Chapter 9

A Pen in the Dark


As the rain poured down on Limburger, Weary labored to reattach the gate to the town's cheesy walls.  “Ah, that should do it,” he mumbled to himself.  “With these new boards it's much stouter than it used to be.”   He took a small step back to admire his work as a lightning bolt crashed into the woods outside the walls, giving him a start.   Just as the following thunderclap exploded through the air, the new gate came crashing down upon him and in rode four hack writers consumed in inky blackness.  The thick glasses on their black ponies magnified the nearly blind lava red eyes of the steeds as they trampled the newly repaired gate and bounded into the streets of Bree.  

Feeling the need for stealth, the hack writers dismounted shortly before they reached the inn.  They tied their ponies to a rail and took the glasses from their snouts to place them on their own heads, thus bolstering their own failing vision.  Silently the monstrosities skulked to the inn in their black summer attire.  All was quiet on their arrival.  The only sounds that could be heard came from the kitchen where the clanking of dishes drowned out the low rumbling snores of Butter-Rum and his bouncers.

Through the common room and down the hallway to the sleeping quarters they slunk in an inky fog.  At each door they paused, raising their eraserlike shields to obliterate the stout wood and produce a viewing window.  When satisfied that no Stubbie was in the room they moved down the hall to the next door.   At the third room they spied their prey.  The four hack writers turned to face each other.  The head writer lowered his glasses to the tip of his nose, as his jagged typewriter key teeth tapped out the word B a g g y p a n t s and the letters fell to the floor with a thud.  The other three then chimed in together, B a g g y p a n t s  :-)   and the word once again fell to the floor only to have its fall cushioned by the smiley-face emoticon.  The hack writers filed into the room, closing the door behind them.  Upon sight of the sleeping Stubbies, the jammed keys that filled their mouths twisted and tried to unstick themselves as the foul poets attempted  unnerving smiles.  Each one approached a slumbering victim and raised its fountain pen to the forehead.  Tip, tap, tip, tip, tap resounded through the room as the hack writers recited a gutteral prayer too profane to be documented in this work.  They held their pens to their brows and prayed for what seemed like minutes as they waited for the head writer to give the command to kill. 

Suddenly there was a deafening knock on the door and the voice of Barleywine Butter-Rum bellowed, “This is your 6:00 AM wake up call.  Rise and shine!”

The Stubbies awoke to the sight of the four hack writers preparing to write a new chapter in their lives  as they hovered above.  They screamed, leapt from the beds, and climbed out the window, running out into the early morning gloom.  “A i e e e e,” the hack writers typed, as they scrambled through the portal after the Stubbies.   Alarms sounded throughout Bree, awakening the population to the sight of four pudgy Stubbies leading four black-attired  bespectacled Stubbie-like monsters on a foot chase back and forth throughout the town while squirting profuse amounts of ink from their weaponized pens.  The chase continued on past Stubbie first breakfast.  Early-morning runners that happened to be in the way were knocked over like bowling pins, which brought cheers from an audience of early risers.  To some onlookers it even seemed as though the Stubbies were, at times, pursuing the hack writers. 

After running out of ink the hack writers ended their futile pursuit and returned to their ponies.  They put the glasses back on the steeds, mounted, and retreated towards the destroyed gate, trampling over it just as Weary had recovered and was about to climb out from beneath. 

Seated on a bench outside the Overburdened Pony, Hans Oleo and his bigfoot friend, Gummy, were enjoying the spectacle.  

“Urrrooarrr!” howled the bigfoot.

“I remember that, Gummy”, retorted Oleo.  “That scene in Raiders where I shot the ninja as he went through his dumb ninja gyrations is pretty similar to the scene in the Stubbie bedroom.   I don't know why the hack writers didn't just walk in and slice up the poor Stubbies while they had the chance instead of going through all that prayer nonsense or whatever it was.   I wonder if they learned something from this experience.  Oh well, it's not our movie, Gummy.”

Back inside the bedroom Jogger and the Landfill Stubbies, who had been relieved of their kitchen duties, surveyed the room.  “I'd say we dodged a bullet here this morning,” commented Jogger, who had lost all interest in finding the bigfoots.  “We'd better get out of town before the hack writers regroup and come after us full force.  I'll get us some provisions and transportation for the trip.  You go tell Butter-Rum.”

Jam looked out the window at the bigfoot and his companion.  He confided in his Stubbie friends, “You know, that Hans Oleo is a fascinating character.  Quite god-like in stature.  I wonder if he's any relation to Tom Cholesteroleo.”

Copyright 2013, John Keefe

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