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Three-Bit, Run-On Fairy Tale MAG
Picture it now, if you will: a winding, generic woodland by a nice hamlet. Or if you don't know what a hamlet is, just don't imagine that part. But perhaps I ought to start with the bit about the miller. Yes, yes, that seems more fitting. Ahem.
Once upon a time, there was a miller. Now the miller was everything one would expect from one who mills. Anyhow, the miller's wife was dreadfully sick and the poor miller was willing to do anything to comfort her. Now, it just so happened that the miller's wife had an unearthly passion for red radishes, the rosy red, bitter, and most definitely raddishy ones.
The miller in his grief took with him their only son, Bacillius (Bacil for short, Sillius when he was being teased) out on a walk on the charming little woodland path by the hamlet so conveniently mentioned above. Along their walk the miller spied, to his delight I might add, a great big garden blooming with scarlet ripe radishes. Well, it's no wonder the timid man began grabbing at the things by the handful. He was so preoccupied that he failed to see a stout little man trundling up the path toward the radish patch.
“STOP, STEALING, MY” (pronounced mah) “RADISHES” (pronounced rot-ish-es), the man screamed.
Then the awful, gosh-darn, whiz-bang of a nail dropped, if you can follow the metaphor. The man was not a man at all; he was, by some awful joke of the creator, a mannequin. What's more, the mannequin was most certainly shorter than five feet tall and was auspiciously bright pink.
Now you may be thinking that mannequins just sit in windows – they aren't alive and can't threaten millers who just want some radishes to garnish a salad for an ailing wife. No, no, that's not how we think of mannequins. But let me remind you that you are reading a genre called fiction, which sometimes describes events that aren't entirely plausible.
With that in mind you will doubtless be unsurprised by that fact that … unsurprised is not word? I'm sorry, but excuse me. Not one person reads the word unsurprised and goes “WHAT THE? I've heard of surprised but what in tarnation does it mean to be unsurprised? I is stumped.” Pardon, I digress too far.
So, you will not be surprised that the miller, seeing himself caught radish-handed, shrieked, “Don't kill me. I beg of you. I'll do anything. Take my son. Take him! Just don't hurt me, pleeeeaase!” Why the miller sold his son for 12 radishes remains a mystery. A nice healthy young boy is worth at least 17 radishes.
We regretfully move from the narration involving the miller; although both humorous and entertaining, he is sadly not orthogonal to the plot. Wait, what does he mean by orthogonal?
Moving on, imagine an imaginary island, covered in golden, syrupy sand and firebombed with quaint little palm trees. Now imagine the island as not imaginary; it is, in fact, a real island. But still, it's all in your head, because we just can't escape the fact that no matter how we define it, it can never be part of what scholars like to refer to as reality.
The pink mannequin, which shall henceforth be called the Pink Mannequin, dragged Bacil by thick iron shackles. Rolls off the tongue, don't it, shackles.
“I'm afraid you will never escape,” the Pink Mannequin informed Bacil. “We are on an island, as you can probably see.”
The Pink Mannequin left him then. Bacil's only chore was to train the wild killer whales that roamed the coast of the tropical island. I know what you're thinking, and I've thought of that, so anyone who wants to point out that killer whales don't live in tropical climates can stuff themselves because these killer whales happen to be rare Caribbean killer whales. I wouldn't expect you uneducated types to have heard of them before.
The Pink Mannequin hadn't told Bacil what exactly to train the killer whales to do, so he taught them to do tricks, jump through hoops, eat mackerels from his hand, and do complicated triple back-flips to somersault aerials. If you're wondering what clever twist will make these details relevant later on, prepare to be disappointed. It's pretty cool though – don't try to deny it.
One day, while Bacil was sitting on the beach contemplating the deeper meaning of sand, a funny little creature waddled by.
“Whoa!” said Bacil to the penguin. “For a second I thought you were wearing a suit.”
The penguin looked at Bacil and said, “What makes you think I'm not?” (Wait for laughter.)
The penguin proceeded to plop himself down and begin weaving the sand. Bacil stood transfixed, staring in disbelief as the penguin spun beach sand into gold. When he was done, the penguin, who looked a tad smug, thanked Bacil for his wonderful stay at French Polynesia. Bacil could have told the penguin that not only was French Polynesia a group of French oversea collectives in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but also that they happened to be real islands that have no place in a fictitious story. What's more, French Polynesia didn't become an official protectorate of France until 1889, which doesn't align with the time frame of this bizarre fairy tale.
It was about this time that an idea struck Bacil. The idea, which thought itself to be quite good, was just minding its own business when it collided unexpectedly with Bacil's head. Needless to say, the idea became stuck and Bacil accepted it as his own.
Later that day, when the Pink Mannequin strolled down to the beach to evaluate Bacil's progress, he was stopped short by the pile of glittering gold. Everyone knows that living mannequins love gold, and this living mannequin was no exception. As he ran his wooden fingers through the gold, Bacil crept up behind him and booted him into the sea. The unfortunate puppet was caught in a current and swept away. How to describe Bacil's exhilaration of freedom? Slightly more excited than complete apathy does the job splendidly.
How though was he to leave the wretched isle? Remember how I asked everyone to imagine this island? Yes? Well, everyone knows that the best way to escape from an imaginary island is to imagine oneself off it. And that's just what Bacil did. Since the boundary between reality and imagination is blurred and often less linear than expected, it is no surprise that Bacil found himself in Romania, or less specifically, former Hungary.
Not at all troubled, Bacil wandered the Romanian forest. Interestingly enough, Bacil ran across a castle. Only this castle had just one turret and no studded doors, chain-link gate over a moat, or employee entrance. Unbeknownst to Bacil, the tower homed a beautiful captured maiden named Parrunzel. She was kept locked in the tower by Witch Wendeloff.
Parrunzel conveniently had long golden hair. This fact probably constitutes a copyright infringement. Legalities aside, no prince had dared do the obvious and climb Parrunzel's hair because the reality of the matter was that Parrunzel didn't have access to great conditioner, so her tresses were as barbed as nettles and as tangled as ivy.
Bacil, sensing a lull in the plot, decided rashly to climb Parrunzel's hair. Can you believe how outrageous he is? To find out exactly how outrageous, read on.
Yes, at the base of the tower Bacil yelled up three times, “Parrunzel, Parrunzel, let down your locks. Let them fall like birds tied to rocks.” And like an actor nervously awaiting a cue, Parrunzel let her spiny tresses fall. Bacil nimbly climbed to the tower window. (Secretly he was quite disgusted and his hands hurt from the nettley hair.) Before either of them spoke, the not-so-nice Witch Wendeloff appeared as if from nowhere.
“I knew some day a young man would finally come,” she crooned. “I had my doubts after the first 10 or 12 years, but finally a begotten hero has come so I can make sure he lives horribly ever after.” She laughed.
“There seems to be some kind of mistake,” Bacil informed the witch. “It's only that, what are you doing here?”
“I am the witch who rules this tower!” she screamed.
“Yes, but you see,” Bacil continued, “as per standard fairly-tale protocol, there can be only one antagonist per tale, as indicated here in Section 12B, and here in Article 4C.”
“I, um, well, now listen here …,” the witch began, before disappearing in a puff of paradoxical logic.
The somber scene was interrupted when a trumpeting echoed. A small voice broke the trumpeting.
“Bacilius!” cried a very ugly sock puppet. “How do you do? I am Gildock the Sock, and my misfortunes are known far and wide for being extremely misfortunate.
“What horrors plague my being? My life, a soft garment of misfortune clad in the injustices of a sock puppet's livelihood,” cried the disfigured sock.
“Oh dear,” quaked Perrunzel, “he's started to monologue.”
“The master's hand is gone, and the darkness of curtain drawn fills me with the dread of a forgotten sock,” the sock continued.
“Touching,” remarked Bacil, “but we don't have time for a monologue. Or if we do, I get to be the one who says it. I am the main character, or protagonist, if you will. Now, there are two things that need to happen to convincingly end this seemingly endless story.
“First,” Bacil continued, “I must exact vengeance on the poor miller who plays my father. That's for me. Second,” Bacil further continued, “I must face the Pink Mannequin in an epic end-of-story showdown. Dig so far?” Perrunzel and Gildock nodded.
“Right-o,” said Bacil. “Any ideas?”
It was about now that the first idea that had lodged itself in Bacil's head managed to wriggle itself into another idea and pop out. It savored its cunning and freedom for a fraction of a second before it collided with what can only be called the sock puppet's brain. “I have it!” cried the unlucky sock puppet. “Everyone know the fastest way to the end of a story?”
“Skip a lot?” hazarded Parrunzel.
“No, we must jump through the page. On the other side we'll see the advancement in the plot and be ahead of where we are now!”
“Sounds dangerous!” cried Bacil. “But I'm all for it! How do we break a hole in space and time, distorting all reality in the fictitious universe, so we can jump to the next page?”
“The only way is to do something that turns all logic backwards, something so horrendous that the page literally falls to metaphorical pieces,” the sock whispered whisperingly.
“So what you're saying is, we need a really big grammar error, yes?”
“That's right,” intoned the sock. “But no normal error will do. We'll need dangling modifiers, split infinitives, and definitely some improperly used parallel structure. That's just off the top of my head.”
“Here it goes,” Bacil said. “If none of you survive I'm sorry in advance.” Bacil opened his mouth …
“To boldly defy grammar: The semantics/syntax book lay in my hand, reading slowly I paused to examine the error … I like to make lines on my paper, to imagine the holy grails of morphology and linguistic rules, and golfing!”
Suddenly, without warning, the world of pedantry, morphological exactness, and psychotic English major Nazis burst apart. Time and space floated without purpose in a purgatory-like realm. Before reality managed to right itself, Bacil and the sock slipped into the future.
“Where's Parrunzel?” asked the sock.
“I'm not sure,” replied Bacil. “She's probably not important enough to be included any farther.”
They then noticed they were in front of the cottage that used to be Bacil's home. A sad piano tune played in the background until Bacil asked the fellow to stop. The player thought a minute then picked up a Joplin rag, decided it didn't fit the mood, then proceeded to play a perfect rendition of “Fairies Aire Waltz of Death.” This seemed appropriate, and the two people – or rather the person and disembodied puppet – proceeded up the walkway.
Some wandering violinists broke into an impromptu version of a scary theme as Bacil opened the door. The sight that greeted him would turn curdle to bone … you know what I mean. Bacil's parents stood (again conveniently) in the doorway. The elephant in the room though was that they were both radish people. Their flesh was literally beet red and tubers were sprouting on their bodies. The Pink Mannequin's radishes were magical and possessed the irritating power to turn their devourers into radishes.
“Bacilius!” came a dark little voice. The Pink Mannequin stepped out from behind Bacil's parents. “You thought you could escape. But all you've succeeded in doing is ensuring your own death. Muahhaha!” (The laugh annunciated cleanly with perfect diction.) “Oh, a sock puppet. I love sock puppets,” the Pink Mannequin fawned. “Let's do a play with it.”
“No!” declared Bacil. “He is my sock puppet and you shan't do a home puppet show with him, or me.”
“Here's the deal,” the Pink Mannequin said. “If you guess my name in three tries, I'll surrender and you'll be the triumphant hero of this dreadfully appalling disgrace of a story. If not, then I get to do a play and you have to watch.” It was a dire choice with a possible outcome worse than death, so Bacil agreed.
“Is your name Gordon?”
“Is your name Steven Hamskin?”
“You cheat, you charlatan, you fraud, you mountebank, you pitchman, you phony, you fake, you liar, you con man, you hustler, you deceiver, you scoundrel, you … uh ….”
“Swindler, scamp, dipnosophist?”
“Yes, yes, wait, what?”
“Nevermind,” said Bacil peremptorily. “The point is, I guessed your name and I win. I victoriously end this story.”
“Ha ha,” said the Pink Mannequin. “Everyone knows the villain never keeps his word. En garde!”
“Have at you!”
“Not so fast!”
“Ow! That hurt.”
“Stop!” yelled the sock puppet. “Are you going to actually fight or are you just going to talk like you're fighting?”
“I didn't think to actually fight, did you?” asked Bacil.
“No, never crossed my mind,” replied the Pink Mannequin. A loud thud interrupted them. The traveling pianist and violinists were forcing their way through the doorway. When they got through, they jumped into an uninvited version of “Gastroid Explodus” Op. 43 by Yohan Vorn Vicklespordan. As is common knowledge, the particular chords of this piece are inevitably fatal to at least one member of any listening party. It just so happened that pink mannequins are deathly afraid of great fatal classical music. The Pink Mannequin keeled over in a combination of disgust and ruptured entrails.
“You know,” said Bacil, “I wonder why they call him Hamskin.” And he reached for a fork.