Storyworld Sneak Peak

Below is an excerpt from Dodger’s Doorway, the first installment of The Storyworld Saga

You can purchase your autographed copy of Dodger’s Doorway HERE

You can purchase the Kindle version HERE

“Wake up! Wake up, I say! We will be late!” shrieked a high-pitched and irritating voice that cut through the air like a knife.

“Maybe he’s dead?” suggested a second voice, this one deeper and more melodic.

“Do not say that! We need him!

“I said maybe. Keep your shell on, good sir. We can’t afford to put you back together again.”

“Do not say he is dead then. The princess said we must keep him safe!”

“Well, in that case, why couldn’t the princess come get him herself?” replied the deeper voice. There was almost a giggle behind his tone.

“Do not say he is dead then. The princess said we must keep him safe!”

“Well, in that case, why couldn’t the princess come get him herself?” replied the deeper voice. There was almost a giggle behind his tone.

“We are the princess’s bravest subjects and the only ones she entrusts to protect him!” commented the first voice. “Do not forget that you are the one who forecasted his arrival and—”

“I get it, I get it! I was just being humorous. How can we be sure this is truly our Literary, though? With his strange attire and that metal ring dangling from his lip, he could very well be an imposter.”

“Then he needs to stop impostering! We are going to be late, and the princess said—”

“The princess said phooey! Let’s stop dawdling and find out if our savior is ready to save us!”

A pointed foot kicked Dodger in the ribs, knocking the wind out of him. Grabbing his side, he opened his eyes to find himself facedown in the grass. “Ow! What the hell is your problem, jerk?”

“Well, that solves the mystery as to whether he is alive or not,” called out the deep voice. “But he speaks strangely. Perhaps it’s an evil tongue of sorts?”

“Oh, you know these Literaries, with their strange words and whatnot. They always talk in nonsensical manners. What was it that Sir Chaucer called us? ‘Miserable farts’ I believe?”

Dodger huffed and rolled onto his back. He was about to berate the two speakers when he suddenly yelped and leapt to his feet. The voices he heard belonged to two of the weirdest beings that Dodger had ever seen.

The creature standing on the left resembled a tiny, old, dark-skinned man who stood at half of Dodger’s height. He had little pointed feet encased in brown satin shoes, making him guilty of kicking Dodger’s ribs. The shoes matched his full outfit; a brown tunic draped over his torso and hanging down to his thighs, darker brown leggings covering his knobby knees, and matching sleeves protecting his stubby arms. The little man’s face and hands were leathery-looking, with wrinkles and scars all over. Over his scraggly black hair, he wore an oversized helmet that had horns protruding from the left and right sides. The final addition to his ensemble was a brown belt wrapped around his waist containing an assortment of vials and glass beakers filled with multicolored liquids.

Standing to Dodger’s right was, in no other way describable, a living egg. Its body consisted of a large, ovular white shell with two enormous egg-yolk-yellow eyes and a thin malleable mouth. Popping out from either side of the shell were two thin white arms ending in large white hands, and coming out of the bottom of the shell were two white, branch-like legs ending in flat feet wearing black shoes. The egg-man wore a belt around the middle of his body, dividing his head from his lower torso. Strapped onto the side of his belt was a long sword with a slightly curved blade.

“What?” Dodger’s heart was racing and he had to blink rapidly to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating. “What’s going on?”

The egg-man sighed and said, “You Literaries and your immediate questions. You never give a simple ‘hello’ or ‘how are—’”

“What are Literaries?” Dodger interrupted, his head swimming with questions. “And what are you?” He approached the egg-man cautiously and touched his shell. It felt exactly like a chicken egg, tough and coarse, but there was a light warmth resonating from it as well. Dodger was fascinated at how the egg-man’s entire body looked solid, but his mouth and eyes were able to move fluidly like a human’s.

“Erm.” The egg-man appeared flustered and embarrassed as Dodger continued poking and prodding his head. “My apologies for the confusion, visitor. I am Sir Humpty Dumpty, Second-in-Command of the Neverland Military Arm.”

Dodger stopped. His mind exploded with amazement and curiosity. Blinking rapidly again, he felt himself getting lightheaded and had to sit back down on the ground to collect his wits. Humpty Dumpty and his companion cast concerned glances at one another.

“Did-did you just say your name was Humpty Dumpty?” asked Dodger.

“Indeed, I did.”

“Like, the Humpty Dumpty?”

The egg-man nervously glanced at his partner again and nodded at Dodger. “That is my name, sir. Humpty Dumpty. But please, you may call me Humpty, or Sir Humpty. Whichever you prefer.”

The concept was still difficult for Dodger to believe. “So, you’re Humpty Dumpty. Like in the poem?”

“I’m in a poem?” Humpty bounced on his feet and clapped his hands. His frown had turned into a large smile, exposing his human-like teeth. “See? I told you, Rump! I knew he would write about me in his world. Oh, why did none of the other Literaries ever tell me I was in a poem? This is a joyous occasion! Can you please recite this poem for me, sir?”

Rump gave a loud sigh. “I thought you said we were going to be late?”

Humpty scowled at him. “There is always time to hear an amazing piece of Literary work. We can wait a few more seconds.” The egg-man sat on the ground and beamed at Dodger.

Dodger’s heart had finally slowed down a bit, so he recited the nursery rhyme he had learned as a child.

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall,
Then all the king’s horses,
And all the king’s men,
Could not put Humpty
back together again

Rump fell to the ground howling with laughter and his arms clutched around his stomach. Humpty’s jaw had dropped and his yellow eyes shone with rage. He huffed and stood back up, placing his hands on his non-existent hips. “That conniving, despicable man! How dare he? I was pushed! Pushed, I tell you! I am not clumsy whatsoever! And I did just fine putting myself back together again, thank you very much! I cannot believe this!”

“I’m sorry!” said Dodger. “That’s how I learned it. That’s how all kids learn it.”

“Are you telling me that Literary children learn this poem?” roared Humpty. Rump was now on all fours, trying to suppress his hilarity, but failing miserably. He was wheezing in between laughter, which only seemed to make Humpty even more outraged. The egg-man continued, “This is absolutely ridiculous; such slander being spread about me in the world of the Literaries. No wonder nobody ever told me about my reputation. Did you know that I was nearly killed when I was pushed off that wall? My near-death-experience is regarded as humorous in your world? There better be another poem describing how I courageously fought off an army of evil flying monkeys single-handed!”

“Wait. Flying monkeys?” asked Dodger.

“Yes! Years ago, an evil witch dispatched her legion of flying monkeys to take over our allied kingdom of Oz. The Wizard-King of Oz actually requested my assistance in the battle for he had heard of my excellent swordsmanship. Surely you and your kind must know of my brave endeavors!” Humpty’s anger had slightly diminished at this point. The egg-man held his head up with an air of pride.

Dodger frowned, knowing he had to be the bearer of bad news. “Actually, you’re not even in that story.”

Rump’s laughter ended abruptly.

“What is that world coming to?!” exploded the egg-man. “How dare they eliminate me from my own story, especially such a heroic one at that? I fought off hundreds of those vicious beasts all by myself and nobody has even given me my proper recognition? Outrageous!”

“If it makes you feel better,” Dodger said cautiously, “nobody really defeated the flying monkeys. In the story, they attack the Tin Man and Scarecrow and—”

“HA!” Humpty sneered and re-crossed his arms. “Those idiots? Local mercenaries. Swords-for-hire who couldn’t tell the difference between a horse’s head and its hindquarters. You mean to tell me that they had a part in the tale of the flying monkey assault and I am nowhere to be found? Does that story mention how they only offered to fight the army for a hefty price whereas I lent my services for free? And I saved their lives! The wizard-king told me— WE ARE GOING TO BE LATE!” Humpty bellowed, pointing at the low sun as it sank past the distant mountains. “We need to get back to the castle now!”

Dodger was still curious. “I’m confus—”

“Curiosity boiled the egg,” quoted Humpty. “We need to return to Neverland Castle or the princess will be worried sick. There will be time for explanations later.”

“No, listen, Humpty,” said Dodger. “I’m not moving until one of you answers my questions. I have no idea what this place is or how I got here. All I know is that something freaky happened in my closet, and now I’m standing in front of a talking egg and,” he looked Rump up and down, “some kind of elf.”

Humpty threw his arms up as Rump chuckled. “Sir Humpty, I think this gentleman has the right to know what’s going on. Don’t forget how difficult it was for his predecessors to become accustomed to our world. I’m sure the princess can wait a little longer.” Rump smiled at Dodger and bowed. “I am Lord Rumpelstiltskin, Head Alchemist and Magicker of the Neverland Science Arm.”

The lightheadedness came again. Dodger couldn’t fathom how surreal this whole situation seemed right now. He was sitting in front of Humpty Dumpty, who commanded an army, and Rumpelstiltskin, who was an alchemist. There were more questions that needed answers.

“So, let me get this straight; this whole world is full of imaginary creatures and stuff from fairy tales?”

Rump blinked and frowned. Speaking slowly, he said, “It’s hard to properly express. The people in this world aren’t necessarily imaginary, although we can understand how it may seem that way. The best way to put it is that this world is parallel to your own. Throughout the ages, many of your kind have stumbled into our realm, which has been dubbed ‘Storyworld’ by your more recent predecessors. History tells us that whenever tragedy strikes, a Literary is transported to our world to help us through troubled times.”

Dodger nodded. “You call people from my world Literaries, but why? What does that mean?”

“From our understanding, in your world, there’s a type of story-telling called ‘literature’. This literature often features certain aspects that are abnormal in your realm, such as Storyworld’s people and creatures. Most of the tales and stories you’ve heard include our noblest heroes and our evilest villains. Therefore, we took it upon ourselves to call your people Literaries. Since the dawn of Storyworld, thousands of Literaries have come and gone, making huge impacts in our lives.”

“So, you’re saying that all these stories I hear, like nursery rhymes and fairy tales, are based on things from this world?”

“I believe so, yes.”

Humpty had begun pacing back and forth with his hands curled behind his back. Every couple of seconds, he would take a silver watch from his belt, check the time, grunt audibly, and then resume pacing. Dodger ignored him and allowed Rump to continue his explanation.

“As the Head Alchemist and Magicker of Neverland, it’s my responsibility to find out when Literaries will be arriving. We have no control over their appearances, but people like myself can forecast it with the help of our magic. This honor was bestowed upon me by my mentor, and unto him by his mentor, and so on and so forth. Typically, every settlement has a magicker who possesses this ability, and once they predict the Literary’s arrival, a host is designated to guide them through their missions. It’s quite a process.

“Now, it is my turn to ask you a question, young man.”

“Go for it,” said Dodger, even though he was still crackling with curiosity.

“You mentioned that Sir Humpty was in a poem, and that the mercenaries of Oz were in a story.”

“Yeah.”

“Am I in any of your literature as well?” Rump asked with a grin.

“Uh, yeah, you are, but I can’t remember all of the details,” admitted Dodger. He struggled to remember the story. “I think you’re this little dwarf guy who can weave gold out of straw, and you tricked this girl into giving you her baby.”

Rump laughed and put his hands on his hips. “Oh, how I miss my rebellious adolescent years! That was so long ago!”

As his eyes glazed over in reminiscence, Humpty gave a loud “Hmph!” nearby. The egg-man was muttering about how ridiculous it was that he was honored in a poem about falling off a wall while the alchemist was known through a retelling of his juvenile pranks.

“Oh! And is there perhaps a story about the time I made old Rip Van Winkle fall asleep for seventy years?” asked Rump eagerly.

“That was you?” Dodger replied, laughing for the first time. “The story said he got drunk and passed out.”

“Well, let’s just say he should’ve kept an eye on his beverage if h—”

“IT IS GETTING DARK! WE NEED TO LEAVE RIGHT NOW!”

“We have explained enough for now! We need to get back to the castle!” Humpty didn’t wait for a response. The egg-man turned on the spot and disappeared into a nearby forest. Dodger could just see the white tip of a tower beyond the trees. Rump lowered his hand to help the Literary to his feet, and urged him to follow into the forest.

Want to read more? You can purchase your autographed copy of Dodger’s Doorway HERE

You can purchase the Kindle version HERE