As Spikey fell through the Salty Banana Foam, he was overcome with a dizzy sensation. All of his eyes blurred over, and tiny blue dots appeared across his vision. He couldn’t tell which way was up and which way was down, because everything was spinning, faster and faster, until he landed with a thump! against a cold tile floor.
“Oof!” he moaned. After the shock of impact wore off, he began to count his toes, stretching each one and moving them about, to check if any had been harmed by his crash landing.
“Just checking. You alright?”
“A little bruised, but I’ll manage.”
“Tell me about it.”
Spikey twisted his body this way and that, and when he was sure that he was physically fit to continue his adventure, he poked up his head and began moving forward. He got about three squirms before something crashed heavily in front of him, barring his way, and a wicked deep voice said:
“Not so fast, Spikey the Werm.”
“What’s that?” Spikey asked, innocently blinking his eyes and moving a little to the left.
“Why don’t you turn yourself around so we can have a decent conversation.”
“Sounds reasonable,” muttered Spikey as he swiveled on his seventh toe.
Before him stood a creature that was tall and long and covered with black, shiny scales. It had two arms, and two solid legs and wings that poked the ceiling of the cave. It had a face that was sort of ugly and sort of beautiful, with many spikes pointing this way and that along its pointy snout. It also had yellow eyes that glowed like fire and hurt Spikey to look at for too long. When it spoke, Spikey saw rows and rows of glimmering teeth, and a little smoke pouring from its mouth between its words.
“Hello Spikey the Werm,” rumbled the voice of the creature. “Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Uroboros. I am a Yellow-Eyed Dragon. I, like you, am a Werm.”
“A Werm?” Spikey repeated.
“That is correct. Not a lowly worm, the type that rolls in the mud and eats only dirt and roots, and associates with grubs and bugs and night crawlers. No. I am a Noble Werm, a Kundalini Extraordinaire, a Child of the Flame, a Smoky Beast.”
“You don’t say…” murmured Spikey. He didn’t like the sound of this, not one bit, but he kept his peace and let the Yellow-eyed Dragon continue.
“We are relatives, you and I,” said the Smoky Beast. “We are kin. Family. We have much in common, which is why I have brought you into my cave. Very few are allowed in here, you know. I am not much of a social dragonfly, so to speak. In fact, I am quite prone to devouring all trespassers and most of the people and creatures that I come across in my day-to-day life. I have a reputation for being very mean. Very, very wicked. But that is just my reputation, it is not how I really am.”
Spikey attempted a smile and tried to avoid the Dragon’s eyes.
“So, you may be wondering why I have brought you here. Are we having a family reunion? Do I feel lonely and wish to speak to someone who would understand me, not for my reputation, but for who I am on the inside? No, that is not the reason. I don’t expect you to understand me. As anyone can plainly see, you barely understand yourself.”
“Now that’s a harsh thing to say!” Spikey blurted before he could stop himself.
“Because it is harsh, does not make it a lie. Think about it, Spikey. Think carefully. Who are you? Where do you come from? Why is your name Spikey? And what, exactly, is a Werm?”
Enough was enough. Spikey straightened out his wiggly form and said firmly “I am Spikey and I seek the Juicey Pig Muffin!”
“Ah, yes! The Juicey Pig Muffin!” laughed the Dragon, its eyes glowing so bright that they lit up the cave with a disconcerting glow. “And where is this Juicey Pig Muffin of yours, and what will you do when you find it?”
“I will eat it up, and then I will be ripe with excitement and adventure!”
“You are already ripe, my friend. Ripe with a fruitful child.”
“Now you leave my Maybe Baby out of this!”
“I am afraid I can’t leave your Maybe Baby out of this. Your Maybe Baby is very important, because it proves my point. It proves that you and I are the same sort of being.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about!” shouted Spikey, whose voice was becoming coarse with frustration.
“Spikey, let me tell you a story. Let me tell you the story of our history, the History of the Werms…”
Once upon a time there was a man who had a sharp face and a heart of glass. His face was so sharp that he could cut apart anything he looked at, and see right into it, right into the core of it, without even trying. And his heart was so brittle, so fragile, like glass, that every time he did not get what he wanted, he felt himself break inside, and a little piece of his heart would snap off, and cut the inside of his chest.
Because his heart was so fragile, he learned to protect himself. He learned to want only what he could make or do himself. But there was one problem with this way of protecting himself, because what he wanted was always something greater than any man could do or make. But that did not stop him from trying.
One day, he decided to build a place where all the dreamers in the world would go to watch their dreams. It was like a concert hall or a cinema, only greater, because each and every dreamer dreams in a different way, so that every seat in the Theatre of Dreams would have to be build special for each dreamer. This was quite and undertaking, and it would have been impossible for the builder to build if he did not cheat somehow.
And so, he cheated. He went down to the center of the earth, where the first son of the first man lived. This son had many names. Sometimes he was called Zeus and sometimes he was called Shiva, but the name his father gave him was Sayid Anwass.
Anvass was very, very old by the time the builder came to him, but he did not look old. He didn’t even look like a man anymore. He was bright, like the sun, and hot, like lava, and beautiful, like a diamond. Anvass, he had cheated, too. He was the King of all Cheaters, because he had cheated Death and he had cheated Life. He had decided to be the master of his own Fate, and to live forever on the earth. And let me tell you one more thing about this Anvass, let me tell you something that might seem very strange, but it is true. This Anvass, this first son of the first man, had created for himself his own heaven and his own hell, and he was the father of all the gods. Yes, he was the king of the gods. That is how powerful he was.
The builder went to Anvass, and he asked Anvass for a favor. Actually, it was more like a deal. The builder offered to build Anvass a new heaven, and Anvass laughed. “How can you, a small man, a man from late in the history of man, build a Heaven strong enough for me and my gods?”
“Don’t you worry about that,” said the builder to the first son of the first man. “I will make the most beautiful heaven for you, more beautiful than even you can imagine.”
“Is that right?” said Anvass, still laughing. “And what will the price be for this heaven?”
“The price is cheap. It is a mere trifle. You will fetch me the Werm of the World, and you will put it in my chest. You will replace my heart with the Great Dragon.”
Anvass was surprised at this request, for not many men remembered the Werm of the World, because long, long ago, it had been hidden, it had been locked away from the eyes of mankind.
Now let me tell you about this Werm (said the Yellow-Eyed Dragon to Spikey). Long ago, before there was a moon and before there was a sun, there was only a sea, a great churning sea. And in the middle of this sea was a little mound. And on this little mound lived the first man, whose name was Adam. His name was Adam because he had made a dam in the middle of the sea. He had pushed the sea back just far enough for a little bit of mound of land to exist, dry and safe, in the middle of the great sea.
But even though he had dammed the sea, the sea and Adam were still friendly. He named her Lil’lath, which means little sky, because she was so big that only the sky was bigger than her.
One day, Adam looked up into the sky and he saw, far far above him, a pane of glass begin to fall toward him. And as this pane of glass fell, a bolt of lightning struck it, and stained one of its sides silver, so that it was no longer glass, but a mirror.
Adam watched this mirror fall, and he had the idea to catch it. So he reached up his hand to catch the mirror, but the mirror was falling too fast to be caught, and when it hit Adam, it shattered into a million pieces, and fell all over the hill and the sea and all over Adam’s body. And where the broken mirror fell on his body, it cut him, and he bled. Some of his blood fell on the hill, and where it fell on the hill, beasts of all shapes and types and sizes grew up from the dirt. And when Adam’s blood fell into the sea, she began to cry and cry, because his blood tasted so beautiful to her.
“Adam, Adam, give me more of your blood!” sang Lil’lath to the man. But the man would give her no more of his blood, and so she became angry with him, and she reached into the mud beneath her, she reached deep, deep into the mud below her, and she pulled up the root of the world. And she fed the root of the world some of Adam’s blood, and it turned into a great, vengeful Werm.
Lil’lath then instructed this Werm to go and devour the man, and bring him to her. So the serpent rose up from the deep sea, and went to Adam, and when Adam saw the serpent, he became frightened, but he knew he had no choice but to fight it.
So when the serpent came to Adam, he reach up, and grabbed it by the sides of its face, and he named it. He said “Your name is Uroborus, and you may not harm me. No, you may do me no harm, and you may do no harm to my children or their children. Do you hear me? Now listen, I will tell you what you must do. You must circle around your mother. You must reach around Lil’lath, and tie her into a circle. You must wrap around the sea and tie her into herself, so that she will not be so proud, so that she will not think she may attack me again, so that she will know that I am the master of this world, and not she.”
And the serpent obeyed. Why did it obey? Because the man had words, and in the man’s words was authority, authority that could not be disobeyed. So the serpent reached around Lil’lath, and tied her into a circle, into a ball, and when it had done this, Adam commanded it to hide itself, and not show itself to anyone, so that the knot it tied around its mother would never be broken.
And that is the story of the first Werm. How the builder knew of it was anybody's guess, and Anvass wasn't sure the man really knew what he was asking for. So Anvass took his sight, and he focused it into the small man before him, but, strangeness of all strangeness, the gaze of the builder was actually strong enough to cut into Anvass' gaze!
"This is indeed some man," thought Anvass, "and even if he is not able to do what he says, to hold up his end of our bargan, I believe it will be worth my time to enter into a covenant with him."
And so Anvass did what the builder wished, and took the Werm from where it was hidden, and he sewed it into the chest of the builder. And when he was finnished, the builder gave him a curt nod and asked for four and score years to complete the task of building Anvass a knew heaven. Anvass accepted these terms, and they set their pact into writing upon the bones of one another's feet.
“And that is the story of the first Werm, and the deal between Anvass and the Builder. But I must tell you, Spikey, the history of Werms is not finished.”
“I do not think I want to hear any more,” said Spikey to the Dragon.
“And why is that?” asked the Dragon.
“Because you are frightening me. You are telling me about dreams that I have, but they are different.”
“They are all apart of the same story, Spikey the Werm. Listen to me, Spikey. You are waking up, and waking up is not an easy thing. You must be brave and you must be strong, and you must have an open mind. Do not turn away from these new ideas, do not decide whether they are true or false so quickly.”
“But… but this has nothing to do with my Quest! I’m on an adventure, I’m not is school!” Spikey was hot with frustration, and his anger was becoming very strong inside himself.
“Listen here, you Dragon or whatever you are, I don’t have time for this. I have a friend who’s all gooped up because of that deplorable Banana Mama, and I have the sneaky suspicion that you are keeping a nice and slightly impatient little girl hostage, and are planning to do something mysterious and probably not too kind with her. Now hand over the girl and bring me back to my friend the Power Drill, or else I’ll let you have it!”
And Spikey stuck out his muscle at the Yellow-eyed Dragon, and they began to stare at each other with all of their power. Spikey did not look away from the eyes of the Dragon, even though they stung him. And the Dragon did not move an inch, but slowly, from its mouth and nostrels, more and more smoke began to pour into the cave, until the whole area of the cave was thick with ash, and Spikey couldn’t see a thing.
“Better watch out, boss,” Spikey’s muscle whispered. “I think that trickster’s up to something.”
“So you think he’s lying to me?”
“No,” said the muscle, “I think he’s telling you the truth. But he’s still a trickster. I think we should move a little to the left. He seemed left-handed to me, that way, when—“
But it was too late. The Yellow-eyed Dragon snatched them up, and before Spikey knew what was going on, he was just inches away from the great, bright, poisonous eyes of the Smoky Beast.
“Spikey, Spikey, Spikey,” said the Dragon, “I cannot make you listen, and I cannot make you learn, but I can give you incentives. Yes, I already knew you were going to be thickheaded, even though toothpicks are stronger than your skeletal structure. So I have devised a plan, I have created circumstances that will make you learn, make you listen to what I have to tell you.”
The Dragon turned his head a bit and yelled “Banana Mama, bring in the girl!”
“Hoar-hoar-ho! Here she comes!” rumbled Banana Mama as she entered the cave from a hidden spot around the corner.
“But I thought –" protested Spikey, "I though we had –“
The Dragon laughed. “Spikey, you are dealing with no ordinary slug. Why do you think she is known as the Mother Slug? Just because she’s big and fat? You have much to learn, cousin. You have so much to learn. Banana Mama, what’s taking so long?”
“Schheeezz eiimtchkak! Immmlaarickxzz!”
“Stuck in your larynx, eh? Excuse me a moment,” and the Dragon put Spikey down on the cool white tiles and lumbered over to Banana Mama.
After a couple of loud thwacks!, and a grotesque hack from the Mother Slug herself, Spikey could just make out through the dissipating smoke the form of the little girl shivering on the cool white tiles.
“You brutes!” cursed Spikey. “You have gooped her!”
Spikey tip-toed over to the girl and attempted to wipe off as much of the slime from her as he could. She was shivering so hard that she almost knocked him over a couple of times.
“C-cold, c-cold,” she kept saying over and over. Her nose and ears were very blue.
“So this is what you have in mind?” shouted Spikey at the Dragon and his banana cohort, “You’re gonna hang her life in the balance just to get me to listen to your warped fairy tales? Is that it? Some sort of pathetic monsters you are!”
“No, Spikey. I am doing nothing so coarse. If I was going to work that way, I would have begun by singeing off your toes one by one. Please, give me a little more credit than that.”
The Dragon then walked over to Spikey and lowered its head so they were looking eye to eye again.
“What do you have in mind then?” Spikey asked defiantly.
“Here’s what I have in mind: I have placed in the brain of this little girl your precious Juicey Pig Muffin, but I have hidden it, deep, deep within her. I have hidden it in such a way that you must walk through all her thoughts and put together the right stories to be able to find it. But that is not all. I have also put an earwig in her head, so watch out! It is a very hungry earwig, and just might end up eating all the stories before you can put them together! Clever, don’t you think?”
“An earwig? Is that supposed to scare me?”
“It is supposed to inspire you, Spikey. It is an albino earwig, and has a very clever sense of humor.”
“You don’t say.”
“I do, I do. Now listen to me a little bit more: the mind of a little girl is not like reality, Spikey. It is a very warped place where things sometimes mean precisely what they are not, and sometimes exactly what they should, and sometimes nothing at all, and sometimes something completely unrelated.”
“You’re making this complex,” Spikey interjected.
“Actually, its quite simple. All you need to do is follow the main character.”
“The main character?”
“Think about it, Spikey. This story you are living might not really be your story. You might just be a vehicle for someone else’s tale. Someone whose story cannot stand on its own, for what ever reason.”
“Can I have a moment to think this over, before I decide?”
“There is nothing to decide. But I will give you a moment." The Yellow-eyed Dragon then stood up to its full height and shouted over its shoulder: "B.M., lets take a lunch break!”
“Hoar-ho-ho!” agreed the disgusting goopy Slug Queen.
And with some trembling and creaking of the floor and the walls, the Yellow-Eyed Dragon and Banana Mama left Spikey alone with the little girl. She didn’t seem quite up to a conversation, so Spikey once again distended his muscle, and slumped to the floor with a sigh.
“What’s up boss?”
“Did you hear what’s been going on?”
“Sure, yeah. Juicey Pig Muffin, stories inside the warped brain of a little girl, something about a comedian albino earwig.”
“What do you think about it?”
“I think ‘Hey, lets get it on.’ The Power Drill will be safe for the time being, cause I have a hunch that this goo of Banana Mama's acts as a sort of suspended animation fluid. And where else do we got to be? I mean, really, how are we going to find our way out of this place…”
“Good point, trusty organ.”
“The only way out is through, boss, just like they say.”
“But through the brain of a little girl? Doesn’t that seem a bit unorthodox to you?”
“You have to remember, boss, that you’re the Werm with the seventeen toes and a taste for outlandish pastries. She’s just a girl.”
“Right, right. How bad could it be, and all that...”
“Oh, it could get pretty bad, no doubt about that. Little girls are not known for the stability of their cerebellums; but as long as we don’t push any of her buttons, we should be okay.”
“And what are these buttons?”
“The usual, I suppose. Like making fun of her clothes, or ragging on her favorite boy-band, or making her feel terrible about herself. All she needs is love, boss. Love is all she needs.”
Spikey the Werm then fell silent. He was having a hard time coping with all these new developments.
“But you know what I think, boss?” said the muscle after a while. The tone of its voice was gentle and warm, and despite himself, Spikey felt a little happiness rise in his heart.
“What do you think, Mr. Muscle?"
“I think that its really your destiny to go after the Juicey Pig Muffin. Even if you don’t eventually find it, I think its still important that it is exactly what you want, and it is what you tried your best to acheive for yourself.”
“But what if the Juicey Pig Muffin is the wrong thing for me?”
“Then I think you’re smart enough to realize what it is you really want when it’s the right time for you to do so. Don’t worry so much, boss. Just work your tale off. Everything’s gonna fit into place, somehow.”
“Thank you, my dear muscle. Thank you very much. Now tuck your wisened tendons back into my toes, they’re coming back.”
"Are you gonna go through with it then?"
"We're gonna go all the way."