw returned to the shelf and let the twee pass.
The twee got its middle back together, but from then on its forelegs and hind legs could walk away from one another. Yet the tiny string kept them unable to separate more than a few feet. That was eradicated by the Bouncing Penny.
Within the toy store there were some neglected change that had acquired certain abilities. The Literate Quarter could read stories and magazines. The Talking Dime could chat about a plethora of subjects. The Mad Nickel was insane and could somehow sip tea. But the Bouncing Penny was full of life and never stopped bouncing up and down, up and down, up and down, all day long.
The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, the wheels on the bus go round and round and this is how I know-shay. This is where the wloth lives, the wloth lives, this is where the wloth lives…and this is how I know-shay.
That was very, um…enlightening, Krisberin. But the wloth is for our next story, not this one about the twee. And no one knows where the wloth lives.
Anyhow, the Bouncing Penny was in a particularly buoyant mood that day in the toy shop. So buoyant in fact that it met the twee near the end of the Aisle of No Change and wouldn't stop bouncing on the string that help the twee's forelegs and hind legs together until it snapped.
The twee was extremely worried when this happened. But somehow it knew that its mind was still controlling its hind legs, though the connection between the two was by all appearances sundered.
Twenty minutes later, the twee discovered the exit. Its fore and hind legs only had to come together when it ate and used the bathroom. The rest of the time they were as separate as if they were two different entities.
The twee did not mate, for all of its brethren were dead. Instead, it went to the Parthogenesis Laboratory of Mikkely the Calico, a cat who walked on its hind legs and wore a white lab coat at all times. There the twee gave birth to another twee like itself without intercourse. Every year for six years the twee returned to the Parthogenesis Lab to create a new one of its species. When the little twees got older, they married each other, for three were male and three female. All twees alive today are descended from these. And that is the tale of how the twee came to be the way it is.
As a great friend of mine once said, "That's all folks!"