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56. Stop

Steve slumped down on the bench of the bus stop.  He was still by himself and getting really sick of his current situation. He looked up at the flickering light of the bus stop. It was the only source of light for miles. Everything else was pitch black. He looked back at the road in front of him. It stretched out into darkness in either direction.

Steve groaned. He was tired of sitting here, but he also figured if he ventured out into the darkness, he would probably run into something dangerous—or more likely, something really stupid.

He looked at the short glass wall attached to the bench of the bus stop. There was what looked like it had once been a bus schedule pasted on the glass, but any text or images had long since faded into obscurity. A white sheet of paper was posted over the faded schedule. It was some kind of flyer asking about a missing bicycle.

“Don’t look at me,” Steve said to nobody. “I haven’t seen it.”

Steve heard the faint sound of a motor in the distance. Off to the left he saw the headlights of a truck. Steve sighed as an eighteen-wheeler came into view and slow down as it began to reach the bus stop.

Steve sighed. “Here we go again,” he grumbled.

The truck slowed to a stop as it reached the bus station. The door of the cabin opened to reveal an obese old woman sitting at the driver’s seat.

“Hello again, Marge,” Steve said in a drill tone.

Marge didn’t seem to hear him. “You lost, kid?” she asked.

“No,” Steve replied, as if he had said this several times before.

“Do you need a ride, kid?”


“Did you ever hear the story of Large Marge, kid?”

“Yes,” Steve snapped back. “You’ve told it to me a million times already. I get it. Large Marge is a spooky ghost, and the twist is that your name is Marge. Then you make a freaky face and speed away.”

Marge looked down at Steve blankly. Then suddenly, her face looked as if it had turned to clay. In less than a second, her eyes bulged out to the size of baseballs, with a small pupil in the center. Her mouth opened wide and her jaw dropped down a foot or so. Her teeth grew apart and pointed towards Steve as Marge’s hair stood on end. She shrieked maniacally at Steve for a few seconds before the door to the cabin slammed shut and the truck sped off into the distance.

“Great,” Steve sighed. “I’ll see you again in about ten minutes.”

Steve had lost track of how long he had been there. Davy opened that curtain and Steve suddenly found himself here. That truck had come by about every ten minutes since then, the same series of events playing out every time. The first time, it might have been a little shocking, though not scary. Steve would be the first to tell anyone that a jump scare wasn’t actually scary and just preyed off a natural reaction to being surprised.

But at this point, the ghost truck was nothing more than irritating. At the same time, Steve didn’t intend on walking away from the bus station.

“I’d probably get lost and run into something even dumber,” he muttered.

Steve leaned back and rolled his eyes. This show thing felt like filler. He was under the impression that they would be going into this tent and then promptly defeat the Iron League of Reference Humor. But now he was having to deal with being stuck in a bus stop for no reason, as if someone was trying to just hit a minimum word count.

But what irritated Steve the most was what he saw on the back of the truck every time it drove away. A bright pink door with a rainbow and unicorn painted on it.

“I don’t get it,” Steve complained. “It doesn’t even tonally fit the rest of what’s around me.”

Steve sighed as he struggled to understand any of this. He also didn’t understand how Connie, Olivia, and Davy suddenly appeared across the street.

The materialized out of thin air a few feet above the ground and swiftly proceeded to fall on top of each other in a pile.

Steve continued to sit on the bench as he watched his friends scramble to get up. Davy looked across the street and saw him.

“Steve!” he exclaimed, making his way across the street. “We found you!”

“Let me guess,” Steve flatly interjected. You pulling back that curtain took you all to completely different places, and you’ve been going through all of them finding us one at a time.”

He looked at Davy closely. “I figure you probably ended up somewhere mysterious with a vague threat that you never got a good look at until right at the moment you barely escaped it.”

He looked at Olivia then back at Davy. “Then I guess you probably ended up in an entirely different location and found Olivia where you had a sort of heart-to-heart moment before she saved you from something outrageous.”

“This time it was a Tyrannosaurus Rex,” Olivia added.

He glanced at Connie then continued. “And finally, I’m guessing you ran into Connie who was having the time of her life in some place where she was in no danger at all.”

“You know it, Steve,” Connie said. “Nothing but whimsy and pastries in Connie’s world.”

Davy was a little dumbstruck. “Wow, that’s pretty spot on,” he remarked. “How did you know?”

Steve shrugged and said “Just a hunch,” he answered. “I’m good at picking out where plot lines are going, and I’ve had nothing better to do for the past hour or so.”

Davy furrowed his brow. He was impressed at Steve’s ability to guess what he had been doing, but wasn’t thrilled that his entire range experiences reduced to being labeled a plot line.

He managed to laugh it off. “In all honesty,” he told Steve. “I’m just glad I don’t have to give you a whole recap. I already did it twice and wasn’t crazy about doing it a third time.”

“Cool,” Steve said. “Do you care if I skip the part where I tell you what I’ve been doing? It’s stupid and I feel like doing so would just waste time and not add anything worthwhile to our adventure.”

“Sure,” Davy answered. “I’ll just tell you then that we need to find a door. That’s how we’ve been getting around. We find a door that looks like it doesn’t belong and that takes us to a new place.”

“The last door was in a turtle,” Olivia chirped.

“Sweet,” Steve replied. “I think I know what door we need to take.”

“That’s awfully convenient,” Connie remarked. “This magic tent business is all wrapping up pretty nicely. That’s fine by me.”

Steve stood up from his seat. “There’s a big eighteen-wheeler that comes by and stops here every ten minutes,” he said. There’s a pink door in the back with a unicorn painted on it. That’s probably the door you’re looking for.”

“Great,” Davy replied. “Is the truck coming soon?”

Before Steve could answer, he saw headlights appear in the darkness to his left.

“Man, oh man,” Connie exclaimed delightedly. “Right when Davy asked!? Just when I think this couldn’t get any more convenient, this truck just shows up!”

Steve grumbled. It looked to Davy like Steve might not be as willing to characterize his time at this bus stop as convenient.

Steve cleared his throat. “Okay, follow me,” he commanded. “The truck is going to stop here, but speed away not too much later. It might speed away even faster if the driver sees that I’m not there. So let’s get ready to move.”

Davy and the others nodded. As the truck came into view, they followed Steve down the road. Sure enough, the truck slowed down and braked at the bus stop.

Steve ushered them to true door. Olivia went up to it and pulled it open. “See you on the other side, guys,” she whispered before jumping through.

As Connie followed Olivia through the door, Steve listened to hear what Marge would say this time, now that there wasn’t anybody at the bus stop.

“You lost, kid?” he heard her say.

There was no response.

“Do you need a ride, kid?”

Steve shook his head. This lady had been automated or something this whole time?

“I’m done with this place,” he muttered and threw himself through the door.

Davy climbed up to the door. He had found his friends again. The next step was still unclear, but now that everyone was reunited, maybe they had a chance of succeeding after all. As long as they didn’t come face to face with the Iron League, they would probably be fine.

Davy smiled and jumped through the door. The next thing he knew he was face to face with Boss Stag and the rest of the Iron League.

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55. Wonderland

A bright blue sky shone down over Davy and Olivia.

They had found a door in one of the buildings near the outhouse. They were now in what looked like a European countryside. Green, rolling hills extended in every direction. Davy could see an extravagant castle coming out from behind a nearby hill. It was made up mostly of white stone with prominent deep red accents.

Olivia nudged Davy with her elbow. “Call it a hunch, but I think we should head to that castle there,” she stated.

Davy didn’t have any reason to argue. This place looked far less dangerous than the research station or the jungle. “Sounds good,” he replied as they began to move.

They walked towards the castle and approached a hill. Davy looked at the foliage around them. There were trees, but they were bent and curled at unnatural angles. Bright colored fruit that Davy had never seen before hug from their branches. The trees looked almost whimsical.

As they reached the top of the hill, Davy could see something down in front of them. There was a small pond at the base of the hill with a round stone table near the shore. Two creatures were sitting at the table. Sitting between them, eating a pastry was Connie.

She laughed jovially as she saw Davy and Olivia approach. Davy looked at the two creatures. To Connie’s left was what looked like a griffon. To the right was a seven-foot turtle. Instead of a normal turtle’s head, it had the head of a calf.

“Hey guys!” Connie called out cheerfully. She gestured at the hills around her. “Look, I’m in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. I can say that. It’s public domain; I can definitely say that.”

She held out a plate of pastries to Davy and Olivia. “You want an eclair?” she asked. “They’re delicious.” She suddenly put the plate down on the table. “Oh, sorry,” she said. “Let me introduce everyone. This is the Gryphon.”

The winged creature bowed. “How do you do?” it said.

Connie pointed to her other side. “And this is the Mock Turtle.” She leaned I towards Olivia and whispered excitedly, “He’s where mock turtle soup comes from!”

“What’s mock turtle soup?” Olivia asked with a smile.

“No idea!” Connie replied. “Something old British people see to eat, I guess!”

Davy sat down at the table. “Is this where you got taken when I opened the curtain?” he asked.

“You bet,” Connie answered. “I was in that room with the rest of you, then suddenly I was here. I met these two and it’s been a blast. The Mock Turtle over here was asking me about the school I used to go to and I was telling him about it, and he got all confused, then he told me about his school, and then it was me couldn’t follow what he was saying! And then—here’s the twist—we realize we’re talking about different kinds of schools! Like I was talking about a school as in the place where you go to learn, but he was talking about a school as in a school of fish!”

She took a bite of an eclair. “It was just delightful.”

The Mock Turtle nodded politely. “Miss Consuela here is certainly a pleasure to be around.”

Connie leaned back on her seat. With a mouthful of eclair, she asked, “So where did you guys end up?”

Davy reached for an eclair. “I was in an abandoned research station in Antarctica, and Olivia got brought to a jungle with dinosaurs.”

Connie shrugged. “This sound pretty cool too.”

“I beat up a T-Rex,” Olivia added before stuffing a handful of eclair into her mouth. “It was enriching.”

“So how did you find each other?” Connie continued. “And how did you get here?”

“Yes, do tell, friend of Ms. Consuela,” the Gryphon chimed in.

Davy put the eclair he was holding back on the plate. He wasn’t feeling too hungry. “Well, I found a door in the research station that looked like it didn’t belong, and it took me to the jungle where I found Olivia,” he answered. “We found another door that took us here.”

“We have reached the conclusion that doors take us places,” Olivia chirped.

“And I believe I would be correct in saying that you haven’t found Steve yet?” Connie asked.

“Yeah,” said Davy. “I think we need to find another door to get to him. But they’ve all been attached to buildings so far. And the only building I see right now is that castle in the distance.”

Connie looked behind her. “Oh, that castle belongs to the Red Queen. My friends here aren’t fans.”

“She likes to cut off people’s heads,” the Gryphon added.

“So if we start snooping around there trying to find a magic door…?” Olivia began.

Connie shrugged. “Yeah, she’d probably capture us and cut off our heads,” she said. “Kind of nasty, right?”

Davy rubbed the back of his head. “There’s gotta be something else we can do,” he said. “Sneaking into the Red Queen’s castle sounds like a whole drawn out detour that I don’t really want to do. Like it doesn’t feel necessary in the context of what we’ve been doing at all.”

“I’m with you, buddy,” Olivia added. “I kind of just want to get this Iron League thing wrapped up.”

“Yeah, I’m ready to just move on to the next thing,” said Connie. “Any ideas?”

The Mock Turtle perked up. “I believe I may be of assistance,” he said. He stood up and turned around, facing away from the rest of the group. Embedded into his shell was a blue, metal door.

“Well would you look at that?” Connie exclaimed, delighted. “The door was here the whole time! Unexpected and convenient! And so weird!”

The Mock Turtle turned around again. “Are you quite sure you do not want to remain here just a little while longer, Ms. Consuela? The Gryphon and I were about to conduct a performance of the Lobster Quadrille.”

Olivia laughed and turned to Olivia and Davy. “It’s a song they like to do,” she whispered. “I have no idea what it’s about! What is a quadrille anyway?”

She turned back to the Mock Turtle and shook her head. “Sorry champ,” she said. “Gonna have to ask for a rain check on that one. My friends and I need to take care of an evil gang devoted to reference humor. You understand.”

The Gryphon patted Connie on the back. “It was wonderful meeting you Ms. Consuela,” he said. “We wish you luck I your future endeavors.”

Connie laughed. “Same to you guys. You’re the best.”

The Mock Turtle gave a shy smile and turned around again. Connie grabbed the handle and pulled the door open. “Come on,” she said to Davy and Olivia. “Let’s got find Steve.”

Davy saw Connie leap through the door and quickly followed.

“I’m walking through a door into the back of a giant turtle,” Olivia said to herself. “This day just keeps getting better and better!” she exclaimed as she leapt through the door.

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54. Jungle

Davy had wandered for a few minutes through the jungle before he found a road. He shrugged and decided to follow it. It could lead him to one of his friends.

Or it could lead him to a member of the Iron League.

Or it could lead him to another potentially dangerous creature like in the research station.

“There’s like, a one in three chance this road will take me somewhere not terrible,” Davy reasoned to himself. Those weren’t really horrible odds, all things considered. Davy decided to continue following the road.

Davy thought about what it was he was supposed to be doing. He had been directed to sneak into the Iron League’s secret base by his mind therapy, but he still didn’t know what he was supposed to be looking for. Was it the next artifact? Was it the key to defeating the Iron League? Were they the same thing? What was their endgame here? Should he have made more of an effort to think this through beforehand?

Davy tried to put these questions out of his head. But what replaced them was the memory of this final words that Davy saw in his mind.


Those words made Davy uncomfortable. “I’d actually rather obsess over those other questions than think about that,” Davy mumbled. He decided to put those words out of his head as well and focus on finding his friends.

Davy ran into an empty jeep stalled in the middle of the road. The headlights were still on, and some of the Windows had been broken open. What really caught Davy’s attention, however was the giant metal fence behind the jeep. It looked to be at least a hundred feet tall, made up of gargantuan cement supports and metal beams. It had also been shorn open; an immense hole, about thirty feet wide stood in the middle of the fence. Sparks shot out of the broken metal beams.

“That can’t be good,” Davy stated. He stood still for a moment. He didn’t hear or see anything that could be dangerous like he had heard in the research station. He cautiously decided to keep moving.

He turned a corner not far from the jeep and saw an outhouse. Davy was normally not one to examine outhouses too closely, but he noticed that not only was the door closed, but he noticed the sign above the door handle currently said “Occupied.”

Someone was in there.

Davy nervously held his head against the door. He could hear someone breathing. Possibly against his better judgment, Davy lightly knocked on the door.

“Hello?” he said softly.

There was no immediate response. After a second, Davy heard a click and knew the door was unlocked. He slowly pushed it open.

He saw Olivia sitting on the floor in front of a toilet.

“There’s a dinosaur out there,” she whispered.

She motioned him inside. “Close the door, buddy,” she continued.

Davy did so. The outhouse was pretty cramped but Davy managed to awkwardly sit down in the remaining free floor space.

He looked at Olivia, who seemed to be pretty on edge. “So when I pulled back the curtain and you all disappeared, did you all get taken to different places?” he asked quietly.

Olivia nodded. “I guess so,” she answered. “One second I was in that curtained room with the rest of you, the next second I was in this jungle.” She lowered her voice. “With a T-Rex…”

Davy figured that was probably what broke through the fence. What he didn’t completely understand was why Olivia was holed up in an outhouse. “Not to put you down or anything,” he said. “But why are you in this outhouse?”

Olivia sighed and gave a nervous grin. “I’ve had bad experiences with dinosaurs.”

“Huh,” Davy grunted, somewhat dumbstruck. “You’ve seen dinosaurs before?”

Olivia thought about how to replay for a second before answering with a simple, “Yes.”

Davy wondered if he should probe further. “How old are you exactly, if you don’t mind me asking?”

Olivia’s grin grew wider as she shrugged. “About sixty-seven million years old, as best I can tell.” She leaned forward to Davy. “But let’s maybe just keep that between you and me.”

“Okay,” Davy said. “But I’ve seen you take down way bigger bad guys than a T-Rex.”

“Oh, I know,” Olivia replied. “I just needed a minute to collect myself. Dinosaurs were not on my list of things I expected to see today.”

Davy felt the ground shake and heard a series of deep rumbling noises. Something huge was walking up to the outhouse and Davy didn’t have to guess what it was. He then heard a loud roar just outside the outhouse that confirmed that Davy’s hunch was completely accurate.

Olivia stood up. “Hang on just one second, buddy,” she told to Davy. “The Night Retcher’s gotta fight off a Tyrannosaurus Rex.”

“Do you need any help?” Davy asked. He thought he could do something a little more useful than sit on the floor next to a toilet.

Olivia grinned. “Don’t worry about it,” she answered. “Just don’t get the pretty face of yours eaten,” she said in a amicably mocking voice.

Davy pushed himself against the wall of the outhouse as Olivia pushed her way to the door. As she stepped out, she turned back to Davy with a manic smile. “I’ll be right back,” she said. “Don’t do anything cool without me.” She laughed to herself. “Who am I kidding. I’m about to fight a dinosaur; you can’t get cooler than that.” She paused. “Unless the dinosaur was in space…”

Olivia realized she had trailed off. “See you in a second,” she said to Davy before she closed the door.

Davy sat on the floor and listened. He could hear the muffled shouts of Olivia through the wall of the outhouse.

“Hello fake dinosaur!” she shouted in her heroic voice. “You shall not cause harm to any innocents on this day! The Bight Retcher will not allow it!”

Davy heard another roar.

“Very well,” he heard Olivia say. “You have made your decision. Prepare yourself for the consequences of your actions!”

Davy heard another roar, only it got cut off partway through. Davy heard some strange thumping noises, a few squishy squelch sounds and finally a thud off in the distance.

After a moment of silence, the door opened again and Olivia stepped in. She closed it behind her and shuffled past Davy and sat back down on the floor where she had been previously.

“Where were we?” she asked calmly.

“I guess the T-Rex is gone?” Davy replied, fairly sure he already knew the answer.

Olivia gave an exaggerated laugh. “Oh, that thing?” she asked markedly casually. “It won’t be bothering us anymore.” She stretched her arms above her head and yawned. “So how did you find me anyway?” she asked Davy.

Davy thought back on how he got here. “I was brought to a different place when I opened the curtain,” he answered. “But I found a door that looked like it didn’t belong where I was. When I went through, I was taken to this jungle.”

Olivia thought this over. “Huh,” she grunted. “So if we find another strange door, it might take us to Steve and/or Connie.”

“That’s what I was thinking,” Davy replied.

The two of them stood up and made their way out of the outhouse. Davy looked down the road he had been following. He could see the roofs of some concrete buildings further on down through the trees. “There’s some buildings down there,” he said. “The next door is probably that way.”

“Nice,” Olivia chirped. “I’m ready to go if you are.”

Davy nodded as the two of the continued down the road.

Olivia looked to Davy. “So where did the curtain take you?” she asked. “Before you got here?”

“I got brought to what looked like an abandoned research base,” Davy answered. “I think it was supposed to be in Antarctica.”

This seemed to strike a chord with Olivia. She looked down at the ground with a grimace.

“What’s wrong?” Davy asked.

“I guess you could also say I’ve had some bad experiences with Antarctica too,” she replied sheepishly.

“Wait, you’ve been to Antarctica?” Davy asked incredulously.

Olivia shrugged with a nervous grin. “In a manner of speaking, yes.” She leaned in closer to Davy.

“But let’s just keep that between you and me, buddy.”

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53. Tent

As soon as they stepped through the door, the group found themselves in an entirely new location that clearly did not look like the inside of a tent. Davy sighed. This seemed to happen to him a lot. Davy wondered if he would ever be able to really trust any door to actually bring him where he thought it would ever again.

Davy looked around. This time, they were in a small square room. He looked down at the tile floor that was arranged in a checkered pattern. Instead of walls, the room was covered by thick velvety curtains. At the other end of the room sat a coffee table flanked on either side by a plush armchair.

“Great,” Davy grumbled. They were in the enemy’s domain now. The domain of the Iron League of Reference Humor.

Steve walked up to the end table. He picked up a half-full cup of coffee. “Gross,” he said.

Davy heard the faint sound of music in the distance. A slow, jazzy tune, with a deep bass and a woman’s voice singing over it. It made Davy uneasy; he wanted to get out of this place.

“What do we do now, champ?” Connie asked Davy. “You think we should take a peek through any of these curtains?”

“I guess so,” Davy answered. “There’s something we need to find here. Let’s just look around and see if anything stands out.”

Davy approached the nearest curtain and grabbed it. Without turning around, he continued speaking. “We need to be careful though and make sure we stay away from the Iron League,” he said. “We can’t do anything to let them know we’re here.” He pulled back the curtain. “So it’s really important that we all stick together.”

Davy turned around and saw that his friends had disappeared.


He realized that he was also now in a completely different space than before.

“I didn’t even walk through a door this time,” Davy whined.

Davy looked around, the curtain he was holding seemed to evaporate from his hand. He suddenly felt very cold. Davy looked around and saw a barren snowy landscape in almost every direction. Was this supposed to be the North Pole? Davy thought he saw mountains off in the distance. Maybe this was actually supposed to be Antarctica? Why would this tent try to make it look like he was in Antarctica? Was this a reference to something?

Davy took a step back and bumped into something. It was a building. It wasn’t very big, but it was probably warmer inside than out in the fake tundra. Davy was feeling his body freeze in the cold, so he figured he might as well try to get inside. He looked around for an entrance and found a heavy metal door. He found the handle and struggled to pull it open. It felt like this door hadn’t been opened in years.

He finally got the handle down and listened to the door creak agonizingly as he pushed it.

He heard a commotion behind him. He turned around and saw a dog far off in the distance. A helicopter shortly came into view a well chasing after the dog. Davy heard a man shouting from the helicopter in a language he didn’t understand. In another moment, the dog disappeared over a hill, and the helicopter—maintaining its pursuit—soon followed out of sight.

“That can’t be a good sign,” Davy said to himself as he stepped into the building.

The entire building seemed to be abandoned. Flickering fluorescent lights barely lit the interior, made up of metal walls, a concrete floor, and exposed pipes. Davy walked past a small room with what looked like radio equipment, though none of the electronics seemed to be in working order. Was this some kind of old research station?

Davy heard something scuttle behind him. As he turned around, he managed to catch a half-second glimpse of something small shuffle around a corner. From the little Davy was able to see, it looked like it was about the size of a basketball. It also seemed to walk on what looked like spider’s legs.

Davy swallowed nervously. He had recent past experience being up close with a spider, and Davy knew that wherever that thing was, it was not a spider.

Davy knew he probably should get out of here. He was still in the Iron League’s tent so there had to be some way he could get out of this space. Davy also had a feeling that the key to getting out was probably through a magic door that would instantaneously transport him somewhere else.

He began to hustle down the hallway, opening every closed door he could find. None of them were taking him anywhere. Davy heard the shuffling return from the end of the hallway he had come from, only now it was a little louder and deeper. Davy picked up the pace, but he still couldn’t find a door to take him away.

He finally looked at the end of the hallway he had been moving towards. There was a wooden door that stood out from the metal doors he had been opening. Davy figured this was his way out. He turned around and saw there was something at the other end of the hallway staring at him. It looked somewhat human-shaped, but seemed to be covered with massive grotesque growths. The majority of its body was covered in waves of flesh.

“Hi, nice to meet you, but I need to go,” Davy said. He bolted towards the wooden door. He didn’t look back, but he could hear the stomping of the creature behind him. It was chasing after him. Davy tried to run faster, but it seemed the creature was gaining.

The door was only a few feet away. Davy clenched his teeth as he reached it and pulled it open. He felt something—maybe a hand—graze the back of his head as he jumped through the door. All of a sudden, Davy was out of the research station and felt the light drizzle of rain on his head.

He looked around. The creature was gone, and he was now in a jungle.

“I guess it could be worse,” Davy muttered as he set out to find his friends.

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52. Moonlight

Davy, Olivia, Connie, and Steve sat huddled behind a bush. It was the same bush they hid behind when they formulated their last plan against the Iron League of Reference Humor.

Davy looked up at the night sky. The moon looked exactly like it did in Davy’s head. He didn’t know how his mind would have been able to predict what the moon would look like tonight, but he had more important things to think about at the moment.

He looked through the bushes at the campground. There was no sign of the Iron League. There was only the tent. Davy pulled out his phone and checked the time. It was 3:37. He breathed a sigh of relief as he put the phone back in his pocket.

The plan was going well so far. The Iron League was likely asleep within the tent. Davy looked at the tent again, and felt uneasy about the strange light shining through the translucent canvas.

Olivia nudged Davy with her elbow. “You said you met a penguin-dad in your mind,” she whispered. “Was it Gary von Jackolantern?”

Davy nodded. “Yeah,” he answered. “He also wanted me to tell you hi for him.”

Olivia’s eyes went wide. “Cooooool,” she whispered excitedly.

Steve nudged Davy with his elbow rom the other side. “I might be having second thoughts about his, guys,” he whispered. “That tent isn’t that big. How are we going to sneak around in there without drawing any attention?”

Davy thought about this, but Connie interrupted his train of thought.

“This looks like their secret base, right?” she said. “I kind of get the feeling that with their crazy reference powers and whatnot, that we’re probably working with one of those bigger-on than-inside-than-it-looks kind of deals. If it doesn’t end up looking like a massive labyrinth in there, I’ll buy all of you guys lunch tomorrow.”

Steve was quick to reply. “Okay. First, I’m never one to turn down a free lunch, but you just brought me to my second question. This is their secret base. We know what kind of wacky surprise powers they can pull out of a hat when they’re outside the tent. How do we know the whole inside won’t be like that? We have no idea what will be greeting us when we walk inside.”

“Hopefully some kind of massive labyrinth,” Connie added with a sly grin.

Davy had to agree with Steve. He had no earthly knowledge of what would be on the other side of that entrance flap. But he knew this is what he had to do. If that mind therapy was going to have any purpose at all, he needed to follow through.

“I get it, Steve,” he said. “But I think I’m still supposed to go in there. I really don’t have a problem if you want to hang back.”

“Are you kidding?” Steve replied, almost shouting. “What if there’s something really cool in there? I don’t want to miss out on anything. If you’re going, then I’m going.”

“Yeah, I’m with you all the way,” Olivia added.

“Me too,” chimed Connie. “This has all been way too interesting to pass up.”

Davy was not expecting the sudden show of support. Being looked up to was still something Davy was not used to.

“Okay,” he said. “Follow me.”

The four of them got on their feet and quietly made their way to tent. Davy heard a low humming sound as they got closer. When they reached the entrance flap, Davy felt another nudge from Steve.

“Hey, look at this,” Steve whispered to him.

Davy saw Steve pointing to a tag attached to the tent there was text printed on it. Davy read over it closely.

Imagination Tent by Grumble Industries Incorporated

If You Can Dream It, Why Not Put It in a Tent?

“Of course,” Davy mumbled sarcastically. Davy figured they were going to deal with the Grumblegator at probably every turn from now on before this was all over.

The four of them looked at the entrance to the tent.

“All right, bring it in!” whispered Olivia. She turned towards the others and held her arm out in front of her, her palm facing down.

“What?” Davy asked, confused.

“Oh, I was thinking we could do that thing where we put our hand on top of each other, say ‘Go Team!’ or something then lift our hands up at the same time.”

“Uh, sure,” Davy answered. He put his hand on top of Olivia’s. Connie and Steve followed suit.

“Okay, on three,” Olivia began.

“Wait,” Steve interjected. “What are we saying? Are we just doing ‘Go Team’?”

“I guess so,” Connie answered. She looked at Olivia. “Did you have something else you wanted?”

“I really didn’t think that far ahead,” Olivia replied. “‘Go Team’ works for me.”

“Okay, let’s do it then,” Steve said. Olivia counted to three and he four of them said the agreed-upon phrase.

“Go Team!”

Steve felt a rush of relief. “Wow, I was feeling kind of antsy about going into this tent just a second ago, but that actually made me feel a lot better. Maybe we are a team, guys.”

“That’s the power of positive feeling,” Olivia gloated. She gave Davy another nudge and whispered, “Let’s get in there.”

“You got it,” Davy replied. He slowly unzipped the tent flap. Once it was open, the four of them stepped inside.

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37. Shareholder

The Grumblegator grumbled to himself as he disconnected the video communication with the Steward. This kid wasn’t going to give him the artifacts like he had asked. Not that he expected him to. He seemed like a good kid. A stupid kid, but a good one. He was going to do what he believed was right. That didn’t mean the Grumblegator would hesitate to annihilate him when the time came, however. The Grumblegator was not one for mercy.

It was inconvenient to learn that the Steward had garnered some followers. The other kid—the one who asked about professional networking—was not as much of a concern. What did he do anyway? But the fact that the Steward had joined up with the Night Retcher? The vigilante thorn in Mother Martyr’s presumably annoying side? This warranted further investigation.

The Grumblegator sighed as Ms. Pamola Cherry’s voice cracked out on the phone speaker.

“Sir, have you terminated your call the Steward? Did he get scared, you know, since you’re such a big, scary alligator?” she sneered.

The Grumblegator pushed down the button to respond. “Yes, Ms. Pamola Cherry. He was so scared. Because I’m so scary,” he chided. “But not nearly as scary as your weird, nasty mutant brother,” he added. “He probably would have jumped out of his skin, if he saw that freak of nature.”

There was a pause. “That was a little too far sir,” Ms. Pamola Cherry stated.

The Grumblegator slumped down. This back and forth that he claimed to enjoy so much was hard to keep up with sometimes. “I apologize, Ms. Pamola Cherry,” he said. “You and I both know that Wyatt is a valuable member of the Grumble Industries family.”

There was another pause. Finally, Ms. Pamola Cherry’s voice cracked out on the speaker again.

“I appreciate it, sir,” she said.

The Grumblegator thought to himself about what he had to do going forward. He held down the button again.

“Ms. Pamola Cherry, how does my calendar look for the rest of the night?” he asked.

“One second, sir,” Ms. Pamola Cherry replied. After a second, she continued. In a somewhat grave tone, she stated, “Sir, you have a meeting with the shareholders in fifteen minutes.”

Great, the Grumblegator thought, rolling his head back and making an exasperated sigh. This is exactly what I needed right now. He pushed down on the button. “Understood,” he said. “But don’t tell me it’s with the shareholders,” he snapped, emphasizing the final ‘s’ in the word ‘shareholders.’ We don’t have shareholders now. We just have the one,” he grumbled. “Just him…”

Ms. Pamola Cherry was quick to respond. “Yes, I am aware. But regardless, you still need to meet with him in fifteen minutes.” After a second she added, “Is there anything you would like the rest of us to do in the meantime?”

The Grumblegator thought for a second. Pushing down the button, he said, “Yes, but let me just come to you. I’ll be right there.”

The Grumblegator got to his feet and walked out of his office. He walked down the hallway to a noticeably smaller office on his right. Inside, at the desk, was Ms. Pamola Cherry.

“Hello Ms. Pamola Cherry,” he said. He looked at the smaller head attached to his acting assistant’s head by a stem.

“Hello, Wyatt,” he added with trepidation.

The Grumblegator watched the faint outline of a face appear in the smaller cherry and begin to wheeze.

Ms. Pamola Cherry stroked Wyatt’s face to calm him down. Once Wyatt seemed to be soothed, his face receded back into the red of the cherry flesh.

“What did you need me to do?” Ms. Pamola Cherry asked, her eyes on the computer screen in front of her.

The Grumblegator paused to remember what he needed. “First, have someone follow up on the Night Retcher. Find out who she is and what she’s capable of. She’s not one of us, but we need to learn all we can about her.”

Ms. Pamola Cherry nodded and typed down the Grumblegator’s instructions into her computer.

“Second,” the Grumblegator continued. “Send someone out to find where the Steward will be going next. Knowing Lady Gut Possum, she’s probably going to send them to Sangre Dios.”

“And what do you want me to do if they are going to Sangre Dios?” asked Ms. Pamola Cherry?

The Grumblegator chuckled. “Have the Iron League take care of them,” he replied. “That’s the name they settled on, right?”

“I believe so, sir.”

The Grumblegator was amused thinking about how the Steward would handle the Iron League. “Man, I hate those guys so much,” he said. “If that kid thought the Mother was a nuisance, the Iron League will probably drive him insane.”

“Yes, we all hate the Iron League,” Ms. Pamola Cherry replied. “Why do we even have them?”

The Grumblegator shrugged. “It was a shareholder decision,” he answered. He realized he should probably get to that meeting.

“Anything else?” asked Ms. Pamola Cherry.

The Grumblegator remembered there was one final thing. “Yes,” he said. “The other kid, not the Night Retcher or the Steward. Add him as a friend on my WorkLyfe profile. I’m not going to turn down a professional networking opportunity even if it is with someone we intend to destroy.”

The Grumblegator turned to leave the office. “If you don’t hear from me, it’s probably because I died from hating this shareholder meeting so much.”

“You will be missed,” Ms. Pamola flatly stated, her eyes on her computer as the Grumblegator left the room.

The Grumblegator stepped into the elevator. He pulled a key out of his jacket pocket and used it to open a restricted panel below the regular elevator buttons. Behind the panel was an additional button. The Grumblegator sighed as he pressed it.

At once, the elevator began to descend. The Grumblegator watched the screen next to the elevator door, as it displayed the current floor. The number continued to descend until it reached ‘1.’ The elevator did not step then, but continued going down. The screen went blank as the elevator plunged further downwards.

After what felt like an irritating eternity, the elevator finally stopped; the screen simply signified a letter X. The Grumblegator rolled his eyes as the door opened, revealing not another office hallway, but a narrow, dimly-lit tunnel, cutting deep into the earth. The Grumblegator walked past the dank rock walls on either side of him. He walked in silence for several minutes until he reached a large, open chamber. In the center of this chamber was a large, round, metal ring-shaped object. It was the shape of an oval, at least thirty feet in height. A solitary, leather office chair sat directly in front of the ring.

The Grumblegator made one final, intentionally audible sign as he approached the chair and sat down. “Okay, I’m here,” he appeared to shout to no one in particular. “Let’s get this over with.”

There was no response for several seconds. The Grumblegator sat upright for a second, with the sudden hope that he wasn’t going to appear.

Unfortunately, after another second, the Grumblegator noticed a green cloud of gas had appeared in the center of the ring. The cloud grew as more gas began to materialize out of nowhere.

The Grumblegator gave an exasperated groan as the gas filled the interior of the ring and a malevolently deep laugh bellowed and echoed throughout the whole chamber.

The sole shareholder of Grumble Industries Incorporated had arrived.

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Update: A New Direction (For Now)


It’s been about a year since I’ve updated this site. Naturally, I would be surprised if there was anyone still currently following me. It’s been a busy year. I graduated law school, I took and passed the bar, and I’ve begun working. While I don’t think I’m done with game development in any sense, I’ve kind of stalled while I’ve been keeping up with everything else.

That doesn’t mean I haven’t been creating anything. In fact, I’ve been writing. I had found that one of the issues I had been running into while working on games was that the ideas and stories I had were generally much more complex than I what I was capable of implementing on my own. Rather than abandon these ideas until I was more proficient at coding and design, I decided to consolidate some of these ideas and take them in a different direction.

One of my ideas was a story-heavy, Earthbound-style RPG. Considering one of my most recent games was “Fart Butt to the Future,” I figured actually creating this game may have been a little above my ability level.

Instead, I’ve been turned this idea into a written story I’ve been writing and publishing as an ebook on It’s called Endocrine Kingdom. It’s a stupid name and a stupid story, but it’s also mine. It’s about a bland and boring law student (*ahem* where did that idea come from?) who is told by a Possum Lady that he is destined to save the world. It goes in some strange directions after that.

I’ve got about 14 chapters currently posted on Wattpad (though I’ve written more beyond that). I also figured there’s no reason I can’t post them (and future chapters) here on WordPress as well. If this seems like something you’d be interested in, feel free to stick around. I still plan to get back into game development, but I hope this is something you enjoy as well.


Endocrine cover small

This is the cover. Touchdown Rodent was the dumb name I came up with on Wattpad. Between this and DeepSeaElkFish, I’m great at coming up with dumb online names.