'Ten Minutes Late for Reality' by Lou Morris (c) 1988, 1989, 1991, 2002, 2015. Twenty-nine:


   "Attention M-Kart shoppers!  There is a blue light
special at aisle nine on paper-clips!  For the next ten
minutes, our famous M-Kart brand paper-clips will be selling
for the amazingly low price of only nine cents a dozen!  Only
ten minutes left for our blue light special located on aisle

                                 - A nasal woman's
voice--over the M-Kart
speaker system.

   "Mommy!" cried the little five year old brat.  "Mommy,
can I have another G.I. Jap guy?" he whined, tugging her pink
and yellow dress.
   "No, honey," she said.  "You just got one in the last
store we were in.   And that was ten minutes ago."  She
resumed her paper-clip selecting.
   "Please?!" he cried.  "I don't have Captain Kamikaze yet!  
Oh, please- please- pleeeeeeeease!" he whined.
   "I said No!" she yelled, "Why don't you go find an empty
cart and go play truck driver or something?"
   He sniffed, "Okay," and went in search of an empty
shopping cart in the M-Kart store.
   "But don't get lost too long; we'll go have lunch in a
few minutes..." she called after him.

   Emmerick saw the cart coming, but there was no way of
stopping himself from slamming, butt first, into it.  He  
appeared five feet over it, in mid-air, without knowing what
was going on.  So he fell into it, and was now incredibly
   He looked around.  A store of some sort, but where and
when? he wondered.
   People of all ages and sorts swarmed around him without
paying the slightest bit of attention to him or his
predicament.  They were all far too busy buying paper-clips.
   He had fallen into a blue light special.
   "Hey, mister?" asked the same five year old brat that we
met earlier.
   Emmerick strained his neck to see the little boy,
strangely dressed in woodland clothing, standing off to one
side of his shopping cart.  "Yes?" he asked, not knowing what
else to do or say.
   "Can I have your cart?" he asked, zipping the zipper on
his camouflage pants.
   "Uh, well," Emmerick frowned.  "I cannot get out of thy
   The boy grinned.  "You're stuck?" he asked slyly.
   Emmerick nodded.  "Can ye get me out of thy cart?" he
asked hopefully.
   The boy grinned broader.  "Are you sure?" he asked
   "Yes," Emmerick answered.  "Now could ye get me out of
thy cart."
   "Okay!" the boy chirped, and gave the cart a really big
push down the aisle.
   "Aaaa!" Emmerick screamed, desperately trying to unstick
himself from the cart as it careened down numerous shopping
   The cart plowed through a pyramid of stacked paper-clip
boxes, sending them flying like a spray of water.
   "Oh ye shit!" Emmerick yelled as the cart swiftly rolled
towards the big set of glass double doors at the exit.
   Thank ye gods for automatic doors.
   Just in the Nick (or Tom or Bob or Harry) of time, the
motion sensitive doors flew open to let the wildly screaming
cart of Emmerick pass, only to close again after the shopping
cart sped through.
   The rather quickly propelled Emmerick-in-the-cart
whistled along the sidewalk, flew over the curb, landed with
a bounce that would've made the Dukes of Hazzard proud, and
finally cruised the remaining distance of the large parking
   The ride ended as the cart slammed into the passenger
side door of a lone 1987 Buick Grand National, parked all by
itself way at the end of the parking lot, resulting in a
not-so-nice dent or two.
   The cart then fell over and a completely bewildered
Emmerick toppled out on his face.  "Urk," he mumbled,
spitting dirt and paper-clips from his mouth.
   He got up then looked around, letting his elvish
instincts guide him.
   Down, he thought, is covered with black rock.  Not good.
   North, he wondered.  Which way is north?
   That-a-way, he thought, is also covered with black rock.  
And those big metal things moving very very fast.  Less good.
   That-a-way, he thought, is also covered with black rock,
but has unmoving metal things on it.  More good than less
good but less good than not good.  Huh?
   That-a-way, he thought, is that place.  With small
bent-up metal things and killer urchins.  Forget it!
   That-a-way, he thought, is a forest.  Tress and green
stuff.  Woodland creatures.  Elves!  Very good!
   So, with that in mind, he turned to trot off towards the
forest.  With the trees and green stuff.  And the woodland
creatures.  And the elves.  And the floating fish.  Uh-oh.
   "Err, excuse me," burbled a small ghostly fish, floating
in Emmerick's path.
   Emmerick goggled at the floating dead mackerel.
   "Excuse me," burbled the fish again.
   "Aaaa!" Emmerick wailed.  He quickly made a cross out of
his fingers, holding them up to the fish.  "Back ye demon
flounder!" he commanded.
   "Oh, shut-up.  I just want to ask you a question of you,"
the fish burbled.
   "Ye must be a demonic tuna!" Emmerick rationalized.  
"Only thy halibut from thy pits of hell can communicate.  
Back ye hellish sole!"  Emmerick did the finger-cross trick
   "I am not from hell!" the fish burbled.  "I've been a
good little fish all my short life.  Besides, I'm from the
Rova Farms lake.  I just got a little lost, that's all," the
fish burbled.  "And what's with the cross sign?  That stuff
only works in the movies."
   "I know not of thy Rova Farms nor of movies but I do know
that thy must be at least a ghost."  Emmerick held his nose;
"Thy smells at least a week into thy grave."
   "Liar!  I don't smell!  Everyone knows that ghosts do not
smell!  You, on the other hand, smell worse than a soggy
   "'Tisn't true.  We elves are known for our cleanliness."  
Emmerick stiffened, as if he was about to impart an
unbelievable fact.  "I washed last month," he said proudly.
   The fish floated a few inches farther away.  "I figured
that," he burbled.
   Emmerick was suddenly very tired of chatting with the
dead fish, demonic or not.  "What's thy point?" he asked.
   "Just a question, stenchly sir," the fish burbled with a
fish smile, floating closer to Emmerick.  "Have you seen a
guy--a young human adult--with wiry, algae-like hair.  He
also talks to his bookbag," the fish burbled, waving his fins
in explanation.
   "Did ye say that he speaks to thy knapsack?" Emmerick
asked the floating flounder.  "Thy boy must be sick in thy
head.  No, I did not see any wiry haired being with thy
severe mental problems.  At least not today, I didn't," he
   "A simple 'no' would have been sufficient," the fish
burbled impatiently.
   "And now I beg a question from you, knowledgeable trout.  
Where is Kaye-Boom, fire-starter extraordinary?"
   "Kaye-Boom?  What's a Kaye-Boom?" the trout burbled
   "Kaye-Boom is thy greatest wizard in all of creation, he
is... is..."  Emmerick glanced that-a-way and the-other-way,
just to make sure Kaye-Boom wasn't listening; "is thy crazy
pyromaniac that nearly got me killed quite a few times and
most likely got me stuck here, wherever here is!"
   "Oh.  No, I haven't seen him.  But if I do, I'll let you
know," the fish burbled (Sorry, but that's the only verb that
makes any sense at all).
   "Thank ye," Emmerick smiled.
   "Well, see ya," the fish burbled.  He turned and swam off
towards the M-Kart store.
   Emmerick waved goodbye.  He turned to walk to the forest,
but noticed he was missing a few arrows from his quiver.  He
walked back to the dented metal thing and picked up a few of
his spilled arrows.  He also found a pair of strange books
that must've been in thy cart all along.
   They were:  "You don't have to be a wizard to cook the
M-Kart way!" and "Mr. Wizard sings your favorite children's
   "Spell books!" Emmerick cried.  He quickly stuffed them
into his knapsack.  "Now if I can't find the others, all I
have to do is find a wizard to send me home," he told
   He ran into the forest, wondering where the rest of the
adventuring party was; surely they must be someplace around
here.  He had a feeling, sort of an elvish third sense that
told him where the others were.
   His elvish third sense told him to go this-a-way.
   So he walked this-a-way, hoping to find Kaye-Boom so he
could slap him around a few times for bringing him here.