Deep in the caverns of Dragonhead Mountain, through winding alien passages built by a race long dead, a hiss sprang forth from the darkness. This hiss was so aggressive, so shrill it filled the underground labyrinth with life, mapped its tendril-like corridors with a sense of violence and rage. This same hiss gushed out of the cave entrance like a geyser of boiling water. A druid from thirty miles yonder perked his ears in interest.
The small party this druid had gathered, oh how ye be brave mighty warriors, ventured forth with a trepid step. Deep into the abyssal maw under Dragonhead Mountain they descended. They sought to scratch at its throat, tickle its chambers, and purloin its many secret treasures.
A dwarf, a forest elf, and a guy named Steve made up this expedition. The druid had recruited only the finest warriors available—and Steve, a guy he knew in college—and they descended into the infernal dungeon.
Lo! Did they do battle with many a foe! The dwarf crossed blades with skeleton people with old-timey mustaches, some wearing monocles ironically, others with bowler hats like a bunch of idiots. The forest elf nearly choked on her own vomit when she regarded the army of undead and unemployed writers hunched over their laptops. She drew her bow and quickly felled them with deft accuracy before gagging and convulsing in terror.
Suddenly appearing before the druid in a puff of steam were snarky twenty-somethings with dead eyes. “Whhhhaaa yoouu wannnn mannnnnnn”
Now, reader, many moons ago the druid had obtained mysterious ancient scrolls with unusual writing that included a map of this dungeon. The druid could not decipher any of the language, so he had his mom contact her best friend who knew a guy who taught ancient languages at the community college over on MLK Jr. Blvd and could translate for him. Incidentally, that guy knew Steve, they were Facebook friends, which is to say they weren’t really friends at all.
The community college guy had seen the scrolls before and had tried translating what he could. It was a menu for various beverages, that much he could gather. But the translation was not perfect. He warned the druid not to utter these imprecise translations, for it would spell his doom, but the druid was greedy and stupid and rash. So he did the stuff that I’m about to write below.
The druid’s voice boomed. “I request Medium! Black!” Despite the menace in his voice, it did not faze the twenty-something creature standing before him.
“Whaaaa? Like… medium hot?”
“No, goddammit!” He turned to Steve. “Quick, Steve, friend I met in college, who’s Facebook friends with the guy who translated the scrolls, can you speak their foul language?”
So Steve, brave Sir Steve, who’s legend of this very night has since featured in many a warrior’s song, spoke.
“I think he wants a Grande Caff non-iced non-latte Americano nonmacchiato.”
With that the entire dungeon began to shake and crumble around them. The snarky twenty-something shrieked in Steve’s face. “You and your friends shall never leave alive!” The creature was then crushed by a very large boulder, right on his head. It was disgusting how much blood poured out from under the rock.
Steve’s magic words had caused a rift in Time and Space to open right through the mountain, from its roots to its tip. The walls of this dark chamber collapsed around the mighty warriors, exposing unusual machinery that spat and hissed hot air at them. A dark, inky liquid poured out of one of these contraptions into a goblet with a sleeve of cardboard that barely protected one’s hand from its heat. In an old scrawl on the sleeve was written, “Stephanie”. Of course they got his name wrong.
“The elixir!” exclaimed the druid. He rushed toward the cup of life-giving brew with visions of conquest in his eye but tripped on his own robes in his eagerness. Steve stepped over him and grabbed the cup.
“Shit, that’s too hot.” He brought the goblet to his lips when he heard the druid scream.
“No! That’s mine, Steve, friend I met in college! You can’t handle the power that it contains!”
Steve, cranky Steve, with rings under his eyes and a croak in his voice from being woken up in the middle of the night by his friend from college, the druid, said, “Just a quick sip, man.”
The moment the black ooze touched Steve’s lips, his eyes lit up with a mysterious sapphire glow. The surviving creatures behind the bar began to chant.
“The brew is the life. The brew is the life.”
The dwarf and forest elf tried to approach Steve, but he shot laser eyes into their faces and they exploded like pus from a zit. He didn’t mean to.
The druid cast a sleeping spell on Steve, but it was nullified by this strange black brew now coursing through Steve’s veins. Steve then picked the druid up with superhuman strength and tossed him over a crevasse. The druid did not like being thrown down crevasses, but there really wasn’t much he could do about it now.
“Steve! You asshollleeeee!” he screamed as he hurtled toward the unseen abyss floor below. That’s what you get for being greedy, kids.
When the blue glow died behind Steve’s eyes, he regarded what he’d done. Or what the brew had made him do.
He stumbled back through the labyrinth, back to the dungeon entrance, where the moon shone down against the tumbled rock face of Dragonhead Mountain. He stretched his arms and finished the last sip of his brew. He wrinkled his nose as he smelled his clothes, his armpits. Everything stank. Like a skunk on the side of a road. Like burnt beans. An ashen, sickening smell that lingered despite the fresh mountain air.
As he descended the perilous path down the slope of Dragonhead Mountain, back to his home, back to his bed, many a passerby could hear Steve utter over and over under his breath,
“God I hate Starbucks.”