Zach Lewis

“Oh God! Run! Run!” A voice shouts out from where the cacophonous noise emanated. Tracy, James and ZoopZoop see a tall, lanky and speckle bearded gentlemen run toward them. This is Ozburtle the Wizard. “I’m not running for my health,” he exclaims. “Let’s go!” 

“What happened?” Tracy asks as all four run down the now-ominous, cozy torch-lit corridor. 

“Well, remember Humphrey?” Ozburtle asks no one in particular. 

“I’ve never met him,” James says. 

“Yes, I do” Tracy says, and adds, “Ozburtle, James, James, Ozburtle. And ZoopZoop.” The heroes hop over a bookshelf that is knocked over. ZoopZoop hops up and down on Tracy’s shoulder, possibly for dramatic effect. 

“Nice to meet all of you. Now,” Ozburtle wiggles his eyebrows and scrunches his nose, “Does anyone here happen to have any steel wool?” 

“I do!” James says as he reaches into his jean jacket pocket. He pulls out the tufts of curled metal and hands the item over to Ozburtle. 

“Great!” Ozburtle says. ZoopZoop beeps. 


“You don’t have the jar, do you?” Tracy asks. 

“Jar of what?” James asks 

“I do! It’s for emergencies like this. James, I need you to open this jar of, uh, vinegar. Be careful not to slosh any out even though we’re running,” Ozburtle says as he hands James the Mason jar of yellow liquid from out of his blue cloak. “It’s a special recipe.” James opens the jar and a pungent sweet odor wafts from the sloshing liquid. 

“It’s pee,” Tracy says. “Ozburtle, you’re gross.” 

“It’s for Science!” Ozburtle exclaims. 

“Aren’t you a wizard?” James asks, “and why did you hand me your jar of pee?” A few drops splash out onto the ground. 

“Be careful! Firstly, magic and science are like the same thing. It’s like ‘The Tempest.’ Secondly, it’s not just any jar of pee, it’s a special jar of minotaur urine.” James looks nauseous. “That’s why it’s so sweet smelling,” Ozburtle replies as if he cleared up every ounce of confusion. 

“But why did you make me open this? What’s wrong with you?” James asks. 

“Like I said, It’s for Science! When you dose steel wool with vinegar it allows you to stain wood to make it look old. Normally, you would need to soak the steel wool for hours with vinegar but with this delectable concoction we’ll need just mere seconds. It’ll appear to be aged for hundreds of years. It’s very cool,” Ozburtle says as he dips the steel wool into the bespoke minotaur urine as James runs with his arms outstretched and eyes closed. 

“And this is important now because?” James asks. 

“Minotaurs absolutely hate aged wood. Can’t stand the sight of it,” Ozburtle says. 

“It’s true,” Tracy replies, “it’s pretty common knowledge up here on, what’s the name of this planet again?” 

“Romduppleschwoop 4,” Ozburtle says. 

Beep!” ZoopZoop says in agreement. 

“Right, it’s common knowledge on this ridiculously named planet.” 

“So,” Ozburtle says, “we’re here!” The heroes arrive in front of an abandoned desk in the middle of the corridor. The desk is made of freshly cut cedar lumber. “This is a minotaur’s favorite; you can still smell the sap.” 

“But why, why would we ever want to do any of this?” James asks. 

“Because I haven’t been able to pay Humphrey for this elixir and he is going to eat me—and now us. It has other magical and sciencey properties that I won’t go into right now. Tracy and ZoopZoop, I need you two to grab the green torch down at the end of the hallway. A green wood flame is inextinguishable. I can keep Humphrey at bay while we get everything ready.” Ozburtle, Tracy and ZoopZoop look at James. 

“Well, what do I need to do?” James ask and looks at the steel wool floating in Minotaur pee. He looks back up at his companions. 

“No,” James says. 

“We all need to do our part lad,” Ozburtle says. 

“I don’t care, I’m not touching it,” James replies. 

“You need to do it James, we’re all counting on you dude,” Tracy says and smiles at James and places her hand on his shoulder. “Do it for me James,” she says as ZoopZoop hops onto James’ other shoulder. 

Beep! Beep!” ZoopZoop replies. 

“Yes James, we need your help,” Ozburtle winks at James and turns to face the direction of the oncoming menace. “Now don’t be shy, really lather the varnish onto that desk,” Ozburtle says and James thinks that he hears the wizard chuckle as he runs toward the area of the beast. 

“Really put your elbow into it!” Tracy shouts as her and ZoopZoop run off in the opposite direction. James is left alone with the desk, the jar and the steel wool. He hears Ozburtle shouting off in the distance as he begins to stain the desk with the minotaur pee. 

Why does it have to smell so sweet, ugghhhe thinks as he covers his nose with his white Oxford long sleeve button-up and sweeps the wool across the top of the desk. Well, what do you know, it’s actually working. The cedar now appears to be withered as if it had existed for hundreds of years. Weathered, but in a sophisticated kind of way. Like what you would see in a museum for a dead writer. James finishes the entire desk, begins to wipe sweat off his forehead and instantly regrets the decision. He looks around but only sees an empty corridor. 

Where did everybody go?