I’m serializing my fairy tale novel, Tickling Butterflies. A new fairy tale ‘episode’ is published every Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday.
Here’s the story so far.
And now the fairy tales begin to change:
The Man in the Mountain
(Containing the powerful tale of the king’s journey into an unknown land.)
Here begins the tale of the Land of No Respect and its secrets, as discovered by King John the Cute upon his voyage there.
King John the Cute was on a quest to save the Land of All Legends, a quest that could only be solved if he discovered the hidden secrets of the land. Upon learning that the Land of No Respect was an island about which little was known, upon learning that it held some deep magical powers that could stop kings, he climbed aboard his friend, the cloud Chariot, and was whisked away to the island.
There, in the air, he and Chariot were greeted by Fanny the Farting Pheasant, who made both king and cloud pass the same test King Charming the First had passed ages ago.
Slowly, Chariot descended upon the island. Even from above, it was clear that the island was rather small, and consisted of a town to one side and a large mountain to another. Even from afar, caves could be seen in the mountains. The sands upon the shore, the town, and even the lower part of the mountain were all colored in a strange, creamy whitish color.
Chariot descended towards the seashore, and came to rest above the sea, only part of him resting atop the creamy sands. There Chariot said he would wait for the king, but that if Chariot was ever needed for a quick rescue, the king would only have to yell, and the Wind will carry his voice to Chariot.
King John the Cute took one step on the shore of the Land of No Respect, slipped, flipped in the air, and fell on his bottom, almost breaking a couple of bones. The creamy sands were not sands at all, but some kind of froth that rested atop the sands.
On a whim, King John the Cute tasted the froth, and learned that it was whipped cream. Although the mystery of why an entire island would be covered by whipped cream plagued him, he came to his feet, and quite carefully began to walk.
A feeling deep inside him told the king that he should head for the mountain, with its caves, and not for the town. Listening to his feeling, the king gingerly walked up the mountain. There, he met a naughty boy, a field of flowers, a weapons factory, and four other strange creatures. Whenever each of these heard who he was and what he wanted, they begged him not to go inside the mountain.
King John the Cute headed into the mountain.
There, hidden deep within the caves, yet somehow in the light of day, King John the Cute saw an old man sitting on a chair carved out of the mountain’s rocks.
“At last!” said the old man. “At last someone from the outside world!”
“Hello, old man,” said King John the Cute. “My name is King John the Cute. I come to—”
“I know who you are and why you are here,” the old man said. “From this vantage point, I can see and hear everything interesting that goes on on this island.” He raised a weakened, trembling finger and pointed.
King John the Cute followed the old man’s trembling finger, and saw that one of the caves looked straight down into the town itself and at the surrounding land, as well. Strange glasses of magnifying effect have been placed in the mountain, allowing the old man to see and hear everything in the town. Each glass magnified another piece of land. And one, King John the Cute saw plainly, covered the path he had followed up the mountain. This is how the old man had known who he was, and this was the reason light filled the caves.
“My name is Benjamin Miller,” said Benjamin Miller. “Welcome to the Land of No Respect. You are clearly a powerful and influential legend on a quest of discovery. Do you know…” he hesitated. “Do you know what this place is?”
“I do not,” said King John the Cute. “I have learned very little coming here. All I know is that this place has strange rules and regulations that are magically enforced.”
“That is true,” said Benjamin Miller. “But that is not what I meant. Do you know what this place is, what everything is?”
King John the Cute did not understand the question.
Benjamin Miller whispered to him, “We are in a story.”
“I do not understand. Do you mean you have a story? I would like to hear it.”
“Oh, I have many stories to tell. But that is not what I meant. King John the Cute, the Land of All Legends is not what you think it is, nor are any of the creatures in it what you think they are. You are all inside a story. You are all inside someone else’s story.”
“Do you mean that I am part of your story? It seems that I am part of your story and you are part of my story.”
“No, no, no!” Benjamin Miller shook with frustration. “You are inside someone else’s story. Someone who isn’t here, in the Land of All Legends.”
“I do not understand.”
“No, why would you?” the old man seemed defeated. “I have been alive for hundreds of years, and no one has ever understood me. Go, go your own way. You cannot rescue me. No one can get me out of the story.”
“Wait, wait. Please. I am here to learn the secrets of the Land of All Legends. I must learn what no one else understands. I want to understand the things you have said.”
The old man sighed. “Very well. I shall try one last time. I will tell you the story of the happiest place in the Land of All Legends: the Land of No Respect. And I will tell you the story of the saddest man in the Land of All Legends: Benjamin Miller. Because it is the same story. Are you listening? Good. Then I shall begin.”
This has been the powerful story of how John the Cute met the saddest man in the happy Land of All Legends, and how that man began to tell his tale.
(To be continued on Thursday…)