Once upon a time, in the expansive kingdom of FBI, there was a poor young trainee named Clarice. Clarice lived with her mentor, a decrepit old woman named Jack Crawford, who once was a prestigious, invaluable agent but now dispensed useless advice on investigative procedures and smelled like cabbage. They lived in a small cottage; the inconvenient location of which was not even useful for eluding the IRS. Life for the beautiful Clarice was sad and mundane.
One day, Jack Crawford sent Clarice off to the market to sell a pair of plane tickets to the Plum Island Animal Disease Research Resort, with its lush vegetation, romantic beaches, and various bovine plagues. Once at the market, she’d barely had time to look around,
before she ran into a mysterious stranger in an old hooded cloak.
“Hello, Clarice,” said the stranger in a deep, spooky voice, “I’ve a marvelous offer for you.”
“Hi there,” said Clarice, curiously. “How do you know my name?”
“Ummm.... the Internet,” replied the stranger quickly. “Anyway, in exchange for your plane tickets, could I perhaps interest you in a few...” He reached into his cape, with dramatic bravado and suddenly extended his open palm with a sudden puff of smoke.
“MAGIC FAVA BEANS?!”
“Are those smoke bombs?” asked Clarice, point at the knobby lumps in the folds of his cloak. “Could you please turn them off? They’re making this really irritating sputtering noise.”
“Hush. Aren’t you going to ask me about the beans?”
The beans in question were arranged artfully in his gloved hand and looked remarkably uninteresting; as is to be expected of many inanimate seed structures.
“Fava beans? What am I supposed to do with a handful of fava beans?”
“Oh, no, my dear, these are *magic*. Plant one of these babies in the ground, and you’ve got yourself a giant beanstalk in the morning. AND they stay crunchy longer in milk.”
Nonetheless, no one else at the market was particularly enthusiastic about her goods, so at last, she agreed to the stranger’s offer. She made her way home, holding the beans. When she arrived, however, Jack Crawford was furious. Flailing her liver spotted arms, she said, “Beans?! What on earth are we supposed to do with a bunch of old beans?!” And with a heave remarkable for an old woman of her variety, she threw the beans out the window, where they landed in the cold evening dirt.
“Now,” she said, “Let us watch Matlock.”
Reluctantly, Clarice joined her.
Once the program was over, however, a news bulletin came on.
“I’m here with the exalted Queen Ruth Martin, whose daughter is believed to have been kidnapped by the opprobrious local fiend, Mr Gumb; skin harvestester by night, and part time clerk at an erotic pastry shop by day. Your highness, do you have any comments?’
‘Who are you? What are you doing in my linen closet?’
“Ok, thank you ma’am. In other news-”
They turned off the tv and went to bed.
However, early the next morning, Clarice awoke to discover a shadow across her room, from a colossal monolith outside her window, blocking the sunlight. “Oh my!” she exclaimed. She raced outside and discovered an immense green sprout extending all the way to the sky, where it tapered off into the thick white clouds.
For some reason, her first somewhat rational idea was the climb the thing. So, pushing aside all inhibition, she dug her nails into the green stalk and began clambering up. She climbed and climbed for what seemed like hours, until she came to a surprisingly stable platform of thick clouds. Peculiarly, a well maintained chateau loomed up ahead, flanked by a picturesque garden.
Barefoot, in her rumpled nightgown, (Kids at home: always brush your teeth and change into something appropriate before climbing lofty vegetation.), Clarice was suddenly overwhelmed with curiosity of this strange and strangely beautiful house in the clouds. Wandering cautiously down a meandering walkway, she whistled appreciatively at the view of the three story, though rather narrow house, the elaborate floral arrays surrounding the path, and the sheer absurdity of it all.
“Well, Toto,” she said out loud, “we’re certainly not in Kansas anymore.”
She’d always wanted an oppurtune moment to say that, but it came out sounding rather idiotic. She was glad that no one was around to hear it, until a calm, controlled voice cut through the quiet garden, “Right you are.”
Freezing, she stopped in her tracks, taking in a deep breath, suddenly unstrung at being discovered. Very slowly and cautiously, prepared to run, she turned to face the owner of the voice.