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-= Chapter 3 =-
Obstacle the Second
by Kitnoki
©2005 Kitnoki -- all rights reserved

The road, like Scribbler herself (she was happy to note), was looking decidedly more colorful. The rocks were a rich sepia, and they moved steadily closer to the road. In time, she found herself wandering down, not a road, but a canyon. Now, this wasn't a desert canyon, all of bare rock, but a lush one, with plants hanging here and there from crags, dripping moisture. She had walked quite a ways when she came upon the boulder: The thing was a massive, smooth black rock, completely obstructing the road, shrouded on both sides by hanging greenery, setting itself on display.

She approached it slowly, in awe of its sheer bulk, and was only inches from it when she noticed the small words written in its face. In small black letters, recessed into the black face, was written: "You shall not pass." She began to examine it, moving to one side, and lifting the greenery. Here, as on the front, were written the same words. "You shall not pass." She stepped back to look at it from an angle, only to notice the words again, still directly in front of her. "You shall not pass."

After some thought, Scribbler tried to climb over the boulder, but its glossy surface offered no hand- or footholds. Next, she grabbed hold of some of the greenery, and planted her feet on the canyon wall, and began to climb. At least, that was the plan, but her feet not so much planted as slid, the rock yielding little support before it crumbled beneath her feet, and the vine she held broke; a moment later, she was on her back staring up at the reddish sky. She stood and looked around. If the rock was that slippery, perhaps she could slide it along the road? She placed her hands on it, and began to push. But as soon as she began to put her weight behind it, her hands slipped and she again landed on the canyon floor. She got back up, dusted herself off, and sat on a handy rock.

"Great. Now what?"

"Now you pick up the pace, dearie."

Scribbler jumped, and spun to see Tisiphone leaning nonchalantly against a canyon wall.

"And how exactly do I do that? There happens to be a giant boulder in my way, in case you missed it!"

"A giant boulder, you say? So there is! Still, you're a creative girl. You'll make a way around it."

"'Make a way around it'? I've looked! There isn't anything!"

"Oh, dear. Well, why don't you just hit it with a lightning bolt?"

Scribbler rolled her eyes. "Um gee... you know, I would, if I was a demigoddess or something, like you!"

"Muse, not demigoddess. I'm not hardly that vain."

"Gah! You are a muse! Aren't you supposed to help me deal with stuff like this?"

"Of course I am! And my advice is to hit it with lightning. A good giga-"

"Forget the lightning!" Scribbler shouted. Then, after her temper had cooled off a bit, "Any other 'advice'?"

"You're sure you don't want to..." Tisiphone looked hopefully at the human, whose expression made it very clear indeed that she didn't want to. "Oh, very well. In that case, I recommend that you fly over the silly thing."

"Fly?" Scribbler asked, incredulous.

"I know, I know, it isn't nearly as specta-"

"How do you expect me to fly when I don't have wings!"

The muse looked reproachfully at Scribbler. "What difference does that make?" She sighed, then suddenly she snapped her fingers and grinned. "Oh! I know! Walk through it! That's always fun!"

Scribbler tapped her feet in irritation, and glared at the muse. "Are we even having the same conversation? I'm Human, remember? I can't just walk through solid rock!"

"No, you are a writer," Tisiphone pointed out. "You will make a way. Though I'd still like to see the lightning, personally."

"Grah! Why do I even ask? You want lightning? Here!" And Scribbler punctuated her final word with a violent, sweeping gesture, pointing both arms directly at the great black rock.

Right on cue, the clear sky was split by a pungent wave of ozone, a blinding blue-white flash and a deafening peal of thunder. When Scribbler's vision cleared, the boulder was no longer an obstacle. In its place, the road was littered with glossy black fragments, as far forward and back as she could see.

Scribbler stood there, stunned and blinking. After a while, a voice said, "Oh." It was hers.

The muse leaned on Scribbler's shoulder in a friendly manner. "There you go! Didn't I tell you you'd make a way?" Smiling, Tisiphone strode straight into the smoke that was settling into the canyon; a throaty mechanical roar was soon heard. Suddenly a cherry-red Mustang convertible burst out of the smoke; screeched all the way around Scribbler on two wheels; and paused in front of the human. Not seeming to notice that her car was 80° off horizontal, the muse turned to look back at Scribbler and said, "See you at my place!"

With a bass growl, the Mustang righted itself and took off down the canyon. Still not quite sure she believed what she'd just seen, Scribbler resumed walking, uncertainly at first, gaining more sureness with each step. She was about 500 yards along when a thought forcibly struck her:

"Hey! She didn't offer me a ride!"

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