It was not fear, not fear at all that Denby thought he saw. James had developed an immunity to the self-imposed affliction. An immunity not born solely from his certainty of constant victory over death, but the result of intensive autodidactic indoctrination over the course of centuries. There are those that may argue there is little left to fear once death is taken off the table. To which James would gladly point them in the direction of spiders, speeches and sharp, pointy spears—for starters. So, with ceaseless determination, he set out to make fear forever foreign and successfully banished it from the gates of his mind. He would happily submit that the whole “not dying thing” did help.

But Denby was not completely incorrect. Something was off. The offness was a sudden and acute case of “Wodosotoredo.” An unordinary word not found in any ordinary medical journals. It had an extremely brief history.

Wodosotoredo (wōˈdō·soˈtoʊˈrə·dō): When one does something they really do not want to do, but do it anyway because they agreed to, but cannot for the life of them remember why they agreed to do such a thing.

James had, just now, both invented and diagnosed himself with the malady. Funny enough, Denby had suffered from wodosotoredo every day of his life but never thought to give it a name.


In spite of the wodosotoredo, James, in one perfect fluid motion, effortlessly twirled the angry weird lightsaber and took a step forward.

In response, a dozen dollops of pearlescent light bled from the bark of the knotted and gnarled trunk. The dollops folded in on themselves and transformed. Transformed into crystalline creatures with a curious resemblance to chubby origami butterflies. They flapped. They fluttered. They chaotically danced above the knotted and gnarled trunk, leaving behind streams of their multi-colored pearlescent light.


Denby watched the tiny creatures’ aerial acrobatics.

They’re beautiful . . .

. . . this can’t be good.

He was correct on both accounts. But before Denby could combine past memories of fireflies and scenes from random horror films, the chubby crystalline butterflies stopped their chaotic dance, banded into a diamond formation and made way to James.

This really can’t be good.

“I gotta find that ring . . . and, oh my gods . . . Jerry," Denby said.

Bradbury scanned the crickety darkness, “What’s happening, kid?” He leaned in, “Who is Jerry? What’s goin’ on now?”

“These buggy lookin’ thingies,” Denby answered. “They’re flyin’ toward James. And Jerry is James’ pet that is totally not a rabbit but looks a lot like a rabbit. Without ears.”

“Buggy looking thingies and an earless rabbit?”

“Dunno what the buggy thingies are. Gotta find the ring. Gotta find Jerry,” Denby hurriedly began his search for the lost.


Denby may not have known what the buggy thingies were, but James certainly did.

“Pissy pixies,” James scowled and took another step forward.

It is to be noted that pissy pixies was not their official unordinary designation. But no matter their name, they were coming for James. They closed the gap through the blue bubbled haze. They orbited his boots, spiraled upward and encircled him in a helix with their pearlescent trails.


The pissy pixies circled and circled.

James took another step forward.

The pissy pixies broke formation and danced in midair.


They erratically dive-bombed, swooping in and out of his field of view.

James took another step forward.

A pissy pixie landed on his ear and let out a high-pitched sing-songy squeal, “You . . . should . . . not . . . have . . . come . . . here . . . ”

James took another step forward.

The pissy pixies danced, and joined together in a sing-songy chorus.

"You . . .

should . . .

not . . .

have . . .

come . . .

here . . . 

You . . .

should . . .

not . . .

have . . .

come . . .

here . . . “

James was annoyed, but his extra-unordinary focus remained unfazed and he took another step forward.

The pissy pixies swarmed. They latched themselves to the angry weird lightsaber while they continued their sing-songy warning cry. Their crystalline bodies pulsed with every word,

"You . . .

should . . .

not . . .

have . . .

come . . .

here . . .

You . . .

should . . .

not . . .

have . . .

come . . .

here . . . “

James took another step forward.

A pair of pixies fluttered to James’ face. Each perched on a cheek bone and proceeded to hold a conversation across the bridge of his nose. “Do you think he can hear us?”

“I don’t think he can hear us.”

“Right? The fool is not leaving!”

“Walking straight to his doom.”

James took another step forward.

“You can’t say we didn’t warn him.”

“We have definitely warned him.”

“She is going to be quite displeased.”

“Quite displeased.”

James took another step forward.

“Pffft. Your funeral, pal.”

“Your funeral.”

The two conversing pixies rejoined their compatriots that clung to the angry weird lightsaber. They continued their chorus,

“You . . .

should . . .

not . . .

have . . .

come . . .

here . . .

You . . .

should . . .

not . . .


It was at this split second in time, in the midst of the sing-songy chorus, that a mistake was made. A tiny mistake. A tiny mistake pushed by the persistent pixies, but made by James. He flinched. His hand flinched and his body twitched. It was a seemingly insignificant fracture in concentration, but James knew full well that was all she needed. All Calista needed was that small split-second opportunity for an opening. If James himself had a split second to spare, he would have said, "This is going to hurt." He did not have that spare split second.


The knotted and gnarled trunk, using the pixies as an unordinary targeting system, rocketed toward James in a flash. It was a pinpointed attack aimed directly at James’ fidgeting fighting hand.


The grand collision knocked the angry weird lightsaber from James’ grasp, and the immortal fell backwards onto the turf.

In less than a blink of an eye, the knotted and gnarled trunk was atop James. Although the trunk was far less trunklike up close. It had arms. It had legs. It had a torso and head, and the pixie pearlescent light coursed across its barky skin. It rammed its knees against James’ chest and barraged him with hard wooden blows.

Between left and right crosses, James spoke, “This is . . . a good look . . . for you . . . “

It was difficult to tell if the knotted and gnarled trunk heard James’ compliment. It continued the pummeling until it wrapped its wood encrusted hands around the immortal’s throat.

James did not fight back, although he did attempt to eek out an objection, “Plleease . . . stop . . . “

The knotted and gnarled trunk did not yield.

The pissy pixies danced and sang, “You should not have come here.”


Goosebumps ran from the tips of Denby's toes to the top of his head. The tiny bumps were not the result of rutting around in the cold damp sand searching for the lost ring of Khangaalak, nor from any unknown and unexplainable source. It was simple. It was nerves. Excitable nerves from having a front-row seat to the unordinary main event of Calista vs. James.

Denby watched the beautiful buggy thingies flitter around the immortal. He watched them concentrate their attention on the hilt of the angry weird lightsaber.

"What is happening, kid?” Bradbury asked. "Don't leave me in the dark."

"Buggy thingies, they are saying . . . or singing . . . something . . . I can't really hear. They are all over his —"



The knotted and gnarled trunk attacked. A horizontal, thunderless lightning strike of an attack that let off a shockwave. A shockwave so powerful that it sent Denby tail over tea kettle.

Bradbury was bewildered as Denby somersaulted backwards and fell to the sand for, from Bradbury’s point of view, seemingly no reason at all.

Denby popped to his feet. He saw the buggy thingies twinkle above the knotted and gnarled trunk. A trunk that was noticeably less knotted and gnarled, and now appeared to be a barrel-chested, bark-covered behemoth. Covered in bark and fully enraged.

He watched as it threw blow after blow at his friend’s face. Helplessly, he watched the thumping until the enraged wooden figure began to choke James. That is when Denby’s overwhelming helplessness lead to a reaction. An unordinary gut reaction.

Denby climbed out of the sandy bunker and sprinted toward the melee.

“Kid! What are you doing!?” Bradbury yelled.

What am I doing . . . Denby thought as he ran across the turf. What am I doing? Denby thought again and stampered to a stop.

There he stood, a trespasser on the Wexford Public Golf course, illuminated in a blue bubbled haze, between a friendly, tattooed stranger and an immortal being bested by a tree. He could now hear the pixies’ taunting song. If he could have, he would have sat down right then and there on the dewy turf and given himself a moment to gather his wits. He needed a moment.

I hate golf . . . he thought.

“What are you doing!?” Bradbury yelled.

I hate golf . . . Denby thought. I really . . . hate golf . . . I really . . . hate golf . . . hate . . . golf. 

That repeating, rampant negative thought of the ordinary sport sprouted an idea. An idea that sprouted and swiftly grew. He yelled to Bradbury, “Grab that club!”

“What?!” Bradbury shouted back.

“There’s a club. Somebody forgot a golf club. Left it. I tripped on it. It is around there somewhere!” Denby yelled.

Bradbury fumbled in the darkness, “I don’t see it.”

“It’s there! On the edge of the sand!” Denby yelled back.

In the ordinary darkness, Bradbury felt around the lip of sod on the edge of the sandy bunker. He found it. He found the forgotten golf club. An ordinary forgotten sand wedge. “Got it! I got it!”

“Throw it! Throw it here!”

Bradbury blindly heaved the club through the darkness in the direction of Denby’s voice. It bounced and twanged and landed with a thud. Denby grabbed the ordinary sand wedge, gripped it firmly and made a mad dash toward the main event.


“For . . . the . . . love . . . of . . . the . . . gods . . . listen . . . to . . . —,” James gurgled. His lips began to turn purple while the pissy pixies danced and sang and chatted.

“We told him.”

“We sure did.”

“Can’t blame us for his predicament.”

“Nope, nosiree.”

“Not at all.”

“Oh, wait, is that someone coming?”

“Who is it?”

“I dunno.”



“Hey! Someone’s coming!”

Although the pixies tried their best to alert their master, it did not matter. Much like with James, the warning was not heeded. Denby arrived in a full sprint, wound up and swung. He swung the ordinary golf club with all the force he could muster.


Unlike many an obligated office outing of the ordinary sport of golf, Denby did not miss. Quite the opposite. His perfect swing connected. The head of the ordinary golf club made violent contact, creating a near cartoonlike collision that propelled the unordinary barked attacker off of James, into the air and onto the turf several yards away.

The pissy pixies scattered and retreated.

I hate golf . . . Denby thought.

James coughed, rubbed his neck and reached up for Denby’s hand. He tried to speak, “Sma— agghem—smashing show. Terrifically smashing. All in all, better than expected.”

Denby helped hoist James to his feet. James took a deep breath, refilled his lungs with air and exhaled, “I am grateful, my good Denby, exquisite timing. Although, if memory serves, did I not instruct you to put on the ring?”

“Umm,” Denby shifted back and forth.

“Where is the ring?” James asked. “Where is Jerry?”

Denby scrunched and twisted his hands together. But before he could give James the bad news that he had lost beloved Jerry and the irreplaceable ring of Khangaalak, he was interrupted by Bradbury who had found his way through the ordinary darkness. “Is everything okay!?” He spun in a mildly frantic circle. “Are they still at it?”

Denby and James turned toward the pixies that fluttered about the barrel-chested behemoth.


The pixies pleaded with their unconscious master, “Wake up! Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

“It’s over,” Denby answered Bradbury.

“What now?” Bradbury asked.

“If the charioteer will not depart, then please request his patience,” James said to Denby.

“If you could give us a moment,” Denby relayed.

“A moment?”

“Yeah, a moment.”

Bradbury was unsure what was real and what was not. He was unsure whether he actually witnessed Denby disappear and then reappear. He was unsure whether there really was a fantastical world right beside his own. He was unsure of many, many things. But, even in the face of endless uncertainties, he wanted to believe. “Okay,” he said.


“Take as many moments as you need.”


James and Denby stood above the not-so knotted and gnarled trunk, the sleeping barrel-chested behemoth, and were confronted by the pixies.

“When she wakes, you two are gonna be in trrrrrouble.”

“So much trouble.”

“And we won’t save you.”

“Nope, not gonna save you.”

James waved the pixies away.

The multi-colored pearlescent light, that had streamed through the behemoth’s bark, faded and seeped from a tear. A massive tear in the unordinary wood where Denby’s forgotten golf club had made contact. Through the tear Denby could see worn chestnut-brown leather.

It’s just a shell . . . armor? Denby thought.

The sleeping behemoth’s head jerked.

Denby raised his golf club. James raised his hand, then slowly lowered it, “Are you certain that the first thing you would like her to see when she wakes is an open invitation to tear you limb from limb?”

Denby lowered his club and dropped it to the turf.

“Good thinking,” James winked.

The waking behemoth attempted to stand, although stopped half-way, took a knee and whispered, “Rida. Amra. Nun.”

Pearlescent light pulsed and coursed through the armor. The torn section began to repair itself.

The pixies formed into a sold ball of light, returned to the behemoth and were absorbed back into the bark.

The unordinary armor began to fall off in sections. Each wooden section, from boots to greaves to gauntlets to chest plate to helm, fell off, spun, shrank and dematerialized into a translucent trinket. A translucent trinket that dangled, amongst other unordinary oddities, around the neck of Calista, the wild woman of the woodlands.


She looks just like Mrs. Fugleberg . . .

The Scandinavian woman known as Mrs. Fugleberg was Denby’s eighth grade English teacher. He had always enjoyed her classes and remembered them fondly. But his memory had failed him to a degree, for Calista had very few similarities to the junior high school teacher. Mrs. Fugleberg did not possess quite the square jaw, nor short tangled dirty blonde hair. Mrs. Fugleberg did not rise to Calista’s six-foot frame, nor did Mrs. Fugleberg look as if she had spent half of her lifetime lifting heavy objects in a gymnasium. Denby had also never once seen the ordinary school teacher wear an unordinary Vikinglike leather get-up after shedding pixified tree armor. Denby’s faulty memory could be forgiven though; he had had quite the evening.

“You’re not a tree,” Denby said to the stone-faced Calista.

“No, I am not a tree,” Calista turned and began to walk back to the creepiest of woods.

“Wait!” Denby yelled.

She did not wait.

“Calista, come now. Wait a moment, won’t you?” James requested.

Calista stopped, looked at Denby and said, “I don’t know who or what you are, but you would be best served if you ran as quickly as you could from that one.” She gestured at James and continued toward the creepiest of woods.

“Denby is human,” James said.

Calista stopped again and turned to the duo.

Denby waved, “Yup. Human.”

“This is one of Blindal’s tricks,” Calista said.

“Nope,” Denby stopped waving. “Not a . . . not a trick.”

“Alas, dear Calista. Denby is indeed human,” James said.

Calista eyed Denby from top to bottom, “I do not believe you. Such a thing is not possible.”

“It is not possible. Yet, here he is.” James patted Denby on the head.

“I do not believe you,” Calista repeated.

Like clockwork, Bradbury, once again spoke up from the ordinary darkness. “Hey, I am gonna go wait in the car.”

“And who is this?” Calista asked.

“Denby, have the good charioteer join us,” James ordered.

“Hey, Bradbury, come here.”

Bradbury walked up to Denby, obviously oblivious to James and Calista, and asked, “What’s up? How much longer do you think you’re gonna be? Kinda chilly out here.”

Calista grabbed hold of Denby’s forearm and waved it about wildly.

“You okay, kiddo? Or . . . as okay as . . . you know what I mean,” Bradbury asked with concern to Denby’s flailing appendage.

Calista let go of Denby, arched an eyebrow and tried to grab hold of Bradbury’s arm. As soon as she did, she was rocked back. Zapped, as it were, from the unintentional rules that she and all of the unordinary were forced to live by. “How is this possible?”

“I’m okay,” Denby responded to Bradbury.

“It is not possible,” James responded to Calista.

“Okay, I am gonna go wait in the car,” Bradbury said.

“Just wait a minute,” Denby insisted. “Calista needs to come with us.”

“Come with you?” Calista reacted with disdain. “I think not.”

“You gotta come with us,” Denby said.

“I think not,” Calista repeated. “Go with you where, exactly? And do what?”

“Tell her, James.”

“Yes, tell me, James.”

“Tell her about the plan. To take on Latimore. Free your people.”

Calista scoffed, “Human boy, what could you possibly know about Latimore?”

“They told me all about him. They told me about all of it. That guy Harold and—”

“—Harold?! The fisherman’s tale?” Calista laughed. “Good gods.”


“Who is they, child?” Calista interrupted again.

“James and Blindal.”

Calista laughed once again and grew angry. “You do not know who you are dealing with. James is the most dangerous being alive—if you can call it alive. He is dangerous in ways that you cannot possibly understand. He is not to be trusted. And Blindal—”

“—Now Cal, please," James interrupted.  “You have every right to be a tad bit miffed.”

“Every right?” Calista snapped. “A tad bit miffed!?”

“What’s goin’ on?” Bradbury asked.

“James and Calista don’t seem to like each other very much.”

“Well, maybe . . . maybe they should start by finding some common ground. Build from there,” Bradbury recommended. “They both hate that Latimore guy, right? The evil guy? I mean that is the whole reason we are here, right? Mutual hatred is always a good place to start. Well, maybe not a good place . . . but it is something.”

“The charioteer is correct,” James said to Calista. “We humbly request your company for one reason and one reason only. To help bring down the tyrant.”

Calista did not respond.

“We have been presented with a unique . . . opportunity,” James added. “The extraordinary Denby is that unique opportunity.”

Calista did not respond and looked unmoved.

“We would not have bothered you. Never sought you out, if it not for this opportunity. This new, if slight, advantage that presents itself. With this advantage we hope to rid the world of Latimore. In order to do so, we are seeking the greatest of warriors. To join us,” James continued. “What say you, Calista? Will you join us?”

“No.” Calista answered simply and without fanfare she walked away. She left James, Denby, and Bradbury on the ninth green and disappeared into the creepiest of woods.




“No?” Denby asked James. “She said no?”

"Okie doke," James patted Denby on the shoulder. “Let us go. We have many miles to travel.”

“What do you mean, ‘okie doke’?” Denby asked. “She has to come with us.”

“No. She doesn’t,” James answered. “She doesn’t want to.”

“Kiddo, what is happening?” Bradbury asked.

“She’s not coming with.”


“Yeah, I guess.”


The blue bubbled haze over the Wexford Public Golf Course began to lift, and the unordinary light it provided was being retaken by night.

Denby looked skyward as the stars came back into view and filled up the night sky. Unfortunately, the stars were not alone in their return. Something else stirred amidst the reemerging twinkling lights. Denby could not see it at first, but he could almost feel it. Almost.

A blackened shifty silhouette moved in front of the star field.

What is tha


A single Halloman screeched . . .


. . . then another . . .


. . . followed by another . . .






. . . and another and another and another.


Denby could no longer see the stars.

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