Read part five before continuing.

The gate opened as we stood cowering before it. At least I cowered. Jenny just whistled as it descended.

“Awesome,” she said. “This looks and feels so real doesn’t it?”

“I think it is real,” I say as the rush of air from the gate slamming runs over my face. Robocop waits for the gate to settle and he then leads us over the wooden gate. He is still holding my arm and it’s starting to really hurt. I look down to see bruises on my arm. Jenny still walks, completely unhindered.

“Bruises,” I say and nod my head at Robocop. He squeezes harder and I yelp in pain.

Jenny laughs. “Don’t talk back to him,” she says. “He’s tougher than you.” A strange suddenly suddenly comes out of Robocop’s mouth. It’s a grating harsh sound, a bit like a high pitched whine of a generator and the bark of a dog. I realize he’s trying to laugh and feel a shudder go up and down my spine. Robots should never laugh.

We walk into the castle and it’s a huge, sprawling edifice to strangeness. The rows are lined with statues of various pop culture characters from my past: Walt Disney, Bill Hicks, Rodney Dangerfield, Leonardo the Turtle, Teddy Ruxspin, Pam Grier, Doogie Howswer, Susan Sarandon, Miles Standish, Lenny, Lionel from “Dead Alive,” Johnny Ramone and much more. They are all set in stone and appear to be in agony. A low hum surrounds us in the air as a low “thump” of a drum appears from nowhere. The floor is made of loose fitting cut stones that seem to have been hastily thrown together. The rest of the castle is typical castle stone. But bright pink with pink torches cutting through the darkness at regular intervals.

Jenny whistles loudly.

“I have a hell of an imagination,” she says as she pulls out a pack of cigarettes from her purse. Robocop sees them, grabs them and cruses them between two fingers.

“Hey!”

“No smoking,” he says without breaking his stride. She frowns and sticks her tongue out at him from behind his back.

“I saw that,” he says with the firm authority of a kindergarten teacher. My arm is turning black and blue in his grip but at least it’s numb.

We pass past several hallways that seem to stretch off endlessly to the left and right. Each is lined with regularly spaced doors. We also pass doors where I can hear strange sounds. Sometimes it sounds like music. Other times it sounds like chanting or odd chatter. Some of it is rather inhuman and low pitched. One room sounds like Cthulu ripping space and time in half. A black ooze seeps underneath the door.

“Don’t touch that,” says Robocop as he jumps over it quickly. We follow suit.

“Why not?” Jenny asks.

“Just trust me on this one,” he says. I look back over my shoulder as the hallway fades. It seems we’ve been walking straight for an incredibly long time. Suddenly, Robocop makes an abrupt left turn down a random, non-descript hallway. I shout as we begin walking down this new hall.

Even stranger sounds come from behind the doors in this hall. Most of them sound like the odd, strangled gurgle of a baby eating strained peas and having too much fun with it. Jenny has gotten very quiet as we walked, sniffing the air with an odd expression on her face. A stench erupts around us that reminds me of the time I was at a dump for three hours in 100 degree weather. Just as your nose got used to a specific smell, a new one arose to take its place. It was a smell you could never “get used to” in any way.

We walk down the hallway so long that I feel blisters breaking out on my feet. Jenny is breathing heavily and getting irritated. Robocop hasn’t corrected any of her foul outbursts. I don’t get it: she is the reason we’re being taken wherever we are going.

“Hey,” I say, looking at Robocop, “where are we going?”

“To the king of the kingdom,” he says, squeezing my arm.

“The king?” says Jenny sharply.

“Yes the king. He built this kingdom.”

“Yes, one would assume,” I say, beginning to limp.

“Three hundred!” shouts Robocop out of nowhere and stops. It’s so abrupt that I nearly fall and Jenny does. She skins her knee and cries out in pain. I try to help her up but Robocop pulls me back and watches her struggle to stand.

“Damn it,” she says. “This fucking sucks.”

“This door,” says Robocop, pushing me towards it and letting my arm go. I open it up and am awed by the largest, steepest staircase I have ever seen in my life. He grabs me by the arm again and walks upstairs, Jenny following.

“Why don’t you run away?” I say.

“I’d shoot her in the back,” says Robocop.

“That’s not very gentlemanly!” Jenny says.

“I’m a robot,” says Robocop.

No arguing with that. We begin trudging up the stairs and what seems like several hours pass. Both Jenny and I struggle to match Robocop’s pace. If I slow up, he squeezes my arm. He ignores when Jenny falls behind which I think bothers her more than me getting my arm squeezed.

This process repeats itself endlessly. We reach the top of the stairs, walk down a hallway endlessly, find a random door (sometimes quickly sometimes slowly) and walk up endless flights of stairs. All the hallways are identically designed and impossible to tell apart. I’ve lost all track of time.

Suddenly, we come upon a gigantic door that is obviously our destination. It is surrounded by diamonds, pearls, rubies all that “fancy” stuff. I strain my eyes to read the name plaque above the door. Jenny strains too and then laughs loudly. She falls to the ground, holding her stomach laughing. My eyes are secretly awful so I can’t quite make it out until I move a little closer.

“Mister…Mister Sanders?!”

A soft, lilting, gentle voice drifts from the other room like a butterfly on a gust of wind.

“Bring the criminals in, Robocop.”

“Yes Mr. Sanders,” says Robocop.

“Please,” says the voice, “call me Pooh.”

To Be Continued

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