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There was a girl. She was quiet and small and she had mouse-brown hair. She thought she was fat every time she looked in a mirror but knew she wasn’t when she looked around her. So she despised herself for thinking she was fat. And she despised herself for eating so much to make her fat/not fat like that. She hated herself because she was so confused, as is often the case with too many people. She wanted (doesn’t everyone?) everything to become clear and simple, and as she slowly came to the realization that life doesn’t usually work like that, she became disillusioned with the whole thing altogether, put a gun to her head, and killed herself when she was sixteen years old.
But against all odds (the bullet had passed straight through her brain and disrupted several different areas, leaving a swath of destruction like an angry tornado) the girl, named Dana, lived. And while she was lying in a coma in a blank white hospital room, her mind blew through the boundaries of time and space and entered the realm of the truly extraordinary and insane. And then turned a fuzzy four-hundred and eighty degrees to the land of the absolutely ridiculous.
This is what happened to Dana.
The story begins almost precisely where you may or may not exactly suspect it does. It begins, to put it scientifically, at the beginning.
There are many many different beginnings and most of them are somewhat dissimilar. And most beginnings are nothing but an end to yet another beginning stretching farther backward in time. And so on. Many people have speculated that since this is so, there must have been an ultimate beginning to begin all other beginnings that have since come. Since all these beginnings confuse and bewilder the best of scientists, they often call the whole problem the Big Bang theory and leave it to the creationists to figure out while they run down to the bar for a stiff drink.
Anyways, to get back to this beginning. As the bullet quickly zipped through and lodged in Dana’s pineal gland ( a most mysterious organ that a lot of really smart people have tried to classify, saying in many more words that it has something to do with sleep, and if you believe in that sort of thing, is the 'seat of the soul'), she felt a flashing pain.
Then everything quickly went dim and fuzzy and after an eternity or two went completely black. There was, for some reason, a strong smell of oranges.
She woke up. This may seem surprising, but please consider that many things in this book will be surprising and you shouldn't panic.
She woke up. She was on a beach. As she struggled somewhat unsteadily to her feet she saw that other than the purple sky and the water, which seemed to be orange juice, everything was pretty normal. The beach was deserted and the sun was setting romantically over the cresting waves.
Dana sat down at the edge of the water/orange juice, and gazed off into the horizon. She wasn’t thinking much. Everything seemed nicely peaceful here. Somewhere in the distance a seagull screeched. Dana wondered vaguely why she wasn’t dead, then wondered if she was, then decided that it wasn’t important. Everything on this somewhat strange beach was nicely quiet and tranquil.
And then, just as the bright cheerful sun was balancing precariously on the horizon, at the magical moment where it seems that the entire world hushes to watch the sun disappear for the day, she heard a loud yell. Followed by more yelling. It was coming from just over the sand dune behind her.
She vaguely decided to get up and investigate. The yelling was quite annoying.
“Oy! Come out, I say! Come out wherever you’re hiding! I won’t stand for it, I tell you! I’m the king! That’s right, I’m Royal Fartface. Now return me at once to my palace of simplicity and large treasure vaults!”
As Dana topped the sand dune, she saw a man lying on his back in the sand at the bottom of the hill in front of her. It was from him that the screaming was issuing. He didn’t seem to notice her until she tapped his sandy shoulder hesitantly.
She got no farther than, “Excuse me, sir, but-” before he leaped to his feet and pointed an accusatory finger at her dramatically. “You!” he exclaimed. “You!”
“Yes,” she said bemusedly, “I am me.”
“Don’t interrupt me with silly statements!” he yelled again. “And don’t call me sir! I will have you know that I am a proud Fartface! And not just any old Fartface, I am a Royal Fartface! King, in fact! We come from a long-standing line, reaching all the way back to the OldGeezers and the Numskulls! I am not a common SIR!” He wiped his sandy palms on his even sandier clothing and suddenly Dana noticed what he was wearing. Or rather, not wearing.
Have you ever gone out for a drive in your nice air-conditioned car and noticed some poor sod huffing it up the side of a hill on a bicycle? Probably. And they’re usually stick thin with a pained expression on their face like they’d rather be doing almost anything than biking up the side of a hill when it’s a hundred and ten degrees outside. You may wonder what possessed them to go biking in the first place, since they don’t seem to be enjoying it. A lot of people have wondered that. Unfortunately there has never been a conclusive solution that satisfied everyone.
However, we are not talking about why they are there. We are going to point out what they are wearing. You’ve probably noticed that also at some time or another. If they are out there by choice, they’re most likely wearing some brightly colored skintight spandex that looks like an unfortunate flashback to the eighties. The bikers are almost always so thin it doesn’t really matter, but if you’ve ever seen a biker that has just bought his spandex clothes and his seven-hundred dollar bike and is hoping to lose five - or ten - or maybe twenty - hell, probably thirty pounds would be closer to what the doctor said he should lose if he wants to live past forty - then you will have some idea of what the Royal Fartface looked like.
He had a large, hairy potbelly that flowed out between the gap in his red spandex shorts and his yellow spandex shirt much like Noah’s Flood, i.e., large and a lot of it.
Both the shirt and the pants were straining at the seams and it doesn’t bear thinking about what would happen if those seams suddenly decided to give up all hope and stop straining. It wouldn’t be pretty.
“Er,” said Dana hesitantly, “You don’t happen to have a bike around here, do you?”
“Absolutely not!” roared Royal Fartface. “I know not of this ‘bike’ which you speak of! Speaking of which, do you know where we are?!”
“Er,” repeated Dana, (it seemed to be the easiest thing to come up with,) “Actually…I was hoping you could tell me that. I just killed myself, you see, and I was expecting to see a place a bit more…er, well, fiery, if you know what I mean, but maybe something happened and I got rerouted. I don‘t know. It seems an awful lot like Earth other than the ocean made out of orange juice and the purple sky.”
Suddenly a huge voice came blasting out of the sky.
“Thank you for holding,” it said in measured, even tones specifically designed to soothe the annoyed, “We will be with you momentarily. Again, please hold while your life is connected to an available operator. We appreciate your business.”