The Phantom Tollboth-sequal

June 2, 2011
Janie Carter trudged along the gravel strewn path from school with a pensive look on her face. A particular question had troubled her for the past few days, and what was even more bothersome, was that she didn't know how to solve it. What purpose did people like her serve? And in some of her more bitter moments, do we even have a purpose? Its not that Janie was special in any sort of way- in fact she was so ordinary it was almost annoying. She had stick straight brown hair, brown eyes, was of medium height, medium weight, and was just...average. Even her name was plain: Janie Carter. What purpose did plain, ordinary people have?
She proceeded to ponder this question, when she stumbled upon a tollbooth, just lying there in the middle of the path. Attached to one side was a sign that read:
The Phantom Tollbooth
Entrance to the Kingdom of Wisdom
Adventure Guaranteed.
Well since she could use a bit more excitement, and an adventure sounded like a nice change, and the tollbooth was just sitting there almost expectantly, she decided to take a leap of faith and sauntered in through the doorway. Doing so, she automatically found herself on along twisting road where off to the side a sign read:
The Land of Expectations
Janie was baffled. Where was she? Upon thinking that, she was instantly transported into an elaborate, never ending maze. People wandered around looking dazed with befuddlement written all over their faces. Seeing someone who looked a little less lost than the others, Janie walked up to him and asked, "Excuse me sir, but do you know where I am?" He looked at her, his face lit up like a Christmas tree and exclaimed, "Ah Ha! Excellent question right there, 'Where am I?' Thinking it sets off a whole chain of questions, such as, 'What is this place?' and 'Will I be able to get out?' All those questions get banged around so much, it eventually leads you here," he finished, satisfied with his answer.
"Where exactly is here?" Janie asked mystified. "Why the foothills of confusion of course!" he said. "If you ask me, the main reason people get caught here so often is thinking. I mean honestly, do people really need to think that much?! Thinking too much leads to jumbled thoughts, and this here is what they get out of it. The only way out is to sort things out up here," he told her, gently tapping his head with his index finger. Well if thinking too much is what got me here, than I won't think at all, Janie thought.
Strutting off into the maze, she cleared her head of everything, and wandered aimlessly until it became apparent she wasn't in the foothills of confusion anymore. Everything here was much blander. Even the colors seemed duller. Sleepy little creatures called Lethargariens patrolled the area, with a tight schedule to do nothing. It all seemed pointless, and very unproductive. She may not do anything to distinguish herself from others, but at least she did something.
She set off with a purposeful stride to who knows where. Where she did end up was Dictionopolis, where she discovered herself to be quite an enthusiast for crossword puzzles. After a light meal, which looked much better than it tasted, with King Azaz, she was thrown in jail by officer Short Shrift for not having a proper reason for being in Dictionopolis. However, she was promptly let when the guards presented with the reason, 'why not.' To her surprise, Janie found herself enjoying this little adventure.
The Kingdom of Wisdom was a peculiar place, full of strange and confusing people, but it was fun and entertaining as well. Sadly, she could not stay forever though, and questioned a fellow named the Humbug for directions back to the tollbooth. As soon as she had acquired them, she set off with the setting sun behind her. Yet, she couldn't find her way back. Janie walked on for what seemed like hours until she ran into the strange little pair of Dr. Dischord and the Awful DYNNE.
"Hello, may we help you?" asked the Awful DYNNE. "Actually, yes I seem to be," Janie started, but was interrupted by Dr. Dischord. "You seem to suffering a severe lack of noise," he said handing her a bottle. "Try this," he suggested. Uncapping the bottle, Janie's ears were met with an assortment of crashes, bangs, and explosions loud enough to rattle her bones. Quickly screwing the cap back on, she excused herself, and continued on her search for the tollbooth.
By now, Janie sensed that she was hopelessly lost. Luckily she had the good fortune to run into a friendly young chap who went by the name of Alec Bings. He floated a good three feet off the ground, but she thought it rude to ask why so didn't bother. He saw through things, and easily pointed her in the right direction. However, upon turning around, he immediately ran into a tree. Apparently he saw through things, but could not see what was right in front of him. He didn't seem to mind, but she pitied him. She would hate to be in that predicament.
Finally reaching her destination, she reached an astounding conclusion. She had just gone on an amazing adventure, and there was nothing ordinary about that at all! It was possible that plain people weren't always meant to be plain, or that plain people just appeared to be plain, when they weren't plain at all. Janie laughed with glee, at finally answering her own question. With that, she continued on her merry way down the gravel strewn path towards home. For once in her life she didn't feel ordinary; she felt extraordinary.

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