Chris McGowan (.net)


This is the episode.  This is the episode that I said, at the very beginning, would be the one where I figure it all out.

So it’s interesting that THIS “previously on” relives every single suspect I ever named.  They literally just machine gun every person the show has kinda sorta hinted MAY have done it.  Great.  So much for that to help narrow things down.

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Beyond the Neverending Valley (of Ellsworth and Umbrage) Part 10

A story in parts

By Chris McGowan

The blue Crud monster hovered over Smileyface, slobbering on the sarcastic pony. Smileyface was backed into a corner, a wall of dirt and grass behind him, unable to flee.

“So this is how it ends? Of course. Big slimey monster,” Smileyface said.

Suddenly, the trees began to shake, rattle and whoosh. Both Smileyface and the Crud monster looked up.

An enormous eagle slowly descended, its claws outstretched.

“That’s a huge bird!” Smileyface remarked. The Crud monster nodded. The eagle hovered low enough to grab Smileyface and lift him up and out of harm’s way. Smileyface laughed hysterically.

“Later, slime bucket! I got saved!” Smileyface shouted. “By who?”

* * * 

Linda picked up some dirt in one hand, and a cup in the other.

“I’m having a blast, Grandma. Let’s do it.”

“You do understand that all that is happening here is the natural order of things,” Mary said.

“Hush your face and bring it,” Linda shouted back.

“It’s you - you and your stuffy parents with your castles and edicts and scrolls -“

“How do you know about the scrolls?” Linda said, taken aback.  She dropped a few specks of dirt.

“Oh, dear, everyone knows about your silly Scrolls of Destiny,” Mary replied, her appearance now morphing a bit and to Linda’s eyes, Mary appeared younger.  “You think because you come from a family that writes your life ahead of time that everything is OK?  Everything all works out?”

“I’ve never thought that.  And I’m not going to feel bad for being who I am.  Now put up your… dukes… or whatever!”

“You don’t even know what you want out of life, do you, Linda?”  Mary said, wandering away from the hut and taking a seat on the ground.

“I… have time for that,” Linda responded, still clutching her cup and dirt tightly.

“Really?  You think your parents are going to allow you to do something - anything - other than be the next Queen of Ellsworth and Umbrage? Or, wait, let’s say you run away, join an art commune! That would be fun, right? So with the kingdom falling apart, and with their only daughter living underground and under an assumed name painting watercolors, is the life you want to live?”

Linda hadn’t really thought that far ahead. She loosened her grip on the dirt. Mary grinned.

Mary cleared her throat and got to her feet. “I’m not trying to say your life is a waste, Linda,” she said, as a slight breeze picked up. “But I can tell you 2 things. 1, I hate fighting and I’m not good at it. 2, I took your stupid horse and if you want him to survive tonight, come to my hut and allow me to absorb you into my being instead of him so I can live for another 100 years.”

“What?” Linda shouted!

Just then, an enormous eagle swooped down, one claw clutching a rather happy Smileyface!

“Hey, Fair Princess, I got saved by this bird thing!” Smileyface shouted, obviously unaware of what was happening. Linda ran towards Mary.

“Now, now,” Mary said, as the eagle’s other talon grabbed onto Mary and hoisted her into the air. Linda tossed the cup in Mary’s general ascending direction, but it fell to the ground.

“Choice is yours, Princess. Save your friend or save yourself. Is that in your Scroll?” Mary shouted.

“Hey, what the heck. Big bird, that woman’s nasty! Drop her! Or drop me!  Heeey,” Smileyface shouted as the eagle lifted off again, whooshing away in the night sky. Linda watched as they flew off, deeper into the Valley.

The Princess took a moment. Then ran off in pursuit.

* * * 

Ignatius entered a tiny house, filled with other squirrels putting various nuts into hidey-holes and cabinets and storage crates and under rugs and inside the walls. They all began shouting at Ignatius.

“where have you been / we’ve been so worried / we heard a witch was out / how were the nuts / how are you / nice fur / are you ok”

“I’m all right, I’m all right,” Ignatius said, trying to calm his fellow squirrels down.

“How’s Gus?” one of his squirrel friends asked.

“Well… I don’t… know.  We all got separated.”

There was quiet.

“So, yuh, looking for a new tree?” an enterprising squirrel friend chimed in.

“Dilly, not now!  Geez,” another squirrel shouted.

“Just saying, squirrel needs a new tree and I could hook him up,” Dilly mumbled.

“I’m fine everyone, just go back to what you were doing,” Ignatius said.  The squirrels all resumed various nut storage activities, while Ignatius stood there, alone.

* * * 

Hippo and Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn arrived at the front of the coffee hut, still atop the back of the large tarantula spider. No one was around.  

“Can we… get rid of the… tarantula now?” Hippo asked awkwardly.

“Oh, yeah!  Yeah,” Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn said. “Uuuuuuuuuuuu aeo,” she commanded and the tarantula shrunk and shrunk until it was tiny, causing Hippo and Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn to fall to the ground.  Hippo quickly tip-toed a few feet away, as even a tiny tarantula is still a tarantula.  Yech!

Hippo shook off the heebie-jeebies and began sniffing, letting his nose lead the way. Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn followed as Hippo poked his nose inside the hut and entered. It was a mess. Tables overturned, chairs broken and an undrunk caffé latte (upside down, half-caf) sat in the center of the hut.

“They’re all gone. Even the tree!” Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn said, following the now silent Sniffing Hound. Hippo led them to the rear door and pushed it open with his snout.

Nothing outside either. A few extra lights were on, the ground recently dusted up, and a random cup sitting off in the dirt, just before the tree line. Hippo kept sniffing.

“She was here,” he said. “Very recently.”

“Well, we should find them all,” Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn said.

“I’m only in charge of finding the princess, ma’am,” Hippo said, a bit coldly.

Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn walked around and looked Hippo on the eyes.

“We’ll find them all.”

Just then a cruddy yell was heard. Hippo stood up on his hind legs - making him appear even larger.

“Uh…” Hippo said, confused.

“What now?”

“I think… well… there’s that.”

The Crud monster returned to its master, who happens to be gone. But it’s still scary and roaring - and headed right towards Hippo and Ywvgnrlyvgyxwmn!

* * * 

Linda jogged on, through the dark forest, pushing away tree branches and bushes as she flew past them. Lots of bushes. She didn’t know what time it was or what her parents were thinking right now, but she didn’t care. She got Smileyface into this mess - so many messes - and it was her responsibility to get him out of it. No matter whaaa—

“AHH!” Linda shouted, falling down a hole!

She landed in some mud, saying something in a Hungarian accent, in what looks like some sort of hunter trap. Where the leaves had been to cover the hole were now gone - just the night sky and forest above her. But the hole was too deep and the sides were too smooth to climb out.

“Seriously,” the Princess shouted. She sat down, arms in her lap.

“All I wanted to do was go into the Valley a little deeper. I found a talking tree and wanted to hear what he had to say. Next thing I know, there’s ladies doing magic, and there’s another lady in the coffee shop acting all crazy and trying to absorb us, then everyone runs away, then she takes Smileyface away with this gigantic hawk thing and I fell into a big dumb hole in the ground as I’m trying to save him and stop the stupid witch lady. What am I missing?”

A squirrel head popped into view at the top.

“IGNATIUS?” Linda shouted.

The squirrel burped, said something in Italian and then scurried off.

“Not Ignatius,” she said to herself.  She looked up. “If I get out of here,” she said, shouting up into the stars above her head, “that’s it. No more. I’ll tell my ma and dad that I want do things. Not whatever is in that scroll. There are things I love and places I want to see and it may not be on that scroll. I don’t know, maybe it is, but maybe it’s not. Maybe I don’t want to rule the kingdom! Maybe I do want to paint pictures of birds… no, not birds, they’ve been jerks tonight… but animals or things or whatever. Whatever I want.”

She looked around her current mud prison. “Granted, the first of these didn’t work out so perfectly. But that’s fine! I’m going to make mistakes. If I get out of here, I’ll tell them that… and somehow face a crazed witch that has my pony. But - immediate problems first.”

She punched the side of the pit out of frustration and a tiny indentation appeared. Not so smooth!

“Oh!  Hey!”  She began pushing and pushing and pushing on the small dent she made on the moist dirt wall and eventually had made a somewhat decent groove.

She tried it out by sticking her hand into it - it fit.

“Nice, I can make my own way out, thank you very much… it just might take awhile,” she said.

The squirrel again popped his head at the top of the pit. Burped.

“If you’re not going to help, please stop that,” Linda said, working on the second groove in the wall.

“Scusa,” he said, burping once more and scurrying off.

* * * 

In their throne room, the King and Queen were still up at this extremely late hour, worried about Linda’s whereabouts. A member of the King’s guard entered the throne room.

“Sir, the knight… Sir Cravatte… says he can ‘get back out there and do it this time, y’all’ and insists on doing this straight away.”

“That idiot. We could deploy the entire security forces,” the Queen said.

“I’d have to explain to the de Rouseur’s why Cravatte’s not going with them, though,” he replied.

“Your majesty, your Queen, if I may make another suggestion?”

The King and Queen stopped talking, a bit surprised at the interruption.

“It will be difficult to send the army into the Neverending Valley at night. I suggest we deploy at dawn. But, in the meantime, we could re-deploy the rest of the Sniffing Hounds.”

“No,” the King shouted.

“Never,” the Queen added. “There are strict rules, as you know.”

“I understand their sentences, your royalnesses,” the knight said, “but they could at least seek her out tonight, potentially keep her safe. And if they don’t make it back… well, their sentencing would be complete.”

Tomas and Guinevere shared a look.

“Are the 11 in Blue - ?”

“They are standing by, your grace,” the knight said.

“We will not be granting any reduction in their sentences,” Guinevere said.

“No one has suggested pardons or commuting their sentences. But they were asked to find the Princess, my Queen. One of theirs has not returned either and they fear the worst. They want to find everyone and bring them home. The 11 in Blue have told me that the Hounds wish to make up for their mistake, at least in their hearts, as the eyes of the law will not break their glare,” the knight said.

Tomas looked at his wife for a very long minute. Finally, he gave a reluctant wave of the finger.

* * * 

The jail doors swung open. Some of the other Sniffing Hounds stirred, some were already awake. Torches were lit all around them. The 11 in Blue gestured to the dark forest of the Neverending Valley that lay ahead.

“Looks like they agreed to it,” Sweet-suite said, stretching and yawning.

“Shall we?” B-8 said, wandering out of his cage.

“Too late to change our minds now,” Biff added.

“I’m kinda sleepy,” Pewter said, who then got barked at by the rest of the Sniffing Hounds.

“Let’s find our friends,” Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys growled.

“First one to Hippo gets an extra biscuit?” Richter asked.

“First to Linda gets a cage to themselves?” Kelly added.

“And first one to that horse gets a kick in the -“ Xanadu began to say.

And the 10 gigantic chihuahuas were off.

To Be Continued…

Part 1 here:

Part 2 here:

Part 3 here:

Part 4 here:

Part 5 here:

Part 6 here:

Part 7 here:

Part 8 here:

Part 9 here:

Clam #003

Person of Authority:  ”Let me see your weapons [guns, knives]”

Violent hero hands over weapons.

Person of Authority:  ”ALL of them.”

Hilariously, violent hero hands over super-hidden weapon.

Rest in Peace, Robin Williams →


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In the continuing, possibly futile attempt, to solve the case of Broadchurch before the show solves it for me, the 10th Doctor is asked by his boss for a summary of suspects.  He gives her 3.

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My name is Chris McGowan, LA-based and Chicago-born writer and actor.

I say things, write things and make things.

I pretend to be other people and create other worlds.

It's going to be all here.

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