This morning, the io9 offices received a mysterious box that smelled faintly of owl spoor. When we opened it, we were shocked to receive a leaked chapter of J.K. Rowling's reboot of the Harry Potter series that was specifically tailored to American audiences.
We've spent all morning furiously transcribing the document and calling the Rowling camp like some sort of octopus stockbroker on a cocaine binge. We can't confirm that this is 100% legit, but given the ho-hum surprise that was the Pottermore project and the fact that on Friday, after 11 years, Rupert Grint's finally getting that bomb removed from his skull so he can pursue his dream of becoming an ostrich farmer, we just knew that Jo Rowling had to have more magic up her Fabergé sleeve.
Indeed, rebooting the series for American readers just makes sense financially. Rowling undoubtedly lost a hefty chunk of change when she alienated stateside readers with references to such exotic locales like Surrey and Worcestershire and the utter indecipherability of her British patois ("Snogging? WTF?") Furthermore, Americans just can't let shit go — look how many Big Momma's House movies we have!
Plus, many anecdotal studies have shown many Americans have a rabid allegiance to their own "American Harry Potter," a.k.a. the dad from the seminal 1986 horror movie Troll. For many a Yankee Doodle, Rowling's boy wizard is just a pretender, a British invader poaching on Americans' proud fantasy heritage. Kowtowing to the Colonies is a necessary evil for Rowling.
Will Rowling's cross-cultural pollination win readers from to sea to shining sea and bear legal-tender-scented fruit from the money tree? After reading this enigmatically purloined chapter I say, "A likely yes." In the spirt of such cherished intellectual properties as Turkish Star Wars and Turkish E.T. and Turkish Exorcist, we are proud to bring you an exclusive excerpt from Harry Potter and the Purple Mountain's Manticore.
CHAPTER 13: One Polyjuice Transfiguration, Under God, Indivisible
The fissure on the Liberty Bell-shaped scar emblazoned on Harry's brow burned as he walked into the cafeteria (catered by SoHexDo©) at Hogwart's School for Gifted Youngsters. Whenever danger was afoot, his forehead seared like the fiery rhetoric of Patrick Henry.
"My Sorcerer Sense is tingling again," gasped Harry.
Harry's best friend, Ronny Bumppo, rolled his eye. "Yeah, we know." Harry had the propensity to forget that his scar emanated magical squiggles that sat at the intersection of crudely drawn lighting bolts and Woodstock's dialogue from Peanuts.
"Your scar is always burning Harry," interjected Harry's know-it-all friend Sharlene Granger. "You said the same thing yesterday at madrigals practice. Frankly, I think it's infected."
"I wish I had a magic scar," sighed Ron. "Then I could get out of singing that awful Pilot song over and over. Why can't we cover something by Steppenwolf or Santana or The Cars? Or maybe David Bowie's song from Labyrinth?"
"I can carve you a scar if you're so inclined, Wizard of Ozarks," rasped a sinister Acadian accent.
Harry spun around. Facing the trio of Gerrymanders was none other than their arch-rival from the Sasquatchian house, Davide Millefeuille, the dandy scion to Louisiana's polyjuice potion empire. Davide was flanked by his two meathead cronies, Moose and Pugsley, the crazed sasquatch patches on their JV Quidball jackets frothing at the mouths like some undiscovered phylum of vomiting corsage.
"Shut up, bayou boy," Ron retorted meekly. Ron's family hailed from central Arkansas, where they lived in a house made of magical mason jars.
"I'd wager such parochial wit from someone whose family pays the bills brewing Butterjack in bathtubs," sneered Millefeuille (the truth promptly silenced Ron). "Tell me, my three Gerrymanders. I heard you mewling about choir practice. If I were you, I'd spend more time on the Quidball field. We're going to trample you at Homecoming."
"Sure, like you've been training hard," scoffed Harry. "Your cronies here are so juiced on Bunyan Blood they can barely talk about anything other than flapjacks or the lumber industry."
"I'll cut you down like a Sierra sequoia-" gurgled Moose.
Millefeuille cut him off. "Hush yourself, sweet Moose. We don't waste our precious wizardly words on squibs like Potter."
In a blind rage, Harry drew his pure-Ohio-Buckeye wand and bellowed, "EXPECTO PATRONUM!"
One alabaster flash later, the spectral form of that mighty stag of the riverboat bon mot, Samuel Langhorne Clemens, materialized before the shocked Sasquatchians.
The tendrils of Mark Twain's mighty pushbroom mustache reached out to ensare the bullies, but cowardice carried their pinwheeling legs right out of the cafeteria (but not before Pugsley tripped face-first into a platter of steaming Philadelphia cheesedrakes).
"Harry!" yelped Sharlene. "You're only supposed to use your Patronus charm on Dementors!"
"Did you know I patented the scrapbook?" asked Mark Twain.
Harry groaned and discorporated the phantom satirist. "Goshdarnit, we'll never reach regionals if you can't keep your temper in check!" gesticulated Ron.
Indeed, Harry's outburst had entranced the entire lunchroom. Every clique at Hogwarts — from the Eagleclaw Heshers to the Gerrymander Muggle Roleplaying Club (who were in the middle of their Roth 401(k) planning campaign) to the Sasquatchian Dickheads to the Hufflepuff Wastoids — stared dumbly at Harry. (Hogwarts was in the middle of a Wendigo-mange huffing pandemic, you see.)
A calloused hand grabbed Harry's shoulder. "You may feel like a righteous dude, but you'll be gulping Rocky Mountain Acromantula Oysters when Dumbledore catches wind."
Harry spun around (as he was wont to do). The hand belonged to Hogwarts' Defense of the Dark Arts teacher, Sergio Snape, his wafting cigarillo, omnipresent stubble, and dust-worn Stetson obscured his flinty eyes. "The Headmaster's office, pilgrim."
Harry stomped across the quad, swearing up a blue streak that would make Hagrid's pet ox turn a deeper shade of azure. Gerrymander was already knee-deep in the demerits, after Ron, Harry, and Sharlene had been caught playing hooky to meddle around at that haunted amusement park. KISS was in cahoots with Old Man Jenkins! Who knew?
Harry trudged into the office of Hogwarts Headmaster Mike Dumbledore, who was in the middle of chewing some noisome enchanted tuber. Despite his heavy camo fatigues and serpentine beard, Dumbledore's ham-like biceps glistened in the afternoon heat, giving him the mien of Uncle Sam crossbred with a Hormel ham.
Harry and Dumbledore greeted each other with a mighty handshake that could substitute as an outtake from Over The Top. "Hey, Harry, I'm chewing some Spotsylvania Shitroot, cut you off a chaw?"
"No thanks, I'm good."
"Your loss, this Shitroot will turn you into a god damned sexual Swedish Short-Snout, just like me. Your face looks like the Ministry of Magic just issued an Ochre Alert."
"It's that jerk, Millefeuille. He kept cracking wise about how I'm a squib."
The Headmaster flexed knowingly, his warlock trapezius blotting out the sunlight in the room. "Listen here, Horatio Potter, Boy Who Learned. If you came here for a cowboy speech, you shoulda went to Snape. Me? I'm just going to spit truth." (Dumbledore paused to spit out a wad of chewed-up narcotic taproot the size of a guinea pig.)
"Your parents were good, decent sodbuster sorcerers who died in that combination chupacabra stampede/cholera outbreak. After that, at the tender age of 7, your wicked aunt and uncle sent you to work at that glue factory by day and that paste refinery by night. In your 15 minutes of free time a day, you taught yourself magic and — despite being a squib — you used your adhesive money to enroll at my school. You're true grit personified, Potter, not like your classmates and their goddamn Star Wars genetics. Know what you're going to be when you grow up?"
"An auror?" gasped a newly galvanized Harry.
"No, President of the United States of America."
At that point, the narrative abruptly ends, but there are some scrawled notes playing out the draft. Here they are, apologies for lack of context:
- "Benjamin Franklin is a 10,000-year-old mage who once took air baths with Dumbledore."
"Dobby received his immigration papers and franchised a Hardee's."
"Voldemort's secret lair is Centralia, Pennsylvania. He lives there with Bizarro Harry and Solomon Grundy."
"The Purple Mountain's Manticore has the face of Benedict Arnold and the scorpion tail of Chester A. Arthur."
"Madam Pomfrey has a topless scene."
"Norm from Cheers is the Hufflepuff mascot."
We're ridiculously excited about this new chapter in Potter history. Hopefully we'll get confirmation back from Rowling's publisher. Stayed tune, io9ers!