Jake was once again in the Non-zone, that non-space where all stories go when they are not being read, or tolled or remembered. But it wasn’t the Non-Zone, it was something else, something stranger. For one thing in the real Non-Zone there was no time, and here he definitely had the sensation of time, even if he could see no sign of it. And he was standing on solid floor, which the Non-Zone didn’t have, and of course there was no gravity there either.
It was like he was standing in the normal world with a mist of “Non-Zoneness” surrounding him and everything around him. There was time and space, but it was covered in a mist of non-time and non-space through which nothing could be seen. Jake wished he could see where he was.
All of a sudden the non-mist jumped into the air and hovered above Jake, leaving the view of his surroundings clear. Jake saw an empty landscape, like a blank canvas. Empty, except for Jake, the non-mist and the empty top hat rolling around Jake’s feet. It was Orph’s top hat, but there was no Orph attached to it. What had happened to him?
He looked up at the non-mist suspended in the air and realised something: that what he was looking at was what he had been chasing around Imagi-nation, the thing he’d released from the depths of its prison in Big Plaice; this was the Great Evil.
Suddenly the mist went from being a non-mist to a dark and sinister cloud, like a thunder cloud with a very bad headache and bad breath. Gosh, did it smell. It loomed over Jake in a menacing way. Jake looked at the empty hat and wished Orph was here, and then he thought that maybe the Great Evil had done something with Orph. Maybe it ate Orph and left the hat?
Jake could have cowered and quivered, but he didn’t. He put on the top hat and braced himself for a fight. For an added boost of dramatic oomph he muttered “Fear me,” just as he had seen in the movies. The Great Evil did something very unusual; it started to quiver and cower in front of Jake.
“Stop cowering and quivering,” Jake said. And it did.
“Stop looking like a menacing black cloud with bad breath,” and it went back to its no-mist state.
Jake thought and then said, “Be a giant fluffy pink bunny rabbit and hop all over the place,” and do you know what?
Jake wanted to see more of this place so he commanded the “Great Evil” (although it didn’t seem so great and certainly was not in the least bit evil) to grow wings. It grew magnificent golden wings and let Jake leap onto its back, and they flew up high into the sky so that Jake could see where he was.
They flew to a great height and Jake could see a patchwork landscape; not the sort you find in England with fields divided by hedgerows. No, this was stranger. There was the landscape he had just come from, which was blank with no details, and then surrounding it there were other landscapes too; a watercolourscape North; an acrylic-paintsscape to the West; wood-carvingscape to the South; and collagescape to the East. This landscape was a work of art, several in fact, and with that Jake knew he’d arrived back at the Guild Planet, and that he had arrived in what the Guildmistress had called the Danger Zone, so called because if you enter into an artscape without the artist knowing you may become part of that art and become irreversibly changed. Also it was directly exposed to the Guild Star, a source of pure imagination, and so subject to all sorts of weird happenings. Jake wondered how it might be affecting him, but he needn’t have worried because just then the Flying Bunny created a bubble around them to protect Jake from the worst of the Star’s affects.
Jake wondered where the Guild Halls might be, and just then, on the horizon, a giant ship-like object appeared, travel through the artscapes towards Jake.