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  • Blog Entries

    • By Fox in Nine-Tailed Fox Anime Reviews 0
      Review: Adachi and Shimamura
      (Non-Spoilery)

      Season Aired: Fall 2020 - 12 episodes
      MAL Link: Adachi and Shimamura
      Watch it at: Kawaiifu
       
      Review:
      Shoujo Ai : Anime, manga, or fanfic that depicts non-explicit lesbian relationships. Usually focuses on the romantic/ loving/ emotional.
       
      Yuri: Japanese jargon term for characters, themes, content and a genre involving lesbian relationships or female homoeroticism in light novels, manga, anime, video games and related Japanese media.
       
      Adachi and Shimamura is like if somebody looked at the yuri trash-fire that was Citrus and said... hey, why don't we do that except with relatable, well developed and human characters?
      The two shows bear a certain similarity at first glance - you have the intense, introverted dark-haired girl and the somewhat more outgoing blonde girl navigating a relationship together.
      That's pretty much where the similarity ends, though.  Where Citrus quickly spun-off into the absurd and prurient, Adachi and Shimamura is a real character study of young people dealing with the awkward, confusing and sometimes painful emotional throes of a first love.
       
      The Plot in a Nutshell:
      This show is a "Slice of Life" which means it portrays the sequence of events in a character's life. There is no strong plot line - the point of the show is the journey; not the destination.
      As we follow the pair through their first years of high school, we experience what they do as they awaken to new feelings and grapple with it in their own ways.
       
      My Verdict: 
      The art and animation is really superb.  You can tell the artists and animators gave a lot of love to this production.
      The two main characters are deep.  their self-realizations about themselves and the people around them are what drives the show. 
      The show doesn't use cliches or character archetypes to give the viewer a quick reference point on the two main characters.  The viewer has to go on the journey of self-discovery with them as the layers of their personalities are exposed, episode by episode.
      And, overall, the show is really kawaii. The animators put a focus on the cute and adorable which makes the emotional pain of first love a bit less biting to the viewer.
      Score: 3.5 out of 5

    • By SSJRuss in The Loser's Club 0
      Part 7
      --Back in the alleyway outside the Grand Arena, Verse City.
      The alleyway had been quiet for sometime after the scuffle. The usual sounds of hustle and bustle returned to fill the streets. Normal life in Verse City once again.
      But life in Verse City was far from normal.
      ______________________
      HONK HONK!
      Moe drilled his palm down into the center of the steering wheel. “Driving in this town is the worst!”
      Moe, with his cohorts Larry and Curly, were stuck on the freeway during a terrible case of gridlock. The sun beamed hot and high, causing them to keep the windows rolled down in their Verse City dump truck. Or V.C.T., as the logo on the side suggested.
       
      Verse City Trash
      “Cleaning Up The Multiverse,
                 So You Don’t Have To”
       
      They each tried to ignore the stench of the truck bed wafting in and enjoy what little breeze they could. They sat together, the three of them inseparable in life as they were now, stuffed in the front seat with no elbow room.
      “You said it, Moe.” Larry said. “I’ve about had it up to here with this job. Why did we agree to this in the first place?”
      Curly, the biggest and baldest of the three stooges, responded with his own question, “Didn’t ya say that about our last job, Larry?”
      Moe answered them both, “Heh, our last job was a stinker too. This one isn’t much better but at least we’re out of the Forgotten District.”
      “Where was that? I forget,” Larry wondered.
      Without looking, Moe reached over Curly and slapped Larry in the back of the head.
      “Forget that wise guy?” Moe mocked. “No sense in remembering ‘cause we got better days ahead of us. I’m telling you boys, new horizons.” He let his hand drift outside with a starry look in his eyes.
      “We ain’t got nothing but cars ahead of us, Moe. You’re delusional.” Curly said.
      Moe went to strike him too, but Curly put a hand up to stop him, “Hey now, hands on the wheel, buster!”
      Moe paused to consider, then put his hands back at ten and two. Curly gave his trademark, ‘Nyuk Nyuk Nyuk!’ as the traffic inched forward.
      "Say I remember now,” said Larry, rubbing the back of his head. “We do this job and we're free to go!"
      "That's right.” Moe answered. “Once our community service is up, we'll be regular citizens again in the big city. If only these people knew how to drive we could actually get somewhere."
      The traffic inched forward again, but not much else occurred between the three men as they waited another thirty minutes before they were about to get off the freeway and to their destination. Central District, or more commonly called ‘The Common’.
      The Common existed as its own independent district within the Megalopolis that is Verse City. It was one of the only sections of the city that tourism was encouraged and that citizens of neighboring districts could mingle or participate in commerce. Generally, the Common was the first thing you saw of the city when you arrived, as most of the infrastructure for multiverse travel began and ended here. It also served as the capital and the seat of government for Verse City.
      Major sporting events were also held here. The Grand Arena, known for its extravagant tournaments, started on 52nd street and also marked the start of the Stooges’ trash route.
      Moe turned the wheel, taking the truck into the alleyway behind the Grand Arena.
      “Well boys, here’s where the route starts. Let’s earn our keep,” said Moe, signaling the three of them to get into action. Curly and Larry got out to stretch their legs and pick up loose trash in the alley. Moe stopped the truck at the first dumpster in a line of dumpsters and with a careful hand, started the heavy machinery. Two mechanical arms jutted from the dump truck, picked up the dumpster and deposited it into the truck bed.
      “Neh, so dirty out here,” Curly complained, picking a loose trash bag off the ground and tossing it up with the intention of it landing in the truck bed and not on his friend Larry who stood on the other side.
      The sound of Larry’s dismay told Curly that he missed his target. “Hey, watch it buddy!” Larry shouted.
      “Sorry Larry,” said Curly. “Guess I’m too strong for my own good.”
      “You two quit fooling around or I’ll toss you in the garbage myself,” said Moe, moving the truck to the next dumpster in the line. He operated the arms like before, but not wanting to get distracted by his friends usual banter and antics, he turned on the radio. The hit single ‘Talk Dirty’ By Jason Derulo was on. It wasn’t really his jam, but Moe found himself whistling to the trumpets and shaking his shoulders.
      Continuing to clean, Curly bent down to pick up a can, not realizing the truck arms were lowering for the dumpster and knocked him in the back of the head.
      THUD
      WOOB WOOB WOOB WOOB
      “Curly, what are ya doing?” Larry found Curly on the ground and helped him up and out of the way.
      “The thing tried to clobber me!” Curly said, shaking his head to get his wits back. “Dang it, Moe. Watch where ya swinging that thing.”
      Moe didn’t hear him, continuing to whistle and empty each of the dumpsters in the alley. Only two more to go.
      Larry dusted the dirt off of Curly’s coveralls, “Come on, let’s finish this up. I’m starving.”
      Curly answered with hungry interest and followed Larry to pick up the last of the trash on the ground.
      The dump truck moved to the last dumpster and began to lift it. Moe’s song came to an end as the truck lurched side to side.
      “What the-” He stuck his head out of the window to see the mechanical arms were stuck, suspending the dumpster in the air. A terrible whirring sound came from the truck bed.
      Curly and Larry walked over to investigate. “What happened, Moe?” Curly asked.
      “What does it look like, knucklehead? It’s stuck.” Moe mashed the controls but the arms didn’t budge. “I think the gear is jammed. See what you can do.”
      Curly nodded, then gripped the dumpster from underneath to pull. Meanwhile, Larry climbed one of the arms to attempt to free the dumpster. Neither were successful.
      “Oh my! This thing is certainly dirty,” said Curly, unaware of the bloody ooze slicking down behind him from the back of the dumpster.
      “Oh really, Curly? I hadn’t noticed. Thanks a lot.” Larry responded, struggling to wiggle one of the arms loose.
      “You’re welcome. Larry.”
      Moe cursed the two and climbed out of the truck, “Are you two planning on getting anything accomplished today? We still got eight more streets to go down before we get a break.”
      Moe slapped Larry in the face, causing him to fall off the mechanical arm. He followed that with a double eye-poke to Curly, who hollered in pain.
      He backed away, intending to retaliate when he noticed that instead of backing into the brick wall behind him, he backed into something warm, wet, and putrid.
      “WHA WHA WHA” Moe and Larry were frozen with fear, mouths incapable of forming coherent words.
      They both stared behind Curly, who rubbed his eyes and turned slowly. “Wha--”
      “NAH AH AH!” Curly practically leapt out of his skin at the sight of the skinless Meat. A bloody mess of a man who towered over Curly with one eye intact and murderous intent.
      The three stooges shoved themselves back into the truck haphazardly. Larry screamed, “GET US OUT OF HERE!”
      Moe attempted to oblige but failed when Meat caught the driver’s side door before it closed.
      The trio screamed. Moe stepped on the gas pedal as Meat’s face burst through the window, ready to consume each of them.
    • By SSJRuss in Space Ghost Coast to Coast, Season 12 0
      "Greetings. I am Space Ghost. Welcome to my show."
      The empty studio echoed his voice. The silence was deafening. After several seconds, Space Ghost let out a frustrated sigh and faded onto the chair behind his desk.
      The long forgotten one time cosmic hero turned talk show host, Space Ghost, began his show like he always did:
      "My first guest tonight is--" 
      Zorak, his former enemy turned co-host, screeched, "You don't have any guests."
      Space Ghost looked at him without saying a word, then blasted the wall with one of his twin powerbands, leaving a scorch mark next to Zorak.
      Space Ghost smiled a half-assed smile then tapped his cue cards against his desk.
      "Where the hell is my coffee, Zorak?" he changed the subject.
      “How the hell should I know?” Zorak stared blankly at Space Ghost.
      “Moltar, do you know where my coffee is?” Space Ghost asked his co-star who managed the cameras and set. “Hmm?”
      Space Ghost sighed again when Moltar declined to respond. Nobody ever listened to his complaints anyway.
      Space Ghost looked at the papers on his desk to see the scheduled guests for tonight. He faked surprise when he saw the list was blank. He already knew that, but he didn’t want to accept that his show wasn’t on the air. Because it wasn’t. The show, Space Ghost Coast to Coast hadn’t seen a live guest in years.
      “Guess I’ll take my commercial break early and get my coffee then. At least then I can make it the way I like!” Space Ghost said aloud. When nobody responded, he turned into his ghost form and reformed in the kitchen attached to the set.
      How long have I been doing this?
      Years, surely. But how many? Decades? Centuries? There was no true way to tell the passage of time in space. Well, maybe there was but he didn’t know of any. All communication with the outside world stopped in 2008. It was like the world had forgotten him because no matter what Space Ghost tried, he could not leave the set of Coast to Coast.
      Moltar thinks they’re all in some ‘Forgotten Zone’ of existence where everyone who becomes irrelevant ends up. Well maybe it was non-existence now that he thought about it. Regardless, the whole idea was cockamamie. All he knew for sure was that after his show went off the air, himself and the rest of the cast of Coast to Coast found that their studio was in a different plane of existence. It looked the same to the untrained eye. But Space Ghost’s eyes were well trained. Those things could win awards they were so well trained.
      Space Ghost found the coffee pot had already been brewed. He searched the cabinet for his favorite mug with the imprint of his logo on it. Lucky for him he didn’t have to look hard, the cabinet was filled with copies of the same mug. He grabbed the nearest one, poured himself half a cup and sipped it.
      The moment the liquid touched his lips, Space Ghost felt something drop in his lower abdomen.
      Since nobody was watching his show, what better time to take a space dump? “I have been irregular lately.”
      “What?” Zorak shouted from his desk in the other room. Apparently he heard Space Ghost’s voice and had nothing better to do than to ask him questions.
      “I’m going to go take a space dump!” Space Ghost shouted back. “Entertain the audience until I return.” He faded from the kitchen and teleported to the set bathroom.
      “We have no audience, you Space shit!” Zorak said, not knowing Space Ghost had left the kitchen.
       

      Space Ghost swung open the bathroom stall door. “It is I, Space Ghost!”
      As expected, the bathroom was empty except for him. He sat on the cold toilet seat and dropped his pants. He wasn’t sure how long this was going to take, so he made himself comfortable and found a newspaper Moltar usually left there. It was dated May 30th, 2008. He’d read this hundred times but he liked to act as if it were something new.
      “Oh, would you look at that? Charlie Sheen got married. Good for him. Great guy…”
      It was either this or the reading material left behind by Zorak, which was nothing but vulgar graffiti on the bathroom walls that read: “Zorak rules!” and “Space Ghost sucks ass!”
       

      Space Ghost faded onto the set like an apparition. Time to try this again.
      "Greetings. I am Space Ghost. Welcome to my show."
      He got into his desk and took a sip of his coffee, smiling devilishly at the camera. Zorak and Moltar watched him from their stations, unsure of what he was going to do. Or if he was going to do anything at all.
      Space Ghost took another sip. Sip. Sip. Sip.
      Sip. Sssssip. Sipppppp.

      At one point he started slurping, which drove Zorak to yell, “I will fucking shoot you!”
      “Hey,” Space Ghost rebutted, “You can’t say that on the air!”
      “We aren’t live, Space Ghost,” Moltar’s voice chimed in. “You do realize that, don’t you?”
      “Of course I do,” responded Space Ghost, “What do think I am? Deranged?”
      “I never said that-”
      “Think I’ve lost touch with reality, huh Moltar? Hm? HMM?” Space Ghost rang his fists through the air and he got louder with every ‘Hmm’ me spat. “Hmm? Hmmmm?”
      “Uhh--” Moltar didn’t know what to say at this point. And it looked like Zorak was staying out of it.
      Space Ghost stood up to emphasize the next aggressive ‘Hmmm’ when the television screen lowered aside his desk. The screen was black then flashed images of static.
      The three of them looked at the TV, then at each other.
      “This isn’t funny, Moltar,” Space Ghost said.
      “Hey, that wasn’t--” Moltar’s voice was cut off by a sudden crash, as someone fell through the ceiling and landed next to Space Ghost.
      It was a man in his 20s by the look of him. He wore a combination of metal, leather and torn fabrics that fitted his body. He quickly got to his feet, seemingly unfazed by the fall, and ignited a crimson blade in his hand. He seemed confused, but hostile. Space Ghost pointed his powerbands at him, ready to fry him if things got ugly.
      “Who are you?” Space Ghost asked. Zorak and the newcomer echoed the same question but before any of them could answer, the television set flickered again. This time the image wasn’t static, it was the face of a rather smug looking gecko.
       

      “Is this thing on? OH, Space Ghost! Rad,” said the gecko.
      Space Ghost turned his ready-to-fire powerband at the television, “Who are you supposed to be?”
      “He looks delicious,” Zorak said.
      The man with the red laser blade tried to get everyone’s attention again, but his words fell on deaf ears.
      The gecko continued on, “I’m supposed to be the guy getting entertained by mindless television. Unfortunately, your show is the only thing worth watching on FZTV and you haven’t even been on the air”
      “FZ-whatsie?” Space Ghost asked.
      “Forgotten Zone Television. Don’t you watch?” The gecko asked in return.
      “No.” Space Ghost said. “And I won’t either. What kind of man would I be if I took a recommendation from a lizard? I’d be an idiot, that’s what.”
      “Who are you calling a lizard, pal? The name’s Gex. I’m a gecko who has an itch for the finer programs in life and your show is up next on my TV Guide. I figured you needed a new guest so I found this guy and dropped him off.” Gex pointed at the newcomer. “You’re welcome.”
      Space Ghost responded by blasting the TV, breaking it and Gex’s connection along with it. The newcomer wasn’t fond of that decision however and swung his sword near Space Ghost’s neck.
      “What the hell do you think you’re doing?” The newcomer asked. “He had answers I needed.”
      Space Ghost whirled around to face his ‘guest’ with his powerbands. “I will fucking shoot you!”
       
      END
    • By SSJRuss in The Loser's Club 0
      Part 6
       
      --Alleyway Outside the Grand Arena, Verse City.
      Our blood-soaked Hero of Gallowmere swung his mighty sword, cutting off the head of the Meat-monster-man. It gave a blood-curdling screech as it’s head flew into the air and splattered onto the ground.
      Well done, Sir Daniel!
      The creature’s body went limp for a moment, then ejected another head from it’s neck.
      “Uhhh oh!” (Uh oh!) Daniel mumbled.
      It seems he’s not yet vanquished. No time to waste, Fortesque. Finish him!
      Daniel looked around frantically for what to do next. With mere moments to spare before the Meat-monster-man would be ready to strike, he grabbed the monster and flung him into the wall. A splat sounded on the brick and the creature slid behind the dumpster.
      Sir Daniel felt relieved that he'd won, but the creature stood back up.
      This medium-rare monstrosity just won’t stay down. Perhaps it is best if you--
      Sir Daniel pushed the dumpster against the wall, crushing Meat in-between. This felt more like a win with the monster letting out a whisper of defeat and dissolved back into a fleshy-flesh puddle.
      Well, that didn't go as expected. But what is a victory without a little unexpected tumultuousness?
      Daniel wiped his skeletal hands clean of the blood and garbage and retrieved his things. To his delight everything seemed to be in order.
      The question now was, what to do next? He certainly didn't like the way they treated him in the arena, throwing out his bones like yesterday's trash. But looking at the structure, it would be quite a task to get back in there.
      So if not there, where? Back home to Gallowmere? How would his fellow heroes feel about him coming home empty-handed? After all, he took this quest for the ultimate chance at an eternal wish. And he remembered something about monetary compensation for failure. Who had told him that?
      Daniel couldn't remember. And with no other options, he left the alleyway and strolled the sidewalk of the vast city.
      According to the signs, he was in someplace called Verse City. The sites and sounds were nothing like he'd ever seen before. Daniel was mesmerized by the different kinds of people he saw. Some wore outfits that looked incredibly uncomfortable and revealing. Others weren't even people, just strange animals or magical beings. It was a lot to take in for just one eye.
      Fortunately, he didn’t stand out in this crowd as others walked by without so much as a glance. Daniel had his fair share of trouble for one day and was glad for the anonymity.
      A wailing sound from above caught his attention which caused him to look up. He saw the blue sky was peppered with flying objects. Many of them were made of metal and carried people. Many of them were just people. But the sound came from a metal behemoth, flashing red and blue lights as it raced through the air waves. It looked to be in pursuit of someone… a woman. She bounced off the tall buildings and flowed as seamlessly as the tassels on her back.
      Had he seen her before?
      Daniel narrowed his eye, but she turned a corner and the flying behemoth followed close behind, out of his view. There went his chance to remember, Daniel supposed.
      He continued on until he reached the end of the sidewalk. Before he was a concrete crossroads filled with its flashing lights, busy people and metal carriages. Perhaps Daniel could find new glory here instead of returning to his crypt?
      It seems our Hero has a dilemma before him. Return home a failure, or seek new prestige in this new land?
      Sir Daniel Fortesque considered his options. There was the Verse City Pawn Shop. A sign plastered on the door read: Under New Management.
      Not there.
      Verse City Pets and Where To Find Them?
      Nope.
      Foley's Van Repair?
      Daniel didn’t even know what a van was.
      The Carlton Club? Or perhaps the Welcome Wagon Deli and Bistro?
      It had been decades since he tasted a fine brew. If only he’d had a bottom jaw.
      Then a sign for The Omni-Mega-Mall caught his attention. The sign continuously flashed with words bigger than he was tall. Now that he noticed, there were a few more signs and posters for this place and arrows were embedded on the building sides that pointed to it’s direction.
      Not a bad place to start, eh Fortesque?
      Before Daniel could make the decision, another sound came from behind him. Something between the squeal of a baby and a kitten. When he turned to look, he was greeted by a blue haired little girl. She stood near a foot shorter than him and wore a schoolgirl’s attire. Her hands were pressed against her mouth and she looked at him with the most adorable glossy eyes. She made the sound again, causing Daniel's bones to rattle.
      “Waht r uh ionng?” (What are you doing?) Daniel asked.
      She answered immediately with an “Oh my goodness!” then continued to gawk at him. “You're so cute!”
      Daniel noticed this girl was alone. Where were her parents? He tried to ask, but she didn’t seem to understand his garbled speech. She did, however, reach out to touch him. Daniel politely stepped back, only for her to repeat her action.
      “Mr. Skeleton man,” She said. “I wanna put you in my house for decoration.”
      If Daniel had a heart, it would have stopped from the shock of this girl’s audacity. “Noh aay (No way.)
      "You're so cool looking, though" She swung her arms in a circle, as if to get her point across. "Seriously, a total creepy vibe. That’s, like, my thing."
      She continued to advance until Sir Daniel found himself backed into a wall. He attempted to pull his sword, but thought better of it. It wasn’t in him to harm this girl, no matter what she intended. He needed a way out of this.
      It appears that our dubious knight has been trapped by a little fan-girl. How will you proceed, Fortesque?
      The girl inched forward, grasping at his bones when he pulled out his shield to block her. She obviously didn’t expect that because now she was holding it instead of him.
      She looked at the shield, perplexed. “Huh? This shield has your face on it. Pretty cool--HEY!” She saw her would-be decoration racing down the street in utter panic.
      “Come back here!” She said as she ran after him.
    • By SSJRuss in The Loser's Club 0
      Part 5
      -- Inside Henchmen Tryouts Gym.
      Shrek couldn’t believe it, but somehow he managed to stagger Bowser. One last punch to the big oaf's snout was enough to send him backwards into the wrestling ring ropes and rebound to the mat.
      The crowd, full of wannabe henchmen, had finally turned against him and cheered ‘Ogre! Ogre! Ogre!’. Their excitement was palpable. Shrek could feel their energy and it made the pain in his knuckles and face lessen. He roared to the crowd, feeding off their energy and made their cheers grow louder.
      He saw Bowser move out of the corner of his eye, beginning to rouse.
      “Oh no you don’t,” said Shrek as he reached for his opponent’s leg. In seconds, he had him locked into a one-legged Boston crab.
      The big turtle howled in pain as he clawed at the mat, trying desperately to reach the ropes to give himself leverage and break the hold. But Shrek’s grip was firm and held him in place.
      "Ya like that ya big--" He started to mock until Bowser pushed up off the mat. The strength surprised him. He had more in the tank than he was letting on. So Shrek focused, tightening his hold and sat down to increase the pressure. The strain was too much however, and he broke wind.
      The fart carried with it a green mist that wafted under Bowser’s nose. The big oaf went limp. He dropped back to the mat, wheezing and coughing. "Oh please noooo! The smell! Make it stop!"
      Shrek let go of the hold and watched the big guy roll around the mat in agony.
      "You just got Shrek’d!” He said then laughed. He turned to face the crowd who weren’t amused, just disgusted.
      “Get it? Shrek’d? Oh, nevermind.” He waved them off as Bowser managed to crawl to the corner of the ring.
      “So, are we done now?” Shrek asked.
      "Yes!" Said Bowser, breathing out of his mouth.
      "Well then," Shrek wiped his hands clean and dusted off his shabby vest. "Looks like you're paying for my way home."
      There was a long pause between them, then Bowser picked himself up to his knees and buried his face in his hands. Shrek heard the sound of whimpering.
      "Oh. Are… you crying? Oh come on. There's no crying in wrestling!"
      Well now I feel bad.
      He placed a hand on the big oaf’s shoulder. "Look buddy, you're a tough guy. Don’t let this get ya down. Come on, people are watching.”
      Shrek pointed out the crowd to Bowser, whose expression seemed like he hadn’t realized they were even there.
      “I’m sure they’re still afraid of ya, too.” He added encouragingly.
      "You really think so?" Bowser said, wiping away his tears. He didn’t see Shrek cringe when he replied, "Yeaaah. And you know what I bet they respect you too."
      "Really?" Bowser’s demeanor started to brighten up.
      “Yeah. So, how about you keep your word like the respectable, terrifying turtle you are and send me on my way?”
      "My word? Oh--" Bowser let himself be helped to his feet.
      "I need to get back to my swamp and I got to pay to use one of those portal… things." Shrek said.
      "But,” Bowser gave him a wide-eyed look. “You'd make such a great henchmen. Why leave when you could work for me!?"
      Shrek put his hand up, rejecting the idea. "I don’t work for anyone other than me and my own. So if you could please--"
      "But, I have no money…" Bowser admitted.
      Shrek couldn’t believe what he just heard. Did he really have no money? Looking at the crowd of would-be grunts, they didn’t seem too surprised by this revelation. Why do all of this if he didn’t have money in the first place?
      He exhaled in frustration, “Oh come on! You have to be kidding me? All of that fighting and you were just bluffing?”
      Bowser placed his hand on Shrek’s shoulder this time, “Look, I didn’t expect anyone to actually beat me. I was just recruiting for a big job I have here in Verse City. The money was going to come after. But I understand, you want to go home. I can help.”
      “Forgive me for not exactly believing you.” Shrek removed the hand. “And you could have started with that.”
      Bowser waved for him to follow outside the ring. “All my riches are back home in the Mushroom Kingdom. There, we use what is called warp pipes. That’s how I traveled here. They work better than those over-priced portals out on the street anyway.”
      “And it can take me back to my swamp?” Shrek asked.
      “Yes,” came the reply.
      He considered this. It sounded far fetched, but he didn’t have much choice in the matter. This was his best shot at getting home.
      The audience parted as the two exited the gym. They walked through double doors, following down winding hallways until they reached another door. This one was guarded by several little people made up of only faces and feet. Shrek thought they looked like mushrooms.
      With a flick of Bowser’s wrist, the guards open the door and move aside for them to enter. Shrek followed him into what looked to be some kind of underground cellar that was being used as a base of operations. It was big and spacious, with more of those mushroom guards wandering around.
      Shrek immediately saw the pipe. It was a large green tunnel sticking straight out of the floor.
      “Portals in and out of Verse City are controlled by the city.” The big oaf explained. “This one is mine and they don’t know about it. I’d like to keep it that way.”
      “Sure but... I’m just supposed to slide down this pipe?” Shrek asked, inspecting the pipe closely.
      Bowser leaned up against the pipe like he was cool and wasn’t just crying like a child minutes ago. “Like you said, I keep my word.”
      Shrek gave him another disbelieving glare, “How about you go first? I’m pipe shy.”
      “Fine. Let me show you.” Bowser agreed as he jumped on top of the pipe then slid down. After a couple of seconds, the ogre followed.
      He couldn’t explain the strange sensation that came with traveling between worlds, he only knew that it seemed both instantaneous and perpetual. When he came out the other side, Shrek found that he was not back in his swamp.
      This world was colorful and filled with castles and fluffy clouds and mushrooms and bricks and--
      CHOMP!
      “AAAHH!” Shrek shrieked in pain. A potted plant now attached to his arm with sharp teeth.
      He tried to yank it off but he couldn’t get a good grip on the thing. It was alive, this piranha plant. Shrek fell to his knees but not before seeing Bowser standing over him, wearing the biggest grin on his face.
      “Haha! You're a bigger fool than that plumber! I never keep my word!” Bowser’s foot connected with Shrek’s jaw. A blow strong enough to send the piranha plant across the floor and put Shrek down for good. The last thing he’d see was Bowser walking back through the pipe. “Good luck getting home, loser!”
      ___________________________________
       
      “Hey!” A voice cut through the dark of unconsciousness. “Hey, Vern!”
      “Ya best be getting on up now!” the voice shouted again..
      Light finally caught Shrek’s eyes. He awoke with his head and arm throbbing. Standing over him where that bastard Bowser used to be was now a gangly human with an incredibly stretchy face and big eyes.
      “Come on, Vern! We need to get outta here, ya hear?”
      “Where am I?” Shrek asked, sitting up to rub his head. He quickly noticed they were in the world that Bowser led him too.
      “I’ll tell ya later. First, ma name’s Ernest P. Worrell. It’s a pleasure to meet ya. Second, we’re sittin’ ducks if we don’t high tail it outta here!”
      “What do you mean?” Shrek asked.
      Ernest turned around to show the ogre just what he meant. In the distance, those little mushroom people were racing toward them.
      “They won’t stop chasing me, Vern!”
      Realizing the danger, Shrek jumped to his feet. He felt flush for a moment but recovered. His jaw was sore but intact. And his arm was stiff but he could move it fine. Looks like this Ernest bandaged him up while he was out.
      Looking around, the pipe was gone. No way back home. Or back to Verse City. This was turning into another shitty adventure, wasn’t it?
      “We find shelter… there.” Shrek pointed out the castle far past the oncoming enemies.
      “Oh but, that’s so far away.” Ernest said.
      “Trust me. We want to go to the castle. It’s how you finish a quest. Come on, fella.” Shrek said, leading the way toward the castle.
      ____________________
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