Well, Chris thought, there’s nothing quite so effective as smashing through a rock wall at 90 miles an hour to kill off an unwanted boner.
Surprisingly, he and Darren did not seem to be dead, or even badly injured. The cart they were in had rocketed them through the pile of rubble and out the other side of the mountain, before spilling them unscathed onto the ground.
“Oh my god! That was even better than the Big Thunder Mountain ride at Disneyland! I wanna do it again!” Darren exclaimed, giddy with excitement.
Chris got gingerly to his feet, reaching down to help Darren up. “You’re certifiably insane. You do know that, right?” he deadpanned.
Darren bumped their shoulders together playfully. “Oh, don’t even try to pretend like that wasn’t totally awesome. I mean – of course – when the brake lever first broke off in your hand, I was like ‘oh shit, we’re seriously gonna die.’ And I don’t know why you had to drop it where it was gonna poke me in the small of my back the whole way down. But still, wasn’t that the most exhilarating ride ever?”
Chris suddenly found it necessary to turn away from his friend and rummage through their satchel, pulling out two sets of clothes and flinging one over his shoulder at Darren. “Come on. We don’t know how long it will take those wolves to catch up with us. We need to get dressed and get out of here, right now,” he said through gritted teeth.
Darren was still too high on adrenaline to notice Chris’s embarrassment. He hopped about gracelessly on one foot as he struggled into his pants, waving one arm around in an almost Cooper-esque manner as he replayed every twist and turn of their thrilling trip down the mountain.
Once they were both fully clothed, Chris grabbed his friend firmly by both shoulders and held him still. “Sweetie, breathe,” he said, rolling his eyes fondly at Darren’s manic enthusiasm. “Yes, that was fun. But you know what isn’t fun? Being eaten by super-sized wolves. So let’s get a move on.”
Darren grabbed Chris’s hand and began skipping along the path. His buoyant mood was contagious, and soon the two of them were gleefully singing “We’re Off to See the Wizard” as they danced down an imaginary yellow brick road.
When the song ended, Darren asked, “Do you think you’ll include any of the Wizard of Oz characters in your sequel?”
“I’ve considered it, but I think I want to stick with the classic fairy tales.”
“But you used Goldilocks, and Little Bo Peep, and they’re not from fairy tales.”
“I know, but they’re still classics. Those old folk tales, and nursery rhymes, and fairy tales all blended together in my mind when I was a kid. And they’re all public domain. Using the more modern stuff feels too much like plagiarism to me.”
“Do you think the Harry Potter musicals we made were plagiarism?”
“No, of course not. I think they were fanfiction at its highest and most flattering level. But you did run into trouble with them, right?”
Darren broke into a rousing rendition of “We Don’t Wanna Be Sued,” and Chris laughed.
“Exactly. And, unlike early Starkid, I do actually have the money to lose. So I’m playing it safe.”
“Yeah, I guess that makes sense,” Darren agreed. Then, with an enigmatic smile, he added, “But you know, it’s not always a good idea to play things too safe…”
Chris chose not to examine that last comment too closely. Instead, he started singing “Granger Danger,” which had the intended effect of immediately capturing Darren’s full attention. After that, they sang their way through the entirety of A Very Potter Musical and A Very Potter Sequel, with Chris teasing Darren about the fact that he kept forgetting the words, even though he’d written most of them himself.
By the time they reached the reprise of “Goin’ Back to Hogwarts,” Chris and Darren could hear the sound of the ocean in the distance. They soon emerged from the forest onto a high cliff jutting out over Mermaid Bay. The view was spectacular, but they barely had time to appreciate it before they heard the chilling howls of the Big Bad Wolf Pack.
Grabbing Darren’s hand and turning to gaze deeply into his eyes, Chris asked, “Do you trust me?”