On a quiet Saturday morning before the break of dawn, a family of three had entered the local children’s hospital through the main entrance. The parents were dressed casually—the father in khakis, sneakers, and a regular T-shirt while the mother in jeans, sneakers, and short-sleeved blouse—while their child, an eight-year-old girl with her strawberry blonde hair in low pigtails and freckles on her face, was still dressed in her blue pajamas, pink slippers, and purple robe while carrying a plush skunk with a light pink collar around its neck and a polka dotted newborn onesie on its body under one arm and holding her father’s hand. They had approached the front registration desk and checked in, the little girl was given an ID bracelet around her right wrist as did her parents, and waited by the glass window of the hospital as the sun slowly inched out from behind the mountains. When it was their turn, the family was escorted to a nearby examination room by one of the nurses in colorfully patterned scrubs, where the young girl got dressed in a bright blue hospital gown and dark red hospital socks before getting onto the bed. As the dark-haired nurse started to examine the child’s health, he brought his attention over to see the plush skunk and gave a friendly smile to her.
“Does your friend have a name?” He asked the young girl as he started to check her blood pressure with the cuff around the muscle of her upper arm.
“Yeah—his name’s Binky,” she answered with a nod and a smile in return. “He’s been my friend for three years ever since Nana gave him to me for my birthday. It’s because I like skunks a lot.”
“I can imagine him being an awesome friend for you,” the nurse responded with a chuckle before noticing the blood pressure numbers and writing them down. “Looks like you have some excellent numbers, Miss…” He trailed off a bit to check the ID bracelet and read the child’s name. “… Felicity Brisco.” Then he introduced himself to both Felicity and her parents with a light chuckle, “Name’s Andrew, but I prefer to be called ‘Nurse Andy’ because it’s more fun to be called.”
“Okay, Nurse Andy,” Felicity responded with a nod of her head to the nurse as he continued with the examination.
Once Andrew was finished with the examination, he excused himself before leaving the room to leave the family be for a few minutes. It was not long until another man entered the room, this one being suave in regular blue scrubs, and moved over to greet the young Brisco child in the hospital bed.
“Ah, you must be my patient for the operation—Felicity Brisco, right? I’m your surgeon for your tonsil removal, Dr. Meir,” the doctor then explained to her as he sat next to her hospital bed. “Now this will take 30 minutes to an hour, but don’t worry. We’ll make sure that you’re taken care of during the surgery and afterwards.” When a knock came at the handle of the door, he brought his attention over to see another doctor waiting by the door before bringing his attention to her parents. “That must be the anesthesiologist. Mind if I ask you some questions outside the room while he speaks to your daughter?”
The mother didn’t hesitate as she nodded and stood up and made her way to head out of the room with her husband, allowing the doctor to follow suit. Once they were out of the room as well, the other doctor entered the room and sat down next to Felicity’s hospital bed with a friendly smile to her. The young patient took notice of this and gave him a smile back in return as she held her plush skunk in her arms.
“So, you’re Felicity Brisco, eh? My name’s Dr. Erikson and I’m going to give this this medicine that will help you sleep while Meir operates on you,” the anesthesiologist then explained to her as she tilted her head at him. “Now don’t worry, it’s going to be a very easy and simple procedure that will help you not feel a thing during the operation. Anyway, I would like to know what scent you would like to smell when I give you the medicine. We have bubblegum, root beer, cherry, and strawberry.”
“Strawberry, please,” Felicity answered with a quick nod to Dr. Erikson, to which he gave her a light grin from that.
“You said the magic word, so I’ll apply strawberry to the medicine,” he then responded to her before writing it down and then moving to leave the room, to which the young girl’s parents went back over to their daughter’s side again.
After a while, Nurse Andy returned to the room but this time, he was delicately carrying a small white paper cup in his hands as he gave it to Felicity. She accepted it and smelled it, finding the scent deplorable.
“This medicine will help numb your throat for the operation,” he assured to her as he brought the hospital bed railings up on both sides of the bed before raising it up to make it easier to move, “Just chug all of it down and then hand the cup back to me.”
Despite her doubts, Felicity only obeyed this instruction before drinking all of it down, shuddering from the taste, and then handing the empty cup back to the nurse.
“Ever been to Disneyland before? Think of this as one of the rides,” Nurse Andy then explained to the patient before carefully rolling the hospital bed out of the examination room and bringing it up on one of the floors.
It was then that Felicity was brought to another room where there were several other patients around her age, older, and younger than her. As she waited, she watched her parents speak with Meir and sign papers that he was giving them while she held Binky in her arms in nervous anticipation. However, she also noticed that the other children in the preoperative holding area were less than nervous than she was. Time passed for a few minutes before it was Felicity’s turn to be wheeled out by Nurse Andy, who brought her down the hall as her parents stayed behind. They both arrived into one of the other rooms where Meir, Erikson, and a few other nurses in scrubs were waiting by the table.
“Now then, I want you to count from 10, Miss Brisco,” Erikson then instructed her as he brought a mask over her mouth and nose. “Ready?”
“10… 9… 8… 7… 6…” Felicity started to count before feeling drowsy and then drifting off just as she got to the sixth number, eventually blacking out.
When Felicity woke up, the air was still and everything except for her breathing was quiet. She brought a hand to her throat and gently rubbed it to see if she had any pain or numbness from the medicine, though she found nothing. Then she noticed that she didn’t have the blood pressure cuff or heart monitor stickers on her body anymore, something that confused her even more. Her mismatched brown and green eyes fluttered and shifted around for anything that was recognizable until she noticed something unusual on the foot of her hospital bed. To her surprise, it was a real skunk with a single white stripe on its back and a black and white furred tail as it snorted and walked over to her. It took her a few moments to calm down and examine the skunk before noticing that it had a collar on it with the name tag “Binky” on the front and the polka dotted onesie on its body.
“Binky? Is that you?” She finally asked as she carefully reached out to touch the live skunk.
The skunk took notice of her hand before staying still for her, allowing her to gently pet the top of its head and sigh in relief. However, she realized that neither her mother nor father were around and tensed up in fear. She then started to carefully get out of bed before noticing that her hospital gown was torn apart despite her socks remaining perfectly intact. Felicity wasted no time carefully picking up the now alive Binky and then stepping out of the hospital room, where the hallway was covered in colorful plant life and trees fused with the walls. Her mouth gaped open as she carried Binky down the hallway, where she took notice of glowing butterfly wings and fireflies all around. What made the two pause, however, was a faint sound nearby and the young patient moved to follow this sound.
“Let’s be very quiet, Binky,” she then said to the skunk in a hushed tone as she made her way to the source of the sound as it grew stronger until it was the loudest behind one of the doors.
The moment that Felicity opened the door to the room, she saw a collection of strange and wondrous creatures—animals, sea life in ponds on rocks with the mermaids, and winged creatures—in front of what looks like an elderly bald woman in a throne and a crown of flowers around her head. The room itself appeared to be much larger than she expected with no evidence of walls or windows; instead, there were a few trees and a wooded throne across the way from the door leading inside. Felicity herself was surprised to see this, but just as she was about to leave the room, the door closed in front of her and then locked. This caught the attention of everyone available as everything suddenly went quiet and they brought their attentions to see the only human before them.
“Bring the girl forth to me,” the woman commanded in a calm yet surprisingly warm tone to two green imps in heavy armor.
The two armored imps swiftly approached Felicity and lead her towards the woman in the wooded throne as she carried Binky in her arms still, though the skunk readjusted himself so that he would be more comfortable. It was not long until the imps had brought her over to the woman when she stood up and grasped her staff in her right hand, bringing her attention to the young child in front of her.
“Fascinating… in all my years within the realm, not one human has entered here again until now,” the woman spoke in awe as she examined Felicity with one end of her staff to gently lift the girl’s jaw up. “It’s been foretold of a human child’s presence that would bring harmony back once more.”
“Where am I? Where are my parents? Who are you?” Felicity finally asked in confusion as her head was still up by the blunt end of the staff.
“And quite the curious one at that! Well, to answer your question, child, this is the Dreamworld Hospital,” the woman then explained as she brought her staff down again before giving a graceful bow to the young girl, “And I am Head Doctor Jarille, Queen of the Highest Floor and High Priestess of the Dreamworld Hospital. May I ask for your name?”
“F-Felicity Brisco,” Felicity answered in an unsure tone as she held Binky in her arms still.
“What about your familiar, then?” The Queen then asked as she brought her attention over to the skunk as well.
“… Binky,” Felicity answered again, though she was sheepish this time. It was then she asked in confusion, “Aren’t you human as well?”
“No, my dear,” Jarille answered as she shook her head a bit. “I may appear to be an everyday human being to you, but in truth, I am not. You see, in Dreamworld Hospital, we are home to many a mystical and wondrous creature that comes and roams on all nine floors that reside in this place. The Hospital was created by the Beaked Beings many years ago, whose faces were covered to protect them from illness, and over time, it prospered and grew to become its own kingdom and a sanctuary for those that come here. But not once has a human set foot in here and remembered it afterwards… at least not human children.”
“Wh-what’s happening in here?” Felicity asked as Binky wiggled a bit in her arms.
“It seems that the Bog-Tar, the humans’ equivalent of the ‘Boogeyman’ in stories and the deadliest of plagues that would inflict the humans, has entered the Hospital and will most likely bring an army of darkness in its wake,” Jarille answered with a small frown from what she thought, “Normally, the Bog-Tar is weakened by the Hospital’s presence and would never dare take one step to the lifts. However, something has changed and now it’s stepped inside and it’s tearing the realm away little by little. When news came of a human child—you, Felicity Brisco—arriving in the Dreamworld Hospital, we believed that the Bog-Tar would be vanquished and then all would be brought back to peace and harmony.”
“But why me? Why was I chosen to stop this thing?” Felicity then asked in a quiet tone as she looked down before saying in growing distress, “I don’t even know where my mommy and daddy are or how I got here…”
Before the Queen could answer, however, she paused and tried to think about it as her loyal subjects watched them intently. After a few moments, Jarille brought her attention to furry puff balls that flew over to the two and allowed them to land on the bells of her staff before listening to what they had to say. She gave them a nod of her approval before permitting them to leave again and then bringing her attention back to Felicity and Binky again. The young girl was confused by what was going on, though she didn’t try to question as to what the Queen was saying to these strange creatures.
“I’ve been told by the Puffs that they have assembled an appropriate outfit for your quest, for your hospital gown would be ravaged by the Bog-Tar and it had already gone through a hazardous journey as is,” Jarille then explained to Felicity before leading her away from the wooded throne and to where the winged puff balls were at. “Explorers must wear the outfit that resemble their familiars, for this is the law of the Dreamworld Hospital. As you already came here with a familiar, the Puffs took care of this with a snap.”
It was then that the winged puff balls brought Felicity over to a larger tree with a door, to which the young girl had to carefully put Binky down on the ground for him to wait. With the door closed, the creatures waited in anticipation as the skunk attempted to burrow into the ground rather impatiently. It did not take long until Felicity came out of the tree in a skunk hooded one-piece jumpsuit with a polka dotted pack and a different pair of gray hospital socks on her feet. She examined it for a few moments as Binky approached her when he noticed and they joined the Queen again.
“Now you are ready for your journey, Felicity Brisco,” Jarille then said with a bright smile and the crowd of creatures looked on with improvement before handing her a stone with a bright multicolored gem at the center. “Take this—it is the St. Joseph Stone. It will lead you to where you need to go. Once you defeat the Bog-Tar, go and speak to the Chessboard Director Court, the dual rulers of the Dreamworld Hospital, on the Middle Floor to see what they can do to help you get home. We believe in you.”
Felicity only nodded as she placed the Stone in her pack and was then led out of the room by the Puffs as her skunk walked by her side as they stepped out and the door closed behind them. She brought her attention down to him and gave a nervous exhale before getting the Stone out and walking down the hallway as Binky joined her by her side. She noticed that the Stone was glowing as she stepped forward a bit and then came across a set of signs pointing up, down, and all around. The only thing that Felicity could do as her skunk snorted about was furrow her eyebrows in puzzlement.
“Where to, Stone?” She asked in a quiet tone as she held the stone in her hands and brought it to each sign.
When she brought the St. Joseph Stone to one sign that was labelled “Floor of Toys” pointing down, the Stone started to glow brightly than before. Felicity noticed this as she held the Stone in her hands before bringing her attention over to her skunk. They both made their way away from the signs and over to find a place to head down to this Floor of Toys until they came across a bright red slide where the elevators would have been located. The young girl was confused at first, but she inhaled, put the Stone in her pack and her hood up to show off the “ears”, and gently picked Binky up to hold in her arms again before going down the slide.
Upon arriving on the Floor of Toys, Felicity and Binky slid through the double doors in front of the bottom of the red slide to hear a barrage of squeaks and wheezes with a machine pumping slowly and bits of tar dripped from the wheels. The young girl carefully placed her skunk on the floor again before getting out the Stone and holding it in her hands again to continue forward.
“Come on, Binky,” she then said to her skunk as she hurried from the machine and her skunk followed suit to another pair of doors with a sign about them that had the words “Toy Emergency Room”.
When she entered in what was called the “Toy Emergency Room”, Felicity found an unusual scene as large-sized multicolored teddy bears in white coats used toy first aid kits on dented and scraped action figures, checked the heights and weights of fashion dolls with frozen smiles on their faces, and checked the temperatures of baby dolls. Then she noticed ragdolls with stitches and bandages acting as nurses for the teddy bear doctors. That’s when one of the ragdoll nurses, a male ragdoll with braided dark blue hair, a pair of red blush stickers on his cheeks, a white bonnet with a bright blue ribbon, and a blue farmboy outfit with blue plaids, noticed Felicity and staggered his way over to her. Felicity herself brought her attention to see this nurse, but couldn’t help but think that he looks familiar to her.
“Well, I’ll be! A human child on the Floor of Toys,” the male ragdoll nurse said in awe as he examined Felicity as she quickly placed the Stone in her pack again. “Can’t remember the last time the Floor ever had human children.” Then he realized something in a rather ditzy way and then asked her in an innocently curious tone with his knuckles under his chin, “Wait a second, how did you get here to the Dreamworld Hospital? Do you have magical powers? Can human children have magical powers?”
“Well, I… uhh…” Felicity tried to answer as she started to think about his questions, though she couldn’t figure out how to explain it.
Just as she was about to answer, however, the two noticed that the teddy bear doctors had spotted them and made their way over to greet the human child. She panicked for a moment as she took steps back from them even as Binky brought his tail up in warning and the ragdoll nurse became nervous at the sight. One of the teddy bear doctors, a bright pink teddy bear with a red heart belly button and heart-shape paw prints, was the first to bring a paw out to the startled child, something that slowly eased her worries as she accepted it. This allowed the nurse to give a sigh of relief even as Binky kept his tail up in defense and glared at the teddy bear doctors with dark eyes.
“By the powers be of A.A. Milne, a human child and their familiar here in the Floor of Toys!” The teddy bear doctor then said in a deep booming voice as the other doctors conversed amongst each other and he brought the young girl forward for her to join the larger than life teddies. “We must not delay any longer, for we must put on a party for the arrival of this child and her familiar!”
“Wait, I have something urgent to tell you, Doctor…” Felicity started to say before trailing off in confusion as she didn’t find a name tag on the teddy bear doctor.
“Valentine,” the ragdoll nurse then added for her under his breath as she looked over at him with a quizzical expression on her face. “He’s the head doctor of the Floor of Toys, Head Doctor Cupid Valentine. But he goes by Doctor Valentine for short.”
“Thank you,” Felicity thanked the ragdoll nurse with a nod before bringing her attention back to the bright pink teddy bear doctor again with urgency, much to the concern of the teddy bear doctors that listened, “Doctor Valentine. It’s about the Bog-Tar. The Queen of the Highest Floor told me that the Bog-Tar is tearing away the realm because the defenses are weak, so now I need to go stop it from destroying this place.”
Doctor Valentine dropped his paw in thought before turning his entire body around to face the rest of his fellow teddy bear doctors, where they started to converse in hushed tones while Felicity and the ragdoll nurse waited anxiously. It did not take long until the teddy bear doctors brought their attentions back over to the human child again, though she didn’t know what their expressions were. Nonetheless, she had to assume that they were troubled by the terrible news regarding the creature.
“As the Bog-Tar is a dangerous creature, my dear, you will need to bring one token from the Floor of Toys with you if you are going to be on your quest,” Doctor Valentine then explained to Felicity before leading her to a large toy chest at the end of the room as the ragdoll nurse and Binky joined them. “These tokens will provide comfort to you as the Bog-Tar feeds from negative emotions. Normally, the Toy Chest is not allowed to be opened unless the situation was dire. In this case, the situation is dire and it shall be opened for now.”
It was then that the head doctor carefully opened it and revealed a treasure trove of plush toys and stuffed animals of all shapes and colors. Felicity’s eyes widened in awe as she picked out a plush purple sheep and held it in her hands. However, as she did this, the ragdoll nurse noticed a blue plush toy in the chest as well and reached out to get it before the chest was closed by the head doctor. He hesitated for a moment before swallowing and bringing his attention over to the closed chest for it to be opened again.
“Doctor Valentine, may I please do the same as well?” The ragdoll then asked the teddy bear doctor.
“The only reason why I opened the Toy Chest for the young child is because she is on her quest,” Doctor Valentine then explained to the nurse as he locked the chest up for its own protection.
“Wait… he can come with me on this quest, so it should be fair for him to have a token as well,” Felicity finally said as she brought her attention back over to them, much to the surprise of the nurse and the doctor.
“Are you sure of this, child? Once you bring a ragdoll nurse out of the Floor of Toys, then they are most likely not going to return,” Doctor Valentine then explained to her as the ragdoll nurse watched them a bit.
When Felicity nodded to the teddy bear doctor to solidify her answer, the head doctor then sighed and opened the chest again before bringing his attention over to the ragdoll nurse again. This time, the nurse reached forward and picked up the blue plush toy before holding it on himself and then joining the young human and her skunk. Once it was official that she was joined by another, Felicity then followed one of the other doctors down the hall and to where the exit was located. Both Binky and the ragdoll nurse followed suit as they both went down the hallways on the Floor of Toys, passing by rooms of life-sized toys receiving care from the other nurses and teddy bear doctors. When they arrived at a pair of double doors, the doctor gave the ragdoll nurse a nod of his head before leaving the newly assembled duo be. This allowed Felicity to take the St. Joseph Stone out and hold it in her hands again, to which she found that it was emitting a strong glow from the gem.
“I never got your name,” the nurse finally said as they were let out through one of the doors and they made their way to a nearby lift with a sign pointing down to another floor based on the bright glow of the Stone.
“Felicity Brisco,” Felicity introduced herself to the ragdoll nurse as she picked her skunk up and held him in her arms. “And this is Binky.”
“Name’s Ragnurse Tero,” the ragdoll nurse responded with a bright smile to Felicity as she held onto Binky carefully and he brought the lift down as best as he could with his plush toy under his arm.
“Yeah, I think it’s ‘Finish’. Anyway, we’re heading down to the Floor of Spies, so we better be careful.”
“Floor of Spies? What’s that?”
“It’s the home of the spies. They’re very precise and skilled in detecting illnesses before they occur. However, they’re emotionless as well and they can be sarcastic. That’s what Doctor Valentine told me and the other Ragnurses as well.”
When they arrived on the Floor of Spies, Tero cautiously stepped out with his blue plush toy as Felicity followed suit carrying Binky in her arms and holding the St. Joseph Stone in her free hand. Despite attempts to keep quiet as they found that the Floor of Spies was guarded and mysterious with multiple security cameras on the ceiling and walls, they were quickly surrounded by many creatures in suits and dark sunglasses. Tero was left with no choice but to shield himself with his blue plush toy as Felicity stood in front of him and still held Binky in her arms. Suddenly, the crowd parted to reveal a human-like man in a dark two-piece suit with a silver tie, and dark sunglasses on his face as he approached the small group.
“Well, if it isn’t one of the Ragnurses from the Floor of Toys,” the man in the dark suit said in a stoic, almost robotic, tone as he kept his attention on Tero before bringing his attention over to see Felicity as well. “And a human girl as well! No one told us that we would receive a human here.”
“Who are you?” The young girl asked rather nervously as she looked up at the person before her and Tero.
“Bail, Agent Charles Bail,” the spy answered without a change in emotion. “I’m one of the doctors in charge of this Floor, but I and the rest answer only to our boss, Head Doctor Tee. Identification?”
“Ragnurse Tero,” Tero only answered quickly with a light friendly smile to keep himself calm before pointing to the young human and her skunk in her arms “And this is Felicity Brisco and Binky Brisco. We’re on an adventure!”
It was here that Agent Bail remained silent before bringing his sunglasses down a bit to better examine the outsiders better, though he didn’t raise an eyebrow at them. Then he pushed his sunglasses back up and wordlessly gestured his head forward before leaving, allowing both Tero and Felicity to follow behind him. As Agent Bail walked down the hallway, both the human girl and the Ragnurse noticed closed doors with surgeons delicately operating on other doctors through exposed circular windows until they reached the largest office of the Floor. It was inside of this office that the walls were organized with technologically advanced weapons and gadgets as well as cases on older suits and various disguises.
“Head Doctor Tee, we’ve discovered a pair of outsiders—a Ragnurse from the Floor of Toys and a human with her familiar—making their way in the Floor of Spies,” Agent Bail then informed to this head doctor with the back of the chair facing them. “They’re on some sort of ‘adventure’.”
Suddenly, the chair turned to reveal a metallic being with a pipe attached to the corner of his mouth and unusual silver eyes staring at them and scanning them. Felicity tilted her head in confusion as she noticed this, though Tero was fascinated by the mechanics as he leaned in to try and examine the being. However, he was firmly pushed back by one of the other agents as the mechanic being moved its fingerless hands to put under its chin to ponder. As the being did this, Felicity carefully placed Binky down on the ground, catching the eye of at least three other agents that noticed the skunk’s presence, and hold the Stone in her hands.
“How curious… a Ragnurse outside of his designated position of Dreamworld Hospital and a human,” the metallic being then spoke in an emotionless garbled filter that made it harder to hear. “We of the Floor of Spies never expected uninvited strangers, illogical conclusions become moot without explanation. But, by Ian Fleming’s oil pump and circuits of Philip K. Dick, we of the Floor of Spies are not cruel naysayers and close-minded. Now then, explain to Head Doctor Tee R.E.B.L.I.G. of your presence, human and Ragnurse.”
“It’s the Bog-Tar, Head Doctor Tee,” Felicity explained quickly as she held the Stone in her hands still and Tero nodded in agreement, “The Queen of the Highest Floor told me that it’s tearing the Hospital apart because the defenses have been weakened and I need to stop it now.”
“And I’m allowed to come along with her,” the Ragnurse then piped in with a bright smile on his face, something that did not sit the agents well.
“The Bog-Tar is a hazard on the spies, for if it comes to the Floor of Spies, then we would lose all logic, rust, and fall apart,” the Head Doctor Tee then responded to them in pondering again before concluding, “Very well. We shall provide you with one token each from the Gadget Walls. Each token will provide defense against the Bog-Tar as they were created specifically to keep it at bay. Choose wisely and logically, Ragnurse Tero of the Floor of Toys and Felicity Brisco the Human.”
It was then that the two were brought to the gadget-filled walls as Binky followed Felicity and found themselves in front of tempting creations. After some time of thinking, Tero picked out a metallic sphere with a red lens at the center while Felicity chose a single walkie-talkie from the wall as well before looking over at Binky and holding it in her hand for it. The skunk waddled forward and sniffed it, eventually bringing his attention up to her again as if in approval, to which she placed it in her pack. Agent Bail watched them and brought his attention over to his boss and approached it, standing in front of the desk with his arms behind his back in obedience.
“Yes, Agent Bail? What is it that you request?” The Head Doctor Tee then inquired to the agent without a change in tone.
“Permission to join Ragnurse Tero and Felicity Brisco, Head Doctor Tee, on their quest to vanquish the Bog-Tar,” the agent requested without a change in his tone as well. “If they are to succeed, then they will need a representative from the Floor of Spies.”
“I see your logic, Agent Bail—permission granted,” the metallic being responded before turning its chair for its back to face him again, “You may go and pick out a token as well if you must.”
Without another word, the stoic agent then turned away and walked over to one of the Gadget Walls and immediately selected a silver watch before putting it on his right wrist as Felicity brought her attention over to him. Once he was ready, Agent Bail started to walk out of the office as the young human, her skunk, and the Ragnurse followed behind him to catch up to him. It did not take long for the newly assembled trio to leave and head down the hallway as Felicity held the Stone in her hands. When the agent was about to speak to her with a push of his sunglasses down to look at it better, the Ragnurse only nudged his shoulder playfully while holding both the gadget and the blue plush toy in his hands. Then the Stone’s gem started to glow brightly when the small group came across a sign that read “Floor of Wonder” that pointed down in a curvy manner.
“Identification: Floor of Wonder, a floor that lures many to stay and never leave forever,” Agent Bail then explained as the group found that the lift was covered in confetti and moved to get in. “It’s often a requisite for the spies to avoid this floor as it is a violation of their programming.”
“I’m looking forward to this Floor,” Tero then said as Felicity placed the walkie-talkie and the Stone into her pack before being joined by Binky, allowing Agent Bail to activate the lift on his own.
By the time the small group arrived on the Floor of Wonder, they stepped through the double doors and found themselves noticing a larger-than-life sight of being within a red-and-yellow striped circus tent with juggling clowns, acrobats, and people dressed in animal costumes in patterned scrubs creating candies and treats for others. Although Tero was delighted to see this sight and Agent Bail remained emotionless regardless, Felicity took out the St. Joseph Stone and moved forward to try and get the gem to brightly glow again with Binky by her side. As she kept her head down on the gem, it was then that she bumped into a much taller person than she was and then looked up to see this person. It was this person that Felicity bumped into was wearing a lime-green dragon suit with a lemon-yellow belly and a few matching spots on his back, bright golden-green eyes, a few lime-green scales all over his cheeks, and a pink bowtie around his neck as he crouched down with his sharp teeth exposed in a friendly smile. Both Agent Bail and Tero hurried over to her with their respective tokens in their possession.
“Hey, little one, wandered off from one of the rooms, did we?” The man in the dragon suit asked Felicity as he examined her and brought a hand out to hold hers, though the young girl was surprised to find that his hand also sported lime-green scales on the back and sported sharp pine green claws on his fingertips. Then he said to her as he gestured his head forward to lead her away, “Come on, let’s get you back to your bed before my boss finds out that you’re missing.”
“Hold it right there, buster,” Agent Bail spoke up without a change of tone as he pulled Felicity back by her hood, though not hard to pull it off her head. “Felicity Brisco is not going anywhere. She is a classified human with a confirmed familiar— full name Binky Brisco—in her company.”
This made the man in the dragon suit surprised as his friendly smile slowly formed into an expression of awe as he stood straight up and brought his hands back to himself as he examined both the spy and the Ragnurse that was with the young child. He made a small huff with a light pink smoke coming out of his nose in a rather embarrassed manner before silently pointing at the two in confusion.
“Bail, Agent Charles Bail, from the Floor of Spies,” Agent Bail then introduced himself as he crossed his arms. “The ragdoll next to me is Ragnurse Tero. And you’ve already gotten acquainted with Miss Felicity Brisco and her familiar. Though I would not be surprised that you would be intended to lure her to one of those bounce house surgery rooms to pull out rotten teeth with chopsticks.”
“Nice to meet you,” Tero piped up with an oblivious smile to the man in the dragon suit.
“So, wait… this isn’t one of our own but an actual human child?” The dragon suited man then asked before shaking his head a bit. “Wow, did not catch up with the times! Alright, I should introduce myself then. The name is Tips, one of the many Wonders on the Floor of Wonders and one of the Wonders that can use scented breaths to make the patients on this Floor immune to various forms of pain.”
“Can you try it out for us?” Tero then asked with fascination, even as Agent Bail shook his head in bemusement.
“Oh, no I cannot do that,” Tips then explained as he shook his head at the Ragnurse with a nervous look on his face again. “I really don’t want to do that at all.”
“Then bring us to your boss, Tips the Wonder,” Agent Bail then requested in a stoic tone, though the man in the dragon suit shook his head in refusal to do so.
“Please?” Felicity finally spoke as she placed her Stone into her pack again, which caught Tips’s attention.
“Hey, you said the magic word! Come one, come all, to the Head Doctor this-a way if you can,” he then said with a bright smile before leading the way over to the center of the Floor, where on a podium was a man in a sparkling red vest, white pants, and the white lab coat as he shined a bright light at X-ray pictures with the light coming from his own cane in his hand. “This is the Head Doctor of the Floor of Wonders, Ringleader Barnum Bailey, or ‘Ringleader B.B.’ as he prefers to be called. Trust me when I say that he is the best of the best here on this Floor.”
It was here that, upon being approached by the dragon-suited Wonder and the group of strangers, the Head Doctor brought his attention to them and gave them a delighted grin upon noticing Felicity’s presence before jumping off the podium with the cane still in his hands. Once he placed the X-ray pictures on the podium where clown nurses picked them up and rapidly took off while avoiding stumbling forward, the Head Doctor brought the tip of his cane down.
“Quite the surprise we have here, Tips,” Ringleader B.B. spoke with an air of grace and poise, “I get that the Floor of Toys and the Floor of Spies had considered a collaboration with us, but this is fast even for us.”
“Actually, Mr. Ringleader—” Felicity started to speak before the Head Doctor swiftly placed a gloved finger on her lips to silence her.
“Whoa there, kiddo,” he then explained before pulling his finger away. “Just call me Doctor B.B., please.”
“Sorry, Doctor B.B.,” she then apologized before hastily picking up where she was last interrupted from. “But it’s about the Bog-Tar. The Queen of the Highest Floor told me that it’s going to destroy Dreamworld Hospital because the defenses are weakened and that I’m the only one that has to stop it. If I can’t do so in time, then everyone here will die!”
The moment that she said the name of the Bog-Tar, however, everything around them halted and a dead silence filled the air. When tensions grew high and a small panic was seeded in the crowd, Ringleader B.B. tapped the end of his cane on the ground twice to ease his frightened patrons of the floor.
“Relax everyone, please do not panic—I got this,” he then assured to them before bringing his attention over to the small group and then bringing them over to a wardrobe dresser labeled “Prop Wardrobe” and opening it. Soon, he explained to the three outsiders, “This is extremely rare for the wondrous Prop Wardrobe is ever used, but since the Bog-Tar is a legitimate threat to all of us, this is one of these days where the Wardrobe will be used. Now then, a word to the wise to all of you: within this Prop Wardrobe are tokens that will bring the Bog-Tar to its knees and make it whimper at your mercy. Please take one token, but once you choose your token, then it is final.”
Felicity nodded quickly before approaching the Wardrobe and looking at the various props, primarily colorful weapons and tools, before looking down at Binky as he brought his long-clawed paws on the base of the dresser and sniffed with a snort. This prompted her to grab a heavy lunch pail from the Wardrobe and hold it in her hands, something that the Head Doctor found curious, but nodded in acceptance. Tero and Agent Bail followed her lead and picked out a large colorful butterfly net and a small colorful hammer, respectively. Just when they were finished with their choices, however, Ringleader B.B. brought his attention over to Tips and stepped to the side to allow him to go over to the open Wardrobe. The Wonder in the dragon suit gave an exhale out of nervousness before approaching the dresser and pulling out a hairspray can out of it before looking over at his boss.
“Tips, since you were the first to encounter this group, please go with them on their quest,” Ringleader B.B. requested to the Wonder in a calm tone. “You have a great gift of your scented breath. I want you to please use it well to help them out.”
“Understood, sir,” Tips then responded with a nervous nod before bringing his attention over to his new teammates and going over to them. “This is my first time outside of the Floor of Wonders, so I don’t know what to expect.”
“It’s alright, we’re here for you, Tips,” Felicity only assured to him before holding his clawed hand carefully and gently, which helped him relax.
Once the newly assembled group was ready, Felicity then took out the St. Joseph Stone and found it glowing brightly and pointing to the exit double doors of the Floor of Wonders, following its path with her new group following behind and Binky by her side. In their exit, they found tar veins growing on the walls and the only place untouched by the tar was the lift, prompting them to hurry over to it so that they would go. The Stone continued to glow the brightest as it can as Agent Bail readied the lift for the group to head down.
“Where are we going to go now?” Felicity asked the spy as she brought her attention up to him with nervousness in her tone.
“It’s where the Bog-Tar originally came from— the Basement Underworld,” Agent Bail then explained as they started to pass down floors below, “The main story of this creature is that it was created by the Quack Scientists of the Basement Underworld, whose main role was to create a cure for the worst illness of all when the Plague of Plagues struck the outside world. The humans and their familiars became ill and every doctor and nurse on every floor tried to figure out the diagnosis, but were all stumped by the symptoms. So, the Chessboard Director Court assigned the Quack Scientists to create the cure, no ifs ands or buts about it. Despite numerous amounts of testing and taking notes, the Quack Scientists made dud cures as the humans and their familiars were ripped away from life forever. Then one day, they seemingly made a breakthrough with their recent creation—the Bog-Tar, called this because the Quack Scientists made it from the soft muds of the Bog Island and the sticky tars extracted from the Le Bria Tar Graveyards—when it responded well to most of the symptoms. They felt so confident about the cure that they forgot to add one more ingredient to it.”
“What happened to these scientists?” Felicity asked as she looked over not only Agent Bail, but also Tero and Tips.
“To this day, no one knows,” Tips answered rather nervously as he held the hairspray can in his hands. “It’s rumored that the Quack Scientists were in the process of making an advanced version of the Bog-Tar to make it capable to save lives, but it rebelled and…” He paused in uncertainty when he realized as to what he was about to say to her. “Not only that, but the Bog-Tar lashed out and ran out of the Hospital where it attempted to return after the humans and their familiars were no more. Now that the defenses, as you said, have become weakened, who’s to say that the Bog-Tar would doom all of us as well?”
Felicity only gulped before feeling something warm in her throat and then bringing her hand to gently press against it when it started to gently sting and her body started to shiver with an unusual cold temperature. This caused some concern from Tero and Tips, though none from Agent Bail, when they noticed this going on. It did not take long until the agent finally stopped the lift just as it was passing by the second floor and going to the first floor and pressed the back of his hand against her forehead.
“Felicity Brisco, you’re having a fever right now,” he then said in an emotionless tone as the young girl was becoming lightheaded, “We should get you back to the Highest Floor immediately to help get it down.”
“N-no, Bail, we have to- to- to stop the Bog-Tar,” she only responded as she tightly held the St. Joseph Stone in her hands. “I don’t want to stop now and let it hurt you guys. If I can’t be there to stop it, then it’ll be my fault that the Dreamworld Hospital is put into more danger!”
“Are you sure, Felicity?” Bail finally asked in a slightly different tone, one that resembled genuine concern. However, he realized what he said before inhaling and keeping a hand on her shoulder. “I mean… if you insist on continuing on this quest, then we will ensure your safety and health as your top priority.”
“Thank you, Agent Bail,” she thanked him with an exhale as she gave him a nod of her head to him.
Both Tero and Tips looked at each other in surprise when they heard the difference in Agent Bail’s tone and watched him as he returned to the lift and brought them to the Basement Underworld. Binky was the first to step out of the lift and walk out before looking over at Felicity and her new friends. The four then stepped out next and found themselves surrounded by an overwhelming amount tar and mud with the disgusting scents to match them before staring at the broken twin doors ahead of them. The young human put the Stone in her pack before getting out her tokens and stepping forward with Binky walking by her side. Despite growing lightheaded and sore in her throat, she pressed on with Tero, Agent Bail, and Tips joining her with their own tokens.
Upon stepping through the broken twin doors, the group looked around to see if there was anything that was still alive in the room. Although they didn’t find traces of life in their new surroundings, they discovered tar and mud-covered table with broken flasks and doused flames from years past. As they explored, however, they heard a deep and booming screech behind them that startled them, causing them to slowly turn around and notice a large leak coming from the ceiling above them. This leak reformed into a black blob that opened four pairs of red eyes and a wide jagged mouth outlined in white as it screamed at them in deep anger and spite towards them, something that scared most of them except for Agent Bail. When it crawled over to them, however, his emotionless façade suddenly dropped and he held the small colorful hammer in his hands in terror. The group quickly ran off as the Bog-Tar pounced and left behind a black-covered trail in its wake, searching for the outsiders without knowing that they hid behind some ruins within the area. Felicity, seeing that Binky was the only one not to be in hiding as he had his tail up and was stomping its paw at in defense, quickly grabbed her skunk and held him in her arms and covered its mouth carefully so that his snorting wouldn’t give them away.
“What do we do now? The Bog-Tar is worse and more hostile than we even realize it,” Agent Bail quickly said in a quiet tone to the rest. “Felicity’s falling ill and unless we try to keep it away from her and save Dreamworld Hospital, then we’re doomed.”
“Wait, if the Bog-Tar was missing an ingredient, then it must need something for it to be complete!” Tero suggested in a hushed tone with a lightbulb in his head.
“The only ingredient that the Quack Scientists didn’t give the Bog-Tar was a human element,” Agent Bail theorized when he nodded from Tero’s suggestion. “Perhaps that’s why it lashed out in the first place—it desired this ingredient and felt incomplete when the Scientists started to work on the advanced version of the cure.”
“Can we give the Bog-Tar my tonsils?” Felicity asked as she gently rubbed her throat as it continued to hurt before adding, “It’s a human element.”
“And we’ll feed it so that it wouldn’t attack us,” Tips added with a nod again as Felicity held her skunk in her arms.
“Just remember this, Felicity—getting your tonsils out is going to be tough because we’re on a crunch time right now,” Agent Bail then advised the young human girl as she nodded quickly. “But we’ll make sure that you will make it through this. Once we subdue the Bog-Tar, then we’re golden.”
With this decided, the group came out of hiding and faced the Bog-Tar together with their tokens ready as Binky lifted his tail and sprayed its gas at it with Tips taking a deep breath in and blowing out a light pink smoke towards the creature. This caused the Bog-Tar to become lightheaded and slink back with a screechy groan as Agent Bail readied his watch to defend himself and Tero held it back with the butterfly net. Then they gave the creature the metallic orb for it to feed it before Tips gave the Bog-Tar the hairspray can to feed it as well before looking over at Felicity.
“Don’t hold your breath,” Tips then said to her before blowing out the same light pink smoke as soon as she opened her mouth and felt a wave of a strong scent hit her, causing her to nearly collapse.
“Strawberry…” Felicity muttered with a small drool as Tero grabbed her lunch pail and opened it to find tools and an undisturbed jar of clean water while Tips caught her from falling back and Agent Bail joined her.
“Tips, how long will the smoke last?” Tero asked as he pried Felicity’s mouth wide open.
“Thirty minutes for a human, half that time for the Bog-Tar,” the Wonder answered as he carefully picked Binky up and held the skunk in his arms to keep him calm as he wiggled in discomfort.
“Let’s do this, guys,” Agent Bail then said as he grabbed a pair of gloves out and put them on before grabbing the first of the tools. “Once we get the tonsils removed, we’ll get Felicity out of this state.”
It was then that Bail, with Tips helping him, quickly yet carefully got to work on extracting the white-spotted and swollen red tonsils using forceps, scissors, and a snare from the lunch pail. Once the tonsils were removed and sterilized with the clean water in the jar, Tero brought his blue plush toy out and placed it on Felicity, which caused her to regain focus and look around with a pain in her throat. However, when she suddenly woke up, the Bog-Tar started to move and groan, much to the concern of her three friends.
“You’ve got one minute, kid,” Agent Bail advised her quickly as Tero and Tips helped her up and gave her the jar containing the removed tonsils. “Hurry.”
Although she was still sick from the removal of the tonsils, Felicity hurried over to the awakening creature and dumped the entire jar into the Bog-Tar’s mouth as it screeched at her and nearly knocked her back. When the creature unknowingly swallowed the tonsil-filled jar, the Bog-Tar stopped and became confused as it did not expect this taste before, suddenly feeling it start to change. Its four red eyes condensed into two and it started to shed its mud and tar skin off until it melted before the group with steam coming out of it. It was then that the melted creature began to change colors and rise again, this time taking on a new form. In this form, the Bog-Tar developed a humanoid form with black scrubs, a rainbow skin, and a doctor’s coat, much to the surprise of the group.
“Y-you… you gave me the final ingredient…” the newly reborn Bog-Tar uttered in a high-pitched tone in surprise to Felicity and her friends. “Th-thank you…”
“I thought the Quack Scientists were making a cure,” Tero said in confusion as he looked at the Bog-Tar.
“My papas and mamas were, but they wanted to make a breakthrough in this world by not creating a liquid cure that patients can swallow, but a new being that can be the living cure so to speak,” the Bog-Tar responded as they moved to the covered table and cleaned off some notes, “When the Plague of Plagues struck the humans and their familiars many years ago, my papas and mamas were almost finished making me as the first of my kind. They supplied me with every knowledge of each creature within the Hospital all except for the humans that they were trying to save. They kept saying over and over that they would find a suitable human element to give me, but as time passed by and the humans’ numbers dropped, I grew impatient and weary of false promises and delayed appointments. The last straw came when they prematurely started on another one like me, but better and stronger. I lost my temper and I attacked everyone in my rage, including my papas and mamas. But when I realized that I had killed them in cold blood, I knew that I had to complete their work with what they gave me, but I never knew what the humans were like because I was never given notes on them. So, when I tried to move up the Hospital, I was viewed as a monster, a beast, and thus thrown into exile outside of my own birthplace. Every time I tried to return, I always brought with me theories and proposed tests on how to get the human element. But the Dreamworld Hospital’s defenses were too great, so I had to manually weaken the defenses so that I would get an audience with the Head Doctors and the Chessboard Director Court. Then I found out that the human child—you, my child—had come to the Dreamworld Hospital and I realized that this would be my last chance to get the human element that I needed so much. So, I would either receive that human element or accept my fate if my chance is wasted.”
“So… all this time… you just needed that final ingredient,” Felicity said with a croak as she gently rubbed her throat.
“Yes, and I thank all of you for completing me,” the Bog-Tar then thanked them before sadly frowning and softly adding, “And I am sorry for my actions towards you and everyone that I had potentially harmed.”
“Here… come with us to the Middle Floor,” Felicity then responded as she took the St. Joseph Stone out in her hands.
The Bog-Tar was surprised to see this, but despite skeptical looks from the other three of the group, they wordlessly nodded as all five of them headed out to the lift with Binky by Felicity’s side. Once on the lift, both Agent Bail and the Bog-Tar began to lift the elevator shaft together passing up a few floors until they arrived on the Middle Floor. Upon arriving, the skunk was the first to step out as Felicity followed, nearly stumbling in the process, and Tero caught her in the meantime.
On the Middle Floor, where the floor and ceiling were littered with black and white checkered patterns as black and white pawn-shaped beings in white coats and dark scrubs swiftly moved through each hallway. The group were not spotted as they made their way to the end of the hallway and discovered a large office behind two closed doors. In a room covered in black and white checkered patterned, the group saw that there were thrones aligned behind a long table with two kings, two queens, four rooks, four bishops, and four knights taking notes. When the doors closed behind the group, however, the sixteen members at the table stopped taking notes and brought their heads up in unison to see the five before them.
“Step forward,” the black-clad king beckoned the small group with a gesture of his hand, to which they all obeyed.
“You, child, are the one named Felicity Brisco, yes?” The white-clad king then asked the young girl with his hands to himself, to which she nodded.
“We have been watching all of you, companions of Felicity Brisco,” the black-clad queen then spoke to the group in a wise manner. “The St. Joseph Stone has not failed us at all in providing footage of your quest.”
“The St. Joseph Stone was... from you?” Agent Bail then asked as Felicity brought her attention to the Stone with wide eyes in disbelief.
“Yes, we developed it with the intentions to test the young human and what she would do to return to her own world,” the white-clad queen explained to them. “And based on what she has done, she has succeeded despite all odds.”
“But what happens when she does?” Tips asked next in an unsure tone.
“Unfortunately, like all dreams, when a human wake up from one, they will never remember what happened while they sleep,” the black-clad king answered, much to the group’s shock. “And Felicity is no exception. Once she wakes up, she will never remember what happened here nor will she try to. That is the law of Dreamworld Hospital.”
“Maybe we can have her stay in Dreamworld Hospital so that she wouldn’t have to leave forever?” Tero suggested in an unsure tone.
“Actually… I want to return to my mommy and daddy…” Felicity finally spoke up in a croak from her throat as she picked up Binky. “Can I say goodbye, though?”
“Permitted,” the four rulers answered in unison with nods of their heads to her.
Then Felicity looked over to see her the four members of her group and approached Tero first.
“Do you really need to leave?” Tero then asked in a soft yet glum tone to her.
“I promise not to forget you,” Felicity answered as she pulled out the small hammer and gave it to him, to which he accepted it and held it with his blue plush toy as she moved onto Agent Bail next. “Agent Bail, are you crying?” She softly asked him with concern when she saw tears falling down his cheeks with a heartbroken expression.
“I was trying to hold it in, but this is the first time that this ever happened,” the agent answered in an honest way as he removed his sunglasses to face Felicity with his own eyes as he continued to tear up. When she pulled out the small purple plush sheep and handed it to him, he accepted it and embraced it without hesitation before adding, “I’ll always remember you with this, kid.”
Then she moved onto Tips, who was trying to hold his emotions in, but his bottom lip quivered out of his control.
“I’m sorry I can’t stay, Tips,” Felicity apologized softly to the Wonder in the dragon suit.
“I know, and it’s okay,” he only answered as she pulled out the walkie-talkie and handed it to him, to which he accepted it and she moved onto the Bog-Tar.
“Are you going to be okay without me?” Felicity then asked them as her brown and green eyes looked up at them.
“In the short amount of time that we’ve known each other, you have only expressed charity and kindness to me,” the Bog-Tar answered to her. “I have faith in your friends just as much as you had faith in me.”
“Here, I want you to have this so that you would remember me,” she said as she offered them the Stone, much to their surprise. Nonetheless, the Bog-Tar accepted the St. Joseph Stone and held it to their heart as Felicity brought her attention back to the sixteen rulers and picked up her skunk to hold him.
“I’m ready to go,” she then said as she gently held Binky in her arms.
“Then it’s time to wake up, Felicity… Wake up…” The two queens started to speak in soothing tones as Felicity grew lightheaded and dizzy while the voices grew distorted and echoed.
“Wake up, Felicity, wake up,” a gentle female voice said to Felicity as she felt pain in her neck and something sticking in her left wrist while waking up.
“Mmm… Mommy?” She croaked as her vision started to become clear and she heard a heart monitor going on before noticing her parents on the right side of the hospital bed with her plush skunk next to her. Then she noticed that she was wearing her bright blue hospital gown again and the dark red hospital socks were on her feet.
“You’re in the recovery room, kiddo,” her father said to her with a relieved smile on his face when he saw his daughter wake up.
“Dr. Meir got your tonsils out without a problem,” a familiar voice then said to her as she looked over to see Nurse Andy checking her vital signs and giving her a friendly smile to her. “I told him about Binky and he figured that your friend would keep you company while he helped you get better. Anyway, want some ice cream? It’s a reward for you being quite the trooper during surgery.”
When she heard of the mention of ice cream, Felicity nodded with interest, allowing Nurse Andy to leave for a moment as Dr. Meir and Dr. Erikson headed over to her hospital bed with light smiles.
“How’s our patient doing?” Dr. Meir first asked he checked her vital signs and her progress.
“D-doing good,” she answered with a croak as she held Binky in her arm.
“That’s good,” Dr. Erikson responded with a nod before advising her, “Now it’s important for you to stay here for a few days so that you can heal. Your throat is going to be sore, but that’s normal. Don’t worry, we’ll make sure to take care of you while you’re here.”
As he said this, Nurse Andy returned with a small bowl of a vanilla and chocolate swirled ice cream and placed it on a tray in front of Felicity before carefully adjusting Binky so that the plush skunk wouldn’t get messy.
“So anyway, honey,” her mother then started to ask as she helped her daughter with her ice cream, “Did you dream something while asleep for the surgery?”
“I think I did…” Felicity answered in a curious tone before starting to carefully eat her ice cream.
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