Part Fourteen (I) “C’mon, Fozzie, we’ve missed the opening already!” Rowlf panted, the cool dry air of the Museum a relief after jogging through the already-muggy streets. “Nothing to race for now!” “Ohhhhhh but I wanted to be dere! Everyone else is dere, even da flu sicky people!” Fozzie argued, stopping in confusion at the top of the stairs, unable to read his map correctly. Rowlf sniffed the air. “That way, Fozzie,” he said, turning the bear in the correct direction. “Dat says reptiles, Rowlf! Are you sure?” Rowlf was about to point out the large sign proclaiming FELT AND BONES EXHIBIT THIS WAY when screams and a frightening roar echoed through the entire third floor; patrons on the stairs or browsing in the Hall of African Mammals turned in surprise. Suddenly a Museum guard came sprinting past, a panicked expression turning his face from average into something pale and sickly. Hot on his heels, Sam the Eagle fluttered and stumbled. “Security! Security! Man, don’t run from danger! This is your duty!” Neither of them paid any attention to Fozzie or Rowlf, legging it down the stairs. Fozzie sucked a finger apprehensively. “Wow! I didn’t know guards were scared of eagles!” he said. “Uh, I don’t think that guy was running from Sam!” Rowlf gulped, and Fozzie whirled to see a tide of people come racing out through the reptile hall. The two friends exchanged a look, and as one fought their way around the panicked professors and squealing old ladies toward the entrance to the new Muppet Natural History exhibit gallery. When they peered inside, Rowlf wasn’t sure arriving earlier would have been a better or a worse idea. The first thing which caught their eyes was the meeping, bouncing, utterly helpless Beaker being dragged across the floor close to the exhibit entry by what appeared to be a very big gun turning red-hot as it sputtered and blasted; Fozzie jerked to one side when a ray narrowly missed him, instead hitting a case of mounted Muppet insects. A giant moth flapped its wings at once and took off; numerous smaller things like winged crayfish shook themselves awake and began crawl-hopping down out of the case with fluttering buzzes of their vestigial beetle-wings. “Aaaa! Bugs!” Fozzie cried, then noticed much worse things were crawling or jumping or thunderously pounding through the gallery. An enormous clawed foot slammed down right in front of him, and the bear gaped up at a bony, elongated skull easily three times his size. Empty holes of eyesockets stared right at him. “Ulk!” Fozzie gulped. The Muppetasaurus Tex opened its ponderous jaws; four prominent fangs and a bristling mouthful of shorter but equally vicious teeth shook in Fozzie’s face as the monster roared. Fozzie’s hat flew behind him somewhere. The bear caught a glimpse of a frog trying to hustle a pig toward the far side of the room, and ran toward him, wailing. “Keerrmiiiiiiiiiitt!” “Whoa!” Rowlf ducked as something not quite bat and not quite lizard swooped overhead, its tiny claws clutching at the air where the dog’s nose had been a second before. “What the Jimmy Dean’s goin’ on here?” the dog griped. In the middle of the room, Kermit tried to see to Piggy’s safety. Unfortunately his wife had other ideas. “Shake your ugly mug at my frog, willya? Hiii—yaaahh!” she cried, chopping one of the snapping, turkey-with-shark-teeth Velocimuppet skeletons over its bony beak. It shrieked, jerking back, but then advanced again. Desperately Piggy spread her arms protectively in front of Kermit, noting two more of the ugly reptilian birds encroaching from the side where they thought she wouldn’t notice them. She beat them back, but they weren’t giving up. Apparently having no flesh anymore was an advantage; her blows knocked them back but didn’t seem to be doing any damage. “What the heck? Are these guys indestructible? I’ve broken bones before!” Piggy growled, confused. Bunsen Honeydew put up a helpful finger, dodging another swoop by the bat-lizard. “Technically, Miss Piggy, these are fossils! You see, when a creature becomes entrapped in a wet environment, mineral seepage over thousands of years will eventually fill in the bones as they decompose, leaving a bone-shaped fossil actually made of—“ “Well whatever they’re made of, can ya make ‘em dead again?” Piggy yelled, kicking another Velocimuppet. It croaked and squealed and lunged back at her, toothy beak snapping. “Oh,” Bunsen murmured, one hand to his mouth, worried. “Oh, dear…” “Keep rolling! Keep rolling!” Rhonda urged, sticking close by the sloth; nervously, the Newsman ducked away from the ponderous tread of a Muppetasaurus Bovinocorpus as it strolled by apparently unconcerned with the chaos. “We’re gonna go live, Newsie! Keep talking!” Newsie clutched Gina, his eyes darting every direction, unwilling to let her go for the sake of the filming. She in return held onto his shoulder, yanking him aside when two white feathery things with long necks and teeth and red wattles chased a bounding, protesting Gonzo past. “Girls! Camilla! Look, I said I thought the new look was sexy! Aaaagh!” “Er – things seem to have turned strange here at the Museum of Natural History!” Newsie ad-libbed, trying to stay vaguely in front of the sloth’s camera. “Stranger than usual, you mean!” complained a balding, grayhaired gent in a suit far too thick for the weather outside, and more wrinkled than a shar-pei on a diet, standing in the middle of the chaos. “Statler, you old fool, this isn’t the ‘Bombshells of ’45’ exhibit!” His companion, a shorter and even frailer codger, grabbed the official Museum map from the first gent’s curled hands. He peered at the map, then thwacked the first man. “You were holding the map upside down, you ninny!” “Oh…I thought ol’ ‘Bomber Betty’ was taller!” Statler said, eyeing Miss Piggy. “She wasn’t a pig, either, you blind old bat!” Waldorf grumped. Statler shrugged one shoulder. “Eh, it was the war! I’m sure those flyboys would’ve painted pork on their bombers!” “How ya figure?” “With wartime rations being so strict, every piece of bacon looked good!” “Oh, ho ho ho ho!” “Watch it, twerps!” Piggy shouted at them, grabbing one of the Velocimuppets by its snakelike tail and swinging it into another, tumbling them both in a clatter of bones and a shriek of outraged malevolent fossil fury. However, even as she gave Kermit another push toward the exit, the bony monsters shook themselves all over and staggered back to their three-clawed feet with ominous growling clucks. Kermit pointed out Gil and Jill huddling with the Frog Scouts next to the platform the M. Tex had stood on. “The Scouts! We have to do something!” “Er…are we live yet?” Newsie asked Rhonda, who was conferring with someone by phone, one paw pressed to her free ear. “Can ya keep it down? Some of us are trying to make journalistic history here!” the rat shouted at the room in general, then resumed her hurried conversation. “Now? About time! Great! Take the feed!” She snapped her phone shut and gestured at Newsie, addressing the sloth. “Get an earpiece on him! Fargo’s at the studio and the truck’s here to bounce the feed! Go! Go!” Dr Honeydew caught up with Beaker, who by bracing himself against one of the large granite pillars in the center of the gallery had at least managed to stop his ungainly and involuntary tour of the exhibit; now he was doing his best to saw through the safety wrist-strap of the Disint-o-ghoster 4000 with a pocketknife held in his mouth. “Beaker! I’ve got it! I know what’s wrong!” Bunsen cried; Beaker stared at him, dazed. “Somehow the neutron polarity has been switched in the wrong direction! All we must do is to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow, and set the Tobin waves down a notch, and assuming the anti-Muppaspectre facilitating engine doesn’t—“ At that instant, the barrel of the gun turned white-hot. Beaker shrieked as the safety strap burst into flames, jerking his hands free. With an earsplitting craaaaack!, the core of the Disint-o-ghoster exploded. Shrapnel shot straight up. “…Explode…we should be fine,” Bunsen finished lamely; his gaze turned upward with Beaker’s at the one Muppasaur anywhere in the gallery which hadn’t been animated with a stray shot yet: the Greater Muppassic Muppadactyl skeleton suspended from the high ceiling by airline cables. As the scientists stared in horrified resignation, every single cable holding the fossil up was sliced by a blazing-hot piece of subatomic-reinforced nickel-iron which had seconds previously before failed to contain the explosion. The entire Muppadactyl fell surprisingly gracefully, swooping much like a half-ton pendulum directly onto the heads of the Muppet Labs duo. As the dust settled around them, Bunsen groaned, “Ouch…” Beaker agreed with a weak meep before passing out. “Live, at the Museum of Natural History, this is your Newsman for KRAK,” Newsie barked at the camera when Rhonda vehemently gestured at him they were broadcasting directly to the station, where images of this bizarre carnage would be sent out to the entire viewing area. “Er…Bart, are you seeing this?” A sneering voice came through loud and clear over his earpiece, and Newsie winced. “Looks like the usual Muppet weirdness to me, Newsie. What’s the story?” The anchor’s tone made it clear he was annoyed at having been dragged away from his brunch date for just another Muppet piece. Angry, the Newsman was about to launch into a curt description of the action so far when Gonzo rode by on the back of one of the altered-state chickens. “Whooooo—haaaaa! That’s it, Camilla! You can beat ‘em!” Gonzo yelled, bouncing excitedly like an ostrich jockey; the Muppasaur-throwback bird didn’t seem to be racing the other ones hot on her tailfeathers as much as vainly trying to jump up to eat the fearless daredevil, hen’s teeth snapping viciously at him. Gina stared at that, still holding Newsie’s shoulder. He tried to regain some appearance of confidence. “Um…well…as you can see, Bart, this is hardly the normal chaos! The scene, in fact, is somewhat grim, with a whole host of ravenous, reanimated Muppasaurs attacking the crowd who’d come to see the opening of the exhibit!” Gina yanked him to one side as the primitive Whatnot shaman glared and pointed their direction, his evil jade eye sparking with energy. “Erk! – and an undead, mysterious mummy is also wreaking a terrible vengeance on the people who dared to ogle him by doing some shameless ogling of his own!” Whatever force the shaman wielded with his evil eye hit the camera aardvark smack in the face, sending him and his camera tumbling right to the feet of the Muppetasaurus Tex. “Is this yet another publicity stunt by the Muppets to raise their theatre attendance?” Fargo demanded. “Bart! People are in real danger here!” Newsie protested. “There they are! Make them – make them behave like proper dead things!” Sam shouted, one firm wing pointing variously at the Muppasaurs running amok, and the altered chickens now snapping and snarling at Gonzo as he perched precariously atop one of the taller freestanding cases. “Er…and…and proper chickens!” The Museum guards right behind Sam in the entrance to the gallery stared in complete shock at the scene: Dr Teeth and Zoot were desperately swatting as the crustacean-bugs buzzed and clawed them in what appeared to be an attempt to grab the Muppets’ noses. The class of preschoolers, one enormous bird, and one shy pachyderm huddled in a corner, staring with wide eyes, thus far unnoticed by the monsters. The giant moth and the winged lizard were locked in a circle of aerial combat, swooping wildly around the room just above head-height. Two M. Bovinocorpii kept trying to eat the reconstructed, plastic giant Muppafern, mooing unhappily as each bite produced no chewing satisfaction. And Animal and MahnaMahna seemed to be doing the frug just behind the arm-waving, angry-dancing Muppeti Quidquid. Sam gestured angrily at the guards. “Well? Do something!” The shaman noticed him. “Ooogawokka mugga boot!” he screamed, rolling his jade eye at the huge marble pillars framing the gallery entryway. Sam heard the crumble and rumble of rock being forced impossibly from its place and leaped into the room an instant before one of the massive pillars toppled, blocking the entry, trapping the guards outside the room…and everyone else in from that end. “A mummy coming back to life? Oh, come on, Newsie…wasn’t that just a movie?” Fargo asked over the audio feed into Newsie’s ear. Newsie spread his arms, including the room at large in his frustrated gesture. “Bart, I don’t pretend to be even remotely qualified to explain this phenomenon—“ “Doo dooo doo doo doo!” Two pink, horned creatures chorused, springing up next to Newsie. He shoved them aside. “Oh will you get out of here! –-but Bart, I assure you and the viewers, this is no publicity stunt! Somehow, a number of large prehistoric Muppet monsters, most of them with huge, sharp teeth, have animated and are attacking everyone in the room!” Newsie lost the feed for a moment when Gina threw both of them to the floor; another burst of chilly energy shot over them, shattering the remaining glass of another display. “Hey! Hey! Get me outta here!” a thin, reedy voice shrieked; they looked up to see Fleet Scribbler crouched inside the hollow ribcage of the M. Tex, still alive and apparently unhurt. He began banging on the ribs of the giant carnivorous Muppasaur. The aardvark tilted his camera up, capturing Scribbler’s imprisonment…and the monster’s irritated reaction. With another earsplitting roar, it shook itself violently, cast about for something to bite, and its open jaws swooped down over the cameramuppet at its feet. “Jerry! Oh, no!” Rhonda squeaked. The M. Tex gulped the aardvark down; he went sprawling, camera-first, onto the mop-ragged head of one tabloid reporter. The Muppasaur snarled, stomping back across the room, its spiked tail whooshing through the air behind it more than enough discouragement for anyone even thinking about following…not that anyone was. “Jerry! Are you okay?” Rhonda yelled as she saw the aardvark trying to pick himself up within the bony bowels. When he gave her a weak thumb-up, she vented her anger on Scribbler. “Scribbler, you moron! If you’ve broken my camera, I’ll tear it out of your scrawny hide!” The tabloid hack didn’t reply. He wasn’t accustomed to having heavy things pound his head. “Ohmygawd! Ohmygawd! It’s gonna eat me!” Rizzo screamed, at about the same time as the much-angered M. Tex was homing in on Statler. The rat bolted this way and that with a snapping Velocimuppet on his tail; seeing Scooter behind one of the walls for the “Timeline of Muppet Evolution” corridor, the rat leaped into his arms. “Save me! I’ll give ya all my cheese!” The Velocimuppet, focused on a tasty rat snack, lunged at him; frightened, Scooter instinctively threw Rizzo. “Aaaaaaaawhatareyoudoing?” Rizzo screeched; he bounced off the tall hat and into the broad hands of the Swedish Chef. “Oh my heart,” Rizzo panted, but before he could catch his breath, the same singleminded proto-Muppet turkey raced to the Chef, bony beak spread wide with multiple teeth gleaming. “Ohmygawdhereitcomesagain—aaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!” “Ooh! Der turken-toofer nooo der snicky-snacky!” Chef exclaimed, hurling the rat back at Scooter, who only just managed to catch him. “This is Lewis Kazagger with Muppet Sports! An early start to the Muppet International Keep-Away Tourney here at the unlikely venue of the Museum of Natural History! So far the score is Muppets one, vicious fossil monsters nothing! But the Velocimuppets were a species known for their tenacity and fierceness, so it’s gonna be a wild contest here today!” Kazagger proclaimed, popping up with a large microphone. Newsie blinked, eyes wide and jaw slack. “Who the heck is he broadcasting to??” “This is all your fault, you nearsighted old fraud!” Waldorf complained, shifting around for more elbow room in the ribcage. “Me? I didn’t wave my coat at it, yelling ‘Toro, toro!’” Statler grumbled back, trying to free his foot from underneath some sort of long-nosed, shell-less armadillo with a broken camera. “If you’d admit you need reading glasses, we wouldn’t have been here in the first place!” “That exit’s still open!” Kermit pointed out the narrower corridor at the far end of the room to Fozzie and Rowlf. “Get those children out of here! I’ll get the Scouts!” “You got it!” Rowlf promised. “This is—this is hideous!” Sam stuttered, trotting alongside the dog. Fozzie was already beckoning to the frightened children and their young teachers; the chaperones may have mastered their early education teaching techniques, but nothing they’d learned about ADD, bullying, or cleaning glue spills had prepared them for raging, lunatic Jurassic Muppet carnage. They hustled their charges after the bear and the dog gratefully. Sam brought up the rear of the hasty parade, his sharp gaze swiveling all around as people continued to be chased and snapping, snarling, stomping monsters continued to snap, snarl, and stomp at them. “This is an outrage! Where is the curator? I must protest this ridiculous, antisocial fossil behavior to him at once!” “Uh, I think dat’s him over dere,” Fozzie said, nodding briefly at the end of the “Muppet Evolution” display. On the pedestal where Mookie-mookie had been laid in state, Dr Van Neuter writhed and jumped while two of the reverse-DNA-injected chickens, now the size of ostriches and with similarly aggressive attitudes, clawed and pecked at the hapless scientist, yanking out his hair strand by strand as he yelped and swatted vainly at them. Mulch crouched behind one of the display walls, wincing every time his boss cried out. “Ow! Ow! Stop it! Ow!” “They’re not eating him?” Rowlf wondered, pausing a moment to stare. “What the hey?” Sam blanched. “Uh…I…I think…they’re gathering nest material,” he muttered. He, Fozzie, and Rowlf all shuddered. “Yeeesh…” “Gil! Jill! This way!” Kermit urged, and the adult frogs saw him, nodded, and began herding the Scouts around the empty platforms toward the unguarded, still-open exit. Kermit felt a tap on his ankle, and jumped. Looking down as he landed, he relaxed as he saw the tiny, fluffy, pink bunny rabbit. “Oh! Geez…uh…do you want to come with us? I’m sure it’d be much safer for you too away from all these Muppasaurs,” Kermit offered. The bunny blinked its adorably large eyes at him, wiggled its whiskers, opened its jaws impossibly wide and lunged at the frog with incisors the size of a sabre-toothed tiger’s. “Aaaack!” Kermit yelped. “Piggy!” “Kermie!” Throwing aside the squealing Velocimuppet she was body-slamming against the floor in an attempt to break its mineralized bones, Piggy waded into the fray.