lb_lee: The Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, doubled over laughing. From Justice League International #7 (bwa-hah-ha)
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Okay, this one has a bit of a story behind it.  jimnightmare commissioned this story from us (yes, readers, you can indeed do that, if you don't want to wait for a writeathon and want total freedom!) because he wanted to know the story of Dink, a random character who appears in exactly one scene of King's Quest V (a point-and-click adventure game from 1990) and then is never seen or heard from again.  King's Quest owned our childhood, and wallpaper characters are among my favorites to write.  Ergo, this popped out!

The Story of Dink


The first thing Dink remembered was Mordak’s castle.  Specifically, the basement.  His job was protecting it from intruders.

There weren’t many.  The only ways out were Mordak’s pantry door and a grate outside, too high to reach.  So the basement maze mostly remained empty, except for Dink and the yellow spider named Sam.

That was all right.  As long as Dink wasn’t entirely alone, he could maintain a cheerful disposition.  Sam couldn’t speak, and Dink couldn’t read Sam’s webs, but they were brothers in spirit nonetheless.  Who needed words and webs anyway?

One morning, Dink woke up to find Sam on his nose.  Once Dink opened his eyes, Sam scuttled off, leaving a thread to mark the way.

Ah, an invader—visitors, Dink preferred to think of them.  More friendly that way.  He hadn’t seen one in ages.

Sam’s thread ended at a girl, disheveled and ragged.  She smelled of the spices and foods of Mordak’s pantry, and had some flour smeared across her face.  The girl started when she saw Dink, but didn’t run, just watched warily.

Dink settled into the corner to wait.  If he was patient, perhaps she would open.  Shyer, Sam hid behind him to watch.

After a moment, the girl ventured, “Hello?”

It’d been so long since Dink had tried to speak to anyone, if he ever had, that all that came out was, “Dink.”

“Are you a captive of Mordak too?”

Dink preferred not to see himself as a captive, but facts were facts. “Dink.”

“Me too.  I’m Princess Cassima, of the Land of the Green Isles.” She curtsied very prettily, despite her rags. “I was hoping to escape—do you know a way out?”

Sadly no.  Judging by her smell, Cassima worked in the pantry, where she’d probably entered from, and Dink could already tell there was no way she could reach the grate, never mind force the rusted thing open. “Dink.”

Cassima wilted. “I guess it was a silly question.  If you knew a way out, you wouldn’t be here either, would you?”

Dink felt bad for her.  At least he had Sam, and Mordak ignored them most of the time.  Cassima, though, was probably stuck inside with him all the time.

She pulled what looked like a gold pin from her rags. “I stole the spare key, but I’m sure he’ll find it again if I leave it inside.  Can I keep it with you?”

“Dink!” But Dink had nowhere to keep it.  He didn’t have pockets, and a maze was the perfect place to lose it.  He waved at Sam, but Sam was still too nervous to come out.

“Here, I have an idea,” Cassima said.

She pulled a battered comb from her pocket and combed Dink’s hair.  It was a lot of work but she gently worked through the tangles and mats, then pulled it back into a fluffy topknot and stuck the pin through it to hold it in place.

“There.  The best place to hide something is in plain sight.”

Dink felt his hair over and looked to Sam.  Sam bounced excitedly; Dink looked good!  Dink’s chest filled with pride, and he did a little dance of joy, which made Cassima smile.

“Now that you have the key, we can visit each other whenever Mordak’s away.  I’ll give a special knock on the door, so you’ll know it’s me.  All right?”

“Dink!”

And so Dink, Sam, and Princess Cassima became friends.  Cassima would tease Dink’s hair into a myriad of styles, and Dink would dance and stomp for her.  Sam was still very shy, but Dink eventually cajoled him out to spin his webs for her, and Cassima seemed to get more out of them than Dink could.  Dink had never been happier.

Still, they couldn’t forget their captivity.  Cassima kept a brave face, but sometimes she cried.  Dink never knew what to do then; he wanted to hug her, but his hugs tended to break people.  So all he could do was try to look comforting, while Sam hugged her for him.

“It’ll be all right,” Cassima would say. “One day, we’ll get out.”

Dink wasn’t so sure.  Mordak’s castle was all he’d ever known.  Could they ever truly leave?  What would life be like, without Cassima or Sam or the comforting, homey basement maze?

Still, for her, he would be brave.

Weeks later, a gray-haired man broke into the maze.

Drink didn’t know where he’d come from, or how he’d broken through the grate.  The man didn’t speak, just walked into Dink’s chamber and gave him a piercing look.  Startled, Dink sat and stared back, and the gray-haired man pulled out a tambourine.

Dink thought it was a strange thing for the man to do, but was so delighted to hear the music that he began to dance.  How had the man known how much Dink loved music?

The man gave Dink the tambourine, and Dink was so thrilled to have it that he clumped off and didn’t realize that he’d lost his hairpin until hours later.

Oh no!  Cassima!

Dink rushed to the pantry door.  It was open.  The kitchen was empty, the castle deserted.  Mordak was gone.  Cassima was gone.

Dink found Sam in the laboratory; apparently he’d come out earlier, and seen the whole thing.  The gray-haired man had rescued Cassima!  Mordak was dead!  They were free to go!

But Dink wasn’t happy.  He wanted Cassima back.  It was foolish to expect her to return to a place she’d been miserable at, but still…

After a week of Dink’s moping, Sam got fed up.  He perched on Dink’s nose and fixed him with an eight-eyed glare.  Then he got up and scuttled off, leaving a trailing thread behind.

Dink followed.

The thread led out of the castle, through a back door.  Outside was a beach and a boat.  Sam sat on one oar.

Dink had never seen the ocean.  It smelled of salt.  It was pretty.  Far on the horizon, he could see land.  Who knew the world was so big?

Sam looked at Dink expectantly, and Dink realized there was so much world they hadn’t seen, music they hadn’t heard, friends they hadn’t met.

It was time to go meet them.

Dink got into the boat and grasped the oars.  Sam hopped up on top of his head, and he began to row.  Away from Mordak’s castle, away from the misery and drudgery.

Into the world.
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