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Slackbot's text sketchbook

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Mmm, a piece of good nice fic, just what I've been needing. Really like the interaction between Boober and Sage. Thanks for sharing.
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  6. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Count. I've had a number of Boober & Sage scenes in my mind. They're very close, but I think the only fic in which I used that was Red Versus Blue. This is a pretty typical domestic scene with them, except of course for Sidebottom's inclusion.

    I forgot to mention in the original post that this takes place after Trials and Tintinnabulations, in which an epidemic swept through Fraggle Rock. In fact, this fic contains spoilers for it, so if you haven't read it before now, sorry 'bout that.

    I'll post an illustration for this story in the next day or two.

    Does the Fraggle wool idea creep anyone out?
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  7. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Fraggle wool creeping anyone out?
    No moreso than the notion of them embewing(?) sock puppets with a persona of their own individuality. :smirk:

    *Wonders if Fraggle wool would mean the reinstitution of the Doozer knitting guild to craft a new mass of Phneeds.
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  8. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Hey, sock puppetry is no more and no less freaky than doll wiggling. When Boober's jester puppet kept acting up in The Incredible Shrinking Mokey I of course thought that it was Sidebottom acting bratty, and that led to the idea of letting him out in puppet form, which would be a lot more acceptable to Boober than letting him take over his body. Which isn't what Sidebottom wants anyway.

    I figure that every spring, with all those Fraggles shedding their winter pelts, the caves must be choked with technicolor tumbleweeds of Fraggle fur. Unlike the Once-ler, Fraggles are pretty good at living in harmony with their environment and using what they have wisely, and it just seemed common sense to put that fur to good use. One of Janken's possessions is a kit scarf made of various colors, a gift from the rest of his family. I wonder if he'll ever explain that to Scooter? "You know how some people keep a lock of hair in a locket? Well..."
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  9. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    GopherCoffee likes this.
  10. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I just saw that that was my 1,000th post. Wow. Kinda lame for such a milestone, huh? Oh well, I'll try to be more alert when 10,000 rolls around.
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  11. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    :laugh: And on reaching that milestone...
    *Hands Slackbot her MC Kermit The Frog badge with her name in silver lettering on the collar points.
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  12. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Wow, thanks! Does this mean I'm one of the cool kids now?

    Probably not; that'd be a work of alchemy. [​IMG]
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  13. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Yes, though you've always been cool. We used to give the badges out upon the 1000 post mark cause that changed your status title from Member to Senior Member. We also used to have an SM only hottub complex that got shut down back in 2004. Mmm, memories.
    :dreamy:
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  14. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I'm not cool, I'm just cold. So cold that that hottub sounds really good now. Alas, the only hottub I see in my future is in my bathroom, if I don't use the cold water.
    GopherCoffee likes this.
  15. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    I writed a thing about Scooter. This one is 100% Fraggle-free.

    *****

    The Prince
    by Kim McFarland

    *****

    "Entrepreneurs are simply those who understand that there is little difference between obstacle and opportunity and are able to turn both to their advantage."

    -- The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli

    *****

    It was late in the evening when a teenage boy riding a bicycle coasted to a stop in front of the gate to a mansion. One foot on the ground, he pressed a button at the side. A buzzer sounded, and the gate slid open. He pedaled in.

    *

    The door creaked open. It was a big, heavy, solid wood door, and had been with the house so long that it has earned the right to creak. The boy walked in, a duffel bag over one shoulder, and shut the door behind himself. "I'm back," he said to nobody in particular.

    "'Bout time," said a girl as she walked into the hall. She was wearing her usual evening wear: cutoffs, a tee shirt, and a bandana to hold back her unruly red hair.

    "Hi, sis. What's up?"

    "Unc was wondering where you were."

    He shrugged. She shrugged back. They both knew that their uncle knew exactly where he had been: at the Muppet Theater. He asked, "Good meet today?"

    "Yeah! Whupped 'em at the track," she said with a grin.

    "Attagirl," he said, and punched her shoulder lightly. He was always careful not to hit her hard. Not because he was worried he'd hurt her, but because she'd hit back harder.

    "And, check this out," she said, reaching into her back pocket. She took out a card and held it up proudly. It was a driver's license.

    "Hey, finally," he said with. "Fourth time's a charm, huh?"

    "Ha ha," she said, pocketing the license again. "At least I'm not still puttering around on a dinky bike."

    He shrugged, feeling no need to answer. He'd get a license soon enough; he just wasn't in a huge rush like Skeeter was. "Got some homework to do. Later."

    "I thought you did that stuff at the theater."

    "Not lately. It's too busy." He used to do his homework there, or take naps, or just hang around, knowing that, no matter what he did, they couldn't fire him because his uncle owned the theater. But before long he started getting interested in the show, and began pitching in for real. Now he was an actual member of the team. It was kinda neat.

    "I'm gonna go for a spin. Wanna come? I'll give you a turn."

    "Thanks, maybe next time," he said, tilting his duffel bag at her. "Gotta get on this."

    She watched him walk down the hall, then put her fists on her hips, shook her head, and said "Nerd."

    *

    Scooter walked past the study, which smelled of cigar smoke. A raspy voice called, "Scooter."

    He turned back, duffel bag still on his shoulder, and entered the study. "Hi, Uncle J.P."

    "Where've you been? It's late."

    "At the theater. There was a lot of cleanup after tonight's show."

    J.P. put his cigar down in a tray. "You don't have to mop up after them."

    Scooter shrugged, knowing that annoyed his uncle. "It's not that bad."

    "You're wasting your time there. That show won't last much longer."

    "I don't know. They've got some really good guest stars booked."

    "Yeah, but they'll be out a theater. I'm gonna turn it into a parking lot."

    Scooter startled. "Why?"

    "That place is a money sink. I can make more charging hourly parking than I make off the rent the Muppets pay. Don't worry, I'll get you another job."

    Scooter thought about it for a minute. Then he said, "You're right. That theater is a mess."

    "That's right."

    "It's probably completely worthless. Even a liability."

    "Yep."

    "In fact, I bet the best thing you could do with it is use it as a tax write-off."

    J.P. picked up his cigar again. "What?"

    Scooter explained, "If you unload it by giving it to some charity, you get a tax break, and it's no longer your problem if something goes wrong on the property. The savings on insurance alone is worth it."

    "What charity would take that rotting hulk?" J.P. demanded.

    Scooter paused, looking upward as if deep in thought. Then he said in offhandedly, "The Muppets."

    "The Muppets? Since when are they a charity?"

    "Have you seen their ledger? They're definitely a nonprofit organization."

    "That's for sure."

    "And, let's face it, who'd buy that theater? Let the Muppets have the headaches."

    "I'll think about it," J.P. told Scooter.

    "Thanks!" Scooter shouldered his duffel bag again and left.

    J.P. took several puffs on his cigar. Then he began to chuckle under his breath. Since he had 'inherited' the twins from his sister he had been trying to shape one as his protégé, having no children of his own. At first he had thought it would be Skeeter; she had the backbone for it. But, no, nothing could interest her in the world of business, even though it was more competitive than any of her sports could ever be. Scooter, on the other hand, was happy just to goof around and get underfoot. He had gotten Scooter a job at the theater just to get him out of the house over the summer. He'd never expected the slacker to become attached to that motley crew, and he was startled to find that Scooter had the nerve to try to manipulate him into giving them the theater.

    The boy was developing a Machiavellian streak. J.P. approved heartily. Fine, he'd postpone knocking the theater down as long as Scooter was working there. From everything he'd seen, the theater would fall in on its own before too long, if the show didn't go out of business first. Either way, Scooter would see close-up how not to run a business. Until then he could have his hobby.

    ******

    All characters are copyright © The Muppets Studio, LLC and 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.
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  16. The Count

    The Count Moderator Staff Member

    Nice to see the Grosse family... Skeeter getting her license on the fourth try will probably hit home with some other readers. And there's Scooter's lovable charm attempting to manipulate his uncle with some reverse thinking.

    Good stuff. :cool:
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  17. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Thanks. Scooter seemed pretty self-centered and manipulative when we first saw him; I'm guessing that was his uncle's influence. As time went on he became a team player, but I think he's still a bit manipulative. He just hides it behind that cute, puppyish attitude of his, and uses it to help keep the show running. Mostly.
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  18. shinycelebi225

    shinycelebi225 Active Member

    i love this!!!
    MAKE MORE!!! <3
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  19. We Got Us

    We Got Us Active Member

    Oh...!!! I like it!!! Would you believe I had something very similar (but not as good) written up already? I can't wait for more! You made me very happy ;-)
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  20. Slackbot

    Slackbot Well-Known Member

    Glad to have brightened your day! And I'm not surprised someone else had a similar idea. We're all drinking out of the same well.
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