Times had become tense with all the interviews, death threats and fan mail vying for my undivided attention. I needed a break from the madness surrounding my publishing debut. My agent, Galatea, thoughtfully decided to take me to the Bronx Zoo shortly after my lover-cum-typist, Foxy, produced a wily little tell-all about my behavior during the creation of my young adult paranormal romance, Ghost Ova Chants. I was much relieved by the prospect of kicking up my feet and consuming copious amounts of vodka by high noon in a plush booth in the newly renovated Infinite Monkey Typist House. At the very least, I would benefit by being far removed from Foxy’s constant vacillations between censure and seduction. Alas, it was not to be, for we were cut off by a posse of bloodthirsty jaguars before we could push through the first turnstile. They chased us through a series of rank green bookshelves near the Self Help section of the complex, their manic energy unflagging with each sharp leap and swipe. I screamed “Mother!” and snatched a tome on the role of Emily Post’s hosting conventions in the success of pyramid schemes. The finely gilded work was titled Em’s Escape Plans B-BFF: Foolproof Business Tactics for Social Climbers. It seemed misshelved, given the lay of the land. Amazingly, though, this object had a magical effect, for it froze the savage jaguars in a mid-lunge. They disappeared with a quick, steamy hiss as I stroked the small of Galatea’s back and inspected the condition of my pants for irregularities.
Galatea and I took a second or two to decompress but soon recognized we were lost in an unknown classification system somewhere in what appeared to be the suburbs of Jericho. We soldiered through a shimmering haze of empty corporate parks before arriving in a valley riddled with potholes. In one of the potholes, I found a stone in the mouth of a sleeping serpent. Upon full inspection, I discovered the stone was engraved with the phrase “I hope this doesn’t come across as an insult…” Galatea could make nothing of the message, nor could I at the moment. The sky grew sullen and the sun shapeshifted into an apple when I tossed the stone over my shoulder out of a mixture of frustration and uncomprehending boredom. After several weeks of walking towards the bobbing apple in search of a gateway back to Eden, we reached the crest of a truncated mountain. There we found a village where the face of every villager had been strictly arranged by its original genre designation despite all successive reincarnations. No one even attempted to explain away the obvious contradictions and problems involved with such a rigid caste system. The mayor of the place—appearing in the form of a choking chimney sweep—presented us with a poorly-written but nonetheless impressive certificate of merit for finding our way home after facing the dire machinations of Dr. Zeus. He said, “Many thousands of similar cases of torment have been reported down through the centuries, but this is the first I’ve observed. A successful escape at that.” I tried to cut him off before he assumed any sort of lasting connection with Galatea and I, but the words wouldn’t issue from my lips. Caught in silence, he ushered us towards the village’s interminable checkout line. Looking down, I noticed my hands were full of Anglophile bookmarks and refrigerator magnets. My knuckles appeared uncommonly white beneath the saucer-shaped halogens overhead.