One morning, the tiny grizzle -haired scholar sat at his writing desk surrounded by towers of books and a sea of scrolled antique maps.
Ph. Doodle, Doctor of Scribbleology chewed the end of his pencil, pondering his magnum opus, The History of Graffiti. Although hed traveled the known world documenting evidence of intelligent life in all its prosaic, profound and profane glory, the feeling persisted that hed left something out
"Here! Whats this?" he exclaimed, hoping for a clue as a scroll accidentally rolled to the floor. "Ah, just my luck," he sighed ruefully, " a map of Cartographia. No sense looking there for graffiti since the legendary Land of the Lost has never been found! Except by misplaced socks, schoolwork and lost trains of thought. But then," he mused, squinting at the odd symbols on the fancifully colored scroll, "no ones ever really tried, have they?"
"Maybe maps are a form of graffiti," Ph. theorized, "which would make mapmakers and graffiti artists traveling companions at heart. The only difference is, one tells us how to get somewhere and the other tells us theyve already been there." Then he wondered, " Could this be my clue? Does this map indicate that some places can be reached only by imagination? If Im right, then someone actually made it to Cartographia!"
In his excitement, the professor realized he had missed his breakfast. Gathering up a few pages of notes, he headed for the Crow Quill Café, whose inky expresso fueled some of the best minds on Marginalias pages.
Usually, he stayed at the Café, to catch up on the latest gossip coloring his citys blue lined boulevards and eccentric architecture, but today, he ordered his breakfast brew to go. Sipping it slowly, Ph. Doodle headed back to his study, beginning to imagine the brilliant chapter he would write if he ever made it to the Land of the Lost
The pleasant summer breeze ruffling the citys pages soon changed his mind, gently guiding him in the opposite direction. "I should get back to work, Ph. thought with a reluctant smile, as he slid towards Marginalias border. "But why ruin a perfectly nice day?" Strolling dreamily beside the Spiral River, he marveled at the winds whimsical graffiti on the cloud-laced sky
The squishy, ripping noise came without warning. Ph. failed to notice that the
groundpaper was damp from someones recent watercolor adventure!
"Yow!" he wailed in terror, plunging headfirst into one of the rivers perforated paperwells
Moments later, Dr. Doodle lay in a tangle on a craggy hill.
Peering at a landscape unlike any hed ever seen, he watched in amazement as an array of iridescent threads marched across the intricately gridded vista. Punctuated by a sprinkling of oddly shaped symbols, it looked like a tapestry coming to life!
"Make way, make way! Thruway, comin through!" The shouts preceding a loud scratching sound shattered his reverie. The scholar looked up in time to see a collection of little chequer-suited characters grasping enormous colored pencils and advancing in his direction! Hastily, he jumped aside as they barreled past, unfazed by his presence.
"Hey, wait a sec!" the professor called, running after them. "Would you mind telling me where I am? Or where this road leads to?" The company skidded to a halt in a puff of pencil dust. Their leader gazed up scowling at the interruption. "We havent a clue. We just draw maps here." Then he regarded the visitor curiously. " Anyway, why would you even care?"
"Well," Ph. scratched his head. "I..er.. suppose it would be nice to know I mean, I think I might be lost." With a smirk, the little fellow wet his finger and held it up as though to check for wind direction. His companions exploded in uncontrollable giggles. "Of course you are!" they managed to gasp. "Welcome to Cartographia!"
Abruptly, something soft and colorful swirled round him brushing his cheek.
"Why, its a flock of lost socks!" Ph. smiled, wide-eyed. He stopped to watch as they floated up and out of sight.
"Oh,wow!" the professor breathed, as comprehension kicked in. His imaginary map had been real! Everyplace he looked, groups of citizens were laying down blue, green, red and yellow lines which crossed and looped around each other or sketching numbers and geometric symbols at random points along the lines. At each of these intersecting mazes, all sorts of buildings and trees emerged, protruding at impossible angles. "Nothing makes sense here," he observed with awe. "Our notions of up, down and sideways seem to be interchangeable! Is it possible," he wondered, " that time and city officials might have mistakenly obliterated some very important graffiti?" With a growing sense of adventure, Ph. chose a direction at random and set off to test his theory.
After navigating countless convoluted intersections, crossing multiple meridians and finding nary a scratch on a wall, poor Dr. Doodle was dizzy and hungry.
"I seem to have lost sight of everything but my appetite!" he muttered, desperately wanting to find his way home.
Casting a glance at the darkening sky, the scholar searched for a familiar star. But the only celestial bodies lighting the heavens were a round-faced man with a crescent smile, a great, galloping Ram dancing with a laughing Lion, and twin fish floating round an immense glowing woman with a stalk of wheat in her arms . "Yeek!" Ph. shrieked. "Its a map of the Zodiac!" Then he fainted.
Dr. Doodle awoke to the scent of something delicious. Jumping up, he began to follow the only sure thing in Cartographia his nose. As the sky grew light, the Inn Of The Compass Rose came into view. "Well," he thought, "maybe I can get some real directions here!"
"Weve got plenty of directions here!" Marcus Mercator joked as he welcomed the professor. "How do you like em, sunny-side up side down, or easy over there?" Ph. laughed, then asked how the Inn had acquired its name.
The innkeeper informed his guest that the Inn had been named for a popular Cartographian nonsense rhyme. He recited it while serving a platter of plum pudding:
"There once was a man named Bumpus,
Who got lost on the way to Columbus.
His maps compass rose bade him follow his nose,
So hes still wandring somewhere amongst us!"
"Ill bet you scare all the tourists with that one," Ph. grinned, chewing the savory pastry. "Nah," the innkeeper waved dismissively. "By the time they find this place, theyre having too much fun staying lost and avoiding responsibilities!" "Well," the professor commented, "in Marginalia, where I come from, we think of our work as play, not responsibility. So its not a problem."
"Youre from Marginalia? Thats only a fairytale!" the innkeeper scoffed. Then, raising his eyebrow skeptically. "Does it really exist? And is it true that all of your scribblings actually mean something?" Ph. nodded modestly,then described his search for rare graffiti. "Now, Sir, if you wouldnt mind, " he clasped his hands excitedly, "Id like to see the writing on your walls!" Marcus stared at his guest as though the latters IQ had dropped a double digit.
"But havent you seen our mapmakers scribbling and scrawling everywhere and nowhere? All of Cartographia is as good as graffiti gets!" Then he added proudly, "Why should we limit ourselves to mere walls?"
Astounded by this insight, Ph. had to agree. "I guess youre right," he chuckled. Then he grew serious. "So tell me, Mr. Mercator, since your graffiti er, maps explore every possible direction, how do I get back to Marginalia?"
"Ah, getting back should be easy," Marcus shrugged casually, "provided youre smarter than our Mr. Bumpus. You just have to remember the fourth direction." Puzzled, Ph. stared at his host. "It might help if I knew the first three." he remarked, "Wait here a moment," said the innkeeper with a wink and disappeared into the kitchen.
He returned with a large, filled pastry glove and proceeded to draw a circle with bright yellow frosting on the floor of the inn. Dividing it into four parts, he extended each of the lines and added tiny triangles to the tips. "Here are your four directions," Marcus called out, pointing to each quadrant successively. "This way, that way, the other way, and the way you came from!"
The professor thanked Marcus for his help and hospitality. "Youre welcome," the innkeeper bowed. "By the way," he added shyly, "when you get home, would you mind keeping Cartographia a secret? We still like believing in fairytales." Ph. assured him that Cartographia would only be a footnote in the fantasy section of his magnum opus. Then remembering that Marginalias border lay left of the Spiral River, he extended his left arm and began sidestepping back the way he came from. Soon, he spotted a small rip in the hillside ahead.
Ph. Doodle climbed gratefully through the perforated paperwell into his beloved Marginalia. Heading toward his house on Bond Street, he wished for a moment that he hadnt promised to keep the Land of the Lost a secret. "Oh well," he shrugged. "No one would believe me anyway. Besides, if Im late turning in the last chapter of my History of Graffiti, Im going to need the legend of Cartographia to explain where the hours got lost!"