The sky was getting dark; the clouds were rolling in on the warm wind blowing from the east. Daria looked up. It was definitely going to rain today, no doubt about that. The low hanging clouds made sure of that. She could already smell the moisture in the air as she made her way to Jane's house. The weather report in the newspaper called for a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms and winds in excess of 60 miles an hour. Gee, she thought, if they looked out their windows every once in a while, they would actually know that it was going to rain instead of trying to cover their asses by giving percentages. She walked up the street as another stiff gust of wind blew her skirt around her knees.
As she came to a corner, a car pulled up in front of her. In the drivers seat sat Sandi. Quinn, Tiffany, and Stacey were also in the car.
"Oh look Quinn, it's you cousin, " Sandi said with a smirk.
"Um...yeah." Quinn relies weakly. Sandi's smirk got wider with Quinn's discomfort.
"You know Quinn, with a brain like that in the family, you're lucky you are as popular as you are."
"Well, you know. Some people have all the luck."
"It's going to rain. Do you think we should give her a ride?" Sandi smiled evilly facing away from Quinn.
"NO! I mean, no that's ok. She's probably just going to her friend's house down the street." Quinn looked extremely worried.
"Well, if you think it will be ok." Sandi smiled one last time at her triumph and drives off towards the mall.
A single drop of water hit the sidewalk in front of her as she came to the front of La Casa Lane. She looked into the sky again just as the clouds unleashed their loads onto the Lawndale ground. Immediately she was drenched. She walked up to the door and knocked. There was no answer for some time and she simply stood outside, getting wetter still. Finally, the door opened and a bleary eyed Jane peered out.
"Hey Daria, what are you doing here?" Jane mumbled through her half-closed eyes.
"It's 1:00 in the afternoon Jane. I figured you would be up by now." Daria tried to make herself look comfortable with the fact that she looked like she had just gone swimming with all of her clothes on.
Jane, realizing that it was raining and Daria had taken the worst of it opened the door wider and let her in. "Sorry, you caught me by surprise. I was up late last night."
"Were they rehearsing last night?"
"If that's what you call it. I just assumed they were having a very loud fight with their instruments."
"Glad I missed it."
"Don't make me kill you, it's still to early."
"I came over to see if you wanted to do anything."
"We could pay Trent back for keeping you up."
"No can do, they left early this morning for a gig in Lakeside."
"So we have the house to ourselves I guess."
"Rightomundo. Let me go get dressed. You need some dry clothes too." She stomped up the stairs, Daria right behind her.
In Jane's room, Daria sat on the bed leafing through one of Jane's art magazines while clothes flew out of Jane's closet followed by a stream of cussing. Finally, she stepped out of the closet in her standard dress, black shorts and shirt with a red jacket. She threw Daria a rumpled lump of cloth. "Put this on. We can throw your clothes in the dryer."
Daria unwrapped the bundle and stared at the outfit in front of her. It was a sky blue gingham dress with a puffy, white shirt to match. "I am NOT wearing this."
"Come on Daria, it's only for about a half an hour, until your clothes dry. No one is home and I promise not to mention it to anyone."
"What is it?"
"It's an old Halloween costume. I think it was one of Summer's. She went as Dorothy one year."
"Why the hell do you have it?"
"I was going to use it for a paint rag. Unfortunately, it's the only clean thing in my room right now."
"I'll wear something dirty."
"Let me put it another way, all of my other clothes have gotten up and left. They felt it was unfair that I paid too much attention to canvas and not enough to cotton."
"Fine, but if I see a camera, I WILL break it."
Daria proceeded to strip the cold, wet clothes from her and don the Dorothy outfit. Surprisingly, it was a perfect fit. She looked herself over in the mirror of the bathroom while Jane ran the soggy clothes down into the basement. She was surprised that it fit so well. The last dress that she had worn had hung on her like a limp spaghetti noodle. She caught herself admiring the way if made her look when Jane walked back in.
"Hey Daria, that looks really good on you."
Daria flushed and looked down. "Great. All I need now is a pair of ruby slippers and a shaggy, black dog."
"Har har. Come on, we can watch TV in the safety of my room."
They went back to Jane's room and turned on the television. An episode of Giligan's island was currently the most entertaining show on. They sat down to watch it.
The thing about rainy days is that they tend to make a body very lazy and tired. Many times, people will sit down on a grey day and find themselves waking up hours later. Not even realizing that they fell asleep in the first place. Thus, a half an hour later, the scene shows our two heroines fast asleep when a very strong gust of wind smashes Jane's window in. Both are startled awake and Jane lets out a small scream.
The wind came through the shattered window and started to blow everything around as the girls stared at the scene outside in disbelief. The sky was a strange shade of green and various articles of lawn decor flew around, carried on the outrageously strong winds. Daria realized immediately what was happening and grabbed Jane.
"Jane! We have to get down to the basement!" She nearly screamed over the sound of the rushing gusts.
Jane looked at her in horror, "Is it another hurricane?"
Daria could barely hear herself as she shouted, "Tornado!" At that moment, the bed that they had been sitting on gave a great lurch and threw them off. They hit the floor as a large piece of the house fell and blocked the entrance to Jane's room. They were trapped. Daria got up and ran to the debris blocking the door. She desperately tried to shove the fallen wood and drywall out of the way, but it appeared that it was wedged in place very well. She turned to yell at Jane to get as low as she could and saw Jane staring out the window. She screamed, but the sound did not reach Jane's ears. She ran across the room and grabbed Jane's shoulder but stopped when she glanced out the window.
The ground had disappeared. All around them is air as they watched the swirling cloud of trash that they are now in the middle of. The tornado had picked them up and was now carrying them as well as several other people. Her mind reeled as the scene outside of the house unfolded. This has got to be a dream! her mind yelled, This cannot be happening! She stared out wildly as a car flew past. Inside were Sandi, Quinn, Tiffany, and Stacy. All of them were apparently oblivious to the fact that they were flying through the air. In fact, Daria could see Tiffany putting on eye shadow. Sandi turned and spotted her looking out the window at them with her mouth wide open.
Sandi rolled down the window and yelled, "Brain!" Then the car took off and was not seen again. Daria was finally able to rip her gaze away from the carnage outside and looked for Jane. She found her passed out of the floor. She knelt over and tried to wake her up as the winds continued to buffet them. After a few minutes, she was successful in getting Jane to open her eyes. At the moment that Jane started to stand, however, the house lurched violently to the side, throwing them off balance again and causing their stomachs protest as they felt themselves falling from the sky.
"Daria! We're going to die!" Jane cried as the wind now took a new direction. They could sense the ground getting closer and closer. Jane threw her arms around Daria and hugged her fiercely. Daria returned the hug just as tightly.
There was a deafening crash as the house met the ground again and they were both thrown from each other. Several more parts of the house fell from the ceiling as the house leveled itself out again. Dust filtered down and covered all of the remaining paintings in Jane's room. After several minutes of loud creaking, the dust settled and everything was relatively quiet. Daria lay there, looking up at what remained of the ceiling. Several thoughts ran through her mind. Am I dead? We couldn't have survived a fall like that. The house would have come right down on us. I wonder if I can still move. I have to sneeze. Do dead people have to sneeze?
Just then, a loud sneeze to her left startled her. She looked over and saw a mound of trash moving slightly and moaning through coughs and sneezes.
"Jane?" she called at the heap, "Are you alright?"
"Are we dead?" Jane sounded horse.
"I don't think so, although we should be." She tested her arms and legs and found them to be satisfactorily working and stood up. "Are you ok?"
"I think so. I feel like I was hit by a wall, but I don't think anything is broken."
"Jane, you were hit by a wall."
"That would explain the weight on my chest then."
Daria went over to Jane and lifted the fallen section of wall off of her friend's chest. Jane got up shakily and looked around her room. "Ah damn! That was a month's worth of paintings!"
"Be glad that you're alive." Daria said looking around. "We need to get out of here and the door is blocked. Do you have any ideas?"
"Easy enough, out the window. There's a trelice that we can shimmy down."
"Do you think it survived the tornado?"
"Only one way to find out." Jane walked over to the window and looked down, then stopped. "Oh shit!" she cried, "This is not happening!"
"It's not there huh?" Daria walked over to Jane and looked down. "Oh Shit."
Looking out the window, they took in scenery that they had only seen in movies. There were green, rolling hills meeting a too perfect, blue sky on an endless horizon. The hills were covered here and there with shrubs that blossomed with lollypops and suckers. The air was alive with the smell of sweets and the sounds of strange birds chirping and squawking in the distance. Miniature trees that had the reddest cherries, the greenest apples, the most golden pears, and the deepest blue blueberries either of them had ever seen surrounded the area around where they had landed. It was also surrounded by very tiny people, peering out from behind the trees.
Daria and Jane looked at each other and said at the same time, "You have got to be kidding." Slowly, the small people came out of hiding and looked up at the two girls in the window with awe. Then, they burst into cheers. Screams of joy and hollers of excitement filled the air. Daria and Jane had to cover their ears as the sound reached near ear splitting volume. They looked at each other again and both shook their heads. Eventually, a leader pushed and shoved his way through the crowd and held up his hands for silence. The crowd quieted immediately. He gestured toward a group and yelled, "Bring a latter for our saviors!"
"We aren't where I think we are, are we?" Jane said sideways to Daria.
"I'm afraid so." Daria responded.
Jane moaned and put her face in her hands.
A troop of the miniature people came forward with a ladder held between them. They were humming a song as they came. The ladder was propped against the house and the girls climbed down. At the bottom, Daria was mobbed by several women and children, all seeking to touch the dress she was still wearing. Above the murmur of the pressing crowd, Daria could hear, "Is it really her? Has she come back to save us again? Who's the other one? Where's her dog? She doesn't look like her. Maybe it's her child. She bites her nails. Not much makeup on, does she?" Daria backed up against the house, looking at Jane pleadingly. Jane tapped the leader on the tiny shoulder. Um, can you tell them to back off?" The leader jumped and looked at the scene in front of him. "Oh! So sorry, EXCUSE ME! PLEASE LEAVE MISS DOROTHY ALONE! SHE HAS BEEN THROUGH A DIFFICULT JOURNEY TO GET HERE!" Immediately, the crowd dispersed.
Daria walked up to Jane with a thankful look on her face. She looked around at the masses of people gathered around them and sighed, "Let me guess, you are the munchkins."
The leader seemed a bit unnerved by this statement. He cast his eyes around him, then back at the girls and nodded, "Yes, we are the Munchkins. And I am Fleebarb, the Mayor of Munchkin Land. We wish to welcome you." At that, somewhere, music started playing. Daria rolled her eyes. Jane rushed forward and grabbed the mayor by the arms, "That's ok, no need to sing because of us. Besides, we've heard it before." The Mayor, once again, looked confused. The music abruptly ended and the entire populous looked at Jane and Daria.
"Look, thanks for the effort, but we've just been in a house that survived a tornado and the last thing we need right now is squeaky voices singing 'we represent the lollypop guild'." Jane said. Several colorfully dressed munchkins looked around nervously, hiding oversized lollypops behind their backs.
The mayor looked at Daria, "Is this what you wish Miss Dorothy?"
Daria became flushed, "I am not Dorothy."
"But, you wear the dress of Dorothy." Once again, he seemed confused. Daria did her best to try and hide the fact she was wearing the same dress that Judy Garland wore in the 1939 movie.
Jane ran to her rescue, "Where we come from, that dress is everywhere. It's not her fault she looks good in it."
Daria's face brightened even more as she looked down at the outfit. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she had to admit, she did look good.
"Well, we still wish to welcome you and thank you very much for ending the life of the Wicked witch of the south central."
Daria and Jane looked at the little mayor. "The what?" it was Jane's turn to look confused.
"The wicked witch of the south central. After the wicked witches of the east and west were killed by Dorothy, the wicked witch of the south central moved in. She was even meaner that her other sisters. She kept doing flyby castings. Quite a few of us lost our lives to those. There was no way to defend either since the good witch Glenda is being held prisoner in the wicked witch's city."
"This one has a city? The last one only had a castle." Jane said.
The munchkin mayor looked down and shuffled his feet. "It used to be the emerald city. Up until the wicked witch took it over. After the wizard left, there was no way for them to defend either."
"Well," Daria said, "now we've killed the witch. Everything is ok. So why doesn't Glenda show up and give me those ruby slippers?"
"We don't know. That should have freed Glenda. She should have been here by now." the mayor scratched his balding head. "Perhaps you could journey to the emerald city to find out what has happened."
At this, the populace gave a mighty, but shrill, shout of encouragement.
Jane smiled at the munchkins. "Well Daria, you know what we have to do, don't you?"
"Don't make me say it."
"I'll force you down and have the munchkins do your hair up in pigtails if you don't." Jane grinned evilly.
"You wouldn't." Seeing the pure look of joy this would give her friend if she got her chance, Daria made up her mind and sighed. "We have to follow the yellow brick road."
"Follow the yellow brick road! Follow the yellow brick road! Follow the yellow brick road!" the munchkins chanted as they led the two to the beginning of the long and twisting yellow road. They started at the center of a spiral and followed it around. Daria showed less interest in following this line of the old movie, but Jane insisted. They reached the end of the spiral and started walking straight, the munchkins now at their backs screaming their high pitched good-byes and hurrahs. Jane and Daria departed on their journey across this sickeningly sweet landscape.
Later on, farther down the path, we find the girls walking along the yellow brick road. On either side of them are cornfields blowing in a gentle breeze. Daria stops, noticing at an intersection in the road that there is a pole, but no scarecrow. Jane continues on until she notices that Daria has stopped.
She looks back, "What?"
"That's where the scarecrow is supposed to be, right?" Daria pointed to the post.
"Sure, I guess." She looked up and down the various roads.
"So where is he?"
"Well, this isn't exactly the story we have seen in the movie. The witches of the east and west are already dead. That must mean that this is in the future, after the wizard and everything. He must have gone somewhere else."
Daria looked at Jane, "Where do you suppose a scarecrow goes after saving the...whatever this place is?"
Jane, looking over Daria's shoulder said, "How about over there?" She pointed toward a farmhouse in the distance. There was no smoke coming from the chimney, but it looked well kept.
Daria shrugged her shoulders and started walking toward the house. As they got closer, they could hear a distinct sound, like an electric generator running. Daria also noted how there were no crows around the ripening fields of corn. The smell of burning gasoline and the loud rumbling probably scared them off. As they reached the door to the house, they heard something else. It was a very distinctive sound that both recognized but still set their hair on end. It was a squealing sound that was very similar to Trent's guitar playing. Jane knocked loudly on the door.
It was several minutes before the screeching stopped and several more before they heard footsteps coming to the door. When the door opened, both Daria and Jane nearly fainted.
Both said simultaneously, "Trent?"
"Do I know you?"
"Trent! It's me Janey! Your sister!"
"Trent! Daria! Don't you remember me?"
The figure resembling Trent stood at the door and watched the two strangely dressed girls pleading with him to remember who they were when he was sure that he had never seen them before.
"Trent? Who's at the door?" an old voice came from inside the house.
"A couple of girls that think they know me."
"Well, show them in."
"Come on in." He said, stuffing some straw back into place in his arm. The girls stared.
"Hello?" said the old voice again from inside. Again, Trent asked them to come in. They numbly complied, skirting around the Trent shaped scarecrow.
Inside the house was very clean and orderly. The hardwood floors glistened like they had just received a new coat of wax, the walls held an army of pictures, most of them with a scarecrow, a lion, and a tinman, a few that hung depicted a very pretty blond lady with a wand.
They followed the Trent thing into the living room where an older scarecrow wearing glasses looked blearily at them. The living room was furnished in very expensive looking apple wood furniture. The chairs looked soft and inviting. The walls, again, were covered with pictures. The fireplace was cold and dark, but not unkind looking. The focus of decoration in this room, however, was a picture of a young lady wearing the same dress Daria currently had on over the mantle of the fireplace. It was not Judy Garland, but the resemblance was close. This girl, while having the same kind smile, was wearing glasses. They looked back to the animated scarecrows.
"Hello, have a seat." said the older one squinting to see them clearly even through the glasses he was wearing. "Do you live around here?"
"Not exactly." Daria replied.
"Where are you from then?" he suddenly looked defensive. "Not from the emerald city, I hope."
"No, were from Lawndale" Jane stepped forward.
"Lawndale, hmmm? Never heard of it. That wouldn't happen to be in Kansas, now would it?"
"No," Jane said, "it's in-"
"How do you know my grandson?" he was still suspicious.
"He looks like my brother."
"What's your brother's name?"
"Hmmm...strange. Are you witches?"
"No" they both said at the same time.
"Then why can't I see you clearly. I have my glasses on. Did you put some kind of spell on me?"
"Grandpa," the scarecrow Trent reached into his grandfather's overalls to pull out a second pair of glasses, "you're wearing your reading glasses again." He handed them to his grandfather. The older straw man put the second pair of glasses on and looked back at the girls, then stopped and stared.
He looked at Daria and then at the picture hanging over the fireplace, then back again, "Dorothy?"
Daria blushes again and looked down, "I'm not Dorothy."
"I'm not your Trent."
Jane got a cocky look on her face and stuck her hand out to the old scarecrow, "And I'm Not Rappaport!"
She received blank stares from the two burlap faces and rolled eyes from Daria.
"Is she your mother?" the older one asked.
"No, my mom is Helen. I don't know who Dorothy was."
"It's uncanny! Trent! Look at the resemblance, isn't it just uncanny?"
"Yeah grampa, she looks a lot like that picture. But it's 60 years old. She's probably around 18."
"That can't be my Trent, he's too coherent." Jane said sideways at Daria.
"Well, that's because I built him that way." the older scarecrow said, "He's very smart, if not a little lazy. Well, Daria, what can I offer you and your friend? By the way, do you have a dog?" he said looking around Daria's feet.
"No, I'm not exactly a dog person. What Jane and I were looking for was a way to get to the emerald city. We dropped from-"
"Let me guess, you dropped from the sky in a house, killing a witch. Then Glenda shows up and gives you these ruby slippers. Then she says you have to go to the wizard. Am I right?" he beamed at the girls.
"Not exactly. That's why we need to get to the emerald city. After we squashed the witch, Glenda still didn't show up. The munchkins think there might be something wrong. We're going to see what's up so we can get the witch to send us back home."
"You killed the witch, but Glenda is still not free? Hmmm..." he scratched his burlap face for a time, looking thoughtful. After a time, he looked back up at them. "Well then, you need to get to the emerald city, don't you?" He struggled to stand and was assisted by Trent. He shuffled forward on legs that didn't seem to want to hold him up any more and went into the hallway. The girls followed. He stopped in front of a picture of him and the tin man and smiled sadly, then turned to the girls.
"Are you familiar with the tale of Dorothy and Toto?" he asked.
"Sure, they made a movie about it. We always thought it was make believe." Jane answered.
"Well, it's not. It's as true as I'm standing-" his legs wobbled and nearly sent him crashing to the ground, but he corrected and stood again, "standing here right now. You know that I was one of her companions then?"
"You, the tinman and the cowardly lion." Jane said.
"That's right. I wouldn't call him cowardly now though. He's a true king, although he is getting on in years like me. I want you to go see him. Take Trent with you. Maybe this'll wake him up so he'll take over the workshop for me. All he want's to do is play that blasted instrument that he made. He isn't even good at it."
Trent looked as if he were about to fall asleep in the corner. For the first time, however, they noticed a guitar strapped to his back. Daria looked at the old scarecrow again and nodded.
"What about the tinman?" Jane asked.
The scarecrow looked down at his ratty, worn feet, "He's no longer with us. He was working on setting up an animal preserve in the mountains to the east and a storm broke. When they finally found him," the scarecrow sobbed a little, "He was rusted beyond repair. His last words before the rust entered his brain were to take his mechanical heart to me. I have it in my workshop, but I cannot rebuild him." He stood there for a moment and continued looking down at his feet. A single tear fell from his button eye and hit the hardwood floor. The puddle was shaped like a heart and pointed at Daria.
He knelt down with some trouble and looked at the tear closer. Then he looked back up at Daria and a smile played over his face. "Perhaps. Perhaps you might have a use for it however. Trent!" The boy started awake, "Go into the workshop and bring me the tinman's heart." He laboriously got back to his feet and looked at Daria. "You may not be Dorothy, but you are part of her line. Somewhere in your past, there was Dorothy."
He shuffled back into the living room and sat back down on the chair. A moment later, Trent came back in carrying a metal box. He handed it to his grandfather and went to sit down in a corner. The scarecrow opened the box and removed a large metal heart on a chain. He waved Daria toward him and slipped the heart around her neck. He looked once at the heart of his lost friend and then at Daria. He smiled a small, sad smile and closed his eyes.
"Go, now." He said, "Trent, you're going with them. Show them to the Lion's castle."
Trent looked at Daria, then at Jane, and finally at his grandfather and nodded. They all got up and left the front room, into the hall again, and out the front door. The scarecrow did not follow. Trent started walking down the road towards the intersection with the empty post. The girls followed quietly behind him.
They walked along the road for hours with few words between them. Every once in a while, Jane would try to strike up a conversation with the scarecrow that looked very much like her brother, but he would only give short, one or two word answers to her questions and then fall silent again. Daria wasn't much help either as she was lost in deep thought. Jane tried to amuse herself by counting the numbers of different colors on the leaves and grasses, but soon became tired of that when she figured there were too many shades of just green to count. Night began to fall when they finally reached a grove of apple trees.
Jane, nearly exhausted from a full day of walking, made Daria and Trent stop. "Come on guys! we've been walking all day. I admit, I'm all for exercise, but this is ridiculous!" She plopped down on the grass beside the road. Daria and Trent joined her. Trent simply laid down and covered his own button eyes. Soon, he was fast asleep.
Daria looked at the sky and then back at Jane.
"So?" Jane looked desperate for conversation.
"You've been thinking about something ever since we left the scarecrow's house. Are you going to tell me anything?"
"Well, I've been thinking about everything that's happened to us so far. The tornado, the house, witches, talking scarecrows, not so talkative scarecrows that look like your brother, this is like a very bad dream. Then I started to think about the old movie. In the movie, she did have a dream."
"So you think this is a dream?" Jane looked at her friend. Maybe she was right, this could all be a dream, but then why would she be in it too? Maybe it was her dream and she was just dreaming that Daria was with her. But why would she be the secondary character that should have been a dog? She put her head between her knees and sighed, "Well, how do we get out of this dream? Pain doesn't work or we would have waken up as soon as the house hit the ground."
"I guess we just have to play it through." Daria lay down on her back with her arms under her head and looked back into the stars.
"Daria? How did you know that it was a tornado back in Lawndale?" Jane lay down next to her.
"I'm not sure, really. I guess it's because I heard somewhere that green skies made tornadoes. I've never actually seen one, especially that far north."
"What was that?"
"Nothing, just doing a little thinking of my own."
They lay there for a little longer, idly chatting but mostly thinking before sleep finally settled in.
The next morning found all three of them in the grove of apple trees. Jane opened her eyes as the sun came up. She moaned a little and tried to roll over. Something heavy on her chest wouldn't let her. She looked down at her body and found it covered with roots. It looked like sometime in the middle of the night, the roots had come out of the soil and covered her like a blanket, except, this blanket was not letting her go. She struggled feebly under their weight, but could not budge it.
"Save your strength Jane, I've already tried. They won't let us go." Daria sounded tired.
"Who won't let us go?"
"WE WON'T LET YOU GO." Said a deep booming voice from behind her.
"Apparently the tree that Dorothy tried to get the apples from in the movie."
"Living apple trees?" Jane couldn't believe what she was hearing.
"Yup. they won't let us go and I don't know why."
"Yeah! Why won't you let us go? We didn't take any of your stupid apples!" Jane struggled again briefly before the roots tightened around her chest.
"YOU ARE A GIFT FOR THE WICKED WITCH." the voice said again.
"I don't get it, I thought we killed her." Jane stopped struggling as it became hard to breathe.
"We did, but I guess wicked witches are like cockroaches around here."
"We can't just stay here and wait until a wicked witch pops up and decides what to do with us."
"What? Do you have a plan?"
"Where's Trent?" A loud snore answered her question.
"Well, that's one thing that hasn't changed much."
"They have him tied up too."
"Great. Well, I hope one of those wicked witches shows up soon, I'm having trouble breathing."
Just then they heard a noise like a clanging of metal on stone. It was coming from down the road and seemed to get closer with every clang.
"Wow. That was fast. Well Daria, I guess I'll see you on the flip side of this dream."
"Why do you say that" Daria's voice now sounded strained as if she were fighting to take in one breath. The roots around her were all the sudden tightening again too.
"When we die, we'll wake up." She was getting light headed.
"Unless it's Freddy." croaked Daria.
"Always looking for the upside, aren't you?" wheezed Jane.
The clanging got louder and louder until they thought it was right on top of them. Jane could no longer see through the flashing lights that clouded her vision. She felt like a truck were being driven over her ribcage. Daria was near blacking our when the sound reached her. Just as she was thinking that this might not be a dream and that her and Jane were really going to die, she felt the weight of the roots all of the sudden lifted from her. She took a deep breath of air just as she could hear Jane doing, and passed out.
Consciousness came back to her from down a long and dark tunnel. A pinprick of light called itself to her attention. She floated along in a sea of darkness, she was comfortable, but the light beckoned. She started after it. At first, it appeared to her that she was not making any progress, but soon, the light started getting larger and larger. With the light also came sound. It was indistinct and muddled, but with some concentration, she was able to make out words.
"I don't kn-"
"Slap her face again"
"No, she's already got a welt."
The light started sprouting colors and the colors were blooming into shapes, blurry ones, but shapes nonetheless. They sharpened a little bit after she fully became aware, but everything still remained very blurry. She saw a grayish silver shape leaning over her. It had what looked like a pointy-head and she could make out some blurry dark spots that could be eyes and a mouth, but she was still unclear, She stared up in incomprehension.
"She's awake! Miss Lane! She's awake!"
Jane's blurry form appeared over her, "Daria? Are you ok? Daria? Talk to me!"
"Why is everything so blurry?" She groggily mumbled.
"Oh! Give me those will you? Thanks. Here," Jane's hands reached to the side of her face and as she did so, her vision cleared sharply, "your glasses fell off."
Seeing clearly now, she looked around. There were several grey men walking around the glade of homicidal apple trees with axes. They were fighting with the trees, a few of which were lying on their sides, chopped down. She realized after watching them for a while that they were tinmen. The one that had woken her was now getting up and heading toward the fighting.
"Yeah, they came along right at the moment we needed them the most. They were on a patrol looking for secret magical glades like this one. One of them told me that they don't appear unless they have something to catch. I guess we helped them out a little."
"I guess. Daria stood up with Jane's help and looked around again. The apple trees were obviously losing to the sharp axes of the tinmen, but she could also see the remains of a couple of the unlucky tinmen that were crushed under the falling trees. Trent was standing nearby, watching the carnage in silence.
"Is he alright?" Daria pointed to the scarecrow that looked a little disheveled.
"Yeah, they knocked the stuffing out of him, but he just scooped it up and put it right back."
The fighting lasted for about half an hour longer and finally, the last tree was cut down with a scream. The tinmen then started bundling them up and setting them by the side of the road in neat piles.
"What are they doing?" Daria looked confused as she bit into an apple.
"Dunno." Jane had already finished two apples and was going for a third.
"They're getting the wood ready for when the cart comes along to pick it up." said Trent, sitting down and tuning the guitar. It had surprisingly taken very little beating.
"They use the wood after they kill it?" Jane said as they hauled the last trunk onto the pile.
"Of course they do. What do you think my grandfather's furniture is made out of?"
They both waited as the tinmen finished with the stacking and walked back over to them. The leader, a tinman with an incredibly curly metal mustache bowed down to Daria, "Dorothy, you have come back to save us."
"I'm not Dorothy." Jane could see that Daria was getting a little annoyed at everyone mistaking her for the original.
"She's of the line of Dorothy." chimed in Trent. She went to see my grandfather, the scarecrow and he told her to go see the lion.
"Pardon me," the metal man said bowing again, "You look so much like the picture that we have in our hall. We are the woodsmen, at you service. I am very happy to have found you when we did, another moment or two and you would have been crushed."
"There's a happy thought." Jane crossed her arms and looked down.
"We need to get to the Lion's castle. Is it far?" Daria asked.
"No, you are nearly there. It is located in the mysteriously dark forest. Do not fear, however. It is only a name. Since the Lion became king, he made the forest safe to travel. You will find his castle there." He looked down at the thing she had around her neck and gasped. "Is that the heart of the tinman?"
"Yeah, we got it from the scarecrow."
"Dear lady, guard that with your life! It is the heart of the most noble of our kind. I was with him when he rusted. It was I who delivered it to the scarecrow. If this heart were to be destroyed, all caring would run out of us forever. If, however, you used it wisely, it could bring tears to an unfeeling heart."
"Um, sure." Daria looked around nervously, "We should be going."
"Yes, you should. Just keep to the road and do not stop until you reach the castle. We don't know how many more orchards of these foul trees are on the way."
"Ok, thanks for saving us."
"Yeah, thanks!" Jane waved at the woodsmen as they tuned and left.
Trent got back up and started walking on the road again. The girls followed, this time, they could not stop talking.
The Mysteriously Dark Forest was well named. The gnarled and ugly trees that twisted and clawed their way toward the sky blocked the sun from ever reaching the ground below them except in small areas. Because of this, the ground was bare of vegetation and the rotting remains of fallen trees and branches littered the ground. The large discs of mushrooms and other fungi sprouted everywhere, clinging to the sides of the huge trees and casting an eerie glow about them.
The harsh voices of birds and monkeys could be heard everywhere. A few times a shadowy figure could be seen gliding through the air on large wings. What disturbed Daria and Jane the most was that these figures were not birds. They had arms and legs, long tails trailed behind them as they coasted in the stale air from tree to tree. They could feel countless eyes on them as they walked cautiously through the gloom.
"What are they?" Jane's voice shook slightly.
"The winged monkeys." Trent said, both of his hands gripping the neck of the guitar like a club, "They flew free after Dorothy killed the wicked witch of the west. Most of them came here to live. The king lets them stay if they don't cause problems, but they're monkeys, they always cause problems."
"That was the most I've heard out of your mouth since I met you." Jane was surprised.
"Yeah, you'd be surprised sometimes" he said nervously just as a stick hit his head.
"What was that?" Daria was looking around in the direction that the stick came from.
A whooshing sound overhead told them where to look. Seen clearly, wild winged monkeys were truly a sight to be seen, but that was it. The thing landed on a branch and turned to look at them. It was a giant of a monkey, at least the monkeys Jane and Daria had seen in zoos and on t.v. It stood nearly six feet tall from what they could see. The thick branch it was standing on creaked under the weight. The wings, unfurled, looked to span at least fifteen feet. It curled the wings into it's back and it glared malevolently at the three from it's perch.
Jane tapped Daria on her shoulder and discretely pointed into the trees behind them. The branches of the trees in that direction were sagging with the weight of several monkeys. They all looked at the group with hatred and evil in their black, beady eyes. One have a whooping holler as it pounded the tree he was standing next to. The others shortly followed suit, pounding on anything nearby, including other monkeys.
Jane grabbed Daria and pushed her to the ground as the monkey they had first seen flew toward her with his arms outstretched. The sharp claws tore through Jane's shirt with ease, drawing a welt of blood from her back. Trent swung with the guitar as hard as his straw limbs would allow and was rewarded with a sound like all of the strings in a piano being struck at once. The monkey wobbled in the air for a short time, but righted itself and lifted into the trees again.
The whooping of the other monkeys became louder as the same creature jumped off of the branch it had came to rest on and made another dive for Daria. This time, she dodged on her own by rolling out of the way as the monkey hit the ground and took off immediately. Trent swung the guitar again but missed.
The animals in the trees started jumping up and down on the overtaxed trees, some took to flight as the branches they were on snapped and fell to the ground. All around the trio, the forest was alive with the horrible sound of bloodthirsty monkeys. The ones that were in the air started to dive towards them, the majority aiming for Daria. Trent swung wildly with the guitar as they came down, doing little damage. Jane leapt towards Trent as a monkey came at him from behind meaning to snap him in half. She took another scratch in the arm as the monkey screamed in anger of having it's kill denied.
Jane grabbed the guitar from Trent's grasp as he lay in a heap trying to disentangle his twisted limbs. She jumped up and swung at the nearest monkey as it grabbed Daria's sleeve and tried to lift her into the air. The Guitar gave off the same million-tune whine that they had heard from the outside of the house in the cornfield. the monkey gave out a pained scream and dropped to the ground several feet away. Being denied flight because Jane's blow had broken it's wing, it scampered off into the trees. Jane stood over Daria as more monkeys swooped in for a shot at grabbing her. Jane swung madly at anything that moved. Three more monkeys lost the ability to fly and ran off. The others, seeing how Jane was definitely more effective than Trent at swinging the guitar, hovered outside of her reach, chattering and screaming monkey curses at her.
An hour later, Jane was getting tired. Daria took the guitar and proceeded to smash anything with it that came within range. Trent sat by Daria, he knew he was not as effective as Daria or Jane, but he was ready to help in any way that he could. Two more monkeys had run away, trailing broken wings, but they had not given up. They swooped down towards the small group huddled on the ground, pulling up just in time to miss being hit with the swinging guitar. Daria swung at any that came too close, but it did not take long before she too began to tire.
The moneys began to get closer in their passes. Daria's swings became less effective. Jane tried to take over, but she too was still fatigued from the first attacks. Trent tried, but the hits he made only made the monkey wobble in the air.
"Daria, are we going to die?" Jane gasped as another winged primate hopped away on the ground, this time only nursing a sprained wing.
"Probably, but at least we'll wake up again."
"I was thinking about that. What if this isn't a dream and we really are here? Those trees really did hurt and you passed out."
"Thank you Jane, for your unique outlook on this situation." She swung at another monkey as it made a grab for her hair, "Don't they ever get tired?"
"Daria, have you actually looked to see how many of those creeps are in the trees?" Jane ducked as the stricken monkey fell to the ground, rolled and jumped back into the air.
"I don't want to think about it."
"I thought the woodsman said this forest was safe." Jane grabbed the guitar and swung at a screeching monkey as it swerved just in time to dodge the blow.
"It usually is," Trent said as he jumped back into the range of Jane's swinging. He had been trying to reach a larger branch to wield for himself when a group of monkeys descended on him, "they aren't usually like this.
"What's keeping them away? Why don't they just all attack at once?" Jane swung again. She was now breathing heavily and sweat poured off of her forehead.
"Don't give them any ideas." Daria didn't look much better.
One of the monkeys that had attacked Trent had grabbed the branch that he was reaching for and had now carried it into the air with it. It chittered maniacally as it descended. Jane swung the guitar weakly as it came close, but the money was faster and swung the stick, knocking the guitar out of her hand and several feet away.
The primates howled with joy as they flew from the trees and began circling the trio like vultures. The howling grew louder as they neared the ground and the prey they had been attacking relentlessly for the past hour and a half. Trent rose up and stood in front of the girls as the backed up against the huge trunk of a tree. The monkey that had knocked the guitar out of Jane's hand landed hard on the ground where they had been moments before. It growled and bared it's foul, decaying fangs as it walked slowly forward. It almost seemed to be savoring this moment.
Trent kept backing up, in a defensive position in front of the girls as the monkey advanced. He watched it as it's eyes flared large and it screamed in rage. He saw it start running across the several feet that separated the two of them. He looked at the creature as it jumped, hurling itself, wings outstretched straight at him, then he felt two hands grab his shoulders from behind and pull violently backward and through what appeared to be a solid tree, then he saw nothing.
The inside of the tree was black and quiet. No light or sound penetrated it's skin. While outside, the enraged monkeys beat and tore at the trunk, inside, the three lay in pitch-black silence. Even their heavy breathing seemed to have gone quiet. Daria and Jane felt around for each other for a time and finally found each other's hands.
"Where are we?" Daria's voice sounded hollow in the confines of the tree.
"In a tree, I think." Jane sat up.
"Why aren't we dead?"
"Because I saved you." came a voice from above them. It was a rough voice, with an unmistakable accent that made every word wheeze. It was not unkind, but the girls had the feeling that the voice talking to them from the dark was an animal.
"Who's there?" Daria looked around in sightlessness frantically.
"Close your eyes." said the voice. A light flared and Daria barely got her eyes shut before she was nearly blinded. Experimentally peering through tightly closed eyelids, Daria tested her sight. The inside of the tree was actually rather large, around the size of her bathroom at home and it was hollow all the way up through the tree. There was a ladder attached to one wall and a few bits of scattered furniture. In the middle of the room, standing on it's hind legs, was a small, shaggy, black dog holding a candle stick.
Daria looked over at Jane, who was gawking. She looked over at Trent, who was getting up and brushing himself off. She looked back at the dog. It was a wire hair terrier. It's beady, black eyes stared at her from behind a long crop of bangs. She could almost see him smiling at her. She also noticed the grey in his beard and the way he held himself up with a small cane. He was obviously an old dog.
"Hello," he said in the rough voice through dog lips.
Jane gawked, Trent brushed, and Daria stood staring.
"What? you're walking around with an animated scarecrow and being attacked by winged monkeys, and your surprised by a talking dog?" Daria could definitely tell he was smiling now.
"Hello Mr. Toto," Trent said as he finished stuffing some straw back into place.
"Hello Trent, how's your grandfather?"
"He's alright. A little hard of hearing at times, but at least he still hates my music."
"Yes," said Toto as he hobbled across the floor and sat himself on a doggy pillow, "neither did those beasties out there. I was beginning to wonder if you would ever back up to my tree."
Daria got up and walked over to the dog, "Are you telling me that you are Toto? Dorothy' s dog?"
"That would be me, but I'm not actually Dorothy's dog. I'm more of an old friend." he reached down in the covered and found a small pair of glasses that slipped easily onto his muzzle, "and you, if I am not mistaken, are a spitting image of Dorothy."
Jane snapped out of her amazement, "That's what everyone keeps saying."
"Oh! It talks!" giggled the dog.
"Yeah, and so do you." Jane stood up and brushed herself off.
"Why not?" he looked hurt, "you talk, he talks," pointing at Trent, "the lion talks, lots of things talk."
"Yeah, but where we come from, dogs don't talk." Daria said.
"Well, some of us do, but we like to keep quiet. Besides, I never said i was from where you are, did I?"
"The story goes that you were the reason Dorothy tried to run away in the first place." Daria sat down next to the pillow.
"Well, that's nice. But I didn't meet Dorothy until she nearly landed that house on me as well as the wicked witch. The story is that she was just caught up in a freak tornado. She didn't have time to make it to the storm cellar. We just became very good friends while she was here."
"So you can talk..." Jane pinched the bridge of her nose. This was a little difficult for her to digest as tired as she was.
"Dear girl, lay down," he looked at her as compassionately as his little doggy eyes could, "you've been through a lot today. Get some sleep, all of you, we'll talk again tomorrow." He blew out the candle as Daria laid her head on the corner of his pillow. For some reason, she felt safe in this place. There was no real reason, but the air itself seemed to comfort her. As she drifted off, she could hear Jane's light snores. Soon both of the girls were fast asleep and did not hear the hushed conversation between dog and scarecrow.
The next morning, Daria and Jane woke up to the smells of cooking. It was an unusual smell for both of them considering the only thing Daria usually ate was frozen dinners and Jane wouldn't dare eat anything in her house. Daria got up and noticed that there was sunlight screaming down from several windows high up in the tree, above the canopy. The tree looked bigger in this light as well as keeping the atmosphere of security.
Jane stretched languorously. She reminded Daria of a cat waking up from a long nap. A cat with very messy morning hair.
"So, Toto, what are we going to do? Do you think those monkeys are still out there?" Jane scratched her side.
"Oh, most definitely, but we won't be leaving that way."
"How then? We aren't going to fly out of here." Daria sat down to a plate of bacon.
"Why not?" Toto shoveled food onto Jane's plate.
"Fly? What? do you have an airplane stashed around here?" Jane said through a mouthful of eggs.
"No. But I do have some friends that can help us." He pointed up. The trunk of the tree was huge, the top disappearing in darkness. On one of the walls the ladder following the shadows up.
"I'm not climbing up that" Daria had just lost her appetite.
Jane kept eating. She looked up once and didn't say anything. After breakfast was finished, Toto leapt into Trent's arms and announced that they should start climbing. Daria was not looking forward to the accent as she looked up the ladder again and could definitely see that the tree trunk narrowed as it climbed, making the ladder look like it was bowing inward. Trent started first with the shaggy dog in his arms.
"You go next Daria, I'll catch you if you start to fall."
"You know Jane, you have this uncanny ability to make any bad situation worse."
"It's a gift."
Daria started to climb up the ladder followed closely by Jane. Ten feet up, she started to feel vertigo, twenty feet up, she felt like throwing up. From there on, it was an effort of will to take each additional step. It felt like they had been climbing for hours when Daria finally clawed her way up onto a platform. There was still plenty of tree above them, but it was the only one that went this high. This did not please Daria's already upset stomach and she wretched over the side of the landing.
"Are you alright dear girl?"
"I'll be fine once my feet are on solid ground again."
"Well then, we should be off as soon as possible." The dog went over to the side of the platform and picked up a small horn that was hanging on a wooden peg in the side of the tree. He took a deep breath and blew into the conical shape. A deep, low sound came out of the other end, echoing off of the hills in the distance and creating a stir in the trees below.
"Won't the monkey hear that?" Jane looked down expecting to see giant wings rising out of the canopy.
"They will hear it, but they do not dare come up here in daylight."
"Why daylight?" Daria still had a green tint to her skin, but she was at least able to keep from losing any more of her breakfast.
"Their eyes are sensitive to the light. It wasn't always like that, but years of living in the dark forest have had their effect."
"What about you? The light doesn't hurt your eyes and you live here."
The small pooch smiled, "I do not live here, I simply come here when I'm needed. I knew that there was going to be some trouble with the monkeys, so I came here to wait. Actually, I live in the castle with the lion. You'll meet him soon enough."
"That reminds me, how are we going to get to the castle from up here? Didn't you say we were going to fly?" Jane was looking around the landing now for anything with wings.
"You will see in a moment." he smiled his dog smile and sat down to wait.
The waiting did not last long as the sound of flapping wings became clear, "What is that?" Jane started looking around again. Daria raised herself from her back and looked apprehensively around.
"Our ride" the dog raised himself onto his hind legs and pointed toward the hills. Coming toward them were 12 creatures with wings. At first, they could not make out any details besides that fact that they did have wings and were coming toward them very fast and high. As they closed the distance, however, they saw that they were monkeys, winged monkeys.
"You called more of those things?!" Jane was pushing Daria back towards the opening in the trunk.
"Please calm down. These are not the winged monkeys that you faced down in the forest, these are chimpanzees. They will not harm you." Toto walked over to the edge and barked a greeting. Within moments, the chimps had landed and were chittering with the dog. They were definitely smaller than the beasts below. They stood roughly 4 feet high and were playfully grunting and jumping around, causing the floor underneath Daria and Jane to shake violently.
One of them folded it's wings and walked over to Jane and Daria, "H'llo Durthy." it grinned and wrung its wrists.
"She isn't Dorothy, this is Daria."
"H'llo Dria." it's grin grew wider and it stuck out it's tongue.
"I think we should get going, don't you?" the dog jumped into the arms of one of the chimps and looked at the girls. Trent went over to two of the waiting primates and waited. The platform below them shook with the excited leaps of the others.
"Alright, I'm keeping my eyes closed tight. Don't drop me, please." The monkey nearest her laughed as it leapt into the air and grabbed one of her arms. She squeezed her eyes shut as another arm was grabbed as well as her feet and she felt herself being lifted into the air. Jane had the same experience but her eyes stayed wide open as she was hoisted over the lip of the platform. Daria moaned while Jane whooped with pleasure. The monkeys tittered and laughed as they flew the four across the forest and towards a glittering castle in the distance.
The land flew by as the chimps carried them. Daria started to wonder if they ever got tired, not that she was a wide load, but given enough time, even her weight would cause any flying creature to tire. As thoughts of plummeting to her death in the forest below filled her mind, the castle grew closer.
Jane watched in wonder as the trees gave way to a town and then to beautiful courtyards and gardens. She knew that Daria was not having as good of a time as she was, but she could not feel a little annoyed at Daria for missing such a great experience. it did not even occur to her that her ride would drop her. It was a surprise when they did.
Daria felt the hands around her wrists and ankles let go and she had the sudden sensation of falling. She did not like this sensation and was about to voice her opinion as loud and incoherently as she could when she landed on something soft and yielding. A moment later, she heard the soft thump of the other three hitting the soft ground. She opened her eyes.
She was laying face first on a giant pillow. Jane was close by as well as Toto and Trent. They were in a high walled courtyard, the ground was a giant pillow. Toto jumped over to the side of the pillow and walked toward an arched doorway.
"Come now, the king will be waiting."
The door opened and he walked through. Trent walked quietly behind the dog and through the door. Jane sat next to Daria, nearly as stunned as her friend at what had just happened. She looked at the retreating forms of Trent and Toto and then over at Daria who may have just created a new shade of green.
"Wow! That was cool."
"If you like being dropped from hundreds of feet, not knowing if you'll survive the landing." Daria stood on shaky legs and wobbled toward the door.
"Why not? Amusement parks get paid a lot of money for that. They call them roller coasters."
"Don't remind me."
The inside of the castle was dark, the shudders had been closed for what looked like many years. In places, the dust had built up into drifts. Cobwebs hung from the corners where tiny, multifaceted eyes watched them travel down the long corridors. They were alone as they traveled the silent halls, Daria suppressed the urge to ask Toto where everyone was.
At last, they came to the center keep and the throne room. It was nearly as dark in here as it was in the rest of the castle. Through the low light, Daria and Jane could see a slumped figure on a high throne. They knew it was the Lion, but they could hardly believe that he was the shriveled figure that was breathing in ragged gulps. Toto walked up the steps to the form and whispered in it's ear. It listened as Toto had explained their journey here. When he was done, the king straightened up and looked down at them. His breath was still coming in rasps, but his voice was deep and powerful and the hard glint of wisdom glittered in his eyes.
"Step forward Daria and Jane." He boomed.
They did as they were bade. Even if they did not want to, they knew they would obey. The voice alone held the same authority that had inspired hundreds of thousands of men to fight wars and die.
"You have come from the world of Dorothy to save us again in our time of need." It was not a question.
"I suppose. "Daria said.
"You suppose?" His voice held no amusement.
"Yeah, that's what we're here for." Jane cut in.
"We already killed the wicked witch of the south central. Isn't that the last witch?" Daria was now afraid he might be faking it and all of the sudden pounce on them.
"It appears there are more than we had originally thought." his voice remained hard, "In the old place of the wizard, where Glenda is being held captive, there are three new witches more horrible than any you could dream of."
"How do you know this?" Trent had now come forward, a worried look on his rough face.
"I know, scarecrow, because they have done this to me." he unwrapped himself, showing them his ruined body. What had once a been proud and muscled body was now an emaciated skeleton with skin drawn tight across his ribs. The mane that had given him the name of King was now nearly gone, the hair having fallen out, but the most disturbing thing about this poor creature before them were the milky white, blind eyes that looked out over nothing.
Jane gasped and held her hand in front of her eyes. Daria stared in disbelief at the condition of this poor creature. Trent was struck the worst, he stumbled back and tripped over his own feet. He hit the ground and kept pushing with his feet, sliding across the floor like a push broom, a look of horror on his face.
The lion covered himself back up and continued to wheeze. Daria could see that Toto was crying. The darkness remained silent for a time as everyone tried to rid their minds of the image. Finally the lion spoke again.
"I am sorry," his voice was soft now, "I know it is horrible. You must know what you face, however."
"If they did that, what is stopping them from just coming and taking over your kingdom right now?" Jane was still unable to look up at the lion again.
"I am." came the soft, gentle voice of a woman from behind them. Both of the girls started. Daria turned around and nearly fainted at the sight of her Aunt Amy in a flowing red dress and wings, "Aunt Amy?"
"I am Amy, but I do not have any nieces. I am Amy, the good witch of the South."
"Oh boy." Jane slapped her forehead and wandered away.
"This is a bad dream." Daria sat down on one of the steps leading to the throne.
"No this isn't a dream." chimed in her aunt's look alike as she floated over to Daria, "This is very real and we are in terrible trouble. I am the last free good witch in the land and I am not as powerful as my sister. She needs to be freed in order for us to restore balance and I do not have the strength."
"Why, what's so dangerous that you can't wiggle your nose and make disappear or turn into a toad?" Jane came back over to them.
"You have seen what has become of the king, this is also being done to many more like him. Their youth and strength has been drained from them by a force that we do not know of. The only way to stop this is to go to the emerald city and find the source of this evil and free my sister."
"Let me guess, since I look so much like Dorothy, you want me to do this." Daria's voice sounded more flat and sarcastic than usual as she crossed her arms in a defensive gesture.
"You wouldn't be going alone. There is your friend and the scarecrow, and Toto, of course. You also have the Ruby slippers." She produced a small set of slippers from under her gown and showed them to Daria.
They caught the faint light that filtered in from the closed windows and magnified it, throwing crimson light against the walls like a disco ball. An aura of power emanated from them like heat, Daria and Jane stared in amazement. They were beautiful.
"Do you have a matching evening gown to go with those?" Jane chimed in.
"I can't wear those." Daria protested, "I would mess them up. I'm used to boots."
"Try them on." She handed the slippers to Daria.
Despite herself, Daria reached for the slippers and grasped them. They were warm to the touch, the warmth slowly spread up her arms and into her chest. She felt as though someone were reading her thoughts as she dreamily slipped the first one onto her foot. The feeling started to fade as she finished tying up the second boot and stood up. Wait, did she just think boot?
Daria looked at Jane who stood staring at her, mouth gaping. She looked down at her feet and saw the boots. They were nearly identical to those that she usually wore, but they sparkled red. If these were any normal boots, they would have looked incredibly tacky and would have been more suitable for an Austin Powers movie, but the power they exuded made them beautiful.
Daria was stunned. "How-? What-?"
"Part of the magic of the slippers is that they can change to suit their wearer." Amy explained. "In most cases, a slipper is more suitable than the boots that you are now wearing, but they always remain beautiful and powerful."
"Wow Daria! That was neat! Can you do that again?"
"Look, if I go and do this thing, will you tell me how to go home, or should I just click my heals together now and see if that part of the movie is right?"
"I would not suggest clicking your heals together now for, as you may be able to go home, your friend will be stuck here."
Daria looked at Jane, "But if I'm dreaming, Jane is asleep right now, right next to me. When I wake up, so will she."
"As I have said, this is no dream, but if you wish to disbelieve, it is a chance you will take that when you wake up, your friend will not be there." Amy walked up to the throne where the king had been silently watching.
"Daria," Toto sounded worried, "please think about this. You may well be dreaming, but this world is real to us. If you leave, we may all be lost."
Daria was caught in the throws of a decision. She did want this dream to end and return to sanity, but she was not so sure it was a dream any more, it just all seemed too real.
Trent walked up to her and put his hand on her shoulder, "It's your decision. Whatever you decide, I'm going to the emerald city to try and stop whatever is doing this."
"Wow." Jane looked at Trent, "Those are the most committed words I have ever heard coming out of a mouth that looks like that. Come on Daria, lets at least see where this ends before you doom me to a life stuck in this world."
Daria glared at her friend. She looked down again, at the boots on her feet and heaved a sigh, "Alright, lets just get this over with. Where is this emerald city and how do we get there without flying?"
The lion now stood up on shaky legs. She walked down the steps from his throne and came to stand in front of Daria. When he spoke, his voice was soft and his eyes brimmed with tears.
"You are brave like I was once not. I commend you." He looked down at the heart hanging from her neck. "You carry a little of all of us with you on this journey." With that, he reached toward his mouth and pulled a fang loose. He handed it to Daria, "Take this as part of me. I wish I were young enough to go with you." Daria held out her hand and caught the tooth. It glowed a soft pearly white and had a hint of warmth but no blood.
The lion patted her shoulder and gave her a warm smile, then walked away down one of the many corridors. Daria, Jane, Trent, and Toto were the only ones left in the throne room.
"Well," Toto started, "lets be off then."
Daria was immediately worried that a group of flying chimps were about to burst through one of the windows and carry them off when Toto started heading for the door. She looked around once more at the throne room before following the others.
Outside of the castle, Toto lead them through the quiet streets of the surrounding town. Very few creatures were outside of their houses and those that were looked very nervous. Daria and Jane realized that there were no humans in the streets.
They passed beyond the border of the town and into a forest again. This was nothing like the forest where the winged monkeys resided, the trees let in sunshine and small forest animals scampered out of their way as they walked through. It was several hours later and Toto was ahead of everyone when they heard him Bark in surprise. Jane was the first to reach him. He was sitting happily at the base of the tree wagging his tail. Beside him was Trent's guitar.
"My Guitar!" Trent walked over and picked it up. There were a few scratches on it, but it in tact. "Where did it come from?"
"A few of my friends found it and brought it here." Toto said proudly.
"What friends?" Jane looked around.
"This one, to start." Toto patted the trunk of the tree he was standing next to.
"Your friends are trees?" Daria looked at the dog.
"What's wrong with being friends with a tree?" said the wooden face that suddenly appeared on the trunk.
Jane gasped and looked around her feet for writhing roots.
"Don't be alarmed." said another tree next to Daria. Daria stepped away from it and joined Jane in her search.
"Girls, please, your embarrassing me." Toto's face looked flustered, "You were attacked by apple trees. These are maple, oak, and birch, my friends."
Daria was the first to stop looking as she saw that they were in no danger. A quick jab of her elbow stopped Jane from looking. Daria walked up to one of them and introduced herself. They, of course already knew who she was from old redwood, the tree they stayed in the night of the monkey attack. Jane shook the branch of oak and soon they were all relaxed and enjoying a conversation. The trees supplied the group with several treats from the nearby forest. Jane nearly gorged herself on blueberries.
An hour later, the troop bade the trees goodbye and started off again. As they walked toward a now visible green glow on the horizon, they noticed that the landscape around them was becoming more controlled, like an army of gardeners had whipped and mown and bullied the landscape into submission. The animals around this part seemed to act and look strangely too. Fluffy pink bunnies wandered up to them and begged to be petted. Little, blue eyed squirrels scurried up and down the too perfect looking trees giggling all of the time. A deer and her fawn wandered past them. The fawn stopped and looked at them for a time. He then turned to his mother and asked her if he could go play with thumper. When she agreed, he whooped and bounded off. By the time they reached a hill overlooking the emerald city, Daria and Jane looked sick.
"I feel like I ate 5 pounds of sugar." Daria moaned.
"It's this place. It's so sweet it makes me sick." Jane mumbled after her.
They both sat down on the feathery grass and started moaning together. Toto, who had been holding in his discomfort began to whimper as well. Trent stood looking at the tree of them and then at the surrounding terrain. He knew what it was immediately. It was a spell. One much like the one that was cast on his grandfather and Dorothy many years ago. It would not let them go any farther unless it was broken, but he was unsure of how to break it.
"This place is too sweet. I think I'm going to throw up." Daria lay down on her back.
"You'll probably just throw up pretty flowers or puffy bunnies." Jane followed Daria down.
"Trent," Toto gasped, "You have to break this spell. You know how." He lay down on his side and continued to pant and whine.
Trent stood looking down at them. They seemed to be doing through sugar shock. He wracked his brain as he watched his friends suffer, then a thought struck him. He reached for the strap at his shoulder and pulled the guitar into his hands. With a quick tune, he began to strum. Then his hands started moving over the strings faster and faster. The guitar riffs became louder and louder as his hands flew over the strings. This was not the same kind of playing that the girls had heard the first time. It was raw and powerful and LOUD!!!
The animals in the forest stopped what they had been doing, which was basically looking too cute, and tried to cover their ears. The trees swayed to an unfelt breeze as the music blasted. Daria, Jane and Toto were still on the ground, but they were no longer holding their stomachs, they were covering their ears. The ground shook as Trent jammed on. The animals did not look so cute and cuddly any more. They had stopped covering their ears and were now running away from the sound. The trees curled and twisted as they reverted back to their natural forms, like the animals. In the distance, a startled looking deer and fawn hopped through the dry, yellow grass.
Trent's playing reached a crescendo and then stopped. His eyes were screwed shut as he fell to his knees on the barren ground. Daria pushed herself up and crawled over to him. He was breathing hard and his fingers had worn through to the straw, but he was fine. She looked around at the landscape that they were in now. It was barren around the area that they were, but the forest didn't look manicured and bullied any more, it looked relieved.
Jane got to her feet and took a deep breath. She too, noticed the change in their surroundings. "What was that?"
Toto stood unsteadily for a moment then settled. "That was a spell. Whomever is in that city has cast a great spell that altered the landscape. It also caused us to collapse. Trent saved us by playing that noise."
Trent looked up dreamily, "That was music."
"If you say so, my boy." Toto rolled his eyes, "Let's continue. They will know that we are on our way now."
"This one has the same opinion of music that my brother has." Jane said getting up and brushing herself off.
They continued to walk down the hill towards the emerald city. It looked much like it had in the movie, tall spires reaching for the sky, crystalline walls reflecting the surrounding countryside, and a strange glow that seemed to emanate from inside, except that the glow was a sick color. It was not a healthy green but the shade of death and rot. As they came closer, they could smell foul odors coming from within. Streams of green vapor curled up and into the sky from behind the walls and an eerie humming could be heard and felt coming from the ground. They walked on with no interruption. The ground they walked on turned damp and muddy once they reached the gate yet nothing happened. Daria was very uneasy.
"Toto, are you sure they could hear us coming?" she said.
On cue, the massive door they stood in front of gave a loud grind and opened. Daria and Jane stood ready to run if an army of who knows whats came after them, but the inside was dark and empty.
Toto walked up a few feet and then turned, "Come on, they're expecting us."
The three others followed, looking everywhere for signs of an ambush. Once they were inside, the doors creaked and slammed shut. The strange light coming from the walls lit their way down a long corridor. The humming and smells became stronger as they walked. They remained alone.
It seemed like hours that they had been walking in a straight line when they finally arrived at a door. Toto walked up to it and scratched it with his claw. It opened, letting in the loud roar of machinery and the horrendous stench that they had been getting whiffs of. Toto cowered away from it because of his heightened sense of smell. The green vapors poured into the hall that they were in and drifted past them. As Daria was engulfed, she had the strangest feeling that made her feet itch. It was as if she were fighting an urge to follow something. She turned to Jane and found that she had a goofy smile on her face and was stumbling forward. The smoke gasses were now drifting back into the noisy room and Jane was following.
"Jane!" Daria started to go after her, but her feet would not cooperate. She felt like she was glued to the floor. Jane went into the room, followed by Toto, and the door slammed shut. Daria and Trent stood in the hall for a moment watching as their friends were swallowed up by the darkness, then the floor disappeared from underneath them.
They fell through the darkness, Daria felt like screaming, but the rushing wind and the mindless fear would not let her. She desperately reached for anything that she could to stop her fall but her hands met only whistling air. She could tell that Trent was above her because of the humming of his guitar strings as the air vibrated them. He made no sound while he fell.
She had had dreams where she was falling before, but they usually ended halfway through the fall, which meant only two things, either this wasn't a dream and she was falling to her death, or this was a very deep hole. She decided it was the former and finally let out a blood curdling scream.
The wind around her head slowly lessened as she fell. It felt as though she were slowing down, but that was impossible since it was against physics. She pried her eyes open as the wind came to a halt and then Trent landed in her arms. He wasn't heavy, but the sudden impact sent her off balance. She put her foot back and came into contact with a surface. She looked down and discovered that her boots were glowing an iridescent red and seemed to be holding her and Trent afloat in midair. The surface that she felt was a ledge. She stepped back on the ledge and set Trent down. It was a thin outcropping of natural rock that jutted out into the space, but it was enough to give Daria and Trent a foot hold. As soon as she started walking again, the boots she was wearing dimmed but still sparkled.
Trent nodded his head to her and started to walk around the narrow path in the direction that lead back up. His guitar was now in front of him and the wind strummed the strings every once in a while giving a faint chord. They followed the path upward, the wind ripped at Daria's skirt and Trent had nearly fallen three times. She rounded the corner and bumped into him. He had stopped.
"Trent keep going. I want to get out of here."
"We can't, the ledge runs out here."
"Great, now what? do we turn around and go back?"
"Do we have a choice?"
Daria faced the other way and started to go back down when she felt the wall behind her shift. She gasped and clung to the rock as it slid into itself. She was about to try moving forward again until a pair of hands grabbed her shoulders and pulled her in. She saw the wall closing in again and then there was dark silence. She could hear her heavy breathing and Trent's rustle but she could see nothing. A spark lit everything in a brief flash and soon a small, warm glow illuminated the cave she was standing in. She turned around to see Trent and several munchkins. They all had green hair and were dressed in the shabby remains of what had once been fancy clothes.
The one holding the torch walked up to Daria and knelt in front of her. The rest followed.
"Dorothy, you have come back to help us recover our once beautiful city." he said.
"First, I am not Dorothy, my name is Daria. Second, I'm only here to save the good witch."
Then we can show you where Daria." The munchkin said, looking disappointed but still kneeling.
Daria flushed and looked at Trent. He shrugged his shoulders and went to checking his guitar for damage.
"Stop kneeling," she helped the little man back to his feet, "I'm not a goddess."
"No," piped in another one, "but you wear the ruby slippers. You have come to help us even if you do not believe you are." The speaker stepped out of the small crowd. He was older than the others. His grey hair and beard touched the ground and swept the way for his feet. He walked up to the younger munchkin holding the torch and took it out of his hand. The younger one backed away with a bow.
"Who are you?" Daria looked down at him. He was obviously an elder, but she could see that they held him in as much regard as the boots she was wearing at the time.
"I," said the little man, "am the wizard of oz." The rest of the munchkins bowed to him.
Trent, looking surprised, went over to the wizard and knelt on one knee, "If I help you return your city to you, will you grant me a wish?"
The old man put his hand to his beard and thought for a second, "You wish to have a band?"
Trent looked at him and then nodded.
"very well, if you help us, you shall have this band." said the wizard.
"I thought you were a human from my world." Daria was confused.
The wizard looked at her and smiled, "I was, at least the wizard before me was. He used his hot air balloon to return to his world. I was the master gatekeeper at the time and when he left, I assumed the roll of the wizard. It is a title more than anything any more." He started to walk down the tunnel that they were in holding the torch. Trent was still on one knee staring after the wizard with a look of pleasure on his face. Daria shook him and he stood up and followed after.
"The original wizard was not the one that you know from your world's books and moo-vies either. The original wizard was one of the creators of this land. He built the land and then built the city that is over our heads now." explained the little man, "The wizard you know was the onethousand-threehundred-and-twentyfifth wizard. He introduced technology to us. The steam engine, electricity, and the automobile. No one liked that one so we got rid of it."
They walked on down the tunnel listening to the wizard drone on about the merits of the previous wizard. The number of munchkins multiplied as they walked, side tunnels were full of grubby, dirty, little people huddled together for warmth. Daria missed Jane already. Who knows what was going on with her best friend. Her stomach sank as she thought of what the machines in the room Jane had entered were used for.
"...and then of course, he showed us the miracle of flight, but he left before he could teach us to achieve it. We have several balloons, but we can't figure out how to get them up in the air."
Absentmindedly, Daria answered him, "Hot air."
"Excuse me?" the wizard turned to face her.
"What was that you said my dear?"
"Hot air. You fill the balloons with hot air and they rise. My dad almost killed himself on one of those things once with this egotistical hotshot."
"You fill the balloon with hot air? Why would you do something like that?"
"Hot air rises. If you trap enough of it as it rises, it will lift you up."
"Amazing!" the wizard was astounded. He sat down on a rock and leaned his head on his hand with a far off look on his face.
"Look, I don't want to hurry you or anything, but my best friend is up there with who knows who having who knows what done to her. I would appreciate a little help if you want us to help you."
The little man shook his head and looked up at her apologetically, "Sorry my dear, it was a childhood dream of mine to fly. Yes! Lets get going! Enough walking, Fizzle! Sugarplop! get the troops ready! We will attack as soon as the machines shut down." Two of the nearest munchkins saluted and hurried off.
The next hour was spend amidst the hustle of tiny feet and the clank of bits of armor and weaponry. Daria was nervous as the little swords came close to nipping or cutting her several times. She couldn't see why they had to wait either. Jane and Toto were up there and probably in trouble. Trent spent the time in one of the more empty halls tuning and playing the guitar to the joy of several children. The wizard stood in the middle of the carnage directing munchkins on where to go.
Finally the noise of running feet quieted and the clank of metal was silenced. All stood looking at the wizard and Daria expectantly. The little, bearded man gave no speeches that would lift spirits, he did not say a word. The tunnels were as quiet as a crypt when the wizard lifted his head from the wall and gestured for them all to move. The small army of munchkins slowly started to march up the path. Daria followed behind along with Trent and the Wizard.
The travel was fast and silent as they neared the low humming of machines. The wizard had disappeared and was now at the head of the line talking with one of the troops. He came back down and walked alongside Daria again.
"Your friend is being held in the throne room." he looked worried, "The witches have doubled the guard around that area and are preparing her for youth extraction. We will create the diversion. If you do not save her, your friend will have her youth and energy drained from her by the machines when they start up again."
"Jane is going to have her youth sucked out? This is really starting to sound like a bad Internet fanfic. What next, Gelflings and a crystal?" The wizard gave her a blank look. She shrugged and walked on.
They came to a large metal door that had been hidden behind one of the monstrous machines. It opened with a small squeak and the fetid air drifted in. The wizard handed Trent and Daria masks to cover their faces, "These will keep the fumes from trapping you like they did your friend."
Daria put the mask to her face and walked through the door. The inside of the machine area was covered by catwalks and huge industrial type machines. the green vapor surrounded them at once and Daria felt her feet start to itch again. She looked down at the boots she was wearing and saw that they were glowing faintly. She took the mask away from her face and stood for a second. After a brief feeling of something trying to tug her arms forward the green fog started to lift and was soon gone. The munchkins heaved a sigh of relief and removed the masks.
They moved on, heading toward the other side of the city, she could see the silhouettes of the guards sleeping on the catwalks above. The munchkins moved among the machines with stealthy efficiency. They had made it about halfway across the factory floor when the machines behind them roared back to life. Daria nearly screamed at the sudden noise filled the area. The guards up on the catwalks jumped and looked down. The munchkins had hidden among the machines when they had started, but Daria was frozen in place. She looked up just as the siren started and all hell broke loose.
The floor was immediately stomping with the sounds of booted feet. Within moments, Daria was surrounded. Trent had hidden with the munchkins and Daria looked around desperately for his help. There was no sign of them.
A spear was shoved in her face. The holder looked like his face had been mashed through a garbage compactor. His breath smelled of rotten fish and bananas. A moment later, she realized that it was one of the monkeys from the forest, but he had no wings. She looked around at the others that were massing around her. They were all monkeys, their twisted, hate filled faces leered at her. One turned around and she saw the place where it's wings had been. They had been cut off.
The spear was shoved in front of her face again and the guard gave a harsh and angry grunt. She held her hands up and looked down the shaft at the simian face. Her eyes swept the outside of the crowd once more in search of Trent or the munchkins but saw nothing. Two more guards walked up beside her and grabbed her roughly around the arms. The turned her to face the opposite side of the city and lead her toward a set of towering doors.
The machines around her made any other sound impossible to hear, but had she been able to, she would have heard the steps of hundreds of tiny feet following closely, but quietly behind her and the guards as well as the sliding of several small swords being drawn.
A short time later, they arrived at the doors. They towered over even the massive machines. One of the monkeys grabbed a massive knocker and slammed it against the door. The hollow sound reverberated through Daria's bones. A moment afterwards, the door swung quietly inward and let her and one of her captors through. When they were on the other side, the door slammed shut and all sound from the machines outside was gone. Her ears rung with the silence.
They were in another corridor. The walls and floor glowed a faint, sickly green. Pillars set at regular intervals disappeared into darkness above their heads. The guard led her down the hall at a stumble. They neared yet another set of doors. The smell of perfumes and nail polish remover became strong and overpowering. She saw that the monkey did not like it either. He stopped at the door and knocked politely. The door opened immediately.
A familiar voice from inside addressed the monkey, "Leave her and return to your post."
The primate bowed and shoved Daria through the door, which immediately closed after her. She stumbled and tripped into the room, landing on her knees and scraping one.
"Remind me to have that one flogged later." said the voice. Daria's head hung down so she could not see who was addressing who.
"Riiiiight. Flog the monkey." She knew that voice and looked up immediately. Sitting on triplet thrones were Sandi, Quinn, and Tiffany. They were dressed in fashionable yet evil looking dresses with high collars and low bust lines.
She lowered her head again with a groan, "I will kill whoever put me in this nightmare." She looked up at the three girls again and sat down on the floor, "Let me guess, you are the three witches that are draining people of their youth and strength and you think I'm Dorothy. Rod Sterling should be showing up any time now."
"Daria," Quinn said in her usual petulant voice, "what are you talking about?"
"Daria looked up at her sister in surprise, "You know who I am?"
"Hey Quinn, isn't that your cousin or something?"
"Um, no she's the maid's daughter." Quinn looked uneasy.
Sandi looked back down at Daria, "You're here to save that Glenda chick, aren't you?"
"No, I stopped by to ask for directions back to reality, I've enjoyed my little trip in loony land, but I really must be getting back."
Sandi rose her hand and a spark flew from her fingertip to hit Daria in the arm. Pain flared for a second and died away slowly. Sandi looked surprised that it hadn't lasted longer but quickly recovered. "Enough of this!" She stood up and walked down the steps. Her dress flowed around her as she stepped. She walked up to Daria and looked down at her. Daria, calmly massaging her arm, looked back up at her.
"Get up Brain!" she growled.
"Where are Jane and Toto, where are my friends?"
Sandi smiled as she looked down on her, "Your freaky friend is getting ready to go into the extraction chamber where we will remove her youth and strength, bottle it and sell it as the newest form of rejuvenating overnight facial mask. Toto is right here." she waved her hand and the little dog walked out from behind one of the thrones. He bound down the steps and to Sandi's heel. He wagged his tail and lolled out his tongue.
"What did you do to him." Daria had begun to respect the dog as an intelligent creature. Now it appeared to be a simple canine.
The dog stood up on his hind feet and assumed the knowledgeable expression she had known, "My dear girl, she hasn't done anything to me. I have simply been under her employ for several weeks now. My real name isn't even Toto. Toto has been dead for years. I'm Roger. I was able to replace myself as Toto shortly after he died in the forest. Even the trees believe I'm that poor, stupid mutt."
Daria stared at the dog whom she had believed to be her friend.
"Your magic will not work well on her my queen, she is wearing the ruby slippers." Roger said as Sandi prepared another spark to hit Daria.
"Quinn, Tiffany." Sandi motioned and the two joined her. They raised their hands above their heads and a shower of sparks started to rain down on her. The first few that hit her seared into her with fresh pain, but after the pain had drained from that attack, the spars stopped hitting her. She looked up to see that they were bouncing off of an invisible barrier. The sparks stopped and Sandi, Quinn, and Tiffany stood before her looking worried.
Sandi looked over her shoulder and motioned toward two hidden guards. They walked forward, suspending between them the limp form of Jane Lane. Daria started toward her but a look from Sandi told her that if she went any further, Jane would be hurt.
"Take off those shoes or I will order them to rip your friend in half."
Daria looked over at the ugly, simian faces, which were showing twisted, cruel smiles. "If I give you these shoes, will you let us go?"
"Sure," Quinn said happily, "Give us the slippers and we will let you go home."
Sandi looked back at Quinn with a reproachful look and then turned back to Daria with a smile on her face, "Yeah, we'll let you go."
"Daria," came Jane's weak voice, "this isn't a dream. If you give those shoes to those three, we'll die."
Daria looked over at Jane who was raising her head. Sandi made a motion with her hand and one of the guards, who's face could no longer be seen from under his helmet, clapped a hand over her friend's mouth. Sandi turned her attention back to Daria but something about the guard seemed strange.
She watched as Jane's hand reached out from behind her and moved the hand away from her mouth. She gave Daria a smile and a wink while the two guards started to strip their armor. Daria looked back at Sandi while the armor was removed to reveal three munchkins standing on each other's shoulders and Trent in a red cape.
"Fine, let us go and you can have these things. Besides, they're starting to make my feet itch." she sat down on the floor and started to unlace a boot. The three witches watched as she slowly pulled the strings and watched Trent pull a lever near one of the thrones. A slight click sounded from the door behind her and Sandi looked up.
The door swung open as hundreds of armed munchkins and monkeys burst through fighting with each other. The three witches were startled as the crowd rushed toward them. They ran up the steps to their thrones as the fighting poured into the throne room. Daria jumped up and ran towards Jane as Sandi and company threw sparks into the crowd causing munchkins and monkeys to scream in pain together.
"Are you ok?" Daria said as she reached Jane, who was slumped over on her knees.
"I'm fine, there's a pooch out there somewhere who's just asking for a whack with the newspaper though." Jane pushed herself up as a monkey landed next to her with three munchkins on his chest, then she disappeared into the crowd.
Daria looked around and found Trent swinging his guitar, cape flapping with every whoosh. She ran up to him and barely missed being beaned. "Hey El Kabong! Where's the wizard?" she yelled over the roar of fighting.
"He went up the stairs behind the thrones to rescue the good witch." he huffed between swings. Daria thanked him and sped toward the doorway leading to a set of stairs. She could hear the little man rushing as fast as his legs could carry him up the steps. She mounted the stairs and quickly caught up to him. He was puffing and sweating severely when she found him. She picked him up and carried him upwards...
In the throne room, Jane scanned the carnage for the little tuft of black fur that had betrayed them. It took only a moment to notice that the witches were gone and a moment after that to spot the little Benedict Arnold making his way toward the door. She started after him immediately, hurdling fighting monkeys and munchkins. She made it to the wall opposite where she started just as the dog made it to the large doors leading out into the hall. She was about to run after him when she noticed a pane of glass partially hidden behind a curtain. She brushed it aside and read the sign.
In case of tree hindrance, smash glass.
An evil grin split her face as she saw what was behind the glass...
Daria reached the top landing to find that she faced a door with a massive padlock on it. She groaned.
"What's the matter? Why did you stop?" the wizard looked at her worriedly.
"I'm sorry, I left my lock picking tools and shape charges in my purse." she sat down on the bottom step.
"Use the slippers" the wizard said.
"What? just kick the lock off?"
Shrugging her shoulders, Daria stood back up and walked over to the door. She raised her foot and swung with all of her strength. The lock snapped off and flew across the landing and down the stairs. She stared as the ends of the remaining hoop glowed red and then cooled. The wizard walked forward and removed the piece of metal. The door opened with ease, revealing the inside. Daria walked forward and was assaulted by the smells of perfumes, makeup and nail polish. She squinted through the vapors and pushed inward.
Inside, the light was bright and the air reeked. The room was small and there was no way for the fumes to escape except for the opened door. A couch was situated along side a wall and the figure of a woman could be seen through the mists of vapor and perfume.
"Glenda?" Daria walked quietly forward.
"Yes," came the feeble voice from the sofa.
"My name is Daria. I came to rescue you."
"Hello Daria. I'm sorry you had to come all this way, but I do not have the strength to flee."
Daria finished the distance to the woman on the couch and gasped...
Jane smashed the glass and reached inside. The cool grip of the plastic handle felt good in her hand. She wasn't sure how he had gotten here, but it was time for Maurice to sing. She yanked the chainsaw out of the alcove and held him in her hands, relishing the weight. She grabbed the pull starter and revved the engine to life. The fighting around her immediately stopped as Maurice coughed smoke into the air. She revved the motor and ran toward the door. She could hear the sound of panicked claws skidding over the ground as she rounded the corner. She saw Roger scampering through the door at the other end of the hall and ran after him, laughing madly...
Glenda looked into Daria's face through sunken eyes. The skin on her face was drawn tight across her bones. Her hair had dulled to a flat grey and her body was nothing but a husk, yet the smile she gave Daria was the most warming and friendly that she had ever experienced. Daria felt a tear well up in her eye and let it slide down her cheek. The perfumy mists had cleared from the room and the air was beginning to freshen. All around the walls were stacked barrels of makeup , perfume, and nail polish remover. The fumes had weakened Glenda even further after they had drained her youth and strength away from her. Now, she could barely hold up her head and her breath came in rattling gasps.
The wizard had broken down in tears and was currently outside of the room throwing up. Daria searched her mind for anything that she could do for the unfortunate witch. Glenda moved her hand, with great effort, and laid it back on Daria's arm. Her feet once again started to itch. Daria looked up into her eyes again and cried. Through the emaciated features, she could swear Glenda looked like her mother.
"Is there anything that I can do?" Daria sounded choked.
"Nothing can help me now except the ruby slippers and I gave them to my sister for safe keeping." wheezed the witch.
Daria looked down at her and then at her feet. "I have the ruby slippers." Daria said.
"You do? May I ask you to let me wear them for the briefest of moments? Their magic is the only thing that can counteract what has been done to me."
Daria looked back down at the boots she was wearing. She thought for a moment and then knelt to remove the boot. She turned around halfway through untying the boot when a scream sounded on the landing behind her. She looked to find her sister standing in the door. She had a look of pure greed on her face as she watched Daria untie the boot.
"Don't stop. Keep going. I want those slippers for myself."
"No Quinn. These are going to help set this mess right."
"I don't care about this MESS! I want those shoes!"
Quinn screamed and jumped at her sister. She grabbed her arms with claw-like nails and started to rip into the dress that she wore. Daria fought back, but she was no match for her sister's feral strength. Something on her chest started to get warm. Startled that something had hit her, Daria looked down. The heart that the scarecrow had given her was moving. It pulsed with a warm, metallic light. A voice entered her thoughts as she tried to keep her sister from killing her, "Perhaps. Perhaps you might have a use for it however.
She let go of her sister and grabbed the heart. It was indeed warm to the touch. She yanked the chain, it broke easily. Now tat Daria's hands were not impeding her, Quinn renewed her thrashing and drew blood several times. Daria ignored the pain and thrust the heart into Quinn's chest. Quinn screamed as the heart touched her chest and started to burrow in. she fell back and turned over several cans of perfumed powder before falling out the door and laying face down on the ground. She started to go forward, but the wizard waved her back. He bent over her fallen sister and checked her pulse.
He looked back up at her and said, "She's still alive. In fact, she has the strongest pulse I've ever felt."
Daria heaved a sigh...
Jane burst through the door into the production area just as Roger turned a corner. The floor was strewn with the bodies of fallen munchkins and monkeys/ He was limping and had slowed down. Jane chased after him, the noise of the machines easily masked the rumble of Maurice as he idled. Almost immediately, Jane recognized the dog's advantage, he knew his way around, she didn't. He was limping and slowing down, however. She wasn't.
The chase went through dozens of alleyways between the machines, Jane always just barely missing him. She came to a dead end and had to turn around just as Roger was passing by. She grinned maliciously and ran forward. He was just heading for a door in the wall when she stepped out in front of him. He yelped and skid to a stop. He was on his back, pedaling backward with his hind legs as Jane slowly advanced.
"P-please don't kill me!" the dog pleaded, "I'm only a puppy dog."
"The only puppy dog I've known that would send a friend to their death." Jane growled through clenched teeth.
"Please! I was under a spell! I'm better now!"
"Yeah. Right." and with that she lunged forward, chainsaw revved.
This scene has been cut from this fanfic due to it's graphic nature. Please be assured that it was a bloody scene full of revving chainsaws, yelping dogs, maniacal laughter, and doggy parts flying higgledy-piggledy through the air. Truly a gruesome sight and not the sort of thing one wants in a classic family story like this...ALL RIGHT, WE DON'T HAVE THE BUDGET OKAY?!
Daria knelt down and finished untying the boot. As she removed it, she watched it mold back into a slipper. The other boot followed quickly after. She went over to Glenda and set the slippers on the emaciated witch's feet. Glenda gave a sigh of relief as the shoes started to glow. Within moments, her whole body was glowing brighter and brighter. Soon, the light was too bright to look at. It lasted for a moment longer and then faded quickly. Daria uncovered her eyes and looked at the witch.
"Thank you Daria. For giving me exactly what I wanted." Sandi laughed. She stood in front of the couch wearing the slippers. Tiffany was next to her. "Once I get rid of you, I can destroy Quinn. She's been a thorn in my side for much too long." She raised her hand and shot a spark at Daria. Daria knew she had no protection with the slippers gone. She dove for the other side of the room. The spark hit the ground behind where she had been and ignited a cask of makeup.
She rolled as another spark came at her. This one left a black mark on the green floor. She grabbed a cask marked nail polish remover and threw it up at Sandi, who swatted at it. It shattered when her hand came into contact with it and the contents splashed over her and tiffany. Looking down in horror at the mess this caused with her outfit, Sandi started smoking. Her skin started to drip as a hissing sound filled the room. Tiffany started to shrink as her skin also started to drip.
Sandi looked up at Daria now as she had already lost a foot of height. Daria was holding a second barrel of nail polish remover. This one had the lid removed.
"NOOOOOOOOOOO!" Sandi screamed as the liquid was dumped on her and the rapidly melting Tiffany. "I'm melting! I'm melting! What a world! What a wooooooooorrrlllld!" Only moments later, all that remained of Sandi and Tiffany were pools of makeup.
The slippers sat in the middle of the pool shining. Daria reached down and picked them up. She walked over to the door, where the wizard was peaking around the corner. "How did you know?" he said.
"I knew she would melt. I just guessed that nail polish remover would do it. It's kind of ironic." Daria knelt down beside her sister who was beginning to stir. Quinn looked up at her and blinked like she had just woken up from a long nap.
"Are you ok?"
"Yes, but who are you?"
"Don't worry. I find that it's easier to ignore those questions." She helped her sister up and all three of them walked back down the stairs to the sound of hundreds of cheering munchkins and a revving chainsaw. A revving Chainsaw? No, it wouldn't be here...
The day was bright outside. The Machines had been stopped permanently and the rebuilding of Emerald City was in full swing. Daria, Jane and a still confused Quinn watched from on top of a hill. They had been unable to find Glenda, they guessed that she was one of the first victims of the extractor. The lion had come from his kingdom to witness the rebuilding. He had brought his family with him. He introduced them as the youth cream was fed to him. With every spoonful he swallowed, he looked better and better.
"This is my wife, Nasha." the lioness bowed to them and they awkwardly did the same, "My son, Tin," The small cub tried to bow graciously but ended up falling on his face, "and my oldest daughter, Stacy." Daria and Jane stared as the young lioness came forward and bowed. If it weren't for the ears, tail, whiskers, and fur, she would have been the spitting image of Stacy.
"What?" she looked at them. "Oh god! I have a piece of spinach in my teeth, don't I?" She ran away mortified.
Both girls looked at each other and gave a knowing smile.
It was a while before the wizard was ready to try and get them home. Daria was convinced this was not a dream any more, but Jane argued with her anyway.
"If this isn't a dream, why is Maurice here?"
"Cosmic coincidence." Daria retaliated without hesitation.
Quinn was happy to walk around behind them.
"Well girls, I think I have figured out a way for you all to go home." Said the wizard.
"How?" They said together.
"Hot air." he said with a smug look and a finger pointed up.
Above them was indeed a hot air balloon. It had an odd shape that they couldn't place until it had landed.
"Doesn't that hot air balloon look a lot like Kevin's head?" Jane said to Daria.
"Ironic, isn't it?"
"Well, hop in girls." said the wizard as the two munchkins piloting the balloon hopped out.
"Well, lets go." Jane said to Daria.
"Quinn, get in." She did without argument. Next, Jane and then Daria stepped into the basket.
"Well," said the wizard with a choked up sound, "That you for your help. I wish you luck in your journey home."
Daria wished them luck rebuilding their city and threw a pair of ruby slippers to the ground. the wizard picked them up and wiped a tear from his eye as they rose into the sky.
In the distance, the lion king, in full health once again, waved along with his family. Even farther back, they could see Trent on a stage playing his guitar with three more scarecrows accompanying him. He stopped to wave goodbye. They waved back.
Shortly afterward, they entered a bank of clouds so soft and comforting that Quinn fell immediately to sleep. Daria and Jane sat talking about the adventure that they had had. It was a a long conversation. When the talk died down and they simply stared at each other, they heard the tinkling of bells. Daria was the first to see that a bubble had appeared in the clouds and was floating next to them. She tapped Jane's shoulder and pointed.
"I take it you're Glenda." Daria said.
"Yes" said the ball.
"Where the hell have you been?" said Jane, "they're worried sick about you down there."
"I'm afraid I died at the hands of the three witches. I can only show myself once more before I move on. I just wanted to thank you for the help you have given the people of this land. You are truly brave."
"Thanks." Daria flushed.
"Yes, and now, the only way for you to get home is to fall asleep." said the ball.
"Fine. We'll sleep when we're," Jane yawned, "tired."
"That was fast." Daria said as her eyes drifted closed. Soon, they were both sound asleep...
Daria woke up with a start. She was still wearing the dress and was laying on Jane's bed. The sun was poking through the clouds and streaming into the window. Jane moaned and turned over in bed. She opened her eyes and looked around.
"See, I told you it was a dream." she said.
"What dream?" Daria looked at her friend.
"The whole wizard of oz dream."
"Then how did we both have the same dream?"
Later that night, Daria was dressed in her usual clothes again and was sitting on Jane's bed watching sick sad world.
Are the midgets in your town really from another planet? Munchkins from Mars, next on sick sad world.
Daria turned off the TV with a grimace just as Jane walked in from the basement with Maurice. She looked shocked.
"What's the matter?"
"Last night. I filled Maurice up so I could use him today. Now he only has half a tank."
"Yeah? So maybe your brother siphoned some into the Tank before they left for Lakeside."
"I thought about that, but then this was next to him." Jane held out her hand. In it was a small blue dog collar that looked as if it had been chewed through by a wild creature. The license tag read "Roger."
End Credits ending song is "We represent the lollypop guild" redone by the Violent Femmes...