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Wednesday, 20 August
The Quest Begins

Once upon a time, there lived a strange badger-like creature named Snark. Snark was a clever beast, and enjoyed wearing floppy hats for some reason, because hey, who wants to mess with a badger? People left Snark alone, which suited him fine, because that gave him time to read comic books. He particularly enjoyed Batman stories, and sometimes, late at night after a couple beers, he would pretend to be Batman. "I am the Dark Knight," he would exclaim to anyone who listened, "so don't fuck with me!" Nobody did, of course, because he was a crazy badger in a floppy hat.

But more than anything, Snark loved his girl Fox, who was, I hope I don't have to spell out, a fox. Fox had a peaceful squinty foxface, and really was mostly peaceful, but did have tiny girl fisties if somebody fucked with her, which was rarely, because if you were paying attention, you'd remember that her boyfriend was an imbalanced behatted badger with Batman delusions. Fox was pretty safe.

They were very happy. And one day, Snark realized that he wanted nothing but to be with Fox forever and ever, so he asked her to marry him. It was darling as he kneeled in his floppy hat, and presented her with a bouquet of fresh chicken eggs to suck.

"My darling Fox, I want to marry you. I want to make you always happy. I bring you delicious eggs that you may suck."

"My wonderful Snark! How handsome you are in your floppy hat! I will of course marry you!" She beamed peacefully and her fur seemed to glow.

"Hurrah!" shouted happy Snark, and in his delight, he inadvertantly crushed a couple eggs. He guiltily licked his paws while Fox laughed.

"But, my darling, these things are not so simple in our crazy-ass fairytale world. Before I marry you, I must send you on a quest." Fox smiled sadly.

"A quest?" Snark frowned. "But why?"

"Don't ask me. I don't write this terrible crap," replied Fox primly. "But that's what you have to do. You must venture into the Below Lands and fetch me a prize. You must find for me The Flask of Always Whisky."

Snark gasped. "I have heard of such a thing. In tales. In legends. Sometimes on talk radio. Why must I seek this object?"

Fox twitched her tail. "Must I marry such a dull badger? Because it has Always Whisky, you silly beast. It will pour and pour and never empty." She sucked greedily on one of the remaining eggs.

Snark was abashed. "My love. I am sorry I asked at all. Of course I will find this item, and return it to you, and then we shall be married, and we shall live happily forever after, and we shall never eat at Hardee's. All this I swear."

Red beamed. "Go, my whiskery knight! Go and fetch me the Flask! I will wait here for your return, thinking only of you while I read volumes of Lacan and Derrida!"

"Why would you read such terrible things?" Snark asked, concerned.

"I'm really kind of strange. Go!"

And so Snark went, off into the forest of books. If you have ever been to the forest of books, then you know what a forbidding place it is. Volumes upon volumes stack against the sky, and seem to lean in on you when it is darkest. Snark wandered, lost, feeling a little oppressed by the terrible words that he caught from the corners of his eyes. Hold! Was this Piers Anthony looming over him? Horrible. Wait! Over there, in a copse, was that a shambling pile of Michael Crichton? Don't look! Snark was miserable and lonely.

And then suddenly, he heard a curious noise. Was it--yes! A voice! Snark hurried to inspect. He saw a most curious figure.

It was a large rabbitlike figure, clutching a daunting pile of books. It had an amusing beard and charming glasses, and it was looking quite nervously at a pocket watch that hung on a chain. It was nervously talking to itself, saying, "Oh, what a dreadful fucking pile of fuck! This will not do!" He dropped a few books on his large feet. "Fuck!" cried the poor beast into the lonely night. Snark noticed that he had a curious pendant on his vest; it was gold and bent into the shape of a sort of S.

Snark nervously approached the thing. "Sir, might I inquire as to where I am?"

The rabbitlike thing started, then recovered himself. "I am no sir," said the figure, "but I am only Ampersanderson."

"Ampersanderson?" Snark had never heard of such a name.

"Yes. My mother was a rabbit--Dog rest her sainted ears--and my father was a punctuation mark. It's not a noble heritage, but it's mine. It could be worse. I know someone whose sister is a tilde. Can you imagine?" Ampersanderson shuddered. "It's not easy being of punctuation blood; my schoolmates used to call me "PM"--Punctuation Mark--but I beat their asses stupid for it. Now they just call me Mark. So may you."

"I thank you, Mark, for your greeting," replied Snark, becoming unsettled by the seemingly mad creature. "May I ask your advice? I am on a quest for the Flask of Always Whisky. I seek it for my bride-to-be." He adjusted his floppy hat to a jaunty angle.

"The Flask!" breathed Mark, "I have heard of such a thing!" He paused. "You are on a mighty quest! I will show you how to get down into the Below Lands. You must come with me."

"Friend!" cried Snark. "You do me a good turn. Why are you so kind?"

"You seem like a jolly sort," replied Mark, cleaning his spectacles and picking nits out of his beard. "And most people are assholes. I cannot abide assholes." Mark's tone suddenly became stiff. "You are, I trust, not an asshole?"

"Assuredly not," replied Snark confidently. "Assholes do not become betrothed to peaceful squinty foxfaces."

Mark smiled. "I believe you. I am a well-read rabbitlike bearded thing, and difficult to fool. And you are quoting from the One Thousand One Hundred and Forty-Two Truths in the Book of Drimmie. I shall doubt you no longer, and will escort you to the entrance to the Below Lands. Come."

And so they went, making small conversation along the way. At length, they arrived at an innocuous-looking hole, just big enough to fit a lovestruck badger or a bearded rabbit. Snark was apprehensive.

"What must I do?" he asked Mark.

Mark looked at him bemusedly. "Don't be a tool. You have to go down. There lies the Flask. But you will need help. You must seek out my friend, Rory. He will provide you with clues. Go."

Snark felt a bit lost. "But--"

"GO!" yelled Mark, and with that, shoved Snark down the hole.

Snark fell for a long time, but felt no fear; rather, he felt rather sleepy and considered taking a nap. At one point he passed a jar of marmalade, and thought to himself, "I hate marmalade." He kept falling.

Some time later, he landed, softly, on a matting of luxuriant lichens and leaves. He felt a bit distracted--the Below Lands! And gazed for a moment at the landscape, verdant and lovely, like a raver's corduroy pants, or She-Hulk. Then he heard a languorous voice.

"And who . . . are you?"

Snark turned and beheld a large caterpillar atop a huge mushroom; it took laborious pulls off a bong. The caterpillar addressed him again. "I am Rory. Who are you?" Rory had a large boombox next to him, and Snark noticed that it was emitting strange sounds.

"I am Snark. I was sent here by Ampersanderson--I mean, Mark--to search for the Flask of Always Whisky." Snark was becoming mesmerized by the heavy smell of the hookah and the odd sounds emanating from the boombox.

"Mark! Oh, what a delightful asshole! I will help you, Sir Snark, for you have named a friend."

Snark felt relieved. "I do thank you, kind Rory." But he could not resist asking: "May I ask you what that glorious noise is that you are enjoying?"

Rory flexed several dozen of his legs and grinned. "That is The Streets."

Snark was nonplussed. "The Streets?"

Rory said, "Yes. They are dope. Let's push things forward."

And Snark, catching on, said, "Oi. Oi." And smiled.


To be continued.


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Comments

I like where this is going already.

Comment number: 003508   Posted by: Anil on August 21, 2003 07:24 AM from IP: 68.173.31.17

You're on drugs, right?

Comment number: 003509   Posted by: Bet on August 21, 2003 07:37 AM from IP: 205.242.228.40

C'mon, Skot, pass that fucker around. No _way_ you're keeping that obviously primo spleef to yourself.

Comment number: 003510   Posted by: ColdForged on August 21, 2003 07:55 AM from IP: 66.152.60.98

Lewis Caroll would be..um...proud?

"But I don't want to go among mad people," Alice remarked.
"Oh, you can't help that," said the Cat: "we're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad."
"How do you know I'm mad?" said Alice.
"You must be,' said the Cat, "or you wouldn't have come here."

---Alices Adventures in Wonderland---

riiight, it's tobaccy in them cigarettes what you smoke.(wink)

Comment number: 003511   Posted by: heather on August 21, 2003 07:58 AM from IP: 63.227.131.126

if you were paying attention, you'd remember that her boyfriend was an imbalanced behatted badger with Batman delusions

I think that you have possibly run across the most frightening phrase in the English Language.

Comment number: 003512   Posted by: KOTWF on August 21, 2003 09:05 AM from IP: 65.194.133.115

I'd just like to mention for the record that I gave up pot years ago.

However, I eat peyote like aspirin.

Comment number: 003513   Posted by: Skot on August 21, 2003 09:20 AM from IP: 140.107.120.123

What do you eat aspirin like?

Comment number: 003514   Posted by: KOTWF on August 21, 2003 01:08 PM from IP: 65.194.133.115

Skot's blood is really thin. And really crazy.

Comment number: 003515   Posted by: mark on August 21, 2003 01:37 PM from IP: 66.47.18.130

You make me laugh and blush, friend Skot. And laugh again, rather a lot.

Also, I like marmalade.

Comment number: 003516   Posted by: Snarky on August 24, 2003 03:39 PM from IP: 138.88.79.114

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