The Conventional Adventures of Isabel Gonzalez
New York Comic-Con 2014
New York Comic-Con 2014
The next day, Isabel put the coordinates into her communicator and pushed the Enter button. She jumped through space to world Y-MH-3313-C and touched down in a dark room. Music immediately flooded her ears, and she turned to find a bunch of raptors with spiky wigs on, singing and playing keytars. Isabel wondered if this was some sort of garageband rehearsal.
"Dinosaurs?" she muttered out loud. "Beyond the impossible, I swear."
"Oh, but we are possible," the one in front said. "And we must fix your pronunciation. We are 'dinosirs.' We come from space and are here to warn you about the mission you are about to face."
"We also play basketball," the one on the right said.
"Look, that's great and all," Isabel noted, "but if there were dangers on this mission, I think Sarah would have told me about them. Also, who's to say you're not the owners of this dimension anyway?"
"But we are," the dinosir on the left said. "We are sovereign domain over this dimension. My name is Loki, and this is my brother Thor. We are overlords of this world."
Isabel bit her tongue. She'd have to put up with them if she wanted to get to her real mission. "What about the one on the right?"
"Oh, I'm just a lackey," the right one said as he played a riff on his keytar.
Isabel rolled her eyes. "Dios mio"
"The inhabitants of this world are extremely evil," Thor said. "When they say they want something, they get it. When they decide to change the world, it just happens automatically. They will stop at nothing to get what they want, and we must let you know, as a member of QWERTY."
Isabel raised an eyebrow. "Hold the phone. You know I'm from QWERTY? Who are you guys?"
"We come from Gallifrey," Thor said, and without any warning, they disappeared. Isabel found herself falling through what she thought was space until she saw candy clouds passing by her head. Another cloud appeared out of nowhere, shooting out lightning and hitting her in the head.
"Dios mio!" she yelled. "I gotta call HQ about this." She reached for her communicator and realized that she no longer had hands, but solid wings, black in color and more like flippers than wings. "Wait. I'm a penguin?" She was still wearing her lime green QWERTY jacket, but her other clothes were gone. Isabel had been taught in her training by Miss Jingles (her direct supervisor, who had once been a Westinghouse winner and a clown in her past life) that, upon arrival in a new world, QWERTY members transformed into the local species.
So penguins lived in this world? Isabel couldn't see anything bad about this. In fact, she was rather looking forward to it.
She flew through the clouds and, as the clouds parted, she could see a huge island ahead surrounded by sea. The island looked serene from here. What was with those raptors and their strange message? But once she landed, she noticed that there was rain falling from the sky -- except it was coffee rain that burned her fuzzy skin. She felt tears spring to her eyes and watched as they boiled before they hit the ground.
It is way too hot for this, she thought.
She adjusted herself, made sure she still had her communicator -- which she could still operate even with just flippers -- and started to walk around. Now that she was here, she needed to find a potential guardian to help her keep this world the way it was supposed to be. But before she took two steps, there was a huge explosion, and she noticed an atomic blast off in the distance. It stopped raining coffee and started raining swords.
A swarm of angry blue penguins suddenly passed by Isabel, so she decided to follow them and see where they were going. If there were other penguins around, then there had to be a settlement of some sort.
Soon, she got to a small town with clay houses all set around in a circle. There were not only penguins, but other birds everywhere -- pigeons, flamingoes, robins, eagles, wrens, ostriches, you name it, it was there. Isabel adjusted the pink bow that was still on top of her head and waddled into town, looking around at all of the shops and establishments. She could understand all of the signs that were written since Sarah had pre-programmed the information into her communicator.
As she looked around, she realized: she had once dreamed about this world, ten years ago, during a time when she had been sick with the flu as a kid.
There was a huge gathering of birds in what must have been the town square. A tall penguin with a mohawk was standing and making waving motions. When Isabel entered the square, all of the birds started to squawk, and the attention turned to her.
Oh, great, Isabel thought. They've pegged me as an outsider.
"Welcome to Jenny Love Lee Land!" the penguin in the middle said, straight to Isabel. "Oh, Great Master of Time and Space, we have been expecting you."
"Uh, actually, QWERTY just does space, not time," Isabel muttered, but the lead penguin walked toward her anyway.
"My name is Aviator Bantam White, and I hereby present you with this Nobel Peace Prize for creating a bomb stronger than the Atomic Bomb." He put a medal around her neck, and everybody cheered.
"Uh...I didn't actually do that," Isabel noted.
"Excuse me," a pink penguin interrupted. She had on a nametag with the name "Judy" written on it. "She didn't actually do that, Aviator."
"Well, she can keep the prize," Aviator continued. "What is your name, and what brings you to Jenny Love Lee Land?"
Finally, Isabel was getting somewhere. "My name is Isabel, and I --"
"Never mess with my zinc, punisher!" a voice rang out, and a tall ostrich came out of nowhere. "I am the main character of this story! Do not get in my way!"
Aviator raised his flipper, and a gun appeared out of nowhere. He shot the ostrich dead. "I am the supreme ruler of this island," he said, "and I do not take lightly to detractors. Why have you come here, Isabel?"
She grimaced (as much as she could with a beak). "I am here to help you, and to serve you, Master Aviator." That was true -- mostly.
Suddenly, the world changed. Everything started pixeling out, as if Isabel was in a video game, and bumblebees flew into the gathering. All of the birds started squawking as the bumblebees exploded. Nuclear bees? Isabel wondered.
She knew what was happening -- the universes were merging, and random parts of this world were going into limbo. She needed to pick a guardian before everything fell apart.
She whipped out her phone and tapped in the code to make the nuclear bumblebees disappear. Isabel had enough power that she could fix small things in the world. But instead of making the bees disappear, everybird in the area gained a huge butt. The penguins tried to waddle away but ended up mostly twerking instead.
"Dios mio," she muttered, then pushed a different code. A huge black hole appeared and sucked out the bees, and everybird's rear ends turned back to normal. All of the birds cheered.
"You are certainly a bird who can help us," Aviator said, and the crowd went silent again. "Our island is being invaded. The wolves used to live north of us, until the great wolf scientist Chad tried to create immortality. Instead, it created wolf zombies. Our wolf neighbors are no more, but instead are smaller than they once were and are thirsty for our blood."
Midget wolf zombie vampires? Isabel held her head in her flippers. "Okay? Any more information than that?"
"The actual outbreak was traced to the Queen of England, who was ruler when Chad was doing his science." The crowd was quiet as Aviator recalled his story. "The outbreak ended a long time ago --"
"It did not!" a voice rang out from the crowd, and Isabel heard some disgruntled squawks.
"Although some birds believe it hasn't," Aviator sighed. "We have been in chaos since then. Our legends say a flying pig named Cupid will kill the zombies, and while you're not a pig, you most certainly are not a bird."
"How can you tell?"
"You keep trying to walk straight like other birds instead of waddling like penguins."
"Oh." It started to rain rice and chocolate chips.
"You must go over the rainbow to find the pot of gold, as the legend tells us," Aviator says. "Only then will we be free of the zombie wolves. And...oh dear, here comes Brock."
"Brock?" Isabel turned and watched as a spinning penguin came into the crowd. He was dancing so feverishly that he literally was on fire. He passed by a nearby building and burnt it straight down, catching a pigeon on fire as well (who then had to stop, drop, and flap). He stopped dancing right in front of Isabel, posing.
"I am Brock Baraaaack Schlack Flock," he said, "greatest dancer in all of Jenny Love Lee Land. You have called me, Master Aviator Bantam White. How can I serve you?"
"You must fly with Isabel across the world in 80 days in our hot air balloon to go over the rainbow and save us from the virus," Aviator said, and the crowds cheered.
Isabel had just enough time to consider Brock might be a good candidate for a guardian before she farted.
"At this point, obdormition is the least of my troubles." Brock tapped his beak. "I'm all too familiar with your scent resting on my columella nasi, which is expected after my deliveries of abhorrent words. Moves are quarantinable, and so are barren ideologies. My good friend Harry Robalino once told me that emotions are always wrong. Your gut always wants something. Your heart is an engine, and it shouldn't be trusted."
Isabel listened to him talk as they sat across the table from each other in a cafe called Domino's -- that sold Pop Tarts, not pizza. Food was very different, as there were no plants, and there was no Moe's or Chipotle either. Domino's was run by a swallow named Great Aunt May, who loved to serve Pop Tarts all the time.
The world had continued to change after a nuclear blast the size of George Foreman's toe erupted on a bearded dragon (or, at least, that was what Aviator had called it). Cats and dogs were falling from the sky. A single pug had started the mass flooding of animals. And all of the island's resources and weapons had turned into kitchen supplies and produce, which Brock and Isabel had then taken to Domino's. They were now sitting and coming up with plans for their 80-day trip across the world and over the rainbow.
Except Isabel knew they didn't have that long. They had two weeks, at most, before the worlds merged and everything stuck. Things would change at random until then.
"So why shouldn't your heart be trusted?" she asked Brock, not quite knowing how he had gotten onto this tangent.
Brock took another bite out of his Pop Tart. "So let's make this straight. I used to own a ramen restaurant in town, could make eighteen bowls at once, back before the virus invaded and all of the wolves turned into zombies. In my stupor, I cheated on my wife. The other woman was a duck named Jessica...she was a stripper, loved money too much. She's gone now. My son got mad at her and killed her and the rest of my family. But I should have seen the signs when it came to him. It's my fault for not realizing he was mentally ill in the first place."
Isabel sighed, then drank another cup of coffee (which was also served at Domino's). "I know they say that family and friends save the day and are everything," she said, "but that's rough, man. But I know what it's like to lose my family, my friends, everything. You just have to know you're going to make it through someday. Accept that things suck for now, and then, once the danger has passed, you'll find a new family. I'm sure of it."
"Do either one of you want a glass of wine?" Great Aunt May asked from the counter.
Isabel glared. "I'm not 21. Never will be."
"The drinking age is 18."
"Oh." Isabel still passed. Coffee was better, in her opinion, though she could use five cups of it to deal with the strange world she had invaded.
She smiled as William brought her another cup of coffee. William Cheng was the name of their penguin barista who kept bringing them coffee and Pop Tarts. He actually had a cute face about him...for a penguin. Isabel still wasn't used to being a penguin, either. She had caught her reflection in the mirror and had smoothed out some details, fluffing her fur up a bit and straightening out the bow on top. As long as she eventually went back to being human, everything would be fine.
"So where is this hot air balloon we're going to take tomorrow?" she asked.
"Behind Aviator's haunted castle," Brock remarked. "He's lived there for years." He glanced at the clock on the wall. "Although the clocks have been frozen ever since you got here. It's like time itself stopped."
Isabel was about to remark she couldn't do anything about time before she realized -- maybe Dvorak had frozen the clocks. That substitute ragtag antivillain of QWERTY was always messing with her missions, ever since she had sacrificed herself to stop him. He had it out for her, and while she wanted to be a solo operative, Isabel couldn't help but wonder if maybe she'd be better served in at least a duo...to protect herself from this strange man who followed her.
She felt herself flicker in and out of reality slightly. Looking out the window, she saw everything had suddenly turned super bright and colorful. All of the penguins outside now had big eyes and spoke in Japanese -- Isabel could tell it was Japanese because one of her QWERTY friends was from Japan. A bunch of sharks with spots on them ran by on their back fins.
Yep. They needed to get on that hot air balloon, the sooner, the better.
She turned to speak to Brock again and instead found herself cheek to cheek with William. He kissed her square on the beak, leaving her completely in shock. "Why did you do that?" she asked, blushing as red as she could as a penguin.
William tilted his head. "I don't know. Who are you?" And then, he disappeared, presumably to limbo, the area between worlds. Isabel sighed. They'd have to get him out by fixing reality.
She turned to Brock. "Okay, so listen. I'm gonna help you save your world, but you gotta help me out, too, okay? Just do as I say."
Brock nodded. "I can do that."
She grinned. "This time, I'm going to save the animals." Pulling out her communicator, she selected Brock as the world's guardian and pressed ENTER.
Isabel dreamed that Dvorak was chasing after her and Brock that night, but they ducked into a sports arena and started playing lacrosse to throw him off. She woke up in the haunted castle's spare room to Aviator's knocking.
"There is a flamingo who wants to ask you a question," he said.
The flamingo's name was Ashley. She knew Isabel wasn't from Jenny Love Lee Land, but knew so because she had clairvoyant powers. One of her best friends had just up and disappeared, and she didn't know how. Isabel knew Ashley's friend had gone to limbo, and that if they didn't fix this, more and more random people would disappear, maybe for good.
"Can I help you with your search?" Ashley asked.
Isabel nodded. "You can fly, right? If something fails with our balloon, you can help us. Just fly by the balloon."
That morning, Isabel, Brock, and Ashley set off on their trip. It was raining flying pigs as they climbed into the basket. Isabel looked out into the crowd and swore she saw a penguin dressed like her friend Jen, down to the orange tie around his neck. Perhaps he was a doppleganger?
"Your first stop is Selden, New York," Aviator told them as they climbed in. "Any last words?"
Brock hung onto the balloon basket. "FREE BOOKS!!!" he yelled, and the crowd went wild.
Isabel laughed. "That was random. Okay. MORE CHEESE!"
They traded on and off.
"MATT LICKED HIS CANDY STICK!"
"TOMMY THE GREEN RANGER IS THE BEST!"
"THIS NEEDS MORE COWBELL!"
"THE GIANTS WON THE SUPER BOWL!"
Brock glared at Isabel. "Well, they did, in 1954," she noted. "My grandfather went to the game. Just saying."
With that, they were off, on course for Selden. Isabel didn't know exactly why they were headed to Suffolk County, or how Selden existed in this universe, but as long as they went over the rainbow, she could try to help Brock fix the mutant virus. In fact, since Brock was the guardian, he could write the virus out of existence in limbo before the worlds merged for good.
She could see a volcano erupting in the distance as Jenny Love Lee Land disappeared under them. The sky was purple, clouded by smoke, and frogs were now raining from the sky. "Brock?"
"We're going to Selden, New York. A long time ago, I was from New York."
"You were? Here?"
"Well..." Isabel couldn't find a way to tell Brock that she wasn't from this dimension. They hadn't gotten there yet, and he probably shouldn't know until the very end. But she started talking as they flew in the sky, Ashley flying by them every inch of the way. She talked about her visit with Carissa, "the best penguin friend she had even known," and how Carissa was dating an albatross and, despite their differences, it was going well. Brock talked about Jessica, his old family, and his dancing competitions. It reminded Isabel of how Jason would breakdance in the QWERTY common room.
"And so, then I told her, 'well, what do you want me to do? Eat peanut butter out of your butt?' I hate being allergic to peanuts." Brock shook his head. "She was awesome. I miss her every single day."
"I'm sorry." Isabel thought of Carissa, the end of the world, limbo. "I guess there's not much you can do about it."
"Other than fly in a hot air balloon to save the world?"
"Hey. Email me. I am a writer, you know." Isabel looked out over the land and saw that the clouds had parted, and she could see down into the land. "Where are we?"
"We're passing over a town that the wolf zombies live in." No sooner had Brock spoken than a huge airship rose up behind them, grey and steely in color.
A voice came out of the loudspeaker on the ship. "Good morning, Isabel Gonzalez!"
"Dvorak!" Isabel tried not to squawk in surprise. "Coño! If you don't shut up, I'll pull your eyes out from your butt!"
"Don't you think that it's great that I've joined up with the zombies? It's going to be mass genocide in Jenny Love Lee Land tonight!"
"Isabel." That was Brock. "Who's saying that?"
Isabel didn't know how to answer him. She couldn't. Not when Brock didn't know anything yet.
"Speechless, Miss Gonzalez?" Dvorak continued to taunt her as the airship floated closer. "As you know, the other two worlds are worthless, so when I came here, I was looking for some fun. Fancy that I would run into you here! Though, I've got to be honest, you look smashing as a penguin. Get it? Smashing?" And then, the airship launched a rocket from the side, which plowed into the hot air balloon.
Isabel grabbed Brock as the balloon popped, and Ashley dived in to save them. She helped them glide to the ground below, away from Dvorak -- for now -- but in the land of the wolf zombies. Within seconds, they were surrounded by very small, bloodthirsty wolves.
One of them stepped forward. "You killed Mario," she hissed. "You killed Mario!"
"Should I kill her?" Isabel noted out loud to nobody in particular. "No." Shrug. "I'm gonna do it anyway."
She whipped out her communicator and put a barrier up around Brock. "Stay put, no matter what!"
He nodded. "I don't know what you're doing, but you seem to understand."
Isabel nodded. "Just stay by me. I'll take care of everything --"
Three of the wolf zombies jumped into Isabel's circle, not bothering Brock and going directly after her. She felt them close in on her, and then, there was nothing.
They had moved fast. Zombie ninjas? Maybe. Or maybe they were fighting ninjas. Isabel couldn't tell at the moment.
She realized she was out cold when she found herself standing in the middle of the Javits Center in New York City. She was human again, and New York Comic Con was going on. Carissa and Mac were nowhere to be seen. It was busy, and everything smelled like butter. There were superheroes everywhere, and Isabel realized that the superheroes weren't just people cosplaying -- they were really Superman and Spider-Man.
"Do you see what I see, Isabel Gonzalez?" Dvorak was speaking over the loudspeaker. "You have been infected with the zombie virus. Nothing can save you now."
Instantly, the Javits was rocked by a huge explosion. A group of superheroes announced they were actually criminals and took over the entire small press section. Isabel found herself toe to toe with Spider-Man as he attacked her. A good Superman saved the Pig Fish and flew it away from the scene as smoke filled the main exhibit hall. All of the toys in aisle 400 came to life, helping to attack Iron Man. Wonder Woman would have joined the fight, except she was stuck in the bathroom line.
Abraham Lincoln was holding a tea party with robo-android Nazis at the Geico trailer when Sailor Moon ran by, chased by a sixth Ninja Turtle named Solomon. Several of the monster toys made their way to the Vampire Freaks booth, where they had a dance party. A huge mecha shaped like Luigi was facing off against Daryl and Rick, who were using the Artist Alley as a home base. And Isabel found herself against Smaug himself with a Minecraft sword in her hands.
She turned as she felt a tap on her shoulder. It was the Doctor, as played by David Tennant himself, Converse and all. "The Bad Wolf is here," he said. "Come with me if you want to live."
"Woah, wait a minute, I'm the one who saves the world!" Isabel said.
"Gallifrey is here to help you, Isabel Gonzalez. The world is not what it once was. We must band together."
Isabel remembered the name Gallifrey from the dinosirs earlier. But before she could answer the Doctor, a strange song entered her mind, and the world started to meld in front of her eyes again. She thought it was her grandson singing, but it was actually He-Man.
"I say hey...what's going on?"
Isabel could no longer tell what was reality and what was fiction. A group of trolls ran by her with shoes in their hands, one of them eating a high heel. A wild Pikachu appeared, followed by a Pikachu support group led by Team Rocket. And she saw two Carissas fighting with each other in the corner. There was darkness all around her, and each scene flashed in her mind.
Ron Jeremy and Joey Fatone were dancing with buttery genitalia aardvarks, stripping naked as they did so. They were replaced with Richard Nixon winning an Oscar for his role in the movie "Mega Fart Smeller." A magical cupcake exploded, and everybody started flying.
She was no longer in the Javits Center. She was lost to the zombie virus.
Knock, knock, knock.
Isabel turned and found a door. She opened it, and a small white creature with a hat was standing outside. "Are you Kodi?" he asked.
Isabel shook her head. "I don't know who I am anymore." She didn't want to let Dvorak win, but at the moment, she didn't have much of a choice.