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The plasma cannon whined. A glow appeared down in the depths of the barrel.

Dusty and Anita both turned to run at the same second. They both tripped over each other's feet at the same time. Anita went down first, though, twisting and landing on her back. Dusty landed on top of her, barely keeping his face from crashing into hers.

It seemed like the time for some famous last words; something chiseled from wisdom; pithy and quoteable.

Instead, he said: "Lucky you, I'll be the last thing you see." He hoped his smirk was somehow endearing.

Anita's response was a garbled, but purposeful phrase that followed her outstretched hand over Dusty's back just as the plasma cannon's whine erupted into a roar.

Dusty kept his eyes on her face. Best to go out with a vision of beauty, he figured. Her features were stern and... moving. He blinked. He wasn't dead!

"Will you get up already?" she snarled testily. Dusty rolled over to see the plasma blast floating in mid-air and Mickey standing behind it, dumbfounded. Dusty rolled to his feet and charged the mouse. Mickey fired his net at him, but Dusty was too close for the thing to open. It thunked into his chest, forcing the air out of his lungs and stopping him dead in his tracks.

For a moment, time seemed to freeze. No one in the room moved. The steam even seemed to lose interest in wafting around.

Suddenly, Anita grunted. The plasma blast was creeping closer to her. Mickey turned and ran. Dusty finally managed to suck in a lungful of air and dropped to the floor.

Anita got up and stepped out of the path of the blast, then lowered her arm. The ball of energy slammed into the ground where they had been laying just moments before and broke apart. Chains of crackling energy scattered across the floor and found an enormous water pump. The machine fizzled and exploded, filling the room with steam again. A few other arcs of the plasma energy crawled up the decorative column Dusty had been trying to decipher. Just before the gouts of steam blocked his view of it, Dusty saw the column crack apart and pieces of it fall away.

"Come on!" Anita said, trying to help Dusty up. Breathing was agonizing and the idea of running made his ribs want to splinter (if they weren't already). They shuffled quickly out of the room, watching for Mickey as they went.

Behind them, the radio Dusty had taken from the character guard crackled again as the column crumbled and the room followed it to the floor. "This is an all-security alert. Repeat. An all-security alert. We have major damage to electrical and hydraulic systems. All maintenance crews are to report to central operations. Security is to keep all park guests calm and be on the lookout for abnormal activity- KKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKSSSSSSSSSSSSS-"


The three holy men and their wives looked around, bewildered.

"Well, we got clouds," said the Episcopalian minister.

"And there are the Pearly Gates, per scripture" the Baptist preacher said.

"And look," said the Lutheran minister. "There's a podium. But nobody's behind it."

The Baptist wife looked to the Episcopalian wife and choked down a sob. "Have mercy," she said. "Did we die? Where's the Winnebago? The traffic? Did we even get to Florida?"

"I remember a semi..." the Lutheran wife said, scrunching up her eyes. "It got stuck under the overpass right in front of us... we were right behind it..."


Jesus scuffed up the tops of the clouds as he ascended the podium and beheld a great book before him. It was closed.

"Peter, thine refusal to even leaveth open The Great Book of Life saddens me." He sighed and opened it, trying to figure out where Peter had left off. "Nay to bookmarks and dog-ears, too? The hand of my Father is to be inferred here." The Savior looked up to find six people standing before him.

"You... you're not Peter," the Baptist preacher said. "You're... Jesus H. Christ!"

"Thine eyes deceive thee not," Jesus said, pushing up his green peace glasses. "Though I am unfamiliar with the middle initial." Looking back down at the book, Jesus found the stories of the six souls before him magically printed up. "Ah," he said.

The Episcopalian minister threw himself down before Jesus. "Jesus!" he beseeched. "We have been in a terrible accident and were torn from our world prematurely. We ask that you look kindly on us and grant us entrance into the kingdom of God."

"Hmmmm," said Jesus, reading. "I know not, Preacher Wilson. The Book, which doth not lie, says that thee drank to excess on an almost daily basis."

"It's true, Lord, I am a sinner."

Jesus continued. "In fact, thou lovest to drink. More than anything else in the world. So much so that you married a woman named Sherry!"

The Episcopalian wife gasped, covering her mouth, but not blocking the sob of shame. "Harold!"

"I fear there is no room in Heaven for one who loveth the bottle over the Lord. I shall be merciful, though, and let your wife stay with you. Down thy goest."

And with that, a trap door swallowed the Episcopalian minister and his wife. The Baptist preacher was next in line and he was sweating bullets.

"Doctor Beauregard, thou harborest a terrible secret, even past the hour of thy death."

The preacher's head dropped. His wife screeched in shock and horror.

"Thou were a luster of money. A gambler. An embezzler. A tax defrauder. Thy love of money was so great, thy even stole from the Church and married a woman named Penny!"

"Yes, Jesus! It's all true! I beg you for mercy!"

"Then thy shall keep thine wife as well. Down thy goest."

The wife started: "But I didn't do anythi-", but the trap door swallowed them both up.

Jesus scanned ahead in the book and looked up over his glasses at the Lutheran minister, who simply nodded and spoke somberly to his wife.

"Well, I'm glad you're still dressed for a warm climate, Fanny, because I don't think we have a chance here."


Dusty looked at himself in the restroom mirror. The general dirt and grime was gone. He pulled up his shirt, wincing as his traumatized muscles flexed upwards, revealing the steadily darkening discoloration in the center of his chest that would be an incredibly ugly and painful bruise by tonight.

A kid in mouse ears was standing behind him, holding a helium mouse-ear balloon and scowling at the bruise.

"Don't go on the It's a Small World ride," Dusty said. "Those little Holland people have real wooden shoes."

The kid blanched and ran outside. Dusty followed him a few moments later and found Anita waiting with a beehive of cotton candy.

"So, why don't you tell me who you really are and what we're really doing while I eat half of that," Dusty suggested, pulling off some of the candy.

"I'd rather not," she answered, filling her mouth with pink sugary sweetness.

"Yeah, I bet. But if you don't, I'm off this hunt and I'm taking everything I got off that column with me."

She sighed. Dusty couldn't read her eyes through her sunglasses, but maybe she was doing the same thing he was-watching the obtuse number of security personnel walk around nonchalantly, like there were always this many of them out in the park.

"Look," he said calmly, trying to give the general impression of don't look here, Mr. Officer, Sir. "I took a rocket to the chest for this. I think my ribs may be broken or splintered. If you have super powers you should tell me about them and use them more often."

She cackled at that. "Super powers? There are stranger things in Heaven and earth than are dreamt of in comic books."

"Like what?"

She looked around at the crowd and Dusty half-expected her to make some excuse about privacy... but she didn't.

"I'm a sorceress," she said simply.

Dusty answered quickly to keep her off-balance. "I guessed that already. Does this mean you're not from Cuba?"

"No. I am from Cuba."

"You don't appear to be in need of a Fountain of Youth."

"I'm not. But I have to protect it, wherever it is."

"I thought the Cartoon Jihad down there was doing that."

"They're no match for the people after the fountain. They're mortals."

"Yeah. With plasma-blasting nano-technology!"

"The people I'm talking about are more powerful than anything you've ever witnessed."

"Careful. You underestimate my have-seen list yet again."

"I'm not sure how they're doing it. Their activities are limited on this plane. They have mortal agents which those guys could take care of, if they even knew what the actual threat was... The bottom line is: we have to find the fountain before the... others."


"I didn't say that."

"Anybody who needs "mortal agents" to operate "in this plane" is an immortal. That, I know for a fact. Now are you going to tell me who these immortals are we're trying to stop, why they need a Fountain of Youth or, even better, who YOU work for?"

Anita opened her mouth several times, but nothing came out. Finally, she ate another mouthful of cotton candy just to re-center her thoughts. "I can't tell you," she said. "It's forbidden. I just can't. That's why I had to hide my powers up to now. I was hoping you'd be able to get us there without me having to use them."

"Well, maybe I could have if I'd known what I was up against."

Anita nodded. They ate quietly for a few minutes and watched Security bust a couple of potheads smoking behind the bathrooms. Dusty thought of imp #420 as Anita continued.

"There are other sorcerers working with them. They're mortal. There are gods among them, though."

A smile worked across Dusty's face. "That's okay," he said. "I know a few sorcerers, gods and goddesses of my own."

"Low-key," she cautioned. "I only went to you because we have to find it before we can defend it."

"They can be low-key. With an all-security alert out, they'll have to be, right?"

Now that, Dusty thought, sounded like famous last words.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 11th, 2002 08:32 pm (UTC)

*sputters some unintelligible gibberish*


damn, Dusty, where do I sign up for the monthly newsletter, cuz DAMN, you (and forgive the slang) gotz serious skillz!


I damn near fell off my chair laughing at the Pearly Gates portion, too. But ultimately, my fave line was Careful. You underestimate my have-seen list yet again. Priceless, man.

Congrats, love your work, as always.
Dec. 11th, 2002 10:39 pm (UTC)


*scuffs shoe modestly*

Dec. 11th, 2002 09:17 pm (UTC)
Fabulous as always. As if there were any doubt.

The Heaven part had me cracking up.. I was afraid I'd wake someone up! lol

Low Key.. rofl.. yeah.. I can just see that..lol
Dec. 11th, 2002 10:58 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I know lots of church jokes. Maybe I'll be able to adapt more of them if they fit as well as this one did (in my opinion).

"Low key"... yup. An invitation to disaster.

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


The Isle of AIWL

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