Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Ashley Saga - Part II

Last year, at church girls camp a story began of Ashley, who is a second-hand mannequin head. In my three years of camp, the head has been a baby belonging to Pansy, a butterfly, and this year a crocodile hunter. Last year her story began and this is the continuation based on events surrounding girls camp this year.

Book II

Chapter 1

“Did we take a wrong turn?”

Silence answered Ashley.

The light went out suddenly and darkness swept over the chamber, a darkness blacker than the pupil of a panther, buried in a bog, in the deepest realm of the jungle on a moonless cloudy midnight.

            “Phillip?” Ashley struck a match and saw nothing but the disappearing of a scaled, green tail. “Phillip!!!!” she shrieked, all the while knowing it was too late; Phillip was a croc-burger. She had lost him once and she had survived. She could do it again; she would do it again. If Ashley were anything, she was a survivor, resilient to the worst hand fate could deal to her.

There was no need to wander along the dark and meandering passageway. With no gnome to hold her back, Ashley spread her wings, flew upward, and with her five legs began scaling the walls. The journey was equally laborious, but Ashley had been through far more difficult circumstances.

As she made her way, she wept bitterly, not bothering to hold back the racking sobs that resonated off the arched walls. There was no one to hear her; no reason to subdue her emotions.

Time has a strange way of passing; at times rushing through so that one can’t believe how quickly it passed and other times dragging on, seemingly filling hours in the minutes that pass. Though the journey was not long, Ashley’s heart was irreparably broken and eons seemed to pass as gradually her emotion drained. By the time she emerged from the twisted and crypt-like tunnels, she felt herself a changed woman.

The circus had moved on, traveling from town to town, but in their haste, one of the funhouse mirrors had not been packed. It was in this mirror Ashley first caught her reflection.

Gone were the pink locks, the color having drained with the tears Ashley shed. The wings that had carried her through so many adventures had been absorbed into a body she no longer recognized. Her remaining five limbs had morphed into just four, complete with opposable thumbs. “I’m human,” she gasped. Baby-blue eyes gaped back at her. Again she spoke, her voice barely above that of a whisper, “I’m beautiful.”

This knowledge revived her ambition. She was alone. The love of her life, her soul mate had been slain, eaten by a vicious crocodile. What of it? She was unstoppable.

Chapter 2

Looking around, her pale blue eyes adjusted to the brightness of the light. In the distance, just beyond the lair of the Beast, she noticed a museum boasting of dinosaurs. In her first days as a human, it seemed the right place to go. After all, weren’t humans always digging up the dirt on dinosaurs?

What Ashley had not expected as she entered the enormous building was to see that the building didn’t merely house reconstructed fossil skeletons, but actual living, breathing dinosaurs.

“Duke,” called a lovely lady-saur. “We have company!” Then looking back to Ashley she extended an enormous limb. “Dinorella,” she introduced herself.


Moments later, a tall, dark and handsome male dinosaur entered the room. “Sorry, I was just cooking some breakfast,” he said, wiping his hands on his apron. “You will join us for breakfast, won’t you?”

For breakfast, or as breakfast, Ashley wondered.

“It’s so seldom that we have visitors as we are thought to be flesh-eating. Dina and I, however are vegetarian; herbivores to be specifically scientific.”

Ashley studied them both for a moment, and then, deciding they weren’t a threat, she liked them both immediately. “Yes,” she answered, “I would love to join you.”

In no time at all, Ashley was sitting down to eggs, sausage, cheese, hash browns, tortillas, bacon, watermelon and an enormous stack of steaming-hot Jazz cakes.

“Wait!” Ashley said, throwing her hands up. “Wait, wait, wait wait, WAIT! I thought you said you are vegetarian? What’s with the bacon, eggs and sausage?”

Duke gave his wife a look of adoration. “It’s already dead when we buy it, dear,” said Dinorella. “Our kind is naturally carnivorous, but we figure if we buy the meat rather than hunt it and supplement our diet with fruits and vegetables, we aren’t like those of our kind, those savages. We call ourselves vegetarians.” She smiled at her own joke, tossing an adoring look at her husband. Ashley suddenly felt s though she had been taken to the Twilight Zone.

“So Ashley, tell us about yourself,” prompted Duke.

Ashley pushed around the food on her plate, hating to think of her past and conjuring up the images that had been such a source of pain and despair. Finally, she answered. “I began life as a caterpillar. Soon I transformed into a butterfly and met my one true-love, Phillip, the gnome. He was taken from me, so I trained as a ninja so I could defend him and protect him.”

She looked down again, speaking in a voice that was barely audible. “Last week he was taken from me again and made holey as a crocodile consumed him.” Quickly she put on her sunglasses, hoping to hide the tears forming in her eyes.

“Don’t despair, dear,” said Dinorella, “Women like us can’t afford to desire daintiness. After the duration of our breakfast delight, we shall dress you for defeating those dreadful, dastardly, dragon-related crocodiles. It will take a grand design, but I am a bit of a defender myself.”

Though it hardly seemed words enough, Ashley responded, “Thank you, dear dinosaurs.”

Chapter 3

It took most of the morning, but by the time Ashley departed the den of the dinosaurs, she had been more defined. A jaunty cap had been placed upon her head to cover her golden locks. The wide brim protected her fair skin from the sun and other elements. Thick green overalls with many pockets for holding essential items covered her from neck to angle. Her sunglasses had been masked with jaws and teeth, camouflaging her from being easily recognized and therefore an easy target. The most painful part of the process had been the fitting for her shoes.

“We’re marketing these to finance our spending habits. They’re washable, durable, the holes make them breathable, and in a pinch, they double as clown shoes, promoted Dinorella.

“Please don’t mention anything that has to do with a circus,” Ashley pleaded.

“I’m sorry.” Dinorella looked at the shoes she held and then down to Ashley’s feet. Meeting her eyes once more, she spoke. “Unfortunately, it looks as though as you went through the morphing process, evolutionarily speaking, your feet didn’t form correctly and we will have to reshape them to get the shoes on.”

“Reshape them?”

Dinorella nodded, “Mmm-hmm. We’ll have to grate them.”


“Hush child; it’s the only way.”

Ashley looked at the shoes Dinorella still held. “And what do you call these shoes that are so necessary to my transformation?”


“You are sick!” Ashley said.

Chapter 4

“I can’t thank you enough,” Ashley thanked Duke and Dinorella. “A delicious meal and new clothing. You’ve been most kind.” Ashley attempted to stand, but having grated feet was most uncomfortable. “MEDIC!!!” she shouted.

Within seconds her feet had been wrapped and bandaged. Though still quite painful, she managed to stand and carefully wend her way out the door.

Scarcely had she taken more than 3.33 steps than darkness swept over her. Though she thrashed and kicked violently using her best ninja skills, she was unable to escape the canvas bag.

“You’re wasting your time,” a surly voice said.

“Who are you?”

“We cannot identify ourselves to you.”

“What if I guess?”

There was a murmur of discussion. “Agreed,” answered the voice.

Ashley sniffed the bag. “You smell swampy, like you are from the wetlands ward.”

“You are correct.”

“Are you newts?”



“Unfortunately, no.”

Ashley closed her eyes to focus. They were from the swamps, were snarky, and . . . smelled of Phillips cologne. “You are that notorious band of crocodiles!”

“With pleasure. What may we do for you?”

“You may die, cut into a thousand pieces.”

“Tsk, tsk, tsk. Hardly complimentary, but why ensue venom on me?”

“You killed my love.”

“It’s possible; we kill a lot of people. Who was this love of yours? Another human; rich, arrogant, scabby?”

“No, he was a gnome; small and perfect with eyes like the olives straight from the can. In a dark cavern your congregation attacked. Everyone knows that your notorious band leaves no survivors."

"We can't afford to make exceptions. Once word leaks out that a croc's gone soft it's nothing but work, work,  work!"

 "You mock my pain!”

“Life is pain, Ashley. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”

“Like Crocs?”

“Excuse me?”

“I saw this whole infomercial on these holey croc shoes.”

There was a pause before the crock responded. “Never heard of them; are they made of actual crocodiles?”

“I don’t know.”

“C’mon boys, let’s haul her away for questioning.”

“You’re inviting trouble,” Ashley lied. “My loved ones will follow me to your lair.”

“You’re right,” agreed the leader. “We’d best leave a ransomed note.”

Ashley listened as pen scratched against paper. “Hey boss,” said a new voice. “I know we’re leaving a note and all, but what if the wind picks up, blows our note into the fire and it is consumed before anyone reads it?”

“Put a rock on it.”

“But what if the rock soils the paper and our message is no longer legible?”

“Pick a clean rock.”

“But what if it rains and the paper gets wet, then the wind picks up and tears away part of the note.”

Sighing heavily, the Croc who seemed to be in charge responded, “Put it under the covering. C’mon Jaws, you’re wasting valuable time.”

Harshly, Ashley was piled into something recognizable only by the way it bounced unsteadily and jostled over the uneven terrain. Suddenly a semi-webbed, clawed appendage reached inside the sack, covering Ashley’s face with a rank smelling cloth. Despite her intuition, which told her to do otherwise, she drew a deep breath, saw a moment of blurred reality, and then knew no more.

Chapter 5

When Ashley awoke she could scarcely move. Looking to her left and right, she noted that her limbs and torso were covered in thick, oozy mud. “What is this place?” she whispered.

Struggling to right herself, she pulled her body to a sitting position. At present, there was only a crocodile guarding her. If she could only work her left arm free. . .

Concentrating all of her effort onto her left limb, she was able to move it a fraction of an inch at a time, at last removing it from the mud with a sucking squelching noise. The sound was enough to awaken the sleeping croc, but it was too late. Ashley’s left hook was lethal. In one blow she broke the jaw of the converging crocodile.

He tried to call for help, but with no upper jaw, how could the words be formulated?

“You were warned when you abducted me," Ashley hissed. “You’ve brought this on yourself.”

At that moment, a second crocodile entered the confines of the swampy room. Glancing first at the broken crocodile and then to Ashley, it only took a moment for him to put together what had happened. Ashley prepared to fight, stretching the fingers of her left hand.

“Drop your weapon,” the second croc commanded.

Measuring his stance, Ashley slowly lowered her fist.

“This came today.” He held up an unopened can of Spaghettios. “You’re free to go.”

“Just like that?”

“Food was what Rocky specified in the ransom note. The terms have been met.”

A noise to her right startled Ashley. “You are no longer in charge, Rocky,” the second Croc said.

The only response was a slight whimper. Looking back to Ashley, the second crocodile said, “Where are my manners? I’m Cornelius.”

“Ashley,” she answered hesitantly, still not trusting him.

“Will you take me with you?”

“What?” Ashley might have expected many things, but this was not one of them.

“I owe you,” Cornelius continued. “You took on Rocky. I hated that guy. Not an ounce of brains, but his brawn kept him in control.”

“Is that all?”

Cornelius shook his head and took a step closer. “No,” he answered refusing to meet Ashley’s gaze. “I ate Phillip.”

“What??” gasped Ashley.

“A crocs gotta do what a crocs gotta do. I was famished and he was available.”

“How can I trust you after knowing that?”

“I did not know he was the pet of my future defender.”

“Pet?!” Ashley repeated. “That gnome was my world. I loved him more deeply than a killer such as yourself could ever dream.”

“Don’t,” said Cornelius harshly. “You know not of what you speak.”

Ashley studied his face, which remained impassive. Only his eyes gave him away, revealing the depth of the pain within his soul. “Then perhaps you should tell me.”

Cornelius hesitated.

“It will help me to trust you. We can bond over shared experiences.”

“Are you always so conversational?”

Ashley shook her head. “No, but you did eat the man I loved, after all.”

Cornelius looked down. “Her name is Iris. I’ve loved her since we were children, but never had a chance.”


“What do I have to offer her? Until today I’ve never been the leader of our congregation; always second in command. Avocado and Crocamole are soft and warm while I’m cold and unfeeling. What do I have to offer her?” He asked again, struggling to keep the dejection from his voice as it broke mid-sentence.

Ashley looked over to where death had silenced Rocky.

“I’ll throw him away,” offered Cornelius. “He always wanted to be our dentist, but I’ll be honest. It’s sort of creepy to have such a stubby-legged, short-bodied crocodile with acrylic claws reaching inside your mouth.”

Ashley nodded, pretending to understand. “Wait, wait, wait, wait, WAIT. I just have one question.”

Chapter 6

“What is your question?” pondered Cornelius.

“Can I make him into a purse?”

“With my blessing,” Cornelius replied, handing her a knife.

Quickly and agilely, Ashley stripped the skin from the crocodile dentist and fashioned a handbag. “It seems a waste to throw away the rest,” she lamented.

“Yes,” agreed Cornelius, “but we can’t have a camp fire and it might make you ill to eat uncooked meat.”

Grabbing her new purse, Ashley led the way out of the swamps. Around the perimeter, strange footprints marked the ground. “Who made those?”

“Bigfoot. . .if you believe in that kind of thing.”

Suddenly, the ground gave way and Ashley plummeted to the earth, gravel becoming embedded in her soft, smooth skin. It took only a moment for her to right herself. “Jump, Cornelius. I’ll catch you.”

Before he could make the leap, Ashley was once again whisked away, this time by unknown forces. In a most outrageous manner, she was strung up a on a flag pole where the icy night winds tore at her already scraped and pierced tender flesh. Tears wouldn’t save her, Cornelius couldn’t save her, to what end was she destined?

Dawn broke and she found herself stuffed into a trash can, buried in mixed refuse, scarcely able to respire. Only fitting, she thought. After all, hadn’t that been the way she had disposed of the crocodile dentist? Was she any better than he? No, she thought as breakfast leftovers oozed down over her head. That she should drown in this filth, unable to move was only justice. The knowledge of its rightness did not ease the sadness brought by meeting death head on. Perhaps Phillip and I will soon be reunited, she thought. It was the only consolation she could cling to in this moment; the last moments of her life.

Unable to hold her breath any longer, she inhaled, filling her lungs with pancake batter, moistened cereal chunks, and milk. Coughing violently, she retched creating more debris inside the trash bin. Her mind began to swirl, her vision blurred and she imagined a strong hand grasping her by the ankle and pulling her out of mortal peril.

Sputtering and gasping, Ashley again drew a breath. Could it be? Had she, the caterpillar-butterfly-human-ninja actually been rescued. Smoothing her hair away from her face and wiping the curdled milk from her eyes, she blinked. Standing in front of her was a young man, about her own age. His curly hair artfully framed his round cherubic features and kind eyes met her.

“You. . .you saved my life.”

He smiled warmly.

“Who are you?”

“My name is Tiko.”


“Yes. My father was a hobbit and my mother a sorceress. Naturally I have no place inside the shire, so I wander. I am as nomadic as they come and am frequently mistaken for Bigfoot. The hair comes from my hobbit father’s side and the size of my feet; well, let’s just say my mother knew a few tricks to get hers down to a size 8. I saw your legs protruding from the trash can and. . . . I couldn’t help but intervene. I’ve never known a woman with such fashionable shoes.”

“They’re Crocs,” Ashley supplied.

Tiko held out his hand to help Ashley to her feet. “And you are?”

“Ashley,” she smiled. “I can’t tell you how nice it is to meet you.”


1 comment:

  1. This is hands down the best story I've read all year. I laughed, I cried, I peed a little... You are a literary genius! Thank you for sharing your talents with the rest of the world.