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The Professor leaned over his work. He looked at his samples, paperwork, and, you know, a lot of boring scientist stuff. He knew what had happened. He knew that a lot of innocent people were going to die because of him… slowly and painfully. But what was done was done, and there was absolutely nothing he or anyone could really do about it.
The Professor muttered something and then started sorting through his papers. Oh yeah. Lives were definitely going to be lost. He needed to announce that there was going to be a plague.
You see, when the Professor found out about the plague, he called a meeting. People knew it must be important, because the last time someone called for a city meeting, it was to let people know there was a disease in a sack of onions, and no one could eat onions for 3 months until it was sorted out.
“PEOPLE OF ZEKTON,” the Professor began nervously, because not too many people took him seriously after he accidentally blew up a chicken farm. And the fact that he was a nervous wreck didn’t help much either. “I HAVE TERRIBLE NEWS. POSSIBLY WORSE THAN THE BAD ONIONS, OR EVEN THE DAY THE SEWER PIPES EXPLODED, SHOWERING OUR CITIZENS WITH POOP.”
A few people in the crowd mumbled a few words of curiosity and fear.
“I, PROFESSOR FRANCIS T. JACQUES, HAVE DISCOVERED…”he hesitated. “A…” He cleared his throat and started over. “I have discovered that a… that a plague is headed our way. No, in fact, the plague is already here. You are breathing infected air. In a few days, the plague will start to take effect.”
There was total silence in the city square.
“Normally,” he continued, trying his best to sound calm, “We could cure this instantly. But, in this case, we’re missing a few very important items that can only be found in the City of Flaxenwatt. And we were wondering if there were any volunteers willing to go and get the items.”
Two hands instantly shot up in the air.
These were the hands of the most mischievous little rascals in town: Charlotte Ettolrahc and Xavier Reivax.
“Is…” the professor stuttered, “Is that it?”
He had been expecting more… a lot more.
Three more hands came up, but these more hesitantly. These hands belonged to Luke Solexpion, Leslie Lerlik, and Trenton Tilunac. Then the professor knew that he was right thinking this was foolish. He was just going to announce that they were all doomed, but, he stopped. Something nagged at the back of his mind. Something about their last names…
He felt a hand grab his shoulder. He whipped around to see the Mayor, Cyrus Hanks, towering over him.
“Howdy there professor,” he said in his southern accent. Then he whispered: “Look, Francis, I jus’ wanna say, thanks. Thanks for figurin’ this out. It means a lot tuh me, and it probably means a lot more to them peoples out there. So, again, thanks.”
“No problem sir, just doing my job.”
While the Mayor discussed the circumstances and stuff to the crowd, the professor went into his study. The kids’ last names kept on coming back to him. It was like a puzzle. Or rather… more like a blind person trying to building a LEGO. The instructions were right there, the answer just inches from your nose, but yet, they seemed so far away. Ettolrahc, Reivax, Solexpion, Lerlik, and Tilunac. E, R, S, L, T. ERSTL? He wondered. It may sound pretty pathetic, but to the Professor this was like gold. OK not gold. Maybe bronze. Aluminum? Whatever… Point is, to the professor, this was a start. A completely retarded start, but at least he now knew what things he had to work with. He switched some letters around. RSLTE? LTRES? LRSTE? Then, he understood! The answer was LERST! LERST was a secret code that had been handed down for generations. He poked through his filing cabinets. Then, he found it: A wrinkled up piece of old parchment. (The dashes mean that the word is smeared and can’t be read) The paper read:
TWICE SHALT BE REVERSE,
THRICE SHALT BE ANA-----
THEY SHALT BE THE SA----S
WHEN F.T.J. LET- OUT THE H----RS
FROM THE FIRES OF THE
RAVINE OF DEATH.
THE HERO-S OF Z-K--N
SHALT DEFEAT THE DR-AD OF THIS WORLD.
THEY WILL BE THE HEROES,
FRIENDS THRO-GH PERILOUS FIGHTS,
DREADFUL FRIGHTS, AND
The Professor was completely baffled. TWICE SHALT REVERSE. Maybe opposites? Reverse… Last names… Leslie… Eilsel? No… Luke… Ekul… Xavier… REIVAX! Xavier Reivax! And that horrid companion of his… Ettolrahc. Charlotte Ettolrahc. Perfect. THRICE SHALT BE ANA-----… anaconda? Anaouex (a type of bird there). Think Francis… in mystery stories… what starts with ana? Hmmmm…? Think Francis… you’ve won the Nobel Prize 3 times, and it wasn’t for being a baffled, mumbling, idiot! Ana…anaq? Anaw? Anar? Anag? Anag… anagw? Anagr? anagra… ANAGRAM!!!! (For you people who don’t know what an anagram is, it’s a word that spells another word, but has the letters mixed up. Example: Listen=silent). Solexpion… he thought. He was there for a while trying to figure it out on a piece of paper when it hit him. Explosion!!! He found out that Lerlik was killer, and Tilunac was lunatic. He’d gotten: TWICE SHALT BE REVERSED, THRICE SHALT BE ANAGRAMS, THEY SHALT BE THE SAVIORS, WHEN F.T.J. (himself, Francis Troy Jacques) LETS OUT THE HORRORS FROM THE FIRES OF THE RAVINE OF DEATH. THE HEROES OF ZEKTON SHALT DEFEAT THE DREAD OF THIS WORLD. THEY WILL BE THE HEROES, FRIENDS THROUGH PERILOUS FIGHTS, DREADFUL FRIGHTS AND, MENACING VILLANS.
“They’re the heroes,” The Professor said softly in amazement, thinking about the time when Charlotte and Xavier put fake vomit all over everyone’s front yard, when Trenton accidentally set a dead raccoon on fire, and when Leslie and Luke started going around, asking everyone if it was possible to set an orange on fire. (I don’t recommend you try that without a fire hydrant, and a RESPONSIBLE adult.)
The Quest Begins
When the crowd started to clear, Professor Francis had already told the Mayor his theory, and already had Bodyguards searching for the kids. He heard a few shouts of protest, but he knew a few 13yr. olds were no match for his bodyguards. The bodyguards burst through the doors, one with a busted lip, another one with a dagger in his leg, and another one with a bloody nose. “There ya go!” one of the bodyguards shouted in horror, “They're menaces! Menaces I tell you! MENACES!!”
“Bodyguards,” Cyrus started, “Wait outside the door please.”
“Hello children.” The professor said in a cheery voice, “Please, take a seat.”
The kids didn’t budge.
“OK then. Stand. Look children. I have found out something very important about all of you. There was this note I found that was passed down from generation to generation. Actually, it wasn’t a note. More of a riddle, I think. But, anyway, like I was saying, I found out what this note means.”
He showed them the note.
“It reads: TWICE SH-“
“I know how to read,” Charlotte and Xavier snapped at the same time.
After a moment of skimming through it, the Professor began to explain but was cut off by an unimpressed looking Charolotte.
“Xavier and I have last names that if you reverse them, they spell our names,” Charlotte said, “And Luke, Leslie, and Trenton all have anagrams for their last names.”
“How did you figure that out?!” The Professor asked in bewilderment.
“It was kind of obvious.” Charlotte said in a smart-alec kind of way.
So then they broke out into a big argument about the quest. They fought for about a half hour before they decided that they were all being morons. So then, the tried to decide this in a mature, civilized way… enie meanie minie mo. The Prof. won.
“Okay. So… you kids’ll start immediately after you pack your bags.”
So they made a few more preparations, and were off.
They had traveled about 5 miles when they heard some leaves rustling in the distance.
“What was that?” Xavier asked quietly in fear.
“ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAR!!!!!!!!!” the thing screamed.
“Nothing that we’ll be wantin’ to mess ‘round with.” Charlotte answered. Then they walked… and walked… and walked…and walked, until they had blisters on their feet.
“Should we set up camp here?” Trenton suggested.
“Yeah sure, go ahead and set up camp here so the monsters can get you.” Luke responded sarcastically.
Trenton grunted, but didn’t say anything.
Then, they all gasped in amazement as they stumbled upon the Bridge of Death. The thing with the Bridge was that there was this guy on either end that asked you a question. If you got it right, you could pass. If you didn’t, the penalty was death. And there was no going back.
“WHO GOES THERE?” the dude bellowed.
“We're the future heroes of Zekton. Now let us through you old man,” said Leslie, trying to sound braver than she felt.
“I WILL. BUT FIRST YOU MUST SOLVE MY RIDDLE. YOU FIRST.” He signaled Trenton. He stepped up.
“WHAT DO RICH MEN NEED, THE DEAD EAT, AND THE POOR HAVE?!”
“Ummm… Gimme a second. I’ve heard this one before.” He thought a moment.
“Nothing.” He said finally.
“CORRECT. YOU MAY PASS. NOW YOU.” He signaled to Luke.
“AHEM,” he cleared his throat and put 11 twigs in front of him.
“MAKE ELEVEN STICKS NINE.”
“Too easy.” he muttered, as he arranged the sticks to say the number NINE.
“YOU MAY PASS. YOU NEXT.” He signaled Charlotte.
“NAME 10 GREEK GODS AND WHAT THEY DO. YOU HAVE 30 SECONDS, STARTING… NOW!”
“Nemesis, God of revenge. Zeus, God of the sky/gods. Hermes, messenger of the Gods. Athena, Goddess of wisdom. Janus, God of doorways and decisions. Dionysus, God of wine. Ares, God of war. Aphrodite, Goddess of Love. Eros, God of love, and Apollo, God of sun, music and medicine.”
“GOOD. NOW GET OUT OF MY SIGHT.”
“Jeez! This guys’ like the Grumpy Old Troll from Dora the Explorer!” Charlotte muttered.
“NOW YOU.” He signaled Leslie.
“WHAT IS BLACK, WHITE, AND RED ALL OVER?!”
“Ummmmm…? A zebra with a sunburn?”
“WRO--,” He scrunched up his face, “I WAS GOING TO SAY A NEWSPAPER WITH TOMATO JUICE, BUT I GUESS THE ZEBRA ONE WORKS TO. YOU MAY PASS. NOW, YOU!” His signaled Xavier.
“AS I WAS GOING TO ST. IVES,
I MET A MAN WITH SEVEN WIVES.
THOSE SEVEN WIVES CARRIED SEVEN SACKS,
AND IN THOSE SEVEN SACKS, WERE SEVEN CATS,
AND ON THOSE SEVEN CATS, WERE SEVEN FLEAS,
AND BUZZING AROUND THOSE SEVEN FLEAS, WERE SEVEN BEES.
NOW… HOW MANY WERE GOING TO ST IVES?”
Xavier did some mental math. 7x7x7x7x7= 16,807… he hoped. He knew that it didn’t really make any sense, but it was his only chance.
“16,807” he said proudly, but getting it horribly wrong.
“WRONG! THE RIDDLE SAID: AS I WAS GOING TO ST. IVES! THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THOSE OTHER PEOPLE WERE TOO! NOW, SINCE I AM SO NICE I WILL LET YOU CHOOSE YOUR DEATH. IF THE NEXT THING YOU SAY IS A LIE, I SHALL PUSH YOU OFF THIS CLIFF. IF YOU SAY SOMETHING TRUE, I SHALL FEED YOU TO THE ANAOUEXES!” (You know, that type of bird.)
That plan would’ve worked out if Xavier didn’t read so much. He knew perfectly well how to get out of this one. He’d read plenty of books where the characters found themselves in a situation like this.
“I am going to get pushed off a cliff.”
The Bridge Dude hesitated.
Xavier grinned. He knew his enemy couldn’t answer that.
For if the statement was true, the guy would feed him to the birds, thus making it false. And if it was false, he would get pushed off a cliff, thus making it true.
Then, to Xavier’s shock, the man smiled warmly and said to him: Thank you. Thank you for freeing me of my curse. Thank you.”
Then, the bridge dude blew up.
Xavier stood there for a moment, freaking out.
“Dude!’ Charlotte screamed, when Xavier got to the other side,” I thought you were gone, man!”
“Ha! You can’t get rid of me that easily!” he siad, chuckled.
“Not funny man, not funny!” she said, wrapping him in a giant bear hug.
Luke chuckled, gave Xavier a pat on the back, and said: “Awww… ain’t that cute? Charlotte has a crush on Xavier!”
“I do not!” she lied, and then scratching her nose.
Luke laughed then said, “All the classic signs of a liar. Not using contractions (such as can’t, won’t, don’t, etc.), and scratching your nose!”
“Just keep your nose out of other peoples business if you wanna keep it where it is,” she said menacingly. Luke simply chuckled and walked on.
The Professor had warned them they only had about a week until the plague started to take effect, but then another week was when he guessed people were going to start to die…
And by day two, things weren’t going too great.
Luke pulled out their map, studied it for moment and froze.
“What’s wrong?” asked Xavier with a frown.
“TRENTON!!! YOU ARE OFFICIALLY THE MOST RETARDED PERSON I KNOW!” Luke yelled in frustration.
He simply rolled his eyes and said, “Flattery will get you nowhere!”
“How ‘bout I flatten your face instead, you idiot!” Luke screeched, lunging at him.
Charlotte and Xavier had to hold him back in order to prevent him from ripping Trenton’s face off.
“CALM DOWN!” Xavier shouted, “Just calm down, count to ten or do whatever your anger management counselor told you to do, and tell us what’s wrong.”
Yes, anger management. Luke would sometimes get angry at the slightest of things and be in a cranky mood for hours. In fact, they all had problems; Charlotte had arachibutyrophobia, the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth (yes, that is a real fear) and a slight case of anablephobia, the fear of looking up. Xavier had lutraphobia, the fear of otters, (that is a real fear also, oddly enough), and had a mild case of kleptomania, which means he had a strong urge to steal things. Leslie had automatonophobia, the fear of ventriloquist’s dummies, and pupaphobia, the fear of puppets (I wonder what she'd do if someone threw her a Sesame Street or The Muppets themed birthday party...). But Trenton took 1st place for stupid fears; he had to wear special contact lenses for his insanely irrational fear; xanthophobia, the fear of the color yellow.
Luke took a deep breath and closed his eyes. They all waited patiently for him to calm down.
“Well,” he started, “Our little genius here,” he gestured to Trenton, “Was apparently stupid enough to read the map upside- down, and made us walk 15 miles, IN THE WRONG DIRECTION!”
“Dude,” Xavier asked, trying to keep himself from beating Trenton to a pulp, “To what level of stupidity do you have to be at to misread a map that has a HUGE, no wait, let me rephrase that, a COLOSSAL, compass on it?”
“Ummm…” Trenton mumbled, starting to understand the seriousness of the situation, “I, uhh, didn’t, umm, realize that I had it upside down.”
“You do realize that all the names of the places and everything would have been upside- down too,” Charlotte ranted, “And so unless you tell us that you can’t read or something, then this is just more proof of your stupidity!”
“Hey!” Leslie said, “Why don’t you just give him a break? We all know that he isn’t exactly the brightest soul around, but you shouldn’t treat him like this.”
“Well you’re related to him! You’re the only one of us to have any family left!” Charlotte shouted, “What was it again? 2nd cousin twice removed from your mothers’ side?”
“Yes, but that isn’t the point!” Leslie said trough gritted teeth, “And I think you should treat him with some more respect. He--”
“Would you two just shut up?” Luke asked.
“So,” Xavier asked, “Where are we anyway?”
Luke checked the map and his jaw dropped. He looked like one of those cartoons that you see on TV, and when they’re surprised, their eyes seem to pop out of their heads, and their jaws drop all the way to the floor.
“You flippin' nimrod,” Luke said, whispering now, “You led us in to The Woods.”
The Woods was the center of all evil, where the Kings of Darkness dwelled their kingdoms; Ravenwood, Briarwood, Brimwood, Flockwood, and the most feared of all, Blackwood. They took off running along the path they had come.
In The Woods and In the Mind of a Crazed Professor
In all the confusion of trying to escape the woods, they actually went deeper inside of it. They only realized this when they stopped to take a breath, and they saw they where only about a quarter of a mile away from Blackwood. They all gaped in amazement the terribly beautiful sight; They saw glamorous, gleaming towers, a rather large lighthouse, many small houses, a couple of huts, but its most striking feature by far, was a colossal, 7 story high castle, being built out of stone and steel. But the terrible part was all the slaves. There were men alongside ogres, trolls, talking trees, orcs; wizards stripped of their powers, pirates, werewolves, vampires, skeletons, and worst of all, small children. But it all disappeared, when two creatures came out of nowhere and knocked them out cold.
...to be continued...
(cue corny horror music)