Underground With Nickelan Wand, Book One: Kid City

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Chapter 25

Youre dead,Nickelan wrongly observed. I saw you impaled on the horns of a Carnotaurus.

I was riding that dinosaur,Selwyn said. I wouldnt recommend it, though. The beast threw me and broke all my bones. Every last one of them.

You look fine,Nickelan rightly observed.

I healed,Selwyn said.

I hate to break up this touching reunion,Fischel interrupted, but what is a grown-up doing in Kid City?

Why, Im running it,Selwyn said. Someone has to. You kids cant do it. All you do is play and eat candy. Who runs the roller coasters, paves the streets with caramel and stocks the saloons with soda pop? Oh, dont look at me like that. Grown-ups run everything. If you read a comic book, a grown-up made it. That candy bar in your pocket, it comes from a grown-up. The toy guns and plastic knives you wear: produced and manufactured by grown-ups. Even you, little boys and girls, are the products of grown-ups. Youd be nothing without us. Dont look so shocked. Kid City wouldnt exist if it wasnt for grown-ups.

Lies!Fischel protested.

He knows,Selwyn pointed to Nickelan. Ask him.

Ask me what?Nickelan said. Dont listen to a word he says. Ive been deceived by Selwyn Harris ever since I landed in this crazy place. I wouldnt be surprised if he isnt responsible for the abduction of my parents.

Nickelan.Selwyn was genuinely hurt. You are our last hope. Terrible things are happening. If you cannot save us all is lost.

It was you,Nickelan said. The voice in the bathtub. You called me down the drain. You saved me from drowning. That mysterious voice was you! What do you want from me? Where are my parents?

I want you to save us, Nickelan,Selwyn said, stepping down from his throne. I need your help to save the worlds underground. The Makas are coming. Theyll lay ruin to Kid City and in so doing inadvertently destroy the Lands Between, even Thunder World. Its all a delicate balance, a balance Ive been trying to maintain. But I cant do it alone. I need your help, Nickelan. Thats why I summoned you from the surface world.

Whyd you kidnap my parents?Nickelan demanded.

I didnt.Selwyn pleaded his innocence.

No, he didnt,Gelsomina said. I did.

Gelsomina untied the rope that was around her waist and held it in her two hands. She walked towards Selwyn, saying, I knew you were behind this. Keeping the teams distracted with pointless missions into Thunder World, while you tightened your grip on Kid City. Selwyn sells the babies.Gelsomina turned to her team. He controls the sugar that makes the candy and the soda. He runs the croc transports. Hes got his sticky fingers in everything and profits from the ongoing conflict between Kid City and Thunder World.

Then why did I bring Nickelan down here?Selwyn asked, stepping up to Gelsomina and looking down at her. How do I profit from that?

By creating the myth of a Redeemer to rally the saps of Kid City,Gelsomina said, looking up at him with equal intensity. To give them hope. What better way to convince Kid City that its right and Thunder World is wrong than to have a Redeemer on their side? I never bought that fairy tale, Selwyn. It reeks of your chicanery. It stinks, just like you!

Wait a minute!Nickelan interrupted. Gelsomina, youre all right?

I got a bit of a headache,Gelsomina admitted. Overall, yes, Im fine. I guess I got more than the wind knocked out of me when I was blindsided by that dragon.

You were a vegetable,Nickelan said. There was no light in your eyes. No one was home. Now youre fine? Whats going on?

I dont know,Gelsomina said. Hearing Selwyns voice made me snap out of it, whatever it was. I heard his lying cackle and it got me so mad I just woke up, I guess.

That makes no medical sense,Nickelan said. Nothing is making sense. Gelsomina, you have my parents. Where are they?

Theyre well,Gelsomina said. That is, they are now. In about an hour, well, no, they wont be so good.

What are you talking about?Nickelan asked.

Thats when theyll be executed,Gelsomina said. By my order.

Thats treason!Selwyn shouted. Ill have you in chains and thrown into the dungeon. Only I have authority to execute someone in Kid City.

Gelsomina grabbed Selwyn by his long velvet robe and twirled him around so his back was to her. Then, taking the rope in her hands, she threw it over Selwyns head and pulled it tight around his midsection, securing his arms to his side.

Youre my prisoner,Gelsomina announced to Selwyn. Youre going to join Nickelans parents in a public execution. I will remove the stain of grown-ups from Kid City. This is a revolution!

Nickelan was dumbstruck. He was literally struck dumb by too many outrageous revelations. Selwyn Harris was the President of Kid City, and was responsible for Nickelan being sucked down the drain. Nickelan wasnt the Redeemer. There was no Redeemer. It was just a story to further Selwyns plans of underworld domination. Gelsomina had kidnapped Nickelans parents and was going to execute them, and now Selwyn. And there was more.

The Makas,Nickelan said to himself.

What was that, boy?Selwyn asked before Gelsomina shoved a gag in his mouth.

The Makas are coming,Nickelan added. Theyre on their way. Baber Groan and the Makas are coming to ransack Kid City!

I know all about that,Gelsomina said. I sent for them.

After dropping that bombshell, Gelsomina pulled the bound Selwyn Harris across the vast expanse of the presidential chamber and exited without another word through one of the many doors outlining the Fun House.

Everyone was dumbstruck now. Fischel looked like he was going to cry. The rest of the Red Team appeared as if Gelsomina had run off not only with Selwyn, but their skeletons. They might fall formless to the ground at any moment. Only Nickelan could speak and his voice carried weight.

Find me a toilet!he said.

Nobody said anything. They looked at Nickelan. They would have looked at him as if he were A) mad, B) crazy, C) out of his head, D) cuckoo or E) all of the above, if they had the mental capacity to think beyond the betrayal of their beloved Gelsomina. Instead, they just looked at him, but their expressions registered nothing. They were blank. They were in shock.

A toilet!Nickelan repeated himself. A toilet, a toiletmy kingdom for a toilet!

You dont have a kingdom,Fischel said.

Neither will you,Nickelan smiled, happy to have broken through to someone, unless you find me a toilet.

Fischel was about to revert to his old animosity towards Nickelan. His face tightened and his body took a threatening step towards Nickelan, only to stop and slacken, as if he didnt have the strength.

There are no toilets in Kid City,Shiny Buttons said, sliding up next to Nickelan, placing her arm around his waist to comfort him. Do you have to pee? Dont be embarrassed. Why dont you go behind the throne? I promise not to look.

But I used a toilet, an in-houseI mean, outhousewhen I first arrived in Kid City,Nickelan said, confused. Nit Wit had one.

Oh, Nit Wit has a toilet,Fischel said, amused. And you believed him? That kids not right.

I know, but this is the truth,Nickelan said. I used it. What about here? Are there no toilets in the Fun House?

No one could answer him. Nobody had ever been in the Presidential Palace before.

At that very moment, as Nickelans question still resonated in the still air, came his answer, in the unintelligible beeps and burps of Scrap. The robot flew into the chamber from one of the many doorways, followed by a phalanx of mechanical men.

Fischel turned from Nickelan and lifted his fists towards the mechanical men as if his two small fleshy hands could stop the army of metal soldiers. From every door came scores of mechanical men marching in formation. The sounds of their mechanical feet on the metal floor of the Presidential Chamber echoed off the walls. It was deafening.

Then there was silence. The mechanical men had stopped marching and surrounded the Red Team menacingly.

Oh, great!Fischel shouted. Now what?

We fight,Spike said, lifting his bat, ready to start slugging.

The Red Team was well trained and, despite the emotional blow of losing their team leader, they were ready to reply with some physical blows of their own. It was a brave and stupid show. It was mass suicide.

Nickelan prepared himself for death. It was becoming a daily occurrence, but that didnt mean he got used to it. The hairs on the back of his neck stood at attention. His whole body was hypersensitive, which was really no way to greet death. Far better, Nickelan thought, to dull the senses, and so he tried to do just that.

The idea of being crushed under the weight of the mechanical men, to feel his bones break and his blood spill where it never was intended to flow, was something Nickelan hoped would be less intense if he could only manage to shut down his bodys normal sensory impulses. Nickelan tried to lose himself in the dark, quiet corners of his brain. He was giving up. Nickelan accepted the fate that appeared inevitable, but that meant he was sentencing his parents twice: first to their coming execution and, secondly, by not fighting against the odds. No, this was unacceptable. Nickelan hadnt come this far to go down without a fight. His body was all but turned off, when Nickelan turned on all the switches, lighting up his eyes, feeling the blood course through his no longer numb body and unplugging the canals of his ears only to hearfriendly conversation.

He says he worked the kinks out,Fischel said to the rest of the team. They were quite jovial for those about to die.

Scrap was floating above Fischel and speaking to him in whirling, artificial tones. As Nickelan slowly discovered, Scrap was a bit of an amateur mechanic and had rewired the Presidential Guard to do his bidding. Thanks to Scraps handiwork, the Red Team was no longer alone and outnumbered. They had an army of mechanical men.

The toilet,Nickelan said.

Poor thing,Shiny Buttons said. You really have to go bad.

No,Nickelan said, breaking away from her. She still clung to his side. Scrap, can you get them to build a toilet?

Scrap responded, but Fischel refused to translate it. Get off the toilet, Nickelan,he said. We have a war to wage with the future of Kid City at stake.

I know,Nickelan said, which is why we need a toilet. Not just any toilet, but a toilet as big as a house. No, as big as the Fun House. We have to turn the Fun House into a giant toilet.

Ha,Fischel couldnt help but laugh at the image this conjured in his mind. I like your sense of humor, Nickelan, but we have very serious matters to discuss—”

None more serious than this,Nickelan broke in. If you can get these mechanical men to raze the Fun House and use the materials to build a giant toilet, then I can save Kid City.

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