1. Welcome to the Muppet Central Forum!
    You are viewing our forum as a guest. Join our free community to post topics and start private conversations. Please contact us if you need help with registration or your account login.

  2. Meet Julia
    Sesame Street's newest Muppet has autism. Meet Julia this Monday on HBO and PBS. Then discuss the anticipated episode with fans.

  3. Sesame Street Season 47
    Sesame Street's 47th season officially began Saturday January 7 on HBO. After you see the new episodes, post here and let us know your thoughts.

Slackbot's text sketchbook

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Slackbot, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Little scenes often play out in my mind when I'm working on character development, or toying with ideas for a fic, or just mentally messin' around. Many of them end up in stories, but some only exist as vignettes. As I don't consider these full stories, I don't want to start a thread for each one, so here's a thread in which I'll post these bits and pieces, just as I post my artwork into the Slackbot Draws Stuff thread.

    The first one is a bit of business between Mokey and Boober that might happpen sometime after Red Versus Blue. I claim not to be a Mokey/Boober 'shipper, but it seems the evidence speaks for itself. Eesh.

    *****

    Treading Water
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    It was a quiet day in the caves below Fraggle Rock. Fraggles did not normally come down this far, as the rough, rocky terrain wasn't suitable for their typical high-energy activity. Very little of the ground was flat, and in places it seemed to be made up entirely of stalagmites, columns, gours, flowstone, popcorn, and other tricky shapes. It also had a clear, fresh pond that, while small, was deep.

    Mokey and Boober were alone in the cave. Mokey had found a particularly interesting formation that rose out of the pond, and set up her easel. She had been coming down here since Gobo had discovered it and described it to her, thinking she would be interested in the novel formations. He had been right; she found inspiration in a new bit of flowstone or unusual plant every day, and her room had been filling up with paintings of this cave. She would, in time, display them in the Great Hall for all to see, but not until she had completed her series of paintings. If she showed them too early, other Fraggles might want to come down here, and while she knew that its beauty must be shared, she wanted to have it to herself for just a little while.

    Boober was so quiet, she hardly remembered he was there. He had asked to come with her, and, surprised and pleased, she had welcomed him along. He did not want to paint, though. He was content to watch her paint, and to read silently from her notebook of poetry.

    Boober was a taciturn Fraggle who did not run around and play and swim. Feeling that he was missing out on life, Gobo, Red, and even Wembley often tried to pull him into their games. Only Mokey seemed to accept that he enjoyed different things. Peaceful, quiet, safe things. Of course she would understand; she liked painting rocks and writing pages and pages of free verse likening death to the migration of birds. When he thought about it, that did sound a little strange. But when he watched her paint, utterly absorbed in creating an image of a rock or a flower and humming happily under her breath, or when he read her poetry and let himself feel what she had felt when she wrote it, he thought he understood.

    **

    Mokey put down her paintbrush. Her fingers were slightly cramped from holding it for so long. She flexed them and glanced over at Boober, who was still reading. Flattered that he devoted such attention to her poetry, he decided not to interrupt him to show him her painting. It would still be there when he finished.

    She capped her paint jars, rinsed the brushes out, and set them to dry. Then she climbed over some mounds of stone to the edge of the pond and jumped in.

    Boober looked up when he heard the splash. The reflections from the water's surface sent ripples of light dancing across the cave walls and ceiling. Boober put the notebook down and followed her.

    She was relaxing and treading water. The pond was small enough that she could not have swum more than a few strokes in any direction. He sat at the edge, dangling his feet into the water. It was pleasantly cool. Mokey smiled up at him, then ducked under the surface. Several rockbeetles later she came back up, her hair now soaked and plastered to her head. Boober was still watching her, oddly intent. "What're you thinking about?" she asked.

    "The water looks so nice. It must feel good to swim here."

    "It does," she replied, treading water.

    She didn't suggest he come in. He never swam. The others often tried to coax him in when he sat at the edge of the swimming hole in the Great Hall, which is why he never did anymore. Only Mokey simply accepted that he didn't swim and left it at that. Because of that, he gathered his nerve and said, "I wish I could."

    "Why can't you?" she asked.

    She held out an arm, and he leaned back slightly, as if afraid of her touch. "I'm scared of... of having water all around me. Once, when I was little, I, I fell through some ice and nearly drowned."

    "I didn't know," she said softly.

    "You're the only person I've told."

    "Boober... do you want to try again?"

    He shuddered. "Water all around me...I can't."

    "I'd keep you safe." She raised her hand to him again. He flinched, but did not back away. He did want to try. He remembered what it was like to swim without fear, and he wanted that again. Maybe... "You won't tell anyone?"

    "I won't tell anyone."

    He took her hand and slid into the water. His heart began hammering, and Mokey felt his hand squeeze hers hard. She wrapped her arms around him and held him to herself, softly saying, "I'll keep you safe."

    Boober whimpered. When the water enclosed his body he remembered with sudden, shocking clarity the sensation of sinking down in winter-cold water, weighed down by thick clothes. He felt as though only Mokey's arms kept him from falling like a pebble.

    Poor Boober, she thought as she stroked his hair comfortingly with wet fingers. He was rigid with terror. She could feel his heart pounding against her chest.

    He was barely suppressing panic. The one thing that made him feel less afraid was Mokey. If water was danger, she was safety and comfort. He'd be all right with her there. He told himself that over and over. The panic receded to the point that he could force his body to unstiffen.

    Mokey asked, "Do you want to get out?"

    After a long pause he replied, "Not yet..."

    "All right."

    "Mokey?"


    "Yes?"

    "Don't let go."

    "I won't."

    He focused on her, the solidity of her body, the gentle strength in her arms. She moved slowly, kicking her legs rhythmically to tread water while holding him up. He could do that, but as nervous and awkward as he felt, he was afraid he'd kick her.

    **

    After a while Boober said, "I'd like to get out now."

    Mokey swam over to the edge of the pond. When Boober felt the stone at the edge touch his arm he let go of her and hauled himself out of the pool. She came out after him. Neither made any effort to shake the water out of their fur or wring out their clothes; when it was warm Fraggles were as comfortable wet as dry, and Fraggle clothes were made to be swum in. She went back to her painting and looked at it critically. It was an image of white, fluted flowstone descending in graceful curves, like folds of heavy fabric, into the pond. The water glimmered, fresh and inviting.

    "I like it," Boober told her.

    "Thank you. I'd like you to have it." She smiled warmly.

    At a loss, he said, "I... thanks."

    She smiled as she took it off the easel and handed it to Boober. He held it carefully by the edges so his damp hands wouldn't harm the paint.

    She gathered up her materials and folded her easel. She told Boober, "I hope we can come back here again."

    "I do too," he replied.

    As they walked back, Boober thought, he'd remember today with or without the painting. The water hadn't closed over him, hadn't swallowed him in its depths the way he had feared for so long. It would take much more than one day like this to get him used to being in water deep enough to swim in. But maybe, he realized, it might be possible after all.

    *****

    Fraggle Rock and all characters are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. The overall story is copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
     
    GopherCoffee and WhiteRabbit like this.
  2. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Awg, that was beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. :sigh: :dreamy:
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  3. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Count. Glad you liked it. I've had a frustrating case of writer's block lately. I've got another Muppet Theater story idea I want to start writing, but it just hasn't jelled yet. Sometimes little things like this can loosen me up, so maybe I can get my act together for a real story.
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  4. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I've given in? To what? Should I be alarmed? Will I get cookies?

    Thank you. I'm glad you liked this. It was fun to write, believe me. Fraggles just seem to lend themselves to warm, fuzzy stories. I'm now working on another bit featuring Boober and... well, someone else. :excited:
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  5. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Here's a scene that took place soon before A Wandering Heart. I had a lot in mind for Red, but, well, it didn't fit into the story.

    *****

    Happy Birthday
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    Red was awake, and she hurt.

    She was lying on her back in her bed on the floor. It was not as comfortable as her hammock, but she hadn't slept up there for so long she had taken it down.

    She hurt, and her mind felt fuzzy. She had the feeling that she'd been drugged. She tried to sit up, and whimpered with pain.

    A hand touched her cheek. "How do you feel?" Boober's voice said softly.

    She tried to look around. Where was he? Oh. She realized that he was sitting behind her, sort of, and her head was in his lap. She mumbled, "My everything hurts."

    "I'm not surprised," he replied gently.

    "Where's my baby? Is she all right?" Red asked anxiously.

    "She's fine," Boober said in the same calm tone. He stroked her hair—which was down; her pigtails had come loose long ago—and repeated, "She's fine and healthy. Gobo's taking care of her now. With a little help from Wembley, Mokey, and the kids."

    "I want her."

    "He'll bring her back soon enough. He can't feed her, after all."

    She giggled at the thought of him trying. Then she said, "I thought I was gonna die. It wasn't this bad for Mokey."

    It was a few moments before Boober spoke. Still stroking her hair, he told her, "You had a much harder time than Mokey. Things got... complicated."

    "What happened? All I remember is Weft came over, and Wembley and the kids went away."

    Boober closed his eyes. Red had been practically out of her mind by that time. Boober had sent Wembley to go get Weft, Fraggle Rock's midwife, and take Sage and Janken with him, and not come back. The baby had been in the wrong position to be born, and Boober had not known what to do, but whatever happened next, he didn't want the kids to see it.

    Weft had trained him, and he could handle a normal birth. Despite his squeamishness, there was such joy it the beginning of a new life, he wanted to be a part of it, plus he had a wider range of medical knowledge than Weft did. But Weft knew how to handle birthing emergencies, and this had been one. She had turned the baby—Boober had forced himself to watch; one day he might have to do that too—and coached Red through the rest of a breech delivery. Boober had been terrified that they were going to lose Red or her child. But the baby was strong and healthy, and now he was going to watch over Red until she recovered.

    Right now Red didn't need all the details, however. She'd been through too much, and the threadroot he had given her before the stitches would keep her groggy for some time. He said, "You know how babies usually dive into the world?"

    "Yeah?"

    "Yours did a backflop."

    Red laughed, then winced. "That's why it hurts so much, huh?"

    "Yeah. I'm afraid rock hockey season is over for you."

    "Hah." Rock hockey season hadn't even begun for Red; by the time the greaseberry leaves were ready to pick, she had been too round and clumsy. She looked at her stomach and said, "Am I done? It looks like there's another in there."

    "That's normal," he replied.

    "She cried when she was born. She cried," Red said, and choked.

    When a Fraggle baby was born, someone would tickle the soles of its feet, making it laugh. That was the right way to begin a life; with a happy sound. But after all that baby had been through, Boober had been relieved to hear her make any sound at all. At that moment, her angry wail had been the most beautiful sound in the world. "After all she went through, do you blame her?"

    "No, I guess not."

    They were quiet for a little while. Then she said, "I feel broken inside."

    "I'll get something for the pain. But you have to promise to stay still. You have a lot of healing to do."

    "It's a deal." If she moved her lower half, she hurt. She was going to stay as still as she could.

    He lifted her head and slid his legs out from under her head, then replaced them with a pillow. "I'll be right back."

    "Okay."

    He scurried off. She must really be wrecked up, she thought, for Boober to hover over her like this. For once she wouldn't object. She felt awful. She wanted to be cared for.

    It wasn't fair, she thought. She was strong. She was the strongest Fraggle in the Rock! If just anyone could have a baby—well, any female Fraggle—then it should have been a breeze for her. Her body had let her down at the worst possible time.

    **

    "Red?"

    "Gobo?" she looked over.

    "How are you? Boober said to come see you."

    He had a small bundle in his arms. Red said, "Oh! Bring her here!"

    Gobo did. Red held out her hands more eagerly, Gobo thought, than she had ever reached for a trophy. She gathered the tiny brown-and-yellow Fraggle, half hidden by a diaper, to her chest. Blindly, because baby Fraggles' eyes don't open until a few weeks after birth, she pressed her face into Red's fur, breathing in her mother's scent.

    Red melted. For the moment her pain was forgotten. She had a little girl. She was a mother. She slipped a finger under one of its tiny feet and stroked its sole. The baby squirmed, then laughed in a squeaky, high-pitched voice.

    "Happy birthday, kiddo," Red whispered.

    *****

    Fraggle Rock and all characters are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. The overall story is copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
     
    GopherCoffee and DrDientes like this.
  6. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    :cry: over the quiet beautifulness of how :excited: was portrayed here. In my recollections, it ranks right next to the sort of "broken" Red from when the caves flooded in the earlier chapters of ReneeLouvier's The Prediciment.
    Hmm, maybe next time I see her online I'll ask about correcting it to "Predicament". *Shrugs. Again, thanks for a rully nice one-shot.
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  7. Fersureitsjess

    Fersureitsjess Active Member

    Awww! I love this!
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  8. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Aw, thanks, guys. I'm glad you liked this. They're fun to write, especially since I get to show bits that just didn't fit into the main stories otherwise.

    WhiteRabbit, thanks, I take your comments as high compliments! But I don't think I'm entirely innocent of those fanfic crimes. Just look at that Mary Sue over there on the left. But I'm keeping him on a short leash from now on! ;)
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  9. LinkiePie<3

    LinkiePie<3 Well-Known Member

    What a beautiful Fraggle ficcy. I'm melting. <3
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  10. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Aw, gawrsh, thanks! I've read enough fanfics of varying qualities, and I've seen a lot of Mary Sues, so when I create an OC I do my best to avoid that syndrome. Plus, well, Mary Sues really aren't that interesting to me. They kind of suck the air out of the room, y'know? I'd much rather use characters with vivid personalities and good chemistry. I was hesitant to write "A Wandering Heart" 'cause it's dangerous to center a fanfic around an OC, and the result could've been better, but then it could've been worse too. ;)

    I love constructive criticism! It can sting at first, but it is so valuable for improvement, plus I take it as a compliment when someone takes the time to give me well-thought-out feedback. My best critic read a draft of my book, "A Refugee in Oz" (link in my sig!), and told me that the first chapter was a needless timewaster, that this thread was contrived and needed better motivation, et cetera. He and I nearly came to blows over the use of the Magic Belt, but he made very good points and the book was definitely stronger after I'd edited it to fix the weaknesses he pointed out.

    You've done RHPS? Cool. I'm a veteran Frank. Been doing it since 1988. I even dedicated a section of my website to it, but the photos are old. Here's a picture from Dragon*Con last month.
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  11. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Actually Janken was originally created to be paired with Scooter in "Masks". The thread was always intended to center on Scooter, so Jan was to be Scooter's love interest rather than Scooter being Jan's, if that makes any sense. But when I got into Fraggle Rock and realized that, hey, these psychedelic rodents are cool, Jan developed a personality of his own, and eventually a backstory.

    I avoid giving criticism unless it's specifically requested, for the reason you give. And even then, a few times people have gotten all indignant about it. Look, if all you wanted was for people to ladle out the compliments, then just say so! If you ask for constructive criticism, be prepared to take it like a grownup.

    Playing Frank is always fun. Walking around cons in a Frank costume is a blast, because I get stopped every few feet to pose for photos, which is wonderful ego-boo for this "woman of a certain age." The funniest moment this year was when someone came up to me and asked if his friends could pose with me. I replied yes, and he was shocked. "You're not a man?!" *chuckle* My figure is anything but masculine, so if I can fool 'em with my costume, I'm doing good!

    I also like to sneak RHPS into other fandoms. The Muppets are not immune.
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  12. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Happy Joke Day!
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    It was a dark and stormy night somewhere in the world, although it is not clear whether that applied to Fraggle Rock, as it was connected to many places in the world of the Silly Creatures. Statistically speaking, it was bound to be dark and stormy in one of them.

    However, that was not relevant. Janken, who had just passed through the Fraggle hole in the back of the TMI office, was perfectly dry as he padded barefoot down the rocky tunnel that led to Fraggle Rock. His pack, heavier than usual, pressed against his back. He didn't give it much thought, though. Today was Joke Day, and he wasn't going to miss it. April Fool's Day was fun, but it was more about practical jokes, and Joke Day was for pure silliness. As all Fraggles knew, silliness is good.

    Before going to the Great Hall to find his family Janken went to The Storyteller's home, which was on the outskirts of the main colony. She was one of the few Fraggles who actually had a door to her cave; most Fraggles just went in and out of each other's caves freely. The Storyteller, however, needed the quiet for her craft. He tapped on her door, then waited.

    After a few seconds the door opened, and The Storyteller looked out. She snapped, "I'm not in. Come back tomorrow," and shut the door again. Janken did not have time to knock a second time when she opened the door wider and said cheerfully, "Just a little joke. Come in!"

    "Happy Joke Day!" He entered and took off his backpack. He drew a hardbound book out of it and held it out to her. "I brought this for you. It's a book of stories written for Silly Creature children."

    She accepted it, surprised. On the cover, many animals of wildly different shapes and sizes gazed at the title, "Aesop's Fables." Janken had selected this book carefully. Though almost none of the animals would be familiar to a Fraggle, the fables themselves were similar in spirit to stories told to young Fraggles to illustrate lessons. Pleased to find such a close parallel between the two cultures, he had bought a copy, and maybe The Storyteller would like some of these tales enough to adapt them for her repertoire. She turned pages, looking at the interestingly alien creatures in the illustrations, then closed it and said "Thank you."

    "You're welcome," Janken said, pleased. "I also have a little story to tell you. Something that happened to me in Outer Space."

    Janken had once wanted to be a Storyteller himself, but had given up after a single try because he believed he was not good enough at it. It had pained her to see him quit so easily. But now he was older and had more confidence, and even if he had chosen a different job, she was glad he would at least try to tell a story. She beckoned him to the storytelling chair and sat on one of the cushions on the floor. "I'm all ears."

    Janken sat and began, "The other day I found myself on a small piece of land in the middle of a giant Fraggle pond, so big I couldn't see any other land in any direction. The first thing I did was try to find some food, of course.

    Near the water I found some bushes with pink things on them. I picked one. It smelled delicious, but it wasn't a berry. It was a little radish bar."

    Surprised, The Storyteller said, "You found a radish bar bush?"

    He nodded. "I couldn't believe it either, but eating is believing. After I had a few I went on, because I wanted something more filling. I saw some trees, and it looked like they had fruit, so I ran to them and climbed one. When I picked one I saw that it wasn't actually fruit after all. It was a small cake. I ate it, and it tasted good. But I still wanted lunch, so I climbed back down and went on."

    The storyteller looked puzzled, but she did not speak; she wanted to hear what came next. Janken was pleased, but he kept a straight face as he continued, "Walking along a path, I saw a round, flat creature that was covered by a shell. I thought it was a turtle—a common animal in Outer Space—but when I came closer I saw that, instead of a shell, its body was covered by a blueberry pie. I didn't try to eat that, because it might have been part of the creature, and I didn't want to hurt it."

    "What kind of land was this?" The Storyteller asked, wavering between skepticism and curiosity. Outer Space was a strange, magical land, and who knew what outrageous things might be real there?

    "I'm getting to that," Janken told her. "Beyond the trees I saw a mossy field, with a wiggly line stream running through it. I started toward the stream so I could get a drink of water. But when I stepped onto the field, little red puffballs in the moss exploded. I ran toward the stream, setting off more puffballs with every step, until I was in a cloud of sticky red dust. My skin and fur's purple, but by the time I got to the stream I was reddish purple. It was a good thing there was a stream there, I said to myself, so I could wash it off! But the water was muddy. Or so I thought; when I smelled it, I realized it wasn't a water stream at all. The stream was full of pudding.

    "That's when I realized how desperate my situation was. I was marooned on a desserted island!"

    The Storyteller stared at him for a moment. He grinned back. Then she groaned and covered her glasses with her hand. Pleased, Janken said "Happy Joke Day!"

    Chuckling, she said, "Happy Joke Day to you too. Now go fool someone else with that story."

    "I will."

    As he put his backpack on again The Storyteller said, "You told that story pretty well."

    He had, he realized. He hadn't been trying to spin a great tale; he's just told the story as he'd seen it in his mind. "Thanks!"

    She watched as he skipped cheerfully toward the Great Hall. As she closed the door she shook her head, amused by the prank he'd played on her. Then she sat down and opened the new book.

    *****

    Fraggle Rock and The Storyteller are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. Janken and the overall story are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  13. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    :): Cute, cute joke.
    *:halo: fires off a rimshot at the location's naming.
    :excited: Radish bars?
    :sigh: Blueberry pie?

    :hungry: Ja, cuum an getit, leemuun spuunge cake.
    *Unsheaths serving platter revealing a fresh lemon and various sponges.

    Thanks for sharing something silly.
    :p: Silly's good.
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  14. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thanks, glad you liked it. Heh, it appears that Jan's learned one important Muppet principle: if a joke isn't good enough to use once, it may be bad enough to use many times.
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  15. Fersureitsjess

    Fersureitsjess Active Member

    :) More please!
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  16. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I post 'em as I write 'em. I've got a notion about Cantus, but I've got to think about it a bit more.
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  17. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    The episode The Lost Treasure of the Fraggles begs a lot of questions. Here's my answer to at least one of them.

    Also, I like Cantus and Murray.

    *****

    A Fisher of Fraggles
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    Murray the Minstrel was all eyes and ears as he peered into the large, open space. It was something like an enormous cavern, but not very. The light came from a single source on the ground, a nook with a fire burning low within. It threw long, shaky, strange shadows across the floor. The walls were flat and made of cut rock mortared together instead of living stone. The floor was unnaturally even.

    The sounds here were different too. The snap and sizzle of the fire, the distant sounds of the surface creatures outside, and, of course, the snoring of this dwelling's huge inhabitants. Murray paid close attention to that. If the sound remained the same, Cantus and he were safe. If it changed, they were in danger.

    He looked up. There was a bit of orange moving against the dull stone and faded cloth. Cantus was climbing up one of the walls to a shelf that, though high, was nowhere near the ceiling. Instead of his usual pack, which he had left behind with Murray, he carried a flat wooden box strapped to his back. Murray knew it was not that heavy, as he had carried it himself much of the way, but climbing with it couldn't be fun.

    Its weight came from the metal within the box. Uncounted days ago a colony of Doozers had created the device for him. When closed, it appeared to be an ordinary box, although the image on the lid marked it as a Fraggle artifact. But when you opened it up...

    Nobody had opened it yet. Not really.

    Cantus had reached the shelf and was moving a loose stone from its place. Murray couldn't see from his low angle, but he knew what Cantus was doing: hiding the box behind the stone. He always hid the box in a dangerous area, but one that could be navigated by clever, alert Fraggles.

    Now Cantus was climbing back down without the box. Murray sat down cross-legged and unrolled a map in front of himself. The image was vague, certainly not clear enough to serve as a guide. It was the directions that would lead someone to the box, provided anyone found it and was willing to take the risk. As ever, Cantus hid the box, and Murray wrote down the path to it in terms of steps and landmarks. When Cantus approached Murray had finished the last few lines and was fanning the wet ink with a dried leaf that had blown in from outside.

    After a few minutes Murray rolled the map up again, and Cantus shrugged on his backpack. Cantus had not tried to read the map; his near vision was not as sharp as it once was. He carried his songs and lore in his head; only on those rare occasions when he needed to set something down on paper for someone else did he call on Murray as a scribe.

    The two Fraggles crept out the door, which was half open to let in the night breeze, and crossed the garden to the safety of the underground tunnels.

    Only when there was rock all around them did Murray speak. "You really know how to pick 'em."

    Cantus replied, "If it was easy, it would be meaningless."

    "Right, right..."

    **

    The two Minstrels backtracked to a cobwebby cave near the local Fraggle colony. For many turns of the seasons the Minstrels had been exploring the caves, finding new colonies and playing their music for those who would listen. This colony was the latest one. Whenever they found a new Fraggle colony Cantus would hide the sound box and place a map to it where the Fraggles could find it. Later he would come back and see what, if anything, had happened.

    As Cantus set the map atop a stone formation in the center of the most open part of the cave Murray said, "You really think they'll find it here?"

    "They will if they are interested enough in the world to explore beyond the safety of their nest," Cantus replied.

    Most of the time, the map went untouched. Fraggles liked safety. A few times the map had been found. Only once had Fraggles followed it to the box. That one time they had opened it, but had left it in its hiding place, probably disappointed to find machinery within. Murray asked, "What'll you do if they take the box?"

    "If they listen to it, then they may keep it."

    Murray knew that asking Cantus questions was useless if the elder Minstrel did not want to give a direct answer, but he tried anyway. "There's more to it than that."

    "More and less. It only appears to be complex because it is so simple."

    "Yeah," Murray said, and gave up on that line of questioning. Cantus often puzzled him, but on retrospect most of what he did made sense. And, what the heck, Murray and believed in him and, furthermore, liked him. Maybe this colony would be the one. Then he'd find out what happened next.

    Cantus had not explained to anybody the purpose behind the box, not even the Doozers who had manufactured it. Every Fraggle colony he had found had a legend of a lost treasure. That was foolish; the greatest gift that Fraggles had was that which they gave and accepted freely: their song. In song, Fraggles gave voice to their hearts, sharing of themselves in a way that words alone could not convey.

    There were many colonies of many species living in the caves. Cantus and his minstrels could carry music from one to the next, but they could not truly unite the inhabitants of the Rock. The inhabitants must step outside themselves, leave their safe little nests and see the larger world. They must come to understand that there were many people that seemed different from themselves, but at the core they were more alike than not. They must join the larger song.

    Cantus had hope for this colony. They lived with both Doozers and Gorgs, so they had some concept of different races. If they were brave enough to find the box and wise enough to recognize the value of the music within, he would have found what he was looking for at long last.

    *****

    Fraggle Rock and all characters are copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. The overall story is copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
     
    GopherCoffee and bamfette like this.
  18. bamfette

    bamfette New Member

    NICE! Dovetails into to the series well and I can so picture that being something Cantus would do :) And the motive fits perfectly too
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  19. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Bamfette: Thanks! I always wondered where that music box came from, and why Cantus only started visiting Fraggle Rock recently, but he comes back over and over. Thinking about the five times he's visited, especially the last three, it seems he has an agenda concerning this particular Fraggle tribe.

    I'm hoping the title makes sense. Well, it makes sense to me, but then I already know what I'm talking about.
     
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  20. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Silly is Good
    By Kim McFarland

    *****

    It was a relatively quiet day in Fraggle Rock. Fraggles were singing and playing and generally making joyous noise, but not so loudly that Boober couldn't hear the dripping of the patchwork blankets hung on the clotheslines crisscrossing his room.

    Boober hadn't hung laundry to dry in months. It had been too cold; clothes would have iced over on the line. But now the world was thawing, and he had a mountain of laundry to do. He'd be at it for days to come. That was fine with him. There was peace in scrubbing and rinsing, a sense of pleasure and accomplishment in vanquishing a tough stain or mending frayed seams.

    He had finished the high-priority laundry—clothing that was worn daily—and was now working on the patchwork blankets he had made out of discarded socks and other things several Fraggle Moons ago, when a flu epidemic swept through Fraggle Rock. He would have burned the garish things, as they were visible reminders that he had been caught hoarding stuff again, but people wanted to keep them. They actually liked the hastily-made sickbed blankets. There's no accounting for taste, Boober thought, and agreed to give them away, but only after he washed the germs out of them.

    Sage, his daughter, had helped him wash this batch. She often assisted him. It pleased him that she wanted to learn about laundry and remedies, but didn't become obsessed the way he had when he was young. She also spent plenty of time running around and swimming and playing and singing with her friends. That was how a Fraggle should be, Boober thought. He was perfectly aware of what that said about him, and he didn't mind. He was content with what he was.

    Sage said, "You're almost of bleach nuts."

    "That's all right. We don't need them for these blankets," Boober replied.

    Sage looked at the blanket in her hands. It was stained. "Why not?"

    "With all these colors, a little stain won't make much difference. Until I can get some more bleach nuts, we'll save them for light clothes, which need much more thorough cleaning."

    "Oh, okay," she said, satisfied.

    "That's enough for now," Boober said as he hung the final blanket of the batch. He could have washed more, but he was out of clothesline, and you couldn't dry cloth just anywhere. It might mildew.

    "Papa, who's Sidebottom?"

    Boober startled. After an uncomfortable pause, he asked, "Where did you hear that name?"

    "I heard Wembley say something about him while I was sick. It was when you were ringing bells. He told you to say thanks to Sidebottom. Since I know all the Fraggles I thought he must be a Doozer, but when I asked Cotterpin she said there was no Doozer with a weird name like that. Who is he?"

    Boober wanted to tell her that she had dreamed that conversation, that she had misheard, anything but the truth: that he had an alter ego. In the past Sidebottom had been an easy secret to keep, as he had only turned up twice in Boober's adult life: when Janken was born, and again during the epidemic. In fact, only Mokey, Gobo, Wembley, and Red actually knew Sidebottom; nobody else had realized what was happening when Boober fell under Sidebottom's control. They had just thought he was being silly.

    But, he realized as he looked at Sage's earnest face, he didn't want to lie to his daughter. She trusted him, and a lie would be a betrayal of that trust. He told her, "Sidebottom is me."

    The way he said that confused her. He spoke as if he was admitting guilt, but from what Wembley said she thought Sidebottom did something good. "Why did Wembley tell you to thank yourself?"

    Boober sighed. "Sage, he's someone who lives in my head."

    "Oh, he's your imaginary friend?"

    Boober had never thought of Sidebottom that way, but that sounded like the easiest way to explain him. "Kind of. He used to tell jokes and sing songs in my dreams. At first I thought he was a troublemaker."

    "Was he?"

    "A little. But, really, he was the part of me that wanted to play and have fun. Since I was afraid to do that, Sidebottom would appear and do it for me. And sometimes he got me into trouble."

    "Was he bad?"

    Boober shook his head. "No, just lonely and bored. He needed to have fun, like all Fraggles do. When I stopped fighting him and let myself have fun sometimes, he stopped pestering me."

    "He went away?" Sage asked worriedly.

    "No. He's part of me. He's always here, he just doesn't need to kick up a fuss anymore. And, once in a while, when I get too scared, he comes back out and helps me. This past winter, when everyone was sick and I was tired and afraid, he came out and rang the bells for me."

    "So he made spring come?"

    "I don't know if he did it all. But ringing the bells made everyone feel better. When we hear the bells we know that Spring is coming, that everything's going to get better. So he helped."

    Earnestly Sage said, "He sounds nice. Can I talk to him?"

    Boober wanted to refuse. He did not want that clown to take him over, especially not in front of his daughter! But Sidebottom wanted to meet her, he could feel it. He could feel it, he realized. He could feel what Sidebottom felt, and he didn't want to take control, he just wanted to speak. It would be safe... Boober looked around. His glance fell on a basket of clean socks waiting to be paired and returned to their owners. They were made of Fraggle wool, which was collected when they shed their thick winter coats and then spun into yarn. He could identify their donors by color and scent. The image of the puppet jester Boober had used during Mokey's puppet show came to his mind with sudden clarity. The jester had said things that Boober wouldn't have dared. Was that you, Sidebottom? It was all you, Boober. But then, so am I. I'm your puppet. How about it?

    Boober dug through the basket, then pulled out one of his own socks. He slipped it over his hand, with his fingers in the toe and his thumb in the heel to make a kind of mouth, when he could move by opening and closing his hand. He looked at it and murmured "This is weird."

    "What's weird?" Sage asked. Children played with sock puppets all the time. It was one of the best uses for socks in the summer, when their feet didn't get cold.

    The sock turned to Boober and said, "I need a hat."

    Boober looked the sock in the face. It did look bare by itself. He took off his cap and placed it on the sock, then turned it back toward Sage. She asked, "Are you Sidebottom?"

    "That's right. I'm Boober's fun side, and he used to keep me on the bottom. Sidebottom."

    The voice was Boober's, but singsong. Sage grinned. "What do you like to do?"

    "I like to tell jokes! Want to hear one?"

    "Yeah!"

    "A Fraggle, three Doozers, and a rock clinger go into the Gorgs' garden. The Gorg stops them and says, 'Wait a minute! Is this some kind of joke?'"

    Sage giggled. "That's silly."

    "Silly's my middle name!" He laughed.

    **

    Sage chatted with Boober's puppet for some time. It told her jokes and sang a song, and didn't do anything embarrassing besides being excessively whimsical. Boober knew he could have stopped at any time, but somehow he didn't want to. He was having fun, he admitted to himself.

    After a while, though, Sage began to feel hungry. She said, "I think it's time for a snack, Sidebottom. Can I have Papa Boober back?"

    "Yes," the sock answered cheerfully. It turned back to Boober and said, "Thanks for letting me come out again."

    Sage interjected, "Oh! Thank you for helping Papa Boober when everyone was sick."

    "No problem at all! I'll always be here when Boober needs me. I never leave." The sock told Boober, "You can have your hat back now."

    With his other hand Boober put his cap back on his head, then took the sock off. Grinning widely, Sage said, "I like Sidebottom. He's you when you get silly, just a little more."

    Surprised, Boober said, "Do I get like that?"

    "Yeah! You don't do it a lot, but sometimes when everyone's playing you do. You laugh just like that, even."

    She was right, he admitted. That was why Sidebottom never acted up any more. Boober had been letting him have his fun all along. He shrugged and said, "Well, he is me."

    She hugged him around the middle and told him, "When the puppet talked you made faces. You smiled a lot."

    "I didn't know I was doing that," he said as he hugged back. "Don't tell people about this, 'kay? Sidebottom is personal."

    "I won't," she promised. "Haven't you told anyone about him? Besides Wembley?"

    "Gobo, Red, and Mokey met him too, long ago. That's all."

    "Just family."

    "Yeah."

    "Okay."

    "Now let me make a snack," he told her.

    "Okay. I'm gonna jump in the pond. Be right back!"

    "Go on," he said.

    She ran toward the door, then stopped abruptly and turned back. "I like it when you laugh like that," she said, then continued her dash.

    He looked after her, then looked thoughtfully at the sock in his hands. Then he smiled faintly to himself and tossed it back into the basket.

    **

    Fraggle Rock and all characters are except Sage copyright © The Jim Henson Company. All copyrighted properties are used without permission but with much respect and affection. Sage and the overall story are copyright © Kim McFarland (negaduck9@aol.com). Permission is given by the author to copy it for personal use only.
     


Share This Page