Ah yes! The mythical Golbargian Death Pepper! It's legend was passed down from generation to generation in my family. I might have tried my best to hide my strange ethnicity during the High School days, but the story always fascinated me. Every time I went on a date, I always told the story to my courtship in full, much to the poor health of my long-term relationships.

  When ingested, the pepper has the ability to turn anyone into ducks. Such works would marvel the scientific community and the strange DNA warping capabilities would surely blow the Human Genome Project right out of the atmosphere!

  Sadly, our memories of the myth has since been shattered over the generations. Even I do not know all the details. “Ducks?” we asked. “Why ducks?” No answer ever came to my ancestor's avails and all we were left with was a broken frame, but it still captivated me! Even today, my choice to become an archaeologist rests firmly in the riddled-duck questions of my heritage.

  So imagined how moved I was when I pick up my copy of the recent archaeology ledger to find new information hinting at its existence had surfaced! Oh! I was moved to tears! I didn't think it was possible to go through that much tissue paper.

  I could feel the sands of time gathering at my feet. Grain by grain, like a marvelous hourglass, the truth would slowly reveal itself and history would be ours again! I had to leave at once! To my home country!

  No time was wasted getting equipped. My research grant was paltry, but I was able to buy myself a fine machete. It was able to slice and dice an assortment of fruits and vegetables.

  Before I left, I was called back to the institute. My tenyear mentor said he had a gift for me, and he marked my map in pencil, saying he got some advance information from the wire. What kindness!

  Though not all was happy. In an abrupt change of mood, his parting words were unsettlingly grim.

  “Rest well, my friend. Many have already left to claim the prize, and their correspondence gets worse by the minute.”

  Such was not the best of news. In the night before my plane left, I found myself clutching my pillow rather harshly.

  When I arrived at my hometown in the native jungles, the pumpkin harvest was in full swing. They had a bountiful crop this year. The locals attributed such grace of nature to the mysterious power flowing down from the sacred mountains.

  I must admit, as I made my way along the path, the overabundance of pumpkins made it seem... haunted.

  I tried to calm myself. My music player had some battery left in it, but I could barely hear a thing. A wind kicked up and started blowing menacingly!

  The trees made a fierce noise as the sea of leaves washed troublesome waters. I looked around, but in this wilderness there was no cover to be found.

  Yet hope still appeared! In the forest, I saw a light at the end of the trail! My anxiety getting ahold of me, I made haste to the heaven ahead.

  But it was for naught! Slimey, smiling goo monsters blocked my path!

  My machete was ineffective to ward them off. They closed in on me and I screeched for help, when suddenly a man wearing a straw hat appeared.

  “Don't worry!” he shouted. “Leave this to me!” He pulled out a cellular phone and cooly dialed a number.

  Suddenly, a huge army of sad teenagers wearing black clothes rode down from the skies! It was an entire helicopter fleet of manic-depressives! In perfect harmony, they all chanted poetic verse by H.P. Lovecraft!

  “Everyone! Do your thing!” Mr. Strawhat yelled.

  Just then, the army of teenagers proceeded to bore the goo monsters to death with long, obtuse lectures about Ferdinand de Saussure and media representation.

  Strangely, they had the goo monsters defeated in no time at all! It was as if time had paradoxed around us!

  The hatted bloke rescued me from my place.

  “What are you doing here?!” he scolded, “This is no place to be playing video games!”

  He was a figure of no figure whatsoever. Mr. Strawhat was so utterly thin, when he donned his trademark cap he could best be described as an adjustable desk lamp. He even had a tail with a AC plug on the end!

  “I am King Jorkanqj III! This is my Kingdom!” He didn't actually say “the third” but instead said “ai ai ai.”

  His antics were spectacular, but I found him a bit hard to believe. He pulled out a business card the size of 80x30 oil painting portrait to make his case. How he fit it in his wallet I cannot even guess.

  The settlement up ahead was his castle. He took me to his throne.

  While there, I made my case to him that sought the legendary chili pepper. No matter how much I talked, nothing got through to him. “You can't be doin' that! We're at war!”

   “With who?” I asked.

  “The Basketball Monsters!”

  With the timing of the devil himself, suddenly the castle shook with distant sounds of dribbling. They smashed through the windows and forced their way into the throne room!

  “It's game over for you, Jorkanqj! We'll slam dunk you and turn this Kingdom into the world's greatest street court!”

  I was scared for my life! Their air-tight, enlarged heads had us surrounded and outnumbered. The King, however, remained a cool customer in the face of such adversity. He even threw on a pair of shades to show off.

  “Never!” he boasted confidently. “This place will always be MY pasta restaurant!”

  He pulled out a gun and fired at them rapidly. It shot spaghetti and meatballs at the enemy and – gasp! -- it turned them into ducks!

  I was pulled aside and the King tugged me under a secret passageway beneath his throne. It led into the hangar. It housed airplanes and all sorts of hyper-advanced hovercraft! ... but for some reason he hailed me onto a teeny tiny tricycle. Why did he choose this to flee on?!

  “They're gonna spray us with forensics chemicals!” he warned me. “Hang on tight!”

  We sped at them at nearly ten kilometres an hour. The basketball fiends had areosol sprays aimed directly at us!

  “Fire the torpedo!” Suddenly, the tricycle shot a large missile right at them! It was made of candy! They exploded like piñatas!

  “You'd better fight back, Señor!” the King rushed me. “If they catch us here, they'll make pancakes outta us!” Things were going by me so fast, I couldn't think right.

  Suddenly, I heard a loud shot! In the panic of battle, a basketball fiend had seized ahold of the King's pasta gun and was firing wildly!

  “You fool! What have you done?!” The pasta sauce overload had caused it to malfunction! Before I knew it, there everything went white!

  When I awoke, everything was in ruins. The King was beside me, sadly, in holes.

  “You fought well, with perfect honour...!” His voice was weak, shaking as he spoke. “On any other day, I would have you knighted into my league!” I was naturally confused, but I hadn't the heart to broadcast it.

  But everything was perfectly all right! He had an energy tank on reserve!

  “T-Take this...” He pulled out a compact disc and handed it to me. “The pepper you seek will be gone with my kingdom, but all the information you need is on that disc.”

  The King got up and limped away, urging me not to follow. Everything might have been in ruins, but I couldn't help but feel perfectly well. The sun was shining brightly.

  A candle within my heart burned brightly with hope. I was sure that some day the King would rise again, and his kingdom would be restored to its rightful glory,

  ... this time, as a souvenir stand.

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