There is no greater threat to freedom than that which comes from wickedness.
—Dorothy Gale, A Call to Arms
Appeal to The Great Head, Emerald City, 1939
Many unexpected events ensued after the Wicked Witch of the West was vanquished—a nicer way of saying liquidated or killed—or, as some said, the crusty old tart was murdered by the little redheaded, freckled-faced country girl from Kansas, Dorothy Gale. The thing is, it doesn’t matter how you wish to remember that momentous historical event. That is entirely up to you. The fact of the matter is, the meltdown of the fiendish western witch destroyed her iniquitous behavior. And a good thing, indeed, no doubt about it; just ask the Munchkins and the Winkies. Both of which know the loss of freedom and being held under the thumb of wickedness.
But stories abound about Dorothy Gale and the demise of the Wicked Witch and what happened after. They have circulated, become swollen, and have faded throughout the ages, taking on new form and luster with each telling, all the way up until now, as I tell you of what really came to pass during those perilous days that brought Oz to its knees.
On that eve when Dorothy snuffed the life out of the evil witch, the Enchanted Forest was ripe with delicious, red apples ready for the picking, but only if you asked the trees politely. A terrible storm was creeping in from the east, spitting, sputtering, and wailing with violent intent. Nightmarish, deep purple-and-black early summer thunderclouds mounted, billowed and surged thousands of feet up, choking the troposphere. The temperature dropped, and miles away thunder echoed as gnarled fingers of lightning spat out in all directions from the portentous clouds blocking out the western sky. As the wind picked up, it whipped and batted the lit candles in the lanterns hanging on the walls of the Wicked Witch’s castle to a flickering frenzy.
When Dorothy asked if she could have the burnt broomstick the malicious hag had used to try and set the Scarecrow on fire, the head guard, Lucius, asked, “Why? Why would you want a keepsake that carries with it so much evil?”
“To prove to the Great Head that wickedness has been destroyed.”
Lucius looked into Dorothy’s sparkling earnest sapphire blue eyes, studying her. Such a brave child, he thought. Holding the broomstick in both hands while on bended knee, he happily handed the burnt broomstick to the sweet young girl. “Please take this with you, and with our blessings,” he said with relief and exhaustion that was evident within his kind, golden-colored eyes and etched across his brow. He then paused as he stood and looked down upon Dorothy, giving her a gentle, soft smile. “The witch was a dangerous tyrant. We had no way to expel her from our thoughts until you destroyed her evil wickedness. So please take this too.” He handed Dorothy the golden cap that gave the one who possessed it three wishes to summon the king of the winged monkeys to do their bidding. “A gift. May it help you find your Kansas.” With a soft and kind voice, he then explained how the witch had stolen the magical cap from Quelala, the first king of the winged monkeys, and selfishly used her wishes to build her army and subjugate and oppress all the good people who lived in Winkie Country. At the thought of the witch’s demise, his smile became broader. The light from the lanterns cast an eerie glow on his ice-blue and yellowish-green skin, as he raised his pike above his head, proclaiming, “Hail to Dorothy! At last, the wicked old witch is dead!”
Then all the guards joined in, their cries echoing throughout the corridors of the castle. “Hoorah! Hoorah! Hail to Dorothy! The wicked old witch is dead!”
The thunderclouds finally broke loose and the first hard drops of rain fell, washing the last remains of the slimy goo left behind from the melted witch out through the drainpipe and down into the Western River two hundred feet below, never to be seen again.
Meanwhile, in the great hall of the castle, the dreariness of the stormy night didn’t stop the celebration. Joyous and hardy laughter continued long into the evening as everyone ate and drank, hailing Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion. Eating so much food and drinking more than they should have—including Dorothy—eventually lulled them all into a deep slumber, except for Lucius.
The Wicked Witch of the West had performed horrible magic on Lucius, transforming him in a significant way from the inside out. The process took weeks, with many dark spells tweaking and twisting every cell in his body. He told me it was like being stung by a thousand wasps. But when the wings started to grow, the pain was . . . well, it was indescribable. (The other gruesome acts of evil I cannot, and will not, tell you.) Suffice it to say, the witch was a horrible creature who cast her black magic for her own corrupt and avaricious needs, without any concern for the good people she persecuted. It changed Lucius, infusing him with something foreign to his nature. He became an entirely different thing, a strange being, half himself, and half something else.
At first, once he recovered from the witch’s spells, he felt ashamed, embarrassed, and guilty—because he liked having wings. He fell in love with flying and became addicted to the rush of it, the thrill of it. Still, his guilt and embarrassment nagged at him, and he never went anywhere without wearing his captain’s coat to hide his wings, to keep his shame to himself.
The Land of Oz had weathered tough times brought on by the evil of the loathsome Witch of the West. Lucius was only one of the thousands of victims she’d experimented on, tortured, or killed. He was glad the wrinkled old crone was dead. But he worried that another storm would brew, one murderous and desperate, if he didn’t act quickly and hide the witch’s baby daughter—his daughter—in a place of safekeeping. For without his consent, while under the evil witch’s spell the Wicked Witch had made him her consort. As a result, they had a baby girl, Elleanora, and Lucius loved her despite her fiendish, monstrous mother and the circumstances of her birth. He had promised himself that she would never know wickedness. He also couldn’t take the chance that the Great Head, the Wizard of Oz, would condemn his daughter to death just because she was the spawn of such a perniciously foul and sinister being. So that very night, when all were asleep (some snoring and moaning from far too much ale), he stole away into the dark, cradling his daughter in his arms, and traveled to the other end of Oz, to Quadling Country. There, good fortune fell upon him and he found love and married Glinda Goodwitch, the Good Witch of the South.
You may be asking yourself, who is this person telling this tale? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, as it were; who I am is of no consequence.
I will tell you this: I was there that joyous but stormy night when Dorothy doused the Wicked Witch with water and destroyed the demon-magic that was sweeping through the great land of Oz. And years later, I fought in the last great war in Oz and watched my sisters, my fellow warriors, my friends, fall by my side. I held their heads in my arms as they took their last breaths, and shed all the tears I had for those I loved and lost during that senseless and most egregious of campaigns.
Only a handful are still alive who remember. I am one of those who has not been dropped in a box and planted in the dirt for the worms to gorge upon their flesh, a witness to the story you are about to read. That is all you need to know. It will be up to you to decide if what I tell you is the truth or not.
Sadly though, history has the most obnoxious habit of repeating itself. There will always be wickedness slithering in and out of the dark shadows of this world, waiting for the right moment to show itself. And when it washes across the land, it comes for us all, cloaked in colors that are dark and dangerous.