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Alex In Blunderland -- A Consumer Nightmare Fairy Tale
[ BASED ON A TRUE STORY ]
Once upon a time, there was a boy named "Alex" who dreamed of announcing his creative wares throughout the Kingdom of Consume-alot. The Kingdom of Consume-alot was a magical place whose everyday residents sometimes gave gold to those who sent out pretty papers with convincing words. Alex knew of these pretty papers as "promotional postcards", and he imagined how well he could design his own.
Alex discovered a great castle, beyond the mountains of his village, where elves transformed personal designs into some of the most stunning papers with convincing words that he had ever seen. This great castle went by the name of "Vista". ... Vista... had a magnificent appearance, with many different workshops where the elven folk produced tens upon thousands of pretty papers continuously without rest.
One day, Alex traveled across the mountains to the castle of Vista.
He was seeking the Vista elves' help in designing, producing, and sending his personalized pretty papers throughout the vast Kingdom of Consume-alot. Once past the doors of the castle, Alex sought the answer to a question:
"How may I pay for my pretty papers?"
Immediately he saw the answer on a scroll in the hallways of Vista. On this scroll were inscribed the words:
"All good citizens of Consume-alot may pay Vista by a note from the King, by a note from the Queen, or by a note from the Royal Treasurer."
Alex, of course, knew the King, and he knew the Royal Treasurer, as well.
Inside the castle of Vista, Alex began working with the elves, using marvelous tools to help fashion his pretty papers. He made a pattern that the elves would reproduce in quantity and then distribute to a select few citizens of Consume-alot whom Alex had chosen with great care.
The pattern that Alex made was superb, and the elves of Vista were entrusted with the skilled task of reproducing Alex's pattern and sending it to his chosen few Consume-alot citizens, at a cost that no other castle in the Kingdom of Consume-alot could match. The elves of Vista would even transport Alex's pretty papers as part of the business arrangement.
And so the deal was done. Alex's pretty papers would be delivered for a price inscribed by the elves on a very special scroll. On this particular day, however, Alex left the castle of Vista, returning to his village to make certain that the King's Treasurer would still back his venture. "Yes", the King's Treasurer assured Alex, "I have the funds to back your venture, and will do so, as we agreed."
When Alex returned to the castle of Vista on the following day, he entered the hallway where the cost of his venture was inscribed on the special scroll. To his great surprise, the cost inscribed on the scroll was twenty-five pieces of gold higher than it was on the previous day!
"How can this be?!", Alex exclaimed. "Only a day earlier, the cost of my venture was 25 pieces of gold less!"
The castle of Vista was becoming a perplexing place.
Alex eventually learned of an evil princess, named "Rescinderella". Rescinderella was known to sneak into the castle of Vista and to change Vista's price scrolls overnight. She derived great satisfaction from reeking havoc on Vista's prices in this way. Vista's skillful elves, sadly, were plagued by this menace.
Alex also learned of a perplexing talking rabbit, obsessed with a pocket watch and prone to babbling to himself, repeating over and over, "Time is running out. Time is running out. These treasures will not last forever. Act now. Act now, good citizens of Consume-alot."
Alex refused to act, because the evil Princess Rescinderella had twisted his pursestrings in a way that he did not approve. Alex, therefore, told the elves of Vista to discontinue his venture. He needed time to deal with evil Rescinderella.
Within a few days, Alex had learned Rescinderella's game, and he figured out a trick to get around her mischievous deeds. He successfully designed his papers, and he completed the deal whereby the Vista elves would deliver them. But, as misfortune would have it, when Alex tried to pay what he agreed to pay, an even more bizarre series of events unfolded.
Alex saw only signs above elfin cashiers that read, "Payment by notes from the King himself", "Payment by notes from the Queen herself", "Payment by any other means besides notes from the King's Treasurer". Alex, remember, was prepared to pay by notes from the King's Treasurer, as the rules of Vista clearly stated was possible. But Alex saw no sign above any elf that would accept his King's Treaurer's note. Alex, thus, could not complete his business with the Vista elves that day. He needed to learn which elf to ask why the castle of Vista seemed to contradict itself in terms of payments.
And so Alex left Vista for another day. He was weary, and he needed rest to recover from his disappointments. He needed time to ask why Vista did not have the elf on duty who accepted notes from the King's Treasurer, as advertised.
Alex could not find an answer to this most critical question. He secured a note from the King himself instead, which he knew, for sure, Vista elves were prepared to accept. But when he retured to Vista on the next day, Rescinderella once again had changed the scrolls that showed his cost. Alex proceeded anyway, knowing that he could afford a slightly higher cost, even if evil Rescinderella had robbed him to get it.
As Alex proceeded to pay, a trap door opened beneath him and sent him falling (in slow motion) past many windows, where each window's attending elf asked whether Vista could imprint his picture on any number of other wares. At the bottom of the crevasse into which Alex had fallen, a strangely sombre cat resided -- NOT the cat that changes appearances from visible to invisible, but the cousin of an even more famous cat that talks in rhymes.
Groggy from his fall, Alex listened, as this sombre cat that wore a curious pop-up hat began to speak:
"I can put your picture on a hat.
I can put your picture on a bat.
I can put it on a sign.
I can put it in a page design.
May I put it on a stamp?
Or even on a useful clamp?"
"No thank you", Alex annoyingly replied.
"I do not want it on a hat.
I do not want it on a bat.
I do not want it on a sign.
I do not want a page design.
All I want are pretty papers with thoughtful words to inspire my fellow citizens of Consume-alot to buy creative wares. Please, dearest cat in tasteless pop-up hat, do not ask me further questions. And tell me what is this dreadful place into which I have been misled? How have I come to find myself in this twisted dream from which I cannot seem to wake?"