—"Babydoll?"

And there Stepdad trembled, on his knees, just having crawled from the wreck of the Businessman's Learjet 40 XR. It had been taxiing up the runway, taking off for Europe...but then the limousine had pulled onto the runway, blocking its path, and the pilot had panicked. Now the aircraft lay crumpled and smoking in the grass, the Businessman fallen unconscious after crawling out, and Stepdad battered and bruised, one eye blackened where his head had hit something during the crash.

What? What did I call her just now? He squinted, shook his head. He was going to say "Emily."

Four others came up to join her, two on each side. There was an Asian girl, who had been driving the stolen limo. He didn't know her, or the others. He only knew the one whom Babydoll—Emily, damn it!—had sprung from that women's nut hatch. All wore ordinary dresses, or blouses and pants; yet he couldn't shake the feeling that there was nothing ordinary about these at all.

Police sirens approached.

It occurred to Stepdad, this was the first time he'd seen this girl since the night he took her to Lennox House. She appeared ten feet taller now, her features strong and serene. Stepdad, who remembered all too well the anguished, enraged stepdaughter pointing a pistol at him that night, hardly recognized her.

"You're through," she said.

He shuddered; the words hit him harder than gunshots.

That doctor said she'd been a handful.

And what a handful! In just the past few days, she'd somehow gotten all the way to her friend's house (after springing three more of them—apparently it was a habit now), and the four girls overpowered the hit men the Businessman had sent out. Can't have that broad running around loose, the Business had coolly explained. She might know too much. And the girls had gotten the better of them—how? He couldn't understand it.

Then they followed that up by sneaking into the New York celebration soiree the Businessman had insisted on throwing, wheedling the departure location out of one of his top executives (that stupid idiot!), then sneaking onto the Ruler's private airfield, knocking out the power, stealing one of his limousines, careening through armed security men (bullet-proof limo of course, tires too), and bringing everything to rack and ruin right when Stepdad thought he could finally relax!

The black and white squad cars pulled up, and policemen stepped out. Mother's entire fortune, and enough evidence to put Stepdad away for life, was locked away in the baggage compartment that, as far as he could tell, remained intact.

Stepdad put his arms behind his head. The Businessman stirred, moaning. His face was cut and his hair was a tangled mess. Fine time to wake up!

All at once the Business snapped awake, his eyes catching fire. He spat.

Stepdad cringed; but it wasn't meant for him. He turned to see an old bespectacled man with a kindly, sad face standing with the girls. Where did he come from? The spittle fell short.

"Missed." The old man shook his head. "Just like you missed your chance in life."

"Think you're better than me?" The Business sobbed, snarled out the words. "Just because you're such a do-gooder?"

"I warned you long ago, no good can come of exploiting people."

"Oh, spare me. You've always talked like you're some kind of wise man! If you hadn't signed for the inmates' releases, and gave them a ride in your Greyhound all the way to that girl's house, and then to my airfield—"

"You were doomed the moment you chose your life's course," said the old man. "You would just never allow yourself to see it."

The officers moved in and took over, helping the two criminals to their feet, snapping handcuffs on their wrists.

The old man smiled at the girls. "Well done, I'd say."

Babydoll returned his smile. "Thank you. For everything."

He nodded. "By tomorrow, you'll have your home back at last. And your rightful inheritance." He paused. "Though I must say, it's an awfully big place to live by yourself..."

"Yes. I could use some roommates."

The girls giggled; none of them objected.

And where does our journey take us now? Places as boundless as the imagination, and as dangerous as dragons' lairs and raging battlefields? Perhaps many; but those journeys are for another day. Now is the time for your story, your journey.

You have all the weapons you need.

Now fight.


Author's final note: I can't believe this ride's been going on since July! Many, many thanks to everyone who's read and reviewed, even to those who just read; I like to think that maybe quite a few people have. Hope you enjoyed it.

It's hard to believe it was one year ago today when this film came out. I was in the middle of my own adventure, having lost my job & apartment in San Diego and deciding, rather than becoming one more of that city's homeless, to hit the road for the grand journey of my life! And I can never thank my Creator enough for the way he's taken care of me. I walked/hitchhiked to Phoenix, where I spent the winter in a comfortable halfway house, working in a call center and saving up to resume my journey. When SP opened, I took a holiday and saw it in IMAX at the Arizona Mills mall.

When spring arrived, I took off on a Greyhound, had a weeks' tourist fling seeing Washington DC, and now live in Providence, Rhode Island, where great fantasists like Poe and Lovecraft hung out. The Veterans' Administration is taking wonderful care of me until I find a good job...and the vet's home where I live even has this great computer room, where I can spend my evenings following Babydoll's lead and visiting fantastic places.

Thank you all again, so much, for coming along with me on this journey! My earnest hope is that you enjoyed reading it as much as I loved writing it. I like to think that if Mr. Snyder ever saw it, he'd think it at least halfway-decent. :)

Best wishes always,

Doug