I cringed as I pulled into the garage tonight. Lorelei* had already opened the hidden door and was waiting beside my gyrocopter. She wore a long canvas duster, knee high boots, and a silk scarf.
“Hey. What brings you out tonight?” I asked.
“Let’s fly,” she said. “I’ll tell you where to go.”
We lifted off the street and I banked toward the Misty Mountains.
“We aren’t going to the writing cabin tonight,” she said. “Head east toward the coast. Better kick in ballistic turbo whatever. It’s quite a ways.”
I knew what she meant, trimmed the wing angles and pushed the accelerators forward all the way. When we came to the sea, she told me to skim the surface.
“What are we looking for?”
“Wildlife.” She pointed off to our left, “Over there.”
I banked and saw a long serpentine back rolling in the water. “What is that?”
“Mosasaur. Better climb a little higher. It can jump pretty high.”
“Are you going to tell me what this place is?”
“Jurassic Water Park.”
“You’re kidding. That’s pretty cool, I guess.”
“The island is just up ahead. Circle Mt. Spooky and find a place to land.”
There was only one mountain, and it was surrounded by a junkyard and small village. I spotted an open field and made a low pass. It was clear enough, so I landed. We followed a red brick road into the village.
Lorelei led me to a warehouse and held the door for me. It was filled with shelves, crates, and boxes. I picked up a musty yellow rag and raised an eyebrow toward her.
“That’s the yellow badge of courage. Keep looking.”
I flinched as rodent scurried across my feet. When I turned the corner there were millions of them. I stepped behind her and pushed her forward.
“Are you afraid of hamsters?”
“Hamsters? Really? Why are they here, and why so many?”
She shrugged and said, “Eleventh plague of Egypt.”
“I never heard of an eleventh plague. This AMC Pacer has plates that say Christine.”
“You’re catching on. Let’s head for the Tardis.”
“Cool,” I said. “I’d love to look inside that.”
“It stands for ‘Take a real detour in stories’.”
It turned out to be a bar. It was the same size on the inside. The walls were decorated with memorabilia. I spotted a baseball bat with a lightning bolt carved on the side.
“Special Kid? Shouldn’t it say Wonder Boy?” The Sorcerer’s Rock was framed next to it. A wooden case held the Maltese Mallard.
I sat at the bar and put my chin in my hand. The waitress, Polly Pan, brought me a beer. “This place is almost fun,” I said.
“On Saturday nights Polly Pan performs an epic sword fight with the pirate, Captain Colostomy Bag,” a severed head said.
A chill ran down my spine as I glanced toward Lorelei.
“Washington Irving left him here,” she said. “He lives with Khaleesi, the mother of wombats.”
“And what about the robots by the pool table?”
She grabbed my hand and dragged me over. “Craig, meet 4Q2 and 5319009. Let’s just say these really aren’t the droids you’re looking for.” She cupped her hand around my ear and whispered, “They came here on the Aluminum Falcon.”
I downed my beer and stepped outside. Lorelei grabbed my hand and tugged me back toward Mt. Spooky. She said, “One more thing to see. You’ve nearly got it.”
We entered a tunnel and she led me to a pedestal with a cheap tin brooch on top. “Read it,” she said.
I picked up the brooch and turned it over. “One brooch to rule them all. One brooch to find them–
“Make it stop,” I said. “Nothing here’s good. It’s almost fun, but not quite. Can we go home?”
“Alright. Follow me.” She led the way back down the trail. At the red brick road she shoved me into the bushes and we froze.
I six foot tall woodpecker hopped down the trail and we waited until he was out of sight.
“What’s his deal?” I asked.
“Peter Benchley left him here.”
“Of course he did. Let’s fly, there wasn’t even any alcohol in that beer.” We buckled up and headed home in silence.
Lorelei spoke when we hit the coast. “I know you’ve been editing. I’m trying to help. Sometimes it takes a small change to make the story better.”
“How will I know what to change? Should I be sending stuff to the bone yard too?”
“There’s a space reserved for your stuff. You have a good critique group, listen to them. You should find some decent beta readers too. Listen to everything they say, but only you can make the final decisions.”
* Lorelei is my Muse.