In the distant sky a murder of crows squawked and cried as they fought a valiant aerial battle with a troop of flying monkeys. The sky was turning purple as the once perpetual day threatened to turn to night, and the air was dotted with the blood-red petals of the poppies now gone to seed in an euphoric haze.
"I can't believe she's gone," said the Cowardly Lion, scratching at the sores under his fur.
He slumped to the surface of the road in a rumple of yellow hair that conveniently matched the road's bricks. Beside him lay the corpse of the Straw Man, eviscerated from stem to stern, with his stuffing pushed here and there in snatches across the road with the help of the breeze. There was still bits of straw stuck under the Cowardly Lion's claws.
At the edge of the road lay the Tin Man prostrate. The Wizard kneeled over him, deep in concentration, green-tinted glasses thrust down to the very tip of his nose, examining the metal man.
"She made her choice," said the Wizard without looking up. "I believe he's had a heart attack. Your outburst was too much for him, too soon. He will not recover."
The Wizard sighed and stood up. He looked blankly at the somehow small figure of the Cowardly Lion, then his face contorted with anger.
"We all loved her!" shouted the Wizard. The Cowardly Lion put his head under his paws and whimpered. "You did this," continued the Wizard in a more contained tone. He stepped over the Tin Man and crossed half the distance to the Cowardly Lion before he stopped, refusing to go further, both to restrain himself and to not provoke his friend. He watched straw meander with the wind, becoming increasingly diffuse. The Straw Man was thankfully face down, but the Wizard keenly felt the indignity of that sudden death. "We were going to do so much, the four of us," he said quietly. "Oz was at our feet, and we squandered it. I thought she just gave us a start, but that's where it ended. All our dreams and aspirations, back in the Emerald City, just...gone."
"I know," said the Cowardly Lion, large tears rolling down his cheeks. "But it was the poppies I tell you! The poppies! I-I can't get enough!" He scrambled on his knees over to the Wizard and began kissing his green shoes. "Please," he said several times between kisses, "forgive me!"
The Wizard extracted his feet and looked coldly down at the figure crumple before him.
"We've lost everything we ever gained, and I can go no further with you."
The Cowardly Lion shook silently, his grief overtaking him. The Wizard scooped up the empty shell of the Straw Man, cradling it for a moment in his arms, then picked up the left arm of the Tin Man. He pulled, grunting as he dragged the Tin Man towards the west, igniting bright sparks as metal scraped against metal.
"Don't follow me," said the Wizard without looking back.
The Lion Man trembled as he watched him depart into the sunset. When he was no longer even a dot on the horizon, he let out a piercing wail. Then he crawled towards the stalks of the dead poppies to get what he could from an ever-decreasing fix.
Okay, so when I was writing this I realized L. Frank Baum must have been a feminist, since the female characters in the story have all the power and totally drive the action, and lo and behold he was! (Then I read his views on Native Americans and was utterly gobsmacked. I had not a clue. Holy crap on a cracker.)