There once was a soft-spoken unicorn,
Who from her native land was torn,
Neon colors her home didn’t adorn,
And less impressive was her horn.

There once was a cowardly robot,
Whose backstory was overwrought,
Inventor’s attempts all for naught,
He fled his home and now is distraught.

There once was a reckless girl of cow,
Who had to bid her old home ciao,
Transgressions she won’t disavow
But would furrow every single brow.

These three, they left their homes as fleet
as they could encourage their feet.
Apart they are rather offbeat
but now they are about to meet.

Cowgirl, in need of food and tub,
Robot, wishing he was on a sub,
Unicorn galloping from shrub
Will complete this motley club.

And yes, your collective mouths may gape
At our heroes size and shape
But before you jest and jape
Know that they will conquer the ape.

But how will they ever stop his crime?
Be it grotesque or be it sublime?
The answer to your queried rhyme
Will have to wait until next time!


Shrubs lead a relatively normal existence. They are planted and remain rooted in the ground, unless they are rudely uprooted and replanted, they stay put until their deaths. The most exciting thing that could happen to a shrub is pruning, or if a major deity decides to call attention to themselves, you may find yourself aflame. But on average, you just sit there, being a shrub. And that’s enough for most shrubs.

This particular group of shrubs yearned for more. They (there were three of them) tired of just sitting in the woods, being green and slightly prickly. They were even upset that they didn’t have a cool name for their group, like a murder of crows or a pride of lions. Why couldn’t they be a firestorm of shrubs or an awesomeness of shrubs, or even a Draculation of shrubs? Why couldn’t they see the world, send postcards to other Draculations of shrubbery, dance until the sun came up over the Mediterranean with glamorous people who had foreign accents?

Was it fate that led Trish the unicorn to land in this particular group of shrubs? Was it just a fortunate fluke? She’d been humming her favorite song, a sweetly melancholy folk tune normally played on the banjo, and staring ahead, when she was struck by a goose berating her misbehaving goslings. She tried to pull herself back into the air, but was too shocked by the impact, so she aimed for the softest-looking area below. Were the shrubs trying to call attention to themselves? Not intentionally, but whatever they did worked. Trish landed comfortably, the shrubs cooed silently at the sheer adventure of it all.

Then a robot approached them. It was all too much!


Outside of the secret cave, where Grong and his bride-to-be were getting to know one another, a man was eating a sandwich. The man wore a wide-brimmed hat. The brim had a small feather in it. The man had a trim black beard with specks of gray. He was on the north side of forty. He was promised a large salary and a chance to really get to know the jungle. He left an unpromising job as a driver’s ed teacher. Though he was on a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere, employed by a talking gorilla, this job was noticeably easier and less stressful than teaching teenagers to drive. He sighed and stared at the tops of the trees. The sun was beginning to set, and the sky took on the nostalgic faded peach color of old book covers.
The sandwich was pastrami and pickle with cream cheese on a bagel. It was the best sandwich.


“…Not cloudy all daaay!” Magnolia DuMont had just sung Home on the Range for the 6,845,357th time. She’d been walking for what felt like days. “I wish I had my souped-up unicycle,” she thought. “Maybe I can stop, just for a second.” There was a clearing, with a tree just right for resting under. Having spent much of her time in the woods by her house, Magnolia was something of an expert on the different varieties of tree. She didn’t know their official names, but she knew which ones were good for climbing in, which ones dropped the perfect walking sticks, which ones produced crabapples, and which ones were just right for resting under. “I’ll just take a little break. Five minutes or so,” she said, placing her hat over her eyes and falling asleep instantly.

She dreamed of all the adventures she hoped to have now she was on her own. Swinging across ravines. Holding on to horses speeding down mountains. Hog-tying bank robbers. Mayors and teachers and men in monocles handing gigantic checks and banana splits and bouquets of strawberries and gummy candies. Then the sun went supernova and it all disappeared.

It took a moment for Magnolia to realize she was awake, and then where she was, and then what was hovering over her. When her eyes focused, and her brain unmuddled, she was still stymied by the metallic figure that was now inching slowly away. “Hey, there, rust bucket. Ya mind giving a cowgirl back her hat?”

The robot (R-Thrrr, as if you didn’t know) was clutching her hat in his pincer hands. He had forgotten, as his anxiety functions kicked in as soon as Magnolia woke up. “I-I-I-I-” he stuttered. As he back further away, he smacked into a tree, which conked the stutter out. “I was just making sure you weren’t dead.”

“Nah, there’s tons o’ life in me. Magnolia DuMont, but if you’re friendly you can call me Maggie. If you want trouble, you can call me Mags.” She extended her hand. R-Thrr recoiled, as if it were lit dynamite. “It don’t bite,” she assured.

“I am R-Thrrr. My creator programmed me to protect and serve. I’m part handyman, part thug.”


“He was not a good inventor, so no. He left me to survive on my own. It’s the worst thing that’s happened to me since he turned me on.”

“Well sir, you’re luck is about to turn around. Why don’t you come with me?”

R-Thrrr was skeptical. “Join you where?”

Magnolia shrugged. “Not sure yet. Guess we’ll find out together.” This agreement was interrupted by loud thunk and fierce thrashing in a nearby group of shrubs. “Come on, R-Thrrr. Let’s check it out.”

R-Thrrr was more skeptical than ever.


Yes, we’ve only had four parts plus a prologue so far (that makes five for the mathematically-challenged) but instead of continuing the saga on a Friday of all days, we’ll briefly pause and continue the excitement next week, when our core heroes start to meet each other (uh, spoiler alert.)

To recap:

A ballerina was kidnapped!

A cowgirl ran away from home!

A robot was chased from his home by mobsters!

A unicorn was asked to leave her home and magical Unicorn land!

The ballerina was kidnapped by a gorilla, to be his bride!

What will happen next? Is it possible these stories don’t ever connect? I’m not sure myself, to be honest. I guess we’ll all have to wait and see. Have an awesome weekend.


When we last left Celestina Czermosnki, she was kidnapped by mysterious men clad in black. It may come as no surprise her situation is no better. Stuffed in a large sack, driven to an airfield, flown to a mysterious island and carried deep into bowels of a cave, where she was finally placed in a cage. At least she was out of the bag, which smelled of deceased bananas and unhygienic feet. One look at her current situation made her rethink the bag.

She was on a raised platform overlooking a den/bachelor pad that was built into the cave. A bookshelf full of bananas adorned the opposite wall, and a red and black checkered rug ran the length of the floor. To her right was a large monitor, a leather chair facing it. The chair’s back was to her. She couldn’t see the chair’s occupant, but she could tell he was there before he spoke.

“Miss Pretty Girl happy with new home?” the stranger asked in a gruff voice. “Miss Pretty Girl need anything, just ask and Grong get. Grong not want Miss Pretty Girl unhappy.”

“Wha-who are you? Why did you bring me here?” Celestina asked. She was afraid the strange man was going to ask her to teach him how to speak properly, something she herself struggled with.

“Me long time search for perfect Pretty Girl. Grong very lonely. Very rich, very powerful and yet very lonely. No worry, Grong see irony. So me search for perfect Pretty Girl to be me bride, and when me find video of you dancing, like itty-bitty pretty girl in music box, me know it fate bring us together. Fate and me henchmen.”

“But…Grong, is it? I’m not looking for commitment. A dancer’s life is full of travel, dedication to your craft and all that other junk. I can’t promise to be a good partner to anyone, let alone a strange man who stuffs me in a sack and flies me to some mysterious island, locks me in a cage. I mean, I know it’s the fairy tale dream come true, but I’ll have to decline your generous offer of captivity.” Grong grunted angrily.
“Now, now, it’s okay, Grong, there’s plenty other fish in the, you know, water.”

“Grong no want fish.” Grong swiveled in his chair. “Grong want Pretty Girl. Wait. Where Pretty Girl?”

“Swivel to your left. No, sorry, my left. There you g-” Celestina Czermonski’s thought was left unfinished, replaced by a scream that curdled her blood and the block of mozzarella cheese Grong was saving in the fridge. Grong, as you have already guessed, but it news to Celestina, is an 800 pound gorilla. In a smoking jacket, no less. But rather than smoke, he was eating a banana. Because he’s a gorilla. Oh, and an evil gorilla, what with the kidnapping.

NEXT: Our heroes collide!


Deep in the Valley of Cookie Mountain, under the Gummy Worm trees, there lived the Unicorns. All day long they romped through the meadows, eating coconut grass and singing songs about friendship and sharing and the warmth of a really good hug. At night, when the peppermint moon hung smiling in the sky, they would raise their horns, which were translucent, and when the moonlight whispered through them, a rainbow of colors would appear in the sky. The unicorns would dance and sing and twirl the colors in the sky joyously, giggling all the while.

All except Trish. Trish lived in a mushroom hut on the edge of Unicorn Valley. She enjoyed eating the coconut grass in the meadow, and she enjoyed singing, but her songs were much more melancholy and mid-tempo. Oh, sure, every now and then she’d join in on the chorus of “Friendship is Like a Clear Day, You Look Forward to It,” but she preferred, “My Love Lies Yonder Past the Neverending Sea.” The other Unicorns couldn’t bear the sadness of the song, and refused to admit there was a certain beauty to it.

Trish was also different from the other unicorns in that her horn produced a deep forest green, whereas all the other unicorns had horns with bright, neon colors. As a result, when she decided to join the nightly festivities, her light was barely noticeable. So, she spent most of her nights in her hut, reading comic books with titles like “Vault of The Vampire’s Creature,” and “Mutant Potato Tweens.” She was happy in her solitude, and felt that the unspoken arrangement she and the other unicorns had was pleasant and acceptable.

Apparently, the other unicorns did not feel this way. One day, Yolanda, an aggressively chipper unicorn, paid a visit to Trish. Trish was pruning her hedges, which were the standard green of your average hedge, unlike the fuschia hedges all the other unicorns had. “Trish! Happy Day to you, My Dearest Friend!” Yolanda said in her sparkliest voice.

“Hey there, Yolanda. Long time no see,” Trish said. “Can I offer you some coffee?” Trish was the only unicorn that drank plain, black coffee. All the others drank vanilla bean-cinnamon-mocha-latte-frappes with strawberry, banana and jelly bean flavoring.

“I would not,” Yolanda said, her voice losing a bit of the sparkle. “Trish, I come bearing fabulous news!”

“Oh, yeah? What is it, did we finally get some black jelly beans?”

“What? No, who’d want- No, the good news is, the rest of the unicorns had a Friendship Pow Wow and we came to a unanimous decision- you have to leave the Valley!”

“Wait, but how is that good news?” Trish asked.

“Well, I didn’t say it was good news for you. We just feel that we can all celebrate our differences and unity together with you gone. And that’s the best news of all.” Yolanda was still smiling, though the smile had an edge to it, like a bear hug from a Bowie knife.

“But, how can you just kick me out of Unicorn Valley? Don’t I have rights?”

Yolanda giggled. “Haven’t you heard of Eminent Domain? I don’t blame you. We just learned about it yesterday. The first time I heard the term, I thought it was some kind of M & M. Anyway, you have 24 hours to leave. Toodles!” And with that, Yolanda flew off.

Trish was torn. She did love her home, and she would miss the Valley. But she had to agree that she didn’t fit in with the others, and maybe there was a better place for her out there. Plus, this meant she’d never have to hear another song about friendship again.

She left immediately without packing.


Professor Xavier VanDerPloots had created a number of things deemed either failures (exploding sneakers that did not explode, strawberry-flavored paperclips that tasted like blueberries) or unnecessary (flip-top sunglasses for jellyfish, the cotton gin) by the scientific community, but the most egregious example was staring him in the face. Or rather, hiding behind the couch.

The Robotic Terrifying Helpful Robust Retainer, or R-Thrr for short, was designed as a part assistant, part bodyguard. He would pick up your dry cleaing, cook you dinner, tune up your car and take a bullet for you. Somewhere in the process, R-Thrr went from being a cofident, competent machine to a cowering claptrap incapable of tying his own shoes. He was given velcro shoes, but the crackle of the velcro was too frightening for him. So now he wore loafers. They were sensible and brown. So R-Thrr had that going for him.

Professor Xavier VanDerPloots had run him through a battery of tests, all of which R-Thrr had failed miserably. The carburetor he was handed to fix was in more pieces than when he’d started working on it. The dry cleaning slip had been misplaced. The roast beef was overdone and the mashed potatoes were lumpy. And when Professor Xavier VanDerPloots pulled a gun on him, R-Thrr jumped behind the couch with a high-pitched shriek the Professor didn’t recall programming him with.

“What is wrong with you?” Professor Xavier shouted. “You’re supposed to be strong, courageous, helpful.”

“You be those things, I’ll be behind your sofa, leaking oil and not dying,” R-Thrr replied. His head, a repurposed metal colander, wobbled with fear on the coat hanger that served as his neck. The Professor was at his wit’s end. This was the last straw. All of his other inventions had bankrupt him. R-Thrr was to be his big moneymaking solution. Now he was worse off than before.

The front door was assaulted with pounding fists. A wave of sweat drenched Professor Xavier VanDerPloots’ forehead. The funds for his experiments weren’t from what you would call reputable sources, and now they were coming for a return on their investment. The pounding became more intense as feet and other, more bullet-shooty implements were used to break down the door. “R-Thrr, it was nice knowing you,” Professor Xavier VanDerPloots said as he snuck out the back window. Right into the arms of the collectors waiting in his backyard. R-Thrr stuffed throw pillow over his robotic ears to drown out the Professor’s shouts for help. After a minute, there was silence. R-Thrr was alone. He decided to lie in the fetal position and panic. For the rest of his life.

Unfortunately, the mafia had other ideas. They came back the next day and kicked R-Thrr out of the house, which they decided to use as a summer home. R-Thrr, nowhere to go, found a nice secluded area in the woods and hid. He figured as long as nobody found him, he’d be safe. He was right. Somebody found him, and he was never safe again.



This squeal echoed across the Double-Press Ranch, an ecstatic cry of warning. Seconds later, on a souped-up unicycle, Magnolia DuMont tore across the field like a hog with a belly full of firecrackers. Chickens scattered. Horses reared up. Cows raised their heads, then returned to grazing. Magnolia, or Maggie as her friends called her, realized Geronimo was normally a cry reserved for jumping from a great height and not tearing across the field, but because Geronimo had a better ring to it than, “Look out,” she chose the more aesthetically pleasing option. She also liked to say “Timber,” right before she sneezed.

When I say the unicycle she was perched upon was souped-up, I mean to say she had tied a speedboat motor to it and set it on fire. Most unicycles don’t have speedboat motors tied to them, let alone flaming motors. And all unicycles, including the one Magnolia DuMont was currently perched upon, have no brakes. The Double-Press Ranch had a hay loft, though. A beauty of a hay loft, in fact, which Josiah DuMont was extremely proud of. So when Maggie crashed into it with her unicycle, she knew she’d be in deep trouble. And when the flaming speedboat motor set the whole thing on fire, she knew the depths of her troubles had just descended considerably. Running from the crumbling hay loft, she watched helplessly as it burned to the ground, clearing hay from her hair and face. “Timber,” she said woefully, and sneezed.

She knew once her Dad came home from the market to find his prized hay loft a pile of ashes, she’d be confined to her room for the rest of the summer, until fifth grade reared its ugly head. For someone as addicted to adventure as Magnolia DuMont, grounding was akin to the plague. Which is why she decided the only prudent course of action was to run away. She dashed a note off and set it on the kitchen table, grabbed her hat, a handful of jelly beans, and a change of underpants and set off for parts unknown. The letter she left is below:

Dear Papa,
I’m mighty sorry about the hay loft. Seeing as how you and I both know how I do with grounding, and seeing as how I can’t see the point in fifth grade, I’ve decided to set off on my own. May we meet again.


As she walked off the ranch, nodding solemnly at cows and chickens, she grabbed her lariat. “Might need this,” she thought. And she left the Double-Press Ranch for good. Her father would have been furious at her for her transgressions had he ever learned of them. But sadly, on his way back from the market, he dropped a roll of duct tape, and chasing it as it rolled down the street, fell into a Mysterious Infinity Hole.

But that’s a whole other story.

NEXT: Robot? Unicorn? Etc.?


Backstage at the MetroNeoPoliPoliPolitan Center For Performing Arts was a flurry of activity. Dancers preparing themselves for an evening of intensive balletic dance, choreographers making last minute changes to the pirouettes, stage directors directing the stage to stay put and not collapse. However, at the center of this storm was the calm presence of the prima ballerina, Celestina Czermonski. In her dressing room, she sat cross-legged, concentrated. Her mind could fit on the head of a pin, so closed and concentrated it was. Clear of any distractions, focused purely and solely on the dance.

It took an intense sort of concentration to shut out the cacophony behind her door, but Celestina was gifted in that way. The only sound that could break her from her trance was the knock that heralded the beginning of the ballet. The knock that would not arrive for another fifteen minutes. And yet. Was that not a knock at her door just then? Her concentration pranced away like a frightened bunny. Her eyes snapped open and her body recalibrated. Coming out of her intense focus and becoming aware of her dressing room once more was a bit disorienting, like waking up in a strange place. This is why she didn’t realize until it was too late what was happening.

Figures in dark clothes, black turtlenecks and chinos, were binding her hands behind her with rope. Her legs were lifted and clasped by handcuffs (anklecuffs?) and she was tossed like a paper airplane into a large sack. She hadn’t even been gagged, but the shock gagged her momentarily. When she did think to scream for help, the dark clothed figures had placed her in the back of the Rolls Royce headed to their private airport. One of the figures, in a maroon beret and olive green monocle, made a phone call. “Subject is in our possession,” he purred, snapping his fingers rhythmically.

“Ooh-ooh-ah,” an evil voice cackled over the line. “Ooh-ooh-ah.”