"You know I haven't a brain in my head," said Scarecrow, but sometimes Dorothy is not what she seems."
"Odd you should mention it ," said the Tin Man. "The other day those red shoes of hers touched my metal and gave me quite an electric jolt."
"Ohh, ohh, I just knew she was too good to be true ," wailed the Cowardly Lion. Ssssssometimes, she gets a look in her eyes that scares me. And so does her little dog, too."
A bolt of lightning shook the magical forest so forcefully that the trees scrambled to grab their apples. From a puff of dark, forboding smoke, The Wicked Witch of the West materialized. "Where is my pretty?" she snarled. "The little girl who claims she comes from a place called Kansas? She is a witch I tell you and this Kansas spawns her evil like the tornado swirling her here."
The three friends huddled together in fear. "She . . . she ran after Toto, who chased a rabbit," Scarecrow sputtered.
A fiery spark flew from her broom, igniting one of the older trees, who shreiked in terror, frantically patting out the fire with his withered leafless branches. Smoke enveloped the ugly crone as she threatened, "Sweet witch Dorothy is not what she seems. She has my red shoes which will show her for what she is." A peal of thunder roared as she disappeared into the engulfing smoke.
"S . . . should we tell Dorothy?" the Lion asked.
"My chest, though without a heart, feels we should not," the Tin Man said.
"I haven't the brains to ponder this," noted the Scarecrow, "but something tells me we should keep this between us."
Toto raced back to the group, stopping as always to nip at the lion's tail. "Ouch!" cried lion, swatting the yappy little dog with his huge paw. "That hurt!" Toto just growled as Dorothy picked him up and kissed him.
"You naughty dog," She murmured, placing him back in his basket. "What happened while I was gone?" She turned to her three friends, smiling sweetly.
"Er, nuttin'," said lion.
"Nah, just dodging apples from those grumpy old trees," echoed Scarecrow.
“I feel sorry for them, Tin Man offered. "We have no right to take their fruit without asking."
"Well then, let's get this show on the road. The sooner we find the wizard, the sooner our dreams come true ." The smile on her face belied her true thoughts.
The Yellow Brick Road led them to a castle surrounded by a tiny hamlet. People milled about, as the four friends made their way to the large forbidding steel castle doors. After several knocks, a disgruntled doorman allowed them entrance. Wondrous sights assailed their senses as they searched for the Wizard. At first, his Highness refused to see them but soon acquiesced, not so much from their persisitence, as from Toto pulling an ominous curtain aside. Instead of a frightful magician, a meek and tender man worked the frightful controls which was now uncovered as a sham. He was a most unwizardly man. The group's hopes were crushed, but Dorothy was furious.
"You are a fraud, old man ," she screeched. Very unseemly behavior for a sweet young lass. "Tell us the way back to Kansas, or things will not go well for you."
"Oh dear," the wizard frowned. "I am afraid you must bring me back proof of the death of the Witch of the West before your wishes can be granted."
"Is that all?" Dorothy snapped. "You will have it before this day is done. Tell us the way to the ugly pagan's lair." Lion, Scarecrow and Tin Man looked at each other, with chattering teeth. Toto snarled at them.
"Go to the edge of the village, my dear. There you will find your way."
Off they went, the dratted terrier pulling out tufts of straw from the scarecrow. Dorothy did not seem to notice or care. A whirr of sound bore down upon them from the sky. Winged ugly monkeys swept them up, oblivious to their screams of terror and flew off to the witch's castle.
"Well. well, my pretty. we shall soon see who is the wicked witch here. Beauty is as beauty does. I always say. Hehehe."
"Let us go at once or I shall turn you into the toad you are!" The menacing look on Dorothy's face was no longer pretty.
"My dear," said the witch, "I may seem like a crone to your friends, but you know who I am. Give me my red shoes now or suffer the consequences."
"Never! they are formed to my feet as the skin to my body."
"Very well, then, my scheming little witchlet. Sit, imprisoned in my cellar with the scent of potions wafting from my cauldron--we shall soon see who and what you are." She lifted a huge hourglass over her head. "One hour is all you have." The crone cackled as she left her prisoner, but the sound held more mirth than venom. Toto whimpered, pushed himself out of his basket and promptly deserted his mistress. The three trembling friends were treated to tea and crumpets by the smiling, though still hideous monkeys.The hourglass emptied of sand.
The old hag returned to the prison cell where Dorothy was screaming, this time pleading. Her beauty was fading. The red shoes slipped off her feet. In moments, sweet Dorothy transformed into a bent, humpback hag with stringy grey hair, a hooked nose and beady eyes blazing with both fury and fear. "You can't use your magic here, now that I hold the red slippers."
A miraculous change was taking place as the once homely witch turned into a lovely fairy-like being with goldspun wings and flaxen hair. The lion, scarecrow and tin man ran into the room, having slipped away from their hairy hosts.
"What is this?" they cried out in unison.
"A lesson, my three adventurers. Learn it well. Scarecrow, you had the brains but did not know how to use them. Lion, the courage, but not the belief in yourself, and you, Tin Man, were too soft-hearted to recognize truth. Behold now and believe! Do not be deceived by appearances for true beauty is on the inside. And often evil wears a pretty face."