Exhausted from their battle with the talking mirrors, the little band of seekers stood at the base of the towering cliff and looked up. Publication mountain. At the top was the editorial pavilion that they had battled unimagined terrors to find. Soon they would have their hearts' desires. Each looked around at his companions and then, with a chorus of deep sighs, they roped themselves together and began the ascent. Working together they could scale the heights. Although most of them carried concealed knives, to slash the rope if they felt in danger of being pulled back down, a few good-hearted souls simply trusted the others not to let them fall.
Climbing through a treacherous scree of crumbling verse, they reached the steepest part of the climb. A tall woman led off but, reaching for what she thought was a firm handhold, she grasped a dangling participle and was forced to slide backwards. After this false start, however, the intrepid band inched painfully upward, finding tiny toeholds on the edges of incomplete sentences and grasping at the tails of lost apostrophes. At the top they were faced with a final barrier – a perilous overhang, woven of run-on sentences and redundancies and studded with the sharp points of misplaced adverbs and misused adjectives. Patiently, they hung from their punctuation marks, as the one among them, with the sharpest wit, slashed a path through the grammatical barrier. In moments, they had all scrambled through the opening.
They stared at the pavilion before them. What beauty! Hundreds of sheets of soft, linen-like paper hung from invisible supports, forming a maze of white, that glowed from within. The individual sheets shifted constantly, as if blown by an unfelt breeze and, as the ragged adventurers drew near, the glow became almost blinding .The air was permeated by a not-unpleasant, but pungent odor.
“Mmmm, smells like Jack Daniels,” said someone.
“Yes, but with something sweet and smokey,” replied another.
“And kinda like sweat.” added a third.
One by one, they slipped among the hanging sheets. Seeking the center, the throne of authorship, they gradually became more and more confused. Suddenly, one of their band snapped. Pushed to ultimate frustration in his quest to publish, he grasped sheets in both hands and began rushing back and forth, grabbing more and more of the glowing whiteness. “Read mine! Read mine!” he shouted. Then, he stopped, pointing.
They turned to see, tucked in a now-exposed corner, surrounded by electronics, a wild-haired, crazy-eyed individual chomping on a stogie and absorbing an intravenous dose of Jack. As his hand slid toward the pistol at his hip, a voice boomed from all compass points,
“PAY NO ATTENTION TO THE MAN BEHIND THE CURTAIN!”