Chapter 3(A): A Night at the Trench-Maze

With their lusty desires filled and their sunflower seeds husked, the travelers make their way to some quick-woods nearby. They efficiently string up some make-shift hammocks in a large oak tree, where they spent a comfortable night. They’re awoken from their slumber the following day by the sounds of carnival rides and the smell of fresh cotton candy. They quickly pack up their precious hammock materials and descend the tree. Once grounded, they find themselves in the middle of a festival, which upon further investigation, turned out to be in their honor. Festivals not really being their bag, they respectfully decline many offers to enter pie eating contests, three legged races and egg tosses. They elect to head toward the backside of the festival, where a rock stage was set up. It appeared a show was going to begin shortly. Amongst all the smiling faces they see, whom other than their dear friend Oracle Webb. He was posted up on a dainty picnic blanket, sipping on a wine-coolie, under a beach umbrella.

“Oracle Webb!” Levon and Axel yell out.

The Oracle motions the two over to his stereo-typically feminine picnic area. Axel and Levon make their way to him. “What’s going on with the stage and the crowd? Fixin’ to put on a little rock and roll show?” Levon asks, curiously.

It’s been a long time since I rock and rolled.” Axel states. Levon, in complete understanding of the reference, nods his head.

Yea, I can’t believe they got the Ataris to play here. Essentially, they do a marvelous cover of ‘Boys of Summer’.” Oracle Webb says.

That’s great and all, but I don’t know if we got the time to stick around for that.” Axel says, impatiently.

That’s too bad, but I was hoping I’d run into ya’ll at the festival so I could give you something that I feel may be of use to you on your journey to the Capital City.” The Oracle Webb reaches into the deep pockets of his pleated pants and pulls out two elegant felt covered ring boxes, and hands them to Axel and Levon.

Ohhh, rings…” Axel looks disappointed.

They’ve been in my family for generations. Whoever dons these rings will be granted the power of becoming invisible on demand. I feel this blessing will be invaluable to youse on your journey.” The Oracle Webb says.

Oooo…Yeaaahhh…” Axel clenches his teeth and begins pushing Webb’s offering back his way. “Awfully kind of you but, we’re just not that into the whole wearing rings thing.”

Yeaaahhh…uhhh…We like bracelets though! Got anything bracelet-wise?” Levon asks.

Oh…Alright then…Well I got a couple bracelets made out of gimp that my niece made in summer camp a few years back. I think they grant toe stubbing immunity, not sure how those will come in handy though.” Webb says.

We’ll take the bracelets!” Levon exclaims with excitement.

Hey, is there any chance your niece is hot?” Axel asks.

Well, essentially, she is only 17.” Webb responds, clearly offended at the inappropriate question.

Axel turns to Levon and says, “That’s what I’m talking about!” They then exchange cool fives right in front of Oracle Webb.

Okay then, good luck.” Webb says with discontent.

With their new fashion accessories, they grab their packs and start heading toward their show-raptors at the edge of the town. On the way, they are approached by a group of soiled doves that offer them a “free-ride”. They kind-heartedly turn them away, since they had to prioritize their time (although they were fine hookers).

Un-phased, and with a whole bunch of boondagoes (money), they moseyed on down to the Joe Walsh Memorial General Store, to stock up on the bare essentials for the next part of their journey. Just outside of town, they strap up the goods to their show-raptors. They both look at each other and yell out “ROAD TRIP”. In eighties montage fashion, they mount their show-raptors and set off north into the desert with the song “Philadelphia Freedom” by Elton John playing.

Hours into the desert, and having listened to “Philadelphia Freedom” and “Born To Be Wild” seven times a piece, the eighties montage had faded away and the blistering sun began to set in. Axel had waited as long as possible to dip into their reserve supplies, but having finished up his unsatisfying iced coffee, he asks Levon for some drink.

Damn ice coffees, they never quench my desert thirst, why do we always buy these?” Axel asks, as he tosses an empty Dunkin Donuts cup.

I don’t know man.” Levon replies, taking a sip out of a clear half-glass.

You seemed to be satisfied over there, what you got there in that glass?” Axel asks.

Nothing for you.” Levon says, as he takes the last swig out of his cup. “You should have planned ahead.” He slides off his raptor to refill his half-glass from a large wooden barrel strapped to his raptor’s back.

Dude, that’s bullshit, you’ve been drinking that shit for the last hour.” Axel jumps off his raptor and heads over to the barrel to snag a taste. He pushes his way past a sloppy Levon and positions his head under the tap and opens the lever. Axel quickly spits out the mysterious elixir and shouts, “Is this Scotch, you buffoon?!”

Scotch? This is the best scotch money can buy, 40 years aged in Joe Walsh’s basement.” Levon slurs.

I can’t believe you’ve been drinking alcohol this whole time.” Axel says with disgust.

I’m so thirsty.” Levon drunkenly replies.

Of course you are, you’re drunk. We have to sober you up. What do we have for snacks?” Axel questions.

Oh you want some treats, check this shit out.” Levon reaches into his rucksack and pulls out a long salty pretzel rod.

Pretzel rods man? We’re in the fucking desert. I told you to buy fruit and beef jerky, not a salty dry baked snack.” Axel screams, now completely enraged.

What dude? I got a whole bag of them, real cheap.” Levon lifts up his bag to show an overflow of super salty pretzels.

Give me some of those and get on your raptor. We have to get through this desert before we die from dehydration.” Axel sticks out his hand, begrudgingly.

Levon hands Axel a handful and says, “Alright, but be careful, they’re really dry.”

After hours of riding through relentless heat, munching on pretzel rods and sipping on fine scotch, they begin to lose their wit.

Dammit, I’ve never been so uncomfortable before.” Levon says, as their raptors come to a complete halt.

What the fuck is this?” Axel asks.

Puzzled, they look at each other and swing off their raptors, walking to the front of their dinos in an attempt to pull them forward. They lean back with the raptor’s reigns in their hands, hoping to coax them into continuing on. Nothing seemed to be working. Unbeknownst to Axel and Levon, there was a large crack under-foot, which began to give way as they were throwing temper tantrums in front of their raptors. The raptors reared up, and the ground beneath them crumbled. There was only enough time for Axel to grab his tomahawk from the side of his ride, as they plummeted into a deep fissure. The last thing they remembered was the sight of their precious raptors running off, all by their lonesome.

Slowly regaining consciousness, our heroes awake at the bottom of the fissure, with extremely sore fingertips.

Hey man, do your fingertips hurt?” Levon asks.

Yeah, real bad. I think those things have something to do with it.” Axel points to a cackle of slimy shadow-creatures.

Oh shit, you know what those are dude?…Those are Durbies, or Durbi, if you will” Levon says.

Durbies, or Durbi (as they are referred to when in a pack, which they often run in), are sneaky little shadow dwellers. They tend to avoid direct sunlight, since they are embarrassed of their disgusting bodies, facial features and buck teeth, as they should be. They are infamous for biting fingertips and wearing open dragon kimonos.

Axel and Levon simply ‘shoo’ the spineless Durbies away, and take to their feet.

What the hell is this place, man?” Axel asks.

Levon takes a good hard (look) around and suddenly says, “Oh boy…”

What?” quickly responds Axel.

I reckon this could be… a trench-maze.” Levon says, disheartened.

And what the hell would that be?” Axel asks.

A trench-maze dude, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A damn maze, that is in a trench. My crazy uncle told me about these on one of our hunting trips. He also gave me this dagger!” Levon says, as he whips out his trusty dagger.

Okay, so how are we supposed to get out of here?” Axel asks.

I don’t know, he didn’t tell me that. Isn’t this dagger sweet though?” Levon says, admiring his piece.

Honing their senses to the new surroundings, Axel and Levon both pick up the faint sound of running fluids.

Is the sound of that fluid making you have to piss?” Axel asks.

Yeah, absolutely.” Levon replies.

After relieving themselves in a safe corner, keeping an eye out for the tip-nibbling Durbies, their intense dehydration drives them to investigate this strange fluid-like sound. Clumsily making their way through the trench-maze, they unknowingly fall victim to several rusty Tuscan-Raider traps. Levon is now scooting down the hall with a rusty bear trap on his ankle, and Axel is limping with a broad-tip arrow in his side. The duo seemed to be slightly inconvenienced by them.

With dwindling patience, Axel shouts, “I just want a goddamn drink right now!”

I know, this is fucking ridiculous man. I’m so thirsty, I keep forgetting about this crazy bear trap digging into my ankle.” Levon says.

Frustrated and riddled with tetanus, the two decide to take a chance on squeezing through a small doorway they suddenly stumbled upon. As they emerge on the other side , they are taken back by what they find. It was a large, open room, with elegant stone carvings. It was also extremely tastefully decorated (even by their standards).

This immaculate room was adorned with elaborate Persian rugs and elegant curtains, made from the finest velvet they had ever seen. Between the curtains, on every wall, were magnificent marble busts of legendary musician and bad-ass, David Bowie. While admiring the opulent surroundings, a violent slam comes from behind them; they turned to notice the door from which they entered the room was now closed up tight, like an oyster (oyster-tight). Levon drags himself, and his bear trap accessory, over to the freshly sealed door and gives it a push. Although he is a very physically impressive man, he is unable to budge it. “Looks like we’re fucked, this shit ain’t moving.”

While Levon was investigating the door situation, Axel’s attention was drawn toward a large stone statue of the multi-award-winning, triple platinum singer-songwriter, David Bowie. Well fitted to the statues crotch area was a codpiece, and a fine one at that. It was a metallic silver color, lined with spandex, which appeared to be coating in some sparkly-ass glitter. It had an adjustable strap that wrapped around back to fit a man of any size or stature; it was of a higher quality than our heroes were accustomed too. Axel slid the piece down the muscular thighs of the statue and held it closely to his face. Something about it emitted a strong feeling of mystical power and a musty odor.

Dude, you might want to get over here, there’s something special about this thing that you’re going to want to check out.” Axel shouts over to Levon.

Levon approaches and takes note of what Axel is holding. ”Whoa, that’s a sweet codpiece man. Uhh… Were you gonna wear that? Or are we going to flip a coin? Cause I feel like that’s the only fair way to decide.”

No dude, 1. You’re already wearing a codpiece, and 2. You know sparkly silver things are my jam.” Axel snaps his fingers over his head.

Gimme that damn thing!” Levon shouts as he lunges at the codpiece. The two begin to play an old fashioned game of tug of war over the crotch accessory. Several seconds into the scuffle, the mystical codpiece rips in half, sending glitter flying everywhere.

You see what you did!” Levon says, brushing mass quantities of glitter away from his eyes and mouth.

Suddenly, the ground began to tremble under the bickering duo, as the David Bowie statue started to recede into the ground. In its place, rose up a master crafted aertisan Gatorade fountain, in their favorite flavor…blue.

Yea… Look what I did… Gatorade.” Axel says, as if he knew this would happen.

I don’t know dude, I’m covered in glitter. Head-to-toe glitter.” Levon motions up and down his now sparkly outfit.

Wait dude, do you hear that?” Axel asks.

Yea, I do hear something… hang on… that’s ‘Space Oddity’ by David Bowie, that’s what that is.” Levon confidently states.

I fucking love that song, let’s get some drink.” Axel says, as they gorge themselves on ice cold Gatorade to the sweet sounds of Bowie.

After having their fill of drink and filling their canteens, the song Space Oddity comes to an end. In it’s place, the 1971 hit off of the album Hunky Dory, ‘Changes’ begins to play. Quickly following the change in song the room shakes violently, forcing Levon and Axel to the ground as the whole room rotates 180̊º counter-clockwise, revealing a dark hallway through the door they originally entered. By the way, it’s nighttime. At the end of the mysterious hallway, or perhaps in the middle of the hallway (they were unable to tell the exact distance), they notice a flicker of light. They gather themselves and head down the passageway, convinced it must be the way out.

After a lengthy walk down the narrow hallway, they seem to be no closer to the light and they begin to become uncomfortably warm. With their hands in front of their mouths, appalled by the gross increase in heat, they continue moving toward what they believe could be a furnace or perhaps even the sun itself. The intensifying heat forces them to remove articles of clothing and tie them around their waists, like a fifth grader would do with their fleece pull-over at recess, not a common practice for our stylish heroes. Approaching the source of the light, they come to identify it as a hoop of intense fire, with a conveniently placed 45̊º angle ramp headed up to it. It was also worth noting that there was about a five foot gap between that ramp, and another conveniently placed 45̊º angle landing ramp. They also quickly take notice of a shadowy humanoid figure in the corner. With Durbies fresh on their minds, they speculate it could be one of those. They move in closer and catch the distant fragrance of cucumber-melon hand-lotion, and realize it must be a young lady. With the two half-naked men approaching her, she rises from the shadows. It is none other than circa 1998 Jennifer Connelly.

Hey! Jennifer Connelly, what’s up? You need some help getting out of here?” Axel asks, while tightening the shirt sleeves around his waist.

Nope, I’m pretty good at these kind of things.” Jennifer Connelly says as she whips out a razor scooter and mounts it so quickly, that the heroes speculate she must have had a holster just for razors. Planting her left leg on the ground, she looks over the duos “get-ups” and sharply asks, “Are you guys fifth-grading it right now?”. She then does one quick-push off the ground, propelling herself up the ramp and through the hoop of immense flame.

We don’t normally do this!” Axel yells out.

She’s gone dude.” Levon pats Axel’s shoulder.

Axel, still lamenting over the first impression he left with Jenn-Conn, begins shouting profanities and kicking the wall. In the meantime, Levon glances over at where Jenn-Conn was posted-up to notice two extra, off-brand inline scooters laying on the ground. They scoop them up, speculating that Jenn-Conn must have left behind for them, knowing that they were scooter-less. Plus she probably wasn’t down to carry that extra weight through the hoop. They both start through the treacherous hoop, in unison, taking the Jenn-Conn approach of tucking in their bodies, cannon-ball style. They land safely and with ease on the adjacent 45̊º angle landing ramp, and are quickly submerged in a belligerent swarm of Durbies. Slightly inconvenienced by the meek, pathetic creatures, they kick and slap their way through the hoard. They notice the end of the wretched trench-maze just up ahead, oh and by the way, the sun was starting to rise. As the heroes emerged from the swarm of Durbs, they shake off the last few stragglers and continue on down the path.

That was some SHIT!” Axel exclaims.

Sure was.” Levon replies, “Wait, what is that you got there?”

I don’t know man, one of those Durbies was holding it so I swiped it. Looks to me like an electric harmonica.” Axel looks over the instrument.

Nice.” Levon says.

Growing weary of the musty trench-maze, they hurry on down the corridor to the exit. Busting through the exit, they find themselves in the mouth of a vast, serene canyon. They take notice of a meandering river, snaking its way through the canyon. The two decide the best approach would be to follow the river in the direction of its current. They do this knowing that, although the course may change sometimes, rivers always reach the sea. This is where they intended on heading…and also happens to be lyrics from a Led Zeppelin song.

Fed up with all the hoop-la, they decide to go for broke. They remove their fifth-graded shirts from their waists and tie them around their faces, to shield them from loose rock and dust, as they slide down the cliff-side to the basin. Once at the bottom, they proceed to follow the river downstream. After a short time of skipping riverside, they can see that the cliffs narrow into a channel that tightly hugs the river.

What the hell is that big-ass thing blocking the way?” Levon asks.

Up ahead Levon sees a creature with its ass dunked in the raging river, taking up the entire path ahead. Upon closer inspection they identify it as a lanky, clinically-obese, neck-bearded river troll.

Oy, prick! You’re gonna have to move your fat, disgusting ass, or we’re gonna have to hand it to you.” Axel shouts out.

Yea, I’m not going to do that. I’ve been waiting for weeks to clean my ass in this cliff channel, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.” The river troll shouts back.

Having played both red and blue versions of Pokémon (continuing to re-beat it periodically through life), our heroes were well versed in how to handle a large formidable foe blocking their only path (Snorlax reference). They start gathering wild 2X4s and put together a frame.

This water feels so good on my ass! I don’t care what you do, I’m not moving for at least 15 minutes.” The river troll says, as he watches the freshly formed frame transform into a stage that they built with care, as to not reflect poorly on their craftsmanship.

Axel and Levon take to the stage; Axel plugs his electric harmonica into a makeshift amp, Levon whips a microphone out of a holster and brings it close to his lips.

Oh-god… I know what you’re doing, just don’t, not here.” The river troll begs them.

In a Jagger and Richardsesque way, they bust into “Beast Of Burden”. Now under sonic assault with sharp notes and shoddy vocals, the creature becomes very irritable.

Nope… Can’t do this.” The river troll says, and with a few movements of his lanky arms he effortlessly scales the steep cliff-side, high-tailing it out of there. Now audience-less, Axel and Levon continue on playing an 18-minute Stones medley straight into a 15-minute stand-up comedy routine, finally stopping after realizing they were completely alone. Un-phased by being audience-less, they still congratulate each other on a nice set and a well-crafted stage.

Taking extra precautions to avoid the ass-water, Axel and Levon snake their way on down the riverside, eventually popping out onto what seemed to be a nude beach exclusively for attractive busty women. After reading what kind of beach it was off a sign Levon says “How serendipitous.” Agreeing the best thing would be to get rid of those stubborn desert tan lines, they whip off their shirts and head toward the shoreline.