“Can we go shopping for two more dresses? I’ll need at least two outfit changes during the dance.”
Stomping her way up and down the Grand Hallway, Zizadore makes the most of her abilities as the broom is taped to her body acting as her second leg and two dusters are attached to Zolly’s body so he hops then flies briefly dusting the furniture, then falling with a crash.
Zibbles has the wooden handle of the third duster attached to his tail and is busy chasing the zunnies, capturing them and laying them in Zizadore’s dustpan.
Zizadore watches and smiles, using sign language as she speaks–
“Sit. Stay, zunnies.”
Of course, as soon as Zizadore turns, the zunnies escape a vicious cycle.
Zizadore manages a kind of dance as she works.
“I wish I had wings. I’d fly the heck out of here,” said Zolly.
“I wish I could see. I’d find the door and run the heck out of here,” said Zibbles.
“I wish I had a new leg so I could dance again… Zizadore said. “Why do we only appreciate what we had when it’s gone… The simple things.”
“My kingdom for a biscuit!” Zibbles said as he rumbled with the grumbling in his stomach.
“We still have each other,” Zolly said, wondering suddenly if his family would be taken from him as well soon.
Zizadore nodded, watching her former life through the window as Damiana and all the other children were walking and running, going to school as the distant school bell rang.
She can’t help but dance and sing her wishes into the wild wind:
WHAT WOULD I DO?
SO MUCH MORE
WHEN I START TO SPUTTER
OR EVEN UTTER
A SINGLE WORD
I SHUDDER THE WAY IT WILL
AND WHAT IF I HAD A CHANCE
TO REALLY DANCE
JUST LIKE I USED TO
Zizadore starts sweeping and her singing lulls the zunnies into the dustpan to sleep.
Zizadore lifts the dustpan of zunnies and places them gently into their bunkbeds underneath the furniture, which levitates above the floor, hidden from Demonia.
I BELIEVE WE ARE ALL MORE
THAN THE SUM OF OUR PARTS
IT ALL STARTS
WITH THE MUSIC IN OUR HEARTS
AT MY CORE
LOVE IS WHO I AM
BEFORE AND EVER AFTER-
THE FIRST SLAM
OF LIFE’S OPEN DOOR
Demonia thunders in, wearing black gloves.
“Time for the Black Glove inspection.”
Demonia touches the surface of all the furniture. Zizadore’s stomach is somersaulting with hunger.
“May I have some porridge now?” asked Zizadore, having completed her chore to perfection.
Demonia searches desperately until she finds one sparkling speck. She cackles with joy. Demonia sticks her black gloved finger in Zizadore’s face.
“DUST! No porridge for you! Go cook my lunch of lizardbethan roast and you better not burn it this time.”
“Can I go to school tomorrow?” Zizadore asked.
“You incompetent orphan. If your parents hadn’t been killed in that
chariot crash, I wouldn’t be burdened with your impossible demands. You
don’t need school. Get used to a life of work, work, work.”
“Yes, Queen Demonia.”
The rest of the day was a blur of work and hunger, Zizadore’s heart became buried in a sorrow dreading every tomorrow.
As Zizadore is sleeping, there is no rest either, her body lashing about, she relives the nightmare of the chariot crash.
As Zack is swerving to avoid the boulder, Zack slams on the brakes, which fail, sparks of lightning flying up.
“The brakes! The brakes!” screams Zizadore from her worst dream jolted back into the darkness of her reality.
Zizadore sits up, terrified as she reaches for Zibbles and Zolly and hugs them.
The zunnies form a blanket and wrap around her.
“Thank you, I’m alright now.”
Zibbles jumps into her arms, demanding to be heard.
“Evil cut the brakes. I saw. I need my eyes. Demon–”
Zibbles demonstrates, slinking toward the wheelchair, carrying scissors, and pretends to cut the wire to the brakes.
“You saw that?” Zizadore asked in disbelief, but then the more she thought about it, the more absolute sense it made.
“Demon cut the brakes. I need my eyes. I saw!”
Zibbles rubs his sockets.
“Don’t rub your eyes, Zibbles.”
“I knew she was evil, but that’s uber-evil,” said Zolly.
Zizadore gets up, hearing music coming from the walls. They all put their ears to the wall.
“Classical music, my favorite,” said Zolly chirping along.
“It’s Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’. I was going to dance my first royal recital to this before–” Zizadore sobs.
The rumbling of Zibbles’ stomach is louder than the music.
“Are there biscuits, or wunderbeast sandwiches or treats of any kind?” asked Zibbles. “I’m so hungry I could die.”
“Me too,” Zolly said.
“Me three,” Zizadore added. “We are being starved to death.”
Zizadore presses her hands along the wall, as the magic stones light up.
Zizadore frantically presses a code that she hopes will work.
The door suddenly opens.
Zizadore, Zolly, Zibbles and the zunnies all enter her father’s secret laboratory.
Tables are still filled with half-finished inventions, covered in a layer of dust and cobwebs.
Zizadore follows the music to a glowing phonograph next to the computer and printer.
The computer boots up with an explosion of lights and the screen is a mirror image of a dance floor with her in it.
“What can this do?” Zizadore wondered.
The printer light begins blinking.
“Press the button. Press the button,” said Zolly.
Zizadore hesitates, and before she can stop Zibbles, he jumps up and presses the button with his nose.
The printer pours out purple smoke and Zelda appears.
“Zizadore, my love. I’m so sorry I had to leave you.”
“Mommy! Get me out of here. Take me with you.”
“No, my love, you have all the abilities you need to go wherever you want and do whatever you want. You have so much to accomplish on this side of The Great Veil. Your father left you all his inventions. You must create your own destiny now.”
“How can I do that?” asked Zizadore.
“Just a little imagination and a big heart. That’s all the magic you need-”
Zelda begins to fade into the light.
“Wait, did Demonia have you killed?”
Zelda mouths something Zizadore can’t hear then suddenly vaporizes and vanishes into the air.
But wait, Mommy! Don’t leave me again!!
She’s very, very, gone, said Zolly.
Zibbles runs around sniffing for food.
She didn’t even leave us any biscuits, snacks or treats of any kind.
Zizadore sits down at the computer and starts typing.
What should we try to make first?
Zolly wants a cracker. But we’re all starving. Biscuits and sunflower seeds – try that.
Zizadore touches the keyboard.
A prompt with purple calligraphy reads –
What can I make for you?
Zizadore types – biscuits and sunflower seeds.
An explosion of colors then smoke.
Noises and sparks are coming from the seemingly archaic printer. After a moment, biscuits and sunflower seeds shoot from the printer, filling the room.
“Oh my goodness,” said Zizadore.
They all grab biscuits and sunflower seeds and start eating.
“Delicious!” said Zibbles.
“These are the sunniest sunflower seeds I’ve ever tasted,” said Zolly.
Zizadore hops back to the computer and looks at the screen.
“I wonder what else we can do…”
As Zizadore touches the keys, the screen goes black.
“Is it broken?” asked Zolly.
“Make it print a roasted chickenbeefcakepizza. Extra large,” said Zibbles optimistically.
Zizadore presses the keys. Nothing.
“It’s not working anymore.”
She looks under the desk and sees the cords aren’t plugged into the electrical sockets.
She quickly plugs the cords in then jumps back in front of the computer.
As she pounds the keys. Blackness.
“Maybe just a one-time thing. We better go back to my room. It’s almost morning,” said Zizadore.
“Let’s take our loot with us,” said Zolly.
“At least we won’t be hungry anymore,” added Zibbles gathering some biscuits.
The zunnies unite to form a blanket and they all gather the sunflower seeds and biscuits and haul them back into Zizadore’s room.
The following morning, in the kitchen, Zizadore is making omelets for Damiana and Demonia, staring mindlessly at the walls.
Demonia and Damiana are sitting at the table, waiting impatiently for their breakfast.
“Hurry up!” said Damiana. “I’m nearly fainting from hunger.”
Demonia picks up the Kingdom Gazette newspaper, reading:
“Villagers Starve While Queen Increases Taxes To Historical Rates.”
Demonia throws down the newspaper.
“Let them eat biscuits!” Demonia snorted
Zizadore reacts, remembering her mother’s words, which she starts singing in defiance.
ONLY SELFISH HEARTS
ARE UNABLE TO HOLD
THAT KINDNESS ABOVE ALL
SHOULD BE COUNTED AS GOLD
Outraged, Demonia threw her plate at Zizadore’s head, missing it by a sliver of an inch.
“Shut up and cook!”
Zizadore’s heart races, as she looks heavenward for help.
On the walls above her head, purple calligraphy is writing itself from corner to corner.
Zizadore struggles to read it, faint in some places, boldly imprinted in others.
“Terms of— custody…”
Zizadore has forgotten about the omelets now burning in the skillet.
Damiana and Demonia see the smoke.
“You’re burning my breakfast, you idiot!” yelled Damiana.
“Can’t you do one thing right?” asked Demonia.
Zizadore quickly takes the skillet off the flame.
“Sorry, I’ll start over.”
Zizadore opens the trash bin where Zibbles is sitting with his bowl in front of him.
Zizadore gently scrapes the slightly singed omelets into his dish, blowing on them to cool them. Zibbles gobbles up the omelets.
Zizadore takes a half-dozen eggs and starts whipping them as a spider holding a bottle which reads ‘sleeping potion’ lowers itself into the bowl. She whips the spider and the potion into the eggs with a smile on her face.
“Spider omelets, my new specialty,” Zizadore said under her breath, and within minutes, her culinary creepy creation was complete and divided onto the Royal China, being eaten by Damiana and Demonia.
Zizadore waited patiently, washing pots and pans.
Demonia and Damiana are yawning, eyes closing. Zizadore is clearing the plates.
“I’m so sleepy. I can’t keep my eyes open,” said Damiana, her eyelids at half mast.
“Me neither. No school today,” said Demonia. “I ought to send you to the
orphanage for this, Zizadore!”
“I’m so sorry, Queen Demonia. My mind is full of cobwebs these days.”
“We’re going to lie down,” mumbled Demonia. “Come along, my darling.”
Without the strength to lift themselves from their chairs, Demonia and Damiana fall fast asleep in their chairs.
Zizadore looks back up at the walls. The writing is gone.
She grabs some paper and a pen.
“I’ll have to recreate it from memory.”
She begins writing. Zolly hops up and tries to read it.
“Some kind of legal document,” Zolly said.
Zizadore looks at Zolly, then the words.
Music can be heard through the walls.
They all rush out of the kitchen and through the storage room, following the music into the secret laboratory.
Zizadore rushes to the computer which is lit up. The printer is blinking.
“Press print,” said Zolly.
Zizadore presses the Print button and a swirl of purple smoke and Zack appears, along with a LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT.
“My Zizadore. I brought you what you need to be able to go to school. Stick this under Demonia’s snooty snout and you’ll get what you want. Stand up for your rights!”
Zizadore starts reading as Zolly sits on her shoulder, reading as well.
“Conditions of castle ownership… guardianship of Zizadore, paragraph
seven hundred and seventy-seven states clearly—
Zack gives Zizadore a hug.
“Sorry I can’t stay longer– I’ll come back soon– it’s almost our favorite holiday and your birthday-”
Zack laughs and vaporizes, vanishing back into the printer. The computer goes black.
Zizadore reads for a moment.
“How can I say all this? And why would that demented queen even believe
me?” asked Zizadore.
“I have an idea–” said Zolly, hopping toward another corner of the laboratory yet to have been explored.
Zolly clears his throat and dials the red phone glowing in the corner.
Back in the kitchen, Damiana and Demonia are snoring at the table when the phone rings, waking them.
Demonia wipes sleep from her eyes and picks up the phone.
Zolly is talking into the phone held by Zizadore.
“Your heinous, I mean, Highness, Queen Demonia? This is Parrot Mason, Esquire, you can call me Parry. I’m calling on behalf of my client, Princess Zizadore of Zancerwell.”
“What on earth for?” demanded Demonia.
“I am in receipt of a copy of Queen Zelda’s Last Will And Testament and it clearly states that she is to enjoy “all of the education, living comfortabilities, and child necessities including but not limited to daily school” or you are in breach of the conditions of said will and you and your little demon– I mean darling daughter must vacate the castle immediately and a new legal guardian will be granted to her.”
“Well, I never–” said Demonia, suddenly out of sorts.
“Exactly,” said Zolly. “And from now on you better honor your legal obligations or your respective petuties will be dragged out onto Shenanigan Lane where you know what will happen?”
“Precisely. Glad we’ve resolved this matter amicably. Good day,
your malicious majesty. Good day.”
Zolly hangs up the phone and Zolly, Zizadore, Zibbles and the zunnies all laugh.
Zizadore’s joyous laughter suddenly turns to panic.
“What am I going to wear?”
She hops over to a shelf and takes down a bunch of boxes.
Inside one box, a dozen dresses and gowns from another century. Zizadore holds a few up to her body.
Zolly pecks with his beak at the sides of the dress like a pair of scissors.
“A tuck here, a hem there– This can work. Find me a needle and thread.”
“In the living room…” said Zizadore and hopped her way through the hallway.
Zizadore hops in the living room while Demonia and Damiana are opening bags of dresses and shoes.
Zizadore spots a sewing basket with thread and needles.
Demonia glares at Zizadore.
“Why aren’t you cooking dinner?”
Zizadore gathers all of her courage.
“I’m not your maid or cook. I have to get ready for school tomorrow. I have a copy of my mother’s Last Will And Testament and you will be evicted if you dare stop me from going to school.”
“How are you going to get there?” asked Damiana. “Hop?”
Demonia and Damiana laugh.
“There’s no room in my carriage if that’s what you’re thinking.”
“Then who is making our meals?” asked Demonia.
“Not my problem,” said Zizadore as she hops over to the sewing basket, takes it and hops out of the room.
Now back in her storage room, Zizadore is wearing her newly altered dress and looks very pretty.
Zizadore looks down.
“How will I get to school? My wheelchair is rusted and broken.”
Zibbles stands in front of the wheelchair, barking.
“I can pull you!!” offered Zibbles.
“But you can’t see where you’re going,” said Zolly.
“Zolly, if you could be his eyes, maybe this could work.”
They hear music from the wall. Zizadore punches in the code and the wall opens.
The wheelchair is magically pulled into the secret laboratory.
The wheelchair stops in front of the computer.
On the computer screen, a Giant Eye appears and snaps a photo of the wheelchair while laser rays shoot out and scan the dimensions.
The eye pulls back and now Zack’s face is floating on the screen.
“Papa?” Zizadore asked, hopefully.
“Hello again, my dearest girl, Zack said. “I hope you don’t mind if I stay in the computer. It’s exhausting going back and forth from my dimension to
“Can you help me with a ride to school?”
“Absoltively, posolutely. You know what I mean. I almost completed my greatest invention before the chariot crash.”
“You’ll see in a moment– hopefully. Where are my glasses?”
“On your face.”
“Good. Here’s goes something–”
Purple smoke and a whirl of sparks, fireworks and a small explosion as the wheelchair is sucked into the computer.
An earthquake occurs and Zizadore falls down.
“Papa, I’m scared! What’s happening?”
Zolly and Zibbles huddle around her. The zunnies appear and become a blanket to comfort her as a magical wind swirls about.
“Hold onto your wigs and keys,” said Zack, “as they say in the wigs and keys business–”
Another rumbling, then the printer widens like a huge mouth with sparks and fire until out pops a new glowing wheelchair with a dome top and side doors and front control center.
Zizadore gets up.
“What is it?” asked Zizadore.
“Your new ride. A ‘SmartChariot’. A more compact version of the
Chariot 3000. Fits two. Or one human and two small animals. Try it out.”
Zizadore hops in. Takes the reins.
“You have a choice, added Zack, demonstrating its features. “You can sit for leisure or stand in command.”
Zibbles excitedly sniffs the SmartChariot and finds the front. Stands there.
“I’m ready for my harness,” Zibbles said proudly.
“I don’t think you’re big enough or strong enough to pull this,” said Zolly
Zack laughs from the computer screen.
“Am so! Hook me up!” Zibbles insisted.
“Only one way to find out.”
“Zolly, help me please,” said Zizadore. “This is a team effort.”
“There better be more sunflowers flying out of that printer soon,” said Zolly.
“Oh, wait,” said Zizadore. “We have to bring biscuits to the hungry villagers–”
“What?” said Zolly. “We’re sharing now?!”
“No, no, no– bad idea,” Zibbles told Zizadore.
She gets out and the printer suddenly pops out hundreds of biscuits and sunflower seeds.
“Yes. We can put these in bags and deliver them on our way to school.”
“Your mother would be proud. I’ll let her know,” said Zack.
An hour later, the SmartChariot was loaded up with bags of biscuits and sunflower seeds tied with bows.
Zolly takes the harness in his beak and gently attaches the harness to Zibbles, who wags his tail and smiles proudly.
Zizadore heard the school bell ringing in the distance and looks up at three clocks marked PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE.
“What time is it?” asked Zizadore, confused.
“Time is relative– but in your world, you better skedaddle– don’t want to
be late for your first day back.”
Zack’s face fades and the computer screen goes black.
Zizadore looks at the SmartChariot.
“How do we get this out of here?” Zizadore looked toward the door to the storage room.
In the kitchen, Demonia handed Damiana some leftovers in a bag.
“That’s all I could find. I’ll have to hire a cook and a maid now.
Their salaries will be taken out of your royal allowance.”
“Mine?!” asked Damiana. “That’s not fair.”
“Get used to it. Where is that dreadful cousin of yours?”
“Maybe she fell down a well so we can have this castle all to ourselves–”
The sound of horse hooves in the front of the castle.
“Your royal carriage is here. Have a wunderbeastly day.”
Damiana runs out the door while Demonia follows.
In the driveway, Damiana steps into the horse-drawn carriage, while Demonia stands on the front steps-
At the side of the castle, the SmartChariot is moving slowly from the sidewalk and rolling down the street toward the school, led by Zibbles, Zolly perched on his back.
“Now stay to your right,” instructed Zolly. “Your other right!”
Zizadore waves to Damiana’s chariot.
“What the heck is that?” asked Damiana.
“A ‘SmartChariot’… See you in homeroom.”
Damiana laughs at how slow the SmartChariot going, but the SmartChariot is impressive and Zizadore smiles at her new mode of transportation. But after a few moments-
“It just doesn’t seem that magical.”
On a nearby tree, Zack’s face appears.
“I thought you would want to take the scenic route. Enjoy the simple things…”