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  • Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck
  • Written by Dale E. Basye
    Illustrated by Bob Dob
  • Format: Trade Paperback | ISBN: 9780375856778
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  • Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck
  • Written by Dale E. Basye
    Illustrated by Bob Dob
  • Format: eBook | ISBN: 9780375893049
  • Our Price: $7.99
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Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck

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Written by Dale E. BasyeAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Dale E. Basye
Illustrated by Bob DobAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by Bob Dob


List Price: $7.99


On Sale: May 11, 2010
Pages: 464 | ISBN: 978-0-375-89304-9
Published by : Random House Books for Young Readers RH Childrens Books
Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck Cover

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With more clever, dark humor and zany silliness, Dale E. Basye sends Milton and Marlo Fauster back for thirds in another laugh-out-loud installment of the popular series Heck.

After his second escape from Bea "Elsa" Bubb, the Principal of Darkness, Milton Fauster makes his way to Blimpo—the circle of the otherworldly reform school, Heck, where he's sure his friend Virgil is sentenced. Virgil's only crime is being, well, plump. Milton has to wonder if that's really enough to justify eternal darnation. And what Milton finds in Blimpo horrifies him. The overweight dead kids spend most of their time running on giant human hamster wheels called DREADmills that detect and exploit their deepest fears. The rest they spend eating Hambone Hank's barbecue—mystery meat that is delicious, but suspiciously (to Milton, anyway) haunting. Every classroom has a huge TV screen showing happy thin people who taunt Blimpo residents with a perfection they will never attain.

Meanwhile, at her new job in the devil's Infernship program, Milton's sister, Marlo, knows all about trying to achieve perfection. And failing miserably. Can Milton get himself and Virgil out of Blimpo in time to rescue Marlo, too? Or is Fauster the next delicacy on Bea "Elsa" Bubb's menu?

From the Hardcover edition.


1 • Scamming the Fat

Virgil’s stomach rumbled like a gastric earthquake, registering somewhere between a 6.7 and 9.4 on the digestive Richter scale. He was starving, but that was only half of it. His belly was also waging a protest against Blimpo’s aptly named Gymnauseum.

No matter where Virgil looked across the strobe-lit gym, the checkered pattern of the walls—painted in Pepto-Bismol pink and vomit-green hues—wobbled in sickening throbs. Between the hunger and the nausea, Virgil’s stomach was currently more active than the rest of his body had ever been.

Like Virgil, the other boys in the bleachers were hunched over with hunger at the sight of their seldom-seen-yet-surprisingly-appetizing vice principals on the raised platform below. It was, apparently, the first time in years that the vice principals had descended from the floating castle that bobbed above Blimpo, tethered to the Circle’s inner courtyard. Virgil could instantly see why. Even the girthy girls perched across the auditorium—normally separated from the boys in Girls’ Blimpo but brought together for this special assembly—were rubbing their distended bellies with want.

The Burgermeister sat imperiously on an over-stuffed, wheat-colored throne. His face was a pinkish-brown gray, as plump and shiny as a roasted frankfurter, with a lattice of crisscrossed marks that made him seem flame broiled. Grease stains darkened his plush, ketchup-colored armrests; his round, pickle-colored head cushion; and the lettuce-green blanket he kept on his lap.

Next to him, melted in a conical chair, was Lady Lactose, a vision of creamy arrogance, patting the vanilla hair scooped high atop her head in soft spirals.

Virgil wiped his drool-slick lips. Teachers, principals, and most every flavor of authority figure usually filled him with dread. But now, as he stared down at the Burgermeister and Lady Lactose, he was filled with the barely controlled urge to tie a bib around his neck and tuck into his vice principals with a fork and a spoon. It was as if he were at the Gobble ’n’ Hobble back home in Dallas, that all-you-can-eat (and more) place that made you sign a waiver before it granted access to its legendary Bonanza Buffet.

The potent aroma of just-grilled hamburger and just-churned ice cream wafted from the stage. Considering the inedible slop the kids were served in the Cafeterium—or as the boys had dubbed it, the Lose-Your-Lunch Room—the smell made Virgil ravenous. And, judging from the bellyaching he heard gurgling from his fellow students, he was not alone.

The Burgermeister slicked back his greasy, poppy-seed-flecked hair until it looked like a rearing tidal wave. He leaned into the microphone set before him.

“Guten morgen, students of Blimpo,” the Burgermeister said as he wiped his oily meat hooks on his checkered lederhosen. “How geht es you all? You wundern vermutlich why you’re here?”

“More like wondering what you just said,” muttered Hugo DeWitt, a boy with a dark crew cut and massive cheeks that nearly swallowed his nose and mouth, seated next to Virgil.

Lady Lactose scowled at the wave of confusion that spread slowly throughout the crowd like a spill soaked up by a paper towel. She tilted the microphone toward her. The pained squeak of the metal reverberated throughout the Gymnauseum.

“May I?” Lady Lactose asked the meaty monarch.

The Burgermeister nodded.

“Of course, my sweet.”

Lady Lactose glared at the baffled boys and girls.

“The Burgermeister and I are very busy pseudo?-people, and we didn’t call this assembly to simply chew the fat. If we had, we’d be here all day, by the looks of it.”

A small drip of milk leaked down Lady Lactose’s forehead. The Burgermeister took her hand.

“Try not to lose your cool,” he cautioned.

Lady Lactose sighed and blotted her forehead with a lace napkin.

“What I meant to say . . . children . . . is that the Burgermeister and I have a very special announcement that involves all of you . . . every bit of you, actually.”

She motioned for Dr. Kellogg, a short man just over five feet tall seated nearby, to approach the stage.

Clad completely in white, from his galoshes to his tie, Dr. Kellogg took each step in spry little jumps. Even his hair and goatee gleamed as white and shiny as vanilla Frostee-Freeze. He hopped up onto the stage.

“Children, your beloved health education teacher,” Lady Lactose announced.

Dr. Kellogg raised a megaphone to his whiskery chin. “Good day, students,” he said with elfish vigor. “You are about to become part of a great experiment, a new chapter not only for Blimpo, but also for Heck—perhaps, even, for all of the underworld!”

He clapped his white-gloved hands. The double doors on either side of the Gymnauseum burst open. A team of demons in white laboratory smocks heaved nine massive objects covered in gray tarps toward the stage.

“Thank you, diligent yet forsaken creatures!” the doctor declared as the demons grumbled and skulked away.

Dr. Kellogg beamed.

“In an attempt to liberate ourselves from the Transdimensional Power Grid and from our dependence on fickle paranormal energy sources, we—the vice principals and I—have uncovered a new source of power.”

A skinny man in white greasepaint and a black-and-white striped shirt crept from behind the thrones of the Burgermeister and Lady Lactose.

“That must be the vice principals’ flunky, the French Fried Fool,” Hugo muttered to Virgil, licking his lips.

The French Fried Fool smiled, accentuating his expression by framing his face with open, wriggling hands. Golden, deep-fried dreadlocks peeked out from beneath his harlequin cap.

“Yes, Fool,” Lady Lactose said loudly and slowly, as if the man’s silence was a medical condition that affected his ability to hear and discern. “You may have the honor—”

The French Fried Fool hopped into the air like a flea on a hot plate. Lady Lactose raised her fudge-tinted eyebrows as he put his gloved fingers in his mouth, drew in a deep exaggerated breath, and then pretended to whistle.

Eight men dressed just like the French Fried Fool flounced into the Gymnauseum. Each stopped in front of one of the mysterious concealed objects and walked in place. The French Fried Fool dove off the stage and took his place beside the ninth tarp-covered thingamajig. Dr. Kellogg raised the megaphone to his mouth.

“And this new energy source is . . . ,” he declared with a grand, sweeping gesture as the group of fools yanked off the tarps.

“. . . you.”

Virgil leaned closer, hoping that a few inches might help him make out what the odd contraptions were. They didn’t.

The gray metal machines resembled human-sized hamster wheels set within huge circular cast-iron enclosures. They opened slowly on either side, their walls like big pie tins, until the sides rested on the Gymnauseum floor. The machines reminded Virgil of the tire-shaped carrying case he used to tote his Hot Wheels around in when he was a little kid, back when he was alive.

“Behold, the DREADmills,” Dr. Kellogg said as one end of his thin mouth curled up with secret amusement. “Dynamic Regenerative Energy Accumulation Devices. The focus of Blimpo’s new Fatness to Fitness Center!”

A large dark girl with a kinky orange-brown halo of hair shot her hand up.

From the Hardcover edition.
Dale E. Basye

About Dale E. Basye

Dale E. Basye - Blimpo: The Third Circle of Heck
The idea for Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go came to me where most of my ideas come from: that area just behind the eyes and somewhere, approximately, between the ears. A friend of mine, whom I’ll refer to as “Paul Harrod,” wanted to make a short “mockumentary” film on the devil, sort of a VH1 “Behind the Brimstone”-type of thing (sorry for all the quotes and the parenthetical asides). While helping him to mine the topic for potential nuggets of humor, I unearthed the idea of an H-E-double-hockey-sticks Lite, just for children, which–of course–simply had to be called Heck. I researched such classic works as Dante’s Inferno and the phonebook (I wanted a pizza) and came up with a kid-ified underworld specifically designed to ignore the needs and enflame the misery of once-living children everywhere–in particular, the bad ones.

Of course, every story needs what is commonly referred to as a protagonist. That is, a hero, or–at the very least–someone whom the reader can relate to in some way while serving as a guide through a host of unpleasant, fantastical circumstances. Often, the protagonist mirrors the author, not for any significant reason other than it’s much easier for the author (fewer things to make up) while giving him/her the perfect excuse to write about himself/herself. Ever the overachiever, I decided to have two protagonists–hardly a “novel” idea–but it allowed me to write through my dual selves–the ever cautious, perpetually in-his-head Milton, and the tart, impulse-control-challenged Marlo.

Now it was just a matter of writing it all down. Oh, yes…writing

Writing is really, really, really hard. It’s easier if you have fingers and not, say, great unwieldy crab claws, but still. There are only two enjoyable aspects of the writing experience, as I see it. The first is when you are on the bus, clipping your toenails, or grooming the pet monkey you “found” at the circus: those little in-between moments where inspiration often bubbles to the top of your consciousness like a cork bobbing up to the surface of the sea. It’s when you come up with that big idea…the one that seems so inevitable, as if it had always been there, only you were the one to stumble on to it. You’re elated. You’re filled with excitement. You miss your stop, cut your pinky toenail too deep, or accidentally tug too hard on your monkey’s fur with its brush (which Dr. Zaius hates…I have the bite marks to prove it). It’s a great moment (not the monkey bites, but the “zapped with creative fire” part). Unfortunately, when a writer is blessed with a good idea, he/she is then immediately cursed with having to actually do something about it. This is called work. Some writers also consider this play, but–to the best of my knowledge–Roget’s Thesaurus doesn’t happen to include “play” as a synonym for “work.”

The second great part of writing is right after you are through and are fairly convinced that what you wrote isn't completely awful. Not that you ever really think that (or that you are ever really “through”) but there’s a point where most of the heavy lifting is done and the voices in your head at least dull to a manageable murmur. This is also the point where it is safe for your family to come out from underneath the kitchen table, bearing soap, a towel, and a change of clothes.

So why write? There are some who write solely to pay the utility bill, to which I say: good luck. Then, there are others, who simply have to write. This is the column I find myself squarely in. I’ve tried to express myself eloquently with guitar solos, touchdowns, and even ballroom dancing once, and the only thing I managed to achieve was a state of humiliation (and occasionally sore feet). Writing is the closest I’ve come to putting something out in the world that bears a faint resemblance to the notion that was originally in my head (this essay notwithstanding).

And, somehow, it’s all worth it. The staring at the screen until it stares back. The slow dwindling of friends, hairs, and social niceties. The less-than-healthful food choices. The getting up in the middle of the night and splashing in your neighbor's koi pond (this may not have anything to do with writing but may instead be a symptom of a deeper problem). But when you go to a bookstore and see your book, or even simply the space where your book will soon be, you feel as if you have joined an illustrious fraternity of literature, a centuries-old club boasting everyone from Aesop to Zola (a French writer whom one should only read if one finds oneself unbearably happy and wishes to remedy this condition immediately).

Speaking of tedium, I couldn’t stand school. And the feeling was mutual.

But, thanks to some phenomenal teachers, I realized the freeing power of the imagination. It was as if every story I wrote or doodle I scrawled was a spadeful of dirt, unearthing a secret tunnel, getting me closer and closer to escape. Laughter was also a lifesaver for me, often literally. Not only is it rightfully considered the best medicine (if used liberally, only as directed), it can also save you from getting your butt kicked in PE.

The point is (yes, there's a point here somewhere), that preadolescence can feel like an eternity when you’re in it, but you actually get through it fairly unscathed, though your body and voice may soon be rendered unrecognizable. This complete freakishness is normal. So let laughter and perseverance be your best and most trusted bodyguards, providing loyal service without even demanding your lunch money in return.

I hope that you enjoy, appreciate, and–above all–buy my book Heck: Where the Bad Kids Go–at least three copies (one for locking away in your safe for future generations, one for reading, and one for travel). I think you’ll find that it’s a story full of laughter and hope (OK, and a fair amount of demons, poop, and dead historical figures). And if you don’t buy it for the story, then buy it for the amazing illustrations by Bob Dob. So, thank you for reading this long-winded essay (assuming you still are) and I caution you to be wary of words such as flummox, maelstrom, and irony. If you find yourself using them, you may already be a–egads–writer.

Dale E. Basye

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