NEW RICHLAND-HARTLAND-ELLENDALE-GENEVA AREA

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Pam Steinbauer sat in her husband’s office at home, surrounded by reminders of her missing spouse. She looked around from the rolling chair near his computer desk and saw his bookshelf full of fantasy novels. Near the shelf, in a corner, was a big plastic tub filled with Martin’s mementos from his time at Richland Center as a student.

With tears in her eyes, Pam rolled the chair over to the tub. She’d been crying a lot in the last two days; her husband had mysteriously disappeared from his car on the way home with no signs of him other than some footprints that rapidly disappeared beneath fresh snow and ended abruptly. The police had no answers for her though Officer Cubit had stopped by a couple times.

Pam hadn’t gone back to her job at the library yet; she was much too distraught. She had just opened the tub to sort through some of Martin’s artwork when she heard Cecelia crying upstairs; naptime was over. As Pam began to rise from the chair, she was startled to see her husband’s face floating in the air in front of her!

Pam fell backward onto the chair and rolled into the wall. She refocused and noticed a fog around Martin’s face. His mouth was moving, but no sound emitted from the picture. Pam was frozen in place as Cecelia continued to cry upstairs.

Back in Steinland, Martin was frantic. His idea had worked, but he knew his time was limited. On the way back from his disastrous attempt to talk Mundrago down from the Too-Tall Tower, Martin had asked how the fog worked that transported Shedeerbit to Earth and the two of them back to Steinland. As Fix and Bit understood it, if they stood near the center of Steinland, in the midst of the Foggy Forest, the magic of the fog was strongest and they could peer at other worlds, seeing what they desired.

Once the creatures had decided to contact Martin to help with the Mundrago problem, they learned through trial and error that they couldn’t speak to those they observed. They also figured that Shedeerbit, being a large animal, collected the most magic in order to teleport to Earth and also bring someone back.

Even though Martin knew Pam couldn’t hear him, he couldn’t help but exclaim upon seeing her. But he was prepared and quickly grabbed a large piece of bark on which he had drawn a picture of Mundrago using berries from the forest. He gestured to the picture once he knew he had Pam’s focused attention.

Pam sat in the chair in the office staring at a rudimentary drawing of a man in a long, flowing robe who looked like he was, what? Waving his hands in the air? Or casting a spell – of course! This was one of Martin’s creations from his youth, Mundy the wizard or something like that. The two of them had spent plenty of time looking through Martin’s old drawings. And here she was, sitting right by the lot of them!

Pam dug through the pile until she found Mundrago’s picture. She thrust it into the air in front of Martin’s face. On the other side, he nodded vigorously. Then he took another piece of bark and started scraping the berry juice picture off the first piece. Pam looked at this action and was stupefied. It had just struck her that everything that was happening was so unrealistic that she thought maybe she’d banged her head and was hallucinating.

Cecelia’s continued crying brought Pam to attention. Clutching the picture of Mundrago, she sprinted up the stairs, leaving her startled husband’s visage behind. Reaching her daughter’s room, Pam hoisted Cecelia up and tried to calm her down. The little girl must have had a nightmare, similar to what life had been like the past two days.

Suddenly, Martin was in front of her again. Cecelia stopped crying instantly and giggled. “Daddy!” she shrieked.

Martin started the scraping again, and that’s when Pam understood. She ran to Cecelia’s art supplies and picked up an eraser. Martin nodded enthusiastically, but then started to fade, quickly disappearing into thin air once again. But Pam took the eraser and began working at the picture of Mundrago, only to discover that her husband had used ink on this particular drawing.

In Steinland, Martin and his company moved quickly through the forest back toward the Too-Tall Tower. Martin was sure his plan would work and Mundrago would be erased from existence. However, when he marched up to the gates with Fix and Bit, the two still apprehensive to be this close without being sure of Mundrago’s defeat, Martin saw his plan had not, in fact, worked at all.

Mundrago looked down upon the trio equanimously; it looked like he hadn’t been bothered a bit upon seeing his creator return. Fix and Bit were ready to flee back to the safety of the forest when Martin started to notice something: Mundrago looked to be disappearing in big splotches. First, it was a bit of his cloak. Next, his left arm was gone.

As this continued, Mundrago looked around in fear. What was happening? He felt no pain, but there was nothing he could do about his precarious situation. When only his head was left floating in the window, he looked down at Martin Steinbauer and realized his creator must have discovered a way to erase him from existence. And with that, Mundrago was no more.

After a few days of celebration, and to allow the mist to reform enough to teleport Martin home, he was at last reunited with Pam and Cecelia. He learned that Pam, when finding she couldn’t erase Mundrago, had raced into town to buy some White-Out, and that was why Mundrago had disappeared piece by piece. Still, under all that concealer, the picture still remained on the paper, and Martin wondered if his creations in Steinland had heard the last of the magician.

Word of the Week: This week’s word is equanimously, which means calm and composed, as in, “The bus driver drove equanimously, no matter the weather or the behavior of the kids.” Impress your friends and confuse your enemies!

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