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HOMEWARD BOUND

The dank room seemed to create an even more bitter impression of the day, and the smell produced images of horrors beyond belief. "I cannot believe it." Said a man sitting in the corner of the room. "I just cannot believe it." The day had not been a good one: The great T. G. Taft had been transformed from the ruler of a kingdom to a mere prisoner in his own jail. The man sighed. "I hate to do something against my own son, but, yet, I have no choice. Jonathan Pierce must have done something to his mind." But what could this man do? He had no Tiara, no friends that believed in him...no characters left.... He had to get his head together; he had to find an answer; he had to get...

Far above this dank place, T. G. Taft the II and his new bride, Kkir, laughed in the former headquarters of his father. Taft mumrured, "Oh my dear, I feel so good. All this land...all this wealth...and," he took a deep breath, "you."

"Yes, darling, and the Tiara."

"Oh, yes, of course: The Tiara."

Slosh Gorshkin the II began to search the bottom floor of the second of the Taft Towers: He was looking for his boss T. G. Taft. "I don't get it," he mumbled to himself, "what exactly was wrong with the other Taft, anyhow? He looked okay to me. And how the heck did that little 'boy' grow up so big so fast? And how...." Suddenly he came to the Taft garbage dump, and a thin piece of paper caught his eye. It was an old letter, and, talking a keen look over his shoulder to make sure no one was watching, Slosh opened it:

Dear Mr. Taft,

I recently recieved a "message" from you that I totally disliked. I have restrained myself from doing serious damage to you, but my anger is burning severely. Unless I recieve from you the Tiara of Phumos, I will destroy you, your possessions, and every single one of your puny little characters.

Thank you for sharing your time with me, and I have enjoyed this chance to chat with you. I hope that we may have the chance to do it sometime again.

                             Yours Truly,

                       Adena, the Enchantress of Furanose

"That's it!" exclaimed Slosh Gorshkin II. "I bet that Adena person took my real boss!" Off he sped: Off to find a Sworshk to take him to Furanose.

"I think I get the idea." Said Iffley, after gaining entrance through the mirror. "Odd device. Adena was smart to install it. I figured it out, of course, but a good safety device nonetheless. Oh well, I shall just leave the Shard here and be getting back home: Jonathan left a long time ago." Before he could leave, however, he heard a rush from outside, and, through the window, came a Sworshk with Slosh Gorshkin II riding him. "Where is T. G. Taft?" Slosh screamed at him. Iffley looked perplexed; he knew of nothing about Mr. Taft. But then he looked at the strange man, and decided to playa joke on the young feller, just for fun. He took the shard that was in his hands and threw it at the dashing figure on the Sworshk. Surprised by this, Slosh did the obvious thing: He caught the flying object. As soon as he touched it, however, he grew into a daze and remembered something he had been happy to forgot a long time ago:

The night cooled serenely as the winds abated the heat of the afternoon. The crowd cheered with each step that Slosh Gorshkin took toward the noose: All except one man, that is. The lonely figure slumped beneath the rest of the crowd and cryed along with his father. He slowly watched his daddy's final steps, and cried with every single footstep that he heard. Then it happened: Slosh's head was inserted into the noose, the boards beneath him were released, the rope tightened, and...the boy knew he would never see his father again...

Suddenly Slosh Gorshkin II awoke to the present. "Daddy!" He screamed. "No!"

Iffley snickered as Slosh Gorshkin II flew out of the window, throwing the shard behind him. He went and picked up the small item: Little did the wizard know that he had just freed the world's greatest author.

T. G. Taft II held tighter the struggling Kkir as they embraced even more. "Oh!" He said. "Heaven." Then, all of a sudden, the door burst open. The two of them looked up, and saw Slosh Gorshkin II standing in their bedroom. "What do you want?" Screamed Taft. "That!" Replied Slosh, taking the Tiara off of Kkir's head and holding it tightly. Before either of them could do a thing, Slosh Gorshkin II disappeared before their very eyes.

The night cooled serenely as the winds abated the heat of the afternoon. The crowd cheered with each step that Slosh Gorshkin took toward the noose. But it was all for naught: Suddenly a strange man appeared right in front of them, and grabbed their prisoner around the waist. Then, even before they could say, "Hey!" the two of them disappeared into nothingness.

Father and son reappeared right where son had been just seconds before: In T. G. Taft II's bedroom. As the two of them appeared, Slosh Gorshkin II calmly said to the man that he had rescued, "Daddy. You're back." He tried to hug the man, but before he could, Slosh Gorshkin looked around and saw Kkir there. "Mmmm. Dinner." With one big gulp, Kkir was gone, and all that remained was a bloody hump of goo.

"No!" shrieked T. G. Taft II. "NO!!!" He was about to reach up and strangle the killer, but he decided against it when he saw those bloody lips and that evil grin which seemed to say "finger licking good." He partially regained his stature, and said calmly to Slosh Gorshkin II, "Put him back where he belongs."

"No: Daddy..."

"First, take him down to the Lab and give him a stomach pump. Then put him back: If he is not back where he belongs, time will change; Me, and even you, may not be here unless he dies on schedule."

Slosh Gorshkin II looked at his daddy, and somehow the image of his father dimmed when he saw his face: That face that reminded him of his long line of sick relatives. With a long hesitation, Slosh II left the room and took his relaxed father to the Taft lab. A stomach pump was initiated; Slosh was then returned to his son. A hesitating Slosh Gorshkin II then grabbed his father and the Tiara tightly; they disappeared: And he returned a second later all alone.

Without Kkir, T. G. Taft II was hurt severely: But he slowly gained some of his real senses back and ordered his father out of jail. He changed everything back the way it was before he took over, and then departed to the Taft Lab, where he remained for a long time. T. G. Taft watched his son leave. "I guess we're all suckers for women," he said as he studied the huge map of the world that lay on one wall. "And, you know, someday I must venture southward." A knowing grin appeared on his face. Then he noticed his intercom sitting beside him, and he snickered beneath his breath. "Oh, Susan!" He said, with a sly ring in his voice. Susan Smith the IV walked in the room, holding her note pad tightly within her arms.

"What do you want?" She said gruffly.

"Go clean out the Guardsworshk cages." Said Taft, with a gleam in his eye.

Susan looked at him, hoping for a repeal. He stared into her pleading face, and replied in a demanding voice, "Now." Susan stormed out of the room, cursing as she left. T. G. Taft leaned back in his beautiful custom-made chair. "It's good to be home." He said, closing his eyes. "Yes. It's good to be home."


 © 1984, 

L. Charles, D. Conrad, A. Duncan, Enad the Great, J. Pierce, B. C. Randolf, and T. G. Taft

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