(The story so far: Alice and her caravan (Jack, Arbuck and Marie) were stranded on a floating rock with a dishonest guy named Brock. After Brock secretly stole their food, Marie turned into a gargantuan monster and Alice saved the day by crashing the rock down. But how did she do that?)

Rocks don’t float

Alice slowly opened her eyes.

Jack towered above her.

“Hey”, Alice said.

“You missed the best part.”

He held out his hand. She snatched it and got up. The rock was lying on top of the unmoving lizard. It had hit it squarely in the stomach. The force of impact had made its guts splatter violently onto the pristine sands, and its ladder tongue lay limply in front of its mouth. It had died the way it had come: Maw open wide.

Arbuck was sitting in the sand. Marie was lying in his lap. She had turned back to normal and was knocked out cold. As Alice climbed down the rock, she opened her eyes.

“Welcome back to the land of the livin’”, Arbuck told her.

“You stink”, Marie said, but didn’t move away from his lap. “What happened? Last thing I remember is being up to my ankles in food.”

The three of them looked at each other and grinned.

“We’re down. That’s what matters”, Jack said. He looked over to Alice. “How did you know it was going to fall?”

Alice dropped down into the sands next to Arbuck and Marie. She dug a piece of debris out of the sand and threw it up in the air. The rock immediately arched towards the rock and clung firmly to it. “It’s magnetized.”

Jack looked at the rock in amazement.

Alice continued. “When Brock made the lizard tear the rock in half, it swallowed half of it and sent the other side into the sky. And because one of the rocks was flipped onto its back, it got repelled by the piece in the monster’s stomach and stayed up there.”

Jack frowned. “So the lizard followed us?”

“It followed its gut.”

“Weird.” Jack reached down and pulled the Parcheesi board out of the sand. “I like it.”

“I told you.” Alice said. “Rocks don’t float.”

He dug through the sand and managed to find some of the pawns. Enough to play with, at least. “They could, though. Here.”

“In your magical desert.”

Jack dug deeper. “Well. How else would you explain a magnetic rock?”

Alice wanted to mutter that rocks could very well be magnetic, but somehow, the argument didn’t convince her. So she shut up and let Jack dig for senseless playthings in the sand.

Marie got to her feet, walked over to the beat and checked it out. “Right. Who’s up for some broiled Ladder Lizard?” She walked up to the creature and started inspecting it. Suddenly, she let out a yell. “You!”

Everyone looked up. Alice could see Brock halfway hidden inside the creature’s mouth. He had just been about to make a break for it, but seeing Marie, his body went limp. He fell down into the sand.

“Don’t eat me!”

Marie frowned. “Why would I eat you?”

Jack spoke. “You’re not going anywhere.”

Brock looked at Jack, a mixture of fear and self-loathing on his face. “I want to live! Please let me go! Don’t kill me!”

Marie cracked her knuckles. Arbuck cocked his gun. And even Alice pulled her eyes to slits. But it was Jack, their captain, who acted.

“Kill you?” Jack pulled his eyes to slits. “I’m going to destroy you.” Then, he grinned and held out his hand. In it lay a sandy dice. “At Parcheesi.”

And so they had broiled Ladder Lizard, played Parcheesi, and Jack destroyed them.

Good times.


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