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Milo had no idea what he felt of life. Sure, it wasn't as boring as it used to be, but there was still something wrong with life in San Francisco. One afternoon, an amazing sight in his room shocked him. It was the large, oddly shaped box! And this time, it read, "For Milo, who needs a new life”. He opened it up, and it turned out to be the tollbooth. He, sadly, had traded in his car for a hot-air balloon. But, he packed up all his favorite toys, sighed, "Good-by, house. I will miss you," and slipped through the tollbooth in his balloon anyway. And guess who was sitting on the other side of the tollbooth to greet him? Tock the watchdog! 

Tock jumped up on Milo and licked his face continually. "Okay, Tock!" Milo laughed. "You can stop now!" "We're pleased to see you", barked Tock. “You should know that everyone here has immortality.” "Wow!” Milo said. "I came here to move to the land of Wisdom." "Oh, good!  I'll lead you to your house," said Tock. “Just attach the string on the balloon to my collar."  And, since time flies, Tock flew through the air with the balloon string attached to his dog collar.  As they flew, Milo asked Tock, "Just how old are you?" “I’m 84 years old,” said Tock. “84?”  Milo hollered. "Don't worry," said Tock. "That’s 12 years old in dog years.”  As Milo sailed through the sky, he waved hello to Alec Bings, who he now know wouldn't ever reach the ground, due to Alec was immortal too.

Milo's new house was on the plain midway between Dictionopolis and Digitopolis.  He loved his new house.  It was a colossal palace made entirely out of chocolate.  The bricks were chocolate, and the cement holding them together was chocolate.  All the walls and ceilings were made of chocolate as well. So were the carpets and the pictures and the furniture…  Whoops! Wrong story. His new house was an attractive mansion. It was filled with beautiful paintings of the different places in the Lands Beyond. There was Azaz’s shiny, book-like palace, the Mathemagician's humble little cottage on a hilltop, and the Castle in the Air where the princesses Rhyme and Reason had been held captive. Of course, now the Castle in the Air was floating in outer space.

"Will you live with me?" Milo asked Tock. "You bet," replied the dog. "I’ll be your guardian and keep you safe. Plus, I’ll always be there to tell you what time it is, so you’ll never need a wristwatch!”  In his balloon, Milo sailed from his great mansion to the Mathemagician’s little house in Digitopolis, landed and pounded on the door. After the Mathemagician opened the door, his eyes grew wide and he gasped, “Milo?” “Yes, it’s me!” the boy replied.  "Oh, Milo!" cried the Mathemagician.  "You have to try our new drink-multiplication milk! You can't have just one glass. You have to have another, and another, and another... It’s cooler than antidisestablishmentarianism!" "Um, OK," Milo chuckled. After they went inside, Milo found that this drink was the least "effective" Digitopolian delicacy of all. But, after he finished his 3rd glass, he remembered something. "Mathemagician, I heard you saying a big word!” he said. "Me? Say a big word? Nonsense!” "But you did!" Milo replied. Then, the Mathemagician and Milo got in a huge fight, starting with the Mathemagician. "Digitopolians don't do that! Only Dictionopolians do!"

“That’s not true!”

“Is too!”

“Is not!”

Then, suddenly, there was a loud knock at the door. Milo opened it, and there was the Dodecahedron. She smiled at Milo from her most endearing face. After she snapped out of her daze, she called, "Did I hear an argument in here?" "Er, yes, Dodina," Milo said.  "The Mathemagician was..." Tock tugged on Milo's slacks. "Arguing with Azaz!” Tock dropped Milo's slacks and put his paw over his eyes. “Wow. Well, thanks, Milo," said the Dodecahedron. She closed the door and ran away. Milo waved good-by to the Mathemagician, got in his balloon, and sailed over to Dictionopolis.

After showing his "WHY NOT?” medallion to the gatekeeper, Milo rushed up to Azaz’s palace and pounded on the door. Azaz opened the door and cried, "Milo! You're back! Come in and have dinner with me!" Milo rushed into the palace and asked, “How many seats are there at this table?" Azaz counted them.  "1… 2… 3… 4… 5… 6… 7… 8! There are 8 seats at this table!” Milo joyfully made his speech. “Pork chops, biscuits, gravy, black-eyed peas, rice pudding, cannolis!” You see, now that he had moved here, he understood how to make a Dictionopolian speech. But after he finished his meal, he remembered something. “Azaz, I heard you counting!” he said. “Me? Count? Nonsense!” “But you did!” Milo replied. Then, Azaz and Milo got in a huge fight, this time starting with Azaz. "Dictionopolians don't do that! Only Digitopolians do!"

“That’s not true!”

“Is too!”

“Is not!”

Then, suddenly, there was a loud knock at the door. Milo opened it, and there was the Humbug. He looked at Milo, then called, “Did I hear an argument in here?” Er, yes, old buddy,” Milo said. “Azaz was…” Tock tugged on Milo's slacks again. "Arguing with the Mathemagician!” Once more, Tock dropped Milo's slacks and put his paw over his eyes. “Wow. Well, thanks, Milo," said the Humbug. He closed the door and walked away. Milo waved good-by to Azaz, got in his balloon, and sailed over to the Old City of Wisdom.

This was where the princesses Rhyme and Reason currently lived. Instead of pounding on the door, Milo pressed the doorbell. It made a soft ding, and the door opened. Rhyme and Reason were pleased to see Milo. Reason patted him on the head, and Rhyme wrapped him in a hug. “O-o-okay, you can let go now!” grunted the boy. They went inside. “I’m afraid,” Milo said, “that you two will have to go to the Castle in the Air again.” The girls’ eyes opened wide. They laughed and laughed until their sides hurt. Then Reason asked him, “Why?” “Because,” Milo said, “I lied twice! I got into an argument with the Mathemagician, and then one with Azaz, but I didn’t want my buddies to know I was arguing, so I said it was Azaz to the Dodecahedron, and the Mathemagician to the Humbug!”

Suddenly, Tock entered. He barked, “Milo, that’s why I was tugging on your slacks! I was trying to get you to tell the truth!” “You see, Milo,” said Rhyme, “the kings can say big words and count without noticing it now. But if they notice it, they get really angry. And they still argue a little, but don’t entirely disagree with each other anymore.” “Oh!” Milo said. Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place? Was it impossible?” “No,” smiled Reason, but you may not have believed us if we told you earlier.” “Either way, I’m going to apologize to the two kingdoms,” Milo said. “Wait! Don’t go yet!” shouted Rhyme. “We’ll make you some hot cocoa before you go!” added Reason. “No way, cocoa's for wusses,” Milo called back. “Well, anyway,” giggled Rhyme, “if you change your mind it’s on the windowsill.” Rhyme and Reason had a special way of making hot cocoa. They first prepared it, then put it on the windowsill. Then they added some whipped cream, a graham cracker, some chocolate sprinkles, and a marshmallow that they melted themselves. Milo crept up to the windowsill when no one, not even Tock, was looking. Then, he picked up the cup, took it to the sidewalk, and drank the specially prepared cocoa. When he was done, he said, “Oh man.” Then, he jumped in his balloon and sailed home.

Outside his gate, Milo saw the two kings arguing with each other. He jumped out of the balloon and told the kings the exact same things he had told the princesses. He then simply stated, “I’m sorry, Mathemagician. I just wanted to stay your friend. Same with you, Azaz.” “Aww…” they told him. Then they escorted him into his house, with Tock following. And Milo and everyone else in the Lands Beyond lived happily ever after. And what became of the tollbooth? Well, it faded away, and the Lands Beyond became invisible and intangible to anyone who didn’t live there.


                                                                                              -THE END

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