Tuesday, May 31, 2005


      A winding network of musty dirt tunnels terminated in a musty dirt Throne Room. The space was awkward, the lighting a bit cheerless, and it was full of giant cockroaches. The cockroaches were assembled in two sections, creating an aisle at which Ryan and Franz stopped. At the other end of the aisle sat the largest and oldest armchair Douglas had ever seen. He was just wondering how big the King was when the room suddenly went silent. The Cockroach King had entered, much to Douglas's surprise, under the chair.
      Every cockroach stood. A few of them jumped and waved their arms. The Cockroach King crawled about halfway down the aisle toward them. He was significantly shorter than the others. He appeared to survey the scene and then returned under the chair, where he sat watching.
      "Your Royal Lowness," spoke Ryan, "These are the prisoners." He gestured toward Isis, Douglas, and 1 and stepped into the crowd.
      "Prisoners!" addressed the King, "You have interfered in the course of cockroaches. My only question is how to dispose of you..."
      Isis gripped Douglas's arm.
      "Halt this at once!" came a voice through the court. It was a small voice, but it was struggling to be very big indeed.
      "Who dares interrupt the Cockroach King?"
      "I am 3, descended from the Column!"
      A mouse appeared at the center of the room and rose upon a staff. At any moment, Douglas expected a bug to walk over and squish Josef. To his surprise, no one moved.
      "Even standing, he could hide much better than the King," someone whispered.
      "We are honored by your presence. What is the purpose of your visit?"
      "To save these prisoners!" declared the lab mouse.
      "Of course!" replied the King, "You humble us with your wisdom and your tininess."
      "Indeed!" laughed Josef, much too caught up, "And if you do not obey you shall be smote by my magical power!" He ran his staff back and forth across a twig lying on the ground.
      1 hid his face in his hands.
      "What's wrong?" asked Isis. Douglas moved to her ear.
      "They have stun guns," he whispered.
      A spark finally caught on a small, dead plant.
      "Yes, well," ignored the King, "Activate the laser show." A cockroach to the right of the throne stood up at a computer console, which produced a dazzling chaos of brightly colored lines and shapes. "And contain that 'god'."
      "Oooh," said Josef, distracted, as he was shuffled toward the other prisoners.
      "Excuse me," called Douglas to the King.
      "Yes, what is it?"
      Douglas took a step forward.
      "Hello, my name is Douglas Dent and I -"
      He was interrupted by the laser show terminal as it toppled over and crashed to the ground. The dancing lights blinked out and everything was still for a moment.
      "As I was saying, my name is Douglas Dent and -"
      The Cockroach King crawled up right in front of him, and stood.
      "And -"
      The King raised his arms.
      "I -"
      The King hopped. All of the other cockroaches stood and hopped.
      "We shall have a feast in your honor," he said, putting his arms on Douglas's shoulders, "O Great Destroyer of the Universe."
      Douglas's heart sank. There was a great deal of clicking.


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