How we think it’d play out…
Exhausted after his journey of many miles, Stephen King looked to the looming tower where he had been told he would find his next opponent. It was still some distance away and the path looked dangerous, but King took courage from the twin revolvers strapped to his waist. Forged from the cold steel of his Nebula and Hugo Awards, they had never been known to miss.
Meanwhile, J.R.R. Tolkien, pipe in hand, was huffing and puffing his way toward the very same tower. He had heard tell that a mighty sorcerer, The Crimson King, dwelt within – a baleful tyrant whose very words wrought nightmares out of the air; whose library of powerful tomes grew larger by the day. He gripped the One Ring he had strung around his neck for reassurance.
Both men warily approached the foot of the tower, noticing one another’s presence at the same time.
“Tolkien?” called King. “Wait, aren’t you supposed to be in the tower?”
Tolkien was equally surprised. “You’re the Crimson King?”
“No, just Stephen. Is this not the Tower of Orthanc, wherein the mighty wizard Saruman makes his lair?”
“I was led to believe that this is The Dark Tower. Are we not in Mid-World?”
“Middle-Earth, last I checked.”
There was an awkward pause. “Well, this is confusing,” offered King. “Are you sure you’re not early?”
Tolkien sucked thoughtfully on his pipe. “Tolkien is never early, nor is he late. He arrives precisely when he -”
Almost too late, Tolkien saw King’s hand go to his revolvers, drawing and firing with superhuman speed. The bullets would surely have found their target had Tolkien not quickly slipped the One Ring onto his finger, instantly turning him invisible and probably making him immune to bullets too because why not.
“You can’t hide forever, Tolkien!” roared King. “I will become the Ultimate Writer!”
Already Tolkien felt the Ring’s dark magic at work on his mind, urging him to write ever lengthier passages and fill his chapters with even more digressions. More sub-clauses, it whispered. More songs.
He needed to get to safety; somewhere he could remove the Ring before its power overwhelmed him. The door of the tower stood invitingly open and he ran inside, but King, feeling a presence brush past him, gave pursuit.
Tolkien struggled up the vast spiral staircase as quickly as he could, with King following close behind, swearing and firing bullets at random. Reaching the battlements at the pinnacle of the tower, he pulled the Ring from his finger and flung it over the edge before it could consume his mind.
No sooner had he done this than King appeared behind him, a smoking gun in either hand.
“Foolish, old man. The One Ring was the only thing that could have saved you from Hugo and Nebula here.”
“Not quite, King. I still have one trick up my sleeve – what I like to call an almighty deus ex machina.” Tolkien raised his hands to the sky. There was a slight rush of wind, and an enormous golden eagle swooped down and carried him off.
Shielding his eyes from the sun, King watched the gigantic bird and its passenger flap away over the lands of Middle-World-or-wherever-it-was. “Why didn’t he just do that earlier?” he wondered.
PREDICTED WINNER: J.R.R. TOLKIEN
Cast your vote below and tell us what you think in the comments
Don’t forget to vote in our other author face-offs