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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Episode 32: Into the Deep Dark Woods

What has gone before: Andrew Weazle, the owner of a failing coffee shop on the University of Alberta campus trades what he believes to be the final Friday night deposit in return for 'magic coffee beans' from a homeless man. After dumping the coffee made by the magic beans into a potted bonsai tree, a massive ash tree mysteriously grows overnight inside the shop. Following a series of dark adventures culminating in the near destruction of the shop, a group of leprechauns arrive, with the enigmatic request to travel the Tree to rescue the Easter Bunny...

This episode was originally published at MagikBeans.com on March 22, 2007.

The sensation of traveling the Tree gave one the simultaneous impression of walking in a wide open space and feeling like the walls were closing in on you. Andrew could sense the vastness of the Tree even beyond the distance he and the Leprechauns had covered in the 16 hours since they'd left the shop. At the same time, the Tree's foliage had given way to what now seemed to be a dense, dark forest grown up on either side of the path.

The path.

Andrew had stopped dead in his tracks when, after walking alonside Finn for the first hour, he'd looked down and seen, not the wood grain of the Tree's massive bough, but soil, and grass. A path in the forest. When he pointed it out to Finn, the leprechaun had just winked and smiled.

He'd stopped asking Finn questions early on anyhow. He never got anything approaching a satisfactory answer. Like why the Leprechauns wouldn't just bother to charter a helicopter or airplane to take them to the North Pole.

"You've got enough money obviously," Andrew had said.

"Aye, but no matter how long we'd fly, we'd never reach where we're headed," Finn had replied. "You canna find the Pole just by travellin'. You have to use magic."

Once they reached the first fork in the path, Finn stopped talking with Andrew anyhow, intent on finding the fastest route through the Tree. Andrew had walked in silence, listening to the Leprechauns joke with each other or sing. They often spoke in their own tongue, which was unintelligible to Andrew, though it's sing song quality was still enjoyable to listen to.

About five hours into their march, Andrew stopped and stepped towards the wood on his right side. Before he reached it, a firm grip had seized his hand and pulled him back. He looked down to see Coll, an older Leprechaun with streaks of grey in his red hair.

"I need to take a piss," Andrew said.

"Then ye piss here," Coll said. His voice sounded like he was working on getting something solid and substantial out of his throat. "Ye nae be gawin in the woods."

"That's a fact," James, the youngest of the group, said in agreement. Unlike the other Leprechauns, he didn't have a thick accent. "You leave the path in the deep dark woods, and you never come back."

"Why, what's in the wood?" Adam asked. "The big bad wolf?"

"A few of them," James replied. "And worse."

"But...isn't this all inside the Tree?"

"It is," James said.

"Well...isn't the Tree good?" Andrew asked.

"It is," James said. "But not everything in the Tree is."

Andrew had peed off the side of the path.

By the time Finn told them to stop and draw up camp, they'd be walking for nearly twelve hours. Andrew's legs ached. He was certain the only reason he'd been able to keep up was that his stride was double that of the Leprechauns.

They camped at a crossroads, since the space of the path was large enough to spread out and start a fire. Andrew collapsed on the ground, rolling his jacket up as a pillow.

A bundle of bedding thumped down onto the ground beside him. He looked up to see James smiling down at him.

"One of us has to take a watch while the others sleep," James said. "So there's always an open bunk."

"Thanks, but won't it be a bit small for me?" Andrew said as he unfolded the bedding.

"They don't make Leprechaun sizes at Mountain Equipment Co-op," James said, laughing. "And the adult ones cost as much as the kids, and are easier to sell later."

"I take it you guys do this a lot?" Andrew said.

"Whenever someone hires us," James replied. "We do whatever job comes our way, so long as the customer is willing to pay our fee."

"That's why you have all the gold?"

"Nah, we get all of that at the end of rainbows."

"I'm not sure if I should take that comment seriously or not."

"Well, it's half true," James said. "Only I won't tell you which half is the truth."

"I notice you don't have an accent."

"That's because I'm second generation American leprechaun. My dad's the one currently trying to light the fire," James said, pointing to one of the older leprechauns who was placing a chemical fire-log in amongst some branches that had been hanging far enough away from the woods to be deemed safe. "So I grew up in Chicago. That's why we wear the red jackets instead of the green."

"I see," Andrew said. "So there's different sorts of leprechauns?"

"Don't be tellin' him all our secrets," Finn said, stepping up and standing over them. "Next thing you know he'll be wantin' me lucky charms."

"Okay, that one was definitely a joke," Andrew said, smiling. "And not a very good one."

The jokes told over dinner though, were very good ones, or at the very least, seemed to be. Andrew laughed so hard his stomach hurt. He couldn't tell if that was because of the quality of the humor or the richness of the mead the leprechauns were drinking along with the food. While they'd bought their camping gear at MEC, the food was the sort you read about in fairy tales. Roasted meat on a spit over the fire, fat loaves of bread and slices of a delicious cheese which lingered around the taste buds long after the eating was done.

Light headed, Andrew staggered back to his sleeping bag and laid down, a dopey smile on his face. He could hear the leprechauns making jokes about his inability to drink like an Irishman, but he couldn't summon the energy or wit to make a comeback. Instead, he rolled over and looked up into the boughs of the forest's trees, which formed a canopy over the path.

"Almost expected to see stars," he murmured, and fell into a deep, rich sleep.

13 comments:

Carl said...

hey thor, so far i'm enjoying ur book. i'm almost mad at you tho cuz i now know i'm gonna have to check this site every thursday for two years to find out how it all ends.

Gotthammer said...

Or just buy the print version I intend on releasing at the end of each year. My intention is a trilogy, one book per year; I'm hoping to make each book stand on it's own, without losing continuity. Sort of like seasons of television series.

Keltie said...

This edition is so Hobbit-esque!!

Awesome.

Gotthammer said...

yeah, I was reflecting on that as well...all we're missing is a Gandalf.

stevie said...

I'm delighted that this is going to be published in hard copy. These episodes are definitely collectable. Thanks for letting me know where to look

Sir Lunch-a-lot said...

Excellent... but given how trixy these leprechauns have been, I have to wonder if they are about to pull something on Andrew...

Cool, a print edition! Is it going to be released as is, or is it going to be slightly edited to make the flow smoother from episode to episode so that the division isn't quite as obvious?

Big Deet said...

Found this one transitionary. Nothing to really tease me to the next episode. Am I expecting too much?

Gotthammer said...

The print version will be edited, but not to smooth out the transitions between episodes. Chapter breaks or line breaks in the text will take care of that. But my plan is to work it over a bit so it's better writing than me pounding out words quickly results in. Sometimes I just keep going when I know there was a better way of saying things.

Sir Lunch-a-lot said...

Well, that's the way people need to write sometimes: just to get it out there. I even write some darn ugly material at times, but if I don't write it in it's ugly form, it will never get written. And not all writing in a book/whatever needs to be beautifully crafted. Just my 2.59 cents (CDN).

the philosopher one said...

To quote Jack Kerouac, "Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind" and "Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind". Oh, and..."Like Proust be an old teahead of time." not sure what they one has to do with writing. I like the unpolished stream-of-consciousness style of writing that this series has.

Gotthammer said...

Looking back on these early episodes all over again, I'm very glad I took the time to do the "prequel" episodes which told the succubus storyline, introduced Blackout, etc. It fleshed out the world outside the Tree before we entered it, which had definitely been my original intention. Everything feels better about this approach.

Matt Littel said...

Hey Mike ... Keep up the great work! Love these episodes and I totally agree that it was a super great thing to have fleshed out blackout and the other characters, love them too. Keep it up :D

Gotthammer said...

Thanks Matt, and thanks for all your other encouragement here at Magik Beans as well. You're one of the die-hards who keeps me going!