Adventures of Rex, The
|The journey from South Georgia to Albion, as Throckmorton called his
world, was mystical. Take that back - it was through a heavy mist and it
seemed to take just short of forever. Perhaps it had to do with our form
of conveyance, a huge barge rowed by some really incredibly well-built
I mean "goons" literally, of course. Albion, which for all practical purposes coincided with exactly the same spot on the globe as south Georgia, has a helluva lot more hominids than Earth does.
Remember those flying monkeys from the "Wizard of Oz"? Cross one of those guys with a 300-lb. NFL tackle and you've got a goon, guys who just love manual labor.
"Creatine," Throckmorton said as he noticed me eyeing them - not a one had biceps less than 21 inches and I was feeling a tad petite.
"Huh??" I felt my jaw drop open.
"You know," Throckmorton continued, "the stuff McGwire takes. I get it by the caseload on Earth Prime and give it to these guys. They eat it up!"
I caught the chief goon looking at me. Their faces have permanent grins but I couldn't help noticing something slightly lascivious about his - or the way he flexed his bulging pecs just a second or two longer than really necessary.
"I'm being cruised by a monkey," I muttered to myself.
"You're not in Kansas anymore, Rex," Throckmorton boomed cheerfully.
I snapped my jaw shut.
Surely he knows, I thought to myself.
* * *
An eternity later (it seemed) we arrived at Throckmorton's castle, an airy stone confection worthy of a Wittelsbach. That it appeared to be next door to the Okefenokee was not in the least bit jarring somehow.
We took leave of the goons, who leered and chattered among themselves, pointing at me in ways suggesting I didn't remotely measure up, and headed to Throckmorton's sanctum sanctorum, a stone and woodlined study with a huge fireplace, heavy oaken tables and all the paraphernalia you would expect of a wizard in a Disney animated movie.
The fireplace was blazing and even so it was noticeably cool in the castle - apparently the weather didn't coincide with the geography, the heat and the humidity having evaporated along with South Georgia.
Throckmorton poured a ruddy red wine into a vast flagon, handed it to me, pointed to a giant elaborately carved chair, and motioned me to sit down.
"This is a long story," he sighed.
An hour later I had the gist of it. Not too different from something you'd hear on Earth Prime except that leaders were wizards (male and female) and their weapons were the occult and all which pertained thereto both good and bad. It turned out that one particularly nasty wizard, Slobodan, had made a pact with an even nastier demon, Hadar, for world dominion. A good deal for Slobodan, not so hot for the rest of Albion, requiring payment in blood, lots of blood, namely every third infant born for the next thousand years.
"So where do I come in?" I asked when he finally wound down.
"Slobodan can be defeated," Throckmorton intoned, "but only a hero can do it. What's more, only a hero who has never been tested in combat previously. All our other heroes are veterans. And when Slobodan showed up all the rookies jumped their contracts!"
"Been there, done that. Still, I get to be the patsy, right? The odds don't so great, to say the least."
Throckmorton shook his head vigorously.
"You underestimate the laws of magic, lad. The deck is always stacked in favor of a hero. Things are often uncomfortable and if you're stupid you'll get your neck broken. But common sense and a pure heart generally prevail," he explained.
"Pure heart?" I asked.
"Not one I can explain," he answered. "You either have it or you don't. My intuition says you do."
I frowned, sighed, shrugged my shoulders, stood up.
"Well, it's not like I have much choice," I said. "Let's get on with it."
"Good lad! Now hang on a tick while I make a few necessary preparations. A few modifications are in order."
Throckmorton glanced up and down at me.
"You're a fine specimen, Young Mr. Chastain, but do you think you could hold your own against a squad of goons, for example? Once I've enhanced your, uh, "dimensions" to heroic proportions you'll have nothing to worry about.
Now THAT piqued my interest.
I'd seriously considered taking up bodybuilding in a serious way on more than one occasion. I hadn't done so mostly because of pressure from my dad, my uncles and my older brothers, all of whom were rabid baseball fanatics. I'd often wondered what the results might be.
"What do I have to do?"
"Wanting helps," he repied. "Wanting to be the biggest. Wanting to be the strongest. Wanting the outside to be just as fabulous as the inside. Do you know what I mean?"
Fantasies about what it would be like to be really BIG, the size of Throckmorton or the goons, had always been with me. I knew, moreover, that such size was in my grasp in my every day life - if I really wanted it. How much more might this bring?
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