Underground With Nickelan Wand, Book One: Kid City

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Chapter 27

Returning to the Fun House, Nickelan questioned Nit Wit as to his involvement in the abduction of his parents. Nit Wit answered and Nickelan took those answers, weighed them in his head and balanced them against the facts until the scale tipped towards the truth.

According to Mr. and Mrs. Wand, Baber Groan and his henchmen arrived at the Wand household with news of Nickelans whereabouts. The Makas then took the Wands on the back of the waiting crocodile transport, which carried them down the sewers and to the underground world. There they were handed off to Nit Wit just within the walls of the Kid City.

Nit Wit then took up the story, which Nickelan translated. It was when Mr. and Mrs. Wand were transferred into the care of Nit Wit that they discovered their son was nowhere to be found. They were prisoners. Nit Wit bound and gagged them. He had instructions to keep them imprisoned in a pit that had been dug for him by some mysterious collaborator. The identity of that collaborator Nit Wit couldnt say, but Nickelan knew it was Gelsomina Gillespie. That knowledge hurt Nickelan in a place that all the trials and tribulations he had undergone in Kid City had yet to touch.

What happened to the Fun House?Nit Wit said.

The mechanical men had worked hard and fast. Where once had stood the stately palace of the President of Kid City was now an immense and shiny toilet. It was as big as the Presidential Palace had been, rising up to the Pipes above and spreading its enormous footprint over the ground below.

That is our secret weapon,Nickelan said cryptically.

Around the base of the colossal commode stood the mechanical men lined up orderly and at the command of Scrap flying over the troops. The Red Team had returned with reinforcements. There were platoons of kids, robots, dragons, dinosaurs and even pirates.

Its been a long time since the gang and I have been in Kid City.Dollar Green smiled and stretched a dirty hand at Nickelan to shake. Everything looks smaller than I remember it. But then, Im pretty drunk. Want some?He held out a small wooden barrel of rum, which Nickelan politely declined.

Nickelan was going to ask Dollar Green how he had managed to survive the sinking of the Happyland and the battle with the Makas, when something caught his eye and made his skin turn cold. He instinctively stepped backwards behind his parents for protection and spoke in a cracked voice that exposed his fear: What are you doing here?

Ive come to lend a hand, boy,said Tobias McGleaner. He stood atop the crocodile that had unsuccessfully attempted to dine on Nickelan in their journey to The Septic. The crocodile had a patch over the empty socket whenre Nickelan had plucked out its eye. I love a good scrap.

But you tried to kill me!Nickelan said.

Oh, everyone tries to kill someone sometime,Tobias said. But I didnt kill you, did I? Sure, I held a grudge after you crippled my favorite croc. But now I think he looks rather sporty with the eye-patch. Hes even forgiven you. Go on, make up: give him a kiss and a hug.

The crocodile strode towards Nickelan, who crouched down behind his parents and held on to his mothers legs like a shield.

I think a handshake will suffice,said Mr. Wand. He grabbed Nickelans arm and pulled him to the crocodile.

All right,Nickelan said in a voice still unsteady. Shake.The crocodile lifted a single claw that Nickelan grabbed with both hands. They shook.

I am happy to see so many of you here today,Nickelan addressed the crowd. Many of you will not survive the coming battle—”

What!interrupted Nit Wit. Nobody said anything about dying.

Beside Nit Wit, the crowd solemnly listened to Nickelan.

The Makas will be here shortly. They will be here in force with the intention of laying waste to our precious Kid City. Are we going to allow that to happen?

The crowd responded with a roaring no, or just a roar in the case of the crocodiles, dinosaurs and dragons.

We must fight to preserve our way of life,Nickelan said and then regretted it after remembering that the way of life in Kid City was actually quite unpleasant. The filth and rot and lawlessness of Kid City needed to be changed, though not by the hand of the Maka army. The Makas want to destroy you and Kid City. They think that were just a bunch of useless kids, too busy filling our stomachs with candy and washing it down with soda pop to stand up and fight for whats right.

That reminds me,Nit Wit said. I havent had any candy or soda in too long. Redeemer or not, Im going. You can find me at the local saloon.

Are the rest of you with me?Nickelan shouted, pleased at how naturally he could rally the troops.

The troops responded with a rousing yell that filled Nickelan with a combination of pride and fear. Could they really fight back the invading Maka army? Would his secret weapon work? These questions would be answered in short time, very short time.

A dark cloud settled over the assembled troops of Kid City. Nickelan looked up. The Fire in the sky was obliterated by hundreds of Makas. The Makas were flying in formation. Those that had wings held aloft those without wings. All the Makas looked big and strong and threatening.

Baber Groan was at the head of the formation and Maka Mickey, who carried him, dived towards the ground. I only want Nickelan Wand,Baber Groan said. Hand him over and Ill leave Kid City.

My good man,Mr. Wand said, buttoning up his suit coat. Nickelan will come with you, but I insist that his mother and I accompany him. We are all tired of this place and yearn to return home and draw a hot bath.

You want to draw a bath?Baber Groan said. Get this man a pen and a pad and keep him out of my face. I have business to conduct here.

Draw, sir, is a figure of speech.Mr. Wand shoved his hands into his pants pockets, the action of which sent a cloud of dust billowing off his dirty clothes. I think you know quite well what Im talking about. I demand you return my family home.

Your hamily fome?Baber Groan said. Whats that, baby talk? Youve been hanging out in Kid City too long, old man.The Makas added uproarious laughter to the tense atmosphere, only making things more stressful. Stop wasting my time. I will lay waste to the lot of you!Baber Groans cruel humor was replaced with just cruelty.

Im not going with you.Nickelan stood in front of his frustrated father. But youre going. Leave Kid City at once or I will boot you out myself.

The Makas stopped laughing, but they were still smiling. Nothing pleases a Maka more than a fight. They love a good fight, a bad fight, a short fight and a long fight. Mostly they love a slaughter, and it was looking as if that was exactly what they were about to do: slaughter the ragtag defenders of Kid City.

Oh, youre going to boot me?Baber Groan said. Now how do you intend to do that, barefooted as you are?

The Makas laughed heartily again and didnt hear Nickelan order his troops into battle. The pirates stuck rum-drenched clothes into their liquor bottles, lit them and tossed the flaming cocktails into the sky. They exploded in fiery balls of red and orange. The dragons took flight with kids on their backs. The dragon riders threw garbage that was ignited in midair by the dragons fire breath, striking the Makas with burning projectiles. The dinosaurs and crocodiles and other ground-based troops taunted the Makas, who dropped from the sky like meteors in response.

The land war was intense. Makas lifted dinosaurs by one hand and tossed them into gingerbread houses. They tied crocodiles together by knotting their tails, swinging the reptile rope over their heads like lassos, sweeping up masses of kid soldiers. The fight in the air was not going much better. The Makasvictory was all but complete.

Nickelan signaled Fischel Bocephus. He was piloting one of the few dragons still airborne. Seeing Nickelan, Fischel disengaged from combat and flew the dragon down to the ground where Nickelan stood.

There were bodies everywhere. Most of the Makas had stopped fighting and were now just playing with their prisoners. Some had set up ten kids in the shape of a triangle, using another kid as a bowling ball. Strike!shouted the Maka joyfully over the moans of the injured pins and ball. Others were playing catch with kids, some playing football with the kid as the pigskin. The mechanical men and other robots were crushed into a giant metal ball that the Makas were kicking back and forth. All the flying Makas had landed, having won the air battle. The Fire was burning bright above as if it were just another pleasant day in Kid City, except it was the last day of Kid City.

Nickelan was not finished yet. He jumped onto the back of Fischels dragon. Take me to the toilet,he said. Fischel gave him a look. He was going to crack wise about this not being the time, but was too devastated by the swift and total defeat of the Kid City troops to make fun. Fischel was so distraught he almost didnt hear Nickelan say, This isnt over.

What are you going to do,Fischel asked as they landed on the toilet lip, flush the Makas down the drain?

No,Nickelan said, getting off the dragon. He looked down into the still waters of the toilet bowl. Im going to flush them out.

Fischel didnt understand, but had no time to further question Nickelan. They were no longer alone on the toilet.

Hand him over, boy,Baber Groan said.

Stand back,Fischel told Nickelan and took flight on his dragon. Fischel and his fire-breathing dragon flew directly into Baber Groan. There was a great explosion of fire and smoke, when it cleared only Baber Groan was standing on the toilet lip.

Now, where were we?Baber Groan asked Nickelan. Oh, yes! Youre coming with me back to Thunder World.

Youre going back to Thunder World alone,Nickelan said. He looked at Baber Groan, then down into the toilet bowl. This is your last chance to leave Kid City unharmed.

Id like to say that I enjoy a challenge,Baber Groan said. Id like to say that, but I cant. Quit the grandstanding, boy. Lets do this as painlessly as possible.

Nickelan wasnt looking at Baber Groan anymore. His attention was back on the calm surface of the toilet water. The ravaged war-torn Kid City was now far away as Nickelan retreated back into memory. He was naked and in his bathroom with his overdressed parents behind him, pushing him towards the steaming bathwater. Nickelans feet were sweaty with fear and slipped on the slick tile floor as his parents pushed him closer to the dreaded bathtub.

Nickelan was dirty. He smelled. The aroma wafting up from the bathwater was sweet and inviting. His parents had even filled the tub with bubble bath and plastic sea animals to play with. Nickelan placed his hands on the edge of the tub and locked himself in place. Looking into the soapy waters, Nickelan saw the black eye of the drain staring at him. He wasnt going into that tub.

The toilet gurgled. Large air bubbled up from its dark bottom and exploded over the waters surface, waking Nickelan from his daydream. Looking at the toilet drain distorted by the rippling surface of the basin, Nickelan thought: Im not going in there; I have to go in there.

This is nice.Baber Groan eased into small talk. I like what youve done to the place. Ive always thought of Kid City as a toilet. Its only fitting that youve built a monument to this dump. Maybe Ill even let this stand, after destroying everything else, of course. You know, leave the big toilet as a tombstone and on it inscribe: Here Lies Kid City. What A Waste’—something like that. Are you crying, Nickelan? Getting choked up?

Nickelan looked up at Baber Groan. Though the Maka was on the other side of the toilet lip from where Nickelan stood, he still looked large and imposing. But it wasnt Baber Groan that made Nickelan nervous. It was the toilet. It was like a giant bathtub, which scared him in a place so deep and fundamental that it was impossible to reason that fear away. He could only ride it and Nickelan knew where he had to ride it.

Dont cry.Baber Groan sounded genuinely concerned. I hate it when little ones cry. Cant you be a man? I wont hurt you too much. I mean, Ive got to rough you up some. I have a reputation to uphold. But this is business, pure and simple. A few bruisesmaybe a broken armnothing more. Whod buy a busted-up boy? What good would that be?

Baber Groan was inching towards Nickelan as he spoke, but Nickelan wasnt paying attention. His focus remained on the toilet. He had had the mechanical men build it, now he had to use it. Nickelan took a step towards the edge of the toilet lip, looked down into the water and closed his eyes.

Oh, no!Baber Groan yelled. Dont go and kill yourself on me! If anyones going to die around here, itll be by my hand. Look, if youre suicidal, just tell me. Ill murder you!

The toilet lid bounced up and down against the weight of Baber Groans heavy body as he ran to stop Nickelan from taking the dive. Nickelan lost his balance and looked up to see Baber Groans hands reach out and just miss him. Nickelan jumped into the toilet.

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