The ace of spades sown into the black stack of the
magic hat slowly unraveled like a twisting clock ticking in reverse. Sarah and
Barney held onto the brim of the hat as they spun counterclockwise to the
desert floor. An ocean of sand stretched in every direction as far as their
eyes could see. Both of them felt extremely nauseous after teleporting through
space and time.
“I think we can safely
let go now,” offered Barney. “I was listening to your story when you gave me
the traveling top hat. Somewhere in time, you and I vanished.”
Sarah nodded, fumbling with the hat, then gave it to him.
When Barney wore it, his
atmosphere changed. A steady breeze blew around him. Soon he and Sarah walked
over too many dunes to count. They tried to fumble with the playing card to
transport home, but nothing happened. Their desire for water was maddening.
Unexpectedly, an enormous
bird flew overhead. “There’s a man flying on its back,” whispered Sarah.
As the phoenix descended,
a green tip was visible on the horizon. The two of them headed for the speck.
As they approached, the island grew larger, and before they knew it, they could
smell fresh coconuts.
happened in the brambles nearby. Leaves took shape and blackberries became the
eyes of a man. Vines wrapped around each other, coiling into the waist of a
wiry magician. Thorns turned into toenails and leaves became locks of brown
Romulus stood before them
wearing a buckskin traveling cloak. His eyes were vacant. Looking quite mad, he
drew a long stick from his inner pocket. “Where have you come from?” he asked
They tried to answer, but
no words came out.
“You have recently known
magic. How did you come across a powerful magic hat?”
“We were separated from
our caravan several miles back,” whispered Barney.
“You lie,” snarled
“We’ve come from a
different dimension by extraordinary circumstances,” offered Sarah.
Romulus wasn’t sure why
he believed her, but the truth was undeniable. “Conundrum is a master of magic.
He may have grown an entire island in the desert so I could survive the
Sarah and Barney walked
in front of the magician who held a wand at their backs. The groves grew
randomly, creating mazes without any exit. Soon they reached a shimmering pool.
The magician sucked the
water out with the tip of his wand. Standing up, he drank from it, knowing he
had several gallons in reserve.
Romulus plucked the magic
hat from Barney’s head, placing it on his own.
Suddenly, Sarah and Barney felt ropes binding their arms to their sides.
moment later, Romulus vanished.