Between a Rock and a Hard Sky (Jack and the Genre-nauts, Act 8)

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“Welcome, one and all,” says Will Scarlet, with a broad smile and a bow, “to Will & Allyn’s Interactive Theatre!”

“Every Saturday,” says Allyn-a-Dale, “Will and I and our friends from the story world of ‘The Outlaws of Avalon ’ trilogy—”

“Coming one of these days to a book retailer near you!”

“—Will take at random two of the suggestions gleaned from you, our gentle audience, and incorporate them into… well, the sort of tomfoolery Will calls entertainment.”

“So make yourselves comfortable,” says Will, “as we now present to you: ‘Between a Rock and a Hard Sky’!”

<<<>>>

[The curtain rises on a backdrop of a semi-distant mountain. Allyn-a-Dale as Jack Snow, along with Annabelle Gray and Sir Wilbur Lamb of INSPIRED, stride along the stage floor’s treadmill with all the haste of a team on a mission.]

Allyn/Jack [grumbling ]: Why couldn’t Hatter have had sense enough to not try to take the load of the sky from Loki?

Annabelle: Well, one, he didn’t exactly know it was Loki. And two, they don’t call the Hatter mad for nothing.

Sir Wilbur: There’s got to be someone we can find to free Hatter. A titan, a god… a demigod, even. Annabelle, you know the Greek myths best of us all. Where do you recommend we search?

Annabelle: We could try the garden of the Hesperides. As Atlas’s daughters, they might know where he is. Of course, there’d be the dragon to deal with.

Allyn/Jack: No more dragons! I had my fill of the creatures in Act 3.

Annabelle: Okay, what about Heracles? We could maybe get him to hoist the sky just long enough for Hatter to slip out from underneath. That is, if he’s not too busy laboring for King Eurystheus—

Will/Hatter[’s voice from offstage ]: Guys! Wait up!

[The treadmill comes to a stop, as do the players upon it. All three turn in surprise as Will Scarlet as the Mad Hatter jogs in behind them.]

Will/Hatter [panting ]: Finally. I’ve been chasing after you for a good twenty minutes!

Allyn/Jack: How did you get free??

Will/Hatter: Hmm? Oh, I remembered I had a couple Wonderland mushroom pieces in my pocket. One bite to make me big, another bite to shrink me back down to size faster than the sky could fall. I rolled out of the way a split second before I’d have been pinned again. Ta-da! Also: Atlas.

Sir Wilbur: He returned to the mountaintop?

Sure. Let’s pet that.

Sure. Let’s pet that.

Will/Hatter: No, I mean I picked up an atlas of local attractions on the way down the mountain. [displays oversized scroll ] All sorts of neat tourist traps, ‘round here! Wanna hit up the Aegean Petting Zoo? They’ve got baby selkies all the way from Scottish mythology, not to mention the Minitaur!

Annabelle: Minotaur, dude. With an “o”.

Will/Hatter: No, Minitaur – like, a teeny-tiny bull-headed man. It’ll be adorable. Let’s go see! [runs offstage ]

Allyn/Jack [calling after him ]: And then the North Pole? Hatter?… [heavy sigh ] I’m never going home, am I?

Sir Wilbur [placing a hand on Allyn’s shoulder ]: We’ll see to it you get there in the end.

Annabelle: True that, Jack! We lately-named Genre-nauts are always there for our friends.

[The three walk off after Will, no sooner disappearing than the mountain backdrop begins to rise, revealing inch by inch the rocky double-ramp wall seen in the last act. And at the top ramp’s apex, struggling under the weighted curtain of the sky, is none other than Will Scarlet.]

Will/Hatter [shouting desperately ]: Guys! Don’t fall for it! He’s not me – I’m still trapped! IT’S LOKI, GUYYYS!

<<<>>>

“Aaaand SCENE!” says Will.

“Thank you to audience members Miranda McNeff and Kelton de la Cruz,” says Allyn, “for providing us with the inspiration ‘selkies’ and ‘Minitaur’.”

“If you enjoyed yourselves,” Will says, “(or if you didn’t, but you totally did, right?), don’t forget to leave suggestions for future productions in the comments! Words or phrases we’ve got to include, a prop to use, a prompt to run with… anything goes! ‘Til next time, friends: Will and Allyn out!”

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