my suitcase before he sucks us into whatever this thing is, but I’m dragged toward that door like I’m a rag doll, flying behind this strange dude, without any chance of breaking free.
Did he say, Monstrovia?
I grab the door handle and hang on. “I’m not going in there! Where’s my uncle?”
“Ye’ll be perfectly safe,” He’s yanking me through the door.
“I don’t think so!” I keep trying to pull away, but before I know it, I am inside and the door slams. “I’m not ‘special. I don’t belong here!”
He’s pulling me so fast I’m almost flying!
“We’re nearly there,” he shouts.
“Where?” I’m shook-up by the size of the inside of this thing. It is gargantuan! But that’s not what’s causing me to stare. He’s dragging me past the strangest creatures I’ve ever seen. There are snake-headed bipeds racing around. They look like they’re on roller skates! A trio of bearded gnomes in dark green vests give me a puzzled look, like I’m the ‘weirdo’. A knight rides by on a unicorn! “Am I dreaming?” I ask my ‘guide’, as I’m almost crushed by a giant frog-thing hopping over us. Froggie sticks his tongue out at me and hops into the crowd.
This can’t be for real? I’m in a different world. I don’t see one other human being. “WHERE ARE WE?” I try to make myself heard over the racket.
“I told ye before, Monstrovia.”
“I’ve never heard of it!”
“Shhh, Master Brodie.” Bumbernickle pauses before two bear-like creatures wearing tan uniforms, with badges that announce they are Monstrovia Security.
“We don’t need no more ‘Humans,” one growls, aiming a rifle with a pineapple shaped barrel at my face.
“’You’re a human,” Bumbernickle explains in a low voice.
“I know I am. This is ridiculous--”
“SILENCE!” The bear’s breath is like a blast of garlic. “You’re coming with us!” He grabs my arm. “WE DON’T LIKE YOU.”
Not five minutes in this crazy place and I’m in trouble! So what else is new? Isn’t that why I’m here? If I hadn’t gotten in trouble with Principal Feeney maybe Mom would have taken me to China with her.
“We don’t like humans,” the huge guard says as he drags me away.
I don’t like ‘whatever’ he is either.
I’m being arrested by these ‘goons’ when Silas pipes up. “Gentlemen….”
They look around to see who he means. I do too.
Bumber…whatever, whispers, “Fellow Monstrovians, have ye never heard of Jasper Doofinch, Esquire?”
The guards glance at each other and then at me. “Sorry, Mr. Doofinch, sir, we didn’t know it was you.” It’s like magic. They look terrified.
Now is not a good time to tell them I am not Mr. Doofinch, but his nephew. I guess my uncle must be super important if just the mention of his name sent these two hairy beasts into a ‘tizzy’.
“Don’t let it happen again,” Bumbernickle says, and pulls me past the guards before they can recover.
I can’t believe they didn’t arrest me. I let out a big breath of relief. Who knows what kind of monsters are in jail in Monstrovia? I hope they don’t come after me when they realize their mistake.
I am now in a cavern. The lights coming at me are the glowing eyes of more Monstrovians. They are all sorts, and everywhere, rushing at me like I’m in Times Square! I thought Uncle Jasper lived in Key West. This is definitely not it! This isn’t anywhere in America I know about.
“Here be your ‘chariot’, Master Brodie.”
I can hardly breathe as I stare at my… ‘chariot’? It looks like a yellow mushroom on three large wheels. “Is this your car?”
He gives another maniacal laugh, tosses my suitcase into the mushroom, and throws me inside before I can make a run for it. “Strap yerself in, Master Brodie. Safety first. It’s a jungle out there.”
That mushroom takes off like a rocket, knocking me almost out the window. “Hey, slow down!” I strap myself in and hold on.
“No time. Like I says, it’s a jungle out here!”
The roads are a jungle, a racetrack on ten levels crisscrossing the sky. The highways are alive with speeding vehicles, many resembling this maniac’s ‘mushroom’, but others even stranger. A huge, metal elephant-shaped ‘bus’, roars by with five octopus-creatures hanging on to tall spikes on its top. “Get out of the way, slow-poke,” the elephant shouts.
I turn away, afraid to look, as we zip around these ‘vehicles’ while they zip around us. I’m in a crazy video game, bouncing around, about to crash and burst into a million molecules at any instant…with no extra lives!
“We’re ‘ere,” Bumbernickle blasts, minutes later. He slams on the brakes catapulting me nearly off the seat, even with the belts on. “Dis ‘ere is de grand ‘ome of Mr. Jasper Doofinch, Esquire!” He scurries to my door and pulls it open.
“Do I have to pay you for that ride?” I ask, trying to find my stomach.
“Glad you enjoyed it, but no need. Yer uncle is a respected man in dese parts. E’s a ero!”
“’Ero? Do you mean ‘hero’?”
He shakes his head so hard I think it is going to fall off. “Exactly, Master Brodie, E’s a ‘ero!”
Mom called Uncle Jasper a hero too, just before she left for her new job in China…right after she popped out I was going to spend my summer with my Uncle Jasper in a suburb of Key West. Some suburb! Inside a buoy?
“Who?” I asked when she first hit me with this unwelcome news.
“Your uncle Jasper. I told you about him a thousand times.”
“No, you didn’t!”
“Of course, I did.”
“No, you didn’t.” I knew almost nothing about this so-called uncle of mine. The truth is Mom never talked about her brother, except after some of our fights. Then she’d grumble, “Your Uncle Jasper is just like you. He loves to argue. Only he’s successful at it!”
“Now out ye get, Master Brodie.” the mad driver yanks me out of the mushroom. “Yer Uncle is a fine man. You’ll soon get over his …er…‘peculiarities’.”
‘Peculiarities’? How much more ‘peculiar’ can Mom’s brother be than this character? “Sir, could you take me back to the airport? I’ll pay you by mail when I get back to New York?” I must be desperate to ride in this maniac’s ‘car’ again.
He lets out another maniacal laugh and guns his motor. “Good luck, boy!”
Doesn’t anything move slowly around here? I’m alone in the middle of ‘nowhere’. But ‘nowhere’ is Monstrovia. I don’t know where it is, so how can I find my way back?
I hear a strange screeching noise and my eyes shoot up to the sky. Almost hidden by the sun, I spy a long black flying serpent. It’s heading in my direction.
I have to get indoors, but I don’t like the looks of the red brick building I’ve been dumped at by that maniac, Bumbernickle. It could be a prison, three stories tall, thick black bars on the windows, and a tall black fence with spear tips ringing the perimeter. The spiked tips of the fence remind me of the spears knights used to fight dragons. Dragons? I’m letting my imagination run wild, but no way do I want to find out what else might be lurking at night in Monstrovia.
The serpent is getting closer. I feel the wind stirred up by its huge black wings. I have no choice. I pull at the gate and it opens easily. Seeing more serpents, I drag my suitcase on a brick path toward a gargantuan pair of doors.
A plate on the wall by the doors catches my eye. It reads in large, black, letters:
J.D. Doofinch, Esq.
Defender of Monsters, Fictional Folk, Etc.
Below it, I see in much smaller print,
Monsterlish spoken here.