Dr. Isabel Helga Anastasia Parvati Wondertainment, V is Displeased With Her Happy Meal
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"…I don't believe the word 'No' is part of her working vocabulary, sir."

Chaz Ambrose turned his gaze from the collection of invoices scattered across his desk. For the first time in recent memory, their collective value outweighed that of the gold-inlaid mahogany desk on which they sat.

"I have it on good authority that those steaks are of the highest quality money can buy, Marius," Chaz intoned proudly. "Perhaps the chef…?"

Marius shook his head. "Out of the question, sir. I was in the kitchen while it was being prepared, and it was entirely by the book."

Chaz furrowed his brow at his faithful companion, who stood stoically before him. "This customer. Who is she? One of our regulars?"

Marius took his time, sounding out each syllable of the name carefully. By the time he'd finished, Chaz was already halfway across the room.

"Doctor Isabel Helga Anastasia Parvati Wondertainment."

Chaz Ambrose threw open the door to his office. Across the VIP section, a young woman met his gaze, twirling a purple top hat lazily around one finger.

Chaz bowed slightly, hands clasped at his waist. "Doctor Wondertainment, I presume?"

The young woman flicked her hat onto the seat next to her. Before her sat the offending entrée, half-eaten, on its white porcelain plate. To its side rested a purple notebook inlaid with a whimsical golden W, along with a matching fountain pen. Hopping out of her chair, she pointed a finger at Chaz. "Chambrose!" she beckoned.

"I'd ask that you use my actual name," Chaz muttered. Shaking his head slightly, he continued, "It's always wonderful to see you here. What seems to be the problem?"

"Number one!" She thrust her arm towards Chaz, one extended finger hovering half a foot from his nose. "I came in here today to order my usual, the Unicorn Sirloin. As you can see, I have already eaten five bites of it. I should be filled with whimsy, delight, and Wonderiffic™ inspiration for my next line of toys! But this meat tastes like death! Death, I tell you!"

Chaz frowned. "I-"

"Number two!" Another finger shot up, grazing Chaz's nose. "This is just about the worst timing for your steaks to kick the bucket. The Board-" she shuddered visibly- "is demanding that I come up with something new by the end of the week. And right now, I've got nothing. And if I can't meet their demands because of your food? It'll be Chambrose from now on. Your 'az' is mine!" She looked practically in tears.

Chaz felt Marius bristling behind him, but kept his cool. "Dr. Wondertainment…"

"That's Doctor Isabel Helga Anastasia Parvati Wondertainment to you!"

"…I understand that you may be dealing with personal issues at the moment, but I assure you that our ingredients are the finest behind the Veil. That said, if you are at all unsatisfied, I would be happy to iphphoo-" Chaz was cut off by a large bite of purplish meat, which his irate customer had snatched from her plate and thrust into his mouth.

Chewing it, he noticed a toughness… a stringiness… and an unmistakable feeling of despair, not unlike that of a certain restaurateur finding out that his most beloved entrée had gone foul. He swallowed the morsel reluctantly and met Isabel's self-assured gaze.

"Well… that's not good." Chaz turned on his heel, coming face to face with his loyal assistant. "Marius!" he shouted, far too loudly. "Our supplier… Fyora Farms, correct?" Marius nodded assent; Chaz turned his attention back to Isabel.

"For today, I can comp the sirloin, but that's about all. This evening, I'll check with my supplier to see what's amiss. Would you like me to contact you when we've fichkched-"

For the second time in as many minutes, Chef Chaz Ambrose was interrupted by a large volume of unicorn meat being shoved unceremoniously into his mouth.

"Wrong, wrong, wrong!" Isabel stamped her feet brashly. "As the foremost expert on whimsy and delight, I, Doctor Wondertainment, will be coming with you. NOW!"

She didn't use her full name that time, Chaz thought, somewhat amusedly. However, he wisely opted to keep that thought to himself.



The restaurateur, the assistant, and the self-titled Wonderriffic Whimsy Specialist™ stepped into a small, dingy trailer, the Way closing behind them with a soft pop and a slight whiff of parsley.

Before them, a short, stocky man was reclining, fast asleep, with his feet resting on a stack of grimy TV dinner trays atop a metal desk. In the corner, a small black-and-white television glowed softly. A single lightbulb hung from the ceiling, giving a soft flicker as if to acknowledge the visitors' presence.

"Sal." Ambrose said, with tactful softness. Sal continued snoring.

"Sal!" Ambrose said, loudly. His patience was wearing thin- not that he'd had much to begin with today- and Sal's continued slumber was not helping.

Neither was Isabel, who had taken to examining the contents of a picture frame mounted on the trailer wall. In two steps she was at Sal's side; another nanosecond, and she was leaning over his unconscious form. Furrowing her brow, she took a deep breath— Chaz flinched— and…

"SAL!"

Sal bolted upright, delivering a powerful headbutt which sent Isabel stumbling back, holding her nose and muttering angrily.

"What the— Who are— Wait- Mr. Ambrose?" Sal pushed his chair aside, running his hand through his greasy hair. "You're here on short notice, aren't you?" He turned to Isabel. "And you are?" he asked gruffly.

"Doctor Isa-"

Sal cut her off. "Wait, you're Isabel, aren't you? I worked with your father once, he needed some unicorn hair for a little project of his. Why, he used to talk about y-"

"Salvatore," Chaz intoned sternly, cutting in. "My associate and I are here because there have been some complaints about the quality of what you've been sending us. Could you please show us where you keep the, ah, livestock?"

Sal shook his head slightly, clearing away the cobwebs of reminiscence. "Oh, of course! Right this way." And with that, he sidled between the visitors to the door; opening it, he gestured outside. "It's just to the right, can't miss it."

Sal led the trio down a small gravel path towards a large tin building. "Unicorn stuff is great if you're into wish fulfillment. Really only works with kids, but Reggie, well, he was never one to give up on an idea." Sal took a large ring of keys from his pocket and inserted one into the iron padlock on the door.

Isabel gasped as she entered the building. Rows of stalls lined both sides of the aisle, which stretched from the doorway back as far as she could see. And occupying the stalls were adult unicorns, one to a stall, their single iridescent horns glistening above their velvety white manes.

Approaching the first stall, Chaz examined a clipboard hanging from a hook on its door. Basic statistics such as height, weight, and body mass index quickly gave way to medical charts and detailed information about the animal. He raised his gaze, quickly examining the beast within for obvious signs of… Chaz wasn't really sure what he was looking for, as his expertise with animals was focused mainly on the "after death" portion- and it looked ready to bite his head off, regardless. He turned to Sal and asked, "Is there anything wrong with the animals that I should know about?"

Sal shook his head. "Not that I can think of. We haven't had any issues with disease, dietary problems, nothing like that."

Isabel looked indignant. "There must be something wrong, I took one bite of your steak and I felt like death. Death!"

"Have you made any changes to the farm recently?" Chaz asked, puzzled.

"Well, I haven't made any kinds a' changes lately, per se." Sal looked distraught. "But now that you mention it…" Sal paused for a moment, choking up.

"My…My daughter passed about a month ago." Sal wiped aside a tear. "She'd been helping me out for the past few months, feeding the animals and whatnot, on account of a back injury."

Isabel removed her hat and held it to her midriff. "I'm so sorry."

"My condolences," Marius added.

Chaz nodded, but remained focused on business, the staggering invoices pinned to the forefront of his mind. "I understand that this must be a very hard time for you. But how are you supposed to continue running this stable? It's not like there's grief counseling for unicorns…" Chaz shook his head in a mixture of exasperation and incredulity.

Sal muttered something about his entire life going to pieces at once. More important mutterings were coming from Isabel's direction, however: Chaz turned to his left to see the good Doctor, notebook and pen in hand, scrawling furiously on one of the lined pages.

"Isabel, what are you-"

"That's DOCTOR Isa- oh, never mind all that. Look at THIS!"

A cloud of text- Chaz could barely make out the words "therapy animal" and "wishes?" in the scrawl- surrounded a simple drawing of a doll in the shape of a unicorn.

"What am I looking at, here?" Marius said, looking over his shoulder.

Isabel ignored him, whipping around. "Sal! Do you think that having other kids around would help them feel better?"

Sal's face hardened. "That's completely out of the question. It's not like you can just bring any kid in here." Seeing Isabel's uncertainty, he continued, "In fact, Alice even brought one of her friends over once- I barely got back there in time to stop Elwynn back there-" Sal pointed at a particularly large specimen about four stalls down- "putting a horn through him."

"Oh." Isabel looked dejected.

Marius chimed in. "Could we make them more docile in any way? I know of a recipe that could-"

Chaz stopped him. "Absolutely not. I don't want to take on a liability like that with no guarantee it would actually work. Besides," he continued, "While I would regret losing such a valued supplier, there are other places I can get unicorn meat without having to worry about quality."

Isabel tapped the pen against her forehead thoughtfully. Suddenly, she gasped, then stifled her excitement as she looked nervously at Sal. "Sal, I have an idea."

She leaned towards Sal's right ear and whispered something unintelligible. After a moment, Sal took a step back, aghast.

"N-No!" he stammered. "I mean, it would work, but… That just… It wouldn't be right."

"What is it?" Chaz asked.

Sal remained fixated on Isabel. "It would be… It wouldn't be what she… what Alice wanted."

Isabel met his gaze, eyes sparkling with determination. "These creatures are suffering. Don't you think she would've wanted them to be happy?"

Chaz was still in the dark. "What are you planning, Isabel?"

Isabel whirled to face him. "Chaz! If I found a way to bring your menu back up to snuff, without the risk, would you take it?"

"Well, I suppose, but I'd need to know-"

Isabel whirled back around. "Chaz is on board already. You can't think about whether or not your daughter would've wanted our help. After all, who knows children better than I!"

Sal shot Chaz a pleading look, already on the verge of giving in.

A twinkle returned to her eye as Isabel pulled out her trump card. "Wouldn't you like to see your daughter… Wouldn't you like to see Alice again?"


Two weeks later


Chaz was seated at his desk, as per usual. Surrounding his desk were cardboard boxes, each of which read:

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Not a bad deal, considering the good Doctor had only asked for a couple steak dinners a month in return. Still, Chaz knew he was taking a risk, bringing those toys into his restaurant. They were a little bit lowbrow for his tastes, and perhaps his customers' tastes, but Chaz figured that the sort of person who would bring a child into one of his restaurants would be the same sort of person who would happily welcome the addition. And who could resist a free toy?, he chuckled to himself. I certainly didn't.

Chaz nearly jumped out of his seat as Marius pushed open the door to his office and entered, backwards, carrying a stack of leather-backed menus. "Ah, the new menus!" Chaz exclaimed, as Marius dropped them on his desk with a loud thunk.

Taking one from atop the stack, Chaz Ambrose flipped through the elegant pages. Finally, his gaze rested upon the final section of the sixth page. The kids' menu. There, below the typical basilisk nuggets, non-Euclidean pasta, and buffalo wings, was a single new line:

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