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by Jez Patterson

When Dorothy was called back to Oz, it was to find the Scarecrow an arrogant, cold academic who huffed down his nostrils and regarded the world through the half-lenses of spindly-limbed spectacles. The Lion was a tattooed bully, pumped up on testosterone with swollen veins snaking down his forearms and up his neck, like he was cut from some huge alien brain. The Tin Man was an emotional wreck, jumping from therapist to therapist, suffering anxiety attacks and depression and in constant mourning for the cruelty of the world he lived in.

A trip to the Wizard was in order. The Scarecrow to find Humility, the Lion to find Gentleness, the Tin Man Control over his emotions.


Munchkin Country too had changed. Dorothy’s earlier appearance among them had brought with it bolts of both self-awareness and self-consciousness and by some cosmetic surgery or magic, limbs had been extended. This had been achieved by stretching rather than the grafting of additional flesh and bone, so the Munchkins now teetered on legs like cress stalks, barely able to either balance or support the weight atop. Their arms were more akin to tentacles, caught in the ocean’s current so they flailed, missed, and needed whipping to reach their intended target.

Their torsos and heads, meanwhile, remained unaltered in dimension. They might all have been dwarf survivors of the Inquisitor’s rack.

“What of the Good Witch?” Dorothy asked.

“Retired,” one said, whilst another tipped back her head, raised a hand, and made meaningful ‘glug-glug’ noises. “Without the Wicked, there wasn’t much left to do. Light only has meaning if there is darkness to contrast it. A glass is only half-empty if there’s one provided to measure the water. Otherwise, there’s just a puddle. A wall is only needed if there’s something on the other side.”

“Yes, yes, yes,” Dorothy said, sensing the pretentious teachings of the Scarecrow in this speech. “Then what about the Wizard?”

“Oh, he’s still there.”

“In The Emerald City?”


“At the end of the Yellow Brick Road?”

“Route 39,” the elongated Munchkin said.

Her three reluctant companions in tow, Dorothy set off.


Her own arrival in Oz this time had not been courtesy of a tornado, but of something sold to her in a nightclub that clearly wasn’t what she’d paid for. There were trips, and then there were Trips. She wondered if anyone else had partaken of the tainted batch and subsequently tripped over the rainbow. So far though, she was the only one who appeared to have stumbled here.

Dorothy had come a long way from Kansas even before this latest detour to Oz. Life had proven itself to be as anarchic as Oz, but without the convenient last-page resolutions. The witch wasn’t the only one who’d had a bucket of cold water extinguish her dreams.

Now that she was back in Oz, Dorothy realised she’d come back sporting that heavy shawl that awaited every child for the sacrifices apparently made on their behalf. Woven through with guilt, her adult self either had to find a way to remove it, or else see it slowly unravel and strangle her.

If she were younger she’d have resented this imposition. Instead, she felt like the lone niece caring for what were, essentially, her single, uncared for, surrogate uncles. From once being the only child in Oz, she was now apparently the only responsible adult.


The walk to the Emerald City was uneventful. Or, rather, it became routine as Scarecrow recited the Latin names of every plant, animal or cloud formation they saw, Lion prefixed each with ‘Maximus’ and challenged them in a fight to the death, and Tin Man burst into tears at the slightest provocation.

It was a relief to finally arrive.

The Emerald City hadn’t changed much since she’d been away, but the same could not be said of the Wizard.

“Look,” he said, his robes dusty and stained with egg and tomato sauce. “I have an extendable finger.” He slid the bent thumb along from its bent counterpart in a trick so old it would not have impressed even in Biblical times. He followed this with a disappearing coin and a card trick. The coin he accidentally swallowed, the cards he dropped.

“Superlatively pathetic,” decided Scarecrow, and Dorothy couldn’t help but agree. The Wizard could at least try to make an effort.

But guilt overrode her annoyance. The Good Witch, the Munchkins, The Wizard and her three friends? Her actions during her previous visit had been well-intentioned, but had brought unfortunate consequences to all of them. She knew it was up to her to put things right. Restore the balance, as it were.

All she needed was a pointed hat, a broom, and some flying monkeys. The Silver Shoes she already had. It was the only way. Oddly, she was quite looking forward to it: as if the role had been waiting for her all this time. As that pontificating Munchkin might have put it: because you need more than sunshine to make a rainbow.

You needed a storm.



Jez Patterson is a British teacher and writer, currently based in Madrid. Links to other things that have his name at the end can be found at: jezpatterson.wordpress.com.