Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Softening

[I wrote this story about 1997 or 1998 (exact date uncertain). I don't know if I was familiar with Android's Dungeon in the Simpsons at the time or it was just a coincidence.]


I was heading to Android's Dungeon to see if the new annotated hardback edition of The Hobbit had yet arrived - my old copy was withering due to thousands of readings - when a thirst hit my throat. I pulled my bike to a water fountain to take a guzzle. This was in York Park. There are many hills in York Park, and I imagine that curious little hobbits live in the hills. I wrote a story about it for the school newspaper once, but the fools wouldn't print it. The editor called me unkind names and spit on me. I would've fought back (and probably slain the rogue), but I asked myself how Bilbo would've handled it: a peaceful retreat.

There's so much wisdom in those books.

Anyway, so I'm drinking at the water fountain (I like to pretend it's a well), and this girl comes up to use it after me. She's about my age, maybe ten or fifteen years younger, and I start to wonder if I can enchant her. Make her my comrade.

I have a theory that girls would be normal if given more opportunities to fight dragons. I haven't seen many dragons around, but constantly reading Lord of the Rings is a good substitute.

As I step back to let her guzzle some water, I say, "If you start reading Tolkien now you might have magical powers by the time you're my age. Then we could go on quests together and purge the world of evil and moral degenerates. Think about it. Here, let me give you a copy of The Hobbit. I always keep one in my backpack for occasions such as this."

But before I could give the little imbecile the sacred work, she ran off, looking at me as if I was the weird one. She went off to a woman, probably her mother, and pointed at me. The little girl was snared already, caught by the deviance of an unwise generation.

I rode on.

I tried to figure out what Bilbo might have done to rectify the situation - but found no answer. Some people just don't like wisdom. I had done my best to save an infidel, but had to conclude that this society likes evil.

When I got to Android's Dungeon I started to calm down. That little girl had been quite an ordeal for me, but I was now in safe territory, among my own. The smut of this foul orb had to battle the forces of Good to enter Android's Dungeon.

"Hello, Steven," I said. "I bet you know why I'm here. Can you guess?"

"Oh yes, Chester. Every day it is the same. And I can't really blame you. Anyone of the faith would do likewise."

That's what I mean. Steven understands The Way. My younger sister believes that Steven says what I want to hear so I'll buy stuff from his store every day. If she only knew.

"So has it arrived?" I eagerly implored.

"Alas, no. But it will surely show up tomorrow."

My loins let out a sigh of disappointment. No, that's bad, Chester. Learn patience. Strength. Wisdom. Good, calm yourself. "Ah well, guess I'll have a look around to see if anything can hold me over for another day."

"You do that, Chester."

I looked at some D&D supplements and some neat pewter figurines, but I'd seen them all before. I liked to imagine filling my mansion with dragon statues and elf posters when I was rich, wise, and old. That is my dream, to live in a hill-shaped mansion called "The Burrow" and spend my afternoons writing fantasy novels to purge the world of evil. I will use a quill and ink bottle and write on vellum in strange runes, sipping apple juice between chapters. The publisher would sigh when he saw my manuscripts, knowing the labor involved in translating my texts, but be enticed on by the wisdom I would unveil to the wicked world.

When I got to the magazine section of Android's Dungeon, I read an article on the pros and cons of Druid spells. It made some good points. Why isn't the rest of the world interested in important things like this? Instead they think about economics and war and end up killing each other. It's just not a safe place for a hobbit to live in.

And then I saw her. She was on the cover of Dungeon, staring right at me. Holding a flaming staff laced with mystical runes. Chanting a powerful incantation to ward off evil, no doubt.

She was wearing a filthy robe over glistening gold armor. Her face was rugged and elfish. I could see her pointed ears and imagined them poking into my belly. I don't know where that thought came from.

And then I was in the magazine cover with her, just above the UPC code, ready to battle whatever monsters might come our way. But there are no monsters! Not even one golem. What are we to do now?

She looks into my wise eyes and understands me. She knows why we do what we do - why we must not cringe from the dark battle. She begins to take off her filthy robe. What can she want from me? My blood churns in my boiling heart. I think I'm getting an erection. Why am I being tempted?

And now she slips out of her shiny armor to show me her perfect body. Me, me alone. Her skin is hard and smooth and she licks her lips. She comes closer to me. Closer.

She reaches into my pants and grabs my penis. Her mouth eats it like a sleeping bag, and she doesn't make fun of it like the guys in the locker room at school. I begin to bump and grind. It's like riding a horse toward buried treasure. I feel it squeeze and rumble.

This is magic! I've discovered it, Gandalf! It's beating a path through me. This is just what they said it would be like. Will it be an ice spell? Or levitation? Invisibility? No, I feel the heat like never before - it must be a fireball!

I explode against the magazine rack and bang my head with grunting. Has the spell backfired? I'm drooling on the latest issue of Mage. My penis is chafed. The magic power drains away from me. I've failed.

"What the hell are you doing, you little retard? You got cum all over my magazines!" Steven kicked me as I zipped up my pants. I grunted like Bilbo in the animated version of The Hobbit.

"Hey, Steven, there's no need for that. I'm a paying customer. We know The Way. I'm not evil."

"You clean this cum up right now, you little bastard, or I'll call the cops!"

"All right, all right," I tried to soothe him. "There's no need to get nefarious."

After I wiped off the magazines with my shirt, Steven rudely knocked me out of the store. He told me never to show my face in Android's Dungeon again or he'd kill me. That was fine by me, now that I know he's not one of us. I'm only angry that he won't give me back my $50 deposit for the new Hobbit. I didn't damage that many magazines.

Anyway, my big problem now is to find a new store. After going to Android's Dungeon for six years it's not going to be easy. This must be what it's like to get divorced.

I would never get divorced. It's not a good idea. When I find my perfect sorceress girl and we're living in "The Burrow," nothing will tear us apart. She'll soothe me and bring me apple juice and I'll teach her new spells. We'll live like that forever, slowly spreading goodness to Earth, slowly spreading the magic.


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