Fiction Fragment Friday
I have always loved the world created in the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. I cannot say that I have read all the books, but I do find new versions of that world fascinating. The ways it can inspire others is truly magical. I greatly enjoyed Wicked, Dorothy Must Die, and many other ways people twist the story. This week is my attempt to do so.
I have no idea what brought this tale into my mind, but it started with the second sentence of the story. The line just popped into my head and it was so evocative I knew that I had to write about it. I immediately typed out a paragraph so I wouldn’t forget. That actual paragraph did not get used in the story, but it did inform the direction I would take.
As I started writing I realized I was framing a situation and a world. I wanted this to be a story though and not just a thought exercise. Playing to my own strengths that meant I needed to introduce dialog and that forced me to develop the stories protagonist further. I went through multiple ideas in my head for what job he would take on before settling where I did. The rest of the story kind of flowed and took me places I did not anticipate.
There is a long forgotten saying in the Land of Oz. If you kill a witch, you become the witch. It was mostly lost to time as no one save the most powerful dares oppose them. Then came Dorothy Gale from Kansas. This girl waltzed right into Oz dropping a house on the Wicked Witch of the East and stealing her magical shoes. Not long after she slew the Wicked Witch of the West as well. Before leaving Oz, she convinced the Wizard to abandon the Emerald City placing Scarecrow on the thrown, Tin Woodsman takes charge of the Winkies, and The Lion is declared king of the beasts. Over the course of just a few weeks this small girl changed the entire power dynamics of our world and then left.
If the legends are true, then by slaying two witches she would inherit both of their powers and roles. Since they were wicked the magic would twist her enhancing her darker emotions and desires. This is the true danger of fighting evil. Sometimes in the fight to defeat evil you fall pray to becoming that which you most hate. Dorothy should be destined to become one of the most powerful and evil being in the history of Oz, but she went home to a world without magic. What does that mean for the power and roles that she should be inheriting?
I was thinking over these questions in my classroom when she came into the room. “Good morning, Dorothy.” I greeted her with a smile masking my concern.
“Good morning, Mr. Franklin.” The girl always seemed so happy, but I could see a sadness behind her eyes. Something hidden behind a smile that I might not notice if I were not doing the same myself.
A year ago, I gave up everything I knew to travel to Kansas. I needed to know if this girl is the biggest danger that Oz has ever known or if the stollen power and influence was being suppressed. I needed to get close enough to watch her and so I took a new identity and became a teacher at her school. I’m not sure how long my identity will hold before I am discovered to be a fraud so I must work quickly to establish trust and gather as much information as I can.
“How was your weekend?” Always start with a probing open question.
The sigh that escaped her did not match the smile on her face. “Boring. Nothing interesting ever happens around here.”
“Life on a farm can’t be that boring. At least it keeps you busy.”
“I don’t want to just be busy. It’s the same chores every day. Nothing ever matters.”
I’ve heard this speech from her before. I can’t really blame her either. After experiencing a world as magical as Oz who could be happy in a mundane place like this. Still this world has its own wonders. Oz has technology, but the technology here is available to all and developing at such a fast rate. I’m sure the banquets of the Emerald City might compare, but the food here is a vast improvement over what you can find in the average village of Oz. Particularly meat dishes. When all the animals can talk meat is not particularly popular among most of the cultures. It is also far safer here, but to a girl who has known this world all her life and only glimpsed mine I can understand her wanderlust. I must question though if the magic dormant inside her might be pulling her to return.
I have no way to return home unless she finds one. That is something I can never allow. Dorothy Gale must remain in Kansas and that means I have to as well. It means I need to find ways to help her embrace her home. “If you didn’t live on a farm, what would you be doing with your free time? What do you want to be doing?”
To give her credit she thought about the question before answering. I can’t be sure if she was debating the answer or remembering her time in Oz. “I don’t know, but I want adventure. I want to see new things and meet new people.”
“So, it is less about wanting to do anything in particular, but more a case of the grass being greener elsewhere? Everywhere has its own set of problems.”
“I guess, but how do you know the perfect place for you if you don’t know what else is out there? If you don’t go, try to find it you never know it exists.”
I opened the drawer on my desk and pulled out a handful of travel brochures. “New York, Chicago, San Francisco. You can read all about the places of the world. Learn about them and decide which ones are worth visiting.”
“What if the place I want to visit doesn’t have a travel guide?”
“Then maybe it’s too dangerous to visit. There are plenty of wonderous places in this world that do have travel guides. Traveling isn’t going to solve your problem though. Traveling is fun, but the best part is coming back and having a home waiting. Having people that care about you. You need to find ways to appreciate that while you have it. When you grow up you don’t have to stay here, but you need to be able to make where you are home, or you will always pine for what you don’t have.”
My own words hit me hard. I don’t have anyone here and spend far too much of my time thinking about where I came from. I might be here for a reason, but I don’t feel like it is a home. For my own sanity I need to start making this my home and not think of it as just a mission. I’m never returning to Oz so this is my home now. My purpose might be to protect Oz from Dorothy, but that Is not a life. I need to start making friends and plan for my own future outside of her.
“Mr. Franklin are you ok?” She was staring at me, and I realized that I had been sitting there silent and lost in my own thoughts. If she had said anything I hadn’t heard it.
“Yes Mr. Franklin what ever are you thinking about?” The voice came from an older white-haired man leaning against the frame of my classroom door. Wearing a black suit and top hat to accentuate his handlebar mustache, the look reminded me of a circus ringmaster. He had said my name with a sarcastic tone like he knew that it was not real.
Dorothy’s eyes lit up at the sight of the stranger in a way I had never seen them do. It wasn’t the mask of a smile, but true joy. She ran to him wrapper her arms around his waist in a hug. She was talking so fast I could not make out what she was trying to say to him. The man returned her hug, but his eyes never left my own. He radiated confidence in a way few people can.
“Who might you be good sir?” I asked trying to keep the worry from my voice. If this man knew I wasn’t who I claimed to be he could ruin everything.
“Oscar Diggs at your service.” He tipped his hat and bowed his head unable to bow further due to the girl hanging onto him. “Though I suspect you know me by one of my other names. Oz the Great and Powerful.”
“The Wizard,” I gasped.
“Just so. Dorothy dear your teacher here is not who he says he is. I know not why he has come here, but this man followed you from Oz. I received a message from Scarecrow via flying monkey to come check on you.”
Dorothy looked at me with a rage in her eyes I had never seen on the girl. I stumbled over my words trying to defend myself, but she screamed at me. “Just shut up.” Suddenly I couldn’t speak. My lips felt glued together, so I reached up feeling my face in panic. My mouth was gone. There was just smooth skin where it should be. Somehow in this world without magic she had access to it.
“Well now isn’t that interesting,” the wizard asked with a smug look on his face. He looked down at the girl. “How would you like to return to Oz and see your friends again? My balloon is right outside.”
“Oh, I would like that very much.”
“Excellent. Grab your things and head on out. I’ll be right along after I have a few words with your teacher.”
“I can’t wait to see everyone again,” she said as she rushed from my classroom. As she got further away, I could feel my mouth returning.
“Well now, ‘Mr. Franklin’ I don’t know what your game is, but that little girl is going to redefine the meaning of the word power and I’m not about to let you or anyone else get in her way.”
“You don’t know what you’re doing. She has the power of both wicked witches and if she goes back it’s going to twist her into something evil.”
He smiled at me again and pulled a revolver out of his jacket pocket. “Perhaps, or perhaps I can guide her into what I want her to be. Either way she’s my ticket to greatness. Ask yourself this. Why did I order her to kill the Wicked Witch of the West? Was my leaving her in Oz really an accident?” Then he shot me. It was only in the leg and not life threatening, but it hurt worse than anything I have ever experiences. “So, you don’t follow me.” Then he left my classroom whistling as he walked down the hall.
That encounter was two weeks ago, and no one has seen Diggs or Dorothy since. I can only assume that he did successfully return to Oz and that means I need to as well. I must find a way, or everything will be lost. I need to save Oz from Dorothy, but I need to save that little girl from herself as well. Only in Kansas can she have any hope of not becoming something truly wicked. I rev my motorcycle and ride towards the tornado. This might kill me, but I can’t live knowing I didn’t at least try.