Another Jack Vine, Jack and the giant PI case file
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edFrom The Files Of
Jack And The Giant
Case #22: Somewhere Over The Rainbow Again
"I"ll get you my pretty and your little dog too."
Rrring, rring! My eyes grudgingly opened to a room that was still dark. I rolled my groggy head in the direction of the demanding sound with only a vague idea of what it was, I was after all sound asleep; as it turned out it was the phone on the night table next to the clock. As my hand moved to answer the ringing device, my eyes focused on the clocks luminescent numbers; the clock read "˜Saturday 3:05 AM."
"Umm, Hello," I mumbled in a voice rough and scratchy, "Jack speaking, this had better be good." There was a long silence on the other end and I thought that maybe some kids were engaging in that age-old past time of crank phone calls. In an age of cell smart phones however, such activity seemed unlikely. Yawning, I was about to return the receiver to its cradle when I heard the sounds of a young girl sobbing.
Sitting upright, I pressed the earpiece tighter and listened intently; yes, it was definitely a girl weeping. "You going to tell me who you are sister or am I going to have to play twenty questions?" The sobbing didn"t diminish any but I did catch a few coherent words.
"They took him." The voice sobbed. I could tell the dame was young, very young in-fact and I was pretty sure who it might be. "Dorothy!" I said. "Is that you?" The sobbing continued for several more seconds before I caught the next garbled set of words. "They got my Jack, Mr. Vine." She spoke in a rushed almost frantic pace; it was as if she knew she was loosing it and needed to get at least that out before breaking down completely.
Her ID confirmed, I tried to sooth her as best as I could; "Dorothy," I said as sympathetically as I was able. "You"ve got to get a hold of yourself, you"re cracking up." The light on the other side of the bed came on and I knew Mary had awoken. I looked her way, phone still to my ear and found her caring eyes piercing mine; they said "˜what"s wrong". Getting nowhere, I handed the receiver to her. "Here glorious." I said getting up out of the bed. "Its Dorothy, see if you can calm her down. Find out what happened and more importantly where she is."
Snagging my pants off the floor, I began to dress hurriedly. In the bed, I listened as Mary spoke calmly and reassuringly to the young girl. Her voice was like a lifesaving device thrown to a drowning victim. God she was good, I thought as I buckled my belt and grabbed a shirt off the top of the coat rack. Had she been in England back in 1888, I felt sure she could have talked Jack the Ripper out of his crime spree; yes, she was that good.
"That"s a good girl." She was saying. "One more deep breathe and exhale it slowly. Good girl; now close your eyes and tell me very slowly what happened." Mary went quiet as the voice on the other end began to speak. Now and then, an eyebrow would go up in surprise but for the most part, Mary remained silent. "Hmm." She finally replied. "Where are you right now? Ok then, I"ll be there with Jack in a few minutes; keep the doors locked." She then hung up and turned my way.
"Hold on there Sunshine." I spouted before she could get a word in. "No one said anything about taking you along. This could be dangerous and you"re staying right here." I said it forcefully with a no-nonsense look, the look she gave me back however made me wonder just who was in charge. Mary simply smiled, rolled her eyes and chuckled. Tossing off her covers, she began to dress as if I hadn"t said anything; it was like I was talking to the wall. "I mean it Mary." I said trying to reassert my manliness. "I"ll handle this by myself; this is mans work." Yeah, I know, so I"m a male chauvinist, so what.
"And just where will you be going lover-boy?" She responded coyly. She knew she had the upper hand on me so kept on getting dressed. She picked a pair of white shorts and a yellow tube top, by the way. Damn she looked good.
"Where ever Dorothy is." I stated foolishly. Mary didn"t reply, after all she didn"t need to. She was the one who knew where to go, not me; and her mischief"s grin told me as much. "Oh Hell!" I spouted grabbing my hat. "When we get back here gorgeous your going to be in for one helluva spanking"
She strolled by me dragging her fingernails lightly across my chest. "We"ll see." She giggled as she past. "We"ll see.
Once in the car we headed towards the middle of town, Mary telling me where and when to turn only moments before needing to. She was obviously letting me know she was needed. Over a small hill Mary indicated for me to turn into an apartment complex; the sign over the gate read "˜Rainbow Condominiums". The name stuck a bell for some reason, it seemed to me to be ironic somehow but I couldn"t put my finger on why. Hmmm?
I was told to park the car by my vigilant companion in front of building four, Mary all the while flaunting her importance. I think she was really enjoying herself. "We have to go all the way to the top floor." She said glancing at the steps leading up to the sixth level. I mimicked her gaze taking in the five flights of stares needed to traverse our destination. "Dam!" I mumbled under my breath. "Why couldn"t she be on the first floor?"
Undaunted, we proceeded vertically to the top floor stratosphere. I was amazed that air was breathable at this height. Mary, I saw, wasn"t even perspiring; was I that out of shape? On the top floor were four doors to choose from, Blue eyes turned in front of the one marked 4W and knocked. There was no answer. She knocked once more.
"Dorothy. She said softly. "It"s Jack and me. Its Ok, we"re alone."
A second or two later we heard locks and chains being undone from the door. It was thrown open and the dainty form of Dorothy leaped into Mary"s startled arms. The young girl was dressed in an airy pink nightgown and not much more; she was trembling all the while and I could tell she"d been crying for quite some time; still was as a mater of fact, her little form shaking child like in Mary"s reassuring arms.
"Shhhh." My wife cooed the young girl. "It"s going to be alright now." Mary led Dorothy back into the apartment setting her down on a soft colorful sofa and went into the kitchen. I followed securing the doors as I did so while looking the joint over. I couldn"t help but notice the furnishing and decorum of the room. Dorothy, I could tell, had a major roll in picking the items, as most had that feminine look about them that a single guy would never have bought in a million years. The lad must really be off the deep end over this girl. I couldn"t help but grin, momentarily remembering how my stuff was so easily replaced in the same way. The lad was caught for sure, no doubt about it.
Getting down to business, I knelt in front of the young girl to see what information I could glean out of her. She was still holding her hands tightly together and I was under no illusion on whether I would get much, if anything. Mary came back in with a glass of milk and a warm dishrag. Handing the drink to the girl she seated herself next to her and began to soothingly wipe Dorothy"s tear streaked face. The young girl relaxed almost at once. I started to rethink my wife"s obvious talents, Hmmm.
Dorothy sipped at the glass of milk as if it was a double shot of Scotch; that thought had me wondering if Jack had any around. Yeah right, I thought, who was I kidding. Jack was as true blue a boy scout if ever there was one. I put the Scotch thought on hold for the moment and got back to business. "How about it sister." I asked Dorothy. "You think you can tell me what happened?" She looked up into my piercing eyes, anguish still visible in hers. She nodded and I tried to smile like Mary did. I was under no illusion on how well I was doing, me and smiling just don"t go together well; like oil and vinegar or a 38 bullet in a 45 revolver. The magic Mary was performing however was enough and Dorothy started to fill me in on what went down.
"They took him;" She started, "the flying monkeys. They were after me and Jack fought them off."
"One second darling;" I stopped her, "Flying monkeys?" My first thought was that maybe I"d heard her wrong, my second, that maybe she"d already gone off the deep end. I was hoping thought one was the winner but wouldn"t bet any presidents on it.
"Yes." She repeated calmer. "The witches flying monkeys. They broke in the bedroom window and tried to grab me." Her emerald green eyes, though marred by all her tears, were still quite exquisite; she wiped at them with the damp rag and went on.
"Jack heard me scream," she said, "and grabbed his baseball bat from the side of the bed." She turned towards Mary, wanting to explain this odd fact of a bat by the bed. "Its his lucky bat from when he was a kid;" she whispered to Mary, "he keeps it nearby as a good luck charm. He had it by our bed last night hoping we"d;" She stopped, her eyes looking over to me and blushed.
Mary smiled at Dorothy"s innocents, placing a hand on the girls pink almost transparent nightgown. "He didn"t really need the bat though, Mary replied, her smile turning into a grin, "did he." It wasn"t a question but a statement of fact; Dorothy"s cheeks burned red with embarrassment and lowered her eyes bashfully.
"Lets move things along shall we." I said needing to get back to the case. Now don"t get me wrong, I saw what Mary was doing getting Dorothy"s emotions under control. I realized a second later that Dorothy"s shaking had almost stopped; God my wife was good. "What happened next?" I asked still needing answers.
"Jack started swinging;" she complied, more sure of herself now. "He laid into them with the help of Toto and Scrappy."
"Scrappy?" I paused her once more. "Who is Scrappy?"
"Jack"s cat." She explained, and reminded me of his cat chasing her dog. It was unnecessary however, having full memory of the two four legged terrors bouncing off my apartment walls a few months earlier. I just never caught the cat"s name.
"So that clawed ball of furs name is Scrappy, huh?" I looked around figuring I"d see the vermin, I did not. "Where are the little beasts now?" I asked politely. As I scoped out the joint I noted that none of the furnishings had been disturbed; clearly the struggle never got out here.
"They"re both back in the bedroom," she sniffed, "hiding under the bed I guess". Mary handed her a Kleenex from a box off the small table next to the couch. Dorothy took it, blew her nose and handed it to be.
"Just put it on the table." I told her. What was it about dames wanting to give me their used nose rags I wondered? I looked over her shoulder seeing three other rooms besides the kitchen; one was the outer bathroom and another just a room with a bunch of boxed up stuff; probably Jacks things, I thought to myself, both were not closed. The third and only closed door I assumed was their bedroom so I headed to it. "Was your bedroom the only place they got to Sugar?" I asked.
"Yes." She stammered, her lower lip once again quivering. Mary squeezed her hand reassuringly.
"You said these flying primates had been after you at first; how did they wind up with Jack instead?"
"Jack pulled me from them." She explained. "There is another bathroom in our bedroom and he tossed me in it yelling for me to lock it. That"s where he made his stand keeping me safe. The fighting was terrible," she went on a tear running down her cheek, "with all the shouting and cries of pain. Jack must have injured several of them before they got his bat away. Eventually it got quiet, but I was so scared that I didn"t come out for along time; when I did everyone was gone, including Jack. Well, Toto and Scrappy were there still but hiding under the bed, like I said."
I opened the door to their bedroom and looked in. As I did both animals darted out between my legs. The room I saw was a wreak; holes in the walls along with just about every item smashed or broken. This, I could tell, had been a violent battle. Looking down I spotted the aforementioned wooden bat and picked it up. Hefting it experimentally I noted its size, weight and balance. Stamped on the side in dark lettering were the words "˜Louisville Slugger", with the autograph of Hector Cruz from the St. Louis Cardinals farther down the side. "Nice bat." I said impressed.
I was about to head back into the outer room when my eye spotted a piece of parchment spiked to the wall next to the opened window. It was fluttering with the wind, which is the reason I noticed it. I went over, pulled the spike out and slid the note off. It read:
"˜If we can"t have you we"ll take your mate instead. Our mother will deal with you in time wench." The writing was poor, like the scrawl of a child in preschool; I could only conclude it was the work of one of the creatures Dorothy had described earlier.
I went back out to the main room and showed the girls what I had discovered. "It appears you were the target." I said thoughtfully. "My guess is they figure you"ll follow somehow, question is toots where did they go to?"
"Why over the rainbow." She replied. She bent down and picked up the cat that had been rubbing itself on her leg for attention and held it closely. The dog, not to be left out, jumped into Mary"s lap; Mary complied and patted its head.
"Over the rainbow?" I repeated. "And just where is that?" I had a feeling this was turning into yet another case where anything could happen and probably would, I felt sure I"d need Tiny on this one.
"I don"t really know where it"s at," she told me, " but your going to need the slippers to get there."
"Uh, slippers?" I asked baffled at the connection. I looked over to Mary who shrugged her shoulders as in the dark as I was. Dorothy then stood up and walked to a small chest over in the corner. Still holding the cat she bent down, opened it, and took out a pair of gleaming red slippers handing them to me as if they were a set of car keys or something.
"Here." She said, so I took them.
She then related in detail the story of what happened to her when a large tornado had carried her, her dog and her house off to a land called Oz. Her story was a long one and if written down would make one heck of a Hollywood movie. "When we get there;" she went on to say, "we can get some help from my friends."
"Your friends?" I said in disbelief. "You mean that cowardly feline, can of sardines and overstuffed pillow?" I of course was referring to the Lion, Tin man, and Scarecrow she had mentioned in her story. She nodded.
"Look sister;" I said as forcefully as I could, "the only ones going after your Beau will be my partner and me. You are going to stay right here with Mary where it"s safe."
I was expecting a few tears followed by Mary telling Dorothy I was right; that didn"t turn out to be the cards I was dealt however and for the next twenty minutes, was assaulted verbally in language that would have paled even the most hardened back ally thug on Chicago"s eastside. These two birds stood over me like twin Godzilla"s ready to stomp the bejesus out of Tokyo. I could see I was out gunned and grudgingly retreated with what dignity I could salvage of my ego. Guys; never piss off your girlfriend or a young tart in lingerie.
Having acquired my all to familiar pain behind my right eye, I called Tiny on the horn asking for his assistance. Bring my scotch, I told him along with our heaters and plenty of lead.
"What"s the caper?" He had asked. I could tell by his voice he was a bit confused so I laid out the scenario so far. "Looks like we"re going on a little trip," I replied, "to wonderland." It didn"t take him long to get to Dorothy"s and when he did; I filled him in on the specifics on our little adventure. His skeptical look was brief as he looked from me to the girls then back to me,
"OK, Jack," He replied, handing me my 38 then looking again at Dorothy. "Hi ya squirt!" He said smiling at her. Dorothy returned his smile transforming once again back into the innocent teen. "Where are we headed?" He asked me next.
I held up the red slippers as if they were a road map. "Not sure but the skirt tells me these are out tickets to get on the train." I gazed at shoes and frowned. "I"m not really sure how they work though." I said. "You got any ideas?" Tiny took the slippers and looked them over from every angle. I could tell that he was as in the dark as I was.
"Sorry, Jack." He finally said. "Way to small for my feet. Besides, red isn"t my color." I didn"t want to admit it but I was going to need the girls help after all. Sure, I my ego was going to take another hit, but that"s life.
"OK, Ms Gale." I said sarcastically. "Just how do we make these clogs work?"
She took the shoes, placing them on the floor and stepped into them confidently; they were a perfect fit by the way. "Hold on to me." She said with a sparkle in her emerald green eyes. We did so and she tapped her heels three times together repeating the words, "˜Take us all to Oz". It sounded foolish to be sure and I was about to say so when I noticed we were no longer in the apartment. In fact, we weren"t even in Kansas. Where we were was nutsville. Tiny and me both looked around taking in our new location. We were all standing on a yellow brick road next to a cornfield. Off in the distance was what I assumed was a small town. I say assumed, because this town looked more like something out of a Doctor Seuss"s Who"sville book.
The town was brightly colored in just about every hue in the rainbow. The structures, houses I guess, were oddly shaped having nothing even close to a straight wall. As I looked it even seemed they were swaying. Tiny and me immediately pulled our pistols, ready for any nonsense that might arise.
"Oh! How beautiful." Mary exclaimed happily. Leave it to a dame to think psycho world was cute. She put her hand in mine and gave it an affectionate squeeze. I ignored her comment for the moment and turned to Dorothy. I did however keep Mary"s hand in mine.
"What"s the story, sister?" I asked pointing my revolver around. "Where are we?"
"This looks like where I first met the scarecrow." She replied. She then spun around looking intently into the cornfields to our left and pointed. "Over there!" She cried happily and took off at a run; we all followed. When we stopped, it was before a long wooden pole pounded into the ground. On that pole, hanging in a lazy fashion, was a straw filled figure, with a burlap sack for a head. I assumed it was the previously mentioned scarecrow. Ironically, there was a large crow perched on the bag of hays shoulder, eating an ear of corn. "Mr. Scarecrow, Mr. Scarecrow!" Dorothy called out cheerfully. "It"s me."
The overstuffed pillow looked our way sending the crow flying. "Dorothy?" He said baffled. "Is that you?" He unceremoniously jumped down falling flat on his rump, and then stood up. "Why, it sure is you; isn"t it." He eagerly hugged the little girl grinning happily. "What are you doing back here?" He then asked.
Dorothy retold her tragic story of her new boyfriends abduction by the flying chimps adding our attempt at a rescue. Introductions were then made followed by him telling us what he knew of the recent events.
"I"m not sure of this," he started, "having heard it from a magpie, but it"s said that the wicked witch of the west"s cousin showed up shortly after you left, Dorothy. She is said to be just as evil and has taken over the old castle." He pointed out to the ominous structure poised atop a mountain not far in the distance. They say her minions fly around spreading terror as they go."
"But what of the good which of the north?" Asked Dorothy. "Where"s Glenda?"
"I do not know." He confessed. "You see, I"ve been hanging out here for quite a while; it"s close to harvest time you know."
I asked about the whereabouts of Dorothy"s two other friends only to get the same response. "I am sorry Mr. Vine." He told me sadly. "I wish I could tell you more. Dorothy thanked him, hugging him as she did so. We then left him to continue his job. I noticed that the crow have regained it"s perch and meal.
"Maybe we"ll get some better information from those living in that town." I said heading our group in that direction. As it turned out, those inhabitants were even less helpful; running from us before we could even say hi. What we did get was from a tiny tot just seconds before his mini mom snatched him away.
"What did the kid tell you, Jack?" Tiny asked. His face showing he was less than pleased with these midgets" manners.
"They think we"re minions to that new witch. "I replied. "The brat said those friends of Dorothy"s were abducted and that this hag has declared a kind of marshal law. Anyone disobeying would be severely punished."
"My friends are prisoners?" Dorothy whimpered. "We must help them."
"Don"t fret it kid." I told her. "This dame with the broom probably has them in the same place as your boyfriend.
"Let"s head for that castle then." Tiny said, pointing his 38 in the direction off in the distance. The castle was, naturally, atop a mountain; how typical. Looking up and down the streets, I wondering if these people had any vehicles around. "See any cars Jack?" Tiny asked verbalizing my thoughts.
"I was wondering the same thing big guy." I replied turning to Dorothy. "How about it sugar?" I asked. What kind of wheels they have in this dump?"
"I"ve only seen people walking." She told us. "Although I once saw a balloon. It was the one the wizard had; but he floated away in it by accident. That was right before Glenda showed up and showed me how to use the ruby slippers." I wondered if this wizard dude could still be around somewhere so I asked. "Well, I guess he could be." She said unsure where he might have gone. ""He seemed to think it would have taken us back to Kansas though."
"Doesn"t look good, Jack." Tiny said unnecessarily. I had to agree. Unless we came across some horses or equivalent livestock, walking seemed the norm. Dam!
"Let"s be off then." I said heading our little party through the center of town and out the other end. We could almost hear the sighs of relief from those hiding behind us. "Not exactly a friendly bunch." I spoke annoyingly. Tiny mirrored my opinion.
"They are just scared." Dorothy said coming to the gnome like peoples defense. She clearly was fond of them.
"Well," I stated neutrally, "any help from them isn"t likely; odds are we"re it." They all nodded and I steered our group towards that mountain; me in the lead and Tiny bringing up the rear, and both with our pistols drawn. This may look like paradise to Mary I was thinking, but I wasn"t going to bet any Lincoln"s on that fact.
We traveled for six days without meeting a single soul, nor beast of burden, the latter bumming Tiny and me out the most. I figured, this being so close to the witch"s castle, no one would likely be found. There would, however, turn out to be one.
"Who goes there?" A quivering voice called out to us. I stopped, looking all around but seeing no one, that"s when my partner tapped me on the shoulder. I looked at him and noticed he was looking up. I followed his gaze, spotting a basket lodged between two rock outcroppings. Draped in a tangles mess was what I assumed the remnants of a hot air balloon. You guessed it; we found the lost wizard of Oz.
"Mr. Wizard!" Dorothy cried, running over and standing under the dangling basket.
"Dorothy! Is that you?" The strange looking little man replied in surprise. His worried look turned instantly into one of salvation. "Oh! Thank goodness." The Wizard of Oz was actually an elderly looking man with white hair and a set of duds reminiscent of a door-to-door salesman. I was not what you"d call impressed.
It took Tiny and me a good twenty minutes to get him down from his precarious perch and back onto Terra Firma. Once down he turned towards the balloon and in a not so wizardly way, stuck out his tongue. "That"s the last time you"ll ever get me in one of those confounded contraptions." He said to anyone caring to listen.
We eventually made it to the base of the mountain late in the day. Tiny had discovered a trail leading up but, as the light was fading fast, decided it wiser to camp out for the night and start out refreshed. Realized we were in enemy territory Tiny and me took turns keeping watch.
It was going on dawn when I heard a noise coming from up the path. Small rocks were rolling down as if someone was moving around above us. Judging by the amount, they were either moving fast or very clumsy. As it turned out it was both. I woke up Tiny, and with revolvers at the ready, hid behind a couple boulders. It was only a couple minutes before we heard voices.
"Don"t stop, you piece of junk!" Someone cried in fear. "They"ll catch us for sure if we don"t keep going."
"My joints are rusting up, Mr. Lion." A second voice replied tiredly. "You best go and save yourself; I"m done for."
We then heard a loud screech, like the sound of a hawk or eagle pouncing on some varmint, followed by a thud.
"Help!" The first voice screamed.
Tiny and me stepped out to see what was up. Not thirty feet away was a lion struggling to get away from what appeared to be the same winged chimps as Dorothy had described. The lion, I saw, wasn"t faring well at all. Tiny, stepping to the right took aim and plugged the monkey that had a hold of the lion"s foot. It rolled a couple of feet then burst into a cloud of green smoke. The second, startled by the death of its companion turned to face us. I wasted no time and planted him six feet under.
"Nice shot, Jack" Tiny complimented me as we went over to check out the newcomers.
"Who are you?" The lion asked fearfully.
"The welcome wagon." I replied sarcastically. "Does it really matter?" I said holstering my piece. Tiny kept his out, just in case.
"I guess not." The cat answered after thinking it over. In minutes we were back at our makeshift camp.
"Look! It"s the lion and tin man." The old geezer exclaimed louder than was wise. I looked his way with a pissed off look on my face.
"Say Mac." I growled menacingly. " Are you trying to get us all caught of what?" Startled he quickly retreated behind the two girls.
Dorothy, seeing her friends bolted to their sides giving each a long hug and kiss. "I"m so glad you"re safe she said with tears of joy freely flowing. As touching a reunion as it was I still had to keep it short. I was pretty sure more of those airborne goons would be along.
"Time to move out." I informed the group. Looking at the two newcomers I asked if they"d be coming or not? I really wouldn"t blame them if they waned to skip out.
"I"m with you, Mr. Vine." The tin man replied. I noticed that the wizard had produced a can of oil from one of his packs and was dousing the metal mans joints. I upped my opinion a bit, but not that much.
The lion too, nodded his head in the affirmative. "If it means saving that young man," He said, "Then I"m most certainly in. That one has courage."
"You"ve seen my Jack?" Dorothy asked imploringly as she stood next to Mary. "Is he all right?" The lion and scarecrow told us what they knew of Jack, telling Dorothy how he had picked the lock on their cell door. The also told of how he had fought with the guard and telling them to run for help.
"That boy is a hero." Mr. Lion said. Turning to Dorothy he smiled. "He said he had the most beautiful girlfriend. We didn"t know it would turn out to be you though Dorothy."
We gathered out things and headed up the trail, keeping undercover as much as possible.
Twice we spotted the witches winged warriors but they were far off to the west of us that we were never in much danger of being seen. By evening of the second day we came across a cave. It wasn"t much but it was protection and most slept soundly. I did not. I realized as I stood guard that my plan needed to be altered. In the morning some changes would be made; ones I was sure were going to tick a couple of ladies off.
Dawn finally came and it was time to act. "Alright everyone." I said. This is where we split up. Tiny and me are going on alone." Mary and Dorothy, as expected, were about to bite my head off, but I held up my hand stopping it dead. "Look, I went on, looking more at Dorothy than Mary. " If we want to snatch your boy-toy Jack, we"re going to need to do it quick and quiet. A group this size will only get us all caught." I turned to my partner and he nodded his agreement. "That means two of us will have a better chance."
I turned once again towards the girls and saw realization in their eyes. Both Mary and Dorothy knew I was right. Mary gave me a long hug and kiss, and then led the group back to the cave where I felt they"d stay safe. I"d find out later I would be wrong. Pulling my pistol out I checked to see that all the chambers had lead in them. "You ready?" I said looking to Tiny. He was grinning at me but only turned and led the way.
Around midday we peered around a large outcropping and spotted a pair of goons guarding the entrance to the castle. "Ugly looking brutes." Tiny commented. He was right of course these two looked like a couple of thugs hit by the ugly truck.
"Looks like a pair buffalo in armor." I put my two cents in. "Sure ain"t going to win any beauty contests and that"s for sure and certain." I scoped out the area noting the distance and obstacles in the way. Feel like playing a little ball?" I asked my gigantic friend. He looked at me, then at the two goons, then at a couple of fist size rocks on the ground.
"Piece-a-cake," He said grinning. I should tell you that one of Tiny"s hobbies is playing baseball and pitching is he thing. Fact is he"s so good that he"s not aloud at the water-dunking booth at the county fair every year because he can bull"s-eye a beer can at thirty yards; By the way, the Saint Louis Cardinals, are his team favorite. Stepping out he took aim and blasted a fastball right into the forehead of the nearest tin clad ox. He toppled over, followed by his startled companion a second later.
"Nice shot sport!" I complimented him. "You"re an ace if ever I held one." He grinned and re-pulled his heater. Once in side we darted from one gloomy corridor to another taking out a few more guards in the process. So-far-so-good. I thought to myself.
Finally at the end of another hallway we spotted a large steal door with an iron barred opening in it. In front of that stood what appeared to be a massive bulldog dude. He too, was suited in steel. "Hmm." I stood there thinking things over and figured gunning him down wasn"t an option. Nor was beaming him; no rocks on hand you see.
"You got a plan?" Tiny asked. I did, and the wild one at that. Tiny, having hung with me knew that look on my face only to well. "I"m not going to like this." He said. "Am I?"
I chuckled and laid it out for him Jake like. "Not bad Jack. Not bad at all."
I stumbled out from behind the corner we had been around, banging into the wall as if roughly pushed; Tiny followed. "Get a move on it you sorry human scum." He boomed menacingly. "You"ll be dealt with soon enough."
I copped a quick look down the hall checking to see if our little charade was working. As I figured the flea bitten guard held back with only a mild look on his face. Tiny shoved me once more forward, with a bit of help from me, landing me a couple of feet in front of our target. Tiny strolled up along side the guard engaging him in idle banter.
"Got another one." He said pointing his sausage like finger at my cringing form. I was sure playing it to the hilt whimpering like a week coward. Where was a Hollywood director when you wanted one, I thought? "We caught this slinking around outside." He went on. Dogface grinned and produced a set of keys from his belt. That was, of course, what Tiny was waiting for. With one quick move his boulder hard fist impacted the side of the guards head sending him back against to wall and sliding downward.
Tiny, with my help, caught the bulk before it hit the floor. "Heavy critter." I said grunting under the weight. Tiny, I saw, wasn"t showing any difficulty at all. I grabbed the keys letting my partner pick up the burden and sling him over his shoulder. Now with the keys I opened the stout door to see if my gut was right yet again. I needn"t have worried for, as expected, there were several thick barred cells running the length of the hall.
"Who"s there?" I heard a familiar voice.
"That you Jack?" I asked, already knowing it was.
"Mr. Vine!" The boy said a bit startled. "What are you doing here?"
"Just happened to be in the neighborhood." I replied good-naturedly. "Figured we"d see how your were."
"Thank goodness!" He said in relief. "Is Dorothy safe?" He then asked. I said she was but neglected to say she had come with me. I figured what he didn"t know wouldn"t worry him and I felt we"d need to keep our heads to get out.
I let Jack out while Tiny tossed the unconscious guard inside and locking the door. I notice with a knowing smile that he bashed the side of its head once more just to be sure. That done, we got on our way hoping our luck would hold out; that"s not how life is however. Coming up on one of the intersections, were heard the commotion of a large group of people. Quickly we darted into an unoccupied room, keeping the door cracked to see what was up.
"Keep your filthy paws off me!" I heard an all to familiar voice. Peeking out, my fear was confirmed. Mary, as well as Dorothy, the scarecrow and lion were in the middle of at least six fully armed, steel encased guards. The wizard I noticed was not among them, and figured the worst.
"Damn!" I berated myself. Tiny put a hand on my shoulder indicating for me to keep quiet. I took his wisdom and nodded to Jack to do likewise.
We waited until the party had passed by, noting that these guards were a mixture of buffalo and rhino brutes. After about a minute we began to follow. We notice that they were not heading to the cells as we had figure, but instead ventured into a large looking chamber.
"What is this?" I heard a voice hiss.
The group had moved off to the right so we crept closer and peered around the corner. At the opposite end of, what looked like some kind of throne room, sat a black draped creature that I could only assume was the witch. To say it was a female would surly have been in question.
"We found these humans hiding in a cave, Oh great mistress." One spoke up. "I think you"ll want to see one in particular." The largest of the guards pushed Dorothy forward, sending her to the floor in front of the seated witch; with ruby slippers shining on her feet.
There was a gasp as the hag stood up; Gads she was an ugly one. I heard her hiss like a snake. "The one who killed my cousin!" It wailed wickedly. "I will take great pleasure punishing you my pretty." As she stood there, she threw back her cloaks hood, revealing her eyes. As we watched they began to glow an evil greenish color. Not a good sign in my book. Raising her gnarled leather like arms, she began to intone a spell. Mary and the rest tried to get to get to Dorothy but were easily overpowered. The rest of the guards grinned omnisciently.
I was forming a plan of attack while pulling my piece when Jack, having seen the danger Dorothy was in, did what guys do; he ran to get to her side. We were quite a distance away however, and were spotted by several of the animal guard mutants. They barred our way, while bringing their swords into play. I too k aim at the closest to Jack and fired off two rounds. It only slowed the beast so I had to plug him with some more lead emptying my gun in the process. Tiny faired a bit better being a better-shot ant downed two before running out of ammo. Our revolvers now useless the rest of the guards advanced quicker.
As our battle ensued, I noted that the witch hadn"t even looked our way. It was as if, once started the spell she was forming couldn"t be stopped; I crouched, readying for my last attack. I could actually hear the words of the spell as the hag spoke them. It was as if time slowed down somehow and I was seeing the events in a slow motion. The words ";becoming the opposite of what you are;" left no doubt in my mind on Dorothy"s fate. She would turn as evil as the witch casting the spell. No longer would she be the happy loving little tart I"d grown so fond of; it was a fate worst than death.
"No!" Jack cried out as he was roughly thrown and pinned to the floor; up on the throne that green light now surrounded her whole body. As I watched on, I noticed a movement off to the side. I was a shadow of some sort crouching in a small alcove or doorway. I couldn"t make out who or what it was. Then, at about the same time as the spell was released, that dark shape dashed from its concealment. To my surprise it was the little wizard dude and he was holding a gleaming shield in front of him.
The beam of green light shot forth from the witch"s hands just as the wizard dove in front of Dorothy. The evil spell, having struck the shield, rebounded backwards enveloping the body of the witch in a kind of hideous fire. "AUUUGH!" The creature wailed. Tendrils of the green fire swirled around the dark shape, weaving a kind of webbing or cocoon like structure.
The little wizard peered from behind his shield and looked around. "Am I dead?" He said. I realized he was serious with his question and had to grin. As I watched, I realized that no one was moving, not the guards, not Jack, not even Mary and Tiny. All of us, excluding the little dude, were frozen in place. All I could move was my eyes and those I refocused on the spectacle on the throne.
The green light began to change, turning bright white. So white in fact that it was blinding. I had to close my eyes it was so painful. The light then seemed to burst and I clearly watched crystal fragments hitting the floor making golden sparkles as they landed. Up on the thrown, where the witch once stood, was another body.
It was crouched down in a fetal-like position you"d see a baby bird in as it came out of its egg. The form arose; revealing a woman of such stunning beauty it took the air right out of your lungs. She was dressed in a white gown trimmed with gold. Her skin was as porcelain while her hair was sun-like yellow. It actually seemed to waver with other colors too reminding me of a rainbow menagerie.
Time then reestablished itself and the paralyzing effect holding us was gone. I flexed my arms and hands just to verify the fact. I then turned to see what was what; there were, after all, still guards to deal with. As I looked however they seemed in a state of bewilderment. Like when you wake up from a hangover and finding yourself in a back ally. They looked around and then tossed down their weapons.
"My thanks to you all." I heard a musical sounding voice from up on the thrown. It oddly reminded me of the way Christine, the golden harp girl, spoke. "The wickedness is no longer." The vision continued. ""On this day, a new era shall start." Her gaze turned toward the old man. "Arise great wizard." She said. The old geezer did so and faced the goddess before him. It looked to me as if his jaw had hit the floor at seeing the figure speaking to him. "We owe you much thanks, salesman of the Ozmatic vacuum.
Ozmatic vacuum? That bit of information puzzling me; then it hit me like Mary"s meatloaf, Ozmatic;Oz. The wizard of Oz was a vacuum salesman. I broke down in a fit of laughter. The vision turned to me and with a merry twinkle in her eyes, addressed me warmly. "A man who once sold his mothers cow for a handful of beans has no reason the be laughing." I shut my trap but kept my grin. Once again she faced the wizard.
"I offer you a gift as thanks for delivering us from that evil which had plagued this land. Name your greatest desire wizard, name it and it shall be so. What is the desire?" She finished. I thought I saw a blush to her cheeks as if she knew what the little man would ask far. The old man thought it over for a good ten seconds then grinned wolfishly. "It shall be as thy wishes. "She answered his unspoken reply.
She raised her slender arms over her head, her palm glowing as she did so. A ball of light enveloped her as one did with the old man. Slowly they moved together until they were one. Gradually the sphere rose up into the air. It intensified as before and then vanished. Both the wizard and the new queen of Oz were gone. "Thanks Jack." I clearly heard the old mans voice." Thank you all."
Once we made sure everyone was safe we formed a circle each holding hands. Dorothy clicked the heals of her ruby slippers and spoke her words, "Take us all home." She said. The throne room vanished and I found myself in my bedroom holding only Mary"s hands. Dorothy was not there, nor Jack, the scarecrow or lion. "Well gorgeous," I said, passionately taking my wife into my arms. Looks like I have you alone at last." Her cheeks blushed. Letting go of my hands, hers slid around my waist and up my back. I followed her lead encasing her soft body against mine and kissing her.
"What is you desire?" She asked impishly, her smile speaking volumes.
"Well Sugar," I replied offhandedly. "There is that matter of a spanking." Mary giggled and pulled me onto our bed; the clock I noticed, read Saturday 3:06 AM; how odd.