October 17th, 2017


My tweets


What Scare We

Here's a Halloween-themed Oz story I wrote, largely inspired by Joe Bongiorno mentioning that he didn't like the Scares from Jack Pumpkinhead of Oz. I tried to give them a little more of a background and motivation, but you'll have to see whether I actually succeeded.


By Nathan M. DeHoff

The creature crouched in the woods, being careful not to step on any of the fallen leaves. He flexed the claws on his hands and took a look at the small group in front of him. It looked to be two stuffed people riding on a donkey, one male in form and stuffed with straw, and the other appearing to be a large rag doll with yarn hair. He pounced out at this group, howling and shrieking the whole time.

“Oh, my stars! You startled me there, young man. Be more careful next time,” scowled the donkey. The two stuffed people seemed totally unfazed.

“Young man? You don’t think I’m a perfect fright, then?” asked the creature.

“You’re a little scary, I suppose, but mostly kind of cute,” stated the rag doll. This being was mostly human in form, except with a hairy body partially covered by clothes with eyes on them, and claws on his hands and bare feet. He had three eyes, set in a circle, with what appeared to be bird beaks between them. The hair on the top of his head was slicked into a point. He had two ears similar to those of a cat, only bigger.

“Yes, I get that a lot,” sighed the monster. “It’s difficult to inspire fear when you’re cute, even if you are a Scare.”

“A Scare?”

“Yes, from Scare City.”

“Oh, yes,” said the straw man. “My friend Jack Pumpkinhead was there once. I understand you kept the Iffin prisoner.”

“If so, that was before my time, back in the days of plentiful fear, before the scarcity.”

“You mean it wasn’t called Scare City then?” questioned the rag doll.

“No, I mean scarcity, all one word. We live on fear.”

“You live on fear? With or without salt?” asked the donkey sarcastically.

“I can’t say I find eating fear any stranger than stuffing yourself with hay, as you do, Mr. Hank,” said the woman.

“I’m stuffed with hay. Well, straw, actually. There’s a distinct difference, but people call it hay anyway,” explained the man. “I don’t need it for energy, though, just to keep myself in shape.”

“Well, we live on fear, and it used to be easy to get. Whenever anyone wandered into the city, they’d either be scared stiff or turned into Fraid Cats. Then they’d remain and we’d feed on their fear. Then, the stories say, after a boy and a pumpkin man, maybe the friend you mentioned, arrived in town and swallowed everyone into a bag. We were released and sent back, but without any of our statues or Fraid Cats. We were able to gather up some more, and that’s when I grew up. Not that I was very good at scaring, but there was enough to go around.”

“Scaring and sharing, eh?”

“Yes. But eventually, we lost our power to transform people, and it was too easy for them to just leave again.”

“I’m sure that was Ozma’s doing. After all, we can’t have you being bad neighbors.”

“But that means we’ve all been going hungry. Many of us have had to leave town entirely and seek fear elsewhere. And there really isn’t a whole lot of it around. I occasionally manage to obtain some from students who have tests the next day or animals being chased, but it’s not as high quality. I even tried Flutterbudget Center, but that’s very cheap and empty fear.”

“I can see that would be a problem,” said the straw man, scratching his head as needles protruded from it.

“So are you friends of the Ruler of Oz?”

“Yes, I’m the Scarecrow, Her Majesty’s Chief Counselor. This is my good friend, Miss Scraps Patches. And the mule here is Hank.”

“Mule? I thought he was a donkey.”

“A mule is half horse and half donkey,” explained the animal. “I’m from the United States originally. When I first came here, I was the only mule, at least as far as I know. There have been some born since then, though.”

“We’re out here to find a present for our friend Betsy Bobbin, whose birthday is on the thirty-first,” said Scraps.

“That’s my dad’s birthday, too! He’s very proud of it, seeing as how it’s Halloween and all.”

“Yes, we’ve had some Halloween-themed parties for Betsy,” stated the Scarecrow. “We had a few masquerade balls.”

“Like the one where Scraps here managed to mix up everybody’s minds,” said the mule.

“Now, now, Hank! We’ve all made mistakes occasionally. And remember that year Betsy found her old doll and her parents?”

“And was almost trapped in a volcano with a giant silkworm, I hear.”

“Maybe we can find something for your pop, too,” suggested Scraps.

“We don’t really talk much anymore,” admitted the Scare. “It has to be embarrassing to be Chief Scarer and have a son who isn’t even scary. But I suppose you wouldn’t know what that’s like.”

“I know something about it,” said the Scarecrow. “I was made to scare crows, and was never able to.”

“Which is why he had the motivation to leave his plantation, take a change of occupation, and become ruler of the nation!” shouted the Patchwork Girl, leaping over Hank’s back as he did so.

“If there’s anyone scary here, it’s you, with your failure to sit still,” complained Hank.

“Did you really rule a country, Mr. Scarecrow?” asked the boy.

“Oh, yes. When the Wizard left for the first time, I was Ruler of Oz for a few years, before Ozma came back.”

“Don’t forget that you were also Emperor of the Silver Island and King of the Munchkins,” put in Scraps.

“And YOU were Queen of Patch, if I recall,” said Hank.

“Yes, but the less said about that, the better. For such a beautiful country, they sure don’t know how to treat a lady.”

“So what’s your name?” asked the Scarecrow.

“Nerverax, but you can just call me Rax,” answered the monster boy.

Rax joined the others in walking through the forest, which was showing autumn foliage. The Land of Oz has a very even climate where it never really gets cold, except in certain spots on high mountains or affected by localized magic. The trees still tend to lose their leaves, though, out of habit and because children like to play in them. After about an hour, the group came across a battalion of spoons marching through the forest, all carrying tiny guns.

“Halt in the name of the King of Utensia!” shouted the leader.

The travelers halted, and the Scarecrow said, “Why, if it isn’t Captain Dipp!”

“Oh, you’re Queen Ozma’s friends, aren’t you? What are you doing out here?”

“We’re looking for a gift for Betsy’s birthday,” explained the mule.

“I can’t say I know much about gifts. I suppose Betsy wouldn’t want any silver polish, would she?”

“I don’t think she’d have any use for it,” answered the Scarecrow.

“By the way, Dipp, why does your kingdom use spoons as soldiers instead of knives?” inquired Scraps.

“We did use knives once, but they quickly lost their edge.”

With that, the small party continued through the woods, eventually coming across a line of yellow tape marked, “CAUTION.”

“I think I see a house behind it,” stated Rax.

“Then I suppose someone named Caution must live there,” suggested Hank.

“No, this is the sort of tape the police put up when there’s been a crime,” said the Scarecrow.

“Well, we don’t want any criminals to bother us, do we?” asked Scraps.

“No, but the whole place is quiet. If there were actually an investigation going on, wouldn’t it much noisier?”

“Let’s just go through,” said Hank. “What could really happen to us regardless?”

The Patchwork Girl bent over backwards and performed a limbo move under the tape, while the others just ducked walked under it. The house was a fairly small one, rectangular in shape rather than the more common dome found throughout Oz. It was made of a dark brown substance that Scraps thought must be gingerbread, but Hank took a bite of it and declared it sour. Rax also took a bite, declaring it to be pumpernickel bread.

“Like the place in the Gillikin Country where Kabumpo lives?” asked the Patchwork Girl.

“No, it’s a variety of rye bread,” said Rax. “I’m not sure why anyone would build a house out of it, though.”

Hank banged his hoof on the door, which had a look of cracker about it, but received no answer. Scraps turned the knob and found that the door was unlocked, so the travelers walked inside, where they found a woman sitting at a chair. She wore a long red dress with a white gown and a peaked hat covering gray hair tied up in a bun. The woman was not moving, but simply staring straight ahead. Noticing a cauldron in the fireplace and jars of herbs on mantle shelves, Scraps called out, “She must be a witch!”

“What? What was that?” asked the woman, coming to her senses.

“Oh, so she’s alive after all!”

“Yes, I must have just been lost in thought. You wouldn’t happen to have seen my husband, have you?”

“Not that we know of, Miss Caution,” said Hank.

“Caution? No, my name is Bleakie.”

“Bleakie? That’s a lot like the name of a witch I encountered in Jinxland,” said the Scarecrow.

“You mean Blinkie? Yes, she’s my sister, although I haven’t been part of her coven in years. How many, I couldn’t say. My trance states can last for years sometimes. Anyway, my husband is the magician Jakgar. I haven’t seen him since he said he was going to the Gillikin Country to take care of Old Mombi.”

“Mombi? Why, that must have been ages ago!” observed Scraps.

“Not necessarily. She’s come back a few times since Sir Hokus and I melted her,” said the Scarecrow. “Once was as a painting that Jack Pumpkinhead made, and the other time was when the troll Tekrouri brought her back with a careless wish.”

“I haven’t heard of either of those, or of her being melted. I didn’t even think she was the sort of witch who could be,” said Bleakie. “She turned one of our friends into a copper-plated lobster, and Jakgar was insistent on stopping her once and for all.”

“Did he say where he was going?” asked Hank.

“To where she lived, presumably, but I don’t know where that was.”

“She’s lived in a few different places, as I recall,” stated the Scarecrow. “There was the farm where she brought up Ozma, but before that she lived in the hut that Tattypoo, I mean Orin, drove her out from. And after leaving the farm, she worked as a cook in Kimbaloo.”

“There was also the time when she was hit with Youthing Powder, and lived with the people with the giant flea,” put in Scraps.

“Yes, the Clambakes. I suppose we’d need to know around when this was.”

“I’ve never been much for keeping track of time,” said Bleakie, “but I know it was when the Wizard was ruling in the Emerald City.”

“Then that probably narrows it down to either the farm or Orin’s old hut.”

“I’ve tried to find him through a trance, but while I do know he’s still alive, I have no idea where.”

“Her old farm isn’t too far from here. It might be worth checking out.”

“Then I’ll come with you. I haven’t eaten in a long time, though, so I’d better have something before we go. Would any of you like anything?”

“Scraps and I don’t eat, and I think Nerverax lives on an intangible concept.”

“I’d like some oats if you have them, though,” said Hank.

Bleakie did have a box of oats, which fortunately had not gone bad, as it was affected by the same magic used to preserve the house itself. She then took pulled some bread from the wall, made a sandwich with salami from a window curtain, and spread on some mustard from a plant in the window.

“I know it’s more common for witches to have gingerbread houses, but I’ve never really liked sweets that much,” explained Bleakie.

“So you are a witch?” asked the Scarecrow.

“Yes, but it’s been a long time since I’ve practiced.”

When the witch and the mule had finished eating, the party left the house. On the way out, Nerverax remarked, “I think I’d like to make a model of your house, Mrs. Bleakie.”

“Oh? Do you make models?” asked Scraps.

“I used to. I’ve sort of fallen out of practice, but maybe I should start again.”

The party journeyed out of the woods and to the Yellow Brick Road. Scraps asked if they should stop by the Emerald City, but Hank advised not doing so, as they did not want Betsy to find out about their search for her present. So instead, they cut around the green territory toward the west, passing near to Jack Pumpkinhead’s house, which was abandoned at the time. No one was totally sure of the correct route to Mombi’s farm, but the Scarecrow remembered the general direction, leading the others over the plains of the Winkie Country and the overgrown fields near the Gillikin border, then skirting the forest where the Loons live. Once they had come back into more cultivated land, the straw man noticed a building with a sign reading, “CAT CAFÉ.”

“Even if I ate meat, I don’t think I’d want to eat cats,” said Nerverax.

“They used to eat them on the Silver Island,” stated the Scarecrow, in a disgusted tone.

“Are we sure that’s what it means?” asked Scraps. “In my experience, cats are more likely to be predators than prey.”

When the party checked out the building, they found that it was not a café where cats were eaten, but rather one where they were the staff and customers. Cats of all shapes and sizes milled around inside, some resting in the light from the windows, others scratching old furniture, and still others being scratched by posts with arms and hands. Bleakie immediately started petting the cats who would come up to her. A few cats were chasing mice that turned out to be made of yarn, but not alive like Scraps, just animated to a limited degree. When Scraps knelt down to get a closer look, some kittens began grabbing at her hair.

“Have I lived this long to become a cat toy?” inquired the Patchwork Girl.

“My apologies,” stated an old tabby cat. “They’re not used to living beings made of yarn. Am I correct in assuming that you’re the famous Patchwork Girl?”

“Right on the nose, kitty.”

“I’d still prefer real mice to these yarn ones,” said a white cat with purple patches.

“You know we can’t do that, Violetta,” said the tabby. “The mice have a powerful organization, after all. The mice allied themselves with the Queen before she even took the throne. The first cat to gain any significance during her reign was accused of eating one of her pets, hardly an auspicious start to things.”

“Well, she DID want to eat Ozma’s piglet,” said the Scarecrow.

“Yes, not an intelligent move, certainly, but instinct can be quite powerful, even when there are meat plants available. We cats are wired to hunt, after all.”

“I thought it was the mice that were wired,” said one of the kittens.

“It’s a metaphor, young Belissima. So, what brings you here?”

“We were looking for my husband Jakgar,” explained Bleakie. “He went off years ago to find Mombi, and never came back.”

“What did Jakgar look like?” asked a scrawny black cat who was eating from a plate of tuna fish.

“He was tall and thin, with short red hair, and stooped a bit when he walked.”

“Oh, I think I saw him before! I don’t know what happened to him, though. He came to the house and talked to Mombi, who shooed me away.”

“Did you live with Mombi, then?” asked Hank.

“Not all the time. There were a lot of strays who went to her house. At least, they did until she starting sending us away because she was stockpiling mice, and didn’t want us to bother them.”

“Was this her house at the farm?” inquired the Scarecrow.

“No, it was the other one, on the other side of the Mauve Mountains. She abandoned it after it exploded.”

“I’m not sure I’ve heard of that one. Do you remember the way there?”

“Oh, yes! The only problem would be getting over the mountains. There are a lot of monsters lurking there.”

“Lurking? They can’t even skulk like respectable monsters?” asked Rax.

“I believe there’s a new route through the mountains, Daniel,” said the old tabby.

“Very well, then. Come with me, and I’ll lead you to Mombi’s old house,” declared the black cat.

The mule, the Scarecrow, the Patchwork Girl, the witch, and the Scare followed the cat, who was a bit unsteady on his feet, but still moved rather quickly. The Scarecrow asked the feline, “So your name is Daniel, then?”

“It’s not my ineffable, effable name, but it’s what I go by. I lived in a lions’ den, you see.”

When they had reached the base of the nearby Mauve Mountains, Scraps asked, “So where’s this route through these mountains?”

“Are we sure there really is one?” inquired Hank.

“I don’t think Lord Leviticus would steer us wrong,” said Daniel.

“Oh, so you want to cross the mountains, do you?” laughed a booming, hearty voice. Around the corner stepped a giant with a bushy purple beard and three-cornered hat, dressed in a large kilt and belt with several pouches attached to it. “You’d be well advised to try my new bullet train.”

“Well, I suppose so,” said the Scarecrow, who was a little nervous, if not as much as you might think when faced with a giant. He had seen many in his time, and few of them ate straw anyway.

The giant pointed to a train near a dark tunnel through the side of a mountain, and directed the others to enter it. They did, all sitting in the seats, with Hank taking up two of them. The giant then lifted the train and placed it inside an enormous pistol he drew from a pouch, and fired it right through the tunnel. It moved along at an incredible speed, through a passage that was pretty much entirely dark except for the occasional glimpse of glowing pink slime or flaming eyes. Finally, it began to slow down and exited the other side, hitting a giant cloth target and knocking the passengers around. When Rax, Bleakie, and Hank had recovered, everyone left the train.

“When he said a bullet train, I didn’t know it would be so literal,” said the witch, whose head was still spinning from the trip.

“Well, it does appear that we’re close by Mombi’s old house,” observed the cat, sniffing the air and the ground.

This side of the mountains was heavily forested and dark, but Daniel somewhat nervously led the way, past trees on which eyeballs appeared to be growing. In a nearby clearing, the cat entered a maze of corn, which the Scarecrow said made him feel at home. He felt less so when a giant crow flew down and grabbed him, but the bird was quickly scared away when Daniel let out a roar like a lion.

“Thank you, but how did you manage that?” asked the Scarecrow, as he picked himself up and dusted himself off.

“I told you I lived in a lions’ den,” explained the cat. “Sometimes nurture can be just as good as nature.”

“I don’t think the Cowardly Lion could have done any better, Danny Boy,” said the Patchwork Girl.

When the group had reached the end of the maze, Bleakie screamed when she saw a purple tentacle emerge from the ground. She muttered something that sounded like “soul eater” and began to run. Other tentacles grabbed the feet of the Scarecrow and Patchwork Girl. Since the Scarecrow was, to the best of his knowledge, animated by the spirit of the late Emperor of the Silver Island, he wondered if this would be the end of his life. As it turned out, though, the tentacle only sucked up the bottoms of his boots with some little mouths, then went underground again.

“Oh, curses! They got me!” exclaimed the witch, as the tentacles ate the bottoms of her boots as well.

“So this monster only ate part of our shoes?” asked Scraps.

“Yes, they’re Sole Eaters. It’s too bad, too, as I don’t know that they even make shoes like these anymore.”

“It reminds me of when the Heelers attacked the Emerald City,” said the Scarecrow.

“The Heelers ate shoes?”

“Well, technically, they ate votes. It’s just that we were using shoes to vote.”

As the Scarecrow had nothing between his straw and boots, he rode on Hank’s back, along with the Patchwork Girl. Bleakie made her way as best she could in her stocking feet. As Rax and Daniel did not wear shoes, and Hank’s shoes did not have soles as such, they were unmolested by the creature. The party came out of the spooky woods into a field of tall grass, where a pumpkin-shaped cottage with no roof stood.

“That would be Mombi’s old house,” declared Daniel.

“Looks a lot like Jack Pumpkinhead’s,” said Scraps.

“Yes, but it doesn’t look to be made from an actual pumpkin,” stated the Scarecrow.

“Please be quiet for a second,” said Nerverax, as he sniffed the air. “I think there’s a large deposit of fear around here. Underground, perhaps?”

“Maybe the well has something to do with it,” suggested Bleakie, as she walked over to a nearby well and tried to draw up the bucket. It was very heavy, however. Daniel jumped up to the edge of the well and looked in, making sure not to fall in.

“There’s a man down there,” said the cat. “And I think it’s the same one you told me about earlier.”

“Jakgar? Jakgar is in the well?” And with that, the witch recklessly jumped in, landing right on top of her prostrate husband. The Patchwork Girl began running around frantically, and the Scarecrow sat down to think of a solution, but the witch and the magician floated out of the well.

“How long have I been asleep for?” asked Jakgar, whose hair was quite disheveled. “I had terrible nightmares down there. I think it must connect with some sort of fear stream.”

“So what happened to you?” inquired Bleakie.

“I tried to cast a spell on Mombi to put her to sleep, like Glinda did with the Wicked Witch of the South. It backfired somehow, though, and I put myself to sleep instead. She must have thrown me in the well after that.”

“Do you know if there’s any way to access the fear stream?” inquired Rax.

“I would imagine it’s possible, if we set up some kind of system. Why?”

“We Scares live on fear, and we’re not getting enough these days. Maybe this stream could solve our problems.”

“I don’t see why not. It might take a little doing, though. Would we have to reroute the stream?”

“Couldn’t you put it in bottles?” suggested Scraps.

“Interesting possibility. I’m not sure where we’d get the bottles, though.”

“You need bottles?” squawked a voice. And, as the Scarecrow ran into the roofless cottage, leaving wisps of straw behind, a giant crow descended from the sky. “There’s a bottlefield not far from here with a whole lot of them.”

“That would be very helpful, birdie, but why did you try to take the Scarecrow?” asked Scraps.

“You mean the great symbol of the oppression of our kind?”

“Oh, he hasn’t tried to scare a crow in years, and even when he did, it was just his job. He’s never had anything against crows in general.”

“Well, then I apologize. He can’t help being what he is any more than the rest of us.”

With that, the crow flew away again, soon returning with some others of his kind, all carrying bottles. Jakgar and Bleakie combined their powers to bring the fear out of the well and into the bottles, finally amassing quite a significant amount of them. Nerverax tried one and found it quite satisfying. At the magician’s request, the crows agreed to take everyone to Scare City. The Scarecrow had emerged from the house from this time, wearing another pair of boots without intact soles over his regular ones, and quickly made peace with the leader of the birds.

“So, did you really have a lion along?” asked the crow leader.

“No, that was me,” said Daniel, who was held in the talon of this crow, with the Scarecrow in the other.

“You have quite an impressive voice for such a small animal. It’s good for us there aren’t any giant cats.”

“There are in Catty Corners, but they’re nowhere near your size. Lord Leviticus thinks they might have gotten that way from magical catnip, although there’s also talk of giant cats living in Merryland.”

“I can’t say I’ve ever heard of catnip that causes growth, but I HAVE been asleep for a long time,” stated Jakgar. “I did once use magic to enlarge a tribe of Reddies. I wonder what happened to them.”

“My friend the Frogman ate some magic skosh that made him grow large,” said the Scarecrow, “but I believe it only grows on one mountain in the Winkie Country. And there are the magic muffins in the Hidden Valley, but they only work for a limited time.”

“Are any of you crows the one that frightened Tweedledum and Tweedledee?” questioned the Patchwork Girl.

“Not one of us, but perhaps one of our tribe,” answered the leader.

Taking a route as the crow flies (because they were), the birds soon alighted outside Scare City, a place of smoky air and cliffs lit by hundreds of goblin head lanterns. At the gate stood a six-foot-tall man with noses, eyes, and mouths all around his face.

“Nerverax? Is that you?” questioned the man, speaking with all of his mouths at once.

“Yes, Father,” responded the boy. “I have returned with a cure for our lack of fear.”

Jakgar handed the man a bottle, which he drank with his front mouth, while Scraps commented that Nerverax had his father’s eyes. When he had finished, the gatekeeper said, “This is the best early birthday present a Scare could ask for! Do you have any more of this?”

“Yes,” replied Bleakie, holding up several bottles, “and there’s plenty more where that came from.”

“Come with me to see the King!”

The group, not including the giant crows who remained outside, followed the Chief Scarer through the eerie, rocky city. When they had reached a courtyard, he blew a red whistle, and the King stepped out on top of a flat stone. This monarch had a human-shaped body, but with the eyes of a pig, the ears of a donkey, the beard of a goat, the mane of a lion, and a horn for a nose.

“Your Majesty,” said the Scarer, “my son and his friends have solved our hunger problem!”

“Oh, they have, have they?” asked the King, honking through his nose as he spoke. “Do they volunteer to serve as sacrifices?”

“Even better,” stated Rax. “The substance in these bottles is pure fear, and there’s enough to go around.”

“Fear from a bottle? What in monsternation is this? Is this why we were given our wonderfully horrendous forms and powers by the Witch Queen?”

“But we’ve lost much of that power,” argued the Chief Scarer, “and people aren’t all that scared of us anymore either.”


“Well, it sounds like a good idea to me,” said a woman with four clawed hands and white hair with black streaks in it. Soon, other Scares had gathered, forming two distinct groups, one for and one against the new means of obtaining sustenance. At a few blasts from the King’s nose, the two sides began battling, with the visitors helping out on the Chief Scarer’s side. Hank kicked a few of the opposing Scares, and the Patchwork Girl let loose with her fists, although they did not have much force behind them. The Scares, however, were much more used to frightening others and not to fighting, let alone doing so to each other. When most of the horrors had collapsed on the ground in exhaustion, Bleakie waved her arms and shouted five magic words. The King and the other Scares on his side promptly vanished.

“What did you do to them?” asked Nerverax.

“I sent them back to my old place in the forest,” explained the witch.

“What, that one house?”

“No, there’s plenty of room there for them, and it’s spooky enough for them. Jakgar and I talked it over, and we’re going to start living in Mombi’s old pumpkin house.”

“Without a roof?” inquired the Scarecrow.

“That won’t be a problem. If there’s one thing my magic is good at, it’s restoring things to previous states.”

“Like Oklahoma?” asked the mule.

“No, like a previous condition.”

The arrangements were soon made for Jakgar and Bleakie to stay at Mombi’s old cottage bottling fear, which the crows distributed to Scare City. The crows had become friendly with the Scarecrow, and asked him and the others to join them in a crow-kay game sometime. Not too much longer after that, King Harum Scarum sent a two-headed raven as a messenger to ask if his followers could also have some of the bottled fear, as they were tired of starving and ready to negotiate, and the magicians were glad to oblige. Some of the Scares who had been sent to the forest returned to the city; but others, including the ruler himself, liked the atmosphere and remained there.

“There’s nothing like a job well done,” remarked the Scarecrow, as he and Scraps rode on the mule’s back toward the Emerald City.

“Job well done? What do you mean? We never even found a present for Betsy,” declared Hank.

“Oh, right! Wasn’t that stupid of us?” asked the Patchwork Girl.

“Wait!” called Rax, running toward the mule and the stuffed people. “As a reward for saving Scare City, my father wanted you to have this.”

The boy handed the Scarecrow a small globe with a carving of Scare City inside. When shaken like a snow globe, the city lit up, and tiny Scares emerged from behind buildings.

“Who made this?” asked Scraps.

“I did, actually, years ago. My dad told me it was excellent work, but there was no real use for in the city itself, so he would give it to someone who did a great service for our community. I don’t know of anyone more deserving than you. The only problem is that it fell from a shelf and broke during one of our scaring sessions. So I had Jakgar restore it for you.”

“Well, I think this would make an excellent present for Betsy.”

“Then I suppose all’s well that ends well,” admitted Hank.

“And this one really did end with a well.”



Donald Abbott’s How the Wizard Saved Oz for Mombi’s old pumpkin-shaped house and the Mauve Mountains. This book is difficult to fit into a larger sense of Ozian history due to a take on the situation with Mombi, Pastoria, the Wizard, and Ozma that does not square with the canon; but I still liked it, and perhaps some version of its events took place even if some parts have to be disregarded.

L. Frank Baum’s Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz for the trial of Dorothy’s kitten

Dot and Tot of Merryland for giant cats living in Merryland

Emerald City for Utensia and the Spoon Brigade

Lost Princess for the introduction of the Frogman and the magic skosh

Scarecrow for the Scarecrow’s meeting with Blinkie

Bill Campbell and Irwin Terry’s Masquerade for establishing Betsy’s birthday. It’s also the story where Scraps accidentally mixes up everyone’s minds during a masquerade.

Rachel Cosgrove’s Hidden Valley for the magic muffins

Chris Dulabone’s Dagmar for Mombi living with the Clambakes and their giant flea

Greg Gick et al’s Bucketheads for Tekrouri Troll bringing Mombi back.

Greg Hunter’s “Betsy Bobbin” tells how Betsy found her old doll and her parents.

Philip John Lewin’s Witch Queen for the story of the titular character and her creations

John R. Neill’s Lucky Bucky for Jack Pumpkinhead’s painting of Mombi coming to life and giant crows playing crow-kay

Wonder City for Heelers eating shoes and the Scarecrow as King of the Munchkins

Susan Saunders’ Dorothy and the Magic Belt for Mombi being youthened

Jack Snow’s Who’s Who for establishing the Chief Scarer’s birthday as Halloween

Ruth Plumly Thompson’s Giant Horse for the story of Tattypoo driving Mombi out of her old house

Gnome King for Scraps as Queen of Patch

Jack Pumpkinhead for the introduction of Scare City, as well as the Reddies Jakgar mentioned. Their story is told in my “Reddy and Willing.”

Lost King for Kimbaloo and Catty Corners. It’s also where the Scarecrow and Sir Hokus melt Mombi, or at least they think they do. See David Tai’s “Executive Decisions” for another possibility.

Royal Book for the Scarecrow as Emperor of the Silver Island
  • Current Music
    Kim Boekbinder: The Forest
  • Tags